LESS THAN A QUARTER OF EVICTION FUNDS HAVE MADE IT TO RENTERS: Treasury Department data released Monday showed the disbursement of federal rental aid has started to plateau, despite Biden administration pressure on state and local governments to ramp up delivery of the money to avert evictions during the pandemic (Politico). State, local and tribal officials had disbursed about $10.7 billion in rental assistance as of the end of September, representing less than a quarter of the $46.5 billion Congress authorized in two tranches since last December. The September expenditure marked a 5.6 percent increase from August, which saw a 42.4 percent increase over July. With some states and cities still experiencing bottlenecks or waning demand, Treasury said Monday it will soon begin the process of recapturing funds from where distribution is lagging. Sept. 30 was the deadline for state and local officials to obligate or disburse 65 percent of the money they received under the first batch of funding or risk seeing it redistributed to other parts of the country. The White House has been pushing states and cities to pick up the pace for months.

 

SEN. YOUNG DOESN'T KNOW WHERE WORKERS ARE:  U.S. Sen. Todd Young expressed concerns Friday about worsening employee shortages in the Hoosier state, and worried vaccine mandates will drive away workers in socially conservative areas (McGerr, Bloomington Herald-Times). The Indiana Republican addressed a series of issues affecting the state and the nation during a discussion with community members that was hosted by the Ellettsville Chamber of Commerce. Topics ranged from government spending to the increasing number of unfilled jobs to vaccine mandates and child care costs. Young said a "massive labor shortage" is leaving a large number of jobs unfilled in Indiana. "We had 120,000 available jobs in August; we're up to 150,000 right now," Young said. "I don't know where everyone is. What do they do with their time?" "So the health care workforce is burnt out," Young said. "It's a pandemic. Go to rural communities, they barely keep these long-term care facilities open and hospitals open because of shortages."

 

BIDEN ADMIN ANNOUNCES HOME COVID TESTING PLAN: The Biden administration on Monday announced several steps aimed at making rapid, at-home Covid testing more widely available while lowering costs (NBC News). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is streamlining its authorization process, while the National Institutes of Health will spend $70 million on a new program to accelerate test-makers through those regulatory hurdles. The funds will come from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package President Joe Biden signed into law in March. The announcement comes as businesses prepare to implement Biden’s vaccinate-or-test mandate. The administration has for months faced criticism that at-home rapid tests are not widely available and that those on the market are too expensive. The FDA also said Monday it has issued emergency use authorization to another over-the-counter rapid antigen test by the company Celltrion Diatrust, bringing the total number of rapid, at-home tests available to the public to 10.

 

MODERNA ANNOUNCES RESULTS WITH VAX FOR KIDS: Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine was generally safe and induced the desired immune responses in children ages 6 to 11 in a clinical trial, according to the company (Wall Street Journal). The Cambridge, Mass., company said Monday that it would submit the results to health regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in seeking authorization to widen the use of its shots to include this younger age group. The company announced the interim data in a press release, and results haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for use in adults 18 years and older in the U.S.

 

WELLS COUNTY JUDGET DISMISSES YERGY'S LAW SUIT:  A judge has dismissed a lawsuit issued by Yergy’s State Road Barbecue, a Bluffton-based restaurant that was shut down in August 2020 after failing to comply with the state’s mask mandate. In December, owner Matt Yergler filed suit against the Wells County Health Department, the state and Gov. Eric Holcomb (WANE-TV). The lawsuit stated that the business was “aggrieved and adversely affected” when it shut down. Yergler argued it was a question of individual liberty. The mask mandate was downgraded to an advisory in April, and Yergy’s reopened after passing health inspections. A judge has dismissed a lawsuit issued by the owner of Yergy’s, arguing that the “subsequent actions by the Governor and the Indiana General Assembly have made issues presented in the complaint moot.” In yesterday’s dismissal, the judge said the court is sympathetic to hardships caused by the government’s response to the pandemic, but subsequent actions made by state leaders made the complaint’s issues moot.

 

AP POLL SHOWS 60% CONCERNED ABOUT CLIMATE: President Joe Biden heads to a vital U.N. climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans regard the deteriorating climate as a problem of high importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago. About 6 out of 10 Americans also believe that the pace of global warming is speeding up, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. As Biden struggles to pass significant climate legislation at home ahead of next week’s U.N. climate summit, the new AP-NORC/EPIC poll also shows that 55% of Americans want Congress to pass a bill to ensure that more of the nation’s electricity comes from clean energy and less from climate-damaging coal and natural gas. Only 16% of Americans oppose such a measure for electricity from cleaner energy. A similar measure initially was one of the most important parts of climate legislation that Biden has before Congress.

 

GERMAN TEAM WINS AUTONOMOUS IMS CHALLENGE WITH 136MPH LAP: A team from Germany won the $1 million grand prize in the inaugural Indy Autonomous Challenge on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technische Universität München recorded the fastest two-lap average of just under 136 mph in their driverless vehicle on the 2.5-mile oval track. Nine teams composed of researchers and students from 21 universities spanning nine countries competed in the event, which showcased their work in automated vehicle technology. Many of those teams have spent the past several months meticulously working on their vehicles at IMS and Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, a designated test facility for the challenge. The event was backed by major players in the tech industry including Cisco, Intel, Aptiv and Microsoft, along with individuals with direct ties to firms that have made major strides in autonomous technologies. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is also a major backer of the initiative.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Sen. Young wonders where are the workers are. It’s just the latest wrinkle in pandemic impacts that are challenging our conventional wisdom. That’s why it’s important to end this pandemic with increasing vaccination rates to achieve herd immunity, then do a thorough deep dive into what actually happened so we can prepare for the next pandemic. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

JEFFERSONVILLE DEMOCRAT ANNOUNCES FOR SD45: A Jeffersonville man with a passion for helping children and families in the foster care system has announced his bid to run in the newly-drawn Indiana Senate District 45 in the 2022 election (News & Tribune). Nick Marshall, a Democrat, is currently an active advocate for foster parents, adoptive parents, and especially foster kids, based on his own experience growing up in the foster care system. He serves on the Board of Directors Coalition Support Young Adults, serves as an Advisory board member to the Home of the Innocents, and volunteers at The Cabbage Patch Settlement House. Nick graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Communications and also served as the Cardinal bird mascot. “Living in the foster care system since an infant, the odds were stacked against me from the start but by the grace of the Lord I was able to be placed with two wonderful sets of foster parents," he said in the release. "Unfortunately, I was the only one of my siblings to make it out of the system with only a few scars. I know the importance of getting every available resource to Hoosier kids and making sure the communities they grow up in are safe. Especially our communities of color.”

 

INDEMS CALL ON HUPFER TO DENOUNCE HATE: Accountability is needed, and it’s got to come from INGOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer and the Indiana Republican Party say Indiana Democrats (Howey Politics Indiana). The INGOP’s unwillingness to hold white supremacists and domestic terrorist organizations accountable has created an environment that empowers the worst motives of some Hoosiers. Democrats have already demanded Hupfer denounce the Oath Keepers (the domestic terrorist group connected to the January 6 Insurrection) after it was found Indiana Republicans were connected to the organization. Now, it’s time for Hupfer to denounce Republicans who support flying the Nazi flag. After learning of this disturbing news, Indiana Democrats issued the following statement: “When the Indiana Republican Party refuses to condemn dangerous domestic terrorist groups, it empowers the worst motives from people. It’s time Chairman Kyle Hupfer denounce the Oath Keepers and the Nazi flag. Their silence speaks volumes.” – Indiana Democratic Party.

 

RACE-BASED EDUCATION TOWN HALL SCHEDULED FOR NOV. 1: Cure for America Action has scheduled a town hall for 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at Life Church in Noblesville. Speakers include former attorney general Curtis Hill, Rev. Micah Beckwith, Rev. Marc Little and Paul Lott. The event is free.

 

INDEMS SUPPORT McCORMICK ON NON-PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARDS: The Indiana Democratic Party provided its full support for Dr. Jennifer McCormick, former Superintendent of Public Instruction, and joined her effort in calling out the Indiana Republican Party and its strategy to join a national partisan campaign to make school board elections partisan races (Howey Politics Indiana). In an interview during WISH-TV’s “All Indiana Politics'' show, McCormick brought a blunt, honest assessment of the Indiana Republicans’ attacks on public education and school boards across the state:  “It’s very much of an organized effort that’s coming from outside of Indiana to cause disruption with Critical Race Theory or Social and Emotional Learning skills and curriculum tied to that. It’s very purposeful, and it goes back to an anti-public education push that again is coming outside of Indiana. It’s causing a lot of disruption. But regardless, it does not do anyone any good, including our students, to have a bunch of disruption at a school board,” said Dr. Jennifer McCormick during her WISH-TV interview. “Families who are discouraged or frustrated with their school board and their leaders, there’s an appropriate way to handle that, and it’s not certainly showing up at school boards and threatening people or yelling at people and being disruptive. That is not serving anyone well.” “Dr. Jennifer McCormick is right. Indiana Republicans are once again invoking their extreme partisanship and manufacturing another culture war that’s solely intended to divide our communities and families and win elections,” said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party.

 

INDEM SMALL TOWN TOUR TONIGHT IN CICERO, NORTH VERNON: Tomorrow in Cicero and North Vernon, Jennifer McCormick (former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction) Chairman Mike Schmuhl, State Sen. Fady Qaddoura and Melanie Wright will continue the Indiana Democratic Party’s “Small Town, Indiana” tour, a fourteen-stop effort to highlight how Democrats are delivering for Indiana’s rural communities (Howey Politics Indiana). The Cicero event will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Public Libary, 209 Brinton St., while the North Vernon event is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Willow Lake Center. “Public schools and farmers are the heartbeat of rural communities and the backbone of Indiana itself, and Democrats are set to hold real conversations about how we are delivering solutions to the most-pressing problems facing Hoosier families in Indiana’s small towns,” said Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “Democrats have delivered since Day One of Joe Biden’s presidency, and we are ready to fan out across the state to share with families how policies like the American Rescue Plan have fully-funded Indiana’s public schools and expanded broadband internet access. Democrats are creating a better future for Hoosier families in rural America, while the other side appears to prioritize only extreme partisanship and division, a contrast we’ll campaign on into the 2022 elections.”

 

TRUMP CONTINUES TO INSULT McCAIN: Less than a week after deriding Colin Powell as a "classic RINO" days after the late general's death, former President Donald Trump spent Sunday afternoon running down another American military hero: John McCain (CNN). In a statement ostensibly about the late senator's daughter and her decision to leave "The View," Trump spent most of his time attacking McCain himself. Among the litany of abuse: Trump "made it possible for her father to have the world's longest funeral, designed and orchestrated by him, even though I was never, to put it mildly, a fan." Of McCain, Trump said: "In his own very special way, he was a RINO's RINO." Trump won Arizona in 2016 "despite [McCain] fighting against me." Trump noted that McCain "was close to last in his class at Annapolis."

 

PENCE VIRGINIA APPEARANCE NOT FOR YOUNGKIN: Former Vice President Mike Pence's address in Loudoun County, Va., is not tied to the campaign of Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (Fox News). Pence is set to deliver remarks in Loudon County Thursday focused on "educational freedom," a topic that has been largely defined Virginia's race for governor. But a Youngkin campaign spokesperson told Fox News that the former vice president's event in the state is not related to their campaign.

 

Congress

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. and at noon will take up the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021.

 

THE SENATE is in.

 

General Assembly

 

HOUSE DEMS REACT TO POLICE REVIEW REPORT: Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) and Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Chair State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) released the following statement after the findings of a third-party review of state-level law enforcement agencies were made public (Howey Politics Indiana). "Today's report is a first step in strengthening trust and collaboration between law enforcement and communities, creating a safer Indiana for all Hoosiers," GiaQuinta said. "I was pleased to see the third-party review identify areas where state-level law enforcement agencies have made progress in the past year. These agencies have my support as they work diligently to implement the remaining recommendations. Our officers should be held to the highest standard to ensure community safety for all. I look forward to the commitments of this report being actualized, and to seeing the returns on investments appropriated by the General Assembly during the 2021 Legislative Session." "I'd like to thank Governor Holcomb for initiating this third-party review as a response to IBLC and community outcry," Shackleford said. ""It is encouraging to see many of the social justice initiatives that the IBLC has been advocating for, such as the use of body cameras and implicit bias training, be reaffirmed in Hillard Heintze's review."

 

MOED URGES COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL VOICES BE HEARD: Downtown and Southside residents are encouraged today by State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis) to attend a public meeting tomorrow (Oct. 26) to voice community and environmental concerns over Metalworks Lubricants Co. The metalworking fluids, chemicals and processing company with a facility in Indianapolis is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice, and has been in violation of air permits six times since 2016 (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) will hold a public meeting to discuss air permitting and the company’s request for adding additional equipment to their facility.  IDEM staff will describe the draft air permit and answer questions from citizens. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions, make statements, and discuss air pollution concerns with IDEM staff. “I encourage citizens who have had long-standing environmental concerns with Metalworking Lubricants to take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with officials and have their voices heard,” Moed said. “Community members have been plagued by issues presented by this company for over 20 years. It is time for IDEM to stand up for residents and ensure the company takes responsibility for continued permit breaches.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB RELEASES 3RD PARTY POLICE REVIEWS - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today released the findings of a report assessing the curriculum, training standards, policies and practices of all state-level law enforcement agencies (Howey Politics Indiana). “I made a commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable environment for all Hoosiers to take part in and that commitment meant taking a critical look at our state’s law enforcement,” Gov. Holcomb said. “By commissioning a third-party review, we have assessed what state law enforcement agencies are doing well and where we can improve. As the assessment progressed, the agencies initiated an implementation of some of the recommendations and are working toward reviewing and implementing the remaining items. I will continue to do my part to assure the citizens of Indiana that law enforcement officers are operating according to the highest standards.” Hillard Heintze, now a division of a Jensen Hughes Company, provides independent reviews of law enforcement agencies, focusing on analyses of strengths and weaknesses, evaluations of community policing strategies and assessing training curriculum and strategies.

 

GOVERNOR: ISP RECOMMENDATIONS - Hillard Heintze spent the past year reviewing policies, procedures and training materials of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board (LETB), the Indiana State Police (ISP), the State Excise Police, Indiana Conservation Officers, Capitol Police Services and Gaming Police as well as meeting with staff. The firm issued recommendations for the governor’s consideration. Among the ISP recommendations that have been implemented: Issuing body-worn cameras for all state troopers on the frontlines; Developing a strategic recruitment plan to accomplish recruiting and diversity goals; Investing in a shared case management system to allow for efficient and effective internal investigations and to increase transparency between law enforcement agencies; Releasing a comprehensive annual report with the goal of transparency and data sharing; Implementing a nationally recognized system that tracks use-of-force incidents for review and analysis to improve training programs and early intervention.

 

GOVERNOR: ILEA RECOMMENDATIONS - The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy has committed to: Establishing a work group to reevaluate current training methods that include topics such as implicit bias; Developing more online training to streamline operations and create more efficiency; Creating programs to include more scenario-based training for recruits; Developing and implementing a de-escalation response program for those suffering from a mental health crisis.

 

GOVERNOR: LETB RECOMMENDATIONS - The LETB has committed to: Developing more standard trainings and minimum standard requirements across the state; Implementing structural changes that put in place dedicated personnel to oversee the training process and curriculum; Supporting legislative changes to include civilians, as well as all satellite academy directors, as voting board members. All other agencies with policing services have committed to: Utilizing public messaging platforms to inform and engage the public about the specific agency work; Modernizing information systems to better track and analyze performance metrics. “We applaud Gov. Holcomb’s efforts to review and consider changes to the policies, procedures, operations and training of the state law enforcement agencies with whom we worked,” said Rob Davis, senior vice president of law enforcement consulting at Hillard Heintze, a Jensen Hughes Company. “While any organization can benefit from a review of its operations, we appreciate the fact that Indiana’s leadership embraced our assessment efforts and opened their doors to us without hesitation. It was clear to us they too want to make sure their operations align with best practices. They were very willing to challenge themselves as they considered potential changes to their operations.”

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Gov. Holcomb Public Schedule for Oct. 26, 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26: 94th National FFA Convention & Expo, Gov. Eric Holcomb; Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indianapolis; Scott Stump, CEO of National FFA; and Leonard Hoops, Visit Indy. The governor will give brief remarks during a press conference, Monument Circle (south side), 1 Monument Cir., Indianapolis.

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - Statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are continuing a steady fall after a recent peak in mid-September, according to statistics released Monday by the Indiana State Department of Health (IBJ). COVID hospitalizations in the state dropped from 1,348 on Saturday to 1,314 on Sunday, the lowest mark since Aug. 11. They have dropped 32% since the beginning of the month and 51% since hitting a recent peak of 2,687 on Sept. 13. COVID patients occupy almost 18% of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds. The health department reported no new deaths from COVID-19 based on those reported on Sunday, however, the cumulative total of deaths rose by 50 over the weekend, to 15,980. The seven-day moving average of new deaths rose dipped from 19 to 12 per day, the department said. The department reported 912 more cases of COVID-19, raising the pandemic total to 1,011,197. The total increased by 3,516 cases over the weekend. More than 3.35 million Hoosiers had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday at 5 a.m., after a weekend increase of 6,787. More than 284,000 Hoosiers have already gotten vaccine boosters, after a weekend increase of more than 23,000. The health department said 59.3% of Indiana residents 18 and older are now fully vaccinated.

 

ISDH: TRINE TO HONOR DR. BOX - Trine University has awarded an honorary degree to Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box (WANE-TV). Box was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the 50th anniversary celebration gala for the Indiana Academy last week. She was honored primarily for her work during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is not an overstatement to say that Dr. Box’s leadership saved lives on our campuses and in our communities,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., president of Trine University, said in presenting the degree. “For that, we owe her a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. But we can bestow upon her the highest honor that a university has at its disposal, our honorary doctorate.”

 

UTILITIES: NIPSCO COULD RETIRE MICHIGAN CITY COAL PLANT EARLY - The northern Indiana utility NIPSCO has refined its long-term plans to be mostly powered by renewable energy in the next 20 years. That includes the option of retiring its Michigan City coal plant up to two years early (Indiana Public Media). The company also wants to build a new natural gas peaker plant to replace its two aging peakers at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield. These plants only run during hours when energy demand is high. Nick Meyer is the vice president of state communications for NiSource — NIPSCO’s parent company. He said the plan allows the utility the flexibility in ensuring reliable energy for its customers as it transitions to mostly wind and solar in the future. “We knew that those would need to retire here at some point. So, you know, are we able to do that before Michigan City retires or does it need to be at the same time? So tried to provide a little bit of flexibility," Meyer said.

 

ACA: ANTHEM JUMPS BACK INTO STATE MARKET - Hoosiers looking for health insurance on the Obamacare marketplace will have another big option next year (IBJ). Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc., which quit the program three years ago after racking up huge losses, is jumping back in under a partnership with three hospital systems covering 45 of Indiana’s 92 counties. Anthem will offer plans in partnership with Indiana University Health in 38 counties stretching from Pulaski County in the north to Orange County in the south, including all of central Indiana. It will also partner with Union Hospital to offer plans in four counties in the Terre Haute region, and with Methodist Hospital of Gary to offer plans in three counties in northwest Indiana.

 

NBA: MILWAUKEE DOWNS PACERS 119-109 -  Giannis Antetokounmpo went into attack mode with the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks playing short-handed Monday night (ESPN). He carried them to another victory. Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Khris Middleton added 27 points to help the Bucks beat Indiana 119-109. "It was really aggressive Giannis tonight," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "At the same time, he making reads, making great passes. When he's attacking like that, that's when we are at our best. He had that extra gear tonight."

 

NBA: BULLS OFF TO 4-0 START WITH 111-108 WIN OVER RAPTORS - The Chicago Bulls are off to the franchise's best start since the 1996-97 season (ESPN). They improved to 4-0 on Monday night with a 111-108 victory against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena, making Chicago the last remaining unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference. After overhauling their roster in free agency, the Bulls are already reaping the benefits from some of their biggest offseason additions.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN PUSHES FOR DEAL - The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan quickly ran into criticism as too cumbersome with some lawmakers preferring the original plan of simply raising the top tax rates on corporations and the wealthy (AP). Biden said Monday he’s hopeful the talks with Congress can wrap up overall agreement on the package this week. It’s tallying at least $1.75 trillion, and could still be more. Biden said it would be “very, very positive to get it done” before he departs for two overseas global summits. “That’s my hope,” the president said before leaving his home state of Delaware for a trip to New Jersey to highlight the child care proposals in the package and a related infrastructure measure. “With the grace of God and the goodwill of the neighbors.”

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN KEEPS TRUMPS HARD LINE STANCE V. CHINA - As a candidate, President Joe Biden cast himself as an anti-Donald Trump whose approach to foreign challenges would look nothing like that of the president he sought to replace. But since Biden became president, his China stances have, more often than not, echoed his predecessor’s — surprising even some China hawks (NBC News). Yet the Biden administration has also maintained that stiff competition should not and need not preclude narrow cooperation between the countries in a handful of areas of common interest, like climate change. Now, as world leaders prepare to gather within days for the G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland — gatherings that Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to skip — their approach is being put to the test.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule — 8:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. — 9 a.m.: Biden will take part virtually in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit. — 12:15 p.m.: Biden will have lunch with VP Harris. — 7:50 p.m.: Biden will campaign with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at Virginia Highlands Park in Arlington. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief with national security adviser Jake Sullivan at 10 a.m.

 

USDA: $1.5B FOR RURAL INTERNET - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a significant expansion of access to high-speed internet, health care and educational services for millions of rural Americans nationwide. Friday’s announcement continues to move forward President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda by prioritizing economic growth in rural America and investing in the backbone of our country – the middle class (Hoosier Ag Today). “For too long, the ‘digital divide’ has left too many people living in rural communities behind: unable to compete in the global economy and unable to access the services and resources that all Americans need,” Vilsack said. “As we build back better than we were before, the actions I am announcing today will go a long way toward ensuring that people who live or work in rural areas are able to tap into the benefits of broadband, including access to specialized health care, educational opportunities and the global marketplace. Rural people, businesses and communities must have affordable, reliable, high-speed internet so they can fully participate in modern society and the modern economy.”

 

ILLINOIS: CHICAGO COUNCIL TO CREATE INCOME SHARING - The Chicago City Council is poised to vote this week on what would be one of the nation’s largest basic income programs, giving 5,000 low-income households $500 per month each using federal funding from the pandemic stimulus package enacted this year (MSN). Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has proposed the more than $31 million program as part of her 2022 budget, which the city council is scheduled to consider on Wednesday. The one-year pilot program, funded by the nearly $2 billion Chicago received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, is supported by most of city’s 50 aldermen. But it has received pushback from the 20-member Black Caucus, which has urged Lightfoot to redirect the money to violence prevention programs.

 

NFL: BEARS COACH NAGY HAS COVID - Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy has tested positive for COVID-19 and will remain away from Halas Hall until further notice (AP). Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will run any full team meetings in Nagy’s absence. On Sunday, right tackle Elijah Wilkinson was the fifth Bears player to go on the COVID-19 list in the last 11 days, and his absence proved costly in a 38-3 loss considering the team already was thin on the offensive line because of injuries.

 

Local

 

MICHIGAN CITY: COUNCIL GIVES PARRY TINY RAISE — The City Council gave Mayor Duane Parry a raise for 2022, but far less than he requested. Parry’s initial budget proposal called for a 48.7% pay raise, to $118,120.14. He later suggested all raises for elected officials be used to give bigger raises to hourly employees (Ross, NWI Times). The mayor’s current salary is $79,409.72. The council boosted it to $80,000, saying they were focusing on the position rather than the current occupant throughout the budget process. Parry requested pay raises of 76 percent for council members, to $25,671.54, but the council kept salaries at their current level, $14,553.09, with several council members saying they knew what the pay was when they ran for office. City Clerk Gale Neulieb was given a 7.35% raise, to $70,526.48, the same as Parry’s original proposal.

 

COLUMBUS: COUNCIL SEEKS MORE OT FUNDING - Columbus is seeking to increase the amount of money earmarked for overtime wages at two city departments where workers are putting in more hours than expected largely due to the pandemic and a nationwide struggle to fill open positions (Columbus Republic). The Columbus City Council has unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance that would amend the 2021 city budget to include an additional $40,000 for unplanned overtime at the Columbus Fire Department and another $25,000 for overtime wages at Columbus Transit. Overall, the amendment would increase the overtime budget at the fire department from $190,000 to $230,000 this year. At Columbus Transit, the overtime limit would increase from $44,649 to $69,649.

 

COLUMBUS: $2M IN TIF MONEY FOR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT - The Columbus Redevelopment Commission plans to use cash from its Central TIF district to help fund a new mixed-use development downtown (Columbus Republic). On Monday, the commission voted to contribute $2 million from the Central Allocation Area toward construction of the multifamily urban grocer project. The expense will also need approval from Columbus City Council, as city ordinances require council approval for TIF expenditures larger than $500,000.

 

EVANSVILLE: 2 BABY BOXES INSTALLED - Two baby boxes were installed at Evansville Fire Stations, and they are set to open on Thursday, October 28 (WFIE-TV). Monica Kelsey started Safe Haven Baby Boxes in 2016 for a very personal reason. “I was abandoned as an infant back in 1973,” Kelsey said. “So starting an organization for women and children, literally, I think was my purpose.” Since its creation, they’ve opened 85 boxes across the country, with over 60 of those right here in Indiana.

 

LAWRENCE: COUNCIL LOOKS TO CLEAR AIR ON BUDGET — Officials with the city of Lawrence looked to clear the air Monday night after their approved 2022 budget left department heads frustrated two weeks prior (CBS4). The then approved budget cut millions of dollars which funded tasers, body cameras and salaries for Lawrence public safety officials.  The City Common Council says they didn’t know what they were cutting before approving the budget, as the items they cut they say, were incorrectly labelled. The council met again Monday night to make amendments to the budget in the form of vouchers and proposals, but still, not everyone is happy.

 

VEVAY: KAT VON D TO MOVE HERE — Kat Von D really is putting her money where her mouth is. Almost a year after buying a historical home in southern Indiana, the 39-year-old tattoo artist, entrepreneur and pin-up girl announced plans Monday to close her famous Hollywood tattoo shop and move here permanently (IndyStar). Kat Von D, whose real name Katherine Von Drachenberg, said she plans to reopen the shop in Indiana, where she bought the historic Benjamin Schenk Mansion last December. Vevay is in Switzerland County on the Indiana-Kentucky border and about an hour from both Cincinnati and Louisville.

 

PORTER COUNTY: SHERIFF'S SON TO RUN -  Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds has announced his son, also Dave Reynolds, will be running next year for the top cop job in the unincorporated areas of the county (Kasarda, NWI Times). "As you know next year I will be finishing my 16th year as Porter County Sheriff," Reynolds, the current office holder, said in a social media post. "David is very qualified, and his law enforcement experience will make him an outstanding sheriff," he said of his son. The sheriff was not immediately available Monday afternoon for further comment.

 

HUNTINGTON COUNTY: SEEKS MORE TIME TO RESPOND TO LAWSUIT - Huntington County has asked for more time to respond to a lawsuit an employee filed because of alleged retaliation after she reported sexual harassment (Filchak, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Kari Harmon of Huntington filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne this month. She has been an employee of the county since 2006. Harmon was working as the officer manager in Prosecutor Amy Richison's office in 2019 when she said Richison “made an offensive and inappropriate comment” that Harmon believes was sexual harassment, court documents state. After she reported the comment, she was demoted as office manager and had to train her replacement, who was an employee who has worked below her previously, according to the suit.