ANALYZING THE OBAMA (& BAYH) EVENT IN ELKHART: Barack Obama's coming Wednesday visit to Elkhart has renewed speculation that U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh could be added to the Democratic ticket. But there's far more we don't know than we know (Brian A. Howey, Howey Politics Indiana). Bayh will be there to introduce Obama, his spokesman Eric Kleiman confirmed for Howey Politics Indiana this morning. What we don't know is the time. The Obama campaign said doors will open at 7:15 a.m., but there is no starting time established. If it's before 10 a.m,, it's highly unlikely this would be a veep rollout. Anything after 10 a.m. would allow West Coast viewers to watch on the Today Show, Good Morning America or Morning Joe. Most vice presidential rollouts tend to come in the afternoon (i.e. George H.W. Bush announced Dan Quayle's selection at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday during the Republican National Convention in 1988). We know there is a long press flight layover in South Bend, with the Obama media arriving at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and not leaving until 3:25 p.m. Wednesday. It seems like a long layover, but an explanation could be that Obama will be at his Chicago home. Democratic media consultant Chris Sautter was at Obama's Chicago headquarters and spent time with David Axelrod last weekend. " He seemed to me more a like a guy who was going to finally get some rest over the weekend rather than someone gearing up for a major rollout the next week," said Sautter. "I could be completely wrong, but everyone seemed a little loose for a VP announcement. On the other hand, David perked up when I told him that Indiana had the highest jump in unemployment in the month of June. So anything is possible, I guess." The national press speculation was that Obama would make the choice prior to the Beijing Olympics which start Friday and go through Aug. 24, with the Democratic National Convention starting two days later. But many veepstakes winners have been announced near or on convention week. There don't appear to be other similar events in the planning stages this week in places like Virginia, Kansas or New Mexico, home to other veep short listers. With Bayh in attendance and with the town hall format, the elephant ... er, donkey in the room will be the veepstakes, Obama will take questions from the audience. He almost certainly will be asked about an Obama-Bayh ticket. That will be an interesting moment if there is no grand announcement to begin with. Then again, perhaps Obama and his team want to size up Bayh one more time as well as get a view on the ground where many believe he can be the first Democrat to carry the state since President Lyndon Johnson did in 1964. The Obama visit appears to be aimed at the dramatic jump in the jobless rate with the 1,400 Monaco jobs that were lost last month. Does Bayh have any historic ties to Elkhart? The answer is yes. In some of the first acts as a public official, 30-year-old Secretary of State Bayh in 1987 presided over the recounts of the 3rd CD race between U.S. Rep. John Hiler and Democrat Tom Ward, as well as two legisltive seats. Many of the decisions Bayh made angered local Democrats because they favored Republicans. In retrospect, Bayh's decisions were based on election law, were fair, and helped establish him as a "bipartisan" voice. That has also been an emphasis of the Obama campaign. Finally, the event will be held in the Concord HS basketball gym. Veepstakes usually aren't rolled out in a basketball gym. To which we respond: yes, but this is Indiana.

'NOBODY KNOWS' SAYS SHRUM: For the third time in as many presidential elections, speculation about the Democratic nominee's vice presidential pick includes Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (Louisville Courier-Journal). The nominee-in-waiting, Sen. Barack Obama, is believed to be considering only a select few, with Bayh reportedly among them. His chances? "Nobody knows what Obama is going to do," said Robert Shrum, a long-time Democratic strategist and senior fellow at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. "There's an old saying: Those who talk don't know, and those who know don't talk."

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OBAMA SUPPORTS GIVING FLORIDA, MICHIGAN DELEGATIONS CONVENTION VOTE: Now that Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic nomination for president, he says convention delegates from Florida and Michigan should have full voting rights at the party's national convention (Associated Press). The delegates were originally stripped because the two states violated party rules by holding primaries before Feb. 5. The delegates from each state were given half votes at contentious party meeting in May. Obama's former Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, had won both primaries. Obama, in a letter Sunday to the party's credentials committee, says "party unity" calls for the delegates to "participate fully alongside the delegates from the other states and territories."

MCCAIN VETTING CANTOR: John McCain's presidential campaign is vetting Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as a potential vice presidential candidate, a campaign adviser told Politico on Saturday (Politico). Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is a top running mate prospect for Barack Obama, opening up the possibility of an all-Old Dominion, Kaine vs. Cantor vice-presidential debate. Cantor, 45, has provided records to McCain's running mate search team the adviser said. With a Southern lilt and a talent for raw politics, Cantor is one of the nation's most prominent Jewish Republicans; he has impressed the McCain team by becoming a prolific fundraiser for the campaign. A young fiscal conservative who could help keep Virginia from tipping blue, Cantor could also be an asset in battlegrounds such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He has shown appeal to the party's base as well as to independents, and would be an unconventional choice at a time when McCain is looking to add excitement to his campaign.

Presidential

CLINTON PAYS OFF IU DEBT: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign has paid off its $55,000 debt to Indiana University for events it held on the Bloomington campus (Indianapolis Business Journal). IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre says auditorium director Doug Booher has received the final payment from Clinton for campus campaign visits. The campaign had previously paid about $20,000 of its debt, and recently sent a final check for $32,000. The campaign had also paid about $3,000 for Chelsea Clinton's visit.

Indiana Governor

DANIELS TO OFFER TAX PLAN TUESDAY: Gov. Mitch Daniels plans to announce a major portion of his re-election platform on Tuesday (Indianapolis Star). Cam Savage, communications director for Daniels' re-election campaign, declined to detail specifics about the speech but did offer a hint. "The theme is going to be taxpayer protection," Savage said. "And it will include some agenda items for a second term, building off of the property tax cuts of 2008 and going forward in the next four years, and other ways we can ensure taxpayers are protected." Tuesday's announcement is planned as the first of several policy proposals Daniels will unveil for his second term.

THOMPSON REACHES ACCORD WITH UAW, AFSCME: Jill Long Thompson's campaign reached a late night agreement with the UAW, and, souces tell Howey Politics Indiana, AFSCME as well over potential collective bargaining rights for state employees if she is elected. The UAW wanted Thompson to agree to the orginal "92-12" plan that Gov. Evan Bayh signed into law on July 8, 1992. Thompson had refused, fueling speculation that the Service Employees Union was pumping $900,000 into her campaign with more to come in order to organize state employees. An official announcement between Thompson, the UAW and AFSCME is expected later this week.

DANIELS, JLT TO DEBATE THREE TIMES: Daniels and Long Thompson will face off at least three times before voters make their final decision in November (Indianapolis Star). Last week, Daniels' campaign released a statement that said Daniels had reached agreement with the Indiana Debate Commission to partake in three debates in three regions of the state. "Governor Daniels is looking forward to the debates as a way to discuss with Hoosiers the great progress Indiana has experienced in the last four years and as an opportunity to further share his positive vision for the future," Savage said in a statement. Long Thompson said she wanted more debates. "I would prefer five debates, or six or seven. I'd actually like to have a debate in every major media market in the state," she said. "But for a debate to occur, you have to have at least two people. So I'm happy he's agreed to at least three."

Congress

SENATE PASSES BILL TO MAINTAIN REGIONAL GREAT LAKES CONTROL: The Senate voted Friday to ratify a compact to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes, quickly approving legislation sought by the region's governors worried that thirsty places would covet one of the world's largest sources of fresh water (Indianapolis Star). The Senate passed the measure by a unanimous vote, and it now awaits action in the House. President Bush has said he will sign it into law, and both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, have said they support it.

DONNELLY WANTS BIOFUELS PIPES: Corporate entities known as publicly traded partnerships could get tax breaks for building biofuel pipelines if a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly becomes law (South Bend Tribune). Donnelly, D-Granger, introduced legislation Friday to encourage construction of pipes that would carry fuels such as ethanol from producers to market. Such pipelines would make it cheaper for biofuel producers — many of whom are based in Indiana — to transport their product, Donnelly said. Currently, biofuels move across the country by truck or rail.

Counties

VANDERBURGH OFFICIALS SEARCH FOR BUDGET CUTS: No one is volunteering to give up his or her benefits or take a pay cut, but Vanderburgh County officeholders are taking steps to ease the county's budget strain (Evansville Courier & Press). Marsha Abell, president of the County Council, said Superior Court Judge Wayne Trockman offered last week to take a $10,400 chunk out of $67 million in budget requests that must be pared by several million dollars.Trockman's budget, other than his salary, is funded by county taxpayers. "He said, 'Just pull my request for that money (to pay a Drug Court officer), I'll find another place to get it from,'" Abell said. "He had requested the money from the county general fund, but now he's going to take it out of some user fees he has."

LAKE COUNTY CONFRONTS COST CUTTING: Lake County fiscal leaders are set to begin walking a fine line this week, balancing public safety and the county justice system with the need to cut costs (Times of Northwest Indiana). The Lake County Council is scheduled to open its 2009 budget sessions Tuesday with the mission of whittling down the current spending ceiling of $132 million, nearly half of which goes to the criminal and civil courts, the sheriff and prosecutor and public defenders. Early debate has fallen into two camps -- across-the-board slashes of 10 percent to 20 percent for all government agencies or targeted budget strikes against the explosive growth of law enforcement. The council's finance committee, which brainstormed budget strategies last month, identified 18 ways to cut or eliminate the sheriff's marine unit, the sheriff's work-release program, the crime laboratory, patrol division, courts staff and other programs.

CARROLL COUNTY RESIDENTS TO SUE SEWER DISTRICT: Hundreds of angry Carroll County residents are preparing to file a class-action lawsuit against a regional sewer district they say is abusing their civil rights for profit (Pharos Tribune). The citizens' action group, which calls itself the Free Jefferson Township Citizens, has almost 500 members and is growing. The members are gathering funds to file suit against the Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District in hopes that the White County district will stop forcing Carroll residents onto the system. The FJTC claims that the "tyrannical" district has been charging extreme fees and telling all residents within its boundaries they have to join, even if they're far away from the lakes and have a functioning septic system. Because they come from out of the county, Carroll residents have no way to control the district.

State

STATE MIGHT PENALIZE MONACO FOR JOB CUTS: Monaco Coach Corp. will have to pay the state more than $3 million if it proceeds with plans to lay off 1,400 workers in northern Indiana, a state official said (Indianapolis Business Journal). Indiana Department of Commerce Secretary Nathan Feltman said the company would owe the state for $2.7 million in tax credits and training grants, plus penalties and interest totaling more than $3 million. Feltman said he reminded Monaco attorneys of their obligations during a meeting Friday. The incentives received over a 10-year period were predicated on Monaco's continued presence in Elkhart and Wakarusa, Feltman said, and the state would be obligated to recoup the funds.

DENSBORN REFORMING LOTTERY: When Kathryn Densborn took over the Hoosier Lottery in December 2006, she inherited a staff short on bodies and morale and at least two challenges against her predecessor for wrongful termination (Journal Gazette). Now, almost two years later, she has filled nearly 30 positions, settled one key discrimination claim for $225,000 and is trying to move the state lottery into the future. But her challenges aren't over. Hoosiers recently leveled criticism for keeping lottery games on the shelves after the top prizes are gone, and a lawsuit involving a lottery error was granted class-action status just weeks ago. Plus, her boss – Gov. Mitch Daniels – is considering another push to privatize the quasi-state agency.

Cities

DEMOCRATS CHOOSE REPLACEMENT CLINTON MAYOR: There's a new mayor in the town of Clinton as a Democratic caucus was conducted Saturday to replace former Mayor Jerry Hawkins (Terre Haute Tribune Star). Arthur "Art" Lindsay Jr. received the majority vote of the eight candidates in the running, according to Democrat Party Chairman Henry J. Antonini. The caucus, which began at 10 a.m., lasted less than 30 minutes.

GRAY FACES MORE QUESTIONS: Monroe Gray shrugs it off to politics as usual, but the veteran city-county councilman continues to face two investigations that could determine his political and legal future (Indianapolis Star). Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi confirmed last week that there is a "pending investigation concerning the alleged misconduct of Monroe Gray." Brizzi, a Republican, declined to be more specific about what his office is investigating and said he was not permitted by law to disclose whether a grand jury has been convened. A separate council investigation, meanwhile, has focused on six potential problem areas for Gray. Controversies over his failure to disclose business deals with a city contractor were widely reported, as was the lack of specific duties in his former role with the Indianapolis Fire Department. But a report released by the two GOP members of a four-member bipartisan council committee last month raised several less-publicized issues. One centers on whether Gray violated conflict-of-interest laws by failing to disclose his concrete company's dealings with United Water, another city contractor. The committee recommended asking the prosecutor's office to look into the matter.

LAFAYETTE PREPARING TO ANNEX: On Monday, Lafayette City Council members will consider a measure to approve annexing nearly 1,000 acres into the city after annexing 575 acres last year (Lafayette Journal & Courier). The land covers residential, industrial and commercial areas mainly to the south and east of the city that continue to be fertile ground for businesses. As areas both outside and in the city limits continue to grow, city officials have found a way, they say, to control that growth at a steady rate -- voluntary annexation. By annexing the land, which includes large parcels near Subaru of Indiana Automotive and the Wal-Mart on County Road 350 South, the city expands its tax base while gaining control over what can be built on any undeveloped area. "With it being in the city limits, it gives us a little bit more control ... on how those lands are zoned or if they need to be rezoned or what types of projects go in there," said Mayor Tony Roswarski.

MILLER MAY LEAVE CITY OF GARY: When the people of Miller found themselves feuding once again with City Hall to save their train station, several wondered aloud why they were being "punished" by Mayor Rudy Clay (Post-Tribune). Naturally, they began to wonder aloud how they could stop it from happening again. And after a meeting of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board last month, several of them found themselves talking disannexation. "We've received abhorrent city services from Gary for the last 30 years and it just continues to go down," Cullen B. Daniel of Gary said. Miller residents have been talking about seceding from Gary for years, but the recent threat of losing the train station turned out to be a powerful recruiting tool for the cause.

NO MORE TUITION FEES FOR STUDENT TRANSFERS: Changes in the property tax system is switching the responsibility of the schools' general funds from individual corporations to the state (News and Tribune). That change means tuition fees for public schools will essentially be nonexistent as of Jan. 1. This will effect all students living in one school district, but who want to attend a school in another district. Before, districts set their own rates based on local property taxes. West Clark Community Schools Corp. Superintendent Monty Schneider said the tuition fees made up for the taxes that were paid to that student's district, but did not follow to the district the student chose to attend.

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