Despicable!

Sorry to fill your in-boxes with an extra post this morning, but yesterday, Representative Milo Smith  demonstrated that Congress doesn’t have a lock on self-serving partisan behavior.

HUNDREDS of Hoosiers showed up at the Indiana Statehouse to support HB1014, which would end partisan gerrymandering. After a hearing that featured testimony from Republicans and Democrats alike, Smith–chair of the House Election committee–refused to take a vote.

That refusal was shameful and cowardly. The people who took time out of their days, who traveled from out in the state and demonstrated their support, deserved at the very least to know who on the committee supported the bill and who did not.

If you live in Indiana, please call Rep. Smith and let him know your opinion of this effort to avoid accountability. Also call Speaker Bosma, and tell him to support the hundreds of Hoosiers who showed up and demanded reform.

If we needed a reminder of why “safe seats” are so pernicious–how they allow “elected” lawmakers to ignore the public will–we got it yesterday.

35 thoughts on “Despicable!

  1. I called Bosma yesterday afternoon and let his aid know I was unhappy that there was so little notice given for such a hot button issue. The response: notice was given in accordance with law and he was sorry how I felt. I told him to make sure the Speaker knew how I felt.

  2. SK Wrote
    “If you live in Indiana, please call Rep. Smith and let him know your opinion of this effort to avoid accountability.
    Also call Speaker Bosma”
    Question:
    Best Phone Numbers for these people?

  3. I was one of more than one hundred citizens who attended the committee hearing, so many of us that the hearing was moved to the House chamber. After 1 1/2 hours of testimony by Common Cause Indiana, the League of Women Voters, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation and numerous private citizens in favor, the chair called one last person who was the only voice in opposition. Guess who the chair heard?
    While I do not have a lot of experience in the legislature, I also know when things are being orchestrated to insure an outcome. Mr. Smith demonstrated clearly why this legislation needed to be passed.
    Most disappointing was that Speaker Bosma, co-sponsor of the bill, was not present. I suspect he let the chair take the hit because his caucus did not support him, the public will be damned.
    To top it all off, there was not one word in the Indianapolis Star about the hearing or the outcome. If voters are looking for information on legislative actions, the Star, the capitol city’s only newspaper and partner with central Indiana TV outlets, they will have to find it elsewhere.
    It is small wonder voter turnout is last in the country in Indiana. Ignorance is apparently bliss.
    By the way, if you call a legislator who is not your own representative, you are pretty much ignored. Partisanship over common sense legislation for the public good seems to be the order of the day.
    It was sad and disheartening to know that one man could stop the process to improve voter participation and competitive districts for 6.5 million residents of our state.

  4. Thanks Sheila.

    You may call Rep. MILO Smith (be sure to include the first name as there are TWO Representative Smiths)

    Legislative Assistant: Luke McNamee
    Phone: 317-232-9620 | or TOLL FREE at 1-800-382-9841
    E-mail: luke.mcnamee@iga.in.gov

    Or via Press Contact
    Nick Seifer
    Phone: 317-232-9695
    Email: nick.seifer@iga.in.gov

  5. Another “no action”, “action” by Republicans at the local state level; simply a continuation of Republican federal level Congressional “no action”, “action” against President Obama. A well organized GOP tactic which stopped the federal government twice; can the Democratic party here stop state government till a vote is taken on the gerrymandering issue?

    BTW; good old Senator Donnelly voted with ALL Republicans yesterday to end President Obama’s ruling to keep guns out of the hands of those declared mentally incompetent. Indiana MUST have a Democrat worthy of that Senatorial seat somewhere in this state. Will they please “come on down!”

  6. I’m one of those whose vote almost never counts in this state. This is beyond infuriating, but not surprising. Of course they’re not going to jeopardize their position by allowing the minority party any power.

  7. Other numbers : Speaker Brian Bosma (317-232-9677), and State Rep Jerry Torr (317-232-9619), the author of the bill.

  8. Susan; I sat for 6 hours yesterday watching the three-part mini-series “Madiba”, the life story of Nelson Mandela and his work to end apartheid in South Africa. (as an aside, the last two segments were disappointing and not believable) He faced the attitude of the multitude that “as one person they have no power”; the same attitude of those who do not vote because they believe their vote does not count. One vote and one vote and one vote added up to the nearly three MILLION winning popular votes for Hillary Clinton…our multitudes spoke loud and clear. Yes; we are faced with the problem of the Electoral College at the federal level which has given us George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump as president but we are fighting that.

    Yesterday’s hearing was another shameful chapter in the Indiana GOP stronghold on all civic and humanitarian issues here. Gerrymandering IS a form of hidden apartheid in this country and in this state; we must escalate our fight against it. My last comment on yesterday’s blog referred to Brian Bosma; who did not bother to show up for the vote yesterday, he didn’t bother to campaign during the November election until the last few weeks because he has been the only candidate in the 88th District and is now serving in his 31st year as Republican Representative. What is his voting record? What is his attendance record? He is the crux of the gerrymandering problem and needs to be deposed from his House throne.

  9. Yesterday was my first ever visit to the statehouse during my 6 year residency in the state. I was heartened by the turnout and excited about witnessing and participating in the movement. Never have I felt so bamboozled. This event, the timing and setting were orchestrated to perfection. We could have been cast in an episode of Indiana’s own “House of Cards”.

    I’m thankful we have people like Julie Vaughn fighting for us; I can’t imagine what she must be feeling like today.

    Sheila, thanks for keeping us informed.

  10. HB1014 Denied a Vote.

    Shameful.

    After having to move to the House Chambers to accommodate the large crowd gathered in support of HB1014 and listening to over 90 minutes of testimony from Hoosiers across the state, House Elections & Apportionment Chair Milo Smith did not take a committee vote on HB1014.

    Please call Rep. Smith (and your legislator) to demand a special committee meeting before Monday so that HB1014 can receive the vote it deserves.

    Milo Smith
    Representative | District 59
    Contact Information
    Phone: 317-232-9620
    Phone: 1-800-382-9841
    Email: h59@iga.in.gov

    If you Tweet about this issue use #inlegis and tag your legislators.

    We also encourage you – IMMEDIATELY – to draft a citizen letter to the editor to your local paper. We need sustained and vocal public attention on redistricting reform immediately to keep hope alive. Committee reports are due Tuesday and legislators typically do not work on Fridays. Time is running out.

    As always, be respectful but firm in your position: Redistricting Reform NOW!

    Need talking points? https://gallery.mailchimp.com/af9fc7931960ecf47b6375d35/files/787af9a2-4540-4f8c-9585-d8a57e1ea653/redistricting_talking_points_da.doc

    Thank you for your hard work and commitment to this very important issue. Together, we are making democracy work and holding our legislators accountable.

    Debbie Asberry LWVIN
    Julia Vaughn CCIN

  11. My heart was full as I listened to everyday citizens speak on behalf of redistricting reform. Many attended the lobby training yesterday morning, including a young mom and her 8 week old infant (whose name was Milo) from Ft. Wayne. We have to stay focused and insistent. They are betting we will all just go away. This is our democracy and we have been called out to fight for it. Thank you Sheila and company for your tireless support. Onward my friends.

  12. Rep. Smith would not have done that without the approval of R leadership, both legislative and Gov’s office. Action? Crowd local mtgs held by House members asking for yes or no answer to “Do you support HB1014?”. If answer is not yes or no, then ask again for yes or no.

  13. JoAnn nailed it. With preordained outcomes guaranteed by gerrymandered districts, those “elected” have no incentive to listen to people outside or even inside their districts to legislate for the common good. All that is necessary is to have an R beside your name and a captive primary cabal. The process more nearly resembles appointment than election. Those “elected” such as Smith have no reason to be nice to assembled citizens because the citizens have no removal power as democracy yields to House and Senate “rules” and other official means of ignoring the will of the people. Ultimately, and as the citizens awaken to this cancer on our democracy, I think we may excise it. Next step > keep an eye on 2020, our next biennial and crucial election when those who win are in charge of the following ten years’ gerrymandering or better, getting rid of such a democracy-deadening process altogether.

  14. While it is not uncommon for testimony to be taken at one hearing and a vote taken later, that is not what Rep. Smith indicated was going on. I spoke to him on Tuesday afternoon, right before the Republicans caucused, and he told me he intended to take a vote at the hearing on Wednesday. I spoke to him after the hearing and he did not make any commitment on taking a vote. The 300 people who attended the hearing deserve to know where the committee stands on this issue. Time is running out. Call the State House. Demand a vote on HB1014

  15. Thank you, Sheila, for highlighting this issue.
    It is important that we don’t give up because the reactionary forces in the State are betting on that.

    It is clear that it is now up to us – the citizens – to do everything possible to make our elected representatives accountable to the public they serve. the only way that happens is if we end gerrymandering.
    Therefore: make those calls to Rep Milo Smith and Speaker Brian Bosma (call a special committee meeting Monday; the public deserves a vote) and Rep Jerry Torr (thank you for your leadership; don’t give up) today and ask your friends to do the same.

  16. If this bill does not pass into law, why can we not file a federal class discrimination suit against all the Indiana legislators who voted for it? Emanual’s Chicago just yesterday sued the Illinois State government for discrimination in its distribution of educational funds. Tim

  17. Do we have a path to a referendum vote on this? Ie-a way for the people of the state to get a vote in our own hands despite the legislature? I doubt it, but am curious if anyone sees an alternate path to getting this issue unstuck.

  18. Yes!! Despicable!!
    Some asked for contact info:
    Rep. Milo Smith, 317-232-9620, 1-800-382-9841, email: h59@iga.in.gov

    Speaker Bosma, 317-232-9677. Thank Speaker Bosma for his leadership on this bill and urge him to pressure the committee for a special meeting before Monday so that HB1014 can receive the vote it deserves. We need to bombard them with calls.

  19. Sheila, the phrase that comes to mind is “taxation without representation.” Is there any way a lawsuit could be brought? The same thing occurs with the electoral votes allocated to each state; a voter in California has much less influence on the outcome of an election than does a voter from Idaho.

    I am a responsible citizen. I vote and pay taxes, but I don’t think I have elected representatives who represent me. It is so frustrating to see the laws being passed ( or proposed legislation that doesn’t get a fair hearing ) because anything I write or rally for, those in power don’t pay attention to. Big money controls our government; not only Citizens United but also, the propaganda outlets controlled by the wealthy such as Rupert Murdoch who is not a U.S. citizen. Corporate money (ALEC) and “think tanks” (Heritage) control our elected officials. Grover Norquist’s stupid pledge signed by candidates even before they win causes me to know that they have already pledged to ignore the issues and always take actions that won’t raise revenue but will always cut spending. We shouldn’t be building a stupid wall and telling people that NPR and the NEA (just to name two) need to be defunded to pay for it. I want a court to tell these bought-and-paid-for that they need to at least be fair to their constituents.

  20. For all of Sheila’s readers! There are 2 active groups helping us stay informed and active:
    Indivisible Indianapolis and Women 4 Change Indiana. We have a large Facebook presence and share info. Both of these are currently closed groups on FB. However, find me on FB – Jan Gehris – make a “Friend” request of me and I will confirm you. Then, I can invite you to these groups for all the info and planned activities.
    Thousands of us around Indiana are connected to each other through these groups and have been very active at the Statehouse and with direct phone calls to State and Federal elected officials.

  21. Maybe this will be part of the reset button for democracy in Indiana. We need quality people to step up and run for State office. Putting a stop to gerrymandering might be enough of an issue in and of itself to get quality people elected. It seems that’s our only hope at this point.

  22. Hard to believe one man like Milo can have so much power. I cannot find a single word on this hearing today in the Indianapolis Star. Several hundred people at the State House for a hearing should have been covered. How many times has this happened in recently??? A Reporter from The Star should have cornered Milo and asked why he refused to have a Vote.

    However, since the Vote did not have something to do with the Colts or Pacers or some new bar or restaurant it was not News Worthy for The Star.

    I guess this is Indiana’s version of Mr. Smith goes to Indianapolis.

  23. Remember the time period when the Koch brothers systematically started taking over all levels of govt? Was Indiana one of the places?

  24. I suppose that our friend Milo scheduled the hearing with only one day notice to prevent an organized protest. He apparently didn’t count on Sheila et al. Then he had the gall to dismiss the protest as “organized.” Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Sorta like when the Tea Party held all those “(un)organized” demonstrations paid for by the Koch brothers? And now – according to Common Cause Indiana – the absent Brian Bosma is also “disappointed.” But I imagine there is nothing he can do about it. What hypocrites!

  25. If you recall the RFRA legislation of a few years ago was pulled from Jerry Torr’s Committee in the House and sent to an unrelated committee chaired by Milo Smith so that it would be passed onto the Floor. Milo has a gay son. If he’ll disparage his son for the benefit of his Caucus, he’ll have no problem double-crossing his constituents. If Brian truly wants the legislation, and I doubt it, he’ll re-direct it to another committee. Don’t bet the farm on it!

  26. I called him last week. Told him that this vote would be “good optics” for the Republican Party, showing that they believe in fair voting and governance but apparently he so opposes both that he didn’t care.

  27. Now you know why voting won’t resolve our issues. When Trump says, “the process is rigged”, this is really what he is referring to, but it works for both stolen and corporate owned parties – not just the GOP in Indiana. The Democrats do the exact same thing. Look how the national, regional and state democratic parties worked against Bernie Sanders to ensure progressives didn’t gain access into Washington. Instead, we got Trump and look how hard the press and others are working against him…well, except for those GOP’ers who are hoping to get their policies enacted under Trump.

    Look at Paul Ryan…he wouldn’t invite Trump to a GOP fundraiser, but after Trump won, Paul is his best friend. 🙂

    Here is a flash of truth: they are all frauds. It doesn’t matter if you root for D’s or R’s, they are both sell outs. It doesn’t matter which news channel you watch on TV, if it’s allowed on TV, it’s a sellout. Nothing meaningful or truthful will be allowed on the TV, radio or in printed news.

    Why?

    They’ve all been acquired by Oligarchs who have the same goals – to make more for themselves. If you think they care for the common man, you’re a rube. A sucker.

  28. Todd; so your solution appears to be not to vote.

    The ongoing complaints against the two-party system do not seem to consider what little additional parties have to offer in their campaign foundations. The Green Party supported saving the environment but little else. The Libertarian Party wants virtually no government “interference” (also known as Patriot Party) in our lives which leaves no one to run cities, towns, states or the country and no one to “pay the bills” which the Constitution allows the government to acquire but also demands they must be paid. I find that scary as hell.

    Those who voted for saving the environment or to do away with basic government helped elect Donald Trump. The two additional party’s campaign foundations were part of both Democratic and Republican parties; all they did was scatter needed votes uselessly and here we are.

  29. Since these representatives in “safe” districts fear a primary challenge, perhaps that’s what they should face. Anyone could register to run against Smith in the primary and argue to voters that the long term incumbent doesn’t want them to have a real choice.

  30. Jo Ann Green, I am continually amazed at the extent of your knowledge. At times because I hear you say the same things more than once I tune you out, but then you grab my foggy attention by pointing out the varying voices out there aside from the two party system and I again am thinking, “what?” Thank you.

    Now, Jo, regarding whether or not to vote—–maybe at one time I would have wholeheartedly bellowed (After all women went thru to earn the right to vote?) “It’s UnAmerican not to vote!!!!” But aside from that,with gerrymandering, sullying by outside forces, electoral college and powers that be —–meh….however, even in Indiana I will vote because I am conditioned like Pavlov’s dog.

  31. I thought I had simply bugged you about the fact that your vote DOES count till you finally voted to shut me up. Our votes were among those millions more for Hillary and against Trump and they DID count; I believe they counted more for the Republicans than for Democrats, Libertarians and Green Party voters. The Republicans now know who the majority in this country prefer (whether it was actually Hillary, the Democratic party or simply against Trump); also counting those votes were the Koch brothers, the Mercers, the Devoses and the NRA and our votes have cost each of them millions, if not billions, more to maintain their support and “loyalty” of the Republican party. And it will continue to cost them millions more to maintain their stranglehold on this country so we need to continue voting and urging those who don’t to join us.

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