HILL, DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION DIFFER ON VACANCY: A decision from the Indiana Supreme Court on whether Attorney General Curtis Hill will “vacate” his office during his impending suspension likely will not be handed down until next week, creating uncertainty over whether the Office of the Attorney General will have a recognized leader come Monday (Covington, Indiana Lawyer). Hill on Monday will begin a 30-day suspension for violations of Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and (d) related to allegations that he drunkenly groped four women. He will be automatically reinstated June 18. Hill announced that his chief deputy, Aaron Negangard, will take over the legal operations of the Office of the Attorney General during that time. But Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb moved to intervene in Hill’s discipline case, asking the Supreme Court for clarity on whether Hill’s suspension equates to a vacancy in the office that Holcomb would fill. The commission did not object to the motion to intervene but declined to opine on the “statutory selection process for vacancies in the Attorney General’s office.” But the commission also seized on Hill’s decision to give Negangard authority over OAG’s legal operations, implying that Hill’s suspension will disqualify him from more than just his office’s legal functions. “By rule, Respondent’s suspension prohibits him from maintaining a presence in or occupying an office in which the practice of law is conducted while he is suspended,” the commission wrote, citing to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26)(b)(1). “Thus, Respondent must completely disengage from any control or authority pertaining to the Office of Attorney General."

LAWSON SAYS ELECTION RESULTS COULD BE DELAYED BY MAIL VOTE: Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Friday it could take two to three days after Election Day for votes to be counted and results to be determined given the high number of absentee ballots counties will have to process (Quinn, IBJ). Hoosiers have until Thursday to request an absentee ballot from their county clerk’s office to vote by mail in the June 2 primary. To date, more than 330,000 Hoosiers have made that request. That’s about 55,000 more than the number reported Tuesday. During the 2016 primary, just 53,800 Hoosiers voted by mail. Gov. Eric Holcomb said he’s a fan of in-person voting and plans to vote in-person in this primary, though he might do so early.

NEARLY 300K HOOSIERS FILE FOR JOBLESS CLAIMS: Nearly 300,000 Hoosiers have filed unemployment claims since the coronavirus pandemic hit Indiana, with $1.4 billion in benefits paid out to claimants through the Department of Workforce Development (Downard, CNHI). Fred Payne, the commissioner of the department, reported Friday the state had paid $400 million in addition to the federal government’s $1 billion to Hoosiers since March. Payne said call wait times had decreased by 50%, but didn’t provide details. “We’re trending in the right direction here, but we know that is not deep enough for every single Hoosier who has filed for unemployment benefits,” Payne said. “But we will get there and each and every Hoosier, who is eligible, will receive those benefits.”

GAMING COMMISSION APPROVES TERRE HAUTE CASINO: The Indiana Gaming Commission on Friday unanimously awarded a casino operator’s license to Terre Haute-based Spectacle Jack LLC (Modesitt, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Spectacle Jack is now owned by Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson and is no longer a subsidiary of Spectacle Entertainment of Indianapolis. Gibson and company, for more than an hour Friday, outlined their plan to build a 100,000-square-foot, $120 million enterprise to be operated under the Hard Rock International brand and called the Rocksino. Groundbreaking is expected in September of this year and the casino is scheduled to open in September 2021, according to Spectacle Jack executives. “This process has been a long journey for us, and today marks an important step down a path toward a successful opportunity for many Hoosiers,” Gibson said. “... Seeing an opportunity to bring a transformational project to Terre Haute and Vigo County is what excited, and ultimately sold me on being involved in this project.”

SPEAKER HUSTON REMOVES LUCAS FROM SUMMER COMMITTEES: House Speaker Todd Huston relieved controversial State Rep. Jim Lucas of summer committee assignments in the wake of his posting a Facebook meme last week (Howey Politics Indiana). Huston made no comment after he removed Lucas as vice chair of the Standing Select Committee on Government Reduction. Lucas, R-Seymour, told the Columbus Republic, "There was no intent whatsoever of racism. And that’s the most disgusting part. People that know me know that I’m a not a racist and that I would never, ever do that. I’ve explained that until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t matter. Once people have hate in their heart it’s all about destruction. I encourage everyone that next time they see something they might find offensive to not turn it into an opportunity to destroy somebody you disagree with,” Lucas said. “I hate this for everybody. I want to make it crystal clear, I 100% accept responsibility. The sad part is that this started affecting other people that had nothing to do with it. I own this. I have definitely learned from it. Everybody needs to be careful of accusing people of horrible things.” Lucas no longer sits on the Interim Study Committee on Elections and the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy. He previously served as Vice Chair of the Standing Select Committee on Government Reduction; he is now a regular member of that panel.

MANUFACTURING OUTPUT PLUMMETS 13%: U.S. factory production plummeted in April by the most in records back to 1919 as coronavirus-related shutdowns exacted a bigger toll on the economy (Bloomberg). Output slumped 13.7% from the prior month after a revised 5.5% decrease in March, Federal Reserve data showed Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 14.6% decline. Overall industrial production -- which also includes output at mines and utilities -- dropped 11.2% in April. Manufacturers in the U.S. were among the first to experience the pandemic’s economic drag as producers fell victim to supply-chain disruptions, a severe weakening in exports market and a drop in domestic demand.

AUTO PLANT REOPENINGS WILL BE SLOW, ARDUOUS: Like many in the U.S. auto industry this month, Peter Anthony  is busy trying to get his auto-supply business running again after a multiweek shutdown (Wall Street Journal). But orders from car makers are just trickling in. He had called back only about 5% of his 2,000-employee workforce as of last week, and doesn’t expect to return to profitability soon. “No supplier out there is making money right now,” said Mr. Anthony, whose Chicago-based UGN Automotive makes carpeting and insulation for vehicle interiors. “Everyone is going to have to be really flexible.” Auto makers and their vast network of parts suppliers are determined to get back to work. But like businesses across the country, they are facing both complications and costs around worker safety and depressed customer demand.

SOUTHERN INDIANA REOPENING GOING SMOOTHLY: Judging by the traffic on the street, the vehicles parked at stores and the people enjoying meals and drinks inside local restaurants, Southern Indiana officials said the first week of partial reopening was encouraging (Suddeath, News&Tribune). But Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and Clarksville Town Manager Kevin Baity all cautioned the public Friday to remain vigilant and to follow safety guidelines as concerns over COVID-19 continue. “I think we need to remain cautious and be mindful of social distancing,” Moore said. The Jeffersonville mayor said he was pleased to see people back out enjoying restaurants and other businesses this week. “I saw something I think we’ve always taken for granted in the past and that’s people just going about their normal lives,” Moore said. “I’m sure everybody has been feeling a bit cooped up over the last six weeks.”

HOOSIER GOLF COURSES PLAYING THROUGH PANDEMIC: With some exceptions, golf has been one of the recreational sports that people have been able to continue playing. With many safety and social distancing precautions in place, golfers have returned to most Hoosier courses, though not in the numbers typically seen in the spring (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The Indiana Golf Association says it is has established a number of guidelines to help ensure golfers' safety, including one person per cart and no touching the flag sticks on the greens. In an interview with Inside INdiana Sports Contributor Bill Benner, IGA Executive Director Mike David says business has been good. "I think there's a pent up desire that a lot of people have right now just to get outside and to be active and fortunately, Governor Holcomb said from the beginning that he encouraged people to get out and golf has been allowed to continue to function and we have seen a lot of people taking advantage of it, without a doubt," said David.

PURDUE EXTENSION ANNOUNCES 4-H FAIR GUIDELINES: Purdue Extension announced on Friday (May 15) that county 4-H fairs can occur after the Purdue University restrictions on face-to-face events end June 30 (Hoosier Ag Today). Local 4-H fair boards, 4-H councils and county extension educators may continue planning for events through the month of June in alignment with Indiana’s Back on Track plan and in consultation with local health officials. “Purdue Extension will comply with all federal, state, and local regulations and public safety guidelines and will adhere to Purdue University policies for public health and safety,” said Jason Henderson, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and director of Purdue Extension. “The Back on Track plan provides guidelines which will be followed to ensure the safety of our 4-H’ers, families, and communities.”

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Our state is gradually beginning to reopen. Public officials at all levels need to stress the social distancing that will be required to keep a spike in COVID cases to a minimum. Like the AIDS virus a generation ago, there has been a great deal of anxiety, and then people and the nation adapted and learned to live with it. That needs to happen now.- Brian A. Howey


SPARTZ ENDORSED BY SEN. GASKILL, SCHNEIDER: State Senator Victoria Spartz received endorsements from two well-known conservative leaders, Senator Chris Gaskill and former Senator Scott Schneider, in her campaign for the 5th CD seat (Howey Politics Indiana). "It's interesting to see so many candidates for 5th district congress claim they are conservative, yet have never done anything to fight for conservative values," said Schneider. "Not Victoria Spartz.  She is a true conservative and has been fighting for conservative values for a long time. I first met her when she was fighting to stop Common Core, and she hasn't stopped fighting since. She has been great in the Indiana State Senate and is the only fighter in this race. Now we need Victoria to fight in Washington." Sen. Gaskill said, "As a constitutional conservative, I believe in liberty, low taxes, and smaller government. Many times I have been disappointed by Republicans who have campaigned on these issues and then didn’t have the courage to make the tough votes to defend them. As an Indiana State Senator, I have had a front row seat to observe how Victoria Spartz behaves when those tough votes arise."

Presidential 2020

AMASH WON'T RUN: Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan has ended his bid for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, just weeks after the former Republican announced it (Washington Post). “After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate,” Amash wrote in a Saturday afternoon tweet.

BIDEN ASSEMBLING REOPENING AGENDA: More than 36 million Americans are suddenly unemployed. Congress has allocated $2.2 trillion in aid, with more likely to be on the way as a fight looms over government debt. Millions more people are losing their health insurance and struggling to take care of their children and aging relatives. And nearly 90,000 are dead in a continuing public health catastrophe (New York Times). This was not the scenario Joseph R. Biden Jr. anticipated confronting when he competed for the Democratic nomination on a conventional left-of-center platform. Now, with Mr. Biden leading President Trump in the polls, the former vice president and other Democratic leaders are racing to assemble a new governing agenda that meets the extraordinary times — and they agree it must be far bolder than anything the party establishment has embraced before.

REP. DEMINGS’ VEEPSTAKES STOCK RISING: Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president is deep in Democratic talent, filled with governors, senators and former rivals for the presidential nomination (Politico). But one of the least-known among them is attracting an increasing amount of attention from Biden advisers, donors and Democrats in Congress — Val Demings. The presumptive nominee himself acknowledged her appeal after joining the Florida congresswoman on a virtual campaign stop at a food bank in Orlando, her hometown. “She is one of a group of close to a dozen really qualified and talented women who are on the list,” Biden said in a May 7 interview with an Orlando television news station. “She's a very competent, very capable person.”

Sunday Talk

AZAR POINTS TO ‘DISPROPORTIONATE COMORBIDITIES’: Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Sunday pointed to a “significantly disproportionate burden of comorbidities” when asked about the high coronavirus death rate in the U.S. Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. has been able to maintain the health care burden of the coronavirus, despite having the highest reported death rates of any country from the virus. “Every death is a tragedy, [but the] results could have been vastly, vastly worse,” he said, adding that “to our knowledge” nobody in the U.S. has died because they didn’t have access to a ventilator or a bed in an intensive care unit.

NAVARRO SAYS BRIGHT 'DESERTED' NATION: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday that whistleblower Richard Bright “deserted” the U.S. in an “American tragedy” when he authored a report criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Navarro told ABC’s “This Week” that the “quite-talented” Bright was asked to lead as field commander of testing at the National Institutes of Health, “but instead of accepting that mission, he deserted.” “He went into a fox hole, wrote up the complaint and now he’s part of a Capitol Hill partisan circus where he’s just become another pawn in the game,” he said.

NAVARRO CALLS OBAMA 'BIDEN'S PRESS SECRETARY': White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday that he was “glad Mr. Obama has a new job as Joe Biden’s press secretary.” The comment came after ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Navarro to respond to the former president saying during a commencement address that things are “screwed up” because leaders are doing “what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy.”

GOV. DeWINE CONCERNED ABOUT CROWDED BARS: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said Sunday he is “absolutely” concerned about pictures of crowded bars as his state begins lifting coronavirus restrictions, but he said officials are working with the attorney general to help keep businesses in check. “I saw those images very early. We had people there last night,” DeWine told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." He said the owners of the bar in the image Tapper showed got the situation “in control” and no citations had to be issued, but another bar in Columbus was issued a citation.

COLORADO GOV SEES ‘HYBRID’ SCHOOL PLANS IN FALL: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), who recently announced schools in the state will resume in the fall, said on Sunday that classes would likely be a “hybrid” of in-person and online learning. “It’s going to be somewhat of a hybrid environment, meaning there may be times during the year that there’s an outbreak at the school where it has to convert to online for a period of weeks,” Polis said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s just not going to look like any other school year.” Polis also predicted that between 15 and 20 percent of parents would prefer to keep their children home to continue online classes, which he said was “fine” as long as the parents are able to stay at home with their children. The option would also result in less-crowded schools and a lower risk of outbreaks, he said.

GOV. NEWSOM SAYS FEDS HAVE 'ETHICAL' OBLIGATIONS TO STATES: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sunday said approving coronavirus relief funding for state and local governments is “not charity” and that his state is facing budgetary concerns as a “direct result” of the crisis. “It’s a social responsibility at a time when states large and small [ are] facing unprecedented budgetary stress. It is incumbent upon the federal government to support the states through this difficult time,” he said on CNN's "State of the Union." Newsom said lawmakers have a “moral and ethical obligation” to help Americans across the country.

FRIEDEN SAYS 'CAN'T BE TOO ALARMIST' ABOUT COVID: Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Thomas Frieden said Sunday that he did not think it is possible to be “too alarmist about what [coronavirus] can do.” Fox News’s Chris Wallace asked Frieden whether lack of exponential growth in cases since Georgia indicated the public health response to the pandemic had been “alarmist.” “I don’t think you can be too alarmist about what this virus can do … look at New York City over the past two months,” Frieden responded on "Fox News Sunday."


HOUSE PASSES $3T RELIEF BILL; DOA IN SENATE: The House passed a historic $3 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday night -- a bill that would put more money directly into Americans' pockets -- but the massive piece of legislation is likely headed straight to the Senate legislative graveyard (ABC News). The measure is not expected to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Thursday that she is open to negotiating. One Republican -- Rep. Peter King of New York -- supported the bill because of the relief the measure would provide to state and local governments.

CARSON COMMENTS ON $3T CARES BILL: U.S. Rep. André Carson lauded the House of Representatives' passage of the Heroes Act, the House's latest legislation to address the continuing COVID-19 crisis and provide desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers. It provides funds for testing and tracing measures, key support for frontline workers and strengthened assistance for the American people (Howey Politics Indiana). “Indiana continues to struggle in the grips of COVID-19, and Hoosiers need more support to weather this ongoing crisis,” Rep. Carson said. "I cast my vote today to pass the Heroes Act to protect Hoosier workers and families, and ensure all our frontline heroes have the support they need to continue to save lives and keep our communities healthy and safe.”

BANKS VOTES NO ON DEM RELIEF BILL: Ahead of the expected vote on H.R. 6800, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) released the following statement: “Cash-strapped Americans don’t want to pay for abortions, send cash to illegal immigrants or have their hard-earned cash used to subsidize coastal elites and failing blue state pension systems! If passed, this bill would dramatically grow the size of government, meaning higher taxes, joblessness and an economic depression for up to a decade. I emphatically oppose Speaker Pelosi’s ‘Blue State Bailout!’”

McINTOSH PRAISES REGULATION CUT: Club for Growth issued the following statement in response to the two Congressional letters calling for regulatory relief to reignite the economy following the downturn caused by the Coronavirus (Howey Politics Indiana). “The White House, Congress, businesses, and even Democrats outside of Washington agree that regulatory relief is absolutely vital for an effective economic recovery,” said David McIntosh, President of Club for Growth. “We need to create an economic environment that will allow rapid rehiring, and that begins with cutting unnecessary red tape. We'd like to Senator Blackburn and Congressman Chabot for leading on this issue that will be vital to a successful recovery.”

General Assembly

REP. DEAL ASKS HOLCOMB TO EXTEND TAX DEADLINE: State Rep. Ross Deal (D-Mishawaka) sent a letter to Gov. Holcomb, asking him to extend the deadline to file a property tax appeal. In the letter, he made the point that the current deadline of June 15 presents a problem for many Hoosiers without the technology to file appeals remotely (Howey Politics Indiana). It does not give enough time for offices to reopen safely for taxpayers to file in person. "This is just one of the many ways Hoosiers without access to technology have been overlooked," said Deal. "Until we have a solution in place to provide all our neighbors with the same level of technology, we need to make adjustments and accommodations where we can."


ISDH: SATURDAY'S COVID REPORT - The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 656 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 27,280 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. Intensive care unit and ventilator capacity remain steady. Nearly 40 percent of ICU beds and nearly 81 percent of ventilators were available as of Saturday. A total of 1,596 Hoosiers have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, an increase of 46 over the previous day. Another 145 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, 171,358 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 165,448 on Friday.

ISDH: FRIDAY'S COVID REPORT -  The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 614 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 26,655 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. Intensive care unit and ventilator capacity remains steady. Just over 39 percent of ICU beds and 80 percent of ventilators were available as of Friday. A total of 1,550 Hoosiers have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, an increase of 42 over the previous day. Another 141 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, 165,448 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 160,239 on Thursday.

COVID: 20K REQUESTS FOR PPE - The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, designed to help employers obtain personal protective equipment during the pandemic, has already received 20,000 requests for equipment since its launch May 6, Luke Bosso, chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said Friday (IBJ). To date, 10,000 orders have been shipped and 12,000 orders are anticipated to go out next week, Bosso said.

COVID: IMA LAUNCHES PPE SITE - The Indiana Manufacturers Association is trying to help connect companies to personal protective equipment suppliers (IBJ). The organization has created an online listing where manufacturers can search for specific items, such as face shields, hand sanitizer and gloves. Manufacturers can also submit information in order to be listed as a supplier on the website. The listing is free to use, for members and non-members of the association.

CORRECTIONS: MIAMI PRISON COVID CASES LOW - The number of staff and inmates testing positive for COVID-19 at Miami Correctional Facility remains low, though one offender presumably dying from the virus (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). As of Thursday, two inmates in total had contracted the virus since the facility began testing. One of those inmates has recovered, and the other has died, presumably from the virus. There have been no confirmed COVID-19 deaths at the prison, according to the state, and there are currently no inmates who are either being held in isolation or quarantined because of the disease. Two staff members in total at the facility have also tested positive, and both have recovered from the virus.

GAMING: CASINO WORKERS DEMONSTRATE AT STATEHOUSE - Employees from five casinos rallied in Indianapolis Friday, forming a “car caravan” around the Statehouse and Monument Circle. They urged lawmakers not to allow casinos to reopen until they’re given affordable health care and can ensure safety (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). Caesars notified employees they plan to reopen at limited capacity the week of June 14. Representatives from the Unite Here labor union say casinos are non-essential and that the state wants them to reopen soon to collect tax revenue. Meanwhile, many workers say low wages and high health insurance deductibles force them to choose between health and livelihood when they fall ill.

EDUCATION: PURDUE CANCELS JULY EVENTS - Provost Jay Akridge detailed more of the University's summer plans and precautions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in a Friday message to Boilermakers (Purdue Exponent). "All July events on campus will be canceled, including conferences, camps, summer programs, etc.," he said in a release.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP'S EMERGENCY POWERS WORRIES SENATORS - The day he declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, President Donald Trump made a cryptic offhand remark. “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about,” he said at the White House (AP). Trump wasn’t just crowing. Dozens of statutory authorities become available to any president when national emergencies are declared. They are rarely used, but Trump last month stunned legal experts and others when he claimed — mistakenly — that he has “total” authority over governors in easing COVID-19 guidelines. That prompted 10 senators to look into how sweeping Trump believes his emergency powers are. They have asked to see this administration’s Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or PEADs. The little-known, classified documents are essentially planning papers. The documents don’t give a president authority beyond what’s in the Constitution. But they outline what powers a president believes that the Constitution gives him to deal with national emergencies. The senators think the documents would provide them a window into how this White House interprets presidential emergency powers. “Somebody needs to look at these things,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said in a telephone interview. “This is a case where the president can declare an emergency and then say, ‘Because there’s an emergency, I can do this, this and this.’”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP FIRES STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL - President Donald Trump on Friday fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, the latest in a series of dismissals of independent government watchdogs that have come in the wake of the President's acquittal on articles of impeachment earlier this year (CNN). "It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General," Trump said in a letter sent late Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The letter states the dismissal is effective in 30 days.A State Department spokesperson confirmed Linick's dismissal and said that Ambassador Stephen Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence, will take on the role. Akard's ties to Pence, which date back to when he worked under then-Indiana Gov. Pence as the head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, have previously rankled former diplomats who see him as a part of the politicization of the State Department.

WHITE HOUSE: OBAMA DELIVERS NATIONAL COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Former President Barack Obama delivered two virtual commencement addresses this weekend, mixing advice to graduates with criticism of the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic (New York Times). “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” he said on Saturday in the first address streamed online. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

ECONOMY: JC PENNEY FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY - Department store chain J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday and said it would permanently close some of its 850 locations, making it the latest major retailer felled by the coronavirus pandemic (Washington Post). The filing came the same day Commerce Department data showed the industry’s devastating decline. Retail sales fell 16.4 percent in April, by far the steepest drop on record, with sales at clothing stores—down 89% from a year ago—taking the biggest hit. The 118-year-old retailer was struggling long before the public health crisis forced it to temporarily shutter all of its stores and furlough the majority of its 90,000 employees. It has nearly $4 billion in debt and hasn’t turned a profit since 2010.

ILLINOIS: BEARS' MICHAEL McCASKEY DIES - Michael McCaskey, who led the Chicago Bears for nearly three decades following the death of his grandfather George Halas, died Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer, the team said. He was 76 (AP). A Yale graduate and the oldest of Ed and team matriarch Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children, Michael joined the family business in 1983 as president and CEO following the death of Halas, a founding father of the NFL and the franchise. He succeeded Ed McCaskey as chairman in 1999 and remained in that role until brother George McCaskey took over in 2011.


SOUTH BEND: CITY SUFFERS BODY BLOW WITH NO ND COMMENCEMENT - Rick Ruszkowski would normally be worn out today (Semmler, South Bend Tribune). As the owner of Finnies Next Door, a popular college bar at 233 S. Main St. in downtown South Bend, he would have spent the past several days serving a packed house of students and parents celebrating the end of college life at the University of Notre Dame. Commencement season is big business here, with Holy Cross College, Saint Mary’s College, Bethel University and Indiana University South Bend, but nothing matches the economic impact of Notre Dame, where football games also bring in critical revenue. “It would be very difficult to survive without the students and the fans that come to town,” Ruszkowski said. “It’s like thinking about death.” For the university’s commencement, now being held virtually, nearly every hotel room would have been booked the past several days.

ELKHART: IN-PERSON HS COMMENCEMENTS PLANNED - Elkhart Community Schools became the latest district in Elkhart County to announce graduation plans, and both of its high schools – Central and Memorial – are preparing to have in-person graduation ceremonies (Yankey, Elkhart Truth). The ceremonies will be held in small sessions of 40 graduates, limiting the total attendance to 250 individuals per session. Each graduating senior will be allowed four total guests to adhere to the maximum capacity approved by the Elkhart County Health Department, the district said.

WEST LAFAYETTE: WASTEWATER PLANT IN COVID STUDY - The West Lafayette Waste Water Treatment plant is taking part in a study to help track the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. The study is being made possible through Biobot. The company is based in Boston and specializes in wastewater epidemiology. People who are positive for the virus shed a portion of it when they go to the bathroom (WLFI-TV). David Henderson the utility director of West Lafayette says, that waste ends up in their plant and the samples they take can help track how many people are infected with the virus. "We can correlate the amount that is detected in the waste-water with the number of infected individuals in our city,” said Henderson. Indiana is one of 40 states taking part in the study. Both the cities of Carmel and Pendleton Indiana are both taking part in the study as well.

BLOOMINGTON: POOLS WON'T OPEN; NO FIREWORKS - Bloomington city pools will not open this Memorial Day weekend as usual. City parks officials are still deciding when it will be safe to open Bryan Park Pool and Mills Pool for the season (Indiana Public Media). City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department Administrator Paula McDevitt says in a statement it's not an easy decision to make. "We are in constant communication with Parks and Recreation agencies throughout surrounding cities, and with our state and national parks and recreation associations to gather as much information as we can about safe operation of aquatic facilities in the time of COVID-19," McDevitt said. The city officially canceled the Fourth of July parade, though an early release indicated that last week.

INDIANAPOLIS: IMPD OFFICER IN REED CASE REASSIGNED - An IMPD officer is facing consequences due to Sean Reed’s Facebook Live video (Cabalan, WIBC). Last Wednesday, May 6, Sean Reed was driving recklessly on I-65. This resulted in a police chase, which Reed documented on Facebook Live. IMPD says Reed got out of his car at 62nd Street and Michigan Road and exchanged gunfire with an officer. Reed was eventually taken down. All of this was caught on Reed’s Facebook Live, including an officer saying “looks like it’s gonna be a closed casket, homie”. IMPD is not releasing that officer’s identity, but has stated that officer has been suspended and reassigned. IMPD has also confirmed that officer is African American.

RICHMOND: WOMAN ARRESTED WITH HUGE FENTANYL CACHE — Wayne County Drug Task Force officers served a jailed California woman with federal charges Friday after she was found on Interstate 70 with 16 kilograms of fentanyl and 5 kilos of heroin (Emery, Richmond Palladium-Item). The fentanyl is enough to kill 8 million people and has a street value of more than $25 million, according to Lt. Scott Crull, supervisor of the Drug Task Force. Flerida Vianey Burgos Gonzales, 38, of Hesparia, California, remained Friday in the Wayne County Jail. She will soon be transferred to a federal facility.

PORTER COUNTY: COVID OUTREAK EASES AT JAIL - The COVID-19 outbreak at the Porter County Jail seems to be easing nearly three weeks after one in five inmates had tested positive for the potentially deadly virus, according to the county sheriff's department (Kasarda, NWI Times). Of the 43 inmates who have tested positive to date, all but eight have recovered or have been released, according to figures provided by sheriff's department Cpl. Benjamin McFalls. Those eight are still being observed, he said. The jail has tested a total of 58 inmates since the start of the pandemic, which has also raged through the state prison system. The Indiana Department of Correction is reporting that 605 inmates and 278 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus. The virus is blamed for the deaths of 14 inmates and two staff members.

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: COVID FUND GROWS PAST $500K - The United Way of Bartholomew County COVID-19 Relief Fund launched two months ago has collected $522,313 — and dispersed $175,000 in assistance to nine certified local United Way agencies (Columbus Republic). Those agencies, in turn, have distributed funds to 2,486 local residents, often for multiple needs for housing, general financial assistance, food and more, according to Mark Stewart, United Way president.