Saturday, August 26, 2006

Great Indy Star Editorial on Restricted Ballot Access

The Indianapolis Star made note again today of how Indiana's election laws stifle participation in the electoral process, by beating down qualified and eager candidates, thus reducing choices for the people of our state. From the Star editorial:
State officials take pride in efforts they've made to tighten the gears of the election process, and they've had plenty of incentive by way of mandates and funding under the federal Help America Vote Act.

Unfortunately, a couple of little-noticed tweakings have cost voters some choices in the November balloting.

This should prove to be a temporary hitch. However, ballot access will remain an issue in Indiana as long as the state retains one of the nation's highest barriers to third-party participation.

Eleven Libertarian Party candidates for Statehouse offices were denied certification by the Indiana Elections Division because their party failed to state in writing with 10 days' notice that it intended to fill vacancies on its ticket.

The ongoing writing of new election laws, essentially more meaningless hoops to jump through, assures that some candidates will be barred from the ballot, as happened here. Observe that election law is written by Republicans and Democrats. Think maybe they have a motivation to keep some Libertarians off the ballot?
Given the dearth of interest and competition in the electoral process, it's a shame to see a dozen aspiring public servants sidelined. Hopefully, lessons have been learned and the T's will all be crossed in future elections.

Meanwhile, though, a much larger problem, the prohibitively high number of signatures required to attain ballot status, continues to be accepted by Democrats and Republicans alike. This means security for the two big parties; intense pressure on the Libertarians to fixate on the secretary of state's race, which determines who stays on the ballot; discouragement of other parties and independents; and reduced selection available to citizens. Why not add that big job to the election fix-up list?

So, yes, Libertarians have learned some lessons. We'll probably nominate all our candidates for Statehouse office at conventions from now on, and we'll hire legal counsel to review election law every year for new hoops to jump through. While the public did clamor for election reform, this is what you got. Is this reform, really? Does anyone feel that they were in some way protected from shady behavior?

Unless the public begins to clamor for fuller ballot access, election reform will merely amount to increasing mountains of paperwork and bureaucratic snarl, which only prevents little guys from running. The Ds & Rs can afford to burn dollars attending to this nonsense.

I am grateful that the Star has taken notice and is pointing out what Libertarians have been saying for years- the Ds & Rs act like two business giants engaged in a relative duopoly, and are guilty of collusion, and actively work to exclude other competitors. It's illegal in business, and should also be in our elections.

Voting for me will help send the message to Ds & Rs that you want more choices on the ballot. See my campaign website for more positions on elections.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Putting The 'Fun' in Fundraising

Big thanks to Todd Singer for hosting a fundraiser for me at the Taj Majal of bowling alleys, Pinheads in Fishers. We bowled in a private four-lane suite with theatre screen TVs, sofas and easy chairs, and a cool musical selection. Supporters came from Marion, Hamilton, and Hendricks Counties.

Two favorite moments- We badgered LPIN State Chair Mark Rutherford long and hard into bowling, mainly because we wanted a picture of a guy bowling in a business suit. Wouldn't you know Mark threw a strike! No warm up, just dead-eye accuracy.

Like Barry Bonds after a home run, Rutherford admires his strike.

Alex cracked everybody up with his calculated five-bumper strike. Here's the suite with the giant TV screens above the pins.

From left: Jo Coleman, Eric Barnes, Todd Singer, Mike Kole, Mark Rutherford, and bowling champ Kevin "Jerry" Hood

Marion County Treasurer Eric Barnes presented me with a check for $500

I appreciate the support from the bowlers and non-bowlers who attended tonight, and again, thanks to Todd Singer for a great event!

Campaign Calendar

Here are the upcoming events. If you are in Central Indiana, or Southern Indiana in the Lousiville area, these will be of great interest to you!

Thursday, 6:30pm, Fishers: Bowling fundraiser at Pinheads- 13825 Britton Park Rd, in the southwest corner of 141st & SR 37. $30 for an individual, or $100 for a foursome. Don't worry if you didn't RSVP for this- just show up! Family fun in a smoke-free environment... policy by owner's choice! Big thanks to Todd Singer for putting this event together!

Saturday, 2:00pm, Corydon: Art Fair in Corydon, Harrison County. I'll be shaking hands and talking politics. Come out and say hello and meet Harrison County Chair Dennis Stork.

Saturday, 4:30pm, Sellersburg Celebrates event: Libertarians will have a booth, and I'll be there for the usual campaign activities with Greg Hertzsch and other Libertarians. See us there!

Be sure to check the Kole Campaign calendar for events near you. If you would like to host an event, please contact Rob Place to schedule it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Election Follies, Part 12

I think every Hoosier wants our elections and their process to have integrity. That's not going out on a limb. So, it's bothersome to find a lack of integrity and injustices throughout the electoral process.

Part Twelve is a follow-up to Part Seven, from LaPorte County. This one follows the Orwellian "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others".

In my original post, the LaPorte Libertarians pointed out that in 2006, as in 2003, the Republicans failed to even file a CFA-4 form, as required by law. To be fair, the Dems also failed to file the required CFA-4 in 2003. It is worth recalling that the Republicans and Democrats wrote the law that requires a CFA-4. It is also worth recalling that the Indiana Elections Division is refusing to certify eleven Libertarian candidates this year, because even though forms were filed, and on time, a procedural step was missed.

Greg Kelver, in front of the Libertarian booth at the LaPorte County Fair

So, the Libertarians filed a complaint seeking the maximum fines to be imposed on the GOP. The fines are $50/day late, with a maximum of $1,000. As the forms were roughly 150 days late, it would be a $1,000 fine.

So, was the maximum fine imposed? From the Michigan City News Dispatch report:
LaPORTE - The LaPorte County Republican Party on Monday will not be penalized for not filing a pre-primary campaign finance report by the April 17 deadline.

The Board of Election Commissioners took no action in a brief meeting at the county courthouse. The meeting was called after the LaPorte County Libertarian Party complained that the Republicans had not filed its report.

So, why wasn't a fine imposed?
Election Commissioner Gary Davis said he thought it was good the Election Board was meeting to address the issue.

“I really feel like, if it's an intentional thing, then certainly that would be a different issue, but it's a mistake that both parties made last time,” he said.

The local GOP leader promised no repeats of the oversite.

“I guarantee it will not happen again on my watch. We're guilty; there's no question about it, but it was not intentional, we're volunteers and we're doing the best we can,” Pendergast said.

So, when the GOP mistakenly flubs on the basis of doing the best it can, that's treated with kid gloves. When the LP mistakenly flubs on the same basis, that warrants a death sentence because the law is the law. Also, if one party makes a mistake, the others are justified in future mistakes.

Anyone see an injustice here? How about a complete lack of integrity?

I call upon the Indiana Election Commission to do one of two things:

  1. De-certify all Republican candidates who were not filed properly in Indiana
  2. Certify the Libertarian candidates who were not filed properly in Indiana

Whatever the Commission stands by, it must be consistent. Otherwise, the Commission lacks integrity and stands for injustice.

Update, 8/24/06: The Michigan City News Dispatch ran my letter, along with one from Karen Wolf, about the unequal treatment. It also ran an editorial taking the LaPorte County Election Board to task for the kid gloves treatment. Curiously, neither of these features are available on the paper's website. Greg Kelver of LaPorte advises me that he will send a scanned pdf file of these items.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

News Release

I was pleased that Pat Bauer brought up the idea of putting the BMV under the authority of the Secretary of State. Naturally, I have thoughts on the subject, and have issued a news release with my statements on the subject. It is as follows:

August 22, 2006 Contact
For Immediate Release Rob Place 317-776-1042

Mike Kole Interested in Bauer’s BMV Proposal

Direct Accountability to Voters is Good Government

Fishers, IN- Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State Mike Kole found his curiosity piqued by Pat Bauer’s recent proposal to place the BMV under the direction of the Secretary of State’s office.

“There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the BMV right now, and when that’s the case, people notice that there isn’t direct accountability to the voters,” said Kole of the appointed position of BMV chief.

Kole considered that the idea that this might merely be an election season stunt.

“Even if Mr. Bauer is just making an issue in a known sore spot like the BMV’s recent performance, it’s a fact that the more accountable government can be, the more efficient its service will be. I think it’s always worthwhile to look at how services are administered, and if we can make the BMV directly accountable without adding any new bureaucracy, it’s worth considering,” said Kole, adding, “I don’t think it would be that great a burden for competent management to add the oversight of the BMV to the oversight of elections, business services, and securities.”

Kole was amused at the source of this concept.

“I didn’t know Pat Bauer was the Democrat running for Secretary of State,” he quipped.

Mike Kole’s campaign themes are Integrity, and Accountability.


A high-resolution headshot photo of Mike Kole is available upon request.

Mike Kole is available for comment. Call Mike directly on 317-709-3874 to set up an interview.

Mike Kole’s media presence includes his campaign website:, and his blog, “Kole Hard Facts:
Pat Bauer, BMV, and Secretary of State

An interesting missive was issued by Pat Bauer and the Indiana Democrats today. From the press release:
House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer today called for the operation of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to be placed under the direction of the Secretary of State instead of under the Governor’s Office.

Bauer explained his rationale during a Monday afternoon press conference at the Virginia Avenue BMV branch in Indianapolis.

“Our neighboring states of Illinois and Michigan already have placed operation of the BMV under the constitutional office of the Secretary of State, and I propose Indiana follow suit,” Bauer said.

You know, because Illinois and Michigan lead the way. Scary.

Anyhow, I like the idea of a BMV chief that is accountable to the voters, although right now, if you don't like the BMV, you can un-elect the Governor. In the Indy Star report, the incumbent SOS blew the idea off:
Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a Republican, dismissed the minority leader's plan as election year antics.
I found Bauer's stunt interesting. At first blush, you would guess that Bauer was trying to give the Democratic SOS candidate a little fuel, because he's been pretty much invisible. That hasn't changed- Bauer didn't even name their SOS candidate in their release, and didn't quote him either. Quite a team in blue.

Update 8/24/06: The confusion that seems to define Democrats- the same party that couldn't even field a candidate for US Senator- was noticed by the South Bend Tribune. From the Tribune report:
Whether Bauer's proposal helps fire other Democrats' campaigns as they seek majority status in the House of Representatives is unclear.

Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, said it's an "interesting idea" that he'll have to investigate further.

But he said Bauer had no obligation to coordinate the plan with Pearson, even though Pearson will top the Democrats' statewide ticket in November. "I don't know that Pat Bauer is campaigning for Joe Pearson," Dvorak said.

Pearson himself expressed no complaints about Bauer's strategy or timing, whether or not it sends an inadvertent message about party unity.

I think Bauer was trying to help Bauer, but a party that can't even be bothered to coordinate amongst itself can't be counted on to communicate with the electorate, either. This is some kind of ineptitude.
What Value Secretary of State

A frequently asked question posed to me about running for Secretary of State is why the Indiana Libertarians put so much effort into it. For what it's worth, many friends of liberty find themselves uninspired by some of the issues associated with the office. It isn't legislative, so the spectrum of issues SOS touches is narrow.

The answer is that Indiana's election laws tie each political party's ballot status to the statewide outcome in this race. I've never received a good answer from any ranking Republican or Democrat as to why they wrote the laws that way, but we play by the rules.

As a minor party, the Libertarian Party candidate for Secretary of State always has to be mindful of at least retaining automatic ballot access, while striving for major party status, along with victory. The struggle of the Green Party shows us the value.

Bill Stant struggled long and hard to get the Green Party on the Indiana ballot. The method was to petition for enough signatures so that he could be on the ballot as a candidate for Secretary of State. Once that was achieved, he would try to get 2% statewide, thereby earning automatic ballot access for the Green Party for the next four years.

Unfortunately for Bill and his supporters, they failed to secure the required number of signatures, so he will not be on the ballot. Thus, the Greens will not have automatic ballot access. If persons wants to run as a Green Party candidate, each will have to petition individually to get on the ballot.

I have great sympathy for Bill Stant. I have done petitioning work in Ohio for the Libertarian Party. It is tiresome work and feels unrewarding, because all you are doing is getting signatures and not even talking your issues. Besides that, I believe in a fully open ballot. Let the voters decide, not the entrenched parties.

The Libertarian Party has close to 100 candidates this year. Imagine the unrewarding effort each would have had to undertake securing petition signatures if the LPIN did not have automatic ballot access. Most assuredly, there would be significantly fewer Libertarian candidates, just as there are almost no other Green candidates. Indeed- there are only six Green or independent candidates for statewide or legislative office. This shows how effective petitioning requirements are in keeping independents off the ballot.

Brad Klopfenstein once told me that the value of the petitioning effort is $80,000. To the Greens, though, I bet ballot access would be priceless.

I have made it my goal to raise $100,000 this year. I want to make sure that Indiana Libertarians should never have to worry about ballot access again, as we break through to major party status.

Even if the issues I campaign on for Secretary of State do not interest you, my success will allow about 400 other Libertarian candidates to do exactly that in the full election cycle until 2010.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Picture Post

As long as I am pulling photos for posts, I may as well post some shots from the Adirondacks from our recent trip.

We camp near Speculator, NY. It's wonderfully remote. The trails to Rock Pond and Long Pond are gloriously under-utilized, which is why we go there. No other persons had been here for two weeks, according to the trailhead log book.

Alex & I gear up at Rock Pond. Alex is 14 and very capable of handling a man-sized load. Alex taking a larger share of the load coupled with having lost 30 pounds made these hikes some of the breeziest I've ever taken!

Ame carried Isabel on her back for the hikes.

Of course, once on site, Isabel was on the move. This is Long Pond, and she wanted to be in the Pond very much. It's too much like a quarry to allow her to swim here yet.

Isabel searches for blueberries as the morning mist rises off Long Pond.

A pair of loons are obscured by the mist on the Pond.

After the camping, we visited with members of Ame's extended family in nearby North Creek, NY. We rode the excursion train there. This is my girl- enjoying the wind in her hair, while on the train! The trackage was former Delaware & Hudson, and much of it ran parallel to the very rocky Hudson River, which bore little resemblance to what you see in NYC.
Artists Mourned

Sad news from best friend Steve Wainstead regarding two senseless killings in Cleveland. One of the victims was Masumi Hayashi, an artist and professor who introduced Steve to photo collages. Steve then introduced them to me. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer report:

Masumi Hayashi complained for months about the ear-shattering music her eccentric neighbor blasted through a massive stereo system.

When she took exception to the loudness Thursday evening, the neighbor responded with a barrage of gunfire, killing Hayashi and another resident, police said.

Suddenly, the local art community had been robbed of two vibrant, creative souls, said friends, relatives and artists.

On Friday, they mourned the deaths of Hayashi, 60, a world-renowned photographer and professor; and John Jackson, 51, a respected sculptor, painter and woodworker.

This reaches me on two levels- the art, and Masumi's direct contact on a complaint. You see, I'm not one to call the police and hide in my bedroom. I believe it's better to be real human beings, discuss your differences straight, and see if you can't resolve it that way. I always feel the person you have a complaint with would respect that, knowing that you could have as easily dragged the police in.

"She was always direct," Keesey said. "She just felt that if you talked to people directly, you could get things done."

Me too. But killed over stereo volume? Maybe I need to re-think this. On the art:

Aside from garnering national attention for her photography, Hayashi taught art at Cleveland State University for 24 years. She had won a Cleveland Arts Prize, three Ohio Arts Council awards and a Fulbright fellowship. Her work has been shown in New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo.
Steve was greatly influenced by Masumi's photo collages (link to prison collages), and by David Hockney's. Steve was quoted in a second Plain Dealer article:

As a teacher, "she was critical always in a positive way," said Steve Wainstead of New York, software development manager for an online photo site who took courses from Hayashi in the 1990s. "I never heard her say a harsh word of criticism."
I was in turn inspired by Steve. I complained to him about the limitations of the camera. Images on prints always looked too small to me. The images only captured a two-dimensional cut of the world the photographer saw. He suggested I try shooting some collages. I was hooked. The collages gave a greater sense of action, and you could emphasize certain features of the subject by moving closer to them, of by leaving gaps in space in the layout, allowing the mind to fill in.

Actually, I liked Steve's and Hockney's collages better than Masumi's. Hers were very precise panoramas. They were interesting in giving that perspective, but they were too naturalist for me. They made no value judgments on the details within the chosen subject. I preferred highlighting those things that spoke most to me within a subject that generally spoke to me. Link to a Hockney collage.

But that's nitpicking. I owe a debt to Masumi for her influence on Steve. I continue to shoot photo collages today, even if I'm really slow about assembling them, thanks to the campaign. Some of my favorite collages of hers were shot at Japanese-American WW2 internment camps. She was born in one, and returned to several of internment sites. Link. Masumi's statement on the camps. LA Times obit.

Here are some of my photo collages:

"The Return Trip From Ohio". Steve got me hooked on the collages, and then set me up for a showing of them in a gallery setting in 1997! I'm no artist! Steve and I did a circle tour of Ohio in July, 1997. Here Steve walks back to Ohio from Indiana across an abandoned railroad bridge. I really like how despite the sparse presentation, the mind fills in the blanks rather well. It captured the sense of being in the middle of nowhere, and also a place fading from use. It's still framed, and measures 30" x 32".

I shot this collage in about nine years ago. It's primarily black & white, with the exception being the two images of my son, Alex, who was five at the time. The location is Cleveland, on the former Erie Railroad line by the Von Willer Yard, near E. 55th Street. This was near my home at that time. These were dark, trying days for me, and Alex was my brightest bright spot. I was pretty really unaware that I was expressing that so clearly when I shot it. The railroad was a pretty rundown property, and Alex was wearing bright colors and a bright smile. The choice of film seemed appropriate, but more than I knew. This remains my favorite collage as art. It's 40" x 32" in size. I never framed it, and did not show it. It was too personal at the time.

Personal collages are mainly what I shoot anymore, so they are meant to be semi-artistic, but really are documents for my own enjoyment. This collage is broken in half so that it could fit in a photo album. The setting is Banff, Alberta. Ame & I honeymooned there in 2003.

All of my photo albums have little collages like these in them. I routinely shoot collages whenever I travel. The trip to the Adirondacks was no different. I shot at least two collages, but they are not yet assembled.