Mayor     On the "Come Up" with Karen               City Seal GDYNets Logo
2015 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's running of the "Steel City"
 
Economics create a battle between the haves and the have-nots, and between the takers and the taken.
           - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 2013
 
"Gary, a city that is designed to provide the best government that tax dollars can buy."
                  - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 16 Jan 2014 [On selection of Gary as a Strong Cities, Strong Communities participant]
 
Gary, a community that seems to know its problems but can't figure out a way to solve them.
The shabbiness of the city, and the casualness with which it residents wield guns for self-protection, is shocking.

                  - Urban Decay in a City of Steel (CNN Photo Blogs)
 
Gary is confident that its worst days are over and the best are yet to come.  "You have to look at Gary with the correct idea-that Gary is an easel on which is to be painted one of the great success stories of the 20th Century."
                   - Don Sullivan, Gary Business Development Commission 17 Apr 1988
 
"Gary is in continual decline.  I've been waiting for it to hit bottom for 50 years.  I haven't heard that thud yet."
                 
 - Greg Reising, 2014
 
If a building can be abandoned a school, a church, an office complex, a hotel, a grocery store, an apartment building, a gas station it has been abandoned in Gary.
                 
 
- Josh Noel, 2014 Tribune Travels
 

Employment at the mills is nowhere what it once was.  30,000 people worked at Gary Works alone, before everything became more automated.

Today, U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal together employ around 17,000 workers in the Calumet Region.  That's 5.3% of the total jobs held by residents in the Gary metropolitan area, according to Department of Workforce Development figures.

The steel mill jobs also are among the best-paying in the region.  Economic studies by the American Iron and Steel Institute have found a single steelworker job at the mill supports another seven jobs, such as at restaurants and convenience stores.  By that metric, the steel industry supports 119,000 jobs in Northwest Indiana, or about 37% in the Gary metro area.
  
                 - Joseph Pete, nwiTimes 2015

*** The July 2015 unemployment rate in Gary is 40%! ***
                   
- Gary Crusader

"Gary is a great and storied city whose contributions to the state are too numerous to count."
                    - Gov. Mike Pence, 21 Oct 2015

   Go To:  ARCHIVES PORTAL for access to all past Gary news reports (2008 to current)
  Go To:  JACKO JABBER (Reports on matters relating to the demise of Michael Jackson)


Well, here we go with the 2015 report on the running of the City of the Century - Gary, IN - by its elected officials.  This is the fourth year without Rudy at the helm, as well as the fourth year a female has occupied the Gary Chief Executive office.  There can be little doubt but Karen Freeeman-Wilson does indeed still have her work cut out for her!

QUESTIONS FOR 2015 -
Will Gary set another record for murders (55 in 2014 by GDYNets count)?
Will Gary Int'l. become a viable airport?
How many of the 10,000 vacant/abandoned Gary homes will KF-W get tore down?
Will the now closed Lew Wallace H.S. be sold for pennies on the dollar, or will it be allowed to crumble away?

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


Gary Woman Wins $3M in Mega Millions Drawing
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[31 Dec 2015]

GARY A Gary cashier who purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket in Merrillville is now $3 million richer.

LaTonya Barnes purchased the ticket at Triple S Save, 7510 Broadway in Merrillville for the Dec. 22 drawing.  She and her family claimed her prize Monday at the Hoosier Lottery headquarters in Indianapolis.

Barnes said she plays the lottery "once in a blue moon" and said the win was "unbelievable."

Barnes' ticket matched the first five numbers but did not match the Mega Ball number, which normally carries a prize of $1 million.  Because Barnes paid an extra dollar for the Megaplier, she multiplied her winnings by three and earned $3 million before taxes.

Barnes said she plans to share her winnings with family and is looking forward to "no more money stress."
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It is nice to be able to close the 2015 Gary news report on a good note!

 

Gary Homicides Down by 1 in 2015
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[31 Dec 2015]

When it comes to Gary and homicides, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Some new approaches to crime prevention and investigation took hold in 2015 that Gary police administrators say are already reaping positive results  But homicide detectives continue to face resistance from witnesses and other shooting victims, which thwarts efforts to solve violent crimes.

Of the 50* homicides (the "unofficial 2015 count" by GDYNets is 53) in Gary last year, 15 cases resulted in felony charges.  Three more await action by Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter.

Police have suspects identified in 17 more deaths, but can't get enough evidence to obtain charges, investigations Commander Del Stout said Wednesday.  "Our biggest challenge in solving homicides is the lack of cooperation from witnesses who may be afraid to speak out or because they want to retaliate on their own," Stout said.

Gary has a long way to go.  Its 50 homicides are exactly double the total for the rest of Lake County.  East Chicago ranked second with nine homicides, Hammond responded to seven.  Hobart and Merrillville reported two homicides while Cedar Lake, Highland, Lake Station, Munster and St. John each had one, Lake County coroner statistics show.

As in previous years, the majority of Gary's victims are black men who died from gunshot wounds.  The average age of male victims is 34 years old, somewhat higher than usual.

Two men, both 68, were the oldest victims last year.  Tate Hatchett of Chicago was riding in a car with his girlfriend Jan. 3 while a friend delivered Rico's pizza to a customer.  The pizza order turned out to be a deadly confrontation as men stormed the car, shooting Hatchett before the delivery man crashed his car into a house.  Detectives have returned to the northwest side neighborhood several times, passing out fliers and talking to residents with no useful response.

The other senior victim was Gerald Yager, who was killed June 6 in his Glen Park neighborhood home.  His death came shortly after his notorious, longtime fugitive brother, Randy Yager, was apprehended in Mexico.  Randy Yager was once the head of the Outlaws motorcycle gang.  Although police suspect Gerald Yager, found tied up with his throat cut inside his burning home, was killed in retaliation, the investigation ends there.

Daja Brookshire, 15, was the city's youngest victim.  She was shot as she stepped out of her boyfriend's car at the Horace Mann apartments early Aug. 3 and died a short time later at the hospital.  Investigators don't believe she was the target.

Probably the most heinous crime of the year was the stabbing death of Samantha Fleming, a 23-year-old mother who, with her newborn baby, was allegedly kidnapped by a Gary woman, Geraldine Jones, 37, posing as a child welfare worker.  Gary and Anderson police went to the suspect's home April 17 and searched for the source of a foul stench.  They found Fleming stabbed to death and stuffed in a large plastic tote.  Her newborn baby was unharmed and return to relatives.  Police in Anderson obtained multiple charges against Jones, who whose trial in Madison Circuit Court has been postponed while the defense attorney seeks to move the case to Lake County, reports in the Herald-Bulletin state.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that the Gary police roster ? reaching almost 300 officers less than 20 years ago, is down to about 198.  The exodus of trained, productive officers continues as they seek employment at departments that provide a higher salary.  Others have left for jobs in the private sector.

 

Freeman-Wilson Fired From Special Administrator Position
Compiled From nwiGazette EXCLUSIVE Report by Ken Davidson
[29 Dec 2015]

There was no press release, there was no official statement and, even nearly one year later, no one wants to talk about it.  By Order of the United States District Court, Karen Freeman-Wilson was quietly removed from her $54,000 per year position as Special Administrator to the Gary Sanitary District.  By all accounts, the Mayor still receives the $54,000.00 salary despite being removed from the position of Special Administrator.

Karen Freeman-Wilson was appointed to the position of Special Administrator of the Gary Sanitary District shortly after being sworn in as Mayor in February, 2012.  The initial appointment was for a period of one year and included no provisions regarding the powers of the special administrator.

In February, 2013, Karen Freeman-Wilson was again appointed to a fixed term of one year as Special Administrator to the Gary Sanitary District, but this Order did incorporate special provisions prohibiting the Gary Sanitary District from making gifts or loans to the City of Gary.

In February, 2014 the Court did not enter an order appointing Karen Freeman-Wilson as Special Administrator.  Apparently there was some resistance on the part of Federal Officials in re-appointing the Mayor to the position.

Ultimately, in March, 2014, the Court entered an order appointing Karen Freeman-Wilson to the position of Special Administrator for a period of 6 months and included the above language regarding gifts and loans.  That Order expired, by its express terms, on August 1, 2014.

On August 4, 2014, the Court entered an Order extending the position of Special Administrator to January 31, 2015.  That order is sealed.

Indiana Deputy Attorney General Timothy Junk, one of the attorneys on the case, confirmed to the Gazette that no additional orders were entered in the case stating simply "there are no additional orders entered in the case after August, 2014."

Notably, in December, 2014, EPA and IDEM signed a rare joint letter questioning the Mayor?s role at the Gary Sanitary District and specifically whether or not she was exceeding her authority as Special Administrator in settling the amounts owed by the Gary Community School Corporation.

Thereafter, Karen Freeman-Wilson was not re-appointed Special Administrator and her term expired on January 1, 2015.  One would expect that this would be great news.  The Gary Sanitary District is no longer under Federal Court order to have an administrator oversee the day to day operations to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The Gary Sanitary District no longer has to pay $54,000.00 to the Mayor for doing very little work.

Not the case in Lake County politics however.  Karen Freeman-Wilson?s title is now listed as "Acting Director" on the website of the Gary Sanitary District. According to the website "Wayback Machine" this change was made on February 27, 2015 .  It is unclear if the Board took action at the February meeting to make the change and, if so, what the role of Dan Vicari is at the GSD.  Calls to the Gary Sanitary District went un-returned and GSD routinely utilizes the office of Jewell Harris, Jr. to delay or deny public record requests.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Use of the phrase "fired" here amounts to more than a bit of hyperbole on the part of Mr. Davidson.   What has transpired is that Mayor Freeman-Wilson's federal appointment was not extended.  It is not like she was removed and another individual put in the position of GSD Special Administrator.  All this begs the more serious question of, "If no longer in the post, why is she still being paid?"

 

Stolen Gary Squad Car Recovered
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[29 Dec 2015]

GARY - Gary police said Tuesday afternoon that a squad car stolen earlier in the day has been recovered.

An investigation into the theft of the fully marked white 2010 Ford Crown Victoria from an area near Fourth Av and Pierce St is ongoing, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

The car, marked Unit 138, was locked and contained no keys when it was stolen, she said.  The car contained a mounted police radio and computer, but no weapons were in the vehicle when it was stolen.

Westerfield said no further details about the theft investigation would be released Tuesday.

 

Steel Output Down 9.3% This Year
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[29 Dec 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes fell from 573,000T the previous week to 568,000T last week and the capacity utilization rate was more than 13% lower than it was at the same time last year.

Great Lakes steel output dropped by 5,000T, or 0.8%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output fell by 0.87% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 448,000T last week, down significantly from 492,000T a week before.  Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.456 million tons, down from 1.523 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 60.9% last week, down from 63.7% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 74.6% at the same time a year earlier.  Year-to-date steel output has been 86.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  Output had been 95.7 million tons at the same time in 2014.  Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 9.3% as the year is winding down.

 

Sheriff:  Violence in Gary Rises after Extra Patrols End
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[29 Dec 2015]

GARY, Ind. (AP) ? The Lake County sheriff says deadly violence is rising in Gary, attributing it in part to extra patrols ending due to county funding drying up.

According to Gary Police Department data, 38 people were killed in the city from January through August.  Lake County leaders approved $200,000 in emergency funding in early August to put more county law enforcement officers on Gary streets.

Police department data say there was one homicide each in September and October.  Emergency funds ran out in mid-November, and there have been 10 homicides in November and so far in December.

Buncich said much of the mayhem stemmed from gangs fighting over drug turf, with some customers coming in from out of town.  The gangs would spin off and form smaller factions, battling within just a few blocks of one another.  Several shootings occurred in broad daylight, he said.>

"What goes on in Gary ... it affects everyone in Lake County sooner or later," Buncich said.  "You do everything you possibly can."  Buncich says the extra patrols were effective.  He tells the Post-Tribune that he plans to ask for more funding to restore emergency patrols in January.

 

Gary Airport Renews Part-time Director's Contract
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[28 Dec 2015]

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Monday voted 5-0 to continue to employ Gary Sanitary District Executive Director Dan Vicari as part-time interim director of the airport.

Vicari's salary as part-time interim director will be $2,265 paid every two weeks under the memorandum of understanding approved by the authority, according to airport spokesman David Goldenberg.  He will not receive any benefits from the airport authority.

Vicari made $120,200 as executive director of the Gary Sanitary District in 2014, according to Indiana Gateway, the state's online portal for transparency in local government finance.  Vicari said his salary for that position has not changed.

The Times has submitted requests under Indiana's Access to Public Records Act for copies of the new memorandum of understanding approved by the airport authority as well as the previous one.  Vicari's salary was the same under the previous memorandum of understanding, according to Goldenberg.

The new memorandum of understanding runs through the end of 2016 and includes a 60-day termination clause, Goldenberg stated.

Vicari first came on board at the airport two years ago as airport expansion manager as part of the effort to rescue the troubled $174 million project.  When then-airport special administrator B.R. Lane left that post to head up the Illinois Lottery in March 2015, Vicari took over many of her duties.

He was appointed interim airport director in May 2015.  The airport opened its new expanded runway the next month, completing the project after almost a decade of setbacks and budget overruns.

Other local officials also serve in dual roles such as Vicari's, including Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who draws a $102,580 annual salary as mayor and another $39,516 as special administrator for the Gary Sanitary District.

 

Gary Schools Insure Only Operable Cars; Save Tens of Thousands
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[23 Dec 2015]

The cash-strapped Gary School Board saved $33,883 on its automobile liability insurance by removing 25 out-of-service vehicles from the policy.

The board approved the policy Tuesday with the National Indemnity Co., following a discussion of its fleet at a work session Dec. 17.  "They're for automobiles that are actually moving," Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt told the board Tuesday.  The policy runs through Dec. 20, 2017.

At last week's meeting, board members questioned why the district insured vehicles that aren't operable.  It has a total of 71 vehicles and 46 are operable.  The vehicles are driven by the district's 24-member maintenance crew and by security personnel.  The original liability insurance quote was $99,985.  "That seems excessively high for vehicles that are 15, 20 years old," said board member Nellie Moore.

Leslie Skinner-Leslie, the district's insurance agent, said the state requires the district as a public entity to have a $1 million liability limit.

Last week, about five vehicles couldn't be located.  Pruitt prepared an updated vehicle audit for Tuesday's meeting.  Leslie-Skinner said Tuesday none of the fleet is missing and all were now located.

Board member Marion Williams asked why the vehicles weren't included in an inventory that's part of an annual report.  Pruitt said the inventory control staffer resigned and the district is under a hiring freeze so the position has remained vacant.  "Is the task assigned to someone else to make sure things don't float away?" asked Williams.

Meanwhile, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Gary Teachers Union that raises health insurance premiums 11.25%.  The board also approved the renewal of the district's health insurance policy with Cigna.

Former Major League Baseball player and manager Lloyd McClendon and his wife donated a baby grand piano valued at $4,500 to $5,000 to the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy.

 

Great Lakes Steel Production Rises by 4.75%
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[22 Dec 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes rose from 547,000 tons the previous week to 573,000 tons last week and the capacity utilization rate is nearly 11 percentage points lower than it was at the same time last year.

Great Lakes steel output rebounded by 26,000 tons, or 4.75%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output fell by just under 1% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 492,000 tons last week, down from 506,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.523 million tons, down from 1.536 million tons a week earlier.  Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 9.1 percent as the year is winding down.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 63.7% last week, down from 64.2% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 74.6% at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 85.3 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71.2%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  Output had been 93.9 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Homicide Spree in Gary Continues
#53* and Counting
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[22 Dec 2015]

The City of Gary may see its deadliest year in decades after a late summer lull in violence.  Police and coroner personnel responded again last night to a call for a homicide-the fifth in as many days.

According to a release from Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey, Coroner Investigators were called to the 1500 block of W 2nd Av at 10:48 p.m. on December 21.  When they arrived, they discovered Johnny Ware in the driveway outside his home.  He had been shot in the head.

25 year old Johnny Ware was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:40 p.m.  The case is being investigated as a homicide according to the report from the Coroner.  The Gary Police Department has not yet issued a report in this case.

 

Gary Sees 4th Homicide in 4 Days
#52* and Counting
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson and Sue Dahlen
[20 Dec 2015]

A Gary man was pronounced dead and a woman was transported to the hospital tonight after a shooting in the 3500 block of W 20th Av earlier this evening.

According to Lt. Dawn Westerfield, two subjects went to the location to purchase an item.  When they arrived, a male and female tried to rob them.  The male was pronounced dead at the scene and the female "fled to the hospital" according to the report.

The condition of the female is unknown.  The male has been identified as 22 year old Brandon Johnson of the 3700 block of W 21st Pl.  Coroner Investigators noted that Johnson suffered multiple gun shot wounds and listed the manner of death as homicide.

The shooter called police and stated he had just shot at someone.  He was in the parking lot of the Grace Community Church, 3435 W. 21st Av Police did not say if he is in custody at this time.

Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact Detective Minchuk of the Lake County/Gary Metro Homicide Unit at 219-755-3852 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP

 

Two Dead in Gary Attempted Robbery
#50 & #51* and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Giles Bruce
[19 Dec 2015]

GARY - Two people are dead in Gary after an attempted robbery apparently went wrong, police said.

Police were called around 6:30 p.m. Saturday to the 2200 block of E 19th Pl on a report of a shooting.  Two men were found dead inside the residence.

According to police, one man arrived at the location, was allowed entry then shot another man.  Another visitor in the residence then shot the initial shooter, police said.

Police are not releasing the identities of the victims pending family notification.  A neighbor said he believed the people who lived in the residence were from Chicago.

Police say this does not appear to be a random incident.  Lt. Thomas Pawlak, a spokesman for the Gary Police Department, said the preliminary investigation has found that the incident was an apparent attempted robbery that went bad.

UPDATE -

"Apparently, Mr. Veal (the occupier of the apartment) was into selling marijuana. ...  It looks like a drug deal gone bad, and unfortunately, Mr. Veal got killed and the robber got shot as well," he said.  A man at the home with Veal shot the robber, killing him, Pawlak said.

The robber was one Romeo J. Castro, 19, of Hammond.  Lake County court records show 15 cases were filed against Castro in 2015, with charges ranging from prohibited gang activity, conversion, resisting law enforcement and traffic and alcohol offenses.

Pawlak said police are not identifying the man who shot the robber, but he is in custody.  A case will be presented to the Lake County prosecutor's office for charges Monday, however, Pawlak said he does not expect charges to be filed. "It is most likely self-defense," Pawlak said.

 

Gary Man Acquitted of Murder ID'd as Man Found in Burning Van
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
and a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[19 Dec 2015]

Ten months ago, Jerode Cursey walked out of a Lake County courthouse a free man, after a jury acquitted him of murder.

Cursey, 24, was found dead inside his burning van early Thursday in a garage in the 1800 block of Pennsylvania St, in Gary, just blocks from his home in the 1300 block of Maryland St.  He was originally listed by the Lake County coroner as unidentified, but investigators learned his name Friday.

He had been shot in the head before he was placed in the garage, the coroner determined.  The van in which his body was found was registered in Illinois and belonged to a friend, police said.  Firefighters responded to the garage fire shortly before 7 a.m. and later determined the fire was intentionally set.

Cursey was charged with murder in the September 2013, shooting death of Dewayne Young, 39, also of Gary.  A Lake County jury acquitted him Feb. 20.  Investigators say they do not believe the trial outcome is directly related to Cursey's homicide.

Police say there is no one in custody and investigators are pursuing leads.

 

Operations Up at Gary Airport After Year of Growth
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Staff Report
[17 Dec 2015]

As 2015 draws to a close, Gary/ Chicago International Airport operations are up 13.2% and rising from the previous year.  The Airport Authority Board on Dec. 14 heard financial and operational updates for the airport in the final month of a year marked by transformational milestones at the airport.

At the end of November, the airport reported 23,785 total operations, up from 22,029 operations at the close of 2014.  The number of total operations for 2015 will increase even more when December figures are accounted for.  Additionally, the number of airport tenants has increased from 93 to 107 since the end of 2014, as reported in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Based Aircraft Inventory Program.  In 2015, the airport added Chicago Helicopter Experience as well as attracting and expanding new and private tenants.

"This has been a year of significant growth at the airport," said airport chairman Stephen Mays.  "With major milestones ? such as the Runway Expansion Project ? behind us, we will channel this positive momentum to drive growth at the airport in 2016 and plan for long-term development."

 

Person Found Dead in Burning Gary Garage, Foul Play Suspected
#49* and Counting
Compiled 
From a nwiTimes Stall Report
[17 Dec 2015}

GARY - A person was found dead in a burning garage in Gary Thursday morning, and police officials said they suspect foul play was involved.

Lt. Dawn Westerfield, spokeswoman for the Gary Police Department, said Gary firefighters were called just before 7 a.m. to a garage fire in the 1800 block of Delaware St.  When the fire was extinguished, crews discovered a deceased person inside, Westerfield said.  A van was parked in the garage, and in the van was a body that was severely burned.  Investigators believe the fire was intentionally set.

Police spoke to residents living adjacent to the garage and no one was missing.  They told investigators they do not use the garage, Westerfield said in a statement.

The Lake County coroner took custody of the body.  The identity of the deceased was not yet known Thursday morning.  Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to contact the Lake County/Gary Metro Homicide Unit at (219) 755-3852 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP.

 

Great Lakes Steel Output Falls 4.9%
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[16 Dec 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes plunged from 575,000 tons the previous week to 547,000 tons last week.  Great Lakes steel production fell by 28,000 tons, or 4.86%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output rose by just over 1% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 506,000 tons last week, down from 513,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.536 million tons, down from 1.55 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 64.2% last week, down from 65% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate trails 2014 by more than 10 percentage points so far this year.

Year-to-date steel output has been 83.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71.4%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  Output had been 92.1 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Daughter Pleads Guilty to Murder of Mother
Compiled From a nwiTimes Reprt by Elvia Malagon
[15 Dec 2015]

CROWN POINT - An 18-year-old woman is expected to be sentenced to 50 years in prison for her role in the homicide of her mother, DeCarol Deloney-Cain.

Standing between her two public defense attorneys, Alyssa Barrett pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder.  The plea agreement calls for her to be sentenced to 50 years in prison, and she will have to serve 75% of that time (37 1/2 years).

Referencing the plea agreement, Lake County Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez asked Barrett if she agreed that she was present when her mother was killed.  "Yes," Barrett said in a soft-spoken voice.  She also admitted to lying to police detectives to cover up the homicide.  Barrett, who was 17 years old at the time, also admitted to placing her mother's suitcase in the trunk of her mother's car to make it appear as though she had left for a work trip.

Deloney-Cain, 54, of Crown Point, worked as a United Airlines flight attendant.  She was stabbed to death July 3, 2014, and she died from blunt force trauma, according to court records.  Her decomposing body was found July 7, 2014, in the trunk of her abandoned car in the area of 21st Av and Mississippi St in Gary, according to court records.

Barrett changed her plea after her defense attorneys told Vasquez they had received additional reports from two doctors who determined their client was sane during the time of the homicide.  The doctors also determined Barrett was competent to stand trial, which was previously scheduled for Feb. 22.

Barrett will be sentenced by Vasquez Jan. 26.

 

Gun, Drugs Found in Lake County Jail Leads to Additional Charges for Gary Man
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[11 Dec 2015]

According to Police, a Gary man is facing felony weapon and drug charges after smuggling a handgun and cocaine into the Lake County Jail.

Eric McClinton, age 19 of Gary, was arrested on December 9, 2015 for a misdemeanor charge of refusal to identify self, a Class C Misdemeanor.  On December 10, 2015, at 4:50 a.m., officers found a handgun in a holding cell which had previously been occupied by McClinton according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Lake Superior Court.

Police say that McClinton admitted that he had brought the handgun into the jail when questioned regarding the incident.  A further search of McClinton revealed that he had a baggie containing "a white substance" taped to his genitals.  McClinton now faces a Level 4 Felony charge of Prisoner in Possession of a Handgun as well as a Level 6 Felony charge of Possession of Cocaine.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I guess what he forgot to bring with him for his stay in jail was his brain?

 

Gary Police Sergeant Loses Termination Appeal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[10 Dec 2015]

For the second time in his career as a Gary police officer, Lindal Hairston has been fired from his job.

His attorney, Russell Brown, said Thursday that he will file an appeal in Lake Superior Court next week.

The issue, Brown said, is the five-year delay in action by the Gary Police Civil Service Commission, which voted earlier this fall to fire Hairston.

Nightclub manager Russell Thomas filed a complaint shortly after Hairston arrested him in December 2010.  Misdemeanor charges against Thomas were later dismissed.  Thomas' complaint claimed Hairston treated him rudely and falsely charged him with carrying a handgun without a permit.

A hearing officer listened to Thomas' complaint and Hairston's defense, then suggested a 14-day unpaid suspension earlier this year.  The Gary Police Civil Service Commission voted to change the punishment and fired Hairston.  He appealed the decision last month, and at a special meeting Tuesday night, the commission affirmed its ruling.

Hairston's lawyer said that, despite the board's position that the matter could properly be handled despite the five-year lag, he intends to show in court that commission rules require action within two years of the complaint.  Thomas took his case to the police department's Internal Affairs Division in 2010, not to the commission, Brown said.

In 2003, Hairston was fired after a complaint by two Lake Station residents that he threatened them in an incident in that city.  Hairston filed a lawsuit challenging his termination and was reinstated in 2010, months before the incident with Thomas.  The return was part of an out-of-court settlement with then Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson, who also allowed Hairston to return as a sergeant.

When the police commission voted to fire him earlier this year, Hairston joked after the meeting that if he sued he would come back as chief.

 

Gary Council Wants Genesis Center Improvements to Start with Cleanliness
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[10 Dec 2015]

Members of the Gary Common Council say a mop, bucket, soap and water and a little elbow grease will be a good first step in improving the city's downtown Genesis Convention Center.

At the very least, council V.P. Ronald Brewer said he'd like to see crews put to work cleaning the facility that includes several banquet and meeting rooms, along with a space that can accommodate a 7,000-seat arena for sports events and concerts.  "The Genesis Center needs such a good cleaning," Brewer said Wednesday.  "We need to take care of that issue, and that is something we can do without having to provide a lot more money."

There isn't more money for the Genesis Convention Center in the 2016 budget the council passed last month.  The 2016 budget mirrors 2015's.  That didn't stop Common Council members from discussing possible improvements that could to bolster its attractiveness to businesses and groups that might stage events there.

Councilwoman Mary Brown, the chairwoman of the council's finance committee, agreed with Brewer.  "I don't have first-hand information, but I've heard a lot of complaints about the men's washroom," she said.  "If we can keep it clean, we create a more attractive facility without spending a lot of money."

Brewer said he had some questions concerning the way money will be spent; including that the budget calls for four people to be paid $8,750 each to work as parking attendants for special events.  "We have one parking lot, why are there four attendants?" Brewer asked.  City Controller Celita Green told him it was to ensure someone could always be on call for an event regardless of when it is scheduled.

Brown also said access to parking lots would have to be improved if the Genesis Center is to remain viable as a convention facility.  "Women come to events at the center by themselves and are afraid by how far they have to walk in the dark," she said.  "I don't blame them."

Brewer said he thinks it is essential that the building gets a new marquee that promotes what events are being held there.  "The old one can't be fixed, it has obsolete parts," he said.  Green said replacement of the marquee is a project tentatively being considered for 2017.

Brewer also complained that the main entrance consists of eight doors, with seven kept locked and a sign pointing people to a single glass door to enter the building.  When told that the move is intended as a security measure, Brewer scoffed, saying, "Why can't we unlock the doors?  It looks silly to point everyone to one door."

 

Steel Production Trails Last Year by 8.9%
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[9 Dec 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes dipped a hair from 576,000 tons the previous week to 575,000 tons last week, but the capacity utilization rate trails 2014 by a staggering 10 percentage points.

Great Lakes steel production fell by 1,000 tons, or 0.1%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output rose by 4.4% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, rebounded strongly to 513,000 tons last week, up from 450,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.553 million tons, up from 1.487 million tons a week earlier.  However, U.S. production lags 2014 by 8.9% so far this year.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 65% last week, up from 62.2% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 75.3% at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 82.3 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71.5%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 90.3 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Gary Resident Shot to Death Near IUN Campus
#48* and Counting
Compiled
From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[8 Dec 2015]

GARY | A 48-year-old man was shot to death inside an apartment building Monday night in Gary's Glen Park section.

Gary police found the man after responding to the 3500 block of Washington St about 8 p.m. for a report of shots fired, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

Investigators spoke to people who lived near the victim and learned that they heard an apparent disturbance at the victim's apartment.  When police arrived, they discovered signs of a struggle, police said.  The victim may have been robbed during the struggle, but investigators said a motive for the slaying has not been determined.

Dwayne Momon was shot multiple times, and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Lake County coroner's office. His death was ruled a homicide.

Momon lived inside the apartment where the shooting took place. The apartment is in a four-story building is about a block south of the Indiana University Northwest campus. IUN police also were flagged down because of the gunshots, Westerfield said.

Medics from the Gary Fire Department found Momon with no signs of life, she said.  He was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m., according to the Lake County coroner's office.

Police and Lake County Sheriff's Department crime scene investigators used flashlights Monday night as they searched the interior of a second-story apartment and hallway at 3552 Washington St.  A ceiling fan spun in one room as investigators made their way around the apartment.  A Christmas wreath hung from the building's front door, which stood ajar as investigators moved in and out.

Several people in a parking lot just south of the building appeared to be upset, including one man who sat on the ground without a coat in the near-freezing temperatures.

 

Gary Man Accused of Shooting at Witness in Attempted Murder Case
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[7 Dec 2015]

GARY | A 20-year-old man is accused of shooting at a witness in an attempted murder case pending in Lake Criminal Courts.

Davonta D. Horde, 20, was charged last week with stalking and criminal recklessness. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

The man who was targeted in the recent shooting was shot Nov. 7, 2014, during the sale of two guns that ended in an attempted robbery in Gary, according to court records.

The witness was at a friend's house at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 1 near 25th Av and Harrison St in Gary, when Horde was seen driving in the area and looking at him.  According to the affidavit, the witness was getting into his car with his brother when Horde circled back around toward the witness.  At some point, Horde is accused of shooting at the witness' car, which caused damage to the front windshield, according to the affidavit.

The witness told police he believes Horde is trying to kill him to prevent him from testifying against Horde's cousin, Shawn A. Horde, who is scheduled to stand trial next year on charges stemming from the 2014 attempted robbery, according to court records.

 

Gary Chosen for National Downtown Revitalization Project
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[5 Dec 2015]

GARY| The crumbling Sheraton Hotel came down.  Centier put its name on the refurbished Gary State Bank tower.  Renowned artist Theaster Gates is planning ArtHouse:  A Social Kitchen, which would host art and culinary training programs.  Plans are in the works for a data center and green space.

Momentum has been building in downtown Gary, and city's efforts to revitalize its historic downtown just received a big boost.  The National Main Street Center launched a new program to revitalize the downtowns of seven U.S. cities, including Gary.

"We are grateful to Knight Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their generous support as we roll out a strengthened approach to commercial district revitalization," said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center.

The 35-year-old project tries to engage volunteers and get citizen engagement.  It was launched more than 30 years ago as an alternative to urban renewal projects that razed historic buildings.  The center will provide 12 to 18 months of hands-on technical assistance, expert advice and organizational capacity building in Gary.  The goal is to come up with a long-term strategy and ways to measure success.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the pilot program should help align various efforts to revitalize the downtown, including a new church, the reopening of the library on 5th Av and the efforts of the Gary Public Transportation Corp. to bring rapid transit bus services to Broadway.  "It means we'll be able to coordinate efforts to revitalize the Northside, as well as Aetna, Glen Ryan Park, Horace Mann and Emerson," she said.  "We'll be able to develop a holistic approach to the downtown area.  It'll be a fresh approach to build upon the development of the data center, the bank building project and some of the eyesores that have come down."

 

Authorities Investigating Death
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[5 Dec 2015]

GARY | A 61-year-old Gary man was found dead Friday morning, following a fire at an abandoned house.

The Lake County Coroner's office said they were called to 377 McKinley St in Gary at 7:20 a.m. for a death investigation.

A man identified as Ezekiel Spears, who lived in the 700 block of Buchanan, was found dead at the house fire.  He was reportedly pronounced dead at 8:10 a.m. The cause and manner of death are pending.

In a statement released by the Gary mayor's office late Friday, when Gary fire and police departments responded to the early morning fire at 377 McKinley St the property was a vacant structure, without utilities and appeared to be abandoned.

Authorities said the fire remains under investigation by the Indiana State Fire Marshall.

 

Genesis Center Needs $60K Jackpot From Casino to Meet Payroll
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
and a Gary Crusader Report by
Carmen M. Woodson-Wray
[4 Dec 2015]

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has an interest in the financial success of the Genesis Convention Center, going so far as to say she will refuse to attend public events held by Gary-based organizations if they are held at facilities elsewhere in Gary or Lake County.

She said she has seen many events in recent years that she thinks should have been held at the downtown Gary convention center, and she wants to pressure groups into using the Genesis Center.  "I think if the events that were held elsewhere had been held at Genesis, the additional revenue would easily have made the facility profitable," the mayor said.

She went to say people make decisions because they can't always reach people at the Genesis Center.  "We want to resolve that.

"Every time someone has something that is a Gary event, they are literally taking dollars out of our own pockets.  With all of that being said, I ask the Council to support the needs of the Genesis Center until the end of January, which would give us an opportunity to sit with its board to find out what their long-term needs are; but more importantly, what their long term plans are in terms of revenue," stated Freeman-Wilson.

As of Nov. 24, the Genesis payroll was running a deficit of $23,074.  City Controller Celita Green said a $60,000 transfer of casino funds would ensure the payroll is met for the rest of this year.  As things stand, the Common Council has been asked to approve a pair of ordinances that will shift $60,000 in funds from the Majestic Star casino in Gary to the Genesis Center budget.  Without that money, Freeman-Wilson said the convention center will not be able to make its payroll for the rest of 2015.

Casino proceeds to Gary have been used for the Genesis Center in the past, with Freeman-Wilson saying some $250,000 was provided on a one-time basis back in 2013.  "They (the Genesis Center) were able to stretch that money out for more than two years," she said.  "But it is running out now."  Freeman-Wilson said she knows the Genesis Center cannot keep turning to the Majestic Star to balance out its budget, and she said she met Wednesday night with the Genesis Center's governing board.

Part of what was to be discussed at that meeting was the possibility of having Genesis Center staff and Marquette Park staff, which oversees the fieldhouse that has an elegant ballroom where public events are sometimes staged, work together to see if that can be a cost-saving measure.  She also wonders if computer software used by Marquette Park officials to oversee drinks and meals served at that facility can also be put to use at the Genesis Center to try to reduce expenses.

The Genesis Center's future was of concern to the Common Council, whose members seemed supportive of the mayor's talk of boycotting groups that don't use the convention center, which has several banquet and display rooms ? along with a 7,000-seat arena where sports events such as basketball games can be held.

"The Genesis Center is just as good as other facilities in the area," said Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd.

Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, said she had another idea.  "It ought to be difficult to even give money to those groups" that don't use the Genesis Center, she said.

Council Vice President Ronald Brewer said he realizes the facility built back in the early 1970s is in need of maintenance.  But he said any money spent on the facility potentially props up Gary's financial bottom line.

Also of interest on Tuesday was the Hudson Campbell Fitness Center, a parks department facility at 455 Massachusetts St.  Councilman Roy Pratt, D-at-large, said he thinks the facility has been so poorly maintained that he sees fewer and fewer people using it.  "We have people who just don't want to go there," he said, adding he thinks city officials should just shut it down if they're not willing to maintain it properly.

But Freeman-Wilson said there is an ongoing renovation project at the facility that should be complete by spring 2016.  "It's being upgraded, and we think those changes will make a difference," she said.

 

Steel Capacity Utilization Down to 62%
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[4 Dec 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose from 555,000 tons the previous week to 576,000 tons last week, though national capacity utilization is a stunningly low 62.2%.

Great Lakes steel production rose by 21,000 tons, or 3.78%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output declined by 4.8% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, dropped to 450,000 tons last week, down from 523,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.487 million tons, down from 1.562 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 62.2% last week, down from 65.3% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 77.2% at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 80.7 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71.7%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 88.5 million tons at the same point in 2014.  Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 8.7% thus far this year.

 

Former Hammond, Gary Cop Charged with Portage Murder
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[3 Dec 2015]

PORTAGE | A former Hammond and Gary police officer has been arrested and charged with the murder of a Portage woman.

Kevin Campbell, 31, of Hobart, was arrested Thursday morning by Portage police.  He is charged with killing Tiara Thomas, who was found covered in blood at about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 18 in her unit at Park Place Apartments, 5970 Old Porter Rd.  She was taken to Methodist Hospital Northlake Campus in Gary, where she was pronounced dead at 8:21 a.m. from gunshot wounds.

Hammond's police chief said last week he fired Campbell, a probationary officer, who had been identified by authorities as a person of interest in a Portage homicide.  Police Chief John Doughty said the officer was put on leave and stripped of police powers Nov. 18 ? the same day 30-year-old Tiara Thomas was shot multiple times inside her Portage apartment.

Doughty said the officer was placed on leave after Portage police informed Hammond police the man was a person of interest in the homicide investigation.

 

Shooting Death of Gary Teen May Have Been Accidental
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[2 Dec 2015]

GARY | A shooting last weekend that left a teenage Gary boy dead may have been accidental, Gary police said Wednesday.

Tiyrek Foxx died after he was shot in the back early Saturday on Gary's West Side, officials said.  Police initially listed Foxx's age as 15, but the Lake County coroner's office said he was 16.

There's a possibility the shooting was accidental, but the case will be presented to the Lake County prosecutor's office for a decision on charges, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.  It's standard procedure to present all cases to the prosecutor, she said.

Police found Foxx after responding about 12:10 a.m. Saturday to the 3900 block of W 21st Av.  Foxx was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. at the scene, the coroner's office said.  The coroner's office said Foxx died of a gunshot wound, but listed his manner of death as pending.

Police have not released information about why Foxx was at the address.  He lived in the city's Brunswick section, officials said.

 

Gary Sees Two Homicides in One Day as 25 Y.O. Woman Shot to Death
#47* and Counting
Compiled
From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[29 Nov 2015]

The Lake County Coroner was called to Gary early this morning after police responded to a shooting just before midnight.  The homicide marks the second of the day in a city that had seen a summer spiral in crime and then a drastic reduction after a Federal, State and local task force addressed the violence.

According to a report from Lt. Dawn Westerfield, police were called to the 900 block of E 19th Av at 11:55 p.m.  Officers discovered that two females had been shot at this location and driven to a local hospital.  One female died at the hospital, the condition of the other is unknown at this time.

According to a report from Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey, 25 year old Mynisha Brown was pronounced dead at 2:00 a.m. at Methodist Hospital Northlake.  Brown suffered multiple gunshot wounds and the case is being investigated as a homicide according to the report.

 

Teen Gunned Down in Gary
#46* and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report

[28 Nov 2015]

GARY | Authorities are investigating the overnight killing of a Gary teenager in the 3900 W 21st Av block of the city.

Police were called to the scene about 12:10 a.m. Saturday.  Tiyrek Foxx, 16, sustained a gun shot wound to the back, according to a news release from the Gary Police Department.

"The incident is under investigation and the circumstances are unknown at (this) time," Gary Police Lt. Dawn Westerfield noted in a news release.  The Lake County coroner's office said in a news release the cause of death is pending.

Foxx lived in the 800 block of King St, officials said.  He was a sophomore at West Side Leadership Academy, just a block from his mother's home.  "He was our goofy kid," Beasley said as she sat in the living room surrounded by her children and friends.  She said Tiyrek was part of a large blended family including 12 siblings and stepsiblings ranging in age from 10 to 21.

 

Repair Problems Hinder Wirt-Emerson Students
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[27 Nov 2015]

The lights are out again in the auditorium at Gary's Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Parent Crystal O'Brien complained about the situation Tuesday to the Gary school board.  She said she asked school officials about the problem and learned it would cost about $30,000 to fix the lights, but the work wouldn't be guaranteed because of roof damage above the auditorium.

"What is the board going to do?" she said.  "It's important for us to be able to support our arts and students."

Jack Martin, the district's fiscal turnaround specialist, said he and his team have visited every building in the district, making a list of needed repairs.  "We fully understand the level of disrepair.  Hopefully, we'll get capital projects money in our budget this year to make the repairs.  We don't like kids in our buildings getting rained on and other poor maintenance that's occurred."

Martin, who's being paid by the state to straighten out the district's troubled finances, said he's spoken to state officials about the problems.  "It's a front-burner issue for us.  We need money for significant replacement, not just patches," he said.

Former school board member Barbara Leek said the lights were out recently at Wirt-Emerson during a performance with an orchestra from China.  She said a dance program scheduled for Dec. 16 has been moved from the auditorium to a dance studio in the school that has little space for an audience.  Last year, some performances were moved to Griffith High School, Leek said.

The district's new finance team hastily put together a capital projects budget for 2016-18 of $10.6 million to meet the state's Nov. 1 deadline.  Last month, financial consultant Marvin T. Ward said during a public hearing on the capital projects budget that the state would likely reduce it.  "It's a list of projects the school corporation might do," he said.  "It's advertised with higher hopes."  The current capital projects tax levy is $5.8 million.

 

Steel Production Sinks Around the World
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[24 Nov 2015]

Global steel production fell 3.1% year-over-year to 134 million tons in October, as capacity utilization continues to drop.

Just 68.3% of the world's steelmaking capacity was used last month, according to the World Steel Association.  That's down from 73.4% in February, and 3.4% lower than in October 2014.

Last week, local steel production in the Great Lakes region plunged to 555,000 tons with steel mills running at a paltry 65% capacity, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  That figure is down from 581,000T the week before, or 4.7%.

 

Uncooperative Witness Blamed for Murder Charge Dismissal
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Elvia Malagon
[23 Nov 2015]

CROWN POINT | The Lake County prosecutor's office dismissed murder charges for the second time against an IL man.

Cordell K. Hull, 21, of Chicago, was scheduled to stand trial this week on charges of murder and murder in the perpetration of a robbery.  He was accused of shooting to death Tyrece Harris Feb. 10, 2014, in the 4900 block of 8th Av in Gary.

Last week, the Lake County prosecutor's office filed a motion asking for the case to be dismissed, because "an essential witness refuses to cooperate," according to the motion.  Lake Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez granted the request.

Hull was originally charged in the case June 10, 2014, but the charges were first dismissed this past February because of a missing witness in the case.  The Lake County prosecutor's office refiled the charges in April, but Hull wasn't arrested until Aug. 25.

During a previous hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Jatkiewicz told Vasquez the previously missing witness was located and the state was ready to proceed to trial.

Harris, 18, of Gary, was found shot to death inside his parked car. A man told detectives Hull had allegedly admitted that he had robbed Harris, according to court records. Hull was supposed to meet Harris on Feb. 10, 2014, to buy marijuana from him. Phone records indicated Hull and Harris communicated with each other 14 times before Harris was killed, according to court records.

 

Gary Police Looking for Man Accused of Conspiracy to Intimidate Witnesses
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[23 Nov 2015]

GARY | Gary police are seeking information on the whereabouts of a man accused of attempting to intimidate witnesses in a murder case.

Robert Chandler, 19, and his brother Charles A. Taylor, 26, were charged Thursday with six counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice.

Taylor, who also is facing a charge of murder in perpetration of a robbery, is being held without bail at the Lake County Jail.

Chandler was not in custody as of Monday, police said.

The latest charges stem from phone conversations the brothers allegedly had in which Taylor told Chandler to "holler" at two people who could contact witnesses in the case, Lake Criminal Court records state.  Taylor gave Chandler the witnesses' address and later told Chandler to "hit the streets with the right people," court records allege.

Taylor is accused of shooting to death Brian Cooper, 22, of Gary, on March 10, 2014, in the 1200 block of Dekalb Street, according to court records.

 

Cal Twp Trustee's Pay Raises Under Fire
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[22 Nov 2015]

GARY | Salaries and tempers are rising in the Calumet Township trustee office.

Trustee Kimberly Robinson came into office promising fiscal reform.  Now she finds herself defending $33K in raises she has handed out to six members of the management team.

Township Board Chairman Clorius Lay argues the raises violate state law since the board essentially froze spending this year at the 2014 level.  He said it also flies in the face of another state law meant to either curb the office's administrative spending.  "As you inflate the salaries, you are taking money from the people who are the clients," Lay said, adding he has complained to the Indiana State Board of Accounts, which audits the financial transactions of local government.

Robinson fired back.  "The source of all this is a lawsuit by Clorius for legal work he did for the prior administration owed him to the tune of $11K," Robinson said.  "We are refusing to just hand it over to him, because I would be under investigation by the State Board of Accounts."

Lay insists Robinson is trying to deflect blame from her own decision to give her inexperienced chief deputy a salary of $75K. "I believe she is vastly overpaid," Lay said.

Robinson said she consulted with the Indiana State Board of Accounts before giving the raises.

Ryan Preston, director of audit services for the State Board of Accounts, said the state has received Lay's complaint and if a future audit determines the raises were unauthorized, it would request the public be reimbursed.

It is only the latest dispute over Calumet's outsized spending among Lake and Porter County's 22 township trustees.  It received a tax levy of more than $3.9 million last year and is expected to spend as much this year too, according to Mike Wieser, director of finance for the Lake County auditor's office.  Cal Twp distributed $2.2 million last year in assistance for utility bills, housing, food and medical care for 2,860 recipients last year -- almost as much money as the other 21 offices combined.

It has 76 employees on a payroll topped by Robinson's $89K salary.  Lay and the township's two other board members earn $25K annually from their offices. -- tops among other Region township officials, most of whom have fewer than five employees.  Some have none at all.

Griffith Council President Rick Ryfa said if raises in the township trustee's office are unauthorized, they further justify the town's effort to leave the township and its tax burden.  "What is most concerning is if they are dramatically cut their budget and giving exorbitant.

 

Third of Steelmaking Capacity Idle
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[18 Nov 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 581,000T last week, up from 570,000T the previous week.

Great Lakes steel production rose by 11,000T, or 1.9%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output declined by about 1% during the same period.

Local steel output has been lower than normal all year because of skyrocketing imports that have snatched a record-breaking 30% of the total market share.  Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 8.3% so far this year.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly in Lake and Porter counties, IN.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, dropped to 531,000T last week, down from 544,000T a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.601 million tons, down from 1.618 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 67% last week, down from 67.7% a week earlier.  Thirty-three percent of steek making capacity is not online/in use.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 77.2% at the same time a year earlier.  Industry analysts say, longterm, it won't be healthy until it is over 90%.

Year-to-date steel output has been 77.7 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 84.7 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

GEO Withdraws Detention Facility Request
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Ed Bierschenk
[17 Nov 2015]

GARY | An immigrant detention center apparently is off the table in Gary.

The Geo Group Inc., has withdrawn its request for a zoning variance adjacent to the Gary Chicago International Airport, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced at Tuesday's Gary City Council meeting.  The announcement contained in a letter to the city was met with applause from the audience.

"I'd be surprised if they come back," Freeman-Wilson said of the company.

A group of protesters held a prayer vigil prior to Tuesday's council meeting in an effort to keep their opposition to the immigrant detention center in front of public officials.

In addition to Rivera's group, representatives of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Black Lives Matter-Gary, MIGHT210, and Concerned Citizens of Gary were among those participating in the vigil.  The groups came together under the name Just Communities NWI to fight the detOne protest leader proclaimed, "We want to prevent this horror from happening in this city."  Rivera said the organization wants immigrants to be welcomed into America and be able to enjoy all the benefits of democracy.  "They helped build Northwest Indiana," she said.

While protest groups are pleased GEO withdrew its request for variance in Gary, they are still concerned the company still has land in Hobart.

 

Police Investigating Gary Man's Shooting Death
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[17 Nov 2015]

Sherman Cole was sitting in a chair at his girlfriend's apartment late Saturday night when someone shot him in the head, police said Monday.

Cole's 51-year-old girlfriend was lying on the couch in the same room, police said.  She has been questioned and released.

The couple were in an apartment in the 500 block of Chase St on Gary's west side.  Police said the shooter was someone in the apartment, perhaps a third, unidentified person..

A 23-year-old Gary man is wanted in connection with the weekend shooting death of Sherman Cole, police said Tuesday.  Police said Watson was apparently also at the apartment and is believed to have shot Cole.  Police have not suggested a motive for the slaying, but did say Watson is related to someone who lives at that apartment.  Louis Leroy Watson should be considered "armed and dangerous," Gary police spokeswoman Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

Cole is the 41st* homicide of the year and the second in November.  Last year, Gary recorded 47 homicides by this date.

 

Coroner:  Man Who Died After Being Shot in Chest ID'd as Gary Resident
Compiled from a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[17 Nov 2015]

GARY | Officials late Tuesday identified a man who died from a gunshot wound to the chest as a 58-year-old Gary resident.

Victor Curbello did not have identification on him when police found his body about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday in the area of W 23rd Av and Washington St, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

 

Investigators Trying to ID Gary Gunshot Victim
#45* and Counting
Compiled  From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[17 Nov 2015]

GARY | Investigators do not yet know the identity of a man shot and killed in Gary, officials said Tuesday morning.

Gary police were called at 3:30 .m. to W 23rd Av and Washington St, where they found a man with a gunshot wound to the chest, Gary Police Department Spokeswoman Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

The man was transported to The Methodist Hospitals' Northlake campus in Gary where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 a.m., Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey said.

The cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound.  The manner of death remains under investigation, Frey said.

 

Man Found Shot to Death in Gary
#44* and Counting
Compiled From a Chicago Sun-Times Wire Report
[15 Nov 2015]

A 52-year-old man died early Sunday after he was found shot near his home in northwest Indiana.

Officers responded to the 500 block of Chase St about 11:30 p.m. and found Sherman Cole with a gunshot wound to the head, according to Gary police.   The Lake County coroner's office determined he died from the gunshot wound to the head.

Cole, who lived in the same block where the shooting occurred, was taken to Northlake Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:59 a.m. Sunday, according to police and the coroner's office.  His death has been ruled a homicide.

 

Death of Witness Leads to Dismissal of Murder Charge
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
and a nwiTimes Report by Elvia Malagon
[12 Nov 2015]

The murder case has been dismissed against a Gary man charged in a September 2014 slaying related to a marijuana deal that went bad.

Davonte Hodge, 20, whose case had been scheduled for trial starting Monday, could be charged again if additional evidence becomes available under a ruling issued by Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray.

"This is not the first time the state files a murder charge and a key witness becomes unavailable," Murray said.  "It's a very troublesome situation."

Deputy prosecutor Aleksandra Dimitrijevic said an eyewitness, Avery Flynn, was an uncharged participant who gave a statement to police detailing the Sept. 27, 2014, robbery and killing of DeShelon Hicks Jr., 20, at his apartment in the 2200 block of East 19th Pl in Gary.  Flynn's statement to police identified Hodge as the shooter and co-defendant Shermon Darden as a participant in the robbery, court documents said.  A third defendant, Darrell M. Brown, 23, of Gary, was identified by Flynn as the getaway driver, Dimitrijevic said.

Flynn, 20, of East Chicago, was killed Nov. 21, 2014, on Massachusetts St north of 44th Av in Gary.  Flynn made a statement to police, but no other sworn statements were made through a proffer or in a deposition, which means Dimitrijevic cannot use that statement at trial.

Dimitrijevic said she has evidence that puts Hodge at the scene where Hicks was killed because he was wearing an ankle monitor.  That evidence alone, however, is not enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, Dimitrijevic said.

Earlier this year, another murder charge was dismissed against Hodge because of insufficient evidence.  He had been accused of shooting to death Laroi Griffin, 32, on Feb. 9, 2013, in Gary.

Darden, 20, of Gary, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.  His case is set for trial starting Jan. 11. Brown, 23, of Gary, has pleaded not guilty to assisting a criminal.  His case is scheduled for an omnibus hearing Friday.

 

Gary Mayor Backs Away From Gary GITMO
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
and a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[12 Nov 2015]

Just one day after Latino activists and clergy expressed their opposition to a detention center being built in Gary to hold people facing federal immigration charges, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has withdrawn her support of the project.

Freeman-Wilson said she initially signaled support for consideration of the facility on property near the Gary/Chicago International Airport because the development would increase the city's tax base and provide jobs for city residents.  "I was comfortable making this request because I concluded that the benefits to our community outweighed the costs associated with public perception and philosophical opposition," Freeman-Wilson said.

The mayor, who said she still thinks the project would bring needed jobs to Gary, said Wednesday she informed GEO Group, Ltd., the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company that would have built the facility, that she no longer publicly supports the project.

In a written statement, Freeman-Wilson said her religious faith persuaded her to be influenced by the many Lake County-area clergy who backed Latino activists in opposing construction of a detention center being built anywhere near Northwest Indiana.  "My faith is an integral part of who I am," the mayor wrote.  "It is no secret that it also influences why I have accepted one of the biggest challenges of my professional life.  "For these reasons, I believe it is wholly appropriate to pass on the opportunity to partner with GEO and pursue other relationships that would be more suited for the city," she wrote.

Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday she was unable to square arguments the facility would generate property tax revenue and jobs with her personal experiences and convictions.  "While it is my experience as an advocate for civil and human rights, my long history as a proponent of criminal justice reform, or even a staunch supporter of President (Barack) Obama's immigration reform policy, I could not align my record with my support of this project," she said.

During a late Wednesday interview, Freeman-Wilson said the community forum on the issue scheduled for Nov. 18 at City Hall remains scheduled.  It will be left up to the city's zoning board of appeals to decide what to do with the proposal, which would require rezoning of four parcels of land on Industrial Road across from Gary/Chicago International Airport if the project were to advance, when it meets again Nov. 23.  If approved there, it then would go to the Common Council, where Freeman-Wilson said council members could move forward if they wished.  "I'm just outlining the process," the mayor said.  "It's up to the council to decide what to do."

Many council members who spoke to the Post-Tribune had said they were undecided about the project, with Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, saying, "Hearing all the (activist) opposition, it's obvious they're serious about what they say."

Many of the opponents said they objected to a prison-like facility being built anywhere, saying they wish government officials would put more attention into revising federal immigration policy so as to focus on making productive U.S. residents, rather than trying to deport them.

"This is an idea that needs to go away for good," said the Rev. Stephen Gibson of East Chicago-based St. Mary's Church.  "These are people who could make worthwhile contributions to society, if we'd let them."

The Rev. Cheryl Rivera, executive director of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations, said she was particularly bothered by an overwhelmingly African-American community such as Gary pursuing something perceived as hostile toward Latinos.  "I would hope African-Americans know their history enough to realize how bad this is," she said.

 

Mayor Wants Chance to Explain Gary Detention Center Proposal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[11 Nov 2015]

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will attend a community forum next week with officials of a Boca Raton, Fla.-based company that wants to build a privately run detention center in Gary.

Freeman-Wilson has said she likes the project because it would bring jobs to the city.  But some 85 Latino activists and clergy crammed their way into a city zoning board hearing yesterday to express their vocal opposition.  The facility is expected to be for those with immigration-related cases and those facing deportation.

That led to the mayor scheduling the community forum for 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at City Hall, where she will be with officials of GEO Group Inc., the company that would build and operate the detention center that would be meant to serve the Midwest.

Gary's zoning board is scheduled to take up the issue again when they meet at 1 p.m. Nov 23 at City Hall.  Zoning board approval is required before the Common Council and its committees would take up the issue.

Several council members contacted by the Post-Tribune said they had not yet made up their minds about the issue, with some saying they hear the vociferous opposition from activists who are bothered because a large number of people who would wind up being held at the detention center would be Latino.

But council V.P. Ronald Brewer, who says he plans to visit the proposed site for the detention center near the Gary/Chicago International Airport to get a better understanding of the project, said he is influenced by talk of a company creating employment within Gary.  "Gary needs the jobs real bad," he said.

 

Gary Plans Forum on GEO Proposal; Protesters Vow Fight
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Lu Ann Franklin
[10 Nov 2015]

GARY | Sustained shouts of "boo" and "shame on you" erupted during Tuesday's Board of Zoning Appeals meeting when board members voted to defer a public hearing on a GEO Group Inc. detention center for undocumented immigrants proposed to be built across from the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

Gary officials announced late Tuesday that a community forum on the issue has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov 18 in council chambers at City Hall.

The BZA hearing has been pushed back to 3 p.m. Nov 23.

>More than 100 people representing faith organizations and human rights groups as well as residents from Indiana and Illinois opposed to the detention center filled the Gary council chambers for Tuesday's scheduled public hearing.

Representatives of GEO Group Inc. asked for the public hearing to be rescheduled, which set off the protest.  BZA member Chester Jones made the motion to defer the public hearing with Jamella Johnson and William Cook voting "yes."  The meeting was quickly gaveled to a close as protesters continued to shout their disapproval and vowed to keep up their fight.  Police were called to assure the protest did not get out of hand.

City officials said in a release that a representative from GEO will be on hand for the Nov 18 forum to present the company's proposal and "discuss the community benefits of locating the facility in Gary."

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson supports the plan, pointing to the $65 million investment and creation of possibly more than 200 jobs.  Freeman-Wilson said the city estimated the facility could pay about $1 million annually in property taxes.

In an open letter to Freeman-Wilson and the BZA circulated prior to the meeting, the Rev. Cheryl Rivera of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations said the GEO facility "is morally outrageous, reprehensible and unconscionable."  "Of course Gary wants jobs, but not these disgusting jobs in a racist for-profit immigration prison," Rivera said.  "Northwest Indiana was built by immigrant and minority workers."

Jose Bustos, manager of the Immigrant Support and Assistance Center in East Chicago, said he sees firsthand what happens to many Latino immigrants and their children, who were born here.  "If this takes place, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will conduct raids in our neighborhoods," Bustos said, adding that German and Irish immigrants faced discrimination when they arrived.  "We live in an era when the wave of immigrants are from Central and South America."

The Rev. Charles R. Strielmeier, of Hobart said "(the company) battens on communities that are desperate for development," Strielmeier said.  "There is a high turnover in jobs at other GEO facilities.  A number of jobs are done by inmates who are paid $1 to $4 a day."  He added that after spending $200 million to extend the Gary airport runway the detention facility "would drive other developers away."

Concetta Smart, of Crete, and Bernie Kopera, of Orland Park, Ill., attended the public hearing to lend their support to protests.  They were among Illinois residents who worked to keep detention facilities out of Joliet and Crete.

Members of MIGHT ? Mass Incarceration and GEO Halt Team ? also were represented at the BZA meeting.  "I believe Gary needs to be rezoned as a sanctuary city ? one that welcomes everyone," said MIGHT co-founder Paulie Garcia, of East Chicago.  "We?re working with Black Lives Matter of Northwest Indiana on this," he said.

 

Gary Groups Protest Immigrant Detention Center
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[9 Nov 2015]

Gary | About two dozen protesters at Gary/Chicago International Airport Monday made it known they do not want a GEO Group Inc. detention center for undocumented immigrants located across the road from the airport.

likened the detention centers to "slave camps" and said the city of Gary should have nothing to do with it.  They made their plea to the Gary airport authority board, which met at 11 a.m in the airport administration building.  "Why would Gary, a city that is 90% black, with its peoples' own history of slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and continuing systemic racism, choose to be any party to targeting, terrorizing and profiteering from detention, enslavement and deportation of brown and black immigrants in America?" Northwest Indiana Federation Executive Director Cheryl Rivera asked authority board members.

It was not only the Northwest Indiana Federation, a church group, and Black Lives Matter that were concerned Monday.  The Gary Jet Center, an aircraft charter and maintenance facility at the airport, has concerns the detention center's location could block expansion of the airport's crosswind runway, which has been a long-term goal of the airport, according to Gary Jet Center Operations Manager Mike Partin.

The proposed facility for undocumented immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be built and operated by GEO Group under plans now taking shape.  It could house nearly 800 detainees, including 192 high-security ones such as convicted felons.

Protesters said their action Monday is just the first of many to come, including one planned for a Gary Zoning Board meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.  They point out GEO detention facilities have already been rejected in Joliet, Crete and now seemingly Hobart, where GEO was actively working on siting a facility.

Airport Authority Chairman Stephen Mays told protesters the authority is a government entity and he understands the GEO Group immigrant detention center would be built on private land.  He said the authority would take the comments under advisement.  When questioned by a reporter later, both Mays and Airport Director Dan Vicari said the airport authority currently has no involvement with GEO Group's plans.

The airport currently hosts weekly charter flights operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that take undocumented immigrant jail inmates to the southern border for deportation.

In addition to asking for a zoning variance to use the land for a detention center, GEO Group would also have to respond and win the contract for such a center by responding to a request for proposals expected to be issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

Kimberly Robinson Gave Raises to Friends on First Day in Office
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[5 Nov 2015]

EXCLUSIVE-Cal Twp Board Member Clorius Lay alleges that Trustee Kimberly Robinson illegally gave raises to her closest friends on her first day in office.  The allegation came in a letter dated October 18, 2015 in which Lay set out a laundry list of allegations of illegal activity commencing from the very first day Robinson took office.

According to Lay, Indiana Code requires approval by the Cal Twp Board before a salary can be increased but Robinson increased the salaries on January 1, 2015.  The increases came to light only recently when Robinson came to the Board to ask for a raise for herself as well as ratification of the prior increases.

In a letter dated October 8, 2015, Robinson admits that she gave raises totalling $33,000 to six people in her office.  The highest raise given was $10K/Yr. and the lowest $2K/Yr.

To make matters worse, Lay alleges that Robinson is attempting to get the Board to ratify her illegal actions after the fact and trying to hide it from the public.  "I have a problem with you asking for a salary increase of $7,000 and approval of others . . .Is part of your reason for not showing the meeting by video on Local Channel 4?"

The FBI raided the offices of her predecessor, Mary Elgin.  Elgin has since been charged in a multi-count federal indictment.  Prior to Elgin, Cal Twp Trustee Dozier Allen was convicted of running a scheme to steal money from the office.  Robinson's Mother, Wanda Joshua, was also convicted in that scheme.  Wanda Joshua was represented by Karen Freeman-Wilson and Scott King.  One of the issues in that case was whether or not there was Board approval for some of their actions, including payment of what Allen and Joshua alleged was salary to which they were entitled.

 

Gary Man Charged with Murder, Tells Police Victim Stealing His Car
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[4 Nov 2015]

A murder charge has been filed against a Gary man who told police he fired shots at a man who was stealing his car Saturday outside a Gary liquor store.

James E. Adams, 51, of the 2200 block of Carolina St was charged with killing Anfernee F. Jones, who was found dead in the driver's seat of Adams' maroon Cadillac after it crashed into a garage in the back of the property in the 1300 block of Roosevelt St, Gary.

Court records indicate that Adams told police he'd parked his car across the street from Discount Liquor, 2115 W. 15th Av, Gary, and left the keys inside and the door unlocked.

Two store employees told investigators they recalled a man coming into the store to make a purchase.  They both told police they saw the man look out the window before running out the door while drawing a handgun.  Shortly thereafter, they told police, they heard gunfire.

Police found broken glass and three spent shell casings near the liquor store, the probable cause affidavit states.

In an interview with police, Adams said he saw two people getting into his car while he was in the liquor store, the affidavit states.  He said he walked outside and drew his gun.  He told police the passenger shouted to "shoot that (expletive)," court records state.  Adams said he then fired his gun.

He acknowledged that he never observed anyone in the car with a gun or heard any gunshots other than the ones he fired, the probable cause affidavit states.

When confronted with evidence from video surveillance at the store showing that only Jones got into Adams' car, Adams said he was scared.  "I didn't know what to do.  I thought he was going to shoot," Adams told police, according to the probable cause affidavit.  "I said there was a passenger so I wouldn't be going to jail for this," Adams told police.  Adams maintained he was defending himself, court records state.

An autopsy at the Lake County Coroner's Office showed Jones died of multiple gunshot wounds.

 

Big Tariffs to Be Imposed on Chinese Steel
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[4 Nov 2015]

After thousands of layoffs, idled mills, huge steelworker rallies and three separate trade cases, the federal government is going to start cracking down on imported steel.

The U.S. Department of Commerce made a preliminary determination that corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy and South Korea are getting government subsidies that are illegal under international trade laws.  A final ruling on corrosion-resistant imports is expected around Dec. 21.  Duties could apply retroactively through Aug. 4.

The U.S. government will start imposing tariffs as high as 235.66% in the case of China.

"AK Steel is pleased that the Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that imports of corrosion-resistant steel are being unfairly subsidized."  AK Steel President and Chief Executive Officer James Wainscott said in a statement, "These determinations are an important step in ensuring that our foreign competitors play by the rules of fair trade.  Action is urgently needed to counteract the significant injury that is being caused by unfairly traded imports."

Imports have gobbled up 30% of market share and also caused flat-rolled prices to fall by $20 per ton in the third quarter, largely because China is dumping steel internationally for an average of $75 less than what it costs to make.

 

Freeman-Wilson Says She'll Use Next 4 Years to Continue Work
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[3 Nov 2015]

Karen Freeman-Wilson cleared the final obstacle remaining ? the voters themselves ? to claim another four-year term as mayor of her home city of Gary.

Election Day came Tuesday with people being asked to decide between a second term in office for the incumbent mayor, or to replace her with one of several prospective challengers ? including a Republican, three independents and a self-described Unicrat (as in Unified Democrats).

Freeman-Wilson, a Democrat first elected mayor in 2011, easily took more votes than any of the other candidates.  If Gary had picked someone other than Freeman-Wilson to be mayor, it would have been the first time since 1939 the city's voters did not elect a Democrat to be the head at City Hall.

The mayor said she plans to carry on the same work and focus on the same issues she did during her first term in office.  "I've been telling people that you can't rush progress," she said.  "I'm going to continue to work for the people of Gary to make sure we finish what we have already started."

Among Freeman-Wilson's challengers was Sy Smith, who is in his second stint living in Gary.  In 2011, while living in Chicago, he ran unsuccessfully for an aldermanic post in the City Council.

Smith said previously he thought his best chance to actually win would be if he could interest younger people into voting for him, figuring Freeman-Wilson had the support of senior citizens and many longtime Gary residents who feel a stake in the current political establishment.  Young voters were not committed, with Smith saying, "If I can't get them to vote, then I'm going to lose."

But voter turnout was poor in precincts across the city, according to poll workers interviewed by the Post-Tribune at several locations.

Mayoral hopeful Eddie Tarver, who finished second among the candidates, campaigned across Gary.  Campaign aides said there were incidents where polling places in the Black Oak neighborhood were shifted from locations where they had been for several past elections.  Tarver aides said they received telephone calls from "confused" voters trying to figure out where they could cast their ballots, and some blamed the mayor for the changes.

Freeman-Wilson denied any such involvement.  "Not at all," she said in response.  "I don't have anything to do with deciding where people vote, and I was surprised by some of the changes."

On the Common Council, at-large members Kyle Allen and Ronald Brewer won re-election, while Ragen Hatcher (the daughter of former Mayor Richard Hatcher) also succeeded in her attempt at a political comeback by winning the post previously held by at-large member Roy Pratt ? who is retiring following three decades as a councilman.

Karen M Freeman-Wilson DEM 7,190 71.15%
Eddie E Tarver Jr. IND 1,581 15.64
Charles R. Smith REP   472  4.67
Syron Smith IND   423  4.19
Douglas M Wright IND   228  2.26
Robert L Campbell IND   212  2.10
10,106

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEO Group Eyes Gary for Detention Center
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[3 Nov 2015]

An 800-bed immigrant detention center could be built in Gary near the Gary/Chicago International Airport, providing 200 to 300 jobs.

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group Inc. is eyeing parcels northwest of the airport for a for-profit prison.

It needs a use variance from the city to rezone the parcels at 5934-5960 Industrial Hwy and 6100-6122 Industrial Hwy.  The first parcel is owned by the Industrial Highway Corp. and the airport owns the second parcel.  The city's Board of Zoning Appeals is holding a public hearing on the rezoning request at 3 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.  The rezone will then move on for a vote before the City Council.

GEO owns property on 49th Av in Hobart, near Robinson Lake Park, but there was opposition from residents and eventually city officials without ever making a proposal for any facility in Hobart. GEO never submitted plans to Hobart for a rezone.br> < /FONT>

In Gary, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson supports GEO's plans.  "The primary reason for us being open with it is the need for jobs," said the mayor, who cited about 200 to 300 jobs in the $12-to-$15 an hour range.

The mayor said GEO would construct a new building, if the rezoning is granted.  The site is just west of the Midco II superfund site in the 2nd District on the city's far west side.

Freeman-Wilson thinks there could be opposition from human rights advocates.  "I visited at least one of those facilities and they seem to treat people in a very respectful way," she said.  She said she learned detainees are typically held 10 to 45 days before they are deported.

Freeman-Wilson said the airport is already being used for planes transporting detainees to and from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Chicago.  She said a plane carried detainees from the airport July 10, the same day officials held a grand opening for the expanded runway.  Freeman-Wilson said the location of the prison make sense, given its proximity to the ICE office in Chicago.

Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations at The GEO Group, Inc., said in a statement:

"The GEO Group is currently considering a location in Gary in response to a need by the federal government for an immigration processing center in the Chicagoland area.  While a Gary location is under consideration, no formal procurement has been issued yet and therefore no final decision has been made at this time."

Hobart Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, whose district includes the property on 49th Av, said he wasn't surprised the company is looking in Gary.  Information had gotten to me that the outfit was looking in Gary by the airport," Brezik said Tuesday.

He said he doesn't know what the company will do with the 40 acres of property in Hobart if it gets the rezoning it needs in Gary.  "They never appeared in Hobart.  We're in the dark about it," Brezik said.  Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor has said he's written twice to the company informing it that he will not support the rezoning needed in Hobart to build a for-profit detention center there.

In Indiana, GEO owns the Heritage Trail Correctional Facility in Plainfield and the New Castle Correctional Facility in New Castle.  Worldwide, GEO manages and/or owns 105 prisons.  In the U.S., it has 64 prisons.  Its other locations are in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The GEO Group, launched in 1984 as The Wackenhut Corp., won its first government contract as an immigration processing center in 1987.  It has been the subject of complaints of sexual harassment, wrongful deaths and skimping on inmates' health needs.  In 2010, a class action lawsuit against The GEO Group involving alleged unconstitutional strip searches was settled for up to $2.99 million.  The settlement provided relief for certain pre-trial detainees who were strip searched upon their admission into six different jails across the U.S.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Hmm, would not having residents of Gary in charge of a jail be akin to having a wolf guard the henhouse?

 

U.S. Steel Production Falls to 68.6% of Capacity
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[2 Nov 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 610,000 tons last week, up from 605,000 the previous week.

rose by 5,000 tons, or 0.8%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output fell by about 1.5% during the same period.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly Lake and Porter counties Indiana, which has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years, largely because of the big mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Calumet Region.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 536,000 tons last week, down from 573,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.641 million tons, down from 1.667 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 68.6% last week, down from 69.7% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 76.5% at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 74.5 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.2%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 81 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Council Balks at Plan to Privatize Gary Workers . . . For Now
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[2 Nov 2015]

The Gary City Council considered the 2016 budget in a contentious special meeting tonight.

At issue was Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's plan to move all city public works employees to the Gary Sanitary District.  The legally questionable move received considerable criticism from city employees who feared they would ultimately lose their jobs in what amounted to a privatization of the majority of the City's unionized workforce.

The vote was four against and three in favor. Council Members Allen, Pratt and Brown voted in favor of the Mayor's Plan.  The Budget was amended on the floor to remove the privatization of the employees and the budget passed.

You can be sure that, if Karen Freeman-Wilson is re-elected, this will come up again very soon . . . to a more willing council.

 

Outlook for U.S. Steel:  Bleak and Bleaker
Compiled From a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Report by Len Boselovic
[1 Nov 2015]

In two years as president and CEO of U.S. Steel, Mario Longhi has frozen the steel producer's pension fund; jettisoned its hemorrhaging Canadian unit by putting it into bankruptcy; pulled the plug on steelmaking and most steel finishing operations at its Fairfield, AL mill; saved more than $800 million by cancelling a troubled project at its Gary, IN mill; and generated about $600 million in annual savings from his vaunted Carnegie Way initiative.

And still the red ink flows.

U.S. Steel is expected to post its third consecutive quarterly loss this week as the fruits of Mr. Longhi's labor have been overwhelmed by deeply discounted prices spawned by cheap imports, the strong U.S. dollar, an anemic energy market and a global glut of steel.  Analysts are also forecasting the Pittsburgh steel producer will record a loss for all of 2015.  If they are right, it will be the sixth time in seven years that U.S. Steel has failed to earn a profit.

"Many things look very bleak," said John Tumazos, an independent metals analyst from Holmdel, N.J.  "Mario has done a lot of what he can do.  I think they?ve done a good job not to be in worse shape."  What ails U.S. Steel and other domestic producers is largely out of their control - China's huge surplus of steelmaking capacity.

Mr. Tumazos estimates there may be 700 million or 800 million metric tons of excess steelmaking capacity globally, with China accounting for 500 million to 600 million metric tons of it.  By comparison, U.S. mills shipped 98 million tons last year.

"Until China closes a lot of capacity, the world steel situation cannot markedly improve," said John Anton of IHS, an economics research firm.  "If China doesn?t do anything, it doesn?t matter what anybody else does."

With China's steel demand expected to drop this year and in 2016, that country is exporting its excess to Europe and the U.S. where steel imports jumped 38% last year.  Although they are off 5% this year, imports still control about 30% of the U.S. market.

The surge has left U.S. mills operating at about 70% capacity and has driven prices sharply lower.  Many steel products cost about $200 a ton less than they did a year ago.  Mr. Tumazos said some prices are at levels not seen since the 2003 steel recession, an event that drove several major steel producers into extinction.

Domestic producers have responded by filing complaints against China and other foreign producers, alleging they are dumping three types of widely used sheet products in the U.S. at unfair prices.  They also allege some of the imports benefit from government subsidies.

"If positive results come from these trade cases, it could help the industry out," said Matt Miller, a metals analysts with S&P Capital IQ.  Mr. Anton said favorable decisions could boost steel prices by as much as $50 a ton, but he believes increases of $25 or $30 a ton are more likely.  Rulings in other recent trade cases involving steel imports have not generate the magnitude of relief U.S. producers were looking for, he said.

Carnegie Way loses some sheen -

The slump has taken some of the sheen off the Carnegie Way, the centerpiece of Mr. Longhi's plan for making U.S. Steel capable, as he says, of "earning the right to grow."

In July, the company said the effort was expected to generate $590 million in savings this year.

Since then, market conditions have deteriorated, prompting U.S. Steel to consider putting 2,000 people out of work by temporarily idling its Granite City, IL mill.  The plant supplies the company's tubular business, which is struggling because of the collapse of oil prices.  Once U.S. Steel's most prosperous unit, the tubular business lost $66 million before interest and taxes in the first half.  Shipments tumbled 64% from year-ago levels.  "I don't see any scenario where the tube business is good next year," Mr. Tumazos said.

U.S. Steel laid off salaried personnel in September, but a spokeswoman declined to say how many.  Current and former employees who asked not to be identified put the number at about 100.  The continuous belt-tightening;  much of it spawned by recommendations from outside consultants; has damaged morale, according to the former employees.  It's also jaded opinions of the Carnegie Way.

"In 2014, everybody was buying into it because they were seeing the positive results," said one former salaried worker who spoke on the condition that she not be identified.  "Everybody loved the Carnegie Way then."

A former operations and maintenance employee who left voluntarily this year called the Carnegie Way "a big joke."  After purchasing officers in Pittsburgh ordered his mill to use cheaper oils to lubricate bearings, the bearings wore out more quickly, resulting in extra costs and longer down time for the mill, he said.  "I'm all about cost cutting, but not at the expense of operations and that's what we were doing," he said.

Union negotiations continue -

Analysts say the industry's plight is more than another cyclical swoon.  They warn that China, which accounts for half of world steel production, is structurally changing the industry; a fact U.S. producers must come to grips with.

Against this backdrop, U.S. Steel is negotiating a new contract with the United Steelworkers, which is working under the terms of a labor agreement that expired Sept. 1.  Union officials said if the company has its way, the next contract will have their members paying thousands of dollars more each year for health care and agreeing to concessions on overtime, contracting out work to non-union workers and other issues.  The union estimates about 17,000 workers are covered by the contract.

Because China's massive overcapacity augurs tough days ahead for U.S. steel producers, Mr. Tumazos believes the time is ripe for U.S. Steel to win concessions. "The issue is:  How long does the union maintain this illusion that business is temporarily bad," he said.

 

Gary Man Shot to Death; Garage Destroyed in Crash
#43* and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[2 Nov 2015]

GARY | Officials on Monday released the identity of a Gary man who died after being fatally shot and crashing into a garage there Saturday night.

Anfernee Jones, 18, of the 2000 block of Attucks Place in Gary was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 9:40 p.m. Saturday, Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey said.  His official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds suffered in a homicide.

The car had crashed into a garage.  The impact of the crash caused the garage to collapse.  Emergency crews spent several hours clearing debris from the garage before coroner's office investigators were able to remove Jones' body, police said.

Lt. Thomas Pawlak said Sunday a 51-year-old man described as a person of interest called police Saturday and turned himself in for questioning.

Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Sgt. Edward Jenkins or Detective Jeff Minchuk, of the Regional Homicide Unit, at (219) 755-3852.

 

Gary Cop Fired Over 2013 Attack on Girlfriend
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson

[30 Oct 2015]

The Board of Public Works and Safety approved the firing of Patrolman Demonte Yanders on Wednesday.  The police commission rejected Yanders' Sept. 21 appeal and adopted a hearing officer's recommendation for his dismissal.

Yanders was accused of attacking his then-girlfriend in 2013.  He had been charged with criminal confinement, strangulation and battery.  The victim told police she went to bed and later woke up when Yanders was choking her and punching her, court documents said.

Earlier this year, Yanders, 31, reached a plea deal with the Lake County prosecutor's office that allowed him to plead guilty to a Class B misdemeanor battery.  The two counts of felony criminal confinement, strangulation and another misdemeanor battery charged were dismissed.

Police Chief Larry McKinley recommended Yanders' firing to the police commission.

 

Officials:  NWI Eonomic Growth 'Dismal'
Compiled From a nwiTimes Reort by Rob Earnshaw
[30 Oct 2015]

VALPARAISO | While the U.S. and Indiana economies have grown in the last year, the region's economic growth has been "a little dismal -- close to zero percent," according to a local economist.

The dire news was presented Friday by Micah Pollak, Indiana University Northwest assistant professor of economics, during his NWI economic forecast at the 2015 Business Overview and Outlook at Ivy Tech Community College.  The conference drew dozens of industry leaders to focus on the "big picture" of NWI's business community.  It also discussed how aspects of different industries can collaborate to improve the economic health of the Region overall.  It was coordinated by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and the Construction Advancement Foundation.

Pollack said the Region's growth since 2005 "has not been phenomenal" although the rest of the state and the U.S. has jumped "very well."  One of the reasons for lack of growth is lack of steel production, Pollack said.  About 14-15% was lost in February and March.  "Even though we gained some of it back we're still down 11% for the year," he said.

Pollack also said NWI is drifting away from the more high-paying, high-skilled manufacturing/goods-producing jobs that have good benefits and a retirement plan and moving more toward retail sales and food service.   "It's a little bit of a challenge because the incomes are going to change as well," he said.

Pollack said bright spots in the forecast include the rise of Northwest Indiana residential building permits and the costs of construction.

A 1% economic growth rate is expected in the region in 2016 - much lower than the 2% or 3% normally expected.  "We'll take any growth," Pollack said.  "Anything better than zero is good."

Don Babcock, the economic development director for NIPSCO and moderator for the conference said the region has an opportunity to move ahead.  "We have to educate our young people and then re-educate the rest of us to be able to step up to the plate and build the greatest products we can," he said.  "We are in a phenomenal location here with the best assets of all of Indiana."

 

New Poll Says Gary the Worst Mid-size City in US; Residents Disagree
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report by Erick Johnson
[30 Oct 2015]

The beauty of Marquette Park.  Gorgeous beaches.  The return of the Gary Air Show.  An upgraded airport.  A downtown that's beginning to show signs of life.  It's a city that's on the verge of a comeback.  With several multimillion-dollar projects in the works, Gary is beginning to hum under the leadership of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

But despite its promising future, present-day Gary is the worst mid-size city in America, according to a recent poll by RoadSnacks, an online organization that constantly conducts surveys of issues and places affecting American cities.  The organization's polls are widely used by NBC, CBS, ABC, mainstream newspapers and other media outlets.

In its latest poll, RoadSnacks places Gary at No. 1 on a top 10 list of mid-size cities that are considered the worst in the nation.  In order, they are Gary, IN (1); Flint, MI (2); Lehigh Acres, FL (3); Hemet CA, (4); Albany, GA (5); Medford, OR (6); Hesperia, CA (7); West Palm Beach, FL (8); Spring Hill, FL (9) and Reddng, CA, (10).

RoadSnacks officials said they developed the list after analyzing data from 250 mid-sized cities in the country.  The cities that made the top 10 list all have populations between 68,000 and 108,000.  Most of them are in suburbs that are located near major cities.

RoadSnacks based it rankings on population density (they claim the lower the worse-meaning there's less to do for indoor entertainment), high unemployment rates, adjusted median income, crime, the number of vacant properties and the city's school system.  The organization said this data came from government census records, statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Sterling's Best Places, a comprehensive online database for people seeking to relocate or move after they retire.

In addition to rankings, RoadSnacks graded mid-size cities based on the above criteria.  Gary received an "F" for having the second worst home values in the country and the third highest crime rate in the nation.

The survey also said the average household income in Gary ($26,885) "brings in salaries that are just above or at the poverty level in America." RoadSnacks say Gary's unemployment rate (it was 18% in September, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) is the ninth highest in the country. RoadSnacks also cited Gary's high murder rate in 2013 and said the city is not showing any signs of improving the safety of its residents.

Overall, the survey gave Gary a failing grade for lacking desirable factors that people want in a hometown.

RoadSnack officials said the survey did not measure things like beauty, friendly people and community, saying "they are far better options in America for making a place home.  Based on their criteria, RoadSnacks said the best mid-sized city to live in is Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb just seven miles west of Boston.

Gary is a city that has fallen on hard times that were made worse by the recent Great Recession.  But in the past year, Gary's leaders have made several gains in restoring the city's economy to its illustrious past.  Last week, Centier bank open its first branch in the landmark Gary State Bank in downtown Gary, giving new hope to a once bustling downtown.  In July, the Gary/Chicago International Airport opened its new expanded runway that is now fit for commercial flights.  That same month, The Air Show returned to Gary to the delight of thousands of spectators.  This summer the city unveiled a $31 million public-private partnership to boost productivity and operations at the Carmeuse Lime & Stone, a plant that sits off the shores of Lake Michigan in the Buffington Harbor area.  Miller Beach, the city's most affluent neighborhood, is experiencing a rebirth with a diverse, tight-knit community.

To combat crime, the city approved Freeman-Wilson's proposal to raise salaries to keep officers from leaving the police force for better pay.  And last month, the city began talks of banning the practice of wearing sagging pants to clean up the city's image.  This week, the Gary School Board came closer to receiving a $15 million loan after its request was approved by state officials.

All of these achievements were not noted in the RoadSnacks' survey, which does not reference the city's existing promising future.

The survey drew heated debate among longtime Gary residents, some of whom praise their city for its small town, friendly atmosphere and community spirit.

"If people are looking for statistics, then of course they would say the city is horrible," said Arlene Lyons, a resident of Gary for 60 years.  Her three college-educated children are products of the Gary School system. "When you get to know the people of Gary, you will fall in love with the city.  With all the changes, I love what the leaders are doing for Gary.  The mayor that we have now is fantastic," Lyons said.

Julia Williams, who lived in Gary for over 40 years, said Gary like any other city has its problems.  She said in the end, its up to residents to make the most of their stay in Gary.  "As far as I'm concerned, the quality of life is based on the individual," said Williams, whose five children were educated in the Gary School system.  Her husband worked in Gary's steel mills for 33 years.

Lyons said there are jobs in Gary, but residents must learn new skills and pursue them.  "There are jobs out here," she said.  They may not be the ones people are looking for, but they are available. "

Freeman-Wilson, Roosevelt High School graduate who received her bachelor and law degrees from Harvard University, said the poll does not reflect the trends that are going in the city.  "The poll and the rankings fall short," Freeman-Wilson said.  "In the last three years, we have seen over $70 million in projects in Gary.  "And the rankings do not reflect the work we've been doing to engage citizens."

 

Great Lakes Steel Production Falls as Capacity Drops Below 70%
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[27 Oct 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region dropped to 605,000T last week, down from 622,000 the previous week.

Local steel output has been lower than normal all year because of surging imports that have seized a record-breaking 31% of the total market share. Overall U.S. production trails 2014 by 8.1%.

Great Lakes steel production decreased by 17,000T, or 2.73%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Production in the Southern District, which encompasses mini-mills across the South, rose to 573,000T last week, up from 568,000 a week before.

Overall, U.S. steel output ticked down by about 0.47% last week.  Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.667 million tons, down from 1.675 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 69.7% last week, down from 71.3% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 76.5% at the same time a year earlier.  Year-to-date steel output has been 72.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.3%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 79.2 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Gary Schools Pass Budget, Continue to Wrestle with Debt
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[28 Oct 2015]

GARY | As the Gary Community School Corp. continues to wrestle with its finances, its School Board approved a 2016 budget of nearly $93.9 million.

Of that amount, the general fund budget, which pays for school salaries and benefits, is $57.5 million.

The Gary School Board also approved a capital projects budget of $6 million and a bus replacement fund of $6 million though it's likely to see a lot less when the state certifies the budget.  As a result of the biennium budget approved by legislators this year, Gary is projected to lose about $9 million over the next two years.

It's no secret the Gary Community School Corp. is facing challenges -- financially and academically.  It is receiving assistance from the Distressed Unit Appeals Board, which recommended last week the district receive a $15 million no-interest loan to help pay critical vendors from the Common School fund.

Declaring the district "high risk," the state Department of Education placed a representative in the school system to oversee federal spending.  Enrollment has dropped by more than 1,000 students, which will further impact the district.  Last September, Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said enrollment was 7,257 students.  This fall, enrollment is 5,947, said school spokeswoman Charmella Greer.

In September, the Indiana State Board of Accounts issued an audit saying it couldn't determine if the district's spending reports and account balances were accurate.  Deputy state examiner Tammy White said this week it will follow up with the corporation on each of the audit comments and findings annually.

The Gary Community School Corp. is $23.7 million in debt and is having trouble paying vendors and teachers.  It has total debt of nearly $92 million.  That debt includes more than $7.1 million in taxes and interest due the IRS; $4.15 million owed to NIPSCO; $730,000 owed to AT&T; about $1 million to Illinois Central Bus Co.; and $440,000 owed to the Gary Sanitary District.

 

Gary School Loan Wins State Nod
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[28 Oct 2015]

The State Board of Finance unanimously approved a $15 million Common School Loan for the Gary Community School Corp. Wednesday, a state official said.

The state Distressed Unit Appeals Board gave its approval for the loan last week after a detailed presentation from the district's state-appointed financial specialist, Jack Martin, who owns a Bingham, Mich., accounting firm.

The district plans to use the loan money to pay some of its vendors for past due services.  It's battling a debt load that's estimated by Martin at about $75 million.

Martin told the DUAB that staffing cuts would be likely.

 

Gary School Debt Pegged at $75 Million
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[27 Oct 2015]

More staffing cuts are likely for the Gary Community School Corp. as it tries to dig its way out of a $75 million debt crisis while keeping half-empty schools open and only paying select bills.

State-hired financial specialist Jack Martin, who's examining the district's finances, told the Distressed Unit Appeals Board last week that enrollment is down about 21% from last year and all the district's high school students could fit into one school, even though Gary maintains three high schools.

After "drilling down" into state records, Martin's team estimated Gary's debt at about $75 million.

The DUAB approved Martin's request for a $15 million interest-free loan so the district can pay off some pressing utility bills to keep its doors open.  The State Board of Finance is considering final approval of the loan Wednesday.

Martin and his accounting team cited these sobering facts:

- On average, the district's 15 schools are half-occupied.
- One school, the Watson Boys Academy, has just 125 pupils.
- Overstaffing led to most of the debt.
- The district owes the IRS $8 million, including interest and penalties.
- The district is facing 47 lawsuits.
- Fire inspections haven't been done in two years.
- Preventive maintenance, including chemically treating boilers, hasn't been done in two years.

Martin, the former emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools, told DUAB that Gary isn't able to pay its bills regularly.  "It's just whoever screams the loudest and threatens to cut something off, then we've got to find a way to pay them," said Martin.

A major cause of the debt crisis is historic overstaffing.  "I think we've got 200 more folks than we need," Martin said. "And I think that has been the case over several years."

So far, Martin said the school board has been receptive to his findings.  "The only thing we've gotten any pushback on so far is discussion of one school closure," Martin said.  He did not say which school he was referring to, but at the Oct. 13 school board meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said rumors of the Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts School closing were false.

Gary has closed more than 60% of its schools since 2000, and Martin said parents turn to charter schools rather than busing their children across town when their neighborhood school closes, so more students are lost.

Martin said the Roosevelt College and Career Center, operated by EdisonLearning Inc. under a state contract, has just 630 students and has a capacity for about 2,000.  The West Side Leadership Academy has 800 students with a capacity for 3,000 and needs $2 million in roof repairs.

Boilers haven't been chemically treated in two years, causing them to shut down.  "The systems haven't been maintained so they are actually falling apart faster," said Mark Schrupp, a Martin team member.

Schrupp said productivity levels are low.  "You've got a custodial crew with hardly any equipment that works, so cleaning floors is being done with a mop and a bucket instead of big labor-saving equipment," he said.  Schrupp said morale is low.  "Everyone is sort of predicting doom," he said. With new equipment, he said, the custodial staff could be pared down from 74 to 65.

Eighteen percent of the budget is going to operations and maintenance.  It should be below 10%, Schrupp said.  "We're spending almost $1,500 per child on maintenance and operation," Schrupp said.  "The Council of Great City Schools estimates the number should be about $1,000.  With low enrollment and lots of empty space, the cost per student is higher."

About 55% of students use bus transportation.  Routes have been reduced from 87 last year to 61 this year, for nearly a $2 million savings.

Jerry Greenblatt, another Martin associate, said the school system does not use direct deposit for its payroll.  "The school system uses paper checks.  And they are carried around with a guard.  And there's no direct deposit," he said.  Greenblatt said banks told the district it wasn't depositing money on time so they couldn't direct-deposit checks any longer.

Schrupp said the state fire marshal was working with the school district on its fire system repairs.  "They haven't been maintained in most of the schools, so there could be some big charges," Schrupp said.

On the positive side, Martin said there could be revenue potential in food service charges, selling land, Medicaid revenue enhancement, fundraising and holding another school tax referendum.  A referendum failed earlier this year.

DUAB Chairman Micah Vincent asked if the district is considering sharing services with another nearby district such as School City of Hammond or with the city of Gary.  To stay viable, Martin said, the district must downsize.  "Dr. Pruitt is attacking that, and not getting the cooperation, I think, from the HR people," he said.

Before the vote, Martin stressed the importance of the $15 million loan.  "I think if we don't do the loan, I think we would be out of business.  I think it would probably mean they would take our kids and move them to other school corporations."

 

Big City Mayors Raise Big Bucks
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[27 Oct 2015]

Incumbent Lake County mayors seeking re-election report an insurmountable lead over their challengers in fund raising, according to their campaign finance reports.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson reported receiving $118,371 in donations and spending $133,306 in the last six months, more than all the money of her five opponents combined.

They include:

Republican Charles R. Smith, who said he doesn't take donations and has spent $200 of his own money
Unicrat Eddie E. Tarver, who reports raising and spending about $5,600
Independent Syron "Sy" Smith, who has raised $42,718 and spent more than $27,000
Independent Robert Campbell, who has raised $950 and spent $725
Independent Douglas Wright, who has raised $4,215

 

Joblessness Plummets Dramatically in NWI
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[23 Oct 2015]

Unemployment plummeted in Northwest Indiana last month, dropping by a dramatic 0.7% in the Gary metropolitan area.

The jobless rate in the Gary metropolitan area; which spans Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties; fell to 5.4% in September, down from 6.1% in August, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Indiana is now at what economists call "full employment," or what is believed to be a natural and inevitable jobless rate in a healthy economy.

An estimated 317,692 people were employed in the Gary metro in September, or nearly 700 more than in August.  Joblessness is 1.5% lower in the Gary metro area than it was a year ago.  Unemployment had been as high as 12% in Northwest Indiana during the economic downturn that began in 2008.  The unemployment rate in the Gary metro area has dropped by half since 2012.

In September, unemployment fell significantly in every major city and town in Northwest Indiana, dropping by as much as 1.1% in East Chicago and Gary.  Joblessless dropped by 0.9% in Hobart and 0.6% in Hammond, Michigan City and Portage.

Local unemployment rates in September, change from August:

Crown Point:  5%, down 0.5%
East Chicago:  7.8%, down 1.1%
Gary:  9%, down 1.1%
Hammond:  6%, down 0.6%
Hobart:  6.2%, down 0.9%
Merrillville:  5.8%, down 0.9%
Michigan City:  6.3%, down by 0.6%
Portage:  5.4%, down by 0.6%
Schererville:  4.2%, down 0.5%
Valparaiso:  4.6%, down by 0.4%

Note:  Data not adjusted for seasonal employment variations.
Source:  Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

 

Freeman-Wilson Faces Four Challengers on Nov 3
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[23 Oct 2015]

Karen Freeman-Wilson may be the Democratic incumbent for mayor in a city that hasn't elected anyone other than a Democrat in 76 years, but that doesn't mean she won't face challengers when voters cast ballots come Nov. 3.

Freeman-Wilson won the Democratic nomination for mayor in May, while Charles Smith; a former administrator with the Gary-based Charter School of the Dunes; who has run three previous unsuccessful campaigns for mayor, was unopposed for the Republican nomination.  But other candidates also will appear on the ballot next month.

Sy Smith, a Chicago native who is in his second stint living in Gary, is running an independent campaign for mayor, as is former Gary police Chief Douglas Wright.  Eddie Tarver is running a mayoral campaign on what he calls the Unicratic Party, which he says is Democratic in its ideals while also intending to unify Gary's residents.

Much of the campaigning that has taken place in recent weeks has been between Sy Smith and Tarver.

Smith is a Chicago native who has lived in both the Cabrini-Green and Jane Addams public housing complexes, and in the Englewood neighborhood.  He also ran in 2011 for a seat on Chicago City Council.  But Smith says he has seen the world during his three years in the U.S. Navy and 13 more years in the Naval Reserve.  He thinks that military experience and mentality help make him a leader who can overcome what he thinks is Gary's worst problem; a large number, about 10,000, he says, of vacant and decrepit structures.  He says the incumbent mayor deserves the blame, saying, "It's my military background, when something happens on your watch, you're responsible."

Smith first moved to Gary in 2003, then returned to Chicago two years later.  He returned to Gary in 2013, and commutes daily to a job as an office manager with a Chicago accounting firm.  That job has helped his campaign financially, as he admits all of the roughly $60,000 he has raised has come from professional colleagues who live in Illinois.

Tarver said he thinks he would be a better mayor because he's a lifelong Gary native.  "He wants people to think he's from here, but he's not really," Tarver said of Smith.

As for Wright, a Texas native who moved to Gary in 1994 to serve just over a year as police chief, he said he's running because he thinks Freeman-Wilson is not active enough in government matters.  "Everything is done in secret here," Wright said, adding he suspects the mayor is often kept out of the loop on issues.  "She is kept in the dark.  I would do things more in the open, which is what the public needs."

Freeman-Wilson says she has watched as the mayoral challengers have attacked each other.  She admits she's not running a traditional campaign of knocking on doors, passing out fliers and trying to meet as many people as possible.  "I have the benefit of incumbency, but it also means that people expect me to do my job as mayor," she said.  "Doing my job is the best way I can convince people that I should be re-elected to four more years in office."

Efforts to reach Charles Smith were unsuccessful.

 

IT Salaries Skyrocketed While Computer Equipment Went Missing
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[22 Oct 2015]

While Gary Police Officers and Firefighters were fighting for their first raises in nearly ten years, salaries were skyrocketing in the IT Department.  The Department is now under State and Federal investigation as nearly 900 Apple iPad Air tablets turned up missing. Michael Berry, former director of the IT Department resigned and has not been heard from since summer.  The State Board of Accounts has requested that former employee Monique Bowling-Boyd repay over $1M for equipment that was delivered to City Hall but disappeared.

Records maintained online by the Indiana Department show that Bowling-Boyd earned $40,053 in 2013 and $43,000 in 2014, an increase of just over 7% in one year.  Berry's salary skyrocketed from $25,494 in 2012 to $77,200 in 2014.  Sources close to the investigation say that, in addition to the increase in salary, Berry received additional authority and responsibilities during the same time period.  Records seem to reflect as much as Berry was also on the payroll of the Gary Sanitary District in 2013.  Berry earned $69,636.44 as MIS Director for GSD. According to the State Board of Accounts, 15 of the missing iPad Air tablets were ordered through the GSD.

 

Woman Shot in Head in Gary (II)
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[22 Oct 2015]

Woman was alert and talking to police after being shot in head, Gary police say

A woman was shot in the head late Thursday afternoon in Gary, according to police.

Gary Police officers responded to the call at 4:50 p.m. in the 3700 block of Monroe St.  The woman was alert and talking to officers; she was taken to an area hospital for treatment, according to a press release.

The woman said the person who shot her wearing all black, but she didn't see his face, Gary Police Department Spokeswoman Lt. Dawn Westerfield said in a release.  No further details were available.

Anyone with information should contact Det. Lorenzo Davis of the Violent Crimes Division at 219-881-1210 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   This is the second such incident in 5 days (See 17 Oct report, below).

 

Fired Gary Worker Asked to Pay Back $1.38 Million
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[22 Oct 2015]

A former Gary city worker is being asked to pay back $1,397,559 in unapproved purchases of electronics equipment following a state investigation that's led to sweeping changes in how the city purchases goods.

The employee, Monique Bowling-Boyd, 43, of Merrillville, was able to buy computers, tablets, printers and wireless cell phones with city accounts payable vouchers with little city oversight, according to a special audit released Wednesday by the State Board of Accounts.  The city's IT Department is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Indiana State Police and federal officials that began in April.  Bowling-Boyd has not been charged and could not be reached for comment.

Nearly $1.4 million worth of items, including nearly 900 iPad Air tablets, allegedly acquired by a former Gary municipal employee could not be found in the city's possession, according to a state report.  The news release from state examiner Paul D. Joyce said a thorough investigation of the city's assets revealed none of the questioned items were in the municipality's possession.

The audit found multiple instances where invoices attached to accounts payable vouchers did not match the invoice numbers and amounts listed on vouchers prepared by Bowling-Boyd, who worked in the IT department in the basement of City Hall.  Multiple invoices were found to have been previously paid by the city and included on previously submitted vouchers.  From Jan. 1, 2012, to May 12, 2015, auditors determined the total number of payments made to a supplier with duplicate invoices was $354,547,81.

When auditors contacted the supplier about the duplicate payments, they were told the city did not overpay, but rather the city owed them for unpaid invoices after credits for returned items in the amount of $983,659.07.

The audit also found that after the city requested copies of paid and unpaid vouchers from suppliers from Jan. 1, 2013, to May 12, 2015, that the majority of invoices designated as unpaid were for the purchase of Apple electronic equipment that the city typically doesn't use.

The audit found Bowling-Boyd and other department heads were able to make purchases from accounts in several city agencies including the Gary Sanitary District, the police department, the community development department, the planning department and the Gary Housing Authority.

After the supplier halted charges to the city account due to non-payment in excess of $533,000, Bowling-Boyd and others still purchased items on the other department accounts, the report said.

City Controller Celita Green told auditors her office is reviewing invoices from wireless carriers to determine if the numbers being billed actually belong to city-issued cell phones, the report said.

The state asked Bowling-Boyd to reimburse the city $936,787.97 for the unpaid invoices for Apple products that didn't show up in an inventory done by Gary police and finance department workers.  Bowling-Boyd was also asked to reimburse the city $28,932.42 for Apple equipment bought by the city, but not in its possession.  In addition, the state asked Bowling-Boyd to reimburse the city for other missing electronic equipment amounting to $25,817.94 and $21,454.15.  She was also asked to pay for the audit which cost $29,818.90.

The audit found Bowling-Boyd's disputed invoices were not monitored by the city controller's office, according to Indiana law.  The audit found the city frequently issued "open" purchase orders when the city expected to make multiple purchases from a vendor, such as a utility or phone bill.  "The use of 'open' purchase orders also allowed for extensive purchasing of items not in the possession of the city, and without detection by city officials," the audit stated.

In a response to the audit, Green said because of reduced staffing in the past decade, the accounts payable department was downsized from three to one employee and that may have contributed to the lack of internal controls.  She said the staff accountant has since been retrained and Green and the deputy controller are reviewing claims.

The city has halted its practice of issuing open purchase orders, she said.  The city has also established an internal controls team to examine procedures across departments, as well as implementing a centralized inventory system.  Orders will be delivered to a central location where they will be received, inventoried and issued tag numbers.

The Post-Tribune first reported the police investigation after two employees of the five-member information technology department were abruptly sent home last spring.  The department closed its doors in City Hall and was shifted to the police department where it's supervised by Commander Sarita Titus.

Sources told the newspaper that Chicago police contacted Gary police regarding a shipment of printers that had been recovered as part of a criminal investigation in Chicago.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in June the electronic equipment was found during a traffic stop.  In June, federal and state officials served search warrants at City Hall and at the homes of some employees.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Good luck in getting a penny of the million dollar, plus, loss back!

 

Council Passes Parts of City Budget; Job Consolidation Talk Continues
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda<
[21 Oct 2015]

The Common Council gave its approval to several ordinances related to Gary's 2016 municipal budget, yet held off on portions related to employee salaries for city departments because of ongoing talks concerning consolidation of city workers into a single entity.

>But when it came to ordinances related to the salaries and operating expenses for city departments under the control of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the council held off on acting.  Instead, the council voted 7-0 to defer those measures to the council's Finance Committee for further discussion at an Oct. 27 hearing at City Hall.

Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said it was possible that final approval of the rest of the city budget could come Oct. 29, when the council re-scheduled its next meeting to avoid a conflict with the Nov. 3 Election Day.

Freeman-Wilson said the reason for the delay is because municipal officials are hoping to get more information about the city employee consolidation proposal to the various unions that the city must negotiate with in order to reach a deal.  The mayor said she hopes that would appease the union officials enough that negotiations could begin with Teamsters locals on Thursday, with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees locals still receiving written information before talks begin.

Having employees under a single city entity instead of scattered across several departments could help cut costs.  Although the mayor said Tuesday her primary goal in pushing for consolidation is efficiency.  "We're trying to utilize our (city) staff in the best way possible," she said.

 

Great Lakes Steel Production Shoots Up to 654,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[20 Oct 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 654,000T last week, increasing for the third straight week.

Great Lakes steel production increased by 32,000T, or 4.9%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output ticked down by about 1.75% during the same period.

Production in the Southern District, which encompasses mini-mills across the South, stayed flat at 568,000T last week.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.675 million tons, down from 1.705 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 70.1% last week, down from 71.3% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 76.5% at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 71.2 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.4%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 77.4 million tons at the same point in 2014. Overall U.S. production trails 2014 by 8%.

 

Freeman-Wilson Campaign Complaint Deferred for 8th Month
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
[20 Oct 2015]

A hearing on campaign finance report complaints filed before the May primary against Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was deferred Tuesday for the eighth month in a row.

Lake County Board of Elections attorney Jim Wieser said Tuesday the election board committee set up to look into the complaints filed in March by Gary residents Jim Nowacki and Robert Buggs Sr. against the mayor's campaign still had not received all of the amended campaign finance reports requested from Freeman-Wilson.  "The committee is unable to complete its report (without all the documents)," Wieser said.

The committee met Oct. 5 with Freeman-Wilson, her attorney and an independent accountant the mayor has hired to help straighten out the reports filed improperly in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Reports for all three years were expected to be filed by Oct. 14.  Wieser said the election board received the amended report for 2013 only.

The two remaining reports were supposed to be filed by Friday, but the election board has yet to receive them, he said.  Wieser said he received information from the campaign that work on the remaining two reports continues, but due to pressing matters the mayor needed to address, there was not enough time to complete the amendments.

Board member Mike Mellon said he could imagine the committee is frustrated by the difficulty it has had obtaining the corrected records.  "I'm perplexed why (the campaign) committee can't comply with the request," Mellon said.  The board's request for the campaign's financial statements also should be met so the election board committee investigating the complaints has all the information it needs.  "It is a necessity to see a copy of those (bank) statements," Mellon said.

The deferral raised questions of favoritism by the complainants.  Buggs asked how much longer the process would be allowed to continue and whether the election board had any other recourse to force a response.  "I'm just a layman.  I don't think I would be afforded the same opportunities (to defer).  Is (the campaign) being given a break, so to speak?" Buggs asked.

Nowacki said the primary has come with the pending complaints unresolved, and now it appears the general election will do the same.  He said he routinely watches election board officials fine candidates, often losers, for improperly filed reports and other campaign violations, yet the matter involving Freeman-Wilson continues to drag on month after month. "We spend a lot of time prosecuting losers in Lake County," Nowacki said.

 

Woman Shot in Head While Driving in Gary
Copiled From a Sun-Times Wire Report
[17 Oct 2015]

A woman was shot in the head Saturday night while driving in Gary, Indiana, but the police said she was conscious and able to speak when she was taken to a hospital.

Around 7:20 p.m., she called the police from the intersection of 25th Av and Taft St to say someone shot at her.  According to the police the bullet went through the rear driver-side window and headrest before striking her head.

 

Layoffs Hit Gary's Thea Bowman Charter School
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[16 Oct 2015]

A second Gary charter school reduced its staffing this week in the wake of fall enrollment that fell lower than projections and cuts in federal funding.

The Thea Bowman Leadership Academy eliminated seven positions at the elementary school, including five teacher aides who lost their jobs.  The school's librarian and another staffer with a teaching license moved back into the classroom, said Sarita Stevens, high school principal.  At the high school, Stevens said five positions were eliminated , including one seventh-grade teacher's job.

"The reductions are based on the fact that everybody's competing for students," said Stevens.  "We maintained our current numbers, but based on how we were staffed, we needed 75 to 100 more students."  Stevens said there are 605 high school students and 673 at the elementary school.

Gary has six charter schools.  In 2013, Bowman had 1,465 students, the most of of all the charters.  That same year, Gary ranked No. 5 in the country with 35% of its students enrolled in public charter schools, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  Data is incomplete, but the overall number of Gary children in traditional and charter schools appears to be shrinking.

She said the charter school lost $700,000 in federal Title 1 and Title II funding.  "That's a steep cut to deal with it at the beginning of the year," she said.

Many of those affected were support staff paid for with the federal funding, she said.  "We tried to transition anyone with a teaching credential back into classrooms," Stevens said.  Some had been working at intervention specialists with students who needed remediation.  "Our librarian migrated to a sixth-grade class."

Last week, the 21st Century Charter School in Gary laid off an administrator, two teachers and five classroom assistants because enrollment didn't match its projection.  A school official said those layoffs saved that school $500,000.

 

Mayor Explains Gary Employee Consolidation Proposal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[15 Oct 2015]

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson used a hearing Wednesday to try to justify to a skeptical public her desire to save money by merging Gary municipal employees now scattered across several departments into a single entity.

The mayor has worked with city officials for months to craft consolidation measures that would help reduce payroll expenses for the 2016 calendar year,  with savings helping to cover the cost of pay raises previously promised for the city's police officers and firefighters.  But Freeman-Wilson admitted she had never really offered a public explanation of her intentions, which she said has created confusion among city employees and the labor unions that represent them.  That is what led to the City Hall hearing, in which the mayor took questions from nearly 50 people who attended the public forum, which although attended by several Common Council members did not result in any action toward approving a city budget.

As currently proposed, the mayor wants employees of maintenance, vehicle repairs, parks, general services and public works combined into one entity, which may be shifted over to the Gary Sanitary District payroll.  Freeman-Wilson said it could create city workers capable of performing more tasks, thereby making them more valuable.

Officials with various locals of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have said they think this measure is meant to undermine the labor unions.  They have said that because the Gary Sanitary District contract with AFSCME has expired and union officials say city officials are stalling with negotiating a new deal.

Feeman-Wilson denied that was true, and told AFSCME Local 4009 President Ayanna Wright her office would provide the union by Monday with relevant information the union says it has been seeking for the past two months.  "We want to reach an agreement on a new contract," Freeman-Wilson said.  "We won't make any changes without a signed contract."

To that end, the municipal budget the Common Council is expected to approve when they meet again Tuesday calls for a status quo payroll through April 30, and the mayor said she expects it will take the first quarter of 2016 to negotiate the specifics of merging the city department's employees into one entity.

While most of the hearing focused on the municipal employees, there also was some discussion of the mayor's desire to create a new category of public safety employees who would serve both the Police and Fire departments.

Ed Lomeli, First District representative for the Professional Firefighters Union of Indiana, challenged Freeman-Wilson, saying many firefighters were skeptical that anyone could adequately do work for both departments.

Freeman-Wilson said her plan would focus on future hires within the police and fire departments, with those people receiving "academy training" in tactics that would make them useful to both criminal investigation and fire prevention.  Lomeli said there have been no talks between the mayor and the firefighters union toward reaching a deal on the issue.  "Maybe in some small, rural community such a set-up could work," he said. "There isn't much support among Gary firefighters for this proposal."

 

Gary Schools Art Storage Contract Approved
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[14 Oct 2015]

The Gary school district's art collection will soon be moved into storage in Chicago.

The school board approved a $14,612 contract Tuesday with the Conversation Center in Chicago to store and preserve its art collection.  School officials delayed approval of the contract last week until they could determine what would happen to the collection if they defaulted on a payment.  Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the district would be safeguarded from losing the collection.

Jerry Greenblatt, an official with the district's financial management team of Martin, Arrington, Desai, and Meyers, said the district is making an initial payment of 50% of the contract price.  "The Conservation Center said if and when a client gets behind, they'll work with them.  They're a professional organization," he said.

Greenblatt said the collection could be moved as early as next week.  The financial advisor recommended the district move its art collection into storage as soon as possible to avoid deterioration.

Meanwhile, Gary resident Jim Nowacki said he's been investigating the disappearance of some of the art works originally donated by school children.  He said the collection got its start in 1911 when school kids saved their pennies and purchased classic paintings for the walls of Emerson High School.  He said the collection grew to nearly 300 pieces of art, but those paintings have slowly begun to disappear.  He urged the board to identify and photograph the remaining works in the collection before it's moved to Chicago.

Pruitt said the district has already viewed the art as part of an audit and will have them photographed and transferred to a compact disc.  "I believe this board has taken a proactive response to make sure the art we do have is secure," she said.

In other business, a group of Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts students complained to the board that the school's new block scheduling format was causing many of them to lose out on their arts courses.  "The way it was executed was very poorly," said Arthur Lemme Jr., 17, a senior.  "We feel there's a lack of communication between the staff and students.  The main reason I came here is the arts.  How are we supposed to prepare for college if we don't get the required times in our arts?"

Pruitt said she wanted to dispel a rumor that Wirt-Emerson was closing.  "It's one of our superb schools," she said.  Pruitt said she'll work with Wirt-Emerson administrators about the block scheduling to come up with viable solutions.

 

State Issues Stay in Gary Teacher Talks
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson>
[13 Oct 2015]

Patrick Mapes, chairman of the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, issued a stay Tuesday delaying the bargaining process because of the assignment of a financial specialist who's sorting out the district's books, said Sarah Cudahy, spokeswoman for employment relations board.

Typically, the employment relations board would have stepped in and assigned a mediator to convene talks because the union and district failed to reach an agreement on salary, wages and fringe benefits by the end of September.  A 2011 state law gives both sides a two-month window in August and September to ratify an agreement before the state assigns a mediator.   Cudahy said an impasse was declared in Gary on Oct 5.

She said the stay means that the contract provisions will continue until a new contract is ratified.  Under the Tuesday order, both sides are expected to provide monthly status reports.

It's the first time a stay has been granted because of a school district's distressed school status, Cudahy said.  Gary is the lone district in the state that's been declared as distressed.  The General Assembly established the status this year.

Gleneva Dunham, president of the Gary Teachers Union, said teachers know there's little hope for a raise because of the district's dire financial straits.  Its debt is estimated between $80 million and $90 million.  Last week, financial specialist Jack Martin said the district was "beyond bankruptcy," and faced massive cuts.  "Once we get a mediator, there's not a lot to hash out.  There's nothing to bargain for really," said Dunham.

Dunham said a first-year Gary teacher earns an annual salary of $40,500.

 

Layoffs Hit Gary Charter School
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[12 Oct 2015]

Eight staff members at the 21st Century Charter School in Gary were laid off Friday after enrollment fell short of projections.

Kevin Teasley, the founder and CEO of the GEO Foundation that operates the school, said Monday the school furloughed one administrator, two teachers and five classroom assistants.

He said one irate, laid-off teacher "destroyed" her classroom before she left Friday.  "This is unfortunate," Teasley said in a memo to staff about the staffer who was not identified.

One of the teachers laid off said the layoffs were abrupt, and teachers had no time to say goodbye to students and gather their belongings before being told to leave the building immediately.  One teacher said she did not get a layoff letter until Monday.  The teacher, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they were told the layoffs were due to budget cuts.

"We staffed to serve 800 K-12 students and 60 pre-K and did not meet that goal," said Teasley in an email.  He said the school's K-12 enrollment is 739 with 41 pre-K students.

The layoffs will save the school about $500,000 he said.

"The decisions were not easy, nor wanted," said Teasley who said the staffers who lost their jobs did nothing wrong.  "The sad truth is that the school was and is under-enrolled."  Teasley said it's important to note the staff members were furloughed, not fired.  He said that gives them the opportunity to receive unemployment benefits.

The school has an elementary school at 556 Washington St and a grades 7-12 school at 724 Washington St.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Not only is public education in Gary in dire financiaL straights, it now appears private education is traveling the same waters.

 

Gary to Study Consolidating Muni Employees into Single Entity
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Gregory Tejeda
[12 Oct 2015]
 

Gary city officials will conduct a public hearing Wednesday meant to give the public a chance to express their thoughts about the city's desires to merge their employees who now work for numerous departments into a single entity of workers who would serve various agencies.  The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 401 Broadway, in the council chambers.

One such merger involves someday combining the city's police and fire departments into a single public safety department.  But Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has also suggested that city workers in public works, parks, sanitation, public buildings and vehicle maintenance be combined \endash  with workers being capable of doing various duties.

Municipal officials say their intent is to use city employees in a more efficient manner \endash  allowing the city to get by without having to hire new people.  They also say workers could benefit because they would qualify for higher salaries if they're capable of doing many different tasks.

"It is proposed the benefits of the consolidation would eliminate operational redundancies and part-time staff, make available a larger pool of resources that could result in faster and more efficient services," the city said, in a prepared statement.  It would, "eliminate parochial or territorial barriers between cities' entities, provide much needed transportation resources to coordinate capital planning (and) will allow for centralized management and tracking system of all service functions," their statement read.

The mayor has said one way this could be achieved is to shift those employees to the payroll of the Gary Sanitary District, although in putting together a city government budget for the 2016 calendar year, the Common Council said it is presuming that the status quo will remain in place through April 30.  Any change in employees and the city payroll would not occur until after that date.

Any changes ultimately would have to be negotiated with the labor unions that represent various city workers.  Officials with the AFSCME Local 4001 have said they are skeptical; fearing a shift to the GSD is merely an attempt to break up the union.  Gary Sanitary District employees are not represented by a union, whereas other city workers are.

Both the Common Council and the Sanitary District's board would have to approve any changes, although it is not yet known when those entities would take a vote on such an issue.

 

Steel Imports at Three-decade High, Battering Industry
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[11 Oct 2015]


Berlin Metals President Roy Berlin has been in the steel business for 30 years, but he's never seen anything like the amount of imports that have been flooding into the United States.

"It's a very tough time in the steel industry overall in the U.S.," he said at the Times Board of Economists meeting last month at Ciao Bella Ristorante, in Schererville.  "The strong dollar is hurting the mills here terribly and incentivizing imports from overseas."

Imports tied a record market share of 28% last year, according to the American Institute of Iron and Steel. So far this year, finished steel imports have captured 31% of the U.S. market, depressing prices and spurring thousands of steel industry layoffs nationwide.  A glut of imports have caused steel prices to fall by 50% since 2008, ArcelorMittal USA Manager of Government Affairs Susan Zlajic said.  The Luxembourg-based steelmaker has been trying in labor negotiations to cut its North American labor costs of $2.1 billion a year.

"On a more positive note, automotive has been a bright spot in the United States," she said.  "Auto production was 16.1 million in 2014, and we expect to see at least that many units over the next few years.  ArcelorMittal is the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry with 17% of the worldwide market."

With regard to Northwest Indiana, the company has made no secret of its wish to "optimize its assets," or take underutilized finishing lines offline so that others may be used more efficiently, Zlajic said.  ArcelorMittal already idled Indiana Harbor Long Carbon's electric arc furnace and rolling mill earlier this year and is rumored to be looking at idling more operations at Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago.  "We are constantly reevaluating our footprint, while finding ways to increase our capacity utilization with sacrificing production or market share," she said.  "With that said no final decisions have been made with regard to an asset optimization plan.  I can assure you ArcelorMittal has no plans to reduce blast furnace capacity in the United States."

Anti-dumping lawsuits have been filed in the United States, and all over the world, Berlin said.  The Chinese government has indicated it will disincentive steel exports, but they've said that before.

Berlin's Hammond-based steel service center buys metal from steel mills, processes it, and sells it to end users.  The automotive and construction markets have been strong lately, but energy, agriculture and heavy equipment have been weak.

Demand has slackened in China, where there's massive overcapacity that's led to a ripple effect of steel dumping across the globe, Berlin said.  China is dumping steel in countries that in turn are dumping their surplus steel in the United States.

"The wave of imports in this country here has been huge," he said.  "I've been in this business for 30 years. I've never a percent of market share this high.  The percent of market penetration is huge.  It's a problem."

 

Gary School Board Delays Contract on Art Storage
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[9 Oct 2015]


The Gary School Board has stalled on approving a contract to store its art collection until it can determine if it will lose the collection if it can't make payments.

The board discussed the storage of its collection Thursday during a special meeting.

Jack Martin, the district's state-hired financial specialist, recommended the contract with the Chicago storage firm for $14,612 for six months.  The rate shifts to about $700 a month after six months.  The art is now believed to be stored in a vault inside a district building.

Board member Nellie Moore asked if there was language in the contract that would allow the Chicago company to take ownership of the art if the district defaults on its payments.  Jerry Greenblatt, who works for Jack Martin, said officials haven't seen the contract yet.  "I don't believe we'd default on $700 a month," said Martin via a conference call.  "The bigger problem is leaving the art where it is and allowing it to deteriorate based on poor storage conditions."   The board's attorney will insert language in the contract related to a possible default and present it to the board at its 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting, said Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt.

The district hopes to pay for the contract with a $15 million interest-free Common School Fund loan.  That money would go into the general fund to settle debts.  It's seeking the loan through the Distressed Unit Appeals Board that oversees the district's finances following legislation approved by the General Assembly earlier this year.

Meanwhile, community member Jim Nowacki told the board he's researched the district's collection which he said began in about 1939.  School children purchased the art work and donated it to their schools.  He said it once had 270 pieces of art, mostly paintings.  By 1998, he said about half the collection was missing.  Nowacki said he's located school paintings across the country, including one by landscape painter Asher Durand that's in a museum on the East Coast.

"We take this matter very seriously," said board president Antuwan Clemons.  "I think Mr. Nowacki knows more about the art collection than anyone at this table."  Clemons said the board will investigate the missing art after it gets its existing art into storage.  Board member Doretha Rouse said it will be difficult to track down the art. "We're going to need Columbo to find it," she said.

 

Consultant:  Gary Schools 'Beyond Bankruptcy'
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[8 Oct 2015]

The financial specialist working with the Gary Community School Corp. told the school board Thursday that the struggling district is "beyond bankruptcy."

Jack Martin, the state-appointed financial expert from Bingham, MI., made his comments during a discussion on a move to seek vendor requests for outsourcing custodial, maintenance, repair and grounds services.  Martin, who spoke to the board via telephone, said it's likely no one will submit a proposal given the district's dire financial shape, but it could glean valuable information if there is a response.  "We really don't have a lot of options," he said, referring to a recent statement by state auditors who questioned the district's ability to continue as a "going concern."

Martin didn't mince words.  "It means very likely you won't be in business in a few months or years," he said.  "You're on an unsustainable trajectory.  There's no way to change other than massive cuts."

The outsourcing request for information raised concern with the group of union custodians and other workers who attended the meeting.  "We weren't notified yet again," said Shea Marshall, who represents Local 73 of the Service Workers International Union.  "These people have turned out for you all these years, and all we ask is the olive branch be extended back, but it never is. ...  We want to help you through this."

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt responded that a $1.48 million insurance hasn't been paid and that it could be cut off.  She said building, grounds and maintenance also has about $4.9 million in unpaid bills and that salaries run about $6 million.

Board member Marion Williams said the outsourcing plan should be discussed in detail and that the union should be involved.

"We've had two or three audits," Pruitt said.  "Many have indicated we weren't supposed to make payroll after 2012.  At this point, we are attempting very hard to make sure we provide an educational service in this community."

Under state legislation, the school district is being assisted by the Distressed Unit Appeals Board that hired Martin to resolve the district's nagging financial debts, estimated at $80 million to $90 million. The district is seeking approval from the DUAB for a $15 million state loan.

 

Great Lakes Steel Production Continues Hot Streak
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[8 Oct 2015]

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region soared to 659,000T last week, increasing for the third straight week.

Local steel output has been lower than normal all year because of surging imports that have seized a record-breaking 31% of the total market share.  Overall U.S. production trails 2014 by 8%.

Great Lakes steel production increased by 34,000T, or 0.54%, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Overall U.S. steel output ticked down by about 0.46% during the same period.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly Lake and Portkr counties in Northwest Indiana. Indiana.  The Great Lakes Region has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years, largely because of big mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Calumet Region.

Production in the Southern District, which encompasses mini-mills across the South, fell to 563,000T last week, up from 599,000T the week before.

Total U.S. raw steel p.roduction last week was about 1.727 million tons, down from 1.735 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 72.2% last week, down from 72.6% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 77.4% at the same time a year earlier.  Year-to-date steel output has been 67.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.5%, according to the merican Iron and Steel Institute.  It had been 73.7 million tons at the same point in 2014.

 

Casino Revenues Inch Upward in September
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[8 Oct 2015]


Year-over-year revenues for Northwest Indiana's five casinos were relatively flat in September, having received a boost from the Labor Day weekend but being hurt by having one less weekend than in the previous September.

"September was pretty similar to the rest of the year, going back and forth," said Dan Nita, general manager and senior vice president of Horseshoe Hammond Casino.  "This was a month where the Indiana side of the border was able to grow while the Illinois side was down by 1.7%," Nita said Thursday.  He said Northwest Indiana's five casinos collectively had a .5% increase in revenues.  According to monthly revenue numbers released Thursday by the Indiana Gaming Commission, the region's five casinos together had revenues of $75.4 million last month compared to $75.76 million the previous September.

Broken down by casino:  Ameristar Casino in East Chicago took in $17.82 million compared to $16.59 million, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City raked in $13.09 million last month compared to $12.44 million the previous September, Horseshoe Hammond took in $32.45 million compared to $33.86 million, Majestic Star I Casino in Gary took in $6.86 million compared to $7.92 million and Majestic Star II brought in $5.18 million compared to $5.5 million.

Nita said Horseshoe's numbers would have been stronger if one client hadn't hit an $800,000 jackpot.  Nita said sports fans don't normally come to the casinos to watch the games like they do to a bar, but Horseshoe tries to add "a little sizzle" to pique fans' interest by adding some celebrity players from the past.  On Sunday, for instance, former Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus will be at the Hammond casino to provide commentary during the Bears game.  Nita said the event is free and anyone can attend provided they have a Total Rewards card or sign up for one before or during the game.

 

Gary Schools Eye Storing Art Collection in Chicago
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[7 Oct 2015]

 

The Gary School Board is considering a recommendation to store its extensive art collection with a private Chicago art preservation company until it determines what to do with it.

The board will discuss a recommendation to pay $14,612 to store the collection, now housed in a vault in a district building. The board meets at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the School Service Center library conference room, 1988 Polk St.  The district's new financial specialist, Jack Martin, is making the recommendation along with Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt.

School board president Antuwan Clemons said Martin recommended safeguarding the art by storing it with an art specialist company.  Past estimates show the district has about 118 pieces of art work, most are paintings.  "We've been getting a lot of complaints and inquiries," said Clemons.  "We are doing an inventory and we want to make sure it's safe until we know what the community wants to do with it."  Clemons said no detailed inventory has been prepared in several years.  The last one, about a decade ago, appraised the collection at $534,450.  Clemons said he would be open to selling some of it to help the cash-strapped district pay off its debts.

Earlier this year at an auction at the shuttered Lew Wallace High School, an auctioneer found a half-dozen paintings by prominent artists left behind in the school when it closed last year.  The auctioneer removed the art work and delivered it to school administrators.  School officials said they thought all the paintings had been removed.  Lew Wallace has been burglarized twice in the past two months by scrappers.

The board will also consider a proposal that would downsize its workforce.  Martin and Pruitt want the board to gather information on the costs of services from private firms to provide custodial, maintenance, repair and grounds services.  "Right now, we're spending $5 million a year on maintenance and custodial services," said Clemons.  "We're looking for how much it will save us if we outsource it.  This is just for information.  We may not go forward unless it makes sense."

Clemons said the district will lose another $400,000 in November under the state's new two-year budget because of a drop in enrollment and the funding formula.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  One must assume the $14.6K figure is an annual sum?  Would it not make more sense, financially, to sell off the colletion as quickly as a sale may reasonably be arranged?

 

Gary School Board Seeks $15 Million State Loan

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson

[6 Oct 2015]

 

The Gary School Board will ask the state for a $15 Million interest-free loan to pay off some of its debts.

 

The board voted Tuesday to seek approval for the loan from the Distressed Unit Appeals Board, which is overseeing the district's finances under state legislation approved earlier this year.  "This will help us in paying immediate bills," said board president Antuwan Clemons.

 

The district has been struggling financially in recent years because of an enrollment decline, state property tax, dwindling tax collections and a changing school funding forumula.

 

State Sen. Ryan MIshler, R-Bremen, one of the architects of the funding formula, met with school officials Tuesday and received a tour of schools and the city.  Mishler is also a new member of the DUAB.  "I came to learn more about your schools," he said.  "At the end of the day, I just want to be fair."

 

Gary's state-appointed financial specialist, Jack Martin, will make a presentation to the DUAB board in Indianapolis when it considers the loan.  No date has been set for that meeting.

 

The school district, which has closed dozens of schools in recent years, is trying to dig its way out of massive debt.  It owes the IRS nearly $7 Million in unpaid payroll taxes and has outstanding debts with the Gary Sanitary District and NIPSCO, among several vendors.  Last month the sanitary district refiled liens of more than $107,000 in the Lake County Recorder's office when the school district voided a previous agreement by failing to keep up with its monthly sewage bills.  The GSD had agreed to forgive $400,000 in past debt.

 

Superitendent Cheryl Pruitt said the state Common School Fund loan would go toward debts.  She has siad in the past that the district has lost about $100 Million in funding since 2009.  "We're trying to stay stable," she said.  Pruitt also said Martin is completing the district's 2015 and 2016 budgets and they should be available this week.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Absent any change in the school funding formula, tax collections, state property tax rates or a massive increase in student enrollment numbers where is the district going to get the dollars to repay a $15 Million loan; even if it is intererst free?

 

 

Gary Cleanup Initiative Turns Out 600 Volunteers
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
[5 Oct 2015]

More than 600 people turned out Saturday to fight the blight in Gary through work like boarding up abandoned buildings, picking up trash and cutting back overgrown trees and brush.

Eliseo Velez of Gary and his family joined fellow parishioners of The Father's Heart Church, 2225 Broadway, to clean the vacant lot near their church as part of the Gary for Life Blight Elimination Initiative.  They started around 9 a.m. and were still at it mid-afternoon.  "It was looking kind of bad It's on Broadway.  It's a blight to me," Velez said, adding it would have been hard for city workers to get their equipment inside the overgrown lot.  The work really needed to be done by hand and city workers already have a lot to do, he said.  "Anything we can do to help," Velez said.

His wife, Tabitha Velez, and daughter Sinai, 13, were raking up garbage and bagging the piles of debris that were accumulating.  The group had already filled about 10 large contractor bags and still had about a third of the lot to go.  It was a lot of work," Sinai said.

Tabitha Velez said it is important people work together to keep the city clean.  They planned on staying on the job until the lot was clear.  "We need to bring it back to the way it used to be.  We just came out to help do our part," he said.

LaShawn Brooks, director of the mayor's office of constituent services, said the effort is part of the Gary for Life monthly cleanups that began in the spring.  The blight elimination day is one last big combined effort to close out the season.  Each month crews of volunteers participating in the cleanups targeted a different neighborhood.  Saturday volunteers targeted neighborhoods throughout the city.

The goal was to gather about 1,000 people from around the community and the region to hit the streets and tackle major projects like boarding up the vacant Emerson School at 7th Av and Virginia St and smaller projects like the Velez group was working.  Brooks said the project drew people from a wide area who were supported by members of the city's fire, general services, traffic and parks departments.  "We had a couple from Indianapolis, some people from the Chicago area and some from as far as Valparaiso," she said.

The day started with a kick-off rally at the Genesis Convention Center where groups received assignments and headed out to tackle projects across all of the cities districts.

Kevin Guydon, general services director, said all the department's equipment was out to assist volunteers with the cleanup from pay loaders and sweepers to tractors and sewer vacuum trucks.  "We have everything you can name out there," Guydon said.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the day was a way to encourage members of the community to come together to help the city.  "This is a collaboration that requires many partners that have stepped up the plate," the mayor said.
________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  It is refreshing to read some good news coming out of Gary for a change!

 

Violence Erupts in Gary as 3 Shot Overnight
Compiled From a nwiGazette Report by Ken Davidson
[2 Oct 2015]

Sources are reporting that three individuals were shot last night in Gary.  Emergency crews responded to the 4100 block of W 19th St just before 3:00 a.m.  Witnesses reported that a Chevy Trailblazer which had more than ten bullet holes in it was towed from the scene by Police.  Medics were called to transport three gunshot victims.  County officers assisted Gary Police in looking for a Black Dodge Magnum that was reported leaving the scene at a high rate of speed.  The condition of the victims was not known at the time of this article.

Anyone with information regarding this shooting should contact the Gary Police Department.

 

Republican Candidates Take on Gary's Democratic Majority
Compiled from a Gary Crusader Report by Carmen M. Woodson-Wray
[24 Sep 2015]
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The last Republican to hold a political seat in Gary was Mayor Ernst Schaible back in 1943.  Now, 72 years later, two Republicans are vying for their party to take two of the three Council-at-Large positions away from three of the Democrats running in the General Election.  They are Gary Attorney Douglas M. Grimes and Jayson Reeves.

Attorney and former Gary City Court Judge Douglas M. Grimes and Jayson Reeves, a published author who runs a company that studies engineering projects, are two of the three Republicans running in the upcoming election.  Republican Charles Smith, who works for Charter School of the Dunes, is running as a mayoral candidate.

Attorney Grimes said one of the reasons it has been difficult for a member of the Republican Party to win any race against any Democrats within Northwest Indiana is because of the uninformed habit of the voters.  It is not based on the voters belief in the candidates campaign promises.  He said, "Whats wrong with political diversity?  Labels mean nothing, but divide people."

Grimes also brought up the issue of the public speaking portion of the council meeting, an event that is televised to the public.  He said the councilpersons do not fear the voters because they know the few voters that do vote are going to vote the same way.  He said, "They care nothing about the voters except on Election Day.  They cut the public speaking portion out of being televised because they dont want other people to know what you are complaining about."  He said restoring the televised public portion of the council meeting will be addressed as part of his campaign.

 

Mayor Hopes Program Will Improve Residents' Views of Gary Police
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Ed Bierschenk
[2 Oct 2015]

GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is hoping that a three-year, federally funded initiative on police interactions with the community will create a better bond between the department and its residents.

The city is one of six around the nation selected as a pilot site by the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.  The program was launched by the National Network for Safe Communities through the John Jay College of Criminal Justice thanks to a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The initiative grew out of the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida as a way to try to build trust between law enforcement and communities, according to officials.

 

ArcelorMittal Talking to USW about Idling Operations
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[2 Oct 2015]

 ArcelorMittal is talking to the United Steelworkers union about idling operations, but no final decisions have been made.

"Several media mentions have appeared regarding the potential closure of Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago, IN, speculating that we may be considering the shutdown of both 'upstream and downstream operations at Indiana Harbor West,' " spokesman William Steers said.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker says it has lost an average of $294 million a year in North America over the past five years.  Also, steel prices have plunged by 50% here since 2008.  Earlier this year, ArcelorMittal idled its electric arc furnace and rolling mill at Indiana Harbor Long Carbon in East Chicago.

Last year, the steelmaker idled the No. 2 galvanizing line at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West, which was once the most productive in the world.  The USW warned workers the company tentatively plans to idle No. 1 aluminizing line at the former LTV steel mill in December.  A newer aluminizing line at ArcelorMittal's new AM/NS Calvert plant in Alabama would finish that steel instead.  Steelworkers also have heard rumblings the company might want to shut down the hot mill at Indiana Harbor West, or the No. 5 galvanizing line at Indiana Harbor East.

The steelmaker says it has no intentions of closing any blast furnaces in the United States, which would keep it from completely idling Indiana Harbor West.  But it wants to run its operations more efficiently at a time when capacity utilization is hovering around 72%, or about 18 percentage points less than what industry analysts consider healthy.  "What we can say is that, there is no doubt that in order to optimize our assets, we must find ways to achieve higher levels of capacity utilization with no loss of total production or market share and do not anticipate any impact on our ability to meet customer demand," Steers said.

"Again, no final decisions have been made, and we are working closely with the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh to identify how we can achieve higher utilization levels and reduce our operating costs."


* There are discrepancies among the various reporting agencies of the total number of Gary murders.  My higher number is based solely on my compilation of homicide reports from all available sources.  By any measure, the actual number of murders in Gary is appalling! 


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Created 30 Sep 2015 - 11:37:27 Hrs.

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