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Associated Press Takes A Gander At The Changes Roob Has Made At FSSA

Fssa_3Looks like our favorite state agency head is back in the news again. Ken Kusmer of the Associated Press once again delivers a really solid piece about the Family and Social Services Administration. This time, he focuses on Mitch Roob's leadership, the changes he's made and what people are saying:

"Many advocates agree changes were needed.

"'FSSA clearly needed to be improved -- no one is arguing that,' said John Cardwell, a longtime advocate now working with seniors.

"But some fear Roob's focus in paring unworthy recipients from benefit rolls leaves him uninterested in catching those who need help but fall through the cracks. During the first three months of the current federal fiscal year, the percentage of Indiana households being mistakenly denied food stamps rose by 25 percent.

"Roob's business-world solutions might well succeed, said Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee. But she said the agency must take appropriate steps to ensure those who need services receive them and that lawmakers on FSSA oversight panels will pay close attention.

"'I think those committees will be watching. Legislators will take great interest,' Miller said.

"Others say Roob has to act now if he hopes to whittle down a long laundry list of FSSA reforms.

"'I think what Mitch Roob understands is that the sooner you do things in an administration, the more likely you are to get it done,' said Indiana University political scientist Bill Blomquist."

Visual Learners Unite: We Give You Former ICJI Deputy Director Katalina Gullans

Kg2_2Some of you had complained that the photo of Kate Gullans we posted late yesterday was hardly comparable to the Bolejack-Smith-McKenna party shot. An excellent point, but we were having some trouble tracking down any photos of Gullans other than the one on the ICJI website, which we cropped to exclude the young woman to whom Gullans was presenting the check she's holding.

Accordingly, we give thanks to the helpful TDW field correspondent who sent us a different photo of Gullans this morning. The image at left is a thumbnail because the original file was pretty big; if you want to see a larger version, clickety anywhere on it.

As for this story, we're done with it for the day. And quite possibly forever, depending on what happens next. Keep up the lively debate, but we're going to try to get back to politics as usual.

Apology Accepted: You're Down. They're Kicking You. What Now? Here Are A Few Ideas.

BookLast summer, we wrote a funny little primer for political candidates walking in holiday parades. It seemed to go over well, but as with many of our intended regular features, something shiny distracted us, and we forgot to repeat the format with other topics.

Until now.

The media have feasted on the Daniels administration these last few weeks, but it was never more clear than at yesterday's public hearing on the terminations of Indiana Criminal Justice Institute executive director Heather Bolejack and deputy director Kate Gullans, who had the presence of mind not to show up at the meeting.

Last week, we looked on in half-horror as the Family and Social Services Administration tripped all over itself to mitigate the damage caused by the issuance of a $540,000 contract to Richard Rhoad, who flipped from employee to contractor status and nearly doubled his pay. It took them a week to figure out they needed to cancel the deal.

We also watched as the administration tried to back its way out of a negative informal opinion from the Public Access Counselor about delays and failures to produce certain public records. Naturally, they blamed the folks, including yours truly, who requested the records. Even though the Guv and INDOT were the ones in violation of state law.

All in all, it's been pretty awful for them. Part of that is because they did some things that don't look good, but a lot of it is because they just don't seem to understand the value of saying you're sorry. (We commend the Governor for finally saying it yesterday with respect to the ICJI situation. His comments were good, and unlike the Rhoad situation, he didn't look like he was spinning in nine different directions.)

Continue reading "Apology Accepted: You're Down. They're Kicking You. What Now? Here Are A Few Ideas." »

B-Boz Brings Back The Prayer Issue: Is This Really What We Elect These Guys For?

Prayer_2For those who'd like to discuss something other than the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, here's an AP story about Brian Bosma appealing the Statehouse prayer case:

"Speaker Brian Bosma has asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge's decision restricting opening prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives.

"The 68-page appeal argues that U.S. District Judge David Hamilton overstepped judicial bounds when he ruled the House could not formally open with prayers that mention Jesus Christ or endorse any particular religion.

"'For the first time in American history, a federal court has specifically prohibited state legislators and their invited guests from using the name of Jesus Christ in prayer,' Bosma said in a news release Friday.

"'An overwhelming majority of House members and the public believe that this decision is overreaching and that this ruling into the internal practices of a co-equal branch of government by this court should not be allowed,' said Bosma, R-Indianapolis."

It's sad that Brian said those things as a member of the bar. He knows better. He's just reaching for the cheap political points in the name of Jesus Christ. If he wants to pray for something, his party's political future in the House might be a good place to start.

Hey, B-Boz, why don't we get back to doing the people's real business? You know, like helping the economy, overhauling our tax structure, funding education and figuring out a way to build roads without selling them off.

For the record, we dig prayer. We pray often. But we don't think prayer should come from the people's pulpit in the process of government proceedings unless it's inclusive. If either caucus wants to huddle and pray to whatever deity or lack thereof, they already can do that, and we think that's grand. But keep it away from the Speaker's podium. Lead by example, folks.

You Stand In The Line Just To Hit A New Low: ICJI Saturday Coverage Wrap-Up

IcjiHere's a wrap-up of coverage of the ICJI scandal from today's papers. But before we begin, a warning: Given the content of Heather Bolejack's exclusive interview with the Star, some out there in the blogosphere might be tempted to submit racially charged comments. Don't. They'll be deleted. And we'll be pissed.

That being said, we're off and running:

The Indianapolis Star has both a front-page story, a sidebar about corporate spending controls and an editorial. From the latter: "The governor needs to make it clear to agency chiefs and their staffs that misusing the public's money and abusing its trust will not be tolerated."

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette writes this: "Scandal rocked Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration Friday with the firing of two top executives – one personally nominated by the governor – after an ethics investigation into irregular travel reimbursements and a contract that was awarded to a family friend."

WISH-TV, which broke the story on Thursday night, includes a pretty damning comment from Jason Barclay, the Governor's Office liaison to ICJI: "'We were shocked and dismayed to find out that there had been serious misappropriation, misallocation of state and federal grant money,' said Daniels' Aide Jason Barclay."

The Associated Press files this piece, which includes some details on the travel records in question: "Records obtained by the AP showed that Bolejack and Gullans attended several conferences to various cities, with some expenses being paid by the state and some through grants or organizations holding the meetings."

There were other media outlets at the meeting, but it doesn't seem like many of them have updated their websites just yet. We'll post other stories as we see them.

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