SHUTDOWN TALKS STALL: Negotiations over a bipartisan deal for border-security funding have stalled, aides familiar with the talks and other officials said, raising the specter of another government shutdown at the end of this week (Wall Street Journal). The snag in talks heightened prospects that President Trump will declare a national emergency and seek to divert funds into constructing a wall along the Mexican border. Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s interim chief of staff, on Sunday said the possibility of the second lapse in government operations couldn’t be ruled out. “Is a shutdown entirely off the table? The answer is ‘no,’ ” Mr. Mulvaney said on NBC. A presidential emergency declaration to build the border wall is “absolutely on the table,” he said. Such a declaration, to which lawmakers from both parties have expressed opposition, would likely face an immediate court battle. The government’s funding expires at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. Aides said they expected the talks to resume well before then. Lawmakers often haggle up until the last minute in an effort to cut the most advantageous deal possible. The impasse, which occurred before participants had finalized border-security funding levels, pointed to the likely difficulty of talks over the coming five days. Adding to this week’s task, lawmakers also need to wrap up details of a broader budget agreement to fund nine of 15 federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Those agencies, including the Justice, State, Treasury and Interior departments, are currently being funded by a short-term spending bill that lawmakers agreed to in January to end a 35-day government shutdown.

DONNELLY HEADED HOME, BUT THEN CAME ANOTHER CALL: On Dec. 19, Joe Donnelly, then the senior U.S. senator from Indiana, cast what he thought would be his last congressional vote — joining his Senate colleagues to pass a $1.3 billion funding bill that would have avoided a federal government shutdown until at least February (Sheckler, South Bend Tribune). Before the vote, Donnelly had packed the remnants of his office into a U-Haul truck. He hopped behind the wheel at 5:30 a.m. the next day and started driving home. He was at the Ohio-Indiana state line when he heard rumblings that President Donald Trump had soured on the funding bill. Conservative pundits were criticizing Trump for backing down on his demand for money to pay for a border wall with Mexico. Donnelly had just made it home and fixed himself a ham and cheese sandwich when the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, called. Trump refused to sign the bill. Donnelly would have to catch a flight back to Washington for more votes as Congress tried to strike a deal with the White House. To Donnelly, who spent his 12 years in the House and Senate walking a narrow line between his party and red-state voters before his defeat to Republican Mike Braun in November, the fight over the government shutdown was the latest example of increasing political dysfunction. “What it represented to me is that decisions were being made by Rush Limbaugh,” Donnelly said, “as opposed to the senators of the United States of America, who had agreed 100 to nothing, together with the president and the vice president, that this made commonsense policy.”

DONNELLY PONDERS PLANS OTHER THAN NOTRE DAME: Aside from teaching at Notre Dame, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly would not specify any other possible next steps (South Bend Tribune). He said he would like to find public service opportunities related to veterans, focused on health care and homelessness. But he demurred when asked whether that work could lead him back to Washington. “Right now that would be hopefully right here in our state,” he said. Former congressman Baron Hill told Howey Politics Indiana he mentioned the 2020 gubernatorial race when he talked with Donnelly in December, but the former senator showed no interest.

TAX REFUNDS ARE SHRINKING: Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds (Washington Post). People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed. The uproar follows the passage of a major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. The average tax refund check is down 8 percent ($170) this year compared to last, the IRS reported Friday, and the number of people receiving a refund so far has dropped by almost a quarter.

BUTTIGIEG'S QUIET REBELLION IMPRESSED AXELROD: In 2015, South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg gave a speech at Harvard, and David Axelrod, President Obama’s longtime chief strategist, was in the audience. The speech, Axelrod told me this week, was moving and thoughtful, and he noticed that, though Buttigieg had notes, he rarely consulted them (Wallace-Wells, New Yorker). What struck him was a familiar kind of talent. “His story is an incredible story,” Axelrod said, “but more impressive than the story is the guy. At a time when people are aching for hope and a path forward that we can all walk, he is a relentlessly positive person.” The following year, Frank Bruni wrote a column proposing Buttigieg as “the first gay President.” In an interview with David Remnick, Obama included Buttigieg on a short list of gifted rising Democrats. “If I told you he was anything other than a long shot, you’d hang up the phone,” Axelrod said, of the Presidential race, but he emphasized the possibility that, as he put it, lightning could strike. “The practical political point is it’s hard to see where he’s going in Indiana. If it doesn’t work out, if there’s a Democratic President looking for talent, I know Pete well enough to know he’s going to be high on the list, and higher for having run.” At the very least, Axelrod said, Buttigieg was likely to emerge from this as “an interesting voice from his generation.” Part of the paradox of Buttigieg’s candidacy is that he has placed himself in a performative role, without the benefit of a performative personality. “He is reserved, and maybe that’s a hindrance,” Axelrod told me. Chasten Glezman, his husband, told a reporter that Buttigieg is “still coming out of some shells.” In our conversation, he seemed most practiced when talking about policy but most alive when discussing James Joyce.

OBST, SHORT INVOLVED IN NAFTA REPLACEMENT PUSH: Well-connected Republican operatives have launched the group Trade Works for America, which aims to spend more than $10 million pushing members of Congress to support USMCA, according to two officials who set up the group (Axios). "We're going to look closely at freshman Democrats in traditional Republican and Trump districts and also Republican members who voted against TPA [Trade Promotion Authority] who may need some encouragement," said Phil Cox, the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, who co-founded the group with former senior White House official Marc Short. "We've laid out a budget of $15-$20 million. We've raised about a third of that to date, and we've really been at it since the beginning of the year," Cox added. (A top outside adviser to the VP, Marty Obst, and longtime GOP operative Jeff Miller are also involved.) The group’s funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry, oil and gas, the automotive and agricultural sectors, and traditional GOP donors, according to CoxWhy it matters: Republicans and industry groups are starting to panic about Trump's NAFTA replacement bill, USMCA. And for good reason.

MEDICARE FOR ALL MEETING PACKED IN FORT WAYNE: Rachel Rose Reagan didn't know if anybody in Fort Wayne would attend an event aimed to mobilize supporters of a government-run, single-payer health insurance system (Sloboda, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). She seemed awed Sunday as she addressed a crowded conference room at the downtown Allen County Public Library. “I can't believe we actually filled the room,” Reagan said to the few dozen people sitting before her. Such events are happening nationwide through Wednesday as part of the National Medicare for All Week of Action organized by National Nurses United. The Fort Wayne meeting was one of five planned in Indiana. Attendees were encouraged to canvass neighborhoods and crowds to spread public support for single-payer medical insurance. “These are your new teammates on this fight, right here,” Reagan said. “There is a job for everybody in this fight, and the goal is simple: We are trying to put overwhelming pressure on our elected officials so we can win Medicare for all.” For more information, go to

INDIANA LEFT $6M OF PR-K FUNDS ON TABLE: Indiana expects to leave about $6 million in state funding for pre-kindergarten untouched this year due to a slower-than-hoped expansion, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (Wang, Chalkbeat). With last year’s pre-K expansion into 15 new counties, the state estimated it could serve about 4,000 children from low-income families. So far, only about 3,000 have signed up, which officials attribute to the challenge of introducing a new program in rural counties, where enrollment is lower. Pre-K providers also blame a complicated sign-up process for deterring interested families. “We’re confident that we can serve more kids next year,” said Nicole Norvell, director of the state’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. Indiana set aside $22 million this year for the pilot program, known as On My Way Pre-K, to subsidize costs for low-income families. On My Way Pre-K also taps federal Child Care Development Fund money. Norvell estimated On My Way Pre-K will use about $14 million federal dollars and more than $15 million in state dollars this year. Last year, before the expansion fully launched, the state estimated it had almost $9 million left over.

QUIET McROBBIE TRANSFORMS IU: Michael McRobbie has weathered the Great Recession, a higher education affordability crisis, and a nationwide reckoning about the very purpose of college—all since 2007, when he became Indiana University president (Colombo, IBJ). But the Australian-born computer-scientist-turned-college-leader hasn’t let that tumult stop him from embarking on a quiet transformation of the giant Indiana public institution that serves more than 91,000 students across seven campuses and has a $3.7 billion budget. McRobbie, 68, has both invested in brick-and-mortar and rearranged the academic guts of the university system, all while the school experienced several years of cuts in state funding. State appropriations in 2018 were just 5 percent more than when he started in 2007. “I really think the sheer amount of change that has happened at IU the last 10 years completely negates the claim that universities are slow to change or impervious to change or that academics hate change,” McRobbie told IBJ. “The amount of change has been huge.” Across IU, some changes are obvious to the naked eye—and reflect McRobbie’s priorities. He has embarked on $2.5 billion in renovation and new construction of 100 projects on the Bloomington, IUPUI and regional campuses.

INSECT POPULATIONS IN PRECIPITOUS DECLINE: Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned (CNN). More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the "Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers" report, published in the journal Biological Conservation. Insect biomass is declining by a staggering 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found. In addition to the 40% at risk of dying out, a third of species are endangered -- numbers that could cause the collapse of the planet's ecosystems with a devastating impact on life on Earth.

RABID BAT INVADED PACERS/CLIPPERS GAME: Indiana health officials say people who had contact with a bat last week during an Indiana Pacers game have possibly been exposed to rabies (ABC News). The Indiana State Department of Health says anyone who may have touched the bat with bare skin when it flew around at the Pacers game Thursday in Indianapolis is urged to contact the department or a health care provider about receiving rabies vaccinations. The game was against the Los Angeles Clippers. The department says the rabies status of the bat, which is no longer inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, is unknown. Health officials say a person is considered potentially exposed to rabies only if direct contact occurs between a bat and the person's bare skin. So far there have been no reports of anyone having direct contact with the bat.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: And that definition of insanity is .... With shutdown talks breaking down and no one appearing to know what President Trump wants or will sign, a second federal government shutdown looms by week's end. What's wrong with this picture, folks?  - Brian A. Howey


BUTTIGIEG BOOK COMES OUT THIS WEEK: As the number of contenders wanting to challenge President Trump in 2020 continues to grow, a Hoosier mayor is also toying with the idea of making a run for the White House. On Sunday, FOX59 caught up with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) ahead of a release party for his new book. “Mayor Pete,” as he’s known around South Bend, has held that title since 2012. He’s now considering whether that experience could propel him to the White House. “I think it’s very important to show what that intimate, local level might mean for the bigger picture,” said Buttigieg. As the latest Hoosier to consider a run at national politics, Buttigieg, a Navy reserve veteran and an openly gay politician, might bring a fresh face to the political field. But he’s not a household name. That is a fact he’s quick to admit, as higher-profile candidates continue to declare. “The wider the field, I think the more it favors underdogs and newcomers,” said Buttigieg. “I am very aware that I am both of those things.”

WINNECKE DRAWS A GOP CHALLENGER: Had she not voted most recently in a Republican primary election, Connie Whitman might have changed the course of the day and the campaign that will unfold over the next several months (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). Whitman, a 68-year-old Southeast Evansville resident, came into the Election Office before 11 a.m. with the intention of filing for mayor as a Democrat. She just hates to see uncontested elections, said Whitman, a frequent presence at public meetings. She said she was distressed to read in the Courier & Press that no one was willing to challenge Republican Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

EVANSVILLE DEMS SEARCH FOR WINNECKE OPPONENT: When it was all over and the noon deadline was safely behind him, Scott Danks declined to confirm or deny the rumored filing gambit with his son. But Danks did say local Democrats will welcome a qualified, potentially competitive mayoral candidate if one emerges before June 30 (Evansville Courier & Press). "I don't have anyone out there waiting in the wings, or anything like that, ready to file for the mayor," Danks said. "I will say that (Jonathan Danks) is very much interested in Democratic politics and so recently he's been attending more functions, but that has nothing to do with the mayor's race. Jonathan's a really talented guy. I think he has a bright future in politics. I think the preference is that he practice law for five, six years, whatever, and just really get into politics." Six potential Democratic mayoral candidates had come forward before Friday's filing deadline, Danks said, but he judged them not ready for prime time and stressed the difficulties of the endeavor to them. An unsuitable candidate — one lacking experience and an understanding of the office or saddled with personal liabilities — could have hurt the party's City Council candidates. "In my opinion, any of those six, although they had wonderful intentions, they would have done just tremendous harm to our other candidates," Danks said. "They just were not viable candidates to run for mayor."

WINCHESTER MAYOR BYRUM WON'T SEEK REELECTION: Mayor Shon Byrum says "manufactured controversies," including arguments over a new opioid-treatment center, are one of the reasons he's not seeking re-election to a second term (Slabaugh, Munice Star Press). "Gotcha political revenge games;" "some people buying into this constant chaos, always needing some kind of controversy … when there is no controversy;" and "all kinds of manufactured controversies" are taking a toll on the mayor's health, he said of his decision not to run. "I don't know if national politics has anything to do with it," Byrum said of political divisiveness in Winchester. "I think national politics is sort of playing out at the local level and given some people authority to go into a whole new realm of interaction with their government." In addition, the Democratic mayor is 36, while the average age of the all-Republican city council is 60, he said, "so there's also a generational difference." Also, for the amount of time Byrum's putting into it, the job doesn't pay enough ($45,893) to finance what he wants to provide for his family, things like roof repairs and braces, he said.

KLOBACHAR KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: Amy Klobuchar, the third-term Minnesota senator, entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, hopeful that her moderate politics, Midwestern roots and carefully cultivated history of bipartisanship can appeal to a broad swath of voters in contentious times (New York Times). On a snow-covered stage in Minneapolis along the banks of the Mississippi River, with the temperature barely above single digits, Ms. Klobuchar said that as president she would “focus on getting things done” and reverse some of President Trump’s signature policies.

WARREN SUGGESTS TRUMP IN JAIL: Countless Democratic leaders have urged the party not to spend the 2020 campaign tangling with President Trump over tweets and taunts. But Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts made a novel argument on Sunday for ignoring the president: He could soon be in jail (New York Times). Addressing a crowd of several hundred at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ms. Warren said it was up to Democrats to decide whether they would spend every day parrying “a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly” from the president. She said the party should ask: “Are we going to let him use those to divide us?” “By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president,” Ms. Warren said. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.”

TRUMP MOCKS WARREN WITH TRAIL OF TEARS TWEET: When Senator Elizabeth Warren formally announced her 2020 presidential bid this weekend, President Trump responded with a familiar line of attack (New York Times). He mocked Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, for her claims to Native American ancestry, again calling her by the slur “Pocahontas.” Mr. Trump then appeared to refer to the Trail of Tears, the infamously cruel forced relocation of Native Americans in the 19th century that caused thousands of deaths. Host Jake Tapper tried repeatedly to get her to respond to Trump's language and "joking references to genocide against Native Americans.” "Look, Elizabeth Warren has made herself a laughingstock," Cheney said.

Sunday Talk

GOV. NORTHAM VOWS NOT TO RESIGN: Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says he considered resigning in the wake of the ongoing controversy embroiling his office, but told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King he's "not going anywhere." "You know, I don't live in a vacuum. And so yes, I have heard it," Northam said, referring to calls for his resignation. "I have thought about resigning, but I've also thought about what Virginia needs right now. And I really think that I'm in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level." "Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that's why I'm not going anywhere," Northam added.

CHENEY IGNORES TRUMP TAUNTS MENTIONING WOUNDED KNEE: Rep. Liz Cheney in a televised interview Sunday dodged questions about President Donald Trump's comments making light of Native American tragedies, despite representing thousands of Native Americans in her home state of Wyoming (Politico). As part of an attack on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's past claims of Native American heritage, Trump on Jan. 13 made light of the Wounded Knee massacre. And Saturday, following the announcement of the Massachusetts Democrat's presidential campaign, Trump tweeted, "See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!"— seen as a reference to the Trail of Tears. The president has also repeatedly called Warren “Pocahontas.“ Asked about Trump's comments on CNN's "State of the Union," Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, acknowledged her Native American constituents but refused to respond to Trump's remarks and instead attacked Warren for misrepresenting her heritage.

SCHIFF QUESTIONS MUELLER PROBE ON DEUTSCHE BANK: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on Sunday raised doubts about the extent to which special counsel Robert Mueller has probed President Donald Trump's dealings with Deutsche Bank, bolstering Democrats' case for moving ahead with an investigation into the German lender (Politico). On NBC's "Meet the Press," the California Democrat cited reporting that Trump had had once sought to fire Mueller over reports that investigators had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank — crossing a "red line" into his family's finances — but that the president backed down after being told the claims were inaccurate. "If the special counsel hasn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation," Schiff said.

BENNETT CALLS MEDICARE FOR ALL A 'BAD OFFER': Calling it “a bad opening offer,” Sen. Michael Bennet, a moderate Democrat mulling a presidential run, on Sunday shot down calls from the left wing of his party to eliminate private insurance as part of a sweeping health care overhaul (Politico). Asked about "Medicare for all" proposals on NBC's "Meet the Press," the Colorado Democrat touted a bill he has co-sponsored with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would create a public health care option but let people keep their existing insurance. "Remember when President Obama said, 'If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.' And then, a few people in America actually lost their insurance because of the way that the plan worked," Bennet said. "Now, what Democrats are saying is, 'If you like your insurance, we're going to take it away from you,' from 180 million people that get their insurance from their employer and like it or 20 million Americans who are on Medicare Advantage, and love it."

MEADOWS SAYS TRUMP WILL BUILD THE WALL: Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, one of the White House's top congressional allies, said President Trump will find a way to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border with or without Congress. "This president is going to build a wall one way or another," Meadows said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

General Assembly

CASINO MOVE, BETTING COMING UP: A shake-up of Indiana's gambling laws being debated could see two new casinos being built and allow legalizing sports betting to start as early as next year (WRTV). The proposal cleared a state Senate committee last week and comes as Indiana's 13 casinos have largely seen years of declining revenue amid increased competition from surrounding states and tribal casinos. The plan centers on moving Gary's two riverboat casinos off Lake Michigan, with one going to an on-land site elsewhere in Gary and the other possibly moving to Terre Haute. Lots of debate could still come as some other casinos worry the moves will hurt their business and the plan will face questions among legislators of whether it is an expansion of gambling. So many gambling-related issues are wrapped up in the bill that Senate Public Policy Committee Chairman Ron Alting of Lafayette calls it the biggest overhaul since the Legislature voted in 1993 to allow riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. Each casino company and their host cities are looking at how the proposed changes could impact their bottom lines. So even though the Senate committee unanimously endorsed the bill, plenty of changes could come before the legislative session ends in late April. Less complicated casino proposals have previously been scuttled or taken multiple years to win approval. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma critiques the plan as "a very large expansion of gaming." The state gets big paydays from all the casinos, but that impact has been shrinking. Casino taxes made up nearly $680 million, or about 5.5 percent, of the state revenue during the 2010 budget year, according to state figures. That revenue dropped to $442 million last year, for about 2.8 percent of state revenue.


THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: The House had planned to spend this week voting on a funding compromise to keep the government open past Feb. 15, according to a senior Democratic aide. But this weekend's breakdown in the bipartisan talks has thrown those plans into disarray (Axios). Votes have been canceled on Tuesday so members can fly to Dearborn, Michigan, to attend memorial services for Congressman John Dingell, the aide said. Focus on the floor will be on a funding compromise to keep the lights on past Feb 15. The Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on prescription drug prices on Tuesday, and Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on health care costs on Wednesday, the aide added. (Democrats view health care as the most important issue that helped them win back control of the House in November.) The Senate expects to pass the bipartisan "lands package" early this week, according to a senior Republican aide. Republicans expect to confirm Bill Barr, Trump's nominee for attorney general, by the end of the week, according to the aide. "And of course we expect to address government funding by the end of the week." (Famous last words.)

WYDEN INTRODUCES MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION BILL: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced a bill on Friday to decriminalize marijuana and allow for it to be taxed and regulated. The bill is titled S. 420, in a reference to marijuana culture (CBS News). The proposal, identical to a bill in the House, aims to ease the longstanding conflict between states where cannabis is legal in some form and the U.S. government, which categorizes marijuana as a dangerous illegal drug, similar to LSD or heroin. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that around half of all drug arrests are for marijuana possession. Many politicians have framed legalization as a criminal justice issue, as African Americans are more likely to be arrested on marijuana-related charges than whites. "The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple," Wyden, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed."


DOE: FILM SHELVED BY STATE - Alan Berry is a filmmaker who spent more than three years working for the Indiana Department of Education and assembling a documentary about the education of migrant children (Fox59). “The Indiana Department of Education was doing a great job for these kids,” said Berry. The film, shot in 2015, profiled the Migrant Education Program, paid for with federal funds, that aimed to boost the education of migrant children whose Indiana classroom journeys followed their families’ sojourns from Hoosier fields to the southern United States in the winter and back to the Midwest once the weather warmed. Berry said his bosses at IDOE were on board with the project, which was about 90% completed when the 2016 election season heated up and incumbent State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, was ousted in favor of Jennifer McCormick, a Republican. Berry’s film was shelved and in 2017 he left IDOE. “So at the end of last year of 2018 I heard through the grapevine through some of the people that I knew in the migrant education world that it was their understanding that this film was never gonna be released as is,” said Berry. “It was never gonna come out as the way that we finished it.”

DNR: PERU RESIDENTS TAKE DAM FIGHT TO INDY - A five-year legal battle between residents in a subdivision near Peru and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources [DNR] over six deteriorating dams is heading to a Marion County court (Kokomo Tribune). A civil division in Marion Superior Court is set to hear a plea from the dam/house owners in Hidden Hills near Peru, who are asking the judge to overturn a decision by the DNR requiring them to spend up to $1 million to fix the structures. An administrative law judge with the Indiana Natural Resource Commission issued a final ruling in June for more than 20 property owners in the Hidden Hills subdivision, saying the property owners were responsible for fixing the dams. The judge also ruled the Miami County Board of Commissioners is partially responsible for five of the dams, since roads maintained by the county run on top of them.

EDUCATION: COUPLE GIVES NOTRE DAME $10M -  A New Jersey couple has donated $10 million to the University of Notre Dame, which will rename a college center for them (WTHR-TV). Notre Dame says the gift from Anthony and Christie de Nicola, a Franklin Lakes couple, will allow them to expand the reach of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. reports Anthony de Nicola is the president and managing partner of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private New York investment firm and Christie de Nicola has served on the board of St. Elizabeth Home School Association in Wyckoff.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, KIM TO MEET IN HANOI - President Donald Trump said Friday night that a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is scheduled to take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28 (Politico). “My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting and an agreed upon time and date for the second Summit with Kim Jong Un. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 & 28. I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!” Trump tweeted.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, XI SUMMIT POSSIBLE - Xi may soon come to Mar-a-Lago. President Trump's advisers have informally discussed holding a summit there next month with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to end the U.S.-China trade war, according to two administration officials with direct knowledge of the internal discussions (Swan, Axios). Both officials, who are not authorized to discuss the deliberations, described Trump's club in Palm Beach, Florida, as the "likely" location for the leaders' next meeting, but stressed that nothing is set. On March 1, Trump must decide whether to ratchet up tariffs from 10% to 25% on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In early December, Trump told Xi he'd bump up those tariffs unless the Chinese showed "progress" on the big structural issues. (Trump hasn't been clear what would satisfy him here.) The Chinese are loath to see the tariffs go up on March 1.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m. He will sign an executive order on "Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence" at 3 p.m. in the Oval Office. He will leave the White House at 3:35 p.m. en route to El Paso, Texas, where he will speak at a political rally before returning to the White House. Fox News' Laura Ingraham will interview the president in El Paso after his political rally. The interview will air at 10 p.m.

PENTAGON: DEFENSE CHIEF IN AFGHANISTAN - The Pentagon’s top official arrived in Afghanistan on Monday on an unannounced visit, signaling American support for the jittery Afghan government while the U.S. holds talks with the Taliban to end the country’s 17-year war (Wall Street Journal). In his first overseas trip as acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan was scheduled to meet U.S. officials and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government has been excluded from the latest effort to reach a negotiated settlement of the conflict. The Taliban view the Kabul administration as illegitimate and have refused to enter talks with it.

MUELLER: A CLUE IN A COURT FILING - Of the few hints to emerge from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about evidence of possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, one of the most tantalizing surfaced almost in passing in a Washington courtroom last week (New York Times). Comments by one of Mr. Mueller’s lead prosecutors, disclosed in a transcript of a closed-door hearing, suggest that the special counsel continues to pursue at least one theory: that starting while Russia was taking steps to bolster Mr. Trump’s candidacy, people in his orbit were discussing deals to end a dispute over Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and possibly give Moscow relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. The theory was offered almost as an aside by the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, during a discussion of contacts between Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a longtime Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom investigators have linked to Russian intelligence. A closer look at the transcript, released late Thursday, shows that the prosecutors have been keenly focused on discussions the two men had about a plan to end the conflict that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. Persuading the United States to ease or end the American-led sanctions imposed to punish Moscow for its aggression has been a primary goal of Russian foreign policy.

ILLINOIS: CHICAGO BRACES FOR GANG BLOODBATH AFTER ASSASSINATION - He doesn’t have a household name like Larry Hoover, Jeff Fort or other infamous leaders of Chicago gangs (Chicago Sun-Times). Lawrence “Big Law” Loggins kept a low profile — no mentions in the newspaper and no arrests since he was released from prison in 2009. But he was the head of the Black Disciples, one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, police say. And he was trying to consolidate power before he was assassinated Wednesday night, according to law-enforcement sources. Now the Chicago Police Department is bracing for a potential bloodbath on the South Side in retaliation for Loggins’ murder, officials said Friday. Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the department, said investigators will try to prevent those revenge killings.

BUSINESS: HEALTH FIRMS EARN MORE THAN TECH - Here's an eye-popping stat to start your morning off with: The 5 largest conglomerates combining health insurance and pharmacy benefits are on track this year to be bigger than the 5 preeminent tech companies, my colleague Bob Herman reports (Axios). Anthem, Cigna, CVS Health, Humana and UnitedHealth Group cumulatively expect to collect almost $787 billion in 2019, compared with $783 billion of projected revenue for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google.

MEDIA: MISTRESS'S BROTHER SUPPLIED BEZO TEXTS - The brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress, Lauren Sanchez, supplied the couple’s racy texts to the National Enquirer, multiple sources inside AMI, the tabloid’s parent company," told The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay with editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman (Axios). Bezos’ investigators have strongly suspected Sanchez was the leaker since at least last week, according to two people familiar with the investigation. 'There is no one inside this inquiry process who doesn’t believe he’s ground zero,' one of those sources said." "Of particular interest were his personal and business ties to some prominent figures in President Donald Trump’s orbit, including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes."

VIRGINIA: FAIRFAX IMPEACHMENT LOOMING - Virginia Democratic lawmakers began circulating a draft resolution Sunday to begin impeachment proceedings against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) over allegations of sexual assault that have been leveled against him by two ­women (Washington Post). Fairfax has fended off calls from the state Democratic Party and some state and national lawmakers to resign after Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson publicly came forward last week to accuse him of sexual assault. Tyson accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Watson on Friday accused Fairfax of assaulting her in 2000, while they were students at Duke University.


CITIES: INDY DOESN'T JUMP BACK INTO AMAZON DERBY - Several cities were quick to renew their courtship of Amazon after a report Friday that the e-commerce giant was reconsidering its plan to open a 25,000-worker campus in New York City as part of its HQ2 project (IBJ). The revived list of suitors didn’t immediately include Indianapolis, according to an official with the Indy Chamber, which took the lead in spearheading the city's previous bid to land Amazon's second headquarters. “We have not been contacted nor have we contacted Amazon concerning this report,” Joe Pellman, director of marketing and communications for Indy Chamber, said in an email to IBJ on Friday. “As is the case with most economic development projects, any ongoing details will remain confidential.” Officials from Chicago, Miami and Connecticut were among those who went public almost immediately after the report to say they would still love to land the Amazon campus.

CITIES: INDY EXPLORES CASTLETON WALKABILITY - Castleton remains central Indiana’s most expansive retail corridor—home to more than 2.8 million square feet of shopping center space, including the state’s largest shopping mall. But does that retail focus—and its car-centric layout—suggest trouble lies ahead? A study commissioned in January by the city of Indianapolis will spur conversations about improving walkability and traffic flow in Castleton, as well as positioning it to thrive long term as retail continues to shift away from big-box department stores toward e-commerce (Shuey, IBJ). The effort, led by Indianapolis urban planning firm MKSK Studios, will gather input from more than a dozen area businesses and community stakeholders and culminate in the Castleton Strategic Revitalization Plan. Among the participants will be Castleton Square Mall’s owner, Simon Property Group Inc., and large employers in the area, including Roche Diagnostics and Community Health Network.

CITIES: ELKHART PONDERS ITS CIVIC PLAZA - The Civic Plaza downtown has served the city well since the early 1980s. But like anything built in that era, it could use some remodeling and updating (King, South Bend Tribune). Crystal Welsh, the director of development services for the city of Elkhart, saw a need for a possible makeover. “We have two what I would call usable spaces, but they’re not showpieces,” she said, noting that the city has to provide electricity, stages and sound amplification, and available restrooms are inadequate. “We just needed to be smarter about how to use that space.” She went to the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission to gauge interest and heard members say they don’t want a mixed-use building on much of the space. “People did not want to lose the Civic Plaza as a community gathering spot,” she said.

COUNTIES: MARION SHERIFF TO HIRE 90 - The Marion County sheriff is hoping to hire 90 people in 90 days (WRTV). It's an ambitious effort to recruit 47 detention deputies for the Marion County jail and 43 dispatchers at the county's 911 center. "We have been trying to get out the word everywhere that we are hiring." Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal said. Starting salary for detention deputies and 911 dispatchers is around $34,000 per year, along with benefits, health coverage, and a pension.

COUNTIES: MONROE SUPT SENT OUT LETTER SEEKING PRAYERS - A Monroe County superintendent is being criticized after he sent a letter to local churches asking them to pray for the school district (WRTV). The letter from Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation Superintendent Jerry Sanders was posted on Facebook by Turning Point Apostolic Church. Sanders told the Herald-Times that he sent letters to 20 different Christian churches in the area back in December, as part of his plan to generate local support for the district. In the letters, Sanders asked the churches to pray for him as he leads the schools and to pray for the safety of the students and staff. "God will bless RBBSC with a strong partnership between school and home," the letter said. Sanders has been superintendent of the district since November. School board leaders say the letter was inappropriate, because it was written on a district letter head.