Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Tea Party Express Coming to Southern Indiana

The Tea Party Express will be in southern Indiana Saturday to host two rallies as part of the group’s “Restoring the American Dream” tour.

Based in California, the political action committee’s tour is focused on battleground states in this year’s congressional and presidential elections where tea party candidates are vying for office.

Across the country, the group has gained the reputation for aggressive campaigning and has raised millions of dollars to support candidates who are in favor of shrinking the federal government and reducing the national debt. In 2010, however, the Tea Party Express was embroiled in controversy when its leader wrote a blog praising the slave trade. He quickly resigned.

Sal Russo is chief strategist for the Tea Party Express. He told WFPL the movement remains successful because voters are tired of Washington’s ineffectiveness, which is often tied to perpetual incumbents.

“The zeitgeists of the times are clearly people are concerned about the increasing size, cost and intrusiveness of the federal government with an unsustainable and skyrocketing national debt. I think that’s what people are concerned about. So I think to the extent that candidates address that they’re going to do well,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Poll: Lugar Trailing Mourdock By Five Points

Longtime Indiana Senator Dick Lugar is trailing state Treasurer Richard Mourdock by five points in the closely watched Republican primary, according to a new poll on behalf of Citizens United.

The survey shows Mourdock leading with 44 percent and Lugar at 39 percent, with nearly 17 percent of voters still undecided. Lugar supporters point out that Citizens United is backing Mourdock in the May 8 primary, however.

Both candidates have seen their favorable numbers plummet and the nastiness is expected to increase with less than two weeks left.

From Politico:

The Club for Growth has just reserved another $421,000 of TV time to batter Lugar, charging in a new spot that he is “clinging to power, throwing mud.”

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Memo: Lugar Poised to Lose GOP Primary

A memorandum from a polling firm says U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-In., is set to lose his seat to Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the upcoming Republican primary, according to a recent survey of 500 likely voters.

Global Strategy Group finds the race between Lugar and his Tea Party challenger is tightening with his initial 12-point lead cut in half since October. The memo notes that the six-term Senator has outspent Mourdock by $2 million, but is only ahead by a 45 percent to 39 percent margin.

“After more than 30 years as Indiana’s Senator, Richard Lugar is fighting for his political life,” the memorandum reads. “Despite spending millions, Lugar continues to lose ground in the Republican Primary and faces the very real possibility that on May 8, he will be out of a job.”

Frankfort Local News Politics

Kentucky 9/12 Project Cries Foul on IRS Inquiry

Kentucky Tea Party groups are joining others around the country in complaining about inquiries from the Internal Revenue Service.

Many of the groups are not-for-profit 501(c)(4)s. Such organizations may engage in elections and political campaigns, but the activities must primarily promote social welfare. The IRS has sent several groups questionnaires about their activities. The surveys ask about the groups’ fundraising activities, political rallies and candidate endorsements.

The questions are aimed at determining whether the groups fit the criteria to be 501(c)(4)s. But several Tea Party groups are suspicious. The Kentucky 9/12 project is the latest organization to call the survey and the two-week time period to fill it out an example of government overreach. Failing to fill out the questionnaire could cost the group its not-for-profit status.

Many other Tea Party groups in Kentucky sent messages to their membership to support the 9/12 project in light of the IRS inquiry.

Here and Now

Gingrich Leads Poll, Tea Party on Romney, Ear X-Tacy Closure on NPR, Future Classics: Today on Here and Now

Some highlights from today’s show.

1:06pm Because of his long career in politics, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he’s ready for the scrutiny that comes with being at the top in the polls.  The GOP candidates head into another debate tonight where Gingrich is expected to come under attack because of his newfound frontrunner status.  Mitt Romney unveils his first TV ad in New Hampshire, where President Obama pushes for an extension of his payroll tax cut.

1:11pm Newt Gingrich is the 6th candidate to rise to the top of the polls, as the GOP continues to search for an alternative to Mitt Romney, who’s still considered by analysts the most likely to win the nomination.  Mark Meckler, co-founder of one of the largest Tea Party groups, Tea Party Patriots, told the LA Times that if Romney becomes the GOP nominee, “it would cause a drop-off of enthusiasm.”  So how likely are Tea Party activists to turn to a 3rd party candidate in the general election?  And what does the Tea Party want to hear in tonight’s debate?

1:20pm Forty-eight years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. We revisit a conversation Robin Young had with her neighbor, Priscilla McMillan. A community activist and scholar, McMillan was a speech writer for Kennedy in the 1950s. Then in 1959 as a reporter in Moscow, she spoke to a young defector, Lee Harvey Oswald. After Kennedy’s assassination, McMillan’s desire to find out more about why he was killed led her to befriend Oswald’s widow Marina, and write the book “Marina and Lee.”

1:34pm As part of the month-long series, “Hard Times: A Journey Across America,” NPR’s Debbie Elliott covered John Timmons and the closing of Ear X-Tacy.  We’ll hear the feature.
WFPL News coverage of Ear X-Tacy

1:40pm 50 Years From Now, What Will Be ‘The Classics’? We remember the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, I Love Lucy, the Wonder Years and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger from decades past. What – if anything – will go down in history from our era?

Here and Now

No Plan from Supercommittee, Wall Street Occupiers Meet with Tea Partiers, Changes to Catholic Liturgy, Turkey Tutorial: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm The supercommittee charged with arriving at a debt reduction plan will likely admit defeat today. Democrats accused Republicans of refusing a deal to have wealthy Americans pay more. Republicans criticized Democrats for insisting on tax increases for the wealthiest Americans. We’ll explore the rancor from both sides, and what the lack of a plan will mean for the rest of us.

1:11pm There was an unusual meeting last week in Memphis. A group of tea party activists met with Occupy Wall Street protestors. Yes, there were disagreements, but there was also common ground. We’ll talk to the participants.

1:34pm Next Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent in the Roman Catholic Church—the spiritual preparation for Christmas. But it will also mark a major milestone for millions of Catholics across the country, including the 200,000 members of the Archdiocese of Louisville. As WFPL’s Rick Howlett reports, sweeping changes to the church liturgy (the ritual prayers recited during Mass) go into effect. We’ll look at changes and find out why some people are unhappy about them.

1:49pm And just in case the thought of preparing Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday has you breaking out in hives or hitting the cooking sherry, we’ll do some turkey triage with resident chef Kathy Gunst.

Local News

JCPS Board Approves Tax Increase, But Doesn’t Create Additional Revenue

The Jefferson County School Board unanimously approved a tax increase of one-tenth of a cent at Monday’s board meeting.

The increase is based on assessed property value. If a house is assessed at $100,000 dollars, it will mean a $1 increase in taxes this next year.

This will be the fourth straight year the school board has raised property tax to maintain an acceptable level of service. This year’s increase is the smallest over the previous years’ raises. Last year’s tax increase of three cents was the district’s largest over the past four years and it brought around $28 million dollars to the district.

Each year, the school board has the option to apply a four percent tax revenue increase. Superintendent Donna Hargens says the board chose not to seek the maximum increase after an audit of the district’s finances showed it can maintain its current level of service with the minimum increase.

Hargens also says the increase will not bring JCPS any additional revenue. Further, she says the district will lose $16 million dollars by not implementing the maximum tax.

That still did not please everyone. Three people spoke out against the tax increase, including a member of the local Tea Party.

But board members were not swayed and they explained why the tax increase was necessary. Board member Debbie Wesslund says it’s the boards job to make sure the money is spent right.

School Year/Tax Increase (per $100,000 of assessed property value)

2011-2012: 67.7  ($677 per year)

2010-2011: 67.6

2009-2010: 64.6

2008-2009: 62.5

Local News Politics

Tea Party Celebrates Moffett’s Showing

Even though Tea Party-backed gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett lost the Republican primary, his supporters are celebrating.

Moffett was a political novice with little name recognition, and he lacked the fundraising power of the primary winner, state Senate President David Williams. But Moffett beat Williams in the state’s two most populous counties and finished about ten percent behind the favorite statewide. He credits the surprising performance to individual Tea Party groups across the state.

“The Republican Party knows that the Tea Party is an integral part of what’s going to happen in this state and what’s going to happen in this nation,” he told a cheering crowd. “And if they can’t figure that out, woe is them.”

It will be up to individual chapters to decide who to support Williams in the general election.

“[Williams’s] whole voting history would go into account,” says Louisville Tea Party president Wendy Caswell. “All 25 years of it or whatever it is. His ten years or more as Senate President will go into it. I’m not really sure he could do anything at this point.”

Independent Gatewood Galbraith is also running. Caswell says she hasn’t decided who, if anyone, she’ll support.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

UPDATE: Donnelly Expected to Announce U.S. Senate Bid

The race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by veteran Republican incumbent Richard Lugar is getting more interesting with the rumored entrance of U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., who will reportedly announce his candidacy Monday.

From the Associated Press:

Two Democrats with firsthand knowledge of Donnelly’s plans told The Associated Press that the congressman is entering the race because he believes that Lugar will lose a Republican primary offering him a path to the Senate. Lugar is facing a strong challenge from his right, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.


By entering the race, Donnelly – who also weighed a run for governor – gives national Democrats a recruiting victory. No other Democrats have entered the race. Donnelly’s supporters believe he can clear the Democratic primary field.

Facing his first primary challenge since 1976, Lugar has been hammered by Indiana Tea Party groups for his so-called moderate GOP record and being a mentor to President Barack Obama while he was in the Senate.

UPDATE: It’s official.

In an announcement video, Donnelly focuses on jobs and the economy, saying that he will advocate for hardworking Hoosiers in Washington.

Noise & Notes Politics

Budget Deal Details Revealed

Members of Congress are reacting to the details of the budget agreement that averted a government shutdown released  on Tuesday outline nearly $40 billion in spending cuts.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., called the chops to the federal budget historic, but political observers have noted there is still a chance the deal won’t be approved by Congress, citing House Republicans who say because of their affiliation with the Tea Party that they he can’t support the deal.

“My committee went line-by-line through agency budgets this weekend to negotiate and craft deep but responsible reductions in virtually all areas of government,” Rogers said in a statement. “Our bill targets wasteful and duplicative spending, makes strides to rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies, and will help bring our nation one step closer to eliminating our job-crushing level of debt.”

Media outlets, however, have pointed out the plan uses a “sleight of hand” trick by going after programs that President Barack Obama had slated for cuts anyway.