BIG TEN FOOTBALL TO REMAIN ON HOLD: The University of Wisconsin chancellor said Tuesday that Big Ten football will remain on hold until there are answers to questions about COVID-19 testing and tracing, along with possible long-term heart issues related to the coronavirus. Chancellor Rebecca Blank said once the Big Ten university leaders have their concerns addressed “we will try to plan a delayed season” (WLFI-TV). A month after postponing games, conference leaders are considering playing a fall season after all. There were weekend meetings on a plan to begin play as soon as mid-October. Blank, appearing at a congressional hearing on compensation for college athletes, was asked by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about the Big Ten’s decision last month and whether the conference might reverse course. “There were several main reasons for that,” Blank said. “One was that we were uncertain we could do the level of testing and contact tracing that we needed to keep athletes safe. Secondly, there was this growing evidence about heart-related myocarditis and that evidence was uncertain and it wasn’t clear what it means and we wanted to know more. There were a few other minor reasons." She would not predict which way a vote to return to play would go. “Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority based decisions, but I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes,” Blank said.

 

BUDGET COMMITTEE GRAPPLES WITH UNSPENT COVID FUNDS: Indiana officials are still holding back on spending more than half of the $2.4 billion state government received in federal coronavirus relief funding. Democrats on the State Budget Committee questioned Tuesday why there wasn’t more urgency in spending the money on the immediate needs of people around the state, while Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top budget adviser blamed some of that on confusion over federal rules (AP). State Office of Management and Budget Director Cristopher Johnston presented a report to committee members showing that only $225 million, or less than 10%, of that money had been spent by the end of August. The report showed nearly $1.1 billion in total had been spent or committed toward programs or expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down much of Indiana’s economy through the spring and has killed nearly 3,500 people. Democratic Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis said he was concerned about slow distribution of the money approved by Congress in March for several of those state programs. Among those he pointed out were only $17 million of $300 million dedicated to local governments being distributed so far, along with $960,000 of $30 million for small business grants and $19 million of $40 million for rent payment assistance. “This is September 15th, I just don’t see us spending the money, getting the money out the door,” said Porter, the top Democrat on the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “I am very concerned about these dollars getting out, period.” Johnston said he believed the rental assistance program money would be spent soon as so far 9,000 applicants had received payments and that some 10,000 more applications were being reviewed.

 

INDIANA PARALYZED BY CONFLICTING TRUMP ADMIN GUIDELINES: A senior Indiana budget official says the state is somewhat paralyzed by conflicting directives from the federal government over how it can spend COVID-19 relief dollars (Wolf, Indiana Public Media). The Trump administration continually sends guidance to the states over how they can spend federal CARES Act funding. But that can often confuse more than it helps. State Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston said, for example, the U.S. Treasury sent updated guidance at the end of August. The Treasury’s Inspector General also sent guidance a few days later that didn’t match. “Fear of the inspector general that comes out to your state and says 'give me all your documentation as to why you made this decision' has sort of put a little paralysis out there in people’s minds,” Johnston said. The state has committed to spend just $1.1 billion of the $2.4 billion it’s received in CARES Act funding. And it’s actually spent less than 10 percent of the total.

 

TRUMP DENIES MINIMIZING PANDEMIC: With less than two months until ballots are tallied, President Donald Trump defended his handling of race relations in the United States amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected minority populations and unprecedented social unrest in American cities (ABC News). Asked Tuesday by an uncommitted voter at ABC News' town hall, "The President and the People," why he would "downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities," Trump denied ever understating the disease's threat."Yeah, well, I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong," Trump said. "It is going to disappear. It's going to go away. Like a herd mentality, it's going to be herd developed." As evidence of his claim that he "up-played" the disease "in terms of action," Trump cited a pair of travel bans imposed against China and Europe in February and March. But pressed by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who moderated the town hall, about "his own words" about the pandemic threat, Trump said, "We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on." "Whether you call it 'talent' or 'luck,' it was very important," Trump continued, "so we saved a lot of lives when we did that."

 

TRUMP ASKED ABOUT MASKS: President Trump was asked by a Pennsylvania woman, “The wearing of masks has proven to lessen the spread of Covid. Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing? And why don’t you wear a mask more often?” TRUMP: “Well, I do wear them when I have to and when I’m in hospitals and other locations. But I will say this. They said at the Democrat convention they’re going to do a national mandate. They never did it, because they’ve checked out and they didn’t do it. And a good question is, you ask why Joe Biden -- they said we’re going to do a national mandate on masks.” STEPHANOPOULOS: “He’s called on all governors to have them. There’s a state responsibility …” TRUMP: “Well no, but he didn’t do it. I mean, he never did it. Now there is, by the way, a lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that as an example you have …” STEPHANOPOULOS: “Who are those people?” TRUMP: “I’ll tell you who those people are -- waiters. They come over and they serve you, and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day where they were serving me, and they’re playing with the mask … I’m not blaming them … I’m just saying what happens. They’re playing with the mask, so the mask is over, and they’re touching it, and then they’re touching the plate. That can’t be good.”

 

A RECORD 30M ADULT AMERICANS LIVING WITH PARENTS: Nearly 30 million Americans are spending their 20s in the same place they spent their grade school years: at home with their parents (Axios). For the first time since the Great Depression, the majority (52%) of 18- to 29-year-olds have moved back home. "Before 2020, the highest measured value was in the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48% of young adults lived with their parents," according to Pew Research Center.

 

COATS PLAYS SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN WOODWARD'S BOOK: Hours before President Donald Trump told the world that his director of national intelligence would be leaving his post, Trump ran into Dan Coats on the golf course. The president never mentioned the tweet he was about to send, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” which hit bookstores Tuesday (Groppe, IndyStar). Trump has called the book a “political hit job.” Coats’ wife, Marsha, later concluded that Trump – or someone around him – had not wanted Coats to handle a whistleblower's complaint from within the intelligence community, Woodward writes. Coats had stood up to the president often enough that there was much public speculation about whether Coats had been the author of an anonymous New York Times opinion piece critical of Trump and even, initially, whether he was the lower-level member of the intelligence community whose whistleblower complaint eventually led to Trump’s impeachment. But despite Coats’ apparent extensive cooperation with Woodward, Coats is among the former top administration officials depicted as highly concerned about Trump who nonetheless have not spoken out publicly. (Coats did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) Woodward writes that Coats believed Trump has no moral compass, couldn’t shake the suspicion that Trump must be beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he – along with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – thought Trump was an “unstable threat to their country.” Yet, Woodward also writes that Coats had concluded there was no point to speaking out. “Look,” Coats is quoting as telling Mattis in May of 2019, “others have tried and it’s had no impact whatsoever. They get tarred and feathered.”

 

WOODWARD SAYS COATS WAS 'GROUND DOWN': "Rage"  author Bob Woodward was on MSNBC's Morning Joe today and said of former DNI Director Dan Coats: "He went in with these Republican values and was stunned, shocked and ground down by these lack of values."

 

NIH CONCERNED ABOUT OXFORD VACCINE: The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to follow British regulators in resuming a coronavirus vaccine trial that was halted when a participant suffered spinal cord damage, even as the National Institutes of Health has launched an investigation of the case (CNN). "The highest levels of NIH are very concerned," said Dr. Avindra Nath, intramural clinical director and a leader of viral research at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an NIH division. "Everyone's hopes are on a vaccine, and if you have a major complication the whole thing could get derailed." A great deal of uncertainty remains about what happened to the unnamed patient, to the frustration of those avidly following the progress of vaccine testing. AstraZeneca, which is running the global trial of the vaccine it produced with Oxford University, said the trial volunteer recovered from a severe inflammation of the spinal cord and is no longer hospitalized.

 

CAPUTO APOLOGIZES TO STAFF; MAY RESIGN: The health department's top spokesperson Michael Caputo called an emergency staff meeting on Tuesday to apologize for drawing negative attention to the Trump administration's health care strategy and signaled that he might be soon departing his role, according to five people with knowledge of the meeting (Politico). The departure of Caputo, who has closely controlled the health agencies' dissemination of information about coronavirus, would be a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to promote a possible vaccine, if one is approved in the fall. Caputo told staffers that his series of false accusations on Facebook Live this weekend — which included unfounded allegations that the Centers for Disease Control was harboring a “resistance unit” — reflected poorly on HHS’ communications office. He blamed his recent behavior on a combination of physical health issues and the toll of fielding death threats against his family. Caputo also acknowledged that he had never read one of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, despite his team's ongoing efforts to try to edit those documents. Caputo told staff that he is scheduled to meet with HHS Secretary Alex Azar later Tuesday, the people with knowledge of the meeting said.

 

SALLY COMES ASHORE AS CAT 2; BRINGING HISTORIC RAINFALL: A newly strengthened Hurricane Sally pummeled the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama with sideways rain, beach-covering storm surges, strong winds and power outages early Wednesday, moving toward shore at an agonizingly slow pace that promised a drawn out drenching and possible record floods (AP). Some 150,000 homes and businesses had lost electricity by early Wednesday, according to the poweroutage.us site. A curfew was called in the coastal Alabama city of Gulf Shores due to life-threatening conditions. In the Panhandle’s Escambia County, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Chip Simmons vowed to keep deputies out with residents as long as physically possible. The county includes Pensacola, one of the largest cities on the Gulf Coast. “The sheriff’s office will be there until we can no longer safely be out there, and then and only then will we pull our deputies in,” Simmons said at a storm briefing late Tuesday. This for a storm that, during the weekend, appeared to be headed for New Orleans. “Obviously this shows what we’ve known for a long time with storms – they are unpredictable,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson IV said.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we have 10 questions for Secretary of State Connie Lawson on the upcoming election. HPI participated in a Poynter Institute seminar on the election, and we’ll tell you what the experts are predicting on when we’ll know who won the presidential race. We'll also update you on funding in gubernatorial and attorney general races. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Presidential 2020

 

BIDEN BLASTS TRUMP COMMENTS ON VETERANS: Joe Biden is tearing into President Donald Trump for his reported remarks referring to fallen soldiers as “suckers” during a Tuesday campaign visit to the key battleground state of Florida (AP). “Nowhere are his faults more glaring and more offensive, to me at least, than when it comes to his denigration of our service members, veterans, wounded warriors who have fallen,” Biden said at a campaign event with veterans in the Tampa area.

 

BIDEN'S MINNESOTA LEAD NARROWS IN MORNING CONSULT POLL: Democratic nominee Joe Biden's margin against President Donald Trump among Minnesota likely voters in a Morning Consult Poll. Trump has consistently trailed Biden in Minnesota throughout the past few months, though the size of that deficit has fluctuated in correlation with the summer’s dominant storylines: the coronavirus and racial unrest in America’s cities. Biden led by 17 points in mid-May amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state before the gap closed to 3 points in the aftermath of protests following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on May 25. July’s nationwide surge of coronavirus cases dovetailed with a 13-point lead for Biden before the race narrowed again amid the national nominating conventions and the GOP’s heightened focus on a law-and-order message.

 

BIDEN LEADS IN FLA MONMOUTH POLL: Under a likely voter scenario with a somewhat higher level of turnout than in 2016, the race is unchanged at 50% for Joe Biden and 45% for President Trump in a new Monmouth University Poll in Florida. The margin narrows slightly to 49% Biden and 46% Trump when using a likely voter model with lower turnout. The last two presidential elections in Florida were decided by a single percentage point. The Democrat has a large advantage among voters of color (70% to 22%) although the lead is smaller among Latino voters specifically (58% to 32%). According to the 2016 exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the national networks, Hillary Clinton won Florida’s Latino vote by 27 points (62% to 35%).

 

CNN HAS BIDEN LEADING IN NC; WI: The race for the presidency is near even in North Carolina and Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS in the battleground states. Among likely voters in North Carolina, 49% support Biden, 46% Trump. In Wisconsin, likely voters break 52% for Biden to 42% for Trump.

 

LAWSUIT DELAYS SENDING PA BALLOTS: Several legal battles are plaguing Pennsylvania’s election officials as they prepare for the Nov. 3 election, the state's first election processing an expected 3 million mail-in ballots, according to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Katy Boockvar (NBC News). Officials across the state had planned to send out mail-ballots this week, but the certification of the ballot has been held up due to a lawsuit from the state Democratic party over whether Green Party candidates can be listed on the ballot. Without an official candidate list, county officials can't print the ballots. Boockvar told reporters on Tuesday that she expects the case to be decided this week.

 

BIDEN SCHEDULE: Joe Biden will be briefed by public health experts about the development of a coronavirus vaccine in Wilmington, Del. He will also deliver remarks, which will be covered by an expanded pooled press.



Congress

 

YOUNG ATTENDS UAE/ISRAEL SIGNING CEREMONY: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined President Donald Trump for a ceremony at the White House marking the official signing of the historic peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain (Howey Politics Indiana). “These agreements between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain mark a historic step forward toward peace and stability in the Middle East,” said Senator Young. “These diplomatic achievements will expand economic opportunity, security partnerships, and work to counter the world’s leading state sponsor of terror - Iran. The U.S. stands by our friends and allies in Israel and we are glad to see the UAE and Bahrain do the same.”

 

BANKS ATTENDS ABRAHAM ACCORDS SIGNING: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) attended the Abraham Accords signing today at the White House where representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed peace deals with the nation of Israel (Howey Politics Indiana). President Trump brokered the historic diplomatic breakthroughs, which are significant steps normalizing relations between Israel and two of its Arab neighbors. “Saying ‘Peace in the Middle East’ used to be a phrase that meant ‘never going to happen.’ Now, ‘Peace in the Middle East’ is President Trump’s foreign policy legacy,” said Rep. Jim Banks. “I was humbled to be witness to this historic event today at the White House.”

 

BUCSHON LAUDS ACCORDS: U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement after Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accord, a historic Middle East peace agreement that was negotiated by the Trump Administration, at the White House (Howey Politics Indiana): “For decades, both Republican and Democratic presidents have worked to foster peace in the Middle East. Far too often, progress towards achieving peace has proven elusive. However, thanks to the persistent work of the Trump Administration, the historic Abraham Accord was signed today at the White House. This agreement normalizes relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Until today’s signing of the Abraham Accord, only two other Arab nations had recognized Israel over the past 40 years. President Trump has secured a huge win for peace and has paved the way for additional Arab nations to recognize Israel and bring greater stability to a part of the world that has known violence and strife for too long.” 

 

WALORSKI RESPONDS TO ALUMINUM TARIFF EXCLUSIONS: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) released the following statement on the report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding flaws in the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariff exclusion process (Howey Politics Indiana): “The GAO report further confirms what anyone involved in the Section 232 tariff exclusion process already knows: it has been inefficient, inconsistent, opaque, and unfair. The Commerce Department failed to meet its own deadlines 79 percent of the time – including for 96 percent of requests with objections. It reached decisions without verifying claims made by requesters and objectors alike. It denied thousands of requests without further explanation, even though domestic producers cited production and delivery timelines that did not meet the department’s own standards. And most concerning of all, it has yet to fulfill repeated promises to myself and the Ways and Means Committee to regularly review the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on American manufacturers, suppliers, and the economy as a whole. The Commerce Department should take immediate action to implement the GAO’s recommendations. I look forward to reviewing the results of a pending inspector general investigation and further GAO reviews, as well as continuing to work to improve the fairness, transparency, and efficiency of the process.”

 

BUCSHON LAUDS COMMITMENT TO AMERICA AGENDA - U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement after House Republican’s formally unveiled the Commitment to America agenda – a plan to Restore, Rebuild, and Renew the American way of life (Howey Politics Indiana).  “Through sound policy and commonsense conservative solutions, Republicans helped build the strongest economy America has ever seen before COVID-19 upended our normal way of life," Bucshon said. "Our agenda will put our nation back on track to restore our economy to that level and beyond. We will rebuild our infrastructure and limit our dependence on China that has been made evident by COVID-19. And we will renew the American spirit by defeating this virus and putting America first.”

 

YOUNG RESOLUTION PASSES SENATE: The Senate passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to encourage investment in education and training for American workers by designating September as “National Workforce Development Month” (Howey Politics Indiana). The resolution supports federal programs that promote workforce development and recognizes the crucial role they play in growing our economy. “In Indiana, manufacturing jobs account for almost 1 in 5 Hoosier jobs,” said Senator Young. “During a time when our workforce is facing unprecedented challenges, I’m glad the Senate passed our resolution to designate September as National Workforce Development Month. We must continue working to equip Americans with the training and skills needed to secure jobs in manufacturing and other industries that are vital to our economy.”

 

PELOSI VOWS TO KEEP HOUSE IN SESSION UNTIL DEAL REACHED: Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Tuesday that the House will stay in session until she and other congressional leaders can reach agreement on a long-stalled coronavirus relief package, possibly cutting short the month-long recess in the run up to the presidential election (Politico). Pelosi made the announcement on a private caucus call Tuesday amid mounting pressure from rank-and-file Democrats to deliver more pandemic relief money before lawmakers leave town at the end of September to campaign.

 

State

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 758 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 107,229 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 3,235 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 20 from the previous day. Another 225 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 1,254,731 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,247,293 on Monday. A total of 1,756,019 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

ISDH: ENCEPHALITIS CASE REPORTED IN LaPORTE COUNTY - State health officials are urging Indiana residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following reports of a probable case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a LaPorte County resident and the detection of the virus in horses in northern Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). As of Sept. 14, two horses in LaGrange County and one horse in Kosciusko County have tested positive for EEE virus. Because there is suitable habitat for mosquitoes throughout the area, residents of all northern Indiana counties should take precautions. In 2019, northern Indiana experienced a significant outbreak of EEE virus activity, resulting in 14 horse cases, one fatal human case and one positive mosquito sample. “Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease is rare in humans but can cause permanent complications and even death,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “While all Hoosiers are at risk for mosquito-borne diseases, northern Indiana residents need to be especially vigilant right now.”

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: REIMBURSEMENTS FOR ITT STUDENTS - Attorney General Curtis Hill has secured an agreement to obtain nearly $10 million in debt relief for 1,354 former ITT Technical Institute students in Indiana as part of a settlement in partnership with 46 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Howey Politics Indiana). The settlement is with PEAKS Trust, a private loan program run by the for-profit college and affiliated with Deutsche Bank entities. PEAKS was formed after the 2008 financial crisis, when private sources of lending available to for-profit colleges dried up. ITT developed a plan with PEAKS to offer students temporary credit to cover the gap in tuition between federal student aid and the full cost of the education. When the temporary credit became due, ITT pressured and coerced students into accepting loans from PEAKS, which for many students carried high interest rates, far above rates for federal loans. Pressure tactics used by ITT included pulling students out of class and threatening to expel them if they did not accept the loan terms. Many of the ITT students were also from low-income backgrounds, and were left with the choice of either enrolling in the PEAKS loans or dropping out and losing any benefit of the credits they had earned. ITT’s credits would not transfer to most schools.

 

NATIONAL GUARD: ARMORIES TO BE UPGRADED - The Indiana National Guard armories in Hammond and Gary will receive some urgently needed improvements after the State Budget Committee Tuesday authorized spending nearly a million dollars to repair the facilities (Carden, NWI Times). Under the plan, both the Hammond armory, 2530 E. 173rd Street, and the Gary armory, 2501 E. 15th Avenue, will be getting new boilers to replace equipment that is more than three decades old. Indiana Adjutant General Dale Lyles said routine failures of the boiler at each armory frequently has led to no hot water being available in the buildings, rendering them unusable.

 

PURDUE: RECORD ENROLLMENT THIS SEMESTER - Enrollment at Purdue University's West Lafayette campus has reached an all-time high. The university is reporting the campus has a record 46,114 students, including the incoming class of nearly 9,000 students (Parker, Inside Indiana Business). Purdue enrollment officers say the increased numbers are due to the Protect Purdue Plan and all the preparation done by faculty, staff and campus personnel. The school also created an online option, which enabled 4,900 students who could not be on campus to be able to take courses completely online.

 

IU: COMMENCEMENT PLANS ANNOUNCED - Indiana University has announced plans for winter and spring commencement (Bloomington Herald-Times). The university is planning for a virtual ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 19. All December graduates are invited to attend an in-person commencement in May 2021. "Everyone hoped we could hold a live, in-person commencement by the end of 2020, but the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and its required limits on large gatherings have made such an event impossible to hold this year," according to an email sent to students Tuesday. Details about both ceremonies will be shared soon, according to the email.

 

IU: MEDICAL SCHOOL LANDS $1.3M GRANT - The Indiana University School of Medicine has received $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch a statewide Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (Mills, NWI Times). The three-year program intends to enhance, strengthen and support people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. The IU Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science said the goal of the ADPI is to build upon existing home and community-based social supports to maximize the ability of patients with Alzheimer’s to remain independent in their communities. “We have proven that collaborative dementia care reduces caregiver stress and improves the quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers,” said Dr. Steven Counsell, ADPI project director.

 

IU: IUNW CHANCELLOR TALKS REOPENING - Indiana University Northwest Chancellor Ken Iwama has been on campus just over a month, but already he says he feels a growing connection with the Region (Lanich, NWI Times). Iwama, who comes to Northwest Indiana from the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island, was named successor to IUN’s former Chancellor William Lowe in an April IU Board of Trustees meeting. His first official day as chancellor was Aug. 1, just weeks away from the university’s fall semester reopening. “I think we're uniquely suited for this challenge, because when you make this transition, you need something like IU, Indiana University, behind you — that macro, global support to support you,” Iwama said.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS HE HAS WEEKLY FOX SHOW - President Trump is apparently under the impression he has a standing weekly date with the hosts of Fox & Friends — but they might not be on board (The Week). Trump on Tuesday appeared on Fox & Friends for another lengthy phone interview, and at the top of the conversation, he informed viewers that this would be a weekly occurrence going forward. "We've agreed to do it once a week in the morning, and I look forward to it," Trump said. But it's unclear who the "we" in that sentence was considering host Steve Doocy expressed surprise at this news, responding, "I haven't heard that."

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP WANTED TO ASSASSINATE ASSAD - President Donald Trump revealed Tuesday that he wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier in his presidency, reversing his previous denial that the issue ever came up (Politico). “I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it," Trump said in an interview with Fox & Friends, referring to then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "Mattis was against most of that stuff."

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - The president will participate in a call with Jewish leaders at 12:30 p.m. in the Oval Office. He will have lunch with VP Mike Pence at 1:30 p.m. in the private dining room. Trump will depart the White House at 6:50 p.m. en route to the Capitol Hill Club. The president will deliver remarks at the NRCC battleground dinner at 7 p.m., then return to the White House by 8 p.m.

 

JUSTICE: 2 MORE EXECUTIONS NEXT WEEK AT TERRE HAUTE PRISON - William LeCroy was convicted of murdering and raping 30-year-old Joann Tisler in her Gilmer County, Georgia home in 2001. He then stole Tisler's car and was arrested by authorities while trying to cross into Canada (Pinsker, Indiana Public Media). LeCroy previously spent 10 years in federal and state prisons for assault, rape and child molestation. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on September 22nd, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Christopher Vialva was convicted for his part in the carjacking and murders of 28-year-old Todd and Stacie Bagley in 1999.  Vialva and his co-defendants robbed and shot the couple while they prayed for their abductors, before setting the car on fire. Vialva's co-defendant, Brandon Bernard was also sentenced to death and is awaiting an execution date.

 

JUSTICE: BOLTON BOOK TO BE PROBED - The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the publication of former White House national security adviser John Bolton's recently published book, examining whether it may have contained classified information, a U.S. official confirmed to CBS News. Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened," hit shelves June 23 after an unsuccessful attempt by the Justice Department to halt its publication over concerns it contained classified information. The Wall Street Journal was first to report the criminal investigation and said federal prosecutors had issued grand jury subpoenas to Bolton's publisher and literary agent.

 

ECONOMY: AMAZON HIRING 33,000 - Amazon is hosting its virtual career fair Wednesday, with plans to hire 33,000 people for corporate and tech roles that can start as remote positions, according to a recent report (Nexstar). The new hires will start out working from home but eventually will be asked to work in an office, according to CBS New York. Amazon is reportedly allowing employees to work remotely through Jan. 8, 2021. Amazon said its corporate and tech jobs, which average $150,000 in annual pay, will be centered around Amazon’s U.S. offices, including Denver, New York, Phoenix and Seattle, the location of its headquarters.

 

MEDIA: WOODWARD SAYS WE LIVE IN 'ORWELLIAN WORLD' - Bob Woodward appeared on CNN Tuesday night shortly after the first preview of the president’s ABC News town hall dropped, in which President Donald Trump actually claimed that he “up-played” the coronavirus if anything (Mediaite). Those comments are in stark contrast to Trump straight-up telling Woodward in one of their many taped conversations, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic. Woodward told Cooper, “We are living in an Orwellian world, and this is not just about some political problem or some geopolitical problem. It’s about the lives of people in this country, and he was told. He knew. He told me about it.”

 

KENTUCKY: LOUISVILLE SETTLES WITH TAYLOR FAMILY - The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old EMT killed by police six months ago. A source told CNN on Tuesday the agreement was a $12 million settlement. Taylor family attorney Sam Aguilar also confirmed to CNN there is a settlement in the case. "The city's response in this case has been delayed and it's been frustrating, but the fact that they've been willing to sit down and talk significant reform was a step in the right direction and hopefully a turning point," he said.

 

Local

 

NW REGION: TOURISM OFFICIAL EARNED $336K - The president and CEO of the Region’s tourism bureau is coming under fire after newly released figures show his compensation last year — including health and retirement benefits — was $336,000 (Pete, NWI Times). Speros Batistatos earned $158,244 in base pay in 2019, plus $25,672.50 in bonuses for his work with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, his agency's records show. But after adding in health insurance and retirement benefits, vacation buyouts, vehicle allowance, and more, his overall compensation came in at about $336,000, records provided by his agency based on a city of Hammond public records request show.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: IPS, WASHINGTON TWP. SCHOOLS RETURNING TO CLASS - It’s one month into the school year and Indianapolis Public Schools have yet to welcome students back into their buildings. But that’s about to change (IndyStar). The district announced Tuesday that Marion County’s rate of coronavirus infections has dropped low enough to start planning for the return of in-person instruction. IPS, one of the state's largest school districts, decided in July to start the year virtually. At the time, the county’s average rate of positive COVID-19 tests was around 8%. "We have been watching our health data very closely and are excited to have seen the movement in that data," said Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. "Now it's down right at the 5% mark... so, excited to now be at a place where we can be planning for a return to in-person instruction." Pike Township Schools began bringing students back into classrooms last week. Washington Township schools also decided Tuesday to bring students back next month. Its youngest students will start returning to school Oct. 12 and all grades will come back Oct. 19.

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL VOTES TO START PROBE OF ELECTRIC WORKS – In a 5-3 vote, the Fort Wayne City Council voted in favor of a resolution that will start an investigation into the Electric Works project (Brownlee, WANE-TV). One part that sparked discussion was the amendment by 1st District Councilman Paul Ensley that gives the council the right to subpoena if necessary. Transparency and accountability is what many council members are seeking after the termination of the Electric Works contract. With the resolution, council members will be allowed to take a deeper dive into why the Electric Works contract was canceled. Last week, RTM developers and city officials presented their cases to the board.

 

TERRE HAUTE: COUNCIL OKs NEW POLICE HQ - Terre Haute City Council on Thursday approved the framework for financing a new $18 million police headquarters downtown in the former Tribune-Star building (Modesit, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). In an 8-to-1 vote, City Council approved a resolution that would allow the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment to combine three of the city’s tax increment finance districts. By combining the Downtown, State Road 46 and Jadcore allocation areas, the city would likely be able to secure a favorable, insured bond issue for the project, said Jason Semler of Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors LLC, the city’s Indianapolis-based financial planning firm. Council member Martha Crossen, D-District 6, cast the lone no vote against the resolution.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: SCHOOLS RETURNING TO IN-CLASS LEARNING OCT. 19 — Michigan City Area Schools is making plans to bring students back to class in person Oct. 19 (Lanich, NWI Times). The discussion of school reopening was brought to the Michigan City school board in a Tuesday night meeting in which Associate Superintendent Wendel McCollum presented a review of changes in statewide guidance and local coronavirus testing data made available since the Michigan City district first announced its plans for a nine-week virtual only restart to its 2020-21 school year. Under the state's recently developed county metrics map, LaPorte County falls this week under the Indiana State Department of Health's blue category, which indicates minimal community spread and advises that schools may operate in person with activities limited where social distancing is not possible. LaPorte County's seven-day positivity rate for the week Sept. 2-8 is 4.9%, according to the ISDH.

 

CHESTERTON: DUNELAND SCHOOLS ALTER HYBID MODEL — The Duneland School Corporation is altering its hybrid learning model by bringing all students, who choose to do so, back to the classroom four days a week, Superintendent Chip Pettit said (Ross, NWI Times). Interested students will all come together in classrooms Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, while remaining at home for e-learning on Wednesdays, according to Pettit. The option remains in place for entire remote learning as schools grapple with the challenge of operating as safely as possible during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he said.

 

VALPARAISO: SCHOOLS FRUSTRATED BY REMOTE LEARNING HACKS — Frustration with remote learning is reaching the boiling point at Valparaiso Community Schools following repeated cyber attacks on the district's e-learning systems that are regularly disconnecting students from their classrooms (Carden, NWI Times). Interim Superintendent Michael Berta confirmed Tuesday the district's connections to its approximately 1,500 remote students amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been intermittently dropping and reconnecting, over and over, for the past five or six school days. For example, he said students will be logged into their classroom and get part of a lesson, only to have the connection fail a few minutes later — causing students to miss key material and forcing teachers repeat the lesson when the connection is reestablished. "It is frustrating," Berta said. "Parents are getting restless about this and I don't blame them. I don't blame them one bit."

 

MUNCIE: SBOA ASKS $60K BE RETURNED - The Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBOA) has recommended that former Sanitary District Administrator Debra "Nikki" Grigsby pay back nearly $60,000 in compensation she received while on unpaid administrative leave (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). The SBOA's focus was primarily on compensation paid to the former district administrator, who was indicted in July 2019 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and falsification of documents. The SBOA also expressed concern over leave time being accumulated by Joseph Evans, William "Bill" Smith, and Michael Cline, the Muncie Sanitary District’s three board members at the time of the investigation.

 

WEST LAFAYETTE: WRIGHT HOME GETTING $500K — A famous house in West Lafayette has received money for restoration.  The National Park Service announced Tuesday it will award a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant to support restoration efforts at Samara, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in West Lafayette (WLFI-TV). The public grant will be matched by $503,000 in private funds from the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust, Inc. who co-stewards the house with Indiana Landmarks. “Samara is truly one of America’s treasures, not only because the home was designed by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, but because it’s one of the most complete, fully implemented Wright-designed projects, with the original landscape, graphic motif, interior furnishings and exterior details,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “We’re pleased that it has risen to such national prominence.”

 

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: 3,600 ABSENTEE BALLOTS MAILED - Bartholomew County election officials mailed out 3,661 absentee ballots to voters on Monday for the Nov. 3 election in what officials believe is an all-time record (East, Columbus Republic). On Monday, “multiple” election officials dropped off eight “large boxes” –each filled with hundreds of ballots — at the post office to be mailed to voters, said Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps. Several more boxes of ballots were scheduled to go out on Tuesday, Phelps said. “I think the post office was a little surprised, but I told them, ‘This is just round one,'” Phelps said. The number of ballots sent out on Monday, plus the additional 1,000 expected to be put in the mail on Tuesday, is more than the total of all absentee-by-mail votes cast in Bartholomew County during the previous three presidential elections combined.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: JUDGE WON'T SERVE IF ELECTED - An Indiana judge has said it’s too late to take his name off the November ballot and he will not serve if elected to a third term due to health issues (AP). Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 Judge Randy Williams made the announcement Monday, according to the Journal and Courier. Williams, a Republican, would have had to remove his name from the ballot by July 15. Democrat Bryan Coulter also is on the ballot for the six-year term. “I will not be campaigning and will not serve if elected,” Williams said. “The remaining candidate in the race will be offered my assistance in ensuring a smooth transition for the court.”

 

LAKE COUNTY: 15K ABSENTEES BEING SENT - Some 15,000 absentee ballots requested by registered Lake County voters are set to be deposited in the mail by the end of the week. According to county election officials, that will break the one-day record of 12,000 requested absentee ballots mailed in one day that was set during the 2008 general election (Carden, NWI Times). Altogether, officials are expecting to mail upwards of 50,000 absentee ballots to Lake County voters who qualify to vote by mail and submit an electronic absentee ballot request through their registration record at IndianaVoters.com, or fill out and return the paper form available on the Indiana secretary of state's website. They're also preparing for ballot counting to take longer than usual due to many voters opting for a mail-in ballot amid the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than casting an in-person absentee ballot beginning Oct. 6 at Lake County's 11 early voting sites, or voting at their precinct polling place on Nov. 3. Michelle Fajman, director of the Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said she's scheduling ballot counters to work on Election Day, as well as the Wednesday and Thursday following the Tuesday election.

 

LAKE COUNTY: 3% RAISES FOR EMPLOYEES - The Lake County Council is set to tentatively approve the county's 2021 spending plan Sept. 29, with final adoption of the budget scheduled for Oct. 13. The Democratic-led panel agreed to the revised budget ratification schedule Tuesday after a paperwork snafu delayed the "first reading" of the budget (Carden, NWI Times). The spending plan is unlikely to change much over the next month after County Council members and county department heads spent the past few weeks identifying funding for urgent needs and making cutbacks where appropriate. According to Scott Schmal, the council's finance director, the proposed budget is balanced and spends slightly less than the $255 million the county expects to collect in revenue from income taxes, property taxes, user fees and other receipts. He said overall county spending is increasing 2% in 2021 compared to 2020, and most county employees are due next year to receive a 3% pay raise.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: DEMS SAYS REPUBLICANS WON'T DEBATE - Democratic candidates in St. Joseph County are accusing Republican opponents of hiding from voters by not participating in debates this fall, but at least one GOP candidate defended his decision by pointing to his one-on-one campaigning (South Bend Tribune). Elizabeth Bennion, director of voter services for the league, confirmed the Republican candidates had declined debate invitations. A few other debates the league tried to arrange also haven’t jelled. Candidates who have declined or not responded to invitations represent both Republicans and Democrats, incumbents and challengers, she said. “We’re not sure if this is a pandemic issue or what is going on with these number of folks who are not accepting this season,” Bennion said. Democrats on Monday pushing for debates included incumbent state Rep. Ross Deal, who is being challenged by Republican Jake Teshka for the House District 7 seat; Don Westerhausen, who is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Dale DeVon for the state House District 5 seat; Hodge Patel, who is challenging Republican incumbent Deb Fleming for the St. Joseph County Commissioner District 3 seat; and incumbent state Rep. Ryan Dvorak, who is being challenged by Republican Timothy Jaycox for the House District 8 seat.