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

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


I have read, but not verified, that "da' Mayor" did not finish high school?  Rather, he is the proud holder of a GED.  Anyone who knows the truth of the matter, please do share it with us.

DO CHECK OUT THE RUDY CLAY GRAPHIC CONTRIBUTED BY A DAVE'S DEN USER — RUDY GRAPHIC

Well, here we go with the 2010 Rudy Report (Part II-July through December).  In typical Gary fashion, the second half of the year starts off with money problems.  Remember, you may access earlier year reports from the links appearing above, and at the bottom of this page.

 

Impact of Property Tax Caps
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[31 Dec 2010]

- Tax collections plunge at 4 Gary taxing units

A state report released this month sheds new light on the caps' fiscal impact:  At least four of Gary's taxing units, including the Gary Community School Corp., saw drastic cuts in the amount of taxes they can collect.

The property tax caps, voted into the state's constitution in November, stripped more than $13.9 million from Gary public schools, $3.5 million from the Gary Public Library and $874,655 from Gary/Chicago International Airport, according to a report produced by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency for Lake County.  Those numbers represent more than half of the taxing units' levies.  The city of Gary didn't see $12.5 million because of the caps in 2010.

 

Chief Issues Appeal/Warning about New Year's Guns
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[30 Dec 2010]

GARY -- Police Chief Gary O. Carter said Wednesday he wants residents of the city to enjoy their New Year's Eve celebrations safely, but warned them not to be firing weapons when the clock strikes 12.  "It's against the law to fire weapons into the air.  People who do it will be arrested, charged with criminal recklessness," he said.

Gary City Court Judge Deidre Monroe increased bail for anyone arrested for criminal recklessness earlier this month.  Persons charged with discharging a weapon must post $1,500 cash to get out of jail, she said.

Police will have extra patrols throughout the city from late Friday through early Saturday, Carter said. "I just want people to celebrate responsibly," he said.

 

Gary Gives Pink Slips to 34 Firefighters
Compiled From a NWI.com Report by Diane Poulton
[27 Dec 2010]

GARY | Messages filled with anything but holiday cheer were being delivered to nearly three dozen Gary firefighters starting Sunday.

Union President, Raynard Robinson said as his fellow firefighters are laid off in the next 48 hours, Gary residents will find their safety jeopardized.  Robinson said a shortage of manpower will force the Fire Department to close down some fire stations.  "Everyone will be at risk," Robinson said.

Robinson said at full force the city staffs 13 fire engines and three firetrucks.  The department is down to six engines and two trucks, and the layoffs will reduce manpower to a critical level, Robinson said.

Robinson said the layoffs are based on seniority and will reduce staffing by 20 percent.  The resulting effect is -- as younger, less experienced firefighters are laid off -- the average age of those left will be 45 to 50, Robinson said.

Robinson said the money Gary spent to train the younger firefighters now will benefit other departments that hire them.

The Times was not able to reach Gary Mayor Rudy Clay Sunday on night for a comment.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   This seems to me to be a fitting commentary on the state of things in Gary at the close of the year! 

 

Judge Rules GSD Trash Fee Legal

Compiled From a Pst-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[17 Dec 2010]

GARY -- A special Lake County judge says the Gary City Council legally adopted a controversial trash collection fee in 2009 that many residents have refused to pay.  Judge Thomas Webber's ruling was entered Thursday, more than a year after the council voted 5-4 to adopt the $12 monthly fee funding a trash collection contract between GSD and Allied Waste.

Now the director of the Gary Sanitary District says his agency is obligated to collect on those customers' past-due bills.  It could try to reach back nearly two years on a fee with a collection rate that has averaged about 35 percent.  "For us now to just write off that debt to those people who didn't pay would be disenfranchising those people who did pay," Rinzer Williams III said.

Miller Citizens Corp. has maintained the council fumbled procedure, never actually voting to pass the fee.  The council first voted it down in July 2009.  As a result, GSD stopped garbage collection for 10 days, creating a crisis that prompted the council to vote again at its next meeting.  During the second meeting, council member Roy Pratt, D-at large, made two motions to "reconsider" the fee, and both passed.  Pratt did not use the word "pass," though, and the MCC has argued the fee was never approved.  Douglas Grimes, who was president of the MCC at the time of the lawsuit and is still an attorney of record in the case, said Thursday the council should have taken three votes to properly pass the fee, not two.  He said a decision to appeal Webber's ruling will be up to the 29 plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit.

But in his ruling, Webber said it was "clear" that the trash fee passed.  "The City of Gary properly followed its rules and procedures in the adoption of the trash fee," Webber wrote.

Williams and Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, who is also GSD's special administrator, said they hope residents will voluntarily pay the fee now that Webber has issued his ruling.  "Our intent is not to sue the citizens of Gary," Williams said.  "The garbage was picked up," Clay said.  "And if the garbage was picked up, it seems to me the people who had the garbage picked up should pay.  That's really what the judge ruled."

Council took its vote in July 2009.  The ordinance was retroactive to January 2009.  That means GSD might try to collect on almost two years of unpaid trash fees.  Williams has said collection of the fee averages 35 percent or 40 percent, but has been as low some months as 25 percent.  One option to secure payment of the fee would be to ask the Indiana General Assembly for permission to shut off customers' water if they don't pay the fee.  "That is the greatest motivation to pay the bill," Williams said.

Retired Gary Cop Keeps City Squad Car
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[15 Dec 2010]

GARY -- Police Chief Gary O. Carter has obviously changed his mind about demanding the return of a take-home squad car driven by a retired police captain.  Last week, Carter said he would order Clarence Hightower to relinquish the unmarked squad car he drove while a supervisor in the patrol division, then retained after he retired.  But Monday's deadline came and went, and Hightower continued to drive the white 2006 Ford Crown Victoria with police license plates.  Hightower has been seen fueling the car at city-owned gas pumps.

Hightower is the supervisor for Gary Housing Authority security officers.  GHA does not have any patrol cars of its own for use by security personnel who patrol various housing properties.  His use of the squad car first surfaced when residents of the Genesis Towers started to complain that a squad car was often parked directly under the bus stop sign, forcing the senior citizens to walk out into the street to climb onto the bus.

Carter said Monday that Hightower, who retired in October 2009, performs duties as a volunteer reserve officer that require him to have a car.  "He (Hightower) has to be at all special events," Lt. Samuel Roberts said after speaking to Carter on Monday afternoon.

Carter said he wasn't aware of any other reserve officers living outside the city who have take-home cars.  Hightower lives in Merrillville.

Three reserve officers who work Emergency Management duties, such as performing traffic control for major accidents, parades and large funeral processions, have take-home cars they use, Roberts said.  Those three officers "are called out at all hours," Roberts said.

Carter could not cite a recent incident when Hightower was summoned to an emergency during nonworking hours.  Roberts said. Hightower's duties include supervising the reserve officers' towing detail and "legwork" for various events in the city.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Sound fiscal management here?  Evidently it is who you know that counts?  And to add insult to injury, they guy lives in Merrillville!

 

Rudy Plans to Seek Re-election
Compiled From a NWI.com Report by Pete Nickeas
[30 Nov 2010]

GARY | Mayor Rudy Clay will seek a second term during next year's election.  Clay confirmed his candidacy Tuesday at a meeting sponsored by 4th District Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, who invited Clay and city department heads to address residents' concerns.

"I've been introduced as the man with the most difficult job in America as the mayor of Gary," Clay said.  "You don't have a mayor in the United States that has the experience that I have as mayor of Gary."

Clay touted the city's "aggressive" demolition program, funded with federal money, aimed at wiping out some of the thousands of vacant housing units that litter the city.  The city has more than 10,000 vacant housing units, about 25 percent of its housing stock, according to U.S. Census data.

"We've got experience, motivation and passion for the people," Clay said.  "This is no time to change powers now."

Clay will run against a handful of other Democrats in the May primary.  Other contenders in the upcoming Democratic primary include former Indiana Attorney General Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary City Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher and Gary businessman Jack Lieske.

Clay said he will make a formal announcement in a couple of weeks.  He was elected to his post in 2007.

The first day for filing for the May 3 primary is Jan. 19.  Filing ends at noon Feb. 18.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Spare us, oh Lord!

 

No Recount Petitions Filed in Lake County
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
                       a NWI.com Report by Bill Dolan
[17 Nov 2010]

No candidate filed for a recount of the Nov. 2 election with the Lake County Clerk's office by the noon Tuesday deadline.  The deadline's passing ends nearly two weeks of speculation on whether Carol Ann Seaton would call for a recount of the election.  Republican Hank Adams won the office of Lake County Assessor against Seaton.

The clerk's office would have been a candidate's first stop in filing for a recount, but clerk staff confirmed Tuesday afternoon no petitions were received.  Lake County Election Director Sally LaSota also confirmed she hadn't received such a petition.

However, Seaton adviser Tony Walker said the candidate had as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday all the materials and money she needed to file for a recount.  Walker said Seaton left his Gary law office around that time to file the petition with the clerk's office.  Walker heard Seaton arrived a little after noon Tuesday at the clerk's office, but he was still attempting to contact her to clarify what happened.

Seaton on Tuesday baffled even her closest advisers, who said they were planning to file court papers before today's noon deadline.  "It was my understanding she was going to file," Walker said.  "Ultimately that's up to the candidate.  I know she had everything she needed, so I'm not sure."  "At 10:30 a.m. (Tuesday) we put a recount petition in the hands of Carol Ann Seaton.  Attorneys usually file the case, but she insisted on having it, and she left with an hour and a half to file.

Sources within the county election board and clerk's office said a friend of Seaton called the election board minutes before noon to say Seaton was having difficulty driving to the Lake County Government Complex in Crown Point and asked if she could get an extension on the deadline.  She was informed there would be no extensions.  Seaton appeared at the Government Complex as late as 1:30 p.m. but left the county clerk's office without filing any paperwork.

Walker said, "It's stranger than fiction.  We don't quite believe it.

Repeated calls to Seaton weren't immediately returned on Tuesday.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Free at last, free at last!  Thank God, Almighty free at last of Carol Ann and her shenanigans!  Wait one, what was she doing driving to the Board of Elections office?  She is not licensed to drive! 

 

Clay Defends Visits by Convict
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[9 Nov 2010]

GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay defends frequent visits by convicted businessman Roosevelt Powell to City Hall's executive offices, saying the red carpet is out "for anybody who wants to visit me."  "I'm certainly not going to turn away my friend," Clay said.  Clay also said anyone can visit him in his City Hall offices.  "I'm not a fair-weather friend," Clay said.  "He's not on the city payroll.  He does not influence city policy, and he does not have a city contract."  The mayor said Powell is helping him with his 2011 re-election campaign

A federal jury convicted Powell, a former Lake County tax collector, in 2007 for his role in a fraudulent scheme to use the Gary Historical Society's tax-exempt status to pocket $150,000.  Also convicted were Lake County Councilman Will Smith and attorney Willie Harris.  Clay has been steadfast in his defense of Powell ever since Powell's indictment four years ago, saying the businessman "is one of my two closest friends in the world."

But he's not the only person around City Hall Clay finds himself defending these days.  City attorney Carl Jones was convicted last week of trafficking with an inmate, a Class A misdemeanor.  Jones said during his trial a vendetta by a Lake County deputy prosecutor led to the charges.  Clay likened the crime last week to running a red light.  "It doesn't mean anything as far as his job is concerned," Clay said.  "All it is is a misdemeanor."

And Community Development Director Jacquelyn Drago-Hunter was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  The grand jury didn't say she mismanaged tax money, and Clay said he's keeping her in charge of millions in stimulus dollars handled by her department.

After the indictment was unsealed, Clay said she "is a great God-fearing person from a great God-fearing family."
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   When you run with thieves ... .  Can Gary survive four more years of Rudy?  Will Gary allow four more years of Rudy? 

 

Tax Checks Bear Seaton's Name
Compiled from a NWI.com Report by Bill Dolan
[9 Nov 2010]

CROWN POINT | Lake County officials are holding checks, in the name of Carol Ann Seaton, that have been used to pay taxes on her Gary home since at least 2005.  Seaton, who is the unofficial loser in the Lake County assessor race, previously said her late sister, Eloise Gentry, handled financial matters in regard to the home.

State Police are investigating whether exemptions on Seaton's home were improperly obtained in the name of William Seaton, whose signature appears on applications, as recently as 2004, for the exemptions.  Official efforts to locate William Seaton begun more than two weeks ago have been unsuccessful.

The Times obtained copies of six checks, bearing the signatures "Carol Ann Seaton" and totaling more than $1,600 written to the Lake County Treasurer's office for property tax bills on the Gary home.  They are dated for the years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.  County records indicate the 2007 taxes were paid in cash.

 

Roosevelt Chaos Closes Book on Education
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[7 Nov 2010]

GARY -- The staff of Gary Roosevelt thought it would be a good idea to invite a grad to come and speak to the students about drug awareness.  Not only was the invited person a Roosevelt graduate, he is a Gary P.D. Deputy Chief of Police.  He was accompanied by the deputy chief of the Lake County Sherriff's Department, Lessie Smith.

It turns out, what seemed logical, turned out to be a disaster.   The pair never completed their presentations.

Riotous disrespect shattered Gary Deputy Chief Michael Mallett's long-held Panther Pride.  "I'll never go back," Mallett, a 1984 graduate of Roosevelt High School, said after leaving his alma mater last month.

Before they even spoke, Mallett and Smith had to climb up into the bleachers and break up a fight in the upper level.  And it only got worse.  "No one bothered to listen to me.  The louder I tried to talk, the louder they got.  I wasn't going to embarrass myself any longer," Mallett said.

After eagerly anticipating an opportunity to return to his school as a ranking police officer to share his successes with the next generation, Mallett said it didn't appear that adults had any control over the "mob" gathered in the gymnasium.  "There was very little education going on, compared to when I was there," Mallett said.

Teachers, students, parents, security guards and others familiar with the daily activities in the school say Mallett's experience is not unique.  "The environment there is a significant impediment to education," Gary Teachers Union President Carlos Tolliver said.

Mallett said he doesn't hold out hope that his once-proud Roosevelt Panthers will ever return to the greatness he remembers.  Tolliver agrees.  "If they won't respect a police chief, will they respect a teacher in the classroom?"
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  The last sentence pretty much says it all, does it not?  And, let us not forget, these are the future leaders of our beloved "Steel City!"

 

City Attorney Guilty of Trafficking with Inmate
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[6 Nov 2010]

Jurors in the courtroom of Judge Sheila Moss deliberated about 45 minutes Thursday before returning the guilty verdict on the misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a maximum one-year sentence.  A sentencing hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 18.

Special Prosecutor J. Edward Barce, the outgoing Newton County prosecutor, introduced as evidence the padded manila envelope containing contraband -- nine cigarettes -- along with liquid makeup, letters and stamps that Jones gave to inmate Jeffrey Perez, who later was convicted of murder.  A letter in the packet was from Yzaguirre, who offered to perjure herself for Perez during his trial.  "I already told Carl I would.  I will lie under oath for you because I love you and I want you home, but I have to know when you go home and I stay in jail for the next 7 months are you gonna wait for me?" the letter states.  The visit where Jones delivered the envelope to Perez was caught on videotape.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay likened Jones' conviction to running a red light.  "It doesn't mean anything as far has his job is concerned," Clay said.  "All it is is a misdemeanor."
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Rudy obviously has no problem, and is comfortable, with surrounding himself with attorneys and others who have been convicted of violating both the law and the public trust bestowed upon them.

 

Seaton:  Money in Hand for Recount
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[5 Nov 2010]

An adviser to Carol Ann Seaton says he now has enough money to recount every vote in Lake County if the official tally doesn't put her ahead.  Losing candidate Carol Ann Seaton stayed mum on the issue Thursday, but Tony Walker, a local lawyer and adviser to Seaton's campaign, said he had raised enough money to fund a countywide recount of Tuesday's votes.

"My phone's been ringing off the hook all day," Walker said.  He also said he understands the margin separating Seaton and Adams is closer to 300 votes, about half of the official 668 reported by Lake County.  "That's what we've heard," Walker said.

When reached by the Post-Tribune, Seaton said she had no comment on a possible recount.  Seaton also didn't wish to comment on the election, where Republican Hank Adams won the countywide office.  "I haven't even seen the final numbers," Seaton said.  "I understand they won't be ready until (Friday.)  That's what I was told ... I don't comment on something unless I have the facts."

Lake County elections staff haven't been contacted about a recount.

 

Seaton Saga
G. David Yaros
[4 Nov 2010]

For those following the travails of Carol Ann Seaton, I want to report she lost her bid for Lake Co. Assessor.  The Republican, Hank Adams won, by a margin of 668 votes!  It is the first time a Republican has captured a county office in who knows how many score of years.

Seaton may request a recount.  However, she would have to pay a minimum of $100 for it, plus $10 per precinct.  There are 140 voting precincts in Lake County.  The county democratic party is not inclined to help her cover such expense.  This is because she has already stiffed it for 3 grand in campaign expenses!

 

Seaton:  I Didn't Open Letter From Auditor
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[23 Oct 2010]

Carol Ann Seaton responded to the Lake County Auditor's office by saying she never opened the letter sent to the house where she lives in Gary because it was addressed to William C. Seaton.  She responded in a letter dated Thursday that, "Since it was unlawful to open mail addressed to another person I can only surmise, based on information that has appeared in newspapers, that it is a request for information regarding William Seaton."

When asked about the letter on Friday, Seaton responded by saying she's planning a press conference sometime next week.

She went on to explain to Katona that "as within most families each sibling takes on certain responsibilities without consultation or involvement of the other siblings."  The letter doesn't address questions about William Seaton.  Her sister, Eloise Gentry, took care of all matters related to real estate, Seaton said.  Gentry died last year.

Auditor Peggy Katona said Friday she is treating the memo, sent by facsimile machine from the office of Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg, as irrelevant in an attempt to deny any tax liability.  Seaton paid taxes on the home last year.  Katona said she only will relent on the back taxes if William Seaton comes into the office or someone can prove he is alive and still eligible for the exemptions.

The Gary Health Department reported last week a William Seaton, living at the candidate's home, died June 2, 1953.  Rick Welton, a local genealogist, said Friday his research of newspaper obituaries in area libraries turned up 1953 death notices for a William Seaton who lived at the Adams Street address and had five children, including a daughter named Carol Ann.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Give us a break!  Just how dumb does she think we are?  Being the upstanding/law abiding citizen she has shown herself to be, Carol Ann would never open anyone else's mail, right?  Now, any potential problems are all the fault of her dead sister!

 

County Prosecutor Seeks State Police Investigation of Seaton
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
                       a nwi.Times Report by Bill Dolan
[22 Oct 2010]

William C. Seaton is getting a bill from Lake County for more than $6,300.  He’s the official owner of 2378 Adams St., the home of Democratic Lake County assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton.  She has said she lives there alone, and it’s not clear if William C. Seaton is even living.

Now the Lake County prosecutor says he will ask for a state police investigation into the matter.

Auditor Peggy Katona said last week anonymous tips prompted her office to check on two tax exemptions applied to the house.  One is for property owners 65 years or older.  The other is for owner-occupied homes.  Carol Ann Seaton is 62, according to court records.

No one responded to a letter Katona sent to the address last week seeking information to prove the exemptions are legitimate.  Therefore, the exemptions will be removed, and William C. Seaton will be billed for three years’ worth of back taxes.  "Everything was put back on," Katona said.

The 2009-pay-2010 tax bill will rise from $110.53 to $1,112.35, Katona said.  The property owner will also be billed:

— $1,949.32 for 2006-2007
— $2,191.80 for 2007-2008
— $1,187.30 for 2008-2009

Removing the exemptions ultimately added $6,330.24 to the tax bill.

Carol Ann Seaton couldn’t immediately be reached by the Post-Trib for comment Thursday.  She ignored several earlier calls for comment, also.  She did talk to the NWI Times.  Bill Dolan reports:  Seaton said Thursday, "As far as the exemptions are concerned, I never signed those.  How they got on there is something I am asking too and investigating. I was one of five children and ... that was not my job to do."

William Seaton is rumored to be the father of the candidate and her siblings.

Although Seaton declined to clear up the mystery surrounding the exemptions, she said she sent information explaining her position to the county auditor's office.  However, Holinga Katona said late Thursday the deadline to authenticate the exemptions passed at 4:30 p.m. without anyone, including the candidate or William Seaton, responding to her inquiry.

 

Seaton Exemption Questions Grow
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[16 Oct 2010]

The Democrat candidate for Lake County assessor isn't returning phone calls, but questions about her home's owner and its tax exemptions continue to pile up.

Carol Ann Seaton, who is seeking the county assessor's office against Republican Hank Adams in this fall's election, lists 2378 Adams St., Gary, as her home address.  County records show the owner of that home is William C. Seaton, who benefits from homestead and senior-citizen tax credits there.

But on Friday, Gary Health Director Shirley Hawkins said a William C. Seaton who lived at that address died June 2, 1953.  According to a Post-Tribune obituary published June 6, 1953, he was 65.  However, an affidavit filed May 10, 2004, in Lake County lists William C. Seaton's date of birth as Jan. 2, 1926, meaning that person would have been 27 in 1953.  That document was filed in application for a senior-citizen exemption at 2378 Adams.

The Social Security Death Index, meanwhile, lists a "William Seaton" who died in Indiana in June 1953 at the age of 65. That person's birthdate was Jan. 2, 1888, according to the database.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  This wench undoubtedly deserves to occupy space in a government building, preferably a cubicle with bars!  Send her to jail, where she belongs!

 

Seaton Tax Records Signatures in Doubt
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
              From a nwi.Times Report by Bill Dolan
[15 Oct 2010]

County officials examine paperwork of embattled candidate for assessor —

GARY -- Lake County officials are concerned signatures on tax exemption applications for Carol Ann Seaton's home might be forged, sources say.  Earlier this week, though, Lake County Auditor Peggy Katona said she wants to verify Seaton's home is eligible for two tax exemptions it receives.  She said the inquiry was prompted by anonymous tips.

That property, at 2378 Adams St., is owned by William C. Seaton, according to county property records.  More than $89,000 in homestead and senior-citizen tax exemptions were applied there during a three-year period starting with the 2006-pay-2007 tax cycle.  Carol Ann Seaton, meanwhile, lists it as her home address on several documents.  She told a Lake County Circuit Court magistrate earlier this month she needed a hardship driver's license because no one lives with her.  "I live alone, so it has been impossible even to go to the grocery store," Carol Ann Seaton told Magistrate Richard F. McDevitt.  The Lake County auditor's office already is investigating complaints William Seaton no longer lives in the home and Carol Ann Seaton, who isn't listed as a property owner in Lake County, doesn't qualify for exemptions.

Now, sources are pointing to differences in three signatures on paperwork filed to apply for those exemptions.  Each purports to be the signature of William C. Seaton.  The signature on a 1979 homestead credit application of a William Seaton, the owner of record of the candidate's residence and believed to be the candidate's relative, appears dissimilar to a William Seaton signature on applications for a senior citizen tax exemption in 2004.

Two signatures in question appear on documents filed May 10, 2004, seeking an exemption offered only to property owners 65 or older.  Carol Ann Seaton is 62, according to court records.  One document said William C. Seaton was born Jan. 2, 1926.  The signatures on those documents appear in boxes labeled "signature of applicant."  Boxes labeled "signature of authorized representative," where someone could have signed on William C. Seaton's behalf, are left blank.  Above each signature is the sentence, "I/We certify under penalty of perjury that the above and foregoing information is true and correct and that the applicant was a resident of Indiana and owner of the aforementioned property."

The exemptions on the Seaton home, near 23rd and Adams Street in Gary's Midtown section, removed more than $31,000 in assessed value, reducing taxes on the home this year to less than $111.

Neither Carol Ann Seaton nor her attorney returned multiple calls for comment Thursday.  When asked earlier this week if William C. Seaton lives at 2378 Adams, Carol Ann said only, "that's the owner of the property."

 

Sheraton Hotel Rehab Dead, Site Returned to City

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel

[14 Oct 2010]

 

 

GARY -- Gary residents gave up long ago on Mayor Rudy Clay's 2007 campaign promise to rehab the former Sheraton Hotel and spark a downtown revival.  But it wasn't until this summer that City Hall officially gave up on New Gary Development Group LLC, the Chicago-based team of investors who promised to deliver Clay's "done deal."

 

New Gary deeded the Sheraton back to the city and its taxpayers July 16.  It did so after racking up a property tax bill of $167,000, records show, of which $131,000 is overdue.

 

It also isn't clear how, or if, New Gary will pay the remaining $728,000 balance on a related loan granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Members of the Clay administration insist Gary benefited from their first major experiment with economic development, one ventured into just before the global economy spiraled into recession.  "It's in better shape for the city now than it was before," Clay said of the Sheraton.

 

Rudy's Campaign Promise —

 

Clay introduced Kupritz to his constituents in February 2007, as the city's election season was heating up and Clay faced his first popular vote as mayor.  The men said they would turn the Sheraton into a senior-citizen high-rise.  They promised condominiums for the top floor, and they said they'd heat the building with geothermal energy and power it with corn.

 

A sales trailer opened outside the Sheraton in November 2007, where investors could purchase their share of the real estate.  "The world can now stop doubting what we're going to do here," Clay said then.  [The sales trailer was son shuttered by New Gary LLC, signaling the giving up on condominium sales.  The trailer was eventually hauled away.]

 

About the same time, Gary turned ownership of the Sheraton over to the New Gary Development Group via the not-for-profit Genesis Pathway Foundation of Harvey, Ill.  The agreement gave New Gary three years to finish its work.  That clock would have expired on Thanksgiving weekend.

 

A key obstacle to any progress at the Sheraton, whether it be development or demolition, was the asbestos found throughout it years ago.  New Gary set out to clear the toxin using a $735,000 federal loan from Gary's Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund.  The EPA gave its blessing to the loan in January 2008, and New Gary used that money to hire J&K Environmental Inc. of East Chicago.

 

Eleven months later, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management confirmed New Gary and J&K successfully cleared 98 percent of the asbestos from the building.  But clean-up of the final 2 percent stalled as money trouble at New Gary became apparent.  Kupritz took back a 20 percent cash collateral he had deposited with the Gary-East Chicago-Hammond Empowerment Zone, the loan's administrator.  Without it, New Gary couldn't access the loan.

 

In February 2009, EPA officials said a deal was reached to turn the remaining loan money over to New Gary without Kupritz's collateral.  An EPA project manager said Gary would be responsible for collecting on the loan, and the city said it was comfortable using the hotel as collateral.  "We're still standing," Kupritz said at the time.

 

Although Kupritz never backed down from his promises, they ultimately went unfulfilled.

 

The Sheraton's Future —

 

Now that the Sheraton is back in the city's hands, Clay's staff says Gary is still interested in development there.  And unlike in 2007, it can now offer a "clean," asbestos-free hotel building.  "From our perspective, it's a win that the asbestos removal is done, and now we can open it up and see what other opportunities there are out there," Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson said.

 

Clay, who said the senior-citizen high-rise idea is "off the table," said he learned from the Sheraton project that he "can't get ahead of the red tape."  "You get it done and then announce it, you know?" Clay said.  "So, we're going to stop talking about things and just get them done."

 

Meanwhile, Empowerment Zone Director Scott Upshaw said New Gary owes a balance of $728,000 on its federal loan.  The other $7,000 was never disbursed, he said.  Severtson said Gary is asking the EPA for a five-year extension on the deal so the city can figure out what comes next for the Sheraton and "to determine who is going to pay back those dollars."

 

According to the original loan document, New Gary was supposed to begin payments on the principal and interest six months after the cleanup was finished.  If the EPA were to deny the extension and demand payment on the loan, Severtson said Gary would think about using tax increment financing money to pay it back.  "We will also explore any other legal mechanisms that we have in order to recoup those dollars," Severtson said.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Unless I am mistaken, the building is, and shall remain, empty and, thanks to Rudy, the city is now on the hook to the EPA for a three-quarter million dollar loan and another $130K in upaid real estate taxes.  Yeah, Gary benefited from this fiasco, alright!

 

 

 

 

Lake County Budget Balanced by Layoffs

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk

                         nwi.Times Report by Bill Dolan

[14 Oct 2010]

 

 

The Lake County Council balanced the county's budget for 2011 on Wednesday, but the plan comes with the loss of 116 positions.

 

"This is for real," Dante Rondelli, the County Council's finance director, said Wednesday of the austerity moves. Department heads can reorganize with the same bottom line in mind, but layoffs must happen by Dec. 3.

 

Lake County needed to shore up a $9 million shortfall for next year, created by a state-mandated freeze on increases in the county property tax levy and caps on the highest amount the county can tax individual property owners. To do that, the County Council took a new approach by grouping departments with like services to make cuts collectively.

 

The county prosecutor's office lost 12 positions including vacant positions not funded in 2011. Sheriff Roy Dominguez has said county police will lose 26 positions. He contends the majority of those will be handled by planned retirements but 10 court security officers are included in the cuts.

 

The budget also terminates jobs in 32 county and township government offices, including the offices of the county clerk, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, coroner, prosecutor, parks, county and township assessor; the courts; and other smaller government subdivisions.

  

Combined Elections and Registration lost two employees, and the county auditor's office will cut three positions.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Not to worry, the recession is over!  Just ask the folks at the Whitehouse.
 

 

 

 

Seaton Under Auditor Scrutiny for Claimed Exemptions

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel

[14 Oct 2010]

 

 

Phone Calls, Tips Prompt Action —

 

Lake County Auditor Peggy Katona said a series of phone calls and anonymous tips prompted her office to look into tax exemptions applied to the home of county assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton.

 

Seaton's Indiana driver's license and election records show she lives at 2378 Adams St. in Gary.  County records show that property is owned by William Seaton.  However, checks at the county treasurer's office show Carol Ann Seaton made three recent tax payments on that property.  She used personal checks that also list her address as 2378 Adams.

 

More than $89,000 in tax exemptions were applied to that property's assessed value in a three-year period starting with the 2006-pay-2007 tax cycle, records show.  One is a homestead exemption, which is granted to owner-occupied properties.  The other is an exemption for property owners 65 years old or older.  Carol Ann Seaton is 62, according to court records.

 

Katona said her office sent a letter to that address seeking to verify William Seaton is eligible for those exemptions.  "If they don't respond within a week or so," Katona said, "we have to remove it."

 

William Seaton doesn't need to physically appear in the auditor's office, Katona said.  However, her staff must see his 2009 tax return, a Social Security letter or the last five digits of his Social Security number, and a driver's license or state ID.

 

Seaton spoke briefly to the Post-Tribune after learning about the questions raised at the auditor's office Wednesday.  She wouldn't answer directly when asked if William Seaton lives at 2378 Adams.  "That's the owner of the property," Carol Ann Seaton said.

 

She also said "you don't just remove exemptions in the middle of a tax cycle without someone's direction."  Seaton, a Democrat, sits on the county's Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and would be familiar with procedure.  She is running for assessor in this fall's election.

 

She also complained that she's been treated poorly by the media.  "The Post has been extremely unfair to me," Seaton said..
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Let's see, she claims an "owner occupied" exemption even though the owner does not live there, she claims an exemption for people over age 65, but she is age 62, and she calls the Post-Tribune the Post?  Ms. Seaton most definitely exhibits all the traits/qualities to be elected!

 

BMV Rules Seaton Still Not Allowed to Drive
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[8 Oct 2010]

In the newest chapter of Carol Ann Seaton's driver's license woes, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced its decision Thursday to uphold the state's original ruling finding Seaton hadn't proved her Indiana residency.  The BMV's ruling means Seaton's driving record is still marked as fraudulent, which will impact the hardship driver's license Seaton was awarded Tuesday by a Lake County Circuit Court magistrate.  BMV spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said a hardship license can't be issued to Seaton if her record is marked as fraudulent.

Erasing the mark on her record requires Seaton to prove she's an Indiana resident, Rosebrough said.  If Seaton proves her residency, she still faces a year-long suspension on her driving privileges.  But if the correct paperwork is turned in, Seaton's record would change to a suspension making her eligible for the hardship license.  "At this point, she's not eligible to get a hardship license because her record is still marked as fraudulent," Rosebrough said.  Central to Seaton's case with the BMV is the fact the Democratic candidate for Lake County assessor also has documents suggesting she's a Michigan resident, Rosebrough said.

Seaton's license debacle goes back to May when the state discovered she held licenses in both Indiana and Michigan.  Seaton has admitted to holding the two driver's licenses but said it reaped her no benefit.  Through it all she has maintained that she's an Indiana resident, telling the magistrate earlier this week that she has always lived in the state and has never had a home other than the address in 2300 block of Adams Street in Gary. At the hearing, Seaton presented a host of mailings she has received at the Gary address, including a cell phone bill and her quarterly payment from the Lake County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, where she's a member of the board. A notice from the BMV was also sent to the Gary address.

Rosebrough said the BMV's decision exhausts Seaton's administrative appeals on the state's ruling. Any new appeals or filings would move to the court system, he said.

 

Seaton Hardship License OK'd
Compiled from a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[6 Oct 2010]

Carol Ann Seaton successfully laid out her case on Tuesday to receive a hardship driver's license telling a Lake County Circuit Court magistrate she's always been an Indiana resident.

When asked why her driving record was marked as fraudulent with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Seaton responded, "I have no clue."  The BMV continued its suspension of Seaton's driver's license in September.  In the ruling, the BMV administrative judge wrote she had seen no indication Seaton is an Indiana resident.  Seaton appealed the BMV's ruling and BMV spokesman Graig Lubsen said the state will release its decision Thursday.

Of the Gary address she uses in her campaign filings, Seaton told the magistrate, "That's my only home I've ever lived in, sir."

Magistrate Richard F. McDevitt granted Seaton's request for the hardship license.  One condition for such a license is if a person can prove he or she needs a restricted permit to drive to and from work.  Seaton, the Democratic candidate for Lake County assessor, told McDevitt she has had to call off from work because of her suspended license.  Seaton is a deputy assessor at the Calumet Township Assessor's Office.  "I live alone, so it has been impossible even to go to the grocery store," Seaton said.

Seaton attorney Sam Berkman presented several mailings the candidate has received to her address in the 2300 block of Adams Street, including her quarterly installment from the Lake County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, where she's a board member, and a notice from the BMV.

Seaton remained silent when asked by a cross-examiner whether she's ever held a residency outside of Indiana and specifically asked about Michigan.

Seaton said she found out the inconvenience of not having a driver's license the hard way when it took her an hour and a half to travel to a PTABOA meeting by bus from her Gary house.  The board meets at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point.  Not having a license has also made it difficult for Seaton to attend events before the Nov. 2 election where she's running against Republican candidate and longtime St. John Township Assessor Hank Adams.

"I really feel I've been unfairly treated," Seaton said.

 

State Audit Reveals Gary Concerns
Compiled From Post-Trib and nwiTimes.com Reports
[5 Oct 2010]

The annual spending study once again questioned Gary's ability to survive under Indiana's property tax caps.  They've yet to be fully enforced in Gary, but could be in effect by 2012.  For the second year in a row, state auditors have expressed doubts about Gary's ability to avoid bankruptcy due to the effects of property tax caps on the city's budget.  In its annual audit of the Steel City, the State Board of Accounts noted that "the amount of budget reductions that would be 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."

In 2009, Gary overdrew its general fund account by more than $9.7 million and used nearly $27 million in interfund transfers to stay in business, according to the audit released Monday.  At the same time, the city typically took up to seven months to pay vendors, and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority still is waiting on $3.1 million in back payments owed by Gary, the audit said.

Adding to the city's plight is the loss of $6 million withheld by Majestic Star Casino, a property tax collection rate of 74% and a five-month delay in property tax distributions.

The state also hit City Hall for signing a deal to pay the the Gary SouthShore RailCats baseball team to maintain the city-owned baseball stadium.  It noted Gary agreed in its original lease of the stadium to perform maintenance.  Because the RailCats took over that work and sought expense reimbursement from the city, auditors noted, Gary ended up covering the cost of the sales tax paid by the team.  It also said $124,115 was paid to the RailCats without proper documentation.

Mayor Rudy Clay signed a $1,500 vending contract for the sale of shirts at the 2009 Michael Jackson memorial, the report says, but that contract wasn't approved by Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety.  Auditors also said the City Council didn't approve salaries paid from the Gary Sanitary District to certain City Hall employees, including the mayor.  Gary has already taken steps to correct that with its 2011 budget, which acknowledges those salaries.

To bring city services in line with lower city revenue, Gary has eliminated more than 400 jobs, consolidated departments, outsourced trash collection and raised fees.  However, should Hoosiers vote Nov. 2 to add the property tax caps to the Indiana Constitution, Gary no longer would be able to seek relief from their effects, which would require still further reductions in city services to balance the budget.

Calls Monday to Mayor Rudy Clay and City Controller Celita Green for comment on the audit were not returned.

-- Compiled by Post-Tribune reporter Jon Seidel
-- By Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com

 

First Day as Mayor for "Tuna:"  He Plans to Run
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Sarah Tompkins
[28 Sep 2010]

On his first business day as East Chicago's new mayor, Charlie "Tuna" Pacurar asked for the resignation of all city department heads and planned to announce his candidacy in the upcoming mayoral caucus.

Pacurar took the helm after a jury convicted former Mayor George Pabey of federal corruption charges Friday.  As city controller during Pabey's administration, Pacurar was first in the line of succession.  Pabey was found guilty of stealing money from the city to revamp a home he owned in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood.  The conviction stripped him of his office as soon as the jury announced the verdict.

Letters spelling "George Pabey" still were on the city administrative building that houses the mayor's office Monday afternoon.  The waiting room, with its maroon carpet and blue leather-like chairs, was empty.

Two things Pacurar did not do Monday:  move into the mayor's office or return multiple calls from the Times.  His secretary, Roselyn Sakevicius, said he had meetings all day and would talk today.  She said she did not know if, or when, Pacurar would move from City Hall on Indianapolis Blvd. to the mayor's office next door.

But Pacurar is looking beyond these next few weeks as temporary mayor to the Oct. 16 caucus, when the city's 36 Democratic precinct committeemen will elect someone to serve the remainder of Pabey's term, which runs through 2011.  Pacurar will be one of the caucus candidates, according to several sources.

City spokesman Damian Rico described life Monday at City Hall as "a little different, but it's OK."  "Mr. Pacurar is a steadfast leader, and the city will run efficiently, that's for sure," Rico said.

Rico declined to comment on a morning meeting Monday of city department heads at which Pacurar asked them to resign, while noting the potential for them to be rehired.  Frank Rosado, head of the city's Human Resources Department, also declined to talk about restructuring, and multiple department heads did not return calls for comment.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Youse gotta love da' Region!  Where else could "real life" read like a chapter or script from The Untouchables; "Tuna" the mayor, city spokesman 'Rico," secretary "Sak-a-vicious" and H.R. head "Rosie" Rosado?  

 

Seaton to Fight Charges
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[28 Sep 2010]

Democratic candidate for Lake County assessor Carol Ann Seaton requested a jury trial on a misdemeanor charge she faces involving vehicles registered to a Michigan address.  "At this point, we plan on fighting the charges," said Seaton's lawyer, Sam Berkman.

Berkman entered a preliminary plea of not guilty for Seaton on Monday at her initial hearing in front of Lake County Judge Julie Cantrell.  Her trial was scheduled for Jan. 7 at the hearing with a pretrial conference in early December.

Both court dates are after the November election when Seaton faces off against Republican candidate and long-time St. John Township Assessor Hank Adams.

Seaton, 62, declined to comment after the hearing.  Seaton used a Gary address in the 2300 block of Adams Street on her campaign filings for the countywide office.  Yet, she has had at least three vehicles registered in her name to an address in Union Pier, Mich.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Not too hard to see what is going on here, is it?  Ms. Seaton is putting off having to deal with her legal problems until after the election, thereby getting the story off the front page for the time being.

 

Seaton Registered Voter -- in Michigan
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[25 Sep 2010]

A Michigan voter registration record has surfaced for Lake County assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton, but officials there say she never cast a ballot.  One also said it's "very likely" the registration was created automatically when Seaton sought her driver's license there.  "It's the same form," Kelly Chesney, a Michigan Department of State spokeswoman, said.

The record shows Seaton registered as a voter in Union Pier, Mich., in March 1990.  It lists her address there as 16327 4th St., the same address listed on her canceled Michigan driver's license.  The voter identification number also matches her Michigan driver's license number.

Kathie Butler, deputy clerk for Michigan's New Buffalo Township, said there is no record of Seaton ever voting there.  Seaton's voter status is listed as "verify," because an address confirmation card sent to Seaton's Union Pier address was returned undelivered, she said.  Meanwhile, Seaton has been a registered voter in Lake County since 1970 and has voted in more than 50 local elections, records show.

Neither candidate Seaton, nor her attorney, responded by press time to calls seeking comment.

 

Seaton Admits Holding IN/MI Llicenses

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel and Chelsea Schneider Kirk

[23 Sep 2010]

 

 

Lake County assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton broke her months-long media silence Wednesday, acknowledging she held driver's licenses in two states but claiming it reaped her no benefit.  "Right now there are some serious unbenefits," Seaton said.

 

The Democrat made her comments during a radio interview simulcast on WJOB 1230 AM and WLTH 1370 AM.  She insisted to hosts Dave Kusiak and Matt Reardon she is an Indiana resident.  "I'm even a resident of the city of Gary," Seaton said.  "Proud of it."

 

At first she resisted questions about her licenses in Indiana and Michigan, explaining it is "something right now that is being discussed in court."  When pressed, though, Seaton said she held driver's licenses in both states.  She said it's legal in four states to hold more than one license, including parts of Michigan.  But she said it's not legal in Indiana.

 

"This is considered as a Class D misdemeanor," Seaton said.  "Class D misdemeanors are more or less like a traffic ticket, so we're not talking about anyone who has taken money, or this is not considered a felony.  It's not considered as anything major."

 

When asked why she pursued the Michigan driver's license despite her residency in Indiana, Seaton started talking about retirement.  "At some point you make decisions on, do you want to retire and go somewhere else to live?" Seaton said.  "At some point you make decisions on what do you want to do with the rest of your life."
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  If Michigan is where her heart and future are, then let's let her go there.  She has no business being the Lake Co. Assessor! 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Mum on Sanitary District Salary

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel

[23 Sep 2010]

 

 

GARY -- Elected city officials are beginning to commit to ongoing pay cuts in 2011, but Mayor Rudy Clay chose to "be silent" Wednesday when it came to the monies he receives from the Gary Sanitary District.

 

Clay also deflected criticism about the potential layoff of more than 30 firefighters, saying far more paychecks could have been stopped at the Gary Fire Department had it not been for the work of his staff.  "This mayor is responsible for saving 26 jobs, and we're trying to save some more," Clay said.

 

Public Financial Management Inc. recommended in a report last year that Gary lay off as many as 57 firefighters.  A draft of the 2011 budget proposes the elimination of 37 firefighter jobs, but Controller Celita Green has said the city brought that number down to 31.

 

Clay said that number could go even lower if "everybody chips in."  That, he said, means he wants the Fire Department to continue working on a restructuring plan and for the airport to agree to firefighter staffing changes.  He also said he needs Clerk Suzette Raggs, City Judge Deidre Monroe and their employees to continue pay cuts taken this year.  "You absolutely shouldn't have a budget where you're giving raises out," Clay said.

 

The original draft of Gary's 2011 budget would return City Council members, the clerk and the judge to the pay they received before each took cuts this year.  Council President Ronier Scott said the council already submitted a revised budget that restores their lowered 2010 pay.  He said it did so before controversy over the firefighter layoffs erupted.

 

Raggs said she also committed to "the same kind of cuts as we've taken this year."  Monroe couldn't be reached for comment, but she's said pay cuts are likely to return in the final draft of the budget.

 

Slight pay cuts have already been proposed for Clay and his staff.  Clay's cut comes in addition to an annual cut of nearly $7,000 taken in 2010.  However, the additional $54,075 he receives from the Gary Sanitary District means his pay next year will be set at $134,310.

 

The mayor's staff said cutting his pay won't save firefighters' jobs, and they pointed out he's already taken pay cuts.  "We have cut to the bone," Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant said. 

The mayor, meanwhile, said his Sanitary District salary has been addressed in the past.  He refused to comment further Wednesday beyond saying, "I've given up everything but blood."  "What's the next question?" Clay said.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Rudy wants everyone to "chip in," so long as it does not diminish his outrageous salary!   After all, how can one expect anyone to live amidst squalor and ruin without a six figure salary?

 

Budget Hits Gary Firefighters
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[20 Sep 2010]

GARY -- The city's union leaders are meeting with Mayor Rudy Clay's staff as a vote nears to adopt Gary's 2011 budget.  The City Council likely won't be ready to adopt it when it meets Tuesday, though, meaning a special meeting will be needed.

The Gary Fire Department is among the departments expected to take a big hit next year. Its budget will drop from $12.8 million to $10.8 million, based on a draft.  That cut includes the loss of as many as 37 firefighters, slashing the workforce there from 231 employees to 194.

But Controller Celita Green said just 31 firefighters could be cut if the city can convince the Gary/Chicago International Airport to help pay the salaries of firefighters working there.  "We're asking them to cover some of that cost," Green said of the airport.

Raynard Robinson, president of Firefighters Local 359, said all of the firefighter positions expected to be cut are filled.  He said he asked Clay's staff to cut the budget elsewhere before public safety takes a hit. He also said the union is seeking a grant to help soften the blow.  "We have nothing to give up," Robinson said.

Clay points to a report by Gary's fiscal monitor last year that instructed the city to cut as many as 57 firefighters.  He said the city was able to "whittle that number down" by being creative.  "This is not something that we want to do," Clay said.  "This is something that we are mandated to do."

The Gary Police Department budget, meanwhile, is expected to increase from $12.9 million this year to $13.7 next year.  Del Stout, president of the Gary Fraternal Order of Police, said he met with the city administration and was told to expect the status quo.

The FOP still has outstanding grievances with the city, he said, because the city promised pay raises in 2008 and 2009 but didn't deliver.  "We're trying to come to some sort of settlement," Stout said.  "Other than that, nothing's really changing."

Ayanna Wright, president of AFSCME Local 4009, said she wanted to review a copy of the 2011 budget before meeting with the administration.  So far, Wright said, her biggest concern is the inequity among employees when it comes to ongoing pay cuts.  While pay for many employees working for the City Council, Clerk Suzette Raggs and Judge Deidre Monroe will rise slightly, the pay of many employees working for the administration will decrease slightly, according to a draft.

Gary is aiming for an overall budget levy of $41.1 million next year, down from $48.6 million this year.

 

Seaton BMV Appeal 2 Days Late
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Dan Carden
[18 Sep 2010]

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will decide next week what to do about Carol Ann Seaton's appeal of the agency's ruling she is not an Indiana resident.  Seaton's appeal, which arrived Friday, was postmarked Sept. 13. BMV rules required her appeal to be mailed no later than Sept. 11.

Spokesman Graig Lubsen said the BMV's attorney could throw out her appeal because of the late postmark or may still consider her challenge despite the timing of her filing.

Seaton has also requested a Lake County judge to issue her a hardship driver's license.  A hearing on that request is set for Oct. 5.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  If the woman cannot timely file an appeal which affects her personally, how in the world is she going to get the tax bills out on time, one wonders?

 

Majestic Star Stays Afloat but May Get New Captain
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[17 Sep 2010 ]

INDIANAPOLIS -- Majestic Star Casino said it could soon be under new ownership and end its years-long dispute with Gary City Hall as it convinced the Indiana Gaming Commission to renew its gambling licenses Thursday.  The Gaming Commission's members voted unanimously in favor of Majestic Star after hearing criticism of the casino from Gary City Council members, but no objections from Mayor Rudy Clay.

Meanwhile Don Barden, Majestic Star's Detroit-based owner, sounded like his years in the Hoosier casino business are nearing an end.  He told the commission, "I've appreciated my time in Gary."  But he said his council critics might not enjoy working with Majestic Star's bond holders.  "They're going to be tougher than I am," Barden said.

Majestic Star attorney Peter J. Rusthoven and city of Gary attorney Mike Hile said their clients could soon settle a lawsuit filed by Majestic Star in 2008.  Their deal could mean the city will finish building an access road from Cline Avenue to Majestic's Buffington Harbor property, as it once promised.  It also might mean the casino will release millions of dollars owed to Gary under the terms of a local development agreement.  The money has been withheld since the court battle began.

It isn't clear how much the cash-strapped city would get, though.  Hile and Rusthoven said the amount owed to Gary under the terms of a 2005 agreement would be about $10 million.  But Gary's attorneys have said that deal isn't valid because it wasn't approved by Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety.  Hile and Gary Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson said Majestic Star would owe about $17 million, if an earlier 1996 deal is enforced.

Clay said he didn't oppose Majestic's license renewal Thursday because he would rather bring the lawsuit to an end.  "We think resolving it would be better than turning the lights off at Majestic," Clay said.

But City Council members Roy Pratt, D-at large, and Mary Brown, D-3rd District, asked the commission not to renew Majestic's licenses.  Brown said Gary is in "dire need," and its citizens are hurting because Barden hasn't paid money he owes the city.  "He's driven the whole economic development plan into a ditch," Pratt said.  "So we're here asking that you take the keys away."  City attorney MacArthur Drake also said Majestic Star is behind on its property taxes.  "Simply put, the city needs a change," Drake said.

Barden himself responded to Pratt and Brown.  He said his company's bankruptcy filing last year could have been prevented if Gary kept its promise to build the Cline Avenue access road.  He also said he's forgiven Pratt's "personal vendetta."  "I used to harbor some ill feelings toward him," Barden said of Pratt, "But I don't anymore.  I totally forgive him. "

But Barden said Pratt's wish for a "clean slate" might be granted.  "There's going to be new owners," Barden said.

The Gaming Commission didn't put any conditions on Majestic's license renewal.  But before its vote, Chairman Tim Murphy pointed out to his fellow members they can initiate a suitability study of the casino at any time.  "We always have that option open to us," Murphy said.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  When the time came to "stand up and be counted," where was Rudy?  Not on the side of Gary.  How he could do it I don't know, but he sided with Barden!  Time will tell whether or not Rudy made the right decision here? 

 

Gary's Failing Buildings Attract BBC TV
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[15 Sept 2010]

GARY -- London's BBC television network will visit Gary next month to film scenes for its "Wonders of the Universe" show.  Its producers want to use Gary's failing buildings as a metaphor for the eventual collapse of the universe.  Controller Celita Green said the BBC is thinking about filming the Palace Theater, City Methodist Church, Union Station, and along Broadway and Washington Street.  The six-member film crew would work in Gary between Oct. 5 and Oct. 8.

"I don't know if I'm honored," City Attorney Carl Jones said.  "So is this something we want?" Jones asked.

Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety considered whether to give permission to the BBC during its weekly meeting Wednesday.

 

Barden Bias Blooms in Bid for Tax Dollars
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
and a nwiTimes.com Report
[14 Sept 2010]

GARY -- The city is poised to make the issue of Majestic Star owner Don Barden's noncompliance with his agreement to pay taxes and adjusted gross revenue a political one, if the Indiana Gaming Commission sees fit to allow him to keep both of his gaming licenses.  The Gaming Commission is expected to consider the renewal of Barden's gaming licenses Thursday in Indianapolis.

Councilman Roy Pratt, D-at large, Gary-based attorney Macarthur Drake and Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg criticized Barden at a Monday afternoon news conference.  Pratt hopes to drum up public support against Barden, who Pratt says owes the city $27 million, though Pratt said he needed to confirm whether the money is back property taxes or gross adjusted revenue per the certificates of agreement casino developers are required to sign.

Barden, whose company filed bankruptcy last year, is appealing the $50 million in assessed value each boat was given in 2006, when the state converted to a market-value assessment, Blumenberg said.  Prior to 2006, the boats were assessed at about $20 million apiece and Barden is said to have paid $253 million for the Trump boat and its assets.

Blumenberg said he didn't assess the boats at more than $50 million each when the law changed even though they could have supported it because he didn't want a repeat of what happened with U.S. Steel Gary Works.  Nevertheless, Barden filed an appeal and is required to continue to pay the taxes on its 2005 assessment.  If Barden loses the appeal and has to pay the $27 million, 43 percent of that money, or a little more than $11 million, would go directly to the city.

Whether he has paid is up for scrutiny, as Lake County Councilman Larry Blanchard has said the casino has not paid on several parcels whose taxes aren't being disputed.  Majestic Star General Manager Larry Buck, on the other hand, has said the casino is paying the required amounts and the appeals and the company's bankruptcy have nothing to do with each other.

"(Barden) turned his back on us," Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said.  "If he thinks so little of us as to sit back and watch us die slowly on the vine, he doesn't deserve to have those licenses.  We've reduced our salaries and employees' salaries; we've all bitten the bullet."

Ahead of the potential showdown today before the Indiana Gaming Commission, a Majestic Star Casino executive disputed a Gary councilman's claims that the company owes the city millions of dollars.  "We believe we are paid up to date 100 percent in accordance with laws of state," said Larry Buck, senior vice president and general manager of Majestic Star Casino LLC.

"Buck, in an interview Wednesday, said the casino has met its obligations to the city and Gary failed to keep its promise to create an access road to the casinos

Pratt said gambling centers pay 32% in gaming and admissions taxes to the state.  The Gaming Commission, according to Pratt, has already taken over a license once -- in Evansville -- for a lot less money owed.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  It is high time that the City of Gary and Barden resolve their ongoing feud!  It definitely in the best interests of both to do so.  Failure to get back on track will only spur the demise of both the casino and the city.    

 

Jackson Museum May Miss Next Gary Deadline
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[2 Sep 2010]

GARY -- The Jackson Family Fondation might miss the second city deadline for turning property over to it this week for use in honoring the late pop star Michael Jackson and his family.

Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson said JFF President Simon Sahouri has been in town "with his team".  She said the transfer should happen "very shortly."  "The process is moving forward," Severtson said.

Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety gave its blessing three months ago to a deal in which the city promised to transfer five parcels of Glen Park property to the Jackson Family Foundation.  It was signed by Sahouri and Jackson's parents.  They promised to build a $300 million entertainment complex including a Michael Jackson Performing Arts Center on the site.  The singer's estate has not sanctioned those plans.

The original deadline for close of escrow on the transfer was 30 days after the deal was executed on June 2. The city approved a time extension in July allowing another 60 days for the transaction to happen.  That deadline passes this week, and county records show the land hasn't changed hands. Gary has been waiting for the Jackson Family Foundation to finalize its not-for-profit status before transferring the land.

Severtson said Gary might approve another time extension if the transfer doesn't happen ahead of the current deadline.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Is anyone at all surprised by this turn of events?  If so, pray tell, why?

 

Seaton License Suspension Stays in Effect
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[2 Sep 2010]

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will continue its suspension of Carol Ann Seaton's driver's license because Seaton hasn't proved to the agency that she is a state resident.

Even if the embattled Democratic candidate for Lake County assessor can successfully prove she's an Indiana resident, she'll face a one-year suspension of her driving privileges after the correct documentation is provided, according to a ruling released by the BMV on Wednesday.

"From all of which it appears that (Seaton) has indicated her residence in both Indiana and Michigan only when it suited her interests," stated Judge Carla Hartman in her ruling.  "I have seen nothing which indicates that (Seaton) is truly an Indiana resident."

The BMV also will mark Seaton's record as fraudulent until she can prove she's an Indiana resident.

But Seaton can appeal.  The ruling is a recommended order and will become a final order once the period for requesting the appeal has passed later this month.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Let's see, she cannot hold a driver's license because she is unable to prove she is a resident of the state, but yet she can run for, and theoretically hold, the office of Lack County Assessor?  "Ain 't Gary/Lake Co. politics a hoot!" 

 

Gary Rents Unneeded Parking Lot
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[29 Aug 2010]

The city of Gary has paid $1 million since 2004 for access to a private downtown parking lot it doesn't use, records show, and taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $700,000 more.

Mayor Rudy Clay said he didn't even know the deal existed until the Post-Tribune asked about it this week.  "You must be kidding me," Clay said.  "That doesn't make sense."

Yet in 2002, former Mayor Scott King agreed to pay a $169,800 annual user fee for 10 years to Broad Ridge LLC of South Bend for its Frank L. O'Bannon Center parking lot in the 600 block of Broadway.  In all, Gary would pay $1.698 million.

The O'Bannon Center and its parking lot are found in one of Gary's many tax increment financing districts.  Gary used TIF cash generated by the building to pay Broad Ridge until 2009.  But Broad Ridge is no longer paying taxes on the property.  It won an exemption in 2008 because it leases office space there to the state.  That means there's no TIF money to pay the fee.

Gary created the one-block "6th and Broadway" TIF district, where the O'Bannon building is found, in September 1995.  Its borders are Broadway to the west, Massachusetts Street to the east, East 6th Avenue to the north and East 7th Avenue to the south.

TIF districts are used by communities across Indiana to kick-start economic development in defined areas.  After a TIF district is created, taxes generated by an increase in property values there are sent into a separate account and earmarked for further redevelopment within the district.

When Broad Ridge LLC offered to build an office building in the "6th and Broadway" TIF district, officials expected the increase in property value would generate at least $1.4 million in TIF money over 10 years.  A sister building Broad Ridge offered to build in the 100 block of West Ridge Road was expected to create $844,221 in TIF money, but no TIF was ever formed there.

The developer promised to acquire the Broadway and Ridge Road properties and spend about $13 million building the two office buildings so they could be leased to the state.  The one on Broadway would eventually be named after late Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon.  Broad Ridge then leased the office space to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

Among Gary's commitments in the Broad Ridge deal was the parking lot user fee paid in installments of $84,900 twice a year for 10 years.  In return for the fee, Gary would be allowed to use the parking lot at the O'Bannon building for 99 years "in connection with downtown events and activities during evening, weekend and holiday hours."  The deal sports the signatures of King, former City Controller Husain Mahmoud and former Gary corporation counsel Hamilton Carmouche.

Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant was familiar with the arrangement.  Even though documents identify the fee as a "use payment," Tousant said Gary offered Broad Ridge the money as an incentive to build out the lot.  She said it helped Gary meet a requirement to provide 3,000 parking spots for visitors to the U.S. Steel Yard four blocks away.

King pointed out the former Sears building was also being repaired nearby.  "I think we wanted access to that parking lot for city purposes should the need arise," King said.

Records show Gary fell behind on its payments immediately.  It used money from its cumulative capital improvement fund to make the first payment on April 16, 2004. It started using TIF money in 2007.

But Broad Ridge applied for a tax exemption on its Gary office buildings in 2006, citing an Indiana law that gives a break to the owners of buildings leased to public agencies.  The Lake County Property Tax Board of Appeals granted the exemption in February 2008, according to the county assessor's office.

Dan Botich of Cender & Co., a financial adviser for the Gary Redevelopment Commission, said Broad Ridge's tax exemption effectively shut off the stream of revenue Gary used to pay the user fee.  As a result, Gary hasn't paid its user fee since July 21, 2009, leaving $169,800 past due.  Another $84,900 will be due in December.

"There's nothing to make the payment from," Botich said.  Gary had just $26,932 in its "6th and Broadway" TIF in June, records show.  Clay said the city will ask the state for help making the remaining payments because state employees actually use the lot.  "We should not be paying any money for a parking lot that we're not using," Clay said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Yet another snafu of monumental proportions!  $1.68 Million for a parking lot it does not need, or use?  What was Mayor King thinking?  How could Rudy not know about this deal?  Did not any one notice the $169,800 annual payments?  What makes Rudy think the state is going to bail it out of this mess?  One also has to wonder why the audtior appointed by the DUAB did not discover this fiasco?

 

Gary Demolition Moves Forward
Compiled From Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn, and
nwiTimes.com Report by Jeff Burton
[27 Aug 2010]

GARY -- Neighborhoods all over the city either have or are set to receive a bit of a facelift.  Grants are responsible for the good fortune.

35 of 152 homes slated for demolition have already fallen to the wrecking ball, Mayor Rudy Clay said Thursday.  The building demolition was made possible through a $2.2 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development Stabilization grant.

HUD walked the city through choosing the structures for demolition, said Redevelopment Director Vaness Dabney.  Some concentrations of decrepit buildings are near the The Steel Yard baseball stadium, Lew Wallace High School, Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University Northwest, along Grant Street and Broadway and in the Horace Mann district.

Instead of tearing down blocks at a time, HUD instructed the department to go after the "best of the worst," or blocks that have one or two dilapidated structures.  "That way, we stop the bleeding; those blocks with more than 10 abandoned buildings, they're already gone," Dabney said.  "We can come back and get them later."

Clay said he saw the wisdom in that strategy firsthand last weekend, when neighbors on 43rd and Massachusetts came out to clean up around a demolished house.  "It's like they were inspired," Clay said.  "God knows we need demolition in Gary, Indiana," Clay said.  "You can't have a great city with the abandoned houses all around.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Before one can begin anew, I guess it is imperative to tear down the old, dilapidated and deteriorating?

 

New 'Extravaganza' Fuses Arts, Economic Development in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Timm Shellberg
[27 Aug 2010]

Davina' Stewart, founder of the Gary Arts Extravaganza, sees her burgeoning program as a means to revitalize the city with the help of its residents.  "I'm interested in utilizing the arts to jump start economic development," she said.  "I also want to see it inspire people to think out of the box in terms of what they want their communities to look like.  If you think in an art perspective, it allows people to think about things in a different kind of way."

Kicking off the inaugural run of her program Aug. 27 in downtown Gary, Stewart, who resides in Gary, received her bachelor's degree in African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.  On Aug. 20, she completed the coursework to obtain a baccalaureate certificate in community development and urban studies from Indiana University Northwest.  She is also a poet and performance artist, creating social justice–inspired works and influenced by past and present groundbreakers from jazz vocal pioneer Nina Simone to San Francisco performance artist Rhodessa Jones.

Stewart and the Central District Organization Project are hosting what she hopes will be a monthly event.  Her inspiration for the arts showcase came this summer, while interning with the project and being introduced to the Vision for Broadway Development Plan during classes at IUN.  The plan is a joint effort between the City of Gary, the Gary, East Chicago and Hammond Empowerment Zone and the American Planning Association.

"I thought 'OK, I'm going to intern at this community organization that does political work, and as an artist, I'm going to figure out what I can do (to bridge politics and art)," she said.

The Extravaganza is slated to kick off 3 p.m. Aug. 27 at the city lot in Gary, 744 Broadway, where area visual artists are slated to exhibit their works and performance artists and ensembles are on tap to perform.  At 7 p.m., the festivities will move to the Link Bar Lounge, where artists from a myriad of genres will host workshops and showcase their talents.

Approximately a dozen visual and performing artists and ensembles from throughout the region are lending their talents to the festivities.

"In terms of community development, it's really important to create a safe space for people to explore different ideas and use the arts," Stewart said.  "I'm a poet, for example, but I may not be much of a dancer.  But if you're providing me with a space where I could learn to do that and feel safe, I may try it and trying new things may also translate into other areas of my life."

Stewart, who has her sights set on a master's degree in arts administration and a doctorate in African American studies in the future, hopes her Extravaganza will be held monthly on every fourth Friday.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Good luck with this!  What a crackpot scheme; a bunch of wannabes, rappers and moonwalkers strutting their stuff, to be followed by workshops in a local bar?  This is sure to spur economic development!  Pray tell, how many tax dollars are going into this fiasco? 

 

Gary Schools 'Allergic to Change' Study Says
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk and Christin Nance Lazerus
[25 Aug 2010]

Gary is among the worst cities for school reform in the nation, ranked above only Detroit, in a new study released this week by a national education research institute.  The study states that the Gary Community School Corp. is "allergic to change," and names the school district's "old-timer" mentality as the city's most serious barrier to school reform.  The city received a D grade in the Thomas B. Fordham Institute study which sought to rank America's best and worst cities for school change.

Conclusions are mostly based on two separate surveys -- the first sent to senior leaders of 16 national education organizations and the second sent to responders with first-hand knowledge of local conditions.

Gary Superintendent Myrtle Campbell challenged the notion that the district hasn't been aggressive in turning its schools around.  She highlighted the move to turn the district's high schools into career academies.  "This (survey) happened around the time we were putting into place our reform efforts," Campbell said.  "We do have a clearly defined mission.  The academy concept is a proven national model of reform, by improving college and career readiness."  The study also doesn't include the reform model Gary schools picked for Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, which has failed to meet state and federal standards, at the urging of the Indiana Department of Education.

Campbell was critical of the methodology.  Researchers said that their analysis of Gary was limited by a low response rate on the national survey.  Because of the low response, the city didn't receive a ranking on one of six indicators involving the municipal and political environment.  "I have some concerns about this report," Campbell said.  "They themselves said, in one big caveat, that the methods they have to grade cities are fragile."  Campbell said the district has worked with Teach for America as well as the New Teacher Project through Indiana University.

Researchers examined the nation's 25 largest cities and hand-picked five smaller communities, which is how Gary was included in the report.  Cities were graded on how easy or hard it would be for charter schools or any other educational foundation looking to create an out-of-the-box approach to traditional education to set up shop.

Gary is home to seven charter schools, the most of any city in Northwest Indiana, according to Ball State University's charter school office.

"We tried to evaluate the degree they're creating hospitable environments for new problem solvers," said Rick Hess, director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.  "We are not grading school districts ... It doesn't all rise and fall on the superintendents or principals.  They have to be part of a municipal effort to really drive student achievement."

The Fordham Institute is a proponent of charter schools and its sister not-for-profit the Fordham Foundation authorizes charter schools in Ohio.

The Gary Community School Corp. is heavily referenced in the city's portion of the study.  Survey results found that the school district doesn't reward so-called "smart problem-solvers" and that constant turnover is an issue.  Researchers concluded that the local teachers' union is "united in its opposition to reform."  Gary's local talent pool is practically nonexistent and recruiting fresh talent is "nearly impossible," according to the study.  While Gary does host a small Teach For America contingent, it's relatively devoid of other alternative certification programs.  According to the study, the school district also doesn't spend its dollars, "looking forward to reform."

Study not based on testing

In her work with the Gary Life Education Initiative, Gary teachers have reached out to collaborate on college readiness, said not-for-profit director Tavetta Patterson.  The organization helps provide college-bound curriculum to Gary high schools.

"Teachers are looking for solutions now," Patterson said.  "They are at the point that it's going to take more than just the people hired in the school to bring change.  (Change) is constant and it's necessary.  You'll have a group of people that is of course going to resist it.  Then you'll have a group of teachers pretty much at wits' end and asking what we can do to help."

Rankings weren't based on student test scores or graduation rates, but used six indicators.  Along with a school district's environment, the cities were graded on human capital or how restrictive the teachers' union is to reform, financial capital or how much money is spent per student, charter environment or to what extent charter schools have penetrated the market, quality control or the functionality of the state's student data system and finally political thought toward school reform.

 

Gary 2011 Budget Cut Not Enough
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[25 Aug 2010]

GARY -- City Council members vented their frustration with the state of Gary's finances Tuesday when they met with Mayor Rudy Clay's staff to review the 2011 budget.  They learned that even though it cuts Gary's overall budget levy by 12% from this year's $48.6 million to $42.8 million, another $1.7 million must still come out.  Once that happens, Gary's 2011 expenses will only be covered if Lake County collects 100%of the city's property taxes.  Recently the county collected just 72%.  "It is grossly unfair," Council member Mary Brown, D-3rd, said.

The numbers are based on last year's report by Public Financial Management Inc.  The state forced Gary to hire PFM as its fiscal monitor and PFM's report included projections based on rare 100% property tax collection rates.

Controller Celita Green said the city should do what the state expects by reducing its budget to the 100% mark.  Once that's done, she said the state might be inclined to help Gary cover the shortfall.  Other council members said the state might be setting Gary up to fail.  "We've done way and above what could possibly be done," Council President Ronier Scott said.

In a few months Gary is likely to prepare for its third and final trip to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board.  The DUAB gave Gary budget relief in 2009 and 2010 by raising tax caps for property owners here higher than elsewhere in the state.  "We need their assistance," Green said.

Council members also heard from Judge Deidre Monroe and Clerk Suzette Raggs.  Both explained how their budgets have already been cut drastically.  Monroe said her budget has dropped from $2 million in 2008 to $1.43 million in 2011.  Raggs said hers has been cut by $366,034 since she's taken office.  Both of their proposals are over budget by a combined $1 million based on PFM's numbers.  Neither included 2010's pay cuts in their proposed 2011 budgets.  "I'm just waiting for direction from the council," Monroe said.

Council members, who didn't propose pay cuts in 2011 but are under budget by $43,240, didn't give that direction to Monroe or Raggs.  The council's accountant said pay cuts could reappear in the budget's final draft, though.

For now the budget sets Gary's general fund at $52.1 million and its general fund levy at $40.5 million.

 

A Rudy Awakening
A Commentary by GDY
[22 Aug 2010]

I just learned that Hizzoner annually earns considerably more than the Governor of Indiana.  Rudy is the recipient of two incomes from the city; one as mayor and one as who knows what from the Gary Santitary District.  Yes, that's right, the city department that outsourced garbage collection.  The combined income to Rudy from both of these sources is $134,310!  Not a bad haul, to say the least.

Meanwhile, poor Gov. Daniels labors on behalf of all the citizens of the Hooseir state for a paltry $95K per year.

Maybe Rudy can see his way to floating Mitch a few bucks now and then, just to tide him over the rough spots he undoubtedly encounters on a less than 6 figure income?

 

Seaton Challenges Opponent's Candidacy
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[20 Aug 2010]

Democratic assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton has filed a challenge against her GOP opponent, Hank Adams, contending the county Republican chairwoman lacked authority to fill the party's ballot with the long-time St. John Township assessor.

Adams originally ran unopposed in the primary for his township position but was elevated to the party's nomination for county assessor for the Nov. 2 election.  No Republican candidate ran for county assessor in the May 4 primary.

Adams called Seaton's challenge a stalling tactic on Thursday.  Gary resident Dakota Smith filed a challenge to Adams' candidacy the same day as Seaton.  Smith also is challenging the county Republican chair's authority to fill vacancies on the ballot.

"She (Seaton) and her campaign people are now attempting to suppress voters' rights in Lake County by having me removed from the ballot," Adams said in a statement.  "Challenges must be directed with respect toward qualifications of the individual and not procedural qualifications.  Her attempt to put this decision in the hands of the county election board, which seats three Democrats and two Republicans, for a vote on my eligibility, is a desperate act."

State law provides that a county chairperson if authorized by a county committee can fill vacant spots on the party's ticket, according to Indiana Election Division legal counsel Dale Simmons.  Usually permission is given by the committee with a resolution or meeting minutes that show the chair was given the authority.  Lake County Republicans filed such a resolution with the Indiana Republican Party in 2009, party spokesman Trevor Foughty said.  He confirmed the resolution was office and not name specific.

"However it was supposed to be done, they did do it correctly," Foughty said.

 

Seaton License May Be Suspened for a Year
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[20 Aug 2010]

Carol Ann Seaton, the Democratic candidate for Lake County assessor, traveled to Indianapolis for an administrative hearing with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles on Thursday, a BMV spokesman confirmed.  Seaton appeared alone at the hearing, without legal counsel.

At issue is driver's licenses Seaton held in both Indiana and Michigan.  The state suspended Seaton's license in June pending the hearing.  The BMV also canceled the registration to a Ford vehicle registered under Seaton's name.  The vehicle, registered in Indiana on May 26, previously had been registered in Michigan.

On Thursday, the BMV recommended the judge suspend Seaton's license for a year, BMV official Dennis Rosebrough said. Rosebrough expects the judge to issue a decision early next week.  "If she does prove her Indiana residency, we still believe she ought to have a 12-month suspension based on discrepancies in documents and in her application," Rosebrough said.

The state suspended Seaton's license after BMV officials found she had a valid Michigan driver's license listed under a Union Pier, Mich., address.  The address Seaton used for her Michigan license and for at least three cars she registered in the state is for a vacant, wooded lot.  Seaton most recently renewed her Michigan license in February and her Indiana license in September 2009.

In her campaign filings, Seaton used a Gary address, the city where she's lived since at least 2000.

 

da' Mayor Speaks:  Gary Showing Signs of Progress
A nwiTimes.com Commentary By Rudy Clay
[11 Aug 2010]

When viewed objectively and comprehensively, ample evidence suggests that progress is occurring in Gary.

The financial distress in Gary has been more acute in comparison to many communities because of previous decades of divestment.  Consequently, in the last few years, we have been tackling repercussions from the economic decline and simultaneously working to break free of the financial quicksand the city was drowning in when I became mayor.

While much is known about Gary's plans to create jobs and development with the Jackson Family Foundation, less focus has been directed to the city's success in the reducing our property tax levy by 33 percent.  Even more impressive is our projected tax levy reduction of 58 percent scheduled for 2012.  These tax savings are in addition to other cost-cutting measures carried out.

Gary is not always swinging for the fences with its economic strategies.  But our city is scoring runs daily in property tax restoration, fiscal belt tightening, crime reduction, elimination of illegal dumping and a host of other areas.

Gary city workers should be commended for sustaining the city despite robust spending and labor cuts.  Our city controller and city finance team should be commended for safely navigating Gary's rapid transition to a modern fiscal reality altered by tax caps, massive spending reductions and a national economic recession.

As we look at the city's challenges, let's promote how Gary took responsibility for its future and avoided mass layoffs by being innovative.  For example, Gary was among the first cities in the nation to carry out furlough days and to recommend pay concessions to preserve jobs and benefits during the current slowdown.  In fact, as mayor, I have at times volunteered my services and am taking a 5% cut in pay, along with other department heads.  This includes 10 furlough days without pay.

As observers of Gary, or any urban center, it is easy to discover challenges that spread negative perceptions, but the complete story should be told if a more accurate and hopeful picture is to emerge.  Gary is a uniquely situated waterfront suburb of Chicago that successfully has weathered a lingering financial storm and is now poised for explosive economic growth.  Progress is being made.

Consider that during a Washington, D.C., meeting arranged by U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, our request to restructure existing funding was granted.  Consequently, Gary is beginning to demolish some of its estimated 3,000 abandoned structures.  A great majority of these buildings were abandoned prior to my becoming mayor.  Nevertheless, this demolition will create and preserve jobs and will lay the foundation for development on freshly cleaned parcels.

Many communities are laying off police and, in some cases, developing lists of crimes they will not respond to.  Gary is hiring police officers and has just bought nearly 100 new cars with stimulus money to increase police presence and provide better city services and safety.

Gary is now transitioning from a phase of simply trying to survive to an era in which its citizens will enjoy an improved quality of life.

One area of the city being improved is historical Marquette Park and the adjoining lakefront. The area is set to undergo a $28 million restoration made possible by our active collaboration with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. Not only has networking occurred inside Gary and throughout Northwest Indiana, but our outreach has expanded into Chicago, Washington, D.C., and even to China as we have worked to promote Gary's economic interests.

Gary is innovative, as demonstrated by our survival thus far.  Gary also has brilliant people as exemplified by our universities, churches, families and individuals like Notre Dame's most recent valedictorian -- Gary's own Katie Washington.

Gary also has shown it is progressive as it has developed Gary/Chicago International Airport from a regional perspective and in the way the city has collaborated with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority to host annual air shows.  This year's air show served 350,000 people.  More than 2 million people have attended the air show in the last six years with no arrests.

In the final analysis, since perceptions influence reality, when it comes to Gary and our region, let's base our perceptions on demonstrable and encouraging facts to build vibrant realities we can all enjoy.

Rudy Clay is the mayor of Gary. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  The above is presented in the spirit of offering equal time to opposing points of view.   I suppose taking steps to tear down 3,000 abandoned homes may be viewed as progress, but I fail to appreciate how this preserves jobs?  Reaching out to China has reaped large rewards, hasn't it.  But hey, Rudy is right, it is a start.  Gary does not need to save taxes, it needs to generate tax revenues!  What part of this does Rudy not understand?  Rudy has the chutzpa to tout the Gary, International Airport?  Some (many) may see it as at best a pipe dream, and at worst an albatross around the neck of the "Steel City".

 

Airport Leader Jets Off to Florida
Compiled From Post-Trib (Chelsea Schneider Kirk) and NWI.com Reports
[18 Aug 2010]

GARY -- Gary/Chicago International Airport Director Chris Curry will leave the position he's held since 2006 to head three general aviation airports in the Naples, Fla., area.  Curry accepted the position as executive airport director for the Collier County Airport Authority on Tuesday.

"Airports are not meant for a person to spend a lifetime," Curry said.  "You do as much as you can in that time frame to try to move it forward on whatever the agenda is of the appointing authority.  I felt that I had done and accomplished a lot in six years in getting us there, and it was time to move on to another opportunity."

Before Curry was the airport director, he served as deputy airport director under Paul Karas.

The Collier County Board of Commissioners appointed Curry to the position in late July, and he expects to start his new job around mid-September.  "My last day will probably be sometime around Sept. 8 or at a time that me and the chairman and board discuss," Curry said.  "It's my intention to make the transition as seamless as possible to help with bringing on the program manager for the runway expansion project and to facilitate other items as necessary."

Curry's departure comes at a crucial time for the Gary airport.  The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority plans to interview two candidates to lead the long-planned railroad relocation and runway extension projects later this month.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said the hiring of the project manager will help fill the void Curry's absence will leave at the airport.  "He has to do what's best for him," Clay said.  "He's a good man, very knowledgeable and Naples, Fla. will benefit here.  With the new project manager coming in, it will fill the gap that Chris is leaving.  I'm not worried about it because of the fact that the airport is getting ready to take off and soar like an eagle."

CURRY TIMELINE

— Pre-2006: Deputy Director
— 2006: Selected as Gary's airport director in summer, at an annual salary of $122,000.
— 2007 and 2008: Recruited two commercial airliners - SkyValue Airlines and Skybus Airlines. SkyValue folded in 2007. Skybus ceased operations in 2008.
— Received the first environmental permit to extend the runway.
— Oversaw the building of another jet center hangar in 2008.
— 2008: Oversaw the building and opening of the Army National Guard facility at the airport.
— 2008 and 2009: Coordinated with NIPSCO to relocate power line, which paved way for the runway expansion project.
— 2009: Received a contract extension through March 2013 at a salary of $150,400 per year.
— 2010: Worked with Gary Jet Center to approve a new $7 million hangar project.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Was it not just two short days ago the Post-Trib was opining that the "clock was ticking" on the GYY runway job?  Well, it is now ticking both faster and louder!  Does Rudy even have a clue?  How may the "airport take off and soar like an eagle" without a leader to guide it?
  

 

Jackson Museum Plan Inches Forward
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Christine Kraly
[17 Aug 2010]

GARY | A Las Vegas-based group, backed by Michael Jackson's family, is a small step closer to building a multimillion-dollar shrine to the King of Pop and his family.  The Jackson Family Heritage Foundation Inc. has registered with the Indiana secretary of state as a nonprofit corporation.

Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson and Las Vegas-based developer Simon Sahouri are among those listed as group incorporators.  Sahouri and Jackson joined Gary Mayor Rudy Clay at the start of June in the Steel City to announce plans for a museum-anchored megaplex dedicated to the Jacksons, expected to cost at least $300 million.  The city signed a real estate agreement with Sahouri and Joe and Katherine Jackson to transfer -- under certain conditions -- more than 300 acres of city land to the group to develop. The agreement didn't call for the city to be paid any money for the land.

Gary Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson has said that, per Indiana law, the group also must establish itself as a tax-exempt charitable organization according to Internal Revenue Service guidelines before the transfer can be complete.  The first step in doing that is registering with the secretary of state, as the group did last week, spokesman Todd Darroca said.  An IRS spokeswoman Monday said the group does not yet have an approved tax-exempt application on file with the agency.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  What I find of particular interest in this report is the fact Mother Jackson is not listed in the filing as being involved with the non-profit.  Yet, she was one of the signatories to the agreement executed with the city?  Does anyone really think the IRS can/will review and approve the 503(c) charitable organization status within 60 days of whenever the application is filed?  If not, what happens to the deadline imposed by the city? 

 

Clock Ticking on Runway Job
A Post-Trib Editorial Opinion
[16 Aug 2010]

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority has to choose from two finalists for the job of managing its $90 million runway expansion.  It also has to get moving fast.  The Federal Aviation Administration has set a deadline of the end of 2013 for completing the project.  That deadline might seem distant, but it's zooming up fast.

Put this project in perspective.  It began in January 2006, when the FAA awarded the airport $57.8 million to relocate railroad tracks and add 2,000 feet to the northwest end of the airport's main runway.  Here's an excerpt from our Jan. 17, 2006, story on the occasion:

"Work on moving the tracks could begin late this year and could be completed by early 2008, according to airport director Paul Karas.  Runway expansion work then could begin and would take about two more years."

This entire project should have been completed by now, according to the prediction made by the man who was airport director at the time.  Yet four and a half years later, the airport authority now is faced with hiring a project manager.  In the interim, those railroad tracks haven't budged.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  What is a mere half-decade in the cosmos of things?  How long has GYY been a white elephant, sucking up millions, if not billions, of dollars without producing income?

 

Seaton Charged with Misdemeanor for Holding 2 Driver's Licenses
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[13 Aug 2010]

CROWN POINT | The campaign for Carol Ann Seaton, the Democratic nominee for Lake County assessor, got a boost Thursday from a decision by the county prosecutor's office to charge her only with a misdemeanor violation for holding driver's licenses in both Indiana and Michigan.  Prosecutor Bernard Carter chose not to charge Seaton with a felony, ensuring that she can serve as county assessor if elected in the Nov. 2 general election.

Officials of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which launched the investigation of Seaton's multiple driver's licenses, said she could have faced being charged with perjury for failing to disclose her Michigan driver's license to Indiana authorities. A felony perjury conviction would have barred her from public office.  The registration charge she faces is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 180 days and a $1,000 fine.

The charge alleges Seaton had registered three cars in her name in Michigan, but none of them in Indiana, despite evidence she has lived and worked in Indiana for several decades.

 

Airport Officials Discuss End to Preference-based Bidding
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[13 Aug 2010]

Talks of selecting a company to make pavement repairs at the Gary/Chicago International Airport led to a debate on ending the bidding preference the airport gives to Gary-based contractors.  Airport Authority Board Member John Evans called for the board to do away with the preferential.  Essentially, the bid price for a Gary company is dropped by 10 percent to make it more competitive in the selection process.

Chicago-based Diamond Coring offered a bid of $136,250 for the pavement work.  Rieth-Riley's original bid was higher than Diamond Coring's bid but was dropped to $135,488 with the adjustment.  The discount doesn't carry through to the actual cost of service so the airport will need to pay or seek reimbursement for the entire cost of the Rieth-Riley bid, more than a $14,000 difference from Diamond Coring's bid.  Rieth-Riley has headquarters in Goshen but has a Gary division.

"You're talking about giving people discounts because of imaginary lines," Evans said.

The board directed its attorney Pat Lyp to provide more information on the adjustment and how it impacts the airport, especially ahead of hiring of a program manager to jump-start the long-held railroad relocation and runway extension project.  Airport Director Chris Curry said the adjustment is a concern but its impact can depend on how the project is funded.

"It could depend on the money that is being spent for the project," Curry said.  "If you're using federal money or spending federal money toward a project, that won't apply."
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  I am having a real problem understasnding this one?  Bids from Garyites are reduced by 10% for acceptance purposes, but once accepted, paid at the full price?  What kind of fiscal management is this?

 

Fifth Third Loan Helps City Meet Payroll
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[13 Aug 2010]

GARY -- The city's money manager says Gary has been approved for an $8.5 million loan by Fifth Third Bank.  Controller Celita Green said Gary was funded by the bank Thursday, two days after the City Council authorized her to seek the loan.

Green said Gary has drawn $4.5 million on that loan so far, and she said the bank has applied a 2.89 percent variable interest rate to the money it draws between now and March.  She said Gary will likely draw all $8.5 million by the end of the year.  By not drawing all of the money at once, Green said, Gary will save on its interest payments.  "We have access to all the money in the account," Green said.

Then in March, when Gary begins making its principal payments, Green said, Fifth Third will convert to a fixed interest rate.  That rate will be chosen using an equation based on the U.S. Treasury's five-year yield.  If it were applied today, Green said, the rate would be just under 4 percent.

Gary's City Council capped the interest rate on the loan at 9 percent.  The city is also required to create a $2 million "reserve account" as a safety net in case money isn't available to make payments.  When Gary's debt is equal to $2 million, Green has said, the reserve money will be used to pay off the loan.  It is set to be paid off in five years.

The controller told the council Tuesday the bank loan is needed to help Gary recover from a nearly $15 million property tax shortfall this year.

The council pledged casino revenue toward repayment of the loan.  Some of that money will become available in March, when Gary pays off the debt from the renovation of its public safety building and the construction of its baseball stadium.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Would you and I take out a  loan, without knowing what interest rate we would have to pay?  When you are in desperate straights, you do what you have to do to keep your head above water, right?  While this move may keep Gary's head above water, temporarily, is it not also tying 8.5 million ounces of concrete around its ankles? 

 

U.S. Steel Issued Permit for Coke Substitute Plants
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bowdeya Tweh
[13 Aug 2010]

U.S. Steel has received a permit from a state environmental regulator to build carbon alloy synthesis plants at its Gary Works complex.  The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a significant source modification permit Aug. 4 to U.S. Steel Corp. for its integrated steel mill in Gary.  Receipt of the permit paves the way for construction on the modules to begin.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still considering IDEM's proposed significant permit modification, or "operating permit" for the facility.  IDEM is expecting the federal agency to respond by Aug 19.  Also, any challenges to IDEM permits can be sent to the Office of Environmental Adjudication by Aug. 22.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker is seeking to build modules that would generate up to 1 million tons of a semi-crystalline carbon material that can be used for metallurgical coke in the steelmaking process.  U.S. Steel is working with Carbonyx Inc. of Plano, Texas, to implement the proprietary coke substitute production process in Gary.

The four, 250,000-ton-capacity production modules are expected to be built in phases.  Construction is expected to start on the project's first phase – two modules – on or before Sept. 30.  The first two modules are expected to supply about 20 percent of Gary Works' annual coke requirements, Boone said earlier this year.

The project is expected to cost more than $220 million and create about 500 temporary construction jobs, Boone said.  The modules will be housed inside buildings that would sit east of the sinter plant and in the coal-handling area of the complex.

U.S. Steel is undertaking the development because it is attempting to reduce its raw material costs and exposure to purchasing coke on the spot market.  Officials also believe that there will be environmental benefits to operating the plants, allowing the company to either shut down or keep offline certain coke batteries.

 

Campus Monument Honors Froebel
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lisa Deneal
[13 Aug 2010]

GARY -- When alumni from Froebel and Roosevelt high schools come together for their Nostalgia weekend, they will be greeted with a permanent monument honoring Froebel.

Built from concrete and bricks from the now-demolished school, the memory of Froebel's championship games, academics and more will forever flow on the campus lawn at 15th and Madison.

The park, which includes two covered shelters, was established and sponsored by the Froebel High School Park Committee, which includes alumni from all classes.  The monument was built by the Local Bricklayers Union 4 and paid for by the Froebel Class of 1962.

"The hedges and shrubbery you see along the walkway to the monument and the shrubbery surrounding the monument were financed by Froebel Class of 1962 as well," state Rep. Vernon G. Smith, chairman of the weekend events and a member of the class of 1962, said.br

The walkway to the monument includes a brick path starting at the monument where Smith said those who contribute $200 will get a brick. Bricks are already paved in the path with engravings from sponsors, supporters and Froebel alumni.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  My late father was a Froebel grad, Class of 1931.

 

Facade Needs Repair after Falling onto Broadway
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[10 Aug 2010]

GARY -- Mayor Rudy Clay says a fallen piece of facade from a Broadway building should be fixed in the next few days, more than a week after it fell onto a downtown sidewalk.  "We were blessed because nobody got hurt," Clay said.

The sidewalk around the facade in the 600 block of Broadway is closed, cordoned off with orange barrels and caution tape.  The facade was among several fake fronts installed last year to cover up Broadway's crumbling buildings.

Clay convinced area businesses to put them up for free under his "Adopt-A-Facade program," which was meant to be a first step toward eliminating the blight defining much of Gary's downtown corridor.  It also gave local contractors a chance to claim a tax credit for doing pro bono work for the city.  Participating businesses signed a hold-harmless agreement, Clay said Monday.  That means Gary wouldn't have been held responsible if a passer-by had been hurt by the facade when it fell.

The mayor said he thought the facade was installed by 1st American Construction, and he said the city couldn't convince the company to return and put it back up.  Roy Delrio of 1st American said the Gary-based company "put a couple" of facades up on Broadway, and he said employees recently learned one had fallen.  Delrio said the company hasn't returned to reinstall the fallen facade because the building it was attached to appears to be falling down.  "It's kind of dangerous," Delrio said.

Clay said an employee of Gary's redevelopment department will soon reinstall the facade.  He said it will be cut into three pieces and supported by wooden 2x4s to keep it from falling again.  "The wall was too heavy for the nails that were put into it," Clay said.

Gary city workers weren't available to reinstall the facade Monday because they had been placed on furlough. "It will go back up ASAP," Clay said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Well, this story sure presents plenty for comment!  Where to begin?  When you put lipstick on a pig, you still have a pig ... .  The emporer wore no clothes ... .  The building being covered up is not capable of supporting its fake front.  No one is available to reclothe the now naked lady because city employees are off on furlough.  It almost reads like a (tragic) comedy. 
 

 

EEOC Tackles Case of Hiring Discrimination
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[10 Aug 2010]

— Manager at Dots told applicant they 'don't hire white people'

A Merrillville clothing store wouldn't hire a woman because she was white, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Misti Hatchett had applied for a job at the store at 1662 E. 80th Ave., but a manager told her the store doesn't hire white people, Nancy Edmonds, attorney for the EEOC, said.

The woman filed a complaint with the EEOC, which then investigated the matter.  "The EEOC found reasonable cause that Dots had engaged in discrimination," she said.

The EEOC tried to reach an agreement with Dots through mediation, she said, but no answer was reached.  That's when the EEOC decided to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  You have to love this one?  "No whites need apply!"  Are we harking back to the early 20th century here?  The one good thing is, this story reflects the reality that NWI caucasians are a minority entitled to equal protection under the laws of the United States!


 

High-tech Firms May Get Gary Tax Break
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[8 Aug 2010]

GARY -- Gary could become the first Hoosier city to offer a tax exemption to high-tech businesses in an attempt to lure their high-paying jobs to Indiana.  Legislation before the City Council would give it the power to exempt qualified businesses from personal property taxes if they locate in the Steel City.  The Indiana General Assembly authorized the optional exemption in 2009.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based Guthrie Adams, owner of Acacia Group and a partner in DuSable Communications International, has made a preliminary proposal to build a three-story, 200,000-square-foot data center at 1301 Broadway.  Adams declined to comment on the specifics of his plan, saying they're premature.  However, it would likely qualify for the exemption under the terms of Senate Enrolled Act 448.  "Just to be very, very clear, as far as I can see at this point, the approval or disapproval of the (SEA) 448 exemption is the go, no-go decision," Adams said.

The council's ordinance would not give an automatic exemption to Adams.  Instead, it would create a process for him and owners of similar businesses to apply for an exemption.  It would work much like an application for tax abatement.  "Each case would be separate," council member Kyle Allen, D-at large, said.

An eligible business, according to the state law, would be one that's engaged in computing, networking or data storage, is located in Indiana, invests at least $10 million in the state after June 30, 2009, and pays an average wage of at least 125 percent of the average wage of the county in which it's located.  The exemption would apply to personal property owned by the business, such as computer servers, networking equipment and storage devices.

Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, authored the state law.  He said the cost of personal property taxes on that equipment is especially high, creating an extra burden for high-tech business.  "Plus, every two to three years, it becomes obsolete and they've got to reinvest," Charbonneau said.

Meanwhile, neighboring Illinois doesn't tax personal property.  That's why Charbonneau wanted to give local governments the option to exempt high-tech businesses from the tax.  "It isn't a matter of giving up something," Charbonneau said.  "We weren't getting them.  Pure and simple.  They weren't coming to Indiana."

However Donald Koliboski, director of economic development for the Northwest Indiana Forum, said Gary is poised particularly well to take advantage of overburdened infrastructure in Chicago.  Much of what high-tech companies need is already in place.  "Gary has a lot of fiber infrastructure," Koliboski said.

The tax exemption legislation has been assigned to the council's finance committee, which will consider it at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Instead of being known as the "Steel City," could Gary be known in the future as the "Geek City?"  Hey, if it helps to revitalize the area, I am all for it!  This plan does have potential, and the definite opportunity it presents needs to be aggressively pursued, instead of squandered or wasted.

 

To Save Money Gary Needs to Pare Down in Size
Compiled from a Post-Trib "Letters to Editor"
[7 Aug 2010]

For quite a while I've wondered about the wasted money pouring through Gary and have thought:  Open your mind to a new concept, Gary.  Stop blowing your money!  Your liabilities proliferate, with too many streets, sewers, parks, vacant lots, police substations, fire stations, salaries, bus routes and schools.

Gary's underutilized services and businesses have a proximity issue.  Abandoned, vacant and foreclosed homes have fostered crime in apathetic neighborhoods laden with unwatched, dilapidated buildings.

There are approximately 38,000 households in Gary.  These are dispersed among many of the city's vacant lots and buildings, yet Gary has many beautiful homes left unoccupied.  Fix them.  Displace residents to new, updated, or newly repaired homes in the nucleus of the city at the cost of their current mortgage.  I believe people living in the outskirts or in deteriorating homes would move into such homes.  Gary then could remove all the newly vacated structures and close or remove those roads leading to nowhere and services under their jurisdiction.

Offer reconstruction assistance to homeowners within the nucleus.  Under such a proposition, how would crime fare?  The people in reconditioned homes in fully occupied neighborhoods could easily expose all facets of crime.  Residents with pride would apply peer pressure, motivating others to improve their standards.  The city wouldn't have to pay to support 50.23 square miles of corroding city, and people would see real value for their tax dollars.

Then Gary would become attractive to businesses and residential development, because it would have eliminated its proximity issue with a low-crime, close-knit community and fully utilized bus routes.

Expensive?  Yes.  I'd invest in such a plan.

Debbie Fizer-Griffith
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Ms. Fizer-Griffith raises some interesting, and valid points, I have to admit.  I suspect that, not taking into consideration condition, there is far too much housing stock in Gary needed to support the current, ever declining, population?  At the same time, the prospect of having officially declared "No Man's Land" areas within Gary is foreboding.  As dangerous as Gary is now, imagine what one's fate would be if they mistakenly crossed into this abandoned turf!  

 

Council Considers What to Do with Cash
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[4 Aug 2010]

GARY -- The City Council is considering whether to pledge millions in soon-to-be available casino dollars toward an $8.5 million bank loan.  An ordinance authorizing the city to secure the loan was introduced to the council Tuesday.  According to a draft, Gary would also create a "reserve account" to make sure it doesn't default on its payments.

Controller Celita Green has said the loan is needed after the Indiana auditor's office inadvertently sent $8 million to Gary City Hall this winter, where it was spent.  To make up for the error, $8 million was subtracted from Gary's tax distribution in June, a hit Green said the city couldn't afford.  Gary was already struggling to survive this year under the confines of Indiana's new property tax caps, which have been lifted partially but still drain its budget, and low tax collection rates.

Meanwhile, according to a draft of the loan legislation, Gary will pay off $17.3 million in debt from the renovation of the public safety building and construction of its baseball stadium in March using casino money.  Another $2.3 million in principal is still due.  Two more bonds totaling $6.6 million, including money for Gary's Sears Building Project, will be paid off in August 2012, according to the legislation.  Another $3.1 million in principal is still owed on that debt, which also ties up casino funds.

The ordinance being considered by the council would let Green and Mayor Rudy Clay seek an $8.5 million loan to pay bills through the rest of the year, promising to pay the loan back over five years with casino money.  The loan would be awarded to the bank offering the lowest net interest cost to Gary, and the rate of interest couldn't exceed 9%.  Gary would also be required to keep $2 million in a "reserve account" to use in case it doesn't have enough money to make a payment on the loan.  If money is taken from that account, Gary would be required to immediately replenish it.

The council will publicly consider the loan ordinance during a meeting of its finance committee at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  More of robbing Peter to pay Paul.  In fact, this is worse.  At least when robbing Peter one is taking real money from someone/somewhere.  This is a shell game.  What Gary is doing is spending money it does not even have yet, and may never receive!   

 

Race and Racism in the Midwest
Compiled From a globalmidwest.typepad.com Report by Richard C. Longworth
[3 Aug 2010]

The existence of Gary, Indiana, with its 84% black population, is a psychological barrier to the integration of northwest Indiana into the Chicago economic region:  too many whites there feel that such economic integration would imply an embrace of Gary.

It's a fact that the departure of heavy industry from the Midwest has created an archipelago of black inner city ghettos in old manufacturing towns from Iowa to Ohio, impoverished by populations whose ancestors came north to work in the factories of the day, but who were stranded when those factories went away.  The Midwest's true disaster areas -- Detroit, Cleveland, Gary, Benton Harbor, East St. Louis -- are all majority black.  The same decline, of course, has hurt millions of white workers, too, but these black ghettos are particularly poor and isolated.  Globalization simply has passed them by.

 

Gary Police Out of Gas
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[2 Aug 2010]

GARY -- The Police Department's fleet of new flex fuel squad cars is supposed to help the region's air quality.  But that only happens when they burn the cleaner E-85 fuel.

Less than half of the new squads are on the road.  More are being prepared for service every week.  Still, ethanol fuel isn't available.  And no one can say for sure when the city will have it.

The city has not advertised for bids to buy a tank, pump and bulk fuel, and can't until the state provides them with the "contract form" approved by all the governmental agencies involved.  Christopher Meyers, Gary's director of planning, said he couldn't guess when that process will begin, or when the use of the cleaner fuel will start.  Until then, the new cars will use regular unleaded gasoline, Meyer said.

That could create problems for the city as the grant's overseer starts monitoring the various grant recipients.  "The expectation is they will use ethanol from the time the units arrive and are put into service.  The $10 million federal grant obtained by the Indiana Department of Transportation to buy vehicles for cities across the state will be reviewed locally by NIRPC to determine if Gary and other Northwest Indiana municipalities are abiding by the grant guidelines.  "The general requirement in receiving the equipment is to use the ethanol in the equipment.  Most communities are already using the E-85," Evers said, adding, "Gary is the exception."
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  My very limited experience with federal grants is that a finding of "non-compliance" results in having to pay the money back.  Is Gary setting itself up to incur yet another debt that it will not be able to pay, by running these cop cars on plain ol' unleaded fuel?

 

Genesis Center Garage Shut Down
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[31 Jul 2010]

GARY -- The Genesis Center's downtown parking garage is closed until further notice.  John Key of Key West Enterprises, the private firm managing the convention center, called the closure "temporary."  He said Friday he was waiting for a professional to determine if the garage is structurally sound.  "The reason we're doing it is we desire for our patrons to be safe," Key said.

The garage's ground-floor gates were lowered Friday, and signs hanging near the entrances let drivers know about the closure.  Key told the Genesis Center's board of managers Wednesday the garage could be an "imminent threat" because of crumbling he discovered on the top floor.  "I don't think any of us would stand under it," Key said.  However, the decision to shut it down wasn't made until Thursday afternoon.

The Genesis Center charges drivers $3 to park in the garage, Key said.  On days when Lake County court is in session next door, he said, it sees an average of 100 cars.

Another garage nearby, connected to the former Sheraton Hotel, has been closed for nearly 12 years.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  While Nero fiddles, Rome burns.   First the parking garage, next the center itself shall physically collapse.  Both have already economically collapsed.  Ah, but there is money in the the infrasturcture rehab fund to make the necessary repairs.  Oh wait, I forgot, that money was used already, to make the city payroll this month!

Maybe Gary shall have a museuem complex downtown after all?  They have all the necessary artifacts in place to open the Museum of Urban Decay!  Its premiere exhibits could be the Genesis Center Garage, The Sheraton Hotel, City Methodist Church and Memorial Auditorium.

 

Gary's Oldest Building Seen Better Days
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[31 Jul 2010]

GARY -- Members of the city's historical society spent part of their week pulling furniture and files from Gary's oldest building, where the ceiling has collapsed, the floor is buckling and mold has begun to grow.  Dolly Millender, founder and CEO of the Gary Historical and Cultural Society, said she's still trying to work with the city to find money to restore the Gary Land Co. building.

Used as a museum, it stands on the north side of East 4th Avenue across the street from City Hall.  Members of the community helped fix up the building and restore its roof in 2006.  "It's on the national register," Millender said.

However, the building is generally only open during the warmer months of the year, Millender said, and the damage was discovered when she opened the doors in May.  "We were appalled," Millender said.

Several exhibits were immediately removed and taken to the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest.  Volunteers helped move other items Friday, though, including glass cabinets and other pieces of furniture.

Naomi Millender, director of development and programs for the historical society, said she had trouble opening some doors in the building because of the buckled floor.  "The basement is really bad," Naomi Millender said.

The historic Gary Land Co. building sits on city-owned property, and building commissioner Benjamin Robinson has visited.  He said he hopes volunteers will help fix it up.  "I couldn't say what's going to take place there," Robinson said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  For those not aware, the Gary Land Co. building was the first structure put up in Gary.  It was constructed by an appendage of U.S. Steel to sell land and rent housing.

 

NW Indiana Development Activity Strong
Compiled From a rejournals.com by Mark Thornton
[30 Jul 2010]

U.S. Steel

United States Steel Corp. has plans for a massive investment in Gary Ind., where the steel giant hopes to develop four carbon alloy synthesis plants that will allow for environmentally safer production of traditional coke in the steelmaking process.  The new alloy, Cokonyx, will act as a substitute for 20 percent of the firm’s coke requirements.  The methods of production of Cokonyx are designed to significantly cut down on harmful emissions that take place in the traditional production of coke.

By increasing the production of Cokonyx, U.S. Steel can shut down a portion of its coke manufacturing, reducing outputs of 3,000 tons of carbon monoxide and 907 tons of nitrogen oxides annually.

The price tag for the first phase of development is $220 million.  The project is projected to create hundreds of temporary construction jobs.  It still must meet approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.  Company spokesperson Courtney Boone says that phase one of the project would take 24-30 months to complete.  After it is complete, the facility would be subject to testing before an additional two phases would be approved.

"The $220 million new coke project at U.S. Steel bodes well for the region," says Don Babcock, director of economic development at NIPSCO.  "It shows a long-term commitment to NW Indiana.  This new technology can help assure the viability of the company (U.S. Steel) and meet high quality emission standards."

 

Allen, Co-defendant Lose Appeal; Must Report to Prison
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[28 Jul 2010]

One of Dozier Allen Jr.'s co-defendants had to report to jail Tuesday after she and the former Calumet Township trustee lost an appeal to stay out of jail, according to court records.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Wanda Joshua, 61, and Allen, saying that they still had to report to prison despite their pending appeals against convictions for taking more than $142,000 from the public office.  The court did not discuss its reasoning in the ruling, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

The ruling means Allen, 79, must still report to prison Aug. 27 for his 18-month sentence.

 

Civil Rights Hall May Get Home at Last
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[28 Jul 2010]

The National Civil Rights Institute and Hall of Fame, pet project of former Gary mayor Richard Hatcher, finally may have found a home after three decades of searching.  The Gary Community School Corp. plans on giving the former Banneker School property, located at 1912 W. 23rd Ave., to the nonprofit in exchange for $50,000 in monetary and in-kind donations to the school district.  Robert L. Lewis and Associates will be handling negotiations for the district.

The in-kind donations will likely include college scholarships for Gary students, internships, student programming, and other opportunities, board member Marion Williams said.

Board president Kenneth Stalling said the contract will stipulate certain requirements, such as work must begin on the property by 18 to 24 months.

The Banneker building was listed at $581,420, when the district put it up for sale last month.  In the museum's bid, institute officials discussed using state-of-the-art technology in exhibitions to educate visitors on "the Movement," a research library and an Imax movie theater.

The aim of the museum will be to promote and sustain the public's awareness of the civil rights movement.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Yet another "pipe dream" in the works?  An Imax theatre in Gary, give me a break!  The school board drove a hard bargain in this deal, giving away a $500 Thousand building for $50K in in-kind donations!

 

Gary City Council OKs $1M Loan for Payroll
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[ 28 Jul 2010]

GARY -- City Hall will make payroll Friday using a $1 million loan from one of its redevelopment funds.  The City Council voted 5-0 during a special meeting Tuesday to borrow the money from Gary's consolidated area tax increment finance fund.

Council members Marilyn Krusas, D-1st District, Kimberly Robinson, D-5th, and Kyle Allen and Ragen Hatcher, both D-at large, were absent during the vote.

Controller Celita Green said the city had $1.37 million available, without the loan, to meet $2.4 million in payroll expenses Friday.

The actual payroll amounts to $1.4 million, Green said.  But the city also needs $500,000 to pay insurance premiums and another $500,000 to make its $1.5 million quarterly payment to the Public Employees Retirement Fund.

If the council hadn't voted to approve the loan, Green said it would have been "extremely difficult" to make payroll.  As it is, she still needs to find $30,000 to meet all payroll expenses, which she said she'll be able to do.

The $1 million loaned from the TIF fund to the general fund will need to be paid back by December, according to the ordinance, or June at the latest.  Money in TIF districts is meant to be used for redevelopment, but Green and State Board of Accounts officials have said the loan is legal as long as it is repaid in time.

Green has been trying to land an $8 million bank loan to help the city meet its financial obligations for the rest of 2010.  She said that loan should be secured by the end of August.  Once that happens, she told the council's finance committee, the Indiana Bond Bank should release another $11 million in tax anticipation warrant cash.

"Do you think that will get us through the end of the year?" Council member Mary Brown, D-3rd, asked.  "If we are very careful with our spending," Green said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Let me see if I have this right?  I need to make a $2.4 Million payroll, so I borrow a million?  I agree to pay it back in December of this year, or then again maybe I'll pay it back in June of next year.  To pay it back I intend to take out an $8 Million loan.  That loan I will repay from receipt of tax anticipation funds.  Now, if the actual tax receipts do not equal the anticipated amounts; oh well, we will worry about that later!  It sounds to me like the city finance folk need to be writing to Clark Howard on how to address their problem?

 

Bracing for the Worst
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Jeff Burton
[28 Jul 2010]

GARY | An updated Little Calumet River closing structure on 35th Avenue just east of Chase Street is ready to go up during a flood emergency, but it still remains unclear exactly who will be responsible for setting it up.

Officials from the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, Indiana Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Gary were all on hand as a team from Hasse Construction assembled the floodgate in a Tuesday morning demonstration.  A team of five men assembled the wall in a little more than an hour, using only basic hand tools and a cordless drill.

While the demonstration had five people assisting, Navarro said in an actual emergency, more might be needed.  "The more you have the quicker it will go up," he said.

The city of Gary currently has no specific point person responsible for assembling the wall during a flood emergency.  Little Cal Commission Director Dan Repay said it is the city's responsibility to put the wall up when needed, though assistance from INDOT will be available.

"Without this, all of this area would flood," Repay said, pointing to a residential area along 35th Avenue east of Chase Street.

The floodgate structure will be stored at a nearby Gary Fire Department training facility, Martin Navarro, a project supervisor with INDOT said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  The wall should work well, if only we can find someone to put it up when needed.  The probablilty of that is nil, since that "someone" must be City of Gary employees.  "For Want of a Nail ... ."

 

Gary Advised to Stop Wasting Human Capital
Compiled from a nwiTimes.com report by Rob Earnshaw
[26 Jul 2010]

GARY | The city has to stop wasting its human capital if it is to thrive, Gary Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chuck Hughes told a crowd at a meeting Monday.  "We're not gang-bangers shooting each other but we're killing the spirit of each other," he said.  Hughes said the city has to show a collective togetherness and show general affection for one another.

A panel addressing ways the city can more effectively meet the needs of the underserved and underrepresented in the community with effective programs and partnerships was moderated by Black Entertainment Television host and producer Jeff Johnson.  It included Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, Gary Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers and Ivy Tech Community College Northwest Chancellor J. Guadalupe Valtierra in addition to Hughes.

Clay said it was important, first of all, to believe the city can be made better.  "If you do not believe that we can make it a better city than of course we can't make it a better city," he said.  "Not only do I think it can be a better city, it's going to be a better city.  "We're in the red zone now; we're not in the end zone yet.  I think if we work together we will get there."
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  But yet another example of Rudy talking out of both sides of his mouth!

 

Interesting Flashback
Courtesy nwiTimes.com
[25 Jul 2010]

1960 — Gary Municipal Airport will begin an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure the survival of its Gary-to-Detroit flights..
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  How did that "campaign" work out? 

 

Ball Now in Your Court, Rudy
Compiled From a Post-Trib Opinion Piece by Rich James
[23 Jul 2010]

Listen up, Rudy.  We've got to talk.

I spent the last week writing about your city, your beloved Gary.  Some of what was said wasn't very kind.  People from all over NWI were doing the talking.  Many of them Garyites.  All are concerned about the future of the city.  Same goes for me.

I know you may be Gary's greatest fan, Rudy, but you've got to take off the cheerleading outfit for a moment and look around.  There aren't many folks left in the stands, and the teams are about to leave the field.  It's nice to look at Gary through rose-colored glasses.  Nice, but not realistic.  Little gets accomplished when the tinted glass obscures the problems.

A Jackson family museum would be nice, but it isn't going to save Gary any more than Michael did when he was still alive.  Every year or so, Rudy, you trot out some grand plan that turns out to be a white elephant.  It's getting to feel like this is all about politics.  One of the first ones was to revitalize Broadway and Washington Street from City Hall south for several blocks.  Housing, retail shops and whatnot were all part of the plans.  But, alas, nothing.  And if I had a nickel for every plan I've heard for developing the area around Indiana University Northwest, I'd be a rich man.

Now we have the talk about a casino at the intersection of Interstates 94 and 65 or maybe even adjacent to the museum.  Build it and they will come is the thinking.  Yeah, just like the Genesis Center, the U.S. Steel Yard, the Sheraton Hotel and the casinos at Buffington Harbor have been the city's salvation.

Now you, Rudy, are caught in the middle of a Jackson family feud that runs from here to Las Vegas.  Not long ago a fellow who owned land over by the Village Shopping Center was all set to build a Jackson museum.  You told the guy to take a hike, mayor.  You wanted the thing built downtown.  Less than six months later, we're looking at the property at Gilroy Stadium, just north of Indiana University Northwest (and just east of the Village Shopping Center -GDY) for the Jackson thing.  Enough with the dog and pony shows!

You and I go back a long way, Rudy.  I want Gary to be a great city again, too, Rudy.  But you're going about it from the wrong direction.

Let's talk about this crime thing.  Gary is known across the country as the nation's murder capital.  That's heavy.  That's tough to fight through even when things get better.  While there have been fewer murders of late, there have been 28 homicides in Gary this year.  Not good.  I know, Rudy, you've said those murders pretty much involve gang and drug activity or a scorned wife out to get her husband's lover.  In other words, you and I have nothing to fear.  And just the other day you told me, Rudy, that there hasn't been a homicide in or around a Gary public school in the last three years.  I guess what you are saying, Rudy, is that if you come to Gary, you might want to hang out around one of the schools.

Then you said, "The perception of crime in Gary is not the reality."  If that's the case, Rudy, why is it that you still have a driver/body guard to accompany you around town?  I know the crime rate is down, but it only makes you look silly to say Gary is a safe city.  Just say it is getting safer, which it is.

Let's go back to this thing about cleaning up the city, Rudy.  Remember back in April of twenty-aught-six when you took over and proclaimed that your first priority would be to clean up Gary?  Let me tell you, Rudy, I was saying amens from here to Sunday.  You even named a cleanup czar.  But nine months later you moved the czar to a new job.  Despite your best intentions, Rudy, the city is still a mess. It kind of looks like nobody cares.  Kind of like a dirty, wet puppy.

The heck of it all, Rudy, is that I know you are passionate about Gary.  Unfortunately for all, the city doesn't show it.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Mr. James echoes my remarks from over the years; "Rudy is clearly able to talk the talk, and just as clearly not able to walk the walk!"  Gary needs help, and it needs it now!  Rudy cannot save Gary, let alone do it alone.  He does not have either the acumen needed to do so, or the requisite political clout.  I fully realize it is difficult to have pride in a "hell hole,"  but the fact is, the residents of Gary have to become engaged in the saving of their city.  If they do not, why should anyone else jump to take up the task?  Friends, we have inability in the "Steel City" to see or solve problems!"  I say problems.  That starts with a "P," and stands for politicos!    

 

City Moving Money to Meet Payroll

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel

[21 July 2010]

 

 

GARY -- The city is looking at the need to move cash from an account designed to fund redevelopment in order to meet the July payroll.

 

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would approve a $1 million emergency loan from Gary's "consolidated area" tax increment finance fund to its general fund.  The legislation says the money is needed to meet a portion of payroll July 30. Gary's 2010 property tax settlement will be used to pay the loan back, according to the ordinance.

 

Money in tax increment finance, or TIF, funds is meant to finance or improve public infrastructure.  Controller Celita Green has said the money will still be available for that purpose once it's paid back.

 

Council members will consider the TIF loan at their finance committee meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  Is this not a classic sign of an entity being on the verge of bankruptcy; robbing Peter to pay Paul?  This is nothing more than a short gap measure to meet the July payroll.  What is the plan for August and beyond?  And of course, Gary infrastructure is in such great shape that money for this purpose does not represent a critical, immediate need!  The key phrase in the the City Controller's comment is "once it's paid back."  From what fund shall money be moved to pay back the TIF loan one wonders? 

 

Debate Rages on How to Start Cleaning Up Gary

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Rich James

[20 Jul 2010]

 

 

Gary is old and dirty -- a far cry from the City of the Century slogan that is emblazoned on the city seal.

 

When Mayor Rudy Clay took over the city in April 2006, he made one thing perfectly clear -- he was going to clean up Gary.  (Mayor Scott King made the same vow some 10 years earlier, but the city became fairly ragged looking by the time Clay replaced him in office.)  "Rudy Clay is not going to be mayor of a city with all these boarded-up buildings and (downtown) Broadway looking like burned-out Berlin," the mayor said.  "We're dead broke, but we are going to clean up the city."

 

A year after Clay took over, he hired former Lake County Jail warden Caren Jones to be his "cleanup czar."  "We will not tolerate a dirty city," Jones said.  At the same time, code enforcement director Cassandra Carter said the city no longer would give a 10-day grace period to people whose homes were not up to code.  "We're taking them straight to court," Carter said.

 

After Jones had headed the cleanup effort for nine months, Clay named her parks superintendent in February 2008.  While she kept the "cleanup czar" moniker, the parks job occupies virtually all of her time.

 

Clay was brief recently when asked about his vow of four years ago to clean up the city.  "We are doing it two ways," the mayor said.  "We now have 50 volunteers at 11th Avenue and Washington Street.  Faith-based groups are cleaning up, too."

 

Despite Clay's best intentions, the city remains littered with trash, old tires, dilapidated furniture, junk cars and vacant buildings in ruins.  And cleanup efforts today are spotty at best.

 

Jones said the city needs a comprehensive media campaign involving billboards and schoolchildren and a campaign to stop littering.  She suggested a theme of, "No way, no how, no litter. Gary has had enough."  Jones said the people of Gary care about a clean city but have to be convinced the city is committed to getting it done.

 

Once the city launches an anti-litter and cleanup program, Jones said code enforcement is vital.  "We need enforcement so people are held accountable for the little things that eat away at the root of the tree that causes it to rot and fall," Jones said.

 

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said a clean city and sense of security are the two priorities for residents.  "Cleaning up an area will drive crime out," Brown said.  While Brown said the city is filthy, he said the residents must shoulder much of the blame.  Brown said even if the city didn't have financial problems, citizens have to be involved.  "Everyone has come to relying on government rather than doing their fair share," Brown said.  "People have to understand you can't just rely on government."

 

Area lawyer Calvin Bellamy, the former chairman of Bank Calumet, is critical of the city's faith-based communities.  "I think the faith community is a little bit of a problem.  They have their fiefdoms and they don't seem to think beyond that," Bellamy said.

 

Roy Pratt is dean of the Gary City Council and a frequent critic of those in charge of cleaning the city.  Pratt said, "Everybody knows the city looks horrible. It looks like a bomb hit it."  Pratt said the problem today is two-fold and that all the blame can't be placed on Gary.  "We have to have a comprehensive program of cleaning.  We need street sweepers.  We have to have code enforcement.  "We let people let garbage pile up in their front yards and we don't do anything," Pratt said.

 

 

Small Business Revolution Needed in Gary
From nwiTimes.com
[19 July 2010]

An Urban Entrepreneurial Educational Revolution of mind, body and soul is needed -- a gradual sustained integrated process that can be measured.  This revolution should be fueled by small businesses, which fuel economies and our nation.  They provide jobs, goods and services that impact our quality of life.

Gary is economically challenged -- an understatement for sure.  However, its potential is vast.  Gary governmental officials and grassroots activists can ignite this kind of revolution by motivating proactive community residents and organizations to pool their financial and intellectual capital for the purpose of individual and mutual benefit.

A global revolution of change is the kind that catapulted Rwanda, a country decimated by genocide in the 1990's, to 67th on the list of countries that made the latest Ease of Doing Business ranking from the World Bank.  As stated in the June 2010 issue of the Harvard Review, this study ranked Rwanda on one sub index as 11th worldwide in the ease of opening a new business.

A more aggressive exploration of entrepreneurship can possibly spark a revolutionary interest and involvement in the community economic development of Gary.

— Jihad T. Muhammad
President/CEO, Urban Development Consultants, LLC, Gary
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  An interesting perspective.  Perhaps comparing Gary's plight to that of a third world country is not that far off base?

 

No Silver Bullet for Gary Troubles
Compiled From a Post-Trib Column by Rich James
[18 Jul 2010]

Excerpts

In terms of development, Gary always seems to be swinging for the fences, overlooking the realization that a series of singles can lead to runs as well.

Gary today is a poster child for the rust belt.

The city's population has plummeted from a high of 178,320 in 1960 to a 2008 estimate of 95,920.

"Gary has got to cease the them-versus-us mentality.  We sometimes play the victim and that gives off an aura of weakness."  Those outside the city need to appreciate that, "A lot of the offers to help are condescending and patronizing.  We give talk to Gary being important, but we don't always walk the walk."

There is an attitude, particularly in Porter County, that if Gary fails, someone can build a wall and keep the people from coming to Porter County and elsewhere.  "Building a wall is not going to work.  We need to rebuild the middle class over there."

Clay should be saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have asked the three former mayors to form a committee to see what we can do to turn Gary around." Clay responded, "I think it is a good suggestion. It cannot hurt anything. I think I am going to try and initiate that."

 

Citizen Commentary
From Post-Trib "Letters to Editor" Column
[18 Jul 2010]

Blacks contributed to the independence of the 13 colonies during the American Revolution, but the Declaration of Independence meant nothing for them.  America reneged on the words "all men are created equal" by continuing slavery after the revolution.  Any black man or woman who celebrates Independence Day is a pathetic fool.

The Independence Day parade in Gary is indicative of the ignorance and stupidity among black people.  Why would black people celebrate a concocted holiday that represents a continuation of racism and mental enslavement of black people despite our contributions to the American Revolution?  Enslaved blacks fought against the British because they believed in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.

—- Dwight Taylor
Gary

 

MJ Museum Development Needs More Time
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[15 Jul 2010]

GARY -- The city now has two extra months before it may hand five parcels of land over to a developer who wants to build a tribute to the family of the late pop star Michael Jackson in Glen Park.  Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety approved the time extension Wednesday.  It offers 60 additional days until the close of escrow on the land transfer from the city to the Jackson Family Foundation.

Las Vegas promoter Simon Sahouri's signature appears on the document, listing him as president of the foundation and the Jackson Development and Marketing Corp.  Absent were signatures from Joseph and Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's parents, who signed the original agreement approved June 2 by the Board of Works.

Sahouri, who signed it July 5, said he was authorized to approve the new document on behalf of the two entities.  A spokeswoman for Katherine Jackson confirmed the family matriarch's participation in the project.  It would be built on land where South Gleason Golf Course and Gilroy Stadium are now found.

Though the Jacksons claim in their deal at City Hall to have the rights to use the name and image of Michael Jackson, an attorney for the singer's estate said it has that right exclusively.  He said the estate hasn't given its blessing to the Gary project.  Randy Jackson, Michael Jackson's brother, publicly questioned the legitimacy of the Jackson Family Foundation last month.

Sahouri said his goal of breaking ground on the project in 2011 remains.  "When you do a project like this you want to make sure everything's in place," Sahouri said.

The original deal created a 30-day window for close of escrow on the land transfer.  That deadline passed earlier this month, but the agreement also allowed for extra time if agreed to by all parties.  Gary attorneys have said they are waiting until the Jackson Family Foundation establishes itself as a not-for-profit entity with the state and the Internal Revenue Service to transfer the land.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:  A delay?  Shocking, not!  After all, Rudy and Gary government are involved!

 

Roosevelt Fails in State Grant Bid
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[14 Jul 2010]

GARY -- Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy did not receive a $6 million school improvement grant from the state Department of Education.  This was the second round of funding for the schools across the state.  Roosevelt is one of 22 schools statewide that are in the fourth year of academic probation under the state's public accountability law.

Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said the result was disappointing, but the district plans to reapply for funds in the fall.  "By no means does this result put off our plans to transform Roosevelt," Campbell said.

"The state is looking for bold, robust initiatives to hold teachers accountable for student performance."  Roosevelt is embracing the transformational model, which requires the replacement of the administration and focuses on improving teacher effectiveness.  Roosevelt's grant application outlined a teacher accountability program, which awards money for improvements in student grades and for lowering disciplinary offenses.

Campbell said the state had concerns that the accountability section wasn't strong enough.  Since the district was turned down for the grant, Campbell said that the district will look at reappropriating some funds -- possibly stimulus dollars -- to go toward teacher development and support.

Board member Barbara Leek said concern about Roosevelt will produce results in the upcoming school year.  "We are equally determined to be where we need to be next spring when the state Department of Education says you have made documented progress," Leek said.  "That is our goal and we intend to meet our goal."  In 2009, the school graduated only 44.4 percent of its students within four years, compared to 81.5 percent statewide.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Either Indianapolis cares not what happens in NWI in terms of educational reform, or it does not trust the Gary School Board to be able to do what is needed?  It matters not which, as in either case Gary and the students lose.

 

USS Loses 2 Blast Furnaces at Gary Works
Compiled from a Report on www.steelmarketupdate.com by John Packard
[13 Jul 2010]

The U.S. Steel Gary Works had an accident last week which has resulted in the idling of two of the companies four operating furnaces at the facility.  According to U.S. Steel spokesperson Erin DiPietro, an accident occurred on the "high line" – the rail line upon which raw materials are transported to the blast furnaces via a transfer car.  At 12:30 AM last Wednesday a steel girder supporting a bridge collapsed sending a transfer car and its load to the ground 25 feet below.  One worker has been hospitalized with fractures.

According to an article in today’s Post-Tribune blast furnaces 4 and 8 have been shut down since the accident.  The number 4 furnace production capacity daily rate is 4,200 short tons per day while the Number 8 furnace is 3,300 tons per day. At peak production the potential loss is approximately 7,500 tons per day or around 52,500 tons since last Wednesday.

The Post-Tribune article quotes a union representative, "On the No. 4 furnace, they did a pretty extensive inspection with three different engineering firms.  I've never seen anything like this before.  The more they looked, the more problems they found.  The problems they found, they had to correct them before the transfer cars could run on that road," he said.  "It's a shame it takes someone almost losing their life for the company to say, 'We're making these repairs,' especially when they say safety is a core value."

OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) is investigating the accident.  It is not known how long that investigation will continue.

 

Gary:  Groundswell of Residents Create Opportunities, Quality of Life from Inside Out
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Jane Ammeson
[11 July 2010]

After eight years managing other people's property, Samantha Banks decided it was time she had some property of her own, to create an income stream.  "But I didn't have very good credit," says Banks, who at the time lived in Chicago.  Banks saw Gary as the perfect place to invest time and sweat equity, so she bought a house near Indiana University Northwest that needed a lot of work.  Her husband, Jerry Banks, a contractor, fixed up the house, and the couple moved in.  "We chose Gary because it isn't too far from Chicago, and Gary is an opportunity for a lot of people to own their home," says Banks, whose next step was to start buying other homes to fix up and rent out.

She turned to Roger Hayward, founder of Gary's Time, a company that helps arrange short-term loans for people with less-than-perfect credit.  "We fixed (our secondary house) up and have people living in it," Banks says.  "I have one more payment for our primary home, and I'll be done in August, and my secondary home I'll be done paying for in January."

Banks and Hayward are part of a growing group of people who are either from Gary or who have adopted the city as a place to live and work, where they see great potential for investing, attaining a good quality of life.  They also see untapped possibilities to create art and a cultural scene unique to the region.

When Hayward first saw an abandoned and burned-out building on Vermont Street in Gary, he describes his heart as breaking.  A real estate developer who had moved his family from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Hayward had been buying bankrupt properties in Gary online with a group of investors.  "I wondered what type of property you could buy for a thousand dollars," Hayward says.  "It's just walls and the mechanics of it, like windows.  "When they didn't sell, I thought, what am I going to say to my investors.  And then I thought, how about becoming the banker for these homes."  So he started offering short-term loans to prospective buyers.

"I never met more energizing people than those that I've helped getting into homes over the last year and a half," Hayward says.  "I've been on the streets starting at 13, so I can relate to these people.  You can't enable people; they have to take the initiative, too.  It's a matter of folks knowing what they can and can't do, and these people are willing to put the sweat equity into it."

But it was the house on Vermont that changed the idea of doing business into a personal mission.  "I had a sf-nosed cry," Hayward says.  "And then I realized that I had been asking God for a purpose, and this was it."

Hayward's purpose?  To help bring Gary back, through affordable housing.  Creating Gary's Time, he put the battered house on his website, www.garystime.com, and he started organizing groups such as the West Side High School Cougars football team, which is working on fixing up some of the homes.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Finally, something positive coming out of Gary.  One has to wonder what would motivate anyone to move from PA to da' Region?  Roger contacted me before the move, telling me of his plans.  I was able to offer some advice and coments; which I have no idea proved to be useful to him in any way.  My point is, here is someone who is making a difference, and helping others make a difference.  Interesting that it is private individuals having a modicum of success in doing so, not Rudy or the government.  I say, "More power to them!"  They deserve all the support/help they can get!

 

Deborah Movement Comes to Gary
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lisa Deneal
[7 Jul 2010]

GARY -- The Deborah Movement, brought its message to Gary Tuesday, one that advocates the saying that action speaks louder than words.  During a meeting of the Gary Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, members of the organization along with their Chicago sponsor, The Black Star Project, supported the commission's launch of a Gary chapter of the Deborah Movement.

The movement is an organization of women coming together to "re-establish order and regain control in their communities through prayer and active duties."  The organization gets its name from the Old Testament, which is based on Deborah the prophetess in Judges 4:8-9.

Barbara Sanders, a member of Chicago's West Side chapter, said the goal is to establish a spiritual movement to stop the violence in communities, establish a positive economic climate and rebuild the family structure.  "We are not about sitting around doing meetings and writing or reading about what needs to be done," Sanders said.  "We put a call to action and answer the call by showing up and addressing the problems face to face in a spiritual manner."
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  Good luck with that!  May the spirit be with them ... .

 

Gary Plays "2300 Jackson St." But Does Not Pay
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Christine Kraly
[4 Jul 2010]

GARY | Call most Gary City Hall offices and while on hold you'll be treated to the soulful city tribute, "2300 Jackson Street."  But the Jackson family's hometown, in an attempt to honor its ties with the famous musical troupe, may be doing so without legally paying to play the tune.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay has echoed the refrain of The Jacksons song since Michael Jackson's death last June and the return of his parents to the famous address.  In preparing for last year's tribute to the fallen King of Pop, Clay said:  "Michael Jackson and his family had a record that said '2300 Jackson Street, always home.'  So this is home."

But in terms of the telephone hold music, The Times contacted several music associations and publishers listed with the 1989 Jacksons composition.  None reached by The Times reported having any agreement permitting Gary to use the song.  The Jacksons tune is among Broadcast Music Inc.'s 6.5 million-work repertoire, which it licenses out to thousands of businesses and other entities.  BMI spokesman Jerry Bailey said Gary does not have a license to use BMI's repertoire, including "2300 Jackson Street."

Clay referred questions about the legal use of the song to city attorney Susan Severtson, who did not immediately respond with answers about the song last week.  Should Gary be asked to start paying, Clay said he did not expect the city would continue using the song.  I'm not saying 'no,'" Clay said. But, he added, "I doubt it."

 

Gary Searching for Loan to Cover $7.5M Shortfall
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[1 Jul 2010]

The DUAB helped Gary in 2009, along with three other local taxing units.  The state auditor miscalculated the DUAB credits when preparing a tax distribution this winter, though.  That mistake directed about $8 million to the units already getting DUAB help when it should have gone to other units in Gary, like the schools, library and Calumet Township.  To make up for it, the county auditor's office withheld $8.2 million this month from the DUAB units and redistributed it among the shorted units.

The City of Gary's money manager said Gary will seek a loan to cover a $7.5 million hit taken when the county adjusted for the overpayment earlier this year.  Green said the city's loan would be collateralized with casino funds.  Much of Gary's casino money is tied up paying down the debt from construction of the U.S. Steel Yard and the renovation of the public safety building.  That debt will be paid in March, Green said, freeing up money that could be used to pay back the loan.

Controller Celita Green said Gary's budget can't be cut enough to make up for the lost money.  At least $29.3 million of the city's $52.8 million budget pays for public safety and $12.9 million of that is budgeted for the police department.  Green said the city could be forced to repay spent money from a federal grant used to hire new officers if it cuts into the police department.

Meanwhile, the city already secured $20.2 million in budget relief from the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board, funded by higher property tax caps for Gary property owners.

The administration will take the loan to the City Council for a vote, Green said, once it has approval papers from a bank.


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