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Monday, July 22, 2019
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  • CITIES: ELKHART WORKING ON STRATEGIC PLAN - The city of Elkhart hasn’t had this kind of plan before. The city has hired Thomas P. Miller & Associates, which will subcontract with a variety of players, to do the city’s first comprehensive economic development plan dubbed Elkhart 2040 (King,South Bend Tribune). One of the key players involved will be Shelley Moore, president/founder of Insight Strategic Concepts, Inc. Moore has been a key planner of the River District and was hired to help see that the Elkhart Health & Aquatics got built. “The city of Elkhart has never taken proactive account for its own development and growth,” Moore told me last week as we chatted at The Electric Brew. The city’s Board of Public Works had just approved the $320,000 contract for the plan. TPMA was involved in planning the River District and conducted a diversification study of the city of Elkhart. This second phase of Elkhart 2040 is focused on communications and development, which will lead to a roadmap, implementation plan and a prospectus on Opportunity Zones by next summer.

     

    CITIES: COLUMBUS GETS GETTY GRANT -  Two modernist buildings in a southern Indiana city known for its architecture have landed more than $300,000 for the upkeep of the historic structures (Columbus Republic). The Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation awarded a $150,000 grant Wednesday for the conservation of the North Christian Church in Columbus. That 1964 building features a soaring metal spire and was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. Another $170,000 was awarded to the Miller House and Garden. That 1953 residence was also designed by Saarinen and includes a garden by landscape architect Dan Kiley. The two grants are the foundation’s only gifts this year for structures in North America.

     

    CITIES: INDY TO ENFORCE RED LINE PARKING BAN - With only 48 days to go, it is essential that Red Line crews have full access to the travel lanes and bus only lanes to finish pavement and lane markings (Howey Politics Indiana). IMPD will be strictly enforcing “No Parking” areas starting Monday, July 22. On Capitol Avenue, the easternmost lane is a bus only lane, and is not a parking lane at any time. Business patrons and residents are encouraged to read signage carefully, and not park in white-hash mark pavement marking areas especially along College.


  • CITIES: WHITING, HAMMOND NEIGHBORHOODS PLAGUED BY LEAD - The 1905 cape cod home on Fred Street had undeniable charm with its beige brick façade, wrought iron fence and evergreen tree out front (Cross, NWI Times). But the Whiting couple who purchased the home in March 2016 now say they had no way of knowing about a clandestine issue lurking below the charm. It's an environmental and potential health issue that has them — and the surrounding area — in limbo as government agencies assess how to act. In May 2018, Dana said they said they received a postcard from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: An invitation to a meeting at the local YMCA about how soil testing confirmed their yard and dozens of others were contaminated with lead and arsenic. Legacy contamination from the nearby old Federated Metals site in the Robertsdale neighborhood is the culprit, EPA has said. The plant at 2230 Indianapolis Blvd. operated from 1937 until it closed in 1987. EPA, acting under its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act program, consolidated waste there from 2003 to 2006.

     

    COUNTIES: LaPORTE GRAPPLES WITH MALWARE ASSAULT -  With only a handful of servers still offline, La Porte County is well on its way to a full recovery from the ransomware attack on its computer network earlier this month (Yoakum, Michigan City News-Dispatch). Information Technology Director Darlene Hale updated the public on the status of the county’s computer systems during Wednesday’s meeting of the La Porte County Board of Commissioners. She also discussed the ongoing investigation into who was responsible for the attack and how the malware – known as “RYUK” – breached the county’s network.

     

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW UPGRADING FROM WINDOWS 7 - County officials are in the process of upgrading about 600 computers, including those used for election voting and tabulations, in anticipation of Microsoft ending support for one of its popular, but aging, computer operating systems (East, Columbus Republic). Microsoft, the maker of the operating system, Windows 7, will stop providing security updates and other support for the system on Jan. 14. Currently, at least some of the county’s computers still use Windows 7, said Scott Mayes, Bartholomew County director of information technology. “The plans have already been in motion for the past two years, actually,” he said. “And all those upgrades are in process and will be completed.”


  • CITIES: INDICTED MUNCIE ADMINISTRATOR PLACED ON LEAVE - The Muncie Sanitary District offices in City Hall were back at work Wednesday buzzing with office workers and phone calls throughout the day after abruptly closing Tuesday due to an FBI raid (Muncie Star Press). The FBI raids and corresponding indictment led to the arrest of Debra “Nikki” Grigsby, 44, the Muncie Sanitary District’s administrator since 2013. Also arrested was Tony Franklin, 60, owner of Franklin Building and Design LLC. Tom Malapit, one of MSD's attorneys, said that Grigsby had been placed on unpaid administration leave following the arrest and indictment. Malapit said that Board of Sanitary Commissioners president William "Bill" Smith was handling Grigsby’s responsibilities as administrator.

    CITIES: MICHIGAN CITY COUNCIL KILLS PLATE SCANNER PROPOSAL - An ordinance to allow the Michigan City Police Department to purchase license plate reader technology, including facial recognition capability, was killed Tuesday after several concerned citizens spoke against it during a public hearing (Michigan City News-Dispatch). Only one of the 18 people who spoke at the City Council meeting was in favor of the scanners, while a few others wanted more information. But the majority explicitly opposed the purchase of the cameras, which they characterized as “a waste of money,” “lazy policing,” “an invasion of privacy,” “dangerous surveillance” and “an infringement on the Fourth Amendment.” Many raised concerns that the technology would be used to target specific people and neighborhoods, and to profile and harass people of color.

    CITIES: GOSHEN TO FORM ENVIRONMENTAL DEPARTMENT - A new Environmental Department is currently in the works for Goshen city government (Kline, Goshen News). During their meeting Tuesday evening, Goshen City Council members were informed by Mayor Jeremy Stutsman of his intention to create the new environmental department. The announcement was made during a brief update by Stutsman on the status of budgetary discussions currently taking place among the city’s department heads in the lead-up to passage of the city’s 2020 budget later this year. “Along with this process, there are a couple things that I’ve talked to the council about, and I’ll be bringing to you shortly now that we’re really starting to get into this,” Stutsman said of the ongoing budget discussions. “I’ve mentioned that I’d like to create an environmental department. We’re just now really being able to crack down on the language, the missions, the statement of what this department does. We’re getting all that fine-tuned. And I want to be clear, we’re going to try to get this to the council very soon. My intent is to get it to you on the council agenda.”

    COUNTIES: ALLEN COUNCIL DELAYS INNSKEEPER VOTE - In a 4-3 vote, the Allen County Council today tabled a proposal to raise the county's innkeeper's tax from 7% to 8% (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The council plans to again consider the tax increase during its August meeting. The reason for the delay is so council members can review the testimony presented at this morning's meeting. Visit Fort Wayne currently receives 2% of the innkeepers tax, with the rest going to the Grand Wayne Center. The proposed increase is supported by local entities including the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the Allen County Commissioners, the city of Fort Wayne, the Northeast Indiana Hospitality Association and others, Visit Fort Wayne Board Member Gary Shearer said. Several council members appeared opposed to the tax increase Thursday. "Fort Wayne/Allen County is a great place to visit and we should do all we can to do that, except raise taxes," Councilman Ken Fries said.


  • CITIES: FORT WAYNE GETS CLEANUP GRANT FOR OMNISOURCE SITE - The City’s Redevelopment Department will soon begin clean-up work on the North River (former OmniSource) site, thanks to a grant from the Indiana Brownfields Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The EPA has approved up to $283,400 for removal of up to 2,400 tons of potentially contaminated soils. Additionally, 10 groundwater monitoring wells will be installed as part of the grant. There are five existing monitoring wells on the site at this time and samples from those existing monitoring wells have not indicated any groundwater concerns. Soils testing completed in 2007, 2013 and 2017 revealed that some soils on the 29-acre site are impacted by PCBs and lead; those are the soils that will be removed as part of this grant. Throughout the last several decades at least five underground petroleum storage tanks have been removed from the site.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE TO OFFER COOLING STATIONS - The City of Fort Wayne today announced the lobby of the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory will serve as a cooling station due to high temperatures and heat indices forecasted to impact our area (Howey Politics Indiana). The cooling station will be available from noon-6 p.m. beginning Thursday and running through Sunday. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is located at 1100 S. Calhoun St. in downtown Fort Wayne. The Rescue Mission serves as the primary cooling station location in Fort Wayne. The Rescue Mission opens as a cooling station for men, women and families when temperatures reach 80 degrees. Hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m.


  • CITIES: CARMEL COUNCIL BANS PUBLIC VAPING - The Carmel City Council has unanimously voted to pass an ordinance that bans the use of electronic cigarettes in public places (Fox59). Vaping will now be included in the city's smoke-free law, which applies to school buses, libraries, trails and parks. The proposal also extends the ban to bars and private clubs. Carmel is one of the first cities in the country to ban e-cigarettes, after San Francisco led the nation just last month.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND CLERK FOWLER TO RESIGN - Kareemah Fowler will leave the city clerk’s position in August to become the new chief financial officer for the South Bend Community School Corp (South Bend Tribune). The school board on Monday unanimously approved the appointment of Fowler at its regular meeting following an executive session earlier in the day. Superintendent Todd Cummings, in his first regular board meeting as the school chief, made the recommendation the board hire Fowler. Fowler has been city clerk in South Bend since 2015. Fowler, who was not in attendance at Monday night’s meeting, is scheduled to have a news conference Tuesday to formally discuss her new position.

    CITIES: INDY COUNCIL APPROVES PACER CIB DEAL - The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night unanimously approved two measures tied to planned renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the long-term retention of the Indiana Pacers (Shuey, IBJ). The CIB in April agreed to allocate $270 million toward an overhaul of the fieldhouse as part of a 25-year deal to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis. The Pacers will contribute an additional $65 million to the renovation, while the city will chip in $25 million. The council approved a measure allowing the CIB to issue up to $320 million in bonds, which includes a $50 million cushion for capitalized interest and debt reserve funds. The CIB also plans to refinance its existing debt for the fieldhouse through a separate $140 million bond. Andy Mallon, the CIB’s executive director, has previously told IBJ refinancing the old fieldhouse debt could avoid problems when the board takes the new bonds to market.

    CITIES: INDY COUNCIL PASSES FOOD INSECURITY ORDINANCE - This evening, the Indianapolis City-County Council approved a $580,000 measure designed to test strategies to alleviate food insecurity for residents of the City’s most challenging “food deserts” (Howey Politics Indiana). Under the program, as many as 500 local families will be eligible for heavily subsidized Lyft rides to and from Indianapolis grocery stores, including locally owned stores. In addition, the measure will help expand food delivery service options for residents residing in food deserts, and will create a mobile market to be stocked with nutritious food options that travels to neighborhood sites on a regular schedule. City funding will ensure discounted prices for customers, and the market will accept multiple methods of payment, including SNAP. The program will also double the number of “food champions” recruited from food desert neighborhoods on the east and west sides of Indianapolis. Food champions receive training and a stipend to develop neighborhood-level approaches to address the lack of grocery options.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND HOLDS FORUM ON RACE - A public forum in South Bend Sunday night focused on how deep-rooted issues related to policing, poverty, and education are hitting minority communities. Much of the discussion revolved around ideas to improve the historic lack of trust between minorities and the police (Indiana Public Media).  The conversation was prompted by the police shooting of Eric Logan, but the discussion focused on broader issues of inequality. Many of the panelists agreed the city should be intentional about welcoming and including diverse voices in local government processes. South Bend City Clerk Kareemah Fowler hosted the event. She says she understands minority communities are upset about systemic issues beyond the shooting of Eric Logan. But, she adds, community members need to do their part. “Show up," she says. "Showing up is half the battle. We have council meetings, committee meetings, all of our Board of Public Works ... people aren’t showing up.”

    CITIES: DELPHI RAISES $50K FOR PARK - A park dedicated to the lives of murdered Delphi teens Abigail Williams and Liberty German has reached its crowdfunding goal, 30 days ahead of the deadline (WLFI-TV). The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority will now match $50,000 the community raised for the Abby and Libby Memorial Park. More than 250 donors raised $50,062 as of Monday morning.  The $1 million park will be built off the Hoosier Heartland Highway, just northeast of Delphi. The 20-acre park will include three softball/baseball fields, playgrounds, shelters, walking paths, concession stands and a community amphitheater, according to renderings. The girls had a shared love of music, playing saxophones side-by-side in their school band, according to the crowdfunding page. The $50,000 raised by the community is expected to help build the amphitheater.

    CITIES: NEW HAVEN PD CHIEF RETIRES - New Haven Police Chief Henry McKinnon retired Friday, city officials confirmed today (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). McKinnnon served on the force for 23 years, including as a road patrol officer, D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T officer, student resource officer, detective and deputy chief. New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald is conducting interviews for a replacement. The city has been posting a search for one or more patrol officers on Facebook in recent weeks.

    CITIES: ASSISTANT BRAZIL PD CHIEF PLEADS GUILTY - A plea agreement has resolved a drunken driving case against the assistant chief of the Brazil Police Department (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Dennis Archer, 43, pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a class C misdemeanor, during an initial hearing this morning in Clay Superior Court. The plea agreement dropped a count of operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of .08 or more, also class C misdemeanor. The sentencing range for a C misdemeanor is 0 to 60 days in jail.

    CITIES: MUNCIE ACCEPTING CAT FOOD FOR PARKING FINES - Muncie police are letting residents pay off their parking tickets in exchange for cat supplies (CBS4). Muncie Animal Care and Services is overwhelmed with cats. They start getting an influx of kittens in their shelter in the spring, and they currently have 350 cats. The animals are in dire need cat food and cat litter. They also need paper towels because volunteers clean their cages every day. In an effort to get more donations to help these cats, the clerk’s office at the city hall agreed to exchange parking ticket fees for cat supplies. For example, if you have a $25 parking ticket, you can bring $25 of cat supplies to the clerk’s office, and they’ll forgive your ticket.

    COUNTIES: BILL GIVES TAX INCENTIVES TO GRISSOM AREOPLEX - A new law will allow the business park around Grissom Air Reserve Base to renew a special economic-development status that officials hope will attract new business to the area (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Senate Enrolled Act 554 allows inactive or closed military bases, including Grissom Aeroplex, the opportunity to renew its status as an enterprise zone. Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said the business park around Grissom received the status automatically from legislation passed in the mid-1990s after the base was realigned as an Air Force Reserve Base. The move shed more than 800 acres from the installation and opened it up to private and public development.


  • CITIES: INDY AIRPORT RANKS HIGH - Travel + Leisure Magazine has named Indianapolis International Airport one of readers' favorite domestic airports in the world. The airport landed the second spot on the magazine’s 2019 World’s Best Domestic Airports Awards (Inside Indiana Business). The Indy airport scored only two points behind the Portland International Airport. The magazine says survey respondents remarked: “This should be the blueprint for all airports!” “Great local restaurants to eat and grab coffee or beer,” and “Always clean. Security line is always friendly and quick.”

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCIL SEEKS $5M FOR SETTLEMENTS - Lake County lawmakers are preparing a multimillion-dollar bond issue to pay for dozens of legal settlements reached with plaintiffs who sued the county for alleged wrongdoing or misconduct (Dolan, NWI Times). At an informal session of the County Council on Thursday, attorneys for the Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance that would authorize the sale of up to $5 million worth of bonds over a 10-year period. Funds raised in the bond sale would go toward the payment of at least 24 settlements reached in 2018 and 2019. The total settlement amount for those cases is about $3.3 million, according to documents presented to lawmakers at the session.

    COUNTIES: MARION HAS OPIOID TREATMENT PROGRAM - Opioid drug abuse continues to plague the state, particularly with populations who are or have been incarcerated (Indiana Public Media). Nearly 20 percent of people sentenced to state prison or jail report regular opioid use according to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Administration. This is dangerous because people’s tolerance to opioids goes down while they are incarcerated, says Tisha Wiley, chief of The Services Research Branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “So if they do go back to the community and seek out opioids, that makes them especially vulnerable to relapse," she says.


  • CITIES: BUTTIGIEG TAPS KAIN TO REPLACE MUELLER - Mayor Pete Buttigieg has tapped his deputy public works director, Jitin Kain, to head up community investment while James Mueller runs for mayor (South Bend Tribune). Mueller has been on a leave of absence from the position since January as he campaigns to succeed Buttigieg, whose term ends at the end of the year. Mueller, after winning the May 7 Democratic mayoral primary, said he planned to return to work in mid-June. But Mueller recently said he would not return to the job because the city's ethics policy would prohibit him from running the department and soliciting campaign donations from people whose businesses deal with the city.

    CITIES: WESTFIELD MAYOR'S SONS SOLD PROPERTY TO CITY - About the time Westfield Mayor Andy Cook launched a task group in 2007 to study how to redevelop downtown, his two sons bought property that would later become part of the Grand Junction Plaza project (IndyStar). A decade later the brothers sold the one-story, three-bedroom house at 217 Union St. to the city for $255,000, nearly double what they paid. The return on investment, which was similar to what other property owners received from the city, eclipsed the average rise in property values. Ethics experts interviewed by IndyStar said the situation raises a number of red flags, including the timing of the purchase and Andy Cook's role in advocating for a development that ultimately would financially benefit his sons. Poised to break ground this summer, the Grand Junction Plaza has long been criticized for its $35 million price tag and what some critics see as the city's lack of transparency surrounding the project. Julia Vaughn, policy director for government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said the timing of the brothers' purchase and subsequent sale appears "more than coincidental."

    CITIES: KOKOMO MAN WON'T RACE VOTE FRAUD CHARGES - A Kokomo businessman who has for weeks battled an accusation of voter fraud will not face charges, Howard County’s prosecutor announced Thursday (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Allen Wilson, the owner of Competition Towing & Recovery, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing because of “insufficient evidence to show an intent to defraud,” according to Prosecutor Mark McCann. It is welcome news for Wilson, whose company has faced significant financial repercussions after being suspended from the city’s towing contract in mid-May amidst the controversy over whether he voted illegally in this spring’s primary election. The city’s Board of Public Works and Safety will likely vote at an upcoming meeting on whether to reinstate Competition on the contract.

    CITIES: MAYOR HENRY SEEKS $1M FOR NEIGHBORHOODS - Mayor Tom Henry today announced a new initiative designed to enhance neighborhoods and provide additional opportunities for other programs aimed at improving the quality of life in Fort Wayne (Howey Politics Indiana). The programming possibilities are a result of additional revenues collected by the State of Indiana through income taxes. A total of $3.86 million is being distributed to the City of Fort Wayne over and above what was budgeted for in 2019.

    CITIES: LEGAL EXPERTS BACK BLOOMINGTON ON VENDOR - A panel of law experts echoed what the City of Bloomington has already stated; banning a farmer’s market vendor with alleged ties to neo-Nazi’s would be a violation of the vendor's First Amendment rights (Indiana Public Media). A pair of law professors, the head of the Indiana ACLU and a community organizer fielded questions from a packed city hall auditorium Thursday night. Most in attendance asked if there was any way the city could ban Schooner Creek Farms from the public farmer’s market. Schooner Creek’s Sarah Dye has allegedly posted on a white supremacist website, and met with Nolan Brewer, a white supremacist convicted of vandalizing a synagogue in Carmel. IU Maurer School of Law Professor Jeannine Bell says kicking Dye out of the market solely on her views is unconstitutional. “Lies are protected by the First Amendment, strange but true," Bell says.

    CITIES: JUDGE DENIES RESTRAINING ORDER - A judge denied a request Thursday for a restraining order against a Bloomington man who was accused of harassing the owner of a Brown County farm (Indiana Public Media). Sarah Dye told Judge Frank Nardi on Monday that Thomas Westgard is engaged in an "ongoing, routine effort of harrassment" against her. Dye is a vendor at the Bloomington Farmer's Market. Published reports surfaced in May linking her to white supremacist Nolan Brewer. Brewer was convicted of vandalizing a synagogue in Carmel. He told FBI agents he met with Dye and that she shared similar views.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON COULD BLOCK DOG, CAT SALES - Some Bloomington commission members are recommending a ban on the sale of cats and dogs, except from a shelter or animal rescue (Indiana Public Media).  Rebecca Warren is the chair for the city’s Animal Control Commission. She says the Monday vote was meant to open a conversation about where animals for sale come from and their living conditions. “This is one way to say for sure and for a fact we as a community don’t want animals that come from inhumane conditions of a puppy mill-type situation into our community," Warren says.


  • CITIES: ACTIVISTS SEEK SGT. O'NEILL RESIGNATION - Several South Bend activists and a family member of Eric Logan expressed their frustration at the lack of changes following the police shooting of Logan on June 16. They also started a petition demanding that Mayor Pete Buttigieg recommend punitive action against the officer (Indiana Public Media). At the site where Eric Logan was fatally shot, activists called Sgt. Ryan O’Neill’s paid leave since the incident “unfair” to Logan’s family and to taxpayers. The group then went to the South Bend Mayor’s office to deliver a petition asking Buttigieg to call for O’Neill to resign and that be be placed on unpaid leave. When they arrived, only an intern was available to receive the message. They decided to keep the petition, but say they will return again with more signatures.

    CITIES: INDYGO TAPS NEW CEO - The IndyGo Board of Directors has selected Inez Evans as the organization's next president and chief executive officer. Evans, who currently serves as chief operating officer for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California, will begin her new role in August (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). She will succeed Michael Terry, who in January announced plans to step down from the position. IndyGo Board Chair Juan Gonzalez calls Evans "an ideal fit to lead the organization during a period of considerable growth." In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Evans said she is looking to jump into the role as IndyGo continues plans for several major projects, including the Red Line. "IndyGo has a great team there and a great infrastructure internally, great partnerships externally with the city and city council and has built great relationships with the community," said Evans.

    CITIES: WEST LAFAYETTE SEEKS NEW CONTRACTOR FOR CITY HALL - West Lafayette City leaders are left looking for a new contractor to finish the new city hall (WLFI-TV). On Monday morning the city's redevelopment commission said they, "mutually parted ways" with Garmong. That's according to director of development Erik Carlson. Garmong and Berglund Construction partnered to work on the project a little less than a year ago. Berglund focuses on historical conservation. City leaders were adamant the Morton Community Center keep most of its classic look. The 90-year-old building is on the National Historical Registry list. Within the last 10 days, Garmong decided Berglund would no longer be a part of the construction team. That violated the contract between West Lafayette and Garmong.

    COUNTIES: MALWARE ATTACKS IDLES LaPORTE COMPUTERS - All La Porte County government emails, and the county website, will be out of commission for "at least a couple of days" following a malware virus attack on Saturday morning (Michigan City News-Dispatch). La Porte County Board of Commissioners President Dr. Vidya Kora said Sunday evening that he advised county employees and members of the public needing to access any county government email or website that the system will be inoperable as authorities respond to a “malicious malware attack that occurred on Saturday morning that has disabled our computer and email systems.” An insurance policy taken out last year will help the county recover, Kora said. “Fortunately, our county liability agent of record, John Jones, last year recommended a cybersecurity insurance policy which the county commissioners authorized from Travelers Insurance" he said.


  • CITIES: BUTTIGIEG ADDRESSES COUNCIL ON POLICE SHOOTING  - Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday told the city’s Common Council that he’ll ask the Board of Public Safety to conduct a “community-oriented” review of officers’ use of deadly force, body cameras and suspect pursuit policies, and he pledged to implement any resulting policy changes by the time he leaves office at year’s end (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Buttigieg said he’ll ask the board to host a series of public meetings “that will allow for an opportunity both to educate the public and for the public to educate us ...” The mayor gave the council an update on his administration’s response to the June 16 fatal shooting of Eric Logan, who is black, by white officer Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, something the city and nation are closely watching in light of Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. “I think these steps are urgent no matter what the investigation determines,” Buttigieg said. “If an investigation comes back and says that the shooting was not avoidable and that the officer followed every policy, we’re still left with the fact that there is tremendous concern and anguish, even, in the community over the relationship between the police department and communities of color. What we saw in the days and weeks after the shooting is much bigger than the incident itself.”

     

    CITIES: INDY COUNCIL SETTLES LEGAL CLAIMS FOR $125K - The Indianapolis City-County Council has settled legal claims by two city employees that they were wrongly fired from their jobs by former President Stephen Clay for $125,000 (WIBC). The claims stemmed from the time  Clay was President and fired two employees; then Council Clerk Natrina Debow and SaRita Hughes who was the assistant Clerk at the time.

     

    CITIES: PORTAGE CLERK PROVIDES DOCUMENTS -  Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham has provided Portage officials with the documents requested involving allegedly unapproved payments to three companies by his office (NWI Times). Copies of the checks in question, invoices and account registers were provided to Mayor John Cannon, Board of Works Member Ron Necco, Attorney Gregory Sobkowski and media outlets, including The Times Media Co.

     

    CITIES: IMPD MAKES COMMAND CHANGES -  Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Bryan Roach announced command staff changes focused on leveraging the experience of IMPD leaders to ensure continuity in investigations and operations (Howey Politics Indiana). Craig McCartt, a 24-year veteran of the IMPD and recent graduate of the FBI National Academy, has been appointed Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division. Jerry Leary has been appointed Commander of East District. Since joining what was then IPD in 1995, Leary has remained dedicated to building connections with Indianapolis neighborhoods, serving in roles ranging from patrol officer, to district shift supervisor, as a district crime specialist, and most recently as the Day Shift Captain on East District. Karen Arnett, who has served on the IMPD for more than three decades, will move to East District as the new Day Shift Captain. Arnett most recently served as Night Watch Captain, previously serving as Commander of both Downtown and Northwest districts, as well as in the Homicide Branch working to build stronger relationships with the community.

     

    COUNTIES: FORMER PORTER ELECTION OFFICIAL WANTS REINSTATEMENT - A former high-ranking Porter County election official is asking a federal judge to reinstate her on the county government payroll (NWI Times). Kathryn A. Kozuszek claims in a request for a preliminary injunction that her removal from voter registration and election duties by Porter County officials was an improper act of political retribution for her outspoken criticism of their handling of last fall’s vote tally.


  • CITIES: PERU PD TO WEAR BODY CAMS - A northern Indiana city has become the latest community in the state to require police officers to wear body cameras. The Peru Police Department implemented its body-camera program last week after its Board of Works approved policies detailing the cameras' use. The Kokomo Tribune reports that officers must now wear a camera at all times and record every encounter they have with a citizen in the city of about 11,000 residents. Officials say the cameras will decrease resident complaints, use-of-force incidents by police and help the city avoid costly lawsuits. Peru Police Chief Mike Meeks says the department began considering using body cameras a few years ago, but pressed ahead after Indiana lawmakers passed new guidelines on their usage.

    CITIES: ST. JOHN PAYS $200K TO SETTLE HARASSMENT SUITS - The town has paid $202,000 to two women to settle sexual harassment lawsuits, while a third woman's lawsuit remains pending in federal court, records show (NWI Times). The two settled cases led to former Cmdr. Michael Fryzel's retirement from the St. John Police Department in March 2015, days before the sexual harassment allegations the lawsuits detailed became public. 

    CITIES: TERRE HAUTE'S CASINO 'RACE' WITH DANVILLE, ILL - If there is a race between Terre Haute and Danville, Illinois, to see which city will be first with a casino, Danville is in the lead, a member of that city’s casino steering committee said (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). “As far as the timing perspective, I think so,” said Vicki Haugen, president and chief executive officer of Vermilion Advantage, a business and economic development organization. Haugen cited the requirement for Vigo County voters to approve a Nov. 5 referendum before any casino plans can move forward. Illinois has no such requirement. But Terre Haute officials downplay the idea of a “race.” Mayor Duke Bennett said the city is in a good position for a casino and industry observer Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Gaming Insight, agreed. Solicitations of interest to prospective operators of a Danville casino went out Wednesday and responses are expected in about a month. An operator selected by the city must then apply for a state gaming license by Oct. 28.

    CITIES: MICHIGAN CITY PD WANTS PLATE SCANNERS - The Michigan City Police Department is seeking permission from the city to purchase license plate reader technology as an additional means of combating crime (Michigan City News-Dispatch). Police Chief Mark Swistek asked the Common Council on Tuesday for just shy of $32,000 to purchase three Vigilant Solutions cameras to be mounted outside an unmarked police car. As that car travels, the chief said, the specially designed cameras would engage in a constant collection of data – from license plate numbers to vehicle makes and models, and more. The cameras also possess facial recognition abilities, but Swistek said the MCPD would not use them for that purpose. "As the vehicle travels throughout the city, the vehicle is recording data from every single vehicle that it passes on a roadway," he said. "If it is a four-lane highway, it will capture the majority of those vehicles as well. If the officer comes to a stop at a traffic light, anything that is nearby, it will record.

    CITIES: KILROY'S TRIED TO REMOVE ALCOHOL CHIEF - Kilroy’s on Kirkwood tried and failed to convince state officials that the Monroe County Alcoholic Beverage Board’s president had been biased in her review of the popular college bar’s liquor license, and that she should be removed from future proceedings (Christian, Bloomington Herald-Times). In April 2018, the local alcohol license review board responded to residents’ concerns that Kilroy’s promotes binge drinking and the objectification of women by renewing the bar’s alcohol permit for one year instead of the standard two. Indiana Excise Police Officer Lonnie Gibson and Board Member Karen Howe Fernandez voted in favor of the probationary renewal, while Board President Kitty Liell voted to cut Kilroy’s off from selling alcohol altogether. At the end of the hours-long meeting, Liell cited the hundreds of police calls to that bar as evidence of the establishment being a public nuisance.

    CITIES: NASHVILLE HIRES CONSULTANT OVER TOWN MANAGER - The City of Nashville will not have a town manager for the foreseeable future (Turner, Indiana Public Media). Instead, the town council is hiring a consulting firm to handle the duties of previous town manager Scott Rudd. Rudd accepted a position with Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch’s office last year. Under the agreement, the town will pay MS Consultants $3,250 per month. Nashville Town Council President Jane Gore says the city is temporarily testing the agreement before signing a long-term contract.  "We’re kind of testing the waters and so far I think we’re pretty comfortable with the results that we’re getting,” she says. “It’s early on.” Dax Norton is one of the consultants working with the city. He believes there are numerous communities across the state that are in need of strategic leadership. “How long have we been trying to answer the question of rural Indiana? I think upwards of 60 of the 92 counties lost population,” he says. “Are we getting these communities prepared for a different economic future?”


  • CITIES: PORTAGE CLERK MAY HAVE VIOLATED LAWS - More investigation is needed into the dealings of Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham, according to a report released by the mayor's investigative committee (Kwiatkowski, NWI Times). A heavily redacted version of the June 25 report compiled by the committee assembled by Mayor John Cannon to look into allegations against Stidham was released Tuesday afternoon. The report says there is probable cause Stidham violated city ordinances and state rules on the conduct of attorneys. It lists at least 13 laws Stidham could have violated.

     

    CITIES: FOP SETS UP FUNDING FOR SGT. O'NEILL - The city’s police union has moved the crowdfunding campaign for the officer involved in the shooting of Eric Logan from GoFundMe to another site, claiming “anti-police activists” pressured GoFundMe (Dukes, South Bend Tribune). The campaign is now on fundly.com/defend-officer-ryan-o-neill. Harvey Mills, president of FOP Lodge 36, said GoFundMe opted to cancel the campaign for Sgt. Ryan O’Neill. The original page description said it had been started to help O’Neill pay “legal defense and communications” costs. Logan’s family filed a lawsuit against the city after, authorities say, O’Neill shot Logan on June 16 while investigating reports of a car burglary. O’Neill has said Logan approached him with a raised knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon. Ryan Stubenrauch, spokesman for the FOP, said that he was told that GoFundMe had received complaints about the campaign.

    CITIES: $86M SPORTS COMPLEX SLATED FOR KOKOMO - City officials and a private developer revealed plans Tuesday for an $86 million development that will combine youth sports and commercial opportunities in an effort to reshape Kokomo’s east side (Kokomo Tribune). It is a vast, comprehensive project the two sides hope will significantly bolster an area of Kokomo positioned directly off U.S. 31, while also taking advantage of a booming youth sports tourism industry and furthering the city’s ties with the growing Indianapolis metro area. The project’s announcement from the city of Kokomo and Henke Development Group came in a media release distributed late Tuesday morning that disclosed what has been named Championship Park of Kokomo. The project will include two clusters of multi-purpose athletic fields and various commercial attractions meant in large part for the out-of-town families and visitors expected to utilize the fields during summer sports tournaments and other events.

     

    COUNTIES: HOWARD PUBLIC DEFENDER CHIEF PLACED ON PROBATION - The Indiana Supreme Court late last week placed Howard County’s chief public defender on 18 months of professional probation for violations related to money mismanagement and lack of oversight over an employee who pleaded guilty to felony theft and forgery (Kokomo Tribune). The court's justices published an order Friday suspending Steve Raquet from practicing law for 180 days but stayed, or held off, the suspension subject to Raquet successfully completing the year-and-a-half of probation. The order, signed by Chief Justice Loretta Rush, came after the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against Raquet on April 24 that detailed continuous overdrafts from his Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) and a series of professional conduct violations.


  • CITIES: MUNCIE SCHOOLS NAMES KWIATKOWSKI NEW SUPT - A veteran Hoosier educator who has been a top aide to the governor and to the superintendent of public instruction was named Monday night to be the new leader of Muncie Community Schools (Muncie Star Press). The school board hired Lee Ann Kwiatkowski — the executive director of the State Board of Education and senior education adviser to Gov. Eric Holcomb — as CEO and director of public education at MCS. The new job title, formerly called school superintendent, reflects anticipation that she will have a significant community presence. School board President Jim Williams earlier called Kwiatkowski "the transformational leader Muncie Community Schools needs and deserves."

     

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON ELECTION WILL BE SMALLER - With a smaller ballot than normal, Monroe County officials say they are preparing for a much cheaper municipal election in November (Eady, Indiana Public Media). Monroe County Elections Supervisor Karen Wheeler says the municipal ballot will have fewer candidates than previous years with only a select number of republicans and independents set to run. Incumbent City Clerk Nicole Bolden and Mayor John Hamilton are uncontested in their races. Wheeler says this small ballot makes the election easier to facilitate and cheaper. “It’ll make the price of the election go down because instead of having 21 polling sites, I will have nine polling sites,” she says.

     

    CITIES: HAMMOND TO REOPEN STATE LINE STREETS - The city of Hammond plans to reopen a frequently traveled state line crossing it closed earlier this year, after a survey of residents indicated strong support for keeping the road open, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced Monday (NWI Times). Boy Scout Road, also known as 136th Street, has been closed just east of the Indiana-Illinois border since May 24. It will be completely reopened to traffic on Wednesday, according to the mayor’s office.

     

    CITIES: GARY ADVISOR FACES SEC CHARGES -  A financial adviser assisting Gary in a controversial, multimillion-dollar bond issue allegedly failed to protect the interests of another client — the city of Harvey's library district — on a separate, $6 million bond issue, court records show (Cross, NWI Times). The Securities Exchange Commission charged the Mississippi-based municipal adviser Comer Capital Group, LLC, and Brandon Comer, of Gary, for leading astray their client, the Harvey Library District, in 2014, when pursuing bonds for building expansions.

     

    COUNTIES: VIGO TO VOTE ON CASINO REFERENDUM - Vigo County voters will decide in November whether to allow a casino to open in Terre Haute (Hren, Indiana Public Media). Governor Eric Holcomb signed a landmark gaming bill this past legislative session that allows Indiana’s first new casinos in a decade. But voters in Vigo County have to approve a casino before it can open. Vigo County Chief Deputy Clerk Leanna Moore says the referendum will be on the ballot during this fall’s municipal election rather than during next year’s primary. “We’ve had so many jobs taken away, and it will be great to have something here locally again that will employ a lot of people and put money back in some folks pockets,” Moore says.


  • CITIES: MUNCIE SAYS DELAWARE COUNTY SEWAGE PLAN POLLUTES -  The Muncie Sanitary District is expected to spend upwards of $160 million by 2031 on a court-ordered plan to keep sewage out of the White River (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). Which is why MSD is keeping a wary eye on a Delaware County Regional Wastewater District (DCRWD) proposal to build a wastewater treatment plant that would discharge into Muncie Creek, which flows through Morningside Addition, the Whitely neighborhood and McCulloch Park into the White River. MSD and Mayor Dennis Tyler have vowed to fight any county wastewater treatment plant that would discharge into Muncie Creek, saying it would degrade the waterway. DCRWD, whose territory includes the rural/suburban Royerton, DeSoto and Country Village area, says it is considering building its own treatment plant because it can no longer afford MSD's constant rate increases. The county district owns its own sewer lines but pipes its sewage to MSD for treatment. "Ongoing rate increases assessed by MSD have negatively impacted the communities of Royerton and DeSoto by rendering sewer service unaffordable for the existing customer base," the county district's consultant, Commonwealth Engineers, said in a preliminary engineering report.

     

    CITIES: JUDGE RULES FOR FORMER COLUMBUS MAYOR - A judge has ruled in favor of a former mayor of a southern Indiana city whose efforts to obtain public records ended up in court (Indiana Public Media). Former Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown sued in 2017 after she said the city's police department failed to comply with her request for information related to a 2016 crash involving law enforcement. Special Judge Richard Poynter ruled this month that Brown will get attorney's fees and court costs. The court says she was given "insufficient detail" about her request. Brown says they've "wasted so much taxpayer money" and attorney's fees are approaching $50,000. City of Columbus attorney Alan Whitted says the city hasn't decided whether to appeal.

     

    CITIES: ANN DANCER FUNDING MISSES GOAL - The fund drive to upgrade the dancing electronic art on Mass Ave is still short of its goal as the campaign enters its final day (WIBC). The Indy Cultural Trail is about $80,000 short of a $260,000 goal to upgrade the software that keeps the minidress-wearing stick figure in motion. Executive director Karen Haley says several potential donors expressed interest but can't act until after the self-imposed Saturday deadline. She says the Cultural Trial will be reconnecting with them to finalize donations.

     

    COUNTIES: PORTER PREPARES FOR ELECTION CHANGES - The Porter County election board is starting with a clean financial slate after the county council approved changes for the board's reform in July (Kwiatkowski, NWI Times). The council retooled the budget for the new Board of Elections and Voter Registration, replacing the old board and the office of voter registration. The only thing the council didn't approve was hiring two of the four requested positions for the new director and assistant director. “We're tabling two just so that we can understand further down the road if there is an issue where we need more staff,” said Council Vice President Jeff Larson. “We weren't sure of what the productivity was in the office before the reforms.” Clerk Jessica Bailey said she believed they needed four deputies to handle the workload, but she respected the council's decision because of problems with the previous board, which state officials said was negligent.


  • CITIES: LOGAN FAMILY SUES SOUTH BEND - The family of Eric Logan, who was shot by a South Bend police officer earlier this month, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city and the officer (Wright, Indiana Public Media). In the suit, the family says police used excessive deadly force and that Logan was subjected to unlawful treatment because of his race. Logan was black and the officer, Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, is white. “The misconduct was objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others,” the suit reads. “In addition, the misconduct and excessive force, including use of deadly force...shocks the conscience.” The lawsuit mentions 2008 allegations that O’Neill made racists comments to other officers. It also notes that O’Neill did not activate his body camera before the shooting. O’Neill shot Logan on June 16 in the parking lot of the Central High Apartments. While responding to a call that someone was breaking into vehicles, O’Neill confronted Logan. The officer has said Logan approached him with a raised knife. St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter has asked for a special prosecutor to take over the investigation into the shooting.

    CITIES: 2 TORNADOES HIT SOUTH BEND ON SUNDAY - The National Weather Service said Tuesday that two tornadoes — not just one — were part of the storm that caused heavy damage Sunday evening on the city’s south side (South Bend Tribune). The stronger EF-2 tornado, with winds up to 125 mph, caused the severe damage that destroyed Growing Kids Learning Center, a preschool and day care facility at 17850 Ireland Road, according to NWS. The tornado ripped off the roof and caused the east side of the building to collapse. No one was inside the building at the time.

    CITIES: EPA HEARING SET FOR EAST CHICAGO - The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog will host a listening session in East Chicago, Indiana, Wednesday on the group’s communication to residents and officials (Indiana Public Media).  The EPA’s Office of Inspector General wants to know how residents and government agencies feel the E-P-A communicated health risks from Superfund sites. Its latest stop will be in East Chicago, where lead and arsenic contamination prompted an elementary school to move and involuntary relocations of public housing residents. Tina Lovingood, OIG director of land clean-up and waste management audits, says these listening sessions are designed to help improve the agency’s communication about risks to community health. “We’re trying to not limit it to one form of input ... to try to get a balanced perspective from those affected by the site,” Lovingood says.

    CITIES: KOKOMO PD SAYS IT'S UNDERSTAFFED - The Kokomo Common Council faced criticism Monday from a leading police official, who believes the city has misplaced its spending priorities and caused an untenable work environment for Kokomo Police Department officers (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Speaking out against nearly $19 million in additional appropriations was Kokomo Fraternal Order of Police President Jeramie Dodd, who expressed frustration about what he believes is a police staffing total that after a substantial decline has created an unsafe workload for the city’s existing officers. Council members countered by saying they have no control over how money is spent and can only budget what is requested by the department. If police need more money, they said, the council would likely be happy to appropriate it for them.

    CITIES: KOKOMO SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT CITED TO DESIST - For the second consecutive year, Kokomo School Board President Cristi Brewer-Allen has received a cease-and-desist order to discontinue operations at what state officials say was an illegal child care center (Kokomo Tribune). The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) last week sent Brewer-Allen an order telling her to formally shut down a child care program at The Church of Goodness, located just north of downtown Kokomo at 625 N. Union St. The FSSA said in the order that The Church of Goodness met the definition of a child care center, requiring it to be licensed or registered with the FSSA’s Division of Family Resources. State documents show the church was not licensed or registered and did not meet an exemption. Brewer-Allen, who did not respond to requests for comment for this story, has said no child stayed at the facility for more than four hours, which she believes meant the program was exempt from the state’s licensing and registration requirements.

    CITIES: INDY DPW TO SPEND $2.7M ON STREETS - The Board of Public Works approved an Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) contract which includes 30 lane miles of road improvements, sidewalk, ADA ramps and curb rehabilitation today (Howey Politics Indiana). The $2.7 million contract is partially funded by the Community Crossings Matching Grant program from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). This work is part of the 2019 Infrastructure plan which includes 167 lane miles of resurfacing this year, and the plan is part of a larger initiative by Mayor Joe Hogsett focused on improving Indianapolis roadways.

    CITIES: SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FOR BRAZIL PD DUI CASE - A special prosecutor will handle the misdemeanor case pending against a Brazil assistant police chief (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). No formal charges had been filed as of Wednesday afternoon against Dennis Archer, 43, of Brazil, who was arrested by state police Saturday morning in Clay County on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Clay County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Zach Clapp said Wednesday a motion requesting a special prosecutor from Vigo County was filed Monday in Clay Superior Court. The court found the appointment of a special prosecutor is necessary to "avoid the appearance of impropriety" due to the close working relationship between Archer and prosecutor's office. Archer is a 19-year veteran of the Brazil Police Department.

    CITIES: DALEVILLE CITY EMPLOYEE ARRESTED - An arrest outside the front door of the Madison County Government Center and Courthouse drew a number of spectators Monday (Anderson Herald-Bulletin). Daniel Reel, 34, of Anderson, a part-time employee of the town of Daleville, was taken into custody by a Delaware County sheriff's deputy at 3:30 p.m. The deputy, and an officer with the Daleville Police Department, questioned Reel near the steps of the Government Center about video surveillance of Reel allegedly removing money without permission. Reel, dressed in a bright orange T-shirt with the words "Town of Daleville" printed on the front and back, told the officers he was told to remove the money by his employer and denied the allegations of theft.


  • CITIES: JESSE JACKSON SAYS COPS SHOULD LIVE IN SOUTH BEND - The Rev. Jesse Jackson says South Bend police officers should be required to live in the city, interact as neighbors with residents and not “come in as an occupying force” (Achkar, South Bend Tribune) In the absence of a residency requirement, he said, police officers “take choice jobs and tax base with them.” “Not only are they seen as outsiders, they see themselves as outsiders,” he said in an interview with The Tribune. “They view themselves as coming into a ‘danger zone.’” Jackson’s comments were in reaction to the June 16 shooting of Eric Logan by South Bend police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill and the ensuing outcry. The officer has said that, while following up on calls about car break-ins near downtown, he confronted Logan in a parking lot and that Logan approached him with a raised knife. O’Neill did not turn on his body camera.

     

    CITIES: MAYOR HENRY UNLIKELY TO CHALLENGE RULING - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's administration is unlikely to appeal a court ruling that struck down a controversial ordinance limiting campaign contributions from city contractors, City Council Attorney Joe Bonahoom wrote in a memo to the council president (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). A mayoral spokesman agreed with Bonahoom's assessment. Allen Superior Court Judge Jennifer DeGroote blocked the city from enforcing the ordinance this month after Kyle and Kimberly Witwer of Witwer Construction Inc. filed a lawsuit. The ordinance forbade any company from bidding on a city contract if any owner, partner or principal who owns more than 10% of that company gave more than $2,000 to the political campaign of a person with responsibility for awarding contracts.  DeGroote ruled the city ordinance is overridden by state laws governing campaign finance. The city has until July 11 to decide whether to appeal.

     

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON MARKET FACES PRESSURE ON VENDOR - Calls for the city of Bloomington to remove a farmer’s market vendor with alleged ties to white supremacy are growing (Indiana Public Media). Members of the Bloomington Community and Family Resources office say they’ll host a forum sometime over the next few weeks after several vendors said they didn’t feel safe at the downtown farmers market. The city has been under pressure to remove Sarah Dye and Doug MacKay for their connection to white supremacist Nolan Brewer. Brewer, who was sentenced to prison for vandalizing a synagogue in Indiana, told FBI agents he communicated with Dye and MacKay. The couple run a small farm in Brown County and have also been linked to a neo Nazi website. City officials say removing Dye could be a violation of their civil rights, but they are concerned about the allegations.

     

    CITIES: TERRE HAUTE WATER UPGRADE - Terre Haute and Indiana American Water leaders were all smiles Tuesday afternoon as the utility unveiled a $6 million upgrade to Indiana American’s Terre Haute facility (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The new equipment replaces four 95-year-old gravity filters, an upgrade that Indiana American Water President Matt Prine says will ensure quality water production for the foreseeable future. “Access to plentiful, quality water resources has played a key role in the success of the Wabash Valley for many years,” Prine said.

     

    CITIES: NEW COLUMBUS PD CHIEF - The city’s deputy police chief will succeed the police chief at the start of next year. Michael Richardson, who has been with Columbus Police Department for about 25 years, was selected by Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop to replace Chief Jon Rohde. Richardson, 50, will assume the role Jan. 1 (Columbus Republic).


  • CITIES: TORNADO CONFIRMED NEAR SOUTH BEND - The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-2 tornado briefly formed south of U.S. 20 in St. Joseph County, then moved north before lifting just southeast of the intersection of Ironwood and Inwood roads, WSBT-TV reported (South Bend Tribune). The peak wind speed was 115 to 125 miles per hour. The path length was two miles and the duration was 10 minutes, the TV station reported. The storm arrived just after 8:30 p.m.

  • CITIES: JOHNSON NAMED IPS SUPT - Aleesia Johnson was named the pick for permanent superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools this morning by the IPS Board of Commissioners (Weddle, Indiana Public Media). Johnson, who was the interim leader for the past six months, would be the first African American woman superintendent in the district's 166th-year history. The IPS Board still has to approve the terms and a contract for Johnson to become superintendent. That vote is expected to happen in late July.  The announcement ends a national search which began after former district leader Lewis Ferebee left to become chief of Washington, D.C. Schools. "I am thrilled, honored and humbled to be the next superintendent," Johnson said after the announcement at IPS headquarters. "I've grown to have such deep love for the district over the past four years. More important in that -- the level of respect, admiration and gratitude I feel for the members of our team. We have some of the hardest working people you will ever find in Indianapolis."

     

    CITIES: CATHEDRAL HS FIRES GAY TEACHER - They called it an "agonizing decision." In an open letter posted online, Cathedral High School, a diocesan school in Indianapolis, announced it would be "separating" from a teacher who is in a public same-sex marriage. The move comes after "22 months of discussion with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis," says the letter (WIBC). It is Archbishop Thompson's responsibility to oversee faith and morals as related to Catholic identity within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis," the letter continued. "Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral's continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage." Cathedral said if it had not chosen to cut ties with the teacher, not only would they be forfeiting their Catholic identity, they would also their status as a non-profit school since the Archdiocese would have essentially cut all ties with the school -- similar to what happened to Brebeuf Jesuit High School this week.

     

    CITIES: TORNADO HITS SOUTH BEND - Authorities say severe weather that moved through northern Indiana spawned a possible tornado in South Bend that damaged buildings and knocked down trees and power lines (AP). The National Weather Service received reports of a possible tornado as part of storms Sunday night, but it didn’t immediately confirm a tornado. No injuries were reported. A building housing the Growing Kids Learning Center, a preschool and daycare facility in South Bend, was among those damaged. The facility was closed at the time of the storm.


  • CITIES: GOSHEN MULLS HOMELESS ISSUES - Do you think the city should spend taxpayer dollars on trying to work toward a solution to the homelessness issue in Goshen? Goshen City Council members joined Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman earlier this month to explore just such a proposal (Goshen News). The discussion, which occurred during the council’s June 4 meeting, was in direct response to the recent eviction of people living in a homeless camp located at Shanklin Park along the west side of the millrace near the millrace powerhouse. Faced with a growing number of complaints from neighbors in The Hawks apartment building, business owners and trail users, Mayor Stutsman announced in early May that the residents of the camp would be given a notice to leave by the 27th — later extended to June 3 — and offered relocation help and other services through the Goshen Homeless Coalition. The coalition is a group of about a dozen local agencies that provide a variety of services.

    CITIES: ASSISTANT BRAZIL PD CHIEF ARRESTED ON DUI - The Brazil Police Department assistant chief was arrested early Saturday morning for driving under the influence, according to Indiana State Police (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Dennis Archer, 43, of Brazil, was taken to the Clay County Justice Center and faces preliminary charges of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above .08, a C misdemeanor, operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, an A misdemeanor, and unsafe lane movement. Archer was stopped by ISP Trooper Todd Brown near U.S. 40 and West Street in Brazil for unsafe lane movement, according to state police.

    CITIES: MILAN CELEBRATES 65TH ANNIVERSARY OF MIRACLE - It is considered one of the greatest moments in Indiana sports history: the Milan Miracle (CBS4). Sixty-five years ago, the unlikely underdog story unfolded in front of 15,000 fans. In the 1954 state basketball championship, the Milan Indians upset Indiana powerhouse Muncie Central on a last-second shot. The school had an enrollment of only 161 students, and their team's victory became an inspiration to small town teams everywhere. Legend has it that the story even inspired the 1986 movie Hoosiers. On Saturday, the team will hold a reunion to celebrate the victory that changed their lives. Ahead of the reunion, members of the team spoke with CBS4 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the championship game was played. While many things there have evolved over the years, the players say some things will never change. "I think it just brings back fond memories," says Ray Craft, the game's leading scorer. "You walk in here, you think about the last shot, you think about the 15,000 people." Plump says there's one question people still ask: "What went through your mind when the shot went up?" "Nothing," says Plump. "Truly, nothing.  If you think, it’s too late. You just react."

    COUNTIES: HOWARD ELECTION BOARD HEARS VOTE FRAUD CASE - The Howard County Election Board on Thursday voted unanimously to forward to prosecutors a possible voter fraud case involving Kokomo businessman Allen Wilson (Kokomo Tribune). Wilson’s attorney, however, said following the board’s decision that he doesn’t expect the Howard County prosecutor’s office to file charges for what he calls a mistake that included no criminal motivation or intent. Thursday’s action is the latest development in a public controversy that has cost Wilson, the owner of Competition Towing & Recovery, his city towing contract and what he believes is the loss of a reputation he spent years cultivating. "My main concern with the referral from the Election Board to the prosecutor is just more bad press for my client and the adverse effect it may have upon his business and reputation within the community," said Wilson's attorney, Brent Dechert, in comments after the ruling. The situation kicked off May 6, one day before Election Day, when Wilson became the focus of an email sent to the Howard County Election Board describing his “fraudulent vote” cast in the Democratic primary election. The email alleged Wilson illegally changed his voter registration on April 2 to his business’ address, 1101 S. Apperson Way, inside city limits, in order to vote in this spring’s municipal primary election.


  • CITIES: U.S. STEEL TO INVEST $75O MILLION AT GARY - U.S. Steel long has promised to invest $750 million in making critical improvements and repairs to its flagship Gary Works location over the next five years — but not without strings attached (NWI Times). The Gary Common Council voted earlier this week on two ordinances outlining a financial arrangement between City Hall and the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, one of Northwest Indiana's oldest and largest employers. One ordinance essentially infuses three Gary taxing bodies with a one-time $20 million payment this year. A second ordinance creates a tax increment financing district that freezes U.S. Steel’s property taxes for 25 years.

    CITIES: PRINCE REJECTS FREEMAN-WILSON LEASEBACK PLAN - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city’s plan to sell and lease back its public safety building “is in jeopardy” after Jerome Prince, her likely successor, publicly called the financial arrangement “a bad deal” for taxpayers and local government (Cross, NWI Times). “With this decision, Mr. Prince has placed the sale leaseback in jeopardy," she said. "He is negatively impacting the city’s ability to meet current obligations as well as his own ability to meet payroll, insurance, utility and other vendor payments required to fulfill the basic needs of citizens." “Finally, Mr. Prince is setting the city of Gary up for financial peril which could lead to a state takeover, something that he appears to be determined to facilitate,” she added. In a press release Thursday, Prince, the Democratic candidate for mayor, came out against the city's plan — a topic he had stayed mum on publicly since he won the primary election May 8. Prince says he is worried the long-term loan will tie the city’s hands even further and leave taxpayers on the hook for millions more in the long run. "Even if the deal was done right, it doesn't correct all of the issues before us," Prince said. "I can't, in good conscience, endorse this."

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON NAMES 'NIGHT MAYOR' - Jenna Whiteaker is Bloomington’s new after-hours ambassador (Bloomington Herald-Times). She will become what some have termed the city’s first “night mayor” beginning July 1 at a starting annual salary of $52,680.40.

    CITIES: LOGANSPORT TO UPDATE - The City of Logansport intends to update and modernize its taxicab ordinance (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). Logansport City Council is looking to build a more robust ordinance after learning that a taxicab company was in violation. Currently, the city has one taxicab company — Mom’s Taxi. There are two vehicles labeled as Mom’s Taxis that are leased vehicles. The fact that leased vehicles are being used as taxis violates the current ordinance. The ordinance states that, to be eligible to apply for a public vehicle for hire license, a person must be the owner of the vehicle, among other things.


  • CITIES: SOUTH BEND FAITH LEADERS CALL FOR INDEPENDENT PROBE - A group of local faith leaders and community organizers is calling for an independent prosecutor to investigate Sunday's fatal shooting by a South Bend police officer (South Bend Tribune). The St. Joseph County chapter of Faith in Indiana, composed of religious leaders and community activists across the state, says it wants to help "press for answers and for change." A leader of the St. Joseph County chapter, Andre Stoner, who also heads Near Northwest Neighborhood Inc., in South Bend, said the call for an independent prosecutor stems from a "lot of mistrust" in the local criminal justice system.  "That's a reflection of how many people in the community, especially the African-American community, feel," he said.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND ABORTION CLINIC TO OPEN - The new Whole Woman's Health abortion clinic in South Bend plans to open next week, the clinic leaders announced Wednesday. The clinic location is 3511 Lincoln Way W. Earlier this month, a federal judge denied an attempt by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to bar the clinic from opening (South Bend Tribune). In May, the same judge — federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker — ruled that the planned clinic could open without the state-required license, pending a final ruling in the case in 2020. The same federal judge who ruled that an abortion clinic can open in South Bend denied an attempt by the Indiana Attorney General's office to bar it from opening. Federal judge rules abortion clinic can open in South Bend, pending final decision next year. Federal judge rules abortion clinic can open in South Bend, pending final decision next year. The "unavailability of abortion in South Bend imposes a substantial obstacle to its access,” judge wrote. The clinic plans to offer medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. Women’s Care Center, meanwhile, is prepared to open an office across the street from the abortion clinic in early-to-mid July. The South Bend-based nonprofit, which offers pregnant women and new mothers a range of free services as an alternative to abortion, bought the former Catnap Inn Kitty Motel property last year. The building there was raised and a new one has been put up.

    CITIES: TERRE HAUTE FD CHIEF COMMENT STIRS CONTROVERSY - The Terre Haute City Council last week heard a suggestion from Assistant Fire Chief Norm Loudermilk to designate a certain area for the homeless to set up tents (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Loudermilk said the fire department in recent weeks has responded to a growing number of calls where homeless people are conducting illegal burns. The problem is especially evident in wooded areas along the National Road Heritage Trail, railroad tracks and between the Dreiser and Dresser bridges on the Wabash River front, he said. “People are making shanty-towns, if you will, [and] lighting fires,” he said during the public comment portion of the council’s meeting. “They’re trespassing.”

    CITIES: VALPO DEMS NAME NEW COUNCILMAN - Todd Etzler has been chosen by the Valparaiso Democratic Committee to replace Heath Carter on the ballot for one of the city's two at-large council seats (NWI Times). Etzler's candidacy for the November election was announced by the local party Wednesday afternoon.

    CITIES: MAYORS TO CELEBRATE IN RICHMOND - City officials are throwing a party this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Richmond Municipal Building, and you and some 70-plus mayors from around the state are invited (Richmond Palladium-Item). An open house and community celebration will take place Thursday night to celebrate the milestone for the city building, a pair of events that will coincide with dozens of visitors being in town for the annual meeting of the Indiana Conference of Mayors. "We have a few meetings throughout the year and one large annual meeting," said Richmond Mayor Dave Snow, who is serving as the organization's president this year. "It gives us an opportunity to discuss issues that we're all facing, collaborate on those issues and share ideas." More than 70 mayors from around the state are expected to attend the conference at the Holiday Inn on the city's east side. They'll arrive Wednesday and participate in various classes and sessions through the rest of the week.

    CITIES: INDY WARNS RESIDENTS OF FLOODING - With another round of potentially severe thunderstorms approaching the Indianapolis area, the City is urging residents to brush up on their storm safety tips as public safety and public service agencies prepare to address resident needs (Howey Politics Indiana). IMPD’s Homeland Security Bureau has been briefed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and has activated the Emergency Operations Center to Level 4 ahead of the potential for heavy rainfall and flash flooding. IMPD will continue to closely monitor conditions as the storms approach and impact Indianapolis.

    CITIES: US STEEL TO IDLE BLAST FURNANCE - U.S. Steel has released plans to idle a blast furnace at Gary Works. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report than an internal memo at the plant said that there would be “no immediate impact on employment levels at the mill.” The mill has reportedly planned to idle the furnace temporarily as a response to reduced production capacity amid falling steel prices, orders and revenue. However, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker told the publication it has no timeline for bringing the furnace back online. The company says it is "mindful of the impact these announcements have on employees and their families." "If both furnaces remain idled for the remainder of the year, we expect full year flat-rolled shipments to third-party customers to be approximately 11 million tons," the company said in a news release announcing the idling. "We will resume blast furnace production at one or both idled blast furnaces when market conditions improve."

    http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/40680817/us-steel-to-idle-blast-furnace-at-gary-works

    CITIES: NEW MILFORD COUNCILMAN NAMED - Kenneth Long will be sitting on the other side of the table at Milford Town Council meetings after being elected by a Republican caucus Tuesday evening to fill the vacancy left when Joellen Free resigned due to a move out of town (Goshen News).

    COUNTIES: GREENE SEEKS FED DISASTER FUNDS - The Greene County Commission applied for FEMA money to help dozens of residents affected by an EF-2 tornado that ravaged the county Saturday (Indiana Public Media). Although most of the roads are passable, residents were still cleaning up and repairing their homes Wednesday.

    COUNTIES: WEST NILE VIRUS FOUND IN ELKHART -  The Elkhart County Health Department announced Wednesday afternoon that adult mosquitoes collected in the southern part of Elkhart County have tested positive for West Nile Virus (Goshen News). The mosquitoes were collected and examined by the Indiana Department of Health. "It is possible that the virus is present in other areas of the county and could be detected soon," health officials stated in a press release.

    COUNTIES: 2 SOFT OPENINGS FOR BROWN COUNTY ARTS CENTER - This summer, visitors and residents alike will have the opportunity to watch national acts in their own backyard when the Brown County Music Center opens (Columbus Republic). But before grand-opening act Vince Gill takes the stage on Aug. 24, there will be two opportunities for people to watch live music in the 2,000-seat venue for free. The first soft opening at the music center will be Saturday, Aug. 17 with local bands the Acre Brothers and the Grasshounds performing. The second soft opening featuring the Bloomington band 1-4-5’s, Brown County-based J.C. Clements Band and Indiana blues musicians the Governor Davis Band will happen Wednesday, Aug. 21.


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  • Pence vows to return to the moon on 50th anniversary
    "Standing before you today, I am proud to report, at the direction of the president of the United States of America, America will return to the moon within the next five years, and the next man and the first woman on the moon will be American astronauts. We’re going back." - Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at Cape Canaveral observing the 50th anniversary of NASA astronaut and Purdue graduate Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Pence is seen here with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who followed Armstrong on to the moon surface on July 20, 1969.
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  • Epstein, Acosta and the perversion of power
    For those of you wondering why Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned Friday despite President Trump's assertion that he is a "great labor secretary," spend 15 minutes to read Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown's "Perversion of Justice: How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime." You'll learn that District Attorney Acosta bowed to the demands of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's all-star legal team, cut "an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved." This is about a lurid a tale of crime and power as I've ever read. While this was going on, Epstein's enforcers were tracking down witnesses and journalists, issuing threats.

    Brown writes: "Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes." We are learning that Epstein's circles included dozens if not hundreds of underage girls, recruiters, presidents, princes and the rich and famous.

    Florida State Sen. Lauren Book, asks: “Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?"

    Of course President Trump said of Epstein in 2002, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Wink-wink. That was three years before Trump's infamous Access Hollywood comment (if you're rich and famous, "you can grab them by their pussy") and five years before Acosta's plea deal with Epstein. It begs the question, What would Mother think?  - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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