Rumor has it: Bob Meeks to retire afterall....

After 4 years of rubber stamping the Governor's unpopular legislative agenda, it looks like Bob Meeks is giving up the fight.  Being from a toll road county and being personally responsible for getting the Governor's Toll Road Lease passed would make one not so popular back home.  There is also the huge property tax increase passed through the 2005 Budget.  When your solidly Republican district is mad at you, it's probably a good time to go out with some dignity.

Bob has also been suffering some big health problems lately.  Last year he missed almost the entire first month of session due to health problems, and he suffered a small stroke at the end of session this year.

Though it is too late to pull off the ballot this close to the primary, it is rumored that Bob got the paperwork this week to remove himself from the ballot for the general election.  Two questions remain:

1)  Who will the Senate District 13 Republicans appoint to run in his place?  Bob faced a general election challenge from Democrat Fred Demske, a well connected community leader and retiring CEO of Community State Bank.  Who will step in to fill the void?

2)  To whom will Bob give his considerable amount of campaign cash?  As of the last financial report, he had around $160,000 on hand, enough to make him the best friend of any Republican running for office. 

Let the speculation begin....

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Default Judgment: BMV Giving Out "In God We Trust" Plates No Matter What?

LicenseplateTDW has heard that employees at local Bureau of Motor Vehicles branches are handing out the new "In God We Trust" plates without asking customers if they want that plate or the regular state plate.

What's the word, eyes and ears?

Access Denied: Rumor Has It State Has Blocked Employees From JibJab

Noentrysign_5They haven't banned TDW yet, but rumor has it the folks in IT have blocked state employees from JibJab, the popular political satire site that mocked the Guv's cigarette tax hike last week.

The good news? You can still watch the clip on YouTube.

Rumor Has It: Guv Wants To Privatize Lottery To Fund Higher Education

Hoosierlottery_7Get ready for the next step in privatization. The Guv started out selling off an existing road. Then he started talking about selling off new roads. Well, rumor has it that you can expect him to announce later this week that he wants to sell off the Hoosier Lottery to fund higher education.

That's right.

He apparently wants to put an entire state agency -- one that actually makes quite a bit of money -- on the auction block in exchange for a one-time cash infusion.

Ironically, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed a similar plan earlier this year in his state, and it met with overwhelming rejection. Here's what Crain's Chicago Business had to say about the idea on May 29:

"At the risk of appearing to pile on, we side with the governor's critics. Ordinarily, we favor privatization and think most proposals to shift government operations to private contractors deserve at least some consideration. But Mr. Blagojevich's plan to privatize the lottery is so flawed that we can't take it seriously.

"First, consider the terms. Gov. Blagojevich figures a private operator would pay $10 billion to operate the Illinois Lottery. But he offers no support for that assertion. In the absence of comparable transactions, how much credence does that estimate deserve? More troubling, the governor seemed to suggest the lottery deal could take the form of either a sale or a lease. Under a sale, the state would get no more money from the lottery after the initial $10 billion is spent. A lease, on the other hand, would keep the underlying asset in the state's hands.

"Second, the proposal would worsen, not improve, the state's finances. Gov. Blagojevich would immediately boost baseline funding for education by $4 billion over the next four years. But when the $4 billion is gone, he offers no source of funding to maintain the higher level of spending. He'd have to find a new revenue source or slash the new programs he wants to introduce.

"Finally, the plan is another attempt by the governor to shift the cost of today's political priorities to future taxpayers. When the $4 billion is spent and the $6-billion annuity he plans to buy with the rest of the lottery sale proceeds expires in 19 years, a massive unfunded education spending obligation would be created.

"It all adds up to a bad bet for Illinois taxpayers."

Not that criticism has ever stopped the little fella before. He sees a pot of gold and goes for it, ignoring the future and the will of the people who put him in the office he currently occupies.

Honestly, TDW first thought "Everything Must Go" was just a catchy tagline she could use to label this administration. But it's beginning to look more like a real theme. The Guv will sell off anything he can get his hands on. And if this rumor is true, and this is the path we're heading down, what the heck is going to be left in two years?

Toll Road Woes: LEOs None Too Pleased With Private Management?

Listen_7Rumor has it the law enforcement officers who patrol the Indiana Toll Road aren't very happy about the new management along that stretch of highway. Apparently, the number of tow truck vendors has been reduced from 65 or so to 20, which can't be good for clearing wrecks. Also, the walls that speak say employees are leaving in droves.

What are folks in Northern Indiana and elsewhere hearing?

Rumor Has It: Schneider Pockets Extra Pay, Hupfer's Assistant Quits

Listen_5TDW has a few items from the "Rumor Has It" file that she's going to throw out to the Monday wolves.

First, the walls the speak say that Hoosier Lottery Director Esther Schneider recently handed out bonus checks to the few staff members who've managed to weather the storm of her tenure. The higher up on the agency food chain, the bigger your bonus. Rumor has it, Esther pocketed nearly $30,000. If it's true, wowzers.

Also, there's a rumor percolating that Department of Natural Resources Director Kyle Hupfer's assistant quit last week to take a job in Cleveland. Actually, there may be nothing sinister about this whatsoever, but it makes you wonder whether he left over a disagreement about a concealed weapon, mute swan or coal mine.

Any other good rumors out there, blogosphere?

Coordinate This: Anti-Hill "527" Group Suddenly Changes Its Online Tune

Thumbsdown_5 (Note to the masses: This is a pretty specific thread that might not mean anything to you unless you live in Southeastern Indiana. Sorry 'bout that.)

Hey, Ninth District Democrats, you out there? Cool. TDW's sure you're familiar with the Bloomington-based "Citizens for Truth" group that devoted thousands of dollars in 2004 to hateful billboards and radio ads smearing Baron Hill's personal reputation, right?


Good. Glad you remember them. As you may well know, they're back and promising more mean-spiritedness this year, even though both Hill and his opponent, Mike Sodrel, have signed "clean campaign" pledges.

Well, rumor has it that the leader of "Citizens for Truth," one completely nutty Herman "Bud" Bernitt, and his ardent followers have been coordinating things with the Sodrel campaign, which is high on the federal no-no list.

Beyond the possibility of illegal coordination is the fact that non-profits aren't supposed to meddle in political campaigns to the extent that they're advocating for or against a particular candidate.

TDW, in her official capacity, sent out a press release earlier this week asking the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission to look into any possible coordination between the two groups or any improper political advocacy.

A funny thing happened soon thereafter: Barely an hour after the release went out, the "Citizens for Truth" website got updated.

Previously, Bernitt had claimed credit on the "About Us" page for helping defeat Hill with paid media in 2004. All that stuff, including the "Why Is Baron Afraid To Debate?" chicken graphic, disappeared. Poof. Gone. The only thing left was the generic language describing the group and its intent to educate voters on issues, blah blah blah.

Fortunately, even this techno-dummy can figure out how to use the "cached" feature on Google, and she thought you might like to see the before-and-after versions of the "Citizens for Truth" site. (You can click each image if you want to view the full-size version.) Looks like somebody got spooked.





The Lawrence Rumor Mill: Candidate Gaining Traction The Old-Fashioned Way

Thumbsup_3For fear that the wingnuts will come back and take over the blog, TDW almost hates to put out a buzzy item about something political in Lawrence, but here goes.

Word on the street is that Lawrence Republicans are talking quite a bit about Mike Hobbs, the 24-year-old African-American Marine who's running for Township Trustee. When he first started out, folks murmured that he was too young and too inexperienced to make a dent in the race.

Since then, he's walked a lot of the township and handed out thousands of pieces of literature. And apparently the political types are taking notice.

As a 20-something, TDW has a special affinity for young candidates getting out there and making a difference. Politics doesn't have to be a spectator sport until you're 45. Whether he wins or not in November, here's to Hobbs and other folks on the young end of the spectrum giving it their political all.

Good job and good luck, Mike.

Martin Jischke: Where Ya Going? Barcelona. Or Maybe The Indiana Statehouse.

PurdueIt's not like TDW was going to start the debate about this story, but since Jim Shella did it on his site, what's wrong with a little linky love in the blogosphere?

"The word is out that Martin Jischke's tenure is over at Purdue University. He's leaving due to a mandatory retirement age of 65. That's not too young to run for office, though. There's been plenty of speculation that politics might be in Jischke's future.

"This is not the time, I figure, to quell that speculation."

Bring it.

News Of The News: Rumor Has It WIBC Might Jettison Garrison For Abdul

Radiotower1Word on the street is that WIBC might be looking to dump Mighty-Righty Greg Garrison, whose late morning show has grown increasingly dogmatic and predictable of late. Could this be an opportunity for early morning show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, whose contract with WXNT expires on Labor Day, to jump ship for a larger station with more reach?

Say what you will of Abdul, and TDW knows some of you have lots to say, but it would be a refreshing change for WIBC to hire a talk show host who actually cares about local politics and who bothers to talk to all the folks with a stake in the game.

Keep your ear to the ground on this one.

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