Where Does Melina Kennedy Really Stand on Education? Good Question. No One Knows.

As we noted yesterday, Melina Kennedy appears to want to replace either Eugene White, Tony Bennett or her local school board president.  She has a television commercial up and has dropped two negative mailers in the last week on education, an issue that the Mayor of Indianapolis does not have much control over.

Since Kennedy wants to spend so much time talking about education, she must have some clearly staked out positions on education reform, right?  You’d think so, but no.  We’ve never heard her say anything about any of the education reforms that were passed in the legislative session. 

Ok, maybe education reform isn’t her cup of tea.  So Kennedy has a position on mayoral control of Marion County schools, right?  Wrong again.  Kennedy hasn’t said if she is for or against mayoral control either.  Is it just IPS that is a concern or all the township schools too?  You guessed it, she hasn’t said.  

How is Melina Kennedy going to solve these problems?  She hasn’t been very specific.  Kennedy has highlighted some fundamental issues that everyone believes are important but she doesn’t give specific ideas of how she will solve these problems.

The Mayor of Indianapolis does actually have authority over charter schools.  Kennedy must be focused on that issue then, right?  Nope.  She doesn’t seem to talk about Indianapolis charter schools either even though they are some of the best schools in the state of Indiana.

Feeling like you don’t really know where Melina Kennedy stands on education?  Don’t worry, she doesn’t either.

Summer Ends, Ads Go Up

Some of our critics happily noted we have been on a bit of a hiatus.  Yes, we broke out of our blogger basement for the summer.  We’re sorry.  Can you blame us for not wanting to spend the summer writing about the debt ceiling or the nonsense coming out of the Kennedy campaign? 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve notice that Mayor Ballard and Melina Kennedy are both up on television.  Ballard’s ad touts accomplishments of fiscal responsibility, fixing neighborhoods and lower taxes and crime.  Pretty much what you would expect from an incumbent.  Mayor Ballard has said several times he is running to his record and this ad is a prime example of doing just that.

Kennedy’s ad struck us as a bit odd.  The first half is the typical bio advertisement about how she helped pay her way through college as a waitress, is married and has kids.  The second half is focused on education. It seems like an odd thing for a candidate for Mayor to make a focal point of their campaign since the Mayor of Indianapolis doesn’t have any control of education outside of charter schools.  Maybe we need to draft a job description so Melina Kennedy understands the office she is seeking.  Right now, it sounds like she wants Eugene White’s job.

Education and the Indianapolis Mayor’s Race

Over the last few weeks, education has become a prominent issue here in Indianapolis.  This is mainly due to the likely prospect of state takeover of 7 IPS schools that have failed to meet minimum standards for six consecutive years.   Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett began holding meetings at each of the schools facing the possibility of state takeover to engage the community in the discussion. 

Melina Kennedy came out with what she has been calling an education plan. We’ve read it and, like most of the things we’ve read from her campaign, it seems to be a lot of talk without details or action. 

Yesterday, Mayor Ballard gave a speech where he said he plans to request control over any IPS schools that end up being taken over by the state.  He also indicated that while this opens the dialogue for mayoral control over all of IPS, he believes the first priority should be these specific schools and any expansion of mayoral control should happen based on success in those initial schools and a community discussion of broader action. 

This approach makes sense to us.  The Mayor should show he can make a positive difference in schools before taking them all over.  If they are successful in making changes to these schools, the general community will be more willing to support an expansion of mayoral control.  And, if the Mayor can make a positive change, the community should be willing to support mayoral control. 

Our question is where does Melina Kennedy really stand on the issue?

Holiday Weekend Catch Up

Welcome back from the long weekend everyone.  We hope you took the time to enjoy the great weather, a great Indy 500 and the Memorial Day holiday. 

After going over the blogs this morning, we have a few things we thought we’d address.

First, Jon Easter says we are “shameful” because we noted that he even admitted some areas of the city really need construction work.  It is clear from the comments on the post that Jon is taking some flack from Democrat insiders.  Sorry, Jon, we weren’t trying to stir the pot and get you in trouble.  We’re willing to bet his post was written after a Kennedy campaign flack got frustrated.

Speaking of campaign flacks, Indianapolis Times blogger Terry Burns posted he is hearing there may be a shake-up in the Ballard campaign.  We’re going to guess that Terry Burns has as much insider information on the Ballard campaign as Gary Welsh and Paul Ogden do.  It seems to us that, again, the Kennedy campaign is getting a little sensitive to the Ballard campaign responses. 

Lastly, Jon Easter posted on the latest version of Mitch Watch 2012 and the potential that Governor Daniels could be the Vice Presidential pick for the Republicans.  Jon seems to think that ruling out the Presidential run for family reasons should also rule out a Vice Presidential potential.  While Jon does admit there is a difference between the two roles, he comments that “they both come with a great deal of scrutiny, closet skeleton searching, and an in-depth look at someone’s record.”  He goes further saying that was clearly a concern to the Governor.

While we think the Daniels’ were probably less than thrilled with the stories regarding their divorce, we really think the idea of a long campaign starting this May and potentially last through November of 2012 if Governor Daniels won the nomination was the biggest problem.  Additionally, it is a lifestyle change for the rest of your life if you are elected President.  Those seem to be the larger considerations that they mentioned.

A Vice-Presidential spot on the ticket is essentially a five month campaign, far less scrutiny and a place in the spotlight without the life altering drawbacks.  While we’d prefer Daniels at the top of the ticket, beggars can’t be choosers and we’ll take what we can get.

When Democrats Attack Progress: Kennedy and Democrats Attacking Road Work, Questioning Mayor’s Integrity

We saw this story while we were on hiatus but were inclined to let it slide until our friends at IndyDemocrat posted a story on it this week.

Last week, the Indy Star had an article on the newly released $55 million RebuildIndy funds being used to repair bridges, streets and sidewalks all over the county. This is a part of the total $170 million RebuildIndy has invested since last September.

A business owner was quoted praising the work saying, “I just appreciate, as a business owner in the community, just to see the work that has progressed today.”

Obviously all this good press and progress isn’t good for Melina Kennedy’s campaign and she did what we’ve seen her do time and time again–attack.  After commenting on the massive amount of construction occurring, Kennedy said, “I just want assurances that he’s not rushing these projects for election purposes.”

Seriously?  It is one thing to dislike something that is happening or disagree with Mayor Ballard but it is quite another to attack his integrity.  Even Mayor Ballard’s harshest critics believe he is an upstanding guy who does what he thinks is best for Indianapolis.  They may not agree with his decisions but they do believe he is an honest person. 

Why is the construction work happening quickly?  Even Jon Easter admits that there are reasons outside of politics though he is still using some of Kennedy’s talking points.  Easter says, “The Super Bowl could be one reason, and the fact that some of these areas of the city really needed the work.”

That’s right, even Democrat bloggers know the state of disrepair this city was left in by the past administration and that the infrastructure desperately needs to be repaired.  And can you believe that the City of Indianapolis would want to make a good impression and be in the best shape possible before the Super Bowl comes to town?  Man, those guys are crazy to want to get the work done before such a small event.  

Yes, road construction is an inconvenience.  Do we care enough to not fix the roads and bridges?  Of course not–at least most of us who are adults do not.  Is the work shoddy?  No. This spring’s weather has been strange to say the least and that has an impact on things.

It seems to us like silly season has started a bit early this year. If Melina Kennedy wants to be taken seriously, she’s going to have to raise the bar a bit.

What Does It All Mean: Marion County Primary Election Results

While some over at Indianapolis Times spent their Friday night writing a blog post on the Marion County Primary Election Results and criticizing us for not blogging on them yet, we took our time writing this post.

After a few days of reflection, here is what we are taking away from the Primary Election:  Melina Kennedy is the Democrat nominee and will face Greg Ballard in the fall.  The Marion County slates won.

Simple?  Yes.  The only actual facts you get from a primary election?  Yes again.

Did the Democrats have more votes?  Sure.  They had a contested race at the top of the ticket. They also had a 20,000 straight ticket vote advantage in the last General Election.  From that perspective, they may have had more votes but their turnout was lower than it seems.

Did Melina Kennedy get the majority of the votes in her 3-way race?  Yes.  But 23% of her party voted for someone else.   Are they going to end up voting for her in the fall?  Probably.  Will they definitely go vote?  Will they be motivated to work for her?  Who knows.

A lot of people will try to draw conclusions on how the Primary results will impact the General Elections or what clues it gives us as to what will happen in the fall.  There are a hundred different ways to run numbers and spin these results.  Our guess is that people will continue to do it. But the fact is that we won’t know what clues these numbers gave to the outcome in the General Election until we know the outcome of the General Election.

The only thing we really know is this will be a hotly contested race and there is a lot to shake out over the next 6 months.  On to the main event!

The Primary Race and the Expectations Game

We believe it is safe to say that this has been the most boring Primary Election Day in the last several years. 

As a result, we’ve been reading the blogs more than usual and noticed that Paul Ogden wrote a post on the Primary Election and the expectations game he feels we are playing on our blog. 

On the Primary Election, Ogden said the Kennedy and Ballard campaigns have not followed textbook campaign strategy and are not using the window of opportunity before the primary election to build up positives on their candidates.  First, we’d like to see Ogden’s Textbook of Political Strategy published.  Second, we have a split opinion. 

We have written that we are surprised the Kennedy campaign was not more aggressive.  We thought they should make sure they won the primary with a overwhelming margin.  They really did not have much of a grassroots effort–their yard signs didn’t even arrive until last week.  They did not do a large amount of mailers though we won’t say they didn’t do ANY since we would not be on their list anyway.  They did not put out a television ad.  This is particularly interesting since a candidate running At-Large against the Democrat slate was able to do a cable ad while Kennedy sat silent.  Really, the only thing the Kennedy campaign has done is send emails, conduct a city tour and put up a radio ad with Andre Carson.  We don’t think they really took this primary campaign seriously.

As for the Ballard campaign, we aren’t really sure why they would do a great deal for the primary.  Kennedy is facing two opponents while Ballard is unopposed.  Ballard won the primary when the filing closed.  It makes sense that the Ballard campaign would do far less than the Kennedy campaign and save their resources.

As for the expectations games, we’d say Ogden is the pot calling the kettle black.  Paul is trying to help out the Kennedy campaign by lowering expectations.  The fact is that if Melina Kennedy gets 60% of the vote as Paul predicts, 40% of the voters in the Democratic Primary voted against her.  Like it or not, that is not a strong showing in a Primary where your opponents have no money and no real campaign effort.   The fact that they couldn’t clear the field for a candidate that raised nearly $1 million last year shows there is a problem. And the fact that both of these candidates are African-Americans indicates there could be a divide in the Democratic Party in a very key constituency.

The bottom line: A 60-40 win is not a mandate in a primary election.

Finally, we want to remind everyone of Ogden’s political genius.  In his post just before the New Year, Paul wrote on the Republican Primary saying,

The Star will label it an overwhelming victory for the Mayor that propels him toward the fall general election as the Mayor trounces an unknown opponent 71% to 29%. Political professionals though will know that an unknown getting nearly 30% of the primary vote against a sitting mayor represents a deterioration of his political base.

As you all know, there was no primary opponent for Mayor Greg Ballard.  And, now it is apparently okay to have more than 40% of the primary vote against the slated candidate who is the clear nominee and has run for countywide office in the past.  Like we said, we’re really looking forward to Ogden’s book on political strategy.

Primary Day Predictions: Kennedy and the Marion County Republican Slate

With all the commotion of the events in the last 24 hours, it is easy to forget tomorrow is Primary Election Day here in Marion County.    So, for the moment, we’ll turn our attention to local politics.

We are interested in two races.  First, we are obviously interested in seeing the outcome of the Democratic Primary for Mayor.  Kennedy did do some radio ads but has been otherwise fairly quiet and did not even have yard signs until a few days ago.  In short, her campaign has not exactly put forth an impressive effort in a primary we believe they should have taken more seriously. 

First, she is running against the last name Carson and that should never be taken lightly.  Second, simply winning the primary may not be enough.  Many in the Indianapolis political circles believe that Kennedy needs to get more than 85% of the vote to really show she has the support of the Democratic Party faithful particularly with the reported rifts within the Marion County Democrats.  We don’t think she’ll get it.

The second race we are interested in is the At Large Council race on the Republican side.   For those who may not know, the Republicans have slated four candidates and a fifth is running against the slate.  Jocelyn Adande Tandy, a former Democrat, is running and actually changed her name so she could get better ballot placement by switching it to Jocelyn Tandy Adande.  She also is a former Democrat who has run for Mayor and several other offices as a Democrat. 

The Marion County Republicans sent a mailer out highlighting her Democrat history.  At this stage, it seems everyone in both Parties think she is a joke.  We believe she will be defeated.  If she doesn’t, it is going to be a long year for Marion County Republicans.

We’ve told you our predictions but we want to know what you think.  Vote to let us know if you think Melina Kennedy will get the big win she needs on Primary Day and if Marion County Republicans can push their slate through despite ballot placement complications.

Kennedy Campaign Staffer Violates State Election Law

Last week, Melina Kennedy’s campaign sent out an email discussing her pre-primary campaign events. We did not pay much attention to it since it was sent on Good Friday and, while we are political junkies, we spent the day focusing on other things.

Last night, we took a closer look at the email and noticed there was a picture of Melina Kennedy voting early in the Clerk’s office.  What we found more interesting, however, was a campaign staffer standing behind her in line to vote wearing a Kennedy campaign sticker.  The staffer appears to be Jon Mills, Kennedy’s Communications Director.

For those of you not familiar with state election laws, you are not permitted to express “support or opposition to any candidate or political party or expressing approval or disapproval of any public question in any manner that could reasonably be expected to convey that support or opposition to another individual” while in a voting location.  It is called electioneering. 

The Indiana Code goes through the specific locations including the poll, the chute or “within an area in the office of the circuit court clerk or a satellite office of the circuit court clerk established under IC 3-11-10-26.3 used by an absentee voter board to permit an individual to cast an absentee ballot.”  Pretty clear that this applies to the voting location in the County Clerk’s office.

Guess County Clerk Beth White didn’t feel like enforcing the rules since she endorsed Kennedy last year.

Ballard vs. Kennedy: Finance Reports and YouTube Fun

Jon Murray has the overview of the finance reports that were filed today.  Mayor Ballard raised $715,236 which brought his cash on hand to $2,039,201.  Kennedy raised $510,216 which brought her cash on hand to $1,272,335.  This leaves Ballard with a significant financial advantage of over $760,000. 

Much to Paul Ogden’s dismay, Kennedy outspent Ballard this time around and he won’t get to write a post on the burn rates of the Ballard campaign.  Kennedy spent nearly $180,000 to Ballard’s $150,000.  We’ve heard Team Ballard has a new fundraiser that is spending less and raising more which this report would seem to support.  

We’ve maintained that Kennedy is going to have to spend some money on this Democrat primary to make sure she gets to the General Election. The fact that she has two African-American males running against her shows some unrest in a key constituency.  Add in the fact that both of them are ahead of her on the ballot and one of them is a Carson, she really cannot afford to take the Primary race for granted.  How much she spends is a big question.  We’ve taken a quick look at her report and it appears she has waited to do any media purchases until after the reporting deadline which is what we would expect. 

In other mayor’s race fun, the Marion County Republican Party sent out a YouTube video hitting back at Kennedy’s attempts to discredit Mayor Ballard’s job commitment numbers.  You may remember we noted earlier this week that Kennedy was forced to pull her web ad down after breaking federal copyright law.  The GOP response is below.   Happy Friday!

We knew this would happen, but we didn’t know it would happen this early. 

Democrat Candidate for Mayor, Melina Kennedy, started running false, negative, misleading attack ads against Mayor Ballard…on April 2nd!  Kennedy has demonstrated that she’ll do anything to win and that’s why it is so important that we show our support for Mayor Ballard by telling the FACTS.

Click here to see a video that shares the facts about Mayor Ballard’s impressive record of creating jobs.  Please forward this email to your friends, and post this video on your Facebook page.  With your help, we can make sure that we keep moving Indianapolis forward with Mayor Ballard!


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