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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Prosecutor Brizzi’s actions gives opponents plenty to talk about

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In the 2006 Prosecutors Race, incumbent Carl Brizzi ran scores of ads portraying his opponent as inexperienced.

And that opponent, Melina Kennedy, was forced to defend her record rather than focus on Brizzi’s. But despite that handicap, Kennedy only lost to Brizzi by 6,770 votes and just 3.3 percent.

Now, four years later, Brizzi’s image as the “experience, tested, tough” prosecutor has been badly battered because of Brizzi’s now well publicized troubles with his “friend” – businessman and entrepreneur under federal investigation, Tim Durham.

Editorials in this week’s Indianapolis Business Journal and Sunday’s Indianapolis Star excoriate Brizzi for his lack of candor and disclosure on his relationships with Durham. The Star bluntly said Brizzi “is obligated to be as transparent as possible about his close relationship with …Durham” and that “Brizzi so far has failed to meet that obligation.”

The Star added that Brizzi “has been elected to a position of substantial authority in this community. He owes it to voters to fully explain all his ties to the subject of a federal investigation.”

I’m sure Terry Curry, David Orentlicher and Greg Bowes, the three Democrats seeking Brizzi’s job, are already writing the scripts of their ads blasting Brizzi. His lapse of common sense judgement is bad enough. What’s worse is Brizzi’s continued silence. Normally, Prosecutor Brizzi is highly visible, giving interviews to local media. But he’s denied an interview with the Star and only gave an interview to WISH-TV/Channel 8.

Thinking he’d be treated better if the interview wasn’t done with anchors Debbie Knox or Eric Halverson and especially political reporter Jim Shella, the Brizzi interview was done by weekend anchor Gene Rodriguez.

But if Brizzi thought he was going to get a pass, he was sadly mistaken as Rodriguez pressed Brizzi for answers. His slip sliding, slippery, evasive interview embarrassed him and his office. Anyone watching or listening saw and heard a man embarrassed to answer the simple questions that we, the taxpayers who are his boss, want to know.

Here’s some of what Prosecutor Brizzi said, from the interview’s transcript:

“I never attended a board meeting, never received any compensation. Tim and I are friends and we made a decision that that was something I wasn’t going to be involved in.”

“And uh, Tim’s a friend and he helped raise a good bit of money and also contributed a lot of money as well. Tim’s a friend and I am sorry this happened, uh, to him, and you know, Gene what do you do if a friend gets in trouble you just feel badly for them. I mean that’s kind of where I am right now.”

“So, again we all have friends and, um, I feel badly for what has happened to him but look…this is obviously a distraction but we are going to press on.”

Our prosecutor wouldn’t expect those types of answers from a witness in court. Indianapolis doesn’t expect it from Prosecutor Brizzi at all!

What I’m hearing

in the streets

For Democrats to have any chance to win any of the three statewide offices up for election in 2010, they need to carry Marion County; by a healthy margin. And in order to do that, those statewide democratic candidates (Treasurer, Auditor and Secretary of State) must energize, excite and turnout African-American votes.

That’s why it was a stunning error made by the choice of some party leaders for the top of the statewide ticket, former Joe Kernan advisor Tom McKenna who surprisingly dissed African-American media last week.

McKenna flew around the state formally announcing his candidacy for Secretary of State. Even though democrats will pick their Secretary of State candidate in a closed party convention in June, McKenna is virtually unknown in the state’s largest Black community; despite the fact that he’s a Martin University Trustee.

News releases about McKenna’s statewide fly around were sent to Indiana news media. There was even an Indianapolis news conference. But no notification was sent to Indiana’s African-American media; including this column.

You’d think after 16 years of covering Indianapolis and Indiana politics, McKenna and his campaign brain trust would know that I was around.

Virtually every time now an Indiana politician decides to run for office, I get an e-mail release. The hordes of republicans running against Congressman Dan Burton and the posse of republicans vying for the right to run against Senator Evan Bayh send me their information, but not a democrat running statewide.

McKenna’s snub of those who cover politics in our African-American community is surprising and stunning. Does this mean that McKenna feels he doesn’t need to campaign in our community because an African-American, Vop Osili, is also running for Secretary of State?

Osili, a dynamic, young African-American architect and entrepreneur has been traveling Indiana for months meeting with democratic leaders and party activists seeking their support for Secretary of State. Expect Osili to take advantage of McKenna’s snub.

I’m told that one of McKenna’s issues is improving access to the vote for Hoosiers. I think McKenna’s campaign braintrust needs to understand their campaign needs to improve access and communication with the media for a critical 600,000 African-American Hoosiers.

The city formally leaked the names of the four candidates for Public Safety Director. They are interim Director Mark Renner, current Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Michael Spears, IMPD Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce and the surprise candidate, Frank Straub, formerly Public Safety Director of White Plains, N.Y.

Renner, Spears and Pierce are the candidates from Indianapolis. They know the issues, the players, the politics. Straub is not only an outsider, but he doesn’t have the experience in a major population center like the nearly 900,000 strong Indianapolis/Marion County.

Finally, WISH-TV/Channel 8 has promoted superstar sports anchor Anthony Calhoun to Sports Director. Effective immediately, “AC” enters the ranks of management and will coordinate the planning and vision of Channel 8’s Sports Team.

Calhoun not only becomes a member of the station’s management team, but he becomes the first African-American sports director of any outlet in Indianapolis television history. While Ronnie Duncan was the first weekday Black sports anchor in Indy at WTHR/Channel 13 in the 1980’s, he wasn’t sports director.

Congratulations to AC as he embarks on another step in his Indianapolis broadcasting career!

See ‘ya next week!

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