TIME Newsmaker Interview

Mary Landrieu Talks to TIME About the Fight of Her Political Life

Sen. Landrieu Gathers With Supporters On Election Night In New Orleans
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) gathers with supporters during midterm elections at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans on Nov. 4, 2014. Stacy Revere—Getty Images

The senior Senator from Louisiana talks hardball politics and Keystone XL at a campaign stop in New Orleans

Mary Landrieu did not look like a politician on the brink of extinction as she arrived at the National World War II Museum’s crowded Veterans Day get-together in her hometown of New Orleans on Tuesday. With the hulks of retired warplanes suspended overhead, the senior Senator from Louisiana made her way toward the stage through a sea of smiles, handshakes and hugs from old friends. She stopped for a chat with the New Orleans Maritime Marine Academy Band before taking a seat on stage next to the mayor, who is also her little brother.

But as the Senate Democrats’ final flag-bearer in the Deep South, Landrieu is every bit the last of an endangered political species. In a three-way contest on Election Day earlier this month, she finished first with 42% compared to 40% for Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy and 14% for Tea Party favorite Rob Maness. Landrieu and Cassidy now go head-to-head in a runoff Dec. 6, and many of Maness’ supporters are expected to back her Republican opponent.

Landrieu has been all but abandoned by the national Democratic Party ahead of the runoff. Cassidy and his supporters have paid for 96% of the ads aired since the runoff began, while the national Democratic campaigns have pulled virtually all of their money out of the race.

But Landrieu is putting a brave face on it. Democrats throughout the South took an Election Day beating in part because voters saw the midterms as a referendum on President Obama, Landrieu says. With the GOP soon to be in control of the Senate, the Republican majority is no longer at stake and Landrieu hopes that fact will give her space to focus the race back on Louisiana. “We have the race that we want!” she declared after results came in election night.

The magic number for Landrieu to win that race is “30″, say campaign aides. Black voters, a solidly Democratic constituency, must comprise 30% of the electorate and she’s got to win 30% of white votes, the aides say. She has a ways to go to make those numbers. On November 4, she took just 18% of white votes—if she hopes to keep her job she’ll have to win over the rest.

To get there, Landrieu is playing up her more than 18 years as a moderate deal-maker in the Senate and her lengthy record of bringing home the proverbial bacon. Among the projects she has managed to bring to Louisiana, Landrieu reminded the crowd on Veterans Day, was the National World War II Museum in which they were all gathered.

After speeches from Landrieu, her brother Mitch the mayor, Republican Sen. David Vitter and Marine Corps Colonel Bradley Weisz (who was the only speaker all day to mention President Obama), Landrieu sat down with TIME to discuss her uphill political battle.

TIME: You mentioned after the election that this is the campaign you’ve always wanted. Why? The numbers are daunting—

Sen. Mary Landrieu: Hold on. The campaign I wanted is a campaign against Bill Cassidy. Not against the entire anger at the national government. And the first race was so much anger about gridlock in Washington, now that that race is over the Republicans have taken control of the Senate. Mitch McConnell is now going to be the Majority Leader. Barack Obama has been in some ways repudiated by the voters nationally. Not personally, but some of his policies. I think now voters here can focus on what’s best for Louisiana. So this is the race that I’ve wanted to run, between Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy. Running on my record against his record. And if we can get voters to focus on that I’m confident of a victory.

In recent days you’ve been highlighting things like the gender gap, the minimum wage, issues that particularly affect women.

OK, yes but what you need to be corrected on is that I’ve been highlighting those issues since the first day of the campaign. You would write it wrong. This is not a recent switch. I’ve been talking about minimum wage, pay equity, Lilly Ledbetter, since the first day of this campaign because economic issues are really at the heart of what Louisiana voters want to focus on. Oil and gas jobs, worker training, the skills gap, fair wages and benefits. I’ve talked about that since the first day of the campaign.

Now, a lot of that’s been drowned out by my opponent who won’t discuss that in any way, shape or form. All he wants to talk about is the President. And, as I’ve said, I’ve now worked with three presidents, six governors and four majority leaders. The race that I want to run is a race about: Has Mary Landrieu delivered for Louisiana? And what has she done? And what kind of teams has she built? What kind of record does she have versus Bill Cassidy. If I can get that race, we will win. I will win.

With Republicans in control of the Senate is Keystone XL going to go through?

That’s a good question. We’re actually very close to getting Keystone passed right now. I’ve been working very hard on a stand alone vote on Keystone. You might think that it’ll be easier in January but you would be jumping to a conclusion that’s not yet proven, because in order to get Keystone passed, remember, it has to be passed by the House and the same bill by the Senate and then signed into law by the President. So, if you think about getting a clean bill, like my bill, like the one I have with Hoeven, it’s a Hoeven-Landrieu bill, it has 45 Republican co-sponsors plus a few Democrats. A clean stand-alone Keystone bill could potentially pass right now.

So when you ask me is it going to be easier, I can’t say yes because in January the Republicans may put a bill together with Keystone and let’s say five other things. See that? And then it passes the House and then it fails in the Senate, or it passes the House, the Senate and the President vetoes it. So my answer is: it is possible right now, right now, I think, to get a clean Keystone bill passed that the President to the United States could actually sign.

You were chatting with the kids in the Marine band over there. What were you talking about?

Well, I’m a huge supporter of the creation of this school. I’ve led the fight here in Louisiana on charter schools. I’m an elected leader on public charter schools. I’ve helped to create more charter schools per capita than anywhere else in the nation. So I visit them frequently and I was just saying that I’ll be there to see them again. Their school is growing. As I said in my speech, we have two charter military schools, first in the nation, and we’re really proud of that. The Pentagon and the military are really interested in using that model all over the country for other schools.

TIME Security

Chinese Hackers Breached National Weather Websites

The breach wasn't acknowledged until after several probes

Officials announced Wednesday that Chinese hackers had gained access to Federal weather data as early as September.

The hack occurred in late September, but was not acknowledged by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until Oct. 20, the Washington Post reports. As a result of the hack, some national weather websites were unavailable for as many as two days, including the National Ice Center website. And those sites being offline impacted some long-term forecasts.

NOAA also lagged in its response to the breach. The Post reports the the administration “did not say its systems were compromised” when the problem was first acknowledged on Oct. 20. When NOAA admitted Wednesday that there had been a cyber security breach, they did not say who was responsible either. That information came from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who disclosed that the attack had come from China. Wolf blasted the agency saying, “They had an obligation to tell the truth. They covered it up.”

Read more at the Washington Post.

TIME White House

White House to Women and Girls of Color: We Care

Valerie Jarrett White House
Senior advisor to the president Valerie Jarrett walks through the Colonnade of the White House on Jan. 28, 2014 in Washington. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

Nearly a year after launching the My Brother's Keeper Initiative that focuses on expanding opportunities for black and brown boys

Responding to criticism it has overlooked the problems of young women of color, the White House sought Wednesday to promote its work on behalf of young black and brown women and girls, releasing a formal report and announcing the creation of a working group that will address “challenges and opportunities for women and girls of color.

Advocates for women and girls say the administration has left girls behind, focusing instead on issues facing young black and brown men and boys in the last year since the White House launched the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, a widely-praised mentorship program. The Obama Administration argues it has been focused on women from the start.

“Since day one of his Administration, President Obama has focused on increasing opportunity for women and girls, as part of his larger focus on expanding opportunity for each and every American,” Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett said in response to critics over the summer, boasting the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls as major accomplishments on behalf of women that should have had a trickle down effect on the lives of black and brown women.

But for many young girls within black and brown communities, that aid hasn’t materialized. According to the White House report, black and Hispanic girls graduate at higher rates than their male counterparts, but they are still 14.6 and 12.8 percentage points, respectively, less likely to graduate from high school than their white peers. They face similar problems with school discipline and violence as young black and brown boys. They’re also more likely than white girls to get pregnant at a young age, jeopardizing their educational and financial futures. Black and Hispanic women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and less than half have access to paid leave at work.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress, as the Obama administration is quick to point out. An estimated 12.5 million women of color have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of access to women’s preventative services. The administration is working directly with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop culturally relevant conversations on campus sexual assault. And they’re also working within tribal communities to address health issues specific to Native women, among other policies that cater to women. In January, the Department of Education will also partner with the White House and convene on increasing minority girls’ opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The impact of the report and the event at the White House on Wednesday is unclear. The roll out isn’t being met with as much fanfare as the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which garnered support from hundreds of communities and organizations. Much of the report is dedicated to highlighting existing administration efforts that address problems facing all women and girls, including some that have had a particular impact on minority communities, rather than presenting a call for solutions.

Melanie Campbell, a civil and women’s rights activist who attended the White House event Wednesday, says its a start. “It’s a positive move to expand the conversation and start to hone in on where we see disparities,” Campbell says.

In a June letter, over 1,000 activists, celebrities, educators and community members led by the African American Policy Forum signed an open letter to the White House, urging the program to be more inclusive. “It makes no sense to equip the canary with a mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves,” the letter reads. “If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it.”

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a professor Columbia Law School and a co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, says it’s a reminder that the issues facing women and girls are considered “separate and unequal.”

“Separate and unequal is just not sufficient given the level of crises facing women and girls of color,” says Crenshaw. “I guess giving something is better than nothing, but this is a far cry from a solution that promotes equity.”

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: November 12

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Ferguson Braces for the Worst

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon laid out steps to maintain order in the St. Louis area, amid fears that violence could greet a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the high-profile shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson

Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed

As even young children are exposed to ever more explicit material online and off, parents have to step in to fill the void left by educational institutions

U.S., China Reach Climate Deal

The agreement sets new targets for the U.S. and includes China’s first commitment to stop emissions growth by 2030

First Winter Storm of the Season Kills 4

At least four people had been killed in crashes on ice-slicked roads in Minnesota, and some parts of the Upper Midwest were buried under two feet of snow as an unusually early winter blast socked large parts of the United States

Quentin Tarantino Eyes Retirement

Quentin Tarantino revealed this week that he plans to call it quits after making his 10th film. “It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan,” said the director of such hits as Pulp Fictionand Reservoir Dogs

California Nurses Strike Over Ebola Preparedness

Almost 20,000 nurses went on strike in California, ahead of national protests planned for Wednesday over what union leaders deem a lack of protection for nurses who might treat Ebola patients. The two-day strike will affect 88 hospitals in the Golden State

Marilyn Monroe Love Letters to Be Sold at Auction

A collection of love letters and other memorabilia belonging to Marilyn Monroe will go up for auction next month at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif. Monroe’s “Lost Archives” is a collection of 300 items including letters, photographs, paintings and clothes

Obama Stays the Course on Immigration

The President has remained resolute in his plan to unilaterally reshape U.S. immigration law in the wake of his party’s heavy losses in last week’s midterm elections, but pressure is mounting from both sides as he approaches a decision later this year

Russia Sends More Convoys to Ukraine

Russian officials announced plans to send a seventh convoy across the border into Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas region, amid widespread accusations that the Kremlin is sending arms to separatist forces instead of aid to civilians

School Installs Military-Style Shooter-Detection System

A Massachusetts school installed technology adapted from a U.S. military “smoke alarm for gunfire,” a protective measure implemented weeks after a deadly high school shooting in Washington state

Singles’ Day Is Bank for Alibaba

Chinese online retailers like Alibaba, which saw some $9 billion in sales on its online marketplace on Tuesday, have embraced the phenomenon that’s now a major shopping holiday. By comparison, Americans spent $1.2 billion online during Black Friday last year

Conservatives Widely Back Net Neutrality

A new poll finds self-identified conservative voters overwhelmingly support the idea of Net Neutrality, despite outrage from Republican leaders over President Barack Obama’s call for regulations requiring Internet service providers to treat all content equally

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TIME 2014 Election

Despite Midterm ‘Wave,’ Americans Not Particularly Thrilled About GOP Control

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, center, looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership luncheon at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2014 Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Americans are skeptical of what's to come in remaining years of Obama presidency

Looks like the “meh” election has yielded the expected reaction from the American public. Less than half of Americans are happy to see Republicans take control of Congress, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, and about the same proportion think the Republican “wave” will lead to legislative success.

Republicans have been promising Washington will “function” with the GOP in control of Congress, but Americans in general foresee more of the same over the next two years.

Nearly six-out-of-ten say things will change either “some” or “a lot” with Republicans in control, but when it comes to the partisan divide 55% of Americans expect nothing to change. Almost half of all Americans think Republicans will see their programs passed into law, while 40% disagree.

Following the bevy of Republican wins that guaranteed Sen. Mitch McConnell will likely be the Senate’s next Majority Leader, the Kentucky Republican joined House Speaker John Boehner in touting the myriad legislation they’ll push through Congress. “Now we can get Congress going,” boasts their joint op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Americans are less hopeful that the switch in party control will lead to Washington suddenly functioning. When it comes to legislation Republican leadership is eager to take the lead on, support among Americans is falling. About 51% disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, but detractors are split on how best to handle the President’s signature health law. A whopping 83% of Republicans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, but over the past year support among Democrats has fallen by 11 points. What’s more, Americans are worried Republicans will use their new-found footing in Washington to increase investigations into the White House and Democrats — following a similar pattern of concern expressed when the balance of power shifted. In 2006, according to Pew, Americans had a similar fear when Democrats took control during the final George W. Bush years.

But Americans don’t think Obama would do a better job fixing the nation’s problems than Congress. In 2010, at least 49% of Americans wanted Obama to take the lead on addressing major issues. In 2014, however, nearly equal percentages of Americans would like to see Congress (41%) and Obama (40%) at the helm.

Americans also doubt the President can accomplish much during his last two years in office; the bulk, 59%, say he’ll get little to nothing done — two percentage points less than those asked the same question at the same point in Bush’s term.

Pew surveyed 1,353 adults for this latest report, which was conducted between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Dan Sullivan Wins Senate Race in Alaska

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is seen through balloons as he takes part in a television interview on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage Alaska.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is seen through balloons as he takes part in a television interview on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage Alaska. Ted S. Warren—AP

Defeats Democrat Mark Begich

JUNEAU, Alaska — Republican Dan Sullivan won Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, defeating first-term incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 votes on Election Night last week and held a comparable edge after election workers had counted about 20,000 absentee, early-voted and questioned ballots late Tuesday. Thousands more ballots remained to be counted, but the results indicated that Begich could not overcome Sullivan’s lead.

The Alaska seat was initially considered key to the Republicans’ hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate, but that goal was accomplished before the Alaska race was decided.

Sullivan, in a statement, said he was humbled and sounded a note of inclusion. While it was a hard-fought race, moving forward “I want to emphasize that my door will always be open to all Alaskans,” he said.

“While we have challenges to address, the opportunities in Alaska and our country are limitless,” Sullivan said. “Today, we are going to begin the process of turning our country around and building a brighter future for our children.”

Begich was not conceding. His campaign manager, Susanne Fleek-Green, said in a statement that Begich believes every vote deserves to be counted and will follow the Division of Elections as it continues toward a final count.

Begich is no stranger to come-from-behind wins. In 2008, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens led Begich by about 3,000 votes in a race Begich won about two weeks later by fewer than 4,000 votes.

The dynamics of that race were different, however, with the election coming days after a jury found Stevens guilty in a federal corruption trial. The case was later tossed out by a judge, prompting many Republicans to believe Begich’s win was a fluke.

Republicans in Alaska, as in other states, made the current race a referendum on President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Obama lost in Alaska by wide margins in 2008 and 2012.

On Tuesday, news reporters and observers affiliated with candidates or political parties watched as election workers opened ballots, reviewed those in which voters’ qualifications were questioned and tallied votes in election centers in Juneau and other parts of the state.

Sullivan, a first-time candidate, ran a confident campaign, ignoring the debate schedule Begich released during the primary and setting his own agenda. He also attracted some star power to the state, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite, and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney rallying support for Sullivan in the waning days of the hotly contested race.

Sullivan pledged to fight federal overreach, talked about the need for an energy renaissance in the U.S.

Begich said Sullivan offered little in the way of proposals for what he would do as senator. Begich touted his clout, including a position on the power Senate Appropriations Committee, and tried to paint sharp contrasts between himself and Sullivan in areas such as women’s health, education and Alaska issues.

Begich, for example, was born and raised in Alaska. He cast Sullivan, who grew up in Ohio, as an outsider, and many of the early attacks by pro-Begich groups keyed in to that theme. That perception of Sullivan made for an at-times uncomfortable debate on fisheries issues, in which questioners grilled Sullivan about his knowledge of one of Alaska’s most important industries.

On several occasions, Sullivan’s wife, Julie Fate Sullivan, an Alaska Native and frequent companion on the campaign trail, appeared in ads defending her husband’s ties to the state and his positions on women’s issues.

Sullivan has roots in Alaska dating to the 1990s but was gone for nearly seven years for military service and work in Washington, D.C., that included working as an assistant secretary of state. He returned to Alaska in 2009, when he was appointed attorney general by then-Gov. Sarah Palin.

He most recently served as Alaska’s natural resources commissioner, a post he left in September 2013, to make his first run for public office.

Sullivan hit the ground running, exhibiting a fundraising prowess that rivaled and during some quarters exceeded that of Begich. Many of his supporters cited his service in the Marine Corps reserves or repeated the oft-repeated GOP refrain that became of hallmark of the campaign — that Begich voted with Obama “97 percent of the time,” a figure that takes into account votes during 2013, many of them on confirmations, on which Obama stated a preference.

Sullivan publicly sought to tamp down expectations of a win, even as campaign members expressed great confidence in a victory in the lead-up to the Nov. 4 election and said the Democrats’ much-talked-about ground game wasn’t all it was made out to be.

It was estimated that tens of millions of dollars were pumped into the state, with Republicans seeing Begich as vulnerable and Democrats trying to hold the seat Begich won in 2008.

 

TIME China

Experts Are Skeptical Over the U.S.-China Emissions Deal

People wearing masks walk on a street amid heavy haze and smog in Beijing
People wearing masks walk on a street amid heavy haze and smog in Beijing on Oct. 11, 2014 Kim Kyung Hoon—Reuters

Meeting targets agreed on at the APEC summit requires Washington and Beijing to draw up and rigorously enforce unprecedented policies

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a breakthrough deal on Wednesday, aimed at reducing both nations’ colossal carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

During a press conference in Beijing, President Obama lauded the pact as a “historic breakthrough.” Likewise, in an editorial published in the New York Times, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. and China were “determined to make lasting progress on an unprecedented global challenge.”

But now comes the hard part.

Under the deal, the U.S. must slash carbon emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and China must start reigning in its release of greenhouse gases nationwide. Based on the initiative, China needs to hit peak CO2 emissions by 2030.

In addition, China, which has long relied on coal to fuel its unprecedented economic growth, also promised to rapidly increase the country’s reliance on nonfossil fuels in primary energy consumption. By 2030, Beijing is aiming to have 20% of the country’s energy needs supplied by zero-emission sources.

But to hit these targets, experts argue that both nations must now draw up and enforce unprecedented policies.

As Sam Roggeveen, of the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, pointed out in a blog post published on Wednesday, the U.S. will have to “double the pace of its carbon pollution reduction to meet the new target.” Domestic politics could easily put a brake on that.

In China, Roggeveen writes, “an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity” must be deployed by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today. Otherwise the goal can’t be met.

Even if the central government had an all-consuming drive to achieve this, economists say it must provide the proper economic incentives to local bureaucrats who are pivotal to executing policies on the ground.

“The feasibility of doing [this] depends on the local bureaucrats, so if the local bureaucrats resist then nothing can be done,” Xu Chenggang, professor who is a specialist in China’s economic development at the University of Hong Kong, tells TIME. “[It doesn’t] matter how strong the leader is, to get things done really depends on incentives.”

Xu explains that China’s three decades of robust economic expansion were only possible because local officials were able to profit from the country’s rapid transformation into an industrial powerhouse. However, questions remain over whether there will be as much money to go around during a transition to a greener economy.

“In turns out it’s very, very difficult to find a scheme which is going to give local bureaucrats sufficient incentives to take care of their environment,” says Xu.

And even then, activists say the world’s two largest emitters of CO2 have yet to commit to the types of policies needed to reverse the effects of climate change.

“There is a clear expectation of more ambition from these two economies whose emissions trajectories define the global response to climate change,” says Li Shuo, a senior climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing. “Today’s announcements should only be the floor and not the ceiling of enhanced actions.”

Still, others are hopeful that the historic announcement today will at the very least inject some momentum into the push to lower greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide.

“This is an important development, not so much because of the details,” explains Jim Falk, a visiting fellow at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability in Tokyo. “It states a desire by US and Chinese leaders to add serious momentum to a global agenda to cap and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

— With reporting by Per Liljas and Helen Regan

 

TIME technology

FCC Chair Signals He Won’t Follow Obama’s Lead on Internet Rules

Barack Obama, Tom Wheeler
In this May 1, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with then nominee for Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

"What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

A top federal regulator is considering a split with President Barack Obama over a controversial Internet policy, according to a new report, in what could set up a big fight between the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources who were present, sounded a different note than Obama when addressing a room full of tech executives after the President made his statement Monday. “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told executives from several major tech companies, including Google and Yahoo. “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.”

Obama on Monday made his strongest statement yet in support of Net Neutrality, the principle that all content should be treated equally online. However, the FCC is an independent agency that’s not required to follow the President’s lead on policy matters.

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME U.S.

City Council Jokes it Will Castrate Mayor if Debt Not Resolved

Joke got sent out by accident

Talk about raising the stakes: if Carmel, Indiana can’t solve its debt problem, the mayor may have to say goodbye to his family jewels.

It’s a joke, but seems to have made its way into the packet distributed to City Council on Tuesday. In a flowchart outlining a contingency plan for dealing with the debt, someone listed “shoot council, castrate mayor, put head between legs, kiss ass goodbye,” as a last resort, USA Today reported.

Another option, according to the chart: increase property taxes “in amount necessary to cover obligation. Kiss political position goodbye.”

City Council President Eric Seidensticker said he made the flowchart months ago as a joke, and shared it with a consultant working with the Clerk Treasurer’s offices. “What you have there is a humorous version that was not meant for distribution,” he told IndyStar. “It was meant to be humorous. So they grabbed the wrong one.”

The events that led to the chart’s distribution are almost as hilarious. Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray is out of the office this week, so the consultant sent out the information packet, and included the joke chart instead of the real one. Seidensticker had gotten eye surgery, so he couldn’t read the packet to catch the error, and he sent the packet to all the Council Members. “I didn’t realize it until somebody (on the Council) called me,” he told IndyStar.

But despite the fact that this was clearly the work of two clowns, Diana Cordray got the blame. “The clerk-treasurer is paid well by the taxpayers and it is unfortunate she is using her time and city resources to promote political campaigns,” Mayor Jim Brainard said in a statement to Current in Carmel. “This blunder is just one in a long line of incompetent and politically motivated things that have emanated from her office.”

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