Friday, December 30, 2005

More Eminent Domain Abuse

I ask Colts fans going to Sunday's final regular season game against the Arizona Cardinals to take a minor side trip as they drive in. File past the NK Hurst Company's facilities just south and west of the RCA Dome and understand what is happening there.

NK Hurst is a family business. Hurst weathered tough times as the inner city underwent decline in the 1970s. They put their faith in Indianapolis and resisted the temptation to flee to the suburbs, or to other Indiana cities. They remained to this day, and would continue if allowed to.

What is Hurst's reward for their perserverance? A slap in the face. Their land is being stolen by the Stadium Authority, who is using eminent domain procedings to do quickly and on its terms what fair negotiations take a while to achieve and on more just terms. From the Indy Star report:
Company vice president Jim Hurst, who learned of the lawsuit this morning, said he was surprised and offended by the court action because he thought negotiations were progressing.

“Our business is again under direct threat,” he said.

Hurst said that the family needs more land for employee parking and its storage trailers than what the stadium is offering. They've offered alternative ideas to the stadium authority, which have been rejected.The stadium authority acknowledges that they filed this action on the last business day of 2005 to pre-empt any changes the Indiana General Assembly may make in the 2006 session.

Look on it well, especially if you take the position that Hurst is just one small property, and is being served up for the greater good.

Eminent Domain represents a threat to the security of every property owner in our state. No matter if you own a simple residence or a productive business, government can steal your property from you and deliver it to those who would dream up something bigger- usually for the purpose of swelling the tax rolls. Or, in this case, as a political feather in a Governor's cap.

The legislature may put an end to this awful practice in the 2006 session, as a joint committee has been studying the issue in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision. While the legislature should ban all commercial use of eminent domain, such a ban is of no use to the NK Hurst Company. The Stadium Authority filed its motion on December 30, 2005, which means the action is not subject to any subsequent change in the law. From the Star:
And that has legislators furious. Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield, who will likely help sponsor eminent domain legislation next year, said the stadium's actions were "highly suspicious and disingenuous."

The only just recourse would be for the Authority to withdraw its filing. Hopefully Senator Drozda and others who support curtailing eminent domain abuse, such as Rep. Dave Wolkins, will exert pressure to that end.

That is very unlikely to have a significant effect anyway, as the Governor worked so hard twisting arms behind the scenes to make Republican county councilors go on record voting for 1% food & beverage taxes they would rather not have on their records.

So, make sure to file by the Hurst property. Unless and until the legislature of this state acts to end commercial eminent domain takings, your home or business property could just as well suffer the same fate as the Hurst's- theft, and the wrecking ball.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Good Show, Dan

It was very good to hear Dan Drexler alongside his Democratic and Republican counterparts this morning on WXNT's "Abdul In The Morning" show. This was his first public forum with the other Executive Directors, and he sounded right in place.

I was especially pleased at how Dan distinguished the Libertarian Party from Luke Messer and the Republicans. Reponding to Democrat Mike Edmonston's charge that since Daniels took office, the state has slipped in job creation ranking, Mr. Messer was talking about how the new Daniels Administration has created in other ways. Dan picked up the cue and noted that the Administration has created new levels of bureaucracy.

Messers response was the tired hyperbole that a Libertarian government would result in lawless anarchy, when in fact, Libertarians would bring fiscal sanity- the kind the GOP used to talk about (but never achieved) when Ronald Reagan was President. It appears the Republicans are done with even talking about it.

Good show, Dan!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Radio Alert

Be sure to tune in Thursday to "Abdul in the Morning" on WXNT 1430-am, as Abdul conducts a year in review program with top officials of each of Indiana's ballot access political parties.

Libertarian Party of Indiana Executive Director Dan Drexler will be there, presumably with his Democrat and Republican counterparts at 8am. The show airs each weekday from the ungodly hour of 5:00 am through 9:00.
Latest Writer's Bureau Column

I am on a rotation with four other writers in the Libertarian Writer's Bureau. The Bureau's work goes out to every newspaper in the state of Indiana. It was picked up locally by the Noblesville Daily Times in their Monday, December 28 edition. Too late for Santa Claus perhaps, but none to early for the citizens of our state. Link.
A shopping list for the Legislature
By Mike Kole

I have a wish list for the Indiana Legislature.

I'm not looking for goodies or expensive toys. I am seeking items that would bring good will, security and prosperity to all Hoosiers.

As our state legislators return to the Statehouse for the Committee Days that will help to formulate the next legislative session, it would be a good and positive sign if three things went straight to the top of the list.

Eminent domain belongs at the very top. The Kelo v. New London case shook most property owners to their foundations. Why? The sort of eminent domain taking practiced increasingly by municipalities threatens every property owner in our state.

Kelo showed that private property is not merely open for taking for genuinely public purposes, such as for bridges or drainage projects. Cities and towns can now take private land and give it away for redevelopment projects that will result in a higher tax base.

It doesn't matter how big a property owner you are. If you own a simple residence in a neighborhood, your land can be stolen and given to the developer of a luxury home subdivision. The luxury homeowner is no more secure, as his land can be swapped in favor of a shopping center. Even Wal-Mart can be replaced by a 12-story office complex, which in turn can be replaced by a 20-story building.

No matter what property you own, a developer can conjure something that will deliver more tax dollars by the structures in place. Kelo creates a climate of insecurity.An absence of trust in the state of private property will chase people away from our state to take refuge where they can feel secure that their right to property will be protected by the state, not threatened by it. Alabama and other states have passed tough restrictions on the use of eminent domain for commercial use. Indiana must follow suit. It would be embarrassing to have people flee Indiana for Alabama.

The state budget is next. Now that we've had the tax amnesty program and the controversial cuts at the BMV, it's time to get serious about restoring fiscal sanity. This means a minimum 1 percent across-the-board budget cut. Make no mistake: the budget increases that are smaller than the increases in previous years are not cuts.

Cutting across the board means department heads can't point envious fingers at other departments that might have been spared a cut. Having a Republican majority in both the Indiana House and Senate means there is no reason for the Legislature to hide from cuts. They have the numbers.

Moreover, they have a governor who earned his nickname, “The Blade,” for his willingness to cut budgets at the federal level. Here in Indiana, it's time to put away the penknife and tweezers and get some real cutting tools into action.

Cutting 1 percent is nobody's idea of a radical proposal. If Republicans lack the will to cut a measly 1 percent with this kind of majority, they simply lack the will. Libertarians in the same seats wouldn't flinch from the job.

Finally, it's time for another look at municipalities engaged in annexations. While the rules were clarified for cities and towns regarding what they can and cannot annex, not enough thought was given to the forced nature of so many of these takeovers.

It is perfectly admirable for a city or town to annex a neighborhood that voluntarily seeks to be added. On the other hand, forced annexation is the equivalent of a hostile takeover. It is an ugly and greedy process and should be banned statewide.

The right to self-determination is the very principle that founded our nation, and forced annexation negates this right for residents and business owners in areas targeted for forced annexation. On that principle alone, the practice should be banned, but there are more reasons.

Too often the real reason a town council craves the addition of a neighborhood in an unincorporated area is to add it to the tax rolls. With the added assessed value, the city or town can float more bonds. Meanwhile, residents who were getting along just fine without the town are presented with higher property taxes if they give in or an expensive legal bill if they fight.

Cities make flimsy promises because it's all they have to offer. The township resident doesn't need city police protection because they have the county sheriff. Likewise for fire protection, highway maintenance and other services. Councils, and especially the citizens, would be better served with councils looking for ways to spend less money rather than hunting creative ways to grab dollars, while offering no value in exchange. Forced annexation is wrong and needs to stop.

Should the Legislature address these three items correctly, they will go a long way toward making Indiana a more secure, productive and harmonious state — one that would serve as a wealth and job magnet instead of the kind that results in the brain drain that we have sadly become accustomed to.

Mike Kole of Fishers is the former chair of the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County. He wrote this article for the Libertarian Party of Indiana.
Back From Cle

My trip from Cleveland was enjoyable, as always. It felt like being on tour, whisking from one set of relatives to the next. It's great to bring back the love and support of those who care for me.

It's not great, however, to bring a head cold back. If it seems like I am underproducing here at the blog, chalk it up to that.

However, as the pipeline sometime crawls a bit slowly, I can report that the Noblesville Daily Times recently printed my current article for the Libertarian Writer's Bureau. Here's the link. Because the link will expire in a week, I'll post the text above.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Family Time

I am in Cleveland for Christmas, visiting relatives- the Koles and the Langmacks. Of course, everyone is very interesting in seeing our little Isabel.

Our Isabel, with her older cousin Isabelle!

I hope all who visit here are enjoying time with family and friends this Holiday season, inside of however you celebrate the season.

Regular postings will resume shortly.
Why Libertarian?

Because Libertarians believe that the ability to raise and spend public money does not make doing so a necessity. Because we believe that spending public money should cause an obvious and significant public gain.

What would you say about roadway projects that took an existing two-lane highway, widened the public right-of-way to accommodate a green strip in the center of the old roadway, and left a new two-lane divided highway? Would that be a worthwhile investment of thousands of dollars?
How about millions?

The City of Carmel, under the leadership of a Republican mayor and an all-Republican city council, have authorized several such projects. Go to Springmill Road, Ditch Road, Oak Ridge Road, and a host of others, and you will find scenarios that match what I described above, and what is shown in my pictures.

Springmill Rd, on a section of original two-lane highway.

Springmill Rd, on a section of improved two-lane highway. Millions of dollars. Poof!

These projects cost millions of dollars. The resulting roadways yield no additional vehicular capacity.

The drainage was re-worked, which generally means that expensive new storm sewers were installed. Expensive right-of-way was often acquired from private property owners. Utilities had to move over to accomodate, without compensation... except that the buck is passed to the customers. And yet, the best thing that can be said about the results is that the new roads look nice.

If a Libertarian were mayor, or dominating the Carmel City Council, the first order of business for roadways would be function. Crumbling roadways would be replaced, to be sure. Perfectly functional roadways would not be replaced merely for the sake of asthetics, as has happened here.

Carmel is clever, though. Raise a fuss about these projects, and you can expect the mayor and council to remind you that Carmel has the lowest tax rate of any city. That is true- today.

These projects were financed with municipal bonds, and will be repaid over a span of 30 years. These projects started popping up not long after Carmel began aggressively annexing existing communities into the corporate limits. As the annexations increased, the City's tax base- and bonding capacity- grew exponentially. The ability to spend gobs of money appeared, and the City took quick advantage of the opportunity.

Carmel has nearly completed the annexations it could hope to. Southwest Clay is the last great bonanza, as it is the wealthiest address in the state. After that, the City's ability to effortlessly pad its' population numbers, tax base, and bonding capacity through annexation will decline significantly. In a few years, the piper will have to be paid.

It looks great today, but its a mortgage on the future. Carmel has based its financing on a Ponzi Scheme. Soon enough, the population growth will fail to provide economic cover for the spending, and taxes will have to go up.

We'll see how keen today's Carmelites will be on paying tomorrow's tax bill. I predict a flight from Carmel in 20-25 years, as the tax rate hikes upward. In the meantime, the mayor and councilors will likely have moved on to other political pastures- having campaigned on the premise that they created the shining city on the hill.

This is what looms for Fishers, with its first attemp to forcibly annex the Geist neighborhoods. This is why the annexations should not merely be fought by the people of Geist, but by the people of Fishers. I want to live in Fishers for many, many years to come. My thinking is long term.

This short term grabbing is the hallmark of Hamilton County Republicans. If your thinking is long term, if you want your property to hold its' value, you need to vote Libertarian. Hamilton County is a magnet today, but on course to be the slum of tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Joy of Independence

I drove my car through some heavy traffic on I-69 this evening, in the Castleton and Fishers area. I had my radio on and I smiled.

I smiled because even though there was congestion, there was motion. When I had my fill of I-69, I exited the highway for some side streets.

I smiled because I was hearing reports of the mass transit strike in New York City. I was not taking delight in the misery of Manhattan workers struggling to return to the Bronx or to Queens. I was taking delight in the fact that while automobile traffic can be difficult at times, it is not subject to a crippling at the hands of a labor union. Link to AP report on NYC transit labor strife.

In previous posts, I stated opposition to the proposed regional light rail system for Central Indiana, on economic grounds. Now I'll state additional opposition on the grounds of independence.

New Yorkers are thoroughly dependent upon mass transit. Most New Yorkers don't even own cars. Without the trains, they are virtually immobile. Not here in Indiana. Even if I-69 were swallowed into the earth tomorrow, I would have several other ways to get where I need to be.

Let's not move towards dependence upon a commuter system. Even if everything works mechanically, the unions can still grind the system to a halt. You would think Republicans would understand that. Let's remain independent- free to move, and free from the crushing tax burden that would be a Central Indiana light rail system that Republicans support.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Why Libertarian?

Because while Libertarians are very growth oriented, they don't give away the store.

Hamilton County features some of the hottest real estate property in Indiana. Farm ground that went for about $5,000/acre 10 years ago now goes for upwards of $75,000/acre from SR 32 and south. Some farmers receive two or three offer calls per week from developers who make pitches involving this kind of money.

These developers take on all the risks. Because it is their judgment that they can re-sell the improved property at a substantial profit, they will lay out millions of dollars to build the basic infrastructure before they sell a single sublot. Developers build roads, sewers, utility mains, walking paths, detention ponds at their own cost, and then turn this infrastructure over to the municipalities as a gift, all for the privilege of being able to sell the developed results.

So, why do we have this to look at on Greenfield Avenue (fka SR 238) in Noblesville?

This is the Noblesville Corporate Campus. Today, it has zero tenants operating, and yet, there are roads to nowhere, sanitary sewers serving corn fields, and snappy-looking entrance signs. For two years, it's all been sitting unused.

Which developer built this infrastructure? No private developer. This was built with public money, spent by the all-Republican Noblesville Common Council. Of course, no private developer would have begun building without a sense of urgency for filling the available parcels.

The stated purpose for building these roads and sewers was to lure high-wage life sciences companies to fill the Corporate Campus. One biotech company, Helmer, had announced its intentions to relocate there. In the last year, news about Helmer- or any other biotech company- has been completely absent from news about the Corporate Campus. Now it's all about the retail giant Simon, and the new shopping palace they will construct here.

Don't get me wrong, Simon's shopping area will create jobs in the area. They just pale next to what the life sciences had to offer. Moreover, retail jobs weren't the stated purpose for this gamble. This is fall-back success.

There is simply no way that a Libertarian official would have voted to approve this kind of development, where the city provides the infrastructure as a gift to anyone who will finally come along, the reverse of how it should be done. Yet, this is what the Republicans did in Noblesville.

They gave away the store. They now are reduced to hoping that sufficient development comes in and quickly, so it can generate the tax revenue needed to repay the bonds floated to build the roads and sewers a developer would have given to the city for free.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Election Night Photos

Dan Drexler was kind enough to email some photos from the Libertarian Party's "Election Night 2005" party at Bearno's, in downtown Indianapolis. While we didn't have a statewide election, we still got together to watch national returns and to talk local politics. I had a delightful conversation with a couple that came in from Pulaski County for the event.

Here I am giving my stump speech. I used a dining room chair in lieu of an actual tree stump.

My ubiquitous envelope box is in hand. It contains donation and volunteer sign-up cards. I joke that the box clears the room faster than a stump speech.

Dan Drexler is the Executive Diretor of the Libertarian Party of Indiana.
Why Libertarian?

Libertarians believe in the best possible use for public resources. Libertarians believe that transportation is a private matter, to be paid for in full by the person using the transportation. Libertarians are unwilling to fund expensive pie-in-the-sky marginal solutions to large problems.

This stands in contrast with Hamilton County Republicans, who take the opposite position of Libertarians on light rail and mass transit. Of course, they would never say that they are for the worst use of resources, or for pie-in-the sky, but actions matter. Republicans are acting to make the least of the Nickel Plate route, and launch a painfully expensive boondoggle.

The Nickel Plate line is being eyed as a starter route for a light rail mass transit network. The cost would be conservatively $850, and more likely better than a billion dollars. This network has been touted to take a maximum of 4% of cars off of I-69. Four percent!!!

Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman has repeatedly spoken on record in favor of spending around a billion dollars for this starter system. The latest quotes can be found in a December 16 article in the Noblesville Ledger, under the headline, "Official wants mass transit sooner than later":
The three proposed routes for mass transit's initial route in the region are along the old Nickel Plate Road rail line in Fishers and near Allisonville Road and Interstate 69. The possible forms of mass transit are high-tech express buses, trolley-style light rail or an elevated electric train.

Estimates have placed design and construction costs at $850 million.

"We are strongly exploring ways to bring this out more rapidly," Altman said, noting that one way would be to use all local funding instead of asking the federal government for help. She wants to talk with the Indiana General Assembly about the importance of regional transportation, in the hopes they will approve a regional tax.
Carmel's Republican Mayor Jim Brainard recently addressed Hamilton County Democrats to show affinity between the two parties on this issue. It is worth noting that neither I-69 nor the Nickel Plate line run through Carmel. It is also worth noting that the Monon Trail, a former Monon Railroad line that does run through Carmel, has not been offered for a conversion to light rail. Likewise, Altman represents Clay Township, which is to say, Carmel.

Best Management of Resources. The Monon, like the Nickel Plate, was a former freight railroad. The passenger traffic dried up by the late 1950s on the Monon, and by World War 2 on the Nickel Plate. That should tell you a lot about the viability of rail on these routes. As the freight traffic withered in the 1960s, the lines became run down, and adjacent property values suffered. In Carmel and Indianapolis, the Monon was converted to a trail and greenway. Property values skyrocketed, as the adjacent areas went from undesirable to hot property.

You won't find anyone near the Monon willing to reconvert it back to rail. It would crush their property values. So, why not convert the Nickel Plate into a greenway and trail, and let it do for Fishers and Indianapolis in the areas parallel to Binford Blvd. what Monon did for Carmel? Does this make too much sense?

Unfortunately, Republican officials are trying to solve one problem, congestion on I-69, by squandering a precious resource. The best use for the Nickel Plate corridor is obviously a greenway and trail, but their judgment is clouded by the desire to use it to solve a problem.

Only the Libertarian Party has made the policy proposal to convert the Nickel Plate into a trail and greenway. I hope to help cause this issue to gain traction shortly.

Transportation is a Private Matter. You would expect Republican officials to agree with this statement, and yet, they seem bent on backing the expansion of public transportation. Some argue that the person riding the train pays a fare, and therefore pays his way. If IndyGo is any model for comparison, and I think it is, then riders get a virtual free ride. From page 9 of IndyGo financial statements for 2002, here's where the revenue came from:

16% Passenger Fares
30% Property & Excise Taxes
26% Federal Assistance
26% Municipalities
1% Charters and Special Services
1% Other Revenue

In other words, 82% of IndyGo's 2002 operating revenues came from taxes. It's virtually a free ride for the passengers. There's more.

In 2000, IndyGo lost $5.2 million.
In 2001, IndyGo lost $3.4 million.
In 2002, IndyGo lost $4.0 million.
In 2003, IndyGo showed a profit of $2.8 million.

So, people really started riding the bus, right? No. According the 2003 IndyGo financial statement, fares only increased by $400,000. So how was there a swing of $6.8 million? In a word, taxes.

In 2003, Federal assistance increased by $1.8 million, and local assistance increased by $2.2 million. You will recall that property tax re-assessments were made, with assessed values rising dramatically. As these values soared, the taxes received by IndyGo did likewise.

It's startling to consider how significant the tax support is for IndyGo when you consider just this one line item, found on page 26 of the 2003 statement:

Prior to the collection of taxes, IndyGo had an operating loss of $37.4 million. Fares only provided $6.3 million in income.

That's a lot of tax money to cover. And yet, it happened. This is what Hamilton County Republicans are fixing to bring to us- the reinvention of Marion County. Why on earth would we want this? Answer: we don't.

To date, I have not heard a single Republican official speak out against a mass transit boondoggle such as the proposed Nickel Plate light rail starter system. I have heard Commissioner Altman, Mayor Brainard, Noblesville Mayor Ditslear, and State Senator Luke Kenley -all Republicans- speak in favor of it.

Big Difference. This issue is one of many that illustrates the difference between Republicans and Libertarians. Republicans give lip services to smaller government and lower taxes, but act in an opposite fashion. Elect Libertarians, and you will see officials who will call this what it is- bad public policy. Elect Libertarians, and we would make sure it would not come to pass.

Here are links to some of my previous posts on this issue: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why Libertarian?

With my recent heavy focus on the Geist annexation, I have increasingly been getting questions inquiring on the difference between Republicans and Libertarians.

It was pointed out that as regards local government, because most matters are fiscal matters and not social, Libertarians and Republicans sound very similar.

It's true. On fiscal issues, we do sound very similar. We share talking points on smaller government and lower taxes, on a belief in free markets rather than government, in private property over public control.

As we know, talk is cheap. Action is what matters. Because virtually all of Hamilton County's elected officials are Republicans, you have a good means for testing how the actions of these officials stacks up against the rhetoric.

You already see how it fails in the case of the Geist annexations. The all-Republican Fishers Town Council is eager to grow government by adding to its corporate limits. It is eager to raise taxes on a targeted group of citizens. It is willing to run roughshod over the right to self-determination. Libertarians oppose these actions.

In the next few days, I will show other places Republicans' actions run contrary to their rhetoric, at the local level. For fiscal conservatives who are increasingly disillusioned with local Republicans, the Libertarian Party is a viable option, unlike the Democratic Party, because unlike the Dems, Libertarians believe in smaller government and lower taxes. The difference is, we mean it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Astroturf Alert

In the biz, the term "astroturf" refers to letters blasted out chain-like to many media sources on a given topic. It's easy enough to do. Write your spiel, and then cut & paste into the newspaper's web form, and hit 'submit'.

I try to avoid pure astroturf, even though I do send many very similar letters to the regions newspapers. I go out of my way to write each letter from scratch so that they offer something different in each paper. The editors appreciate that, because they don't want to run a letter on Thursday that is identical to one that was printed by a competitor on Wednesday.

Enter one Jason Smith, of Carmel. He has had two letters printed on the topic of the Geist annexations. They are identical. Astroturf. The first question that comes to my mind is, "Why does a guy from Carmel have opinions strong enough on an annexation from the other side of the County that he is compelled the send astroturf to the local papers"?

Thursday's letter by Jason Smith, in the Noblesville Daily Times:
Kudos to Fishers for its snow-removal efforts in the wake of last Thursday's storm. Driving through the southern Hamilton County town Friday morning, you hardly would have known that seven-plus inches of snow had fallen.

Which leads me to believe that all the folks in Geist should quit complaining about becoming part of the Town of Fishers and start looking forward to the kind of services they'll be getting when they do.

Jason Smith, Carmel

Wednesday's letter by Jason Smith, in the Indianapolis Star:
Kudos to Fishers for its snow removal efforts in the wake of the Dec. 5 storm. Driving through the southern Hamilton County town Friday morning, you hardly would have known that seven-plus inches of snow had fallen.

Which leads me to believe that all the folks in Geist should quit complaining about becoming part of the Town of Fishers and start looking forward to the kind of services they'll get when they do.

Jason Smith

Anyone care to hazard a guess on Mr. Smith? Is he a party loyalist, coming to the defense of Fishers Town Councilor/GOP County Chair Charlie White? Hmmm... I'm doubting that Mr. Smith was living in an area forcibly annexed by his home city of Carmel, a fiscal conservative opposed to growing government, or one who defends the right to self-determination.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Libertarian Party Meeting Thursday

The Hamilton County monthly meeting has been shifted from its usual day in order to accommodate those traveling and generally busy surrounding the holidays. So, the December meeting will be held Thursday, December 15, at 7pm, at Barley Island, in downtown Noblesville.
My personal invitation goes out to the residents and business owners in the Geist area. Chairman Rob Place has asked me to brief the Libertarian leaders on the status of the forced annexations and the remonstrance efforts. We will discuss the political pressure that can be brought to bear on those who initiated the forced annexation, and on those elected officials who should have stood in defense of the Fall Creek residents of Geist, but who have remained conspicuously silent.

I would be remiss if I did not tout the beverages at Barley Island. Their brews are very good, but this time, I will focus on their root beer. I've noticed that Michael Jarrell always orders a root beer at Barley Island. I had initially assumed that he just wasn't drinking alcohol. Alas- he is quite the connoisseur of all things root beer. Check out Michael's blog. I will be sampling Barley Island's own root beer Thursday evening.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Recommended Reading

Fred McCarthy sends regular updates to me and a very interesting list of recipients- Mitch Daniels, Bart Peterson, and City-County Council members.

Let's hope they read his blog, Indy Tax Dollars. Fred has focused on the Colts stadium project, but lately has been discussing the size of the state budget.

Good stuff. Check it out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Letter In Sunday Star

My third published letter on the topic of Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex the Geist area north of 96th Street was featured in today's Indy Star. Link to letter.

I recommend that Geist area property owners should send in their own letters in order to turn up the heat on the Fishers Town Council. Don't worry about writing elegant prose- it's going to be edited anyway. Make your point in 100 words or so, and your letter will be printed. Use the tried and true formula of who, what, when, where, and why, and you'll do great.
Go Colts!!!

Watching the game on the tube is fun, especially when your team is making a run at history. It's even more fun when you can gather with a fun group of people .

Join me this afternoon at the 106th Street Grill for the big game between the Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars. I will speak briefly at halftime about my campaign and the Libertarian Party.

Game time is 1pm. The 106th Street Grill is located in the southwest corner of the intersection of 106th & Michigan Ave. (US 421), and is near to Indianapolis, Carmel, and Zionsville.

Update: Colts win to become only the 4th NFL team to go 13-0! Nice turnout with an interesting group of people, including a man who was once stationed in Rota, Spain- near where my sone Alex lives. Fun to talk with him about the places Alex & I have been, in the Sherry Triangle, and Gibraltar. Thanks to Renee and Dan for setting up a fun afternoon!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Vive Le Resistance!

The deeper into the remonstrance process, the more I impressed with the resolve of the property owners of the Geist area who are subjected to this nonsense.

I was among 150 volunteers who received an email from Rachel Quade on Friday afternoon. We were asked to help distribute flyers to the 2,200 residences in the annexation area. Rachel advised me that she had more than 70 people respond, offering to carry the flyers through 6" of fresh snow.

Color me impressed. 70 responses in less than 24 hours, just two weekends before Christmas, a day after a very heavy snow. That's remarkable! That's resolve.

To think, Fishers Town Council president Scott Faultless predicted that the annexation would be welcomed with open arms. Talk about being out of touch!
Clarification on Waivers From Remonstrance

I personally find waivers that would prevent a property owner from making a remonstrance un-American. It is always your right to speak against a government that works to oppress you. Period. It disturbs me that a government would work to insert such language into a sewer agreement and then try to apply it as a blanket over any issue, such as the Town of Fishers is doing in its attempt to forcibly annex the Geist area in Hamilton County.

The main article in today's Noblesville Daily Times addresses this issue. Reporter William Fouts leads the article thusly:
Those opposed to Fishers' plan to annex communities along Geist Reservoir may have a legal right to remonstrate against the proposal even if their properties are subject to sewer waivers.

According Steve Griesemer, a Geist resident and attorney acting as legal liaison for the Masthead community, certain conditions must be met for a waiver to be valid.

“The sewer waivers have to be registered or recorded with the county recorders office and appear in the chain of title for the respective home or structure,” Griesemer said. “And they also have to be recorded prior to the builders connecting to the sewer system, and a developer cannot execute a sewer waiver after he has already passed off title. In other words, after he has sold the house to the first purchaser.”

These conditions would make the vast majority of properties in Geist waiver-proof. And yet, Fishers was counting on these waivers to preclude more than 40% of properties, rendering the remonstrance process impossible.

Just another of the all-Republican Town Council's many miscalculations. I can't wait to have at these clowns in the 2007 elections.
Colts & Politics

Dan Drexler and Renee Atwood are hosting a fun afternoon at the 106th Street Grill for Sunday afternoon's game between the Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Come cheer the Colts on to their 13th straight victory! I will speak briefly at halftime about my campaign and the Libertarian Party.

Game time is 1pm. The 106th Street Grill is located in the southwest corner of the intersection of 106th & Michigan Ave. (US 421), and is near to Indianapolis, Carmel, and Zionsville.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Glad I Don't Smoke!

I am also glad that I don't own a bar or restaurant, for the same reasons. The smoking ban craze has now hit Chicago. From the State Journal-Register report:
The Chicago City Council approved a ban on smoking in nearly all public places Wednesday but gave taverns and bars located inside restaurants until the middle of 2008 to comply.

The ban, which takes effect Jan. 16, also applies to places such as stadiums, nursing homes, shopping malls, city vehicles, taxicabs, convention halls and schools.

I figure whichever Midwestern city is left allowing smoking in 2007 is going to gobble up the lion's share of this region's convention business. Too bad that won't be Indy.

Credit where credit is due: I learned of Chicago's ban via Jacob Sullum's entry on Reason Hit & Run. It's a great group blog. If you haven't checked it out, I recommend it. Snappy wit throughout.
Opposition To Geist Annexation Well Established

I am very encouraged by the level of sophistication shown by the organizers of the opposition to Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex Geist.

Despite the Town's numerous calculations- divide & conquer by making four quadrants of the Geist neighborhoods; launch the effort during the Holidays; make the petitioners struggle against the cold; count on sunbirds being in Florida when the notices go out; bank on Hamilton Southeastern Utilities completing their deals with developers that included 'thou shalt not remonstrate' clauses in the Covenants- the residents and business owners are well on their way to a successful opposition. From the Fishers Topics' report:
After the Say No to Fishers group met to organize itself Nov. 29, Moran said, more than 600 residents joined the opposition movement in the first 24 hours.

"We picked up momentum as a result of it (the meeting)," Spear said. "The resistance is more than we thought."

Among the group's key concerns is that Geist residents already receive the services they need without paying additional taxes to Fishers.

Antoinette Alexander, who moved to Geist in June, joined the opposition group after speaking with other opponents. She said she was out of town when the annexation announcement was made.

"We pay enough taxes right now," said Alexander, who, like many other Geist residents, claims she has every service she needs. "We don't need any more taxes."

The Say No group also has consulted with Matt Milam and Jeff Woloshin, organizers of the Concerned Citizens of Home Place, which was successful in stopping a controversial annexation proposed by Carmel. Milam and Woloshin offered advice on how to properly organize, raise funds and get signatures to oppose the annexation.

My letter on the subject appeared in the same issue of the Topics. Link to letter.

The "Say No To Fishers" website is up and running. Geist residents and business owners, along with those who oppose forced annexation on principle and support these folks, can get regularly updated info on the site, and sign up to volunteer.

The next step will be to ratchet up the political pressure. While Fishers Town Council President Scott Faultless seems to be the early lightning rod, my hunches are that several others will shortly be feeling the pressure they richly deserve. Stay tuned!
Excellent Lake County Visit

Monday Night Football and a political roundtable with pizza and drinks. What could be better? Well, the football game wasn't very good, but we hardly noticed anyhow.

Big thanks to Jim O'Gallagher and Bert Bell for putting the event together. Also to the Lake County Libertarians, who invited curious friends who have voted for other parties in the past. I think we may have a few converts. The manager at Zuni's took our "Overtaxed Small Business Owner" bumper sticker and small business pamphlet before I left.

The most important things to come out of the conversations:

1. The Woody Allen Rule. It states, "90% of success is merely showing up". This is so true, especially as our state has become so dominated by one party in most counties. Lake is certainly no exception. Because the #2 party is such a distant second in most places, there is effective one-party rule in the vast majority of our counties. By simply showing up, Libertarian candidates make a big difference. When we are on the ballot in Lake and other such counties, the elections are no longer over at the May primary. Candidates keep talking issues until November's general election. In a Democratic-dominated county like Lake, it may seem pointless to talk about smaller government and lower taxes. If the Republicans aren't showing up, Libertarians get all the votes Republicans might have gotten, plus the independents, plus their base. That's enough to make incumbent Democrats nervous.

2. Comfort Zones. While it may be perceived that because Lake is so dominated by Democrats that it is pointless to talk limited government, the flip side to that is that maybe with the absense of active Republicans, there is a significant portion of the population that does believe in limited government, but they stay home on election day because nobody speaks their language. Be undaunted in speaking limited government! Many people will support you and vote for you if you champion them where it matters most. Being a candidate can be uncomfortable business. People want to poke holes in your positions, say you have no chance, etc. That goes with the territory. But it is when we stray beyond our comfort zones that we begin to reap the greatest rewards.

3. Small Business. Even in a heavily unionized area like Lake County, there are still entrepreneurs, and the major parites do not speak for them. This is the Libertarian Party's natural constituency, but like the tree falling in the deep forest, the message isn't heard if it isn't broadcast. It isn't necessary to do expensive advertising. Rather, letters of invitation can be sent to business owners to attend a Small Business Forum. Ask entrepreneurs to tell you where government makes their lives more difficult and more expensive. They sure will tell you, but more importantly, they will understand that you were interested. When was the last time a government agency, or a Republican or Democrat actually asked about how their policy proposals affect them?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Visiting Lake County Monday

While I work hard in my home county, I do frequently hit the road on the campaign trail. On Monday night, I will be visiting Lake County in a fundraiser thrown for me by the good people in the Libertarian Party of Lake County.

The event will be held at Zuni's in Lowell. Event starts at 7:30pm. $10 donation is requested, with pizza and two drinks offered in exchange. We'll be taking in the Monday Night Football game, but most certainly talking about the important issues affecting people in northwest Indiana and around the state.

Zuni's is located at 149 West Commercial Ave (SR 2) in downtown Lowell. Zuni's is 6.5 miles westOf I-65 and 2 miles east of US Rt 41.

Folks from Porter, Jasper, and Newton Counties, and even Illionois are encouraged to drop by for a fun evening.

Lake will the 17th Indiana county I have visited. I am energized when I travel throughout the state to speak with my fellow Hoosiers. If you would like me to visit your county, please contact campaign scheduler Jenn Bradshaw by email at

Huge thanks to District 1 Rep. Jim O'Gallagher for his persistence in putting this event together, to Bert Bell for picking up the tab for the pizza and drinks, and to anyone else who assisted. It is deeply appreciated.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fishers Dog & Pony Show Tonight

The Town of Fishers, obviously wracked with an imminent sense of failure in its attempt to annex the Geist neighborhoods, is hosting an open house tonight at the Town Hall from 6:30-8:00pm.

The Noblesville Daily Times printed my letter in today's edition, expanding on the embarrassment that is this Council effort. It is as follows:
The Town of Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex the Geist-area neighborhoods is frustrating, both as a Fishers resident and as someone who believes in the right to self-determination, smaller government and lower taxes.

It is frustrating because the residents of Geist were not asking to be annexed and are actively forming resistance to the forced annexation. It concerns me that my town councilors would initiate force upon those it wants as its citizens. This isn't exactly the best way to roll out the “welcome” mat.

It is frustrating because the town is quite obviously seeking to inflate its population numbers, its tax base, and its bonding capacity. You don't do these things in municipal government unless a spending spree is in mind. As a fiscal conservative, I want my town councilors to always be looking for ways to reduce the per capita budget and the overall scope of government, not ways to best mask growing it.

It is very embarrassing that the Town Council is reduced to hosting a dog and pony show designed to show Geist residents that being swallowed into the town won't be so bad. Sales jobs aren't required when the customer wants to buy and when the approach is halfway friendlier than a hostile takeover. It wouldn't happen if the council was strictly focused on the core functions of government in the area within the current town limits. If we had Libertarians on the council, we would have a more fiscally conservative and sensitive approach.


The town council is very fond of patting itself on the back for the high rating issued to Fishers by Money magazine. What they should come to terms with is the fact that the town has that ranking despite the council, not because of it. Quality of life isn't only determined by household incomes and assessed value. It is often judged by whether local government makes residents' lives easier or harder. The council is making all of our lives less productive by wasting the resources of the existing tax base in this vain pursuit, and in particular, is wasting the time, energy, and money of the Geist residents who are left to fight this unwanted action. A council that unnecessarily creates hard feelings doesn't deserve the accolades.

The all-Republican council should drop this initiative immediately, issue apologies to the residents and business owners of Geist and look into more productive enterprises that would make our lives easier, such as reducing permit fees or shrinking government such that an addition to the Town Hall would be unnecessary.

Mike Kole, Fishers

Mike Kole is the former chair of the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Message To Geist Residents

Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate the time you will spend reading my thoughts.

I know that many of you would have something other than politics on your mind right now if it weren't for the Town of Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex you and your neighbors into the Town. The Holidays are upon us, and we would all rather think of our families first. But politics matters most when it hits close to home, and there is nothing closer to home than your home itself.

It has always been my position, and the Libertarian Party's position, that forced annexations are wrong. This was my position when Carmel was trying to forcibly annex Southwest Clay and Home Place. Voluntary annexations are perfectly acceptable, and there is no reason that the Town of Fishers could not have made overtures directly to Geist residents to ask if they wouldn't like to be annexed. If the people wanted to be a part of Fishers, there would be no need for a fight. So, it is distressing that my Town went straight for a hostile takeover approach.

I support your right to self-determination. The Town Councilors do not appear to respect that right.

Most of the effort in fighting a forced annexation has to happen from within the community defending itself. Outsiders cannot legally carry the petitions, for instance. However, you can count on me to do everything within my power to defend the people of Geist, and to assist their efforts towards self-determination.

I will assist when you are petitioning by running hot coffee and cocoa to the petitioners. I will make sure you have meeting places for before and after "door-to-door" days, with refreshments for the petitioners. I will be sure that rides are provided for those who need them, to get to meetings or other activities.

One important thing I offer is political pressure. It is important that I am a Libertarian candidate for office, because I can provide a consistent voice of political support.

Keep in mind that one of the Town Councilors is Charlie White, the Republican County Chair. It is a political risk for any of the Town Councilors to take a position contrary to his, so you cannot expect them to do so. Likewise, your Township Trustee, who should be very much on you side, might be be reluctant to oppose the County Chair who signs the papers that allows them to run for that position. The threat of the unelection of the Trustee and replacement with a Libertarian who backs the residents of Geist, who are Fall Creek Township residents and voters, can be key in breaking the uniform Republican position.

As we all know, it's all about money. So, if you want to put pressure directly on the Republican County Chair, you could make a statement he could really understand by transferring your local political support from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party. See if he doesn't become more receptive to your point of view.

I am a reluctant politician. In a better world, it wouldn't be necessary to try to bring public policy back to where our nation's Founding Fathers began, where the consent of the governed was an unquestioned American guiding principle. The two major parties, and the Republican Party here at home, have strayed far from principles such as self-determination, smaller government, and lower taxes. But they have strayed, so I am a Libertarian, and I am a candidate for office.

I have supported the residents of Geist from the beginning. I will be with you throughout your effort to resist forced annexation, until a successful conclusion. You can count on me.
Think Republicans Are Different Than Democrats?

Interestingly, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard will be addressing the Hamilton County Democrat Club next Wednesday. Noblesville Ledger report.

I suspect that the first blush reaction is that a talk given by the Republican mayor to the Democrats would be a recipe for fireworks. However, Brainard will be speaking about public transportation and the Carmel cultural arts initiative, and I have to believe that there will be a majority of Democrats nodding their heads in approval as he speaks. Brainard has previously spoken in favor of broadening the tax dollar sucking mass transit, and has used copious amounts of tax dollars to fund the arts initiative.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Great Varvel Cartoon

Indy Star cartoonist Gary Varvel posted a real winner recently. Link. (I'd copy the image here, but don't wish to run afoul of the Star, or of copyright laws.)

It features a gigantic turkey on the dinner table stuffed with US currency and "$200 million tax amnesty" stamped on the bird. Governor Daniels leads eager diners wearing business suits in prayer- "Thank you for this bounty we are about to receive".

Varvel nailed it. There are two ways to balance budgets. To cut spending or increase tax receipts. Lacking the stomach to even cut the budget a measly 1%, the tax amnesty program was hatched. Now, gleeful Indiana Reps and Senators can proceed with plans for spending without having to worry about pesky cuts.

Bottom line: Republicans won't cut the budget in any meaningful way- not even 1%. Libertarians would be delighted to do the job.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Meeting For Geist Residents

The residents of the Geist area are working quickly to get organized. There will be a meeting Tuesday evening at Fall Creek Elementary School, at 6:30pm in the school cafeteria. Item on the At Geist website. The school is located at 12131 Olio Road. Mapquest link.

This meeting is an excellent first step for concerned citizens to begin networking with one another. If they are to oppose Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex their communities, they will gain strength in working together.

I will attend this meeting, and will look forward to meeting more Geist residents. I was delighted to be so warmly received by so many of them at the Fishers Town Council meeting tonight. The room was overwhelmingly opposed to a forced annexation, and expressed gratitude to me for my letter to the Noblesville Daily Times and Fishers Weekly.

I support the right to self-determination. The residents should choose and chart their own course, not the Town. To that end, it was exciting to hear some talk about the possibility of forming their own municipality- Geist, IN. Whatever Geist residents choose, it is that choice that matters most.
Meeting Times

While Carmel entertains a second reading of an ordinance to restrict the rights of business owners setting their own policy regarding patron smoking, the Town of Fishers will entertain the first reading of four ordinances that would provide for the forced annexation of neighborhoods in the Geist Reservoir area. Both meetings, tonight, at 7pm. Carmel meeting info. Fishers meeting info. The Carmel meeting features the opportunity for public comment.

I really love Fishers' divide and conquer approach. It's as though they learned something from Carmel, which tried to devour all of Southwest Clay in one big gulp. No, Fishers breaks it down into four ordinances that correspond to four neighborhood regions. Great strategy! If one or two of those neighborhood regions have strong oppositional leadership but the others don't, the chances are that at least some of these annexations will pass. Strong leadership over the whole process could defeat the whole thing, don't you know. I'm glad to see our elected officials are putting their energies into such productive endeavors. If only we could get them to think about reducing the size of government and shrinking empire. Alas. Map of proposed annexation area.

I will be at the meeting to network with residents and business property owners who oppose the annexation. This can be defeated.

In the meantime, if you would like to leave feedback for the Town of Fishers on forced annexation, follow this link.

Update: The Noblesville Daily Times printed my letter on Geist annexation, in Saturday's edition.

Annexation is all about money
By Mike Kole

The all-Republican Fishers Town Council has just reinforced what we learned from the all-Republican Carmel City Council: it's all about grabbing tax dollars.

It is clear that the Town Council would benefit from the addition of the affluent addresses, the higher assessed value and the greater population numbers. It all results in more money for them to spend. But because Geist residents currently have less expensive Fall Creek Township fire protection, county sheriff protection and county highway service, it is unclear how these residents and business owners would benefit from more expensive town services and why they would want them. They certainly haven't been filing petitions asking to be annexed. They knew what they were doing when they chose township government.

The burden is on the Town Council to show Geist residents that there is something more awaiting them than a higher tax bill. Better yet, the burden is on local Republican officials to show that there is more to their thinking than entertaining schemes for raising taxes and bonding capability.

Annexation of residents who want it is fine and dandy, but the Libertarian Party will be glad to assist Geist residents and business owners who aren't interested in being annexed for the pleasure of paying higher taxes in exchange for no real benefit to themselves.

Kole, of Fishers, is a Libertarian Party candidate for Secretary of State.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Excellent Small Business Conference

I was delighted to speak to a gathering of Libertarian leaders and strategists yesterday in Fort Wayne, on the invitation of Allen County Chair Mike Sylvester.

Simply put, the Libertarian Party's "Small Business Initiative" is brilliant. The LP has long lacked a core constituency akin to the ones the Republicans and Democrats have. Consider:

Abortion foes will vote Republican no matter what policies the GOP advances in other areas, because so many anti-abortion voters are single-issue voters, the GOP gets these votes.

Where is our single-issue voter? The small business owner.

Conference speakers. From left: Jason Shelley, Indiana Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses; Mike Kole; Ron Reinking from Indiana Policy Review; Mark Schreiber, former Marketing Director of the National Libertarian Party, and developer of the LP's Small Business Initiative.

While the Democrats champion big labor and the Republicans claim big business, the small business owner is devoid of high-dollar lobbyists. They're busy plowing profits back into the business. They can't afford to pay lobbyists $150,000/year to represent them in Washington or in state capitols. So, policy works against them.

Readers of this blog are familiar with how my campaign has been an implemetation of the Small Business Initiative. I have reached out to business owners in the hospitality industry in particular, showing them how the other two parties are killing them, while only the Libertarian Party speaks up consistently in defense of them, against higher taxes, and in favor of their property rights.

Explaining how championing small business owners helped defeat a tax in Fishers.

I have every confidence that this program will begin to spread rapidly throughout the region, to the great benefit of the state affiliates that pick it up. Libertarian representatives from Ohio, Kentucky, and Missouri were in attendance.

I urge our County Chairs here in Indiana to get on board, and to always look for small business owners to defend and to promote. After all, issues devide, but constituencies unite.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sometimes, There's Just No Winning
Three guys are in a jail cell. They start to talking and find out that they're all gas station owners.

The first one says, "I set my prices at a couple of cents higher than my competitors. I'm in here for price-gouging."

The second one says "I set my prices at a couple of cents lower than my competitors. I'm in here for predatory practices."

The third one says "I set my prices at the same price as my competitors. I'm in here for collusion!"

The difference between these decisions being legal and illegal is the difference between capitalism and the mixed-economy fascism were are now saddled with in this country.

Thanks to Kevin Fleming for passing this one along, via The Agitator.
Calling Geist Residents!

If you reside in Fall Creek Township in the Geist area, or own business property there, you will probably discuss the Town of Fishers' attempts to forcibly annex you into the Town more than the weather or the latest Colts game.

Many Geist residents and business owners will want to oppose this forced annexation. The Libertaian Party will be pleased to assist you in maintaining your autonomy and self-determination.

Check this site, your newspapers, and your mailbox soon. The Libertarian Party will be setting up a meeting that will give opponents the tools, the insights, and the networking necessary to defeat this hostile takeover.

With this move, the all-Republican Fishers Town Council has just reinforced what we learned from the all-Republican Carmel City Council: it's all about grabbing tax dollars.

It is clear that the Town Council would benefit from the addition of the affluent addresses, the higher assessed value, and the greater population numbers. It all results in more money for them to spend.

But as Geist residents, you currently have less expensive Fall Creek Township fire protection, County Sheriff protection, and County Highway service. Therefore, it is unclear how you would benefit from more expensive Town services, and why you would want them. You certainly haven't been filing petitions asking to be annexed. I have little doubt that you knew what you were doing when you chose Township government.

Place the burden is on the Town Council to show Geist residents that there is something more awaiting them than a higher tax bill, or the ability to cast a fairly meaningless Council vote. Politically, the burden is on local Republican officials to show that there is more to their thinking than entertaining schemes for raising taxes and bonding capability.

Check out the websites of the Clay Township residents who fought Carmel's forced annexation. You will see that the process is indeed hostile. Southwest Clay NOAX. Concerned Citizens For Home Place. You will also see that the residents and business owners can get together and defeat a forced annexation (Home Place), or negotiate to make it more palatable (Southwest Clay).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Carmel Has A New Rival

OK, Fishers and Carmel have been rivals for the last several years, each looking for the bragging rights however they may come- bigger population, higher rankings in magazines, etc. I'm thinking about the Abdul In The Morning show on WXNT, where they play the theme from Hogan's Heroes every time Carmel is mentioned, and Abdul makes cracks about Home Place being the Sudetenland, because it was targeted by Carmel for forced annexation.

Abdul, you'll have to play that theme for Fishers now. The Town of Fishers just held a press conference to announce that the Council wishes to annex neighborhoods in the Geist Reservor area. From the Indy Star report:
FISHERS, Ind. -- Town leaders here plan to annex hundreds of high-end homes that line Geist Reservoir, one of the metro area's premier addresses.

Town Council president Scott Faultless and Town Manager Gary Huff announced in a news conference this morning that Fishers plans to annex 2,050 properties along the reservoir. The annexation would be large enough to increase the town's number of households by about 10 percent.

"We're going to make Fishers a little bit better by starting to annex parts of the community that are technically not within the town boundaries. The first area we're going to start to annex is our biggest area -- around Geist," Faultless told a news conference this morning.
I'll translate for Mr. Faultless: "We're going to broaden the Town's tax base while offering nothing of substance to these people who currently live under Township government." Given this real-life translation, his closing statement in the article is hilarious:
Faultless said he expects the annexation plan to be well received by property owners.
Really? Why? Annexations were certainly not well received by the residents of the similarly affluent Southwest Clay area, nor by Home Place residents.

I would fully expect these well-to-do Fall Creek Township residents to see through Faultless' bluster and identify the annexation for what it is- an attempt to grab tax dollars, to make the Town's assessed valuation figures look better, and to make the population figure larger.

Here's the challenge to the Town: Make the case. What on earth are you offering these people? The ability to vote for Town Councilors? Big deal. Give me substance.
Looking For Clean Campaigns

I recently received an email from an organization seeking pledges from candidates to keep their campaigns clean. I chuckled. Clearly, they hadn't gotten a hold of the Republican and Democrats in New Jersey.

I got my second chuckle at the name by which this organization goes by: Republicans & Democrats for Positive & Issue Oriented Politics. I can only presume that it has such a name because it is well known that Libertarians run clean campaigns. Anyhow, their pledge is a worthy one, although I doubt many will sign on to it. Observe:
By attaching myself to both this organization and document, I vow to abide by an exemplary standard of conduct. During this campaign, I also promise to confine my criticism to my opponent’s records. For I feel that personal attacks are unworthy, undignified, and unbecoming of myself.

With this pledge, I solemnly declare that I will refrain from inciting, inflammatory, or misleading statements. In avoiding these practices, I hope to serve as an example for both my state and this great nation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Excellent Fair Tax Presentation

While the tornados in the region, heavy rain, and high winds kept some people away, others came to Barley Island in Noblesville from as far as Lafayette, Fort Wayne, and Hagerstown for the presentation and Q&A on the Fair Tax, as hosted by the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County.

Americans For Fair Taxation Executive Director Tom Wright makes a point. Tom is flanked by Ron Reinking (left) and Abdul Hakim-Shabazz.

WXNT's Abdul Hakim-Shabazz was the MC and threw several typical objections you hear from folks when discussing the Fair Tax. Wright and Fort Wayne CPA Ron Reinking answered the challenges with plain explanations, and each time, I found myself concluding that the proposal could only be good.

From left: Ron Reinking, Tom Wright, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, Mike Kole

Many, many thanks to Michael Jarrell, who put the event together and then made me take credit for doing so. Michael hatched the idea and did the work. Michael is the Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fair Tax Presentation Tonight

Come on out tonight to hear a presentation and participate in Q&A on the Fair Tax proposal. The event starts at 7pm at Barley Island, in downtown Noblesville, and is free of charge. The Noblesville Ledger ran a news brief on the event in today's edition:
Fair tax proposal is topic for free program tonight

NOBLESVILLE -- Tom Wright, executive director of Americans for Fair Taxation, will speak at 7 p.m. today at Barley Island Brewing Co., 639 Conner St. The Hamilton County Libertarian Party is sponsoring the talk, part of A Fair Tax Evening.

Joining Wright will be Ball State University economist Cecil Bohannon; Ron Ranking, a certified public accountant affiliated with the Indiana Policy Review; and Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, host of WXNT 1430's "Abdul in the Morning" Show.

The Americans for Fair Taxation group has released its plan to put control of taxation back into the hands of Americans. With the recent release of "The Fair Tax Book" by nationally syndicated talk-show host Neal Boortz and Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., the fair tax has become a topic of wide conversation.

The fair tax would eliminate federal income taxes, Social Security taxes and sales taxes. It also would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, according to the news release from the Libertarian Party.

Well, they got that part about eliminating sales taxes wrong. The sales tax would actually replace all of the other taxes. Everything else and more, tonight!

I'll introduce the event promptly at 7:00. Make sure and say hello!
Stunning Defeat For Merger

I was positively shocked to learn that one Indianapolis City-County Councilor broke ranks with her party to ensure defeat for the otherwise partisan vote on the merger of IPD and the Marion County Sheriff's Office. From the Indy Star report:
A lone Democrat crossed party lines late Monday to defeat a merger between city and county police forces, leaving Mayor Bart Peterson to find another way to pay for public safety with dwindling resources.

City-County Councilwoman Sherron Franklin, a police officer, joined 14 Republicans to defeat the proposed consolidation 15-14, handing Peterson a significant political defeat on one of his most ambitious plans in two terms in office.

Franklin was placed in a trick-bag. She is a member of the FOP, which lobbied hard against the proposal. Her choices were: a) vote with her party and alienate her professional brethren, or b) vote with IPD and alienate her party. Lose your future backing from your party, or the endorsement of FOP? Not exactly a friendly set of choices.
When the vote registered on the Assembly Room board, a crowd made up largely of police officers from IPD and the Sheriff's Department broke into applause. Ron Gibson, a Democratic council member, said he was "shocked" by the outcome because his party has a majority in the council.

After the vote, Franklin said: "They asked me to vote against my family. I've been a police officer for 15 years and a council member for two."

I'm thinking this term will be Franklin's last term, if her party has anything to say about it. I'm looking for the Democrats to slate someone who will toe party line next time around.

Mayor Peterson put an awful lot of energy into this proposal. I liked how he took responsibility for the defeat.
"I didn't do enough to sell this proposal," he said. "We'll have to sit down in the morning and pick up the pieces and find what's best for public safety and how we can stretch public safety dollars as far as we can."

The merger would have created a single 1,500-officer department with the sheriff in charge, starting in 2007. Peterson said the merger would have saved an estimated $9 million. Without the merger, officials say enough funds will not be available for both departments, and by 2009 there would be a $40 million budget shortfall.

Now we have a problem. You can't tell me that it is impossible to fund the police and Sheriff fully. These are real-life priorities in government. Public safety always comes first. The task now before the Mayor and the Council is to trim non-safety fat and pet projects and plow that money into fully funding the police and Sheriff.

If the Mayor and the Council can't find the way to take available funding and spend it on a priority basis, stand aside and let Libertarians do it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fair Tax Event Tuesday

Here's another reminder that the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County will be hosting a Fair Tax event this Tuesday at 7pm, at Barley Island in downtown Noblesville.

Tom Wright, Executive Director of Americans for Fair Taxation will be speaking, along with Abdul Hakim-Shabazz from WXNT 1430-am, Ball State Economist Cecil Bohannon, and Ron Ranking, CPA of the Indiana Policy Review. I'll also speak, starting the evening off with a welcome.

Go if you are a supporter of the Fair Tax. Go if you are skeptical about it. Go if you just want to hang out with fiscal conservatives and supporters of limited government. Just make sure to go!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Where's The Courage?

Although I did not write this morning's short Indy Star editorial, I could have:

No guts in Congress to make needed cuts

Our position: Failure to vote on spending cuts is another sad reminder of Congress' lack of courage.

Republicans in the U.S. House aren't listening.

With the federal government's expenses soaring, in part because of the billions of extra dollars needed to rebuild the Gulf Coast in the wake of three powerful hurricanes, Republicans who control the House by a healthy majority have put off voting on much-needed budget cuts. Majority Leader Roy Blount hopes to round up enough support in his caucus next week to finally stage a vote.

But there's clearly little appetite in Congress for making hard decisions when it comes to the budget. In the summer Congress passed a highway bill loaded with waste, including giveaways to private enterprises like The Children's Museum in Indianapolis. Despite widespread appeals, congressional leaders have steadfastly refused to reopen the bill and shift money to more pressing and appropriate needs.

The federal government simply can't afford to do it all. Sadly, the folks running Congress show little evidence that they have the courage needed to make the choices.

Well, the GOP has gotten to enjoy throwing pork to people back home - the bridge to nowhere in Alaska is the quintessential case-in-point - because unfortunately, throwing pork buys votes.

The Star should have put Indiana state government on par with the Congress, though. Just as the Federal government features a Republican chief executive and Republican domination of both houses, so goes Indiana. Did we even cut the Indiana budget by a measly 1%?

No. Where's the courage, indeed.

Only one party has the appetite for cutting budgets- the Libertarian Party. If you want smaller government, the Libertarian Party is your only real choice.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Indiana Wesleyan Libertarians

I met with another excellent College Libertarian group last night, in Grant County, on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University. It was my distinct pleasure to speak with them about my campaign, the role of the state party in beginning to be a player in shaping public policy, and strategies to win constituents.

This group will raise the bar. They recently had a National Debt Party, which was designed to show their fellow students how serious the debt problem is. Their preseident, Derek Reimenschneider, declared the event a mediocre one. After all- they only had 160 students visit, and of that, merely 60 took the World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Indiana Wesleyan University Libertarians surround me

Yeah- I want "failure" of this magnitude! By the way, the event was held on campus, on a Friday night. I remember my own college days. No student organization staged events on Friday nights unless it involved bands and/or copious amounts of beer. This crew did it on the strength of the content alone. Hats' off!

Let us hope that Libertarian economic policies begin to shape Indiana sooner rather than later. I want these students to make Indiana their home upon graduation. It would be a pity to lose them to the Brain Drain that afflicts our state thanks to the economic policies of Democrats and Republicans.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Another Day, Another Smoking Ban

Today, it's West Lafayette. This one comes to us from the Department of Redundancy Department, courtesy of an AP story in the Indy Star:
The City Council gave preliminary approval to a ban on smoking in most workplaces.

Council members voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance on its first reading Monday as about 100 people packed the council chambers.

"This ordinance will do no harm," resident Marshall Crawford said. "The most it will do is inconvenience smokers."

No harm? As a minor side note, could we please consider that it will further erode property rights, as business owners are increasingly told that they cannot set their own policies in their own establishments, as a matter of law? Is that too much to ask? In America?

I am very interested in working with the Libertarian Party of Tippecanoe County to reach out to business owners to let them know that somebody out there is interested in defending their property rights.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blogcritics Pick Of The Week

I am honored that Blogcritics, an excellent dynamic blog site I contribute to, has chosen one of my recent entries as a Pick of the Week in their Politics category. The item is a re-cap on the trials and tribulations of speaking my mind off-topic on my blog while as a candidate for public office.

Follow this link to the entry on Blogcritics

Follow this link to the Blogcritics Picks of the Week page.

I have linked Blogcritics on my own blog nearly since I launched it. If you want to know what bloggers across the political spectrum are writing about, there's no better place to check in than Blogcritics.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Trail Schedule Notes

I'll be on the trail throughout November, and have four event dates to pass along to you:

Tuesday, 11/8, 8pm: Non-Election Night Party. Celebrate the fact that no Democrats or Republicans were elected in Indiana this year, at Bearno's in downtown Indy. I'll probably speak, but we can certainly enjoy good pizza and talk politics! RSVPs to Allison McGuire by email:, or by phone: 317-372-6436.

Thursday, 11/10, 9:30pm: Business meeting of the Indiana Wesleyan University Libertarians. I'll speak about my campaign and the role the Libertarian Party has in shaping policy statewide.

Tuesday, 11/15, 7pm: Fair Tax Event at Barley Island, in Noblesville. I'll speak briefly and introduce speakers. Open to all, especially if skeptical or if you have questions. Sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County.

Satuday, 11/19, 11-4pm: Small Business Forum, sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Allen County. I'll speak at 3pm on Libertarian successes in defeating taxes in Fishers and making very restrictive laws affecting business policy and smoking less restrictive. The event is at Don Hall's Guest House and Conference Center in Fort Wayne. Follow this link for more info.

It's not too late to host a TV party for Monday Night Football, when the Colts finally defeat the New England Patriots. Invite 10-15 friends, family, and co-workers. Introduce me at halftime and I'll speak on my campaign and libertarian principles for 3-5 minutes. Contact me for more details:

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Free Speech On Blogs Is Toast

This is some bewildering stuff. First, let me say that I have never had any use for the so-called campaign finance 'reform' hogwash out there. I don't care if you are talking about Shays-Meehan or McCain-Feingold, it's all bunk that purports to try to take the effect of big money out of politics. In fact, both laws have the effect of empowering big money, as only the biggest campaigns and political parties can easily the management of the regulations and paperwork created by those bills and still have plenty of money left to get the message out. Most smaller campaigns decide not to raise any money at all, so as to not be troubled by the paperwork nightmare. So, as you see, it is in fact the little guy's voice that get squashed, not big money's.

Today, the House of Representatives considered a bill, HR 1606, that would have exempted blogs like this one from being treated as campaign contributions. In the near future, any blog- left, right, or center; Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian- will be treated not as mere political speech, but as a campaign contribution.

A majority was in favor of passing the exemptions, but the bill was defeated, because infuriatingly, the majority was less than the required 2/3rds needed for passage. From CBS News:

Online political expression should not be exempt from campaign finance law, the House decided Wednesday as lawmakers warned that the Internet has opened up a new loophole for uncontrolled spending on elections.

The House voted 225-182 for a bill that would have excluded blogs, e-mails and other Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission. That was 47 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate time and allowed no amendments.

The vote in effect clears the way for the FEC to move ahead with court-mandated rule-making to govern political speech and campaign spending on the Internet.

Fortunately, some in the House still get free speech and the First Amendment. Sadly, not enough.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the federal government should encourage, rather than fetter, a phenomenon that was bringing more Americans into the political process."

The newest battlefield in the fight to protect the First Amendment is the Internet," he said. "The Internet is the new town square, and campaign finance regulations are not appropriate there."

Without his legislation, Hensarling said, "I fear that bloggers one day could be fined for improperly linking to a campaign Web site, or merely forwarding a candidate's press release to an e-mail list."
I do hope and pray for a strong backlash from across the political spectrum in response. Unfortunately, the response to Shays-Meehan and McCain-Feingold was somewhat muted, as the forces on the left especially found that restricting campaign money was a good thing. Now, hopefully, they are seeing more and more how it affects the smallest political voices, and especially their own.

But regardless of political leanings, any blogger is affected, no matter what candidate you may wish to speak freely about. Posting a link on your blog may be a crime. In America!

Update: Reason Hit & Run has an entry with several comments already. The best comes from Stephen Macklin:

We already have an "Online Freedom of Speech Act." We call it the First Amendment.
Brad Moves On

My friend Brad Klopfenstien is moving to a new challenge. He leaves the Libertarian Party of Indiana as Executive Director to take a similar position with the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association.

Brad Klopfenstein filling in on 'Abdul In The Morning' on WXNT 1430-am

Brad's move has gotten a fair amount of media attention, which is gratifying. He has done great things to elevate the state party from fringe party status to respected third party player. He built great relationships with the media, and also in the Statehouse.

From South Bend Tribune:
The Libertarian Party of Indiana will enter the crucial election year of 2006 with new leadership, the party said Thursday.

Executive Director Brad Klopfenstein will resign next month to accept a lobbying job and will be replaced by interim director Daniel Drexler.
From Indy Star:

A rumor spread last week: The executive director of one of Indiana's major political parties had quit. One lawmaker asked: Was it the Democratic Party's Mike Edmondson, or the Republican Party's Luke Messer? Neither. It was the
Libertarians' Brad Klopfenstein.

From Nuvo:
On Nov. 4, Brad Klopfenstein is stepping down as the executive director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana to take a similar position with the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association. Klopfenstein has served longer (five-plus years) than any previous Indiana state director and during his tenure the party set new highs for both votes and percentages of votes; saw seven Libertarian candidates elected to local offices and eight more appointed to boards and commissions; and in 2002, the Indiana Libertarians hosted the party’s national convention.
NUVO: The party hit some new highs under your leadership. What did you do differently?
BK: I think the two things that I did differently were, from day one, I went around and made sure that everyone in the media knew who I was and who the Libertarians were. We made it clear that the party had viable candidates and that we should be a part of their political coverage. Secondly, we changed our message. Previously, too many Libertarian candidates got caught up in the philosophies of the parties, which are important, but we encouraged our candidates to take the next step and use those philosophies to develop solutions to address the problems affecting their local constituencies.

We also did a detailed analysis of who our natural constituents should be. What we found was that small business owners were being ignored by both the Republicans and Democrats and we began actively courting those individuals. We felt that they were a natural fit for our party.
It was my pleasure to serve Brad as his Campaign Manager for his 2003 bid for City-County Council. In truth, there is very little managing I could do for the guy who managed the whole party. It was astonishing to watch him zero in on his home precinct in an overwhelmingly Democrat district. His Democratic opponent won with about 83% of the vote, but Brad took nearly 40% at home. He showed me what could be done with a plan, determination, and a small budget, when coupled with good libertarian ideas.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Butterknife, Property Taxes, and a Doctor's Legacy Lost

Rob Beck has really been sharpening his pen knife in his blog "Shall Not Perish". His latest entry is excellent in its scathing challenge to Republicans to honor the memory of Doc Bowen, who capped property taxes when governor. Bowen stands in contrast to Mitch Daniels, who may be known as 'The Blade' in reputation, but to Beck, is merely 'The Butterknife'.
Doc Bowen is a revered figure in the Party. A stately old gentleman who really felt like the kindly family Doctor you visited or your grandfather, Bowen was a great and classy governor. He saw Indiana through its earliest attempts to step out of its long-standing rural image and develop a more diverse economic base. He also seemed to genuinely care about the plight of Hoosiers, seeing that the role of government should be limited, but encouraging.

This sort of thinking spits on his legacy. The Republicans should hang their heads in shame. There's a strong chance that if asked, Bowen would identify ideologically more with Libertarians than our current Republican Party. Daniels, of course, sees room to justify the cut in the citizen's relief.

Fiscal conservatives- had enough yet? Get on board with the Libertarians once you have. After all, as regards trusting Republicans to cut the size of government: fool me once...