NOTRE DAME WON'T HOST FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE DUE TO PANDEMIC: The University of Notre Dame has decided not to host the first presidential debate in September, citing health precautions that would have been required. "The constraints the coronavirus pandemic put on the event — as understandable and necessary as they are — have led us to withdraw,” the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, said in a release Monday (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). The debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden was scheduled for Sept. 29. The University of Michigan had previously announced that it was pulling out as host of the Oct. 15 debate.  Jenkins said he made the decision after consulting with Dr. Mark Fox, St. Joseph County’s deputy health officer, and members of the Board of Trustees supported the move. He said in the release that he made “this difficult decision" because health precautions "would have greatly diminished the educational value of hosting the debate on our campus.” “The inevitable reduction in student attendance in the debate hall, volunteer opportunities and ancillary educational events undermined the primary benefit of hosting — to provide our students with a meaningful opportunity to engage in the American political process,” Jenkins wrote.

 

MANFRED SAYS MLB PROTOCOLS WILL OVERCOME MARLINS OUTBREAK: Commissioner Rob Manfred said he believes that MLB's health protocols are working, despite an outbreak of COVID-19 among one of the teams, the Miami Marlins (ESPN). "We built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season," Manfred said Monday in an interview on MLB Network. "The protocols were built to allow us to play through those positives. We believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe." The Marlins had at least 11 players and two coaches test positive over the past few days, forcing the postponement of both Monday's and Tuesday's home games against the Baltimore Orioles. The team remained in Philadelphia, where it played over the weekend, and was retested on Monday. Those results are expected late Monday night. Pending the results, the Marlins are scheduled to resume play Wednesday in Baltimore. Manfred was asked what it would take to shut down the league -- at least for a short period of time. "A team losing a number of players, making it completely noncompetitive, would be something we would have to address and have to think about making a change," Manfred said. "Our first concern is the health of the players and their families. And making sure we do everything possible to minimize the spread of the virus to our employees."

 

HOLCOMB RESISTS EXPANDED VOTE BY MAIL IN NOVEMBER: Voter advocates want Hoosiers to be able to vote by mail in this year’s general election. Gov. Eric Holcomb stands in the way (Smith, Indiana Public Media). Gov. Eric Holcomb voted in-person in the primary. And his focus is on making sure the state provides in-person voting opportunities in the fall. “We are in a much better situation now than we were there when we delayed it," Holcomb said. "And we have the proper PPE to man the voting sites.” Holcomb said vote-by-mail should be expanded if the state is under a "Stay-At-Home" order again.Groups including Common Cause Indiana, the League of Women Voters of Indiana, the ACLU of Indiana and the Greater Indianapolis NAACP all want the state to expand vote-by-mail to anyone who wants it for the Nov. 3 election. They also want those ballots to count if they’re postmarked by Election Day (instead of having to physically arrive at the county clerk’s office by noon Nov. 3). And they want counties to set up safe drop-off locations for those ballots. Asked if there were any issues caused by expanded vote-by-mail in the primary, Holcomb cited delays in counting ballots and counties being “overwhelmed” by demand. Many argue the “overwhelmed” issue could be solved by expanding the system now to allow counties time to prepare.

 

MODERNA'S VACCINE PHASE III CLINICAL TRIAL BEGAN MONDAY: The first Phase 3 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States began Monday (CNN). The investigational vaccine was developed by the biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The trial is to be conducted at nearly 100 US research sites, according to Moderna. The first patient was dosed at a site in Savannah, Georgia. The trial is expected to enroll about 30,000 adult volunteers and evaluates the safety of the Moderna/NIH vaccine and whether it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after two doses, among other outcomes. Volunteers will receive either two 100 microgram injections of the vaccine or a placebo about 28 days apart. Investigators and participants will not know who has received the vaccine.

 

INDIANA HAS LOWEST COVID COUNT SINCE JULY 13: The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday reported 561 new COVID-19 cases, the smallest number of new cases since July 13, when 452 were reported. It’s the first time in two weeks that the state hasn’t reported at least 600 new daily cases (IBJ). The health department also reported 6,595 new COVID-19 tests, the smallest daily testing number since July 13, when it reported 5,844 new tests. It’s the first time in two weeks that the state hasn’t reported at least 8,000 daily tests.

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN BANKING ON VACCINE: President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic put his political fate in grave jeopardy. Now he’s hoping to get credit for his administration’s aggressive push for a vaccine -– and crossing his fingers that one gets approved before Election Day (AP). Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited vaccine development sites on Monday, marking the beginning of the largest COVID-19 vaccine research trial yet. Their trips to North Carolina and Florida, respectively, come as the White House is grappling with its most prominent virus case since the crisis began and a nationwide spike in the outbreak that threatens to undermine an economic rebound. White House officials say a vaccine is necessary to fully restore a sense of normalcy. “I heard very positive things,” Trump said, when asked about the timetable for bringing a vaccine to market, “but by the end of the year we think we’re in very good shape to be doing that.” “It’s a historic day, a day when we begin in earnest to work on a vaccine,” Pence said. “We want to ensure we move at a safe and effective pace. I want to assure the people of Florida and people all across this country that we will cut no corners in the development of this or any vaccine,” Pence added.

 

MORNING CONSULT POLLS SHOW DAUNTING CHALLENGE FOR TRUMP: President Donald Trump faces an increasingly daunting electoral map according to new battleground state polling from Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Trump has seen his lead evaporate in certain must-win states, such as Florida and Texas, and he doesn’t hold a lead outside the margin of error in any of the 12 states included in this release. The polling finds former Vice President Joe Biden has an outright advantage in four states Trump won in 2016: Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He also leads within the margin of error in Florida and Texas, two other states Trump carried over Hillary Clinton: Arizona Biden up 49-42% (2016 margin Trump +3.5); Colorado Biden up 52-39% (Clinton +4.9); Florida Biden up 49-46% (Trump +12); Georgia Biden up 47-46% (Trump +5.1); Michigan Biden up 52-42% (Trump +0.3%); Minnesota Biden up 47-44% (Clinton +1.5%) North Carolina tie 47% (Trump +3.6%); Ohio Trump up 48-45% (Trump +8.1%); Pennsylvania Biden up 50-42% (Trump +0.7); Texas Biden up 47-45% (Trump +9%); Virginia Biden up 52-41% (Clinton +5.4); and Wisconsin Biden up 50-43% (Trump +0.7%).

 

2 PANDEMIC REALITIES: The coronavirus recession is creating two parallel economic realities, growing further apart by the day, Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin reports. Many people with financial assets and white-collar jobs have actually benefited from the downturn, while the rest of the country is doing its best to stay afloat. Evidence of a "K-shaped recovery" — in which some Americans' fortunes rise while others' fall — is already visible, Peter Atwater, an adjunct lecturer at William & Mary, tells Axios. Wealthy and middle-class asset holders have retained or resumed their jobs. And the value of their assets, like stock portfolios and homes, has risen to all-time highs. Blue-collar workers and small business owners, and the half of the U.S. population not invested in the stock market, are enduring unprecedented job losses and business closures. Starting Saturday, more than 20 million no longer will receive $600 a week in unemployment benefits. A massive $3 trillion bond buying spree by the Fed and more than $2 trillion in relief spending from Congress have underpinned asset prices.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It's understandable but disappointing that Notre Dame is passing on hosting the first presidential debate in September. It would have been the first presidential debate in Indiana. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

 

SPARTZ CHALLENGES HALE TO 3 DEBATES: State Sen. Victoria Spartz, Republican nominee for Congress in Indiana’s 5th District, challenged  Democrat Christina Hale to at least 3 debates (Howey Politics Indiana). “Fifth District Hoosiers should have the opportunity to hear directly from their candidates for Congress in multiple debates,” Spartz said.  “Hoosiers have a clear choice between my record of standing up to the establishment in both parties and working with Governor Holcomb to strengthen our economy, protect Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions, and make government more efficient and effective, and Christina Hale’s record of opposing all the major reforms of Governors Daniels, Pence and Holcomb that led to record prosperity in Indiana’s 5th District.” Spartz has agreed to a September debate hosted by Indiana Town Halls, and challenges Hale to agree to at least two more debates hosted by neutral organizations and moderators.  While the coronavirus is limiting voters' ability to interact with candidates, it is more important than ever to have multiple debates.

 

Congress

 

REP. LEWIS LIES IN STATE: In a solemn display of bipartisan unity, congressional leaders praised Democratic Rep. John Lewis as a moral force for the nation in a Capitol Rotunda memorial service rich with symbolism and punctuated by the booming, recorded voice of the late civil rights icon (AP). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Lewis the “conscience of the Congress” who was “revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the longtime Georgia congressman as a model of courage and a “peacemaker.” “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” McConnell, a Republican, said Monday, quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “But that is never automatic. History only bent toward what’s right because people like John paid the price.”

 

SENATE GOP UNVEILS $1T AID PLAN; INCLUDES $1,200 CHECKS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a $1 trillion coronavirus aid plan Monday that includes a second round of direct payments to Americans (Nexstar). McConnell introduced the HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools) Act during a speech on the Senate floor on Monday. “We have one foot in the pandemic and one foot in the recovery. The American people need more help,” McConnell said. Sen. Chuck Schumer called the stimulus proposal “totally inadequate.” “They can’t even put one bill together they are so divided,” Schumer said.

 

YOUNG'S RESTART ACT PART OF GOP STIMULUS: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) secured several key provisions in the proposed coronavirus relief package released today by Senate Republicans, known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. The proposal includes some principles from Senator Young’s RESTART Act, and his legislation to address unemployment insurance reform, child care, and telehealth (Howey Politics Indiana). The HEALS Act also contains the TRUST Act, which Senator Young coauthored to help rein in the national debt and set in motion a bipartisan national plan to finally begin tackling the long-term drivers of our national debt once we get through the coronavirus pandemic. “As we continue to confront the coronavirus pandemic, we must ensure our schools and employers can safely reopen and our health care providers have the resources they need to fight this virus. I’m pleased that the HEALS Act contains critical measures to protect jobs, schools, and health care – including several provisions I have been championing, such as unemployment insurance system reform, financial assistance to help child care providers reopen, and telehealth legislation that will lead to greater affordability and access,” said Senator Young.

 

CLUB FOR GROWTH OUTLINES STIMULUS PRIORITIES: As Congress considers more legislation to restore economic growth during and after the COVID pandemic, Club for Growth has issued a memorandum to interested parties on what should be the guiding principles of the legislation as well as a specific list of policies that must be included and excluded (Howey Politics Indiana). Club for Growth urges every Senator and Representative to follow these fundamental principles:  First, do no harm – do not pass or continue policies that make it harder for the economy to recover and create jobs for American workers. Second, provide funding directly to individuals, not bureaucracies.  This will empower Americans who are dealing with closed schools, or continue to be out of work, to make choices for what is best for their families. It will help ensure that funds are not siphoned off for special interest projects. Third, pass the most pro-growth options to accelerate the economic recovery. Fourth, do not add to the $4 Trillion-dollar deficit that will tax future generations of Americans. Over $1 Trillion of previously passed assistance has not been used and can be reprogrammed for needs identified in this legislation.

 

MAYORS WRITE CONGRESS ABOUT PORTLAND: The mayors of six U.S. cities appealed Monday to Congress to make it illegal for the federal government to deploy militarized federal agents to cities that don't want them, even as the Trump administration is considering sending more of them to Portland, Ore. (Politico). “This administration's egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities should never happen,” the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City Albuquerque and Washington D.C. wrote to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate. Early Monday, U.S. agents repeatedly fired what appeared to be tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls at protesters outside the federal courthouse in downtown in Portland. Some protesters had climbed over the fence surrounding the courthouse, while others shot fireworks, banged on the fence and projected lights on the building. President Donald Trump said Monday on Twitter that the federal properties in Portland “wouldn’t last a day” without the presence of the federal agents.

 

General Assembly

 

REPS. DeLANEY, PFAFF CALL FOR COVID DATA RELEASE: State Reps. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) and Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute), both members of the House Education Committee, today released the following comments in response to facility-level COVID-19 data finally released by the Holcomb administration for Indiana's long-term care centers. Their concern extends to schools as well as nursing homes (Howey Politics Indiana). DeLaney was among a group including media, families, lawmakers and other senior advocates fighting for transparency to protect the most vulnerable Hoosiers and their loved ones. "The free flow of information is critical in the era of COVID-19," DeLaney continued. "This nursing home data fiasco should serve as a lesson to Governor Holcomb for schools. We cannot make the same mistakes with our students." "The data released last week confirmed what we already knew: nursing homes and long-term care facilities are a hotspot for COVID-19, and that taxpayers were right to demand transparency," DeLaney said. "What we did not learn is when these cases or outbreaks happened, or why the Governor withheld these numbers for so long. For months during the pandemic, families were unable to make data-driven decisions about their loved ones, and I fear that history could repeat itself as schools contemplate reopening." Pfaff, a career educator who has noted the challenges teachers have faced amid the pandemic, believes that prompt COVID-19 data will help schools. "As a teacher myself, I understand the incredible risk all educators and families will be taking when they must go back to in-person classes," Pfaff said. "The very least Indiana can do for these teachers, students and families is to make the information pertinent to their return clear, timely and easily accessible."

 

REP. BECK CALLS ON HOLCOMB TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES: Last Friday, State Representative Lisa Beck (D-Lakes of the Four Seasons) sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb requesting Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding be available upon request by small businesses for expenditures and lost revenue. The prioritization of public health has required the Hoosier economy to start and stop, which has taken a toll on small business owners (Howey Politics Indiana). In her letter, Beck offers the Governor multiple pragmatic solutions to expand programs currently available based off of success stories from other states like New Jersey and Ohio to help provide relief and stimulate the economy. "Small businesses are the bedrock of the Hoosier economy, and executive leadership must take quick and decisive action to push them through this public health crisis," Beck said. "The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown; however, it will likely take some of these small businesses years to recover from the financial devastation. I have had many conversations with small business owners in Northwest Indiana, and I have heard the cry for a lifeline. I'm hoping the Governor takes action soon."



State

 

GOVERNOR: DR. BIRX BACKS HOLCOMB MASK MANDATE - Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke only with RTV6's Rafael Sanchez about Governor Eric Holcomb's statewide mandate that goes into effect on Monday (Sanchez, WRTV). Some people believe that the masks are simply not effective in preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and that it is a waste of time. Dr. Birx says, that on the contrary, masks are very much preventative to the virus. "We are so pleased with the governor's action," Dr. Birx told RTV6. "Because, what we have discovered over the last few months, is how effective masks are." "We are not traditionally a mask-wearing culture," Dr. Birx continued. "There are cultures around the world that have always worn masks and believe in masks. They've worn them for pollution or they've worn them for infectious diseases ... Americans have never had to embrace masks. But now we know both the physics - clear physics - and science behind trapping the particles in your mask."

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB APPOINTS ALLEN COUNTY JUDGE - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced Andrew S. Williams as his appointment to the Allen County Superior Court. Williams succeeds Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer who retired earlier last month (Howey Politics Indiana).  Williams currently is a partner with the Fort Wayne law firm of Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros where he has practiced since 2002. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and his law degree from Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas.     Williams will be sworn in as judge of the Superior Court in Allen County on a date to be determined.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB APPOINTS CARROLL COUNTY JUDGE - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced Troy M. Hawkins as his appointment to the Carroll County Superior Court (Howey Politics Indiana). Hawkins will succeed Judge Kurtis Fouts who will retire at the end of this month.  Hawkins is currently the chief deputy prosecutor in Carroll County where he has served since June 2019. Prior to this, he was in private practice. Hawkins earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and his law degree from University of Toledo Law School. Hawkins will be sworn in as judge of the Superior Court in Carroll County on a date to be determined.

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 561 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 62,907 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. A total of 2,709 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of three over the previous day. Another 197 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days. To date, 707,791 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 701,311 on Sunday.

 

INDOT: WORK BEGINS ON BOONE COUNTY INTERCHANGE - The Indiana Department of Transportation announces work begins this week on I-65 near Whitestown Parkway Exit 133. The I-65 southbound left lane will be closed beginning tonight, weather permitting for the contractor to place barrier wall. The work includes adding approximately three quarters of one mile of new pavement near the I-65 and I-865 interchange. This is for minor ramp improvements for the existing northbound I-65 exit ramp to Whitestown Parkway and the existing southbound I-65 exit ramp to I-865 (Howey Politics Indiana). This contract was awarded to E & B Paving for $62.8 million. The project includes building a new interchange on I-65 at Boone County Road 550 South and redesigning the I-65 and S.R. 267 interchange. Both will be Diverging Diamond Interchanges, (DDI). The contract completion date is set for August of 2022.

 

EDUCATION: DePAUW TO STAGGER CLASSES BETWEEN SEMESTERS - DePauw University first-year students and sophomores will begin on-campus classes August 31, with juniors and seniors returning to campus in the spring. President Lori White says the staggered return is due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases (Inside Indiana Business). “Despite our best hopes, efforts and preparations, we now know that to safeguard the health of our DePauw and Greencastle communities in the face of an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 in our state and nation, we must reduce the number of students who are on campus at any one time,” White said in a letter sent via email to students, their families and faculty and staff members.

 

RV: SHIPMENTS UP DRAMATICALLY - RV shipment data showed clear improvements in June, as the industry benefited from the number of travelers avoiding planes, trains and hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic, an industry organization said (Elkhart Truth). The RV Industry Association’s survey of wholesale shipments shows that June 2020 was the best month for the industry since October 2018. The industry shipped 40,452 units last month, which is a 10.8 percent increase compared to the 36,525 units shipped in June 2019.

 

SPORTS: 2 COLTS ON NFL COVID LIST - More than 20 players have been placed on the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 list, including a pair of Indianapolis Colts, as training camps are opening (CBS4). Cornerback Jackson Porter and wide receiver Malik Henry were placed on the COVID-19 list Monday, according to the league’s transactions wire. Each player spent time on the Colts’ practice squad last season.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR O'BRIEN TESTS POSITIVE - U.S. national security adviser Robert O'Brien has become the highest ranking official in President Donald Trump's inner circle to test positive for the coronavirus (Reuters). Announcing the infection on Monday, the White House said in a statement there was no risk of exposure to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. The announcement caught some White House staff off guard, as there had not been an internal memo about it, one source said. Because of the regular testing regimen, White House officials do not reliably wear masks while working in the West Wing.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - The president has nothing on his schedule.

 

PENTAGON: NATIONAL GUARD COMMANDER CONTRADICTS WH ON LAFAYETTE PARK - The U.S. Park Police and Secret Service violently routed protesters from Lafayette Square last month without apparent provocation or adequate warning, immediately after Attorney General William Barr spoke with Park Police leaders, according to an Army National Guard officer who was there (AP). The account of National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco challenges the Trump administration’s explanation that vicious attacks by protesters led federal forces to turn on what appeared to be a largely peaceful crowd June 1 in the square in front of the White House. Law enforcement and security officers that night clubbed and punched protesters and unleashed mounted officers and chemical agents against them in one of the most controversial confrontations at the height of this year’s nationwide protests over the killing of Black people at the hands of police.

 

AGRICULTURE: WALMART, KROGER SHAKE UP MILK MARKET - Americans’ thirst for cheap milk—and grocers’ rush to provide it—are remaking the centuries-old dairy industry (Wall Street Journal). When supermarket shoppers reach for white gallon jugs these days, most of the time they grab a low-priced store brand. To expand those offerings, major grocery retailers, including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc. and Albertsons Cos ., have built their own milk-bottling plants. Grocers’ move into the bottling business is threatening some of the biggest operators in the $40 billion U.S. milk industry, the purveyors of national brands. Dean Foods Co., which until last year was the largest U.S. milk processor by sales, and Borden Dairy Co., another big producer, were sold this year after filing for bankruptcy in November and January. Executives of both had blamed some of their struggles on grocers’ focus on cheap milk, often used as a loss leader. “There are retailers who prefer to have really aggressively low prices on milk because it’s a great way to get people in the stores,” said Tony Sarsam, Borden’s former chief executive. Private-equity firm KKR & Co. and Capitol Peak Partners LLC, an investment firm headed by former dairy executives, bought Borden out of bankruptcy this month.

 

ILLINOIS: MAYOR LIGHTFOOT ORDERS QUARANTINE FOR WISCONSINTES - Wisconsin becomes the 19th state from which travelers are being told to self-quarantine due to concerns over high coronavirus case rates (Chicago Tribune). Lightfoot, who said Wisconsin will be added to the list later this week, didn’t offer further details during an afternoon news conference.

 

SPORTS: DITKA AGAINST KNEELING ATHLETES - Mike Ditka says when athletes kneel as a form of peaceful protest during the national anthem, it's unpatriotic (Tegna). During an interview with TMZ Sports, Ditka said, "If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country." The former football pro expressed his strong feelings towards the kneeling protests, which started after football player Colin Kaepernick's racial injustice protest during the national anthem in 2016.

 

SPORTS: CHISOX MANAGER TESTS NEGATIVE - White Sox manager Rick Renteria woke up Monday with ‘‘a slight cough and nasal congestion’’ and took no chances. He would have missed the Sox’ rained-out game against the Indians while waiting for results of a coronavirus test (Chicago Sun-Times). The good news for Renteria, the Sox and baseball as a whole is that he tested negative, major-league sources said, and is expected back for the doubleheader Tuesday.

 

Local

 

EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL YIELDS TO HOLCOMB MANDATE — While leaving the door open for future action, the City Council said Monday that for now, it will yield to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order mandating mask usage in Indiana (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). Rising cases of coronavirus locally and statEwide have prompted crackdowns on masks from government officials at all levels. Holcomb’s order requires mask usage for Hoosiers age 8 and up in most public situations. As Holcomb’s order took effect Monday, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke rescinded his own order from two weeks ago. Holcomb’s order initially included the possibility of a misdemeanor penalty. The governor removed that provision Friday. Local municipalities may impose stricter mask guidelines than Holcomb’s if they wish. Some City Council members have suggested imposing a fine of $500 to $1,000, not for a routine violator, but for an individual causing a disturbance for refusing to comply with a mask requirement.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: PAN AM PROJECT TO BE DELAYED 2 YEARS - Construction on a $550 million Pan Am Plaza hotel and convention center expansion project will be delayed by up to two years—to the second half of 2022—as part of a development deal made public Tuesday by city officials and Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group Trust (IBJ). Officials say the new timetable is intended to give downtown’s hospitality industry time to recover from occupancy and revenue challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, as national analysts project the nation’s tourism market will be on the mend well into 2023. It will also give Kite time to find financing for the first hotel for the site—a $300 million, 40-story Signia Hilton—that will not receive a public subsidy or incentives.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: CITY TO INHERIT BLUE INDY GEAR - When it comes to electric vehicles, City County Councilor Frank Mascari talks the talk, walks the walk and drives the car, a 2011 Chevy Volt with just 35,000 miles on it (CBS4). Despite the demise of the Blue Indy electric car sharing program this spring, Mascari still believes there is an electric car future in Indianapolis and the city may inherit the above-ground charging stations from the French electric car sharing company The Bollore Group for free. “They are probably just going to wipe their hands of it and give it all to us instead of removing them,” said Mascari, Chair of the City County Council’s Administration and Finance Committee which will receive a Blue Indy contract update today. “It’s a huge company, a billion dollar company in Europe, and they’re just gonna cut their losses and walk away I understand.” The Bollore Group did not respond to a request for a comment. Mayor Greg Ballard brought the European-style ride sharing program to America in 2014, turning over 450 parking spaces at 91 locations throughout the city.

 

FORT WAYNE: SCHOOLS DELAY START BY 3 DAYS - Students in Fort Wayne Community Schools need to adjust their calendars. Classes will begin Aug. 13, not Aug. 10 as planned, Superintendent Mark Daniel announced Monday at the school board meeting (Sloboda, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). This will give FWCS three days of professional learning with teachers to focus on remote and blended learning strategies. The 30,000-student district still wants families to decide between in-person and remote learning by Wednesday, however. Those decisions will drive staffing plans, Daniel said. “Parents, please respond by July 29,” he said. “We need that data.” Parents debating between in-person instruction – which includes some days of remote learning for middle and high school students – and the fully remote learning option might rest easier with this update from Daniel: families have until Sept. 3 to change their minds. “We feel that is very, very important,” Daniel said.

 

PORTAGE: SCHOOLS TO START VIRTUALLY - Portage Township Schools, the first district in Northwest Indiana to announce a full virtual start to its 2020-21 school year, outlined detailed plans for students' learning in a Monday night school board meeting (Lanich, NWI Times). The Portage virtual roll-out plan includes four areas of focus: technology, instruction, student learning and support structures. In the Portage virtual learning plan, students will be provided a combination of synchronous and asynchronous education, allowing students the opportunity to both participate in live instruction led by Portage teachers and self-directed learning. "We don't want to have our children overtaxed on screen time," Assistant Superintendent Michael Stephens said Monday night. "But, we also don't want to have time left without instruction, so there's a delicate balance in there that we're trying to find and trying to make sure that the amount of time that they would normally have in direct instruction in a regular classroom is also being addressed in a synchronous virtual classroom as well."

 

ELWOOD: SCHOOL STAFFER TESTS POSITIVE; CLASSES BEGIN THURSDAY - Plans for Elwood Community Schools to reopen Thursday remain on track after Superintendent Joe Brown sent an email to parents Monday saying district officials were notified over the weekend that an unidentified staff member tested positive for COVID-19 (Bibbs, Anderson Herald Bulletin). “We worked with this individual and the Madison County Health Department on determining close contacts,” the email said. “Individuals within close contact will be quarantined for 14 days in addition to the staff member. We will continue working collaboratively with the Madison County Health Department throughout the pandemic.”

 

SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL TAKES ON MAYOR OVER HOMELESS - The deadline is fast approaching for the tent city at Doulos Chapel in South Bend to clear out, but there's a bitter battle being waged between Mayor James Mueller and the South Bend Common Council over what to do (WSBT-TV). This all started with a resolution calling on the Mayor to address the homeless crisis. In a 5-4 vote, the council passed a resolution calling on Mayor Mueller to present a plan of what do with the tent city. The mayor vetoed it on procedural grounds so the council is going to try to override his veto tonight, but they need a two-thirds majority to do it.

 

LAFAYETTE: SUBARU BREAKS GROUND ON $158M EXPANSION - Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) broke ground on the company’s $158 million expansion in the state. The project is still on track despite the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 (Indiana Public Media). The Lafayette manufacturing facility is the company’s only one located outside of Asia. The expansion, announced in February, will create space for the automotive manufacturer to assemble transmissions in-house rather than ship already finished ones, reducing import costs. It will also increase service part production.

 

PERU: HOMEOWNERS GO TO SUPREME COURT OVER DAM REPAIRS - Residents in a housing addition near Peru are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn a decision which puts them on the hook to repair six deteriorating dams that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). In April, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned a ruling issued last year by a Marion County judge that said Miami County was fully responsible for repairing the structures located in Hidden Hills, since all six dams have roads running over them which were accepted into the county road system. “The County accepted the duty to maintain the roads when it accepted the roads into the county highway system,” Judge P.J. Dietrick wrote in his ruling. “This maintenance also includes the responsibility to maintain the structure upon which the roads were built.” But the appeals court rejected that argument, saying the county is only responsible for the roads, and the homeowners are responsible for the dams on which the roads sit. “Only the Owners have an interest in the property ‘upon which’ the dams are located, and only they have a duty to repair or reconstruct the dams,” the court said. “The County has only an easement interest in the roads on top of the dams, and it is obligated to maintain only the roads.” Now, homeowners are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to take up their case and overturn that decision.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: ELECTION OFFICIALS WANT EASIER VOTE BY MAIL -  A chief criticism of the primary election in St. Joseph County from voters and candidates was the limited number of vote centers (Spaulding, South Bend Tribune). Under ordinary circumstances, there would have been 120 places to vote. Instead, because of the coronavirus pandemic, there were just 12. St. Joseph County Election Board members said it was the best they could do given the trouble in finding polling sites and workers. Heading into the general election this fall, they’re going to have to find more of both, officials say, and they’re also hoping the state will make mail-in voting easier, like it did this spring. Board members have discussed at least tripling the numbers, to about 36 vote centers and 300 poll workers, to handle a higher number of in-person voters.

 

LAKE COUNTY: BUNCICH'S POOR HEALTH CITED IN PLEA FOR RELEASE - Former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich has suffered enough, his defense attorney claims. Kerry C. Connor, who won a reduction in Buncich’s convictions last year, now argues in a new 17-page court memorandum Buncich should be released from federal prison after having served 30 months for bribery and fraud (Dolan, NWI Times). She is making her argument to U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody, who has scheduled an Aug. 5 resentencing hearing for the man who previously was Lake County’s highest elected law enforcement officer. Former U.S. Attorney David Capp charged Buncich in 2016 with soliciting bribes from towing firms doing business with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Connor argues according to the United States Sentencing Commission, the average sentence nationwide for a bribery offense in was 25 months. She claims Buncich is on at least eight medications for several conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure, and has severe back problems, according to his prison medical records. “When John went into federal custody on Jan. 16, 2018, he was a robust 320 pounds. Today, John Buncich appears frail and gaunt at 205 pounds,” she adds. He underwent spinal surgery in January. Connor said the COVID-19 pandemic makes his plight all the more dangerous.