As a Colts fan with my team watching from the sidelines, the storyline for this years Superbowl could not hardly be any better. Indianapolis put on a great Superbowl winning accolades from some of the harshest critics in professional sports and Eli Manning and the Giants kept the Patriots from winning the Superbowl at Peyton’s house. Yeah…I am thrilled! Eli Manning and the Giants one-upped Tom Brady and the Patriots again, coming back with a last-minute touchdown to beat New England 21-17 Sunday night for New York’s fourth Super Bowl title. It was a rematch of the 2008 NFL championship, when Manning led New York past New England to ruin the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season.
This was the first Super Bowl with two starting quarterbacks who previously won the big game’s MVP award — and they took turns being brilliant. Manning became the first QB to open a Super Bowl with nine consecutive completions. Later, Brady put together a run of 16 completions in a row, breaking another Super Bowl mark. But in the end, it was Manning — who was selected as the MVP — who directed the nine-play, 88-yard drive that put New York ahead.
Ahmad Bradshaw capped the winning drive with a 6-yard run up the middle. He wanted to stop at the 1-yard line but fell backward into the end zone. Less than a minute later it came down to one last play, when Brady’s long heave into the end zone fell incomplete among a maze of players. New England had the ball for all of one play in the first 11 1-2 minutes, and that play was an utter failure, a rare poor decision by Brady. After Steve Weatherford’s punt was downed at the New England 6, Brady dropped to pass in the end zone and had time. With everyone covered and Giants defensive end Justin Tuck finally coming free to provide pressure, Brady heaved the ball downfield while still in the pocket. Only problem: No Patriots receivers were anywhere near the pass. The Giants were awarded a safety for Brady’s grounding in the end zone.
Manning, meanwhile, couldn’t have been more on target early, hitting six receivers in the first period, completing his first nine throws, a Super Bowl record. He also was aided by Ahmad Bradshaw, who hardly looked like a running back with a bad foot. Bradshaw broke a 24-yard run, and New England made another critical mistake by having 12 men on the field on a third-and-3 on which the Giants fumbled. Instead, New York got a first down at the 6, and two plays later Victor Cruz beat James Ihedigbo on a slant to make it 9-0, prompting Cruz to break into his signature salsa move.
Manning’s first incompletion didn’t come until 1:19 into the second quarter. At that point, it was 9-3 after Stephen Gostkowski’s 29-yard field goal. The Patriots got to the Giants’ 11, but All-Pro DE Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a third-down pass. Soon after, when the Patriots had a three-and-out and Pierre-Paul blocked another throw, Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had a quick discussion. Then O’Brien, soon to take over as Penn State coach, went over to the struggling Brady. The talk must have helped. On the final series of the opening half, Brady was masterful. Starting at his 4, and ignoring the last time the Patriots began a series in the shadow of the end zone, he was vintage Brady.
With New York’s vaunted pass rush disappearing, Brady went 10-for-10 for 98 yards, capping the drive that included two Patriots penalties with Woodhead’s 4-yard TD reception with 8 seconds to go in the half. Hernandez and Woodhead each had four catches on the drive that, stunningly, put New England ahead despite being outplayed for so much of the first 30 minutes. Brady kept firing — and hitting — in the third quarter, with five more completions. The Giants didn’t come within shouting distance of the record-setting quarterback. He capped a 79-yard drive to open the second half with a 12-yard TD to Hernandez, but then the game turned. Again. Consecutive field goals by Lawrence Tynes of 38 and 33 yards brought New York within 17-15. Brady then threw deep for his tight end after weaving away from two pass rushers. His throw was short, and Chase Blackburn picked it off early in the fourth quarter. Although the Giants moved into New England territory again, as they did on every drive to that point, they bogged down and punted.
Governor Rick Perry likes to tout the state’s economic growth, but more and more Texans are finding themselves teetering on the edge of poverty. There is little doubt Texas has survived the Great Recession better than other states, but a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development has found that 27.7 percent of Texas households have no financial cushion in case of an emergency. If you exclude homes and automobiles from the calculation, a full 50 percent of Texans have no assets they could use to survive if they suddenly lost their income.
When compared to the rest of the country, Texas ranks 41st in financial security. That means even if Texans survived the last economic storm, another one would swamp them. The corporation is a national non-partisan, non-profit that works to create and identify programs and policies that can help poor people move up the economic ladder. The findings match up with the latest U.S. Census data on Texas, which found that 17.9 percent of Texans — or 4.4 million people — live below the poverty line. That’s 2.6 percent higher than the national average and ranks Texas 40th in the nation. Poverty is calculated by examining the make-up of a household and then comparing them to a minimum cost of living for such a household derived from the consumer price index. If the household makes less money than they need to survive, those people are considered to live in poverty.
There are many theories about why Texas has such a high rate — or if the rate is accurate — and even more ideas about how to solve it. But no matter where Texans stand on the political spectrum, these statistics should be important when considering who to vote for and what policies to support. About 40 percent of the state budget goes to help the needy. Poor people depend on Medicaid, a government-financed health insurance program, and as poverty grows so does the expense to the state. Medicaid represents a third of the Texas budget now, and this week Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs — who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry — said the program will need an additional $15 billion in the 2014-2015 budget.
Suehs added that $5 billion of that total is the result of the Legislature not appropriating enough money for Medicare in this budget cycle, the equivalent he said of writing a bad check. Poverty is also most acute among children, with 25.7 percent of Texas children living in poverty, compared to 21.6 percent nationally. According to former state demographer Steve Murdock, a poor child who attends college is seven times more likely to move into the middle class, so public education is critical.
Yet Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, another Perry appointee, apologized last week to the Texas Association of School Administrators for the Legislature’s decision to cut per-student spending in Texas for the first time since World War II, and for cutting $1 billion out of his agency’s programs that have proven successful in boosting student achievement. So the question remains: What role should state government play in helping people escape poverty?
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a conservative think-tank in Austin with tremendous influence over Republican officeholders. Bill Peacock, the group’s vice president for research, said more budget cuts are the answer because government is too inefficient to make a difference. “The poor don’t need a safety net, they need jobs,” Peacock said. Programs like Medicaid, he argued, require working people to pay taxes instead of spending their money in a way that creates more jobs. Conservatives believe that less government spending leads to greater economic prosperity.
Progressives, or liberals, believe that society and the economy are imperfect, and government plays a role in caring for the needy and providing a level playing field. The Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities is a non-profit that fights for better government programs to help the poor. “There needs to be public policy that really enables economic mobility and removes policies that get in the way,” said Don Baylor, a senior policy analyst at the center. As an example, Texas law requires someone to empty their savings account before they can receive financial help, which also happens to make it more difficult for that person to get back on their feet. In the Occupy Wall Street and tea party era, economic inequality will be an important issue in the 2012 election, particularly in Texas where it appears to be only getting worse. The choices of how to solve the problem couldn’t be more different.
Perry Campaign Spent $16 Million in 138 Days
Perry’s presidential campaign turned out to be a spectacular flop, but that doesn’t mean everyone walked home empty handed. Campaign consultants, ad buyers, fundraisers, airlines, hotels and catering companies all took a bite — some larger than others — of the $16 million that Perry forked over to the body politic between Aug. 15 and Dec. 31. Over those 138 days, the Perry campaign spent an average of $116,000 a day, with payments ranging as low as 25 cents for a city of Austin parking meter on Sept. 5 to an $856,777.85 payment for TV ad placements on Nov. 10. Uncle Sam got a piece, too: The Internal Revenue Service was paid $407,000 in payroll taxes through the end of the year.
The largest single chunk of dough went to Paint Creek Media. According to Perry campaign officials, that’s the company set up by Virginia-based media placement consultants Mike Dubke and Patti Heck, who run Crossroads Media in Alexandria, Va., to handle Perry’s TV ad buys. Paint Creek Media billed the campaign for $5.4 million over the period, representing about a third of the total expenditures, which is not surprising because TV advertising costs tend to dwarf other expenses. The computer company 2012 Election Digital LLC, run by the same people who had provided web services to GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (under another company name), was paid nearly $600,000 to build and maintain Perry’s website.
Closer to home, Austin-based political consultant Ted Delisi, under the firm name Flintrock Consulting, billed the Perry campaign $539,000 for compiling and mailing brochures and ads. Longtime media strategist David Weeks, who has been Perry’s TV ad man since his first statewide race in 1990, was paid $177,000 for ad production. Austin-based pollster Mike Baselice got $266,000 for survey research, records show. Without knowing contractual details, it’s impossible to say how much all the consultants took home and how much went to defray their labor and material costs. The campaign has said monthly salaries were to be capped at $10,000 during the primary.
Perry announced for president on Aug. 13 and quickly rocketed to the top of the polls, so his campaign seemed like a much safer bet, and a much bigger business opportunity, than the sinking ship it soon became. Longtime Perry speechwriter Eric Bearse, who put his private consulting business on hold to work for the presidential campaign, said many of the former aides who returned to work for Perry knew they going to “have to take a haircut.” Bearse was paid $33,000 as a senior adviser over the period. After taking a short breather, he’s back in the private consulting business. All told, the payroll costs amounted to $1.2 million. “We did it for the cause and because we believe in Rick Perry,” Bearse said. “Given the choice to do it all over again, we’d do it all over again.”
Perry began largely with the same team that had brought him to victory in his past runs for governor. But with his political fortunes declining in late October, he dipped into the coffers to hire several new, prominent consultants. Joe Allbaugh, who managed George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, ran the day-to-day operations of the campaign and was paid $36,000 in November and December. Records show media consultant Nelson Warfield’s company was paid $31,000 for the period; GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio’s company, Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, got $103,000. Media strategist Curt Anderson, a partner in On Message Inc., billed the campaign $67,000, and ad man Jim Innocenzi’s firm, Sandler-Innocenzi, was paid $68,000.
Longtime Perry consultant Dave Carney butted heads with Allbaugh and was eventually pushed out of his role as top strategist for the campaign. But Carney still got paid through at least Dec. 28. His company, New Hampshire-based Norway Hill, was paid $72,000 and was owed another $43,000 at the end of the reporting period, records show. Perry’s gubernatorial campaign paid Carney $232,000 in 2011, and a little more than half that came after the governor formed his presidential campaign in August. Carney did not respond to requests for comment about the billings. All told, consultants and researchers billed the presidential campaign $1.8 million. As of Dec. 31, Perry had $3.7 million in cash, but much of that has already been spent. Perry, who came in fifth in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and sixth in the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, pulled the plug on his campaign on Jan. 19, two days before the South Carolina primary. The January spending will be reflected in the next report, which is due in April.
Indianapolis and Houston are very similar. Big cities, geographically, large urban spread, great sports teams, great museums and great people. The weather has certain similarities. Houston has summer 6 months of the year and Indianapolis has winter 6 months of the year. Indiana is the state of my youth, my birthplace. I lived in Indianapolis for several years before making Southeast Texas home and while the Bayou City is, perhaps, the best place I have ever lived, there are no finer people in the Midwest than those who call Indiana and Indianapolis home.
I have watched, throughout my life, as Indianapolis has gone from a sleepy Midwestern burg to something greater than even many Hoosiers realize. Indianapolis is fast becoming a world-class city. I am a proud Hoosier. I can remember when Indianapolis was nothing except the Indy 500. A destination best described as a stop between Chicago and the Kentucky Derby but I always knew Indianapolis was destined for greater things. Several years ago while in Louisville, Kentucky covering the opening festivities for the derby, one of Louisville’s movers and shakers commented to me that the planning that went into the revitalization of the River City’s downtown was based on…Indianapolis.
Kentucky planners were amazed at how clean, modern and developed the Indianapolis downtown had become. The Indiana of my childhood was dull by today’s standards, outside the 500 and the Indiana Pacers, the state was largely agricultural, with the exception of the Gary-Hammond-East Chicago steel-belt. Indianapolis visionaries including former Mayor and current U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and Mayor Bill Hudnut had foresight and plans to develop IndiaNAPolis into something special. Lugar’s “uni-gov” expanded Indianapolis population making the city eligible for federal grant money that aided development. Governor’s Bob Orr, Evan Bayh and Frank O’Bannon lured manufacturing plants from other countries to places like Anderson, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Lafayette and Greensburg.
Mayor Bill Hudnut took huge chances in building Indianapolis’ first domed stadium, the Hoosier Dome, and the kicker was, he did it without anything to be held inside of it. Hudnut’s thought of “if we build it they will come” paid off when the city lured the Baltimore Colts to the city in 1984. Taking chances put Indiana and Indianapolis on the map. Years of planning and taking bold chances will pay off today as Indianapolis hosts Super Bowl 2012, an event that has brought the city together like no other. And there is a lot for Hoosiers to be proud of: the community leadership, volunteer spirit and hospitality. After the shiny Lombardi Trophy has been awarded, the zip line has been taken down and the celebrities have left town, Indianapolis will return to what Hoosiers know and love it as…home. A city emboldened by an even bigger “can do” attitude.
While the big game has given the world a chance to see the city in the spotlight, what I love most about it might not have shown up on camera. So here is what makes Indianapolis special to me. There are no finer people than those who make Indiana home. Hoosier hospitality is real and genuine. Whether it’s in the service industry, or people you pass on the street, when someone asks “how are you doing”, be prepared to answer…they mean it. Indianapolis and even in the towns and cities throughout the state, there are quaint shops and restaurants that have there own special niche. Apartment buildings and kids on bicycles and ice cream shops and houses that don’t all look alike. And sidewalks. A neighborhood should definitely have sidewalks. Sidewalks that lead somewhere.
Others have weighed in as well on what makes Indianapolis special for them:
It’s the Cultural Trail
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick is a wide, pleasant walking and biking trail that links neighborhoods, a university, an urban state park, the Downtown Canal, museums, theaters, restaurants, markets, department stores and hotels like charms on a bracelet. I recently walked the four-mile central loop, just a block from my home, to experience what has been five years in the making. I found that the Cultural Trail is a reality and is ready to enjoy. And because the reality has lived up to its promise, I put it at the top of my reasons for loving Indianapolis. Along the trail there are many “moments,” I’ll call them, that satisfy and refresh, invigorate and inspire. Here are a few of my favorite trail moments:
History: I like how the Trail rubs shoulders with Ransom Place, a historic district once home to Indianapolis’ most prominent African-American business leaders. After a chance to walk on famed Indiana Avenue, near Madame Walker Theatre Center, the trail goes past Lockfield Gardens, Indy’s first public housing project, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stately trees: My favorite Downtown oasis, Military Park, is home to giant sweet gum and catalpa trees. It held the city’s first Fourth of July celebration in 1822 and the first Indiana State Fair in 1852, and it was a Union encampment during the Civil War.
Inspiring view: The city skyline seen from the bridge that crosses the Canal is one of the most photographed vistas in the city. Here, it’s possible to hear the Indiana State Museum steam clock play “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
White River State Park: Green space, water, art and architecture converge here. “The Tent,” a large public sculpture by artist Donald Lipski, shimmers and quakes in the wind. The sound of its colored metal shingles is echoed by the rustling American flag nearby.
Gardens: The Wishard Slow Food Garden will rise from winter dormancy this spring, as will the Washington Street Wildflower Meadow, whose dried stalks and brown seed pods have a rustic beauty even now, in winter’s light.
Public art: The Glick Peace Walk is especially beautiful near sunset, when the trail lights have come on and the glass portraits of famous peacemakers glow from within. According to Kären Haley, executive director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc., two short portions of the trail on Washington Street and Virginia Avenue will be finished after the Super Bowl. But for all intents and purposes, this trail is a done deal. I think the Cultural Trail is a good way to get exercise, learn about the city and see the progress we’ve made as a community, thanks to the vision and hard work of so many. For more information about the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and for downloadable maps, go to indyculturaltrail.org.
Sunset behind the Lucas Oil Stadium (WRTV)
– Janet Schneider
It’s First Friday
If you love art and culture, the First Friday of every month is the night to put on your gold-sequin hot pants and a pair of nerd glasses and gallery-hop through artist studios, boutiques and galleries. The First Friday scene has spread to Fountain Square, the Indy Indie Artist Colony, the Harrison Center, Mass Ave. and many more locations throughout the city. On the first Friday of the month, thousands of people make their way from location to location, some walking the Cultural Trail, some on Vespas, as I do, and some on bicycles, checking out new shows and new bands and mingling with the who’s-who in Indy’s cultural scene.
First Fridays offer some of the best times for people-watching. Art students and the fashion-forward parade through the streets, wearing anything from art-school chic to hipster-hip, designer labels to vintage finery or any combination thereof. I generally end my evening at a locally owned restaurant with friends for dinner and drinks. If you haven’t made it Downtown for First Friday, then you’re missing out. Pull that 1970s leisure suit out of your closet — I know you still have one — and join the party. First Fridays are sponsored by the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association. More info: www.idada.org.
– Michelle Pemberton
I am thrilled when landing at the Indianapolis International Airport and look fondly out the window of the aircraft at the mixture of green and brown fields. (PHOTO: Bob Hawkins)
It’s the place for families
I used to think the phrase, “It’s a great place to raise kids” was a euphemism for “But what adult would want to live there?” Then I moved to Indianapolis — and had kids, in that order. Pardon the cliche, but Indianapolis is a fantastic place for children. When my son was born a Hoosier, the New Yorker in me bemoaned all that he would miss — subway rides, museum visits, the department store windows at Christmas time, the Bronx Zoo. But by the time, he turned 1, four years ago, it became clear to me that Indianapolis is a pretty good place to be a child.
While The Children’s Museum could well be considered our second home, there’s much, much more: the Indianapolis Zoo, Conner Prairie, the basement of the Eiteljorg Museum with its stagecoach, general store and sod house. Don’t feel like shelling out money? These attractions are free a few special days a year. Then there are all the free child-friendly places. Visits to the Central Library rarely last less than an hour, from the “green screen” where children can play on a stage and view themselves on a television, to escalator rides to the sixth floor for one of the best views in the city. And if your children are old enough, consider a trek to the top of the Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument Downtown. If you forgo the elevator, it’s free, a pretty good deal considering they’re likely to sleep well afterward.
Indianapolis may not have a subway, but it does have the Indiana University Health people mover, known in our house as “the quiet train.” It’s been down for repairs for a few months now, but it will be back. In warmer weather, we have our pick of parks. During one weekend last summer we visited five or six different playgrounds. There’s the “biggest playground,” aka Holiday Park, with its three play areas geared for children of different ages. Carmel has West Park, which we call “the tractor playground.”
Come Memorial Day, we’re all about the splash park. Yes, we belong to the YMCA and sometimes crib visits with friends to the Jewish Community Center’s posh outdoor facility with its lazy river. But if we don’t want to get in the car, we just walk over to one of the city’s splash parks, where all you need is a palm to get the water flowing. Because our extended family lives east, we travel to New York City every two months or so. Even navigating the Indianapolis Airport proves a breeze. Recently, the TSA agent gave my child a toy from a happy meal. Contrast that with New York’s La Guardia Airport, which seems designed to persuade you to leave the kids at home.
Yes, New York City has some marvelous things to do and see as well — and we enjoy many of them when we’re there. But what would consist of an entire day’s excursion in New York, is so easy here. Parking is almost always free and ample. Lines, if they exist, are not long. Sidewalks aren’t as crowded. Every now and then, a disquieting thought flits through my head: Will there be this many things to do when my boys are teenagers? But I don’t ponder it for long before we’re on to the next activity.
– Shari Rudavsky
At the end of the day, for me, Indiana will always be home. I am thrilled when landing at the Indianapolis International Airport and look fondly out the window of the aircraft at the mixture of green and brown fields when I leave and this Hoosier still gets a lump in his throat when Jim Nabors sings “Back Home Again, In Indiana” each year at the Speedway. I will be watching the Superbowl tonight with a sense of a pride and love for a place that I will forever call home.