BUTTIGIEG MAKES IT OFFICIAL TODAY: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins the Hoosier presidential candidate ranks today that has included the Harrisons, Eugene Debs, Wendell Willkie, Birch and Evan Bayh, Vance Hartke, Richard Lugar, Dan Quayle and Richard Lugar (Howey Politics Indiana). He'll kick off his campaign at 2 p.m. today inside  Studebaker Building 84, with the campaign expecting 10,000 people. Buttigieg said Friday, "What we've seen as we've explored is that we're exploring some really beautiful territory and now it's time to make it official and announce a campaign. We've been talked about in the 2020 context in a pretty big way for going on a month now. The rain location may be a blessing in disguise because there is such symbolic power in that building and you can see in it the past, the present and the future." Beyond President William Henry Harrison (1840) and grandson Benjamin (1888), these campaigns have been mostly vanity excursions. Sen. Birch Bayh was an early frontrunner in 1976 until he was eclipsed by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in Iowa and New Hampshire. Evan Bayh and Dan Quayle quickly folded their campaigns as Barack Obama and George W. Bush consolidated early nominations. Buttigieg has risen to third in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which rates him either "flavor of the month" status or, perhaps, the next prodigy. If elected at age 39, he would be the youngest president ever and the first mayor to jump directly from city hall to the White House. South Bend will join Rushville (Willkie) and Indianapolis (the Bayhs, Quayle and Lugar) as headquarters of presidential campaigns, and its trajectory change under Buttigieg's eight years in power will become the metaphor of his campaign. His speech beginning at 2:30 today will likely follow the lines of his NBC Meet The Press interview last week when he said, "There’s the sense we’ve really changed the story for our city. I think that’s something the country needs to hear because you’ve got a president who’s telling anybody from a community like mine, be it an industrial community or a rural community where people growing up, means getting this message that success means you have to get out." As for President Trump and his "Make America Great Again" slogan, Buttigieg said, “He’s telling us the greatness is in the past; we’ve got to stop the clock and turn it back. I’m out there making the case that South Bend is living proof that good politics is not one based on the word ‘again.” The mayor, who trails septuagenarian front runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will also echo President John F. Kennedy, who in 1960 called for the "torch to pass to a new generation."

TRIBUNE EXAMINES SOUTH BEND'S TURNAROUND: Is South Bend really a turnaround city? When he announced in January that he would explore a run for the White House, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared that he was leading “one of America’s turnaround cities.” It’s a theme he has built his campaign around: he took office at a time when South Bend was at a depressing low and gradually revitalized his downtrodden hometown, bringing new life and energy to the city (South Bend Tribune). The jacket for his book, “Shortest Way Home,” even says South Bend “has miraculously become a blueprint for the future of American renewal.” The bold proclamations open the door to natural questions: Can cities be “miraculously” revived by mayors? How do you measure that?  Some national media outlets have begun to pick at those questions. The answers are not always easy or clear. Indeed, any mayor’s legacy will be filled with successes and failures. And the analysis can be colored — or distorted — by political leanings and personal experiences. The Tribune today offers a look at Buttigieg’s work in several key areas, from crime statistics, to neighborhood homes, to the shiny new buildings downtown. We didn’t try to offer quick, easy answers.

HUPFER SAYS BUTTIGIEG CAN ONLY WIN IN A BLUE CITY IN A RED STATE: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who will reportedly officially kick off his presidential campaign this weekend, is being touted as a potential Midwest, blue-collar, Rust Belt vote-getter on the national stage, but the reality of his record of electoral and political failure paints a stark contrast with his imagined storyline, Indiana Republicans say (Howey Politics Indiana). “The fact is Pete Buttigieg has only proven he can get elected in a blue city in a red state,” said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “The only reason he is running for president is because he hasn’t been able to secure any other job he has sought and there is no path for him to win statewide in Indiana.” Hupfer added, “Buttigieg has never captured more than 10,991 votes in a single successful race for office. Candidates for student body president on some college campuses get more votes than that.”

BUTTIGIEG FOCUSES ON STORY TELLING: Other candidates have anchored their candidacies in ideological or social causes, like Senator Elizabeth Warren’s opposition to corporate power or Senator Cory Booker’s concern for racial justice. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s distinctive political passion appears to be storytelling, wrapping conventional liberalism in an earnest, youthful persona that Democrats might see as capable of winning over the middle of the country (New York Times). Dan Glickman, a former secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration who knew Mr. Buttigieg at Harvard, said he saw him as a “tonal” moderate with a “calm, sensible demeanor.” “He’s got this way of articulating a vision, which is progressive but not off-putting,” said Mr. Glickman, 74, who led Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the time. A Times review of Mr. Buttigieg’s writings, starting in college, found that rhetorical task to be a consistent preoccupation. As a student, Mr. Buttigieg, now 37 and the mayor of South Bend, Ind., habitually discussed Democrats’ challenges in terms of language and argument, rather than policy or ideology. “The story that we tell, not just about government but about ourselves, and the story we tell people about themselves and how they fit in, really grounds our politics,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

SANDERS DEFENDS HIS INCOME IN GARY: Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday rejected suggestions that his growing nest egg, mostly amassed from book sales following his 2016 campaign, undermines his political message (CNN). "I didn't know that it was a crime to write a good book which turns out to be a bestseller," Sanders said at a community meeting in Gary, Indiana. Since Sanders described himself as a millionaire earlier this week, he and his campaign have stressed that his policy platform, which is fiercely critical of "billionaires" and wealthy corporate interests, like private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, is unchanged. His Medicare for All push has been colored by relentless attacks on those industries. "My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe," Sanders added, defiant and plainly frustrated by the line of questioning. "So again, I don't apologize for writing a book that was number three on the New York Times best seller, translated into five or six languages and that's that." The Vermont independent has twice now bristled at questions about his personal wealth. His comment on Saturday echoed what he told the New York Times earlier this week.

ABSENTEE BALLOT BILL HEADED TO GOV. HOLCOMB: House lawmakers sat divided Wednesday when the majority party backed a bill to change absentee mail-in ballot deadlines, clearing its final hurdle before heading to the governor (Irish, Statehouse File). In a 65-31 vote led by House Republicans, the chamber approved changes made to House Bill 1311 in the Senate. The main goal of HB 1311 is to move the deadline for absentee mail-in ballots from eight to 12 days before an election. After it passed the Senate in a 37-9 vote, lawmakers asked to also adjust the bill’s effective date to July 1, 2019, several months ahead of the original start date of Jan. 1, 2020, meaning the earlier deadline could affect municipal and mayoral elections in November. Bill author Thomas Saunders, R-Lewisville, explained that he drafted the measure in response to complaints from county clerks that arose after the 2018 general election, namely that their offices needed more time to receive and process absentee ballots before election day. Without additional time, Saunders and the clerks have said, ballots might be lost in the process or be received too late. “Does this solve the problem? I don’t know,” Saunders said. “But the clerks have asked for this.”

I.G. FINDS MISMANAGEMENT AT VETERANS AGENCY: Indiana’s inspector general has found mismanagement at the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs but insufficient evidence for criminal or ethics charges. The agency’s leader resigned in December after The Indianapolis Star and WRTV-TV questioned its administration of the Military Family Relief Fund, which is supported by fees from specialty veteran license plates. The Indianapolis Star reports Inspector General Lori Torres’ investigative report says agency employees with military service records received agency grants intended for needy veterans and that grant recipients didn’t use funds for the intended purpose. Torres also found a former state senator didn’t account for hours he was paid for under a secretive contract. But her report found insufficient evidence to support charges against current or former employees, in part due to the agency’s shoddy record-keeping.

PENCE SAYS U.S. WON'T SEPARATE FAMILIES: The Trump administration has no plans to reinstate a family-separation policy (Herrick, WIBC). That was something Vice President Mike Pence made clear Thursday when he went to Nogales, Arizona to get a briefing on border security. "I just want to tell you that we get it. Now it's time that Congress got it. It's time for Congress to do their job," Pence said when speaking to Border Patrol agents. He said the administration remains committed to stemming the flow of migrants to the southern border. Pence wants to give agents at the border the resources they need to do their job. "But Congress has got to act. Close the loopholes the human traffickers use to entice people to make the long and treacherous road into our country illegally," Pence said.

TOM CONFIRMED FOR U.N. FOOD AGENCY POST: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Kosciusko County farmer Kip Tom as the nation's representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The Senate approved Tom's nomination for the ambassador-level post by unanimous consent Thursday evening. Tom, 63, described his new job with the State Department as “a humanitarian role focused on food security.” He said U.N. agencies feed about 90 million people but that more needs to be done to teach sustainable agriculture practices to people in developing nations. “It's time to make a difference,” he said Friday in a telephone interview. “I don't know of anyone in a developing country that wants to remain a peasant farmer. If we can find a means to help them grow their economy, contribute back to their communities, maybe get a better education, have some health care – it all starts out with that foundation of being food secure. That's my objective, and I'm willing to work at it.” Tom said he expects to be sworn in early next week. He already is planning visits to Cambodia, Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. “We'll have a lot of boots on the ground monitoring what's going on and try to come up with solutions,” he said.

MUELLER REPORT EXPECTED THIS WEEK: When is the Mueller report coming? Thousands of Congressional staffers, reporters, White House officials, and lawyers in Washington have been asking that question since Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers last month that special counsel Robert Mueller had completed his investigation. They could get an answer this week (Wall Street Journal). At the Justice Department, senior officials including Mr. Barr, his deputy Rod Rosenstein, and members of Mr. Mueller’s team have spent the past three weeks reviewing and redacting the report, traveling between the department’s sprawling headquarters and the special counsel’s office 10 blocks away. On Friday they were in the final stages, hashing out the logistics for the delivery of the roughly 400-page report to lawmakers. “I’m landing the plane right now,” Mr. Barr said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on the Justice Department’s budget. “The report’s going to be out next week.”

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: There's some delicious irony that Bernie Sanders ended up defending his millionaire status in, of all places, Gary. It's one of the poorest cities in the state and nation and not the place where you brag about becoming a best selling author with a seven figure paycheck. So it was a spectacle to see the socialist senator fume about criticism that he is a millionaire with three homes and a reluctance to release his tax returns. That whirring sound could be Eugene Debs spinning in his grave. - Brian A. Howey


BUTTIGIEG KICKOFF RALLY LOGISTICS: Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign kickoff will take place inside Studebaker Building 84 due to forecast inclement weather. The building is at 635 S. Lafayette Blvd., overlooking Four Winds Field. Gates to the event open at noon, the rally begins at 2 p.m. and Buttigieg is expected to speak around 2:30 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). It is a first-come, first serve event with the campaign expecting 10,000 people. There will be handicap accessible accommodations. Attendees should expected airport-style security scanning. Attendees who need accessible parking should approach the Studebaker Building 84 heading southbound on South Lafayette Boulevard. Accessible parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at Studebaker Building 84 main lot. Parking will be available at the Leighton parking garage at South Michigan Street and West Jeffferson Avenue, and at the Wayne Street garage located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and East Jefferson Avenue. There will also be free street parking downtown. The shuttles will run from the Leighton garage to the Studebaker building starting at 11 a.m., and will resume service at the end of the event. The campaign suggests those using a rideshare app to set the drop-off location at the intersection of West South Street and South Lafayette Boulevard. The rally will be livestreamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

BUTTIGIEG SCHEDULE: Mayor Pete Buttigieg will follow up his announcement with a trip to New York for a low-dollar fundraiser in Brooklyn on Monday, followed by a two-day trip to Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday (Howey Politics Indiana).

BUTTIGIEG OPENS NEW SOUTH BEND HQ: Walk in the office door and, on the left, a boldly painted wall points the way down the hall to the developing nerve center of “Pete for America.” The wall is gold and dominated by tall blue letters: “Boot Edge Edge.” It’s playful and bright in otherwise white office space — and there’s no forgetting how to pronounce the last name of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a recurring and often comical question as the 37-year-old’s political star rises (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Maybe that’ll be handy as space and staffing beef up for Buttigieg’s dawning presidential bid. A CNN town hall televised March 10 raised Buttigieg’s national profile, and things have been sort of crazy ever since, committee manager Mike Schmuhl said. “That’s hard to believe that was a month and two days ago,” Schmuhl said Friday. “The growth from that time has just been extraordinary.” Calls, donations and resumes have poured in, he said. The exploratory committee raised about $7 million in the first quarter — earning Buttigieg a spot on the Democratic debate stage in June — and 7,000 people have sent their resumes, hoping to snag a job. “I believe in his message of generational leadership,” said national press secretary Chris Meagher, 36, about what drew him to Buttigieg. He started to work for the committee just a week ago. “I think he is bringing an exciting voice to the conversation." "Our biggest charge right now is just building and growing and doing that smartly and steadily,” Schmuhl said. “It’s a long race,” he said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The committee currently has about 30 staff members across all locations — about 20 locally — and hopes to grow to 45 to 50 people by the end of the month, Schmuhl said.

HOW DID BUTTIGIEG TAKE OFF? So how did Pete Buttigieg pull this off? The answer comes with clues into the nature of the 2020 electorate that might not fit neatly into the progressives-versus-moderates narrative now preoccupying the media (Wren, Politico). “He broke into the top tier because his generation is used to giving money on the internet to advance social causes and candidates they believe in,” Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair who endorsed Buttigieg’s own bid for that position in 2017, told me. “He thinks clearly, is not particularly ideological, open to new ideas. The fact that he is gay and married and running for President is a huge signal to his generation and below, that he gets it.” But he’s also proving adept at picking his targets. In addition to exceeding basement-level expectations for his candidacy, Buttigieg has fashioned a headline-grabbing foil out of his fellow mild-mannered Hoosier Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor with whom Buttigieg has had a long and not always contentious relationship. Though his critiques aren’t new, he gave me the same critique of Pence nearly two years ago. He has shrewdly challenged Pence by proclaiming his own faith in contrast to the antagonism of evangelical Christians toward homosexuality. “If you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator,” Buttigieg said recently.

HOW ABOUT PETE? Sick of old people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Scared of young people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it (Nuzzi, New York Magazine). Wary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Make the President Read Again? He learned Norwegian to read Erlend Loe. Traditional? He’s married. Woke? He’s gay. Way behind the rest of the country on that? He’s not too gay. Worried about socialism? He’s a technocratic capitalist. Worried about technocratic capitalists? He’s got a whole theory about how our system of "democratic capitalism" has to be a whole lot more "democratic." If you squint hard enough to not see color, some people say, you can almost see Obama the inspiring professor. Oh, and he’s the son of an immigrant, a Navy vet, speaks seven foreign languages (in addition to Norwegian[:] Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian), owns two rescue dogs, and plays the goddamn piano. Buttigieg is in the middle of what the mainstream media likes to call “a moment,” that dreamy season between obscurity and overexposure when all anyone asks is “Who is Pete Buttigieg?” or “How do you pronounce Buttigieg?” or “Should I care about Pete Buttigieg?” Which is mostly a way of asking, “Is this for real?” “Candidly, I don’t even know all the reasons why this is going so well,” Buttigieg told me, and (candidly) I don’t quite believe him.

HOGSETT OPENS FIELD OFFICE: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett opened the 2019 City-Wide Coordinated Campaign’s first field headquarters today. At a rally with supporters, Mayor Hogsett unveiled two office locations where Democratic candidates, staff, and volunteers will launch voter outreach efforts through November (Howey Politics Indiana). In December of 2018, Mayor Hogsett and Council President Vop Osili launched a landmark campaign effort aimed at re-electing Mayor Hogsett and building the City-County Council majority. Since its start, the 2019 City-wide Coordinated Campaign has seen a surge of grassroots support and has already reached thousands of voters across Indianapolis. “This year, Council President Vop Osili and I worked together to launch our landmark 2019 City-Wide Coordinated Campaign that is already building on the successes of 2015 and setting up our Democratic candidates for what will be one of the most important local elections in recent history,” said Mayor Hogsett. “From putting organizers on the ground to opening two field headquarters, today this landmark campaign effort takes a major step forward. Working with President Osili and my partners in the City-County Council, I am proud of what we have delivered on public safety, infrastructure funding, and the fiscal stability of our city over the last three years. With the campaign efforts that we are investing in now, I know that we will build on that coalition this year.”

HUPFER REACTS TO SANDERS: Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer issued this statement in response to Senator Bernie Sanders’ visit to Gary, Indiana, Saturday (Howey Politics Indiana): “With Bernie Sanders bringing his ‘Medicare for All’ campaign to Indiana today, it’s worth reminding him that America will never be a socialist nation no matter how hard he tries. Bernie’s plans are all the same: raise taxes, reduce freedom and sack future generations with insurmountable debt. To call his ideas a pipedream would be an insult to pipedreams.”

WINNECKE OPPONENT ISSUES HOME-MADE FLIER: There are a lot of reasons to doubt Connie Whitman will shock the world by becoming the Republican nominee for mayor on May 7 (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). You could start with the fact that Whitman is asking Republicans not to even renominate Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, whose perceived popularity and six-figure campaign warchest were enough to scare off all potential Democratic challengers. And then there's the 68-year-old Whitman's homemade campaign flier, which contains such promises as a "free first year of college or trade school," ending homelessness within a month and preservation of cursive writing "by ordinance, if necessary." "Have you seen her campaign flier?" asked Vanderburgh County GOP Chairman Wayne Parke. They were the first words out of Parke's mouth when asked about Whitman. But wacky as the flier may sound to some, in it lay the rationale for a candidacy borne of years of small frustrations and the conviction that government should help people with their needs. Unfortunately, Whitman says, politicians are too besotted with "federal money" and huge capital improvement projects to know what those needs really are.

YOUTH SAYS FUTURE IS ON THE BALLOT: Steuben County Republicans celebrated the young and young at heart, all with a man named Young leading the way (Marurello, KPC News). Friday’s Steuben County Lincoln Day Dinner was a contrast that showed the strength of the party in the community, with more than two dozen students from Angola and Fremont high schools and the celebration of party activist Ruth Hill, Lake James, who has been working locally for the GOP for nearly 60 years. And it was Indiana’s senior Republican Sen. Todd Young who was leading the way at celebrating the party, the importance of voting and leading the Glendarin Hills Golf Club crowd in singing happy 90th birthday to Hill. Young acknowledged the students in the room, saying they are on the ballot this year because they are the future and who is put into office to serve will be impacting them and other young people to follow. “It’s their futures that are on the ballot. If you are here for any other reason than to fight for their future you may be here for the wrong reason,” Young said. “But I know you’re here for the right reason, and together we’re going to make sure this remains the greatest promise on earth and this remains the land of opportunity, that this remains a place where all of us, including these young people, can pursue the American dream through the free enterprise system.”

BOOKER KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN IN NEWARK: Cory Booker wants to talk about love. Not the feel-good kind, but the courageous kind. The kind that is born from cities in despair, cities long forgotten and told too long to wait their turn (NJ.com). “Our sense of urgency, our impatience, comes from the most demanding of values, it comes from love,” Booker said Saturday, as he formally kicked off his national presidential tour in Newark and pitched a message he hopes will carry him across the country — and help him stand out in an already-crowded field of Democratic contenders.

Sunday Talk

SANDERS SAYS TRUMP NOT SEEKING IMMIGRANT VIOLENCE: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Sunday that President Trump is not wishing "ill will" nor "violence toward anyone" after he tweeted a video showing images from the Sept. 11 attacks combined with remarks Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) gave at a recent speech. "Certainly the president is wishing no ill will, and certainly not violence towards anyone,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week." “But the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her not only one time but history of anti-Semitic comments," she added.

BOOKER CALLS TRUMP SANCTUARY CITY PROPOSAL 'DISGUSTING': Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in an interview published Saturday said President Trump's recent tweet targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was "vicious, crass, disgusting." Booker added during an interview with CBS News that the tweet — which included a video showing images from the Sept. 11 attacks and remarks Omar gave at a recent speech — is an example of "moral vandalism." "To see a president of the United States to use images of 9/11 in a vicious, crass, disgusting way — that is so objectionable. That is so offensive. And this is what I mean about moral vandalism in our country that’s going on," he said.

GIULIANI EXPECTS 'VAST MAJORITY' OF MUELLER REPORT TO BE RELEASED: President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he believes Attorney General Barr will release the "vast majority" of the Mueller Report. “He is going to release, I’m sure, the vast majority of it,” Giuliani said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis that aired Sunday on AM 970 in New York. The former New York City mayor said he believes the report will be a "full explanation of Mueller." “I think you’re going to get the full explanation of Mueller, I think you’re going to see no collusion of any kind, which raises the question why do we have this investigation in the first place?” Giuliani said. 

General Assembly

NRA CONVENTION TO SPEED UP SINE DIE: So when will the Indiana legislature finish up the 2019 session? The statutory deadline to end is April 29, but the anticipated “sine die” has been April 26 since the beginning. Sine die is Latin for “without day” – meaning a final adjournment without an appointed day to resume (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The reason for the early end was because the National Rifle Association will be in Indianapolis for its national convention and it will be hard to find hotel rooms. But then last week the NRA announced that President Donald Trump will speak to the convention April 26. That has legislative leaders now looking to April 24 as an anticipated finish date. House Speaker Brian Bosma said “it's not about the president. It's about 80,000 NRA members and lack of hotel rooms. I'm not going to see the president. I've got stuff I got to do. At least I don't think I am.” But Bosma promised a 24-hour review of any final budget no matter what day the session ends.

SENATE BUDGET INCLUDES GAS TAX FUNDS FOR DCS: The money you pay at the pump could end up supporting child welfare under the Senate's version of the state budget (Berman, WIBC). Part of the road funding package approved two years ago earmarked sales taxes on gas for roads. But the law includes an escape hatch to claw some of that money back if it's needed for schools, Medicaid or the Department of Child Services. With Governor Holcomb seeking a $286 million annual increase in DCS's budget, Senate Republicans turned to that failsafe clause to cover about a fifth of the cost. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he's concerned about that maneuver. He argues the road funding bill was a promise to Hoosiers that the money would be spent on roads. While he says next week's revised revenue forecast could change things, he says a large budget request from the administration isn't what legislators had in mind when they created a "flexibility fund" for some of the sales tax money. Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) says DCS already has the authority to tap the fund. He says a decline in caseloads suggests the agency may not need as much money as Holcomb requested, and the agency wouldn't have to touch the fund at all.

SENATE DEMS SEEK $300M FOR TEACHER RAISES: Democrats are making one last pitch for teachers to get a pay raise directly from the state (Berman, WIBC). Republicans have been adamant they won't give orders to local schools on how to spend their money. Their bill instructs schools to explain publicly if they put less than 85-percent of their budget in the classroom. Gary Senator Eddie Melton (D) argues that plan is inadequate because there's no guarantee teachers would earn more -- the bill sets nonbinding targets for how schools allocate their budgets: Senate Democrats say legislators could free up $300 million for teachers by freezing proposed expansions of vouchers and charter schools, getting rid of a merit-pay fund, and putting less money per year into shoring up the Teachers' Retirement Fund. Portage Democrat Karen Tallian argues the goal of backfilling an unfunded liability by 2038 is "too aggressive." Since legislators passed the plan, she says, the state has cut its income tax rate, while the voucher program has added to the state's spending commitments. She's proposing to cut back contributions by $100 million a year, stretching out the target date by seven years.

INDIANA FORWARD AMBIVALENT ABOUT HATE CRIME LAW: The coalition featured a who’s who of the central Indiana business community. Leaders from Eli Lilly and Co., Salesforce, Cummins Inc., Anthem Inc. and more joined forces to pass what they called a comprehensive hate crimes law. Months later, many are wondering whether they should declare victory or lick their wounds (Erdody, IBJ). Yes, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed hate crimes legislation into law, a move he says should help with economic development and talent recruitment by moving Indiana off the short list of states without one. And yes, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce signed on to the final bill. But the law doesn’t actually meet all the criteria the Indiana Forward coalition established. Most notably, it doesn’t specifically—and the key word is specifically—say that crimes motivated by a victim’s gender or gender identity are eligible for harsher penalties. “Will this be the big public fight in future sessions? I don’t know,” Mark Fisher, chief policy officer for the Indy Chamber, said. “And I don’t know that if it’s not, that it’s necessarily a bad thing.” Jeff Smulyan, chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications, which was involved with Indiana Forward, said he’s disappointed in the final bill, but he believes the leaders of the coalition did everything they could. “I don’t think anybody left anything on the field,” Smulyan said. “I think they all did a very, very good job. I don’t know how you’d fault anybody.” “I do think the conversation has been significantly advanced as a result of this process,” said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana, a member of the coalition.

CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT EXONERATION BILL: A bill to provide payouts for people wrongly convicted of a crime passed the Senate. Democrats raised concerns about its definition of “actually innocent.” The bill would create a fund to pay people imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit $50,000 for each year they were locked up. But it limits those funds to people who are – in the bill’s words – “actually innocent” (Chapman, Indiana Public Media). Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) says he hoped for the definition of “actually innocent” recommended by the Innocence Project. It covers an additional group of exonerated prisoners. “It covers those situations where the prosecutor does not pursue the case because of lack of evidence,” Taylor says. This bill does not. It notes "the mere fact that the trier of fact acquitted or did not convict the person on remand is insufficient, standing alone, to establish the person is actually innocent." Future exonerated prisoners will apply to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to qualify for those funds. That organization already determines the qualifications for other victims grants, and will evaluate, investigate and decide if a person qualifies for this fund. The bill passed the Senate 48-0, and now goes back to the House.

PORTER COUNTY ELECTION BILL PASSES: Gov. Eric Holcomb is likely to sign into law major reforms for Porter County election administration after both the Indiana House and Senate approved the plan without a single legislator in either chamber voting no (Carden, NWI Times). On Thursday, state representatives advanced House Enrolled Act 1217 to the governor's desk by concurring, 88 to 0, with a minor change made to the legislation by the Senate prior to its April 8, 49 to 0, endorsement of the proposal. If enacted by the governor, starting July 1 a new board of elections and registration will administer voting in Porter County, instead of bundling the task with the other duties of the circuit court clerk. Day-to-day operations will be overseen by a clerk-appointed director and assistant director, who must belong to different political parties, and the directors will hire election board employees on an equal-party basis. In addition, the directors and all the employees must win bipartisan approval from a five-person election board composed of two Democrats and two Republicans, chosen by each party's county chairman; as well as the county clerk. The measure also prohibits nepotism in direct appointments to election board positions statewide, and requires Porter County absentee ballots be counted in a central location, instead of being delivered to polling places on Election Day.

FUSON EXCITED ABOUT PACER, CIB DEAL: The president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment says the agreement announced today to keep the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever in Indianapolis is exciting for everyone involved (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The Capital Improvement Board approved the 25-year deal, which also includes $360 million in upgrades to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Rick Fuson says it has always been the desire of Pacers owner Herb Simon for the team to remain in Indy and the changes to the fieldhouse will ensure the team continues to play in a first-class facility. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Fuson said the deal will allow not only Pacers Sports & Entertainment, but the city in general, to remain competitive. "We've got to keep up and we have to be competitive," said Fuson. "As it relates to the Big Ten, for example, as we upgrade this building and we make sure that it has the first-class facilities that we need, we can continue to be competitive to bring events like that here. We've done a lot of focus groups with all of our fans and they've asked us to do more in terms of different types of offerings, whether it be from loge box seating or whether it be from open seating, whether it be from areas where people, especially young folks, can come in their groups and be entertained and not sit in a seat but yet be there and enjoy the event and enjoy their friends at the same time."


VISCLOSKY ANNOUNCES GRANTS: U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky announced today that the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) under the National Park Service has awarded two grants in Northwest Indiana (ValpoLife.com). First, a $200,000 grant award will support renovations at Imagination Glen Park in the City of Portage. Specifically, the grant award will support efforts to remodel the concession building and restrooms, and add an open-air shelter to the building. The grant award will also replace fencing at the existing ballfields, replace lighting fixtures, develop a multi-use trail connecting park facilities, and add benches and tables. Second, a $100,000 grant award will support renovations at Fireman Park in the Town of Griffith. Specifically, the grant award will support the construction of a pavilion, restrooms, accessible walkways, parking, and the installation of native plantings, landscaping, benches, and signage.

TRUMP TAX RETURN DEADLINE SET FOR APRIL 23: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal set a final April 23 deadline for the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns (Wall Street Journal). After that, House Democrats and the Trump administration could be headed for a clash in federal court over documents that the president has sought to keep private. The administration had missed an April 10 deadline as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote that he was consulting with the Justice Department about the law and exploring whether Mr. Neal had a legitimate legislative purpose for the request. Under the tax code, Mr. Neal (D., Mass.) can request any taxpayer’s returns and the Treasury Department “shall furnish” them. In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Saturday, Mr. Neal said the law clearly entitles him to receive the six years of business and personal returns of Mr. Trump that he requested.


STATEHOUSE: BONAVENTURA CITES OPIOID BATTLE SUCCESSES - Indianapolis has a wide array of initiatives to combat crime and drug abuse in the Hoosier State, but its most important might be the fight against opioid addiction, Attorney General Curtis Hill’s chief of staff said Friday. Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Lake County Advancement Committee, Mary Beth Bonaventura outlined an approach that includes litigation against a major pharmaceutical company and providing seed money to local governments for treatment and interdiction programs (Racke, NWI Times). She said the most acute need is in rural areas, which have been overwhelmed by the opioid crisis. Using Centers for Disease Control data, Hill’s office identified the top 10 worst hit Indiana counties and provided them with funds to educate young people about the prescription drug addiction. “They are rural counties, and in those places they don’t have a lot of help,” said Bonaventura, who did a four-year stint as the head of the state’s Department of Child Services before going to work for Hill. The scope of the carnage is enormous — there were 1,840 overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017, Bonaventura said. That number may be a low count, she added, because not all overdoses are reported as such to county coroners.

STATEHOUSE: MILO TO ADDRESS LOGANSPORT HS STUDENTS - Former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo will speak before Logansport High School students as part of a traditional observance that is the longest of its kind in Indiana. Milo, who is the first Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent, will keynote Good Government Day Monday at the school. For the past 61 years, Indiana leaders have bene invited to keynote a convocation where student leaders are elected to shadow their elected and appointed counterparts in the Logansport city administration. Media representatives are invited to attend her speech which opens the convocation at 9:30 a.m. in McHale Performing Arts Center.

ISP: 13 POUNDS OF FENTANYL SEIZED - Indiana State Police (ISP) seized a large amount of fentanyl Friday during a traffic stop in Morgan County (CBS4). Just before 11 a.m., troopers noticed a white Ford F-150 following too close and traveling slowly in the left passing lane of I-70 near the 53 mile marker eastbound. After pulling the truck over, troopers noticed “criminal indicators.” A police K-9 indicated drugs were in the vehicle which led to a search. They discovered six kilograms, or just over 13 pounds, of fentanyl. ISP estimated the street value of the drugs, which could have been split into about 59,000 doses, to be $450,000. The drugs were coming from California and were meant to go to Ohio. Christian Paz Recarte, 29, Hugo Rosales Moreno, 45, Katherine Navarro, 22, and Kelin Morales Martinez, 29, were arrested. The suspects, all from Los Angeles, California, were preliminarily charged with possession of a narcotic drug and dealing in a narcotic drug.

MEDIA: VARVEL TO DRAW FOR IBJ - IBJ will begin featuring editorial cartoons from award-winning cartoonist Gary Varvel, starting with the April 12 issue. Varvel will contribute a cartoon twice a month to IBJ’s op-ed pages. He joins Shane Johnson, who has been an IBJ editorial cartoonist for seven years and will continue as a regular cartoonist for the publication. Varvel accepted an early-retirement offer from The Indianapolis Star in December, ending a 24-year career with the newspaper during which he won numerous national prizes, including the National Headliners Award, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award, and the Grambs Aronson Award.


WHITE HOUSE: BRACING FOR MUELLER REPORT - While most of official Washington is on edge ahead of the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report, Trump White House aides are shrugging off the fevered anticipation with a simple message: been there, done that (Politico). Several of President Donald Trump’s aides conceded that the nearly 400-page report, which Attorney General Bill Barr says he’s aiming to release this coming week, will likely include new details about Trump’s behavior that are at a minimum embarrassing. But they believe they have a powerful shield against renewed Democratic outrage and media scrutiny in the form of the principal conclusions Barr highlighted in a four-page letter three weeks ago—namely that Trump’s 2016 campaign did not collude with the Russian government, nor is there sufficient evidence to prove that Trump obstructed justice.

WHITE HOUSE: BARR'S SPY COMMENTS EMBOLDEN TRUMP ALLIES - For two years, President Trump’s most devoted allies have struggled to legitimize their accusations that the FBI conducted political spying on the Trump campaign in 2016 — at times openly feuding with Republican leaders over their grievances with the investigation of Russia’s election interference (Washington Post). But on Wednesday, those assertions received their biggest boost yet, and from an unlikely source: Attorney General William P. Barr, who told a Senate subcommittee, “I think spying did occur, yes.” Never mind that he later clarified that his use of the word was meant to describe surveillance generally, without making a judgment about whether it was appropriate. The moment set off a firestorm, with those who have defended the FBI complaining that the attorney general had legitimized an outlandish conspiracy theory — while those critical of the Russia probe have embraced his remarks as vindication of their cause.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP EMBRACING EXTREME IMMIGRATION DESIRES - President Trump is embracing increasingly extreme immigration ideas, in part because he is furious at his inability to get instant border results through executive fiat, top officials tell Axios. After reporters uncovered a heated internal administration debate, Trump tweeted: "Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities." "Sanctuary cities" shield migrants, limiting cooperation with deportation. Reflecting Trump's behind-the-scenes rage, a senior White House official said: "This was one of the more unsurprising tweets ever." The senior White House official acknowledged: "It's not going to happen because ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] can't do it. They don't have the cash and they can't ask for federal funds to do that." Why it matters: Trump is drawn to maximalist, click-your-fingers ideas that can be legally dubious or outright illegal. Be smart: This is not a plan. It's a Trump desire. And wishing it to happen won’t make it so.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP URGED BORDER CLOSURE - President Trump last week privately urged Kevin McAleenan, the border enforcement official he was about to name as acting secretary of homeland security, to close the southwestern border to migrants despite having just said publicly that he was delaying a decision on the step for a year, according to three people briefed about the conversation (New York Times). It was not clear what Mr. Trump meant by his request or his additional comment to Mr. McAleenan that he would pardon him if he encountered any legal problems as a result of taking the action. Federal judges have already blocked the administration’s attempts to limit asylum seekers who illegally enter the country, and it is not likely that Mr. McAleenan would have ended up in jail if he had followed the president’s directive.

WHITE HOUSE: KIM WANTS 3RD SUMMIT WITH TRUMP -  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is open to a third summit with President Donald Trump, but set the year's end as a deadline for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the high-stakes nuclear diplomacy, the North's state-run media said Saturday (AP). Kim made the comments during a speech Friday at a session of North Korea's rubber stamp parliament, which made a slew of personnel changes that bolstered his diplomatic lineup amid stalemated negotiations with the United States. His speech came hours after Trump and visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Washington and agreed on the importance of nuclear talks with North Korea. "We of course place importance on resolving problems through dialogue and negotiations. But U.S.-style dialogue of unilaterally pushing its demands doesn't fit us, and we have no interest in it," Kim said during the speech.


CITIES: HARRISON SURVEYS INDY'S MEAN STREETS - A familiar cycle of violence plays out on the streets of Indianapolis seemingly every night. Each year seems to set its own deadly record. But if you think the situation is hopeless, you haven’t been listening to the one voice that’s been speaking out about it now for 20 years (Donaldson, CBS4). "There's not one silver bullet that reduces the violence. It takes everyone working together," said Reverend Charles Harrison. Reverend Charles Harrison knows the violent streets of the Circle City better than anyone. He’s the leader and one of the founders of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. It’s a group of ministers, volunteers and former gang members who,  since 1998, have taken to the streets to calm neighborhoods.  Sometimes they arrive only minutes after a violent crime has been committed. "There's a lot of danger in what we do because when we're out on the streets five night a week, we're trying to engage the individuals who are most likely to be the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime and probably 90 percent of them have guns," said Harrison.

CITIES: RUSHVILLE COMMERCE PARK RECEIVES OCRA DESIGNATION - The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, officials from the Rushville Redevelopment Commission and the City of Rushville have announced the designation of Indiana Site Certified Prime to the Commerce Park at Rushville. The 288 acre site is zoned for heavy manufacturing (Inside Indiana Business).  The site is owned and optioned by the Rushville Redevelopment Commission and the city says the site is key in demonstrating the park’s logistical advantages. “The availability of project-ready sites is critical to attracting new investment to rural Indiana and spurring economic growth,” said Jodi Golden, executive director of OCRA, in a news release. “Today’s economic development projects move at a swift pace and require sites be developed quickly. I want to congratulate the leadership and local partners of the Commerce Park at Rushville on receiving the prime designation.”

CITIES: CRIME DOWN 2% IN PORTAGE - Crime in the city has dropped 2% during the first quarter of the year, according to Portage Police Chief Troy Williams (NWI Times). The news comes in the wake of a drop in the rate last year, with violent crimes plunging by nearly 34 percent and no homicides for the third consecutive year, Williams said at the time. "That is an important figure because it illustrates a number of factors that go into these continued drops in crime," he said of the first-quarter results.

CITIES: GARY PD CARS ROTTING IN LOT - Days after a Chicago newscast about parking lots packed with old and rusting Gary police cars, the city cobbled together a plan to do something about the problem for the first time in years (Cross, NWI Times). While Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says the city’s response was transparent and hewed to state laws regarding the disposal of public property, voices within Gary’s automotive business community have raised doubts about the official story. The plan, which involved selling some cars for scrap while towing others to a new location, was hastily concocted out of public view and a waste of taxpayer dollars, according to three business owners familiar with the matter. The owners spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared retaliation from the city.

COUNTIES: VIGO FORUM ON PROTECING WORSHIP SITES - Highlighted by church and synagogue shootings in Charleston and Pittsburgh and driven home by anti-Semitic propaganda left at Temple Israel and Oy Vey Jewish Bakery and Delicatessen in Terre Haute late last year, people are becoming increasingly worried about the safety of religious gathering places (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). To address those fears the Inter-Faith Council of the Wabash Valley and Terre Haute Human Relations Commission hosted a protecting places of worship forum with guests from the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Terre Haute Police Department and Vigo County Sheriff’s Office. Supervisory Special Agent Brian Monahan of the FBI discussed with the nearly 100 attendees what differentiates a hate crime from otherwise vulgar expressions protected by the First Amendment.