Rudy: Ramblings &
— 2009 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana Mayor Rudy Clay's running of the "Steel City"
— Go To: Archived 2009 (Jan - Jun) Rudy Report
— Go To: Archived 2008 Rudy Report
— Go To: Jacko Jabber (Reporting on the death of Michael Jackson)
CHECK OUT THE RUDY CLAY GRAPHIC CONTRIBUTED BY A DAVE'S DEN USER — RUDY GRAPHIC
Felon Grounded: Clay Ditches Airport Appointee
— Search on again for Republican to fill board vacancy
GARY | Gary Mayor Rudy Clay has reversed his decision to appoint convicted felon Otho Lyles III to the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority. In February 2006, Lyles received a sentence of two years probation on the tax evasion charge. He was also ordered to make restitution of $244,358. Lyles said he has served out his sentence, although the restitution is ongoing.
Clay said Tuesday evening he would not be appointing Lyles, but instead had decided to look for another person to sit on the seven-member board in place of current board secretary Michael Doyne. The mayor's reversal came as The Times was preparing a story on Lyles' appointment that included remarks from other airport board members and community leaders.
Tuesday night, Clay said he did not want to answer questions about why he was reversing his decision and what role Lyles' felony conviction played. He acknowledged some people might have been concerned. "I'm sure they were, but all I want to say tonight is he won't be appointed and we will move on," Clay said.
Slice of Neverland Pitched for Gary
— Theme park, golf course added to crowded drawing board for Jackson museum
GARY | Plans for a Jackson family museum and performing arts center are alive and well, city and project officials said Tuesday.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay and Odie Anderson, listed agent for the Jackson Museum Performing Arts Center Corp., refuted recent rumors that officials had abandoned plans to build the museum in Gary. The rumor was circulated in an e-mail Tuesday and received by The Times. "There's not a truth to it," Anderson said.
Anderson said those involved in the planning process want to expand the Gary project to include a golf course and a replica of the Neverland Ranch estate and personal theme park in southern California that Michael Jackson called home for nearly two decades. "The project will be something that will be very, very sweeping and will be something that will be honoring to the city of Gary, honoring to the Jackson family and something people will be talking about for years to come," Anderson said.
Anderson said officials will begin construction of the facilities next year. He said a specific date, "tied to a special Jackson event," has been set for the groundbreaking, but he could not yet share it.
Plans for a 2010 groundbreaking came as a surprise to at least one city official, who said she has yet to receive any details on the project. Gary Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas said she is not opposed to it but wants to be included in the exploratory process before voting on it.
"We have heard absolutely nothing about it," Krusas said. "I know I certainly haven't. I think the council and the citizens need to know a lot more information -- like who's going to finance it and who's going to pay for it -- before we start giving land away."
Krusas also said she had trouble comprehending how an amusement park and golf
course would fit on 10 acres. Other council members could not be reached
Tuesday for comment.
[COMMENT GDY -] : A Neverland replica would certainly be appropriate, as Rudy, et al. are totally out of touch with reality! A 2010 groundbreaking? If a shovel of dirt is turned, that will be the only activity ever to take place in connection with this project.
Painful New Reality for Gary
Our opinion: Gary officials and residents need to accept the reality that the city's government must no longer serve as an employment agency for residents, nor can it afford to provide the services residents have come to expect. It will be a painful new reality, but the city must learn to live within its means.
Gary isn't the city it once was, with a much larger population and a robust tax base. It's time to downsize government.
Reader Reaction to Fiscal Monitor
Compiled From the Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[21 Dec 2009]
Hey, Mayor Clay, another way to save the city of
Gary, besides the Michael Jackson "we-packed-up-the-wagon-and-never-looked-back"
museum and a land-based casino, would be opening up more liquor stores.
Let's just go for total moral decay and become the next New Orleans. The Public Financial Management Inc. report on the future of Gary suggests
shutting down the Genesis Convention Center. Why not give it to Richard
Hatcher and let him build his museum? After all, he was the one who
secured federal tax dollars to build it. This would certainly bring
millions of tourist dollars into the city. Gary has had ongoing difficulties meeting existing
monitoring and reporting requirements. The fiscal monitor found multiple
examples of annually recurring audit exceptions, requirements to repay federal
funds, and missed grant opportunities. [p.5] ... [D]epartments are headed by well-intentioned but
under-qualified managers. [p.5] City employees receive leave benefits that exceed public
sector benchmarks. City of Gary employees also receive more holidays
relative to local and State employees. [p.29] The Clerk’s office does not have data on the total amount of
uncollected fines and fees owed to the City, either in aggregate or by age of
the delinquency. While the Clerk does have outside counsel, it has not to
date referred delinquent accounts for collection. [p.53] Court data suggest that approximately half of all cases in
City Court are disposed of by failure to appear or make payment. Assuming
that uncollected fines and fees in a given year are equal to the amount actually
collected, that suggests that there are approximately $950,000 in uncollected
fines and fees per year (based on the amount collected over the last two years).
[p.53] Financial reports as currently prepared have the following
Compiled From the official City of Gary Fiscal Monitor Report, dated 12/11/2009
The full report is accessible at http://in.gov/dlgf/files/Fiscal_Monitor_Report_12-09.pdf
[19 Dec 2009]
The Public Financial Management Inc. report on the future of Gary suggests shutting down the Genesis Convention Center. Why not give it to Richard Hatcher and let him build his museum? After all, he was the one who secured federal tax dollars to build it. This would certainly bring millions of tourist dollars into the city.
Gary has had ongoing difficulties meeting existing monitoring and reporting requirements. The fiscal monitor found multiple examples of annually recurring audit exceptions, requirements to repay federal funds, and missed grant opportunities. [p.5]
... [D]epartments are headed by well-intentioned but under-qualified managers. [p.5]
City employees receive leave benefits that exceed public sector benchmarks. City of Gary employees also receive more holidays relative to local and State employees. [p.29]
The Clerk’s office does not have data on the total amount of uncollected fines and fees owed to the City, either in aggregate or by age of the delinquency. While the Clerk does have outside counsel, it has not to date referred delinquent accounts for collection. [p.53]
Court data suggest that approximately half of all cases in City Court are disposed of by failure to appear or make payment. Assuming that uncollected fines and fees in a given year are equal to the amount actually collected, that suggests that there are approximately $950,000 in uncollected fines and fees per year (based on the amount collected over the last two years). [p.53]
Financial reports as currently prepared have the following weaknesses:The City does not provide balance sheet information [p.68]
Currently, the City has no budget office or budget staff. [p.74]
The Gary Health Department operates as the de-facto health department for most of northern Lake County. Services offered to non-residents include immunizations, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and screening, well child and prenatal care, and testing for communicable diseases. [p.90]
The Health the Commissioner is still paid a full-time salary even though he works on a part-time schedule. [p.94]
The Gary Human Relations Commission is driven by the number of EEOC and HUD complaints filed annually. Most cases handled by the EEOC Division are from clients who live in neighboring municipalities. [p.99]
Emergency Medical Services runs an operating deficit in excess of $2 million annually. [p.115]
The City of Gary has more than twice as many firefighters per 1,000 residents than other US cities with population between 50,000 and 99,999. The NFPA reports that the median number of firefighters per 1,000 residents in cities in the Midwest region of the United States is 1.16, versus 2.83 for the City of Gary. [p.115]
The City also has nearly twice as many fire stations per 1,000 residents compared to U.S. cities with a population between 50,000 and 99,999 residents. With more firefighters and stations per capita, the number of pieces of apparatus within the Department’s fleet is also higher than U.S. cities of similar size. [p.116]
Each Gary firefighter averages just under two-and-a-half months of leave, while each EMS employee averages nearly three months of leave annually. [p.123]
The Gary Police Department has six all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and one helicopter which is currently grounded due to a lack of operating funds. [p.149]
Over the past seven years, the Gary Police has had a total of five Police Chiefs and one interim Chief. The longest tenure for any of the six chiefs was four years, between 2002 and 2006. Since then, the Department has had a new chief every year, including three in 2008. [p.155]
One major impediment to operational efficiency is the poor condition of the Department of General Services fleet. Most of the vehicles were acquired in 1989 and are being used beyond their recommended life cycle, resulting in frequent breakdowns and malfunctions that require lengthy, costly repairs. For example, approximately six of 14 city plow trucks are operational at any one time during snow plowing season. As of October 2009, none of Streets’ four street sweepers were operational. [p.194]
General Services has 11 sanitation trucks sitting idle at a lot at 1100 Madison Street. After the City privatized trash collection in 2009, it mothballed – but did not relinquish – its fleet of sanitation trucks. [p.197]
Available data suggests that the City of Gary has too many vehicles. For example, the City of Gary has a ratio of approximately 34.2 passenger vehicles for each full-time employee.The City of Washington, DC, by contrast, had a ratio of 6.2 passenger vehicles for each full-time employee prior to a recent vehicle reduction effort. [p.208]
The Transport Division has seven vans but only two transport officers. Five vans should be relinquished. [p.212]
The Genesis Center often competes with hotels and private
banquet facilities regionally that are, in some cases,
more modern (the facility was last renovated was 10 years ago) and more
conveniently located. Not having a hotel in close
proximity also puts the facility at a competitive disadvantage for events it
might otherwise attract. [p.235]
[COMMENT GDY -] : The above represent only a fraction of the cogent observations made by the fiscal monitor. They pretty much speak for themselves. Why is the City of Gary in the business of providing health and EEOC processing services to non-residents? Why is the part-time health commissioner receiving a full-time salary? More report highlights are available here - Highlights.
Report Paints Bleak Picture
GARY -- Shutting down Gary's city court and the Genesis Convention Center, laying off firefighters and eliminating other "cherished" services are among more than 100 initiatives offered by Gary's fiscal monitor in a report obtained Thursday by the Post-Tribune. Public Financial Management Inc. also suggests using the Gary Sanitary District's tax revenue to supplement the city's general fund, leaving GSD to operate exclusively on user fees.
Overall, the state-mandated review of Gary finances found Northwest Indiana's largest city must swiftly shed its traditional spending methods to become a "leaner, more effective government" and survive beyond 2012 within the confines of new property tax caps. "Gary's financial crisis did not arise quickly and will not be solved in short order," PFM wrote. If the caps are fully implemented, PFM says there would only be enough revenue to pay the salaries, but not benefits, of police, fire and EMS workers.
City Controller Celita Green declined to comment on the report Thursday. It arrived at City Hall and the Statehouse over the weekend, but its official release is not expected until later today. It has been delayed by the need for an "addendum" to correct and clarify some information. However, the public can expect to see the original report, for which it paid $320,000, eventually. The report points out that if the property tax caps are fully implemented, there is only enough revenue to pay salaries, but not benefits, of police, fire and EMS workers.
PFM recommends two more years of higher tax caps for Gary. New and higher fees could be used to support the Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center, South Gleason Golf Course and the Genesis Convention Center. Each, not considered to be self-sustaining, are offered up for privatization. In the case of the Genesis Center, closure is suggested.
The Gary Fire Department would face a loss of 54 firefighters if the initiatives are followed, a drop of 22 percent from its 241 sworn positions. Fire station closures and consolidations are also recommended. Employees not covered by unions should take a pay cut of 5 percent if they make more than $50,000, PFM said. Stipends for various board and commissions members, totaling $59,000 annually, should be eliminated.
PFM said Gary's operations "need greater direction." It says Gary
should consider hiring a managing director or chief operations officer for
$80,000 annually to coordinate major public services. This would
leave Mayor Rudy Clay free to work on "strategic objectives and economic
[COMMENT GDY -] : Well, maybe the crisis would not be as severe, and necessitate the hiring of a "managing director to cooridante public services" if the current Public Works Dircector, Rinzer Williams III, was capable of staying sober (see below) and doing the job for which he is paid?
Does Rudy even have an understanding of the term "strategic objective?" I doubt it. Also, his idea of economic development initiatives are exemplified by the MJ Museum, the Sheraton and the Gary International Airport. We all have seen the wonderful economic benefits flowing from those projects!Gary Report Corrections Delay Release
GARY -- The release of a report by Gary's fiscal monitor has been
delayed. The draft that arrived this week at City Hall and the Statehouse
requires corrections and clarifications, officials said.
Gary Controller Celita Green said Public Financial Management Inc. of
Philadelphia is preparing an addendum to address issues "that might not have
been quite clear." "Once that's done, the state is probably going to go
ahead and release it," Green said.
The public will ultimately see the full report, Green said, including the
original draft and the addendum. No deadline has been set for its
release. However, Green pointed out PFM is scheduled to testify at a
hearing Jan. 6 in Indianapolis.
That's when Gary will be making its case for the second consecutive year to
the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board.
[COMMENT GDY -] : And this further delay comes as a surpirse to whom?
Gary Official Arrested for Public Intox
MERRILLVILLE -- Gary Public Works Director Rinzer Williams III, 31, was
arrested for public intoxication Saturday in Merrillville, after police found
his sport utility vehicle in the middle of the road in the 800 block of 72nd
Passers-by reported Williams' vehicle in the road for 30 minutes or more, spokesman Lance Huish said. Williams consented to a portable breath test and registered a 0.14 percent blood alcohol level.
Fiscal Monitor Report is In
Gary's state-imposed fiscal monitor issued a hefty report on the state of the
city's finances over the weekend, but city officials weren't ready to share it
with the public Monday afternoon.
"Not tomorrow, either," Controller Celita Green said, cradling the bulky
document in her arm. Green said the report must first be
[COMMENT GDY -] : But then, why should Rudy let the citizens and taxpayers have access to the report? They only paid for it! Evidently, paying the cost of having the report prepared did not include a right to read it?
Gary Budget Facing 'Fiscal Devastation'
"Whether in 2010 or 2012, the city of Gary faces fiscal devastation that will
affect not only its residents, but the surrounding communities and the state as
well," Gary officials wrote in its petition to the Distressed Units Appeal
Low tax collections forced Gary to cut its 2009 budget even more than
anticipated, according to the petition. Several cost-cutting measures planned
for later years were implemented.
Budget cuts listed in the petition are:
* The outsourcing of garbage collection, which removed 47 employees from the
general fund, and the implementation of a collection fee.
* The closing of the Gary City Jail, which removed 12 employees from the general fund.
* The consolidation of several departments, which eliminated staff.
* The closing of six park pavilions and six swimming pools.
* The elimination of 19 vacant police patrol positions and 21 vacant firefighter positions from the general fund.
Overall, Gary says it reduced its 2009 workforce from 1,356 people to 991, or by 27 percent. The city points out that residents are now paying a fee for fire hydrant use.
Gary Lone City Seeking DUAB Relief
It appears Gary will once again be the only city petitioning an Indiana tax
appeals board for relief from statewide property tax caps.
Gary's 2010 petition to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board arrived
Tuesday, staff confirmed. It wasn't a surprise, as predictions show the
caps will cut Gary's revenue in half next year. A hearing on the petition
must be held within 30 calendar days.
Mayor Rudy Clay said Gary's continuing financial problems require further
state assistance. "We're still a distressed city," Clay said.
The tax caps go into full effect in 2010, though, and the absence of other
petitions would mean every other taxing unit has figured out how to live within
them or doesn't qualify for relief.
Earlier this year, the Distressed Unit Appeals Board required Gary to cut $11.25 million from its budget in exchange for $23.5 million in additional property tax revenue. As a result, Gary property owners are paying the highest tax rates in the state: 2% of assessed value on residential, 3.27% on rental property and 4.55% on businesses.
Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[6 Dec 2009]
Gov. Mitch Daniels had a fund-raiser in CHICAGO! Isn't there anywhere in the entire state of Indiana that would have been suitable? What a slap in the face to the citizens of this state.
And, as Paul Harvey would say, "Here is page two:"
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson brought up the elephant in the room at Friday night's "An Evening with Gov. Mitch Daniels" in Chicago. "He called Daniels the best governor in the nation and he talked about the not-very-well-kept rumor that possibly the governor might be running for president," Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas said. "He encouraged him to do that, but Mitch kind of deflected any comment."
The dinner's purpose was to raise funds for "Aiming Higher," Daniels'
campaign for Indiana Republicans to take back the Indiana House in 2010.
About 350 guests were present at the $200 per person event held at the law
office of Mayer Brown LLP. Hosts at the event included former state Rep.
Dan Dumezich; Wil Davis, CEO at the Gary Jet Center; and businessman Dean
White. TRUE STORY - In the early 70's, I sat in the visitor gallery of the
Indiana legislature and watched a bill be introduced and debated, the purpose of
which was to cede Lake Co., IN to the state of Illinois! It does
seem as though Hoosier politicians love for IL has not lessened over the
[COMMENT GDY -] : Let's see if I have this right, Hoosiers do their campaigning in Illinois? What does that say about the political influence wielded in, and by, NWI?
TRUE STORY - In the early 70's, I sat in the visitor gallery of the Indiana legislature and watched a bill be introduced and debated, the purpose of which was to cede Lake Co., IN to the state of Illinois! It does seem as though Hoosier politicians love for IL has not lessened over the years.
GARY -- The developer who has promised for nearly three years to turn the
empty 14-story Sheraton Hotel building into a senior citizen center says his
project has new life. "We finally have our financing," Phillip Kupritz of
the New Gary Development Group said.
A stalled clean-up of the building came to a halt last year. It will
begin again in January, Kupritz said. Several partitions and fixtures need
to be removed from the building's first two floors. Also, he said asbestos
still remains in 15 pipe elbows that will be removed. "It'll probably be a
six-week to eight-week effort to clean up," Kupritz said.
Mayor Rudy Clay announced the renovation of the former Sheraton with Kupritz
and the New Gary Development Group in February 2007. The developers
managed to remove 98 percent of the asbestos from the building since then.
Otherwise, little change has come to the Sheraton.
The original condominium scheme was tossed in 2008, for lack of
interest. After that, the New Gary Development Group's condominium sales
trailer sat empty along with the Sheraton outside City Hall. That trailer
was hauled away this week. Symbolic of the now trashed, ill-fated condo
plan, only a pile of rubble, consisiting of wood from the trailer's front porch,
Kupritz said he will be going through the permitting process at City Hall so construction can begin once the clean-up is finished. Kupritz said Dolton, Ill.-based SnP, owned by Victor Shaw, will do that work. He now plans to renovate the Sheraton for senior-citizen use, as well as well as a small amount of retail space. Although, it's not clear exactly how these projected renovations will be funded.
No Honor Amongst Thieves
SOUTH BEND -- Post-Tribune reporter Karen Snelling entered a guilty
plea in U.S. District Court in South Bend on Thursday on charges of stealing
money from the guild that represents newsroom employees. In her guilty
plea petition, Snelling admits to embezzling $18,100 over four years. She
admits to taking $17,500 through a series of automatic teller transactions and
another $600 in an unauthorized guild check.
Snelling served as treasurer of the Gary Newspaper Guild from January 2000
through September 2008. The illegal withdrawals occurred between 2004 and
2008, as did the unauthorized check.
In court documents, Snelling acknowledged, "I used these funds for personal purposes, even though they belonged to the Gary Newspaper Guild and I did not have authorization to use them for my personal purposes. I did these actions unlawfully, willfully and with fraudulent intent."
Rent Past Due; Feds Take Over Gary restaurant
No ribbing, Dusties gone
GARY -- The Empowerment Zone tossed Dusties Southern Style Buffet and Kenny's Ribs & Chicken out of Gary this week after the restaurants failed to pay all but one month's worth of rent to the federal agency which was their landlord. Lunchtime visitors found crews ripping signs off the walls Tuesday less than two years after Dusties' celebrated opening.
Scott Upshaw, the Empowerment Zone's executive director, said his agency plans to open a new restaurant in the $3.5 million building built with federal funds by Friday. It will be known as The Stadium Buffet and Grill. "We're going to try to make this work," Upshaw said.
Dusties opened in May 2008, more than five years after plans for the buffet
were first announced. Upshaw said Dusties paid the Empowerment Zone a
$20,000 deposit at the start of its lease, but the agency didn't charge rent for
Dusties' first year in the building at 411 E. 5th Ave. Upshaw also said
his board dropped Dusties' rent from $17,500 to $8,000 in May, giving the
restaurant "every opportunity to be successful." But since then, he said
Dusties made one rent payment of $8,000 in October.
Lewis acknowledged his failure to make the rent payments, claiming the restaurants didn't make enough money. He said he followed the Empowerment Zone's suggestions to increase profits by lowering prices and advertising them in local newspapers and with street signs in downtown Gary. "When I did that my numbers went down drastically," Lewis said. "I got no support. Then I'm in a worse situation. I would have thought they'd at least give me some time."
The Illinois-based restaurant owner said he provided a "decent brand" in downtown Gary, kept a clean establishment and paid his employees.
EZ to Take Over
Upshaw said this means a federal agency will be running one of downtown Gary's most prominent businesses. Upshaw said it's a better alternative than leaving the building vacant and laying off the employees. "It doesn't hurt to give it a shot," he said.
RailCats to Evict Bennigan's
GARY -- While the Empowerment Zone is planning to open a new restaurant
across the from the U.S. Steel Yard, the eatery inside the baseball stadium
could soon disappear with no immediate plan to replace it. Patrick Salvi,
owner of the Gary SouthShore RailCats baseball team, said his company has begun
eviction proceedings against the owners of the restaurant and banquet facility
Until recently the stadium was the home of a Bennigan's restaurant.
However, general manager Joslyn Washington said Tuesday it is now known as The
B, a change made subtly in November.
She said her restaurant and the Diamond Center plan to close at the end of
the year. Signs on the wall inside Tuesday thanked Gary customers for
Washington said a series of shootings near the restaurant this summer, including the shooting death of 19-month-old Eboni Richardson in August, hurt business severely. Five people were also wounded in a shooting outside the Diamond Center that month. "People began to not come down here for fear, so we lost a lot of support during that time," Washington said.
Gary Gets New Chief
GARY -- Gary Carter became the new chief of the Gary Police Department on Tuesday, fulfilling a dream he's talked about since his youth.
Carter called his promotion an "honor," and he thanked those officers for watching him take an oath from Mayor Rudy Clay. He said he looks forward to working with all law enforcement personnel, including reserve officers and emergency management workers. He also asked for blessings, not luck, as he took the helm of the Gary Police Department.
Carter is now the eighth man to lead the department since Clay took office in 2006. "I felt it in the atmosphere that this was the man for the times," Clay said.
Carter replaces Reginald Harris, who served as police chief until he was fired by Clay last week. The mayor hasn't given a reason for Harris' demotion, but he said at a news conference Monday that a spike in homicides in October didn't prompt the move.
The new police chief studied criminal justice at Indiana State University, and is a Wirt High grad. In 1990, he took a job as a correctional officer at the city jail. He was appointed deputy chief of the Gary Police Department by Harris in January.
Carter announced no major changes for his department at Tuesday's news
conference. He also said there will be zero tolerance for code violations
in Gary, including expired license plates or cars parked in front yards.
"It's just ridiculous," Carter said.
[COMMENT GDY -] : The 8th chief in 3 years? He is going to need someone's blessing, as Rudy's obviously doesn't mean much! Now, tackling expired plates and cars parked in yards is certainly a law enforcement agenda Gary needs! Yes, Rudy, " In the present atmoshphere (crisis?) this is the man for the times?"
Post-Trib "Quickly Column
[24 Nov 2009]
The casinos will solve
Look at the cities and towns around you; they don't need
those things in order to be nice places to live. When will the people of
Majestic Star Casino Files for Bankruptcy
By Tom Hals (Reuters 2009-11-23) and Jon Seidel (Post-Trib 2009-11-24)
WILMINGTON, Del. , Nov 23 (Reuters)
- U.S. casino operator Majestic Star Casino LLC filed for bankruptcy on Monday
after months of talks failed to produce an agreement on restructuring its
defaulted debt, court documents showed.
The owner of casinos in
The Majestic's parent, Barden
Development Inc, is owned by
The gaming company and seven
affiliates seeking protection listed assets of $402.1 million and liabilities of
$771.1 million as of Oct. 31. The
company employs 2,600 and has two Majestic brand casinos in
The company is not seeking debtor-in-possession, or DIP, financing to fund its operations in bankruptcy, according to court documents.
Majestic Star reported having $62.5 million in cash as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing, and said in court documents its business produces positive cash flow, excluding debt payments.
The company has an $80 million revolving credit facility with a first lien on most of its operations followed by $300 million notes that are also secured. It also has $263.5 million of unsecured notes, according to court documents.
An attorney for Majestic Star did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Barden recently lost control of a
The case is In re: Majestic Star Casino, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware. No. 09-14136.
Barden said he's planning no layoffs at his two
Majestic Star Casinos in
Majestic Star Casino LLC claims in a petition
filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in
City Council member Roy Pratt, D-at large and chairman of the city's casino committee, has warned for several months that Majestic Star could end up in bankruptcy.
He said Monday he is disappointed in how
Pratt also called Barden's $7.45 million figure "completely erroneous." Mayor Rudy Clay, however, said he's not about to turn it down. "We would definitely take the $7 million," Clay said. The mayor also pointed out that, since filing the lawsuit against the city, Barden has released $4 million out of the escrow account.
Gary and Majestic Star, the owner of both local
casino licenses, have been in negotiations for years now over its local
development agreement. Former Mayor Scott King signed an amendment to that
agreement in 2005 which required Majestic Star to pay the city 6 percent of its
adjusted gross revenue. Previous agreements set that amount at 7 percent. It also capped
the maximum amount of money Majestic Star would pay to
However, attorneys for Mayor Rudy Clay have
disputed the validity of that agreement because it wasn't approved by
Clay, meanwhile, called it a "top priority" to put a land-based casino at I-80/94. "The whole entire state, we're in the Rip Van Winkle age with these riverboats," Clay said. "That's all I'm saying."
A GDY Expression of Opinion
[COMMENT -GDY]: Anyone who would rather not put up with my, admittedly biased, diatribe, skip this.
While I am no longer physically in Gary, my heart and mind remain there. That they do, entitles me to make the following observations and comments:My love for my hometown, the "Steel City," is certainly no secret. The very existence of Dave's Den makes it foolish to contend otherwise. Yes, I have been banging the drum slowly on Gary's behalf for quite a while now. Likewise, my despisement of, and disgust with, Rudy is pretty damn obvious. While I proudly deny neither, I do say, this expression of opinion relates to neither, directly.
Someone has to ask, "Where and the hell is the Post-Tribune as Nero fiddles, while Rome burns? Why did I/we frist learn of Chief Harris' firing from WLS News? Why has there been next-to-no reporting of this significant event by the Post-Trib? Why has there been a total absence of expression of opinion by the Post-Trib on this important subject?
The same scenario played out when the Gary City Council voted to NOT support funding for a Jackson museum (See 30 Oct 2009 entry, below). That fact was also learned from WLS News. Not a peep from the Post-Trib!
There was a time when the Post-Tribune "of Northwest Indiana" was known as the "Gary" Post-Tribune. I know, as I used to deliver it door-to-door in my youth. Its corporate predecessors were the "Gary" Post and the "Gary" Tribune. At one time the paper proudly boasted of its newest facility being put up at 10th and Broadway in Gary, IN. Now, it, like many former Garyites, has relocated to Merrillville.
Does it think, with such move and name change, that it is above all the corruption and destruction rampant in Gary? Does it think with the move to Merrillville, and name change, that what ails Gary is no longer its problem? Well, I have news for you. FLASH! If you are a concerned citizen of "Northwest Indiana," corporate or otherwise, you damn well better be both concerned and involved in what is going on in Gary! What goes on in Gary affects you, too!
Who better to be involved, than the only newspaper with its roots firmly in Gary soil? Does the Post-Trib have an opinion on the departure of the seventh chief of police during Rudy's regime? What is it? Why and the hell hasn't it expressed it?
At one time, I held the Post-Trib in fairly high regard as the watchdog and guardian of our rights and interests. I am beginning to question that view point now. Sure, it reports the murders, the crimes and the comings and goings of Rudy. What it does not cover is the disease afflicting the "Steel City." That disease has gone beyond pandemic proportions. There is a crisis, and the Post-Tribune is missing in action!
Why? Is the P-T afraid to take on Rudy? Is it in Rudy's pocket? Is it malaise, when it comes to all things Gary?
The residents of Gary deserve, and need, a voice. They need an advocate. That voice, that advocate, should be the Post Tribune. It is time for it to "step up to the plate" and be counted. Jim Nowacki cannot do it alone!
I still maintain that Gary is ripe with potential. If it is ever going to turn things around, the Post-Tribune as an interested, and responsible, citizen needs to play a role. Its role must be one of a force seeking change. Its function is to tell it like it is. Ignoring the problems will neither diminish them, nor make them go away. What it does do, is forestall their being addressed, and compounds their magnitude.
There is a real choice to be made here. Do you, the Post-Tribune, accept the burden accompanying a professional and responsible news reporting entity and get involved, or do you pick up a fiddle and join Nero's orchestra? Which will it be? Your decision, whatever it may be, will have consequences.
[COMMENT -GDY]: The above has been sent to the Post-Trib for publication. Will it ever see print?
Was it only a year ago?
Letter to Mayor Rudy Clay:
[22 Aug 2008]
Permit me to preface my comments with the statement that I am a former resident, and a still avid fan and supporter, of Gary; in the past known variously as the “Steel City,” the “Magic City” and the “City of the Century.” I had the fortunate experience of having been born, bred and educated there. The education I received in the Gary public schools (Lew Wallace H.S. Class of ’64), I am proud to say, was second-to-none! It permitted this former steelworker to go on to earn two college degrees and make his way in the world.
What I want to communicate is that I feel your administration is more than an embarrassment to the good, hard working people of Gary. Gary has been in a downward spiral for decades, true. Unfortunately, and to your shame, your administration is exacerbating the decline, not arresting or reversing it.
During your short tenure in office, we have had a chief of police (I say “a,” because there have already been 7 chiefs of police in your first 28 months in office!) and his cohorts resign under the cloud of violating the civil rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. We have endured the Gary International Airport fiascoes. Then, there is the on again/off again Sheraton Hotel farce, the phantom Wyndham Hotel and the Jackson Family Museum.
You decry the litter seen in the neighborhoods, and implore residents to take responsibility for their property. When they jump on board by doing just that, they get no assistance from the city in terms of trash pickup. Instead, they must endure mounds of stacked trash at the curb that never gets removed. What kind of message does that send? Are they to not only clean up their properties, but also to then have to remove the trash to the city dump? If the answer is yes, pray tell, for what are they paying their hard-earned money in taxes?
One could answer their tax dollars go to pay the cost of fueling your Hummer, and paying your chauffeur and bodyguards. I recall the days when the mayor of Gary was both visible and accessible on the streets of the city. He did not isolate himself in a two and a half ton civilian version of a military transport! He had a presence in, and was a recognizable member of, the community; be it Glen Park, Aetna, Miller, Tolleston or wherever.
Or, maybe citizens’ tax dollars go to pay your son to photographically document your administration? Now, there is a worthwhile expenditure that serves all the citizens of Gary!
Your conduct in relation to the auxiliary police force borders on the absurd. One gets the distinct impression the auxiliary police is nothing more than a group of yet to mature adults playing at cops and robbers. With the name of Yaros, I and my family know more than a little about what a serious business law enforcement in Gary is. While you and your cronies are having fun “playing,” the lives and property of Gary citizens are put in jeopardy.
Then, there are the troubles within the fire department. The last time I looked, Gary, Indiana is still defined under the Indiana Code as a city of the second class. What legally defined Indiana “second class city” does not have a fire department that is on duty 24/7? Requiring firefighters to work in buildings that are on the verge of being condemned, to rotate between station houses (closing one to open another, depending on the day of the week) has to be demoralizing, risky and costly. Do we just pretend that property insurance underwriters ignore the presence of fire protection services when setting the rates of homeowner insurance premiums?
This month, in what I am suspect will be a futile effort to stave off municipal bankruptcy, you are trying to impose 20% across-the-board cuts for all city departments. Success in this would mean the already abysmal level of police and fire services will be even further reduced.
I will be the first to acknowledge that the problems besetting Gary are manifold. I appreciate that no one individual will have all the answers. I know that no magic wand is going to be waved and Gary will be reborn. At the same time, it would be nice to see a dent being made in one or two critical areas.
What two critical areas would I like to see be tackled? The omnipresence of unemployment and the failure of the public schools need immediate, concerted effort. Unless, and until, these factors are addressed nothing will change, let alone improve.
Gary’s location on the southern tip of Lake Michigan, in the midst of every conceivable hub of transportation (surface, rail, ship and air), combined with space galore available for development by business and industry, provides immense economic potential. Mayor Clay, it is your job as chief executive of the city to transform that potential into reality! I and the citizens of Gary want to know, what are you doing to accomplish this?
Rather than suffer a downtown that harkens of Baghdad, why not say, “Come here, we will give you tax rebates and provide a top notch education to the children of your employees when you locate in Gary?” Then, follow up those words with deeds by procuring approval for tax rebates, and by hiring the necessary quality educators.
At least it would be a start. Such an alternative is better than vacant, burned out businesses and closed industrial sites. What revenues do they generate for the city?
Mayor Clay, if you feel my suggestions are naïve, do feel free to point out why. Tell us what you have done, and are doing, to alleviate the plight of a once proud city. Tell us what you want us to do, and precisely what the city will do to assist us in our efforts. After all, are we not all in this together?
G. David Yaros [20 Nov 2009] - What I am able to report here, in the
form of an update, is that, not surprisingly, no response has ever been
[COMMENT GDY -] The above letter was sent to Mayor Clay. If/When he, or someone on his behalf, replies, the response will be made available here.
[20 Nov 2009] - What I am able to report here, in the form of an update, is that, not surprisingly, no response has ever been received!
Rudy Names New Chief of
[20 Aug 2008]
This week "Hizzonor, Mayor Rudy Clay, named Lt. Reginald Harris to take over the reigns of the Gary P.D. Harris is the 7th person to serve in this capacity since Clay took office in April of 2006. Harris replaces the interim chief, who replaced the previous chief of police who resigned after being indicted by the feds for violating the civil rights of a citizen/suspect.
Harris' appointment comes at the same time that Rudy is trying to implement a city-wide 20% reduction in pay, but not hours worked, by all government personnel. This attempted reduction has been challenged by the Gary F.O.P. That challenge has, initially, proven successful. The F.O.P. has procured a temporary restraining order barring the reduction in pay, at least as it might apply to police personnel.
The appointment also follows on the tail of the removal
from Rudy's control of the volunteer reserve police force. A recent ruling
declared jurisdiction and control of the reserve forces resides in the police
commission, not the mayor's office. The effect of this ruling was that the
existing reserve officers were not legally employed. To remedy this
situation, the commission is soliciting applications. Even so, the
illegally employed reserve officers are still on the job, in uniform, driving
G.P.D. cruisers and carrying firearms!
[COMMENT GDY -] Let's see, 7 chiefs in 28 months, that computes out to an average shelf life of 4 months, doesn't it? Is this not a classic case of too many chiefs, and not enough indians? I mean who is in charge, and what is the direction the police department is supposed to be following? What does the revolving door in the chief's office do to morale and operational efficiency? Not a good situation, to say the least!
Citizens React to Rudy's
Compiled From Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
[19 Nov 2009]
1 - Since Gary Mayor Rudy Clay is looking for a police chief, maybe he can hire Joe Jackson? I hear he is looking for someone to pay for his lavish lifestyle.
2 - Does Mayor Rudy Clay think he has to do something drastic about the crime rate in Gary? Just because he has wasted most of his time traveling out of the city doesn't justify making ridiculous moves. This shows how out of touch he really is about the issues facing the city.
3 - Gary Mayor Rudy Clay creates more problems than he solves. What does he think will happen with a revolving door of police chiefs?
4 - [20 Nov 2009] If Gary voters re-elect Mayor Rudy "Rose-colored Glasses" Clay, you get what you deserve. Or maybe you enjoy swerving around potholes, praying there will be enough firefighters and paramedics to respond to your house, enjoy paying for expensive, useless trips Clay takes, and think that a Jackson Museum will miraculously save Gary.
Gary Mayor Fires Police
From WLS News
[17 Nov 2009]
November 17, 2009 (GARY, Ind.) (WLS) -- Mayor Rudy
Clay of Gary, Indiana has fired Police Chief Reginald Harris. The surprising
move came late Tuesday afternoon.
The mayor refused to give a specific reason for the
chief's removal. A spokesperson for mayor clay would only say it was in
the best interest of the community.
Mayor Clay says the process of choosing a new chief
will be "on the fast track."
(Copyright ©2009 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights
[COMMENT -GDY]: While it is hard for me to keep track, I believe R. Harris was the eighth (8th) Chief of Police to serve as such during the Rudy regime?
Emphasis Needed on Stopping Gary Crime
I live in Miller. The police force is undermanned and unable to deal with an unacceptably high levels of crime in all parts of Gary.
I believe that the first obligation of a mayor is to provide safety and
security for the residents. Our mayor rarely has addressed crime as a
concern. I ask the citizens of Gary to voice their dissatisfaction with
the mayor's neglect and demand safe, secure living conditions. I ask that
the media put the spotlight on what Gary residents experience daily and expose
this to public scrutiny.
Our mayor is more involved in accumulating public handouts than in providing
a decent quality of life for Garyites. Rudy Clay can plan Jackson
memorials and spend federal and state funds on amenities for the lakeshore, but
who will come to Gary to visit them if they cannot be sure they will leave
- Chester Baran
Majestic Star in Default: Debt $79 million
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[13 Nov 2009]
The operator of the Majestic Star casinos in Gary was declared in default of
more than $79 million in debt by its lenders, having missed multiple interest
payments in the past year. The Majestic Star Casino LLC disclosed the default
notice in a Security and Exchange Commission filing.
The company, which operates two casinos and a hotel in Gary, was unable to
pay interest payments on Oct. 15, 2008, and June 15 and Oct. 15 of this year.
While the company registered losses in the past and considered filing
bankruptcy, it was profitable in the last quarter.
[COMMENT -GDY]: Since Don Barden's casinos are the major source of operating funds for the City of Gary, it follows that Gary now is in very serious financial trouble; as opposed to its former official status of merely being in a situation of financial difficulty!
Bloodshed Continues; 5 Dead in 6 Days
GARY -- Terry Flournoy Jr., 36, became the fifth person in six days to be
killed in Gary. Witnesses said they heard several gunshots before Flournoy
was found dead in a purple Pontiac Sunfire in the 700 block of Hovey Street.
Several people gathered around the crime scene as police began their
investigation. Among the onlookers was Mayor Rudy Clay, who asked people
living in the neighborhood to help police catch the killer. "The neighbors
have got to tell us what's going on," Clay said.
Earlier Wednesday, Clay announced a new group of reserve officers have been
assigned to supplement manpower at the Gary Police Department. Overall,
Clay said, the crime rate in Gary has dropped by 43 percent. The mayor
first announced the plan to police at roll call Tuesday, where he said he
received plenty of feedback from the officers. "They were grateful that I
was there to answer their questions," Clay said.
Gary's latest string of homicides started Friday with the shooting deaths of
Lillie and Doressa Miller in the 700 block of Tyler Street. The next day,
50-year-old Tommie Hardy was found stabbed to death in the 1400 block of West
15th Avenue. Joseph King Jr., meanwhile, was shot to death in his basement
in the 300 block of Pierce Street late Monday night.
The number of homicides in Gary so far this year is believed to be 46, although that number could not be confirmed by authorities. The city recorded 51 homicides last year.
Feds Want Jail Time for
Federal prosecutors are seeking jail time for former Calumet Township Trustee
Dozier T. Allen and other top township officials charged with fraud.
Sentencing motions filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell are seeking
sentences in line with federal guidelines as well as three years of supervised
release and fines of $10,000 each for Allen and former finance director Ann
Karras, and employees Albert M. Young and Wanda Joshua. Federal sentencing
guidelines call for sentences of two or more years in prison on the charges.
Judge Philip Simon on Wednesday postponed a Nov. 10 sentencing hearing for
the four in response to a motion by Allen's attorney asking for a delay while
the 78-year-old Allen is evaluated for "serious" health issues that have
worsened since his April trial.
The four were found guilty of honest services fraud for paying themselves a
total of $140,000, in addition to their regular township salaries from 2000 to
2002. The money came from a state grant intended to fund township expenses
for compiling data on township clients.
[Reader Comment in Quickly Column]: Yo, Honorable Judge Philip Simon: Inform Mr. Dozier Allen and his lawyer, the former Gary mayor, that there are doctors and medicine to treat sick inmates! Compliments of the taxpayers!
Council to Clay: Not So Fast, Rudy!
GARY -- City Council President Ronier Scott said Thursday he can't support
Rudy's scheme to honor the family of late pop star Michael Jackson, until he
sees a "thorough comprehensive and economic plan." Developers' interest in
pursuing the project is welcome, Scott said, but he pointed out money received
by the city must be appropriated by the council. "Therefore," Scott wrote,
"it is imperative that the council body is aware and included in all matters
concerning the Jackson Museum for anything to take place."
Mayor Rudy Clay wrote a letter earlier this month promising to transfer about
10 acres of property in the 400 block of Broadway near the Genesis Convention
Center to The Jackson Family Foundation for that project. "The City
Council is in full support," Clay wrote in his letter, dated Oct. 9.
Thursday, though, no member of the council reached by the Post-Tribune was
willing to express that support. Clay said the statement in his letter
expressing the support of the council was based on "casual conversations with
council persons and actions by council persons."
Council support isn't necessary for Clay to transfer the property to The
Jackson Family Foundation. The transfer would likely require the approval
of Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety.
"You need to talk to the council if you want this to happen," Scott
said. Clay said he agreed. The mayor said he couldn't share the
details with the council until after the Las Vegas news conference. "Now
we'll all get together."
[COMMENT -GDY]: Is comment really necessary? The biggest fear is Rudy will give away 10 acres of prime Gary property (if there is such a thing?), and Gary will realize nada!
Clay Letter Touted in Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- Gary Mayor Rudy Clay wrote a letter to the father of late pop
star Michael Jackson this month promising to transfer ownership of about 10
acres of downtown property to The Jackson Family Foundation. In his
letter, the mayor identified the property to be transferred as being west of
Broadway between U.S. 12 and U.S. 20, the site of the Genesis Convention
A scanned image of the note on the mayor's stationary appears in the latest edition of Las Vegas Hollywood (LVH) Magazine. The magazine was released Tuesday at the Brenden Theatre in Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort ahead of a ceremony honoring Jackson Family patriarch Joe Jackson.
During a brief interview as he arrived at the Brenden Theatre, Clay said he wants the museum built "in front" of the Genesis Center. He also said he's spoken to City Council President Ronier Scott about the plan. "The City Council is in full support," wrote Clay, who attended Tuesday's ceremony. "The City of Gary deserves this," Clay said.
The mayor's main purpose in traveling to Las Vegas this week is to participate in a news conference expected to be held today by Simon Sahouri, publisher of LVH Magazine. Clay has said no tax money will be used for this trip.
A plan to honor Jackson and his family could be announced there, and Gary could be part of the project. "It's about time to build the Jackson Family Museum and Cultural Center in Gary, Ind.," Sahouri told the Post-Tribune last week.
A Jackson family museum has been a goal of Gary mayors for more than a decade. Clay pointed out Tuesday that Joe Jackson visited Gary in July 2008 to renew the museum talks. "You made a visit to Gary and to the Mayor's office to discuss building a Jackson Family Museum in Gary, Indiana, with vision and love, and we are on our way to making it happen," Clay wrote in his letter to Jackson dated Oct. 9.
The issue of LVH Magazine passed out Tuesday also includes a photograph of
the Jackson Family home at 2300 Jackson Street, as well as photographs of Clay
with Joe Jackson during Jackson's visit in 2008. City Council member Kimberly
Robinson, D-5th District, and Lake County Recorder Mike Brown also appear in the
Gary press secretary LaLosa Burns penned an article for the magazine about
the regret felt in Michael Jackson's childhood town after his death in June, and
about Clay's hope to make the Jackson Family museum a reality.
"The construction of a Jackson Family Museum and Performing Arts Theater
could be the start of a new beginning for Gary," Burns wrote. "Both
proponents and opponents are rallying together to write the vision and to
realize the vision.
[COMMENT -GDY]: Interestingly, neither Rudy, nor the article, make mention of the WLS report of the Gary City Council vote on 8 Oct 2009 refusing to take part in any Jackson Museum (see below). Clay's letter was written the day after the vote by city council?
Shuttered Schools Blight Neighborhoods
Public schools are part of the collateral damage when people depart a city. In Gary, 22 school buildings sit empty, on lots with overgrown weeds and boarded-up windows. Two of the structures have been demolished and removed. Some of the structures were shuttered years ago. 10 schools were shuttered at the end of the 2008-09 school year.
It's an ugly scene for residents who already are coping with a surplus of abandoned homes in their neighborhoods.
Most of the schools opened when Gary's growth rocketed upward, fueled by the
post-World War II baby boom and the ever-increasing demand for more workers for
area steel mills. During the 1960's, enrollment in Gary schools peaked at
45,000. Since then, it has dropped steadily. It now hovers near
This trend mirrors the city's shrinking population. Gary's population is expected to drop below 100,000 in the 2010 U.S. Census count, as people continue to move out of the city.
Closed Gary Schools
Aetna Elementary, 1327 Arizona St., June 2004
Banneker Elementary, 1912 W. 23rd Av., June 2009
Carver Elementary, 2535 Virginia St., June 2005
Franklin Elementary, 600 E. 35th Av., August 2007 [I regularly played baseball here, and my cousin attended there]
Ivanhoe Elementary, 5700 W. 15th Av., June 2009
Locke Elementary, 3757 W. 21st Av., June 2005
Kuny Elementary, 5050 Vermont St., June 2009
Norton Elementary, 1356 Harrison Blvd., June 2005
Nobel Elementary School, 8837 Potawatomi Trl., June 2006
Melton Elementary, 4581 Fillmore St., June 2006
Pittman Square Elementary, 4948 Delaware St., June 2006 (demolished) [I played here]
Riley Elementary, 1301 E. 43rd Av., June 2004 [I attended here, before/during the construction of the then new, now closed, building]
Ernie Pyle Elementary, 2545 W. 19th Pl., June 2009
Spaulding Elementary, 660 Rhode Island St., June 2004
John Vohr Elementary, 1900 W. 7th Av., June 2009
Washington Elementary, 13th Avenue and Wright Street, June 2003
Beckman Middle School, 1430 W. 23rd Av., June 2004
Chase Alternative Middle School, 711 W. Chase St., June 2009
Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School, 1867 Georgia St., June 2009
Edison Middle School, 5400 W. 5th Av., June 2003 [A high school in my day]
Tolleston Middle School, 2700 W. 19th Place, June 2009 [A high school in my day]
Emerson High School, 716 E. 7th Av., June
Froebel Middle School, 15th Av. & Madison St. (closed 1977 - demolished, 2005) [A high school in my day]
Horace Mann High School, 524 Garfield St., June 2004
City Critic's Offer for Broadway Parcel Rejected
GARY -- The city tossed the lone bid, and the lone bidder Wednesday, for a piece of downtown Broadway property it sought to sell earlier this year. The Board of Public Works and Safety voted at its meeting to reject a notice to bidders advertising the sale of 528-40 Broadway. The property, a former Walgreens store, is owned by the city. Gary records show Jim Nowacki, a consistent critic of City Hall who was present at the meeting, was the lone bidder for the property.
As the board prepared to take its vote, Nowacki interrupted and tried to ask a question. "May I have a moment of the board's time?" Nowacki said. Security guards were called and asked Nowacki to leave the meeting room. He complied and said later the guards told him to leave City Hall for the full day.
Nowacki called it a violation of state law and his civil rights. "They acted contrary to the public and to the public's interest," Nowacki said. "I wanted to address (the board) before they took a vote."
Gary police arrested Nowacki for disorderly conduct in July when he tried to carry a bag of trash into a Board of Works meeting. Nowacki said at the time he was protesting the lack of garbage collection in the city. A jury trial has been set in that case for Dec. 2.
Nowacki said Wednesday he believes the city rejected the bid notice Wednesday because he was the only bidder. He said he bid $16,500 for the property, which was the appraised amount listed in the bid notice. A copy of the notice to bidders said a minimum bid for the property must be 90 percent of its appraised value. The notice also said the city can reject any and all bids or withdraw the property from sale until the approval of a sale.
Gary Council Keeps on Giving
GARY -- Payments to schools, church groups, Greek organizations and other not-for-profits account for much of $365,000 spent by the City Council in 2008, according to records released by City Hall.
Many of the payments were made after it became clear Gary would ask the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board for relief from new property tax caps or face a crippling budget deficit in 2009.
The largest single recipient of those council dollars wasn't a not-for-profit, though. Ultra Foods received $22,147, according to the records. It wasn't clear where the Ultra was located but there isn't one in Gary. Council President Scott couldn't explain all of the money for Ultra Foods, and he said the amount seemed high. He said council members often purchase gift cards there for needy families.
The council's 2008 spending records were reviewed by the Indiana State Board of Accounts, which mentioned in a recent audit that Gary hasn't adopted an ordinance allowing payments for "promotional" items. "Governmental funds should not be donated or given to other organizations, individuals or governmental units unless specifically authorized by statute," auditors wrote. In its report, the staff of the appeals board pointed out the council's budget is three times the size of the city councils' budgets in South Bend and Evansville.
Brown and Scott said groups in Gary need government grants because they can't
turn to the business community for help. "Other communities really don't have
that problem because they do have their corporate sponsors," Scott
[COMMENT -GDY]: The largest sum goes to a for profit concern that is not even located in Gary? Gee, do you think the owner of Ultra Foods may be "politically connected?"
Setback for Supporters of Things Jackson
The Gary Common Council has withdrawn two ordinances
that would have created two city departments dedicated to memorializing the king
of pop. One would work to establish a Michael Jackson Performing Arts
Center; the other, a Jackson Family Museum.
Mayor Rudy Clay supports the idea.
Council members did not give a reason for the votes.
[COMMENT -GDY]: I am more than a little hard pressed to comprehend why no coverage of this vote has appeard in the Gary Post-Tribune? Rudy has gone on and on about how the Jackson family supports his museum scheme. Too bad he has made no effort to get the support of those who might actually be able to assist in making it happen; such as his own city council! This is yet but another indicator of Rudy's lack of substance when it come to administering the City of Gary.
Gary International Wooing Express Jet
GARY -- The Gary/Chicago International Airport is exploring a possible arrangement with ExpressJet Airlines to provide passenger service to major hubs in Denver or Washington, D.C. Chris Curry, the airport's director, said. Sixel Consulting Group is trying to determine if it's a feasible venture for the airport.
ExpressJet began in 1986 as Continental Airlines. The company spun off as ExpressJet Holdings in 2002. By 2006, ExpressJet became one of the world's largest operators of regional aircraft.
"We haven't committed to anything," Curry said. Kristy Nicholas, an ExpressJet spokeswoman, said her company would simply be the operator of any flights out of the Gary airport if the deal goes through. The airport itself, she said, would need to sell tickets and arrange the flights. "All we would be doing is operating the flight from Point A to Point B," Nicholas said.
Curry said the airport would use money from its Small Community Air Service Development Grant for marketing or revenue guarantees for ExpressJet. The deal would also require a community investment, Curry said. The airport might approach local businesses about the idea, Curry said, if Sixel Consulting determines the ExpressJet deal is a good one for the airport.
ExpressJet would want the airport to guarantee it revenue for its first year of operations at Gary. "In my opinion it will be extremely difficult to get a mainline carrier in the airport without revenue guarantees," Curry told the Northwest Indiana Transportation Study Committee. Revenue guarantees are a common but controversial practice at smaller, regional airports. Typically, an airport will guarantee revenue equal to the fares a target number of passengers would pay. Fares actually paid by passengers are subtracted from the guaranteed amount, and if the target is reached no money is paid to the airline.
RISKY BUSINESS? In early 2004, Chicago/Rockford International Airport
landed Northwest Airlines service to Detroit by offering a $2.8 million revenue
guarantee. When the airline ceased those flights in January 2005, the
airport was on the hook for $1.2 million.
[COMMENT -GDY]: Now, here is a helluva scheme! ExpressJet would not have to worry at all about making money, as the City of Gary would assure it a guaranteed income. Like Viaza Air, JetExpress could say yes, we'll provide service at GYY, do so one day only, then close up shop forever and send Gary the bill for the guaranteed income amount. Shrewd business on the part of the city fathers!
Let's get Sancho Panza Airlines in, as tilting at windmills is, and has been, the order of the day for GYY!
Gary Schools Dropout Rate at Heart of City Ills
The root cause for much of what ails Gary can be traced to a high school
graduation rate of less than 50 percent. Additionally, just 32.3 percent of the 18- to 24-year-old population in
Gary has a high school diploma or an equivalent.
When a student doesn't graduate from school, the scenario that follows is
harmful for the individual and the city. An unending cycle of poverty,
hopelessness and crime often results.
A person without a high school diploma, for instance, has virtually no chance
of finding a job that pays a livable wage. Too often, that person will
slip into a life of crime or drugs or unwanted pregnancy and becomes a burden on
family and society.
And the city of Gary is among the biggest losers because that individual has
little to contribute, and instead is a liability. There's little hope for
a city with uneducated and unemployable young people.
[COMMENT -GDY]: Doing the math (a skill I acquired while a student in the Gary Public Schools) reverals that the kids in front of, or behind, my/your child will not graduate. Not a great prospect; for them, or for the future of the "Steel City!"
School Board Hiring Could Cost Big Bucks
GARY -- The school board voted Tuesday to overrule its superintendent's hiring recommendations. This vote could cost the Gary school district thousands of dollars if some administrators are left without a job, documents show. That's because the district failed to send notices to central office administrators earlier this year notifying them that their contracts wouldn't be renewed, according to a letter from Ragen Hatcher, the board's attorney, to board President Kenneth Stalling.
The board attorney advised the board, in a letter obtained by the Post-Tribune, that if no administrative position is available for those employees, they are still entitled to their full contracted salary and benefits through June 30, 2010. And the board cannot lower those employees' salaries. Board Attorney Hatcher declined to comment on the letter. Board President Stalling said the issue is still under review.
The school board amended a hiring list created by Superintendent Myrtle Campbell, leaving out some current administrators. That amendment, passed by a vote of 4-3. It allowed several people to be hired for jobs even though they didn't interview for the positions.
Some individuals who were hired by the Board did not score as well as other
candidates in the interview process, Washington said. One didn't even
appear in the top three. According to a copy of the school board's policy,
if it can't reach a consensus on one of the top three candidates for a position,
all three are to be rejected and the search process is to start over again.
"They (board members voting in favor; Michael Scott, Jesse Morris, Barbara
Leek and Marion Williams) just usurped the entire process," board member Darren
Funeral Director Arrested, Made Bond
GARY -- The former owner of a defunct Gary funeral home charged three weeks ago with theft and failure to dispose of human remains in a timely manner has been arrested and posted bond. Darryl Lee Cammack, 43, of Chicago, was arrested Monday and posted $2,500 cash bond.
Cammack was charged after new owners took possession of the former Serenity Gardens Funeral Home, 934 E. 21st Av., Gary, on June 3 and discovered bodies that had been left behind. The charges carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Gary Officer Stole Home, and Money of Woman with Alzheimer's
COP ADMITS THEFT
Gary police Sgt. Joshua Wiley admitted he stole money and the home of his
former neighbor who suffered from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. On the
day his jury trial was scheduled to begin, Wiley pleaded guilty Monday to two
felony charges -- theft and exploitation of an endangered adult. In court,
Wiley admitted he knew that his former neighbor, Helen Chentnik, who died Dec.
22, 2006, at age 89, was an endangered adult who was not competent to make
financial decisions on her own behalf.
Over a three year period, Wiley emptied Chentnik's U.S. Federal Credit Union
account. He was able to do so "by using his influence on the victim, or by
using an ATM-debit card issued to the victim" to withdraw cash or buy items and
services for his personal use without Chentnik's consent, according to the plea
agreement. Wiley opened a joint checking account for Chentnik and himself
at Mercantile National Bank, deposited the woman's monthly Social Security and
pension checks and funds from her credit union account, and then made
withdrawals in cash and wrote checks for goods and services, the majority of
which were for his personal use.
On Jan. 18, 2005, Wiley obtained a fraudulent quit claim deed to Chentnik's
home at 3630 E. 12th Av., Gary and recorded the deed, knowing that it was signed
by him while claiming to have Chentnik's power of attorney.
Authorities said Wiley signed Chentnik into the Clark Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center on April 1, 2004. Wiley told a representative of
Adult Protective Services he had a letter from Chentnik's son giving him power
over Chentnik's affairs. Her son died while incarcerated in federal prison
in October 2004.
Under terms of the plea agreement, which Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell took under advisement, Wiley will be sentenced to eight years -- three years in the Lake County Community Correction Kimbrough Work Program and five years suspended and served on probation. The plea agreement calls for Wiley to serve his probation and Kimbrough Center sentence simultaneously. (So, he only got 5 years total; 3 yrs. work release while serving 3 years of probation, and 2 years of additional probation.) Wiley, 51, also must pay $53,255 within 30 days and the remaining $62,765 in monthly installments of $1,000, also starting within 30 days. Boswell scheduled a Jan. 10 sentencing hearing.
Wiley, who has been free on $5,000 cash bond since the charges were filed, is
on paid administrative leave from the Gary Police
Let me get this straight. Wiley, a Gary police officer, stole $116,765 from an elderly former neighbor who was afflicted with dementia, obtained a quit claim deed to her home, and for that, he's out on bond and on "paid" administrative leave. The court system was certainly tough on this guy. I'm sure he's suffering tremendously for his misdeeds.
The city of Gary is a mess. Many city departments, and now even the
schools, are missing thousands of dollars. It seems nobody knows how to
keep records, count money or make bank deposits. Does this have anything
to do with hiring employees from within the city? Some outside help is
Any negative comments about Gary always draw the racism card. Did it ever occur to those of you running the city that you are incompetent to do so, and that the comments are truthful?
Gary Resident at Loss Dealing with City
I called City Hall to arrange a meeting with Gary Mayor Rudy Clay. The
woman who answered said to meet him at Tri-City on Saturday morning.
I told her my concern was about an unsafe condition existing in the city that needed immediate attention. So, I was told to call General Services. That effort was to no avail.
My next call was to the Board of Public Works & Safety. The young lady who answered said, "It's not our job; call General Services and talk with the head person."
At General Services, the young lady who answered said that the department head wasn't in at this time (3 p.m.), and to call back in 15 minutes. I did as I was told, but the person who answered said the department heads leave at 3 p.m., so I should call back Wednesday morning. I called Wednesday morning, and the head person wasn't in. I had to leave my phone number.
I am still trying to make contact with any city official that can/will help
address my concern.
The Rev. Marvin Read Jr., Gary -
Gary Officials Spend Taxpayer Money Freely
GARY -- Gary's elected officials charged a mere $98,334 to their corporate
credit cards in 2008. The amount was mostly for traveling to conferences
across the country, but also for personal purchases.
Many of the cardholders, including Mayor Rudy Clay, said they reimbursed the city for personal purchases or even paid American Express directly for them. However, the records made available to the Post-Tribune so far account for just $3,545 in such payments.
Mayor Clay's Purchases: Totaled $10,674 in 2008. He said
he rarely uses his credit card. He acknowledged letting employees and department heads use
it for travel purposes and other expenses. For
example, three reserve officers used Clay's credit card to book rooms in Fort
Wayne totaling $771 to attend law enforcement training seminars. "I
haven't been to Fort Wayne in 35 years," Clay said. Rooms at the Embassy
Suites in Indianapolis, Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta and the Hyatt Regency in
Washington, D.C., were also booked on Clay's card, totaling $3,495 in
charges. So were $280 in highway tolls from Illinois' I-PASS system.
The mayor said he paid the city back for some travel expenses that appeared
on his statements. Clay also wrote a $750 check after being asked about
airfare to Dallas and Atlanta for his wife.
City Clerk Suzette Raggs: $4,979 in charges. Provided
copies of $1,282 in personal checks written to the credit card company to make
up for personal purchases. Many of Raggs' business charges were for meals
during which she said work issues were discussed. Those also earned a
mention in the state's audit, which pointed out the meals occur at least once a
Members of the City Council used the cards to attend conferences in
Washington, D.C., Oregon, Orlando, Philadelphia, South Dakota and Atlanta in
2008. Their travel budget that year was $230,000.
Kimberly Robinson, D-5th District: Paid American Express for
$717 charged to her card for airfare for her
sister, son and mother, Wanda Joshua. She said they
accompanied her to a conference in Atlanta. The tickets were purchased in
July 2008, when Joshua faced a federal fraud indictment stemming from her work
at the Calumet Township Trustee's Office. Joshua has since been
convicted. "I did get reprimanded," Robinson said. In all, Robinson
charged $7,632 to her card by traveling to Atlanta, Orlando and
Washington. Included with Robinson's statements was a copy of a personal
check for $376.
Councilman Kyle Allen, D-at large: He charged $862 for airfare to Orlando for him and his
wife. It's immediately followed on the statement,
though, by $528 in credit from United Airlines. Allen's charges totaled
$10,054. In addition to travel costs, numerous small purchases appear on
his bill for visits to local fast food restaurants and gas stations.
Carolyn Rogers, D-4th District: Records show she charged $6,527 to her card. Included with the charges were $257 in late fees and a 90-day suspension fee of $25. At least $500 in local grocery store purchases also appear on the statements. Rogers said the grocery store purchases were "most definitely" to pick up gift cards for constituents at district events. However, she was later told she couldn't charge those to her card and had to make the payments herself. That, she said, is why there was a delay in payment.
City Council President Ronier Scott: Charged $8,600 in travel
expenses to his card. He joined his colleagues at conferences like the one
in Orlando. While he was there he stayed at a Walt Disney World Hilton,
records show. Scott said that hotel was linked to the host hotel by a
shuttle. "It was not on the Disney World campus," Scott said.
Marilyn Krusas of the 1st District: Charged the most, $15,778, to her card
by traveling to Washington, Orlando, Oregon and South Dakota for
conferences. Krusas said her charges were all funded by her travel per
diem. She also pointed out that she spends personal money throughout the
year to help her district, using the example of $500 for neighborhood watch
picnics, labels and signs.
Shirley Stanford, D-2nd: Charged $13,177 traveling to South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Orlando and Austin.
Mary Brown, D-3rd: Spent $10,523 visiting Washington,
Philadelphia, Orlando and Austin.
Roy Pratt, D-at large: Charged $5,806 for travel to Atlanta,
Washington and Orlando.
Ragen Hatcher, D-at large: Charged $4,584, the least among her colleagues,
traveling to Washington and Atlanta. Hatcher said she stopped using her
city credit card at the end of 2008. She said she'd rather make purchases
on her personal card and seek reimbursement. "When I use my card I know
exactly how it's being paid," Hatcher said. "I know exactly how it's being
[COMMENT -GDY]: It is pretty obvious Rudy and his cronies have a great gig going on. Rudy charged over $10,600 to his card, and claims, with a straight face, that he rarely uses his card! He lets reserve police officers (his body guards?) use his card. Is that kosher? Ah, but he did cough up a remibursement when an expense was challenged. Way to go, Rudy; when caught with your hand in the till, man up!
Grocer Gets Six Years in $3.8M Food Stamp Swindle
HAMMOND -- A Gary grocer who pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of
$3.8 million through a food stamp scheme will serve six and a half years in
prison and was ordered pay back all the money he took.
Mark Prusinski, owner of Mark's Food Mart at 6125 W. 25th Av., cried as he
asked Judge Philip Simon for leniency. He talked about how he had helped
several disadvantaged youth from his neighborhood succeed in life. "I
became a product of that environment instead of changing that environment,"
Prusinski told the judge.
His attorney, Michael Katz, asked Simon for six months less then the minimum
recommendation, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernard Van Wormer pointed out that
Prusinski had twice started up his scheme after federal investigators made it
clear they knew about it.
Prusinski would buy food stamps from his customers at 65 cents on the dollar and then redeem them for their full value.
School Records Need Work
GARY -- The Gary Community School Corp. couldn't support its claims of
average daily membership for 2006 and 2007 to state auditors, according to a
report. Also, its payroll withholding fund was also overdrawn by $2.1
million as of June 30, 2008, according to the State Board of Accounts. The
information is contained in its latest audit, released this week, of the state
of the school system's finances from July 2006 until June 2008.
In her written response, Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said the schools will
begin trying to reconcile the account. Campbell also said the schools will
revisit procedures for average daily membership documentation. State
funding is based upon those numbers.
Auditors also found undocumented and personal use of school credit cards by
two board members. Former member Andrea Ledbetter's travel charges
included $1,981 for a trip to San Francisco, $1,373 for a trip to Las Vegas and
$2,501 for a trip to Hawaii. A $236 airline ticket for her spouse was also
discovered by auditors, as well as $820 to the National School Board
Association. Auditors said Ledbetter provided documentation to support
$6,543 of those charges and paid the schools back for the remaining $368.
Former board member Deborah Morris also racked up $359 in undocumented and personal charges.
Gary 2010 Budget Way Off Mark
GARY -- A 2010 budget introduced to City Council this week depends on more
than twice the revenue the city's analysts predict it will see next year.
Gary's general fund budget would be set at $57.4 million in 2010 if a draft
proposed at Tuesday's council meeting is passed. That's $611,270 less than
the revised 2009 budget approved at the same meeting in a 7-0 vote.
However, a report produced for the city last year by Policy Analytics LLC
predicted Gary will see just $26.5 million in revenue next year without relief
from statewide property tax caps.
Gary originally proposed a $63.3 million budget for 2009 even though the
Policy Analytics report predicted the city would receive just $31.9 million in
"We deserve a blue ribbon for just keeping the services going," Clay
According to a draft of the proposed 2010 budget, spending at the mayor's office would increase about 4.6 percent from $531,090 in the revised 2009 budget to $555,694 in 2010.
Gary Signs of Hope, Revival
How many employees does U.S. Steel currently have working in Gary, IN?
I put the question to three colleagues. The first guessed 50. The
second guessed 25. And the third guessed zero.
The actual figure is
6,000. The company that created the city of Gary in 1906,
out of nothing on a desolate stretch of sand dunes and naming it after its
chairman, Elbert Gary, is still the biggest employer in town. True, the
work force is nowhere near the 26,700 the company
employed at its peak. But they're still making steel in
Gary -- as are steel giant ArcelorMittal and several smaller mills.
The good news about Gary is that the bad news isn't quite as bad as everyone
Yes, the city is still in ruins.
Unemployment is a shocking
23%. The population, 175,000
in 1970, was 97,000 in
2006. The main downtown thoroughfare, Broadway, is
creepily quiet, devoid of people. Block after block of long-abandoned
buildings with 1950s- typeface signs refer to better times. The sky shines
through holes in brick facades, as if the buildings took a mortar round.
There are, however, indications of hope: "There are a lot of
projects in the pipeline that
are going to send the unemployment rate significantly down in a very short
time," said Rudy Clay, Gary's septuagenerian mayor. "The airport, for instance. My vision of
the Gary airport is to try to bring in air freight, air cargo. Gary has a
lot of blue-collar workers, so that would be a good fit for us."
Gary was the murder capital of the nation for three years. But the most
recent year was 1995. Things are better now. "This perception of
crime in Gary is not the reality," said Clay. "Crime rates, since I have
been mayor [in 2006], have gone down 43 percent."
Sports are reviving in Gary: "Let's talk baseball," said Clay.
"Last week, the one millionth fan walked through the door" at U.S. Steel Yard to
see the Gary SouthShore RailCats play minor league baseball.
Clay has high hopes for attractions based
around the Michael Jackson family home -- maybe a museum --
though right now it is still a tiny structure surrounded by yellow police
tape, with tables selling T-shirts across the street.
Other projects are further along. Plans proceed for a four-year medical
school at Indiana University Northwest. The
old Sheraton -- the shell of a 13-story hotel, abandoned for
the last quarter century and located, to add insult to injury, right next door
to City Hall -- is finally being renovated. "That's a done deal," Clay
said. "It's going to be a centerpiece."
Not to put too bright a gloss on Gary, a town without a single big-box store
-- no Target, no Home Depot. The challenges are huge: Shuttered
mills promise costly brownfield cleanups; integration is still elusive -- Gary
is 85 percent black.
Clay not only thinks improvement possible, he's certain of it, with a
confidence that, depending on your view, is either bold or heartbreaking.
"The best is yet to come," he said. "A year, a year and a half from
now, you won't know the downtown. Five years, and we'll be able to look
out that window and see people bustling and hustling all around. People
getting off the toll road, getting off the Greyhound bus. They're going to
walk in to the Michael Jackson Performing Arts Center. They'll
leave there, they're going to walk in to the Jackson Family Museum. They're going to
leave there, walk in to a first-class
hotel. Leave there, and walk in to the old Sheraton, we're going to call it
the 'Gary City Center
Building.' Leave there, go to City Hall; leave there,
go to the baseball game. Leave there to go downtown shopping and guess
what? Your feet never touch the ground -- we've got a couple
pedways ready to
Audit Blasts Gary Finances
GARY -- According to a recent state audit, "The city of Gary may not be able to continue as a "going concern," thanks to multimillion-dollar revenue shortfalls and lax financial controls.
The caps have left the city "overdrawn" some $4 million on several accounts,
as the city has borrowed and shifted funds, at times in ways that don't gibe
with city policies and accounting practices, said a state Board of Accounts
audit released last week.
The city in 2008 made millions in budget cuts while apparently
misspending thousands, and
state-mandated tax caps have caused multimillion-dollar revenue shortfalls.
With more shortfalls looming, auditors questioned whether the city can continue to operate. "The amount of budget reductions ... required for the city to fully implement the current tax legislation raises substantial doubt about the City's ability to continue as a going concern," the report states. "They're doing pretty much the same thing year after year," said Board of Accounts supervisor Charles Pride. "They try to remedy it, but when you have a cash flow problem, you can't get it corrected if you can't get cash back in. Routinely overdrawn funds can be a sign of serious fiscal problems."
The 157-page report also includes 29 pages of comments on "issues" with
expenditures ranging from $4 million in casino dollars used to prop up the city
operations budget to $2,900 paid for Sanitary
District workers to attend a conference on setting up airport
kiosks. Many of the items identified as problems in
the audit are similar to those in 2007, when the city was overdrawn on accounts
$3.7 million, Pride noted.
The city has hired a financial manager to monitor city finances, a condition
required by the state Distressed Unit Appeals Board, which this spring granted
the city a reprieve from the full impact of tax caps. "The DUAB was
certainly aware, through previous audit reports, of severe internal control
weaknesses in the operations of the city. That was part of the reason the
appeals board required an independent fiscal monitor, which is now in place,"
Kitchell said in a statement to the Post-Tribune.
Continuing problems will make it difficult for the city to ask for more help
from the state, said Ryan Kitchell, director of the state Office of Management
and Budget. "If Gary is planning to come back to the DUAB next year,
they'll need to clean up their act big time, and the newly installed fiscal
monitor can help," Kitchell said.
The audit pointed out problems with city finances that amounted to
thousands of public dollars spent without proper
authorization; such as personal expenses of city officials,
some of whom do not submit itemized statements with their bills.
* $275,000 spent from the City Council's Grants and Subsidies budget for
"promotion of the city" including $600 for food for a council member's suite at
a Gary RailCats game;
* A 2008 contract between the Gary Sanitary
District and Mayor Rudy Clay's son, Rudy Clay, Jr., for video services.
Clay was awarded a contract for $30,000, but was paid a total of
* Air fare and a three-day hotel stay for the
master of ceremonies at the mayor's 2008 inauguration ball,
tickets for which sold for $100 to be paid to Clay's campaign fund. The
city response states the expenses were incorrectly billed by a travel agent that
had both the mayor's personal and city credit cards;
* "Extensive travel" by City Council members, including $490 for a three-day
stay at a Chicago Hyatt for Kyle Allen Sr., who attended a Democratic leadership
* Bills from a private repair shop for the
mayor's city-leased Hummer H2; the city has a vehicle
* Monthly meals for Clerk Suzette Raggs and her top deputy at downtown Gary restaurants. Raggs said the meals seldom cost more than $20, and that the luncheons were spent discussing city business.
Clay did not return calls from the Post-Tribune on
[COMMENT -GDY]: And, this comes as a surprise to whom? A couple of things are obvious: Rudy does not trust his own employees to work on his city leased Hummer. Rudy and Rudy, Jr., are skimming Gary dollars off the top, fleecing the taxpayers! A question which has to be asked, and which must be answered is, "What did the City of Gary get for the 275 Grand spent on promotion expenses? 3 G's for a sanitation worker conference on how to set up kiosks at the Gary airport! Why are kiosks being set up there in the first place, since no one ever goes there?
Gunmen Open Fire on Medics
GARY -- Two men shot at two medics Tuesday night after the medics dropped off a patient in the 5100 block of West 4th Av., police said. One medic was standing at the rear of the ambulance with the doors open, and the other was standing at its front at 5:50 p.m.
Suddenly, two males drove around the ambulance and fired four shots from red two-door Geo Tracker. The men next pulled in front of the ambulance and fired one more shot in its direction. The bullet shattered the ambulance's windshield and traveled through the vehicle, exiting out the open rear doors. The medic standing behind the ambulance told police he heard a whistling sound.
The men in the Geo Tracker fled the scene in an unknown direction.
Gary Man, 51, Shot to Death
GARY -- Police are investigating the shooting death of a man in Gary early Wednesday.
Eddie Chaffee, 51, who lived in the 3800 block of Carolina Street, was pronounced dead at 2:10 a.m., according to the Lake County Coroner's Office. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his body.
Cpl. Gabrielle King said police spoke to Chaffee after the shooting before he died. She said he told them he was walking along 13th Avenue at the time of the shooting. Chaffee told police that, when he got to Polk Street, he heard a man call him by his nickname. He said he turned around and someone started shooting at him.
Jackson Never Did a Thing to Help Gary
I have to wonder why I even ask why.
Gary, a once-beautiful city that cannot find a way to save itself and its people, now wants to build a museum for Michael Jackson.
What did he ever do for Gary and its people? The city had to pay the travel expense for his dad to come here and pay tribute. Otherwise, he would not have come.
What is wrong with the thinking in Gary? Why do we seem surprised that this city wastes money that it does not have and expects people to come here and pay to see its native-born Jackson and some photos.
This is joke, but what else do we expect from Gary?
Angelo Lara, Lake Station -
Dusties Owes $24,000 in Back Rent
GARY -- The owner of Dusties Southern Style Buffet said his company is in the "fight of our lives" to keep its restaurant open in Gary, which is why it wasn't able to make a $24,000 rent payment due Monday.
Scott Upshaw, director of the federally funded Gary-East Chicago-Hammond Empowerment Zone, said payment was originally due in May. His agency, which owns Dusties building, gave the restaurant a 90-day extension, until the end of August, to pay the bill. Instead of writing a check, he said Dusties is asking for another extension.
OwnerLewis said, "Giving up or leaving is not an option." However,
Lewis said that means he will need support from Gary. The prices at that
restaurant, he said, are already lower than at any other Dusties location.
Dusties in Gary is the lone Indiana site and there are two in the Chicago
suburbs of Matteson and Dolton.
[COMMENT -GDY]: "Need support from Gary," Good luck with that! Gary cannot support itself, let alone a failing business. The only thing Gary is capable of supporting is Rudy?
Clay Should Surrender Sanitary District Job
In rebuttal to Mayor Clay's statement that he saved the city a lot of money by outsourcing trash pickup, I would like to say that we understand the need to save money, but the problem is how he went about it. He first tried to force Allied on us with a no-bid contract manipulated by the Gary Sanitary District, from which he receives an annual salary of over $30,000.
Now he says Gary residents can have jobs with Allied if they are qualified. What qualifications would a city trash collector have to have to do the same job for Allied? You would think all these jobs would go to Gary residents, with the economy in the state that it is.
Furthermore, the mayor says he's saved the city more money than any past mayor. I would like to see the mayor save the taxpayers even more money by doing something that would be morally right. I would ask him to give up his $30,000 salary with the Sanitary District so laid-off city employees can be hired.
Stanley Baker, Gary -
High Court Denies Gary Casino Appeal
The Indiana Supreme Court has chosen not to hear an appeal from the city of
Gary in its legal battle with Majestic Star Casino.
Gary tried to overturn a Marion County Superior Court ruling that rejected a
change-of-venue request from the city and denied an injunction that would force
Majestic Star Casino owner Don Barden to make monthly payments to the city.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in May. Last week, the
Supreme Court chose not to hear the case. All justices concurred except
Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Justice Robert Rucker, according to court
According to court of appeals' opinion, Gary filed its appeal 52 days after
the Marion court ruling, but rules required it to appeal within 30 days.
The court of appeals also decided damages to the city caused by the loss of
the Majestic money as predicted by city attorneys are "merely
speculative." The city may still issue bonds to make up for the lost cash,
Barden sued Gary in February 2008, alleging a breach of contract because Gary
failed to build a new access road from Cline Avenue to his casinos at Buffington
Harbor. Ever since, he has been depositing the monies due Gary in a trust
[COMMENT -GDY]: So, the score now is Don 2 - Rudy 0. Gary wants the money. Don has it! Gary needs the money. Don has it!
Jackson Museum Takes New Turn
GARY -- A New York City firm that wanted to build a museum honoring Michael Jackson in Gary has abandoned the project citing silence from City Hall, and the man picked by Mayor Rudy Clay to lead a stalled renovation of the former Sheraton Hotel is moving in.
Richard Coles, the principal of New York-based Emmes Group, visited City Hall two weeks ago pitching plans to build a museum at the Village Shopping Center. His company owns the property there, and he said funding is in place to make the project happen. But the company hasn't heard from Gary leaders since that meeting, Coles said, and it's been forced to move in another direction with its properties. "It seems that Gary, Indiana, has yet again missed a valuable opportunity to make something of its city," Coles said Tuesday.
Clay was unavailable Tuesday afternoon for comment.
Phillip Kupritz of the New Gary Development Group said Tuesday he is working with Jackson Museum Performing Arts Center Corp., a firm that incorporated last month in Illinois and launched the Web site www.jacksonmuseum.org to raise money.
Developers are looking at possible locations in Las Vegas, Chicago or Gary. However, Kupritz said a consensus reached at a weekend birthday party in Tinley Park, Ill., for Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father, will bring the museum to Gary. "The city of Gary is the place it's going to go," Kupritz said.
The Jackson museum would not be connected to the Sheraton project, Kupritz said, though there are plans to build it downtown. He declined to give a specific location.
Kupritz was introduced to Gary in February 2007 when the mayor announced a plan to turn the dilapidated former Sheraton Hotel into a mixed-use development of retail and senior citizen housing powered by corn and heated with geothermal energy.
The New Gary Development Group, a Chicago-based team of investors led by Kupritz, succeeded in removing 98 percent of the asbestos that was in the building when the plan was announced. It did that work using a $735,000 federal brownfield loan.
Activity at the empty building has been virtually non-existent since that accomplishment in October. An IDEM spokeswoman confirmed last week that her agency's inspectors haven't returned for further review.
Kupritz and city leaders say the national economic recession has hampered
efforts to renovate the Sheraton, freezing up money that would have otherwise
been available to the investors.
[COMMENT -GDY]: Rudy has proven himself the astute mover/shaker once again! He picks a guy with a proven track record of lining his own pockets, while doing nothing for the residents of Gary. I mean, the Sheraton Hotel is certainly a major attraction in that magnet of activity, downtown Gary. Right?
Cut of 100 Jobs Stops Only 24
GARY -- A round of city layoffs in June designed to cut 100 positions from Gary's budget wound up eliminating 24 jobs where employees were earning a paycheck.
Another 62 empty slots for which money was set aside were also cut, according to a record released by City Controller Celita Green, and 13 jobs were moved out of the general fund.
Green met Tuesday with members of the City Council's finance committee to review a revised 2009 budget that is the result of that shake-up. It will be subject to a vote at the next council meeting.
Thank God: Gary, Indiana Says Deity Responsible for Crime Dip
If any place in the Chicago metro area was in need of divine intervention, it
was Gary, Indiana. Judging by a recent, and dramatic drop in crime, it
looks like the big guy delivered. Officials there say the plunge is
nothing short of miraculous.
According to records submitted to the FBI, violent crime dropped 43 percent
the first six months of this year, and the total number of incidents was down 31
percent. "I think the investigators should get some credit," Commander
Anthony Titus told the Post-Tribune. "They have filed an astonishing
number of cases this year."
Perhaps, but 43 percent is quite an amazing difference. Surely there
must be some other stand-out reason.
"It's God," Titus said with a smile. "I would really love to take the
credit, but just like I can't take responsibility for a homicide, I can't take
the credit here either."
There ya go. It's God! Of course. That must prove the power of prayer, right? Well, Gary residents shouldn't rely on their Hallelujahs just yet.
It appears God is very selective when it comes to crime reduction. While assaults are down from 1,039 to 645 (when compared to the first six months of last year), the city has recorded more homicides and rapes this year than last. And even though the total number of robberies is down, robberies involving firearms increased.
Copyright NBC Local Media / NBC Chicago
Gary Paid for Joe to Attend Son's Memorial
GARY -- Joe Jackson and an Illinois-based musical group (Chi-Lites) charged the city of Gary $5,000 to attend a memorial last month for Jackson's son, the late pop star Michael Jackson, records released Thursday show.
Records show the money was to cover $200 in meals, $3,000 in limousine
services and $1,800 in hotel rooms. The preliminary account of the cost of
a hometown memorial for Michael Jackson at the U.S. Steel Yard baseball stadium
indicates the costs exceeded income by about
— Vincent Wynn, a convicted drug dealer, is the 26th homicide of the year,
and the third in less than a week.
— Darritt Brown was killed in a shootout in Delaney Community Housing
Development early Sunday.
— Steve Lonzo, 27, of Gary was charged Monday with murder after admitting "I got fed up with Tony Johnson, so I shot him in the head," the probable cause affidavit states. Johnson, 39, of 965 Lane St., was pronounced dead shortly before midnight in the 1000 block of New Hampshire Street in Aetna. Investigators said he was shot at point-blank range, the affidavit states.
The homicide rate in Gary this year is up about 18% over 2008, when the city
had recorded 22 violent deaths.
Post-Trib "Quickly" Comments
— Where's the change the Gary School Board and the new superintendent promised? Personnel moves and construction are not complete, and school starts in two weeks. There has been no training of the staff and faculty for a successful transition to the new academies. Parents, these are the things you should be speaking out against. Stop playing politics with the children's education.
— Mayor Clay, where is your clean-up czar that you hired when you first were elected? You need to clean up the city of Gary before you start inviting the world to Michael Jackson's historic home where he grew up at.
— I guess that the phase "To Serve and Protect" really doesn't apply any more in Gary. I just saw a lady sitting in her car in the middle of the street with her flashers going and a policeman passed her going north, one passed her going south, and left the poor sitting there. Didn't even stop to see if she needed help.
Post-Trib on the Street
'May I object?' -
Gary's trash fee opponents remain mobilized despite last month's City Council vote. They signaled their latest legal strategy Tuesday night. The strategy: "What vote?"
Robert Campbell, one of many trash fee critics, interrupted the City Council on Tuesday night as it was preparing to approve the minutes of its previous meeting. Those minutes are the official record of last month's standing-room only hearing where council members took a 5-4 vote on the trash fee.
"May I object to the acceptance of the minutes, please?" Campbell said, standing. Then, without further comment from the council, Campbell said, "Thank you," and sat down.
At the previous meeting, council member Roy Pratt, D-at large, made two motions "to reconsider" the trash fee ordinance which had already been defeated once.
Both of Pratt's motions passed. The position of the city is that the first vote suspended the rules of the meeting so the ordinance could once again be heard despite its earlier defeat. The city's position on the second vote, which was 5-4, is that it validated the trash fee.
Because Pratt used the word "reconsider" instead of "pass," trash fee opponents intend to argue Gary's trash fee is still illegal. Attorneys for the city and the Miller Citizens Corp. are scheduled to appear before Judge Thomas Webber on August 20 to argue the matter further.
Post-Trib "Quickly" Column
Has anyone seen the new plywood and paint on Broadway in Gary? It's like a Hollywood set, a Potemkin village. What are Mayor Rudy Clay and his administration thinking?
Post-Trib Letters to Ed
If it's Hatcher's desire to shift the way things work in city government, then elect Nowacki as mayor and diversify City Hall to reflect more than one race of people. It's an "all-for-me" party in City Hall. This is not what the civil rights movement was about. It was about getting you in a position in order to pick up your fellow man out of poverty. We as a people have failed in this endeavor.
Look at the Gary Community School Corp., which has dismantled our educational
system. They are all elected black people, with "me, myself and I"
attitudes. Until attitudes change, any real change in Gary is moot.
Let's open the door if you really want real change.
Roy Xavier Roddy, Gary -
Clay Out of Line After Jackson Death
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay's actions after Michael Jackson's death were appalling.
First, he tried to get the Jackson family to bury Michael in Gary, trumpeting this silly notion in the media, even though the Jackson family has lived in the Los Angeles area for nearly 40 years. While Jackson family members probably are proud to be from Gary, they have established roots in southern California, including church, funeral home and cemetery.
Next, Clay put on an ill-conceived memorial to Jackson. I think Jackson was a terrific and legendary performer and am extremely proud of his success, being a Garyite myself. However, a big memorial in a baseball stadium with dancing and acrobatics and items for sale was not a touching or reverent event.
The biggest problem, however, has been Clay's ego throughout the proceedings. He seemed to have an extreme desire to be in the limelight.
This does a disservice to Gary, a city with schools closing, population dwindling, trash in the streets and violence flourishing. Clay's biggest priority seems now to be making the Jackson home a monument. He was quoted recently as saying if they can do it for Elvis with Graceland, then we can do it in Gary.
Or we can just say no in the next mayoral election to Clay. Let's tell
him to "beat it." Then Gary can really be a "thriller."
Ramon Romantico, Gary -
Quickly Column Comment
If Ragen Hatcher becomes mayor of Gary, perhaps she can clean up the mess her father started?
Council Vote Won't End Trash Fee Fight
GARY -- The City Council didn't authorize a monthly trash fee until Tuesday, but the legislation they approved is retroactive to Jan. 23. That means the Gary Sanitary District will likely try to collect 12 months' worth of fees from its customers this year to help fund its contract with Allied Waste for garbage pick-up.
The council's vote isn't likely to end the battle over trash collection in Gary, though. Attorneys are set to return to the courtroom of Lake County Judge Thomas Webber on Aug. 20. When they do, the retroactive language in the ordinance could be challenged.
Meanwhile, an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order continues to prohibit Indiana American Water Co. from disconnecting water service if a customer fails to pay the trash fee.
Voters Should Recall Garbage at Election
When Gary collected the garbage, they picked up what they felt like picking up at that moment. The rest was left for the next pick-up or for someone else to dispose of.
At least Allied takes just about anything except very large items. Neither one has the brains to close the lid and put the garbage can back where they found it. When it rains, I just leave the water in it.
Every politician involved in this debacle, including Mayor Rudy Clay and the City Council, should be given a one-way ticket out of town for once again making Gary the laughingstock -- not only of Northwest Indiana and the state of Indiana but the entire country. At the next election, I can only hope you nonvoters get out and vote for elected officials with a sense for the betterment of the community and a modicum of brains.
Pam Vance, Gary -
Council Reverses Vote, Passes Trash Fee
GARY -- Security guards kept watch over an unfriendly standing-room-only crowd as the City Council reversed a two-week-old decision and approved a monthly trash collection fee for Gary residents.
Council members Roy Pratt, D-at large, and Kimberly Robinson, D-5th, voted in favor of the fee Tuesday night, changing the votes they cast two weeks ago. The final vote was 5-4, giving Mayor Rudy Clay the majority needed to collect the fee from Gary residents.
"The garbage will be picked up starting tomorrow (today)," Clay said later in the meeting.
That service halted 11 days ago, at the insistence of the Gary Sanitary District, after the council voted July 7 to defeat the fee.
Miller Citizens Corp. -
The people of Gary will never advance unless the elected officials and citizens stop having so many personal agendas. They must do what is good for the advancement of our city. And, no, you should not be reimbursed for the fees of good services rendered.
Region's Road Repair Money May Soon Be at Risk
Not one construction project has started: NWI may lose some of its $18M.
The promise of new jobs and improved roads this summer as part of a federal economic stimulus package has fallen short in Northwest Indiana. With not one project under Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission jurisdiction scheduled for bids, any hope of getting construction under way this year is quickly fading.
One local official expressed concern the area might lose some of the almost $18 million it was allocated in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to another part of the state if some of the local proposals don't get approved soon.
Local and state officials say the delay is not their fault. They say federal government bureaucracy has the process entangled in red tape. Gary Evers of NIRPC, who is in charge of allocating the funds to NIRPC communities, explained the program's timeframe has changed as well. He fears this could cause some communities to lose funding while they struggle to meet federal guidelines. "I thought we had a year to spend the federal money, now I learn we only have five months,"
Evers said. "If we lose the money, INDOT would get it and there's no
guarantee that money will be put back in the region. Jobs here would be
Gary Trash Deal Advances
GARY -- The Gary Sanitary District board wasted neither time nor words Friday as it unanimously approved a two-year contract with Allied Waste to pick up residential garbage. After listening to a brief overview of the agreement from corporation counsel Susan Severtson, commissioners cast their votes.
In contrast to GSD commissioners, City Council members had plenty to say at a news conference that began minutes after the district adjourned its meeting.
"I've estimated it would cost $3.5 million if city workers do the job, as
opposed to Allied's cost of $5.5 million," Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher, D-at
large, said. The six council members vowed to study the 24-page document
before they meet Tuesday.
Activist With Trash Gets Ticket
GARY -- Police arrested City Hall's most vocal and dependable critic Wednesday after he brought trash to a public meeting in a "Mayor Rudy Clay" tote bag. Jim Nowacki said he was carrying his garbage with him because of the lack of trash pick-up in Gary. Allied Waste, the private company that first began collecting the city's trash in October, was told to stop that work last week by the Gary Sanitary District.
"You cannot come into my meeting with garbage in your bag," Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant said, adding that she wouldn't mind having him arrested. Security guards escorted Nowacki out of the building, and a police spokeswoman confirmed he was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Pointing to Nowacki's efforts to disannex the Miller area from city of Gary, Clay said "we're not going to play around with him."
The Post-Trib on the Street
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said he will be a guest on "Perspective" this weekend on
My 50, WPWR TV, Chicago. The show airs at noon Sunday. ~Jon
Comment by Harley O. Whatley on July 17, 2009 8:22 AM -
Big Deal. This mayor has time for all of the media hype, but does not have time to fix the city of Gary. What a joke. He really does need to be mentally evaluated.
Wirt Alumni Mourn Closing at Final Sale
GARY -- Hours before thousands would pay tribute to Michael Jackson at U.S. Steel Yard on Friday, dozens showed up at 210 N. Grand Blvd. in Miller to rummage through mementos and memorabilia.
For most in attendance, it was a bittersweet way of saying goodbye to an old friend. But it had nothing to do with the King of Pop.
After three score years and 10, what was known as William A. Wirt High School has expired. The former home of the Troopers will become the new location for students of Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts.
For nostalgia's sake, a garage sale-like event featured cardinal-and-white water bottles, book covers, bumper stickers, seat cushions, stationery, pencils, mugs, caps and T-shirts. Stacks of Wirt yearbooks and black-and-white photographs of students from the 1960s sold for bargain basement prices.
Post-Trib Letters to Ed
I am appalled that Rudy Clay would question why a picture was taken of a Gary city vehicle in another state. It would seem that the mayor would be glad to know that an employee was using a city vehicle for personal use. When he questions the motives for the picture, that says to me that he condones such practices.
In these tough economic times when he is cutting people's jobs, how can he question the motive of the picture and not discipline the employee?
This is just another slap in the face to the people of Gary. It is time we start to speak out more about the practices of our mayor.
He leases an elephant and tells us it eats less than a dog and we should be happy with the money he's saving us. It's time for the greatest mayor in the United States to work for the people of Gary and not himself and his henchmen.
Stanley Baker, Gary -
Tidbits From A Post-Trib Column
The city's median household income of $27,195 is well below the state figure, which is $41,567.
Urban myths cite Gary as ground zero for Ebonics.
Trashing da' Mayor
The Gary City Council has had more than enough time to fix the garbage situation here. Allied had done a fine job, taking everything left at the curb, unlike when the city handled garbage collection. This problem is totally ridiculous, and it seems there are a lot of politicians pointing fingers, mainly Ragen Hatcher. Since the city is broke, something has to give. Gee, I wonder if this is a ploy to make Mayor Rudy Clay look bad. You think? It's pretty obvious that every time Rudy makes a move, it's blocked by the council.
Gary Garbage Mess Rests With Mayor
The trash collection crisis in Gary was not caused by the City Council members.
I agree with the comment made by Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher, "He (Mayor Clay) was elected to run the city and he needs to do that," just as the City Council is the voice of the citizens who elected Rudy Clay to do that job. The City Council members have responded appropriately. Are they and the citizens to blame for a decision that was implemented without any consideration for its legal ramifications?
Luci Horton, director of Gary Sanitary District, said, "It's impossible for the GSD to pay for the work." And the mayor stated that he does not have the authority to have Allied pick up the garbage. This information was known to the mayor and the administrators at the formation of this proposed solution. So the fee that was imposed on the citizens was "authorized" by whom? The cessation of a tax-paid service was "authorized" by whom?
The mayor should understand that the citizens are never opposed to a solution to a problem, but are offended when their opinions are only worthy of being noted in a monetary sense.
— Glenda Smith, Gary
Time for Gary Leaders to Look in the Mirror
Now that the glitter has settled from Friday's hometown tribute to the late Michael Jackson, it's time for the city leaders to look into the mirror themselves. They'll see a petulant, stubborn lot suddenly unable to provide citizens with the most basic of city services -- trash pickup. We're talking about Mayor Rudy and his City Council.
Trash is just the tip of the landfill of ills that ail the Steel City. The parks and firehouses are unkempt and decaying, police are leaving in large numbers along with families with children, and businesses aren't exactly beating down the city's door.
Where to start? Resurrect the notion of the local government academy at IU-Northwest and give all the city's office holders free tuition where they can learn about government and ethics.
For a city to function and prosper, the mayor and city council branches must be running on the same track and in the same direction. In Gary, they're on the same track but smashing head-long into each other on most issues.
Now, because the mayor and council can't agree on how to manage garbage pick-up, residents who pay their salaries must suffer. The garbage issue has become so clouded, a judge can't even sort it out.
It's time for Gary leaders to abandon their own self-serving special interests and find a way to work together to better serve the city and make its citizens proud, not embarrassed.
Take a lesson from the King of Pop's "Man in the Mirror":
"If you wanna make the world
A better place
Take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change..." Michael Jackson.
Mayor Lays Out Museum Plan
Clay said Joe Jackson, originally a Gary steel worker, is forming a committee to build a family museum, possibly on a city-owned parcel off Interstate 80-94 near the corner of 25th Avenue and Grant Street.
The Jackson 5 first began rehearsing in Joe Jackson's small white ranch home at 2300 Jackson St. that's become a quasi-shrine since Michael Jackson's death.
Clay said he has yet to meet with city attorneys on giving the land to such a
committee, but he also said a Jackson museum could become an economic boon for
Gary. "If we can build a museum like Graceland in his hometown for Elvis
Presley, then we can do the same for Michael Jackson in his hometown," he
Gary Trash Contract Canceled
GARY -- "Six members of the Gary City Council are stopping garbage pick-up in Gary, Ind.," Clay said. But two of them, at-large council members Roy Pratt and Ragen Hatcher, refused to be held responsible. "He was elected to run the city," Hatcher said, "and that's what he needs to do."
The mayor's comments Thursday came shortly after the Gary Sanitary District's board of commissioners approved a cease and desist order for Allied Waste, and after a Lake County judge continued a hearing on the matter. The council defeated the fee in a 6-3 vote.
Attorneys for the city said that created a emergency, and GSD Director Luci Horton told her board Thursday that it's "impossible for the Gary Sanitary District to pay" for the work. The agency's cease and desist order will be delivered to Allied Waste's James Metros and takes effect at midnight Sunday. "I do not have the authority to tell Allied to pick up the garbage," Clay said.
Afterward, the mayor's attorneys said they could be "days" away from signing
a new contract with Allied Waste. Without permission from the council to
charge the fee, though, they said the service can't be provided. "They're
the ones ones who can start it up," Clay said of the
Broadway Gets Facade Facelift
GARY -- Putting a new face on an old mess may help the city's downtown draw new interest from residents and businesses, Mayor Rudy Clay said. In recent weeks, workers from private companies have been sprucing up building facades the west side of the 600 block of Broadway as part of the mayor's "Adopt-A-Facade" program, the first in a three-phase plan to rehab city-owned buildings on the block.
"It looks a thousands times better than what it was," Clay said of the 600 block of Broadway. "We're heading in the right direction to make downtown look better, and that's what draws people."
On Monday, workers from 1st Metropolitan Construction continued painting a
white face with green and red blocks and an awning on the front of 612-618 to
look like a fictional establishment called Lorenzo's Italian
Gary Trash Bill Canned
GARY -- The City Council rejected a trash fee Tuesday that has been billed to its constituents for months, leaving Mayor Rudy Clay's staff to shrug when asked later if trash collection will continue in the city today. That's because the monthly fee, $12 for most residents and $7 for senior citizens, was meant to help fund a pending contract between the Gary Sanitary District and Allied Waste, the company which has picked up trash in the city for five months without a valid contract.
The ordinance that would have authorized the fee failed in a 6-3 vote after a long and often raucous debate among members of the public. What appeared to swing the vote was the failure of Clay's administration to provide council members with a signed copy of a contract between Allied Waste and the Gary Sanitary District. Only a draft contract, based on a count of 28,500 households in Gary, was presented.
When Roy Pratt, D-at large, announced he wouldn't be voting for the fee
because he was only provided with a draft, Clay was seen shaking his
[COMMENT -GDY]: 28,500 households? I knew Gary was in a state of decline, but I sure had no idea the fall was this precipitous.
Gary May Tap City Funds for Jackson tribute
GARY -- Public money may be needed to cover the cost of an ever-growing
tribute to pop star Michael Jackson in his hometown, Mayor Rudy Clay
acknowledged Monday. However, Clay said in-kind donations have already
been made, so the cost will be lower than it otherwise would have been.
"It'll be pennies compared to what it would usually cost," Clay said.
Estimating that Gary's tribute to Jackson would usually cost about $150,000, the
mayor said the city might be left with a bill of about $4,000 when all is said
Clay made his remarks as details of the memorial service were coming into focus. Former Miss Indiana Kellee Patterson and singer Deniece Williams were announced as performers last week. A mass choir will also sing "We Are The World," Clay said, and local dance group Krucial Kreationz will also perform. Actor Fred "The Hammer" Williamson will lead a tribute to actor Karl Malden, who grew up in Gary and died last week at 97.
Admission to the event is free. Clay said some of the performers asked for their travel and lodging costs to be paid, but a hotel and rental car company agreed to donate the services. "Now we're trying to get some money for air fare," Clay said.
Reserve police will manage the event, Clay said, so the city won't be paying overtime to public safety workers.
The city is also in talks with the owners of the SouthShore RailCats baseball team to sell souvenirs to visitors at the memorial in an attempt to create revenue. "We'll use some of the money we make to offset the cost on this thing," Clay said.
City Council member Kimberly Robinson, D-5th, is asking visitors to be respectful if visiting the Jackson family home, reminding the public that people are living in the houses next door. "Please be considerate of the neighbors," Robinson said.
Post-Trib "Letters to Editor"
The city of Gary has passed out a five-page document, attempting to explain the economics of outsourcing garbage collection. Most of this document is incomprehensible. However, in the middle of the final page, there is a clear summary of the expenses for garbage collection in 2008, which divides the costs among four categories:
General Fund Sanitation payroll, including fringe benefits for 28 employees
Gasoline, parts and supplies $234,000.
Motor Vehicle Fund Sanitation payroll, including fringe benefits for 19 employees -- $954,477.
Gasoline, repairs, parts and supplies -- $430,143.
Total -- $2,952,020.
As far as I can see, these categories include all the functions required for day-to-day garbage collection -- 47 employees, plus gas, repairs, parts and supplies.
If the cost of collecting garbage was a little less than $3 million last year, how can we say we are saving money by contracting out this function in 2009 for $5,130,000? The city's own document shows that all of the additional $2,178,000 will be a payment by Gary taxpayers to Allied Waste.
Tom Eaton, Gary
Clay, City Should End Jackson Hoopla
Compiled From a Post-Trib Editorial
[5 Jul 2009]
Typically, when folks are in love with their hometown, they return often and brag about it to friends and acquaintances. By most accounts, Michael Jackson was not a frequent flyer home. Since he left at age 10, he made just two public appearances in Gary. The entertainer probably spent more time in Dubai and London than in Gary as an adult.
Now that Jackson is dead, Mayor Rudy Clay is beating the drums for the Jackson family to bring Michael home to the Steel City one last time. The mayor's zealous pursuit of a funeral, even one as spectacular as Michael Jackson's, is an exercise in bad taste and self-aggrandizement.
The sad and well-documented life and death of Michael Jackson has become a nonstop television and internet extravaganza. We get daily updates from Jackson sycophants. It is all Michael, all the time.
So it seems even more distasteful that the mayor of Jackson's own hometown is waging a national campaign for him to "lie in state" in Gary. It would be "a memorial that's fit for the prince of peace and a memorial that's fit for Gary, Indiana's favorite son, the greatest entertainer that ever lived," Clay said recently on a Chicago radio program. The city can rightfully boast it's the hometown of the Jackson family, and it can make its residents and the Jacksons proud with a scheduled July 10 memorial at the U.S. Steel Yard. Beyond that, the legacy in Gary is up to the Jackson family.
City of Gary Truck Cruising in Illinois
GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay was at a loss Wednesday to explain why a truck bearing the Gary city seal was photographed in Illinois last week, saying he is still waiting for answers from his staff.
However, Clay is now accusing the Illinois resident and Gary property owner who took the pictures of stalking a Gary employee who was apparently behind the wheel. "(The driver) should have called the police on him," Clay said.
The photos were distributed by Andy Young, owner of Andy's Truck & Equipment Co., who said he took them while visiting a customer Friday on the south side of Chicago. Young said he saw the truck, a white Jeep, traveling westbound on 100th Street and he turned around to follow it.
"After a while (the driver) did seem to realize he was being followed," Young said. In one picture, the driver of the white Jeep can be seen holding a hand to the windshield in an apparent attempt to block the camera. In another, the truck is seen waiting at a stop light at Torrence Avenue and State Street.
NWI Jobless Rates
LaPorte's jobless rate in May was 11.7 percent -- well above the national rate of 9.1 percent and statewide rate of 10.4 percent. Lake County was at 10.5 percent and Porter at 9.6 percent.
Gary School Board Reform?
OK, Pied Piper, please lead the children out of Gary to a city that has their best interests at heart. The School Board rehired the same administrators and principals, rewarding them with higher salaries of more than $90,000. Their schools did not make their adequate yearly progress goals, they have poor graduation rates, low ISTEP scores, high suspensions and low student and teacher morale. Yet, they say they might have to lay off more teachers and support staff. Run, children, run. You deserve better. Why is your community not speaking out against this travesty?
Gary Seeks $25 Mill to Demolish Buildings
GARY -- Ducking through a torn screen door into a collapsing home filled with beer bottles, U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and Mayor Rudy Clay led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's deputy secretary Tuesday on a tour of a dilapidated neighborhood in Gary.
"We didn't pick this out," Bayh told Ron Sims as the federal officials looked at the broken windows and debris covering the floor. "We just walked down the street."
Sims inspected the neighborhood near East 5th Avenue and Georgia Street, peeking into empty homes and speaking to residents before participating later in a roundtable discussion at City Hall.
The secretary made his visit as Gary is preparing an application to HUD for
$25 million from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The money
would be used to tear down more than 900 abandoned homes and 200 empty
commercial buildings in the city.
[COMMENT -GDY]: 1,100 structures to be torn down? What does that say about the "state of the city?"
Viza Air in Early Talks with Gary Int'l.
Gary/Chicago International Airport Directer Chris Curry says he is in the early stages of talks with a start-up airline that wants to provide passenger service from Gary to Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J. Talks with Viza Air, Inc. began about four or five months ago, Curry said. The airport has asked for a business plan from the airline. "We haven't gotten that in full detail yet," Curry said.
Derric Price, owner and chief financial officer of the company, said he was waiting to release a business plan until the airline confirmed its slots at Reagan National and Newark Liberty International airports. Those slots have been confirmed, Price said. Curry said, "Those (gate slots) are very hard to come by."
Viza's goal, Price said, is to begin service in August to Washington and to Newark in September.
There are no plans to provide marketing money to the airline, Curry said
[COMMENT -GDY]: Well, here we go again! Who/what is Viza, one has to ask. Will it even/ever get off the ground?
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