“It Seems to Me” a transcript from 1973 by J.C. Kerlin, The Birth of the Evansville Political Machine


Every once in a while a literary treasure is found in the strangest places and the timing of such a find is almost always perfect. It could be said that serendipity has a sense of humor.

During the past week with the “FloatGate” political drama at the Fall Festival, the surprise juxtaposition of the delay of a local Vectren rate increase hearing just before a real hearing was disclosed, and the Mayoral debate when both candidates accused each other of being in the clutches of “The Machine” of old boy politics, this wonderful transcript by a local author written in 1973 was made available to the City County Observer.

Taking the time to read this and to ponder on its contents makes it very clear why political machines can flourish in Evansville. As this transcript shows, Evansville itself is the result of the actions and control of a “political machine” that was forged before most of the current residents were born. The torch has been passed from generation to generation and from party to party but the soul of the machine never changes. Living with “The Machine” is a way of life in Evansville. It is part of our comfort zone

The cranks of today’s political machine are being turned by the anointed great great grand political children of the architects of “The Machine”. As with the proverbial organ grinder, it is the organ and the grinder that matters. The monkey that turns the crank is interchangeable and works for peanuts.

Please read this transcript as it is quite relevant to the events of this week, this year, and even this century. Many will have their awareness enhanced from this. Some may become angry. The important thing is that over the course of the next decade Evansville has a chance to dismantle “The Machine” or secure its place as master of our destiny for a few more generations.

Some wonderful excerpts:

“The symbol Watergate, so applied, from now on may be used from now on to describe the vast array of violations of the honor system and the exploitations of the freedoms of choice in the conduct of official affairs.”

“that which for a while appeared to be simply one set of politicians trying a political trick on another has become much more serious with implications that in high places, high stakes are for sale at high prices.”

“Political connections helped relieve him (Evansville Mayor) of the suspicion of his involvement in a bootlegging scandal, and he threw the Courier off his track by buying the newspaper”

“a newspaper was compromised and a community intimidated by a parasitical element that destroyed a political party”

“in all Watergates, both big and small, it seems to me there is one ingredient, that the offenders are brought to account, not by the established authority, or official procedures, but by other politicians. In other words a black kettle is called so by a black pot.”

Link to the transcript:



  1. The transcript is sort of a bare bones history of Evansville political machines in the first half of the 20th century, the fleshing-out of any part this history is available to interested readers from a variety of sources that run the gamut from IU’s Indiana Magazine of History to individual publications like M. William Lutholtz’s book: Grand Dragon ISBN 1-55753-046-7. Willard Library also has much information and their “clippings” file should not be overlooked. Early city directories are also a valuable source of information.

    It is only by a familiarity with history that we can see events developing and make reasonable determinations on where they may be headed and what pitfalls might be laid in their path.



  2. As far as I can tell Whiney-zapple is Evansville’s 21st century equivalent of Benjie Bosse. Both of them have certainly used and abused the Courier for their own personal benefit; cetainly the newspaper’s infatuation for Whiney-boy has brought it to the brink of extinction. Paid circulation can’t be more than half of what it was on January 1, 2004, when hizzoner was sworn into office. And it is very likely that Whiney will disappear from sight by January 2, 2012.

  3. Those that worship the Dollar and Power on this Earth, will, and have continued to arise. Yet the struggle agains’t these Dark Forces must not be abandoned, any more than any fight America and it’s citizens have been forced to confront throughout our history. This coming Election is just such a moment in time. “All politics is local” is the Truth revealed.
    The battle call for this Generation is to VOTE, poor turnouts of Voters allows for Kings to be Crowned and rights of freemen and women to be trampled. The Status Quo MUST be defeated right here in our Hometown.
    There isn’t ANY more important place to start. I urge everyone old enough to VOTE to stand up and be counted,—and the Time is NOW.

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