VISCLOSKY PREPARING FOR McDERMOTT CHALLENGE: Northwest Indiana's long-serving congressman, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, appears to be anticipating a Democratic primary election challenge by the long-serving mayor of Lake County's most populous city. And it appears the congressman’s office already is doing opposition research. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced Tuesday on social media outlets that the Hammond mayor's and controller's offices each received extensive requests from the Visclosky campaign for public records covering McDermott's 15-year tenure as mayor (Carden, NWI Times). McDermott has told Howey Politics Indiana he is mulling a challenge to Visclosky. At the IDEA convention in August, McDermott held the most conspicuous Friday night party, attended by many prominent Hoosier Democrats. Specifically, the records request to the mayor's office seeks documents pertaining to McDermott's salary as mayor, the mayor's travel reimbursements, health insurance and other city benefits paid to McDermott, the mayor's use of city-owned vehicles and telephones, and McDermott's personal finance disclosures. Hammond City Controller Heather Garay was not immediately available to detail the scope of the records request submitted to her office. But McDermott said it included an accounting of how Hammond has spent all its gaming revenue since 2015. An additional request for McDermott campaign finance records separately was submitted to the Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, according to Michelle Fajman, director of the voter registration office. McDermott told The Times that the requests were delivered to Hammond City Hall by Visclosky Campaign Director Cindy Wagner, also known as Cindy Lopez, in a white envelope prominently featuring the Visclosky campaign logo. The person officially requesting the documents is Hayley Rumback, of South Portland, Maine, whose political consulting firm was paid $5,750 by Visclosky's campaign on March 31 for a "research project," according to federal campaign finance records. In response to inquiries by The Times, Visclosky said: "I appreciate the mayor's prompt and thorough attention to this normal request, which was sent via certified mail on Oct. 11, 2019, and also hand-delivered by my campaign director this morning."

McDERMOTT VOWS HE WON'T BE 'SILENCED': Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott said he believes the requests are an attempt to intimidate him into no longer criticizing Rep. Pete Visclosky, particularly the congressman's support for the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump (NWI Times). The mayor wants the House to instead censure Trump for his alleged misdeeds in connection with Ukraine, arguing there's no way Trump foes in the Republican-controlled Senate will achieve the two-thirds supermajority required to remove the Republican president from office. "Maybe they want me to toe the line better so that I say only nice things about our congressman? I don't know," McDermott said. "I wonder if Congressman Pete treats all of his mayors that way, or if I'm just special? "I have a great relationship with almost every elected official in Northwest Indiana — Republican and Democrat. I've made it a priority of mine to have a good relationship with all of the elected officials, and the only one that I really haven't gotten a chance to know in the 15 years I've been mayor is Pete Visclosky. For some reason he wants nothing to do with me or my city." In any case, McDermott insisted that no matter what Visclosky does it won't silence him. "If I don't think the congressman is doing something that's in the best interests of the Region, I'm going to say it, out loud. And if that means I get (open records) requests filed against me by my congressman, then so be it. But it is definitely intimidation," McDermott said.

WARREN GETS FRONTRUNNER DEBATE TREATMENT: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has been gaining ground in national and early state polls, got the front-runner treatment at Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, with several of her opponents challenging her policy positions after largely giving her a pass in previous debates (Wall Street Journal). The 12-candidate forum was also the first debate since Sen. Bernie Sanders’s heart attack and since the start of the House’s impeachment inquiry, which has brought scrutiny to the business ties of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Mr. Biden pushed back forcefully against President Trump’s accusations that the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, inappropriately sought to profit off his father’s position by holding a seat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. “My son did nothing wrong, I did nothing wrong,” Joe Biden said. Ms. Warren was grilled by both moderators and her opponents on the details of her vision for a Medicare-for-all health-care plan, specifically how she would pay for it. Ms. Warren has said she is “with Bernie” on a government-run health-insurance program, but unlike the Vermont senator, she hasn’t said whether it would be funded in part by an increase in taxes for the middle class. During the debate, Ms. Warren repeatedly dodged questions about whether she would raise taxes to pay for expanding Medicare, focusing instead on overall costs paid by families. “I have made clear what my principles are here,” she said. “That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costs will go down.” Pushed on the issue, Ms. Warren said: “I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.” South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who previously has called Ms. Warren “evasive” on the subject, said: “Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this.”

PETE, BETO CLASH ON GUNS: Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Buttigieg had a heated exchange over whether to implement a mandatory government buyback of assault weapons, which devolved into the two bickering over who was more courageous (Wall Street Journal). Mr. O’Rourke has become a vocal advocate for tougher gun-control measures after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, in August, and he supports a mandatory buyback program. He said he expected Americans would follow the law and turn in their weapons voluntarily, but guns would be confiscated if people refused and then used their guns for intimidation. Mr. Buttigieg, who opposes such a program, said Mr. O’Rourke was wasting time talking about a plan that wasn’t fully fleshed out and instead should focus on more modest gun-control proposals. “We cannot wait for purity tests, we have to just get something done,” Mr. Buttigieg said. Mr. O’Rourke replied that Democrats should do what was courageous and “not be limited by the polls, and the consultants, and the focus groups.” “The problem isn’t the polls, the problem is the policy,” Mr. Buttigieg responded, before adding: “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.” Mr. Buttigieg, a veteran, came out as gay before his re-election as mayor.

HILL ADMITS DRINKING, BUT NOT GROPING: Attorney General Curtis Hill admits in a new court filing to drinking three glasses of wine, a martini and a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky the night of a legislative party where he is accused of inappropriately groping four women (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). But he denies specific allegations of touching a lawmaker's butt and rubbing a staffer's back. And Hill will testify he “did not intentionally place his hand ... in the vicinity” of a third woman's butt. Another recent filing shows lawyers for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission plan to call two women who were employed by Hill when he was a prosecutor in Elkhart County regarding prior inappropriate sexual behavior. Hill's attorneys are attempting to block their appearance. One woman is expected to testify about Hill's “inappropriate sexual innuendo and propositions directed to her” when he was her boss. She also has a voice mail he left her about a day after the legislative party in question, according to court records. Hill is facing disciplinary charges before the Indiana Supreme Court, and his hearing is set to begin Monday. If found guilty, he faces a range of punishments – from a letter of reprimand all the way to suspending his law license.

TURKEY REJECTS CEASE FIRE; PENCE HEADED TO ANKARA: Turkey dismissed a U.S. call for an immediate cease-fire in northeast Syria, pressing ahead with its military offensive as senior Trump administration officials rushed to Ankara to try to resolve fighting triggered by the withdrawal of American troops from the region (Wall Street Journal). President Trump has dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence to the Turkish capital, where they will meet with the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Thursday, to urge him to stop a weeklong military incursion in northeastern Syria. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey for launching the offensive targeting a Kurdish militia that Ankara views as a terrorist threat. Washington allied with the Kurds in its fight against Islamic State and says the attack would cause humanitarian chaos.

RUSSIANS MOVE INTO U.S. VOID IN SYRIA: Russia asserted itself in a long-contested part of Syria on Tuesday after the United States pulled out, giving Moscow a new opportunity to press for Syrian army gains and project itself as a rising power broker in the Middle East (New York Times). Russian and Syrian troops drove through a key town where the United States had held sway and picked over abandoned American outposts to announce their presence in the area and deter the Turkish incursion that began last week. The Russian advance, enabled by President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw, may boost Russia’s Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, while blunting the Turkish incursion. It was a telling demonstration of how influence over the eight-year-old conflict in Syria has shifted from the United States to Russia. But in this case, there appeared to be little balance left in the Americans’ favor.

CHINA'S COMMITMENT ON AG PURCHASES IN DOUBT: Despite a Chinese promise to buy more U.S. farm products, questions remain over how much, the time frame for purchases, and what the U.S. might have to give in return (Wall Street Journal). Beijing is pushing the U.S. to drop plans to impose new 15% tariffs on $156 billion in consumer goods starting Dec. 15 and could use the farm purchases as leverage. Chinese negotiators continue to say purchases must be based on actual demand and at fair-market prices, according to people briefed by the matter. The roughly $50 billion in farm products touted by President Trump is far beyond what China has historically spent and would likely require Beijing to lean heavily on its state-owned firms to accomplish. “The uncertainty is still there,” says John Frisbie, managing director of international consulting firm Hills & Company and former president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

PENCE REFUSES TO HAND OVER DOCS TO HOUSE: The office of Vice President Mike Pence declined to comply with a records request from House committees leading an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, while Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, said he doesn’t intend to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents (Wall Street Journal). The Office of Management and Budget also didn’t comply Tuesday with a subpoena for documents about the delay in nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, according to a senior administration official. House Democrats are seeking documents about why the aid was withheld, probing, among other matters, who was involved in the decision-making process for delaying the money. The White House and its allies denied that the aid was withheld as part of a quid pro quo in exchange for investigations by Ukraine. Also on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said House Democrats won’t hold a vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump despite pressure from the GOP to do so.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: I still believe there is a narrow lane for Mayor Pete Buttigieg to win the Iowa caucuses, which is the lynchpin of his presidential candidacy. Despite last night's crowded debate stage, Buttigieg was conspicuous and emerged as one of the winners, pushing new frontrunner Elizabeth Warren on her "Medicare for all" plan (which couldn't provide crucial details). Buttigieg also mixed it up with Beto O'Rourke on guns, and the perception is Joe Biden continues to fade. All of these are elements Buttigieg needs as most Iowans continue to reassess who they will suppport. - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

BUTTIGIEG DEBATE REACTION: Boston Globe: Grade: A. This was the single best moment of Buttigieg’s campaign for president. He did well on guns, on impeachment, and particularly on Syria. Buttigieg had been making the argument that he is the centrist where moderate Democrats can go if Biden fails. That came through Tuesday night. In this debate, he added a new layer to his national brand: outsider. He kept referring to how he was from “the industrial Midwest” and how Washington had not solved the problems facing a wide swath of the United States. Buttigieg won the debate.

NYT: “Buttigieg’s biggest night yet. It was Mr. Buttigieg’s exchange with Ms. Warren over “Medicare for all” that was most memorable, pressing her as she declined to say, yet again, whether her plan would require a middle-class tax increase. (She says her plan would curb middle-class “costs.”)... It felt at times on Tuesday as if the sprawling 12-person stage had actually narrowed to a four-person debate, with Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders representing the left, and Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg representing the center-left. The occasional television shot of just those four served to hammer home the point.”

The Hill: “Buttigieg had a strong night and might have emerged as the winner of the debate. The performance is well-timed for Buttigieg, who burst out of the gate … Tuesday night’s debate could give him a burst of momentum heading into the final months before the caucuses. Buttigieg went aggressively after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), accusing her of equivocating on the central question of whether taxes would have to be raised on the middle class to pay for her “Medicare for All” plan … Buttigieg also memorably clashed with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) over U.S. involvement in the Middle East, showcasing his foreign policy chops.”

McClatchy: “Pete Buttigieg stepped up … More than in any previous debate, Buttigieg was central to the night’s biggest moments. He went toe-to-toe with Warren, abely fended off criticism from Gabbard, and even initiated a confrontation with O’Rourke on gun violence — a subject the former congressman needled Buttigieg over in the week leading up to the debate ... his most memorable moment may have come during an exchange with Gabbard, in which he defended the presence of some U.S. troops in the Middle East — and reminded the audience that he was a veteran who once served in Afghanistan.”

LA Times: “Buttigieg became a factor in the race, raising a ton of money and building himself one of the most formidable campaign operations in Iowa, the state that casts the first votes and, for many, is where their campaigns will do or die. He turned in his most pugnacious performance, challenging Warren’s support for Medicare-for-all, flaunting his outsider status by going after the Washington politicians on stage and trading his intellectual policy talk for a series of sharp-elbowed responses.”

USA TODAY: “Buttigieg was also ready to take some of his more progressive competitors to task on their policies. Buttigieg used forceful rhetoric during the debate.”

David Axelrod on CNN: “For Buttigieg [...] his oratory as a veteran on what the meaning of the withdrawal from Syria was was one of the best moments of the night.”

Gloria Borger on CNN: “Pete Buttigieg I think had a very strong night […] Buttigieg is so crisp and sharp.”

Claire McCaskill on MSNBC: “He is kind of smooth in the way he communicates. He's not rough around the edges, but there's an eloquence to it.” [...] And I do think that his eloquence actually is authentic. I think he is-- It's a little bit like Barack Obama -- that Barack Obama had an ability when he was speaking, especially in speeches to kind of soar and inspire people. And I think Mayor Pete may do that.

WINNERS AND LOSERS IN DEBATE: A dozen Democratic presidential candidates took the stage in Ohio for the fourth debate of the 2020 election, the largest field ever to participate in a single debate (Cillizza, CNN). I watched, took notes, tweeted and picked some of the best -- and the worst -- of the night. My winners and losers are below.

WINNERS: Pete Buttigieg: The South Bend mayor had one clear goal in the debate: Hit Elizabeth Warren on her support for "Medicare for All," and make sure Democratic voters knew he had an alternate plan that would not eliminate the private health insurance market. Mission accomplished. And remember: The polling I've seen makes clear that voters prefer a plan that preserves the right to choose a private insurance plan than one that gets rid of the private market in favor of a government-run plan. Buttigieg didn't stop there. His response to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's call to end "endless wars" was powerful, leaning heavily on his own military service. He slammed former Rep. Beto O'Rourke on gun control, with one of the lines of the night: "I don't need lessons from you in courage, political or personal." From beginning to end, Buttigieg was a dominant and commanding force. Yes, some will say he was "mean." But debates -- and primaries! -- are about drawing contrasts, and that is what Buttigieg did. And did very well.


Andrew Yang: If I told you even three months ago that there would be a time in mid-October in which there was an extended conversation in a Democratic debate about the dangers of automation, you would have laughed at me. And yet, there we were on Tuesday night -- a full debate within the debate, about Yang's pet issue. It's a testament to Yang's remarkable rise in this race -- second only to Buttigieg's -- and to the fact that he is already having a significant impact on the conversation within the Democratic Party. Plus, that "MATH" pin was straight fire.

Amy Klobuchar: At the moment, the Minnesota senator hasn't qualified for the next debate in November. Knowing that, Tuesday night was her last best chance to make a real move. And to her immense credit, she went for it. Knowing that Warren is now the front-runner (more on that below), Klobuchar went right after her. "Your idea is not the only idea," Klobuchar told Warren at one point. At another, she tried to make clear that Warren had no monopoly on "bold" ideas. At yet another, she accused Warren of "making Republican talking points right now." I'm not sure it changes anything in her polling. But she deserves credit for taking her best shot(s).

Bernie Sanders: If you were watching the debate to see how Sanders fared in the wake of his recent heart attack, well, he was the same old Bernie: Irascible, impatient, sneaky funny and entirely unapologetic about his liberal solutions to the problems facing the country. In a moment indicative of Sanders' night, he was asked a question about his health, muttered something like "I'm fine" and then pivoted to talk policy. Also, it doesn't hurt that the news that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be endorsing him broke during the debate.

Millennials (Washington Post): There was a point in the middle of the debate when South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) had an impassioned debate about whether the United States should be in Syria. Gabbard was the most noninterventionist candidate on the stage, while Buttigieg said Syria was perhaps the one place in the Middle East where we continue to need a presence. That disagreement aside, this was two millennial veterans of Middle East wars — the only two combat veterans among the leading candidates — having that debate on a presidential stage. That’s quite the moment.

LOSERS: Elizabeth Warren: Welcome to being the front-runner! Although polling suggests that Warren and Joe Biden are co-front-runners, it was crystal clear Tuesday night that the other 11 candidates on stage viewed the Massachusetts senator as the top dog. Which, in theory, is a good thing for her! But in practice, it didn't work out well. Buttigieg started things off by attacking her on Medicare for All -- and Warren was unable to provide a clear answer on a) whether she would raise taxes on middle-class Americans and b) if not, how would she find the money to pay for the plan. The hits kept coming. By my count, at least seven candidates attacked Warren at some point in the night -- and while she remains a very able debater, she was unable to parry all of those attacks effectively. Also, Warren saying that she'd like to see the US military presence gone entirely from the Middle East is going to come back to haunt her.

Joe Biden: I wrote today that Biden needed a performance that wasn't just "good for Biden" but good by any measure. He came close-ish but, to my mind, didn't do enough. (Worth noting: I thought this was Biden's best debate performance; his answer on his age and health was probably his best answer of the debate season.) His answer on his son, Hunter, and Ukraine was meh: "My son's statement speaks for itself" was the best he could do, knowing that question had to be coming? And maybe it will play differently on replay, but Biden's shout-y "I got you votes" move on Warren felt not so good in the moment. Not only does he seem to no longer be the candidate his opponents fear most, he was again somewhat off his game. He offered some odd figures on the middle-class costs of Medicare-for-all (Washington Post). He said “expidentially” instead of “exponentially.” He mixed up Iraq with Afghanistan. He said he never discussed his son’s Ukraine dealings with him, even though his son has said differently. And at the end of the debate, Biden said he didn’t mean to disrespect his opponents but that “I’m the only one on this stage who has actually gotten anything really big done.” His opponents bucked, with Warren pointing to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and then suggesting that perhaps certain members of the Obama administration could have been more supportive. Biden hasn’t really dropped in the polls as Warren has risen, but he is not showing the sharper version of himself that he probably needs to. And he seemed to be trying a little too hard at points on Tuesday.

Kamala Harris: Nothing Harris did on Tuesday night will change her trajectory -- downward in this race. Her "Dude gotta go" line about Trump fell flat, as if the audience had sort of been there and done that. Harris' attempt to force Warren to agree with her that Donald Trump's Twitter account should be suspended felt small and not terribly effective. Harris has simply not been able to recapture the magic she had in that first debate of this election; Tuesday night was another swing and miss.

Tom Steyer: When the most interesting thing about you in the debate is that you wore a plaid Christmas tie, you didn't have a good debate.

SANDERS, WARREN, BUTTIGIEG STOCKPILE FUNDS: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stockpiled millions more than their rivals, including Joe Biden, AP's Brian Slodysko reports. Sanders had $33.7 million in cash on hand on his third-quarter fundraising report. Warren had $25.7 million; Pete Buttigieg came next at $23.3 million. Biden, next at just $8.9 million, has burned through money at a fast clip over the past three months, while posting an anemic fundraising haul.

OAC TO ENDORSE BERNIE: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans to endorse Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally on Saturday, according to two Sanders aides, strengthening the Vermont senator's pull among young liberals (Politico Playbook).


GIULIANI EMERGING AS TOP IMPEACHMENT THREAD: Republicans and Democrats familiar with the closed-door testimony in the House impeachment inquiry tell Axios' Alayna Treene that Rudy Giuliani and his Ukraine activity has been a unifying thread for the witnesses (Axios). White House sources tell Axios that they're increasingly pulling their hair out because of him. Our big takeaway: While Democrats say that everything they’ve heard so far has only helped them, nothing in the depositions so far appears to have moved any Republicans closer to impeachment.

TOP POMPEO AID TO TESTIFY: Michael McKinley is set to testify as part of the House Democrats' impeachment probe -- less than a week after resigning as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (CNN). McKinley, a former US ambassador, will appear before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees on Wednesday, two congressional sources told CNN Monday. The former State Department adviser is appearing for a transcribed interview, according to one of the sources, which indicates he is not coming under subpoena. McKinley declined to comment ahead of his testimony.

PELOSI HOLDS OFF ON IMPEACHMENT VOTE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders will hold off on a full House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to multiple lawmakers and aides (Politico). Democratic leadership sources caution, however, that the decision could be 'reassessed at some point.' The move came amid opposition from key chairmen and members of leadership, as well as a number of centrist Democrats facing tough reelection bids.

CHINA SLAMS HOUSE HONG KONG BILL: China reacted angrily to the House of Representatives’ passage of a bill paving the way for sanctions against individuals who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, as pro-democracy lawmakers in the Asian financial hub prevented the city’s leader from delivering a much-anticipated policy speech in the legislature (Washington Post). The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, approved unanimously Tuesday by the House, requires the U.S. government to consider annually whether it should continue to treat Hong Kong as a separate trading entity from mainland China in response to political developments in the city. That special status has allowed Hong Kong to cement its role as an international financial center and exempts its goods and services from the Trump administration’s tariffs. Concerns about dysfunction in Hong Kong are growing. The disruption of the speech, which leader Carrie Lam was forced to deliver via video Wednesday amid a heavy police presence aimed at deterring protests, underscored how little room officials have to maneuver as pressure mounts for a resolution to the crisis.

General Assembly

PUSH FOR VAPE TAX: Indiana needs state taxes to discourage the use of electronic cigarettes as vaping becomes more popular and is increasingly blamed in illnesses and deaths, the state’s main physicians organization and other health advocates said Tuesday (AP). A vaping tax proposal failed in this year’s legislative session following questions about the tax level and how to charge it but concerns have since grown about vaping among teenagers and a lung ailment linked to e-cigarettes that’s blamed for three deaths in Indiana and at least 26 nationally. Indiana State Medical Association President Lisa Hatcher, a family physician from Columbia City, told a state legislative committee that many teenagers think they are “using candy” when they use flavored vaping liquids that often contain high levels of nicotine.

BRINEGAR TESTIFIES FOR VAPE TAX: Health officials and business owners told a legislative committee the only way to curb Indiana’s increase in smokeless tobacco usage is to tax and regulate vaping products like Juul (CNHI). With a smoking rate that’s 50% higher than the U.S. average and a 327% increase in the number of youth using e-cigarettes, the state needs a 24% tax on vaping products, said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Brinegar testified Tuesday before the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy, which heard more than two hours of testimony about vaping and tobacco use. He cited studies showing that Indiana has the third highest rate of e-cigarette usage in the nation and ranks as 44th worst in nicotine use among all 50 states.


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for October 16, 2019. Gov. Holcomb and Carolene Mays-Medley, Executive Director of the White River State Park Development Commission, 10:30 a.m., White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St, Indianapolis.               

INDOT: JOB FAIRS TODAY - The Indiana Department of Transportation is hosting a statewide hiring fair on Wednesday. The department says it seeks to recruit candidates for over 100 winter seasonal and full-time positions (Inside Indiana Business). Applicants should bring proof of commercial driver's license. A high school diploma or General Education Development certificate is preferred, but not required. Seasonal positions run from November through March, with a starting pay of $16 per hour, and INDOT is offering a $250 sign-on and $500 retention bonus for eligible candidates.

DNR: GROUND BREAKING ON WHITE RIVER SP FACILITY - White River State Park in Indianapolis will Wednesday host a ground-breaking ceremony for a permanent concert venue on its concert lawn (Inside Indiana Business). The project, announced last year, will include a permanent stage and lighting, permanent seating and seating pad for 3000 and an additional lawn seating capacity of 4,500 . The seasonal venue currently operates with temporary structures, folding chairs and artist dressing room trailers. The park will break ground on phase two of the project, which is reported to include the buildout of the VIP structure, a concrete pad for seating, the permanent seating, the canopy above the permanent seating and artist amenities.


WHITE HOUSE: MAJOR INCONSISTENCIES IN TRUMP TAX DOCS - Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump's businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings' property tax. For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will meet with Republican and Democratic leadership, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, at the White House at 3 p.m. to discuss Turkey. It will be the first time Pelosi has met with Trump since launching the impeachment inquiry. Trump will participate in the arrival of Italian President Sergio Mattarella at 10:15 a.m. in the South Portico. He will participate in a bilateral meeting with Mattarella at 10:25 in the Oval Office followed by an expanded bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room. The two will hold a joint press conference at noon in the East Room. Trump will have lunch with Pompeo at 12:45 p.m. in the private dining room. He will meet with congressional leadership at 3 in the Cabinet Room. Trump will participate in the arrival of Mattarella at 6:15 and will give remarks at a reception in honor of Italy at 6:30 in the East Room.


SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL MAY DROP PD TAPE FIGHT - After seven years of litigation and millions of tax dollars spent on legal fees, the Common Council may end its quest for the release of secretly recorded tapes that purportedly captured police officers making racist remarks and talking about illegal activities (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Council members in the past have said they hoped the release of the tapes would shed light on Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 2012 firing of former Police Chief Darryl Boykins. But now, the council is considering dropping the fight. In a court filing, council attorney Robert Palmer referenced recent media reports about the contents of the tapes, writing that they could have a “significant impact on the Common Council’s litigation strategy based on any assumption that the alleged statements are accurate.”

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL APPROVES 3% RAISES - In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council granted itself, the city clerk and the mayor's office a raise for the 2020 fiscal year (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette).  Members of City Council, the mayor and clerk will receive a 3% raise next year after having frozen salaries the past several years. Council members' pay was set at $22,279 per year in 2014 and has not changed since. The mayor's annual salary has been set at $128,593 since 2015. The 3% raise is the same as what all other city employees will receive next year.  Freezing the salaries for Fort Wayne's elected officials has been championed each year by City Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, who argued in 2015 that Fort Wayne's elected officials were among the highest paid in the state. That's changed, Crawford said Tuesday. Other cities' elected officials are now paid more than Fort Wayne's.  “It's kind of gotten out of balance now by holding it,” Crawford said. “At the present time, City Council salary in Hammond is $31,211 and in Gary it's $28,726.”

CROWN POINT: $21M COMING FOR WATER IMPROVEMENTS - Crown Point will receive a piece of the $910 million pie Indiana will dish out to support wastewater and drinking water projects across the state (NWI Times). Crown Point will receive a $21.2 million federal loan for a new drinking water tank, pump station improvements, chlorination and looping, which seeks to eliminate dead-end water mains. The town of Schneider, which is south of Lowell, was awarded $877,600 for wastewater treatment plant improvements. 

FULTON COUNTY: JUST SELECTED IN BUS STOP DEATH CASE - A jury of 12 and two alternates were chosen Tuesday afternoon for the trial of a woman accused of hitting four children, killing three, while they were trying to get to a school bus outside Rochester (South Bend Tribune). Alyssa Shepherd, 24, is charged with three counts of reckless homicide, one count of passing a school bus causing injury and one count of criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury. Opening arguments and testimony in the trial will start this morning.

LAKE COUNTY: ELECTION BOARD REJECTS CHALLENGE - The Lake County Election Board has rejected an eligibility challenge to a Democratic Hammond city council candidate that was filed last week by a onetime Republican candidate for Hammond mayor who the board kicked off the ballot in September (Carden, NWI Times). The bipartisan panel that oversees elections in Indiana's second-most populous county voted 4-1 Tuesday to dismiss the challenge filed by Edward Lipkovitch against at-large council candidate Katrina Alexander. A majority of the board agreed that Lipkovitch's Oct. 7 filing came well past the Feb. 15 deadline for challenging municipal candidates who ran in the May 7 primary election, as Alexander did.

VIGO COUNTY: JAIL TO COST $56M - Construction cost for a new Vigo County Jail will be $56,276,080 (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The Vigo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to accept bid recommendations from Garmong Construction Services. "Each low bidder's proposal has been reviewed and compared to the scope of work. Each contractor is considered the lowest, responsive and responsible bid," said Mike Peterson, senior project manager for Garmong, after reading off bid recommendations in 13 categories.