There’s 2 Kinds of Dumb. Indiana’s Legislators are the Second Kind.

Hoosiers

Look, mister, there’s… two kinds of dumb, uh… guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don’t matter, the second one you’re kinda forced to deal with.
-George, “Hoosiers”


No question, Mike Pence and the state legislators who voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) are the second kind of dumb. In my previous post, I laid out my belief about why this law was passed. Here, I’ll discuss why this law is just so stupid, unnecessary, and hurtful to everyone.

RFRA is stupid.

Republicans regularly paint themselves as the party of the job creators and of small government. Well, is this law helping or hurting job creation? Our state is losing millions of dollars in potential conventions, sporting events, business travel, and other opportunities. The damage to the hospitality industry in Indianapolis won’t be known possibly for years. It’s not irreparable (I hope), but it is an incredibly stupid self-inflicted wound that serves no real purpose.

As for Indiana Republicans’ small-government mantra, it was only a few weeks ago that Governor Pence tried to develop his own state-run news service before being shamed into abandoning it shortly after it was announced. The RFRA debacle is just another misstep for a party that continues to shoot itself in the foot.

If you truly believe in small government, there should be a compelling reason to pass a new law. After all, it only makes sense that passing unnecessary laws would not be consistent with a small-government philosophy.

Yes or no: Is there a compelling reason for RFRA?
No. (See what I did there?)

Why do I say there’s not a compelling reason for this law? Well…

RFRA is unnecessary.

This law is not seeking to address any actual, real-world problem. There are no cases in Indiana that lack a process to resolve disputes. With all the obsessive attention lavished on this law, I have yet to hear of a single case in Indiana that this law purports to address.

I do however, know of an instance very recently in Indianapolis where a company did in fact deny a gay couple service due to their religious objections. What happened?

The couple wanted to celebrate their love with a commitment ceremony in April. Mike called 111 Cakery downtown to order a cake.

“[The owner] said, ‘We don’t do that. If I can help you with anything else, but we don’t discriminate.’ That was the end of it,” he said. “It’s disappointing.”

“…We found someone that will do it for us so we’re going to focus on the good,” said Mike.

This is how Hoosiers often solve our problems. Our goal is not to bend others to our will through sheer force but to believe in the goodness of each other and trust that those who don’t exhibit these qualities won’t be around long. (Indeed, 111 Cakery is no longer in business, although the owners stress their closing is unrelated to this incident.)

As I said, this law is unnecessary. But when a law like this is passed, people no longer default to their more informal ‘live and let live’ agreements. Some feel emboldened to put their new-found ‘religious freedom’ to the test just to prove they can. These disputes now become a battle of wills instead of a burden of conscience. It becomes a question of whether or not you can discriminate instead of whether or not you should discriminate.

That means lawyers and at that point we all lose. Stupid and unnecessary (or at least it has been unnecessary to this point in history).

And that brings us to this…

RFRA is hurtful to everyone.

Most Hoosiers got along just fine before this, relatively speaking. Now, we have been forced to choose sides. As proud citizens of Indiana, we are left to explain why, if we are not intolerant people, we choose representatives who pass legislation like this.

Good people who have sincere, thoughtful objections to homosexuality have been painted as uncaring, hateful bigots. Communities that have long accepted the LGBT community as their own have been forced to explicitly proclaim they are not intolerant. They feel the need to do so to avoid being caught up in the maelstrom caused by legislators who insist on fighting culture wars at the government level instead of helping our state’s economy and letting the culture address its issues privately, individually.

Our state legislators have accomplished a rare feat. They have somehow managed to piss off nearly everyone in the country (from all sides), potentially lose millions of dollars in business, divide Hoosiers against each other, and gravely damage the meaning of ‘Hoosier Hospitality.’

And for what? To reassert something that was never an issue in the first place? To remind the LGBT community that some will always see them as second-class citizens? Oh, right. None of this is about discrimination. Except it is. The legislature was warned about this poorly written law by the legal community but they pushed it through anyway.

These legislators are the second kind of dumb and now we’re forced to deal with them. I can’t wait for Election Day.

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Show Review: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas were one of the highlights of Riot Fest 2014 for me. They played on the smaller stage and I thought they were terrific. When I heard they were opening for St. Paul and the Broken Bones on Halloween night, I was sold.

JH Deltas

JH came out in a skirt and some amazing checkerboard tights, complimented by tin foil antennae. The rest of her band were also each wearing dresses. Of course, every other member of the band is male, but it’s Halloween and they didn’t have time to find costumes, according to JH.

JH is a terrific performer and has a powerhouse voice. She also knows how to have fun on stage and even gave a shout out to the Chris Farley costume, which probably was the best of the night. They played a terrific set, then got out of the way, which is what you want an opener to do.

I didn’t really know what to expect from St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I was really there to see JH and SPBB were a bit of a bonus in my mind. Not so for the crowd, though. The Vogue was sold out and it was clear they were thrilled to see this band.

Several older folks were in the audience also, surprisingly. By older, I mean people in their sixties or seventies. One older gentleman got really drunk and fell into the tables in the balcony towards the end of the night. He seemed ok but that old guy probably had a bad day on Saturday.

SPBB were also a terrific live band. They all wore costumes also, with the lead singer wearing some Heath Ledger Joker-style makeup. They were high energy and tight throughout. The bonus for me: Radiohead and David Bowie covers. Nice!

Some bands just know how to perform live. Indianapolis was lucky to have two bands play The Vogue on Halloween that really understand how to play a crowd.

Next up: Peelander Z at Radio Radio on November 14! Can’t wait for this one. If you like to have fun, this is a can’t-miss show. See you there!

Meijer is coming; hide the kids. Seriously, children will be in danger.

meijer

I live in a wonderful neighborhood just east of Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. A few blocks south of me there is a small apartment building that serves as a buffer between the neighborhood and a row of car dealerships. A developer has purchased these dealerships and would like to put a Meijer superstore on the lots.

How do I feel about this? Honestly, I don’t care too much about the actual store. I wish it was more local and I wish it wasn’t going to be such a huge slab of asphalt parking lot but otherwise I don’t have strong feelings. It’s better than some options, not as good as others.

What I do care about though, passionately so, is my neighborhood where I have lived for 12 years. My neighbors are wonderfully diverse in every respect. There are all ages, ethnicity, and sizes of households. Many walk their dogs, ride their bikes or walk to nearby restaurants for dinner. We have gotten to know many of our neighbors well and have a high degree of trust and concern for each other.

So it is with great concern that I see the plans for the proposed Meijer store would have a primary entrance placed between two neighborhood streets (Brouse and Hillside) on 56th St. This is tremendously unnerving for many reasons.

Traffic and Safety

  1. Keystone is an extremely busy 4+ lane thoroughfare that serves as a primary artery north and south in this part of the city.
  2. People looking for a shortcut to the Meijer entrance will naturally turn up parallel neighborhood streets, where there are no stoplights and fewer obstacles (including police observing traffic).
  3. Our streets are not designed for this kind of traffic. We have very little parking on the street or in small driveways. It’s not unusual for there to be single-lane access down the road currently.
  4. We have no sidewalks in our neighborhood.
  5. 58th St. is a busy cross-street (East-West) that runs to Bishop Chatard High School a few blocks to the west. It is frequented by teen drivers, who often run that stop sign.
  6. 58th and Brouse is also a morning and afternoon bus stop for children in the area. Dramatically increasing traffic on these streets without sidewalks, proper lanes, and other safety features would put these children at significant risk.
  7. In the winter, these streets are often not plowed regularly, increasing the difficulty in passing through them for residents.

These are legitimate concerns about traffic flow being routed onto residential streets without safety features. These concerns should provide the basis for discussion about how to best incorporate businesses such as Meijer that may want to provide access from 56th St.

This is not a NIMBY situation. However, unless these safety concerns are addressed through creative and effective traffic management, I cannot support rezoning the apartment building for heavy retail or the development of a Meijer or similar business. The risk to the safety and infrastructure of these neighborhoods is simply too great.

TL;DR: The proposed Meijer at 56th and Keystone in Indianapolis poses a major safety and traffic problem for residents in the neighborhood immediately bordering this intersection. 


Update: The apartment building and Bennett Innovations on 56th Street are currently zoned as D4, a residential zoning. The apartment building and Bennett Innovations have filed a rezoning petition to change from D4, a type of residential zoning, to a C-4, which would allow the development of a variety of high traffic commercial businesses. 

The hearing for this rezoning is Thursday, October 23, 1:00 PM at the City-County Building, 2nd Floor, 200 E. Washington Street.

The best corner in Indianapolis

54th and College is the best corner in Indianapolis, in my opinion. Here is why:

  1. It’s neighborhood-based. People actually live, eat, work and play on this corner and its surrounding blocks.
  2. Moe and Johnny’s: The food just continues to get better over time here, and they have just about everything you could want. A large outdoor patio, a bar with plenty of televisions, a comfortable dining area and a cozy coffeehouse, all in the same building. Almost everything here is good, especially the burgers and tenderloin sandwiches. The staff are great and if you’re a regular, they don’t pretend they’ve never seen you before.
  3. Yats: The best location of the best restaurant in the city. Yes, that includes fancy steakhouses.
  4. Fat Dan’s Deli: One of my favorite hangout spots. It’s tough to find lighter fare, but the food is spectacular and the atmosphere is very leisurely. Don’t come if you’re in a hurry but if you want to hang out, this is a great place. Chicago dogs, brisket, and dirty tots!
  5. Sam’s Gyros: Not fancy, but good.
  6. Twenty Tap: That French Breakfast Burger!
  7. Jazz Kitchen: Live music must be included for this corner to qualify as the best.
  8. The Fresh Market: Oh, you want to actually cook yourself instead of enjoying all the great restaurants? This market is amazing.
  9. Bebop Pizza Kitchen: You gotta have a pizza place on the best corner in the city, right?
  10. Yogulatte: And finally, dessert.

These locations are all jammed into the corner of 54th and College. You can sit outside at most of these locations and people-watch, drink a beverage of your choice, and have a wonderful meal while enjoying the beautiful shade of trees in a mature neighborhood. If you’re coming over from the Monon, it’s about as short as a walk can be from there.

This is my favorite place in the city. If you haven’t been to this corner yet, you’re missing out!