Gerry Weaver, CTO of Indiana’s Office of Technology, is interviewed in Computer World. He asserts that he has saved the state $25 million in annual costs related to Indiana’s IT infrastructure. It’s something of a puff piece, but for all I know Weaver’s glowing assessment of his achievements may be warranted. Any commentary on the State’s revamping of the IT infrastructure out there?
Hayhurst has purchased $300,000 worth of air time until election day. His two main messages so far appear to be, “if you want to change Washington, change the people you send there” and also, Dr. Hayhurst’s belief that every American ought to have access to affordable health care.
TDW labels the Hayhurst campaign as the “Most Likely Political Surprise of 2006.”
Looks like there’s a new blog in town: ManfredEye. An Indianapolis blogger focused primarily on politics.
The August 10, 2006 Minutes of the Select Joint Commission on Medicaid Oversight describes an interesting presentation by Rep. Orentlicher on expanding access to health care for uninsured and underinsured individuals. He described the Tennessee approach and the Oregon approach, both of which had initial success but both states had returned to their initial rate of uninsured citizens by 2005. (Could be the systems didn’t work very well or it could be that they were just sufficient to stem the tide of uninsureds between inception and the present.) Rep. Orentlicher described the Veterans Health Administration as a model for reengineering health care delivery. The budget’s plan remained flat between 1995 and 2000 while patients increased by 40%. (Seems like the Oregon and Tennessee plans had problems between 2000 and 2005 — I wonder what the VA data looks like for that period.)
The VA approach has resulted in a shift from hospital based care to out patient care; an 11% decrease in staffing; a significant reduction in forms; and savings in the pharmacy management program. Rep. Orentlicher suggests a pilot program based on the VA model for Medicaid recipients in Marion County to receive services at Wishard Hospital along with a buy-in program for small businesses. As part of the presentation, Lee Livin, CFO of Wishard Hospital gave testimony. He stated that at Wishard, only 10% of their patients are commercially insured, and approximately 36% are uninsured by any source. He suggested that a viable insurance product can be marketed to small businesses at a minimum average monthly premium of $150 to $175 per individual. (So, for a family of 4, this means at least a $600/month premium — $7,200 per year. The federal poverty guidelines put 2006 poverty level for a family of 4 at $20,000 per year income. A family at 200% of the poverty level would be spending 18% of their pre-tax income on health insurance premiums.)
Rep. Tim Brown commended Rep. Orentlicher on his efforts but also pointed out that VA healthcare and Medicaid weren’t exactly comparable because of the differing populations that they serve.
Steve Walsh, writing for the Gary Post Tribune has a story on the effect privatizing the toll road may have on elections this November. (I seem to recall Gary Post Tribune links going stale pretty quickly, fwiw.)
With Republicans fighting to keep their narrow control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the 2nd District has been featured in recent articles in the New York Times and the Times of London as the poster child for voter discontent in America.
Gov. Mitch Danielsâ€™ popularity remains low, especially in the seven counties along the Toll Road. A recent poll by Indianapolisâ€™ WISH-TV shows a majority of Indiana citizens believe the lucrative Toll Road deal was a mistake, even though it is funding a record-breaking amount of road construction projects, known collectively as Major Moves. The plans call for spending $11.8 billion on road upgrades over 10 years.
. . .
At the Oasis Family Restaurant in Westville, the lunch crowd included truckers who fear rising tolls under the private company, and with less than two months to go before the November election, they said they plan to take out their frustration on Republicans.
The story has two quotes noting the foreignness of the Australian/Spanish consortium as a source of the objection. That’s a mistake. The sale would have been just as objectionable, in my mind, if it had been to Wal-Mart or Halliburton. The loyalties of any large corporation aren’t to their country of origin, but rather to their stockholders and to the bottom line. Indiana’s mistake in this is 1) transferring transportation infrastructure to a private, for-profit entity; and 2) setting up a scheme whereby the motorists of Northern Indiana are taxed to pay for road construction throughout the state.
TPM Muckraker continues to follow the story of the “Economic Freedom Fund” — an organization bankrolled by Bob Perry, the man who bankrolled the smears on John Kerry’s military record. This organization is going to bat for Mike Sodrel by paying for “FreeEats.com Inc.” to robocall Hoosiers with attacks on Baron Hill. By robocall, I mean use computers to dial Hoosier phones and play recorded messages to anyone unfortunate enough to pick up the phone. Trouble is, this practice is illegal.
The General Assembly, recognizing that Hoosiers don’t want to have the phone ringing at all hours only to have a computer play them a recording, adopted IC 24-5-14 which prohibits playing such a recording unless an actual person has obtained the consent of the person picking up the phone before playing the recording. Attorney General Steve Carter, appropriately, took these folks to court to put an end to their law breaking.
On the contrary, however, Sodrel’s supporters apparently feel that the First Amendment protects their God given right to have computers ring your phone and tie up your line playing you recorded messages. So, they’ve gone to federal court asking it to nullify the state law. So much for strict construction and states’ rights, I guess.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has been airing ads attacking Brad Ellsworth, trying to paint him as a zombie who will serve his liberal San Francisco liberal masters if elected to Congress. As a counterattack, the Ellsworth campaign has come up with an interesting approach to turning one of Hostettler’s traditional “positives” into a “negative.”
Hostettler traditionally foregoes PAC money and raises very little money of his own with which to campaign. Normally, this is seen as a good thing. Not beholden to special interests, close to his constituents, etc. etc. Trouble is that, as a consequence of his minimal campaign funds, he owes a lot of his electoral activity to money spent by the National Republican Congressional Committee which uses money that is decidedly more tainted than the money raised by Hostettler personally. Ellsworth is raising ads that suggest Hostettler shouldn’t get a free ride simply because the money spent on behalf of his campaign is first laundered through the NRCC. Instead, the Ellsworth campaign is attempting to tag Hostettler with all of the sins of the NRCC, links to convicted Republican felon superlobbyist Jack Abramoff and the spreading scandal involving Congressmen such as convicted Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and convicted Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). (See the Grand Old Docket for a rundown of criminal activity involving prominent politicians.)
James Wensits, writing for the South Bend Tribune, has a story reporting that a Republican polling outfit by the name of Mercury Public Affairs claims that Chocola has a 5% lead over Donnelly, specifically, their numbers have Chocola up 45.5% versus 40.5% with 13.9% undecided. The sample included 39.7% Republicans, 37% Democrats, and 18.2% independent. (Which, out of a sample of 300 people, means 119 Republicans, 111 Democrats, and 70 independents.)
This contrasts with the poll numbers in another story written by Mr. Wensits featuring the WSBT/South Bend Tribune poll (conducted by Research 2000 of Rockville Maryland) sampling 400 likely voters, showing Donnelly ahead 50% to 42% with 8% undecided and a 5% margin of error.
Both pollsters “stand by their numbers.” I didn’t see the break down of voter affiliation in the South Bend Tribune poll. In any case, if conventional wisdom holds up, Chocola is in some trouble even with his poll numbers. He’s below 50% approval and there are 13% undecideds. The conventional wisdom is that undecideds typically break significantly toward the challenger.
I just came across the blog of Kreg Battles, the Democrat opposing Troy “I’ll never vote for it” Woodruff to represent Indiana’s 64th House District. His official website is here. Woodruff and hopefully his defeat are of special interest to me given his position as a legislator who promised his constituents that he would never vote for Daylight Saving Time only to turn around and become the legislator who gave DST its one vote margin of passage.
An article from Mary Beth Schneider indicates that Attorney General Steve Carter has sued a California-based group called the “Electronic Freedom Fund” for automated phone calls attacking IN-09 Democratic Congressional candidate Baron Hill.
The group has apparently agreed to stop making the calls, but Carter has said that the State will continue to seek an injunction against the “Electronic Freedom Fund” in a Brown County Court. Carter says that the group said that their vendor said that the calls were “legal so long as they were placed from out of state.” Where they got that, I don’t know. The relevant statute is IC 24-5-14 which states:
A caller may not use or connect to a telephone line an automatic dialing-announcing device unless:
(1) the subscriber has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message; or
(2) the message is immediately preceded by a live operator who obtains the subscriber’s consent before the message is delivered.
Violating the law constitutes a deceptive act under IC 24-5-0.5 which means that the attorney general can bring an action. An individual subjected to the violation may also bring suit personally and cash in a little bit. But, if the Attorney General decides to be hard core about this, he could really bring some cash into the State’s coffers under IC 24-5-0.5-8:
Sec. 8. A person who commits an incurable deceptive act is subject to a civil penalty of a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation. The attorney general, acting in the name of the state, has the exclusive right to petition for recovery of such a fine, and this fine may be recovered only in an action brought under section 4(c) of this chapter.
In the definitions section, we find that “‘Incurable deceptive act’ means a deceptive act done by a supplier as part of a scheme, artifice, or device with intent to defraud or mislead.”
I’d say there is a pretty strong argument to be made that the calls were intended to mislead voters about Baron Hill’s voting record. For example, I’d be surprised if a court would agree that the “Electronic Freedom Fund” was accurately characterizing Hill’s voting record when they state that “Baron Hill voted to allow the sale of a broad range of violent and sexually explicit material to minors.”
I haven’t heard how many automated calls were made, but it wouldn’t take long before $500 per call started adding up to some real money, even for an organization bankrolled by Bob Perry, the Houston millionaire responsible for the “Swiftboat Veterans For Truth” lies about John Kerry’s military record that caused Kerry so much trouble when he was running against George Bush.