Rudy: Ramblings & Rumblings
— Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana Mayor Rudy Clay's running of the "Steel City"
Go To: 2009 Rudy Report
I have read, but not verified, that "da' Mayor" did not finish high school? Rather, he is the proud holder of a GED. Anyone who knows the truth of the matter, please do share it with us.
NWI Residents Against Gary Bailout by State
GARY -- It's unanimous, so far. The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board (IDUAB) has received more than 30 letters, mostly from Gary residents. They all are opposed to a state bailout for the city in 2009. The opposition is based on the belief Mayor Rudy Clay has mismanaged the city's money and that there is too much fat in Gary's $63 million budget.
One critic simply mailed a page from a phone book listing all city departments with an unsigned, handwritten note: "Has Gary 'cut to the bone' as Mayor Clay claims? No! No! No! Obviously not!!"
No letters received by the board, as of this week, have supported the city's petition. "We haven't asked the public to write any letters,"Clay said.
Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed board said Gary must show it has done all it can to help itself before it will qualify for "special treatment." The Gary residents say that burden hasn't been met. "If the city is in a bind for cash, why do they continue to loan city vehicles with city gasoline to city police, city police reserves, city judge, and a host of other city employees for use in their private lives?" Bill Coward wrote in his letter.
Clay issued an order earlier this year that Gary's gas pumps should only be used by police officers and firefighters, but records released months later show other employees continued using the pumps. Coward said that news, along with the price of gas, inspired him to write his letter to the appeals board. "I'm a little bitter when I see waste like that," Coward said.
The Miller Citizens Corp. is publicly opposing Gary's petition. Most of the letters received by the board contain Miller addresses. Kathy Long, who listed an address in the 100 block of North Hancock, wrote, "Please don't bail this city out. Let them declare bankruptcy and put them in a position to rebuild, not continue to carve out golden eggs from a half dead golden goose."
Residents of neighboring communities are also sharing their thoughts. "For decades the city of Gary has been an example of all that can go wrong in America when apathy reigns supreme over justice, freedom, and moral and ethical governance," Brice Johnson of Highland wrote.
Asked about the public commentary, Clay questioned the authors' motives. "Evidently they don't want Gary people to have access to this American dream here," Clay said. "It's nothing new, though," Clay said. "People have been pounding on Gary for years and years and years."
Gary is scheduled to make its case to the appeals board Jan. 5 in Indianapolis.
TO PREVIEW GARY'S APPEAL: The appeal can be found at
TO COMMENT IN WRITING: Written comments can be submitted to email@example.com
or the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, 200 W. Washington St. #212, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Gary Schools Chief Put on Leave
GARY-- Gary Schools Board members voted Friday to put Superintendent Mary Steele-Agee on administrative leave for the remaining six months of her contract, thus giving her a long winter break. The decision came after several weeks of discussion in executive sessions. Board members had little debate before voting 6-1 to place Steele on administrative leave until her contract expires in July. Steele-Agee did not attend the board meeting Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Board President Nellie Moore said, "The board has to move forward in a cohesive manner, and that requires communication with the superintendent. We did not feel that was being done as it should have."
Moore declined to discuss specific reasons Agee was removed. "Those get into personnel matters, and I will not discuss them," Moore said.
Board member Barbara Leek was the sole vote against the move. She did not support having to pay the balance of Steele's $125,000 contract.
Gary Casino Ramp War Nearing an End?
GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay and Majestic Star Casino have reached detente on the contentious issue of infrastructure improvements near his Buffington Harbor property, according to casino owner Don Barden. Barden said he met with Clay this week, and the mayor agreed to build an access ramp from Cline Avenue to the gaming facility. Barden said, no time line was discussed.
Clay did not return messages seeking comment about the sit-down with Barden, despite numerous phone calls to his office over two days. However, city spokeswoman Lalosa Burns confirmed the meeting took place. "The city has always been committed to the infrastructure improvements," she stated. "The mayor informed Mr. Barden we remain committed to build it when the time is right."
The ramp has been an expensive sticking point in Barden's relationship with
the city over the past year.
Noted: Only in Gary
The Dec. 12 issue of the Post-Tribune ran two stories reporting the shootings of three young men in Gary; one of the victims was killed.
On the next page was an ad, running the entire length of the page, for guns as stocking stuffers!
Gary Paid Legal Fees of $25,000 in Futile Defense of Pay
GARY -- New records show a failed attempt to cut the paychecks of Gary's public safety employees cost the city a total of $25,000 in 2008. To help the city get past a $13 million budget shortfall, Mayor Rudy Clay proposed the cuts in July as a cost-cutting measure.
Gary's Fraternal Order of Police and Firefighters Local 359 each took the city to court. The city was defended by attorneys Donald Levinson, Shana Levinson and Gilbert King.
In each case the judges ruled for the unions, citing state law that grants exclusive authority for reducing public safety employees' paychecks to the City Council. Gary's City Council never voted to approve the pay cuts.
"The court cases only exposed one thing," Clay said Wednesday, "Lawyers make
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Jon Seidel
[16 Dec 2008]
GARY -- A raucous town hall meeting turned from civil seminar into a near free-for-all after Mayor Rudy Clay answered one question about his paycheck. Gary taxpayers demanded answers from Clay Monday.
Clay was asked by Melody Tukes if he would forego his annual $31,000 Gary Sanitary District salary while seeking a bailout from the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board. " All I have to say about that," Clay said of his paycheck, "is God is good."
His comment drew a cry from the audience which had just heard City Finance Director Celita Green explain why Gary is asking the state for extra taxpayer money. Clay also collects his $88,021 mayoral salary each year, though he did take a 20 percent pay cut in July of 2008.
Clay shrugged off the critical comments, including calls for his resignation, pointing out that they were made by the same people who routinely question his decisions. "Most people don't come out to meetings," Clay said.__________________
[16 Dec 2008]
I like the city of Gary implying that, without a
waiver from the tax caps, all these bad people will flee the city, and the
surrounding cities and towns will then bear the cost of these citizens. First,
shame on the city for trying to use fear to strong-arm the state. Second, I say
flee Gary while you can, and let the inept public officials be the only people
[COMMENT - GDY:] Someone, apparently, agrees with me about the use of this shameful tactic?
Please don't give in to the city of Gary's appeal for tax relief. They have had years to get their house in order. I own a house in Gary that I rent. I paid $50,000 for it a few years ago. It is assessed at $102,100. I pay $5,886 in real estate taxes. Another year of this taxation and I will lose the house to the bank. Please force them to become efficient, cut the waste and do the job they are paid to do right.
[COMMENT - GDY:] OUCH! I thought I had it bad? I too pay in excess of $5K per yer in real estate tax on my WI home. Howvever, my residence is assessed at more than 2.25 x the value of this Gary taxpayer.
Gary Paints Scene of 'Fiscal Devastation'
GARY -- In the petition it submitted this week to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board, the City of Gary paints a "dismal picture" of "doom" and "fiscal devastation" for city and county residents. According to the report, Gary would be forced to lay off 71 police and 74 firefighters next year, and about 800 other employees by 2010, when the state's new property tax caps take effect in 2009.
Gary officials write that since the city would be grossly unprotected from
crime and health hazards, "This will cause mass chaos and crippling effects
throughout the city, county, and even at the state levels." That's because the
city would be forced to shift responsibility for several of its services onto
the shoulders of county taxpayers. When it does, it is predicted that many Gary
residents will move to nearby communities when times get tough. Gary leaders go
on to raise the question, "Are other areas prepared for the influx of new
In making their case, city officials cite a median resident income of
$26,725. They also point to more than 4,000 abandoned structures, citing them as
"are prime locations for fires and vandalism." In making its pitch to the
Distressed Unit Appeals Board, the city even makes note of Gary's notoriety as
the nation's "murder capital."
Gary to Appeal to the State for More Money
Mayor Rudy Clay is preparing a presentation for the State to try and get more dollars into the city treasury. He shall share his plea with various groups around the city. It is simply a rough draft at this point. The final report will be ready by Monday.
The draft, however, paints a dire picture for the city in the years to come. It predicts the possibility of the "highest levels of unemployment in the city since USS had massive layoffs in the late 1970s and early 80s."
Gary Public Schools Report Card = F
[5 Dec 2008]
As they say, "the numbers do not lie." With regard to the Gary Public Schools what the numbers show are not good! The figures shout out that Gary is not getting a return on its precious education dollars.
Gary has consitently (for the last decade and a half), paid its teachers considerably more than the average teacher salary for the state. Of course, a portion of that might rightly be viewed as hazardous duty pay; an inducement to take on teaching in the Steel City. Here are the salary figures:
TEACHER AVERAGE SALARIES (Indiana/Gary)
Salary Salary Avg.
$48,508 $56,089 + 16%
2006-2007 47,832 54,710 + 14%
2005-2006 47,255 52,433 + 11%
2004-2005 46,591 51,405 + 10%
2003-2004 45,791 49,903 + 9%
2002-2003 44,966 48,607 + 8%
2001-2002 44,030 47,324 + 7.5%
2000-2001 43,311 45,510 + 5%
1999-2000 41,850 44,629 + 6.6%
1998-1999 41,159 44,008 + 7%
1997-1998 39,749 42,963 + 7.4%
1996-1997 38,845 40,662 + 5%
1995-1996 37,675 39,743 + 5.5%
1994-1995 36,785 37,904 + 3%
1993-1994 35,711 36,485 + 2%
The return on these above average teacher salary expenditures is capable of being measured in a number of ways. Any such measure, to have any validity, must look at the results obtained, in terms of educating children. In other words, what bang is Gary getting for the buck?
ISTEP Pct Pass Both English & Math
Year State Gary
2007-2008 64.7% 35.7%
2006-2007 63.8 30.8
2005-2006 64.2 29.2
2004-2005 62.9 28.1
2003-2004 62.2 29.9
2002-2003 59.5 20.6
2001-2002 55.7 31.7
2000-2001 55.6 25.2
1999-2000 56.5 24.0
1998-1999 56.1 28.1
1997-1998 56.5 25.6
1996-1997 53.7 23.1
Graduation Rate, 4 Year or Less
SOURCE: Indiana Accountability System for Academic
©2007 Indiana Department of Education
Well, it looks as though the Gary schools are managed about as well as the Big 3 auto makers?
The Gary school system is below state averages in terms of both student proficiencies and graduation rates! Saying Gary is "below average" in these categories does not really convey the magnitude of the problem. I mean, 53 out of 100 kids never graduate! Of those that do, are they able to demonstrate that they have been educated? It appears not.
The gaps are considerable. Moreover, they are devasting for students. It is obvious Gary students are not prepared , or able, to compete with other Indiana children when it comes to getting into college, or even landing a job paying a sustainable wage. Until the Gary school system is able to produce a quality product, no reasonable person or business enitity should/will consider locating in the region. If Gary is ever to be revitalized, its system of education must experience drastic change!
Gary Gets Title
it Does Not Want: 2d Most Unhealthy City for Women
[4 Dec 2008]
This lackluster ranking comes from Self magazine and is due to a number of factors. They include woamen's eating habits, obesity rates and low rates for preventive health screenings.
Last year, out of 100 cities, Gary was named the unhealthiest place. This year that distinction goes to Detroit, but Gary only moves up one slot to No. 99.
The title for healthiest city goes to Bethesda, Maryland.
Gary in the Dark on Sales from Pro Shop
GARY -- Four years after his right to the business expired, the manager of Gary's public golf course continued to sell golf accessories to the city's customers, pocketing an unknown amount of profit along the way.
Saying that his South Gleason Golf Course Pro Shop sales turned only a meager profit, John Lowe refused a request Monday to allow a public review of his pro shop records. "It's not public informationand I don't have a contract with the Park Department," Lowe said. "Not that it's a dark secret or anything, but I'm not going to throw open my books if I don't have to. I buy the merchandise, I sell it, I pay my taxes, and that's it," Lowe said.
A Post-Tribune inquiry into the golf course's finances revealed Lowe's enterprise. That, in turn, triggered an executive session of the Park Board last month to discuss "alleged misconduct." Park officials are unable to produce either financial records for the pro shop, or a valid contract for Lowe.
Lowe secured a Park Department contract in 1991 to rent golf carts to Gleason customers and operate a pro shop at the golf course. Under its terms, Lowe was required to pay $325 a year in return for the rights to the pro shop. That contract expired in December 2004. Lowe said he stopped making payments then "because I don't have a contract."
Commitment to the Ol' Hometown
The Knight Foundation and Gallup Consulting have just published their Soul of the Community research. The purpose of the study was to understand what drives "engagement" or commitment to community and how each of Knight's communities ranked on "community citizen engagement" or CCE.
Several findings stand out. Aesthetics are a key driver of CCE in every age group. In fact, it is the only attibute that ranks among the top three attributes among all age groups. Aesthetics, in this survey, was defined as "parks, playgrounds and trails" and "physical beauty of the place."
Social offerings and openness most influenced 25-44 year olds. Students were more influenced by economy and education. But aesthetics ranked third for both, and second with all age groups. (Social offerings -- or vibrant nightlife, good place to meet people and others care about each other -- and openness -- good place for older people, race and ethnic minorities, families with kids, gays and lesbians, and talented college grads -- ranked first and third, respectively, with all age groups.)
Interestingly, social capital and involvement rank lowest among all age groups, with safety not much higher.
Leadership, defined as leaders share my views and leadership of elected officials, ranks in the middle of all attributes among all age groups. In other words, it's not unimportant to driving engagement, but it is by no means a priority factor.
CCE is a combination of loyalty and passion factors. Levers that influence engagement or CCE are openness, social capital, involvement and community offerings (the category where aesthetics and social offerings fall).
Among Knight communities, the city with the lowest level of engagement is Gary, Indiana, followed closely by Detroit. The community with the highest level of engagement is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with Biloxi, Mississippi, and Long Beach, California in second and third place. The best-performing big cities are Palm Beach, Charlotte and St. Paul.
Post-Trib Letters to the editor
Going to Gary Hospital a Terrible Experience
REALITY CHECK: A REPORT FROM THE FRONT
[26 Nov 2008]
On Nov. 17, I had the displeasure of going to our local hospital in Gary. The physician of one of my relatives sent them to receive a medical treatment.
On arrival at the emergency room, there were no wheelchairs. So when you bring someone to the emergency room, you must spend a few minutes to find a wheelchair.
Upon entering the emergency room, I thought I had entered a room in some Third World country like Somalia or Zimbabwe. Men, women and children with illnesses and injuries, waiting to be admitted and/or treated, were sitting, grouped in chairs. Some people were bleeding, others groaning, a few had bandages or ice packs on their heads, listening for their name to be called by the receptionist.
Is this what we have come to in our city, where the citizens of Gary are nothing more than an inconvenience to the personnel who work there? Who speaks for the person in that room who has no other choice but to wait four or five hours for treatment? Who hears their cries of pain? Maybe this is why many individuals in our city fall to the wayside and others give up.
The cement that glued the whole situation was when a hospital employee announced to waiting patients that it would take an additional four to five hours before they could be attended to because of some unknown events taking place. We had been there four hours, and other patients had waited up to eight hours and now had to sit and wait even longer. We left.
Maybe Gary is being punished because of the lack of caring about each other. Or maybe the conditions of our city reflect the hopelessness that is found in many residents. Maybe, just maybe, we've given up on a dream of a better city, which has now become a nightmare.
N. Hru Khuenaten, Gary
Gary Regains Dubious Honors
2008 City Crime Rankings (Overall Crime)
Gary achieves rankings of second in the country for murders, and seventh for overall crime.
RANK CITY SCORE
1 New Orleans,
2 Camden, NJ 381.84
3 Detroit, MI 381.24
4 St. Louis, MO 355.01
5 Oakland, CA 328.82
6 Flint, MI 297.59
In homicides, New Orleans ranked #1, with 94.7 murders per 100,000 population.
The overall national average is 5.6 per 100,000.
Gary, Indiana, ranked second with 73.2 homicides per 100,000 population.
"I think residents have real cause for concern when the murder rate per capita is many times the national average," said a spokeperson for the Congressional Quarterly, compiler and publisher of the report.
Gary's murder rate is only 13 times the national average, compared to New Orleans, which is 18!
[COMMENT GDY -] Yet another feather in Rudy's cap! While the city is being held hostage by criminals, what is Rudy doing? He is laying off policemen and firefighters.
ArcelorMittal Warns of Mass Layoffs at Indiana Steel
Compiled from an AP report
[24 Nov 2008]
The world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, has warned that as many as 2,444 employees at a steel plant in northwestern Indiana could be indefinitely laid off in January. On Friday the company announced it had notified the United Steelworkers labor union and other interested parties about the possibility. The "indefinite layoff" at its Burns Harbor plant is projectyed to occur in the second half of January.
The recent drop in global steel production, along with a previously announced plan to reduce production in North America by 40 percent, factored into the decision, the company said. "Potential work force reductions are a direct result of the extraordinary economic environment we are facing, and the company hopes to return workers to their jobs as market conditions warrant," ArcelorMittal said in a statement.
[COMMENT GDY -] In no way can this be good news for the ailing Calumet Region, and Gary.
NWI Prime Site for Intermodal
A Post-Trib Editorial
[23 Nov 2008]
One transportation expert after another has told Northwest Indiana over the last year that the area is a potential mecca for an intermodal operation.
Transportation and logistics expert Michael Gallis spoke to business, political and community leaders in Michigan City last December. He spoke on issues at the heart of the debate over an intermodal facility in LaPorte County. "You sit in the economic corridor linking the largest economic concentrations in the country," Gallis said referring to Chicago and the Northeast.
Intermodal, simply put, is the exchange between one mode of transportation and another — typically, from rail to truck. Gallis added that trade across rail and highways is projected to double in the next 20 years, and there is no national strategy on how to deal with it.
Barbara Sloan, an analyst for Cambridge Systematics, a transportation consulting firm hired by the state to possibly bring an intermodal operation to Northwest Indiana, said in June that the country is quickly approaching the point of not being able to handle the amount of goods that need transportation. Her final report will be out in January.
And Thomas Finkbiner, senior chairman of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver, told attendees at the annual Indiana Logistics Summit two weeks ago that there is enough traffic to justify an intermodal center in this area.
A proposal for an intermodal facility in LaPorte County a year or so ago was met with that seemingly fatal area affliction — Not in My Back Yard.
Will someone soon recognize that an intermodal facility provides jobs and tax revenue — two things we are sorely lacking in this area? Who is going to step up?
[COMMENT GDY -] In addition to the question of "who is going to step up," asked by the Post-Trib, the question has to be asked why Rudy has not gone after this? Does it not mean jobs, tax revenues and a better Gary, Indiana? Does not Gary already have available more than a number of sites for the location and operation of such a intermodal hub? What am I missing here?
==> See my Open Letter to the Mayor (entry of 22 Aug 2008) where I addressed the fact that Gary was smack-dab in the middle of every conceivable transportation hub, and Rudy show take advantage of that fact.
Gary Workers Return to Full week, Full Pay
GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay said Friday, city workers can expect to return to a five-day work week Dec. 8, ending nearly four months of 20 percent pay cuts. Gary's four-day work week began in August, after the city discovered it was facing a $13 million budget shortfall. Some civilian workers were forced to take the pay cut, but the police and firefighter unions took the city to court. In each instance, the courts ruled in favor of the unions, reversing those pay cuts.
Ten rookie police officers who were placed on furlough have been told to report back to work the same day, and 13 furloughed firefighters expect to return to work a week later. "We want everybody to have a Merry Christmas," Clay said, "including firefighters and including police."
Union leaders are approaching the news with skepticism. Del Stout Gary Fraternal Order of Police President said although 10 furloughed police officers were told to report back to work, that doesn't mean they will be working. "Until it happens, obviously we can't say for sure, Stout said."
The Service Employees International Union's Lorenzo Crowell said he was waiting to inform his members of the return to a five-day work week until the city submits something to him in writing. "Oftentimes, they've told us stuff and it hasn't occurred."
[COMMENT GDY -] Return to work, for how long, one wonders? Surely, Rudy has not found a permanent resoloution to the budget crisis? Is this but a feeble attempton his part to buy support of the citizenry?
DuSable Denies Link to Gary Art
GARY -- The curator of The DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, through its curator, on Thursday firmly denied knowing anything as to the whereabouts of two paintings missing from the Gary schools' collection. "The paintings are not in our possession," Charles Bethea, the DuSable's director of curatorial services, said.
School officials have no record of them leaving their collection. An appraiser said the missing paintings could be worth as much as $20,000 each.
The school board attorney sent a letter to the DuSable curator last month asking about the Charles Dawson paintings "Quadroon Madonna" and "Brother and Sister." She wrote the letter after local art enthusiast Jim Nowacki told the board he found "Brother and Sister" hanging in the Chicago museum. In its response to the school board letter, the DuSable curator wrote, "I don't know where he would have thought he saw those particular paintings. We've never displayed anything like that."
Gary City Council Chief of Staff Ousted
Compiled from a Post-Trib article by Jon Seidel
[19 Nov 2008]
GARY — Security personnel escorted City Council’s chief of staff from City Hall on Tuesday. Council President Ronier Scott, immediately prior to the forced removal, placed the chief of staff on paid leave for the rest of the year .
The post is held by Rachelle Morgan-Ceaser. It is among several that were cut from Gary’s 2009 budget in an effort to deal with a multi-million dollar shortfall. Scott cited those economic conditions in a letter notifying Morgan-Ceaser of his decision, but he didn’t explain how the city would financially benefit by putting him on paid leave. When asked to explain this decision, as well as the urgency of his removal from City Hall, Scott had no comment.
Now, some of Scott’s fellow council members are this apparently unilateral decision. At least one council member, Ragen Hatcher (D-at large), is publicly accusing the council president of retribution against an employee. She said, "It speaks to the unethical culture of our current administration and certain council members.
City finance records show that the council’s chief of staff is budgeted at $50,359.00 for 2008. In his letter, Scott also asked Morgan-Ceaser to turn over a city cell phone, credit card, car and laptop. Those items have yet to be surrendered.
[COMMENT GDY -] Another great government idea, pay staff to stay home. That will certainly go a long way to save monies during a period of financial distress! There has to be more than meets the eye here. Stay tuned ....
Gary Cuts Fire Force by 13
[18 Nov 2008]
GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay took 13 firefighters off the city payroll for at least 30 days Monday, after their union rejected his proposal to delay a clothing allowance payment. The mayor then squarely placed the blame on the fellow firefighters. "When they made that vote," Clay said, "they laid off their own people."
Raynard Robinson, president of Firefighters Local 359, said the mayor and his cabinet are the ones who created the city's financial crisis. "Their mismanagement is what caused all this," Robinson said. "Mismanagement from the beginning."
Gary is struggling with a $13 million budget deficit this year. A state report shows it could also face a shortfall of $36 million in 2009.
Mayor Clay tried to impose an across-the-board pay cut earlier this year. In separate cases, two different Lake County judges ruled he couldn't reduce the pay for either the police or the firefighters.
After his courtroom defeats, Clay asked each union to delay a clothing allowance payment until the end of this year. In the case of the firefighters, Clay said, that payment is $750 per worker. Each union rejected the offer. Ten rookie police officers were laid off for at least 30 days after their union's vote.
[COMMENT GDY -] One has to wonder, and ask, who is now left to gaurd the henhouse, but the wolf!
Paintings from Gary School Collection Surface in
[17 Nov 2008]
GARY -- The Gary School Board wants to know: How did two paintings from its collection found their way to the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago? So far, the museum isn't providing any answers. "We certainly want to know what belongs to us," School Board president Nellie Moore said.
The two paintings are Charles Dawson's "Quadroon Madonna" and "Brother and Sister." They were discovered by local art enthusiast Jim Nowacki at the DuSable, Moore said. Nowacki urged Gary school board attorney Ragen Hatcher to request of the DuSable a complete provenance search of the paintings.
Hatcher did just that, in a 1 Oct letter addressed to Charles Bethea, director of curatorial services for the DuSable. Bethea has failed to return multiple phone calls from the Post-Tribune about the paintings. Nor has Bethea responded to Hatcher's inquiry, Moore said.
There are many paintings, once in the collection of the Gary Community School Corporation, which have gone missing. Nowacki said he recognized "Brother and Sister" while exploring the DuSable, having researched the collection extensively. A DuSable staff member has confirmed that it is also in possession of the "Quadroon Madonna."
Nowacki, upon making the discovery, began to communicate with Bethea by phone and mail. Bethea finally responded with a letter dated 29 July. Bethea's letter referred to Nowacki's questions about the paintings as "unusual." Bethea then broke off all comminucation with Nowacki. His letter stated, "At this juncture, we are suspending our search until we receive a formal request to my attention on the appropriate stationary."
Stymied, Nowacki asked City Attorney Hatcher and the School Board to get involved. When Nowacki explained his discoverys to the school board, member Jesse Morris stated that as a student he recalled seeing the "Quadroon Madonna" hanging on a wall at Roosevelt High. "How it got in the DuSable museum, I don't know," Morris said.
In her letter, Hatcher wrote, "The Gary Community School Corporation has no record of transferring or auctioning either painting to the DuSable Museum of African American History or to any other person or entity." The paintings could only legally be removed from the schools' collection by way of an advertised auction, or through a transfer to another not-for-profit organization.
Moore said the board might only request public recognition of ownership by DuSable if it's determined the paintings belong to the Gary schools. I certainly think this art should be able to be appreciated by the viewing public, Moore said.
[COMMENT GDY -] How can the School City of Gary monitor the education of its students, when it is not even capable of keeping track of immobile property?
Inspectors Find Asbestos in Gary
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
[15 Nov 2008]
GARY -- Asbestos remains in the former Sheraton Hotel, state air quality officials said Friday, despite an earlier claim that the building was free of the toxic substance.
The New Gary Development Group, a Chicago-based team of investors, is trying to renovate the 14-story downtown high-rise into a senior citizen housing center.
Phillip Kupritz, the group's lead architect, told the Post-Tribune in October that an environmental cleanup effort in the building was finished. Amy Hartsock, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said at the time that state inspectors wouldn't be double-checking the work. "There's no requirement for us to return," Hartsock had said. After those comments were published, Kupritz said, a state inspector told him he was flooded with calls from the public. "He said that he had at least 30 calls as a result of that newspaper article," Kupritz said.
IDEM spokesman Rob Elstro said the state wound up inspecting the Sheraton last month because the contractor clearing the building extended the completion date for the project. "That's a reason for us to reinspect the facility," Elstro said.
When that happened, Elstro said the Sheraton was found to be 98 percent clear of asbestos. "There's one stairwell that has some vinyl asbestos tile in it that has to still be cleaned," Kupritz said. It was unclear Friday when the remaining asbestos would be removed from the building, though.
Now, developer money troubles could delay the completion of an environmental cleanup in the building. The Sheraton cleanup is funded by a federal brownfield loan worth $735,000, guaranteed by 20 percent cash collateral from Kupritz. The developmer is scheduled to receive another $80,000 piece of that loan. However, Kupritz took back his cash collateral. The Empowerment Zone won't release the remaining money until that collateral is returned.
Letters to the Editor
It's up to Gary folks to improve their city
[14 Nov 2008]
The real question is: Does Gary care about Gary?
The rest of Northwest Indiana, Mitch Daniels or The Man are not to blame for the circumstance Gary is in. Gary is to blame -- period.
When I lived in Gary, I also saw "outsiders" driving down 5th Avenue. They almost always were driving over the speed limit, trying to dash out of the city before they got shot or robbed. People go to RailCats baseball games in daylight, only to run for their lives afterward in the dark, back to their safer cities.
Let's look at what the problems actually are right now. Some citizens of Gary still are blaming white people for all their ills. They limp on a crutch instead of taking responsibility for their own community. Some of them are stuck in the past, refusing to see the issues that face them in the present.
The source of drugs and guns coming into Gary is an issue, but if the city's residents had standards, they wouldn't tolerate this behavior. Drug deals during the day are highly visible in the city, but people turn the other way.
Dopeheads, prostitutes, gangsters and all the like are everywhere, and to be honest, they're accepted as normal Joe Sixpacks in Gary.
Gary is a garbage dump. And it's no one else's responsibility to clean up all of that. The citizens of Gary are the ones who need to clean up after themselves.
Christine Hisick, Valparaiso
One (anonymous) citizen opinion
[13 Nov 2008]
City Council Wrongly Doles Out Taxpayer
A Post-Tribune Editorial
[12 Nov 2008]
For years, members of the Gary City Council have used a little-known budget provision to dole out tax funds to acquaintances, churches, public schools and other groups. Between 2004 and 2007, council members spent $2.1 million from an account called grants and subsidies. A better name might be "pork fund."
Post-Tribune staff writer Jon Seidel spent months researching how council members spent the money. He found the checks are distributed with no accountability. The earmark program is reminiscent of the now-defunct Build Indiana program, which ended abruptly when an East Chicago lawmaker gave state money to a minister who falsely claimed he operated a church shelter.
The intent in Gary is to spend money on organizations that benefit citizens. Here are some examples of spending: $40,400 went to convicted criminal Otho Lyles III to make educational videos about demolition; $20,000 went to the Gary Urban Enterprise Association from former councilman and convicted felon Robert White; $104,000 went to a group that rehabs houses and is linked to an attorney under a federal indictment for embezzlement.
It's become a practice for council members to give money to schools, which also receive tax dollars. Council members get free publicity when their names are dutifully read at School Board meetings signifying the "donation." If council members want publicity, they should advertise with their own money.
This spending should stop!
Glen Park Group Forgets About 'that'
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
[11 Nov 2008]
The Glen Park Coalition of Concern, a not-for-profit
housing assistance agency based in Merrillville and led by Jerry Haymon,
accepted at least $104,000 from the Gary City Council between 2004 and
2007. Then Haymon forgot about it.
[COMMENT GDY -] Why is the Glen Park Coalition based outside of Gary, in the Town of Merrillville? That fact alone should raise a red flag or two.
But when a reporter shared with Haymon the records that rank his organization as among the top to benefit from the City Council's promotional fund, the answers changed. "We did receive that funding," Haymon said.
The checks totaling $104,000, identified from city financial records, were earmarked by council member Ronier Scott, D-6th, in what he said was an effort to return Glen Park properties to the tax rolls. "That was the way to try to revitalize the 6th District," Scott said. All of the checks are dated before September 2007. That's when Haymon received another $75,000 grant from Scott with few spending guidelines.
Haymon said he has returned one home in Glen Park to the property tax rolls using that money. Haymon said he used money from the City Council to create a "beautiful home for a family that would have never been a homeowner." It's found in the 4000 block of Tennessee Street.
A man answering the door there, though, said he's never heard of the Coalition of Concern, and a Schererville attorney connected to Haymon's group is now under federal indictment for embezzling money from his clients. The man answering the door there, who said his name was "Paul" but wouldn't give a last name, said Haymon is his landlord and collects his rent.
Dem Party Chief Challengers
By John Byrne Post-Tribune staff writer
[8 Nov 2008]
Lake County's Democratic Party officials played nice this fall, in the interest of getting Barack Obama and a slate of local candidates elected. Now that the votes are counted, the gloves are coming off.
Potential challengers to Gary Mayor Rudy Clay's leadership of the party are beginning to step forward in advance of a spring 2009 election to the powerful post. Clay's reaction: Bring it on!
Party chairman is considered a powerful post because, among other things, the chairman effectively controls the local election process by naming the executive director of the Elections and Registration Office, as well as two of the five members of the county Election Board -- the panel that sets policy and procedures for all county elections. The chairman also traditionally selects the Election Board attorney and can fill vacancies in the countywide Democratic precinct organization, the street-level party apparatus that helps get people to the polls.
Grumbling about Clay's leadership in the post has simmered almost since he was named by the state Democratic Central Committee in spring 2005 because local party leaders couldn't reach consensus.
Gary Cuts 10 Police
Officers; Firefighters May Be Next
Post-Tribune staff report
[8 Nov 2008]
GARY -- Ten rookie police officers still in training learned Friday they're off the payroll for at least one month.
Mayor Rudy Clay blamed the Fraternal Order of Police for his action. "We regret the FOP chose in essence to lay off their fellow officers instead of conceding a one-time loss of $750," city spokeswoman LaLosa Burns said. City officials last week asked police and fire unions to forego the second semiannual clothing allowance payment in exchange for job protection. "But when they made their so-called proposal, they could not guarantee there would be no layoffs this year or next," FOP President Del Stout said. "We could not see any benefit to giving up money promised to us."
Firefighters Local 359 President Raynard Robinson said his members will vote next week on the same offer. "I'm sure they could look at the mayor's budget and figure something out to cut," Robinson said. Robinson said Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant suggested that 15 police officers and 15 firefighters would be laid off without the proposed concession. "If the guys vote not to take this, then I think they will have to lay off 15 firefighters," Robinson said.
Stout said the FOP contract requires a 30-day notice before officers can be laid off, but Burns said their probationary status exempts them from that protection.
"It's just going to end up costing the city back pay and more lawyer's fees," Stout said. "We will file a grievance and take it to arbitration."
In preparation for the layoffs, Chief Reggie Harris notified all officers assigned to various law enforcement task forces they are being reassigned to duties within the department.
[8 Nov 2008]
The Lake County surveyor admits to giving a county-owned vehicle to his son for use, admits to filling his private car with gas at the the taxpayers' expense, and the people of Lake County return him to his office by a 2-to-1 margin.
Letters to the
[8 Nov 2008]
All of NWI must work for Gary's betterment
I am writing in response to "Beach," who lives in Miller, and "Gary Woman," who's lived in Gary "longer than dirt," who called Post-Tribune columnist Jerry Davich saying, "I don't think anyone outside of Gary really cares about us anymore." She asked him, "Do you think anyone cares?"
Sorry, I am not an outsider; however I do care, and I have a genuine concern. I also have lived in Gary a long time.
In response to the statement that 99 percent of "outsiders" do not want to go into Gary: It was interesting to see all the trucks and cars going down 5th Avenue in Gary when the Borman Expressway was closed because of the flood. And I've seen crowds of "outsiders" when a great sale is advertised for Gary. And I wonder how many outsiders are buying Gary property at tax sales.
Davich said, "So what now?" Well, Jerry, let's look at the roots of the problem.
How did Gary get in this condition with the many problems that Beach, the Gary woman and Davich described? Did change come to Gary because a black mayor took over? How did white flight affect Gary, and why were there so many fires in the downtown area at that time? What effect did a lower tax base bring upon Gary? Where are the sources of drugs and guns coming from into Gary? Who has the money to bring drugs and guns into Gary?
Gary is not an island, so the problem is not just Gary's but Northwest Indiana's. Yes, those who live in Gary and yet complain should ask themselves, "What am I doing to help prevent some of these unfavorable conditions?"
Neither outsiders nor insiders should write off Gary. Every city could follow suggestions made by Davich: Seek help from pastors, senior citizens and decent men and women -- leaders becoming visible in neighborhoods and near schools. Neither Gary nor any other city in Northwest Indiana is lost unless we give up. We must unite and work together.
Too many non-Gary residents come to Gary for drugs. Can we prevent terrorists from entering our cities, state or our country if we can't control drugs and guns from coming into our land?
We must not throw stones at Gary! Let's work together and help all of our towns and cities in Northwest Indiana. Remember, Gary does not have walls and is not an island.
Someone Who Cares Responds (on
[8 Nov 2008]
Gary is not my problem. The people who do reside in Gary, it's your problem. The community I live in is my problem and I take care of my own issues.
I went to a ball game once. When the security guard told me that I shouldn't stay there long after the game ends, then I knew I didn't want to go back to anymore games again.
And, no I don't go to Gary, down either the expressway or any other way. The last time I did was back in the summer and we passed a dead body laying on Ridge Road. That is when I knew there wasn't anything worth going east on Ridge Road.
When I did jury duty in Gary for a few days, I was absolutely scared out of my mind to walk once court was dismissed. In fact, the entire group of jury people walked together.
It's really bad when you can't even get out and sit on your porch for fear you would be shot. And for the person who said about all the traffic! DUH, state police were rerouting everyone. Did you see anyone stop and have a sandwich anywhere? I think not.
Clay's Wife in "Temporary" Spot Five Months Later
The Post-Trib on the Street
(A public blog for Post-Trib Reporters - Jon Seidel)
[6 Nov 2008]
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said his wife, Christine Clay, hasn't decided whether she'd like her role on the Genesis Convention Center's board of commissioners to become permanent. Mayor Clay said in June that his wife had accepted the position on a "temporary" basis. It was previously held by the late Roland "Bo" Watson. He also said she would not receive a stipend.
"She's doing a great job," Mayor Clay said this week. "I have not asked her to step down. She hasn't said whether she wants it permanently or not yet."
However, the mayor said his wife is now being paid for the work she is doing. According to a copy of the city's 2008 budget, board members are scheduled to receive $1,236 a year.
"It's really nothing," Mayor Clay said.
Rudy is a joke. The Sheraton is a joke. The downtown renewal effort is a joke. Rudy on the GSD Board is a joke. People of Gary wake up and smell the corruption !! Stand up and demand that Rudy be removed !! I know we could do better with anybody but him!!
There is nothing left to say. The corruption that exists in Gary begins at the top, and floats right on down. That means in order to get rid of it, the top must be eliminated. But the citizens of Gary don't. They keep right on voting the same kind of corrupt people into office. The citizens are asking for this kind of thing, so let them have it. There's no room to feel sorry for people who ask for it.
Gary School Board Plans Big Cuts to Trim
The Gary School Board will likely cut more than 50 teacher positions in order to trim $23 million from its 2009 budget by Dec. 1.
The extent of the cuts is deep: 57 teachers, 57 supervisory aides, most custodians from the buildings scheduled to be closed, 12 secretaries and five maintenance workers. The district is also not filling several administrative positions.
School board president Nellie Moore said the cuts are severe, but there's not really a way around them.
Planning Essential for Foreclosure Money
Gary has one of the highest foreclosure rates in Indiana, at 18.1 percent. Gary, has been tabbed to receive more than $13 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money to address the problem. Now it's up to officials to come up with plans that use the money effectively and where it can have the most impact.
WHILE GARY SINKS INTO BANKRUPTCY - USS
U.S. Steel Profit Triples
Post-Tribune staff and wire reports
[29 Oct 2008]
PITTSBURGH -- United States Steel Corp.'s quarterly profit more than tripled as higher prices led to record gains in its tubular and flat-rolled steel businesses, but the company warned Tuesday softening demand in North America and Europe will cut results for the rest of the year.
The Pittsburgh-based steel producer reported net income of $919 million, or $7.79 per share, in the third quarter, compared with $269 million, or $2.27 per share, a year earlier. Profit was lowered by 67 cents per share because of charges for employee signing bonuses under a union labor agreement and environmental remediation.
"It's not surprising that it's a very large number," said local United Steelworkers District President Jim Robinson. "The industry has had a very good couple of years. It's a result of the hard work that we as steel workers did to fight successfully for the steel tariffs and drive the consolidation."
U.S. Steel Chief Executive John P. Surma said the company turned in the most profitable quarter in its history, but warned that fourth-quarter results will decline due to the volatile global economic climate.
Quarterly income from flat-rolled products soared to $835 million from $170 million a year earlier, boosted by higher prices. Tubular income climbed to $420 million from $74 million on higher prices, partially offset by increased costs for semi-finished steel.
A Bit of Humor, Despite it All
[24 Oct 2008]
I recently drove south of Gary's 15th Avenue on a
It was rutted and filled with potholes and showed no visible signs of repairs.
The roadsides were littered with junk.
Is it poetic justice that the road was named Clay Street?
Clay Loses Round in Court to Firefighters
GARY--Mayor Rudy Clay can't cut firefighters' wages or hours, Lake Superior Court Judge John Pera ruled Tuesday afternoon. "The mayor does not have the authority to modify the compensation," Pera wrote in a four-page decision granting Gary Firefighters an injunction in their attempt to stave off a reduction in pay by imposition of reduced hours.
The Gary F.O.P. won a similar ruling on behalf of Gary Police Department personnel on 10 Oct of this year.
Judge Tells Clay No! on Police Pay Cut
Compiled from a report by Christine Kraly of the NWI Times.com
[10 Oct 2008]
Gary Fraternal Order of Police President Lt. Del Stout said Thursday he was pleased with Tavitas' ruling. "Our members are happy," he said.
In mid-August, Lake County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting the city from implementing the pay cut. The case was then assigned to Tavitas for a final hearing and ruling.
In the ruling, Tavitas noted that the Gary Police Department is understaffed, with officers fleeing to higher-paying jobs. Tavitas agreed with the F.O.P. that only the Gary City Council has the authority to make changes to police officers' salaries. The city's current collective bargaining agreement with the FOP expires on Dec. 31, 2009. It is not subject to change or revision by Mayor Clay.
Chinese Eye Gary
Clay hopes new talks with business owners can spur development
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent
[7 Sep 2008]
GARY -- Members of the Gary delegation to China are returning the favor to their Chinese hosts this weekend and hope they'll like the area enough to spend money here.
Four of the people Mayor Rudy Clay and
the delegation met during their May trip are visiting the city to scope out
potential economic development opportunities. Clay presented the group
with gifts from the city, including a clock bearing his likeness from the
[COMMENT GDY -] No shortage of ego here, but that should come as a surprise to no one who knows Rudy?
The delegation rounded out its visit Friday with a tour of the city, including stops at Gary/Chicago International Airport, the Majestic Star and Majestic Star II casinos, the area south of Interstate 80/94 and Grant Street, and the brownfield areas along Cline Avenue. I guess Rudy's idea of showing off Gary's assets is to take them to the Little Calumet R. flood plain and toxic superfund sites?
Clay's Handling of Gary's Financial
COMMENTARY By GDY:
[5 Sep 2008]
For those not aware, the City of Gary is in the midst of a financial crisis. Mayor Clay predicts the city will run out of funds by October. The projected deficit is a mere $13 Million Dollars! The largest source of revenue, being casino payments, is presently being withheld by Don Barden. He is placing the monies in escrow to pressure the city administration to live up to an agreement entered into between the casino and former mayor, Scott King. That agreement calls for the city to construct an access road to his gambling boat. Like everything else in Gary, it has yet to happen. Barden did, this week, release to the city $4 Million of the monies being held in escrow. At the same time, he made it clear he will not resume the regular monthly payments to the city called for under the agreement until such time as Gary lives up to its side of the bargain. Rudy avers that this sum may keep the city in funds until the end of 2008, but only if every city employee's hours/pay is reduced by 20%. Well, we already know that is not going to happen (See: Below)?
In an effort to stave off bankruptcy, Rudy has ordered an across-the-board 20% reduction in hours worked by all city employees. In theory, all employees went from full-time 40 hr./week employees to 32 hr./week personnel. I say in theory, because the police union immediately obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting implementation of the reduction in hours within the police department.
With respect to the fire department, Clay ordered all fire engines be manned with only 3 firemen, instead of 4. Well, the fire department went to court and got an injunction against this. There are a total of 13 fire stations in Gary. Depending on who is doing the counting, at present as few as 2, or as many as 6, are currently being manned.
The lack of open fire stations has already had adverse impact (How could it not?). On 4 Sep 2008, a resident of Black Oak had her house damaged due to a fire in a vacant dwelling next door. The fire station 2 blocks away was unable to respond. It was closed. Instead, it took fire personnel 12 mins. to reach the scene from a firehouse 2 miles away! By the time it arrived the vinyl siding on the non-burning, occupied house, was melting away!
Back to the ordered 20% reduction: The City Clerk has openly declared her avowed defiance of the mayor's order. She simply refuses to follow it. She claims she can achieve a 20% reduction in operating costs without reducing the hours of her employees. How is she able to resist a command from the chief executive of the city, I wonder?
Today (9/5/08), it was reported that city employees represented by the Teamsters began recieving notice of their COBRA rights with respect to health insurance. The notices advise them of the right to continue coverage under the city health plan by paying the premiums out of their own pockets; pockets which have become a little less deep by reason of the mandated reduction in pay! The reason for the notice is that the City of Gary has not paid the necessary health insurance premiums for the months of June, July and August of 2008! The total dollar amount of the premim arrearage is $164,000.00.
In the midst of this financial debacle, what is the city doing? It is buying up city property at sheriff's tax sales. The amount spent on such puchases so far in 2008, equals $70,000.00 +. The purchases are of abandoned and neglected properties exemplified by vacant and overgrown lots, and burned-out bungalows, all of which show no recent signs of maintenance or redevelopment. It goes without saying, the property owners of record are delinquent in payment of their real property taxes. In other words, the properties currently generate no tax revenues for the city.
Purchase by the city assures that they will stay off the tax rolls, and continue to be non-revenue producing. That sure sounds like a wise move? Lake County records show that currently more than 9,000 Gary properties, or 18% of the parcels in Gary, are already listed as government owned and nontaxable. The value of these parcels is deducted from the city's net assessed value, chipping away 22% of Gary's overall assessment. Taken together, that is a potential loss of about $43 Million Dollars a year in tax revenues. For comparison purposes, just 4% of the properties in Hammond fall into the government/nontaxable category.
Even more strange is the manner of purchase by the city. City employees, acting as private individuals, not in their official capacity as representatives of the City of Gary, are the ones making the purchases at the tax sales. However, the purchaeses are paid for on checks drawn on the City of Gary bank account? Subsequent to the purchase the property is deeded over to the city by the private individual who is the successful bidder. One has to wonder how much is being "skimmed off the top" for playing the role of staw man in these purchases? [SEE: Wheelin' & Dealin,' above.]
When queried, the Deputy Mayor claims the city administration is working with a developer interested in building new housing near Gary's downtown. How many times have the citizens of Gary heard such? Of course, no developer is ever named, and no transfer of property form non-taxed to taxable status ever transpires.
It is all balderdash, pure and simple! The good citizens of Gary know this full well. Here is what one such resident had to say, recently:
Gary's government prevents city growth -
No serious corporation would want to set up shop in a city like Gary. The city may never progress beyond the liquor store, beauty supply or rib joint kind of place. There are winos, prostitutes, and junkies stumbling around the sidewalks, and the police roll right past them. Maybe public intoxication and prostitution are illegal only in other cities. Or maybe Gary just takes those laws for a joke.
Granted, there are a few upstanding officials here, but the majority of them are court jesters playing some citizens for fools. At the Aug. 19 City Council meeting, one councilwoman's revealing choice of clothing confused me as to whether she was on her way to try out at the Black Cherri Lounge on U.S. 20 or going to a government assembly. It was so reminiscent of a former School Board official who was removed by the voters. Maybe being on TV motivates one's "performance" more than the tasks at hand.
At a School Board meeting, some of the officials visibly laugh at public speakers. (We don't see that on camera.) One tries to veil his or her heedlessness by over-enunciating words and yapping redundantly. Intelligence isn't an act. Darren Washington is one of the only lights in that dark alley.
It's difficult to describe in 300 words or less why a corporation wouldn't take Gary seriously. But I suppose it would be even more difficult to describe why one would.
Christine Hisick, Gary
[September 2, 2008]
Not only do the good citizens smell a rat, so does the F.B.I. Per the NWI Times, iIt is currently investigating the city's purchases of property at tax sales.
And, what is "Hizzonor" doing while the "Steel City" descends into the depths of depression and decrpitude? Not unlike Nero with his fiddle, Rudy trudged off to Denver to party for a week at the Democratic National Convention! My recent readings of the comments at NWI Times.com show a mounting dissatisfaction with Rudy, his antics, and his administratrion. Words like "recall" and "disannexation" appear more and more frequently from the mouths and pens of citizens.
Yes, friends, there is trouble in the "Steel City!"
Jackson Family Museum On Hold
[27 Aug 2008]
Plans to build a museum honouring pop's first family, the
JACKSONS, in their native Gary, Indiana have been put on hold as the troubled
clan fix a series of financial issues.
An Open Letter to Mayor Rudy
[22 Aug 2008]
Permit me to preface my comments with the statement that I am a former resident, and a still avid fan and supporter, of Gary; in the past known variously as the “Steel City,” the “Magic City” and the “City of the Century.” I had the fortunate experience of having been born, bred and educated there. The education I received in the Gary public schools (Lew Wallace H.S. Class of ’64), I am proud to say, was second-to-none! It permitted this former steelworker to go on to earn two college degrees and make his way in the world.
What I want to communicate is that I feel your administration is more than an embarrassment to the good, hard working people of Gary. Gary has been in a downward spiral for decades, true. Unfortunately, and to your shame, your administration is exacerbating the decline, not arresting or reversing it.
During your short tenure in office, we have had a chief of police (I say “a,” because there have already been 7 chiefs of police in your first 28 months in office!) and his cohorts resign under the cloud of violating the civil rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. We have endured the Gary International Airport fiascoes. Then, there is the on again/off again Sheraton Hotel farce, the phantom Wyndham Hotel and the Jackson Family Museum.
You decry the litter seen in the neighborhoods, and implore residents to take responsibility for their property. When they jump on board by doing just that, they get no assistance from the city in terms of trash pickup. Instead, they must endure mounds of stacked trash at the curb that never gets removed. What kind of message does that send? Are they to not only clean up their properties, but also to then have to remove the trash to the city dump? If the answer is yes, pray tell, for what are they paying their hard-earned money in taxes?
One could answer their tax dollars go to pay the cost of fueling your Hummer, and paying your chauffeur and bodyguards. I recall the days when the mayor of Gary was both visible and accessible on the streets of the city. He did not isolate himself in a two and a half ton civilian version of a military transport! He had a presence in, and was a recognizable member of, the community; be it Glen Park, Aetna, Miller, Tolleston or wherever.
Or, maybe citizens’ tax dollars go to pay your son to photographically document your administration? Now, there is a worthwhile expenditure that serves all the citizens of Gary!
Your conduct in relation to the auxiliary police force borders on the absurd. One gets the distinct impression the auxiliary police is nothing more than a group of yet to mature adults playing at cops and robbers. With the name of Yaros, I and my family know more than a little about what a serious business law enforcement in Gary is. While you and your cronies are having fun “playing,” the lives and property of Gary citizens are put in jeopardy.
Then, there are the troubles within the fire department. The last time I looked, Gary, Indiana is still defined under the Indiana Code as a city of the second class. What legally defined Indiana “second class city” does not have a fire department that is on duty 24/7? Requiring firefighters to work in buildings that are on the verge of being condemned, to rotate between station houses (closing one to open another, depending on the day of the week) has to be demoralizing, risky and costly. Do we just pretend that property insurance underwriters ignore the presence of fire protection services when setting the rates of homeowner insurance premiums?
This month, in what I am suspect will be a futile effort to stave off municipal bankruptcy, you are trying to impose 20% across-the-board cuts for all city departments. Success in this would mean the already abysmal level of police and fire services will be even further reduced.
I will be the first to acknowledge that the problems besetting Gary are manifold. I appreciate that no one individual will have all the answers. I know that no magic wand is going to be waved and Gary will be reborn. At the same time, it would be nice to see a dent being made in one or two critical areas.
What two critical areas would I like to see be tackled? The omnipresence of unemployment and the failure of the public schools need immediate, concerted effort. Unless, and until, these factors are addressed nothing will change, let alone improve.
Gary’s location on the southern tip of Lake Michigan, in the midst of every conceivable hub of transportation (surface, rail, ship and air), combined with space galore available for development by business and industry, provides immense economic potential. Mayor Clay, it is your job as chief executive of the city to transform that potential into reality! I and the citizens of Gary want to know, what are you doing to accomplish this?
Rather than suffer a downtown that harkens of Baghdad, why not say, “Come here, we will give you tax rebates and provide a top notch education to the children of your employees when you locate in Gary?” Then, follow up those words with deeds by procuring approval for tax rebates, and by hiring the necessary quality educators.
At least it would be a start. Such an alternative is better than vacant, burned out businesses and closed industrial sites. What revenues do they generate for the city?
Mayor Clay, if you feel my suggestions are naďve, do feel free to point out why. Tell us what you have done, and are doing, to alleviate the plight of a once proud city. Tell us what you want us to do, and precisely what the city will do to assist us in our efforts. After all, are we not all in this together?
[COMMENT GDY -] The above letter was sent to Mayor Clay. If/When he, or someone on his behalf, replies, the response will be made available here.
Rudy Names New Chief of Police
[20 Aug 2008]
This week "Hizzonor, Mayor Rudy Clay, named Lt. Reginald Harris to take over the reigns of the Gary P.D. Harris is the 7th person to serve in this capacity since Clay took office in April of 2006. Harris replaces the interim chief, who replaced the previous chief of police who resigned after being indicted by the feds for violating the civil rights of a citizen/suspect.
Harris' appointment comes at the same time that Rudy is trying to implement a city-wide 20% reduction in pay, but not hours worked, by all government personnel. This attempted reduction has been challenged by the Gary F.O.P. That challenge has, initially, proven successful. The F.O.P. has procured a temporary restraining order barring the reduction in pay, at least as it might apply to police personnel.
The appointment also follows on the tail of the removal
from Rudy's control of the volunteer reserve police force. A recent ruling
declared jurisdiction and control of the reserve forces resides in the police
commission, not the mayor's office. The effect of this ruling was that the
existing reserve officers were not legally employed. To remedy this
situation, the commission is soliciting applications. Even so, the
illegally employed reserve officers are still on the job, in uniform, driving
G.P.D. cruisers and carrying firearms!
[COMMENT GDY -] Let's see, 7 chiefs in 28 months, that computes out to an average shelf life of 4 months, doesn't it? Is this not a classic case of too many chiefs, and not enough indians? I mean who is in charge, and what is the direction the police department is supposed to be following? What does the revolving door in the chief's office do to morale and operational efficiency? Not a good situation, to say the least!
Homicides Down, but Violent Crime Up
[27 Jul 2008]
By Lori Caldwell Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay rarely misses an opportunity to boast about his city's dramatic decline in homicides this year. His cell phone voice mail message tells callers Gary's "crime rate is lower than it's been in 50 years;" recent news releases penned by the mayor make the same claim.
It's true that homicides are down almost 50 percent from last year. But other comparisons don't fare as well. In fact, overall violent crime is up 40 percent for the first six months of this year compared to 2007. Shootings alone jumped at least 14 percent through June 30, department statistics show.
Clay said he based his claim on information provided by the police chief, although a report prepared by the department's crime analysis unit that was submitted to the FBI earlier this month states 473 incidents involving violent crime occurred here from Jan. 1 through June 30. Last year for the same six-month period, the number was 337.
people were wounded by gunfire in the first half of the year, compared to 64 in
2007, the report states.
[COMMENT GDY -] What is one to conclude here, given the rise in crime and decrease in population by about 4,000? If homicides are down, could it be that either the aim of the shooters is poor, or that the level of emergency medical services has improved immensely?
Airport Gives Customs Site a Bye
[26 Jul 2008]
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- The city's airport board suspended fund-raising
efforts for a new customs facility this week, effectively ending its chances of
landing a passenger airline from Mexico (Via Aerobus).
[COMMENT GDY -] Like sands through the hourglass, the comical farce of Mayor Rudy and the Gary International Airport goes on, and on, and on . . ..
Lack of Building Permits May Halt Work at New Emerson
[24 Jul 2008]
By SHARLONDA L. WATERHOUSE Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- Renovation work to turn the former Kennedy-King Elementary school site into the new Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts may be stopped after all. Gary City Building Commissioner Benjamin Robinson said Wednesday that building permits are required for work inside the school, even if the main structure of the building is left in tact. "They are not exempt," Robinson said. "They are required to have an official permit and approval of a licensed contractor. They are going to have to shut it down -- I will pursue that."
On Tuesday, Gary School Board member Marion Williams
questioned whether it was legal for the district to reconfigure the building
without official documents or approved blueprints. Williams said on a
recent visit to Kennedy-King that "one worker asked where is the blueprint for
the work he was supposed to be doing? There wasn't one. Everything
is being left to the responsibility of the worker."
[COMMENT GDY -] Plans, permits, who wudda thunk? That is not the way "insider business" is done in Gary; the contractor who landed this project did not have the right friends in high places?
Jackson Endorses Family Museum Proposal
[23 Jul 2008]
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- Joe Jackson, father of Michael and Janet Jackson, came home for the first time in several years Tuesday and he gave his blessing to the latest plan to build a museum honoring him and his famous family.
It's an idea that Mayor Rudy Clay concedes is in its earliest stages and one that has yet to be approved by any other members of the Jackson family.
"My goal is to have
them all approve it," Joel Rodriguez, a special assistant to the mayor,
said. Rodriguez said their museum would be built on a five-acre
parcel at 2600 Grant St., on land owned by the city near Interstate 80/94 and
the former County Market grocery store.
[COMMENT GDY -] The key word here is former. The County Market received buku city dollars and folded in less than 6 months!
Clay said he wouldn't give the land to the developers for free, but Rodriguez said it might be worthwhile for the city to consider a donation. "This is something that the city of Gary definitely needs," Rodriguez said.
Jackson is the patriarch of the legendary Jackson 5 band, which auditioned for Motown Records 40 years ago today. The family grew up in a small home at 2300 Jackson St. in Gary. Jackson's visit began at City Hall, where he participated in a roundtable discussion with Clay and announced his support for a Jackson Family museum. "It's a great pleasure for me to be here and see all of this going on," Jackson said.
David Loeb of Illinois-based Land Partners LLC and Chuck Hamburg of Chicago-based Creative Hospitality Associates are among the developers planning the museum. Hamburg is also a professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
The idea of a Jackson Family museum has been tossed around in Gary before. In the 1990s, a group led by then-Mayor Thomas Barnes said every member of the Jackson Family but Michael agreed in principle to co-sponsor an entertainment center and museum. That project, which would have been located at Interstates 65 and 94, died after former Mayor Scott King took office.
Standing outside Dusties Southern Style Buffet on Tuesday, Jackson said the city doesn't need the approval of any of his children to build the museum. "I'm Joe Jackson," he said. "I don't need them to approve anything."
Loeb said Joe Jackson's support will be crucial to the new museum plan, but he said several decisions need to be made in the next few months. No date, he said, has been set for groundbreaking or completion. "We've got a lot to do in a short period of time," Loeb said.
Rodriguez also said the city hasn't verified that Loeb and Hamburg have the necessary funding to build such a museum. "They're private investors," Loeb said of the people financing the project. "That's all I'm going to tell you."
Sketches of the proposed building include a theater and an outdoor LED screen facing I-80/94. There is also talk of moving the Jacksons' former home from 2300 Jackson St. to the site of the museum.
Joe Jackson, who is promoting his new reality show, stood outside that home Tuesday. He helped the mayor unveil an honorary street sign naming 23rd Avenue "2300 Jackson Street" and Jackson Street "Jackson Family Boulevard." Cameras were rolling during the event, and a producer for Jackson's show "Meet Joe Jackson" said video from his visit to Gary might be included in an episode.
Clay declared Tuesday
"Joe Jackson Day," and he gave Jackson a key to the city. "This key will
open the door to the Jackson Museum," Clay said.
[COMMENT GDY -] That key, and $1.75 may get one a cup of coffee in Gary. This is another hare brained scheme that will never, ever, come to pass. Rudy is big on talk, and it is obvious the man is not able to deliver on his promises!
Clay's Mystery Driver Contributes to Surreal Hearing
By John Byrne
[22 Jul 2008]
The L'Sana Djahspora-Darren Washington school board election hearing has at times been bizarre —
When Gary Mayor Rudy Clay testified Monday, Grimes inquired repeatedly about an employee of the mayor the attorney believed to be named "Mike McLemore." Grimes and Djahspora put "Mike McLemore" on their witness list, because Djahspora said that was the name of Clay's driver. "McLemore" was passing out illegal Democratic Party slates with Washington's name on them at an event with Michelle Obama at West Side High School the night before the May 6 election, according to Djahspora.
But Clay said he had no driver named Mike McLemore. Grimes pressed the mayor: "Have you ever had a driver named Mike McLemore?" Clay said there had once been a city employee with that name, but that he was no longer on the payroll. "How about 'Mike,' do you have any employees named 'Mike?'" Grimes asked. "I know lots of Mikes," Clay answered with a shrug.
After concluding his testimony, Clay stood in the hallway
outside the courtroom, expressing his anger with the lawsuit, which he said is a
waste of time and taxpayer money. "I'm out of here," Clay finished,
turning to his driver standing nearby. "Come on, Mike, let's roll."
[COMMENT GDY -] Does the mayor have a sense of humor, or does he have no compulsion against lieing under oath?
Enquiring minds want to know!
Portrait Goes Up
[21 Jul 2008]
A portrait of Rudy
Clay has been added to the walls of Gary City Hall's main staircase, and an open
space has been left on the wall for a portrait of former Mayor Scott King.
Clay said he paid for his portrait out of his own pocket, but he said the city
is willing to pay for a portrait of King.
[COMMENT GDY - ] Is this guy on ego trip, or what? I thought the practice was to hang the portrait after one left office?
Of course, Rudy had more than plenty of time to sit for the portrait, while running the city; no problem!
[10 Jul 2008]
I am sick and tired of seeing Gary Mayor Rudy Clay's
picture everywhere. I attended a comedy show at the Genesis Center on the
Fourth of July, and his face was on the ticket with the entertainers. He
didn't even perform. What's up with that?
[COMMENT GDY -] Sounds like a disgruntled citizen to me?
Wheelin' & Dealin'
[6 Jul 2008]
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- A not-for-profit group run by one of Gary's state representatives is in danger of losing its dilapidated downtown properties on Broadway. However, state Rep. Vernon Smith blames the city for the poor condition of his buildings, and he questioned how a City Hall staffer came to purchase the property at tax sale. "I think there's a skunk in the nest," Smith said.
Smith was called into an unsafe building hearing at City Hall annex this week because Gary's administration is threatening to tear down his buildings in the 700 block of Broadway. Smith said he lost the ability to repair the buildings and pay the taxes when vandals broke into them years ago. The city took down security gates to repair the sidewalks on Broadway. When the work was done, Smith said, the security gates weren't replaced and the buildings were invaded.
Lake County records indicate Joel Rodriguez of East Chicago purchased the properties at a tax sale in March. Rodriguez is paid by the Gary, East Chicago, Hammond Empowerment Zone to work as a special assistant to Gary Mayor Rudy Clay.
When Smith's property became available at tax sale, Rodriguez said, city officials worried that land speculators would pick up the property. Rodriguez said he volunteered to put a bid on the property using his personal registration so it wouldn't be purchased by someone else.
Even though county records list Rodriguez, with his home
address, as the buyer who paid nearly $10,000, he and Clay said it was the city
of Gary that put up the money. "We should be applauding Joel Rodriguez,"
Clay said. "We should give him a blue ribbon for saving that downtown property
so that the city could purchase it, which we did."
[COMMENT GDY -] Is this good government at work, or "political shenanigans by Rudy" at its best?
"Land speculators," would that be antother term for developer? God forbid that any part of downtown Gary actually be (re)developed by anyone, let alone by anyone but Rudy or his cronies!
Wyndham: No Gary deal
[28 Jun 2008]
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- A Wyndham Hotel Group spokesman bluntly denied Friday that his company plans to open a hotel in downtown Gary, despite a display at City Hall promoting a "New Wyndham Hotel" on Broadway.
"We do not have a signed agreement to develop a hotel project in Gary," spokesman Rich Roberts said. "We are not in talks with anyone to develop a hotel there, nor does our staff know of any proposals by any developer for a hotel of any brand in your city."
Mayor Rudy Clay promised at a town hall meeting in March that executives from a "major hotel" would visit Gary within weeks to announce a new hotel. No announcement was ever made.
|The Mayor of Gary Indiana to Pay for his Own Gas|
City Workers Must Also do the Same
[WGN-AM 6/28/2008] - Mayor Rudy Clay is now using his own personal credit card to fill up his city leased Hummer H3. Clay says the city is now spending 30 thousand dollars a week on gas and he's trying to lead by example when it comes to the city's financial woes.
Beginning Tuesday all city employees that have take home cars will have to pay for their gas themselves. Clay intends to keep his SUV which gets between 13 and 19 miles per gallon. He says it's not an issue now that he is paying for his own fuel.
The city's budget troubles have been worstened by an expected 36 million dollar revenue shortfall due to property tax changes approved by the Indiana Legislature.
Clay brags the Hummer is "economical" and considers he's doing taxpayers a favor by driving a model that gets 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. It's another sign that the mayor is out of touch. We wonder when the mayor last put his own money in a gas tank. Real leadership begins in the mayor's office. The city needs it now more than ever.
Mayor Clay on Economics
Clay argues he's saving taxpayer monies by choosing the Hummer as his official means of chauffeured transport.
"It's a very economical car," Clay said.
[COMMENT GDY -] More economical than what?
On School Financing
[18 Jun 2008]
BY Sharlonda L. Waterhouse Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY -- Pressed to shave $7 million from the school district budget by July 1, Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Mary Steele-Agee outlined a plan this week to save cash via cuts to security, maintenance, teachers and administrators.
"The bottom line is there is a $7 million deficit in the school district as we speak that has to be resolved. We have to balance the budget," Steele-Agee said.
The elementary schools will lose 21 teaching posts, the middle and high schools will lose 8.5. Seventeen teaching posts in the areas of special education, speech, black history, home economics and cooperative education will be slashed.
Seven paraprofessionals will be cut, as will nine administrative positions -- the district buyer, property control manager, professional development supervisor, assistant director of the Gary Area Career Center, and five elementary and assistant principals.
Two secretaries, five Teamsters, three general maintenance workers, five high school security posts, 12 elementary school security posts and 12 elementary supervisory aides are also on the chopping block.
Gary Cleaner (Literally) Under
Post-Tribune Letters to the Editor
[18 June 2008]
How can we persuade Scott King to run for mayor of Gary again? As a Gary resident, I have had enough of Rudy Clay as mayor.
Clay promised to clean up Gary when he was running for mayor. Since Clay took over, the city looks worse than ever. Trash and debris are everywhere. We have not had a pickup of large items since Clay has been mayor.
Many areas of the city must wait a long time just to
have their trash picked up. The city looks like a pig sty, from the
polluted shores of Miller to Brunswick, from downtown to Glen Park. Now
summer is coming, and as we drive through Gary and look at all of the decay, we
soon will smell it too. Thanks, Mayor Clay, I and many other Gary citizens
will not be voting for you in the next election.
Many areas of the city must wait a long time just to have their trash picked up. The city looks like a pig sty, from the polluted shores of Miller to Brunswick, from downtown to Glen Park. Now summer is coming, and as we drive through Gary and look at all of the decay, we soon will smell it too. Thanks, Mayor Clay, I and many other Gary citizens will not be voting for you in the next election.
Clay has urged citizens to clean up their own properties. I and many thousands of other residents do keep our properties clean and neat, but when the city refuses to clean the streets and haul away large items and clean up garbage on the roadsides and the beach, that is the fault of Mayor Clay.
We need Scott King again.
We need Scott King again.
Ramon Romantico, Gary
Ramon Romantico, Gary
Business Resurgence in the "Steel City"
[16 Jun 2008]
A convention center is what's needed for Merrillville. A business incubator is what's good for Crown Point.
What's good for Gary? "Oh, let's give them a medical waste facility or a garbage-to-ethanol plant," said the Rev. Asher Harris, pastor of Great Band Missionary Baptist Church in Gary and former president of the Interfaith Federation, a local social justice organization.
On School Security
[14 Apr 2008]
School Board Member Andrea Ledbetter said, "New strategies must be done in Gary schools to provide the safe, orderly environment favored in charter schools." She proposes using an outside security arm, such as the Nation of Islam, which she said would command respect and order from students.
[COMMENT GDY -] Let's see if I have this right? The mayor travels about the garbage littered streets in a Hummer, and the Nation of Islam provides security in the schools. Sounds like the description of a war zone to me?
"Strategies must be done?" While a strategy may be planned, used or implemented, I do not think in terms of proper english, it can ever be done. But then, why would one expect a school board member to have a proper command of the english language?
Rudy Clay's B-Western Movie
[11 May 2006]
The Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed is having more fun
with Gary Mayor Rudy Clay and his travelling security detail, suggesting it's
right out of a B-movie script. Sneed let's us in on a new website that's offering apparel with the acronym "G.E.A.R."
(Garyites Embarrassed About Rudy) emblazoned on it. Sneed's item today:
Is it a
Sneed hears Gary's new Mayor Rudy Clay, who has been tweaked for hiring an around-the-clock, two-man security detail and using a Hummer as a security car on the taxpayers' dime, is getting thwacked again.
*To wit: A group called GEAR, which stands for "Garyites Embarrassed About Rudy," is selling everything from teddy bears to underwear emblazoned with the group's name.
*Nitwit? All their products are printed left of center, "because we think Rudy is a little off-center, and we think he should be flushed!" according to the group's Web site, www.cafe press.com/savegary.
*Detail on the detail: Clay's so-called "world-class" security team is made up of James Matlock, reportedly known as "The General," and Jesse L. McCoy, who sports a cowboy hat and vest pinned with a badge.
*Stay tuned for the next episode right outta Dodge City.
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Created 18 Jun 2008 - 16:38:57 Hrs.
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