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Mitch To Self: Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who's The Governor Who's Taking The Fall?

MirrorLesley Stedman Weidenbener of the Louisville Courier-Journal holds the Guv's feet close to the ethical fire today in her column today about last week's gaggle of problems in state government. She highlights a few of his campaign promises and the work of our second-favorite partisan prosecutor:

"It's true that the inspector general's focus on rooting out corruption might help bring problems to light more quickly. And certainly, no one can keep 30,000 employees from breaking the law. That would be like having a small city with absolutely no crime.

"But just as Daniels held previous governors accountable for problems that occurred during their administrations, he will be held responsible for the mistakes, the scandals, the ethical lapses in his own.

"He has dished out years of criticisms about his predecessors. Even his defense of the controversial FSSA contract focused less on the actions of his administration and instead on the state of the massive agency when he took over.

"Even last week, as he was discussing the criminal justice institute problems, Daniels said more than once that the first 42 inspector general investigations referred to prosecutors came from problems under previous governors, not under him.

"But as Daniels' administration moves through its second year, that will likely be changing. The inspector general undoubtedly will be focusing more and more on allegations inside the current state government regime.

"And the governor will have no choice but to live with the resulting publicity. He set himself up for it."

Flogging His Way To Victory: Colwell Compares Garton, Chocola Primary Races

Flogger_2Jack Colwell turns his attention to Greg Walker, a.k.a. The Flogger, and the Bob Garton upset. He ties that race into the primary where vulnerable Second District Congressman Chris Chocola lost 30 percent of the vote to Tony Zirkle, who shredded a Playboy and called for the return of the guillotine, among other fun campaign issues:

"Greg Walker, a political newcomer with little name recognition when he filed against Garton, had gone public once before, writing a letter to the editor in the Republic in 2003 in support of restoring flogging as a criminal penalty.

"When the votes were counted, the Flogger won.

"To conclude, however, that Republicans in the Columbus area were voting for flogging would be as valid as claiming that 30 per cent of the voters in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary were voting for use of the guillotine.

"Tony Zirkle, whose unusual campaign stands included a call for the guillotine, got 30 percent of the vote in challenging Congressman Chris Chocola in the 2nd District primary.

"In each case, the voters were registering a protest, voting against an incumbent for a variety of reasons, not really in most cases voting for the fan of flogging or the guillotine guy.

"In Chocola's case, it was neither personal nor fatal.

"In Garton's case, it was both.

"In Chocola's case, it was 30 percent, not a majority, and it involved protest more over actions of President Bush and Gov. Daniels than any personal animosity toward the congressman.

"In Garton's case, it was a majority, defeating him, and it involved animosity toward the senator over such matters as his refusal to kill a controversial 'health care for life' plan for senators and his lack of push for an anti-abortion bill."

Dragging Their Feet? State Doesn't Exactly Timely Respond To Star's Records Requests

Questionmark_2Apparently, the Daniels folks aren't just bad at providing records to Democrats. They're also kind of slow when it comes to responding to the media. From today's "Behind Closed Doors" column in the Star:

"The Daniels administration was chided this past week by the state's Public Access Counselor Karen Davis for being slow to respond to public records requests; deleting e-mails that by law must be preserved; and failing to produce documents.

"The Indiana Democratic Party, which had sought help from Davis after waiting four months for requested records and e-mails, spurred the case.

"Davis called the delays 'unreasonable.'

"We've had our own experience with the slow release of public records.

"On Oct. 11, The Indianapolis Star requested e-mails and letters involving the governor's office, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the legislature about last year's closure of license branches.

"We got them -- nearly seven months later.

"Though the law requires agencies to acknowledge a request within 24 hours or seven days -- depending on how you ask -- the law doesn't say when the records must be turned over. The public access counselor has said the records must be delivered in a 'reasonable' amount of time.

"The 400 pages of e-mails and letters mostly show a lot of concern from lawmakers about the closure process and the lack of much public input. They were particularly critical of BMV Commissioner Joel Silverman.

"One lawmaker, though, wrote what he called 'a letter of encouragement' to Silverman.

"State Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, wrote 'My girlfriend Dee Dee was grateful that her branch escaped the chopping block.'

"Also, Waltz wrote, 'I read with great amusement the article in the Indianapolis Star describing some of the proposed changes in store for the BMV. No visible clocks. Casinos have been doing that for years!'"

Order In The Court Of Public Opinion: More ICJI Details, Questions Emerge

Gavel_1The Daniels administration responds to Heather Bolejack's contention that she's absolutely innocent and did everything by the book. In fact, she contradicts prior statements in the story, including that others had full knowledge of her relationship with Michael McKenna, her husband's buddy from New Orleans who received but never performed services for a $417,000 no-bid contract to work with kids of incarcerated parents. Looks like this is shaping up to be trial by media:

"Jason Barclay, Daniels' special counsel who is temporarily helping to run the institute, said in the statement he e-mailed to The Star on Saturday that the inspector general found:

"• Bolejack signed documents awarding the $417,000 grant directly to the institute and "then immediately turned around and awarded that same amount to McKenna Consulting" as a subgrantee "outside the review and approval process."

"• Bolejack failed to disclose her relationship with Michael McKenna -- a childhood friend of her husband, Corey Smith -- to any members of any of the agency's review boards or the individuals responsible for administering the grant inside the agency before the grant was approved.

"• McKenna never provided any services and intended to spend more than half of the grant on salaries, cars, office space and out-of-state travel.

"Bolejack, formerly the youngest state agency head, is the first Daniels appointee removed from her job.

"Bolejack said Saturday she never directly handled processing of the grant to McKenna. She said Susanne Katalina Gullans, 28, the deputy director under Bolejack whom the institute's board also fired Friday, assured her that proper procedures had been followed.

"Gullans could not be reached for comment. She was hired in February 2003 and promoted to deputy director of programs in August 2005, records show. Her salary was $57,772 a year."

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