SCHMUHL CALLS ON GOP TO DENOUNCE EXTREMISM: There’s a farmer near Macy who is flying a Nazi flag adjacent to the Nickel Plate Trail. Since 2015 and the emergence of Donald Trump, I’ve noticed an untick in crude, intolerant incidents at town board, city council and county commissioner meetings and now school boards across Indiana, as well as “F— Biden” flags flying in Hammond and Kokomo (Howey Politics Indiana). Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl is calling on Indiana Republicans and leaders to denounce the flag. "With the election of Donald Trump, he sort of allowed this sort of behavior to run rampant. You connect the dots throughout his political career, from the time he decided to run for president until now, Charlottsville ... clearing a square of protesters to hold up a Bible, and the big one - Jan. 6 - the one that sort of pierced the heart of our democracy, trying to overturn the election results. You can kind of connect the dots between the time he announced for the presidency until now. He’s basically given agency, given permission for folks who normally been on the fringe or outcasts to occur. It’s dangerous and it poisons our democracy." Schmuhl adds, "You look at previous Republican presidents and nominees - both Bushes, John McCain, Mitt Romney - they’ve all in one form or another denounced Donald Trump and the lines he has crossed. What I see here in Indiana now, over the past week or two, is you have a state senator who has been found to be a member of the Oath Keepers, which was part of Jan. 6, and you have a farmer out there in Macy flying a Nazi flag. When the Republican Party in our state and other leaders don’t come forward and denounce that, it allows it to continue. It allows it to be acceptable."

 

POLICE REVIEW CALLS FOR DIVERSITY: An external review of Indiana’s state police agencies found they need to bolster the recruitment and promotion of minority and female officers and increase training about racial bias (AP). The findings are part of a 100-page report released Monday that was commissioned by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb following demonstrations across the country and state last year protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The consulting firm Hillard Heintze acknowledged attempts by Indiana State Police to recruit more diverse officer candidates, while citing that white men made up more than 80% of promotions and reassignments during 2018-20. One agency strategy of sending white officers to barbershops and restaurants in predominately Black communities to talk about the job was viewed as “offensive or patronizing” by some Black ISP officers, according to the report. “The ISP provides its members with cultural awareness education and training taught by command-level personnel, demonstrating its importance to the organization. However, this training does not include a discussion of implicit bias or actions officers could take to reduce the influence of implicit bias when interacting with their colleagues and community members,” the study said.

 

RV INDUSTRY HAS BEST MONTH EVER: The recreational vehicle industry is continuing its record-breaking years. In a news release about September RV shipments, the RV Industry Association stated the month was the best ever in terms of units shipped to retailers (Goshen News). "Results for the RV Industry Association’s September 2021 survey of manufacturers determined that total RV shipments ended the month with 55,014 units, an increase of 32.2% compared to the 41,600 units shipped during September 2020. This September was also the best on comparable record with shipments surpassing the September 2017 total of 43,598 units by 26%," the RVIA said. "With the new report, the RV industry sets a new all-time high for the number of RVs shipped in any previous month and any previous quarter. The more than 55,000 RVs shipped this past month is a 1% increase over the previous single-month record set in March of this year. The record-breaking 152,370 RVs shipped in the third quarter (July-Sept 2021), inches past the previous quarterly record of 151,760 set last quarter (April-June 2021) and is also a 23% increase over the third quarter of 2020."

 

FDA PANEL RECOMMENDS VAX FOR 5-11 YEAR OLDS: A key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly to recommend the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds, bringing the vaccine a big step closer to about 28 million children. Shots could be offered as early as next week (New York Times). The panel endorsed giving the age group one-third of the dosage given to people 12 and older in two shots, three weeks apart. The committee’s recommendations on whether to authorize vaccines are not binding, but the F.D.A. typically follows them in the days after the vote. That will turn the matter over to the C.D.C., which has its own expert panel scheduled to weigh in next week.

 

VIGO HEALTH OFFICIAL SEEKS TO DEPOLITICIZE VAX: Vigo County’s health commissioner urged people to put their political views aside when it comes to getting their children routine, required immunizations necessary for health and school (Loughlin, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). “People need to realize these routine vaccinations have been around for decades ... They have basically taken everyday illnesses like polio and made them preventable,” said Dr. Darren Brucken during an “Ask the Experts” Monday night webinar sponsored by MDwise, the Vigo County Health Department and the Indiana Department of Health. In the COVID era, many people have become politically divided when it comes to vaccinations, particularly when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, he said. If people consider themselves anti-vax from a political standpoint, “that should have absolutely no bearing on the choices you make for your child to get them up-to-date on their regular vaccinations,” he said.

 

OFFICIALS IN SANTA FE TO PROVIDE DETAILS OF MOVIE SET SHOOTING: Investigators plan to discuss their initial findings Wednesday in the fatal movie-set shooting in which Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, killing a cinematographer and wounding the director (AP). The news conference by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies promises the first detailed public comments by investigators about the killing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal at a New Mexico ranch. The sequence of events on Oct. 21 has baffled Hollywood professionals and prompted calls to better regulate firearms of sets or even ban them in the age of seamless computer-generated imagery.

 

GREENSBURG OFFERS 'STAND-IN GRANDPARENTS':  A rural city in southeastern Indiana has piqued the interest of hundreds of families considering a move there after it offered stand-in ”grandparents” to babysit their children as part of an incentive program aimed at attracting remote workers (AP). A local couple, Tami and Dan Wenning, volunteered to serve as grandparents to children from the first five families that agree to move to Greensburg under the program. If more new residents make the move, other grandparents in the community “are more than ready” to step in and help, Tami Wenning said. Greensburg, 50 miles (80.47 kilometers) southeast of Indianapolis, will offer the free babysitting service for the next six to 12 months as part of the program it’s calling “Grandparents on Demand.” Kids are also guaranteed to have a fill-in grandma and grandpa on Grandparents Day at school — a perk for those moving far away from family.

 

CPL. SANCHEZ TO POSTHUMOUSLY RECEIVE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL:  Fallen Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez of Logansport will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (WTHR-TV). The U.S. House passed H.R. 5142 to honor the 13 U.S. military service members who were killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, 2021. “Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez and 12 of his brothers and sisters in arms paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. These courageous service members stood in the face of danger to evacuate American citizens, partners, and allies from Afghanistan,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) “It is now our duty to honor their selfless sacrifice and ensure that these heroes are never forgotten. I am proud that our bipartisan legislation to award these 13 Americans with the Congressional Gold Medal passed the House, and I encourage the Senate to quickly advance it to the president’s desk.”

 

NFL COMBINE TO REMAIN IN INDY FOR 2022:  The NFL Scouting Combine is staying put in the Circle City for at least another year, according to a report by NFL.com (WRTV). However, the annual event might be on the move beyond that. NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent confirmed the 2022 combine will remain in Indy while bids from Dallas, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis are in consideration for the combine in 2023. It's unknown at this time when the winning 2023 bid will be announced. But since 1987, the combine has been held in Indianapolis. The combine gathers more than 300 NFL draft prospects during a four-day series of medical, physical, and mental testing.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly Howey Politics Indiana, we'll review 50 years of major party Indiana state chairs and who had the biggest impacts, which is a mighty tall stack of pancakes. Horse Race will update on the growing number of legislative campaigns. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

HAWKINS TO SEEK HD71 GOP NOMINATION: Jeffersonville High School teacher and At-Large City Councilman Scott Hawkins announced today his intent to run for the Republican nomination for HD71, a seat covering most of Jeffersonville and Clarksville and one precinct in New Albany. The seat is currently held by Democrat State Rep. Rita Fleming (Howey Politics Indiana). "I am running for state representative because the people of Southern Indiana need someone that will fight for them in Indianapolis. We deserve a representative that understands struggle, hard work, and has a track record of getting things done while standing strong on their core values. I look forward to being that Representative”, Hawkins said. “My time on Jeffersonville City Council and the Economic Redevelopment Commission has been a rewarding one for me and a prosperous one for Jeffersonville. During my tenure on council, we have: added 15 policemen and 6 firemen, created Chapel Lake Park and Shirley’s Arbor, saw the growth of the Arts and Cultural District, widened 10th Street and Allison Lane, and began 'Jeffersonville’s Promise'- a program that allows for any JHS student to attend Ivy Tech for no charge. Businesses have thrived, creating thousands of new jobs for Southern Indiana. Jeffersonville was named the most fiscally sound city in Indiana and also the best place to raise a middle class family. All this without raising taxes and developing a healthy rainy day fund.”

 

INDEMS CRITICIZE YOUNG ON RESCUE PLAN NO VOTE: The Indiana Democratic Party criticized U.S. Sen. Todd Young for providing Hoosiers lip service on the issue of childcare. Last weekend, Young claimed he wanted to “enrich” the childcare service industry, because it’s a “significant household expense” for Hoosier families (Howey Politics Indiana). If that’s the case, why did the Senator vote “NO” on the American Rescue Plan and the $540 million it provided childcare service providers? This investment is being used to raise worker wages, update facilities, and eliminate some of the existing provider desert across Indiana. Answer: Todd Young put the Republicans’ extreme partisanship ahead of a brighter future for struggling Hoosier families. Instead of saying “YES” to the Rescue Plan and its $540 million investment in childcare, Young voted “NO”. The Senator also plans to vote “NO” on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and its additional investments in childcare, calling it a “reckless tax-and-spend proposal”. (NOTE: Young’s criticism on “spending” comes after he added $7.8 trillion to the national debt under the Trump Administration).

 

BIDEN BLASTS TRUMP AS HE CAMPAIGNS FOR McAULIFFE: President Biden sought to boost Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s run for governor in Virginia on Tuesday, telling voters that a Republican victory would boost efforts to continue spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election and undermine democracy (Yahoo News). “We can’t let this happen,” Biden told supporters at an outdoor rally in Arlington Tuesday evening. The president said that “extremism can come in many forms” such as “the rage of a mob” but also with “a smile and a fleece vest.” McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, has campaigned in a trademark vest. Biden’s reference to a mob followed his warnings about the violence of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. “Either way, the ‘big lie’ is still a big lie,” Biden said, urging Virginians to “show up for democracy.”

 

McCONNELL BLESSES WALKER CAMPAIGN: Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker has won the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, cementing his support from the Republican Party establishment in a race that could determine which party controls the chamber (Politico). The endorsement could help Walker lock down the GOP primary, where he faces several lesser-known opponents. Walker entered the race with the backing of former President Donald Trump, a longtime friend who recruited him into the contest. On Monday, the retired football player received the backing of South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

 

Polls

 

35% BELIEVE ELECTION WAS RIGGED: In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 35% of voters — including three in five Republicans — say the 2020 election should definitely or probably be overturned. While the vast majority of Democrats (86%) and a majority (51%) of independents say the election was free and fair, just 26% of Republicans agree — the latest evidence of how deep Donald Trump's lies about the election have permeated the GOP.

 

Congress

 

SEN. YOUNG SEEKS TO BLOCK IRS PROPOSAL: Last week, U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined his Republican colleagues to introduce the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act, a bill to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from implementing Democrats’ plan to give the agency access to transaction information of virtually every American (Howey Politics Indiana). “Despite Americans’ outrage and warnings from local banks and credit unions, Democrats are insisting that we turn our local financial institutions into IRS agents. This proposal from the Biden-Harris administration is a clear violation of Americans’ financial privacy,” said Young. “My Republican colleagues and I introduced the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act to protect law-abiding, tax-paying citizens’ confidential banking information from being handed over to the IRS.”

 

SEN. YOUNG SEEKS TO PROTECT MEDICAL DEVICE JOBS FROM CHINA: U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai encouraging action to prevent China from deploying unfair practices that threaten jobs in the medical device manufacturing industry (Howey Politics Indiana). The letter pushes for fair access to the Chinese market to ensure American businesses within the robust medical device industry can continue to grow, innovate, and remain competitive. “The medical device industry employs over 400,000 Americans and pays on average 28% higher wages than other manufacturing jobs. Given the importance of this industry to our country’s economy, we must pursue policies that hold China accountable for deliberate actions that harm our job creators and employees. China keeping the current structure of the VBP in place will have ripple effects in communities supported heavily by the medical device industry and could jeopardize access to life-saving products made through cutting-edge technologies. “We urge you to raise this issue in diplomatic outreach to China’s trade ministry and advocate for an equitable and transparent procurement process of mutual benefit. We further recommend consultation with industry representatives to understand the true scope of the problem and we stand ready to provide further counsel,” the senators wrote.

 

WALORSKI SEEKS GOLD MEDAL FOR CPL. SANCHEZ: U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today praised the House passage of H.R. 5142, to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 U.S. military servicemembers who were killed in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, including Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez of Logansport. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that Congress can bestow (Howey Politics Indiana). “Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez and 12 of his brothers and sisters in arms paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. These courageous servicemembers stood in the face of danger to evacuate American citizens, partners, and allies from Afghanistan,” said Congresswoman Walorski. “It is now our duty to honor their selfless sacrifice and ensure that these heroes are never forgotten."

 

BUCSHON URGES CONGRESS TO ACT ON MEDICARE CUTS: One of your Congressmen in Washington is demanding that his colleagues act to keep Medicare reimbursement rates from being cut at the start of next year (WIBC). These reimbursement rates are due to be cut by as much as 10-percent at the start of next year unless Congress votes to keep them the same or increase them. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who is a medical doctor by trade, took the time to remind his fellow lawmaker of the predicament in a House Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday. “My friends in the majority (House Democrats) are planning to spend trillions of dollars, yet nowhere in their spending packages are help for our providers facing looming reimbursement cuts,” Bucshon said. “This could decrease access to care, by the way.”

 

SENATE CONFIRMS FLAKE, McCAIN: The Senate confirmed two prominent anti-Trump Republicans to serve in the Biden administration on Tuesday with former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona approved to serve as the ambassador to Turkey and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain, approved to serve as the ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture (AP). The Senate also voted to confirm former Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to serve as ambassador to New Zealand and Victoria Reggie Kennedy of Massachusetts, the widow of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, to serve as ambassador to Austria.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m., with votes on judicial and DOJ nominations throughout the day. A.G. Merrick Garland will testify before the Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at noon to take up several bills. CIA Director William Burns, DNI Avril Haines and others will testify before the Intelligence Committee at 9:30 a.m. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra will testify before the Financial Services Committee at 10 a.m.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb will receive his annual flu vaccine administered by Indiana State Health Commissioner, Kris Box, M.D. at 1 p.m. Wednesday at his office.

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The death toll from COVID-19 in Indiana has surpassed 16,000 after 57 more deaths were reported by the Indiana State Department of Health (IBJ). The cumulative total of deaths during the pandemic officially rose to 16,022, the department said Tuesday. Another 545 probable deaths due to COVID also have been reported. The seven-day moving average of new deaths rose rose from 12 to 17 per day, the department said. The department reported 1,471 more cases of COVID-19 in its daily report Tuesday, up from 912 the previous day. One day after statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 dropped to their lowest mark since Aug. 11, hospitalization rose from 1,314 on Sunday to 1,349 on Monday. Their most recent peak was 2,687 on Sept. 13. COVID patients occupy 17.2% of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds. More than 3.35 million Hoosiers had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday at 5 a.m., after a daily increase of 1,544. More than 293,000 Hoosiers have already gotten vaccine boosters, after a daily increase of more than 9,000. The health department said 59.3% of Indiana residents 18 and older are now fully vaccinated.

 

TOURISM: PLANS FOR PANDEMIC RELIEF FUNDS - Indiana plans to use federal pandemic relief money to raise its tourism profile (WIBC). President Biden’s relief bill included a half-billion dollars to help the travel and tourism industry bounce back. Indiana’s share is $5.6 million, and the state plans the kind of tourism marketing campaign it’s long talked about but never done. Indiana Destination Development Secretary Elaine Bedel says it’s not that people have a negative image of Indiana — the agency’s focus groups indicate people don’t have an image of the state at all. She says that’s an obstacle to attracting skilled workers who want to know why they should move to the state. The state had been working with a marketing agency on developing the messaging for an ad campaign. The American Rescue Plan money would expand the ability to spread that message.

 

DNR: HALOWEEN BASH AT HARRISON SP - Fort Harrison State Park will host a Halloween Bash on Saturday, Oct. 30 beginning at 5 p.m. As part of the event, the park’s Museum of 20th Century Warfare is hosting a Soldiers Haunt re-enactment at 7 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). The bash will start with pumpkin painting at Reddick Shelter while supplies last. At 6 p.m. a member of the Storytelling Arts of Indiana will tell spooky stories at the shelter. The re-enactment will feature volunteer zombies portrayed by local volunteers. Those who want to be zombies should contact park naturalist Dylan Allison at dallison@dnr.IN.gov.

 

EDUCATION: WARE NAMED TEACHER OF THE YEAR - The Indiana Department of Education today announced that Sharita Ware, an engineering and technology teacher at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe School Corporation, has been named the 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year (Howey Politics Indiana). “Engineering and technology come alive in Mrs. Sharita Ware’s classroom, nurturing the next generation of Indiana’s innovators,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “By building an active learning environment, she challenges middle school students daily to explore and engage in STEM, bringing excitement into her classroom through innovative activities. Through hands-on projects both in class and after school, Mrs. Ware’s students are learning to solve real-world problems, while building important life skills like creativity, innovation, and teamwork.”  Ware is a 10-year educator who is dedicated to helping her students build knowledge and skills for high school and life beyond.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA FORMS MULTI-STATE COALITION V. BIDEN -  Following his successful leadership of a 17-state coalition in winning an apology from the National School Boards Association (NSBA), Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita today took further action with other states to hold the Biden administration accountable for colluding with the NSBA to threaten the First Amendment rights of parents (Howey Politics Indiana). “The role of parents in the education and upbringing of their children is paramount,” Attorney General Rokita said. “It’s critical that we protect their liberties under the Constitution to fulfill their God-given responsibilities, and for me, this remains a top priority.” Rokita sent letters to both the Biden administration and the NSBA demanding a series of actions. Thirteen other states’ attorney general joined the letter to the Biden administration, and 11 joined the letter to the NSBA.

 

IU NORTHWEST: STORMS CLOSE CAMPUS - The Indiana University Northwest campus was closed Monday due to flooding caused by the ongoing rainfall, a school spokesperson said (AP). “All classes will be held remotely and students should check Canvas for updates,” campus spokeswoman Marisa Villalobos said. The flooding has impacted the property, but not buildings, she said. “Staff employees who are able to work remotely, are expected to do so,” Villalobos told The (Northwest Indiana) Times. Campus officials will decide the status of the campus on a day-by-day basis. The National Weather Service reported over 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters) of rain fell in the Chicago area during storms that started Sunday and continued into Monday.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN REJECTS TRUMP EXEC PRIVILEGE - The White House on Monday rejected another executive privilege request by former President Donald Trump over documents sought by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol (NBC News). In a letter obtained by NBC News, White House counsel Dana Remus told the National Archives that President Joe Biden has determined that Trump's effort to keep a new batch of Jan. 6 records out of Congress' hands "is not in the best interests of the United States." She added, "Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former President's assertion of privilege."

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule — 8:30 a.m.: The president will take part in the virtual East Asia Summit. — 9:45 a.m.: Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 1 p.m. The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 2:30 p.m.

 

PENTAGON: MILLEY SEES CHINESE 'SPUTNIK MOMENT' - Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War (Axios). The alarms raised by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry. "What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning," Milley told Bloomberg TV's "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations."

 

KENTUCKY: I-68 CROSSING PROJECT ACCEPTING BRIDGE - Officials confirm Monday marked the first official day the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requested technical, and price proposals from contracting teams for the I-69 Ohio River Crossing project (WFIE-TV). KYTC has a short list of three proposers. “It’s a process that takes a lot of work from the teams as they come in and take a look at things and say ok the project team has looked at this,” Mindy Peterson, the spokesperson for the project says. “They have some early design plans. What could we maybe do a little bit differently, and is that something that would function better? Is that something that would possibly save some dollars?” Peterson confirms the proposals will be due by Nov. 15, with the Best-Value design team winner being announced Dec. 15.

 

Local

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL SENDS MESSAGE WITH PASSED BUDGET - The Fort Wayne City Council used most of the $444,200 it cut from the city's 2022 budget Tuesday to send a message to two departments to do better (Filchak, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The council reviewed a list of about 40 proposed cuts members submitted last week. Seventeen were withdrawn before the meeting by Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, who said he had changed his mind after talking with the appropriate city officials. The list added up to more than $30 million before the 3.5-hour meeting, during which the cuts were whittled down to less than $445,000. The council approved a budget for about $290 million. The deepest cut approved Tuesday was a $150,000 reduction to the Public Works Division's salary and benefit line item. Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, said the cut was intended to hurt the Solid Waste Department, which falls under Public Works, because the council cannot make cuts to Solid Waste directly.

 

FORT WAYNE: HENRY COMMENTS ON PASSED CITY BUDGET - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry made this statement on the City Council's passage of the 2022 budget (Howey Politics Indiana): "We work each day in Fort Wayne to bring services to residents and businesses of our award-winning city in a fiscally-responsible manner. Tonight’s passage of the 2022 City of Fort Wayne budget positions our community for sustained growth and success. The focus on investments in neighborhood infrastructure, public safety, and parks is what the public told us they want to see tax dollars invested in. We continue to overcome challenging circumstances as a result of COVID-19, and I truly believe our best days are ahead of us."

 

EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL HIRES FIRM TO DRAW MAPS — Evansville residents could see a change when it comes to their City Council representative should a redistricting process make it to the finish line in the next year (Loesch, Evansville Courier & Press). The Evansville City Council voted 7-2 to hire Main Street Communications, an Iowa-based Democratic firm, as its consultant for the redistricting of council districts. The city is split into six wards, pursuant to Indiana Code. City Council is made up of nine members – six elected from those wards and three elected at large. Cities can consider redistricting when new census data is released every decade to ensure all areas are equally represented. This was done recently at the state level when lines for state legislative and congressional districts were redrawn. City Council has a Nov. 8, 2022, deadline to make changes.

 

VALPARAISO: COUNCIL CAN'T RECALL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS — The City Council appoints four of the five Valparaiso School Board members, but it has no way to recall them before their term is over, officials said Monday (Ross, NWI Times). That was in response to questions at Monday's Valparaiso City Council meeting from several people who oppose the mandate that Valparaiso Community Schools students wear masks in school. Several residents spoke at the meeting, some asking the City Council about the process for removing School Board members from office. “There has to be some accountability for the School Board members, and it starts here,” said Jennifer Bernard, Porter County Parents for Freedom supporter. “There is not a process to remove a School Board member,” City Attorney Patrick Lyp said. “When you appoint them, there’s a little trust.”

 

ELKHART: COUNCIL ADOPTS $92M BUDGET — Adopting a $92.6 million budget, the Elkhart Common Council on Monday night approved a merit-based system to give pay raises to city employees (Yankey, Elkhart Truth). Mayor Rod Roberson told the council his 2022 spending proposal would allow department leaders to give merit-based raises of up to 4 percent for many city employees and create 17 new full-time staff positions across 10 departments.

 

BLOOMINGTON: HAMILTON MAKES BUDGET UPDATES - Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton is making some changes to his proposed $107 million 2022 civil city budget (Abshier, Indiana Public Media). In a statement released Tuesday, Hamilton said the administration is committed to incorporating a $5,000 base-pay raise for Bloomington police officers into the 2023 budget as part of the ongoing collective bargaining agreement. Regarding the ongoing climate emergency, the mayor says he will propose two $5 million general obligation bonds to fund sustainability initiates in the first half of 2022. “Pending approval by City Council, a pair of five-year bonds, which could be replicated every five years, would generate revenue for the Parks and Recreation Department and the City’s General Fund to support investments related to several of the City’s formal plans,” Hamilton said in a press release. “Including the Comprehensive Plan, the Sustainability Action Plan, the Transportation Plan, and the Climate Action Plan.”

 

SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL EYES EMPLOYEE PAY RAISES - A South Bend Common Council member is asking for pay increases for city workers, and Monday night the common council votes on wages for those employees (WSBT-TV). Parts of the budget have already been passed, but the non-bargaining employees are still on the table for tonight. And councilmember Lori Hamann doesn't believe the proposed hourly wage rate is enough to keep workers with the city. The November 1st deadline for the budget is quickly approaching. And Councilmember Lori Hamann is asking for more money for South Bend’s hourly city workers. Being proposed Monday night is $15 an hour for seasonal and part-time workers. That's up from $10.10 an hour.

 

WHITING: ARP FUNDS TO BE USED FOR WATER MAIN — The City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution detailing the expenditure plan for American Rescue Plan Act funds (NWI Times). "We were awarded the sum of $1,075,806.14 under the American Rescue Plan," Council President Chris Sarvanidis, D-at-large, said. "The funds are restricted to only certain expenditures such as infrastructure and city losses due to the pandemic." "That plan must be approved by the fiscal body, which is the council," Sarvanidis said. Over half of the money received will go toward the installation of a new water main. "The new main shall provide water service on 119th (Street) between New York (Avenue) and Ohio (Avenue)," Sarvanidis said.

 

WEST LAFAYETTE: CITY OFFICES TO REOPEN NOV. 1 — West Lafayette city offices will soon drop the mask mandate. According to West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, all city buildings will no longer require masks as of Nov. 1. Meetings will also be public at that time (WLFI-TV). Dennis said the decision was made because of a high number of employees being vaccinated and voluntarily wearing masks. Dennis also says lower COVID numbers in the county contributed to the decision.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: PEOPLE ANGRY ABOUT REJECTED HEALTH GRANT - Some local faith community leaders are angry, frustrated, and outraged. About a dozen gathered for a pre-dawn press conference early Tuesday morning outside the County-City Building (WNDU-TV). “Why? Why did they veto a grant that they asked for?” asked Rabbi Michael Freedland with Faith in Indiana. Rabbi Freedland was referring to a veto vote taken a week ago by the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners. By a 2-to-1 margin, the commissioners vetoed a measure that would have accepted a $3 million federal grant that would have funded up to eight additional community health workers. “It’s not a slam against any population, anybody in St. Joe County, the health department anything like that,” said Commissioner Derek Dieter who voted in favor of the veto. “It’s just my, my take on the verbiage of the grant.”

 

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: SCHOOL BOARD PASSES TEACHER RAISES - The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. held an in-person school board meeting Monday after briefly going virtual last month due to the behavior of attendees (Columbus Republic). Items on the agenda included BCSC’s two-year agreement with the Columbus Educators Association (CEA) on teacher salaries, which was approved. The board also approved administrator contracts. The collective bargaining agreement raises the salary scale for 769 teachers about 12.5% over two years, according to a joint statement from the school corporation and teachers association. All teachers on the salary schedule will see an increase of $2,935 for this year, per a presentation from the school corp. and CEA. This will raise starting salary from $39,065 to $42,000.

 

STARKE COUNTY: ACLU FILES SUIT AGAINST DEPUTY FOR SEARCH - The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against Deputy Ethan Biggs of the Starke County Sheriff’s Department who conducted an invasive vehicle search without cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Howey Politics Indiana). Nicholas Tyo, Steven Stanley, and Drew Landes travelled from Ohio to Illinois this July to attend the Pokémon GO Fest, but were stopped by law enforcement in Starke County, Indiana. Dep. Biggs demanded the drivers’ licenses of all three occupants of the vehicle. After inquiring about whether or not there were any drugs in the vehicle, Dep. Biggs proceeded to lengthen the traffic stop by conducting a nonconsensual search of both the exterior and the interior of the vehicle, with the assistance of a drug-detecting dog, as well as pat-down searches of each of the plaintiffs. The complaint claims that all of this was done without justification or consent, and none of it yielded any evidence whatsoever of drugs or other criminal activity. The Fourth Amendment does not allow for police to convert a routine traffic stop into an intrusive drug investigation. 

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY: FREE RENT FOR NFPs - The Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners approved a plan that will provide rental relief for community events held at Old National Events Plaza (WFIE-TV). Officials say under that plan, 501 (c)(3) charitable organizations with Vanderburgh County may submit applications requesting room rental fees be waived for catered fundraising events held in County-owned convention centers. The initiative is designed to provide aid to local groups for which social fundraising activities are critical. “In light of the last two years, and pressures that Vanderburgh County non-profit organizations have faced, we wanted to focus on relief, but also recovery,” said Commissioner Jeff Hatifield.

 

MIAMI COUNTY: ARP FUNDS APPROVED FOR PROJECTS - The Miami County Council approved $5.7 million in American Rescue Plan funding for seven projects, including demolishing the old county jail and completing major drainage projects (Kokomo Tribune). The largest amount of funding will go toward the six drainage projects. The council approved $1.3 million to replace tile on four properties and a bad drainage outlet on another. The money will also pay to remove brush and trash from 14,000 feet of Big Pipe Creek running into Amboy. The council approved $600,000 to tear down the old county jail, located at the corner of Court and 5th streets. The property until this year housed the health department and morgue, which moved into a new facility earlier this year.