On the "Come Up" with Karen               
2012 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's running of the "Steel City"

  Go To:  Archived 2011 (Jan - Dec) Rudy Report
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2010 (Jun - Dec) Rudy Report
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2010 (Jan - Jun) Rudy Report
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2009 (Jul - Dec) Rudy Report
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2009 (Jan - Jun) Rudy Report
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2008 Rudy Report
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Jacko Jabber (Reports on matters relating to the demise of Michael Jackson)

Well, here we go with the 2012 report on the running of the City of the Century - Gary, IN - by its elected officials.  This is the first year without Rudy at the helm.  It is also the first year that a female has occupied the Gary Chief Executive office.  There can be little doubt but that she does indeed have her work cut out for her!

Remember, you may access the earlier Rudy Reports from the links appearing above, or those at the bottom of this page.

Post-Trib Closing NWI News Ops?
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[20 Dec 2012]

The Post-Tribune may be closing its Northwest Indiana newsroom while retaining a small number of reporters here to work from home, under a proposal from Sun-Times Media Group Editor-in-Chief Jim Kirk.  It appears the Merrillville-based newspaper will continue to publish, but the shuttering of its news operation at 1433 E. 83rd Av. would represent the end of its physical presence in the region after a 105-year run.

Kirk's memo was distributed to all Sun-Times Media Group newspapers Thursday, and Kirk will come to Merrillville on Friday to meet with employees.  All the changes would be complete by March, according to the memo.  Neither Kirk nor Post-Tribune Publisher Lisa Tatina returned a call seeking more information Thursday afternoon.

In his memo, Kirk stated the shuttering of all the newspaper group's Chicago-area publications is being done to promote a "digital first" strategy.  The memo stated:  "Print will be with us for some time, but not forever.  We cannot wait for change to come without being prepared.  Otherwise we're dead."

Kirk stated his memo was a proposal, which still has to be approved by Publisher Tim Knight.  However, the timelines and specifics included in the six-page memo indicate it is the result of many months of work by Sun-Times Media Group management.  Kirk stated he does not anticipate cutting jobs.  However, he said there may be job "redundancy" and determinations on positions will be made later.

Five years ago, the Post-Tribune transferred all its printing from its former headquarters on Broadway in Gary to the Chicago plant of its parent, the Sun-Times Media Group.  Not long after the announcement of the transfer of the Gary printing operation, the newspaper announced it would be closing its last remaining region news bureau in Valparaiso.  At about the same time, it placed its Merrillville newsroom building up for sale.  It also once ran an office on the Crown Point square, which has been put up for sale.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   The Post-Trib becoming a "work from home" operation?  I cannot say I am surprised.  Anyone who actually bothers to read the print edition is painfully aware of how woefully pitiful it is.  I can say, as a former Post-Trib Honor Carrier I am saddened by this turn of events.  It does not bode well for the City of Gary, either, I might add.   I also find it of note that this story was reported in the NWI Times, not in the Post-Trib! 


Feds Want to Drop Cocaine Charges Against Gary Cop

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Teresa Auch Schultz
[17 Dec 2012]

Federal attorneys want to drop four of seven counts against former Gary police officer David Finley Jr.  According to a motion to dismiss filed Monday morning in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, the counts include two charges of distribution of cocaine and one charge each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a gun in furtherance of drug trafficking.

The remaining charges include one count each of false statement in buying a gun, selling a gun to a prohibited person and distributing marijuana.

The motion did not give a reason for the request to dismiss the counts.

Finley resigned from the Gary Police Department after being charged earlier this year.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Can one say deal?  Will he be bringing other G.P.D. officers down, one wonders? 


Woman Shot, Killed While Working at Gary Beauty Salon
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[14 Dec 2012]

GARY Family and friends of Antoinetta Johnson gathered outside her beauty salon Thursday afternoon as police gathered evidence in her shooting death.  Johnson, 34, of Hammond, was shot and killed inside her salon, Visions of Beauty, about 1 p.m.  Police said a lone gunman walked into the business, located across the street from the Public Safety Facility (a.k.a. Gary Police Station!), and fired three shots from a handgun.  Johnson died instantly.

There were no signs the shooting was motived by robbery.  The suspect was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and is described as a black man, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, medium build with a medium complexion, police said.  Lt. Del Stout agreed Johnsons death may be related to her role in the murder-for-hire of Carl Griffith Sr. outside his Portage home last month.

Johnson cooperated in that investigation, telling Portage police that Sheaurice Major was her friend and that theyd spent "girly-girl" nights together, Porter County court records state.  She said Major asked her to find someone to hurt Griffith.  Johnson contacted Singletary, then drove him to Portage, heard gunshots while she waited, then drove him away from the scene, court records state.  Sheaurice Major and Singletary are charged with murder.  Johnson was not charged in the crime in exchange for her cooperation.


Dressed for the Part?
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[13 Dec 2012]

GARY - For police, Maurice Donelson's fashion statement said, "Arrest me!"  Donelson, 19, was in Gary City Court Wednesday morning with Anthea Terrell, who was scheduled to go on trial for battery.  Terrell and Donelson live at the same address in Glen Park.

As court referee Itsia Rivera proceeded through cases, Donelson stood up from his seat near the back of the room, pulled up his shirt, pulled down his jeans and adjusted the belt about mid-thigh, exposing his blue and white underwear.  Cpl. Debbie Walden, who works in the courtroom, quickly approached Donelson and told him he would have to get his pants up around his waist.

She escorted him into the hallway and reminded him of the posted dress code requirements for the courtroom.  "Thats some b---s---," he shouted.  Walden told him she would arrest him, which made Donelson angry and argumentative.  He tried to return to his seat when Patrolmen Jamal Milton and Jamaal Joseph joined Walden and began walking him toward the jail door.  He struggled with officers as they took him into custody, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement.

His companion Terrell, 27, was found guilty of battery after she admitted during her testimony that she struck her former friend and roommate, LaShaundria Jones, 22.  Terrell said Jones lived with her for a while and owed her $250.  The women had argued over the debt Feb. 2, then Terrell punched Jones in the face.

Before she was sentenced, Terrell said she was having financial problems and needed the money to help her five children.  She said she doesn't receive child support and told Rivera she doesn't communicate with any of her children's fathers, who are "all in jail."

Rivera told the unemployed Terrell, who is pregnant now, not to loan money that her children need.  Rivera sentenced her to complete anger management classes and serve 40 hours of community service.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And one wonders why our beloved Steel City is going to hell in a handbasket?


Gary Reserve Police Officers Home Raided
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
and a nwiTimes Report By Lindsay Machak

[6 Dec 2012]

GARY Police raided the Brunswick home of Gary reserve officer James Johnson Jr. early Wednesday, arresting Johnson, his brother and two women, including a graduate of Garys drug court program.

Johnson's arrest stems from a narcotics investigation initiated by a specialized unit within Gary Police Department, Chief Wade Ingram said.  Investigators were aware going into the raid that Johnson was a reserve officer, he said.  "We took it upon ourselves to execute a search warrant," he said.  "The result of that is that he was arrested."

Johnson, 46, is also a Gary City Court bailiff.  He was terminated from this post when Judge Deidre Monroe learned of his arrest.  "With me, one strike and youre out," Monroe said.  Johnson had a contract to work every Saturday morning.  He is expected to be removed from the reserve roster as well, sources said.

The Narcotics-Vice Unit obtained a tip about crack cocaine being sold at various locations on the west side of the city and began conducting surveillance, Lt. Thomas Ruzga said.  Detectives followed the drug dealer to 824 Burr St., where Johnson lives with his brother, William Johnson, 40, who is expected to be charged with dealing cocaine.

When the SWAT team raided the house about 6 a.m., police found materials for cooking crack cocaine and other paraphernalia.  They seized crack and the reserve officers Glock semiautomatic weapon.  James Johnson Jr. is being held facing charges of maintaining a common nuisance.  His girlfriend, Latasha Hutch, 20, who completed the drug court program, and Mariah McClellan, 34, were charged with visiting a common nuisance.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   You gotta love the Gary P.D. (?), and feel pity for the mayor of late!


Alleged Molester Not Extradited
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Marc Chase
[2 Dec 2012]

HIGHLAND | If some alleged felons run far enough away from Lake County, they don't have to hide, because local authorities will not pursue them.  That is the message a Highland mother says is being sent by the Lake Criminal Court in the case of her daughter, who at age 11 allegedly was molested by a family member visiting the region from Texas.

Last month, Brownsville, Texas, police and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested that family member, 74-year-old Enrique Marks Jr., on an active felony warrant related to the molestation case.  It was filed in Lake Criminal Court in 2009. Records at the Lake County clerk's office indicate that on Oct. 12, local criminal court Judge Diane Boswell declined to extradite Marks back to Lake County from his Texas jail cell, citing budget constraints.  Ultimately, Texas authorities said, they released Marks, of Brownsville, on Oct. 17.

It's not the first time this has occurred.  Lake County court records also show Texas police stopped Marks on the same warrant in 2009 but let him go when Lake County declined to extradite him.  Lake County authorities cited distance as the reason for not extraditing in that instance.

Notes in the case file pertaining to that 2009 court order indicate authorities would only extradite Marks if he was arrested within 300 miles of Lake County.  Brownsville, located on the Texas/Mexico border, is about 1,400 miles away.

But the mother of the then-11-year-old girl -- who according to Lake County court records allegedly was groped, kissed and fondled by Marks in August 2009 -- said she can't believe justice isn't being pursued.  "I even told them (Lake County authorities) I would pay for the extradition if cost was the issue," she said.  "He needs to be held responsible for what he did."  When she learned last month authorities were going to release Marks -- a fugitive of more than three years -- the alleged victim's mother said she was dumbfounded.  "I almost couldn't believe it," she said.  "I broke down and cried."

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said the local criminal courts have a policy of not extraditing defendants charged with Class C felonies if the travel distance is greater than 500 miles.  Marks is charged with a Class C felony. Carter said extradition for murder and Class A and B felonies, which include narcotics dealing, burglary, arson and rape, is automatic regardless of distance or cost.  Carter said that policy is enforced on a case-by-case, court-by-court basis.  "It's the judge's call in each particular courtroom," he said.

Carter said he is not happy with the decision in this particular case.  "Normally, I would want us to go after that kind of charge," he said.

But Carter did say extradition costs can be exorbitant, making it increasingly difficult to pursue justice.  He said the county uses a private firm to extradite wanted defendants who are located long distances away, and the cost is about $80 per mile.  At 1,400 miles away, that cost could be $112,000.  "It's ridiculously high," he said.

The decision not to extradite Marks left Brownsville, Texas, police scratching their heads.  Agent Ted Torres, of the Brownsville Police Special Investigations Unit, said police officers and agents with the U.S. Marshal's Service arrested Marks last month after receiving a complaint the suspect was wanted on the Lake County warrant and living in Brownsville.  Torres said the department ran Marks' name through an FBI national warrant system Oct. 10, and it confirmed Marks was wanted on the Lake County charges.  Torres said the system also indicated Lake County authorities would extradite the defendant if he was arrested in another jurisdiction.  "I'm just surprised by what happened," Torres said.  "According to the warrant in the national system, there was going to be full extradition.  It's a shame."

The accused Marks did not return calls placed by The Times on Friday to his Brownsville home seeking comment on the case.  Judge Boswel also did not return our calls requesting to discuss her decision to not seek extradition of Marks.


Gary Police Chief Wants to Fire Two Cops
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[30 Nov 2012]

GARY--Chief Wade Ingram wants the Gary Police Civil Service Commission to fire two officers for actions he says reflect poorly on the department.  In a special meeting Friday afternoon, the commission accepted two verified complaints against Patrolmen Marla Guye and Jason Johnson.  Both matters will be assigned to lawyers who will hear testimony, review evidence, then make recommendations to the commission.

Guye was arrested Oct. 23 in Chandler, Okla., during a traffic stop.  Police found 48 lbs. of compressed marijuana in the suitcase she shared with her boyfriend, a convicted felon, who was driving the car she rented in Arizona.  Ingram alleges she violated four rules, including conduct unbecoming a police officer, involvement in a felony and failing to report to work.  She was scheduled for duty the day she was arrested more than 700 miles from Gary.

Johnson left his assigned sector on Nov. 2 and allowed a rap singer to use his squad car as a prop in a video, Ingram states in the complaint.  The chief lists eight violations against Johnson, including leaving his assignment without permission, misuse of department property and conduct unbecoming an officer.  The final version of Fredrick Tiptons video shows Johnson conducting a "pat down" of a "suspect" while the rapper performs.  During an interview with an Internal Affairs investigator, Johnson admitted to the rules violations, the complaint states.


18-year old Gary Man Gunned Down in Aetna
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Staff Report
[29 Nov 2012]

GARY | An 18-year-old was gunned down early Thursday in the Aetna section of Gary.

Norman Eskew suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the 1100 block of Hamilton Place.  Hhe died as a result of an apparent homicide, according to the Lake County coroner's office.  Investigators believe he was the intended target in the shooting and may have been running from the gunman.

Eskew, of the 5100 block of Jefferson Street, was pronounced dead at 3 a.m. Thursday in the street, officials said.


Gary Is Nation's Most Underpoliced City
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[28 Nov 2012]

GARY--Gary is the most "underpoliced" city in the nation, a new study released this month shows.

"Over a quarter of each Gary residents income is lost due to crime.  Its very big relative to other cities.  It says something about the degree to which victimization affects people in Gary," Aaron Chalfin, one author of the study, said Wednesday.

Examining crime rates, income, the number of police officers, their salaries and other socioeconomic factors, Chalfin, and Justin McCrary, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, determined the "cost of crime" in more than 130 cities.

With per capita annual income of $15,383, the cost of crime for each Gary resident is $4,376.  That cost could translate as pain and suffering, or the price to replace a stolen car.

By comparison, Sunnyvale, Calif., ranked first as the most "overpoliced" city in the United States, costing each resident there about $280,000 per officer and the cost of crime $169 per resident.  "Its it not good to be overpoliced," McCrary said. "A city that is overpoliced is like a city where everyone has hired their own bodyguard."

For every $1 Gary spends on police, residents receive a $14 return, suggesting the cost of law enforcement here is cheap, the authors said.

In theory, hiring more officers would solve the high crime rate, but the citys financial problems prohibit that, McCrary said.  Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 President Sam Abegg said he estimates the department could perform better with at least 75 more officers, bringing the roster to about 300.

Another way to bring the citys crime costs down would be to redeploy manpower, moving more officers onto the streets. T he authors say, however, the work inside the police station is also important and to reduce staff could hinder investigations.

Chalfin said using statistical analysis to focus efforts on recognized crime areas can reduce criminal activity.  Gary already has a Crime Suppression Unit, which supports patrol officers and also works in targeted areas.

Perhaps the most effective way to increase police power without increasing expense is to merge with another department, McCrary suggested.  "The bigger police departments are a lot cheaper to run," he said.  But the result can also mean a loss "of texture and nuance" that residents will resist when they deal with officers unfamiliar with the territory.


Rank City Pop. Per Capita Inc. Crime Cost Per Capita

1 - Gary, IN 80,294 $15,383 $4,376

2 - New Orleans, LA 343,829 $24,929 $3,963

3 - Flint, MI 102,434 $14,910 $3,291

4 - Saginaw, MI 51,508 $14,157 $2,970

5 - Youngstown, OH 66,982 $14,451 $3,057

6 - Detroit, MI 713,777 $15,062 $3,691

7 - Birmingham, AL 212,237 $19,775 $3,106

8 - Jackson, MS 173,514 $19,095 $2,198

9 - Baton Rouge, LA 229,493 $23,195 $2,286

10 - St. Louis, MO 319,294 $21,406 $3,486
Source: "The Effect of Police on Crime: New Evidence from U.S. Cities, 1960-2010," Aaron Chalfin, Justin McCrary, University of California, Berkeley


Lawsuit Pushing Intermodal Port Project Off Track?
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Keith Benman and Bowdeya Tweh
[18 Nov 2012]

A company led by an adviser to Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is the target of a civil lawsuit in connection with its effort to spearhead a "city-centered" economic development project.

Adrian Muhammad, who has had a close relationship with the current and prior city administrations, organized a group of consultants to work at developing an intermodal freight port in the city.  His company, Midwest International Investment Center LLC of Chicago and Gary, channeled $102,287 into a feasibility study and market analysis to establish the operation on land U.S. Steel owns just east of Buffington Harbor.

But international consulting firm Landrum & Brown, which is performing the study, filed a lawsuit in August in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleging Muhammad's company skipped payment on six bills last year.  The firm is seeking payment of $267,110 plus interest and costs.  Muhammad, of Merrillville, declined to talk directly about the lawsuit but said he remains interested in helping Gary capitalize on its infrastructure assets and potential to be a transportation hub.

The highway, rail, water and air freight port planned by Muhammad is a key component of a "global" economic development initiative of the Freeman-Wilson administration.  The administration plans to seek state aid to pay for the initiative.

Big questions have been swirling around City Hall and in Gary circles in recent months since Muhammad's visibility in connection with the intermodal port project has declined.  He said other business interests required his attention and that he has traveled significantly recently, including a trip to China earlier this month.  He said any innuendo he would flee the area as a result of a civil lawsuit "makes little to no sense."  Prior to leaving for China, Muhammad said he visited City Hall on several occasions and even attended a birthday party for the mayor at Gary's Genesis Convention Center.

When interviewed in early November, Freeman-Wilson said the city still considers an intermodal freight port to be an important part of a global economic development initiative for Gary.  However, she could not say if it will be included when the city seeks support from the Indiana General Assembly next year.  Freeman-Wilson said Muhammad undertook the venture as a private citizen and that it was not a city effort.  Although she wished Muhammad success in his effort, the mayor said his problems will not hold up her global economic development initiative, which includes an intermodal port, a land-based casino and a teaching hospital in the city.

In a March 8 letter to Landrum & Brown, Midwest International Investment Center lawyer Dwain Kyles said the change in political leadership in Gary had removed many of the obstacles to the intermodal freight project.  "To that end, the election of Karen Freeman-Wilson as the new mayor of Gary, her publicly stated commitment to transportation generally, and this intermodal development strategy specifically, strongly validates both our approach and the acceptance of our development as a city-centered initiative," the letter read in part.

On being read that part of the letter, Freeman-Wilson acknowledged Muhammad's project could be valuable to the city and even an important part of its economic development efforts.  "This is something they were taking on as private developers where the city was absolutely interested in a partnership when the time came," she said.  At the same time, she sought to draw distinctions between Muhammad's work and the city project, saying he was not a city employee and has not been paid any consulting fees by her administration.

Muhammad played a key role in Freeman-Wilson's 2011 campaign for mayor.  He earned $7,479.31 from Freeman-Wilson's campaign, which was more than any other single consultant or worker for her campaign, according to documents on file at the Lake County Board of Elections.V

Muhammad's Midwest International Investment Center uses the Gary-Hammond-East Chicago Empowerment Zone business incubator at 1065 Broadway as its mailing address.  Executive Director Scott Upshaw said Nov. 8 he hadn't seen Muhammad in more than a month and understood he was out of the country on business.  The company also shares an office in Chicago's Loop with a law firm that specializes in channeling foreign investments to domestic projects.

Muhammad was also a close adviser to former Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, helping usher Chinese investors around Gary's transportation assets, including the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the sites of proposed intermodal and manufacturing centers that would surround the airport.

Freeman-Wilson said she was first briefed by Muhammad and others on their intermodal port plan at a meeting at the offices of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority in summer 2011, after she had won the Democratic primary for mayor.  RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna said Muhammad and others had briefed his organization on the project both during the Clay administration and the start of Freeman-Wilson's.  Airport officials also were briefed.

Kyles said the Gary intermodal project was "coming along pretty well" as he and Muhammad worked to gather interest and backers for the project, but efforts slowed down as Muhammad became involved with Freeman-Wilson's 2011 election campaign.  Muhammad said he worked closely with the mayor and her transition team but stopped working closely with City Hall this summer to provide more attention to his business interests.  Kyles said the project is in a holding pattern, but not because of the lawsuit Landrum & Brown filed.


Gary Attorney Gets Another Contract with City

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michael Gonzalez

[16 Nov 2012]


GARY The Gary Sanitary District no Wednesday gave board attorney Jewell Harris Jr. another contract for his firms work with the board.


Harris, already working on day-to-day business for the district for $75,000 a year, will get up to $50,000 for unforeseen litigation and special projects, he said.  This is for time my associates and I spend in the courtroom, for cases like United Water, and for other projects for the district, said Harris, who played an active role in Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilsons 2011 mayoral campaign, and who is the son of former Gary powerbroker Jewell Harris.


United Water, a national water services firm that managed GSD operations until last year, was cleared of charges of fraud in federal court last week.  Harris said his associates attended the hearing to report back to the district.


Earlier this year, GSD also awarded Harris law firm a collection contract to cure delinquent accounts in the citys trash collection program.  Harris firm will get a 15% commission on whatever it collects.  Since Sept. 13, the firm has collected more than $555,000 in delinquent accounts and will continue its efforts until the end of December or all accounts are caught up, he said.  Allied Waste, the citys trash collection company, will be replaced by another behemoth, Waste Management, in January.


Harris said delinquent property owners first get notices of their arrearages. Then, they can choose to participate in a payment plan of 40% down and the balance due in two payments over 60 days.  Afterward, Harris firm can sue and collect about 25% of any money awarded by the court.


Last summer, GSD reached an agreement with Allied Waste to pay $2.5 million in arrearages and current billing through the end of December.  Harris collection results are applied against that amount.





Gary Airport Wants to Become Self-sufficient

Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Keith Benman

[13 Nov 2012]



The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority may vote as soon as its next meeting on approving a flight path to financial self-sufficiency.


Airport consultant John Clark said he already has handed a plan to authority board members that revolves around establishing Gary as "Chicago's third airport" and making it the low-cost leader in the Greater Chicago region.  "It is expensive to operate out of Midway and it is expensive to operate out of O'Hare," Clark said Tuesday.  "The difference is not only is Gary more convenient, it can also be lower cost than those other airports."


Currently, the Gary airport is supported by fees, charges and rents it already collects; city of Gary taxpayers; and passenger fees collected at O'Hare and Midway.  That last source of support comes through the Chicago/Gary Regional Airport Authority, which oversees all three airports.  The Chicago/Gary Regional Airport Authority, under a bi-state compact signed in 1995, contributes more than $1 million per year to Gary's operating budget and is kicking in $7.5 million for the current expansion project.


Clark reminded Gary airport authority members at their meeting Tuesday that Chicago can end its support of the Gary airport with just six months notice.  He said the self-sufficiency plan can help it prepare for that eventuality.


Clark, whose JClark Aviation is paid $245 per hour for its services to the airport, said he cannot say now whether fees and charges for landing, fuel and other airport services would go up or down under his plan.  He said the fees and the success of the plan will mainly be determined by how quickly the airport can grow its business.



Gary Cop Transferred to Garage after Rap Video Surfaces
Compiled from a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[5 Nov 2012]

GARY - Laron Leslie, David Finley, Marla Guye and now Patrolman Jason Johnson.  All four Gary police officers hired in July 2009.  All tied to drugs. The latest incident involves Johnson and his take-home squad car, featured in a home video dated Friday (11/2) and posted on YouTube this past weekend. 

Filmed on a Tarrytown street, the video focuses on a rap artist making his own recording with Johnson's squad car as a prop in the background.  The squad is parked at an angle, its lights flashing while the singer moves back and forth in front of it.  In one shot, he leans against the front fender.  And while the singer prances and gestures, a crowd mills around in the nearby yard.  Participants take turns flashing gang signs, displaying weapons and issuing greetings to the man behind the camera.  "Were smoking weed with the police outside," says one man.  Another shows his "Get your Smokey On" T-shirt.  Just 42 seconds into the 4-minute video, viewers get a glimpse of Johnson in his uniform, watching the rap artist.  Chief Wade Ingram met with Johnson Monday morning.  He terminated the officers take-home car privileges and transferred him to the garage.  Indiana law prohibits the city from firing or suspending without pay a sworn officer until the jurisdictions police commission conducts a hearing.

"When matters like this arise, our approach continues to be proactive.  We are policing ourselves as well as the citizens.  We will do everything in our power to ensure that any illegal behavior by Gary police officers will not be tolerated," Ingram wrote in an e-mail sent by city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington.  He said mandatory ethics classes are set for next week, to be provided by Indiana University Northwest at no cost to the city.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, "This goes beyond ethics.  This has to do with character.  It is our intent to take aggressive measures to confirm what we already know that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Gary Police Department are hard working and law abiding."

Leslie was fired after testing positive for marijuana when he crashed his take-home squad; Finley resigned after he was charged in federal court with dealing cocaine and marijuana; Guye was arrested Oct. 23 in Oklahoma when police found 48 lbs. of marijuana in the car she rented with her boyfriend.  All four were hired by Chief Reginald Harris in the second wave of all-Gary recruits, the result of former Mayor Rudy Clays push to change the city ordinance governing hiring procedures.  Previously, the chief selected new officers based on where they scored on a battery of tests.  The ordinance eliminated that requirement.


Gary Schools Won't Get Gary National Bank Building
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Carmen McCollum
[5 Nov 2012]

GARY | The deal for the Gary Community School Corp. to acquire the Gary National Bank building has fallen through.

In late October, EFN Gary Property LLC donated the Gary National Bank building, 504 Broadway, to the Gary Community School Corp.  The company is owned by Edward Napleton, who also owns the Napleton Automotive Group based in Westmont, Ill.  The 10-story building includes a 350-car parking garage.  Officials at the Gary Community School Corp. said they would relocate their administrative offices there, and operate the building as a commercial enterprise.

District officials were expected to close on the building Friday, but a news conference announcing the closing and subsequent move-in date was canceled.  Rick Brandstatter, director of real estate operations for the Napleton Group, said Monday the Gary Community School Corp. didn't close Friday.  Napleton has identified other parties who may be interested in the donation.  "They had an opportunity," he said.  "All of the documents were at the title company.  All they had to do was accept the title at closing.  The November rent checks were at the title company.  The security deposit for the tenants was there.  They could have gotten the title to the building and picked up money at the closing at the same time."

Brandstatter said the deal was not "rushed," and they had been talking to Gary school officials since September or October.  "We've taken the documents that were at the title company back and we have begun talking to other groups," he said, though he declined to identify them.

Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt had said the bank building needed minimal work and the donor agreed to take care of existing claims.  She said a cost analysis would be done to show expenses related to staying at the district's current administrative offices, which has roof and boiler problems, or moving to the Gary National Bank building.  However, School Board President Darren Washington said accepting the building was contingent on a thorough inspection, which had not been done by Friday's proposed closing.  He said school officials were not comfortable closing on the building before having an opportunity to conduct due diligence and determine all the costs associated with the building.


Cops:  Man Arrested after People at Bus Stop Duck Bullets
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Jim Masters

[1 Nov 2012]

GARY | A Gary man was arrested Tuesday after a police officer saw him firing a handgun near 43rd and Broadway, police said.

Wesley Tremayne King, of Gary, was seeing running and firing the gun as people at a bus stop fell to the ground to avoid the gunshots, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Hammond.  The Gary police officer chased the man, later identified as King, but he escaped, the affidavit states.

A short time later, police responded to a call in the 4400 block of Washington Street, where they spoke to King, who said he had called police about an attempted burglary at his home.  King admitted to being the person the officer saw shooting the gun near the bus stop, according to court records.  King told police a man attempted to force his way into King's home, so he ran to the window and fired the gun.  He said he was not trying to shoot anyone, but just wanted to scare off the intruder, according to the affidavit.  King then produced a black Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol with one live round from under a mattress.

The officer noticed the gun serial number had been removed.  King was found to be on probation for felony possession of a controlled substance in Illinois, and had an earlier felony conviction for murder.  He was arrested Tuesday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.


How Gary Schools Rated by State Dept. of Ed.
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report
[31 Oct 2012]


2012 2011

Lew Wallace (Sci-Tech-Eng-Math) Academy  (My alma mater!)


Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy


Banneker Achievement Center


Beveridge Elementary


Brunswick Elementary


Watson Academy for Boys


McCullough Academy for Girls


Jefferson Elementary


Bailly Preparatory Academy


Marquette Elementary


Glen Park Academy


West Side Leadership Academy


Webster Elementary


Wirt/Emerson VPA Academy


Williams Elementary












Indiana's new A - F model holds schools and corporations to higher standards and provides a more accurate picture of their performance by incorporating student academic growth and graduation rates, as well as college- and career-readiness, as measures of success, according to the state Board of Education.   Most schools in Northwest Indiana were in line with those in the rest of the state as more than 61% of Indiana's schools received A or B grades for the 2011-12 year, though some also received failing grades.


Gary School Board Backs Move Downtown
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[24 Oct 2012]

GARY A divided School Board voted Tuesday to assume ownership of the 10-story iconic Gary State Bank building at 504 Broadway, where school officials plan to relocate the districts central offices and rent out office space.

Two board members voted against accepting the building donation from the Napleton Co. because they worried about its aging maintenance needs and the diversion from their mission to educate students.  "Its a bad deal.  I must look this gift horse in the mouth," said board member Marion Williams.  He said, "The boiler in the buildings basement needs $2.5 million worth of repairs."  The Gary Community School Corp. is facing a number of issues we must deal with.  The financial issues today are insurmountable."  Williams, who heads the boards building and grounds committee, said the business of renting space to businesses would take away from the focus on education.

The building, which opened in 1908, is mostly vacant.  It does house a pharmacy.  The boards agenda listed its value at $2.2 million.  Plans call for the districts central administration to move to the fourth floor of the building, which at one time housed an office for the governor.

The service center at 620 E. 10th Place has been condemned because of problems with its air quality and ventilating system, said board member Barbara Leek.  "Is it a risk?  Yes, it is.  Ill vote yes," she said.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson welcomed the move.  "It will keep another building from being vacant.  Its a beautiful building.  It has a lot of potential," said Freeman-Wilson who maintained her law office there from 1988 to 1999.


Gary Cop Charged in Oklahoma as Marijuana Trafficker
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[24 Oct 2012]

GARY | A traffic stop in central Oklahoma led to the arrest of a three-year member of the Gary Police Department, who now faces charges of trafficking marijuana.  The offense carries a potential sentence of 4 years - to - Life in prison.  Lincoln County Sheriff Charlie Dougherty said Marla Guye, 29, and her passenger, Terrence Gee, 25, of Michigan City, were arrested on the Turner Turnpike near Chandler, OK, which is about halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The Highway Patrol Interdiction Unit searched Guyes car and found enough marijuana (48 lbs.!) to warrant a felony charge of trafficking.  A judge in Lincoln County set her bail at $7,500.  She is expected to appear in District Court on Wednesday.

Guye, hired in November 2009 at the height of former Mayor Rudy Clay's push to hire Gary residents for the Police Department, failed to report to work Tuesday.  She most recently has been assigned to the Community Oriented Policing Services detail in the Miller neighborhood.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said he had heard of the arrest but received no official notification.  "I am a little saddened and disappointed because she is a good officer," Ingram said.  After he receives a copy of the charging affidavit, Ingram said he would make a decision about her standing.  "If these charges are true and she is convicted, I will be seeking her dismissal," he said.

Guye and former patrolmen Laron Leslie and David O. Finley were all hired after Clay convinced the City Council to amend the hiring process.  The change allowed the administration to choose anyone on the hiring list, rather than by results of a battery of tests.  Leslie was charged with intimidation in a dispute with a Gary firefighter.  That case is pending.  He was fired by the Gary Police Civil Service for crashing his take-home squad car while testing positive for marijuana.  Finley was charged in U.S. District Court with dealing cocaine.  His case is also pending.  He resigned shortly after his arrest.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Three-out-of-three isn't bad in baseball, but when one is talking crooks on the police force, it sure ain't good!


Woman Goes Missing After Police Take Her to Wrong Shelter
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[18 Oct 2012]

GARY A woman seeking refuge from problems at home disappeared Oct. 3 after police dropped her off outside a shelter.  "She has not been seen since," Lt. Lawrence Wright said.

Holly Womax, also known as Holly Elischer, 30, was afraid of her husband, George Paul Elischer.  The husband called Hollys mother the night of Oct. 2 "and was threatening to kill her.  I was so concerned I had the police go check," Darlene Strickland said.  Strickland lives in Georgia.

That night, Womax left her mobile home park near Ridge and Clark roads and slept in the lobby of the Public Safety Facility.  Gary police arranged for Womax to stay at an area womens shelter for victims of domestic violence.  "She had a room," Lt. Wright said.  But an officer instead took Womax to a womens homeless shelter several blocks away where she was "dropped off."  The officer did not escort her inside the building.

Strickland said the shelter turned her away, forcing Womax to sleep in a structure near the Adam Benjamin Metro Center.  "The last I talked to her was Oct. 4. She was going to charge her phone. By this time she was scared. She didnt know where she was," Strickland said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I wonder what the chief will have to say about this daux pas, and if he will be sued for saying it?  It does seem as though at some time the chief should be made to "man up," as well as be held accountable for the actions of his officers? 


Gary Schools Look for Ways to Cut as $4.8 Million Shortfall Looms
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[17 Oct 2012]

GARY - More cost cutting is ahead for the Gary Community School Corp. to make up for a $4.8 million deficit in 2013.  Those cuts could mean a loss of teachers, clerical staffers and others as the School Board strives to balance its budget of $123.6 million in the face of a declining enrollment and diminished state funding. Furlough days will also be considered.

The board listened to details of a proposed 2013 budget Wednesday as CFO Nakitta White offered an outline of the budget the board is expected to finalize Tuesday.  White said an analysis of student-staff ratios would be completed before staff cuts are recommended.  She also said overtime would be eliminated, and supplementary pay typically given to teachers for additional classes would be scrutinized.  Benefit costs are also being examined and all existing consulting contracts could be renegotiated.

Utility use will be reviewed, as well, to save energy costs, White said.  White also said the district would implement a mass purchasing policy so it could save on supplies by buying in bulk.

White said the district still receives most of its revenue from the state in tuition support.  The districts 2012-13 average daily membership of 7,752 students is a decrease of 15 percent from last year.  The district receives about $7,800 per student from the state.

Meanwhile, White said the district has 1,600 employees, about 220 who are substitute teachers or other non-contracted staff.

The districts tax collection rate has dropped from 90% in 2001 to about 43% with the impact of tax caps and uncollected taxes.

White said the district would likely submit an amended budget to the state, reflecting cuts as the year progresses.

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the projected $4.8 million deficit could be less if other projected savings, such as textbook reimbursement, materializes.

Gary Teachers Union President Joe Zimmerman said he'd take the proposed staff cut recommendations to his board when he receives them and examine them.  "Its something we have to look at," he said.


Lake County Could Borrow from Porter County to Make up Budget Shortfall
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carrie Napoleon
[17 Oct 2012]

CROWN POINT County Commissioners may be looking to a neighbor for a little help in funding an approximately $15 million budget shortfall in 2013.

Wednesday, Board of Commissioners President Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, said it may be possible for the county to borrow some funds from Porter County instead of going through a bank.  Scheub said he has had some conversations with Porter County Treasurer Michael Bucko and the county seems open to the idea.

"Porter County has got an enormous amount of money left from the hospital sale," Scheub said, adding Lake County officials are negotiating with Porter County officials for a loan that would have a lower interest rate than the county would receive in the traditional bond market.  The move could save Lake County one point or more in interest and potentially about $1 million over the life of the loan.

Porter County stands to more than double its return on the money it would loan to Lake County over what it would make on those funds in interest in a bank, John Dull, attorney for the commissioners, said.  Porter County has made a similar loan to the city of Hammond.

"Its not like they are trying to be our good friends.  Its financially beneficial to them too," Dull said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It is telling that Lake Co. needs to borrow money.  If I was Porter Co. I would be more than concerned over Lake Co.'s credit rating before considering making it a loan! 


Gary Airport Spends More on Marketing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michelle L. Quinn
                    and a nwiTimes Report By Keith Benman
[17 Oct 2012]

GARY Marketing efforts by the Gary/Chicago International Airport got a boost Wednesday morning via a 4-0 vote to appropriate more funds.

The Airport Authority, minus 3 members, voted during a special meeting to appropriate $75,000 to the marketing department for TV, radio and other types of advertising of Allegiant Airline.  The money will get the department through the end of the year and into 2013, said marketing liaison James Ward III.

Airport Interim Director Steve Landry said the money would be used for marketing through next year's spring break for schools, traditionally one of the busiest times for Northwest Indiana-to-Florida travel.

Landry told the authority board the airport's marketing promotions in part are designed to make sure the airline reaches at least 10,000 passenger enplanements per year.  Airports with airlines carrying that number of passengers are eligible for $1 million in federal airport improvement funds.  Airports that don't reach that mark get just $150,000.

Ward declined to elaborate on specifics since the airport is still negotiating the contracts but said part of the push will be to increase the airports presence in its targeted areas:  Schererville, Valparaiso, Gary, Merrillville and Crown Point are the top five targets.  South Chicago suburbs are on its radar as well.

"TV outreach will include North Lake, South Lake, LaPorte, Porter, Chicago DMA and south suburbs," Ward said.  Additional marketing efforts include using Skokie, Ill.-based mobile billboard company Cars With Ads, wherein people have advertising graphic wraps put on their vehicles.

The $75,000 appropriation is the second one the airport has granted in a little more than two months.  Its first $75,000 was granted July 23.


Gary Council Adopts Regs for 'Cash for Gold' Pawn Shops
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Juliet Bustos
[17 Oct 2012]

GARY The City Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance enforcing stricter regulations for "cash for gold" businesses, scrap dealers and pawn brokers in Gary.

Because of a rather high burglary rate in the city, the Police Department wants to crack down on pawn shops to slow the flow of stolen merchandise.  There have been a total of 1,294 burglaries that have taken place this year, Police Chief Wade Ingram said.

"Burglaries are a serious issue in the city of Gary," Ingram said.  "This ordinance is going after the business people who are most likely buying stolen items and reselling them."

Although the number of reported burglaries has decreased by more than 500 compared with last year, the Police Department still wants to make it harder for thieves to make a profit from stolen goods.

The new ordinance will set requirements for all cash for gold stores, pawn shops and scrap dealers.

Anyone bringing an item for trade must show a state-issued ID and submit a thumbprint.  The business is to keep records of all transactions, including the date, time and what was sold.  All information must be entered into Leads Online, which is a database that is accessible in any city throughout the U.S., and all items that are traded cannot be sold until after a five-day period..
[COMMENT -GDY]:   The crooks will easily be able to acquire fake "state-issued ID."  Now, the thumb print may present a problem,but only if their prints are already in the system somewhere?


Carter Far From Soft on Blacks
A Post-Trib Editorial
[16 Oct 2012]

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter delivered an impassioned speech recently about the relentless pattern of violence in the black community.

Carters candor was refreshing, coming from a political creature, after all.  And it was courageous.  Carter, who is black, blamed the crisis squarely on the black community, saying most politicians shy away from the declaration for fear of being labeled racist.

The Lake County Democrat praised an unlikely politician GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for criticizing the lack of personal responsibility by young black men that leads to crime and a breakdown of families.  Carter said Ryans comments during the vice presidential debate were not racist, they were "reality."

Carter said while blacks make up 24% of Lake Countys population, they account for 70% of all violent criminal offenders.  "Why are my people, African-Americans, so violent?" Carter asked.  Like Ryan, Carter says its about personal responsibility, not economics.  Carter said residents in a low-crime neighborhood wouldnt tolerate a drug dealer moving in next door.  Thats not the case in high-crime areas like Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, he said.

Carters remarks should kick off a serious dialogue within the black community, not a condemnation.  This is a man who sees the parade of young black men brought into jail and into the court system daily.  Its his job to convict them.  Although it gnaws at Carter like a raw, open wound, it should be a challenge to us all.


Lake Co. Prosecutor:  Lack of Morals, Loss of Family Behind Black Crime
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes Reports By Carrie Napoleon and Lu Ann Franklin
[13 Oct 2012]

If elected officials want to see crime numbers fall, they need to be prepared to have some frank discussions about the underlying social causes behind the problem.  Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter gave an impassioned, no-holds-barred talk at Friday's meeting of the Lake County Advancement Committee at Teibels Restaurant.  Carter told the gathering that it does not matter how many criminals his office and others like it put behind bars if officials do not begin a conversation on the breakdown of the family unit that is behind the trend.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, the three communities in Lake County that make up the bulk of the countys violent crime cases.  The cities are not unlike other urban settings where crime rates are high.  Turn on any news channel in any city and you will see reports of instances of violent crimes, he said.

"You have to ask, Why is this?  What is this all about?" Carter said.  He said the problem lies within the African-American community, and most politicians back away from taking up the subject for fear of being labeled racist.

"Its not racist.  Its reality," Carter said.  While the African-American community makes up 24% of the U.S. population, it makes up 70% of all violent criminal offenders.  "Why are my people, African-Americans, so violent?" Carter asked.

The prosecutor said he does not buy the argument economics are at the root of crime.  The problem, he said, lies deeper. Carter said the loss of family, morals and responsibility is at the heart of the crime problem.  He said children are being raised in fatherless homes by drug-abusing mothers and have no moral compass to help guide them into adulthood.  He decried teen pregnancies and children, themselves not raised properly, thrust into the position of parent.  The violence in the black community isnt because of poverty alone, according to the prosecutor "Its about taking ownership," Carter said.  "They have lost their ambition. They need to get their morals straight."

"The reality of it is we have a situation in this county where people are not taking care off their children.  Parents hold ultimate responsibility for raising their children with values, and too many black males are missing from the families they help create, often with young girls, Carter said.

"Were prosecuting a 21-year-old right now who has fathered six children by six different females, some of them minors, which is what were prosecuting him on," he said.  Those bailing the young African-American males out of jail or sitting in the courtroom when they are tried are females of all ages, Carter said.  "A woman says she raised three children by herself.  Thats nothing to be proud of.  Its a damn insult," he said.

You can put a police officer on every corner in Lake County and youre not going to reduce the crime," Carter said.  More police officers would mean more arrests, but crime rates would not change, Carter said.  He said only about 3% of all crime is actually prosecuted.  Much of the remainder is unreported.

He said the difference between communities with low crime rates and those with higher crime rates is due in part to the pride and self-investment the people in the low-crime areas have about their community, something lacking in high-crime areas.  Carter said residents in a low-crime neighborhood would not tolerate a drug dealer moving in next door.  Those neighbors would report the activity.  In urban areas like Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, that is not the case.

Carter said education and awareness about the root cause of the problem are the needed first steps to make a difference.  "If we can correct these problems, we wouldnt have the problems we have today," Carter said.

Carter is African-American.


Two Gary Cops to Sue Chief Over Comments
Compiled From a Post-Trib By Lori Caldwell
[12 Oct 2012]

GARY Accusing police Chief Wade Ingram of making false "slanderous and defamatory" remarks about them, two veteran Gary officers intend to sue the city.

Lt. Roger Smith of Valparaiso and Sgt. Anthony Stanley of Gary, who joined the force in March 1985, each seek $700,000 in damages.

In a notice to claim dated Aug. 30 but not received by the city until last week, Smith and Stanley make identical claims regarding a June 12 article in the Post-Tribune. "He knows he lied. He should be held accountable. I can never trust him," Smith said Thursday.

The story focused on annual Crisis Intervention Team training sponsored by the Gary Police Department. No Gary officers attended the weeklong class. Ingram said he was unaware of the pending classes and blamed Smith and Stanley, both assigned to the training division. Ingram said he would transfer them to other assignments "for greater accountability." A day after the story appeared, Ingram rescinded his transfer orders and said he changed his mind after learning more.

The notice of claim states Ingram did know about the training and made the decision to keep 16 rookies out of the class. Administrators were in a hurry to get the rookies on the street to boost the number of officers responding to calls in the typically busy summer months. "Rather than accept responsibility, Ingram blamed the training division ... to deflect blame from himself and by doing so did cause irreparable harm," the claim states.

Smith and Stanley can proceed with a civil lawsuit against the city if no settlement is reached within 180 days. Smith said he also filed a complaint against Ingram with the FBI. "I would like a public apology," Smith said.


Genuinely Mind Boggling
From a Post-Trib Law & Order Report

[10 Oct 2012]

A Glen Park man told police he was stabbed in the face Monday night by a relative he knows only as "Te-Te," police said..
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I know for a fact that I am indeed old.  However, am I so far removed from the "real world" that I fail to appreciate that in the world of today one does not even know their relative's first/last name and address?  I hope not!


Gary School Board Candidate Denies Theft Charge
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[7 Oct 2012]

GARY A School Board candidate says a felony theft charge against him is a "trumped up" accusation from adversaries who want to keep him off the board.

"This was an attack.  They were hoping I wouldnt run," he said.  "Ive been quiet about it, but I have the proof I was authorized to use the corporate card. Its been given to the judge and prosecutor."  "They dont want me there," said Hare.  "I am 100 percent confident the charges will be dismissed and dropped."

Marcus E. Hare, 29, was charged with one count of theft in Lake Superior Court on March 22.  Hare is accused of making unauthorized charges totaling $1,800 and $2,000 on his former employers credit cards between Sept. 1, 2011 and Feb. 8, 2012.

Wanda Logan, the owner of Sonographic Images in Gary, told authorities Hare used the money to pay off his personal debts.  Hare worked there as Logans executive director.  Logan said she discovered Hare used her credit card without permission on Oct. 26, 2011 to purchase gas for himself and his wife, but she let it go.  Logan said Hare stopped working for her by the end of October 2011, but she continued to find more unauthorized charges.  She told authorities there were two forged checks drawn on her business; both were dated Sept. 30, 2011, in the amount of $300 and made payable to Marcus Hare.  An omnibus hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 31 in Lake Superior Court. Hare is represented by attorney Scott King.

Hare strongly denied taking the money.  He said Logan is a relative of a supporter of a movement to keep the main branch of the Gary Public Library open.  Hare said hes been vocal in support of transforming the library into a cultural center and museum.  Construction had begun on the center, but was shut down because the Library Board has lacked a quorum needed to pay bills from construction companies.

Robert Buggs, a member of the Citizens to Save the Gary Public Library, said he wanted to bring the felony charge against Hare to light before the election.  He said the School Board has the power to make two appointments to the Library Board and hes concerned about Hares background.

Hare admitted he filed bankruptcy in 2010 because of debts stemming from a divorce.  Court records indicate his debts amounted to $184,581.  He said he makes monthly payments on the debts, according to a payment plan.

Hare, who said he lives in Miller, is also a member of the Gary Public Transportation Corp. board of directors.  He said hes chief financial officer for BJB Iron and Fence Co. in Gary.

Antuwan Clemons, 22, who opposes Hare for the at-large seat vacated by Darren Washington, said Hare should reconsider his candidacy.  "If you have any criminal background as far as stealing, you shouldnt be charged with dealing with a budget.  We dont need anyone like that on our school board.  If hes not convicted, he can run again in four years."

Hares candidacy has drawn high-profile supporters.  Among those who signed his petition for candidacy were former Mayor Rudy Clay, State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, School Board member Rosie Washington and Gary Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas (Recently charged with federal income tax evasion herself!  Those old enough to remember will recall that it was income tax evasion on which they nabbed "Cha Cha.)."


Gary Councilwoman Indicted
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Teresa Auch Schultz
[5 Oct 2012]

HAMMOND - Federal indictments rained down Thursday on three Lake County elected officials, including  a Gary City Councilwoman, a former Merrillville Town Court clerk, the former director of the East Chicago Public Library, and a Munster businessman.

U.S. Attorney David Capp announced the grand jury charges following investigations conducted by the Northern District of Indiana's Public Corruption Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gary Bell and Philip Benson will prosecute the cases.  The Public Corruption Task Force is a multi-agency effort whose primary participants are the FBI, the Indiana State Police and the Internal Revenue Service.

An indictment charges Gary Common Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, 69 with one count of tax evasion.  The indictment claims Krusas, who has served as a councilwoman since 2000, hasn't filed a federal income tax return since 1991.  In 2001, the IRS started sending her notices of taxes and penalties owed that eventually added up to $157,413.  However, according to the indictment, when she received in 2009 and 2010 inheritance payments totalling $232,680, she used the money to pay down other debt and to write $110,000 in cashiers checks to herself and a relative instead of to pay her debt to the federal government.

Krusas surrendered herself Thursday afternoon to the U.S. Marshal's Service and pleaded not guilty to the charge before U.S. Judge Andrew Rodovich.  She was released on a $20,000 bond and had to turn over her passport.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell said during her initial appearance that the goverments case would take about three to four days to present at trial.  Rodovich set a status hearing for Dec. 9.

Her attorney, (former mayor) Scott King, said he has known about the case for several months and that none of it has anything to do with her position as a city councilwoman.  "Her conduct as a public official has been above reproach," he said.  King said that Krusas planned to stay on the City Council for now but they would discuss her future.

Not only does Krusas faces up to five years in prison on the felony count if convicted, but she would also immediately lose her office.


Mayor Takes Budget Requests to Council
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Juliet Bustos
[3 Oct 2012]

GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Tuesday asked City Council members to keep an open mind when considering pending budget requests.

"My team and I understand that the final budget decisions rest with the council," Freeman-Wilson said.  "We understood the budget deficit that came along with the transition in taking over from Mayor Rudy Clay.

When we arrived, we found all issues as expected, but Im not sharing this information with you to list the things that were not taken care of, but to see what we have accomplished since in office."  Freeman-Wilson checked off her administration's accomplishments since January.  By the end of this month, street sweepers will begin cleaning Gary's roads for the first time in three years, she said.

The council considered 11 proposed ordinances Tuesday pertaining to salaries and appropriations.  Of those, only one received the council's approval.  The council is expected to vote on the other 10 at its next meeting.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   That is qute a list of accomplishments!  Looks like it may take mre than quite a while for Gary to be, as Karen likes to say, "on the come up?"


Former Mayor Rudy Clay in Hospital
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[3 Oct 2012]

GARY | Former Gary Mayor Rudy Clay was admitted to the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus on Saturday.  He is being treated for a low blood count.

Clay said he started to feel woozy while attending a funeral at a local church.  He stepped outside and asked two reserve police officers to help him to his car when they noticed his condition, gave him water and called an ambulance.

When reached Tuesday, Clay said his doctors had told him he may be home by today.  "I will be slowing down a little bit," Clay said, "but I'll be right back.  It won't be a problem."  Clay said the low blood count was not related to the prostate cancer that cut short his re-election campaign in April 2011.

"We've been getting a lot of calls, and people have come out especially from church and other places," Clay said.  "I just want to thank the people for their concern and let them know God has been good to me."

Mayor Freeman-Wilson said she had visited with Clay and "he is in great spirits and asks that everyone keep him in their prayers."


Governor:  Lake County Communities Must Find Way to Work Together
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Karen Caffarini
[27 Sep 2012]

MERRILLVILLE - Gov. Mitch Daniels on Thursday told area leaders that the states pro-business reputation and the regions close proximity to Illinois have opened doors for new economic development in Northwest Indiana, but warned communities here must work quickly and together to maximize these opportunities.

"Can we be honest and say were a long way from being one region?" the outgoing Republican governor asked about 650 political, business and education leaders attending a One Region/Quality of Life leadership luncheon held at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza.  He pointed out, for instance, the number of 911 call centers in Lake County number 17, one of which represents just eight blocks, and that Lake County has seven or eight entities doing economic development.

Daniels encouraged the communities to come together for economic development purposes, saying economic development in one area of the region is good for all the region.  "This whole notion of whats in it for me? has to be left behind," said Daniels.  He said Indiana has been able to draw some Illinois companies because the municipalities were quick to respond.  He said, for instance, there are talks under way with several manufacturing companies about moving to LaPortes industrial park.

Daniels said he is optimistic about the region, partially due to the emergence of some new, progressive mayors.  He named Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Portage Mayor James Snyder, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland and LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo as examples.  "People are noticing this attitude of progress and pro-growth," Daniels said.

Daniels aired some frustrations as he is counting down his final days in the governors office.  He said the Gary/Chicago International Airport should be further along than it is and he doesnt feel that the Regional Development Authority has realized its full potential as yet.


Chicago Fed Studies 'Overwhelmed' Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Bowdeya Tweh
[25 Sep 2012]

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is studying Gary and nine other "rust belt" cities to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face in reshaping their economies.  The Chicago Fed's Community Development and Policy Studies division launched the Industrial Cities Initiative last year to study the economic, social and demographic evolution of municipalities that have more than 50,000 residents and have been historically reliant on manufacturing.

Based on interviews and data, Gary and Flint, Mich., were rated as "overwhelmed" as a result of large declines in its manufacturing employment and measures of well-being over a five-decade span.  Other categories for cities were "resurgent," "transforming" and "fading."

Susan Longworth, a business economist at the Chicago Fed, said the study is ongoing, but researchers have noticed in interviews that cities having more success with reinventing themselves share several common elements.  Longworth said leadership was "something that keeps coming up again and again" as being important to help cities retool their economies.  Researchers also said successful communities have been able to address workforce development issues, find creative ways to fund economic development projects and adopt a regional mind-set, she said.  Longworth also said the study isn't designed to pass judgment on those cities that haven't been as successful but to provide suggestions on how best practices can be shared.  Longworth said as the Chicago Fed continues its research, staff will determine what the next step in the process should be and how to make the information in the study useful for leaders of those cities.

Gary has struggled to replace a loss in its technical and skilled workforce following declines in manufacturing that started 40 years ago, according to a summary of study's working paper published in the August issue of the Chicago Fed's ProfitWise magazine.  Gary also has struggled to break a resistance to regionalism since the 1960s and over the years, growing crime problems and the exodus of middle class families hastened its economic decline, the study said.

Joanna Trotter, community development director at the Chicago-based Metropolitan Planning Council, said Gary continues to face huge challenges, but now has a mix of ingredients that bring hope to improving conditions there.  Trotter said regional agencies are committed to revitalizing Northwest Indiana's urban core:  Gary has strong leadership from Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and there are targeted efforts to build on assets such as the Gary/Chicago International Airport and access to Lake Michigan.  With Gary, there is "really not another option but to focus and to stabilize the community," Trotter said.  "You can't let it go in any way because of its tremendous assets."

Gary, The "Forgotten City"
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Paul Dailing
- and an an AP Report By Carla K. Johnson
- and a a New York Times Report By Monica Davey
[25 Sep 2012]

CHICAGO | University of Chicago public policy students will lend their time and expertise to help what former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called the "forgotten" city of Gary.

"In the last 40 to 50 years, Gary has been forgotten," Daley said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. " America is better than that.  No one should be forgotten."

Freeman-Wilson and Daley announced Tuesday a partnership between Gary and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago's International House.  Daley is a distinguished senior fellow of the Harris School.  The partnership is a practicum course where students sign up to help Gary come up with solutions and proposals in four main areas abandoned houses, urban revitalization, transportation and budget, said Urban Policy Initiative Director Christopher Berry.  He said it's hoped 15 to 20 students will take the class, but the full number won't be known until registration ends next week.

University of Chicago student Mike Reddy, 24, worked with Gary in an early version of the partnership starting in January.  His group looked at abandoned homes.  Gary has more than 3,000 abandoned homes it knows of, sites that can become a breeding ground for crime.  "Going there, it's completely different than everything I've heard growing up," he said.

Freeman-Wilson said the students' previous work on issues from filling potholes to cleaning dump sites to encouraging a new GIS initiative might seem "mundane to some," but are vital for managing city services.  "We are excited about the work of the students that has occurred already, and we are looking with great anticipation not only to the work of the students but the solutions that will come," she said.

The initiative, started with a phone call last year from Karen Freeman-Wilson to Daley as she was running for mayor of Gary.  Her call for advice about what to do about abandoned buildings and crime led to a mentoring relationship between the elder statesman and the 51-year-old Gary native, who in January became the citys first female mayor.  "I wouldnt have expected more than one meeting," she said Tuesday as she recalled the beginnings of the project with her fellow Democrat, who upon retirement became a distinguished senior fellow at the universitys Harris School.

"He was the person to say, I want to do more. I want to mentor you."  Daley, who served six terms as Chicago mayor, said he was persuaded to help because of Garys history and relationship with Chicago and the promise he saw in Freeman-Wilson.  "People understand my heart for the city and my goal to make a place that was very good for me better," Freeman-Wilson said Tuesday. "Theyre willing to come along with me for the journey."

"Gary has a great history to the development of this country with the steel mills," Daley said.  "A lot of people from Gary worked in Chicago and a lot of people in Chicago worked in Gary and made their lives better.  It was a combination of her great commitment and what she stands for and my belief that no part of America should be forgotten. I want to work with her."

Still, Gary has gotten outside advice before not all of it appreciated.  Yet Ms. Freeman-Wilson said she has heard no complaints about the input from Mr. Daley and the students only some among many whose advice she has sought so far.  "What we understand is that we have challenges that cannot be solved by ourselves," she said.  "You think you know a lot as a candidate, and then you get in here and youre like, Wow, wait a minute.  But I am still hopeful."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   From the "Magic City," to the "City of the Century", to the "Forgotten City?" 


Former Gary Cop Pleads Not Guilty to Drugs, Gun Charges
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Lindsay Machak
[24 Sep 2012]

HAMMOND | Former Gary cop, David Finley Jr., 31, of Merrillville, pleaded not guilty Monday to federal drug distribution and firearms charges.


Former Gary Cop Charged with Dealing, Illegal Gun Sale
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Teresa Auch Schultz
[21 Sep 2012]

Former Gary police officer David Finley Jr. has officially been charged with seven counts in federal court, including two counts of dealing cocaine.

A grand jury indictment, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, claims that David Finley Jr., 31, of Merrillville, also illegally bought a gun to sell to someone who couldnt legally buy one.  Officials allege Finley bought a 9 mm handgun from a Gary gun shop and then sold it to a person who wasn't allowed to have a gun. He's also accused of possessing a rifle, shotgun and pistol to further his drug trafficking.

Finley was arrested in August after FBI agents started investigating him when they got a tip that Finley sold cocaine to the informants girlfriend.  He was released on a $20,000 bond after surrendering his police credentials.  Finley has since resigned from the Gary Police Department. 

The indictment says that the two cocaine dealing charges took place on July 27 and July 30.  He was also charged with one count each of making false statements to buy a firearm on Aug. 7, selling a gun to a prohibited person on Aug. 7, distributing marijuana on Aug. 7, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine on Aug. 14 and possession of a gun for drug trafficking on Aug. 14.

He will be arraigned Monday, September 24.


Couple Dealing Cocaine Out of Gary Home
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[21 Sep 2012]

LAKE STATION | A Gary couple were dealing cocaine out of their home, earning up to $10,000 a week, police said.

Monica Guevara, 27, and Daniel I. Torrence, 28, were charged with three counts of dealing in cocaine, one count of dealing in a Schedule I controlled substance, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance and maintaining a common nuisance.

Lake Station undercover police met with an informant Sept. 10 about the sale of illegal narcotics at 741 Hamilton St. in Gary, court documents state.  Police conducted surveillance at the house, which included two arranged cocaine purchases.  On Sept. 12 police executed a search warrant at the house occupied by Guevara and Torrence.  The search recovered cocaine, heroin, marijuana, a shotgun and ammunition, and more than $4,000 in cash.

Torrence told police he has 20 to 30 people who deal with him and makes $5,000 to $10,000 a week from drug sales.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   A man has got to do what a man has go to do!  Right?


More School Buses Coming Next Month
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report
[20 Sep 2012]

GARY | Illinois Central Bus Co. is beefing up its Gary Community School Corp. fleet by 30 buses in an attempt to fix bus route pickup and drop-off problems plaguing the district since school began Aug. 15.

"We know the horror stories," said Superintendent Pruitt whos been riding buses all week along with other administrators to witness the problems in the system.  "Were in crisis management.  Either we get rid of the bus company or make them deliver."

Illinois Central, which served the district last year, has a one-year $5 million contract this year.  The difference is its fleet included 158 buses last year and, because of the districts budget constraints, only 60 are being used this year.

"Somebody is going to get hurt," said Donnell Winters, who has three children in three schools.  "I have an honor student whos missing school every week because they cant get to school."

Another parent, Pamela Nance, said her special-needs 16-year-old son has never been picked up as is required.  She estimated hes missed about a week of school.  Nance said she pays people to take him to the West Side Leadership Academy.  "I cant keep taking my child to school. Ill lose my job."


Gary Schools Bus Forum Postponed
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Staff Report
[19 Sep 2012]

GARY | A public forum originally scheduled for tonight for Gary Community School Corp. parents to meet with the superintendent over concerns about school buses has been postponed.

The forum was originally scheduled to take place tonight at Jefferson Elementary School.

"The superintendent looks forward to the parent session, as the last three have produced significant results and solutions for improving our schools," Sarita Stevens, spokeswoman for the Gary Community School Corp. said in a statement issued late Tuesday.

A new date will be announced soon, Stevens said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   How could one expect the Board to hold a meeting on time when it can't get the kids to school on time?
                                      Turns out, contrary to the notice, the meeting was actually held?
                                      A great way to keep the size of the (irate) crowd down?


Gary Cop and Wife in Gun and Knife Fight
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[19 Sep 2012]

GARY--A veteran Gary police officer and his wife injured each other in a domestic dispute at their Miller home in the 700 block of Randolph Street Tuesday night.

Cpl. Jeffery Tatum, 43, was stabbed in the back and stomach during an argument with his wife, Ashley Tatum, 31, about 9:15 p.m.  Cpl. Tatum, a traffic officer assigned to the midnight shift, shot his wife in the leg.

Both were taken to the hospital for treatment. Their conditions were not available Wednesday morning.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   The result of job related stress?


Wallace Teens Threaten Resident
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[18 Sep 2012]

GARY -  A Glen Park man who assisted police by directing them to a gun dropped during a foot chase called officers back to his house when a group of teens surrounded and threatened him.  As a result, 13 Lew Wallace High School students, ranging in age from 15 to 18 years old, were arrested and charged with intimidation, obstructing traffic and rioting.  The oldest teens were charged as adults and face an additional count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

About 4 p.m. Friday, members of the Crime Suppression Unit were in Glen Park watching for after-school trouble in the Lew Wallace area and told several students to get out of the street.  One student ran but was not apprehended after a brief pursuit in the area of 45th Avenue and Connecticut Street.  A 50-year-old man who lives nearby alerted police, saying he saw the fleeing teen drop a handgun and showed officers where they could find it.  Patrolman Donald Briggs retrieved a revolver and took it to the police station.

About four hours later, police were called to the same area as residents complained about 20 teenagers in the street.  Lt. Samuel Roberts, Sgt. Tim Tatum, Cpl. Damon Bradshaw, Briggs and Patrolmen Michael Mitchell, George Dickerson, Calvin Taylor and John Sheets arrived and saw the group of teens still surrounding the 50-year-old man.  The victim said they approached him as he visited a neighbor and threatened to break into his house and burn it down.


State Department of Ed Steps In to Gary School Bus Mess
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[16 Sep 2012]

GARY The Indiana Department of Education has intervened to resolve continuing school bus problems plaguing Gary Community School Corp.  Transportation consultants from the state met with Gary officials and representatives from Illinois Central Bus Co. on Friday to correct monthlong problems with bus routes.  Parents have complained since the beginning of school on Aug. 15 that their children werent being picked up for school at their designated routes.

The state told the district and Illinois Central that bus drivers should have a list of childrens names for each route.  School spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said Saturday that parents must be sure their childs name is on an assigned bus list.  Stevens said parents with Internet access can go the districts website  should log in as "guest" and follow the prompts. Parents without Internet access should contact their childs school to make sure theyre on a bus list.

Stevens and Jamal Washington, of Illinois Central, said bus drivers will check off a students name each day as they board the bus.  Stevens said the state advised the district that its the best practice for safety and accountability.  "Illinois Central and the school corporation are working aggressively to fix the problem," Washington said.  Students who arent on the bus list wont be permitted to get on the bus.

Washington said a lot of students names havent been added to the system yet and thats led to the confusion he expects to be resolved soon.

Stevens said the districts new contract with the Gary Public Transit Corp. that allows secondary students to ride city buses to school for free should also ease the busing crisis. That pilot program began Friday.

The school district said Thursday it hopes to return to last years busing format.  This years schedule has high school students starting school as late at 9:15 a.m. with dismissal at 4:15 p.m. Thats made it difficult to participate in extracurricular activities.


Letters to Ed.
[16 Sep 2012]

As if you needed any other reasons to stay away from Gary, please read the Sept. 6 edition.

There are at least eight articles dealing with shootings and stabbings in Gary.  Unfortunately, there is no indication any of the victims were martyrs.  Apparently, this particular kind of bloodshed is not important enough for Jesse Jackson nor Al Sharpton to get involved.

Anyone with any sense of survival should stay out (or get out) of Gary.

- Michael A. Wachala, Munster


Gary School Bus Debacle Frays Parents Nerves
Compiled From a Post Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[15 Sep 2012]

GARY School officials hope to scrap the disastrous bus route system they started the year with and revert back to last years bus schedule.  Officials and school board members huddled with Illinois Central Bus Co. officials Friday to iron out a way to return to last years format by the end of October.

The proposed switch, announced at a meeting Thursday with parents, comes after a deluge of complaints about late-arriving and departing buses or no bus service at all.  Parents said some children arent getting home until 6 p.m.  Others said buses arent showing up at bus stops to pick up children who are left to figure out how to get to school on their own.

Thats left them vulnerable to potentially dangerous scenarios.  School Board member Nellie Moore said a Frankie W. McCullough Academy for Girls seventh-grader waited for a school bus Tuesday that never arrived.  She didnt want to miss school so she boarded a Gary Public Transportation Corp. bus that left her at the Adam Benjamin Metro Station, 200 W. 4th Ave.  Moore said the girl didnt know what to do when she got there and didnt have money for a transfer.  She began crying and a man approached her.  He walked her about 11 blocks to the Gary police station where she received assistance.  Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt wiped her eyes as Moore told the story.  "We all know how that story could have ended," said Moore.  "We could be searching for her today."

To save on transportation costs, the School Board established a "walk zone" policy, calling for secondary students who live within two miles of school to walk.  The School Board now appears to be retreating from that policy, which also calls for elementary children to walk if they live a mile or less from school.

The school district announced a new partnership with Gary Public Transportation Corp. on Tuesday that began Friday.  Secondary students can receive a free pass to ride GPTC buses to school instead of walking.

Board member LaBrenda King-Smith, chairwoman of the transportation committee, said Friday she hopes the district can return to last years format in which buses picked up all kids who wanted rides to school.


Gary Airport Loses Two Key Employees
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes Reports By Michelle L. Quinn and Keith Benman
[10 Sep 2012]

Financial Officer Nikki Thorn and Operations Officer Kahari Velez tendered their resignations within the last couple weeks, just as the airport authority rushes to complete its ambitious $166 million expansion project.  Thorn, whod been with the airport for six years and whose last day will be Sept. 21, said shes leaving to work "closer to home," while Velezs last day was last Tuesday.

Thorn is a key player in overseeing the financial aspects of the expansion project and the airport authority is developing a search process to follow in seeking her replacement as well as Velez's, Landry said.  Thorn also oversees the operational finances of the airport, with the airport authority receiving a string of clean audits from the State Board of Accounts during her tenure.

Interim Airport Director Steve Landry said no formal advertisement has been posted for either job yet, but that their absences wont affect operations in the short-term.  He said both left on good terms.  For now, Thorn's duties will be performed by airport Accounts Payable Specialist Kathy Kurfman and Velez's duties already have been taken on by airport Security Manager Donnetta Whitehead.

HUD Praises Gary, Region for Development Plans
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Bowdeya Tweh
[9 Sep 2012]

For the second month in a row, a high-ranking federal agency representative praised Northwest Indiana public officials and organizations for their work toward implementing long-term economic and community development plans.  At a Gary Chamber of Commerce meeting, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Antonio Riley heaped praise Monday on officials including Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson for being willing to work across geographic boundaries.

"Regional issues; transportation, housing patterns, all those things really do impact the quality of life in a community," said Riley, who is one of the department's 10 regional administrators and coordinates activities in a six-state region that includes Indiana and Illinois.  "And if we are able to get a regional conversation about how to deploy those resources and make those decisions, we give those communities an opportunity to move forward."

He said he's proud of what has been done so far and is bullish about the improvement that can happen in the city.  Although Gary didn't get a $26.2 million grant from HUD two years ago, Riley said the city and region will benefit from other opportunities based on the groundwork established.  He said conversations about regional public transit and brownfield development have been positive, but another issue that emerged as being critical is the dearth of pediatric care available in the city of Gary.

Riley also said the tri-state partnership between Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin on how to make the Chicago area more economically competitive is good for the region.  He said the three states' economic development chiefs have met to discuss issues and now there's a goal to get the heads of the state chambers of commerce in the same room to figure out issues as well.


Gary P.D. Officer Back from Suspension Faces Disciplinary Hearing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[7 Sep 2012]

GARY Patrolman Gerald Richardson, who recently returned to duty after a 400-day unpaid suspension, faces another disciplinary hearing for an unrelated incident.

The Gary Police Civil Service Commission at its monthly meeting Thursday night agreed the verified complaint submitted by then Chief Gary Carter in November 2010 should proceed.  Carter asked the commission to determine punishment for Richardson, accused of responding to a burglary but failing to take a report, then encountering a missing teen who was returned to her family and again not filing a report.

In December 2010, the commission ordered the unprecedented 400-day suspension despite a recommendation from hearing officer Daryl Jones, who said Richardson should be fired for taking a co-workers duty weapon from a locker in the booking area, then lying about what happened.  Richardson appealed the commissions decision in Lake Superior Court, but the ruling was upheld.

He completed his suspension this summer and is working the afternoon shift in the patrol division. He was hired in February 2008.


Gary School Bus Woes Accelerate
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[5 Sep 2012]

GARY Three weeks into the school year and the districts helter skelter bus service is still throttling students and parents.  The school district sent out a press release Wednesday saying that principals had reported that bus drivers were refusing to transport children, saying they are not on their routes.

On Wednesday, the district seemed poised to toss its transportation provider, Illinois Central, under the bus.  "Were going to the next steps to see what else can be done," Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said.  "If I get another company, it would take me two or three months, even if I could break the contract."

Spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said Illinois Central changed routes Aug. 29, but the changes created more problems and some students ended up with no bus service.  Parent Yoti Kale said shes been driving her son, Stephen, 12, to the Banneker Achievement Center in Miller from their Glen Park home because the bus no longer picks him up.  "From Aug. 16-29, he was being picked up and dropped off as he should be," said Kale.  "Then we got an automated call from the superintendent saying things would change, but it was about a walk zone, so it didnt apply to us."  But Kale said on Aug. 30, the school bus never showed up at 7:30 a.m. so she drove her son across town to school and was late for work.

"Banneker was full of very irate parents.  I wasnt the only one.  Secretaries were running around trying to copy new schedules."  "Every time I call the transportation department, it rings or goes to voice mail or the mailbox is full. No one ever returns my call."

Pruitt said shes turned to the state for support in deciphering the bus route schedule.  "The owner of the company and I sat down about three weeks ago and we thought everything was OK.  But viable pickups havent been done."  Pruitt said when routes are changed, parents arent notified.  In addition, Pruitt said special needs children were not being picked up at their homes, as required.  "Thats another issue weve given them to address."

This year, because of a budget crunch, elementary students who live within a mile of school must walk. Middle and high school students who live within two miles must walk to school.

_________[From nwiTimes.com]_________

A new three-tiered schedule the school district started this year, along with problems with route-scheduling software has compounded the problems.

"The Gary School Corp. has employed a new computer software called Versatrans that was specifically created to assist in mapping successful school bus routes."  "Unfortunately, the school corporation lost their Versatrans operator just before the school year began."  The loss of the Versatrans operator has led to technical errors involving corrupt data and children not appearing in the system.

Last month, school officials blamed a former employee for hacking into the system and changing routes.


Yet Another Day on the Mean Streets of the "Steel City"- HEADLINES
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes Reports

[4 Sep 2012]

Felon Fatally Shot Near Home

GARY As he ran from gunfire early Sunday morning, Latarus Foster was almost home when he collapsed with gunshot wounds in his back.  Foster, 29, of 3361 Maryland St., was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 3 a.m. on the west side of the street near his home.

Patrolmen Daniel Perryman and Tamara Hall were the first to arrive on the scene and found the victim face down on the parkway.  Residents in the area told police they heard shots and saw the victim running east toward his house.  Other witnesses saw suspects fleeing from the scene after the shooting stopped.

Foster was released from prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to rape in November 2009 for an incident that occurred in Lake Station.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Query -  Could this be a case of "street justice" at work?

3 Shot on Glen Park Porch

Three young men were wounded Sunday afternoon as they stood on the porch of a Glen Park home, police said.

The victims said they were at 4356 Jefferson St. about 3 p.m. with two other friends when they heard gunshots coming from a wooded area across the street.

Bobby McGill, 23, was lying on the sidewalk when Patrolmen Jamaal Joseph and Darnell Walker and Cpls. Nina Evans and Daniel Quasney arrived.  McGill had been shot in his side.  Deondre Clemons, 13, had an apparent bullet hole in his shirt and complained his head hurt; Brandon Fuller, 18, was shot in his arm and leg.

Police found pieces of a handgun near the scene and also recovered unspent bullets.  Investigators said the gun may have belonged to one of the assailants.

Police Investigate Glen Park Stabbing

Endia Rivera, 27, Merrillville, said she was stabbed by a woman she knew during a fight about her attacker's niece.  The fight took place before 11:20 a.m. Saturday in the 200 block of West 43rd Avenue, police Cpl. Gabrielle King said.  The woman had cuts to her head and neck that police believe are stab wounds.  She was taken to The Methodist Hospitals Southlake campus for treatment.

Anyone with information is asked to call Cpl. Jeff Hornyak at (219) 881-7514.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   If the victim knew her attacker, pray tell, what more information would the police need?


Gunfire Suspected in Foot Iinjury to Girl, 11

Shots fired inside a Miller Village apartment about 3:45 a.m. Sunday may be linked to a girls foot injury reported by the 11-year-old's mother.

Crystal McCafferty, 28, told Patrolman Steven Peek and Phillip Komisarcik said she believed her apartment had been struck by bullets.

Friends Fight Turns Violent;  No Charges Expected

No charges are expected to be filed in the Friday night shooting involving two friends, police said.

Robert Milton, 36, was struck in both hips during an argument with a friend in the 2100 block of Georgia Street.

The fight first involved punches, then Miltons friend shot him. Police arrested the 21-year-old suspect, who was released after Milton declined to pursue the matter, police said.

Man, 20, Injured in Drive-by Gunfire

Walking home in his Ambridge neighborhood, George Griffin III, 20, was about two blocks away when he was shot by someone in a black car, police said.

Cpl. Charles Lucas was off duty when he called for help involving a gunshot victim about 11:30 p.m. Friday in the 300 block of Taft Street.

Griffin told police he had walked his girlfriend to her house and was returning home when he saw the black car and then was struck by bullets fired from someone inside the car.  Griffin was shot in the leg and chest.

20-year-old Shot Friday Night by Someone in a Black Car

An off-duty Gary police officer who lives near the 300 block of Taft Street heard the shooting about 11:15 p.m. Friday, police Cpl. Gabrielle King said.  The officer found the 20-year-old man outside and called police dispatch, King said.

The 20-year-old man told police he was walking a girl home when he was shot by someone who had pulled up in a black car.

36-year-old Shot After a Fight

The man told police he was in the 2100 block of Georgia Street about 8 p.m. Friday when a person he knows shot him after an argument, Gary police Cpl. Gabrielle King said.  Two cars were damaged by the gunfire.

Girl Cutting Grass Hit Human Remains

Shortly before noon Saturday, a woman called Gary police saying her daughter hit what looked like human bones while mowing the lawn in the 2200 block of Williams Street.  Police collected the bones and took them to the Lake County coroner's office, Cpl. Gabrielle King said.

Coroner's office officials said Tuesday more information should be available Wednesday after the pathologist has a chance to study the possible remains.

King said it is unlikely this is connected to an incident Aug. 11, when pieces of bone resembling a human leg were found in a wooded area in the 900 block of Grant Street.  The two sites are about three miles apart.


Gary Wants Residents to "Buy Somethin"
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Paul Dailing
[31 Aug 2012]

The Rev. Bennie Simmons Jr. believes economic renewal starts one sale at a time.

On Friday, Simmons and others started to put that plan to the test by unveiling "Let's Go Buy Somethin," which will pick a new Gary business each month and encourage residents to shop there.  The first store chosen was Esquire Men's Store at 1536 Broadway.

"Our plan is for the month of September is to get everybody who lives in Gary ... to go buy something out of that store," Simmons said.

Simmons said efforts to encourage people to shop solely in Gary won't work because the town doesn't have all the amenities people need.  The "Let's Go Buy Somethin" plan will push business to individual stores, getting the economic ball rolling that way, he said.

The plan was unveiled Friday at a news conference at the store.  Attendees included Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who bought some ties.  "It's a creative idea to help bolster some economic support for the Gary businesses," city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said.

The store for October hasn't been chosen yet, Simmons said. Business owners who want to be considered should call Simmons at (219) 241-3288.


Allegiant Suspends Gary Operations
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michelle L. Quinn
[28 Aug 2012]

GARY Allegiant Air is suspending flights between Gary and Orlando for six weeks, but that fact should not be viewed as indicative of the airlines lack of commitment to the Gary/Chicago International Airport, insists its director.

The airline, which will suspend its Gary route starting Sept. 6th and restart Oct. 18th, suspends flights at roughly half of its origination airports in order to remain profitable, Interim Airport Director Steve Landry said Wednesday night.  Its chosen to suspend those flights at Gary during those dates because with summer ending and school starting, Allegiant saw there was exceptionally light booking.

______[From nwiTimes.com, Keith Benman]______
With students back in school and the cold weather still to come, Allegiant found reservations from Gary had sagged to such an extent that for the six-week period it was not profitable to fly, Landry said.

A check of Allegiant's online reservations website shows it suspended or cut back flights significantly in numerous cities with Orlando destinations through the next few months.  For example, Appleton/Green Bay, Wis.-to-Orlando flights are curtailed for the same period and Duluth, Minn.-to-Orlando flights will not resume until Feb. 15.

Through June, Allegiant had taken reservations for 5,000 passengers flying from Gary to Orlando, Landry said.  The airport remains confident it will book at total of 10,000 fliers for the year, he said.

When an airport flies 10,000 passengers on a regularly scheduled airline, it is eligible for $1 million in federal airport improvement funds.  If it doesn't hit that threshold it gets only $150,000.
______[From nwiTimes.com, Keith Benman]______

"Rather than incur the financial loss of buying fuel and ticket sales not covering the costs, Allegiant will make a seasonal adjustment," Landry said.  "They see they wont make a profit, but theyre also not incurring a loss.  "Seasonal adjustments have helped the airline remain profitable where others havent."

Still, based on the track records of other airlines thatve come and gone, Landry understands it looks like a precursor to another airline leaving.  To that end, he pointed to the airlines Web site, where passengers can start booking flights again Oct. 18th and all the way through April 14.  He also points to the airlines "Vote for Vacation" promotion at the Radisson Star Plazas south parking lot Sept. 13.


Meet the Mayor, 15 Minutes at a Time
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Jon L. Hendricks

[27 Aug 2012]

One woman wants to open a new hair salon in Gary.  A group of business people want to bring a joint GED and heavy machine-operating class to the job-poor city.  And a pastor of a church that's just found a new home wants to help out any way she can.

They all came to pitch their ideas to the mayor of Gary.  Since she was elected earlier this year, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has taken a few hours every Thursday to meet with residents, each getting 15 minutes of the mayor's time to talk about anything they want.

Some, like an "unofficial electrician" who said his employer violated a handshake agreement, wanted advice and -- if possible -- help from Freeman-Wilson, a Harvard-educated attorney.  Others wanted to share their ideas and business proposals to get Gary out of the economic decay that has plagued it for decades.  "There were a lot of great ideas," Freeman-Wilson said.  "There was an exchange of information and of value," she said of a recent afternoon's sessions.

Pastor Ida Boyd-King, who met with the mayor to ask where her downtown congregation could best volunteer, said the meetings help people like her try to improve the once-thriving city.  "There is a lot of negative talk about the city of Gary, but I want to show the people that there are some positive things that go on here in the city," Boyd-King said.


Local Charter Schools Drain Gary School Enrollment
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Jillian Pancini
[26 Aug 2012]

GARY | The eight charter schools in Gary have had a dramatic effect on decreased enrollment in the Gary Community School Corp., more than in any other urban area of the state.

Gary has lost more than 32% of its student body, mostly to charter schools, which have been in the city for a decade.  School officials estimate the 2012-13 school year at 8,130 students.  Five years ago, kindergarten-through-12th-grade enrollment in the Gary Community School Corp. was 12,058.  The charter schools in Gary have a combined enrollment of 4,932 students.

But charter schools may not be the sole reason Gary schools are seeing a decline, said Terry Spradlin, associate director for the Center of Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University at Bloomington.  Spradlin said it could be that people are leaving the community altogether.

"Charter schools are an urban phenomenon," he said.  "They have been targeted in Gary and Indianapolis mostly.  They are intended to siphon off students and provide an alternative form of education service delivery.  Each charter is unique and different.  Maybe the charter has a more enticing curriculum and that's directly connected to the school corporation.  Maybe there was a job loss and families moved.  It's a complex web of issues that have to be considered in total."

There has been a downward trend in population and school enrollment for many years in Gary.  The decline in Gary's population began in the late 1960's with white and middle-class flight from the city, which is now largely African-American.

At its peak in the 1970's, Gary schools had a population of more than 40,000 students.  By 1990, that population dropped to 27,890 and has now declined to a projected 8,000 pupils.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   If, as reported above, the decline began in the late 60's, how could the peak enfrollment have been in the 70's?


Gary School Sup Wants to Open a Charter School
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Carmen McCollum
[26 Aug 2012]

GARY | The new superintendent of the Gary Community School Corp. is considering authorizing a charter school.

Cheryl Pruitt said the law allows school systems to authorize a charter similar to how Ball State University has authorized the eight public charter schools in Gary.  She said administrators are collaborating with Ball State on the policies, procedures and processes to implement a charter.

Last year, legislation created the Indiana Charter School Board, which also authorizes charter schools across the state.

Pruitt has said the district could use one of its closed school buildings.  She said the school board is in agreement with the proposal.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.  Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! 


Details Emerge in Case of Gary Cop Charged with Drug Distribution
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[15 Aug 2012]

GARY The investigation into Gary Patrolman David Finley's drug activities began July 16 with a call from a man upset because his girlfriend was using cocaine.  The unidentified man, labeled "Confidential Human Source 1" in a criminal complaint filed Monday and unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, said Finley was providing cocaine to his girlfriend.  Finley and the source have been friends for about a year, the complaint states.

Finley, of 4010 W. 73rd Ave., Merrillville, was charged with distribution of cocaine and making a straw purchase of a firearm.  He was arrested Tuesday afternoon outside The Dawghouse, a Merrillville bar where he and the undercover source agreed to complete a drug deal. FBI agents observed two exchanges there.  The first buy occurred July 27.  The source wore a wire and paid Finley $100 for powder cocaine.

That initial purchase was six days after Finley was involved in an off-duty crash on Interstate 94.  Although he appeared intoxicated, he was not arrested or tested at the scene.  Indiana State Police did issue a ticket for making an unsafe lane movement.  Both Finley and his female passenger, Lindsey Dunigan, refused medical treatment at the scene, state police said.

Ten days later, Police Chief Wade Ingram said his internal affairs division was investigating the crash.  By then, members of the FBI-led Gang Response Investigative Team had witnessed another $100 buy from Finley.  That time the source met Finley at his home.  After the deal, Finley waved to an investigator who was waiting in a nearby car, the complaint states.

On Aug. 7, the two men discussed a deal for Finley to obtain a handgun and marijuana for the undercover source who is a convicted felon unable to buy a handgun himself, the complaint states.  With $600 provided by the FBI, Finley went to Westforth Sports in Calumet Township and bought a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun.  "Finley identified himself as a Gary Police Officer and requested a law enforcement discount," the complaint states.  With GRIT members following, the two men then went to a home in Glen Park where Finley bought marijuana.

Ingram said he will seek termination for Finley if he is convicted of the charges.  Indiana law states a police officer cannot remain employed if convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or any felony crime.

Finley, hired by Gary in July 2009, will be in custody until at least Friday when he appears at a detention hearing.  Federal officials want him to remain behind bars, FBI Special Supervisory Agent Bob Ramsey said.

When Finley was hired, he listed his address as 628 New Jersey St. in the Glen Ryan subdivision of Gary.  He worked in the patrol division until he injured his foot in an on-duty crash.  When he returned, he was assigned to the Crime Suppression Unit, comprised of mostly veteran officers who work independently of radio calls. They make traffic stops and frequent trouble spots looking for gang and drug activity.


Gary Officer Recorded Committing Offenses
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Sarah Tompkins
[16 Aug 2012]

HAMMOND | A Gary police officer arrested Tuesday on drug trafficking and firearms charges was recorded committing the offenses, according to a criminal complaint. David Finley Jr., 31, of Merrillville, sold powder cocaine, marijuana and a firearm to a convicted felon working as a federal informant, according to court records.  The informant was wearing audio and video recording devices during the transactions.

Finley had been a uniformed Gary police officer for about three years, Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said.

The informant, who had been arrested eight times during the last 28 years, reached out to the Gang Response Investigative Team on July 16 to report that Finley trafficked narcotics.  According to court documents, the informant was "motivated by the fact that Finley provided cocaine to (the informant's) girlfriend."  The informant was paid about $1,400 for aiding the investigation and providing information that was independently verified, according to the complaint.


Gary Parents Blister School Board with Complaints
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Carole Carlson
[14 Aug 2012]

GARY On the eve of the first day of school (Classes at Gary Community School Corp. begin Wednesday), parents peppered the School Board with complaints about problems they encountered with school schedules, registration and an uninformative website.

"They need help at West Side," parent Patricia Duckworth told the board Tuesday.  "They need to send an exorcist over.  It shouldnt take three days to register my child."

Duckworth said West Side staffers seemed unfamiliar with the districts new SunGard software and they also didnt exhibit much compassion for parents who waited long hours for assistance.  "Where is the accountability?  You wonder why kids are going to charters schools, you dont have a welcoming atmosphere."

Another parent, Wilma Sims, said she had to go to the West Side Leadership Academy for five days before she could register her daughter, a sophomore.  "One day, I was there from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., there were so many people and they couldnt help me.  They told me my child doesnt exist in the system."

Teshezia George, vice president of the Banneker Achievement Center PTA, said shes been receiving calls from confused parents who didnt know what the bus pickup and school start times were.  She said she couldnt get answers Friday and couldnt find the promised information on the districts website on Saturday.  "The website is half-functioning," she said.  "We have three different copies of bell times."

Banneker parent Christine Downey said shes been getting mixed answers about school times.  "We didnt get a supply list, parents have other things to do than your jobs," she said.

Board members apologized for the dysfunction, promising change would come.  "You are our customers, you have entrusted your children to us," board member Barbara Leek said.  "Theres no reason not to treat you with respect."


Gary Cop Arrested in Drug Sting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[14 Aug 2012]

GARY A federal undercover operation into alleged drug sales by a Gary police officer concluded Tuesday when FBI agents arrested David B. Finley, 31, near his Merrillville home.  Finley appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich and was remanded into custody.  A probable cause and detention hearing is set for 2:15 p.m. Friday.  "We absolutely will ask to have him detained," Ramsey said.

"We moved quickly on this case," FBI Special Supervisory Agent Bob Ramsey said an hour after members of the FBI-led Gang Response Investigative Team arrested Finley outside the Dawg House, a bar on U.S. 30 near Whitcomb Street.

The FBI, with the cooperation of the Gary Police Department, launched an investigation about the same time Finley crashed his car early July 21 on Interstate 94 and appeared intoxicated.  He was not arrested at the scene, but Gary Chief Wade Ingram said his internal affairs division was reviewing the matter.  Finley was ordered to take a drug test Aug. 1, the same day the Post-Tribune published a story about the crash.

Rumors of Finley's involvement in drug activity circulated through the department for weeks, then escalated after co-workers learned he struck a highway barrier about 1 a.m. outside city limits.

Ramsey said agents sent a confidential informant to buy cocaine from Finley during the course of the investigation.  On Tuesday, GRIT members watched as the informant met Finley at the agreed location, just blocks from Finley's apartment on 73rd Avenue near Whitcomb Street.

Finley is also accused of making an illegal "straw" gun purchase, buying a gun for someone who did not qualify.  "He even used his police identification to get a discount," a source said.

Ingram said he will seek Finley's termination from the department after he is convicted of the charges.  "The vast majority of the men and women of the Gary Police Department are honest and hardworking people.  This arrest should be a reminder to any officer who decides to cross the line and break the law that they will be arrested and prosecuted," Ingram said, adding he was "saddened" by the arrest.

Finley was hired at the same time as former officer Laron Leslie, fired earlier this year after he tested positive for marijuana after crashing his take-home car while off duty.  Both men were hired under then-Chief Reggie Harris and former Mayor Rudy Clay.  Clay and the City Council created an ordinance allowing the chief to hire any candidate on the eligibility list.  Previously, police were hired based on results of a battery of tests.

Most police hires since are mostly Gary residents. The most recent group included several with connections to city officials.


Possible Grenade, Gunfire Blast Gary Car Wash
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[8 Aug 2012]

GARY A huge boom, then gunfire, broke through the normal traffic sounds on busy 5th Avenue in Brunswick on Wednesday afternoon.  People in the area heard the blast shortly after noon.  No one was injured, and Gary police, who were on the scene for at least four hours, could provide little information about the incident.

ATF Resident-Agent-in-Charge Jerry Gordon, who works in the Merrillville office, confirmed that "some type of explosive device" was thrown at a newly opened car wash.  "We are going to be assisting the Gary Police Department in their investigation," Gordon said.

Evidence at the scene suggested the blast was caused by a grenade-type explosive.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is it time for the "good guys" to be calling in the tanks and mine sweepers?


Worker Found Unconscious at Gary Steel Plant Dies
Associated Press
[4 Aug 2012]

GARY, Ind. -- Authorities say a northwest Indiana man died after he was found unconscious at his job at U.S. Steel's Gary Works.  The Lake County coroner's office says 61-year-old Donald Graden of Portage was transported to Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary, where he was pronounced dead about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Times reports that Graden was found at a blower house with no overt signs of trauma.  The coroner's office says an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of Graden's death.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Steel didn't return a phone call seeking comment.


Scrap Metal Collector Finds Decomposing Body in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Paul Dailing
[2 Aug 2012]

GARY | A man collecting scrap metal about 1 p.m. Wednesday in the 1900 block of West Ninth Avenue found a decomposing body, police said.

The body had not been identified as of Wednesday afternoon, Officer Laria Crews said.


Rash of Fires Tax GFD
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[31 Jul 2012]

GARY Fire Chief Teresa Everett, Police Chief Wade Ingram and an arson investigator met Tuesday morning in the wake of as many as five arson fires set Monday night and early Tuesday.  Detective Sgt. Mark Salazar has been assigned to examine any links between the three fires that appear to have been intentionally set in Black Oak.  Two more fires, possibly in Midtown, are also suspicious.  One week ago Wednesday, a Miller woman and her 14-year-old daughter died in an arson fire at their Lakeshore Dunes apartment.

The rash of fires heaps stress on equipment and manpower already stretched because of the city's ongoing financial struggles.  The department often has only three fire engines available for the entire city.


Two Die in Suspicious Early Morning Gary Fire
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell and Maria Amante
[26 Jul 2012]

GARY A mother and one of her six children died in a suspicious fire early Wednesday morning in their Lakeshore Dunes apartment. Bernice King, 33, and Angel Harris, 14, died as firefighters fought a blaze that began outside their apartment door on the top floor at 5805 Kennedy Terrace.

"It was a set fire," Fire Chief Teresa Everett said later Wednesday.  Gary fire investigators, violent crime detectives and the Indiana State Fire Marshal are working together to determine who is responsible for the deaths of King and her daughter.  Officials at the scene said it appeared an accelerant outside the victims front door was the origin of the fire, which quickly spread down the hallway and into other parts of the building.  Everett described it as a "moving fire" that moved through the ceilings.  The entire building was evacuated and is uninhabitable due to fire, smoke, water and structure damage.

When the first fire truck arrived from Station 7, some residents trapped inside were hanging out their windows waiting to be rescued.  Several people climbed out windows and down ladders to escape the blaze.  Four residents of the building and a firefighter required medical attention for non-life threatening injuries, Everett said.

Investigators said one of Kings sons may have been in a dispute with another young man, but police have not spoken to family members to learn if that dispute is linked to the fatal fire.  King and her family moved to the apartment from Lake Station, where she had been arrested after selling drugs to undercover officers.  She had been charged three separate times with drug offenses, including dealing cocaine and was serving a four-year probation that began when she pleaded guilty last year.

Deangela Edwards, Bernice Kings foster sister, said the family needs donations to help her sisters surviving five children, and said the security in the building was lacking.  "The doors were unlocked," she said, and they were supposed to be operated via an intercom system.  "That could have made a difference in her life.

From a nwiTimes.com Report By Lu Ann Franklin and Lauri Harvey Keagle
[26 Jul 2012]

GARY | An argument over an Xbox 360 may have led to the deaths of a mother and daughter in an apartment fire early Wednesday.

Neighbors displaced by the fire told The Times a male acquaintance of victim Bernice King threw a Molotov cocktail at the door of the apartment at 5805 Kennedy Terrace in the Lakeshore Dunes complex in Gary's Miller Beach.  They said his action was prompted by an earlier argument over an Xbox 360.


Edison Learning Sues Gary School District
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Carmen McColum
[26 Jul 2012]

EdisonLearning has filed a lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court against the Gary Community School Corp. to force the school district to turn over student records.  Todd McIntire, senior vice president for EdisonLearning, said the lawsuit, filed Monday, requires the district to release student records and provide Edison with services as required by law, including transportation and maintenance of the school.

Gary attorney Robert Lewis, who represents the school district, said his firm received the lawsuit Tuesday.  "We are reviewing it.  I don't know the basis for any lawsuit.  We are reviewing it and will respond accordingly," he said.

McIntire said the district provided some student records to EdisonLearning on Wednesday morning, and Edison officials are auditing the records to determine exactly what it has.  "It's too early to say what we have received and what we haven't received," he said.  "We're going through them now.  Transportation is connected to the records, and we can't develop transportation until we have all of the student records.

Maintenance is an ongoing problem.  We are getting very little response on some issues which are urgent, like the bricks falling off the building around the gym, and the elevator which still doesn't work. " McIntire said the HVAC system fails on a daily basis, and there are a number of spaces with no ventilation.  "There was significant flooding in the building after the rains last week," he said.  "We have not been successful in getting the school corporation to address these issues or a date when they will get to them."


Burned Body Found in Gary Lot
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[25 Jul 2012]

GARY Aetna residents discovered the severely burned body of a man in a vacant lot Tuesday morning.  He has not been identified, but police believe he is an older black male.

Police found an accelerant container near the mans body.  At one home within the crime scene, a large planter was knocked over and a small window next to the front door was broken. Investigators examined the damage, but declined to speculate on whether it was related to the mans death in any way.

Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner P.J. Adams said there were signs "of possible head trauma."  Gary police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said the man had been in an altercation sometime overnight.  Until an autopsy is completed, investigators wont know what caused his death.  Adams said the manner of death is pending autopsy results.

The partially charred, crumpled body was found about 10 a.m. in the rear of a vacant lot in the 4100 block of E. 10th Avenue by a woman who returned home and saw the mans body.

A small crowd gathered Tuesday outside the crime scene tape as Gary detectives, deputy coroners and Lake County crime laboratory processed evidence at the scene.

Police found an accelerant container near the mans body.  At one home within the crime scene, a large planter was knocked over and a small window next to the front door was broken. Investigators examined the damage, but declined to speculate on whether it was related to the mans death in any way.


[23 Jul 2012]

Gary Woman Linked to Theft, ID Deception at Hobart Store
By Times Staff

HOBART | A 26-year-old Gary woman used a friend's state-issued identification card when arrested for shoplifting at a department store, police said.

Man with History of Seizures Assisted by GPD Dies
GARY | Shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday, Gary police responded to a call of a man down at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Cleveland Street

Gary Man Arrested with $20K in Pills by Undercover Cops
GARY | Undercover Gary police officers arrested a 62-year-old Gary man with more than 3,300 pills including Vicodin, morphine and Xanax, police said.

Gary Man Defending Girlfriend Cut on Face with Box Cutter
A 51-year-old Gary man was cut in the face with a box cutter while defending his girlfriend, police said.

Shots by Unknown Assailant Strike Gary Teen in Abdomen

Gary Cops Seize 500 Lbs. of Marijuana in Traffic Stop


Gary Records 22nd Homicide of 2012
Compiled From Post-Trib Reports By Lori Caldwell and Maria Amante

[20 Jul 2012]

GARY Three homicides in one week, the latest on Thursday night on an Ambridge Street, is enough for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

City spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington announced the mayor is inviting residents to meet at 4 p.m. Saturday at 200 Arthur St., the place where Sam Lott was shot and killed.  "Its time for us to take a stand," said Freeman-Wilson.  "We cannot sit back and allow criminals to take over our city."

Freeman-Wilson hopes to see 1,000 people at the rally.  "I really want the community to get together, and say we can do something," she said.  "Police can work hard, and if the community is not behind them and is not helping to solve these crimes, if they are not stepping forward as witnesses, we will have the same results that we have traditionally gotten."

"Weve been really successful in trying to keep the numbers down in terms of people dying from gun violence, then, over the course of five days, three murders," she said.  "Weve become so accustomed ... its a big deal when we dont have as many murders as a previous year, but it gets to the point where you have to say, one murder is enough."


Convicted Wire Thief Dies Slicing Electric Wires
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Lori Caldwell
[20 Jul 2012]

GARY Kevin Roy was killed as he sliced live NIPSCO wires adjacent to a church Friday morning.  Roy, 48, a Glen Park resident, was pronounced dead outside Agape Tabernacle in the 1400 block of East 49th Avenue shortly after 6:50 a.m. when a passerby noticed him lying on the ground.

Police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said evidence at the scene suggested Roy scaled a NIPSCO pole and cut wires.  He fell when he was electrocuted.  "He had his tools of the trade with him," King said.

Roy had a prior conviction for stealing more than $30,000 worth of copper wire from NIPSCO in 2007. He pleaded guilty to that charge.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   "No one ever accused this guy of being too smart for his own good, I would guess?


$65M Nuclear Medicine Company Picks Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Keith Benman
[20 Jul 2012]

A Fishers, Ind.-based company plans to make radioactive medical imaging isotopes at a new $65 million cyclotron and manufacturing facility to be built in Gary.  The facility will employ up to 50 people within five years, with a number of those highly skilled scientific positions, as well as jobs in manufacturing, security, shipping and receiving, according to the company.  Yearly wages will range from $40,000 to $100,000 for most jobs and as high as $150,000 for highly skilled scientific jobs.  The new facility will be located west of Interstate 65 along 15th Avenue, said Eric Reaves, the city's assistant director of economic development. Construction will create between 100 and 150 jobs. 

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the cyclotron facility fits nicely into the city's "meds and eds" economic development strategy, which seeks to build on an already established education and medical network in the city.  "We think it's a great project," she said. "It's a significant investment which will bring jobs to our community."

Positron Corp. said the 70-million-electron-volt cyclotron will be the highest energy commercial cyclotron in the U.S.  A cyclotron is a molecular particle accelerator that can be used to produce isotopes that can help physicians spot medical anomalies in the human body.  Positron plans to raise a total of $65 million for the overall project through a combination of debt, equity and incentives.

The Gary Redevelopment Commission has approved a resolution for $15 million in tax increment financing bonds for the Positron facility.  That action still must pass muster with the City Council.  In addition, the city of Gary will assist the company in obtaining New Market Tax Credits, a type of tax credit for companies locating in distressed areas, that could be worth up to $15 million more, according to Positron Corp.

Gary could realize added benefit from research and development companies, government agencies and others locating in the city to be near the cyclotron, the company said.  "This is a paradigm shift for Gary," Reaves said.  "It's not a steel company.  It's not a trucking company.  It's a nuclear medicine company.  It's the first time Gary will have a company of this nature."

Positron Corp. already has a facility in Crown Point that has been developing a process for producing indium oxide, a radiopharmaceutical used for diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedures.


Gary's 19th Homicide of 2012 Comes Shortly After Anti-violence March
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell

[14 Jul 2012]

GARY The sound of gunshots coming from inside a Tarrytown house led medics and police to find Omari Barnes dead inside his home.  It appeared the house was ransacked, but it was unclear what was missing.  Witnesses told police Barnes was inside his home when they heard at least one shot.

"Im tired of this ----," the victims best friend, Ronald Goode, said.   "Im tired of this."  For a time, Goode strode back and forth outside the crime scene tape, shouting and waving his arms.  He quieted, however, when a Chicago pastor, Corey Brooks, spoke to him.  Brooks, who joined area pastors and residents for an anti-violence march Friday morning, was returning to Chicago when he heard about the shooting.  Cmdr. Kerry Rice delivered Brooks to the scene, where he spoke to several residents.

Barnes was no stranger to violence.  He had been shot at least twice before, wounded in the foot in 2001 and struck in the face, neck and shoulder in October 2009.  In October 2002, Barnes and a second suspect were charged with murder in the shooting death of Willie Jones, 28, who lived down the block from where Barnes died.  The charge was dropped when witnesses refused to cooperate in the case.  Barnes served a prison term on charges of criminal recklessness and intimidation.  He was scheduled to appear in court later this month on a felony possession of marijuana charge.

No one is in custody on Barnes homicide, the 19th this year.


Black Oak Residents Fed Up with Gang Violence
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[12 Jul 2012]

Renee Hartman stands in from of her home where a stray bullet shattered windows on her daughter's SUV Sunday night and then hit the house just below the left shutter where her bedroom is in the Black Oak section of Gary, Ind.  Residents are fed up with what they say is slow police response.

After watching men fire guns at each other from her driveway, hearing gunfire close to home almost daily, then waiting too long for police response, the Black Oak resident has had enough.  "My kids know when they hear gunshots to get on the floor.  No child should have to know that."

"People want to see a squad car driving up and down their street.  But right now people can sit on their front porch for 12 hours and not see that."  On Sunday night, Hartman watched a man fire shots from a van as several teens ran east near her yard.  She called 911 at 9:18 p.m. but didnt see an officer until after 10 p.m.

Two people were wounded during the weekend.  Investigators say a recent Latin Kings gang "initiation" and some vacant houses near 25th and Burr Street are two major contributors to the increase in shootings.  Police tell her the would-be gang members have scanners and know when they are in the area and suggested Hartman and her family members "just stay inside."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   "Only a gang initiation?"  Thank goodness, nothing to worry about!  The police don't come because the bad guys know in advance they are coming?  Great!


Gary Trims School Administration
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michael Gonzalez
[ 11 Jul 2012]

GARY The Gary School Board on Tuesday formally cut more than a dozen administration positions while welcoming its new superintendent and voting for key spots in the districts reorganization.  The board approved eliminating 14 administrative positions and, so far this year, a reduction in force of almost 170 teachers.

Board members are making tough decisions to meet stifling budgetary demands, one member said.  "There will be more cuts.  We have to have a balanced budget by Dec. 31, 2012, by law" Barbara Leek said.  "We are still larger than we need to be for the students we have."

The board also approved four new positions as part of the districts reorganization.  Pruitt said those positions will be posted Wednesday and remain posted until they are filled.  The positions are a chief academic officer, responsible for working with schools to be sure students meet state standards, and an executive director of special education and students services.

The district will also look to hire an executive director of innovation and improvement and an executive director of human resources, who will also oversee employee relations and compliance with Equal Opportunity Commission standards.


USW, ArcelorMittal Start Contract Talks for 14,000

Compiled From a Post-Trib AP Business Report
July 10, 2012 4:20PM

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Negotiations are under way on a new contract between the United Steelworkers union and the worlds largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal.  The agreement expiring Sept. 1 covers 14,000 employees, including those at West Virginias Weirton mill.  The parties were far apart on key issues, including wages and benefits, as discussions began Monday in Pittsburgh.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal wants to slash wages and benefits by more than $28 per hour, and to have the unilateral right to cut wages during business slowdowns.  It also proposes redesigning incentives, freezing its contributions to certain pension plans, and eliminating retiree health care and pension benefits for workers hired after Sept. 1.  ArcelorMittal wants to reduce life insurance coverage for both active employees and retirees, eliminate voluntary layoff provisions, and raise health care costs for current and future retirees.

The USW says its also being asked to waive its right to bargain health care issues for retirees.


Gary City Council Ok's Black Oak Rezoning
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michelle L. Quinn
[4 Jul 2012]

GARY The contentious Black Oak rezoning issue was laid to rest Tuesday night with a 7-1 vote in favor of it; at-large Councilman Ron Brewer dissented.

Zoning Administrator Joe Van Dyk reminded the Common Council that those owning a business in the 160-acre, 95-residence area bounded by Ridge Road, and Durbin and Calhoun streets and affected by the R-2 rezone, would be grandfathered in, while others would be required to get a special-use variance to run their business.  Van Dyk also said that of the 95 addresses affected, only two businesses have filed for business licenses since the city started the process two months ago.

David Fraker, who owns a wood-cutting business on Burr Street, said the neighborhood has been neglected for so long, its suspicious that the administration has an interest in it now.  He's noticed that people are also getting ticketed for various infractions.  "Did anyone ask the public if they wanted the change? I doubt it," Fraker said.  "There are very few people who are for the down-zone I think six but we have 244 people whove signed the petition against it.  "We have been ignored, now you want to take our tax money for frivolous tickets."

Council President Kyle Allen Sr. agreed that Black Oak has been long-neglected, but if a resident is using their house as place of employ, they should have a business license and get a special-use variance, where their neighbors can decide whether they want the business next to them.  Indeed, at one point, Black Oak residents didnt want a truck-washing business because of potential health hazards, added Councilman Roy Pratt, D-At-Large.  "I believe residents should have a say in what they want where they live. I also believe that the law is the most important thing, and you cant change it with the wind," he said.

Bonnie Boerema said she has been trying to purchase land in the neighborhood to no avail because of the light manufacturing designation. She burst into tears when the vote was read.  "Were just trying to live the American dream like they got," Boerema said. "Were not trying to hurt anyone; we just want some consideration, is all."

Dan Warner, of Gary, said he wondered how many people in Black Oak would now put their houses up for sale with the zone change.


EdisonLearning Finds Roosevelt Building in Disarray
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report By Carmen McCollum
[3 Jul 2012]

GARY | The transfer of Gary Roosevelt keys to EdisonLearning by the Gary Community School Corp. went smoothly Monday morning, except that the elevator doesn't work, the building and classrooms are messy and there is standing water in the school swimming pool.

Cheryl Pruitt, who was named superintendent for Gary Community School Corp. a month ago, began her job Sunday.  She has a three-year contract.  Pruitt, who was in meetings much of Monday, met with EdisonLearning officials shortly after 8 a.m. Monday.  She said late Monday she would visit Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy on Tuesday and do a complete walk-through.

Even though EdisonLearning officials have been in the school for nearly a year assessing the building, curriculum and technology, there were still a few surprises, said Todd McIntire, EdisonLearning senior vice president, Operations East.  McIntire said the condition of the building is "pretty much" the way it was at the end of the school year.  "The elevator doesn't work, and we'll need to get that fixed," he said.  "There was some cleaning done, but there are many rooms and spaces that look as if someone just left." 

In addition, the swimming pool, which McIntire said he was told had not been used for a couple of years, had standing water in it.  McIntire said his staff was told the filtration system was turned off in March.  He is concerned about mold because the pool is still full of water, he said.  "Our goal would be to use the pool and make it a community resource, but we don't know if we can get it fixed in time for school," he said.  "If not, we'll have to drain the pool and get it cleaned up so we don't risk a much bigger cleanup later."


Gary School Board Lays Off 25 Administrators
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michael Gonzalez
[29 Jun 2012]

GARY- In a special meeting held Friday, the Gary Community School Corp. Board made deep cuts in administration in its ongoing quest to slash tens of millions of dollars from its decimated budget.  The board approved cutting 25 administrative positions, 13 of them at the school building level and another 12 at the central office.  The dollar savings from the cuts were not available late Friday.

The cuts came just days before Cheryl Pruitt, a Gary schools product, takes the reins of the district, but the beginning of her tenure had nothing to do with the cuts, said acting Superintendent Edwyna Horde.  "This is strictly due to declining enrollment" and plummeting property tax revenue, she said.  "Theres a concern for people, of course, but we have to balance the budget. Its always a painful process."  The school district has had to slash jobs and other expenses to meet a nearly $23 million budget deficit this year.  Since 2008, the schools have had to cut about $50 million from its budget, said spokeswoman Sarita Stevens.

The board is expected to approve the cuts at its next meeting next Tuesday.  School board president Darren Washington could not be reached for comment.

The board eliminated the high school principals positions from its alternative program at Dunbar-Pulaski, which will now become a middle school, and Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, which will be taken over by EdisonLearning, on orders of the Indiana Department of Education.

The board also cut assistant high school principal spots from Roosevelt and Lew Wallace STEM Academy.  Assistant elementary principals were cut from Glen Park Academy, Bailley, Jefferson and Brunswick elementaries.

Each of the four secondary schools, which combine middle and high schools, lost their deans, as well.

Along with revenue issues, the cuts were part of an overall restructuring to streamline operations and costs at the district, Stevens said, adding the board and administration leaders have been working with a consultant to redesign the leadership structure.  "The board has been working on a reconfiguration of the administrative structure for a long time," she said.  "Theyve pretty much balanced the budget with this."

However, the moves may go deeper into the classrooms.  Many administrators have teaching licenses and can move back into school buildings to teach, having a ripple effect on teachers. "It would cause some adjustments if (displaced administrators) opt to go back into the classroom," Stevens said.


Take Back Your City
Excerpted From a nwiTimes.com Editorial
[22 Jun 2012]

Throughout the city, there has been a resurgence of energy by good people trying to clean up their hometown and move toward a better quality of life. Gary residents need to take back their city from the cowardly small percentage who whether torching playgrounds, dealing drugs or committing more serious crimes make Garys civic renaissance a larger hurdle.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said after observing the damage at Buffington Park: "We will not be deterred by the actions of a few ignorant people."

She has the right attitude.


Retired Gary Cop Driving Squad for Two months After Last Day
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[16 Jun 2012]

GARY Two months and two days after Lt. David Marek retired from the Gary Police Department and started a new career at U.S. Steel, he was involved in a minor crash.

In the take-home Gary squad car he was still driving!

Marek worked his last day on March 22 but remained on the city payroll until May 29, using up vacation and compensatory time.  On May 24, he was stopped in the 900 block of Glen Park Avenue in Griffith when the city-owned 2010 Ford Crown Victoria was hit from behind.

The Gary police standard operating procedures require officers with take-home cars to park them at the garage if they are going to be off work for a weeks vacation or more.

Police Chief Wade Ingram transferred several officers this week "for greater accountability."  He then reversed the action after obtaining more facts.  He said Friday evening he would wait for information about Marek before commenting.

The driver of the other car in Mareks crash admitted she was at fault, saying she was unfamiliar with the car she was driving, the police report states.  Griffith police said damage to both cars was minimal.  Gary self-insures its city vehicles.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Hmm?  Iit seems as though Chief Ingram is batting 0 for 2 this week.


Gary Chief Reverses Accountability Transfers
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[15 Jun 2012]

GARY - The transfers ordered Tuesday by Police Chief Wade Ingram "for greater accountability" were reversed Wednesday night.

Ingram initially said he moved Lt. Roger Smith and former Chief Sgt. Anthony Stanley from the training division to other assignments because 16 rookies did not attend a weeklong Crisis Intervention Team training that concluded Friday.  Ingram claimed neither he nor Cmdr. Sean Jones, who is in charge of the training division, knew why the new officers didnt attend. Ingram had said he would move Smith to patrol and Stanley to airport security.

Stanley, however, tells a different story.  "It was a lie," Stanley said.

On Thursday, Ingram confirmed he had changed his mind about moving Smith, Stanley and Lt. Jack Arnold, who was slated to supervise the training division.  The chief explained CIT classes werent registered through the training division, causing a miscommunication.  "The officers were never denied the CIT Training," Ingram wrote.  When he blamed training supervisors for the omission, it was because he didnt have all the facts.  "I have since taken time to gather more information," Ingram wrote.

Stanley, a 27-year veteran, with 24 years as a field training officer, said the chief's statement that the transfers were "for greater accountability" affect his reputation and the matter easily could have been resolved.  "All that was needed was a little communication," he said.  "I dont know why he lied," Stanley added.  "Ive been slandered."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Wait one!  Is this guy not the chief?  Does not the buck stop with him?  Does the right-hand know what the left and is doing within the GPD seems to be a fair question.


Gary Police Absent From Mental Illness Training
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report  by Lori Caldwell
[June 13, 2012]

GARY - Every spring, the Gary Police Department hosts training to help first responders provide appropriate care when encountering people with mental illness.  For the first time in eight years no Gary officers participated.  Fifteen registered for the class, but all 15 were rejected.

Chief Wade Ingram said neither he nor Cmdr. Sean Jones, who is in charge of the training division, know why their officers were denied.  "Someone said I said they couldnt go, but I didnt know about the training, and Cmdr. Jones wasnt aware of it either," Ingram said.

Ingram blamed the training division, saying seminar organizer Lt. Lawrence Wright "did not get cooperation."  In part because of the "miscommunication," Lt. Roger Smith and Sgt. Anthony Stanley will be moved from the training office.  "This is being done for greater accountability," Ingram said.  "This was part of a larger problem."

Smith will go to patrol and Stanley will work at the airport, the chief said. Lt. Jack Arnold will move to training.

Arnold, who has been serving as a patrol supervisor, "is a friend of a friend," Ingram said.

The state requires police officers initial training to include information on domestic violence and crisis intervention, Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy executive director Patrick Murray said Tuesday.  "Police departments are required to show their officers are proficient in those areas," Murray said.


Clay Proposes Phone Savings for Lake County
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Rich Bird
[10 Jun 2012]

CROWN POINT - The Lake County Board of Commissioners heard a sales pitch from a familiar face last week former Commissioner Rudy Clay.

Clay, who served nearly two decades as a commissioner, offered the services of his new business venture, Utility Refund Guaranteed Inc., to reduce the countys phone bills and hopefully recover money that may have been overcharged to taxpayers by carriers.  In return for negotiating on the countys behalf, Clay is asking to keep 40% of refunds URG secures.  "There are no out-of-pocket costs to this county," he said.  "Its very simple.  We go to work for you, we recover taxpayers money and we move forward.  "This is a win-win for the county, a win-win for the taxpayers and it dont cost anybody money."

He said similar negotiations in 2011 resulted in the return of more than $200,000 to the city of Gary.

Auditor Peggy Katona told the commissioners she assumed accommodations could be made to provide the necessary information to URG with minimal impact to her office.  The commissioners voted to defer action on the offer until the commissioners and the county attorney could review the contract.

Clay, 76, recently left public service after 40 years.  In 2006, he left county government to fill the vacancy left by former Gary Mayor Scott King.  He won election to a full term in 2007, and last year announced he was in treatment for prostate cancer and bowed out of a re-election campaign.

His return to the commissioners meeting room had a sense of wistfulness.  "I miss the county, I really do," he said.  "The people who work here and the job, it brings back a lot of memories, especially being back in this room.  "The reality is that there are just the memories, because there is no more Rudy Clay being in elected office, so I want to say thanks for the memories."


Suspect Drives on Sidewalk Trying to Hit Woman
Compiled From a Report by nwiTimes.com Staff
[22 May 2012]

GARY | A 22-year-old Gary woman was arrested and charged Sunday with criminal recklessness after allegedly driving her car onto a sidewalk and trying to hit a woman while an infant and child played nearby.

At 4:52 p.m. Sunday, officers were called to the 1700 block of West Fifth Avenue for a call of a fight among a group of women, police said.  When officers arrived, the fight was over, but one of the women said another woman got into a car, drove onto the sidewalk and tried to hit someone.

Police said they saw tire tracks leading from the street onto the sidewalk, through the grass and down an alley.  A witness told officers at the scene 1-year-old and 9-year-old children were playing nearby when the car drove onto the sidewalk.  Officers found the suspect's car parked nearby in front of an apartment and spoke to a woman inside.  The woman identified herself as Brianna Brown and allegedly told police she drove onto the sidewalk.  Brown was arrested and charged.


Man Stabbed After Refusing to Share Booze
Compiled From a Report by nwiTimes.com Staff
[22 May 2012]

GARY | A 52-year-old Gary man was stabbed in the shoulder and beaten early Saturday, after refusing to share his beer and liquor with a stranger on the street, police said.

Police Cpl. Gabrielle King said, just after midnight Saturday, the man was walking in the 100 block of West 39th Avenue when another man walked up to him and asked if he could buy a cigarette from him.  The 52-year-old told the man he didn't have any cigarettes.  The man then asked if he could have a drink.  The 52-year-old refused and heard two men behind him yell before the man who initially approached him stabbed him in the left shoulder.  King said the other two men jumped on the victim's back and the trio struck him several times before taking his six-pack of beer and pint of liquor.


Gary Mother Stabs Son in Argument Over Dinner
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Staff
[18 May 2012]

GARY | A 44-year-old Gary mother was arrested after stabbing her son multiple times in an argument over dinner Thursday night, police said.

Officers were called at 9:30 p.m. to a home in the 2500 block of West 19th Place for a report of a stabbing, Officer Laria Crews said.  When officers arrived, they found a 24-year-old male resident of the home bleeding from stab wounds to his neck, ear and wrist.  Police said the son was stabbed by his mother, Tara Daniels, who also lives at the home, in an argument over dinner.

Daniels was being held Friday morning at the Gary Police Department pending approval by the Lake County prosecutor's office of charges related to the stabbing, police said.  The son was transported to the Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary for treatment. He was in stable condition Thursday night, Crews said.

[Omnipotent - 21 hours ago]

Wow, am I shocked by the content of this story- yes.  But sadly, am I surprised to see where the story took place- no.  At least the headline doesn't read, " 24 year-old kills mother after being stabbed over dinner argument."  What is wrong with Gary?  I understand every city has its problematic people, but Gary has an over abundance of them concentrated to a small area.  What the sad part about the whole situation is, these people have the power to take their city back and turn it around.  Instead grown adults choose to act like fools, stabbing their 24 year-old children over an argument about dinner.  Disgraceful.  Money won't fix Gary, because money can't help people find their conscience and develop empathy for one another.  Gary needs its people to care for one another, until that happens- Gary will continue to be a "every man for himself" type place.


Marquette Park Rehab Bills Keep Growing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[10 May 2012]

GARY - Costly change orders for the $28.2 million Marquette Park Lakefront East project Wednesday continue to mount.  On Wednesday, the three-member Board of Public Works and Safety approved two change orders, totaling nearly $140,000 for two aspects of the project.  The board also approved a number of contract extensions and awarded more professional services contracts.

Both of the change orders granted to city planning director Dwayne Williams were the second requests for those aspects of the project.

Mechanical Concepts request for another $32,851 to do "rough-in" mechanical and plumbing work for the kitchen in the Marquette Park Pavilion was the second change order request for that kitchen.  The two change orders increased the price of Mechanical Concepts work in the pavilion from the original $939,000 to $1,148,385, according to documents submitted to the board.

The second approved change order for Powers and Sons to do site work at Marquette Park raised that companys bill from an original expected $2,379,000 to more than $2.5 million.

There still is nearly $435,000 in available contingency funds for the site work, should city and construction funds determine they need more change orders, according to documents provided to the board by Williams.


$4.5M To Fix Genesis Center, City Hall
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[10 May 2012]

GARY - The $4.5 million to fix the Genesis Centers heating and cooling system and make improvements to City Hall is in hand; the Common Council just has to distribute it.

The Finance Committee will send out an ordinance establishing funds and departments for the Redevelopment District TIF Revenue Bond, which will hold and track the expenses associated with the repairs.  City Controller Celita Green presented the committee with preliminary costs for the projects but said she will have the actual costs Friday, in time for the May 15 Common Council meeting.

A temporary, rented, cooling system has been installed at the Genesis Center as it hosts Indiana University Northwests and Ivy Techs commencement programs, Green said.

The council will also consider appropriating $10,000 toward the Citys Film Offices annual budget.


Gary Schools Stand to Lose $9 million to Roosevelt Turnaround Operator
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[3 May 2012]

GARY - The State Board of Education Wednesday voted 6-2 to set a half-year funding total of $4.5 Million for the private company that will take over Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.  This amount is based on average daily enrollment numbers from last fall.  Local school officials contend enrollment projections will be much smaller.  The funding was ordered for July 1 through Dec. 31.  If the ruling is extended for a full-year, EdisonLearning, the company widely expected to take over Roosevelt, will make $9 million for running Roosevelt for the 2012-2013 school year.

Gary school officials declined to comment, referring a reporter to a video of the meeting, but that video was unavailable Wednesday.

At Roosevelt, the attendance figure the board used was 1,032 students, but Gary officials projected attendance at Roosevelt of less than 580 students, once the school is taken over.

The dollar amount is a combination of $7,686.25 per student in tuition support from the state plus extra money, about $1.1 Million, for a special education grant.  EdisonLearning, a campaign contributor to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, has been assessing Roosevelt.

Area lawyer Tony Walker, who represents Northwest Indiana on the board, moved to have the state adjust the turnaround operators funding for the schools after new, presumably more accurate attendance numbers for the schools come out in September, but he was not able to get support for his motion.  "You cannot assume just because there were 1,032 kids (at Roosevelt) last year that theyll be there in 2012," Walker said.

In essence, by funding Roosevelt for 1,032 students while the turnaround operator may have far fewer in attendance, the state appears to be subsidizing a private corporation, he added.  "I do not support, in any way, using public education funds to subsidize for-profit corporations," Walker said.

One source questioned the sense of awarding more than the turnaround operator will potentially need.  According to state School Board policy, funding for turnaround schools cannot exceed per pupil funding for the school district.  By funding Roosevelt at 1,032 students instead of the actual expected amount of 580 kids, Roosevelt students will be allotted far more than the rest of the students in the Gary system, the source added.

There are no checks on the funding decision on what the turnaround operator should do with any money it collects over and above funding needed to educate Roosevelt students.  Nor will the turnaround operator be expected to refund any money to the state.


Gary Man Wearing Gun Like Pendant Around Neck
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Lauri Harvey Keagle
[3 May 2012]

GARY | A Gary man was arrested Tuesday afternoon after riding on a bus, then walking on the street with a gun hanging around his neck like a pendant on a necklace, police said.  Pierre Greer, 25, of the 2400 block of Noble Street, was arrested and charged with possessing a gun without a permit in connection with the incident.

A bus driver called police at 2:40 p.m. and said a man just got off her bus in the 3500 block of Pierce Street with a gun in plain site hanging around his neck, according to Gary police Cpl. Gabrielle King.

Officers spotted Greer nearby with a large weapon hanging from a sling around his neck.  He told police a friend drove him to buy the gun earlier in the day and he was walking home.  Greer had a receipt for the gun but no license.

King said Greer's arrest can be a lesson for new gun owners.  "When purchasing a gun, you are supposed to transport it home in the trunk of your car unloaded," King said.  "If you are walking, put it in a bag unloaded."


Gary Civil Rights Museum Clears Another Hurdle
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[2 May 2012]

GARY - The city will see its Civil Rights Hall of Fame as early as next spring, if efforts go as planned.

Former Mayor Richard G. Hatcher cleared the final hurdle to his dream Tuesday night, when the Common Council voted 8-0 to approve the Board of Zoning Appeals recommendation for a special-use permit to turn the former Banneker School at 1912 W. 23rd Ave. into the Hall of Fame.  Hatcher said he thinks the project will have significant economic and cultural impacts on the city.

When finished, the building will include exhibitions and a gallery to educate visitors about the civil rights movements.  But the 51,000-square-foot school, purchased by Hatchers not-for-profit group in December from the Gary Community School Corp., needs extensive renovation.

Board of Zoning and Appeals Director Joe Van Dyk said the Hall of Fame is expected to open by spring 2013.


Gary Holds Event to Help Residents Find Jobs
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[ 27 Apr 2012]

GARY - Robert Smith, a homeless ex-felon, has skills in construction, cooking, landscaping and a host of others but cant find a job.  He is one of more than 450 other area residents looking for work, more education or training possibilities at the "New Day, New Jobs:  Removing the Barriers" event Thursday at the Genesis Convention Center, sponsored by the city of Gary.

One of the most underserved populations is ex-felons, said Christopher Scott, president of Ex Felons For Hire Placement, Inc., or EFFH, a headhunting firm.  "You have headhunting services for every other population, but you have nothing for ex-offenders," Scott said of his ex-felon clients who have to face their past when applying for jobs.  "There are employers willing to give them a chance.  Were here to get our message out."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Sad to say, but when it comes to unemployed felons, Gary surely has a ready supply.


Our View:  Pave Way for Gary School Reform
A Post-Trib Editorial Opinion
[27 Apr 2012]

The Gary Community School Corp. has had a lot to be embarrassed about the last decade or so, what with declining enrollment, consistently low graduation rates, crime and fights at schools, and terrible test scores.  Add to that the fact Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy is on academic probation, and shall face some form of state sactions this coming year.

But if none of that got school officials down, then perhaps their behavior toward EdisonLearning, the company hired to turn around Roosevelt High School, will do the trick.  No matter how you look at it, Roosevelt has been in a downward slide for years.  So the state took over last year, and hired Edison to come up with a plan for improving the school, after six years of failing to meet state standards.

Of course school officials would find this a difficult situation.  And EdisonLearning officials say they understand and are used to that being the case when theyre called in to help.  But the walls Gary school staff and officials have created are far higher than need be.  Theyve done their best to keep Edison staffers from getting the information they need, and to keep them away from Roosevelt students.

Meetings with parents and students havent been allowed on campus; instead, they have taken place at libraries and the Genesis Center.  Edison staffers have not been allowed to meet with students during school or after, thanks to Gary school officials roadblocks.  Now, Edison is working on meeting students on street corners.

Apparently, the turnaround agents are willing to go the extra mile for students, but Gary school officials are interested only in doing their best to try to make Edison go away.  Theres no way they can succeed with that plan and, sadly, neither will the students.


Mayor Says Airport Adviser Hire Her Idea
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Keith Benman
[27 Apr 2012]

GARY | Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said former Indianapolis airport CEO John Clark was hired by the Gary Airport Authority at her direction, but she would like to re-examine his $350-per-hour pay rate.  "That certainly does not sound correct," she said Wednesday when asked about Clark's pay rate as approved by the Airport Authority at its meeting Monday.

The mayor has no direct control over the day-to-day operations of the airport or the authority.  However, under state statute the mayor appoints four of the authority's seven members.

Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority members voted 4-0 on Monday to approve the contract with Clark's newly formed JClark Aviation Group.


Attitude Change - Not Money - is What Will Save Gary
A Post-Trib Reader Writes

Each day, we read about the decline of Gary and cities with similar problems.  They all want more money, better schools and less violence.  Who doesnt?

Is more money the answer?  It wont matter how much money is taken from one city and given to another, or the constant federal aid or grants that one city gets for improvements.  Until the community, as a whole, changes its values, morals and ethics, it will be right back to square one.

Stop allowing the defilements that surround these cities to be part of everyday life, as if they are normal.  Theres nothing normal about drugs and corruption.  Some people just have become numb to those issues and look the other way, as if that was the answer.

Without inner change, outer change will not occur.

Angelo Lara
Lake Station
[22 Apr 2012]


Former Gary Official Sentenced to 15 Months in Mortgage Scam
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[20 Apr 2012]

The former director of community development for the city of Gary will spend 15 months in prison in addition to paying restitution of almost $88,000, a federal judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

Jacquelyn Drago-Hunters attorney, Kevin Milner, argued strongly that she receive probation in connection with the one count of wire fraud to which she pleaded guilty.  Drago-Hunter, 61, of Merrillville, has several health issues including cancer, Milner said, and is taking care of her 99-year-old mother.  "Your honor, not all people are the same," Milner said during the sentencing hearing at the U.S. District Court in Hammond.  "Not all crimes are the same."  He argued that the judge shouldnt sentence Drago-Hunter as he would someone in their 20's, arguing she likely wont live to the average life span of most women because of her health.  "We do not need the extra pound of flesh," Milner said.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell argued that Drago-Hunters crimes were serious, partly because she abused her position of trust as a title agent.

Drago-Hunter was charged in 2010 with working with three other defendants including Gary businessman Jerry Haymon to run a mortgage fraud scheme in which they forged sellers signatures on closing documents in order to sell houses for tens of thousands more than the seller was actually asking.  They would then use liens Haymon filed for work he never actually did on the houses to collect the difference.

Bell said prosecutors could have proven Drago-Hunter at least knew the sellers signatures were forged, if not forging them herself.  He argued that although Haymon was the main player in the crime, Drago-Hunter was crucial to pulling it off.  "The fraud does not occur without her," Bell said, adding she kept lenders in the dark.

U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano said he made an earnest attempt to see if there were any "reasonable" claims that could allow him to take more time off of Drago-Hunters sentencing.  However, he said he could find none and pointed out that Drago-Hunter had already benefited from the plea agreement.  She was looking at another two years at least on top of any other sentence if another charge against her, aggravated identity theft, had not been dropped.

The sentence Lozano ordered was at the bottom of the recommended federal sentencing guidelines, which prosecutors agreed to support as part of the plea agreement.  Lozano also ordered Drago-Hunter to pay, along with her co-defendants who have all pleaded or been found guilty, $87,942 in restitution.


Edison Learning Clashes with Gary Educators
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez and Carole Carlson
[19 Apr 2012]

GARY - The private firm taking over the low-performing Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy is experiencing considerable pushback from the Gary Community School Corp., thwarting its efforts to reach students.

EdisonLearning Inc. officials said Thursday they likely will take to street corners to reach students after efforts to meet with them during lunch periods and after school have been rebuffed by the school district.  Vanessa Ronketto, EdisonLearning vice president of operations, said the firm has "the blessing" of the Gary Public Safety Director Richard Ligon to stand on street corners and talk with students about enrolling at the school next fall.

Gary school officials, meanwhile, say theyre doing all they can to comply with EdisonLearnings requests.  "Weve tried to be respectful and not to pull them out of classes," Ronketto said.  "We had a couple meetings during lunchtime but the district stopped that.  The idea now is to do things off campus."

The Indiana Department of Education issued a response after hearing of the recent problems:

"Garys parents, educators, students and community members are coming together as never before to create a brighter learning environment for children.  They are excited about the potential to create real positive change.  With or without the cooperation of Gary Community School Corporation, Garys students will receive the educational opportunities they have long deserved.  The state and the Gary community are committed to fulfilling that promise."

Students who will attend the school next fall must register with EdisonLearning so it can plan its staffing and other services, even if they are already students at Roosevelt.  Nine students registered last month at a town hall meeting, but EdisonLearning hopes to have at least 750 students in grades 6-12 when school begins.  And, the school district would lose the roughly $7,700 per Roosevelt student it now gets.

EdisonLearning is expected to have a final report on its plans for Roosevelt by late May, said Todd McEntire, a vice president with the company.  His staff has had its challenges, but, overall, students, staff and others at the high school have been cooperative, he said.

"There have been a number of times when the Gary Community Schools has created some challenges, but, at the same time, weve had a significant amount of access," McEntire said.  Some of the "challenges" his firm has encountered in getting information at the district level have included receiving outdated business agreements, incomplete photocopies of contracts and "other obstacles," he said.  The takeover is complicated, especially given it is state-ordered, and there are countless details to be handled and numerous documents to be handled, McEntire said.

On orders of the Indiana Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, the company began assessing the school last fall.  No final contracts have been signed naming EdisonLearning as the turnaround agent, but they are widely expected to get the job.  It was the first time a takeover had ever been ordered in Indiana.

The firm is now working with school leaders on getting a shared services agreement, similar to a lease, that will lay out which services like custodial, security and food services the school district will offer and which ones EdisonLearning will award to outside vendors, McEntire said.  In essence, EdisonLearning will become the Gary Schools tenant at Roosevelt, while the school district, in turn, will become a vendor to the company, if EdisonLearning chooses the district to offer services.

Gary Schools spokeswoman, Sarita Stevens, rejected a number of McEntires statements.  She said district leaders, and especially Superintendent Myrtle Campbell, have done all they can to work with EdisonLearning, even as they continue to operate 16 other schools.

"(EdisonLearning) has given us a series of questions in writing, and weve given them a massive amount of information," Stevens said.  "As they try to figure out how to run (Roosevelt), their questions have evolved.  "(McEntire) will get his questions answered on a mutual schedule.  It wont be on McEntires schedule.  There has to be mutual respect here."  Part of the problem may be a change in leadership over the Roosevelt project, Stevens said.

Stevens focused her strongest words for EdisonLearning on the firms request to pull students out of class for meetings with company officials.  "If EdisonLearning has this thing about improving students academic performance, you wouldnt want to do that during instructional time," she said.  "For them to want to do that is extremely arrogant and disingenuous on their part."


Gary Special Education Seeing Little Progress
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[19 Apr 2012]

Gary school officials say they have been working hard to fix issues with special education offerings and to comply with state regulations, but state education officials counter theyve seen little progress.  The disagreements came to light in communications Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett and his staff have had with Gary school leaders.

Gary Community School Corp. Assistant Superintendent George Comer; Edmund Fraire, the districts special education program director; and spokeswoman Sarita Stevens responded point-by-point to claims made by the Indiana Department of Education.  "Ive dedicated my whole professional career" to helping children, Fraire, the special ed chief for two years, said.  "We want to move more quickly than even the state has indicated (to improve services) because thats important to us," added Comer, who said he was surprised by some of the states claims.

If Gary school officials do not realize how noncompliant they have been, the issue is even more concerning to the state, Indiana Department of Education spokeswoman Stephanie Sample said.  "If (Gary officials) dont realize its an issue, thats a huge problem and speaks to the severity of the situation for the kids at the schools," she said.  "Having a plan of improvement isnt enough, and we need to see demonstrated progress and improvement, and its not happening right now."

In documents shared with The Post-Tribune, the state Department of Education listed a five-year timeline of concerns the state has had with Gary schools special education program, all pointing to what state officials said is a history of noncompliance with state and federal regulations by Gary.

Any school district that continues to be noncompliant with state and federal laws faces more oversight by state officials and, ultimately, having federal money withheld, which only hurts students, said Ann Davis, director of individualized learning for the Department of Ed.  "No state wants to do that, because thats money intended for children who need services," Davis, a Hobart native, said.  "This is about kids with disabilities who need federal dollars to access their education."

Among what it calls "egregious issues," the Department of Education wrote that Gary special education students are seven times more likely than others in the state to be suspended or expelled without following proper protocol, three times less likely than others in the state to spend 80% or more of the school day in general education classrooms and five times more likely to "be housed in a separate facility" from general education students.

The state letters also criticized Gary Schools for poor recordkeeping, canceling meetings with state officials and an "unwillingness" to make long-term change.

Davis said no other district in Indiana has had as many challenges as Gary Schools when it comes to special education.  She said the Department of Education has required Gary schools to use special training centers and other tools to get compliant.  "I would welcome any evidence they have to document theyre working with these children," she said.  "But to me, it speaks volumes this is the only district in the state were having to provide this level of oversight."

One of the more surprising Department of Education claims, Gary officials said, was a report that the goals for more than 30 individualized education plans, or IEPs, pulled from school service center files, were unchanged for five years.  Stevens called the statement "false," but, Davis said, the state has written proof of the lack of action on the goals.  In one case, a 5-year-old student had stated IEP goals of being to button his coat and tie his shoes by himself and the same goals in his IEP five years later.

Other than disbelief, Gary officials provided no evidence to counter the Department of Educations concerns about the IEPs.

"There is room for plenty of interpretation in that (IEP) statement," Stevens said.  There has been progress, Gary officials insisted.  Comer provided what he described as a monthly action plan the schools worked on with state officials, though it isnt dated.  The district has formed a system-wide committee of teachers, principals and others to address special education and improve the program, Comer said.

Also, in the 2010-2011 school year, suspensions and expulsions of special education students dropped from about 2,300 incidents a year to 784 incidents a year.

The district has stepped up its training efforts for building principals and others in dealing with special education students facing trouble, but that also must include proof the schools are dealing properly with parents, Davis said.  "A student should not be suspended or expelled due to a problem with that students disabilities." she said.


Former Gary Mayoral Candidate May Avoid Federal Prosecution

Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Staff Report
[10 Apr 2012]

HAMMOND | A former Gary mayoral candidate may avoid being prosecuted on federal charges of impersonating an IRS agent and lying to federal agents, federal court records show.  In a pretrial diversion agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges against Saba Mohammed if she follows their conditions and stays out of trouble for 18 months.

Mohammed was indicted last year on charges of misrepresenting herself as an IRS agent, then lying about having done so.  Mohammed stated during a recorded conversation in October of 2010 that she was previously employed by the IRS, according to federal court documents.  She also said she continued to do audits for the agency as an independent contractor, documents state.

The U.S. attorney's office alleges Mohammed impersonated an agent to obtain documents and information from a third party.  She never worked as an IRS employee or contractor, court records state.  Treasury Department special agents questioned Mohammed in September about impersonating IRS employees, and she denied doing so, documents state.

Mohammed finished in eighth place among 10 candidates in Gary's Democratic mayoral primary in May.


State Superintendent Wants to Discuss Issues with Gary Schools
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Carmen McCollum
[10 Apr 2012]

Indiana's top educator sent a letter to the president of the Gary Community School Corp. Board outlining concerns in the district.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who met with The Times Editorial Board on Tuesday, said the State Board of Education has grave concerns about ongoing issues of noncompliance in the district's special education program.  He said the district also has yet to finalize a collective bargaining agreement with teachers and continues to operate under a lapsed Memorandum of Understanding.  The memorandum is not in line with a law passed last year.  Effective July 1 school boards may not bargain about anything other than salary and wage-related benefits, and the contract cannot last more than the state budget biennium or two years.

Finally, Bennett said the school corporation and Turnaround School Operator Edison Learning must finalize their shared service agreement by the end of May to ensure a smooth and effective transition for Roosevelt.

Bennett said he had planned to be at the Gary School Board meeting Tuesday night to address the board about the issues.  However, he said Gary School Board President Darren Washington basically "disinvited" him.  Bennett said the meeting date had been on his calendar a couple of months.  Bennett's visit with The Times Editorial Board had been scheduled in advance.

Washington, who said he has not seen Bennett's letter, contends the state superintendent was not disinvited.  "We never knew what he wanted to talk about," Washington said.  "I have not talked to Dr. Bennett at all.  I got a call from Jim Larson, the director of School Turnaround at the state, last Thursday.  He told me that Dr. Bennett wanted to take about 30 minutes and talk about Roosevelt and answer questions.  We need more time than that.  It needs to be a community meeting where it's publicized and people know about it and can come out and ask questions."


Freeman-Wilson's First 100 Days

Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes.com Reports By Michelle L. Quinn and Lu An Franklin

[10 Apr 2012]



GARY - Overall, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is pleased with her first 100 days as the citys top administrator.  Now she intends to focus more of her attention on cleaning up crime.


The rash of shootings over the past month have become her Achilles heel.  The citys young can expect law enforcement to start cracking down on curfew violations, the mayor said during her 100-Day address at Temple of Deliverance in Christ Church Monday evening.  Children 18 and under will be expected to be in at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. weekend nights, she said.  [Ed. NOTE:  Good luck with that!]


Going on a raid with law enforcement last week opened her eyes more than ever to the necessity.  We found a 12-year old and a 14-year old walking alone to the gas station at 1 a.m. with their parents permission, she said.  If (the kids) needed something, why didnt the parents go with them, or go themselves?  Were putting you on notice:  If we find (children on the streets after curfew), were not holding them responsible.  We shall be holding parents responsible.


Freeman-Wilson said a truancy court through City Judge Deidre Monroe is in the works.  Police presence also will increase with the addition of seven new officers, the presence of Gary Police Department supervisors on the streets twice a month and 20 reserve officers taking on duties.  The department already has seen a decrease in daytime burglaries from its efforts, she said.


The mayor also noted that the Department of Commerce is meeting with business owners and entrepreneurs to bring more companies to Gary and to expand those already there.  "It's working just as we envisioned it," she said.  Indiana University Northwest's School of Business is consulting with local companies to make them more competitive, and the Small Business Development Center is planning training for small businesses to connect them with federal government programs, Freeman-Wilson said.


City officials have decided to center housing grants and efforts on the University Park project around IUN, the mayor said.  The funds include those from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program administered by the state and money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  "This gives us the biggest bang for our buck," she said.  Some properties will be demolished to make way for housing, and the business corridor at Broadway and 35th Avenue will be targeted for renewal.


The General Services Department is assessing Gary's streets, she said.  Results from the assessment will be released in about 80 days.  "We will be able to tell what our priority is, what can be done when the money becomes available," she said.  In addition, this city department already has filled 5,000 potholes.


New Gary Jet Center Tenant Has International Clientele
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes.com Reports By Michael Gonzalez and Keith Benman
[2 Apr 2012]

GARY - From Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates or Tokyo, Japan.  [Ed. NOTE:  For those old enough to remember, this sounds like a Tom Oleskar Clothing for Men ad?]

Armstrong AeroMod, an Itasca, IL-based aviation engineering company with clients worldwide, has agreed to move part of its operations across the state line into Hangar II of the Gary Jet Center.  It was the Gary airport's unique location and cooperation from the Gary Jet Center that cemented the deal, company president Michael Romano said.  "The idea with Gary is it's only 35 minutes from downtown Chicago, and it could bring in a lot of business from major airlines flying into Gary," Romano said.

Armstrong designs, manufactures and installs amenities such as wi-fi internet hook-ups, mobile phones, satellite tv, inflight video systems, and navigation, communication and flight safety upgrades.  The work Armstrong will bring to the Jet Center hangar will be from contracts with Virgin and United Airlines to handle "in-seat initial installations and upgrades."  Armstrong Aerospace already is well established in the industry and has done installations for major airlines such as United, Southwest, Jet Blue and Virgin, according to its website.  It mainly installs equipment made by manufacturers such as Panasonic, Honeywell and others.

The company is talking with the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University about participating in the project, Romano said.  "Our whole goal is to put an avionics test bed in Gary, Indiana, so we can do installation design on live aircraft and prove our concept of doing rapid installations."

Armstrong AeroMod will rent space at the Gary Jet Center's Hangar II, as well as erect temporary offices just west of the hangar.  Initially about a half-dozen engineers and technicians will be at work on an Airbus A320 aircraft, which will be flown in, Romano said.  If the process proves successful, the company hopes to land contracts with major airlines to do its rapid installations.  Eventually, the company would like to own its own hangar at the airport.

"We're very excited about them coming to town," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.  "This is just the tip of the iceberg of the types of businesses that would be well suited for Gary."


Gary Businessman Haymon Sentenced for Fraud, Tax Evasion
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[28 Mar 2012]

Gary businessman Jerry Haymon will serve about 3 1/2 years in prison after admitting he took part in a mortgage fraud scheme and kept more than $600,000 in income taxes from the federal government.  U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano also ordered Haymon to pay about $255,000 in restitution to several lending companies.

Lozano said he considered the sentence, 41 months, to be fairly short considering the amount of money that was part of Haymons fraud.  "I really dont know that this sends a message," the judge told Haymon during the sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

However, Lozano said he wanted to respect the agreement that Haymon had reached with the government, who agreed to recommend the minimum of sentencing guidelines in exchange for Haymon pleading guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one count of income tax evasion.  The wire fraud counts were connected to a scheme Haymon ran with co-defendants Sheila Chandler, Jacquelyn Drago-Hunter and Phillip Rucker to sell four Gary houses for tens of thousands of dollars more than they were worth and pocket the extra money by placing fake liens on the homes.

The Post-Tribune has reported that Haymon, who also ran the not-for-profit Coalition for Concern, used money from the city of Gary to renovate one of the houses in this case.

Haymon also pleaded guilty in a separate case to embezzling about $1 million from his charity, Coalition for Concern, from 2004.  He never reported the extra income to the federal government.

Haymon is the first of the defendants to be sentenced.  Drago-Hunter and Chandler both pleaded guilty, and Rucker was found guilty by a jury last year.


Gary Airport, R.R. Reach Agreement on Runway Project
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[27 Mar 2012]

GARY - The last, and biggest, piece of the Gary/Chicago International Airport runway expansion has been signed, and now work can continue on the $162 million project without legal concern.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced at Monday morning news conference at the airport that with the help of her office, the airport and Canadian National Ry. have signed both the purchase and sale agreement for the easements needed for the track relocation and the design and engineering contracts governing the technical and engineering aspects of the project.  The move brings the airport "one step closer to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines," she said.

"This really shows what happens when partners work together," Freeman-Wilson said.  "While the expansion is not done, the written agreements give rise to it."

The mayor said she and her administration, including corporate counsel Niquelle Allen, had 7:30 a.m. conference calls daily with the airport and CN to iron out the last details.  Those details, according to Interim Airport Director Steve Landry, dealt with indemnification backing and guarantees with regards to liabilities and environmental issues.

Freeman-Wilson also reminded the group that per that Gary/Chicago compact, the Gary Airport is the third airport, and the South Suburban Airport near Peotone, Il., would be the fourth, even if it were larger.


Newspaper Flags Cheating on Gary School Tests
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[26 Mar 2012]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution studied reports from across the country to flag scores from state standardized tests it claims show signs of possible cheating.  Schools that had a high rate of flagged classes, which it said was 10% or more, include:  Gary Community School Corp. 33 % in 2008, 28% in 2009 and 2010.

Recent state standardized test scores in several local districts raise the possibility that cheating was involved, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Georgia newspaper studied records from across the country to look for a high concentration of suspicious signs, such as a high number of erasure marks on tests and a high, across-the-board jump in scores, that can come from cheating.  The report comes after officials discovered that dozens of teachers and principals in the Atlanta school district had cheated on the tests to improve their schools performance rates.  The local test results flagged as suspicious cant be confirmed as cheating, the newspaper claims, but do follow a similar pattern found in Atlanta.

According to the newspaper, Gary Community School Corp. had a high percentage of classes over a three-year period that had suspicious test scores.  For instance, 66 classes, or 33% of them, had suspicious test scores in 2008, and 28% of classes were flagged in 2009 and 2010 each, according to the report.

Lake Central Community Schools was also flagged for two years of a high percent of suspicious test scores 10% of classes were flagged in 2009, and 13% were flagged in 2010.

The newspaper reported that a normal school district that did not have cheating could usually expect to see about 5% of its classes flagged in each year.  Districts that had more than 10% of its classes flagged on a regular basis raise suspicions and should be looked into, according to the report.

However, Sarita Stevens, spokeswoman for Gary schools, defended the district and said when a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called to ask about the report, he could not provide information about the tests and whether they included scores from charter schools in Gary.  "Its terrible," she said of the report, adding there are validity problems with the report.

Stevens said the district has previously worked with the Indiana Department of Education on past concerns over the number of erasure marks on tests and the school is now trying to focus on increasing test scores through curriculum and teaching.  "Anytime weve had an issue, we looked into it seriously," she said.

Gary School District Borrowing $6.4M
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[14 Mar 2012]

GARY - Gary Community School Board on Tuesday night voted to take out a sizable loan to be paid back by years end.  The board backed the administrations request to participate in a special short-term loan program by the Indiana Bond Bank, agreeing to borrow more than $6.4 million to meet some payroll and contractual obligations.  The districts interest rate on the loan wont exceed 6.5 %.

Its part of the districts struggle with property tax caps enshrined in the state constitution and a woeful property tax collection rate.  The district must cut nearly $23 million from its budget, from about $103 million last year to just over $80 million, by Dec. 31 of this year, said business services manager Alessia Pritchett.

"That ($23 million) really hurt our district this year, and thats what were really having to adjust our budget to," she told board members.  "Its good we have the opportunity to participate in this (short-term loan) program."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   The path to saving $23M is to borrow $6.4M at 6.5% interest?  Hmm?  Do the math!


Human Remains Found in City, Again
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[11 Mar 2012]
GARY - More human remains again found in the city.

Gary Police Department Public Information Officer Cpl. Gabrielle King said Sunday a man walking at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 3500-3600 block of Chase Street saw what he thought looked like human bones.  He called police, who confirmed his suspicions.

King said no other information on the exact type of bones or how many there are is available because the site had to be immediately secured for University of Indianapolis Anthropologist Stephen Nawrocki.  She said Nawrocki has been notified and will return to the city Monday.

On March 1, an employee with American Water Co. called police after seeing bones in a weedy area just north of the Borman Expressway at 27th Avenue and Maryland Street in the citys Midtown section.  When police arrived, they discovered a human skull, remnants of clothing and other bones at the site, where much of the vacant area is littered with trash, chunks of concrete and even an abandoned row boat.

In that case, the Lake County Coroners office asked Nawrocki and his team to come to the scene to help with identifying and removing any skeletal parts.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   In Gary, instead of roadside memorials, which seem to be in vogue throughou the country now days, we have roadside graves.   [14 Mar-Followup]  The bones in question turned out to be from a dog, not a human being.


More Dollars Funneled into Marquette Park Rehab
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[7 Mar 2012]

GARY - After Wednesdays Board of Public Works and Safety approval, the money continued to flow to the Hitchcock Group, the lead design consultant on the $28 million Marquette Park Lakefront East project.  The board extended the deadline for the park project to Dec. 31 and approved another $149,552 to Hitchcock, on top of the already approved $855,300 for the company, for the additional time.

Hitchcock already was awarded a $3.5 million professional services contract to handle the park rehab, paid for by a grant from the Regional Development Authority.  The contract calls for Hitchcock and subcontractor Bauer Latoza to document and design three new skylights, revise a previously completed electrical system and restroom drawings, masonry pointing in the ballroom and many other items.

Board member and city Controller Celita Green blamed the need for a time extension and the resulting extra money to Hitchcock on an operating engineers strike last summer, vandalism last winter and a variety of unforeseen circumstances.

Audience members called the project "a boondoggle" and criticized Hitchcock.  "It seems at every meeting, (Hitchcock) comes looking for more money," complained resident Jim Nowacki.  The project has become "a money pit cash cow" added resident Bill Kosarch.

According to the contract, there have been $611,365 worth of change orders against $1.2 million contingency fund for the project.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   This is beginning to sound like deja vu all over again.  See, below, the reports of 23 and 16 Feb on this project.


Gary School Administration Performs Poorly
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[7 Mar 2012]

GARY - A strongly worded letter from state education officials notwithstanding, $1.5 million in federal Title I reimbursements for Gary schools will not be jeopardized if the district meets a comprehensive expenditures report deadline to the state in 10 days.  Losing that money wouldve added another burden to a district already wrestling with a $19 million deficit based on significantly lowered property tax revenue.

At the monthly state board of education Tuesday, local representative Tony Walker lobbied the board to release the federal money to Gary Community School Corp., despite claims the district missed a July 1 deadline last year for the money.  "Right now, Im just working to get them the money despite the fact (GCSC) missed the deadline to get the money," he said.  "I am deeply disturbed by the idea they didnt event know they missed their deadline."

Cordia Moore, director of Garys federal programs and student and family services, said Tuesday the school district had been in communication with the state since last spring, did not believe the money was in jeopardy and, in fact, has been receiving its Title I reimbursements.  "I had no inkling this was even an issue," Moore said.  "Im not looking to place any blame, but weve been working with (the Indiana Department of Education) all along."  Moore also said school officials did not believe there were any problems, since they believed they were working with the state on the changes.

Not so, according to a letter from the Indiana Department of Educations Jim Larson dated March 6, 2012, acquired by The Post-Tribune, which stated:  "GCSCs failure to meet the July 1 (2011) deadline is unacceptable.  Late submission of the application is grounds for disallowing retroactive approval of funds to July 1, 2011.  As a result of its negligence, GSCS is at high risk of not receiving dollars for expenses incurred during this period."

IDOE spokesman Alex Damron said, "Its troubling the (Gary) school corporation failed to meet this deadline and we hope it will not be an issue.  "Were all about the kids, and this money is meant to aid students. but we do take deadlines seriously."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   No wonder the Gary Public Schools are under achieving?


Georgia Chief to Head GFD
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[7 Mar 2012]

GARY - College Park, Ga., Fire Chief Teresa Everett will take the helm of the Gary Fire Department after all.

The council voted 6-3 to amend a 1982 ordinance that calls for the mayor to appoint a fire or police chief from within the respective departments as long as the appointed candidate has at least five consecutive years with the city.  The amendment, allowed by state law, says the mayor can appoint a candidate outside the city as long as that candidate has at least five consecutive years on a department, but the council must then waive the city department condition.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson apologized for any initial confusion over the conditions governing Everetts hiring but remained adamant that her candidate chosen by a search committee she put together is the best candidate for the job.

"Every day, our men and women risk their lives with faulty equipment, and theyre working without a contract, but thats not a new phenomenon; weve had five fire chiefs from within who havent been able to make all the changes needed," she said.  "(Everett) has the proven ability to approach the job from various perspectives.  "This is not a strike against our internal candidates. Rather, it says our problems are so great, they need someone with a whole new perspective."

Sixteen-year veteran firefighter Thaddeus Brown said that while he agrees there needs to be change in the department Gary, for example, is one of the lowest-paid departments in the area, if not the lowest-paid, and morale is at an all-time low, he said hes not convinced an outsider is appropriate for the job.  Someone from within the department has a pulse on (the issues)," Brown said. "This is sensitive."

Councilman Roy Pratt, D-At-Large, voted against hiring Everett because he believes that going outside the department was unnecessary.  "A number of people keep saying she writes grants, but thats not a fire chiefs job," Pratt said.  "We dont have skyscrapers or 1,000 firefighters to oversee."

Acting Chief Don Williams said, "I have no qualms with the mayor, and I know its not an issue with me.  I stand ready to contribute toward whatever is needed."  Williams said he will return to his position of battalion chief at Station 5, on Washington and 41st Avenue.


Gary Public Library, Union Hammer Out Deal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[5 Mar 2012]

GARY - They couldnt avoid some layoffs, but a committee of Gary Public Library board members and union officials hammered out in six hours a deal the officials expected a year ago.

The committee and AFSCME Local 2760 reorganized the represented staff for the four remaining neighborhood libraries at a savings.  The new plan cuts the full-time staff from 51 to 37 full-time employees.  It also cuts all 14 part-time slots and calls for an across-the-board 10% pay cut, from the new library director down.  The plan also cuts the personnel budget from $1,950,000 to $1,429,000.

"This was the first opportunity we had to even come this close," AFSCME local official Ana Perez said of the meetings with the board committee.  "Thats all we asked for was to let us participate."  "We worked together and tried to do what was fair for everyone," he added.  "Knowing what I know now, I wouldve held these meetings March 2011."

Theres more work to be done including trying to cut an additional $80,000 from the benefits package and holding a new insurance enrollment period, but the deal is a solid one, Walker said.

"I think this is the best deal possible we could come up with," said local president Gracie Allen after the second meeting between the groups Monday.  "Now, were going to have to meet with the membership as soon as possible.


Williams Out as Gary Sanitary District Chief
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[5 Mar 2012]

GARY - Rinzer Williams III was removed as director of the Gary Sanitary District earlier this week in an executive session with GSDs board and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who last month was named the districts special administrator, officials said Friday.  As special administrator, Freeman-Wilson receives $54,000 a year from the district.  When her appointment was approved by a federal judge last month, the mayor said she planned to be a hands-on leader with the district.  Her husband, Carmen Wilson, served as GSD director from 2000 to 2002 under former Mayor Scott King.

GSD board attorney Jewell Harris, Jr., said Freeman-Wilson will oversee the day-to-day operations of the district until a replacement is named and Williams, working under a $100,000 contract awarded last year, will stay on as a consultant until the end of his contract during the transition to a new director.

Replacing GSDs leader is tricky business.  The district is under a consent decree with the federal government and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and must remain compliant with the terms of that order no matter whos in charge, Harris said.

"(Williams) was relieved of his duties, but his contract was not terminated," Harris said.  "Because were so driven by EPA and IDEM standards, we cant let any balls drop.  We have to remain compliant."

Williams, who also holds a contract with the citys law department as a code enforcement attorney, said the separation was by mutual agreement and freed him up to pursue a legal career full-time.  "It was always my lifes dream, from the time I was a kid, to be a attorney, so politics and getting involved in government was a means to an end," he said.

"It was always my intent at the end of my contract as of the end of July that I would go full-time into law, but with this, I just left a little earlier than I originally thought."

Freeman-Wilson said the decision to remove Williams had nothing to do with his performance.  Instead, it was a way to get her involved in a first-hand capacity, she said.  "The best way to figure out what has to be done is to see whats going directly," Freeman-Wilson said.  "The best way is to be involved in it.  If youre able to see whats happening, it puts you in a better position to be accountable."

The district will advertise the open directors position interested candidates, but it will hire an executive search firm to find a permanent replacement.  The best candidate will have engineering and legal experience, given the complexities of complying with the consent decree, Freeman-Wilson said.


New Gary Police Command:  Convicted Felon Named Commander
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[3 Mar 2012]

GARY - Announcements of a new deputy police chief and changes in the command staff came as a surprise to most members of the department, prompting an outcry of "business as usual."

A memo issued Friday telling officers to pick up their criminal code books included a listing of the restructured command staff.  Chief Wade Ingram told the Post-Tribune the changes took effect Friday, although many ranking officers said they were unaware of the selection process.

"The FOP was under the impression the new administration would be more transparent," Fraternal Order of Police President Sam Abegg said.  "The idea that promotions would be based on fairness has gone by the wayside," he added.  "But that changed overnight.  We had a vision that things were going to change in a positive way, but now we see its business as usual," Abegg said.

Cmdr. Larry McKinley, a corporal with extensive experience in crime scene evident collection, is the new deputy chief.   He replaces Sgt. Michael Mallett, assigned to the traffic division.  Other changes include Sgt. Kerry Rice as commander of community services, which Wade says is a cornerstone of his administration.  The department will focus on community-oriented policing, serving seniors and addressing neighborhood problems, he said.  Cmdr. Pete Sormaz remains a commander in the newly reorganized Administrative Services Division; Cmdr. Hector King continues as patrol commander and Cmdr. Michael Jackson remains over investigations.

The promotion that most disturbs the officers is Ingrams choice of Cpl. Sean Jones as commander of special operations, which includes the S.W.A.T. team, the mayors detail and the aviation unit.  Jones, a longtime close associate of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, is a convicted felon who was pardoned shortly before he was hired as a Gary officer 12 years ago.  Jones was charged in 1993 with attempted trafficking and bribery while working as a correctional officer at the Indiana State Prison.  He pleaded to the trafficking felony.

Five years later, he was employed as a drug court compliance officer for Freeman-Wilson, who was city judge.  Jones was carrying a handgun with a permit he obtained despite the felony conviction, and was moved to a desk job after the judge learned he was toting a gun in her service.  Efforts in 2010 to have his criminal record expunged were rejected by a LaPorte Superior Court Judge when the Indiana State Police objected.  Freeman-Wilson represented Jones in that proceeding.  Abegg said that because the FOP participated in the mayors selection committee for chief, the rank and file supported her appointments.

The mayors spokeswoman said Freeman-Wilson approved McKinley as the deputy chief, but the command changes were Ingrams, based on his "assessment of their performance and ability to do the job."


Gary's Abandoned Schools Are a 'Left Behind' Story
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com OpEd by Doug Ross
[29 Feb 2012]

The Left Behind series of books and movies tells what might happen if the Rapture suddenly removes Christians from the Earth.  It was difficult not to think of that cultural reference when helping clean out the abandoned Tolleston Middle School in Gary.

I was honored to have been chosen to be a part of that clean-up effort earlier this month, a preliminary to turning the building and grounds into the John Will Anderson Boys & Girls Club in Gary.  I don't live in Gary, but I want it to thrive.  As I drive through the city's streets, I often wish someone would mobilize the troops from throughout the region -- including me -- to clean up the city.  That's what was so good about the opportunity to help the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana on this project.

What was shocking, though, was that when the school was closed in spring 2009, Gary Community School Corp. didn't salvage materials that could be used elsewhere or that had historical significance.  The school district left behind trophies, plaques, computers, globes, flags, thousands of books and more.  There was even food that had been left in coolers since the school was closed.  What a waste!

Gary school officials have a serious public relations problem here because of the failure to properly close that building three years ago.  If the school district is that wasteful and neglectful, the reasoning goes, why should the taxpayers give them more money?

The solution is to do what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana did at Tolleston:  Build community support by recruiting volunteers.

The process of cleaning out these schools should now take place, school by school, at other abandoned schools to prepare them for possible sale.  The Gary School Board should organize groups of volunteers for each school, probably one building at a time, and work with the city to arrange for trash pickup.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Not at all unlike home purchasers who just walk away from the property and their mortgage.  Sounds like the Gary School Board just closed the doors and up and left?


Gary Library Board Delays Employee Reorganization
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[29 Feb 2012]

GARY - Just one day after being accused of "union busting," the Gary Public Library board Tuesday night suspended its March 1 deadline for launching a reorganization plan that included layoffs and dropping a number of employees from full-time to part-time status.  Also, three of the board members will form a committee to work out a new reorganization plan with library and union officials.

The move bought some time for AFSCME Local 2760, which represents 32 staff members in the four remaining Gary public libraries, to get involved in trying to avert the employment changes, something union leaders said theyve been asking for all along.

Several board members, especially board president Tony Walker, have maintained the former library director should have come up with a reorganization plan for staffing changes that reflected the systems dire financial state.  Instead, the burden fell on newly hired library Director Otis Alexander, who unveiled his plan in late January.  Alexanders plan, approved by a split board, called for eliminating nine of 32 full-time positions, keeping five full-time posts and converting 18 full-time posts to part-time, saving $1.4 million.  AFSCME leaders have said they were not included in planning the changes.  "Much to my chagrin and dismay, over the remainder of 2011, there was absolutely no movement towards a reorganization plan (by the former director) or engaging the union in a reorganization plan," Walker said.

But the good feelings among union members were tempered somewhat by word the three-member committee charged with coming up with a new reorganization plan will be made up of Walker and members Cynthia Watts and Rayfield Fisher.  None of the three board members who form a vocal minority bloc Paula Nalls, Sadie Sheffield and, often, Nancy Valentine were appointed.  "If (the committee) is willing to meet with us, thats fine," local president Gracie Allen said.  "But I think (Walker) shouldve appointed one of the opposing bloc.  But Im going to go in with an open mind."

On Monday (27 Feb 2012) AFSCME leaders said they agreed with the nine job eliminations but proposed keeping the remaining 23 represented employees full-time, as long as all library board employees took a 10% pay cut.

AFSCME staff representative Cassandra Stigger called Alexanders proposal and lack of meeting with the union "unfair" on Monday, but she toned down her response after Tuesdays committee announcement.  Along with plummeting tax revenue, the closure of the Main Library, leaving the four neighborhood branches open with extended hours, has increased the need to keep library staff, she said.

"I was pleased (the board) stopped the reorganization plan" scheduled to begin Wednesday, Stigger said.  "But, we do need those employees, because theyve been experiencing heavier flows than what theyre used to at the remaining libraries."

Walker said the committee, administration and union will work together on a new plan, but it still must meet the financial restraints weighing down the system.  "I think its only fair the financial crisis be impacted by all parties affected," he said.  "I believe there should be shared sacrifices and everybody should share in those financial sacrifices."


Airport OKs Contracts with Hertz, Enterprise for Allegiant Terminal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle Quinn
[28 Feb 2012]

GARY - Allegiant Air passengers coming in from Florida will once again have transportation options once they get off the plane.  The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority unanimously approved one-year contracts with Hertz Rent-A-Car and Enterprise Rent-A-Car to set up service in the terminal at its Monday afternoon meeting.  The contracts extend agreements the two had with the airport in 2007 and 2006, respectively; each of the contracts was set up for three years with an as-needed option at the end, Airport Attorney Pat Lyp told the board.

Per the already-approved rates and charges for 2012, the two business will pay the airport $180 per month or $35 per square foot for counter space in the terminal, plus 10% of their gross receipts.  The contract will be reevaluated in a year to see if fees need to be raised or reduced, Lyp said.

Airport Director Steve Landry told the board that between its February start date and May, Allegiant already has booked 5,000 seats, and the load factor has been at 70% for the first six weeks of the airlines airport tenure.  Landry said in order to be eligible for more federal funding, the airports goal for the first year is 10,000 seats, so hes pleased with the progress so far.

Neither the board nor the Gary Jet Center was pleased, however, with Canadian National Railroads continued reluctance at signing off on its relocation agreements; the airport has been going back and forth with that railroad on them since August 2010.  Expansion Project Manager Scott Wheeler told the board the airport now has agreements with CSX for right-of-way entry and grade separation contracts

"When we signed the final Memorandum of Understanding last May, we acknowledged that we didnt have all the construction agreements, but that they would be done," Landry said.  But the airport needs to take a stronger stance against CN in the meantime and start trying to force their hand to get them signed, said Board Member, the Rev. Marion Johnson.  "You know how difficult it is (to negotiate with the railroads), and you know our hold-up is CN," Johnson said to Gary Jet Center Representative Paul Karas.  "For anyone to say were not doing everything we can is not fair."

Karas, who served as the airports director 51/2 years ago, agreed but said promises had been made that havent been kept.  "The team (working on the expansion) promised theyd have the agreements within 60 to 90 days, and its now been more than 400 days," Karas said.  "We would like to do whatever we can to help with any arm-twisting."


Lack of Final Rail Agreement Raises Alarms at Airport
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Keith Benman
[27 Feb 2012]

In their first two weeks of operations into and out of Gary/Chicago International Airport, Allegiant airline flights have been about 70% full, according to a report delivered at Monday's airport authority board meeting.  And the airline has sold 5,000 tickets so far for flights through May, Airport Interim Director Steve Landry told the board.

Allegiant flights depart Gary at noon on Sundays and Thursdays for Orlando Sanford International Airport, in Florida.  Those flights depart Orlando Sanford International for Gary at 9:45 a.m. on the same days.

The airport authority also approved agreements with car rental companies Hertz and Enterprise for counter space at the terminal building.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport has nailed down an agreement with one more railroad to make way for its expansion, but a critical agreement with Canadian National Railway continues to be elusive.  The airport authority on Monday voted 6-0 with one abstention to approve final construction, engineering and entry agreements with CSX Transportation, which has tracks north of the airport.  That means it now has two of the three railroad agreements it needs.

But some board members made it clear Monday (27 Feb 2012) they are frustrated by the lack of an agreement with Canadian National Railway, which owns tracks that must be moved 1/2 mile westward toward Cline Avenue to make way for expansion of the main runway.  "Somewhere along the line, CN is costing us a lot of money and time, and I think somewhere along the line we have to make a stand like Custer did," said Authority Vice President Rev. Marion Johnson Jr., referring to cavalry commander George Custer's stand at Little Big Horn.

Johnson spoke as the authority board was considering a motion to appropriate $301,556 for engineering work, mainly on a signal interference study requested by Canadian National. The motion passed.

Contacted after the meeting, Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldron said negotiations with the airport are ongoing and the outstanding issues have essentially been whittled down to just one.  He did not want to specify the issue, but he said the railroad recently sent requested information on it to the airport.  "The airport has asked us to relocate our main line into Kirk Yard and we have agreed to that," Waldron said.  "But there are specifics that have to be worked out."

Final construction agreements are being worked out with the railroads even as construction proceeds.  More than half a dozen runway expansion projects are under way, including a major culvert project to prepare ground for new Canadian National tracks.

In April 2011, Canadian National, CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad signed a memorandum of understanding on making the necessary moves to get out of the way of the airport expansion.

Former Gary airport director Paul Karas, representing the Gary Jet Center, also spoke to the board about the need to reach agreement with Canadian National.  He pointed out AECOM Technology Corp. claimed it could reach agreement with all three railroads within months, when it was hired for the job of project director in September 2010.  "Without this being completed, both the Gary Jet Center and other tenants are at risk," Karas said.  The Federal Aviation Administration has set a deadline of Sept. 30, 2013 for completing the expansion, or it will enforce current safety regulations and shorten Gary's main runway.

Gary Library Workers Call Staffing Cuts 'Slap in Face'
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[27 Feb 2012]

GARY | Gary Public Library employees said Monday they are bracing for a staff reorganization that will kill their union, put many of them out of work and impoverish those who remain.  "We knew there would be layoffs, and we're willing to accept some," said Gracie Allen, president of Local 2760 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.  "But this is not equal or fair.  This is a slap in the face of the union."

Gary library board President Tony Walker responded Monday, "This elimination of union positions is just an unfortunate occurrence that comes with having to downsize.  "There is in no way an attempt to get rid of the union," Walker said.  "There still will be union employees, and there will still be a union at the library."

Allen rejected Walker's statements.  "You can't have much of a union with only five people left," she said.  The reorganization will reduce her and other union officials to part-time employees who will be ineligible for a union card, she said.  "Union busting is what that is," she said.

There is no disagreement that property tax caps are reducing the library system, founded in 1908, to only 60 percent of its previous revenue.  The library board voted recently to convert the main library at 220 W. Fifth Ave. into a museum and keep its four neighborhood branch libraries open.  "Even if we decided to just board the building up, these jobs would be eliminated," Walker said.

However, Allen said the library board has retained its managers while union members pay for the crisis with deep cuts.  She said her salary will drop to $10,000 from $24,000 and she will have no benefits despite her 32 years of seniority.  The union proposes to keep all but nine of its 32 current members as full-time employees and instead find savings by cutting 10% from all salaries, including those in management.

Allen said the union has asked the library board for another meeting to bargain in good faith, but will file a grievance if the changes go into effect next month.  Trent McCain, an attorney for the library board, said Monday the deadline for any grievance already may have passed.


Gary Resolves Dispute, Bus Company Moves to Vacant Ford Dealership
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[27 Feb 2012]

GARY - Businessman Larry Webb has a new address now, thanks to an intervention from City Hall.  However, problems remain.

Last week, Webb got a glimpse of his new headquarters the shuttered Ford dealership at 3333 Grant St.  His buses are there already, too.  "I like the location but we have a total rehab.  Now, Im back to square one again."  Webb, who is relocating for the third time in three months, said the plumbing and wiring has been stripped from the building.

Last month, after City Council rejected a rezone bid for the former middle school Webb purchased from the school district, Webb announced the city would have to go to court to get him out.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson opted for a gentler resolution.  Freeman-Wilson said the city didnt want to lose Webbs company which includes Eclipse Charters & Tours, Eclipse Limousine Service and Larry E. Webb Construction Co.  "Mr. Webb has been here forever," she said.  "Hes worked hard and has a long-standing business."

Forest J. Hayes, director of the citys Department of Commerce, brokered a deal that moves Webb about a mile south to the vacant Ford dealership.  Hayes said Ford agreed to sell the property to the city.  "Its been a collaborative effort," Hayes said.  Webb will have to sell the school, now, however.

Freeman-Wilson said the problems Webb experienced in moving his business support her establishment of the Department of Commerce to head off issues for businesses.  When Webb purchased the former middle school, he said he waited six months to get the deed from the school district and several more months while the city debated the zoning.  But neighbors began complaining to the city about Webbs operation and their opposition to bus fumes, noise and traffic in their neighborhood.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday (18 Jan 2012), her new administration would work with Webb to see if an amicable solution can be found.  The mayor discounted Webbs comment about a lawsuit.  "Well try a kinder, gentler approach," she said.  Were going to work with him to see if there is something we can do to find a suitable location.  ...  Its really illustrative of what should not happen."  Giving credit where credit is due, the Mayor did not like what she saw, stepped in and resolved the matter.  Maybe there is hope?


Lake County Rises on Broad Back of Industry
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Keith Benman
[26 Feb 2012]

On the "Come Up?"
Steelmakers, the BP refinery, the Indiana Department of Transportation and local communities boosted by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority all had the building bug in 2011, undertaking billions of dollars in construction projects.  Those major construction projects, along with companies relocating from Illinois to Indiana, are setting the stage for the next leap forward in Lake County's economy, according to local leaders.

"The short-term effect is lots of construction jobs and the ripple effect that creates in our economy," said Mark Maassel, CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum.  "That is just gigantic.  But just as well, it is the sense of optimism and excitement that comes out of people having jobs and knowing they will have jobs for awhile."

The BP Whiting refinery's $3.8 Billion expansion, started three years ago, is now just one among a number of large industrial projects under way in Lake County.  The BP project employs thousands of construction workers now and will employ about 7,000 at its peak this year.  Up to 900 will be employed at the $510 Million scrubber installation at NIPSCO's R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield by this summer.  Hundreds more are at work at a $63.2 Million energy efficiency project at ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor integrated steel mill and a $220 million substitute coke project at U.S. Steel's Gary Works.

And after a dry spell that stretched more than a decade, Lake County has begun to lure the kind of new high-wage employers it has long sought.  The first came in August, when Canadian National Railway Co. announced it would move its locomotive repair facility from Markham, Ill., to Kirk Yard in Gary.  That move along with other upgrades will bring $165 Million in investment and 251 jobs to Gary.  Just three weeks later, Modern Forge Co. announced it would move its Blue Island, Ill., manufacturing facility to Merrillville, bringing $17 million in investment and 250 jobs.

A key player in scoring both those wins for Lake County and the state was the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.  The RDA provided $4 Million from its "gap closing fund" for infrastructure improvements for the CN project and another $2 Million for Modern Forge.  The fund, established in 2011, is designed to close the gap when economic incentive offers here don't measure up to those offered by other states, according to RDA Chairman Leigh Morris.  "And that's exactly what we did in the case of both CN and Modern Forge," Morris said.  The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority marked its sixth year in business in 2011, with no letup in its traditional role of providing seed money for public works projects.

In May, ground was broken for the $153 Million runway expansion at Gary/Chicago International Airport.  The RDA has committed $50.3 Million to the project, making it the second-largest contributor behind the Federal Aviation Administration.  The project suffered years of delays but a number of hurdles were overcome in 2011 due to closer cooperation between the RDA and airport authority.  "Now we have top staff members and board members from both organizations working together and agreeing on what needs to be done," Morris said.  Allegiant Air has commenced flight operations at the Gary airport in February.  Airport officials hope many other airlines will follow once the expansion project is finished.

Ground was broken on the restoration of historic Marquette Park in Gary in April 2011.  The RDA is contributing $28.2 Million there.  Altogether the RDA has committed $118.2 Million to lakefront park projects in Lake and Porter counties.

Tying all the new Lake County development together is a massive public works project at its beating heart.  The $189 Million Interstate 65 interchange project and the even larger Borman Expressway lane expansion wrapped up in August, marking the end of an almost decade-long project.  Four months later, Gov. Mitch Daniels came to Gary/Chicago International Airport to celebrate completion of the $250 million Indiana Toll Road lane expansion through Gary.   It is the Toll Road's busiest section and was badly in need of repair.  The expansion is part of $350 Million in improvements undertaken by private operator Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. since 2006, when it paid the state $3.8 Billion for a 75-year lease of the road.


Freeman-Wilson:  City's Promise Outweighs Problems
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[24 Feb 2012]

GARY - Freeman-Wilson spoke to a packed house Thursday at a Genesis Center luncheon.  The audience included students from the citys three traditional high schools and Thea Bowman Leadership Academy.  The audience also included members of the City Council, staff members, businesspeople and citizens.  Jordan Wilson, a senior at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond, introduced her mother who received a standing ovation.

In her first state of the city address, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city's dire financial crisis wont throttle its promise of better days ahead.  On the budget front, Freeman-Wilson said state tax caps triggered the city to reduce its budget from $73 million in 2006 to $47 million today.  "Anyone with a working knowledge of business or government knows that there is not that much fat in the land," she said.  She said the city's projected deficit was $10 million to $15 million and its $43 million in debt.  Although its early in her administration, Freeman-Wilson said strides are being made to battle crime and she cited a joint city police-federal investigation that resulted in the arrests of suspects in 12 fast-food restaurant robberies.

The city's proximity to Chicago and a complex network of rail, highways, waterways and an airport are its biggest assets, she said.  Freeman-Wilson said her administration is working on making the city business-friendly, streamlining procedures for businesses wishing to expand or come to Gary.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   While I cannot blame or fault the mayor for her decision, it is noteworthy that she chose to send her daughter to a private school, outside of the City of Gary. 


Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson Sees Challenges, Progress
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by By Lu Ann Franklin
[23 Feb 2012]

GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson pulled no punches during her first State of the City address Thursday at the Genesis Convention Center.

Her report on the Steel City addresseed challenges the city must face.  They include the loss of 20 percent of the city's population between 2000 and 2010.  Additionally, Gary has been hit hard economically, she said.  The median family income is $27,000, which is $20,000 below the state average.  Unemployment is at 15.6 percent, and 34 percent of the city's residents are in poverty.  The city budget had to be cut from $73 million in 2006 to its current $43 million.  There is a projected budget deficit of $10 million to $15 million, and Gary is $43 million in debt.


Gary Postal Processing Center to Close
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[23 Feb 2012]

GARY - The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday morning it plans to close the Gary mail processing and distribution center, folding its operation to Bedford Park, Ill.  There will be no change to the retail operations in Gary at this time, officials said.  A specific date has not been set for the closure.

Processing facilities in Kokomo, Terre Haute and South Bend are also being consolidated into other facilities.  Kokomo will move to Indianapolis, South Bend to Fort Wayne and Terre Haute to Indianapolis and Evansville.

Postal officials blamed a lack of business.  The Postal Service has experienced a 25% decline in first-class mail volume since 2006, and receives no tax dollars for its operations, relying instead on the sale of postage, and postal products and services.  "The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure," said Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan.  "Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation."

Postal officials say closing the Gary mail processing center at 1499 Martin Luther King Drive would save about $13.2 million.  It is expected to mean the loss of about 156 local jobs.  About 30 percent of the workers are from Gary and the rest from across Northwest Indiana.  Those workers include clerks who process mail on machines, maintenance workers, mail handlers, truck drivers and building and custodial workers.


Gary Approves Quarter Mil for Chandeliers at Marquette Park Pavilion
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[23 Feb 2012]

GARY - The Board of Public Works and Safety approved more professional services contracts and change orders to the Marquette Park Lakefront East project Wednesday.

The biggest chunk of the changes, $243,787, will go to buy custom-made, historically accurate chandeliers and other lighting fixtures for the popular Marquette Park Pavilion, said Dwayne Williams, Gary's planning director.  These are one-of-a-kind, custom-fit, custom-designed lights," he said, adding they should be installed by the end of March.

The money for the change orders will come out of the contingency funds of the $28.4 million rehab project paid for by the Regional Development Authority, according to the citys planning department.


SIGN OF TIMES:  New Law Ends ATM Withdrawal of Welfare Money at Strip Clubs
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Dan Carden
[23 Feb 2012]

INDIANAPOLIS | Hoosiers receiving cash welfare benefits will no longer be allowed to withdraw their money from an ATM inside a strip club starting July 1.  Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Senate Enrolled Act 13 into law Wednesday, barring the use of strip club ATMs to access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

The law also requires a sign be posted at the ATM notifying users they cannot withdraw cash welfare benefits at the machine.

Indiana law already bans Hoosiers from obtaining welfare money at ATMs located inside casinos, horse tracks, gun shops, bars and liquor stores.


Study:  Northern Indiana Corruption Not So Bad
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[20 Feb 2012]

Lake County doesnt have a reputation of corrupt political officials for nothing.  From former Gary Clerk Katie Hall forcing her employees to contribute to her political campaign to former East Chicago Mayor George Pabey using city money and workers to renovate his Gary home, the past decade has seen more than 40 people convicted in federal court in connection to public corruption cases.  That doesnt even count the people who preceded them.

A rough count of people from Lake County convicted in public corruption crimes during the past decade includes:

George Pabey, Dozier Allen, Jewell Harris, Robert Cantrell, Will Smith, Roosevelt Powell, Willie Harris, Katie Hall, Junifer Hall, Joe De La Cruz, Adrian Santos, Jose Valdez, Frank Kollintzas, Pedro Porras, Edwardo Maldonado, Randall Artis, Jojuana Meeks, Johnnie Wright, Joel Markovich, Kim Lyles, Deborah Riga, Peter Benjamin, Troy Montgomery, Greg Cvitkovich, James Fife, Morris Carter

But a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that as corrupt as some people think politics in the U.S. District of Northern Indiana are, actually they arent that bad.  Northern Indiana hardly registered a blip in the study, titled "Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption."

Illinois ranks high in the pure number and per capita rate of convicted corrupt public officials since 1976.  The study includes 35 years worth of information for only the top 15 federal court districts with the most convictions of corrupt public officials.  Northern Indiana did not crack the list.

However, the study did provide information on the number of convictions from 2001 to 2010 for the 91 federal court districts representing the 50 states and Washington, D.C.  Northern Indiana saw 83 convictions during that time, not a small number.  However, several districts saw more than 300 public corruption convictions during that same time period.  In fact, Northern Indiana ranked just 38th out of all the districts, not even in the top third.


Some Gary Airport Directors Have Spotty Attendance, Voting Records
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Keith Benman
[19 Feb 2012]

As city of Gary officials contemplate big changes for Gary's airport, a Times analysis shows some airport authority board members had spotty attendance or voting records the 21 times the board met last year.

One board member, Cornell Collins, missed nine meetings, according to authority meeting minutes.  An analysis of voting patterns showed he and the Rev. Marion Johnson Jr., the board's vice president, missed 30% and 29%, respectively, of the 228 votes taken.  One board member, Silas Wilkerson, abstained 35 times.

And board member Robert Poparad missed four meetings last year, causing him to miss 23% of votes taken.

Board members questioned about voting or attendance defended their records, with most citing scheduling conflicts with their full-time jobs.

Gary Airport Authority Member Hooky Rates

Here are the attendance records of members of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority during 2011, when the authority met 21 times.  Each member's name is followed by the number of meetings attended and then the number missed.

Ross Amundson:  18/3
Delvert Cole:  17/4 (Cole resigned this year after being appointed deputy Gary mayor)
Cornell Collins:  12/9
Marion Johnson Jr.:  17/4 (Johnson missed half a meeting April 11)
Silas Wilkerson:  20/1
Nathaniel Williams:  19/2
Robert Poparad:  16/4 (Poparad replaced Evans after the first meeting of the year)
John Evans:  1/0 (Evans was replaced after the first meeting of the year)

Source: Gary/Chicago International Airport meeting minutes


U.S. Steel Posts 4th Quarter Loss
Compiled From a Report by NWIBQ.COM
[16 Feb 2012]

PITTSBURGH - U.S. Steel Corp., which operates three mills in Northwest Indiana, announced a fourth quarter loss of $226 million in the fourth quarter.  One year ago, the loss was $249 million.  At the same time, the steelmaker announced revenue was $4.3 billion in the quarter, up 12 percent from one year ago.

U.S. Steel Gary Works is the largest steelmaking facility for the company.  It also operates the Midwest mills in Portage and East Chicago Tin.


Her Honor Writes
A Report from GDY
[16 Feb 2012]

Earlier this week, I sent an email to an individual in Colorado who is, for lack of a better term, "toying" with the idea of trying to revive the Studebaker name in terms of vehicle manufacturers.  He has a web site where he presents his scheme - Studebaker Site.  On the site is a request for input on where to locate his manufacturing facility.  I took him up on this request and suggested Gary as an ideal location.  I pointed out the available access to air, rail, Great Lakes transport and interstates, as well as a plethora of possible facility sites.  I even went so far as to suggest the city and state would be more than willing to work with him in terms of incentives for locating in the Steel City of Gary.

I cc:'d Mayor Freeman-Wilson on this email.  Believe it or not, Her Honor actually replied.  This very morning she sent me an email, via her iPhone, thanking me for recognizing the assests Gary presents to potential business, and for recommending the City of Gary to the Studebaker entrepreneurs.  I can tell you for a fact that Rudy never took the time to respond to any of the missives I sent his way while he was at the helm.

I doubt that anything will come of this, but if it does, I am glad to have had a more than miniscule role.  As much as I harp about the problems plaguing my hometown, she still holds a fond place in my heart, deserves better and is in desperate need of support form all.


Finger-pointing on Marquette Project after Request for More Time, Money
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[16 Feb 2012]

GARY The approval of requests for more time and money by the construction and project management firms on the Marquette Park Lakefront East project began an exchange of finger-pointing following Wednesdays Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.

After the meeting, project manager Joel Baldin, of Hitchcock Design Group, declined to answer reporters questions on why his company needed an additional $100,000, on top of the more than $3 million it is already collecting on the project, and more time to complete the work.

The board also approved a similar extension and an extra $200,000, on top of the nearly $1.5 million originally contracted, for ACS/Skillman, a joint venture serving as the lakefront projects construction management team.

The project is set to go into its third major phase, with infrastructure work such as street and lighting improvements and work on parking lots, set to begin.  The deadline for completing the high-profile project was extended from April 30 to Dec. 31.

Newly named Gary Planning Director Dwayne Williams said poor planning from the previous administration is to blame for the project going over schedule.  "There were a number of unforeseens that didnt come from this administration that slowed things down," Williams said.  "This is luggage we picked up from the previous administration."  He cited a failure to make key decisions in ordering items and construction decisions as reasons for the works delayed progress.  "The prior administration didnt pull the trigger on certain items," he said.

Christopher Meyers, the citys former planning director and point man on the lakefront project, said blame for any delays is squarely on the shoulders of Hitchcock Design Group and the Karen Freeman-Wilson administration.  He accused Hitchcock of slowing the project by not responding to lists of requests for small changes last summer and fall.  "The administration and the project manager failed to meet with the planners of the project to make a smooth transition," Meyers said.  "If anything, this is on Hitchcock as the project manager."

Freeman-Wilson defended her administration and the two main firms on the project.  "I had a number of meetings with Hitchcock and ACS/Skillman, and they expressed a number of delays that were precipitated by Chris Meyers specifically, and its my understanding they were really under the gun," she said.  "Ive been very careful about pointing fingers, but anytime someone decides to misrepresent something, then I have to speak out."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I am certain there is more than a surplus of blame to be spread around here.  However, one fact is known.  Christopher Meyers is correct with regard to no transition.  The guy was fired by then Mayor-Elect Freeman-Wilson two days before she assumed the office [See Below; "Changes Begin" report of 12/30/2011]


Freeman-Wilson Named to Administer Sanitary District
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[15 Feb 2012]

GARY -  With the stroke of a pen, U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano signed an agreement making Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson the next special administrator of the Gary Sanitary District for one year.  Freeman-Wilson succeeds former Mayor Rudy Clay.

The district is under a 10-year-old consent decree with the federal government that sets goals for the district in managing sanitary and storm sewers and requires the approval of the U.S. Attorney and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for new special administrators.  Freeman-Wilson's appointment required a federal judge's blessing.

U.S. Attorney David Capp said the federal agencies will work more closely with the district than it has in the past.  "We're encouraged by what we see in the new administration, and we are going to actively work with them to get the Gary Sanitary District back on track," Capp said.  "All parties agreed there is going to be a more frequent review and submission of reports (from GSD) than there was in the past."

The mayor said she will spend significant time at GSD for her $54,000 salary supplement.  "I expect to play a greater role (at GSD) as far as attendance at meetings and working with the director to be sure were meeting our goals," Freeman-Wilson said.

The mayor appoints GSD board members, but, as special administrator, she appoints the district's director and has final say over the board's actions.  Freeman-Wilson said she aims to have all department heads, including GSD's director, in place by late March.  Rinzer Williams III is now under contract as the district's director.

The agreement by all parties to name Freeman-Wilson came after several meetings during which the mayor and her supporters assured federal officials she can be an effective administrator.  "One of the (federal agencies) concerns was, what makes us different?" Freeman-Wilson said.  "I'm going to be more focused on meeting the legal obligations under the consent decree and our obligations to the people of Gary to provide clean water and discharges."

Freeman-Wilson said her top priority at GSD will be remediating the contaminated Ralston Lagoon on the city's north side and cleaning up discharges and meeting other requirements of the consent decree.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Hmm?  The more things change, the more they stay the same; or so it seems?


Lake County Jail Digs Deep into Taxpayers' Pockets
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[15 Feb 2012]

CROWN POINT -  Lake County officials are borrowing, raiding their savings accounts and talking about finding new permanent revenue sources to fix the budget-busting county jail.

"We may have to deal with the ugliest four-letter word in the English language, taxes," Councilman Ted Bilski (D-Hobart) said.  Fellow council members chuckled at Bilski's fractured pronouncement but not about having to cast a series of 6-1 votes to appropriate $11.4 million, partly to pay for ramped-up medical and mental health services for county jail inmates.  A portion of the money also will go toward settling a class action suit by inmates complaining of conditions in the lockup.  This amount is over and above the $12.6 million the council already allocated this year for jail operations.

Councilwoman Elsie Franklin (D-Gary) said, "It isn't the council's fault that we have to scrape and borrow money for this jail.  I also have reservations, but we have to correct it.  We are trying to stay out of court."

In 2008, U.S. Department of Justice civil rights officials found the jail to be unsanitary and lacking in medical and mental health care for inmates.  County officials agreed to improvements to avoid an even more costly federal takeover of the lockup.

Former Sheriff Roy Dominguez, who signed the pact before leaving office in late 2010, said most of the problems already had been resolved.  Current Sheriff John Buncich paints a completely different picture, saying visiting federal authorities remain appalled at the lack of progress.

The council agreed to borrow $6.9 million to resolve a 2008 lawsuit by several inmates complaining of overcrowding.  Although the inmates' suit holds former Sheriff Dominguez and former wardens responsible for jail conditions, County Attorney John Dull said the settlement establishes the sheriff, warden and county weren't at fault. Councilwoman Franklin said,  "I don't care who did what or who's to blame.  Let's make sure it never happens again."

Councilman Dan Dernulc (R-Highland) said those votes take care of the jail's immediate concerns, but "we need a plan for 2013 and going forward."  Buncich said, "We are developing a master plan.  There is a laundry list of other things that need to be done."


Gary Owes Workers Millions in Back Pay
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Lindsay Machak
[11 Feb 2012]

GARY | The City of Gary owes police and firefighters millions of dollars in back pay.  That amount keeps climbing as contracts still haven't been agreed upon, union officials said.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is hoping for a resolution soon.  "It's a tall order for our legal department," she said.  "But one that I am very confident we will work through."

The Police Department contract expired in December 2009.  The FOP believes members are owed millions of dollars in back pay because of raises promised but never received, Gary FOP President Samuel Abegg said.  FOP officials have been pushing the new administration to come to agreements with them because the money the police are owed in back pay is racking up by the day, Abegg said.  The amount the police are owed from January 2008 through July 2010 exceeds $2.2 million, he said.  The rest of the figures through the second half of 2010 and 2011 haven't been calculated yet, and the $2.2 million doesn't include money retirees may be owed because of the stalled raises, which could add hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.  But it's about more than just the money, Abegg said.

"We know the city is cash-strapped," he said.  We are trying to do the right thing by bargaining in good faith."  Abegg sent a letter to the city on behalf of the FOP, and Freeman-Wilson said she received it and is working with her team to set a date in the next 30 days to look for a solution.  Freeman-Wilson said her administration is open to discuss the issues without going to court.  "Our administration hasn't been to the table with them," she said.  "I anticipate going to the table with them.  I think we are a long way from needing to arbitrate this matter."

Firefighters have been without a contract for about two years.  They are trying to recover money believed owed from being forced to take furlough days, said Gary Firefighters Union Local 359 President Raynard Robinson.

The mayor is hoping to quickly resolve the issue with firefighters as well.  The firefighters filed in circuit court in January 2010 to collect pay that was lost when the city made them take furlough days, Robinson said. "The city couldn't alter our pay without the consent of the City Council," he said.  "The city did it anyway without their vote and made us take furlough days."  The city cannot alter the pay of the firefighters because the contract they were working under set their salaries, and furlough days shortchanged those salaries, he said.  "We just want our pay back, and we want to negotiate a new contract," he said.

Lawyers from both sides met February 2, and were scheduled for another status conference hearing in June.  Robinson said feedback from the new administration has been positive.  "They've contacted our lawyers, and they want to talk," he said.

Gary Sanitary District workers and Housing Authority members also are without contracts, Freeman-Wilson said.  The absence of other contracts with city workers also is under review by the legal team, the mayor said.  "I think it is incumbent upon us to really impress upon the employees that we value their dedication to the city and that dedication is evident in the fact that they come to work every day and they don't have a contract," she said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Hey, what is a few million here or there for a city that is "on the come up?"


Feds Target Gary General Services Department
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[27 Jan 2012]

GARY - City officials confirmed investigators from the FBI and other federal agencies visited the General Services office at 900 Madison St.  Communications director Chelsea Whittington said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson requested the investigation from the feds, but she offered no further comment "because it is an ongoing investigation."

A source inside the office also confirmed the federal investigation but also declined to give more details, including possible reasons for the investigation.  It is not known who or what program is being investigated.

Under the previous Rusy Clay administration, Mike Shell was the Director of General Services.


Would-be Rallys Robber Killed by Worker
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[24 Jan 2012]

GARY - As one robber grabbed an employee and the other brandished a Uzi-type weapon, a Rallys co-worker took quick action, firing at the would-be criminals inside the Glen Park store early Jan. 11.  The pair ran west, their robbery attempt foiled.

One of the suspects was found dead in a nearby vacant lot the next afternoon.  He had been shot and killed by the Rallys worker, investigators learned.  The body of Marcus Patillo, 24, of 5864 Massachusetts St., Merrillville, was found in a weedy lot west of the restaurant in the 3600 block between Broadway and Washington Street.  Police believe Patillo and his accomplice ran in that direction after the worker shot at them.  Patillo was pronounced dead at the scene about 12 hours after they entered the business through an unlocked employee entrance at 2:30 a.m. Jan. 11.  Patillo was serving a five year probation in Lake County after it was transferred from New Madrid County, in Missouri, in 2009.  He was convicted there of possession of marijuana, court records show.

The results of the investigation are with the Lake County prosecutor, who will determine whether the Rallys worker was justified in his actions.  Police declined to identify the employee.  "He feared for his life and that of his co-worker," Gary police spokesman Sgt. Nelson Otano said.

Workers were closing for the night when the men entered, restrained one employee and demanded cash.  Police said the restaurants service door, located on the east side of the building, didnt lock properly and employees had reported the problem more than once.  The door opens adjacent to the drive-through lane.  The lack of security was not a secret, Otano said.  Subsequent to the shooting repairs were made to the door, police said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Good Guys 1 Bad Guys 0!


Gary Businessman Vows to Stay, Despite Council
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[18 Jan 2012]

GARY - Businessman Larry Webb said Wednesday he plans to open his business at the former Beckman Middle School, despite the City Councils rejection of his rezoning request.  "The only thing we can do now, is move in and theyll have to go to court and get us out of there."

Webb said he wasnt surprised at the vote against the rezoning change.  "It was all planned, they knew what they were going to do," said Webb who operates Eclipse Charters & Tours, Eclipse Limousine Service and Larry E. Webb Construction Co.  "You got people there from one block, youre going to say they represent the whole district?"

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday her new administration would work with Webb to see if an amicable solution can be found.  Last week, she introduced a new economic team, including a new Department of Commerce, bent on attracting business to the city.  "Its really indicative of a need for a Department of Commerce.  From the beginning, that department would have worked with Mr. Webb to see what would be the best place ...?"

The mayor discounted Webbs comment about a lawsuit.  "Well try a kinder, gentler approach," she said.  Were going to work with him to see if there is something we can do to find a suitable location ... Its really illustrative of what should not happen."

Webb purchased the school at 1430 W. 23rd Av. last year from the Gary Community School Corp. for $100,000 with plans to move his charter bus business and open a trade school at the site.  He said he needed a location close to Interstate 80/94.  He sold his business property at 9340 Melton Road after receiving an offer from the National Park Service.

Council on Tuesday rejected the rezone after neighbors objected to noise and pollution from Webbs buses.  Webb said Beckman School had buses idling in its parking lot every day picking up and dropping off students.

Meanwhile, Chuck Hughes, executive director the Gary Chamber of Commerce, defended Webb.  "From our perspective, Larry Webb has been a businessperson in our community for years and hes hired local people and hes contributed to greater economy of this community," said Hughes.  "I think hes demonstrated his commitment to the city and to the Gary economy."  Hughes said hed rather see a tax-paying business there, than a shuttered, vandalized building.

Webb spent Wednesday at the Beckman site and an alarm company installed security equipment.  "We wasted a whole year going in circles.  I cant waste any more time."


Gary Police Chief Takes Oath in Unplanned Ceremony
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes.com Reports by Lori Caldwell and Lindsay Machak
[18 Jan 2012]

GARY - Former Markham, Ill., Police Chief Wade Ingram became Garys new police chief quietly Tuesday, in an unannounced, unplanned swearing in at Banneker Elementary School.

"It was unceremonious," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday while waiting to speak to legislators in Indianapolis.  Knowing she would be out of town on Wednesday, the mayor said she called Ingram who met her at the school to administer the oath.  "It was off to the side of the stage, no one even knew it was happening," Freeman-Wilson said.

She admitted the quick action doesnt reflect her promise of a "transparent" administration and was surprised to learn the event would be of interest to the public and media.  "I didnt even think about that.  We will give him a proper swearing in," she said.

Ingram is expected to take office next week.  He didn't take office Tuesday because he is still in training.  He needs to successfully complete state certification before he may serve as an Indiana law enforcement officer.


Gary Council Sends Business Packing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[17 Jan 2012]

GARY - Eclipse Charter and Tours will be moving by the end of the month, moving out of Gary.  This, after the Common Council turned down its bid for a zoning change.  The council voted unanimously to reject the zone change during Tuesday nights council meeting in a vote that thrilled residents in the former Beckman School neighborhood.

Larry E. Webb, Eclipses owner, and his attorney, Darnail Lyles, now feel that the talk of eliminating red tape for city businesses is just that.  "This isnt about me, its about the city moving forward," Webb said after the 9-0 defeat.  "Theres no change."

Last year, Lew Management purchased the old Beckman Middle School for $100,000.  Webb, of Gary, runs a transportation company that includes Eclipse Charters and Tours, Eclipse Limousine Service and Larry E. Webb Construction Co.  Webb saw promise in the building, even though vandals ripped out large chunks of the schools concrete walls to steal aluminum, furnace parts and bathroom fixtures.  His various companies provide jobs for about 19 full-time employees, all from Gary.  Since purchasing the school, Webb said hes put $500,000 worth of improvements into it.

Lyles said the ruling sets a precedent not just for the city, but for the Gary Community School Corp.  By rejecting Eclipse Charters from moving into the neighborhood, the corporation has pigeonholed itself into selling its vacant and abandoned school buildings only to schools.  How many more charter schools are going to move into Gary, and when they do, theyre building their own schools.  Charter of the Dunes is building its own," Lyles said.  "This is a shortsighted answer to a long-term problem."

But council members said they couldnt discount the residents, many of whom are elderly, who cited safety concerns and increased pollution to the neighborhood if Eclipse was allowed to bring in its 13 school buses, four charter buses, three limousines and one van.  "These residents pay taxes. We have to be responsible to them."


One Attendee at Latest Roosevelt Turnaround Meeting
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes.comReports By Christin Nance Lazerus and Carmen McCollum
[17 Jan 2012]

GARY - After disappointing turnout at several community meetings, EdisonLearning is redoubling its efforts to engage the public on the future of Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.  Only a handful of people have turned out at the three meetings EdisonLearning has held at the W.E.B. DuBois branch of the Gary Public Library over the past month.

Senior Vice President of Educational Services Vanessa Ronketto said theyve been working with local clergy and other community groups to get the word out about the meetings.  Ronketto said EdisonLearning representatives have had several meetings with clergy and sent fliers out to 61 churches about the community meetings, in addition to advertising in newspapers and on the radio.  She said they are looking at other ways to reach the community.  Polite said hes surprised at the lack of turnout especially after the passionate interest displayed at a September meeting at the school.

Only one resident attended an informational session to hear what a New York-based management company has to say about plans to reform Gary's Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.  The lone individual was Ann Thompson, a member of the board of directors for Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, a charter school in Gary.


Ragen Hatcher to Harvard
Compiled From a Report in the Gary Crusader
[15 Jan 2012]

Attorney Ragen Hatcher, a retiring member of the Gary Common Council, has been asked to join the teaching faculty at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Beginning January 27, 2012 she will spend one week in Cambridge assisting the Harvard Law faculty in evaluating senior law student presentations, as part of the Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop at the University.  The program helps prepare third year Harvard law students for the rigors of trial litigation after graduation.

The Trial Advocacy is hosted by the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law.  Director of the Institute is Professor Ronald Sullivan a native of Gary Indiana, and a graduate of Roosevelt High School.  Each year, a group of distinguished legal practitioners and judges from around the country are invited to participate.  "I very much appreciate this opportunity to expand my legal and academic experience," Hatcher said.  "Im excited, and look forward to interacting with some of the best legal minds in the country."

Hatcher has earned four academic degrees from Valparaiso University and Indiana University, in Economics (B.A.), Business (M.B.A.), Finance (M.F.A.) and Law (J.D.).  She was a candidate for mayor of Gary,  Indiana last spring.  She has now opened a law ofice with her sister.  "It is my calling to serve the people in my community, and to offer them the most just solutions to their legal issues.  I look forward to serving them."
[COMMENT -GDY]:  There is a bit of overeach here, me thinks?  Spending a week at Harvard as a moot court judge hardly qualifies as being named to the faculty of the university.


Drago-Hunter Pleads Guilty to Mortgage Scheme
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[14 Jan 2012]

The former director of community development for the city of Gary admitted in federal court Friday morning to working with a local businessman in a mortgage fraud scheme that took in almost $200,000.  Jacquelyn Drago-Hunter pled guilty to one count of wire fraud.  Drago-Hunter continued to work for Mayor Rudy Clay for about a year after her arrest on fraud chrarges.

Speaking softly throughout the hearing, Drago-Hunter admitted under questioning by her attorney that she worked with Jerry Haymon to defraud a bank by jacking up the purchase price of a house in Gary.  Drago-Hunter said Haymon, who has already pleaded guilty in the case, convinced a woman and her son to sell him a house they owned in Gary for $36,000.  He then set up a side agreement with another man to buy the house for $74,000, far more than the house was actually worth.

Drago-Hunters role was to create two separate closing documents, one to fool the owners into thinking they were selling the house for the original asking amount, and another reflecting the $74,000 purchase price, which was given to the bank.  Asst. U.S. Attorney Gary Bell showed the two documents, noting that the first one said the owners received just $2,300, the actual amount they were paid.  The second one, however, shows them receiving about $36,000.  That, Drago-Hunter said, was a lie.  "What happened in reality is that the defendant and Jerry Haymon were scheming," Bell said.

Drago-Hunter said Haymon collected the difference between the prices by filing a lien on the property.  The bank wouldnt have accepted the lien, however, because he had just filed it a few days before closing.  So, she wrote out the disbursement to make it appear it was going to the owners.

As part of Drago-Hunters plea agreement with the government, another charge of wire fraud and two counts of identity theft are being dropped.  She faces up to 20 years in prison.  Her sentencing is scheduled for April 19th.

One of Drago-Hunters other co-defendants, Sheila Chandler, also pleaded guilty in the case.  A federal jury found the fourth defendant, Phillip Rucker, guilty in December.


School Adminsitrator Pink Slips Handed Out
Compiled from a nwiTimes.com Report by Carmen McCollum
[11 Jan 2012]

GARY | The Gary Community School Corp. board approved notifying 87 administrators that they may not have jobs next school year.  Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said that's the first step in the process.

Last year, the district wanted to eliminate 12 administrative positions but the notifications were not made in time.  This year, Campbell notified administrators by Dec. 1 as required by law.  She said it includes all administrators such as principals, assistant principals, deans, the director of special education, assistant superintendent, public information staff and the athletic director.

"This is being done because of budgetary reasons," Campbell said Wednesday.  "We have to cut almost $20 million from the budget."  Campbell said they also will look at teachers, the travel budget, insurance, instructional supplies and every other aspect of the budget.  Some administrators may return to their jobs in the fall, but it will depend on the budget allocation, the number of students and other issues, she said, adding they hope to know which administrators will return by July.

Campbell's contract as superintendent concludes June 30. The board hired a university search team to look for a new superintendent.


Freeman-Wilson 4 Yr. Plan
Compiled From nwiTimes.com and Post-Trib Reports by By Lu Ann Franklin and Michelle I. Quinn
[10 Jan 2012]

GARY - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is confident the city will see a land-based casino within the next two years, though she stopped short of promising it.

The mayor unveiled her plans for the city to a record-breaking crowd at the Gary Chamber of Commerces luncheon Monday afternoon.  The meeting room at the Steel City Buffet & Grill was filled to capacity to hear the new mayor.  By 2014, she expects the city will break ground on a new land-based casino along the I - 80/94 corridor.

Legislation currently downstate should be the catalyst for that plan.  "Weve met with the governors staff, and they understand our efforts are more toward economic development than gaming.  Im not delusional, but I know there are people on both sides of the aisle who support our efforts."  Freeman-Wilson said she will be traveling downstate as early as the next few days to further discuss the possibilities with legislators.

The mayor previewed how the various departments dealing with economic development; such as the Board of Zoning and Appeals and Plan Commission; will be streamlined under the heading of Department of Commerce, which a single individual shall administer.  That way, only one persons "head will be on the chopping block."  The department head shall review all proposals and make the calls to various agencies like the Regional Development Authority, Indiana Department of Economic Development or other federal agencies to see what, if any, kind of help those agencies can provide.  It will also reduce the issues of getting quorums for meetings.

Overall, that and other measures will combat the #1 problem Freeman-Wilson said she heard from residents all through her campaign:  Not getting a timely answer to a question or problem, if an answer was given at all.

She has also established a Constituent Services department.  It shall answer every resident's question and complaint within 72 hours.  "Will the answers be the one wanted?  No, not always," she said.  "But in 72 hours, there will be a response.

She also plans on bringing back the $1 Home Program, of which she was a participant 25 years ago.  In that program, residents are able to purchase a rundown house and then receive a period of time in which to rehabilitate it.

Some houses and properties, on the other hand, arent salvageable and will be torn down.  That will include the Sheraton Hotel.  "As I look at the Sheraton, there is no opportunity to redevelop it," she said. "It will come down sooner rather than later." 

In 2006, Illinois appraisers set the Sheratons worth as negative $793,000. The report added the building should be razed after asbestos was removed.  The New Gary Development Group received a $735,000 loan from the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the asbestos, but paid back only $7,000. The city then assumed the obligation to repay the loan.

[So, does this mean the property is now worth  ($58 Thousand):  (793,000) + 735,000 or  ($1,528,000):   (793,000) +  (735,000)?]

"We need corporate ownership to help us get back to the place where we have been before," the mayor pointed out.  Part of Gary's revitalization will require increased revenue, she said.  The property tax collection rate has been going down in Gary at the same time as tax caps eat away at more tax revenue.  "The State Board of Accounts said we can't cut our way out of this.  We have to raise revenue and increase assessed valuations," she said.

FreemanWilson said her fivepoint revenue plan includes reducing personnel costs, reducing the cost of contracted services, lowering general and administrative costs, and increasing revenue.  For example, she said, city officials will look at aligning the cost of towing vehicles in Gary with the $100 charged throughout Lake County.

Another is to increase fees for violations of city codes.  That will not only generate revenue, but will "help us address the appearance of the city, both residential and commercial," she said.  "The city is a major property holder and we are going to be responsible for the property we own."


NWI 2011 Gaming Revenues Drop
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Keith Benman
[10 Jan 2012]

Total revenue at Northwest Indiana's five casino's dropped 5.5% in 2011
    Ameristar: $245.05 million, Up 1%
    Blue Chip: $172.8 million, Down 3%
    Horseshoe: $509.5 million, Down 8.8%
    Majestic Star I: $111.86 million, Down 1.2%
    Majestic Star II: $93.8 million, Down 10%
Source:  Indiana Gaming Commission revenue reports

Northwest Indiana's five casinos raked in $65.87 million less in 2011 than the year before, a 5.5% drop that comes as neighboring states are preparing to significantly increase the competition for Midwest gaming dollars.

The drop in Northwest Indiana casino revenues and the flagging fortunes of the state's other casinos mainly are due to the weak economy, said Indiana Gaming Insight Editor, Ed Feigenbaum.  The same trend has taken hold nationally and is hitting other entertainment choices such as movies.  "People are just reluctant to dig into their wallets for these types of discretionary expenditures," noted Feigenbaum.

And when Indiana casinos suffer a string of bad luck, so does the Indiana state budget (Ed. - Not to mention the dollars paid by the casinos to surrounding municipalities).  A recent bipartisan committee report delivered to the State Budget Committee forecast a 6.5% drop in total gaming tax revenue in fiscal 2012 and another 8.2% drop in 2013.

Total 2011 revenue at Horseshoe Casino, long the heavyweight of Indiana gaming, dropped $49 million for the year, a decline of almost 8.8%.  General Manager Dan Nita attributed the overall drop in revenues at Northwest Indiana's five boats in 2011 to new gaming opportunities across state borders, in particular the new Rivers Casino, in Des Plaines, Ill.  "It's just due to the additional competition," Nita said.  "The pie is only so big."


Ex-mayoral Candidate Hatcher
[7 Jan 2012]

Ragen Hatcher and her two younger sisters have started their own law firm.  The Hatcher Consulting Group focuses on real estate and government law and business consulting, she said.  The fiirm may be reached via email to hatcherlaw@comcast.net


Freeman-Wilson Inauguration
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle Quinn
[7 Jan 2012]

GARY - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Saturdays inauguration day at the West Side Leadership Academy wasnt about her, but rather "a God who hasnt forgotten Gary."   The city is at a crossroads with many challenges high unemployment and even higher property taxes among them and has been beaten down, but not out by a long shot, she said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  If that be the case, then there is truth in the saying that "God works in strange ways,"as the city has to be one of the most God forsaken in the country!


2012 Meet of Gary plan Commission Held Without Public Notice
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[5 Jan 2012]

GARY - Only days into a new city administration promising transparency, a longtime administrator and a board member (both holdovers from Rudy's regime) may have already violated Indianas Open Door law.  Zoning Administrator James Craig said Thursday Plan Commission president Alma White called a special meeting of the citys Plan Commission for Wednesday, to discuss an important matter involving the massive expansion of the Canadian National railroads Kirk Yard on the citys north side.  However, Indiana Public Access Counselor Joe Hoage said public meetings including special meetings must be publicized at least 48 hours in advance, detailing the date, time and location of meeting.

The Wednesday meeting was never publicized in newspapers or posted for public notice, Craig admitted.  Instead, he said White called this weeks meeting after the Plan Commission could not get the votes it needed to make a decision on the $164 million CN project on Dec. 27.  Had the Plan Commission ended that December meeting by announcing a date, time and location to reconvene, the board would have been within its rights, Hoage said.  "The special meeting shouldve been announced at the December meeting and put into the minutes or a memoranda," he explained.  Craig admitted Thursday the board did not do so.  White could not be reached for comment.

In the questioned Wedmesday meeting, the commission passed a resolution 8-0 determining the removal of the Kirk Yard from the existing Buffington Harbor redevelopment area would not affect the citys comprehensive plan, Craig said.

Craig claimed state statute did not require him to notify the public of Wednesdays meeting, adding he has run similar situations by city attorneys in the past and was assured it was legal to hold special meetings without public notification.  New city attorney Niquelle Allen, only in office for a few days, said no one in her office advised Craig a special meeting could be held without public notice.  She said, "All meetings should be held in accordance with Indiana code."

Hoage said any citizen who feels the Plan Commission violated the Open Door law can file a complaint with his office, which would trigger an investigation followed by an opinion.  The commission can ignore his opinion but runs the risk of a citizen lawsuit, Hoage said.

If a violation of the Open Door law is found to have occurred, the easiest path may be for the commission to reconvene the meeting with proper public notice and handle the matter again, Hoage said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And so it begins?


Public Safety Team Named by Mayor
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Lindsay Machak
[4 Jan 2012]

GARY | Wade Ingram realized he wanted to work for the city of Gary when he saw Karen Freeman-Wilson on television after she was elected mayor.  "I thought that I would be a good team member for her," he said.  Freeman-Wilson announced Wednesday that Ingram, the former police chief at Markham, would lead the Gary Police Department as her chosen police chief.

Freeman-Wilson also announced Teresa Everett as fire chief and Col. Richard Ligon as the director of public safety.  Ligon currently is working as the director of Army instructions for the Gary Community School Corp.  He said he plans on resigning but doesn't plan to stray too far from students.  "I will continue to work with them," he said.  "I'll continue to be involved."

During a commentary portion of the announcement conference Wednesday, Ligon noted how dedicated he is to changing the image of Gary.  Everett nodded behind him.  She had shared similar sentiments by expressing her enthusiasm to work as a team with Ligon, Ingram, the mayor and all of the public safety departments.  Everett currently is serving as the fire chief in College Park, Ga.  She laughed as she gave her remarks about making the move back up north.  She also has spent time as a deputy fire chief in Rochester, N.Y.  "A little cold won't hurt me," she said.

Freeman-Wilson said she hopes to have the public safety team in place in the next month.

The mayor also touched on her plan for snow removal in the coming season.  Cracking down on ticketing and towing cars in the way of snowplows is what she plans to do to make 434 miles of city streets accessible after snowfall.  Cozey Weatherspoon, the newly appointed director of general services, said he aims to have the city streets plowed in a timely manner following snow despite the unreliable equipment and limited resources available to the not-fully staffed city crews.  "This is certainly a work in progress," Freeman-Wilson said.  "And we ask that you certainly be patient with us."

The mayor also introduced her plan to encourage residents to get involved in helping police with a tipline incentive program.  Callers who submit tips that lead to arrests will receive $50 per tip.  Details on funding the program were not complete Wednesday, but the mayor was confident her team would be operating the tip-incentive program sometime next month.

Ingram said community policing is the way for police to work with residents to reduce crime in the urban metropolitan area.  He applauded the efforts of the Police Department in the past year, noting the number of homicides from 2010 to 2011 dropped by 19 deaths.  "One murder in any city is one too many," he said.


2011 Steel Production in U.S. Up Nearly 8%
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Bowdeya Tweh
[3 Jan 2012]

Early estimates from the American Iron & Steel Institute show that U.S. steel production rose 7.9% in 2011, compared to last year.  In 2011, domestic steel mills produced an estimated 95.6 million tons of raw steel, compared to about 88.6 million tons in 2010, the Washington-based trade association for the North American steel industry said Tuesday. The group is expected to release final data later this month.

Raw steel production in Indiana and the Chicago area, the nation's second-largest steel-producing region, was 508,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, 12/31.  Production was up from 494,000 tons the prior week.  Although final calculations haven't been made, region steel mills typically produce more than a quarter of the country's total raw steel output.

Production in the Southern District, the nation's largest steel-producing region, was estimated at 634,000 tons during the period that ended Saturday, up from 625,000 tons produced a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced about 1.9 million tons of steel last week, up 12.8% from the same period in 2010.  U.S. steel mills operated at 75.3% of the available production capacity last week, which is down from a 76.7% production rate a week earlier.  Year-to-date estimates for 2011 show the industry had a 75% capacity utilization rate, up from slightly more than 70% in 2010.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Theoretically, what is good for steel is good for Gary.  I do not know if that maxim is still applicable in this 21st century?  Hopefully, it is.  Both Gary and the economy need some good news!


Gary 2011 Homicide Numbers Drop
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[1 Jan 2012]

GARY - The final tally for homicides in 2011 is a mix of good news and bad.  35 people died violently at the hands of their fellow man in Gary.  This number is so low that no one can remember the last time it was less than 40 victims.

With a population of 80,294, Gary's homicide rate can't be compared to major metropolitan areas.  But, as the second largest city in Lake County, Gary still has more homicides than the rest of the county combined.  Records provided by Lake County Coroner Thomas Philpot show his office handled 21 homicides outside Gary.

While Gary's violent death rate is low, other factors remain predictably the same.  Most are young, black and male; victims of gunshot wounds.  And most of the violence can be linked to drugs, gangs, or both.

Gary police Sgt. John Jelks, Narcotics-Vice Unit coordinator, said drug trade spawns crime on every level, from petty theft to murder.  "Gary has received flack for being the murder capital and supplier of drugs to other communities, but people come in to our city daily and contribute to the drug problem, which contributes to crime.  It hurts the city and its citizens.  The drug money goes to different gangs to re-supply drugs, buy weapons and continues to victimize the good people of the city," Jelks said.

Outsiders who believe that innocent people are likely to be the victims of a violent death are wrong, Jelks said.  "If you are involved in drugs, then youre involved in criminal activity and it makes you more likely to be the victim," he said.


Changes Begin at Gary City Hall
Compiled From Post-Trib Reports by Michael Gonzalez and Carole Carlson
[30 Dec 2011]

Late Thursday, termination letters - written on the blue and white letterhead of Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilsons campaign and transition teams - were given to public works director Marianetta "Dee" Barber; Christopher Meyers, planning director; interim Community Development director Carl Jones; and Shirley Walls, human resources director, according to one City Hall source.

Earlier this week, Freeman-Wilson announced replacements for Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson, Chief of Staff Arlene Colvin and Mike Shells, head of general services.  She named Delvert Cole, an ally and classmate at Roosevelt High School, as her deputy mayor and and Bridget R. Lane, a newcomer to the citys political scene, as her chief of staff.  Both Cole, 49, and Lane, 37, grew up in Gary.  Cole is administrator for the Lake County Board of Commissioners.  Cole is also a former Indiana state trooper who served in intelligence analysis with the U.S. Navy in Molseworth, England.

In addition, Freeman-Wilson appointed Gary native Niquelle Allen as corporation counsel, Cozey Weatherspoon as director of General Services and she reappointed Celita Green as city controller.  Weatherspoon formerly headed the citys Youth Services Bureau and also was a supervisor at U.S. Steel in Gary.


Freeman-Wilson:  Secure Marquette Park
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[29 Dec 2011]

GARY - When she becomes mayor on Sunday, Karen Freeman-Wilson says Marquette Park will have manned security crews safeguarding it.

Three break-ins at the parks pavilion, part of a $28.2 million Regional Development Authority lakefront renovation project, validated the need, she said Thursday.  The mayor-elect said security costs would be shared by the city with contractors at the site.

On Dec. 22, contractors discovered someone had started a fire in the pavilion, scribbled graffiti on the walls and stole copper and tools.  The break-in came just a day before the city dedicated the work done at the nearby Father Marquette statue.

Meanwhile, Freeman-Wilson also said the city could increase police and auxiliary police patrols at the Adam Benjamin Metro Station, 200 W. 4th Ave. in the wake of numerous car break-ins.  On Tuesday, a Calumet Township man was caught trying to saw a catalytic converter off a car in the parking lot.

The city owns the Metro Center, but Freeman-Wilson said the Gary Public Transit Corp. has authority over its security.  NICTD Police Chief Bob Byrd said the GPTC no longer provides security at the station and Gary and NICTD police patrol it regularly.

Freeman-Wilson also disclosed that Marshalls department store closed its Village Shopping Center store because of theft problems.  "Ive had talks with them," said Freeman-Wilson.  "Certainly, all crime is off limits, but especially these stores trying to provide good for the community."


Gary Mayor-Elect Looks to the Net
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[17 Dec 2011]

GARY - Karen Freeman-Wilson plans to be the Facebook-friendly and tweet-happy mayor when she takes office Jan. 1. Freeman-Wilsons administration will upgrade the citys technology, making it more accessible to residents. "Facebook and Twitter will play a role.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And how many Gary residents have access at home to a computer and the internet, one wonders?


Freeman-Wilson Outlines Plans, Hopes
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[7 Dec 2011]

CROWN POINT - On Pearl Harbor Day, Gary Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilson invited members of the Crown Point Rotary and others in Northwest Indiana to work with her to rebuild Gary, saying, "It is true that as Gary goes, so goes the region.  As we look to rebuild our city, we will look for help from all of Northwest Indiana," she told the group.

Freeman-Wilson conceded the challenges ahead crime, high unemployment, a low tax base and a reputation for corruption but there also are positives.  She pointed out Gary is 30 miles from Chicago and in the midst of four interstate highways, three railroads, an airport and a waterfront "thats second to none."  There is $2.6 billion in planned development that will result in an additional $7 million in assessed valuation for the city in the works, including U.S. Steel expansion, an intermodal yard, land-based casino and Canadian National rail yard.

Her three priorities are to make the city clean physically and image-wise, to make it a city that works for its residents and to make it a safe city.

Rotary members had a number of questions for the mayor-elect, including the impact of the Cline Avenue bridge closure on casinos and the airport, and the status of the airport runway expansion, Marquette Park renovation and South Shore train stations.  One Rotary member told the mayor that reducing crime needs to be her priority in order to get businesses to stay and more to come.

Freeman-Wilson said, unfortunately, it is likely that Cline Avenue will be rebuilt as a private toll road, though when pressed, said she would never preempt the governor.  She said the bridge closure has negatively affected Gary, but East Chicago has been hit even worse.

She said Marquette Park is in the midst of a major renovation that includes redoing the grounds, some of the pavilion deck and installation of a bandshell.  Freeman-Wilson said she hopes this work, in addition to her hopes of developing a Miller corridor down Lake Street that will include new businesses, will attract more Chicago residents and make it "the new Hamptons."  "Many Chicagoans already have summer homes in Miller.  I believe we will attract more if we have the businesses to attract them," she said.

Freeman-Wilson said the Miller corridor, development of an intermodal yard and full development of the Gary Airport, including attracting a private charter service and cargo service, are on the top of her wish list for what she would like to accomplish as mayor.  She said the runway expansion is finally under way and she is in support of building a new train station at the end of Interstate 65.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Boy!  Where to begin?  Give her an "A" for ambition.  There is truth in the declaration that as goes Gary so goes the Region.  Let's hope the rest of the county/region realize this.

What a business plan, making the access road to the casinos a toll road!  Who came up with that idea?  Does anyone believe gamblers will gladly pay a fee to drive to the casino?

"The new Hamptons" right here in Gary, IN?  That is more than a bit of a stretch in my humble opinion!     


Mayor-Elect Proclaims
Florida Courier - Sharing Black Life Statewide
By the Gary Crusader Staff, Special to the NNPA from the Gary Crusader -
[27 Nov 2011]

On election night, the new Mayor-Elect proclaimed:  "You have sent a message to the nation and all of Northwest Indiana that Gary, Indiana is on the come up!"
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Duh?  My dear departed mother taught me that if you cannot say anything nice, it is best not to say anything at all ... .

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Created 28 Nov 2011 - 00:00:01 Hrs.

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