SB Nation Indiana: Local Sports, Bigtime

SB Nation logo
Image via Wikipedia

As I’m assembling this site-still in the makeshift realm–I just discovered that a great new Indiana sports site has just been launched.  SB Nation Indiana encompasses several of the best Indiana sports blogs and also provides headlines from various sources.

So my hat’s off to Brad Wells of the Stampede Blue blog, who is in charge of the site.  If you want to really know what’s going on sports-wise in Indiana, this will be a key site.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

City Under Fire

This is a photo of the patch worn on the unifo...
Image via Wikipedia

Two stories predominate the blogs this week, and neither shine a positive light on the City of Indianapolis and most especially, the current mayoral administration of Republican Greg Ballard.

Most poignant is the horrific story of IMPD officer David Brisard’s crash into a group of motorcyclists, killing one of the men and critically injuring two others.  This story quickly evolved from a tragedy to a scandal as Brisard was reported to have a blood alcohol level of .19, or more than twice the legal limit.  This led to a number of alcohol related charges in addition to reckless homicide.

We had barely begun to process this information when it became known that not only was Brisard not tested at the scene–but more than two hours later–his test was apparently not conducted according to state law.  As a result, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi dropped the alcohol related charges, saying they wouldn’t stand up in court.

Whether the post-crash sequence of events is a series of accidents or a carefully woven “protect our own” strategy conducted by the police department and the prosecutor’s office is the discussion of many blogs this week.  Advance Indiana and Indianapolis Times weigh in, while Indy Democrat provides broader perspective on IMPD woes under Mayor Ballard.

The other story–the privatization of city parking meters and the upcoming rate increases–is less graphic but the implications are both long-term and indicative of more insider pay-to-play politics on the 25th floor.  Seems that the contract–for 50 years!–was awarded to a company named ACS, who formerly employed Mitch Roob, the other Mitch’s right hand dude. ACS was also involved as a contractor in the failed privatization of FSSA.  Read the reports by Bart Lies, Advance Indiana and Ogden on Politics.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Abdul and the Safety Board: Blogger Kerfuffle

Greg Ballard
Image via Wikipedia

Late last week there was quite a stir in our little blogger corner over blogger/radio host/attorney Abdul Hakim Shabazz’s appointment by Indy mayor Greg Ballard to the newly created city Public Safety Advisory Board.  IPSE captures this heat well.  Be sure to read all the comments.  Of particular concern to some:  Abdul is not licensed to practice law in Indiana, nor does he own a home here.

Abdul’s outspoken style and rather large ego are much discussed in the Indianapolis blogosphere.  His clashes with Gary Welsh (Advance Indiana) and Paul Ogden (Ogden on Politics) via his own Indiana Barrister blog and the comments on each are long running and entertaining.  Welsh and Ogden both tend towards free-market libertarianism, while Abdul is unapologetically aligned with the mainstream Republican party of Mitch Daniels and Greg Ballard.  Just the other day he tweeted that the 75th anniversary of the social security program indicated that the program should be retired and replaced with mandatory IRA’s. (Couldn’t be more wrongheaded, says this progressive Democrat).

Funny that Abdul seems to skirmish more with Ogden and Welsh than he does with Democrats.  Perhaps they are so far away from him politically that they don’t bother.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Dang Pacers

Lance Stephenson of the Cincinnati Bearcats me...
Image via Wikipedia

Just when you think there is some Pacers glory to bask in–i.e. last week’s trade for Darren Collison–the other shoe drops.

That shoe is Lance Stephenson and his arrest for assault on a woman, said to be his girlfriend, in New York City yesterday.  Allegedly he threw her down a flight of stairs.  Read more about it on Indy Cornrows, Eight Points Nine Seconds, and the Indy Star.

Naturally, Stephenson had been part of the Pacers’ recent good news, since he lit up the summer league, demonstrating abilities far above the typical mid 2nd round.  However, Stephenson had a history of trouble and that history continues.  Should be interesting to see how this gets handled by Larry Bird.  (Note:  Is the blurry photo indicative of how quickly Stephenson may be disappearing from Indianapolis?)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Sports | Leave a comment

Pacers Deal – The Blogs Nail It

Indiana Pacers logo
Image via Wikipedia

Earlier today, i was trying to decide whether to write about the Colts–seeing as how they’re making a lot of news with training camp–or the relatively quiet Pacers.

Zap.  The news of the four team deal that reportedly lands point guard Darren Collison and wingman Sam Posey in Indiana, with Troy Murphy departing, was first noted by me on the fabulous Indy Cornrows blog.  Sure, I read the Star’s Mike Wells Pacers Insider, but Indy Cornrows is absolutely required reading.  This guy is tuned in.  Right there with him is Eight Points Nine Seconds, which is affiliated with ESPN.  Lots of good reporting there as well.

Other blogs which focus on the Pacers are worthwhile as well.  Check out Always Millertime, Pacers Pulse, and Pacers Locker.

What other Pacers-focused blogs am I missing?

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big City Deals

Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana, United States.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m way late to the party on both the Indiana Pacers bailout and the Indianapolis Water Company transfer/sale to Citizens Gas.  These issues have both been resolved via questionable deals by our city, and, by most accounts, the taxpayer is the loser while moneyed interests benefit greatly.

These two deals are in large part responsible for my motivation to put this site together.  Reading Paul Ogden’s “Ogden on Politics” and Gary Welsh’s “Advance Indiana”, most particularly, I became convinced that our city continues to be run by and for privilege. Worse, it was clear that the Indy Star and most other “official” local news media were not going to examine any facts of the deals if they did not support their pro-city positions.

If you haven’t already been following these blogs, please do yourself a favor and go back through their studied and persuasive coverage of these two stories.  While both Ogden and Welsh consider themselves conservative, this very-left progressive found great common ground on these issues.

Again, that’s why we’re here, to do our small part to foster better awareness of the truth in our city and state government, as well as some of the large business interests that clearly have favored status when public money is involved.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Media, News, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Blogging is Killing Print Media

Image representing Professional Blog Service a...
Image via CrunchBase

A except of a great new post by my friend Erik Deckers of ProBlogService:

Citizen journalists — the people who are picking up the slack that the mainstream media are missing — have taken to the web to cover the news and write about the issues that journalists have been missing. If they’re not former journalists who became bloggers, they’re learning how to do proper journalism. The really good citizen journalists are writing stories that are just as good, if not better, than a lot of the mainstream media stories.

These modern day pamphleteers share the news and their opinions via a blog instead of a printing press. And while they are still looked down on, these citizen journalists have uncovered a lot of stories that Byofsky and his ilk have ignored, overlooked, or scorned. We’re breaking the news before The News does.

Griping about bloggers is nothing but pure elitism. Snob journalism at its finest. When children start playing a game, it’s not uncommon for the child on the losing team to pout, whine, and make excuses for why he’s playing poorly. And Bykofsky’s blogging gripes make him sound like he’s taking his ball and going home.

The newspaper industry has been in decline ever since the advent of radio and TV news. It slipped further into decline when Craigslist became popular. And now, blogging is threatening to be the final stake through print journalism’s heart.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in News | Leave a comment

NUVO’s Article on WITT-FM: More to the story

NUVO has a fascinating story this week about WITT-FM, Indy’s newest public radio station.  Read the NUVO story first, then if you’re still tuned in, come back  and read this post.

Re: The tragicomic ballad of WITT-FM

Thanks to Marc Allan and NUVO for an unvarnished look at community radio station WITT-FM.  As a former volunteer at WITT-FM, I believe Allan’s imaginary ballad, “Reality Hits Home” is missing a verse.  We could call this verse “The Rest of the Story”.

First, the statement “not many people volunteered except to offer to do a show” is simply false.  I hope that is not what the station owners actually believe, because history shows otherwise.

My volunteer involvement with WITT-FM spanned fourteen years, beginning in 1994, a year after the project began, and long before a frequency was on the horizon.  Back then, we called it “City Radio”.  Several other volunteers made major contributions and then departed before it was clear that there would actually be a radio station.  It was hard to stay involved without tangible hope, and there were many hurdles to clear during those years before we could begin believing that there might be a station after all.

By 2007, WITT-FM had received FCC approval, and naturally, this propelled the organization forward.  A group of six core volunteers, including myself, emerged to help launch the station.  By summer of 2008, we had helped recruit more than 100 new volunteers who were waiting to for instructions on how to get involved.  Our plan was for the 100+ to generate 500 more, many of whom would become donors and underwriters.  We were fortunate to have one of the best volunteer network managers in the city as one of our core volunteers.  We were well on our way to helping plant deep, healthy community roots for this station.

Between the six of us, we offered a wide range of expertise—graphic design, printing, marketing and advertising, blogging, web development, concert promotion, event planning, music and audio production, on-air radio experience, music knowledge, volunteer recruitment and management, non-profit management, fundraising and extensive recorded music knowledge.    We could help with just about anything except for accounting, legal and engineering, and we did.  Yes, some of us wanted to be on-air, but that was not the only reason we were there.  Our focus then was completely on getting the station in a position to launch.   Our efforts also partially freed up owner Jim Walsh to focus on obtaining broadcast equipment, a tower lease, and other essential engineering miracles.

We set up and managed benefit concerts, a silent auction and other events for the station, leaning on club owners, businesses, friends and bands to donate services and help staff the events.  We staffed tables at art fairs and music festivals.  We convinced a well-regarded local web developer to donate a professional website, but station ownership rejected this donation for reasons that never were clear.

We created and managed a simple website and started a Ning community to manage the volunteers.  We sent press releases and did interviews with local media.  We made and distributed T-shirts, flyers, buttons and other promotional pieces.  We opened our rolodexes.  We raised money and even contributed our own money at times. We offered our extensive music libraries, including one of the largest collections of Indiana music recordings in existence, to be available once the station launched.  We attended countless meetings, working to build the fledgling organization brick by brick.

Typically, non-profits have boards with nine or more people rather than the legal minimum of three, in order to distribute both workload and authority among a number of interested community members. Experts generally agree that a diverse and active board is a key ingredient to obtaining community and foundation grants, something WITT-FM has chased without success.  When we were involved, WITT-FM resisted this type of board completely. Instead, they held private, two-person board meetings and kept the volunteers away from much of the decision-making process.  A third board seat, vacated by a founder who bowed out due to time commitments, remained open, inexplicably, for about a year.

Following several months of intense fundraising and volunteer recruitment, and as the organizational needs were becoming more complex, we decided we needed board representation as a condition of our continued involvement.  We asked for one seat—the vacant one–and the owners could select any one of the six of us.  We also wanted the board expanded to five or more.  We believed WITT-FM would benefit from being a true community-based non-profit with a larger board, and we did not think one seat representing the increasingly valuable volunteers was too much to ask.

In addition, we needed this to recruit more volunteers.  People asked us how we knew the station was going to be what we hoped it would be. Our personal credibility was on the line. We needed to be able to tell recruits that we had a vote because otherwise, we could offer only hope, and our hope was beginning to fade.

When the owners received a wonderful retail space donation on Mass Ave., we helped clean it up and began holding benefit events there for the station.  There is no mention of this space in the article or on the WITT-FM website, so I assume that it is no longer in the picture, even though there are still WITT-FM signs in the windows of the empty space.  This is such a shame, because it would be hard to find a better public spot for a community radio station.

As the station edged closer to launch, we began to realize that there were two different visions of what WITT-FM would be.

Our vision included a large group of interested and talented people who would help raise money and sell underwriting, raise funds, market the station, manage the volunteers, and contribute on-air, among many other things.  We thought that WITT-FM needed people like us—the core volunteers–to make things happen on a day-to-day basis.   We wanted to see an eclectic, vibrant board that would challenge and push the station to the greatest heights possible via at least a semblance of democracy.  Our station’s organization (we liked to think it was ours, and Jim would often say that it belonged to all of us) would have been much like that of WFHB, the community station in Bloomington mentioned in the article.

The other vision of WITT-FM was the paternalistic, sometimes secretive style of the owners that prevailed in 2007-2008, and may still be guiding the station in 2010. Although Jim Walsh is a delightful, friendly person, he and his partner controlled decision-making and information flow to what seemed an unhealthy degree given the monumental task of launching and maintaining a radio station. Today, if there are few volunteers, scant underwriting, little publicity, minimal community involvement and a lack of fundraising, this could be attributable at least in part to this management style.

The new, crisply designed website now lists an eight-person board of directors, which, at first blush, is a positive step.  However, four of the directors are Jim and his family members.  Two other board members have the same last name.  It may be an expanded board, but it does not look to be diverse or community-based.

In summer 2008, when WITT-FM management declined our request for a board seat, we saw this as a sign of bigger troubles ahead.  If our combined efforts, commitment and talents were not worth a single vote—a seat that had sat vacant for a year, would we ever truly be a part of things?  Could community radio succeed without including and empowering the community it purported to serve? We did not think so, and the six of us reluctantly left the project, frustrated, angry and depressed.

Individually, we quietly faded away, because—as unhappy as we were—none of us wanted to undermine the station’s efforts to get on the air.   When asked, we told recruits that we had left the project and put them in touch with Jim, who also received the volunteer database.  I have no idea what happened after that.

WFHB’s Brian Kearney is correct—WITT-FM needs to get more people involved, a lot more people.  The station may be trying to make that happen, and I hope they succeed.

However, I hope they now understand that in order to effectively seek and accept people’s donated time, talents and treasure, the organization needs to be willing to give volunteers some stake—however small–in the outcome.

– Rick Wilkerson

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Indy?

indy skyline
Image via Wikipedia

This site is all about providing increased visibility for the many dozens of Indianapolis area bloggers who, increasingly, are providing the real stuff about our city.  I can guarantee one thing:  if you regularly read some of these stories, you’ll be better informed about Indianapolis than most.

If your blog headlines are currently appearing on our site, and you do not want them to appear here, just drop us an email and we’ll make them go away.  Conversely, if you are a blogger and would like to have your headlines on The Real Indy, email me and we’ll try to make it happen.

Happy reading.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in News | Leave a comment