Mayor Rudy         Clay     Rudy:  Ramblings & Rumblings
 — 2010 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana and Mayor Rudy Clay's running of the "Steel City"

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

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.


Well, here we go with the 2010 Rudy Report.  In typical Gary fashion, the year starts off with a bang, er, should I say gunshot retort?  Remember, you may access earlier year reports from the links appearing above, and at the bottom of this page.


Midtown Monument Targets Clay
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[25 Jun 2010]

GARY -- The day before Mayor Rudy Clay plans to help unveil a monument to the late pop star Michael Jackson, one of Clay's critics decided to unveil her own monument to the mayor.  A wooden cut-out appeared Thursday at the corner of West 25th Avenue and Washington Street.  Clay's face appears on a superhero's body with the letter "G" for Gary on his chest.  Below were the words, "Mayor Rudy Clay, Founder of the Mega Michael Jackson Monument and Museum Multiplex, cares about people."

The cut-out was tied to a pedestal that once held a statue of Booker T. Washington.  Streamers hung on the fence around it, and another sign read, "A Quality Monument for a Quality Mayor."  On the back of the cut-out were the words, "collaboration of JVV & Epyon 5."

Lake County resident Jillian Van Volkenburgh took credit for it when contacted by the Post-Tribune and she said she is being a voice for "a lot of people."  "We basically feel that Mr. Clay is putting his efforts toward something that isn't as important," Van Volkenburgh said.

Clay said he had no comment.


Rudy Says, 'It's Not About Hoopla'
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[20 Jun 2010]

GARY -- Tourism leaders aren't sure if large crowds can be expected in Gary for the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death this week.  If they show up, though, it will give local businesses a chance to capture valuable out-of-town dollars.

Mayor Rudy Clay has said the city is preparing for "thousands" of visitors to descend Friday on the Jackson Family home in the 2300 block of Jackson Street, where a candlelight vigil is planned.  But Clay said this week's event isn't about making money.  "This is not about hoopla," Clay said.  "This is about a memorial service for Michael."

It's hard to say how many people will show for the candlelight vigil.  Last year City Hall predicted between 10,000 and 20,000 people would show for a tribute to Jackson at the U.S. Steel Yard weeks after he died.  Actual attendance was reported to be about 7,500

Gary Chamber of Commerce Director Chuck Hughes said drawing a healthy crowd is the first step toward generating economic development.  Erika Scheeringa, director of public and community relations for the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, said any money spent in Gary would be helpful.  "Even if they stop at McDonald's, that influx of people will positively help the area,"

Clay said he's been approached by people interested in selling Jackson memorabilia outside the home Friday.  Last week, though, City Hall officials said no one had applied for a vendor's license.  "I haven't gotten involved in any of that," Clay said.


Council Not Part of Jackson Plans, Member Says
Compiled From Report by Bowdeya Tweh
[20 Jun 2010]

For Gary Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson, it's hard to determine whether the proposed Jackson Family Center development will be a golden opportunity or a potential years-long boondoggle.  She says the city has other pressing needs that top building a shrine to Gary native Michael Jackson and his kin.

"If the Jacksons had any intention of doing anything for Gary, why'd they wait till Michael's death to recognize this as their hometown?"  Robinson said.  "I appreciate it, and if it comes to fruition, it'd be a great thing.  I don't know what the rush is to do things this instant."

Representing the Gary's 5th District, where the proposed center would sit, Robinson said City Council had limited input related to development plans and that the city may not have adequately addressed the risk of transferring 316 acres to the development.  The agreement doesn't call for the city to receive any money from the land transfer, but Robinson said that doesn't mean there isn't risk in the transaction.

Robinson insists more important issues persist, including how Gary will cope with the consequences of having to repay nearly the $8 million overpayment from the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board earlier this year.  "I love Michael Jackson just like the next one," Robinson said.  "At this point, is this our top priority?  Is it?  Because I could think of a few more things."

Another concern for Robinson is the questionable status of Katherine Jackson's reported participation in the project.  The Jackson family matriarch didn't attend a May 31 presentation of the project to members of the City Council.  She also didn't attend the June 2 media announcement.  She did not attend or participate even though she was in Gary during the week of the news conference.


Gary Trash Collection Fee Still Up in the Air
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[19 Jun 2010]

GARY -- A judge could be prompted to rule soon on claims the Gary City Council fumbled its vote to adopt a trash collection fee nearly a year ago.  The fee's opponents have argued it is illegal ever since the vote on the ordinance, refusing to pay it and claiming the council never passed the legislation.

An attorney for the Miller Citizens Corp. took that argument last year to Judge Thomas Webber, who said in August, "I have to accept it as a valid city ordinance until it's proven otherwise."  But Webber has been silent on the matter for nearly nine months.  So in May, the MCC sought summary judgment voiding the council's legislation.  Attorneys for the city and Illiana Disposal Partnership filed their defense of the fee this month in response.

The origins of the argument reach back to September 2008, when the Gary Sanitary District first acknowledged it was considering a trash collection fee to fund a contract with Allied Waste, privatizing trash collection in the city.  The MCC filed a lawsuit and won rulings from Webber that the contract with Allied was void because it wasn't subjected to public bidding, and that GSD's fee needed the blessing of the City Council.  GSD bid out the service and signed a new contract with Allied.

But the council voted 6-3 against the fee in July, prompting Mayor Rudy Clay and GSD to halt all trash pickup, arguing they couldn't pay for the work without the fee.  The stalemate lasted 10 days until the next council meeting, one of its rowdiest in recent memory.  Its members voted 5-4 on a motion from Roy Pratt, D-at large, to "reconsider" the fee.  A victorious Clay announced trash collection would begin again the next day.

But because Pratt didn't move to "pass" the fee, the MCC argues no vote was ever taken that night to adopt it.  Attorneys for the city and Illiana Disposal say the MCC is arguing "form over substance."  Illiana attorney John Lloyd said no council member has claimed confusion over the purpose of the 5-4 vote.  "Who better to argue they believed they were voting on something altogether different than the council members themselves?"  Lloyd wrote.

Meanwhile, GSD Director Rinzer Williams III said in April collection of the trash fee tends to be as low as 25%. He said GSD has no way to force its customers to pay the fee.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Here is a prime example of the total inability of Gary city goverment to function.  It imposes a fee, only 25% of the citizens pay it, and it has no way to enforce collection?  Gary government is doing a fine job, and most assuredly shall keep right on doing it!

Man Suffers 2 Bullet Wounds Sitting at Gary Stoplight
Compiled from a Staff Report
[18 Jun 2010]

GARY | A 26-year-old East Chicago man was wounded when gunfire erupted while his vehicle was stopped at a traffic signal Thursday in Gary.

The man was shot in his right shoulder and left bicep while stopped at Fifth Avenue and Buchanan Street about noon, Gary police spokeswoman Gabrielle King said. The man was taken to a local hospital.  He was a passenger in the vehicle.  Nobody else was injured.  Gary police are investigating.


Gary Police Find Themselves on Defense
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[13 Jun 2010]

GARY — When Gary police shot and killed Terrell Spires last week, it was the fourth time in four months officers have used their duty weapons in defense.  Veteran police don't remember another time when they've encountered this level of violent resistance.

The circumstances in each case vary, but in every instance, police were responding to a call for help and were confronted by someone who aimed, pointed or shot a gun at them.  "I've talked with other officers, we can't recall this many people challenging the police with guns in this short a period, and we can't really pinpoint why these challenges seem to be increasing?" Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 President Del Stout said last week.

- In mid-March, police went to a domestic disturbance at a Glen Park home.  Shaun Kimbrough, 20, turned an assault rifle toward police, who shot him as he charged at them, court records state.

- Two weeks later, David Watson, 16, fled from police, then stepped out of his car with an assault weapon that he appeared to be aiming at officers when he was wounded.  He was later charged with robbing prominent attorney Fred Work.

- During Memorial Day weekend, police called to a domestic disturbance in Marshalltown encountered Stanley Johnson, 49, who fired once at them before he was shot.

- Spires, 20, who had just taken a car from an Aetna teen at gunpoint, emptied his .40-caliber Taurus semiautomatic at Patrolman Doug Geyer, Patrolman Daniel Perryman and four other officers who raced to the firefight.  He told his teenage companion he would never return to jail

"As police officers, we are here to serve and protect, and that includes protecting ourselves," police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said.  "It's unfortunate that sometimes someone loses their life, but we are reacting to what they're doing."

Jacqueline Huey, a criminal justice professor at Indiana University Northwest and Gary resident who has taught here for five years, blamed "a whole lack of respect for authority.  You see it all over, it's happening in Gary, but look at what's going on in Chicago.  It's just brazen."  Some experts say the economy and joblessness contribute to the increase in violent crime, but Huey said an assignment she gave her students suggested respect issues are lacking in more than just young people.

Retired National Guard Col. Richard Ligon began years ago talking to teens about respect and cooperation in their communications with adults, especially police.  "We have to get our young people to respect the police.  That's the topic," he said.

Police are trained to use "force continuum," that begins with verbal commands, but escalates if the situation warrants.  "Once they start shooting at you, you really don't have a choice.  And these situations are difficult for a police officer.  He may feel bad he killed a young man; the next time he hesitates and he may be the one who gets killed," Ligon said.

Sgt. Jack Hamady, a 15-year police veteran and a supervisor on Gary's afternoon patrol shift, said he often reminds officers about exercising caution throughout the night.  "Let's not call off back-up until you know what you have?" Hamady advises to his officers at roll call.  He said he tells officers to leave in the middle of taking a report if they are near a call where an officer may need assistance.

The city's financial problems have resulted in a reduction in the police force over the years.  Earlier in the decade, the roster reached 300 officers, but is now at about 235.  Less than half of those are assigned to patrol duties.

"I'm sure our officers are responding to every call with an increased level of awareness.  We are all aware of these recent events.  We are here to do our job as best as we can, but we also want to go home at the end of every shift," Stout said.


Charter School Won't Lose Site to Jackson Museum
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[12 Jun 2010]

GARY -- Gary Lighthouse Charter School won't lose its College Prep Academy near South Gleason Golf Course to a proposed Jackson Family Center, officials at City Hall said this week.  The school sits on the same parcel of land as Gilroy Stadium, according to maps in the Lake County Surveyor's office, and that land was promised to the Jackson Family Foundation in a deal reached at City Hall earlier this month.

A copy of a real estate agreement approved by Gary's Board of Public Works says all 30 acres of that parcel will be turned over to the foundation, which is led by the parents of the late pop star Michael Jackson and Las Vegas promoter Simon Sahouri.  That was news to Lighthouse Academies Vice President Kimberlee Sia, who said the school had yet to hear from the city or foundation.  The school leases the property from the city.  "We actually are going to be contacting some people," Sia said.

Joel Rodriguez, an assistant to Mayor Rudy Clay on economic development, said the real estate agreement should have promised just 25 acres to the Jackson Family Foundation.  When the property is finally transferred, Rodriguez said, five acres will be carved out for the charter school.  "The Jackson Family Foundation is aware of that," Rodriguez said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  This is a classic example of the "right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing," is it not?  "The real estate agreement should have ... ."  Is anyone overseeing what agreements the city is making, here?


For Jackson Plan to Work, Must Be Done Right
Compiled From a Post-Trib Letters to Editor"
[12 Jun 2010]

What city and developers would jeopardize a $300 million project and not contact the (Michael Jackson) estate, unless something shady is going on?

I respectfully ask the mayor and his staff to review the legal ramifications of this action again.  No one wants to downplay this venture, but the citizens do want it done right the first time around.  We have a city government that can't even get a busy main street (Grant Street) paved, let alone act on a $300 million project such as this Michael Jackson hoax.  Humble yourselves and ask the estate the feasibility of such a venture, and work from there; just don't go do it.

We, as citizens want to be involved, not sidelined.

— Roy Xavier Roddy, Gary


Prosecutor Gets License Case
Compiled from a Report by Bill Dolan
[12 Jun 2010]

CROWN POINT | State police have wrapped up an investigation into whether Carol Ann Seaton, the Democratic nominee for Lake County assessor, violated state law by holding driver's licenses in Indiana and Michigan.  State Police First Sgt. Al Williamson said Friday his look into Seaton's case turned up discrepancies regarding information she provided to the state about herself.  "It will be the prosecutor's decision to determine if it is a prosecutable case in court," Williamson said Friday.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced earlier this week Seaton could be charged either with an infraction for holding two state driver's licenses or a felony if she concealed her Michigan license from the BMV when renewing her Indiana license recently.  The infraction is punishable by as much as a $500 civil fine.  A felony conviction would make her ineligible to hold public office.

A source close to the investigation said it is uncertain whether a cover-up of her out-of-state license could be proved because she didn't answer a question on a license application form about whether she had another state's license.


City Takes Tax Loss of $7.5M This Week
State Overpayment Made in Error
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[11 Jun 2010]

GARY -- Gary will lose $7.5 million from its tax distribution this week to make up for an overpayment earlier this year.  A combined $8.2 million will be shifted away from City Hall and other Gary taxing units that sought help from the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board in 2009.  The money will be directed to other units hurt by the error, which was discovered in February.

Celita Green, Gary's controller, told state officials in April it would be "devastating" to City Hall to give up millions it accidentally received this winter.  But Thursday, Green said it was too early to tell what the actual effect will be.  She said no records have been received yet.  "I haven't seen anything," Green said. "I don't know."

City Hall, the Gary Stormwater Management District, the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the Gary Public Transportation Corp. all received budget relief from the DUAB in 2009.

The Indiana Auditor's office miscalculated those credits when preparing for a tax distribution earlier this year, though.  The agencies that petitioned the DUAB received too much money. Now, those dollars are being recouped from the taxing units.


Previously Promised Projects that Were Going to Save Gary
a.k.a "Poison Pill"
[10 Jun 2010]

First and foremost was the Sheraton Hotel, and I do mean the original Sheraton.

Then, there was the rehab of the Sheraton Hotel.

Let's not forget the Genesis Center, National Civil Rights Hall of Fame or the African-American Museum.

And of course the Steel Yard has folk pouring into Gary by the 100's of 1,000's!

I would also be remiss if I omitted the Miss U.S.A. Paegent.

Then again, the gambiling boat industry also deserves mention, does it not?

Oh yes, there is the Gary International Airport which is perennially working its revitalization magic for the "Steel City".

But, this time is different as, "we are going to make it happen for Michael!"


State Suspends Driver's License of County Assessor Candidate
Compiled From a Report by Bill Dolan
[9 Jun 2010]

CROWN POINT | The state has suspended the Indiana driver's license of the Democratic nominee for Lake County assessor on grounds it is unsure whether she is an Indiana resident.  Graig Lubsen, a spokesman for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, said Wednesday the bureau has imposed an emergency suspension of Carol Ann Seaton's driving privileges because she held driver's licenses in both Indiana and Michigan, a violation of both states' laws.  One BMV document indicates the suspension began June 3 and is set to run until Sept. 1.

However, Scott A. DeVries, an attorney for the BMV, stated in letters to Seaton dated earlier this month that she has given conflicting information to the state about whether she lives in Gary or Union Pier, Mich.  He states, "This revocation will remain until you adequately prove to the BMV that you are an Indiana resident and do not have a driver's license or permit from another state nor have any vehicles titled or registered in another state."

Lubsen said Seaton's suspension may be the first of it's kind.  "Nobody seems to recollect that happening (before), " he said.  He said she can appeal her suspension before a state administrative law judge, but doesn't know when a hearing could be scheduled.

The Indiana state police also are continuing an investigation into whether Seaton committed a civil infraction, punishable by a fine, or a criminal felony, which would make her ineligible to hold public office, if she lied under oath to cover up her multiple licenses.  Ann Wojas, a spokeswoman for state police said Indiana State Police First Sgt. Al Williamson has been in Michigan to research Seaton's driving status in that state.

Both Indiana and Michigan state officials have acknowledged Seaton held a Michigan and Indiana driver's license simultaneously for some years.  A Michigan spokeswoman said her agency canceled Seaton's driver's license in that state for failing to disclose her Indiana license.

Neither Seaton nor her attorney returned telephone calls for comment.


Gary Robbery Suspect Killed in Police Shootout
Compiled From a Report by Susan Brown
[8 Jun 2010]

GARY | A robbery suspect was shot to death by return fire from police Monday night, Gary police spokeswoman Gabrielle King said.

The robbery victim told police he was driving northbound on Broadway near 25th Avenue about 11 p.m. when approached by two men who jumped into his car.  The men instructed the victim to drive to a bank where he was told to withdraw money through an ATM.  When the withdrawal failed at the first bank, King said the men ordered the victim to drive to another bank where the men took his car and fled.

Flagged down by the victim, police officers pursued the car until it crashed at 11th Avenue and Grant Street, King said.  Shots were fired at police, resulting in one of the suspects being shot by return fire.

A spokesman for the Lake County Coroner identified the dead man as Terrel Spires, 20, of Gary.  Spires suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the body and was declared dead at 2 a.m. by a coroner's investigator, the spokesman said.

Because of the officer involvement, the shooting incident is also under investigation by the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  It is beginning to look like Gary is taking on the characteristics of the "wild west," which is a progression backwards, not forward?


Gary P. D. Investigate Shooting Death of Pizza Delivery Man
Compiled From a Report by Marisa Kwiatkowsi
[8 Jun 2010]

GARY | Gary police are investigating the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man found dead Tuesday in the trunk of his car.  Latuan Wiggins, 29, of Gary, was discovered at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in the trunk of his green Ford Taurus in the 4100 block of Maryland Street in Gary.  He died of a gunshot wound to the chest, a spokesman for the Lake County coroner's office said.  The coroner's spokesman said Wiggins was likely shot elsewhere, then placed in the trunk of his car.

Wiggins' mom, Toni Valrie, and his brother, discovered his body six hours after the Gary man had reported a robbery and theft of his Taurus.  Wiggins had contacted Lake County police at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, saying he was robbed at a residence in the Colonial Gardens public housing complex off East 51st Avenue in Gary, and that his car was stolen.  Wiggins said he was trying to deliver a pizza to that address.  As he approached, Wiggins told police five or six black male subjects came running at him from next to the residence.  He dropped the pizza and ran, still holding his car keys.  Lake County police went to that address and found the car in a field near the home.  Wiggins said there was no damage to the car, and it was returned to him.

He spoke to a loved one at 1 a.m., saying he was going to get a pack of cigarettes, Gary police Cpl. Gabrielle King said.  That is the last time anyone heard from him.  Wiggins' mom and brother started searching for Wiggins, and discovered his car just before 6 a.m., King added.  The keys were still in the car and, when Wiggins' brother pulled the back seat down, he saw Wiggins' body.


Clay Sends Crews to Clean up Jacksons' Neighborhood
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[8 Jun 2010]

GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay sent a city crew to work around Michael Jackson's former home Monday, helping prepare the neighborhood for the "thousands" of visitors he expects on the anniversary of his death.  At least three trucks marked with Gary's city seal could be seen outside the home in the 2300 block of Jackson Street on Monday afternoon, along with a pair of small front-end loaders.  Workers trimmed branches around the Jackson property and hauled away the debris.

The late King of Pop died June 25, 2009.  Clay said a candlelight vigil will be held outside the home on the anniversary and he said Greg Mathis and Kellee Patterson are among the celebrities expected to attend.  "We want to be sure everything is looking good for the 25th," Clay said.

A group of people who identified themselves as "family members" also appeared to be working on the Jackson property.  Clay said Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother, has "been doing some work out there."

Adonia Community Services, which received a $19,200 contract from the city last month to help Gary crews clean up the city, was on hand as well, marketing director George Peach Jr. said.  City officials said Clay's professional services budget is being used to fund Adonia's contract, which lasts until the end of July.

The mayor said his crews worked elsewhere Monday, as well.  For example, he said he asked a crew to clean up around a building with a collapsed roof at 17th Avenue and Broadway.  "We're cleaning up all over the city, not just there," Clay said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  If it is true that Mrs. Jackson "has been doing some work out there,"  one has to wonder where was Joe?  It is not like he wasn't in the neighborhood of late, is it?


Majestic Star Owes $22M in County Tax
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[5 Jun 2010]

GARY -- City Hall is at odds with the owner of its casino licenses again, this time because Lake County records show Majestic Star owes $22 million in overdue taxes. Mayor Rudy Clay said the company should pay those taxes ahead of the Indiana Gaming Commission's upcoming vote on the renewal of its licenses, but Majestic Star officials said the majority of its taxes are under appeal at the Calumet Township Assessor's Office.

Larry Buck, the casino's general manager, said 90 percent of the disputed taxes were applied to its two gambling boats. He said they were overassessed and, therefore, overtaxed. Once the appeal is complete, he said, the county could be forced to refund some taxes already paid by Majestic Star. "In a nutshell, we've paid everything that's due," Buck said. "Obviously, the remainder is going through the normal course of the appeals process."

Records provided by Lake County officials show $21.9 million is overdue on properties held under the names Majestic Star Casino, Buffington Harbor Riverboats LLC and Buffington Harbor Parking Associates LLC. An additional $4.3 million has not yet come due. The records also show Majestic, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009, paid about $2 million toward its total tax bill. Lake County officials said those payments were made last month.

Buck said the value of Majestic's two boats rose from $49 million in 2005 to $110 million in 2006, prompting it to file an appeal. "As you can see, the assessed value went up by over 220 percent," he said. "We continue to pay the tax based upon the assessed value of the vessels before the increase in the assessment," Buck said. "That's what the statute dictates."


"Make it Happen for Michael" Report
Casino in Jackson Center Future?
Clay says Vegas developers 'watching' what happens in Gary
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[4 Jun 2010]

GARY -- Developers promising to build a Jackson Family Center in Glen Park claim they've secured the rights to Michael Jackson's name and image in a City Hall document, a claim denied this week by the pop star's estate.  Asked about the document, a spokesman for Michael Jackson's estate reaffirmed an earlier comment, saying the estate has the sole, exclusive right to license the late singer's name, likeness and image.

The real estate agreement, approved and signed by Gary's Board of Public Works and shown to the Post-Tribune, also appears to carry the signature of Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother.  Katherine Jackson signed as vice chairman of the Jackson Family Foundation.  Katherine Jackson's representatives failed to return multiple calls for comment about the signature, as well as the massive shrine to her family promised to Gary on Wednesday by Mayor Rudy Clay and Joseph Jackson, Michael Jackson's father.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Surely Joe and/or Rudy is not so desperate, or stupid, as to forge Katherine Jackson's signature?

According to an exhibit in the agreement, the five properties transfered are generally known at the Lake County Treasurer's office as 32nd Avenue and Grant, 30th Avenue and Broadway, 3200 Broadway, 33rd Avenue and Harrison Street, and 3201 Pierce Street.  A clause in the deal gives the Jacksons and Sahouri three years from the close of escrow, or two years after final City Hall approval, to begin construction.  Otherwise, ownership of the land reverts back to the city.  It allows for various extensions, though, that could give developers additional time..
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Well at least someone was smart enough to protect the city in this scam.

Finally, the deal makes a vague reference to a casino project "at a future date contingent on obtaining a license."  The site of the Jackson project is the same area developers and legislators have long wanted to build a land-based casino.  Clay said any casino venture would be a "standalone project by itself," and he acknowledged developers in Las Vegas are watching.  "They are interested in what happens with the Gary casinos, and they are friends of some members of the Jackson Family Foundation," Clay said.


"Make it Happen for Michael" Report
Compiled From Post-Trib and Reports
[3 Jun 2010]

— Less than an hour before Wednesday's Genesis Center news conference, the Gary Board of Public Works and Safety met to approve a land transfer to the Jackson Family Foundation (JFF) under an agreement with the newly formed Jackson Development & Marketing Corporation (JD&MC).  City Controller Celita Green didn't name the specific parcels transfered during the meeting, but she said they are generally bordered by Interstate 80/94, 35th Avenue, Grant Street and Broadway.  [A link to Google Maps™ to view the parcel is provided in the article immediately below.]  City attorneys later said the land includes Gilroy Stadium and parts of South Gleason Golf Course.  Gilroy Stadium has appeared on a list of the city's sites seeking brownfield aid.

— City officials said they were unable to provide a copy of the agreement Wednesday.
[Comment -GDY]:
  And why is that?  Could it be there are aspects to this deal that Rudy would prefer not be made public?

— Rudy says he expects a "Niagara Falls" of people who will want to get involved in the project.  "This ball has been going down the field for a long, long time," Mayor Rudy Clay said.  "It's in the hands of the right people to make this happen.  We're real close to the goal line here, and we're going to carry it across the goal line."  "We're going to make it happen for Michael," Clay said.
[Comment -GDY]:
  The man certainly has a way with words.  Doesn't the "going to make it happen for Michael" phrase just tug at your heart strings?

— When asked about potential issues with the estate, Gary Mayor Rudy Clay was steadfast in his commitment to the project and sidestepped the question of whether legal action would be necessary to defend the proposed development.  Clay has said the plan has the endorsement of not only Joe Jackson but Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother.  In a firm tone, Clay also said detractors would not be able to stop the progress on this project as others have stalled in the past.

— Sahouri said, "We're working with the Army Corps of Engineers, and they are going to help us in any way (they) can.  We have already worked with them."  However, at a Wednesday meeting of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, Army Corps Project Manager Imad Samara said he had not heard anything about the Jackson foundation plans.  Corps spokeswoman Lynne Whelan said the Corps could not comment on the project, having not seen any plans.

— Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission Executive Director Dan Repay said no one from the Jackson project has approached his group about the center.


Rudy & Joe at Michael Memorial

The MJ Museum Announcement(s)
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report, a Report and a Fox News Report
[2 Jun 2010]

GARY — Mayor Rudy Clay unveiled grand plans for a Jackson Family Center in Glen Park today featuring residential housing, elevated rail, a hotel and a "Michael Jackson Performing Arts Center and Concert Hall."  Clay, joined by Jackson Family patriarch Joe Jackson and Jackson Family Foundation President Simon Sahouri, insisted the museum would be built, ending decades of promises.  The only thing that could stop it, he said, is "Gary people," and he asked them not to "poison the soup."

Mayor Rudy Clay says the Jackson family has resurrected hope in Gary, and that they’ve picked out a site in town for the complex by Gilroy Stadium, at Indiana University.  The Gary Board of Public Works and Safety transferred land between the Borman Expressway, 35th Avenue, Grant Street and Broadway to the Jackson Family Foundation for the project minutes before Wednesday’s press conference was set to begin.  Sahouri said a feasibility study will be conducted this year, and ground will be broken on the project early in 2011.  City officials hope it will bring new construction jobs and tourism revenue to the city.

Susan Severtson, Gary’s corporation counsel, said the city and the foundation are still seeking consent from Michael Jackson’s estate to use his name and image in the project.  "We believe that that’s part and parcel of the legacy of the Jackson Family," Severtson said.

But hours later, an attorney for Michael Jackson’s estate told the Post-Tribune it is considering its own "world-class museum" and has no connection to the Gary project.  The estate’s attorney said the estate "was never consulted about, nor is it involved in, the Jackson Family museum being proposed in Gary, Indiana."  "Michael Jackson’s music, name, likeness, memorabilia and other intellectual property are assets exclusively owned by the Estate for the benefit of his children," Howard Weitzman said in a written statement.  "These properties cannot be exploited legally without written authorization from the Estate."

Asked about the legal issues with the estate, Clay referred to Michael Jackson’s 2003 comment that he wanted a performing arts center built in Gary.  Clay said someone will always try to stop a positive project from happening in his city.  "It never fails," Clay said.  He also noted, "This one is beyond politics."

The Estate of Michael Jackson was never consulted about, nor is it involved in, the Jackson Family museum being proposed in Gary, Indiana.  Michael Jackson's music, name, likeness, memorabilia and other intellectual property are assets exclusively owned by the Estate for the benefit of his children, his mother during her lifetime and charities as specified in his will.  These properties cannot be exploited legally without written authorization from the Estate, which is managed by John Branca and John McClain, the Executors, as mandated in Michael's will.  The Estate is considering a world-class museum that would include memorabilia, music and other intellectual properties at a site yet to be determined.  The Estate has no connection to this project.

"I've never seen nowhere where they (successful Garyites) brought something back.  We're bringing something back." [Joe Jackson - 2 Jun 2010]
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Where do I begin?  I am in a bit of a quandary, as in the past I have publicly advocated here that the city would be better off to give away vacant land if doing so would result in revenue generation.  Now, Rudy has done just that!  I should be praising him, right?  For more than a few reasons, I shall withhold judgment and opine that I do not see this project yielding revenue for the city.

One has to be from, or familiar with, Gary to appreciate the size of a land parcel covering from the Borman south to 35th Avenue and from Broadway, west to Grant Street.  We are taking  about an area comprising 120 square blocks!  View the parcel here.  Did the city really just hand over this much land to Joe?    Of course, much of the land within this 120 square blocks is developed, and in use.  So, we need more info on the reported transfer.  I hope and pray whatever the size of the transfer there were plenty of strings attached, so that if/when this project goes belly up, the city gets the property back?

One also has to appreciate that the northern end of the conveyed parcel is repeatedly subjected to flooding by the Little Calumet River.  IU Northwest, was hit hard in 2008, and the Borman expressway has had to be closed due to flooding on numerous occasions.  What this all means is, proper development of the site is not going to be cheap!

The press coverage refers to Gilroy Stadium.  What it does not say is that Gilroy Stadium has been condemned, and has not seen use in years.  This is because it was constructed atop an unstable land fill, and has been sinking into the ground for decades.  Yet another development expense!

The biggest problem with this scheme (scam) is Joe himself.  One cannot help but note that a) Momma Jackson was not present and participating, b) The MJ estate has already asserted its exclusive ownership rights over all things Michael Jackson and c) the assets of the estate are for the benefit of MJ's mother, his children and designated charities.  Clearly they are not available to, or for the benefit of, Joe!  So, all Joe can do is play with the "Unofficial MJ Museum" complex!  How far will that fly?  Who is going to contribute/invest in that endeavor?

What is a certainty is, each and every time Joe comes home, it costs the city money!  This guy is millrat who latched onto a cash cow.  He is not an entrepreneur (entrepreneurs do not say things like, "I have never seen nowhere where ... . ").  Unfortunately, his cash cow has moved on to other pastures, and Joe is left scrambling trying to support his lavish lifestyle.

Despite Joe's claims to the contrary, he has given absolutely nothing to Gary.  Gary should not be giving to him.  Nor should the city of Gary look to Joe for economic salvation.  Rudy, quit grasping at straws, and start working on measures to revive the "Steel City" and try to return it to a level of modest viability!        


5 Lew Wallace Students Charged
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[28 May 2010]

Five girls from Lew Wallace High School have been arrested and charged with assaulting a fellow student after class last week, Gary police said Thursday.  Cirease Britt, 17, Jasmine Curtis, 15, Daionna Epps, 17, Chardina Hughes, 17, and Dijuana Scott, 17, have been charged with battery, criminal recklessness and disorderly conduct.  All five were arrested Wednesday and taken to the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center after police reviewed a video of the incident.

The victim, Antoinette Morris, 16, was knocked to the ground, hit, kicked and "stomped" during the assault May 19, police said.  Morris suffered numerous cuts and bruises, including a large laceration inside her mouth.

Juvenile Division Detective Shae Russell learned the incident began with a fight in the gym during the day.  After classes ended, Morris was involved in a "fist fight" with one other student.  The victim's grandmother told police Morris walked away from the fight.  Hoewver, the five suspects then "chased her down, threw her to the ground and began physically assaulting her," Cpl. Jeff Tatum's report states.

Two days after the incident, Gary Community School Corp. security officers obtained a video of the assault.  "The video showed Ms. Morris getting beat up by another female student.  It also shows Ms. Morris walking away after the fight is over.  The video also shows the four other females, Epps, Scott, Britt and Hughes chase Ms. Morris down and it shows them physically assaulting her," Tatum's report states.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Can the summer break get here quickly enough?  It does appear the daily lesson plan for the Gary Public Schools is "Advanced Anti-social Behavior" (Read on)!


Gang Activity Blamed for Roosevelt Brawl
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[28 May 2010]

GARY -- School officials called it "mayhem," but police blame gang activity for the violence at the Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy on Wednesday afternoon that netted 19 arrests.

Two students, Terrae Lampkins, 18, and Alexander Morton, 18, were charged with disorderly conduct, resisting law enforcement and criminal gang activity.  Seventeen more students were apprehended during the brawl in the west parking lot of school.  All were charged with disorderly conduct, police said.  Some were released to their parents while about half a dozen were taken to the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center, authorities said.

Gary Community School Corp. spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said trouble started when some teens were offended by rap lyrics offered by classmates.  "It caused it to look like mayhem," said Stevens.  Police, however, say tensions between "east and west" neighborhoods, an ongoing problem since residents from Marshalltown and Aetna began attending Roosevelt, are the root cause of the fight.

School security officer Nate Harris reported he heard shouting in the parking lot and saw students "making gang signs to each other," his arrest report states.  Police attempted to disperse the crowd, then two girls began fighting.  Officers turned their attention to the girls, then boys started shoving and hitting, his report states.  Harris ordered Lampkins and Morton to "go in the building and act like a student," but both continued fighting and using gang signs.

"The fight got out of control and additional units had to be called," Harris wrote.  Gary and Lake County police joined school security as they herded students back into the high school, which was then closed while administrators began questioning teens involved in the fight.

Parents were upset because we locked the building down, but we have to close off the campus.  The last thing you want is to have trouble and then have parents in there causing more ruckus," Stevens said.

She said administrators were speaking to students Thursday about their behavior and reminding them that expulsion now would create problems in the fall.


Nine Arrests in Roosevelt Scuffle
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[27 May 2010]

Roosevelt H.S. Lunch BunchGARY -- Police arrested nine students Wednesday after a lunchtime fight outside Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.  Gary Community School Corp. officials said no students were injured, but two pregnant girls were sent home with their parents after they were bumped by classmates running to see the brawl.

School spokeswoman Sarita Stevens and Principal Lloyd Booth said the fight erupted during the students' lunch hour.  They were allowed to go out at lunch to enjoy Wednesday's hot, sunny weather even though Roosevelt has a closed campus.  Students started rapping in the schoolyard, Stevens said.  That rap session turned into a "jive" session with classmates making fun of one another.  "You end up with insults," Booth said.

The situation escalated, a fight broke out and students rushed to watch.  From outside the school grounds, Booth acknowledged, the crowd of children could appear to be a riot.  "They do not run away from an active fight," Booth said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  It starts with 'rap' and ends up with 'jive'?  Not a good combination.  "Friends, we've got jive in the Steel City.  That is jive with a capital J,  and it rhymes with say, which means watch what you say, and to whom you say it!"


Seaton License Probe Continues
Compiled From a Report by Bill Dolan
[15 May 2010]

CROWN POINT | State investigators are trying to determine whether perjury occurred when a Democratic nominee for Lake County assessor applied for her Indiana driver's license, a state government source said Friday.  A source with state government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is investigating whether Carol Ann Seaton, a winner in last week's Democratic primary, failed to report to the Indiana BMV she already was holding a Michigan driver's license.  Seaton claims to be a Gary resident on her campaign documents, despite reports she owns property in Michigan.

Kelly Chesney, director of communications for the Michigan Department of State, said Friday her agency canceled Seaton's "Michigan driver's license as well as her Michigan license plate for failing to disclose she also was holding an Indiana driver's license."  "She did issue a false statement.  That was the basis for canceling her Michigan driver's license," Chesney said.

Dennis Rosebrough, a spokesman for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, confirmed Friday his agency is investigating Seaton. Rosebrough said he couldn't comment on any details of the investigation.  He said anyone holding an out-of-state license who then applies for an Indiana license must disclose and surrender the out-of-state license.  He said covering up an out-of-state driver's license can have legal consequences, including an alleged offender being charged with felony perjury and/or a legal infraction, punishable by as much as a $500 fine.

Driver's license transaction forms direct applicants to disclose out-of-state licenses.  Rosebrough said, "The first question on the form is 'Are you holding a valid permit, license or identification card from another state?'  Then a paragraph above the signature (box) says, 'I hereby affirm the information ... on this form ... is correct.  I understand making a false statement on this form may constitute the crime of perjury.'
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Ms. Seaton at least is entitled to claim being different from the "run of the mill" Lake County politician;  she committed her felony before getting elected to office!


State:  Gary P.D. Broke Open Records Law
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[13 May 2010]

GARY -- The state's Public Access Counselor said Wednesday, Gary police violated Indiana's public records law when it failed to list facts related to a a police-involved shooting on the daily bulletin.  "Providing persons with information is an essential function of a representative of government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide the information," Andrew J. Kossack, Indiana Public Access Counselor wrote in his two-page opinion.  "The Gary Police Department violated the Access to Public Records Act," he concluded.

The Post-Tribune filed a complaint with the state on April 12 because basic information about Patrolman Terry Peck's shooting of 16-year-old David Watson was not available for more than five days after the April 3 incident.  A daily bulletin must be maintained with a list of police calls, including names, ages, addresses and circumstances of complaints and arrests.  No reports were generated or made available for more than a week after Watson's shooting.  Police administrators did not respond to the state's request for an explanation, the opinion states.

Chief Gary Carter, who took the top job late last year, said he wasn't aware the department is required to keep a daily bulletin of all calls for service.  "I want you to have access to the information," Carter said Wednesday.  "I have told my commander in charge of the front desk, I need that done," Carter said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Gee, how demanding to expect the Chief of Police to both know, and abide by, the law!  Don't the folks in Indy understand that this is da' Region and we go by our own set of rules?


Allen Seeks Stay of Prison Sentence
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[11 May 2010]

Dozier Allen Jr., the former Calumet Township trustee convicted of stealing $143,000 from the public office, is trying to stay out of prison until the outcome of his appeal.  Allen filed a motion Monday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond asking that he be allowed to hold off on serving his 18-month prison sentence.  The motion says Allen, who has recently suffered from several health problems, is not a flight risk.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon sentenced Allen two weeks ago and ordered that Allen had until Aug. 27 to turn himself over to the U.S. marshals. Allen has since filed a notice of his intent to appeal, and has filed the appeal fee, both of which his new motion included.


Candidate Bristles at License Questions
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Andy Grimm
[8 May 2010]

Seaton License PlateCarol Ann Seaton has not yet been able to enjoy her upset victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary election for Lake County Assessor.  She picked up a nasty sinus infection while campaigning and says she's been shunned by a party establishment that backed her rival, Randall Guernsey.  Friday, she balked at answering questions about why she holds a driver's license in both Indiana and Michigan, and has registered her car -- license plate SEAT0N -- to an address in Michigan's Union Pier.  "Why does this even matter?" said Seaton.

Indiana Secretary of State records indicate Seaton has a driver's license listing the address she used on her campaign filing paperwork, 2378 Adams St. in Gary.  Michigan records show her with an address in the beachfront community of Union Pier on both her driver's license and the registration for a Ford sedan, which was parked in front of the house on Adams Street.

The Michigan license plate and license were renewed Feb. 1.  Seaton entered the race against Guernsey near the Feb. 19 filing deadline.  A note in the Michigan Bureau of Motor Vehicles indicates that correspondence to Seaton should be mailed to her address in Gary.

Michigan driver's license paperwork states that applicants for licenses or renewal must surrender any license they have from another state, said Fred Woodharms of the Michigan BMV.  Non-residents are not eligible for Michigan licenses or to register their vehicles in the state.

Indiana law requires that the elected assessor, who is responsible for appraising the value of real estate for tax purposes, must own property within the county "upon taking office."  County property records do not show Seaton as owning any land.  Seaton said Friday she owns property in Gary that is titled to trusts.  "I own property in Lake County," she said.  "Honestly... when you can't think of anything else, harass the person who won the election."


Gary Council Votes to Give Barden Boot
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[6 May 2010]

Don Barden's days as proprietor of the Majestic Star Casinos are numbered, if the Gary City Council has a say.  The council voted 7-0 Wednesday night, with Councilman Kyle Allen , D-at-large, abstaining, to approve a resolution appealing to the Indiana Gaming Commission to not renew Barden's license, which comes up for renewal next month.  That appeal will ask the commission to appoint two receivers to govern the boats until two different developers are chosen to take over the licenses and properties.  Under the receivership, operations on both boats would continue until new developers took over the licenses, so no jobs would be lost, said attorney Macarthur Drake.

Additionally, city attorneys are appealing a ruling a Delaware judge issued regarding the city's lawsuit against Barden Enterprises for civil conversion, wherein the city is asserting that Barden didn't put city money into a proper escrow account.  That appeal, which will attempt to bring the conversion suit back to Lake County, needs to be filed within 10 days, said Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson.

Severtson also acknowledged the council's frustration at how slowly the process is going but assured it that things were moving ahead.  "We can no longer support their operations; they've left us no other options," she said.

"Mr. Barden's attorneys argued that if the case were brought back here, attention to its reorganization would be diverted," she said.  "We believe it won't, and he can bring all the attorneys he can still afford back here."

Several of the council members fully approve of the action.  Allen, however, cautioned that the move could be cutting off the city's nose to spite its face.

The Indiana Gaming Commission will hold its license renewal meeting at 1 p.m. EDT June 17 in Indianapolis.


Allen Appeals Federal Conviction
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[6 May 2010]

Dozier Allen Jr., the former Calumet Township trustee sentenced to a year and a half in prison for fraudulently taking $143,000 from the office, has filed a notice that he will appeal, according to federal court documents.

Allen, along with his co-defendants Ann Karras and Wanda Joshua, filed the notice of appeal Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, which is the first step to the appeals process.  Joshua has also paid her filing fee, according to court records.

Joshua received 15 months in prison, and Karras received a year.  All three are also responsible for paying back the portion of the $143,000 they received.


Midtown Structure Endangered
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[6 May 2010]

The shuttered St. John's Hospital in Gary's Midtown neighborhood made the list of Indiana's 10 most endangered buildings released Wednesday.  Time and vandalism have wreaked havoc on the historic building, which suffers from broken windows, a collapsing roof, crumbling brick and water damage.  The building's current owner is unable to pay for the extensive repairs.

Sondra Ford, director of Gary-East Chicago-Hammond Empowerment Zone, said it tells the history of Gary's black population.  "African-Americans were herded to Midtown district of Gary, so everything we needed as African-Americans was in the district," Ford said.  "But our history is being lost.  When you try to research the history of the building, it's like pulling needle out of haystack.  Records were not kept for African-Americans as they are now."

The hospital, located at 22nd Avenue and Massachusetts Street, was built in 1929 to serve Gary's black population, who couldn't be treated at most public hospitals until the following year.  The building was designed by black architect William Wilson Cooke in the Prairie style.  St. John's, which was originally named McMitchell Hospital, operated with a staff of black surgeons and nurses, and it functioned as a hospital until it closed in 1950.

Ford said the Empowerment Zone is currently securing funds to aid in the renovation of the building and its conversion into a youth entrepreneurship center.  The project has received a grant to pay for architectural plans, and Ford plans to launch a campaign to raise the $1.2 million in funds needed to restore the building this year.

"We want to start with our history, where we come from," Ford said.  "We don't come from selling drugs and being gangbangers. We come from doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs."
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Well, good luck with that!  It will be interesting to see who would contribute $1.2 Million to this cause?


Majestic Says City Cash Not in Escrow Account
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[30 Apr 2010]

GARY -- Majestic Star Casino refuted for the first time this week that it ever deposited millions of dollars owed to Gary in a special escrow account, despite making a claim to the contrary in a legal document last year.  Officials said the money sits instead in a "segregated bank account."  Majestic Star released its statement while the Gary City Council considers a resolution asking the Indiana Gaming Commission not to renew the casino's two gaming licenses in June.

A segregated account, Gary Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson said, could be vulnerable to the casino's bankruptcy court creditors.  Majestic Star Chief Financial Officer Jon Bennett couldn't confirm Thursday if that's the case.  "I'm not a lawyer," Bennett said.  "I can't comment on that. I wouldn't know."

Majestic Star filed a lawsuit against the city in February 2008, and begin withholding funds owed under a local development agreement amounting to about $6 million a year.  According to Thursday's statement, that lawsuit was automatically stayed when the casino filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

But Gary filed another lawsuit against Majestic Star in March claiming the casino harmed the city by moving money out of the escrow account.  "None of this is true," Majestic Star's statement reads.  "The city knows there was never a special escrow account."  Severtson called that statement "patently false."  "We have always relied on the representation of both Mr. Barden and his counsel in a number of different venues where they have affirmatively stated that the city's money is held in escrow," Severtson said.

In a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 31, 2009, Majestic Star did specifcally refer to the existence of "a depository escrow account for the economic incentive funds related to the company's dispute with the City of Gary, Indiana."  Majestic Star General Manager Larry Buck said that was a "misuse of the term."  "There was never an escrow account in terms of the legal definition of escrow," Buck said.  "It's always been an account with segregated funds."  Bennett said Majestic Star was "trying to imply that we weren't taking the city's funds and co-mingling it with our other cash."

— The balance of the segregated bank account holding Gary's money exceeds $8 million, Buck said, and grows by about $500,000 a month.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Now, here is a comedy of errors that is turniing into a vertiable tragedy, financially!  Who knows if the money exists, and if it does whether Gary will ever see a dime?


Home Detention for Dozier Allen Denied
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[28 Apr 2010]

Dozier Allen Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison, more than a year after the former Calumet Township Trustee was convicted of defrauding his office of $143,000.  The sentence was a year less than the federal sentencing guidelines called for, but Judge Philip Simon said during the hearing at the U.S. District Court in Hammond that he thought it was too much given Allen's health and lack of criminal history.

However, he shot down a request by defense attorney Scott King (former Gary Mayor) that Allen be sentenced to home detention because of medical concerns.  "I strongly disagree with Mr. King's comments that we're being delusional," the judge said in response to King saying the prison system couldn't provide adequate care for Allen.  Allen's sentencing has been delayed several times because of his health problems, including a blood clot he was treated for last fall.

He appeared at the hearing, though, in a gray patterned suit with a blue shirt and read a letter to the court.  The letter said that he had never worked with federal dollars before and was not given any guidelines for the money, so he didn't know about legal requirements.  It said he had talked with the township attorney about it and was under the belief that he could use part of the money to compensate himself and his workers for the work they did on the data collection.  "I absolutely did not violate federal law with any intent," Allen said.

However, Judge Simon said he didn't buy the argument and that it smacked of greed on Allen's part, especially because he didn't take any personal payments until after he had lost election for the office.  Judge Simon also said that there was no evidence that Allen or his deputies assisted with the data collection.  "I'm sorry, I find it ridiculous," Simon said.  The judge added that the case was particularly egregious because Allen stole money that should have been used to help poor people.

He also overruled an objection by King that the court should hold Allen responsible for just $28,000, the amount that Allen kept for himself, instead of the entire amount.  Simon said that because Allen ordered the checks paid to Karras, Joshua and Albert Young Jr., he had a part in the entire amount.

Along with the prison sentence, Allen is also ordered to pay back, along with his three co-defendants, the entire $143,000.  Simon gave Allen until Aug. 27 to report to prison because of medical testing Allen is having done.  Simon also sentenced Allen to two years of supervised release after his prison term closes.  Allen will file an appeal, King said.

Simon sentenced former top deputy Wanda Joshua to 15 months in prison.  The judge placed former aide Albert Young Jr., who signed a plea agreement and admitted guilt, to two years on probation.  The final former deputy, Ann Marie Karras, is slated for sentencing Wednesday.


Miller Group Mulls Tax Rights
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[28 Apr 2010]

GARY -- The Miller Citizens Corp. says it is scrutinizing a state tax appeals board's authority to raise tax caps for Gary property owners.

The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board raised the caps for Gary property owners Monday to 1.5% of assessed value for homeowners, 2.65% for landlords and 3.79% for businesses.  Everywhere else in the state, those caps are set at 1%, 2% and 3%, respectively.  The DUAB raised Gary's caps in 2009 and 2010 at the request of Gary City Hall.

Gary's fiscal monitor said last year the tax caps would leave the city with less money than it spends now on public safety services.  Mayor Rudy Clay insisted this week the city won't lay off any police officers.

"For a city with businesses struggling to remain open," MCC President Douglas Grimes said, "to hit them with a 3.8% property tax is going to drive more businesses out of the city and continue to make Gary unattractive for business investment."

A voter referendum this fall could write the tax caps into Indiana's constitution.  If that happens, the DUAB would be powerless to raise the caps in Gary in 2012.

But Grimes said the DUAB's actions might already be flying in the face of that document.  "It may violate the state constitution for the DUAB to impose property tax increases in excess of the tax caps enacted by the legislature on only the taxpayers of Gary, regardless of the process employed."


Gary Thrown Lifeline, Again
Compiled From a Report by Dan Carden
[26 April 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS | Gary property owners will continue paying the highest tax rates in the state.  The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board on Monday set 2010 property tax rates in Gary at 1.5% of assessed value for residential property, 2.65% for rental property and 3.79% for business and industrial property.  Property taxes elsewhere in Indiana are capped at 1% of assessed value for owner-occupied homes, 2% for rental and agricultural property and 3% for business and industrial property.

The higher rates will give Gary, the Gary Sanitary District and the Gary Stormwater Management District an estimated $21 million in extra tax revenue.  Without the money, most services would be drastically cut.

The city and the other taxing districts lost nearly half their revenue following state enactment of property tax caps in 2008.  This is the second year Gary has appealed to the state board for relief from those caps.  Last year, the city received an extra $23.5 million, but the board also ordered $11.25 million in budget reductions.

More cuts will be necessary this year.  Two fire stations already have been closed, civil cases have been taken out of city court, health department expenses have been halved and Gary plans to transfer other services to Lake County.  "We've already started those reductions this year. (Included in the cuts are the elimination of 10 positions -- including five staff members -- in the city's Fire Department and the closing of the Department of General Services.  Divisions formerly budgeted to General Services have been transferred to Public Works and the Parks departments. Thirteen city employees were laid off.)  They're at work.  They're in progress," said Celita Green, city controller.  "We just have to finish and begin next year."

The board set several conditions for Gary to receive assistance next year, including approval of a 2011 budget at or less than the level recommended by the city's state-ordered fiscal monitor, diverting excess funds from tax increment finance districts to the general fund, developing a plan for fee-based stormwater and sanitary services and ending charitable contributions paid from city funds.  The ultimate goal is to get city services in line with city revenue by 2012, said Ryan Kitchell, chairman of the distressed unit board.  "The toughest decisions are still ahead of Gary, but they are making an effort," Kitchell said.  "More is going to be required to get them under the caps."

Trash Blls in the Trash

Gary's controversial decision last summer to start charging $12 a month for privatized trash collection isn't bringing in the money that was expected.  That's because only 30% of Gary residents are paying their trash bill.  The Gary Sanitary District is losing about $100,000 a month due to nonpayment, said Rinzer Williams III, director of the sanitary district.

Even worse, Williams said, the district can't do much about it.  The original plan to cut water service to residents who don't pay their trash bill needs approval by the Indiana General Assembly before it can be used.  The Legislature is not in session until January.  In the meantime, Williams said the sanitary district is "aggressively" looking into filing a class-action lawsuit against trash delinquents that would allow the district to place liens on properties where trash payments are owed.


Residents Seek Voice in City Struggles
Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[25 Apr 2010

Taryl Bonds had grown tired of being a "sideline heckler," yelling at live broadcasts of Gary City Council meetings on his television set.  So he went to City Hall and took the podium a few weeks ago.  Up off the bench, Bonds offered ideas for Gary's proposed trauma hospital at Indiana University Northwest, for turning City Hall into a historical landmark and for developing a financial "exit strategy" for the city.

Bonds didn't leave his passion at home. A property owner in a promising Gary neighborhood, he balked at the lack of solutions for Gary's financial crisis.  He told the council and its critics to reach out and work together.  "I don't want to live in a third-world country," Bonds said, waving his arms for emphasis.  "I've got a 25-year investment sitting in Small Farms.  I did not put that money in the ground for the city to fall down around me."

Nevertheless, Bonds is a homeowner in a city whose money troubles might be unprecedented in Indiana.  Gary could wind up in receivership or bankruptcy within a few years.  Few Hoosier case studies exist to predict its future. 

Gary's failure could ultimately affect taxpayers outside the city, but experts say answers must come from people like Bonds who live within.  Evidence of increased public engagement, though, is mixed.


Gary Calls Barden Bluff and Ups Ante
Compiled From a Report by by Kass Stone
[21 Apr 2010]

GARY | The Gary City Council took unanimous action on measures dealing with casino boats and city finances for the second half of 2010.

Council approved a resolution to request that the Indiana Gaming Commission not renew the authority of Don Barden and his company to operate Majestic I and Majestic II casinos in Gary.  The resolution also seeks to put the boats operated by Barden into receivership until new owners can be found to take over the city's two gaming licenses.  The resolution was voted unanimously into committee, where it will be voted on April 28.  It then will go to a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5.

The resolution accuses Barden of failing to pay the city 7% of gross revenues, which Barden proposed before he began operating the boats.  The ordinance declares Gary on the brink of financial disaster and in desperate need of the casino monies.  According to Councilman-at-Large Roy Pratt, the resolution is in line with a 2009 rule approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission allowing the commission to revoke the licenses of companies operating casino boats that do not live up to their agreements or are failing, and then put the boats into receivership until a suitable owner can be found.  "This man has not paid us one dime in two years," Pratt said.  "He owes us $20 million. We need another developer now."

Council also approved an ordinance authorizing the city to make temporary loans to meet expenses for the second half of 2010, in anticipation of property tax money distribution in December.  According to City Controller Celita Green, Gary will get a low-interest loan in the form of tax warrants from the Indiana Bond Bank.  The loan, which cannot be for more than 80 percent of anticipated tax revenue, will be paid off in December.

"We get tax warrants in January and pay them back with property tax money that comes in June.  We then get tax warrants for the second half of the year that we pay back in December.  Some people hear this and I don't think they understand it.  They don't like it but it is something every city does," Green said.


City Puts Clamps on Credit Cards
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[18 Apr 2010 ]

GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay's 2009 credit card statements reveal previously undisclosed expenses for Gary's Michael Jackson Memorial, but overall his charges were down more than half from 2008.

Airfare totaling $3,196 for singer Deniece Williams and publicist Linda Jones to travel from Los Angeles to Chicago was charged to the mayor's credit card in July, records show.  The pair were scheduled to arrive in Chicago on July 9 and leave July 11, one day after Williams, a Gary native, performed at a concert in Gary celebrating Jackson's life, weeks after he died.  "Deniece had family here," Clay said.  "We wanted her here."

The charges for Williams and her publicist bring the documented expenses for the memorial to $12,892.  The mayor said that memorial was funded by donations.  So far, records released by City Hall document $7,345 in income related to the event.

Payment on the charges for Williams' travel was due Aug. 6, but the records weren't included when the city released documents to the media one week later outlining the cost for the memorial.  Clay couldn't explain why the records were left out.  Green said the charge might have been missed because it was applied to the wrong account.  She said it should have been charged to the city's donation fund, which she said was ultimately used to pay for it.

The city also paid for former actor Fred "The Hammer" Williamson to stay at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville in July, records show.  That four-night stay cost $381 with government discounts, records show, but just $267 was charged to Clay's card.  Williamson left the Radisson July 5, according to city's records, meaning he left days before Gary's Jackson memorial.  "We brought him in for the Fourth of July," Clay said.

Williamson stayed in the Radisson in March, also, records show, and $91 was charged to Clay's credit card.  But records also show the mayor wrote a personal check to the city to cover that cost.

City Clerk Suzette Raggs' 2009 statements have yet to be released, but the mayor and the City Council's credit card spending totaled $23,735 in 2009.

Now, Gary officials say all the city's elected officials have given up their credit cards.  "The accounts are closed," Controller Celita Green said.  Green said the decision to put the credit cards away wasn't driven purely by publicity.  Gary is also being forced to cut all parts of its budget severely because of the state's new property tax caps.


City Slashes Budget in Bid for Solvency
Compiled From a Post-Report by Jon Seidel
[14 Apr 2010]

GARY -- Gary City Hall agreed to close fire stations, eliminate its General Services Department and accept more than 100 additional ideas from its fiscal monitor Tuesday, cutting its general fund budget to $52.8 million this year. "None of us feel good about what has transpired in the city of Gary," Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, said.

However, the City Council took a stand against Public Financial Management Inc. by refusing to eliminate the Gary city court and rejecting the idea that the city should hire a chief operating officer while laying off other employees.  "That's a nice way of saying we're incapable of doing our job," Kyle Allen, D-at large, said.

A resolution committing to PFM's plan with a handful of exceptions passed at a special council meeting 8-1.  Council member Ragen Hatcher, D-at large, voted against it.  "I'm concerned that once we vote for this, then we are locked into this list," Hatcher said.

That list will now be sent to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board, which is set to rule on Gary's latest petition for budget relief April 26.  That relief comes in the form of higher property tax caps for local property owners.


Gary Airport Serves as Repo Depot
Compiled From a Report by Keith Benman
[6 Apr 2010]

GARY | Passenger airliners are lining up at Gary/Chicago International Airport.  No, it's not a new airline.  They are just planes snatched from airports around the world by the company of noted local repo man Nick Popovich.

So far, three Airbus A320s and a parts-stripped Boeing 737 are lined up on the apron near a Gary Jet Center hangar, where the maintenance crew is keeping them in flying shape.  If in use by an airline, the three Airbus planes could carry almost 500 passengers.  They are not shabby.  Airbus bills the A320 family of aircraft as the "worlds best-selling commercial jetliner ever."

And more may be on their way to the Gary airport.  Three to five more airliners could be brought in, Popovich said.  "We have a great working relationship with Wil Davis (Gary Jet Center owner) and the airport authority, and we're glad to give them all the business they can handle," Popovich said Tuesday.

Airport Director Chris Curry said the airport is glad to host the planes and to collect $525 per month in parking fees for each plane.  "It doesn't create any problems for us," Curry said.  "If not for those, we would have no other aircraft occupying that space."  The Gary Jet Center has an FAA-certified maintenance program that can keep planes humming, repos or not.  "It's additional work and a business we go after," he said.  "We try to stay as diversified as we can in this crazy economy."


Gary Runs Out of Money on May 1
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[6 Apr 2010]

GARY -- "We will run out of money May 1 if the City Council does not pass the budget and the resolution," Clay said.  The legislation is to be introduced today at the council's meeting.  If passed, the city would promise to implement several ideas from Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc. and set various deadlines for doing so.  Mayor Rudy Clay must first secure five City Council votes for a resolution outlining Gary's new financial plan.  As of Monday, Clay said he wasn't sure the votes were there.

According to an exhibit, Gary would agree to reduce travel expenses for elected officials, eliminate compensation for board members and hire a chief operating officer.  It would also eliminate property tax subsidies for the Genesis Convention Center, the Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center and the South Gleason Golf Course and it would shift tax revenue from the Gary Sanitary District to City Hall.  Finally, it would eliminate the General Services Department by combining it with public works, a process Clay said has already begun.

City Council member Mary Brown, D-3rd and chairwoman of the council's finance committee, said her primary concern about the PFM plan is the proposed elimination of the city court.  Members of the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board are seeking the closure, but Brown said she doesn't think the DUAB is concerned with how that move would affect the city's welfare.  "They don't live here," Brown said.  "They don't know and they're not faced with the kinds of issues we face on a daily basis."

Judge Deidre Monroe said she's already cut at least $550,000 out of the court's budget, which now stands at $1.5 million.  Her staff, once made up of as many as 60 workers, now stands at 44, she said.  "We're really teetering on not being able to give the service to the community," Monroe said.

Clay doesn't commit to closing the city court in his resolution.  Instead, it's labeled as a "non-administrative decision."  The mayor said he doesn't want to see the city court closed, but it's up to the City Council to cut enough of the court's budget to meet DUAB muster.  "I want to save the city court," Clay said.  "We're asking the City Council to cut what the DUAB is asking them to do. Hopefully, they will."


Clay Criticizes Gary Airport Management
Compiled from a Report by Keith Benman
[25 Mar 2010]

—  Mayor lays plans after allies take up key airport posts

GARY | One day after allies of Mayor Rudy Clay cemented their control of the Gary airport authority, the mayor called for a new game plan there and leveled his most direct criticism yet of Chris Curry, airport director.  Asked about his plans for the Gary/Chicago International Airport, Clay lamented airport management's lack of progress in landing both airlines and cargo flights.  When asked if Curry should be replaced, the mayor said:  "Everything is on the table, he's in management and I think we should look at him too, because that airport should be blossoming out there."

The mayor also said he wants the airport authority to authorize a move to apply for the Federal Aviation Administration's pilot program for U.S. airport privatization, which currently has two slots open.  Airports approved for the FAA program can solicit bids from private companies and investors to purchase or lease an airport.  Clay said the city is keeping "a close eye" on investors that have been involved in the on-again, off-again Midway privatization project.

On Tuesday, Nathaniel Williams, the city internal auditor, was voted in as airport authority president by two other Clay appointees and Ross Amundson, a gubernatorial appointee to the seven-member board.  The same block installed Amundson as vice president and Clay appointee Silas Wilkerson as secretary.

All three voted last year against a two-year extension of Curry's contract.  They were outvoted then by the four other members of the board.  But in January, Clay replaced one of those who voted in favor of the contract with Gary attorney Cornell Collins, tipping the balance on the board.

When asked Wednesday if he feels his job is endangered, Curry said he will continue to focus on airport expansion and other projects assigned by the authority board.  "I'm not concerned about job security," Curry said.  "My concern is coming to work every day and directing activities at the airport and working at the pleasure of the airport authority."

Curry was selected as airport director in summer 2006 at an annual salary of $122,000 to replace outgoing director Paul Karas.


City Leaders Agree to Salary Cuts
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[23 Mar 2010]

GARY -- All Gary elected officials are committing to pay cuts in 2010.  It starts this month with City Council, President Ronier Scott said Monday.  All nine members were set to make $28,727 this year.  Scott said a 5% decrease will take effect this month.  He and his colleagues could lose $1,200 between March 1 and Dec. 31.  "Everybody's in this together," Scott said.

Judge Deidre Monroe will take 11 furlough days.  Doing so will cost her about $4,000, or about 6% of her $67,000 budgeted salary.  "I will be working on those (furlough) days."

City Clerk Suzette Raggs made a similar commitment.  Her salary went from $65,381 in 2009 to $64,073, meaning she's already taken a 2% cut in pay.  Raggs said Monday she will take an additional five furlough days this year.  Together, she said, the cuts amount to a 5% drop from her 2009 pay, or a loss of about $3,200.  "I expect to be there, even though my staff will not be."

All three said their workers will also take furlough days as the city struggles through another year of revenue shortfalls.

Mayor Rudy Clay will take a 5% pay cut worth $4,400.  All of his employees will take 10 furlough days, and all employees making more than $50,000 will take 5% pay cuts.

Gary is waiting for the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board to decide if it will raise tax caps for property owners in the city this year, which would create new revenue for City Hall.  The city has approved a $56.4 million general fund budget for 2010, but a financial consulting firm predicts it could see as little as $26.5 million in general fund revenue if the caps aren't raised.


Gary Too Big to Fail?
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[21 Mar 2010]

Mary Wilson sat on a Gary doorstep on a warm March day, thinking about her hometown's future as weather hinted at better things to come.  She sat outside a new Horace Mann apartment.  She could see shuttered Broadway buildings on the horizon.  "Gary's eventually going to be a ghost town," Wilson said, shaking her head.  "It's already a ghost town."

Her three cousins disagree.  Gloria Whittler, JoAnne Taylor and Elmer Henderson grew up when Gary was booming.  They insist there will always be a Gary, Indiana.  "As long as Jesus Christ is Lord," Whittler said, "we're going to make it."  But they know the city's been in trouble for years.  Aside from prayer, they're not sure what's going to save it.

Neither is anyone else.  Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville, stood inside the Indiana Statehouse last month and said Gary's financial crisis "may be an unsolvable problem."  "There's not a person in this building, there's not a person in this chamber, there's not a person in this state that can tell me or anybody else how you bail out Gary, Indiana," Dobis said.

Lawmakers ignored his cry.  Critics smell blood, saying it's time for Northwest Indiana's largest city to die.  If that happens, local government experts say it will hurt more than just Wilson, her cousins and their neighbors.  Raymond Scheele, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, said major cities like Gary simply don't disappear.  If Gary fails, taxpayers outside the city will pay the price.  "You just don't dissolve a city," Scheele said.  "The people don't go away.  The streets don't go away.  All of the infrastructure's still there, and somebody's got to take care of it."

Jim Flannery, executive director of the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council, said Gary's solution must come from its residents.  Northwest Indiana must support it.  There are plenty of ideas for turning the city around.  "If you ask a lot of people, a lot of people will give you a lot of answers," Flannery said.

But so many proposals face daunting political and economic obstacles.  Take the land-based casino:  Despite the bipartisan prediction that it would create $11 million in needed state revenue, lawmakers facing re-election couldn't be sold on an expansion of gambling in Indiana.

Gary's leaders often glance out City Hall's northern windows toward U.S. Steel, lamenting a set of tax breaks given by the state to heavy industry.  General Assembly members and Gov. Mitch Daniels warn USS might close up shop if those breaks are rolled back.

James B. Lane, long-time Gary historian, said the city's failure would be "shocking," given not only the tax breaks for U.S. Steel but also federal bailouts of major investment firms.  "If a company like AIG was too big to fail," Lane said, "a proud city like Gary, in my opinion, is too big to fail."

Fall From Glory
U.S. Steel created Gary when it built a new plant on the shore of Lake Michigan in 1906.  Before long, Gary was a bustling metropolis.  The public schools were a national model.  Shoppers crowded Broadway's sidewalks.

Gary fell victim to suburbanization and white flight in the latter half of the 20th century, and eventually earned the country's "murder capital" title.  Poverty, unemployment and sparse economic development plague the city's budget.

But the reason for today's urgency is a set of property tax caps headed toward the state Constitution, a change championed by Gov. Daniels.  The caps will save Hoosier property owners millions.  But they cut off revenue for local governments all over Indiana.  Many will struggle, but none more so than Gary.  "It could be devastating for Gary," Scheele said.

For now, the caps are simply law.  When voters go to the polls in November, they will decide whether to make the caps constitutional.  A vote to do so will leave Gary to survive on its own.  Many people have wondered aloud if there is enough assessed value for Gary to survive.  Estimates show its property tax revenue would be reduced to $29.7 million if the caps kick in by 2012.  That's less than the city spends now on police, fire and EMT services.

The Distressed Unit Board forced Gary to hire a fiscal monitor, Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc.  Its report, released late last year, drew a financial roadmap for life under the caps.  But it's based on 100% tax collections in Gary, giving fodder to critics who point to 72% collections in 2009.

The outlook isn't good.  Mayor Rudy Clay said seeds have been planted for economic development that could bolster the city budget.  As far as Gary's concerned, you have to take it a day at a time, take it a month at a time," Clay said.

Enter Politics
If Gary is to survive past 2012, it will need to endure a familiar test:  politics.

The city's primary election is still 14 months away.  Already it promises to be dramatic.  Clay, a career Democrat politician in his 70's who lived through the civil rights movement, has said he will seek a second full term.  At-large City Council member Ragen Hatcher filed paperwork last week to explore challenging Clay.  Her father, former Mayor Hatcher, is a civil rights icon.  Jack Lieske also signed campaign paperwork.  Lieske and Hatcher are Democrats, and other members of their party are likely to jump into the race.  The winner is sworn in Jan. 1, 2012, the year the constitutional tax caps would take effect.

"If there's going to be change, it has to come from within Gary.  I think it ultimately has to be at the voting booths," Flannery said.  Toward that end, citizens are rising up.  The Miller Citizens Corp., a historical watchdog of Gary government, has been joined by the Central District Organizing Project.  They say City Hall's budget cuts don't reflect the priorities of its people.  Lori Peterson, CDOP's 31-year-old leader, said people who say, "Let Gary fail," are truly referring to City Hall.  The city should really listen to what they're saying," Peterson said.

Gary Timeline
1906:  Construction begins on USS-Gary Works.  Gary incorporates as a town; named after Elbert H. Gary, a founder of U.S. Steel.
          Population:        334
1910:  Population:   16,802
1967:  Population: 175,000
2000:  Population: 102,746
2009:  Population:   96,000


Citizen Comments
From Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[18 Mar 2010]

— I am a proud Gary resident, and I am sick and tired of the pontificating and posturing of City Council and School Board members about not letting Gary go into bankruptcy.  Hello!  Mayor Clay and this group have had more than enough time to look at our problems and proceed with solutions.  Instead, they say more handouts, not a hand up, is the way to self-govern.  Wrong!

— When you say Ragen Hatcher can finish the job her father started as mayor of Gary, do you mean she can turn out the lights and put on a padlock?

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Tommy Williams
[17 Mar 2010]

Gary Wallace center Brandon Bradford:  "I would rather block a shot to win a game than hit a winning shot," said Bradford, who actually did just that to win a game against Indianapolis Howe this season.  "At that time it was about scoring as much as getting the defensive stop.  That's why I'm here for."
[COMMENT -GDY]:  While I am indeed elated that Wallace is advancing beyond the sectional round in the state basketball tournament, I am  saddened to see that Mr. Bradford apparently is not at Lew Wallace H.S. to learn english grammar.  I still vividly remember having drilled into me by my Lew Wallace teachers the maxim, "One never, ever, ends a sentence with a preposition!" 



[15 Mar 2010 01:18 Hrs.]
Posted by gioperation /    

COME HELP SAVE OUR JOBS Tues., 16 Mar, at 6pm





Date:  Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Time:  6:00pm - 9:00pm


Councilwoman Hatcher Considering Mayoral Run
Compiled From a Report by Times Staff
[13 Mar 2010]

GARY-- The daughter of Richard Hatcher, Gary's first black mayor, is considering a 2010 run for mayor.  Gary City Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher announced in a news release Friday she plans to form an exploratory committee to investigate a potential run for mayor in November.  To run in November, Hatcher would first have to win a primary election in May.

Hatcher, an attorney for the Gary school system, plans to hold a news conference Tuesday at the election board office at the Lake County Government Complex to announce the committee's formation.  She said in the release she is considering a run because of the "deteriorating conditions" of the city.

Hatcher, a mother of three, lives in Gary's Miller neighborhood.  Her father endured intimidation to become Gary's first black mayor in 1968.  He was one of the first black men to serve as mayor of a major city.  Ragen Hatcher won the at-large council seat in November 2007.


Firefighter Layoffs Loom
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Andy Grimm
[11 Mar 2010]

GARY-- The city will close two more fire stations by next week and could lay off as many as 25 firefighters unless members of Firefighters Local 359 agree to steep salary concessions, Chief Jeffrey Ward said Wednesday.  In cost-cutting moves intended to help close a multimillion-dollar city budget deficit, Station No. 6, on 5th Avenue, will close this week, and Station No. 11, on the east side of Miller Beach on Indian Boundary Road, will follow next week.  "I've been here 40 years,  I've never seen it this bad," Ward said.  "This is probably the first time in the history of the city they have laid off firefighters."

The number of firefighters facing layoff will hinge on how union members vote on several city-proposed furlough and wage cuts.  Union President Reynard Robinson said his members were almost certain to reject the proposals.  Union members were to vote Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Robinson said he will meet with city officials Friday.

The city has 237 firefighters.  It is one of the busiest fire departments in the state.  The station closings would leave the 50-square-mile city with eight firehouses.

Layoffs would take place on a seniority basis, Robinson said.  "If they let go of 25 firefighters by seniority, the average age of a firefighter in this city will be over 40," Robinson said.  "It's going to be old men fighting fires."

Fire station chopping block
No. 10, 3310 Virginia St.*
No. 11, 8010 Indian Boundary Road
No.   6,1201 W. 5th Ave.
*Already closed.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  And Rudy will diddle while Gary burns!


Outsider Attack on Gary Unwarranted
Comment by Reagan H. Hatcher, Councilwoman
From Post-Trib Op-Ed Page

[10 Mar 2010]

As a resident of Gary, and an at-large member of the Gary City Council, I am obliged to speak up on behalf of my city.  I have lived in Gary my entire life.  I believe in its future.  The people of Gary are accustomed to constant, unsolicited and overweening advice from well-meaning but uninformed individuals who don't live here.  These experts know exactly what is wrong in the city and are never shy when it comes to sharing their gratuitous and mostly self-serving suggestions as to how to fix things.

Case in point is a recent letter to the editor (Feb. 16) written by Chris Morrow, a former chairman of the board of directors of the now-defunct Gary Urban Enterprise Association.  Mr. Morrow is a resident of Dyer.  In substance, he says the city of Gary should either sell or lease its airport to an unnamed private company (i.e., privatize) or simply die.  Even Chris Morrow would admit that these are two decidedly unattractive choices for most Gary citizens.

As a former member of the Gary Airport Board, I can speak with some authority about the value and importance of this facility to Gary's future.  Over the years, the taxpayers of this city have invested millions of dollars to bring our airport from little more than the cow pasture it was in the 1960's to the most technologically advanced flying facility in the Gary metropolitan region today.  It has runways capable of handling jet aircraft up to and including three-engine Boeing 727's, a modern control tower and a comfortable passenger terminal.

The airport is in the process of extending its main runway.  When this project is completed, it will be capable of handling any plane flying today.  With the right leadership, Gary will become the third major airport in the Chicago area.

Why should we give it away or sell it at a fraction of its actual value?  Why should Gary give away the thousands of good-paying jobs the airport ultimately will produce?  Why should the city of Gary forgo the huge multi-billion-dollar economic impact a fully developed airport represents?  Privatize or die?  No, Mr. Morrow!  Gary's options and plans are much greater than that.  We are confident, as a community, that we can and will, with the right leadership, build a great airport on Gary's far west side, and an even greater city.

Mr. Morrow, you complain about our taxes but don't support a commuter tax.  You complain Gary residents don't support sports and gambling endeavors, which they had very little to do with except for paying for the facilities and teams with their millions of dollars in property taxes.  You lie about the performance of our schoolchildren.  You even seem to blame the people of Gary for the national economic recession.

Mr. Morrow, there is not sufficient space in this letter to fully answer all your whining and complaining about all things you perceive as wrong with our city.  I don't think you intended in your letter to the editor to insult the intelligence of every citizen of Gary, but somehow you managed.  I think you should apologize to the people of Gary.  They will forgive you.  They know that Gary will live and never die.


"Quickly" Column Comments
From the Post-Trib
[8 Mar 2010]

In the '70s in Gary, you had an option of choosing to go to the Gary Career Center to learn a trade while in high school.  Thank God so many of us did.  I want to say congrats to Calumet School for bringing the trade curriculum back.  Somebody please inform Gary to do the same.  Educators, please research materials written by Booker T. Washington and Gilbert Gary.  If our children's instruction and learning is centered on a trade or art of their choice beginning early in school, chances are they just might graduate and attend college.  We do not have anything to lose at this point, but more of our children to the streets.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  It is not my intent to make this person an object of ridicule, so I will try and tone it down.  Howver, one has to ask what kind of education s/he received, and how much of what they learned has been retained?  I say this as, pray tell, who is Gilbert Gary, and what does he have to do with trades education in the "Steel City?"  I did manage to find a Gilbert Gary who is the owner of Camelot Pictures, a co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the owner of Quicken Loans.  I do not think that is any Gary of "Gary, Indiana fame?" 


Letters to Ed
From the Post-Trib
[8 Mar 2010]

Unkind words about Gary stir a strong reaction

Thanks for your kind, unselfish words about Gary (Chris Morrow, Feb. 16).  You want Gary/Chicago International Airport to be privatized so white folks can control it.  You said you want the city to die.  What hellish thoughts you have.  Why would you want a whole city to die?  What a great spirit you have.

It is those like you who keep people separated.  I hope the people of Dyer don't feel the same as you.  Your hatred for Gary really shows.  You mentioned Scott King's administration.  He raped our city!  That's why we are in a deficit.  The city was in a deficit when Mayor Rudy Clay took office.  Did you know that?

What happened to the millions of dollars of casino money unaccounted for when King was mayor?  It mysteriously disappeared.  He did not resign because he was not making enough money, as he stated.

You are very sick, sir, and cold-hearted.  Why would you want a whole city to die?  I pray that God changes your heart.  What a kind and thoughtful person you are.  Just like ex-Mayor Scott King.

— Wayne Thomas, Gary


Opening Act May Have Incited Concert Shooting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by C. S. Kirkland, M. Gonzalez
[7 Mar 2010]

GARY -- World of Skates manager James Sisson was 7 feet away when a teenage boy screamed and dropped to the sidewalk outside the Gary roller skating rink late Friday night.  One of the teen's friends grabbed him to ease his fall when what was described as a normal day at the venue turned violent.  "All the kids scattered and got as low as they possibly could," said Sisson, who also serves as the head security guard for the business.  Security guards helped many of the wounded inside to wait for paramedics to arrive.  Sisson spent the night going from hospital to hospital to check on the kids. He knew two of the boys.

A concert headlined by rap artist Wacka Flocka had just ended as an unidentified gunman or gunmen opened fire on about 200 teenagers waiting in the Commons shopping center parking lot for rides.  Eight teenage boys, ages 14 to 18, suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, according to Gary Police Cpl. Gabrielle King.  King said Saturday "all chaos broke loose" when a fight erupted during the event.  Security workers ordered attendees to leave the rink at 4415 W. 5th Ave.

One of the victims told police he was shot in the stomach by a black man holding a rifle.  He said the man was wearing a red hat and had dreadlocks.  Another victim said he was with a group of friends and they were asked to leave to avoid a fight with a group he didn't know.  He said members of the group confronted him in the parking lot and someone started shooting.  The teen suffered a gunshot wound to his left leg and was taken to Saint Margaret Mercy Healthcare Center in Hammond.

All events for patrons under the age of 21 have been canceled until further notice, according to a sign on the World of Skates door on Saturday.  The skating rink shares an address with the adults-only Posh Ultra Lounge.  Sisson said the skating rink was closed to all patrons this weekend so maintenance staff could address code enforcement issues raised by the city and reset fire alarms.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay described a bar section that was separated by a wall but said it didn't necessarily stop kids from gaining access to alcohol.  "I ordered my police chief to definitely shut that place down for tonight," Clay said.  "I don't know how long it'll stay down, but for tonight, we're shutting it down.  It just doesn't make sense.  It's not good to have teens out there and alcohol next door."

'Hype man' gets blame

Cmdr. Michael Mallett said a "hype man" entertained the crowd before Wacka Flocka took the stage, and he pitted "East Side" vs. "West Side" against each other.  Mallett said that might have incited the incident.  "The kids have separated themselves into east and west sides," Mallet said.  "They've been doing it for many years now, but it's gotten worse, especially when you have entertainers making references to East Side vs. West Side.  The youth in our community have taken it to heart."

On Friday night, seven Gary police officers, along with seven security guards, were working the concert.  Even with heavy police presence at the event, as of Saturday night, no arrests have been made.


Give Mayor Clay a Chance to Solve Gary's Problems
From Post-Trib Letters to Ed
[7 Mar 2010]

Rudy Clay is not to blame. Mayor Clay has been handed a waste of a city that was operated by many other administrations.  Mr. Clay can work only with what he has to work with.  Miracles do not happen overnight.  The citizens also must get involved to help out.

When given something broken and no means to fix it, it becomes a task to find ways to do so.  Many residents blame Mayor Clay for not doing enough.  He is only one man.  We can cast all of the negative things we want against him.  But who does that benefit?  I sincerely believe the mayor is trying his best to right the wrongs.

As for his used Hummer, that it old news.  If people need to vent frustration, look back to those you voted for in the past.  Mayor Clay, is left with a mess and is trying to make things right and probably is stressed to the bone about it.

It is what it is in the city of Gary, but give the man a chance.  Rome was not built in a day.  We all know that you need to do a lot in this city, and it takes the effort of all. I urge the public in Gary to attend meetings, get involved and be a part of the resurgence of this once-great city.  Sitting back and casting blame will reap nothing.

— Mike de Normandie, Winfield.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Boy, could I go off on this guy, but I will try and restrain myself!  I will grant that Rudy has not created the problem.  However, what he has done is exacerbate it, not allieviate it.  A day?  Rudy has had 4 years!  In that time he has not even begun to turn a corner on improving the situation.  Oh yes, there is the "building facade" program, for which he gives out awards.  Rudy is like the facades, a sham!  And, Mr. de Normandie, Rudy is not just one man.  He is an entire administration, albeit with more than a few family members sharing, not the burdens, but all the perks they are able to skim!  I also find it of interest that someone from Winfield has the answer to Gary's problems.

Research yields:   Winfield is a town.  It became such way back in 1993!  It is in both Porter and Winfield Townships and straddles Lake and Porter Counties.  It boasts a booming population of 3,800.


Clay Wants to Claim Inmates on Census
Compiled From a Report by Marisa Kwiatkowski
[7 Mar 2010]

For years, Gary Mayor Rudy Clay shunned the Steel City's reputation for being a hotbed of crime.  But Clay recently said he'd like to count prison inmates -- who live in jails elsewhere but list Gary as their hometown -- as city residents for purposes of the 2010 census.  He intends to ask state lawmakers about passing a bill that counts inmates at their address before incarceration.

Indiana's more than 31,600 state and federal prison inmates currently are counted in the census as residents of the towns where they are incarcerated, not where they reside.  But some municipal leaders want to change that, seeking to boost their official population numbers.  Census population counts determine representation in the U.S. House and in allocating more than $400 billion in government funding, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Census figures also are used to draw maps of legislative districts.

"I've always thought that wherever a person is physically located, especially in our institutions, shouldn't matter," Clay, the mayor of the region's largest city, said.  "It's in their hometowns that they should be counted."

"It's obvious how it is bad for Gary, but it's less obvious how it's bad for everybody else," said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative.  "Allowing a small number of districts with huge prisons extra representation dilutes the votes of everybody else."

The 2010 census could have serious implications for cash-strapped Gary.  The city's population dropped about 18,500 people between the 2000 census and the 2006-2008 American Community Survey estimates, federal records show.  Counting state prison inmates from Gary would add nearly 700 people to the city's population, Indiana Department of Correction records show.  Federal prison statistics were not available.  "We've always been undercounted, and because we've always been undercounted, we've lost money," Clay said.  "This year we are going to tenaciously push the census count.  We're going to really crank it up and be sure that everybody is counted."
[COMMENT -GDY]:  This is fitting.  Rudy has found a use for the degenerates, thugs and criminals who populate the Steel City:  They can bring money into the city coffers, so he is now proud to claim them!  What a deal for him.  They need neither be housed, fed or otherwise supported by Gary dollars, but at the same time be counted as residents for federal revenue purposes.  Rudy, you are one hell of a municipal administrator!


Letters to Ed
Urging Gary's Death Must be Contested at Every Angle
[5 Mar 2010]

Recently, former Gary bank owner and Gary Urban Enterprise Association board member Chris Morrow submitted a propagandized letter to the editor.  On the contrary, Gary is an asset, not a deficit, to the region.  Our city is rich in both history and resources.  If this were not the case, the urgency to force the sale of designated parcels of land would not exist.

It seems illogical that a person who has benefitted from doing business in Gary for many years would attempt to impose such an imperialistic ideology on a generation that is well aware of the meaning of code language, like "Gary residents" and "people from the suburbs."  Moreover, the statement, "Now it is the time for Gary to die," is laced with a genocidal tone that requires contestation at every angle.

An overwhelming majority of Gary residents and natives are law-abiding citizens who are in favor of business development opportunities and economic expansion.  However, we are not willing to relent to the belief that everything in Gary is worth less or worthless enough to just let die.

After all, the question still remains. Once Gary dies, who would benefit from taking the land?

— Kenneth Stalling, President, Gary School Board of Trustees


City Workers Get 10-day Furlough
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[4 Mar 2010]

City workers, with the exception of public safety employees, will receive 10 unpaid furlough days this year, saving the city about $136,000.  The Board of Public Works approved the furlough days Wednesday as recommended by a state-mandated fiscal monitor.

All Gary city offices, except for public safety offices, will be closed for 10 days, and employees will stay at home without pay.  The furlough days are: March 8, April 9, May 3, May 24, June 28, July 12, Aug. 9, Aug. 30, Sept. 27 and Oct. 25.

The furlough days do not include police, fire and emergency medical services employees, but those departments will have to schedule furlough days for their civilian employees, Controller Celita Green said.


Chicago Man Eyes Land on Broadway
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[4 Mar 2010]

GARY -- Guthrie Adams offered to buy most of a city block Wednesday for $10.

The Chicago businessman later conceded his paltry bid to the Board of Works to buy 1301 Broadway, the former home of the Gary police-city court building, was an opening shot in his attempt to build a $90 million commercial data center and technology incubator on the site.

Adams, president and owner of Acacia Group and a managing member of DuSable Communications International, a development group, said his decision to locate the high-tech business in Gary hinges on the City Council giving his company tax breaks on expensive equipment.

He said he chose Gary because of the possible tax break and the low cost of building and staffing such a business in Gary, calling Chicago "too cost prohibitive."

That is one option for the 1301 Broadway site, but Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant, president of the Board of Works, said it was too soon to comment on Adams' offer.  "It all depends on what (Adams') plans are," Tousant said.  "We'll wait for the (public works) staff to review the bid and get back to us."
[COMMENT -GDY]:  This is the same parcel that was appraised in February of 2010 at $105,250.  Not a bad deal at $10!  However, putting the building to productive use, is better than letting it sit and deteriorate, especially if it yields jobs.


Letters to Ed
From the Post-Trib
[3 Mar 2010]

Clay needs to do a better job for Gary —

Recently, my husband went to Gary on a Sunday to visit a co-worker who lives on the same street as Mayor Rudy Clay.  There, in front of the mayor's house, were two idling police cars.  The police cars were still there hours later when my husband left.  What an absolute waste of taxpayers' money.

Young men are still being murdered at an alarming rate in the city of Gary.  The police force is underpaid and undermanned.  Many of the fire stations are in disrepair.  Buildings throughout the city are abandoned, burned, filled with graffiti, collapsing and used as crack houses.  There is a two-story house directly behind Booker Blumenberg's township assessor's office that is almost completely scorched.  Hundreds of businesses sit closed and boarded up.  Business owners have been beaten and some murdered.  Many people have been murdered.

Yet Clay has said, "Gary is not a dangerous city."  Why does he have bodyguards accompany him wherever he goes?  Why does the city afford him special police protection outside his house?

Does anybody remember Clay's discussion about building a park to rival that of Chicago's Millenium Park, complete with water fountains, in downtown Gary?  What's happening with the money-draining Sheraton Hotel?  Did everybody forget that the city recently asked for financial relief from the state and had it granted?

The good people of Gary deserve hard work from Clay, not celebrity hobnobbing with Michael Jackson's father and a city-leased Hummer that wastes money.

— Dawn Kirk, Crown Point


Citizen Commentary
Compiled From a Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[2 Mar 2010]

Mayor Rudy Clay, why waste our time with a State of the City address for Gary?  Just post a banner that tells it all:  "Gary is in the toilet."  Although you inherited some problems, your election was based on changing the old ways.  I guess you forgot that part and decided you needed to drive Gary totally down.


Citizen Commentary
Compiled From a Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[26 Feb 2010]

—  I am a 1952 Gary Froebel High School graduate.  It is with deep gratitude I thank the teachers and the Gary school system for providing me an education and motivating me to build a rewarding life and career.  Also, thanks to my classmates who enriched my life, and especially the pretty blonde who became my wife 53 years ago.  Thank you, Froebel.
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Let me, as Lew Wallace H.S. Class of '64 grad echo these sentiments.  The education I received in the Gary Public Schools provided me the foundation for a good professional and personal life.  Recently, I learned that one of my 7th Grade teachers was alive, well and living in da' Region.  I had the pleasure of writing him a letter, thanking him for his efforts in putting a 12 yr. old kid's life on a proper course.

—  I was born in Gary and now live in Porter County, and I cannot believe how Gary has been destroyed.  This is not a result of normal wear or lack of maintenance.  It seems that city officials have taken their offices for personal gain instead of caring about the future of the city.  I think it is up to Gary residents to clean up the mess, starting with City Hall.  Then, they need to work with the city to clean up the streets, making them free of junk cars, garbage, abandoned homes and criminals.  Maybe then they could attract new development.


Clay:  Glimmers of Hope for Gary
Compiled From a Report by Marc Chase
[26 Feb 2010]

In his annual State of the City address, Clay struck a chord, at times bleak and at times optimistic, when describing the fortunes of the largest and most beleaguered city in Northwest Indiana.  "Our mettle is being tested," Clay told the crowd gathered for his address at Gary's Genesis Convention Center.  Clay said officials would need to make painful and important decisions this year regarding city spending to avoid hitting "a financial iceberg."

Clay said Gary faced many of the same challenges as other urban areas in 2009, including dwindling revenue and increased demand in services from residents.  In 2009, Gary was the only Indiana city to go before the state's Distressed Unit Appeals Board, seeking refuge from statewide property tax caps that are sapping scores of municipal budgets.  Even with the help Gary requested from the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board, the municipality would need to cut $17 million from its bottom line to make ends meet, Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said Thursday.

Still, Clay said bright spots for the city's future remain, including initiatives by U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help Gary tear down blighted buildings and start over with clean lots ready for development.  He also touted the Chicago-based Metropolitan Planning Council's efforts in attempting to bring in development and municipal finance experts from throughout the country to design a clearer economic road map for Gary.

Clay also cited a number of businesses that opened in Gary recently, including a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant employing 28 people.  Clay admitted that many people chuckle when he mentions the opening of the pizza franchise as a win for Gary.  "But the people who got those 28 jobs didn't chuckle," Clay said.

Clay also hailed plans for a $7.2 million mixed-use facility for storefronts and housing at the corner of Seventh and Broadway as a major win for the city.


Assessor Withdraws from Cal Township Race
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Andy Grimm
[23 Feb 2010]

CROWN POINT -- Booker Blumenberg has dropped out of the race for a sixth term as Calumet Township Assessor, and announced he will support the candidacy of his top deputy.

Blumenberg on Monday filed paperwork to withdraw his name from the May 4 Democratic primary, less than an hour before the noon deadline.  Rumors had swirled since Friday that Blumenberg was likely dropping out of the race, after Chief Deputy Clerk Jackie Collins filed to get on the ballot.

Though Blumenberg has been dogged by the state Department of Local Government Finance since this fall, Blumenberg's candidacy purportedly kept several potential challengers from entering the race.

Blumenberg on Monday admitted that there was some "strategy" to the timing, and said he had been considering retirement even before the DLGF began making public complaints about "sloppy and error-riddled" assessment work that state officials said resulted in delays to the tax billing process countywide.

The bad press, which included the revelation that he hadn't paid taxes on his Miller beach home more than a month after the deadline, didn't drive him from the race.

"I've always enjoyed a good fight, and I believe I would have won," Blumenberg said Monday afternoon.  "I enjoyed my time as assessor and I've decided it was time to move on.  I think the episode with the state did much to guarantee a win."


Gary Schools Weigh Central Office Move
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin N. Lazerus
[22 Feb 2010]

The Gary Community School Corp. is edging closer to firming up plans to move its central administration staff out of the building at 620 E. 10th Place and into Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School, which closed in June.  The School Board's buildings, grounds and maintenance committee met last week to determine the scope of the project and how to finance it.

The district needs to move out of its administrative headquarters because it was labeled a fire trap by the State Fire Marshal's Office a couple years ago and, in a recent school building survey, was found to be in need of replacement.

The district's attempts to find a suitable replacement have been slowed by budget cuts, administrative changes and disagreement over how much work needs to go into Dunbar-Pulaski.

Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said Dunbar-Pulaski does present some problems -- only one of the building's three boilers is operational and the basement has flooded due to an artesian well on the property.

The biggest question facing the board is how much work they want to do on the building.  "We need to decide on the scope of the work that needs to be done -- it can be $15 million or $1 million," said board member Marion Williams.  The plans call for a bare-bones renovation. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Let' see, moving from a labeled fire trap to a buliding with a flooded basement?  I am sure the planned "bare bones" renovation will take cure the flooding, crumbling basement and mold problems.

Citizen Commentary
From the Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[18 Feb 2010]

Gary could learn a lot from Youngstown, Ohio, a steel city that dropped in population from about 170,00 in 1940 to about 70,000 today.  With no mills left, leaders there are shrinking everything and plan to be a model for other cities in the same situation as Gary.  Check it out on the Web.


Gary Chance for Land-based Casino Almost Gone
Compiled From a Report by Dan Carden
[18 Feb 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS | Gary is down to its last chip in its bid to win legislative approval this year for land-based gaming in the Steel City.  A House committee made minor changes to pending gaming legislation on Wednesday but did not vote on a request that the Majestic Star Casino be allowed to move off of Lake Michigan and onto land elsewhere in Gary.

That means Gary's only remaining chance is to win approval by the full House for a land-based amendment to Senate Bill 405.  State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he will propose that amendment next week.  "We have to do it this year. It has to be done this year," Brown said. "Gary is really, really in dire straits and needs this boost.

However, nearby casinos fear a land-based location in Gary could cut into their earnings. The city of Hammond, home to Horseshoe Casino, Indiana's top-grossing casino, is actively lobbying lawmakers to oppose Gary's land-based bid.


Privatize Airport or Allow Gary to Die
A Post-Trib "Letter to Ed"
[16 Feb 2010]

The only way to save Gary is to privatize the airport.  Unfortunately the Gary School Board is holding this process hostage.  The jewel soon will be another failed endeavor.

Gary has had its chances over the past decade and has chosen to continue with business as usual.  Not only has the municipality failed, so have the citizens by allowing the political machine to completely decimate the city.

Not only are there no real small businesses there to support the city and its spending, the city and citizens continue the drumbeat of high taxes on those remaining.  Most recently, some citizens have clamored for an income tax on nonresidents working in the city.

Gary had its chances in the King administration to bring vision and development.  The Steelheads, RailCats, restaurants and banks were not enough to bring the citizens together.  The RailCats still bring in thousands from the suburbs, but Gary residents fail to support their team.  Gary is dying and just needs to die.

Resources in our urban areas are thin at best, so we should invest in areas or cities, like Hammond, that have a chance for survival.  Gary's education system has collapsed, with a less than 50%  graduation rate.

Gary can't even provide the basics like infrastructure, street repair, security, clean streets and neighborhoods or invest in the basic quality-of-life issues like its park system.

Gary can't even support its golden goose, Don Barden and the Majestic Star Casino, with the needed casino infrastructure.  Now it has to deal with a closed Clive Avenue bridge.

Yes, Gary has a rich history, but history is just that -- history.  As we enter another year of economic recession, businesses that don't have the capital to survive will die.  Now is the time for Gary to die, so the rest of the region can move on.

— Chris Morrow Dyer


[Comment -GDY]:  Hard for Me to Let This One Pass?

Helicopter Lands for Lunch

Compiled From a Report by (Cleveland) Staff Writer

[12 Feb 2010]



ASHLAND, Ohio -- A helicopter landed in Ashland and became a cause of consternation for police on Friday because the pilot didn't land for an emergency, he landed for lunch.


According to the Ashland Police Department, Roger Mitchell, of Gary, Indiana, was piloting the helicopter on his way back to Gary, from Columbus, Ohio, when he decided he was hungry.  Mitchell landed the aircraft in the back parking lot of Geyer's Fresh Foods Hawkins Market on Claremont Avenue.  He then proceeded on foot to a local Italian Restaurant, Sorellas II, just down the street.


Police say Mitchell ate lunch and returned to the helicopter to find law enforcement on the scene.  He was not cited since he violated no city ordinances in landing his chopper.  Rather, police watched as he gave a friendly wave, lifted off and resumed his flight home


Bobby Koenig, former pilot for Fox 8 News SkyFox, says there are no FAA regulations that would be violated by landing in a parking lot.  According to Koenig, a pilot simply needs permission from the property owner to land.  Once the pilot has permission from a property owner, a helicopter can land at anytime.


New Job, Salary for Clay Aide
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[12 Feb 2010]

GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay's assistant for economic development has a new job as Gary's director of energy.

The city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved a contract for Joel Rodriguez this week to oversee a two-year $935,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.  Public Works Director Rinzer Williams III said Rodriguez will make $67,500 each year in the role.

Mark Han, who helped Rodriguez secure the grant, was also given a contract for $25,000 to help with the grant, Williams said.

Rodriguez couldn't be reached for comment about his new role Thursday.  Williams said the grant lasts for two years and is directed toward energy-saving programs for the city.

The Gary program's first priority, Williams said, will be to install LED light bulbs in hundreds of city streetlights.  He said the city can save $800 a year in energy costs on every LED bulb installed.


State To City: Return $8.3 million
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[12 Feb 2010]

Gary governmental units that sought help from a state tax appeals board were overpaid last month by $8.3 million, Indiana Auditor Tim Berry said Thursday.  The extra money sent as tax distributions to governments that petitioned the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board must be returned so it can be divided among Gary units that did not seek the board's help.

Michael Wieser, director of finance for the Lake County Auditor's office, said Gary City Hall will need to return $6.585 million from its general fund, and $7.608 million overall.

The Gary Stormwater Management District must return $113,000, the Gary Public Transportation Corp. must return $469,223, and Gary/Chicago International Airport must return $200,000, Wieser said.

That money will be redistributed this way, roughly:
- $1.5 million to Lake County
- $1.3 million to Calumet Township
- $3.5 million to Gary schools
- $798,000 to the Gary library
- $1 million to various Gary Sanitary District funds
- $61,000 to the Lake County solid waste fund
- $28,000 to Gary Redevelopment,
- $43,000 to a Gary tax increment financing replacement fund.

The error was discovered earlier this week when Curtis Whitaker, an accountant for Calumet Township, conducted his own review of Gary tax distributions.  Berry said the problem was in the calculation of DUAB credits.  He and Wieser pointed out 2009 was the first year taxing units petitioned the DUAB.  Gary was the only city to do so.

The city had a general fund levy of $54 million in 2009. However, its poor collection rate, the state's property tax caps and this latest adjustment means it will net about $27 million, according to Wieser's numbers.


State Lowers Gary Residential Assessments
Compiled From a Report by Bill Dolan
[12 Feb 2010]

GARY | The state is ordering a reduction in residential property tax values in Gary, Griffith and the rest of Calumet Township.

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance issued an order Thursday morning stating vacant and improved residential properties in the township must be adjusted downward to 98 percent of their last year's values for purposes of calculating the 2009 property taxes that will be billed to property owners later this year.

The order also requires improved industrial and commercial properties in the township to be adjusted upward to 102 percent of their previous value. Vacant industrial and commercial properties will remain unchanged.

Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg and the county assessor's office usually make annual adjustments to property values, but the DLGF announced last month it was taking over the annual adjustment of property tax assessments from Blumenberg.

Timothy J. Rushenberg, DLGF commissioner, said Blumenberg failed to assure the state his work met state accuracy standards. Blumenberg denies the charges, saying the state was using the dispute to hurt him politically. Blumenberg is running for re-election in the May 4 primary.


Cal. Twp. Assessor Late Paying Taxes
Compiled From a NWI Times Report by Bill Dolan
[11 Feb 2007]

GARY | A township assessor under fire over allegations of delaying and miscalculating property taxes in Gary and Griffith is now tardy in paying his personal tax bill.

Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg Jr. is $4,670.40 in arrears for property taxes due on his residence in Miller, according to county treasurer office records the Times obtained Wednesday.  The amount is owed from last year.  Taxes were due no later than Nov. 30.

Blumenberg, who is running for re-election in the May 4 primary, acknowledged being slow and that it wasn't the result of any economic hardship.  "This is about the normal time I manage to get them paid.  Sometimes I'm a little bit late and I incur a little bit of a penalty, but I intend to get it done as I always do.  I know I'm going to pay my taxes," he said Wednesday.


Empty 'Mystery Building' Draws Official Attention
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[7 Feb 2010]

GARY -- A sign on the door reads "Private Club."  The Lake County Recorder says it's federal property.  Gary police say the former dry cleaners at 1701Jefferson St. has been used for illegal gambling.  The feds say they sold the former Smith's Cleaners building in 1983, but they don't know who bought it.

The shabby state of the building at 1701 Jefferson St. suggests the club's members are long gone.  However, there's a shiny padlock on the door, and a satellite dish on the roof.   Steam has been observed pouring out of a vent.  Gary police say the building, off the tax rolls for more than 25 years, has long been used for illegal gambling.  Years of attempts to infiltrate it have been fruitless, they said, likely because of the tight-knit nature of its gamblers.

The Gary Sanitary District, says trash and sewer bills for the building are being paid in the name of Glen R. Gause, a former Gary police officer.  He has failed to respond to several messages seeking comment.  Northern Indiana Public Service Co. also confirmed it provides utility service there but declined to say who pays the bill.

Meanwhile, a neighborhood of new homes and families, complete with a playground for children, is rising one block to the east.  Residents there acknowledge they are troubled by 1701 Jefferson, and the cars they "randomly" see parked there.  "What kind of positive things could you possibly be doing there?" neighbor Robert Robinson said.

Records say 1701 Jefferson is officially owned by "United States of America, c/o C. Jolley."  Charles Jolley took possession of the property in 1957, according to Lake County transfer cards.  He subsequently lost it to the federal government in a marshal's deed in 1983.  The deed doesn't mention which federal agency accepted it, but a handwritten note on an old transfer card points to the Small Business Administration in Indianapolis.

Francine Protogere, an attorney for the agency, said Jolley Brothers Sewer Construction lost the building to the SBA in 1983.  "Usually, though, it would be very unusual to transfer the property to SBA," Protogere said.  But Protogere looked further into her records and found that not only did the SBA take possession from Jolley in 1983, it also sold the building later that year.  She said she couldn't find a record that identified the buyer, and she said it was the buyer's responsibility to record the deed.  "It appears that we're still the owner," Protogere said, "but we're not."

The building's sale may have escaped the attention of the county, but activity inside hasn't escaped the attention of the Gary Police.  It's been nearly 10 years since officers managed to get inside.

Among those offering backup that day was Cpl. Troy Campbell.  "It looked just like a casino in there," Campbell said.  Police found a group of men standing around gambling tables.  Some had handguns, he said, but they also had permits.  "There was no money laying out," Campbell said.  "We knew they were gambling."

Campbell also said 1701 Jefferson sported a complicated security system to keep unwanted visitors out of the building, including multiple locks on multiple doors.  "You really couldn't get in that place," Campbell said.


2 Rookie Cops Pass Firearms - 3 Fail
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[ 6 Feb 2010]

GARY -- Two Gary Police Department new recruits passed a firearms test on their second try at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy this week.  Three failed.

Capt. Mark Bridge, the academy's basic course commander, said the three who failed will have one more chance to pass the test.  If they fail on their third try, he said, they will never be allowed to work as a police officer in Indiana.  "Three strikes, you're out for life," Bridge said.

Gary Police Chief Gary Carter and Cmdr. Anthony Stanley downplayed the recruits' trouble Friday.  They said it isn't unusual for rookie police officers to have trouble on academy tests.  "It's just like law school," Carter said.  "You have to keep taking it."  However, ILEA Deputy Director Lindsay told the Post-Tribune it was "unusual" for so many officers from one department not to pass.

Stanley said the firearms exam is among the most difficult tests at the academy, followed by the criminal and traffic law tests.  "Almost all of them had never fired a gun before," Stanley said.

Seven of Gary's 11 new officers failed the firearms test on their first try, officials said last month. All 11 were hired using funds from a federal grant.

Readers React —
mr. peebles wrote:
You get what you pay for.

tiredofthelazy wrote:
Commander Stanley is possibly the most ignorant man on the universe.  The plice academy is nothing like law school.  I have been through both and law school requires brains and dedication.  The police academy requires you to have a pulse.  This is what happens when you hire people because they live in Gary and not those who are most qualified.  Law school requires intelligence, something the commander would know nothing about!

havenite wrote:
It's sad to read this story.  In Chief Carter's own words, "if they fail we will find someone else, it wont affect our funding."  Which is more important, the funding, or having your officers trained correctly?  And lastly this story needs to be on the Front Page, these recruits could be the ones that try to serve and protect the community.  We the people have the RIGHT to know are they qualified and capable of protecting you and me if necessary.

qualified1 wrote:
I really don't understand why this story has to make the front page.  It's just a black eye on the Gary PD everytime a story like this in the paper.


Gary Can't Survive on Current Course
"Letters to Editor"
[5 Feb 2010]

It was disturbing to hear that Mayor Clay gave the citizens of Gary an ultimatum:  Either you accept what I do and plan, or "beat it."

Yes, the mayor has told the state that he will close fire stations and other public services, but he has failed to remove the administrators suggested by the report, such as the deputy mayor, while continuing to hire more cronies.

If one follows the dictates of Clay, Gary will be left as a ghost town before long.  It's sad to read how surrounding cities view Gary as one deeply corrupted and unwilling to accept help from its neighbors.  Moreover, this administration feels it can hang on while help arrives from downstate.

You can tear down all the houses you wish -- and you really need to do so -- but that's all for nothing if Gary leaders fail to change their understanding of the residents.  We sit here, 10 years into the 21st century, with nothing but dreams.

I don't dislike the mayor, but as a citizen I have a right to disagree with where he's taking this city.  We're already in the pits.  Is there any place further down to go?

The state should not send any more money up here unless it's under the control of a receiver.  The state already has acted prudently regarding the township assessor's office; now it's City Hall's turn to learn how to run a city by direction.

— Roy Xavier Roddy, Gary


Pabey Denies Federal Charges
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by T. Schultzand/A. Grimm
[4 Feb 2010]

HAMMOND-- East Chicago Mayor George Pabey, who swept into office six years ago as a reform candidate opposing the scandal-plagued incumbent Robert Pastrick, was charged in a four-count federal indictment that alleges he used on-the-clock city workers to remodel a home he owns in Gary's Miller neighborhood.  U.S. Attorney David Capp on Wednesday announced the charges against Pabey and former city Engineering Department supervisor Jose Angel "Soy" Camacho.

The federal indictment comes more than a year after the Post-Tribune first reported that federal investigators had taken an interest in the house at 8530 Locust St., and that FBI agents were interviewing Engineering Department workers.

The indictment charges Pabey and Camacho with conspiring to steal more than $5,000 from the city, by using city workers to renovate a home with materials purchased using city accounts at Menards and Home Depot, as well as city cement mixers and trucks.  Camacho also is charged with two counts of witness tampering, allegedly for telling workers to lie to FBI investigators about work at the house.

Pabey issued a statement denying the charges against him, saying he intended to plead not guilty to the charges.  "I am shocked beyond expression that these allegations have been made by the government.  I pleaded not guilty and will aggressively defend myself against these false allegations," the statement reads.  "In addition, I will not be distracted by this event in continuing to conduct the business of my office on behalf of the people of East Chicago."


Gary Property Values
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[4 Feb 2010]

The City of Gary Board of Works accepted a $105,250 appraised value on the former site of the public safety building at 13th and Broadway.  The city department of redevelopment sought the appraisal to set a price tag on 1301 Broadway and $54,500 worth of parcels on the 700 block of East 5th Ave and the 500 block of Carolina Street "for commercial development." 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   While I have no way of knowing for certain, I reasonably suspect that some 54 years ago, in 1956, it cost the city far more than $105K to acquire the land at 13th and Broadway and construct the then modern/new police station/city court building?


Airport Steadying, Director Insists
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Diane Spivak
[4 Feb 2010]

CROWN POINT -- The head of the Gary/Chicago International Airport defended the facility's expansion Wednesday, citing a need to be ready for a surge in travel when the economy turns around.  Speaking before the Crown Point Rotary Club, airport director Chris Curry said promoting the cargo option for the airport is out for at least the immediate future while it concentrates on passenger transportation.

The airport handles 3,000 flights a month, which, Curry admitted is "quite slow for the airport."  More than 3,200 people a day from Northwest Indiana use Chicago airports, he said.  Curry said cargo transportation is not on the airport's radar in the near future, but it could be some day.

Rotary member Herman Barber asked Curry that, if the airport does not handle cargo transportation, "Who's gonna use it?  You've got to start showing some profit," he said.  "No one's using it," he said, referring to passenger airlines that pulled out of the airport.

Gary's airport has always been thought of as the "third airport," behind Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, catching those airports' overflow, Curry said.


Facades Yield Mayoral Plaudits
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[28 Jan 2010]

GARY -- On Wednesday Mayor Clay handed out plaques and thanked contractors for donating their time and services to improving the 600 block of Broadway in his "Adopt-A-Facade" recognition program.  Clay also promised that work on improving the city's main thoroughfare would go deeper than fixing up the fronts of dilapidated buildings.

The "Adopt-A-Facade" program got private companies to put up new faces on dilapidated structures along the block.  "It was probably one of the ugliest looking places you ever wanted to see in a city," Clay said of the block.  One of the buildings is covered with a faux Italian restaurant design, while others now feature simpler faces with basic framing.

The program, which began last summer, encouraged contractors, many of whom were already doing business in the city, to cover up the blight that had defined the block and much of north Broadway.  The idea was to improve the look of the area to eliminate the drag on attracting new business and eventually encourage economic development, Clay said.

Melanie Morgan, vice president of Precision Builders, which has landed a host of city and private contracts in Gary over the years, said her company volunteered in the project "to give something back."  Admitting she was personally afraid to come into the city at times in the past, Morgan said she works on projects and with community groups all over the city now. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is this not but an example of "burying one's head in the sand?"  Seems like the awards are being handed out by the head ostrich?  Mayor Rudy, I have news for you, covering up a problem does not make it go away!  Downtown Gary is, and remains, a deserted wasteland.  It is most frequented by "urban explorers" who photograph abandoned/decaying structures.

29 Jan 2010, Reader Comment -  Any mayor who thinks putting phony facades on dilapidated buildings is an improvement or will attract business should be run out of town.  What are you building, Mayor Rudy Clay, a movie set in Gary?  You could call it Ghost Town.  By the way, the phony storefronts should have phony store signs.  One could be called Rudy-Mart; it could sell pipe dreams.  Just another sad day in the history of a once-great city.


Gary Eyes Cutting 70+ School Jobs
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by C. Lazerus
[27 Jan 2010]

The School Board will meet Friday to consider a measure that could eliminate more than 70 administrative and teaching positions as a result of state budget cuts.  The special board meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Administration Building, located at 620 E. 10th Place.  The board will meet in executive session at 5 p.m. to discuss the move.

Districts across the state are faced with between 3.5 % and 4.5 % cuts to their general funds due to lower state revenues.  The move means a $4.7 million reduction to Gary's 2010 budget.  The problem is exacerbated by a projected 45 % property tax collection rate in Gary.

At Tuesday's meeting, board member Marion Williams initially proposed a motion that would require the district to give notice to 36 employees that their employment could end in June and notice to another 38 employees that they may not be retained for 2010-2011.  The move would be contingent on the district's financial status in May.  "We have no certainty about our budget this year," Williams said.

The board tabled it and called a special meeting on Friday since the employee list submitted by the administration didn't match the ones on the list considered by the board at a Monday night executive session.  Board President Kenneth Stalling said the delay was necessary so board members would have ample time to consider the latest version of the list.

"This is the worst case scenario, but we must make this move by Feb. 1 under the law," board member Barbara Leek said.


Gary Bid for Land Casino Fails
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[27 Jan 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS -- Gary's plans for a land-based casino were dashed Tuesday night.  The the Senate's appropriations committee erased language from a bill that would let riverboat casinos move ashore.

Mayor Rudy Clay has pinned hopes for his city's very survival on a land-based casino at Interstate 65 and Interstate 94.  State Sen. Earline Rogers, the Democrat who is championing the cause for her hometown at the Statehouse, voted against the amendment.

However, Rogers voted to send the new version of the bill to the Senate floor with a vow not to "wimp out" early in the game.  "I will continue to work to get land-based casinos in this legislation," Rogers said.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, voted against the final version, simply saying "there are a lot of things wrong with this bill."

Written by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, Senate Bill 405 now contains a series of minor changes to Indiana gambling law, including authorization for advance deposit wagering on horse racing, a reduction in admissions tax at the French Lick casino, and changes in admission tax distributions in Orange County.

The original version would have allowed casino owners to pay a $50 million fee to build an inland casino in the city or county where their boat is located.  It would have also allowed Majestic Star Casino owner Don Barden to give up one of his two licenses in Gary in lieu of the fee.


Calumet Twp. Doled Out $5 Mmillion in 2009 Aid
Compiled From a NWI.COM Report by Bill Dolan
[27 Jan 2010]

GARY | Calumet Township distributed $5 million in financial assistance last year to low-income residents, Trustee Mary Elgin announced Tuesday.

The township received 56,000 requests for assistance last year.  Elgin said 7,875 people living in 2,761 households qualified for township help in the form of $3 million in temporary housing, $1.3 million in utility payments and $200,000 in health care.  Some $157,787 was spent on burials, and slightly more than $82,000 went to food for the hungry.

The township also provided job training and job search help, as well as assistance for persons obtaining general equivalency diplomas, a summer camp for children, emergency shelter and emergency medical services.


U.S. Steel Income Improves Slightly in Quarter
Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[27 Jan 2010]

PITTSBURGH -- U.S. Steel expects to bring the Gary Works No. 14 blast furnace back into operation at the end of the first quarter.  But whether having its largest and most efficient furnace up again will turn around its loss record from the last four quarters and expected loss in this quarter depends on the economy and its order books, officials said Tuesday.

"Once the Gary Works blast furnace is up, we'll have more capabilities if the market is there.  We'll be available if needed," Chairman and CEO John Surma said.

While no one doubts the economy has a long way to go to come back from the punishing recession, the reports Tuesday were signs of progress for a recovery that has proceeded in fits and starts.  "We're definitely moving in the right direction," said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody's "But on the other hand, we're moving there from a very low point. And we're still at a very low point."

But officials told analysts during a conference call they usually don't look that far in advance.  He said he would hope to have all the facilities running at full capacity when No. 14 returns, but again, that depends on orders.  The No. 14 blast furnace was shut down for repairs after a hole burned through the furnace last April.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker reported a fourth quarter 2009 net loss of $267 million, or $1.86 per share, compared with a net income of $290 million, or $2.50 a share a year earlier.  However, there was improvement from the third quarter in 2009, which showed a $303 million net loss in income, Surma said.  For the full year of 2009, the steelmaker had a net loss of $1.4 billion, or $10.42 per share, compared with full-year net income of $2.1 billion, or $17.96 per share in 2008.  Net sales for the year dropped to $11 billion from $23.8 billion in 2008.

"2009 was an exceptionally difficult year for our company," Surma said, with the soured economy resulting in decreased demand in all its product lines.  Making matters worse was dumping of tubular steel products by China and other countries.

"Strong financial performances in recent years placed us in a good position during the downturn, but in no way were we able to escape the economy," Surma said. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Characterizing a $1.4 Billion Dollar loss as a "slight gain" is what I would definitely call putting a positive spin on things?


Lake County Told Lean Times Will Get Worse
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Andy Grimm
[26 Jan 2010]

CROWN POINT -- Lake County government is facing lean times.  More are to come.

That's the gist of the Board of Commissioners' State of the County report issued Monday.  The commissioners' annual report to taxpayers said department heads and elected officials should begin planning to cut their budgets -- again -- in 2011 and county officials should begin developing contingency plans in case county expenses overshoot revenues this year.

"The commissioners have to put people on notice," said commissioners' attorney John Dull.  "People have to start thinking about these things now, not in a couple months."

The report states that high unemployment countywide, an economy based on the slumping industrial sector and a state-mandated levy freeze and tax caps have cut off some $26 million in county revenues.

It also notes that balancing the 2010 budget will hinge on cost-cutting measures in the Sheriff's Department and the county jail meeting goals.  The report also says Lake County Council members should "take any and all steps legally possible" to make sure Sheriff Roy Dominguez has assigned enough staff to the jail.

The report also calls for fee increases recommended in a recent study by Maximus consulting group, authors of the county's Good Government Initiative report.


Seven of 11 Police Recruits Fail Firearms Test
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwall
[24 Jan 2010]

GARY -- After 14 weeks of academy classes, two-thirds of the Gary police recruits are still in civilian clothes performing clerical duties instead of getting their field training.  7 of 11 recruits failed their firearms test and can't proceed with training until they qualify.

Of 35 officers from around the state, eight failed their firearms, ILEA Deputy Director Mike Lindsay said last week.  Seven of those eight were from Gary.

All who failed will have another opportunity to qualify.  In the meantime, the department's training division has been working with recruits to develop their shooting skills before the next test.  "They're putting in a full day, getting to learn about the inner workings of the Police Department when they're not at the range," spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said Friday.

Recruits who fail the second firearms test can try a third time if the law enforcement training board agrees to allow one more effort.  "After that, it's three strikes and you're out.  If you fail that third time, you cannot be certified as a police officer in Indiana," Lindsay said. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Well, this ought to inspire confidence in the citizens they are supposed to be protecting?


Hired Gun Assumes Gary Will Collect 100% of Property Taxes
Compiled From a Report by Dan Carden
[24 Jan 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS | An assumption built into a report by Gary's state-mandated fiscal monitor could leave the city's budget several million dollars short even if the municipality enacted every one of the report's budget-cutting recommendations.  Consultant Dean Kaplan's plan to reduce city services in order to balance the budget explicitly assumes Gary will collect 100 percent of the property taxes it is owed.

Using this assumption, Kaplan built a budget for Gary that would bring city services in line with revenue limits imposed by property tax caps.  His recommendations included closing several fire stations, requiring employees to pay higher health insurance premiums and transferring many city services to Lake County.

The problem?  Last year only 72 percent of the property tax bills in Gary were paid, according to the Lake County auditor.  That means even the pared-down Gary budget proposed by the fiscal monitor still would come up millions of dollars short because the city will be spending money it cannot expect to collect.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said he couldn't believe it when he heard Kaplan explain his plan.  "For the fiscal monitor to present to the Distressed Unit Appeals Board that the city of Gary is going to collect 100 percent of the property taxes is the mother of all screw-ups because it's never going to happen," Clay said.

The mayor said last week he's doesn't think the report was worth the price.  "A lot of what the fiscal monitor recommended is what we were doing anyway," Clay said.  "All we get from the fiscal monitor now is invoices."


BET Journalist Gives Straight Talk on Gary
Compiled From a Post-Trib "Neighbors" Column Submission by Lisa Denea
[21 January 2010]

One thought ran through my mind as I left the Indiana University Northwest auditorium after hearing a program by Jeff Johnson, a Black Entertainment Television journalist and social activist.  I wondered how many people attending the program honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday wished Johnson had missed his flight and hadn't shown up.  During his local observations, I noticed silence and arms folded across chests, blended with some cheering in agreement.

About Gary, Johnson said, "King would be (upset)" to see what's become of a city that "was a spotlight because of a national convention in the '70s."

Johnson said he was scared of Gary not because of the violence and gang activity, but because Gary is not the thriving city it was back in the day.  Sure, Gary will come back, and it will take time.  But is the drive really deep?

"We need to speak prophetically for and about our needs," Johnson said.  "Blacks are mad about what you don't have, but you never speak up."   He said some Gary residents must shake off the "we'll never have anything" mind-set and work together to make things happen.  Work harder for changes at home, in churches, schools and economic development and politics, he said.


Quickly Comments
[21 Jan 2010]

— Mayor Rudy Clay, will you ever learn?  Didn't you get in enough trouble with your son?  Now you've appointed your wife to the Genesis Convention Center board. Please!  No wonder Gary is such a mess.

— I believe our government -- whether city, county, state or federal -- should prohibit or at least limit nepotistic hiring practices.  The city of Gary, as ruled by the Clay Dynasty, is a classic example of the need for this.  Tell him so with a pink slip.

— There are so many qualified people out of work in the city of Gary.  It would have been nice for Mayor Rudy Clay to appoint an unemployed, unrelated person to a city position, rather than his wife.


Privatized Gary airport?
Compiled From a Report by Keith Benman and Dan Carden
[20 Jan 2010]

On Thursday (14 Jan), Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said he favored moving ahead with exploring airport privatization but that any lease payments should be returned to the city of Gary.  There is no telling what the Gary airport might fetch on the open market.  But the $2.5 billion offered by investors in 2008 for a 99-year lease of Midway Airport drew Clay's interest in a similar deal for Gary.  The Midway deal later collapsed.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, is sponsoring legislation that would send any windfall payments from privatizing Gary/Chicago International Airport to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.  Tallian said Tuesday the proposed legislation would strike down a law passed last year that mandates any lease payment from privatization go into the city of Gary's general fund.

Even if Tallian's legislation passes, privatization may not happen any time soon at the Gary airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized only four airports in the United States to explore privatization, and the Gary airport is not one of them. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is Rudy's latest scheme (plan) is to sell off city assets to raise money?  I bet the investors are lining up at city hall to spend gazillions on an airport that has no traffic?


Clay Names Wife to Lead Genesis Center
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[16 Jan 2010]

GARY -- A week after Mayor Rudy Clay was accused of playing politics with the Genesis Convention Center board, he named his its president.

Christine Clay, Lake County's inspector of weights and measures, said she was too busy Friday to talk about her new title.  Mayor Clay didn't return a call seeking comment.  However, Genesis Center attorney Luci Horton confirmed Gary's first lady now leads the board, which includes two new appointments from the City Council.

Gary Public Works Director Rinzer Williams III and Mildred Shannon joined the board last week in a 5-1 council vote labeled as "cheap politics" by at-large council member Roy Pratt.

Tossed from the board was Kimberly Collins, who said last week Clay micromanaged the Genesis Center and threatened council member Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, with the loss of services in her district in order to win votes for Williams and Shannon.

Clay and Rogers have denied Collins' accusations. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Rudy just cannot stop himself.  He is addicted.  His addiction is power! 


State Takes Over Cal Township Assessing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[16 Jan 2010]

A state agency will take over for Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg after a study of his work continued to reveal errors Friday.

Those mistakes are the only thing standing between Lake County taxpayers and their tax bills, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance said.

"This is about completion of the assessment work correctly and in a timely manner," DLGF's Mary Jane Michalak said, "and it's about getting county tax bills out in a timely manner."

But Blumenberg said it's really about his criticism of the state's assessment of U.S. Steel and other heavy industry.  He said DLGF Commissioner Timothy Rushenberg wants to get even.  "Maybe Rushenberg wanted to get the PR," Blumenberg said.  "Maybe he has political ambitions."

Either way, Michalak said the DLGF will now determine the assessed value of properties for Calumet Township tax bills in 2009 payable 2010.  Rushenberg stated, "The department has no choice now but to perform an expedited annual adjustment for Calumet Township."


An Insider's View
Compiled From "Reader Comments" to Post-Trib "Observations from the Edge" Column by Jerry Davich
[15 Jan 2010]

From a city employee — Gossip of the best kind:  Mayor is offered by USS the purchase of a number of Police Cars.

Rudy shows up with body guard in tow, USS man tells Rudy the body guard has to sit outside the private office.

So the story goes, Rudy wants the money for the cars.  The USS official says no, "You give us the specs and we'll have the cars delivered.  Rudy says no deal and leaves. 

Not totally unbelievable either, how sad. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   A veritable "Hobson's Choice:"  The cars, the money or nothing at all.  Another smart move by da' Mayor!


Gary School Earns 4-star Rating
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[14 Jan 2010]

Twenty-five schools in Northwest Indiana are among the 188 statewide that have been designated Four Star Schools for the 2008-09 school year.

"These Four Star Schools represent the top 25 percent of schools in our state," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said in a news release Wednesday.

The award, given annually, goes to schools that meet Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act and perform in the top 25 percent of all schools in the state in ISTEP-Plus scores and student attendance.

The local 4-star school is:
      * Gary Community School Corp.
        Banneker Elementary 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   There is in fact good news coming out of Gary.  That there is, surprised me.


Citizen Comments
Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[14 Jan 2010]

According to Mayor Rudy Clay, Gary will get the Jackson-themed venue.  I hope Gary can afford another economic engine.  The residents are supporting three now -- the Genesis Convention Center, a baseball stadium and the Gary-Chicago International Airport.


Gary Loses GRIT Office Building in Tax Sale
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[13 Jan 2010]

GARY -- A little paperwork a couple of years ago and the city wouldn't be in this mess now.  City attorneys could have filed appeals on property taxes owed and retained ownership on the building occupied by an FBI task force and two police divisions.  Then the FBI-led Gang Response Investigative Team, the Gary Police Narcotics-Vice Unit and Internal Affairs Division could continue to operate there rent free.

"Unfortunately, the redemption period is over," a spokeswoman for the Lake County auditor said Tuesday.  A Skokie, Ill., firm purchased the downtown building in a tax sale in March 2008 for $14,204.28, and an attorney for the buyer plans to negotiate a rental agreement, the company's agent said Tuesday.

Back taxes accumulated on property at 531 Washington St. from 2004 until Chase Bank deeded the property to the city in July 2008.  Chase spokeswoman Nancy J. Norris said the bank and Gary officials agreed the city would handle the delinquent taxes.

In April 2007 then-City Attorney Jerome Taylor said once Gary owned the building, the city would petition the county to resolve the back taxes.  That never happened.

A clerk in the auditor's office said even after the tax sale the city had an opportunity to claim the building.  "The purchaser at the tax sale had to notify everyone on record in order to validly buy it," the spokeswoman said.  "Then the city or anyone with any interest had 120 days after the sale to pay the taxes," she added.  Gary officials could have retained ownership of the building by paying the back taxes, then seeking appeals with the Lake County auditor, assessor and treasurer.  Once the appeals were granted, the city would have had its property tax money returned.

Police Chief Gary Carter said he has started to look for alternative sites for the drug unit and IAD. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Now, here was a shrewd fiscal move on the part of Rudy and his crew?  I suppose it does not matter a whole lot, as there are plenty of vacant buildings in downtown Gary that the drug task force may occupy!


Gary Must Initiate Solvency Plan
A Post-Trib Editorial
[13 Jan 2010]

Gary is a divided city at the most crucial time in its history.  It has no shortage of residents who think they know what's best, and they don't hesitate to voice opinions.  One side of town (Miller -GDY) has pitted itself against the city administration, while any attempts at solutions are lost.

Many Garyites wallow in what could have been and dwell on all the so-called mistakes of the past.  That's a waste of energy and does more harm than good.  Gary needs to stop playing the victim.

At its core, Gary is a city full of decent, hard-working people.  They don't deserve the mismanaged, bloated city and school governments they've been saddled with for years.

Faced with sanctions from the state, Gary is painfully streamlining its payroll and its services.  The misery isn't going away, because voters in November likely will authorize placing permanent property tax caps in the Indiana constitution.  When that happens, Gary's budget will shrink in half to $30 million.  Perhaps unfair, but reality.

The city needs a sound financial plan and a framework to empower it to return to solvency.  It doesn't need a civil war.  It's up to Gary citizens to become educated and to elect qualified candidates who promise and deliver results, not favors.  On top of dedicated officeholders, Gary needs a CEO to make the tough decisions without political considerations.

More jobs need to be consolidated and eliminated.  Paid consultants should be eliminated.  Every cent of overtime should be scrutinized.

The city needs to find new revenue streams. It needs to lure businesses again and provide real jobs aside from the public trough. It's a daunting task, and the answers aren't easy. But it's time to begin.


Citizen Comments
"Quickly" Column
[13 Jan 2010]

— As of Monday, the 7600 and the 7700 blocks of Maple Avenue in Miller have had no mail for three days.  Reason:  The street has not been plowed.  We have called more than once and have been promised it would be plowed; we're on a dead end with no traffic.  Please help us get our mail.

— The city of Gary needs to be gutted, starting with the mayor's office all the way down.  The state should form a panel to evaluate all city employees.  If their performances are not in the city's best interest, they should be terminated with no severance packages.


Clay Touts Future
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle Quinn
[12 Jan 2010]

GARY -- Of all the times in the history of the world, there's no better time to be the mayor of Gary, Mayor Rudy Clay reiterated Monday.

Comparing his mayorship to President Barack Obama's presidency, Clay told Gary Chamber of Commerce members during the chamber's first luncheon of the year that when he took over the position in 2007, Gary had a $70 million deficit, a $900,000 water bill and $4.5 million utility bill with which to contend.  Property taxes decreased that year by $13 million, and then another $11 million a year later.

On the surface, things aren't looking better for 2010 with Cline Avenue closed, the city's two casinos are suffering and Clay's administration has once again gone before the state Distressed Unit Appeals Board for relief from the property tax caps.  Nevertheless, Clay remains proud of the city and he listed the projects ongoing and those coming down the pipeline.

Overall violent crime is down 17 percent, and a $9 million Community Development Block Grant awarded from stimulus funds will be used to demolish a good number of abandoned buildings, which are big contributors to crime and drugs.  Only 10 percent of that $9 million will be allowed to be used for demolition.

The city should see an 80 percent reduction in utility costs for streetlights, and the demolition of the 21st Avenue stocking factory is about 50 percent complete.  Once it is done, the land will provide another shovel-ready parcel for development, Clay said.

The now shuttered Ivanhoe Gardens public housing development is destined to become a residential development of single-family homes "without mansion prices," and development on both sides of the 700 block of Broadway will go forward when the cold weather breaks for good.

Gary Miller, who owns Prompt Ambulance, asked Clay about his answers before the DUAB and the impression that Clay had dismissed many of the fiscal monitor's recommendations.  Clay said that wasn't true. 
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Rudy does possess in innate ability to see the glass as half-full.  The problem is, the glass has a major leak in it, and pouring more water into it does not solve the inherent problem.


Gary Failure Hurts Indiana
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[11 Jan 2010]

Gary took another beating in Indianapolis last week.  Not from downstate politicians, but its own residents.

The residents, mostly but not entirely from Miller, told politicians from Indianapolis, Kokomo, Fort Wayne, Warsaw and Crawfordsville that Gary is corrupt, a tainted brand and dependent on state aid.  Some believe the state's new tax caps would mortally wound Northwest Indiana's largest city by cutting its budget in half.  Even so, they told the IDUAB to go ahead and pull the trigger.

"The board must insist that the city explore Chapter 9 bankruptcy, receivership and other options which could allow the city to reset its compass and move forward," Douglas Grimes, president of the Miller Citizens Corp., said.

Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valpo) believes there are no winners in a Gary bankruptcy.  "There are some politicians in Northwest Indiana who think you can have a model for your little corner of the world and not deal with the issues of Gary," Soliday said.  "I just flat disagree with them."  That is because Gary's failure would damage the entire state's credit rating and won't solve the underlying problem.

Sympathy for Gary at the Indiana Statehouse is rare.  When asked about it, Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) wondered aloud about millions in casino dollars that flows through City Hall.  He also pointed to exceptions in the tax cap legislation, which he authored.  "It seems to me that that was a pretty substantial concession," Kenley said.

Legislators are also acutely aware that Gary Mayor RudyClay made $142,096 in 2009, between his City Hall and Gary Sanitary District salaries.  By comparison, press secretary Jane Jankowski said Gov. Daniels accepted $95,000 of his $107,882 salary last year.

Tuesday, hours before the General Assembly went back to work for 2010, school board member Darren Washington was found in the halls of the statehouse seeking a new revenue source for the city.  He is pushing an income tax option for the city and schools.  He said he'd have no problem with the state restricting how such money is used.  Gary City Clerk, Suzette Raggs, wants the General Assembly to let Gary keep 100% of its court fees and casino tax revenue while it has distressed status.

Clay said he has planted enough economic development seeds that, by 2012, the property tax base will support the local government.  For that to really happen, Soliday said, Gary must attract middle-class residents and businesses back to the city.  That's done, he said, by lowering taxes, reducing crime and exhibiting "sterling financial management."

The fact is, Gary has seen sparse economic development in recent years, and citizens scoffed at Clay when he brought up his plan for a Michael Jackson museum to the distressed board on Wednesday.


Genesis Official Fires Volley at Clay
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[8 Jan 2010]

GARY -- A former board member at the Genesis Convention Center accused Mayor Rudy Clay of micromanagement Thursday and claimed he threatened to withhold city services from the 4th District in order to remove her from the board this week.  Kimberly Collins said the City Council member from that district, Carolyn Rogers, told her she withdrew her support for Collins' reappointment by the council because of that threat from Clay.

"People are wondering, why isn't the Genesis Center doing better?  Why is it not making money?" Collins said.  "Well, these are your reasons."

Clay and Rogers flatly denied Collins' allegations Thursday.  The mayor said he wouldn't recognize Collins if she walked in a room, while Rogers said she was simply "disappointed."

Collins released a copy of a letter she sent Clay in 2008.  In it, she complained, "With all of the 'ills' of the city and the magnitude of duties associated with the position of mayor, I am astounded at your level of involvement with the day-to-day operations of the Genesis Convention Center."

That involvement, Collins said, involved pressuring the manager to fire a disc jockey who wouldn't play songs immediately upon request at the Red Ribbon Lounge, granting numerous discount waivers and overruling financial decisions made by the board.  It went as far, she said, as removing furniture from the Genesis Center for his office despite the objections of board members.

Clay dismissed Collins' comments, saying she was making a "mountain out of a molehill" because she lost her appointment on the board.  "I certainly don't have time to continue to respond to a lady that continues to lie on me.


Clay /Critics Square Off in Indy
— State Official Says 'People in la-la land on both sides of issue'
Compiled From a Post-Trib Reort by John Seidel,
and a Report by Dan Carden
[7 Jan 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS -- Angry citizens blasted Gary Mayor Rudy Clay's plea to a state appeals board to raise property tax caps once again, but board members appeared willing to work with Clay.

Clay and his staff told the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board they've made budget cuts ahead of schedule, and they embraced many reforms suggested by its Philadelphia-based fiscal monitor, Public Financial Management Inc.

"Gary is doing business differently today than they were a year ago, but it's not where it needs to be," board member Paul Wyman of Kokomo said when the meeting ended.  "We're getting there."  Wyman, board chairman Ryan Kitchell and PFM managing director Dean Kaplan all said it's possible for Gary to live within the caps if they are phased in gradually.

However, board member Mark GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne agreed with some citizens who said Gary's total assessed value isn't enough to support local government, a situation he said the tax caps may have exposed.  "I kind of respect the individuals who said, 'Just take a gun and pull the trigger, and there's no more Gary, because you're just prolonging the inevitable, which is the death of this city,' " GiaQuinta said.  "Well, I respect that, because at least those people are acknowledging that you can't live within your means."

[From the NWI Times —] Gary property owners currently pay tax rates that are about one-third higher than the rest of Indiana.

Approximately 50 of those taxpayers came to Indianapolis on Wednesday to tell the board they're sick of paying more.

Ann Gallagher, of Gary's Miller neighborhood, called Gary a "dying city" and compared it to a Third World country dependent on outside aid in order to get by.  "Throwing good money after bad is only prolonging its inevitable death," Gallagher said.


State Weighs Calumet Township Takeover
— Assessor given 2nd warning; county tax bills may be late
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Andy Grimm,
and a Report by Bill Dolan
[7 Jan 2010]

CROWN POINT-- State officials have threatened to take over key assessing duties from Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg, claiming late and substandard work by Blumenberg's office could delay tax bills for all of Lake County.

Department of Local Government Finance Director Tim Rushenberg on Dec. 31 sent a letter to Blumenberg, stating that figures on property values submitted by Calumet Township (which includes the city of Gary, the town of Griffith and an unincorporated area between the two) didn't meet state standards.  This is the second time the state has taken issue with the accuracy of Blumenberg's work.

At issue is a "ratio study" of property values, which compares the assessed values set by the township assessor to actual sales prices reported in the last year; a key value for the new trending-based system of tax assessing.

Blumenberg on Wednesday declined comment.  Blumenberg, has previously blamed an unprecedented number of mortgage foreclosures of making his job of assessing property value difficult.  In a response to the critical November letter from the DLGF, Blumenberg said the state contractors hired to do the initial trending analysis were to blame for inaccuracies of Calumet assessments.


Post-Trib Reader Comment Column
[6 Jan 2010]

Mayor Rudy Clay, it is obvious why so many people booed you at the Michael Jackson memorial.  It's time for you to get your head on straight.  Forget the glamour of celebrity museums when Gary has fallen into a big hole.  The Genesis Convention Center hasn't helped Gary, and neither has the baseball stadium; it only looks good.

When is the Karl Malden monument going to built in Gary?  When is his big memorial tribute in Gary again?  Or was it so big that no one noticed it in Gary?

[5 Jan 2010]

You have it all wrong.  Gary Mayor Rudy Clay didn't inherit Mayor King's mess; he inherited what has been the continuing legacy of former Mayor Richard Hatcher and the downfall of a city on his watch.  Every mayor since Hatcher has had to deal with the repercussions of Hatcher's actions -- or, shall we say, inaction -- while he was in office.  Just building a building without a support system to support that building did nothing to save the city of Gary.


Steel City Homicides drop to 49
— Lowest in 20 years
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[4 Jan 2010]

GARY -- Like cities across the county, Gary saw a drop in violent crime including homicides in 2009, police said last week.  "Overall we're down 17 percent this year compared to last," Cmdr. Thomas Decanter said.

With 49 homicides reported in the city in 2009, the Gary has the lowest number of violent deaths in at least two decades.  The city population is also lower, pushing Gary out of the FBI's midyear crime report and no longer part of the national comparison for per capita homicide rates.

Because the FBI report didn't include Gary in its December report, the city's homicide rates were not compared to other large cities across the country.  Gary has been dropped from the FBI rankings, as it only compares cities with a poplulation in excess of 100,000.  Since at least 1995, Gary has been the per capita homicide leader in large cities for all but two years, including last year and 2004 when New Orleans ranked first.

Year Nmber National ranking
2009 49 No ranking available*
2008 51 2nd, per capita (1st -- New Orleans)
2007 71 1st, per capita
2006 51 1st, per capita
2005 60 1st, per capita
2004 55 2nd, per capita (1st -- New Orleans)
2003 69 1st, per capita
2002 62 1st, per capita
2001 84 1st, per capita
2002 60 1st, per capita
2001 84 1st, per capita
2000 71 1st, per capita
1999 76 1st, per capita
1998 84 1st, per capita
1997 99 1st, per capita
1996 107 1st, per capita
1995 132 1st, per capita

*National rankings based on homicides per 100,000 residents

On a related front:
[4 Jan 2010]
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report

Gary -- An Indianapolis man visiting relatives here for the holidays became Gary's first homicide victim of the year.

Donald P. Wilson, 41, was pronounced dead about 9:30 a.m. Saturday at The Methodist Hospitals in Gary, where he had undergone surgery earlier in the week.

Wilson was standing on the porch of his family's home in the 1700 block of Tyler Street early Wednesday when he was shot several times in the face, head and body.  His girlfriend found him collapsed in the front yard after hearing gunfire shortly after 6 a.m., police said.

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Created 4 Jan 2010 - 10:34:50 Hrs.

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