Mayor Rudy         Clay     Rudy:  Ramblings & Rumblings
  2011 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana and Mayor Rudy Clay's running of the "Steel City"

  Go To:  Archived 2010 (Jun - Dec) Rudy Report
  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 2011 Rudy Report (Part I-January through June).  If we are fortunate, this may be the last/final year of Rudy's Reign?  He is being challenged in the Democratic primary by some strong contenders, including the daughter of former mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher and a former Indiana Attorney General.  Remember, you may access earlier year reports from the links appearing above, and at the bottom of this page.


To begin following the Mayor-Elect, access the "On the Come Up with Karen" Report  ==> HERE <==

 
 

Clay Stepping Aside, Leaves Trail of Blunders
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson

[30 Dec 2011]

A master of metaphors, Clay seemed vulnerable early on to embracing projects without the proper research.

In 2006, Clay said he would sign a contract with a Gary businessman who wanted to take commuters from Gary to Chicago in a hovercraft vehicle.  The hovercraft shuttle notion quickly sputtered out.

He proclaimed there would be a Jackson family museum and performing arts center, but that project is stalled.

Clay also aligned himself with a group of developers promising to renovate the old Sheraton Hotel on Broadway, just south of City Hall.  A $70 million downtown plaza and condominium project was envisioned.  The plan came just two months before the May 2007 primary won by Clay.  Freeman-Wilson, who finished second in 2007, called the proposal "political smoke and mirrors."  Clay said asbestos has been removed from the Sheraton but the recession halted development.

Clay drew critics for opting to drive around the city in a taxpayer-funded Hummer during most of his term.  In January, he finally ditched the Hummer in favor of an fuel-efficient vehicle purchased by the city as part of a $3 million federal stimulus grant.

Along the way, he named nine police chiefs but the city still seemed mired in its share of brutal crimes.

After Saturday, Clay said he wonít be sitting in the bleachers.  "I may write a book, travel and go into a small business. Itís winding down now, but then Iíll take off and soar like an eagle."

 

Clay:  Auctioning Hummer "Right Thing to Do"
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[30 Dec 2011]

GARY ó Outgoing Mayor Rudy Clay said Friday his city-owned black Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle should be auctioned off because of the "worldwide attention" it captured.  "I am in support of auctioning off the Hummer because it is a wise financial move; to return the proceeds to the city following the sale of the vehicle is the right thing to do," Clay said in a statement.

Clay spent most of his tenure at City Hall driving around the city in a Hummer and defending it.

In 2006, the city took over a $420 monthly lease on a black Hummer H3 for Clay, replacing former mayor Scott Kingís Ford Expedition.  Clay also stepped up his security detail, saying he had received death threats.

In 2008, Clay said he paid for gas for the Hummer out of his own pocket as the city pondered laying off workers.

In 2009, with the city seeking relief from the state to raise taxes to shore up a $30 million budget deficit, Clay began driving around town in a new Hummer H3 that cost the city $29,900 over three years.  "Iíve got one of the cheapest SUVs on the highway," Clay said, "and itís like the world is coming to an end."

Clay announced in January, while gearing up for a primary run, heíd give up the Hummer in favor of one of the cityís new fuel efficient vehicles purchased with federal stimulus money.  However, observers said Clay still could be seen riding around the city in the banished Hummer.

 

Quarter of States 2010 Murders in Lake
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[13 Dec 2011]

Lake County filed 54 new murder cases in 2010, more than a quarter of all new murder cases filed that year across the state, according to a study released Tuesday.  The study, called the Indiana Judicial Service Report, tracks data on all case types and finances for state courts in Indiana and is released annually.  Lake Countys 54 murder cases were the most the county had seen in a year since 2002, the first year detailed statistics were available on a county level.

The report said that 205 murder cases were filed in Indiana in 2010, making Lake Countys cases 26 percent of the states total.  Lake Countys total was second only to Marion County, which had 75.  No other county came close.  Porter County had one murder case filed last year.  It was an increase for Lake County from 2009, when it filed 42 murder cases.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernie Carter pointed out that the number of murder cases filed in a year doesnt necessarily correlate to the homicides in that year because cases are often not filed in the year they were committed.  For instance, he said, theres a possibility that charges in the homicide that took place during the Thanksgiving weekend in downtown Crown Point wont be filed until next year.

"We would hope that we would have a safe community where nobodys life would be taken," he said.  "But thats not reality."

Carter said he wasnt surprised that Lake County and Marion County had so many more homicides than any other county in the state because the two counties have large urban areas with a large amount of drug trafficking.  Although some of Lake Countys cases were related to domestic issues or were cold cases, Carter said most of the homicides are connected to drug activity, such as gang members fighting over territory.  Thats why its so important for local law enforcement to go after people on drug charges because it will help get people who are willing to kill others for drug profits off the streets, he said.


 

Genesis Center Wants More Money
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[13 Dec 2011]

GARY The Genesis Center will ask for a more than $300,000 reappropriation at the next Common Council meeting, and a couple of council members are not happy about it.

Genesis Center Vice President Mildred Shannon during Tuesday nights Finance Committee meeting said the money would go toward a host of uses, such as fixing the centers heating and cooling system.  The center expects to host several large events in January, including Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilsons Inaugural Ball, and those funds would go toward defraying the appropriation.

Shannon also admitted that vendors hadnt been getting paid, and when they discovered it, they also discovered they were "too far in the hole."  Shannon said there isnt a convention center in the country thats not subsidized by the government and said they just need "a little lift."

Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson, D-5th, reminded the committee that the council gave the center $300,000 in August.  "You said $300,000 was going to take you to the end of the year," she said.  "Its like youre asking for $150,000 a month, and then what happens?  Why not just give you $500,000 and (the center) not come back again."

Finance chairwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said she understands there are challenges including the gross mismanagement of the past but she said the center must continue to be supported.  "It makes no sense to let it just close down," she said.  "Why would we?  What would it leave us?"

Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, meanwhile, said the money theyre using is coming from casino funds or the general fund, neither of which were intended to fund the center on an ongoing basis.  "How many years of mistakes in judgment are we going to have to cover?" she said.  "Just throwing money at the problem doesnt fix it."

Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, asked why more organizations take their events outside the city and if an effort could be made to market to churches and other organizations in the city to get them to consider the Genesis Center.


 

Gary Leadership Baton Ready to be Passed
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Vanessa Renderman
[13 Dec 2011]

GARY | The baton is nearly passed, and the ball is ready to be carried over the goal line.  That's how Gary Mayor Rudy Clay on Tuesday described the end of his mayoral run, as Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilson talked about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Every mayor should pass on to the next mayor a baton that's better than the one he got or she got," Clay said.  "The baton that we're passing on to you is now polished, shined up and ready to go."  He encouraged his successor to take that baton faster, farther and higher than any mayor in the city's history.  Freeman-Wilson thanked Clay for delivering a "shiny" baton.

Gary, built by the likes of J.P. Morgan, Elbert H. Gary and the Carnegie family, is poised to become the next great comeback story of the Rust Belt because Gary is a city of promise, Freeman-Wilson said. "Northwest Indiana has the potential to be great, with Gary as the crown jewel," she said.  "It is time to act like the majority."  During her comments shouts of "Amen!" and "Praise Jesus!" lifted from the group of about 500 people..
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Am I out of line to proffer that if the majority remark cited above were uttered by a caucasian, it would be deemed racially insensitive?


 

Allegiant Air Allegedly Taking to Sky in Gary
Compiled From a Post-trib Report By Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[13 Dec 2011]

GARY Allegiant Air will begin new, non-stop passenger jet service from the Gary/Chicago International Airport to Sanford, Fla., beginning Feb. 15.  "Were pleased to bring an affordable and convenient travel option to Gary," Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant Travel Company President, said.  "We are confident that the Gary community will appreciate flying nonstop to Orlando and take advantage of the great deals we offer on hotels, car rentals and theme park tickets."  The company said Monday that some of its special introductory fares would cost $69.95, plus a charge for checked baggage.  The airline will fly twice a week Thursday and Sunday to the Orlando Sanford International Airport.

Steven Landry, interim director of the Gary airport, welcomed the new airline.  "Our partnership with such a renowned and established company in the travel industry is an incredibly positive step towards fulfilling a key aspect of the airports Strategic Business Plan."

Pan American Airlines began passenger flights out of the Gary airport in 1999, but shut down in 2002.  It also flew into the Orlando/Sanford airport.  Southeast Airlines started serving passengers in Gary in February 2004, just to end service 10 months later.  Hooters Air also flew out of the Gary airport between June 2004 and December 2005.  The airport hasnt had passenger service since 2007 when SkyValue USA halted flights and filed bankruptcy papers.

About the $69.99 One-way Fares -

Seats are limited.  Fares are one-way and not available on all flights.  Must be purchased by Jan. 4 for travel by May 15.  Prices do not include PFC, segment tax or Sept. 11 security fee of up to $10.70 per segment.  A fee of $14.99 per segment will apply when purchased through Allegiant call centers.  Purchases made at any Allegiant Airport Ticket Office will not incur a convenience or call center fee.  When purchased at the time of booking, a checked bag fee of $19.99 per bag, per segment will apply for the first two checked bags.  If purchased at flight check-in, a fee of $35 per checked bag, per person, per segment will apply for the first two bags checked.

Allegiant at a Glance -

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company has posted 35 consecutive quarters of profitability.  The company is focused on linking travelers in small cities to world-class leisure destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix-Mesa, Orlando, Fla., and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.

Through its subsidiary, Allegiant Air, the company operates a low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger airline offering air travel and hotel rooms, rental cars and other travel-related services.

The company ranked ninth this year in Forbes Best Small Companies.  Allegiant was also recently named one of Fortune magazines "100 Fastest-Growing Companies" for the second consecutive year.  In 2010, Allegiant was ranked number one for low-cost carriers in Aviation Weeks Top Performing Airline study.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Will it really happen?  Will it last?  At the very least, Rudy can depart with this feather in his cap.

 

Mayor-Elect Proclaims
Florida Courier - Sharing Black Life Statewide
By the Gary Crusader Staff, Special to the NNPA from the Gary Crusader -
[27 Nov 2011]

On election night, the new Mayor-elect proclaimed:  "You have sent a message to the nation and all of Northwest Indiana that Gary, Indiana is on the come up!"
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Duh?  My dear departed mother taught me that if you cannot say anything nice, it is best not to say anything at all ... .
 

 

Gary Burglaries On the Increase
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[26 Nov 2011]

GARY In one weeks time, Gary police have responded to at least 85 burglaries.

Between Monday, Nov. 14, and Nov. 21, residents in the Brunswick, Glen Park and Miller neighborhoods, in Tarrytown and Marshalltown subdivisions, Concord Commons and Oak Knoll Renaissance apartments returned home to find intruders had been there.

Investigators estimate residents have reported about 2,200 burglaries so far this year.  Thats 12 per day, one every two hours!  Of those, about 120 cases (5.5%) have resulted in criminal charges.

Although an increase in burglaries and robberies is typical at this time of year, even veteran officers are stunned by the number of calls they are now fielding relating to burglaries.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Now here is a lasting legacy of which Rudy may justly be proud!

 

Gary Cops Vote "No Confidence" in Chief
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[17 Nov 2011]

GARY An overwhelming majority of Gary police officers want Chief Anthony Q. Stanley removed from the top spot.  A vote by members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 members Wednesday resulted in 119 in support of a "no confidence" stance regarding Stanley's leadership abilities.  Seven voted to support the chief.

Stanley had no comment on the vote Thursday.  Earlier in the week he said the FOP action would not deter him from his duties as chief.

The FOP will present a letter with the vote tallies to Mayor Rudy Clay on Friday, FOP President Del Stout said.  "We will ask him to remove Stanley and replace him.  It's in the best interest of the department," Stout said.

Stanley was named chief in August, Clay's ninth police leader during his term as mayor.

Stout noted that the 119 votes reflect discontent by more than half the 235 members of the force.  About 95% of officers belong to the FOP.  "The vast majority are fed up with his actions," Stout said.

Earlier this month, police learned Stanley convinced the Board of Works to eliminate the rank of captain and cut other ranks by 25%, immediately.  The police department has seven exempt ranks, including the chief, deputy chief and five commanders.  Two captains can retain their rank, but those positions will be gone after they retire.  "This was done with no consultation with us," Stout said.  Stanley said the number of supervisory ranks was established when the department consisted of more than 400 officers.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Well, I guess that 32 times is not a charm when it comes to Gary chiefs of police?

 

It's Herzoner'
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[8 Nov 2011]

GARY Making history came easy Tuesday for Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson who now faces the tougher challenge of resurrecting a city ravaged by crime, corruption and lost tax dollars.  Voters overwhelmingly elected Freeman-Wilson, 51, as the citys first woman mayor in its 106-year history.

"Its an honor to make history, any way you make it," said Freeman-Wilson shortly before she met supporters at the Genesis Center.  "You can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  Now, the real work begins."  She said one of her top priorities will be to convince the General Assembly to approve a land-based casino for the city.  "We believe theres a Chicago casino coming down the pike, but we can compete."

Kaaren Freeman-Wilson (D)  11465 (86%)
Charles R. Smith Jr. (R)           384 (2.8%)
Eddie Tarver (U)                      472 (3.5%)
Lavetta Sparks-Wade (I)          995 (7.5%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST          13316
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Somehow, out of a population of 87,000 +, a paltry 13 Thousand (15%) were motivated enought to vote?

 

HUD Visit to Gary Turns Up Multiple Issues
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Michael Gonzalez [28 Oct 2011]

GARY A visit by HUD officials to the Gary Housing Authority on Thursday and Friday turned up little good news.  Sources close to GHA management said financial problems at the agency, run by Alfreda Peterson, Mayor Rudy Clays niece, may run into the millions.  Peterson did not return multiple requests for comment Thursday and Friday.

HUD officials from Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland descended on GHA for a review described by one official as "rough."  The meeting included GHA administrators, board members and representatives from the mayors office.  In 2003, GHA entered a memorandum of agreement with HUD to significantly improve its operations.  As part of the agreement, site teams periodically visit and provide reports.

In responses to emailed questions, HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said GHA most recently earned a score of zero on its financial management in the Public Housing Assessment System, a report card for public housing agencies nationwide.  The Gary agency also earned only 51 out of 100 points on a more comprehensive assessment.

More disconcerting, GHA had a nearly 25 percent vacancy rate, according to HUD, even though there is a roughly two-year waiting list for apartments.  Almost 480 units are unoccupied, with 425 of them available now.  "The vacancy rate for Gary Housing Authority public housing, as of today, is unacceptably high," Brown wrote Friday.

Earlier this year, Peterson and other GHA officials held a press conference to tout what they called significant improvements in performance, particularly in financial management.  Two days later, Peterson recanted her remarks when official HUD results showed the agencys claims of improvements were drastically overstated.  At the time, GHA was still being partly managed by the Chicago-based Woodlawn Community Development Corp.  That contract ended, and GHA has been handling the finances and operations internally.

HUD reserved some cautionary remarks for the board, chaired by Lake County Clerk Mike Brown.

Brown said HUD will release a report of its visit and its requirements for GHA to get in compliance with the federal agency, but he mentioned a laundry list of work the Gary agency has to get done.  HUD will require GHA to increase its cash flow, implement an asset management program, reduce the overall vacancy rate and vacant unit turnaround time and improve the physical conditions of the properties.

Brown said the board will review the report and demand necessary changes.  "It is the boards responsibility to make changes, and we have to do a better job, we really do," he said.  "When the report comes back in the following weeks, well do everything in the boards power to get GHA where it has to be."

 

Gary Woman Indicted for Making Phony IRS Worker Claims
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Bowdeya Tweh
[21 Oct 2011]

HAMMOND -- A federal grand jury indicted former Gary mayoral candidate Saba Mohammed Thursday, for allegedly impersonating an I.R.S. agent and lying to federal agents.  Mohammed, 36, told a person in October of 2010 during a recorded conversation that she was previously employed by the IRS, according to court documents.  She also said she continued to do audits for the agency as an independent contractor.

The U.S. Attorney's office alleges Mohammed misrepresented herself to obtain documents and information from a third party.  She never has been an IRS employee or contractor.  Treasury Department special agents questioned Mohammed in late September about impersonating IRS employees.  When questioned she said she never had represented herself as an IRS employee, enrolled agent, contractor or former employee.

A federal public defender has been appointed to represent Mohammed.  Authorities released her on a $20,000 bond.  She is expected to appear in Hammond federal court Tuesday for an arraignment before Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich.

Mohammed finished in eighth place among 10 candidates in Gary's Democratic mayoral primary in May.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is this what becomes of losing candidates after election day, one wonders?

 

Former Gary School Treasurers Charged with Theft
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Carmen McCollum
[19 Oct 2011]

GARY -- Following an Indiana State Board of Accounts review, two school treasurers at Gary schools have been charged with felony theft in separate incidents involving stolen cash from extracurricular accounts.  Each faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The Lake County prosecutor's office charged Annie L. Moore-Gilmore, 62, with the theft of nearly $90,000 during her tenure as treasurer at Roosevelt High School.  According to the probable cause affidavit, Moore-Gilmore admitted she began working as treasurer in August 2004.  She said sheleft the corporation in February, 2009 as a result of an illness caused by the stress of her job.  She admitted to taking the missing extracurricular money and spending it, the affidavit said.

The report said she did not put any of the missing money into her bank account.  She said there was no reason for taking the money other than to say that spending the stolen money gave her a "euphoric high" or release from the stress of her job.  She told authorities no one else was involved in the theft.  The affidavit states she expressed relief the situation was over and expressed a desire to pay the money back using her retirement annuity.

The second case involved a special investigation of the Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts.  The Lake County prosecutor's office has charged Charlotte Rowan, 54, with the theft of $55,529 in extracurricular money.  The affidavit says Rowan began her job at Emerson in October, 2006 and was suspended on May 29, 2009.  Rowan did not provide any explanation to the State Board of Accounts or to prosecutors regarding the missing money.  According to the affidavit, Rowan reiterated she wasn't properly trained to carry out her duties at the school.  While not admitting to stealing money, Rowan expressed an interest in repaying the funds.

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A jury acquitted the charged Emerson Treasurer, Ms. Rowan, of the allegations in a three-day jury trial last week.  Defense Attorney Scott King said the acquittal was more than merited after the jury heard evidence in the case.  "We also intend to file a petition to expunge her record," King said.  "She has a long history of very positive employment.  These allegations have injured her.  We are gratified the jury returned this verdict." 

In the other case, King said Ms. Moore-Gilmore, who was accused of stealing nearly $90,000 from Roosevelt's extracurricular fund, pleaded guilty Friday.  She will be sentenced Nov. 17.

 

Gary Approves Loan to Redo Gleason Golf Course
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[11 Oct 2011]

GARY - The Gleason Golf Course back nine is going to get a badly needed rehab shortly, via an interfund loan.

The Gary Finance committee passed a $40,000 loan to the Park fund from the Media fund for the complete aeration and reseeding of the portion of Gleason most affected by the September 2008 flood.

The back nine was opened for business for most of the summer, but most golfers didnt realize it because its still in disrepair, said Gary Parks & Recreation Manager and Temporary Golf Course Manager Ezra Alexander.  "After that big rain we had right before the Fourth of July, we had it up and running for the Fourth," Alexander said.

Because of his temporary position, Alexander didn't have numbers showing how much the golf course lost in revenue because of the back nine, but Councilwoman Kim Robinson [D-5th] said she and the committee would have to wait to compare the 2012 numbers with this years.

Robinson said she is glad the golf course has been deemed "an emergency" in need of repair.  "This is one of our gems, and we need to be able to save it and generate income," she said.  "Since 2008, I have had people tell me we really need to do something."

Servicescape of Michigan City will start the work within a week upon the Common Council approving the loan, Alexander said.  The loan will be repaid through the Park Fund levy once taxes come in.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   What makes this story of note is the fact that, unless I am mistaken, the back nine of Gleason is part of the land Rudy is giving to Joe Jackson for his theme park; if/when Joe ever gets his act together, which is more than doubtful.  If it so valuable, pray tell, why is the city giving it away?

 

HUD Suspends Gary Community Development Director
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[5 Oct 2011]

GARY Federal Housing and Urban Development officials on Tuesday suspended Jacqueline Drago-Hunter, head of Garys Community Development department, from handling any federal funds.  In a letter from a HUD official, Drago-Hunter was suspended for her October 2010 federal indictment for her suspected involvement in an alleged real estate fraud scheme.  Her suspension from handling federal money began Sept. 30.  The letter indicates Drago-Hunter can appeal the suspension.

The letter of suspension reads:

"I have determined that your immediate suspension is necessary to protect the public interest. "The Indictments allegations evidence the Government faces a serious and immediate risk of harm if you are permitted to continue doing business with it."

City officials have spent considerable time courting federal dollars to help demolish abandoned buildings and with its housing programs.  Last year, former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh and Mayor Rudy Clay hosted then-HUD deputy director Ron Simms in a much publicized tour of the city and its problems.

It was unclear late Wednesday if Drago-Hunter was suspended with pay.  While Drago-Hunter is a city employee who reports to Clay, the mayor said his administration will leave it up to HUD to determine if she should be paid during her suspension.

HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said keeping Drago-Hunter on the payroll may not have hurt the citys chances of getting money, but the city can ill afford many more public black eyes if it wants help from the federal government.  "Gary has some people really committed to rebuilding Gary and getting it back on track," Brown said.  "Gary has to help itself by cleaning up its act.  Its going to take that type of commitment in building its track record if the city is going to continue getting federal funds."

City attorney Carl Jones, who also represents Community Development under a separate contract, said Drago-Hunter requested a leave from her post when she received the letter Tuesday morning.  Jones said he has been tapped to fill in for Drago-Hunter temporarily.  His contract as the departments attorney ended last Friday.

As head of Community Development, Drago-Hunter is responsible for administering millions of dollars of federal money to dozens of social service agencies.  "(The suspension) doesnt prevent her from being a department head, but the transactions we deal with pretty much deal with federal funds," Jones said.

 

Flashback in Time

Gary Dreams Of Economic Comeback
Compiled from a Chicago Tribune Report by David Elsner
[18 Mar 1990]

If an O`Hare-style airport were to be built in Gary, Charles Archibald probably would be able to look up from his front yard as the planes were coming in and see what the passengers had for lunch.  Archibald`s tidy brick home in Gary`s Ambridge neighborhood-nestled between a busy highway overpass and a commuter rail line-would lie about a mile from the end of a runway of a proposed third regional airport.  Archibald doesn`t mind.

That kind of attitude has not been much in evidence on Chicago`s Southeast Side, where neighborhood residents who live equally near a proposed airport site there have been loudly protesting the possible disruption of their lives.  But this is Gary, a city that has been down for so long that just about anything looks like up, including a noisy, congested airport.

"No, I`m not upset about an airport. We can use the jobs," said Archibald, who was forced into taking early retirement four years ago from his steel-mill job.  According to one study, an airport eventually would bring with it up to 122,000 new jobs, counting related development.  That would more than offset the loss of 30,000 area jobs, largely in the steel industry, over the last decade, which has devastated Gary and created a deep and racially segregated pocket of poverty in the otherwise healthy fabric of northwest Indiana`s economy.

Airport Not Gary`s Only Attempt to Strike it Rich -

Last week, Mayor Thomas Barnes unveiled plans to break ground in August on the first phase of a $100 million "marine Disneyland" to be constructed on mountains of slag owned by the USS Gary Works.  The project eventually would include boat slips, sports and convention centers, an aquarium and fish farm, hotels, golf courses and retail shopping.

It is the same land that had been envisioned for gambling casinos, which was touted as another economic savior until the Indiana legislature scuttled the proposal last month.  But if the legislature can be persuaded to change its mind, Barnes said, the casinos still could be built on islands in the lake, in conjunction with the marina development.

"I think everyone has been somewhat surprised by the audaciousness of our plans," said Donald Thompson, Gary`s director of economic development.  "Because of these things, people already are beginning to regard us differently and realize that we can be more than steel.  The telephone calls I would get before this would ask, "What`s the crime rate in Gary?  Is Gary a good place to live?"  "Now the calls I get say, 'I need six acres of land for a plant.  What can you do for me?' or, 'I`m thinking of building some condos.  What`s available in the way of block grants?' "

 

Allegiant Air Bails Out of Gary Before Takeoff
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[28 Sep 2011]

A planned news conference Wednesday to unveil Allegiant Airs plans to begin passenger service between Gary/Chicago International Airport and Las Vegas was abruptly cancelled Tuesday night, crossed up by railroad tracks that stand in the way of runway expansion.  Allegiant Air spokeswoman Kristine Cooper late Tuesday said the company did not plan to make an announcement on Wednesday, calling any mentions of a deal "premature."

Interim Airport Director Steve Landry, in a news release Tuesday evening, confirmed cancellation of the air service announcement.  "Allegiant informed the airport today that, despite their internal analysis conducted during the last several weeks, operational limitations of their aircraft and the railroad at the end of the runway prevent moving forward with the Gary-Las Vegas route at this time."

The problem with the railroad tracks at the northwest end of the main runway is one the Gary airport has been trying to overcome with a $153 million plan to move the tracks and expand the runway.  The Canadian National Railway tracks on the embankment carry trains to and from Kirk Yard.

The loss only seemed to hasten the urgency for the airport to get the runway expansion finished by its scheduled 2013 completion date.  Landry said the railroads Canadian National, CSX and Norfolk Southern received letters earlier this week sent from 10 U.S. legislators urging action, and negotiations are ongoing.

"This deal clearly shows theres an interest by airlines in Gary," Landry said.  "It shows that we need to increase our focus on getting the railroads to sign off on the contracts and keep pressing on."

A Tuesday news release and phone calls from Diversified Marketing of Crown Point trumpeted a "major airline announcement" to come at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the airport.  Mayor Rudy Clay, Gary airport executives and local leaders would be on hand for the announcement, according to the marketing firm.  Immediately after the announcement, a website with information about the airline would be up and running, the company said.

In fact, a trip to the airport made it clear which airline was coming as Allegiant Air signs were already there but not yet posted.  A high-ranking Gary airport official confirmed Allegiant was coming.  He said he expected service to begin soon, with two flights a day, although he was not sure to where.

By evening, rumors swirled that there would be no news conference, and Allegiant had no plans to come to Northwest Indiana.  Cancellation of the news conference came about 7 p.m.

Allegiant flies to a number of smaller, regional airports in the United States, including South Bend and Fort Wayne, and recently started service from Phoenix to Las Vegas.  Those cities, plus Florida, comprise much of the airlines business.

 

Gary/Chicago Airport Passenger Service Timeline -

Nov 1999:  Pan American Airlines makes its inaugural passenger flight out of Gary/Chicago Airport.

Jun 2002:  Pan American ends its passenger service at Gary, blaming a downturn in the economy after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Oct 2002:  Gary lands deal to house all of Boeing Corp.s corporate fleet.

Feb 25, 2004:  Southeast Airlines kicks off passenger service with a flight to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jun 2004:  Hooters Air of South Carolina begins making flights in and out of Gary airport.  The airline is operated by Pace Airlines.

Dec 1, 2004:  Southeast Airlines shocks passengers by announcing an end of service in Gary.

Jan 2005:  Days before ATA Airlines is set to start flying out of Gary, ATA ends service.

Dec 2005:  Hooters Air ends flights from Gary.  The airport says it hopes they will return.

Dec 2006:  SkyValue USA announces it will begin passenger service to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and St. Petersburg, Fla.  The flights will be three times weekly.

May 2007:  SkyValue cancels service.

Mar 2008:  Skybus Airlines first flight from Gary/Chicago International Airport to Greensboro, N.C. takes off.  The air service lasted less than a month.  Meanwhile, there are rumors of a Mexican airline, vivaAerobus, coming to Gary, but the deal never is finalized.

 

2012 Gary Budget Bleak
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[28 Sep 2011]

GARY The state-appointed financial adviser speaking too soon about funding sources has left the city in a bigger budget jam than anyone expected, Controller Celita Green said, but shortfall can and will be managed.

Green and Chief of Staff Arlene Colvin presented the 2012 proposed budget to the Finance Committee at its Tuesday night meeting. The numbers are bleak, to say the least. The budget for the nine city tax funds which include the general fund, parks department, debt service and cumulative capital development is $63,302,740.

The levy portion of the projected 2012 budget was estimated at $32,339,723 by the Legislative Service Agency in 2008, Green said, but weak tax collections have brought the actual levy number down to $26,968,579; a $5,371,144 shorfall. The citys net levy, or what it needs to collect in property taxes, meanwhile, is $28,369,631.

PFM, the firm hired in 2008 to help Gary with its finances, told the city that in order to cover the shortfall, it would be able to shift $5.7 million from the Gary Sanitary District once it released its levy. What they didnt tell the city, however, was that there is no state provision that allows the city unit to take the GSD money; as such, the money will be released to all the city taxing districts instead of to the city unit.

Making matters worse, the $5.7 million GSD levy amount was also a 2008 estimate. The figure is actually closer to $3.7 million.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, shook her head. "It amazes me that they have no mechanism for this they just throw up their hands," she said. "You have to laugh, because otherwise youd cry."

Green said the city will go through the excess levy appeal, which should net a one-time sum of $2.5 million. It has also spoken to state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, to work on legislation that will allow the GSD money to go directly to the city. If they dont prevail, the city will need to cut $1.1 million from its budget.

"Its been just a string of things weve had to deal with, but well get through it," Colvin said.

 

Auditors Question Gary's Ability to Stay Afloat, Again
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Dan Carden
[23 Sep 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS | For the third consecutive year, state auditors say they don't know whether Gary will be able to "continue as a going concern."  The State Board of Accounts, in an audit released Friday, said reductions in city revenue because of property tax caps that are now part of the Indiana Constitution mean Gary cannot just cut its budget, but must grow its tax base if the city is to remain in business.  "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," auditors said.

Mayor Rudy Clay said the Steel City is doing everything it can to lure new businesses and residents.  "Gary, Indiana, will continue to be a going and growing community.  They don't need to lose any sleep over that," Clay said.  "In fact, we've have more businesses open up in Gary in the last four years than we've had in a long, long time."

Since 2009, the city has been permitted to charge the highest property tax rates in Indiana to bring its bloated budget in line with tax-capped revenues.  Gary's tax cap exemption ends in 2012.   At the same time, Gary has cut spending from $63 million in 2008 to $40 million this year by requiring employees take 10 unpaid days off, reducing benefits and overtime, and minimizing utility costs.

Separately, auditors questioned how the city handles revenue earned at the Genesis Convention Center and noted several record-keeping discrepancies.  In response, city officials said they will revise procedures to align with state law.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Rudy's reign shall definitely leave its mark on the Steel City; More like a stain!

 

Gary Bucks Crime Trend in 2010
Compiled From a nwi.Times Report by Marisa Kwiatkowski
[21 Sep 2011]

Gary Crime Statistics
2009 2010
Population 95,219 95,219
Murder  49 53
Forcible Rape 47 60
Aggravated Assault 276 301
Burglary 1,493 2,358
Larceny Theft 1,069 2,013
Motor Vehicle Theft 846 1,002
Source Gary P.D./F.B.I.

GARY | The Steel City had a significant increase in property crimes in 2010, a Times analysis of crime statistics shows.  Gary experienced an increase in nearly every category tracked by the FBI -- including murders, forcible rapes, aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies, thefts and motor vehicle thefts -- from 2009 to 2010.  Gary did not report its number of arsons.

Gary's increase in crimes deviated from the continued decline happening at the national level.  Nationally, the number of violent and property crimes declined 6% and 2.7%, respectively, from 2009, according to the FBI's annual Crime in the United States report.  The report details the number of violent and property crimes within individual communities, as reported by police departments.

Gary's overall crime rate ranked second-highest in Northwest Indiana, at 64.26 crimes per 1,000 residents, a Times analysis found.  East Chicago ranked first, with 72.85 crimes per 1,000 residents.  Gary also ranked second-highest for its violent crime rate, with 7.83 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.  Hammond came in first, with 8.7 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. The Times' analysis was based on population estimates provided by the FBI. The FBI estimated Gary's population in 2010 as 95,219 -- which is nearly 15,000 more people than the U.S. Census Bureau counted in Gary that same year. When The Times recalculated all of the region's crime rates based on 2010 census population figures, Gary's overall and violent crime rates were the highest in Northwest Indiana.

Sormaz said the city's number of homicides so far in 2011 total 27 -- about half of the 53 homicides Gary had in 2010.

Statistics show Gary's most significant crime increases were in its number of larcenies and burglaries.  Gary went from 1,069 larcenies in 2009 to 2,013 in 2010. Its burglaries rose from 1,493 in 2009 to 2,358 in 2010, figures show.

 

Seaton Saga Straggles On and On
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by the Times Staff
[16 Sep 2011]

CROWN POINT | A plea deal for former Lake County Assessor candidate Carol Ann Seaton failed to surface at Thursday's pretrial hearing before Lake Superior Court Judge Julie Cantrell.  Court documents indicate Seaton, 63, of Gary, remains charged with failing to properly register three cars in the state of Indiana, a misdemeanor.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter had indicated earlier this year he would be open to dismissing charges upon Seaton's successful completion of the court's deferral program.  Under the program, Seaton would have been required to have no similar or traffic-related violations for a one-year period.  Seaton's status was unclear Thursday.

Cantrell agreed to a request by Seaton's attorney, Sam Berkman, to set a bench trial for Dec. 7, with Seaton's next pretrial hearing set for Nov. 17.

 

Court OKs Lower Valuation for Majestic Star Casinos
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[15 Sep 2011]

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a lower assessment for Majestic Stars two casino boats in Gary, which means the city and Lake County may have to refund millions in taxes collected over the past four years.  The judge approved the market value of Majestic Star I at $6.29 million for 2007 and $3.99 million for 2010, while Majestic Star II was valued at $5.58 million for 2007 and $3.7 million for 2010.

The valuation is far below the countys estimation for the past several years.  From 2002 through 2005, the vessels were assessed for a combined $39 million.  It increased to $110 million in 2006.  For 2007 and 2010 assessments, the boats were valued at $109 million and $100 million, respectively.

Majestic Star appealed its assessed value starting in 2007, and in the meantime, the company paid property taxes on the boats based on the 2005 valuation.

The court ruled that the county did not adhere to the Riverboat Valuation Statute either in its original assessment or within the appraisal it submitted to the court.

County Assessor Hank Adams said he disagrees with the methodology of the assessment that the court approved, which included the boat without taking into account the casino license.  "(The appraiser) valued it at a number that really is not accurate," Adams said.  "(The appraiser) should combine the license with the boat."

Adams said the casino was in a tax-increment financing district, so the Gary Redevelopment Commission will likely bear the primary financial burden of coming up with the refund dollars owed.  But if the commission doesnt have enough money, the city would be required to pony up the funds.  "If (the commission is) running even, then they could be in trouble," Adams said.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Pray tell, just where is the City of Gary going to come up with funds to pay this bill?

 

Jackson Family Center Still Lacks Non-profit Status
Compiled from a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[31 Aug 2011]

GARY Simon Sahouri still has a job, and the Jackson family complex planned for the Glen Park neighborhood will still move forward, somewhat.  Mayor Rudy Clay quashed rumors of Sahouris dismissal by Joseph Jackson, father of the late entertainer Michael Jackson.  Clay also promised more extensions for Sahouri, a Las Vegas-based publisher and promoter, and the Jackson Family Heritage Foundation to get their paperwork together.  "I can say there has been a wild rumor going around, and Im going to put it to rest," Clay said.  "Simon Sahouri is still on the job."

Sahouri, who on Wednesday described himself as a long-time friend of Joe and Katherine Jackson, said he still is the head of the foundation, a not-for-profit corporation charged with building a complex honoring the late Michael Jackson and his family on 186 acres of land ready to be given, free of charge by the city, to the cause.  That acreage is the portion of land that can hold buildings, Sahouri said.  More land is available, but it cannot support any structures or is not open for development.

Gary city attorney Susan Severtson said she is not so sure Sahouri and the foundation are on the right track, however.  Per an agreement with the city in June 2010, Sahouri and the foundation had one year to provide the proper IRS documentation indicating they have not-for-profit status.  No status, no free land, according to the deal. "(Sahouri) has not met those requirements to date," Severtson said.  The city has already twice extended key deadlines for the paperwork, and, as of Wednesday, there were no more requests by Sahouri for additional extensions, Severtson said.

The city expected to do business with the Jackson Family Foundation.  The Indiana Secretary of State lists several Jackson Family Heritage Foundations on its website.  Sahouri also played with merging the foundation with Positive Action, another not-for-profit association in Gary, but that would not have been acceptable to city officials, Severtson said.

Sahouri said he will meet with Severtson and other city officials to work out any differences.

He also said he and the Jackson family are determined to build the project in Gary.  "We want to make sure everybody in the world knows about Gary, Indiana, and let them know this city exists and is thriving," Sahouri said.  "In any project, if you dont have obstacles, its no fun, but we are moving forward."

 

State Releases Public School Report Cards
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson and Christin Nance Lazerus
[29 Aug 2011]

Locally, 40 Lake County schools received "A" grades, led by Lake Central and Crown Point with eight "A" grades each. Private schools earned mainly "A" or "B" grades with Andrean High School receiving an "A" and Bishop Noll Institute getting a "B."

Five Gary schools, including three high schools, received "F" grades.

At Mondays State Board of Education meeting, EdisonLearning was approved as the turnaround management organization for the Roosevelt Career and Technical Center, which is in its final year of state probation. EdisonLearning takes over Roosevelt next year.

Here are the Gary schools, and their grades:

Lew Wallace (Sci, Tech, Eng, Math)  F (Probation)
(My alma mater, Class of '64)

Roosevelt Car & Tech Acad  F (Probation)

Banneker Achievement Ctr  B (Commendable)

Beveridge Elementary  F (Probation)

Brunswick Elementary  D (Watch)

Watson Academy for Boys  F (Probation)

McCullough Academy for Girls  A (Exemplary)

Jefferson Elementary School  D (Watch)

Bailly Preparatory Academy  C (Acad Progress)

Marquette Elementary  A (Exemplary)

Glen Park Acad for Excel in Lrn  C (Acad Progress)

West Side Leadership Academy  F (Probation)
(Leaders of what?)

Webster Elementary  A (Exemplary)

Wirt/Emerson VPA  D (Watch)

Williams Elementary  A (Exemplary)

 

Our view: Gary Wrong to Tax Those Outside City
A Post-Trib Editorial Opinion
[28 Aug 2011]

Gary City Council seems bent on grasping at straws to put money into city coffers. Council wants to impose a 1% tax on those who work in Gary, but live outside the city.  The council is expected to approve a resolution at its meeting Tuesday to request authority from the General Assembly to impose the tax.

Gary, like most communities in Lake County, is desperate for money.  That largely is because of the property tax levy freeze the state imposed on the county four years ago.  The freeze was a result of the countys refusal to impose a countywide income tax.

There are a couple of flaws in what Gary would like to do.  Taxing those who work in the city, but live elsewhere, can make it difficult to attract the best and brightest into working for the city as well as attract private-sector businesses.  Such a policy also could make it difficult for Gary to attract new business and industry to the city.

If the intent of the tax is to bring money into the city as opposed to encouraging Gary workers to move to the city it should tax everyone who works in Gary, regardless of where they live.  Yet, the proposal clearly is designed to raise money as opposed to getting people to move into the city.

Gary City Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Brown said if the city gets authority to tax outsiders, it would raise between $15 million and $20 million annually.  Thats a lot of money, but probably not worth the ill will it would create around Northwest Indiana.

Instead, Gary ought to focus its energies in helping have the property tax levy freeze lifted in Lake County.  Gary City Council attorney Clorius Lay this week put little stock in a lawsuit filed by two county police union officials to have the freeze lifted.  Lay argued that the suit may not go anywhere because the plaintiffs have not exhausted all administration remedies.  Although that is a possibility, Gary should join with other municipalities in the county to see that the freeze which is strictly punitive is lifted.  That makes much more sense than penalizing some of those who happen to work in your city.

 

Blame Spread Around for Roosevelt Failure
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[25 Aug 2011]

GARY Superintendent Myrtle Campbell met with staff members at Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy after learning of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennetts decision to take over the school.  "(Staff) did make gains, so they have no reason to hang their heads," Campbell said. "And we want the children to remain uplifted."

Bennett tabbed EdisonLearning, a private school management company based in New York City, to run the school.<>

Campbell took partial responsibility for Roosevelts decline, while also saying accountability to extends to every administrator, school board member, schools employee, parent and student.  [<= This sentence looks as though it was written or proofread by a Roosevelet grad!]  "There is one thing I never step away from, because the buck stops here," she said of herself.  "But, all of us must own some part of the failure of Roosevelt, of Roosevelts not making the types of gains the state required."

As a takeover school, Roosevelt will be removed from the school district and per student state aid will go to EdisonLearning, beginning in the 2012-13 school year.  The fee for EdisonLearning will be negotiated by the state.

No one wanted to see Roosevelt taken over by the state, said School Board President Darren Washington, but the news is not necessarily bad.  Bringing in an outside management company brings new eyes to the school.

But, like other board members, Washington said he had questions about Edisons track record in other school districts.  "The state should provide someone that has a very strong reputation for turning schools around. Dont use us as guinea pigs."

Washington said Gary schools have been plagued by leadership problems.

 

State of Indiana to Take Over Troubled Schools
A high school in Gary on the list
Compiled from a WBEZ.org Report by Michael Puente
[25 Aug 2011]

Indiana's top education official proposed Thursday that the state assume control of four troubled high schools and a middle school in what would be the state's first takeover of underperforming public schools under a 1999 law.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said he had mixed emotions in asking the State Board of Education to approve the takeover of a Gary high school and three Indianapolis high schools and a middle school.  But he said the step is necessary for the students' sake.  The schools have been on academic probation for five years due to poor test scores.

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Monday on Bennett's proposals.

Bennetts first stop was in Gary, Indiana, to announce a proposed takeover of Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, a high school with about 1,600 students.

"Its a difficult decision.  But I can be very sad and forlorn; you can be very sad and forlorn or we can look at this as how I can begin the conversation," Bennett said.  "My interest is a new beginning for this school."

Bennett said he just wants to make the schools better.  Closing them, as the law allows, isnt something he wanted to do.

"This is not about blame, this is about the future," Bennett said.  "Our intent is to use everything we have in this state to restore these schools to what they should be for the students in these communities."

Bennett said hes proposing Roosevelt be operated by a private firm from New York City called Edison Learning.  The company operates schools on the East Coast and in Chicago.

Gary schools superintendent Myrtle Campbell expressed shock and sadness over the takeover, especially in light of ongoing changes at Roosevelt.  At a special meeting of the Gary School Board on Thursday evening, Campbell wondered if Edison Learning can do a better job with Roosevelt than the district.

"We are doing our research to see where they are located.  We know of some places, Chicago, and we know they have not always been successful," Campbell said.  "So, there has to be some guarantee from that company that they can actually bring about the change that we would like to see in the district."

Dr. Eugene G. White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, has threatened to sue the state if it moves to take over schools in his district.  He urged the corporation's commissioners in an email Wednesday to begin legal action against the Department of Education.  "It is truly time to stand up for our children," White said in the email.  The commissioners are scheduled to meet Friday night.

Under Bennett's proposal, the four Indianapolis schools and the Gary school would be run by school management firms that will evaluate each school's performance for the remainder of the current academic year.  Starting in the 2012-2013 academic year, those companies would take over full operation of each school and receive the state's per-pupil aid for each school.  Bennett said that if the Board of Education agrees, the companies would receive a one-year "transitional" contract followed by a four-year operations contract to run each school, with benchmarks to chart school improvement still to be determined.

Charter Schools USA and EdPower are the two school-management companies Bennett wants to run the four Indianapolis schools.  He recommended that school management company Edison Learning operate the Gary school.

Indiana's schools are placed on probation based on the percentage of students who pass statewide tests.  A 1999 law allows the state to intervene if a school has not improved its test scores after five years on probation.

Bennett said Thursday he considers that five-year time frame too long and that lawmakers need to put more pressure on underperforming schools to improve.

 

Gary School Board Fires Attorney Hatcher
Compiled from a nwiTimes.com Report by Carmen McCollum
[24 Aug 2011[

GARY | The Gary School Board voted 4-3 to dump its attorney effective Oct. 1.  The attorney, Ragen Hatcher, who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in May, sat calmly as the board hotly debated the issue.

Hatcher earns $86,000 a year plus $14,000 in benefits, pointed out School Board member Barbara Leek, who was in favor of eliminating the position.  Board member Nellie Moore disagreed, saying the district has a number of litigation issues and needs a staff attorney.  She suggested they phase out the position instead.  "I know the necessity of reducing our budget," she said.  "I can't support this at this time.  We have so many litigation cases.  We will spend more money hiring outside attorneys."

Moore also said the district couldn't eliminate the position by a simple majority vote.  She said it needed to revise the policy to eliminate its attorney and asked Hatcher for Hatcher's opinion.  Without wanting to be part of the discussion, Hatcher told the board it needed to change the policy.

Implying that something was going on under the table, former board president Ken Stalling told the community to keep an eye on the situation.  He said some board members only wanted to eliminate Hatcher to "bring in friends" to make money from Gary Community School Corp.

School Board President Darren Washington, who took exception to Stalling's comments, said he wishes board members had fought as hard to avoid teacher layoffs.  "It's not about the person, it's about the position.  We have to make cuts and it's not nice," Washington said.

Although Hatcher is the staff attorney, the district uses outside attorneys for a variety of issues.

 

Gary to Seek 1% Income Tax on Nonresident Employees
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[23 Aug 2011]

GARY Employees who dont live in the city especially those in public safety will see 1% of their paychecks taxed, if the Common Council has its way.

The council is expected to approve a resolution to request authority from the Indiana General Assembly to impose a 1% nonresident local income tax at its Aug. 30 meeting.  Money collected from that tax will go toward infrastructure repair, Council Attorney Clorius Lay said at the Tuesday evening Finance Committee meeting.

Council members started talking about the idea well before Assistant Lake County Police Chief Dan Murchek and Lake County Officer Robert Klasner filed suit in Lake County Superior Court last week, Lay and Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said.  And now that the suit has been filed, theyre not convinced in any way to support it.

"Ive met with the Lake County Assessor (Hank Adams) and Lake County Attorney John Dull, and the lawsuit seems to be more PR than reality," Lay said, noting that the officers are filing on behalf of themselves and not a taxing entity.  "Theyve failed to exhaust all administrative remedies, and itll likely get thrown out of court."

If the General Assembly allows the city to impose the local income tax a provision that came out of Option Tax debates in 2007 it would collect between $15 million and $20 million, Brown said.

Gary would be the first city in the state to impose such a tax, Brown said, noting that the states 91 counties are doing the same.

The city income tax would affect some 55% of the citys public safety employees, as they make up the largest part of the citys employees, Brown said

 

Gary Sanitary Director Hired by City as Contract Attorney
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Mike Gonzalez
[17 August 2011]

GARY Rinzer Williams, director of the Gary Sanitary District, last week became a practicing lawyer, representing the city and handling a few private cases.

Williams, who passed the bar in February on his third try, was hired on contract to represent the city in code enforcement, small claims cases and other matters, said corporation council Susan Severtson.

"I went to school to be an attorney, and this is an opportunity," said Williams, who completed law school six years ago, adding he began handling some private cases earlier this month.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  
Holding a law degree, I feel I am qualified to provide some meaningful input on this matter (I have taken, and successfully passed, state bar exams in IN-1973, OH-1973 and WI-2000).  This sure sounds like a "quality hire" to me?  3 attempts in 6 years to pass the bar?  The guy is must be a legal scholar!

 

Rudy Names New Police Chief
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwel
[2 Aug 2011]

Mayor Rudy Clay said Tuesday night that Cmdr. Anthony Stanley will assume the top spot in the department, replacing Chief Gary Carter.  "I spoke to Chief Carter; he thanked me for the opportunity," Clay told the Post-Tribune.

>  Stanley, commander of supportive services, will be Clay's ninth chief since he took office.

"In these last five months, we want to get aggressive out there against crime," Clay said.  "They say he's a pit bull.  That's what we need."

Clay this spring said he would not seek re-election.  His term ends Dec. 31.

Carter became chief in November 2009, and he served the longest tenure of any of Clay's appointments, 9 months.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  
Rudy is averaging 2 chiefs of police per year!  The only positive thing about all this is that the occupants are able to pad their rsum with the title of chief.

 

Gary's Property Tax Nightmare:  Collection Rate Worst in State
Compiled From a WBEZ Report by Michael Puente
[26 Jul 2011]

Cities and towns of every size and scope are scrambling to make ends meet lately.  Some are raising property taxes to pay for services, things like keeping cops on the beat and educating kids.  Gary, Indiana, is in that situation, but its in a tangle.  First, the state wont let the city raise property taxes and, whats worse, a good chunk of the publics not paying up anyway.

The county sends out property tax bills, and the governments hope to collect, but they dont collect 100% of whats due.  The county is expected to collect less from Gary property owners than it does from any other city in the county.  The exact figure is 72.4%!  The worst of any Indiana city or town.  And, if you do a deeper dive into the numbers, you find nearly all businesses in Gary pay their taxes.  But one in three Gary homeowners do not.

The lower the property tax collection rate, the higher the risk to Garys own city government, its public schools, its libraries, even its sewers.  The low collection rate is starving these governments.  Its one reason Garys laid off firefighters, garbage collection crews.  In all, some 400 city employees in the last five years.

This figure doesnt surprise Darien Hayes of Garys Ambridge neighborhood, but it still disappoints her.

DARIEN HAYES:  You cant live anywhere else close by and not pay your property taxes.  The city entities and the municipalities just wont let you do that but we let it happen here.  They need to pay some measures in place to make them pay their fair share.

Fifteen years ago, Darien and her husband Russell built their gem of a two-story brick home just a few blocks from a stretch of bordered up houses.  What galls them is that theyre paying $4 thousand a year in property taxes while living in Gary.  If they lived in a more affluent city, theyd pay half as much and get more services.

RUSSELL HAYES:  The city has constantly taken away services from us.  So many different things that we do not get for the tax dollars that we pay.

Dariens husband Russell has a theory about why the county collects so little property tax in Gary.  If they dont pay, they simply dont pay.  There are no things set in place to say if you dont pay were going to take ownership of that property.  They simply dont do it.  Apparently its not important enough around here?

The full truth is a bit harder to get a handle on.  Yes, county and city officials say there are property tax scofflaws.  But economic figures suggest Gary has a fair number of property owners who cant pay.  Garys unemployment rate is 13.1%, or 5% higher than the rest of Indiana.

Holland Stansil says he can sympathize with people who are out jobs.  The property taxes are too high in Gary.  They are putting all the property taxes on the homeowners instead of on the companies like the steel mills.  I couldnt even pay the tax bill and that helped me get behind on my mortgage too.

People have a lot of opinions about the property tax collection problem in Gary but ultimately, the buck stops with one elected official:  Lake County Treasurer John Petalas.

Petalas says he doesnt particularly like the fact that collections from Gary are so meager compared to other areas on his watch.  And he tries to collect, its just that his hands are tied.

You mail the bill and if they dont pay we fine them and we go through a collection process and we put judgments on their properties and thats as far as the law lets us go.  He can hit non-compliant property owners with a penalty.  But theres a problem with that, too.  The penalty doesnt have teeth, it just gets tacked onto the original tax bill and makes non-payment worse.

Right now, if a Lake County property owner wants to pay the original tax, the owner is still held liable for the penalty.  Petalas figures some property owners would come forward and pay something, if only he could give them a break.  The law does not allow any treasurer to waive those penalties.

So Petalas lobbied Indiana State lawmakers to approve a one-time property tax penalty "amnesty."  The idea is to grab at least some of the $129 million the county leaves on the table, much of which would go to Gary.

But Petalas efforts have largely been ignored by the powers that be in the Indiana state Senate.  They wouldnt even consider it.  I got a phone call here from Luke Kenley and he basically humored me on the phone for about three minutes and that was the end of that.   Luke Kenley is chairman of the Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee.  He's a Republican from near Indianapolis, famous for writing the law that caps Indiana property tax rates.  That cap is now in the states constitution.  Kenley says when it comes to a tax penalty amnesty, he says Lake County could do itself and Gary a favor by implementing an income tax.  In other words, Gary should look for a fix closer to home.

Theres no sense that the tax collection problem in the Democratic stronghold of Lake County, Indiana, and Gary specifically, is going to get a lot of traction in the Republican-controlled Indiana State House.

 

Roosevelt Fails to Make the Grade; State Sanctions Coming
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[22 Jul 2011]

Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy is the sole Northwest Indiana school facing some form of state intervention after the Gary high school failed to demonstrate enough academic progress this year.

The arer four other region high schools that, like Roosevelt, were in a fifth year of academic probation.  However, Calumet High, Hammond High, Morton High and East Chicago Central made ample improvement to avoid intervention.  In all, 18 schools across the state had just completed their fifth year on academic probation.

Darren Washington, president of the Gary Community School Corp. board of trustees, said he was not shocked by Friday's announcement.  "There is no surprise that Roosevelt didn't make the grade," Washington said.

Roosevelt is one of seven schools entering a sixth year of academic probation; the six others are Indianapolis public schools.  Schools reserve the right to appeal their placement, but if a school falls into a sixth straight year of failing to make sufficient academic progress, state law requires the Indiana State Board of Education to act.

Both Washington and Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Myrtle Campbell are advocating for the State Board of Education to allow the Gary Community School Corp. to revise the schools improvement plan, which may outline changes in procedures or operations and professional development.  Campbell feels that option gives the school district the ability to maintain local control over Roosevelt with continued support from the state.

Campbell said the school district had many challenges to overcome at Roosevelt and that research shows it often takes three years to transform a school.  Campbell called it "an almost impossibility to do (a transformation) in one year."  "We have to deal with the school climate first and foremost.  You can't get children involved in learning unless we change the attitude.  We also had to work with teachers as well, so everyone had a sense of accountability and ownership of what needed to be done in that school," Campbell said.

Gary has applied for a grant that will allow the school district to use a more heavy-handed approach to improve Roosevelt, called the turnaround model.  The model crafted by the U.S. Department of Education would require replacing at least half of the schools staff.  Last school year, the district used the transformational model at Roosevelt, which is a softer approach, but did require the replacement of Roosevelt's principal.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:  
The question becomes one of to where will the 50% of staff who are removed from Roosevelt under the turnaround model be reassigned?  Sending them to other schools in the district (known as the "dance of the lemons) does not solve the problem;  at best it merely camouflages it, at worst it exacerbates it!

 

Gary Not Home to Many Anymore
Compiled from a nwi.Times Report by Marisa Kwiatkowski
[5 Jun 2011]

In terms of home vacancies, Gary ranked third-highest in the region, with a 20.6 % home vacancy rate, census figures show.  Gary's landscape long has been plagued by abandoned buildings.  More than 8,100 residential properties in Gary are unoccupied, the Times analysis found.  The Steel City has experienced a 51.3 % increase in vacant homes since 2000.

The Emerson section of Gary has the highest percentage of unoccupied homes in the region, more than 43 %.

 

Jackson Deal 'Fairly Dead in the Water'
Compiled from a nwi.Times Report by Christine Kraly
[5 Jun 2011]

GARY | One phrase appears multiple times in a deal between Gary and the Jackson Family Foundation:  "Time is of the essence."  Yet a year after Gary agreed to give the unknown Las Vegas group hundreds of city acres, even organizers admit little has been done.  Gary Economic Development Director Joel Rodriguez called the project "still in preliminary stages."  "There's a lot of components as part of this particular project," Rodriguez said.  "We're here to help them."

While Rodriguez expressed optimism, some Gary City Council members call the deal all but dead.  "As far as we're concerned, nothing has happened," said Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st.  "I consider it fairly dead in the water."

On June 2, 2010, a year after former Gary resident and music icon Michael Jackson died, the city teamed with the Jackson Family Foundation -- led by Jackson patriarch Joe Jackson and Vegas developer Simon Sahouri -- in the hopes of building a $300 million megaplex dedicated to the King of Pop and his family.  The ambitious museum, theater and casino campus was touted as not only a memorial to Gary's most famous former resident but also as a way to restore Gary to its fruitful glory.

Months of seeming inaction and false starts followed.  "I think some of the press announcements were premature because of the financial condition this whole country is in," Krusas said.  Another deadline has come and gone.  The city set May 31 for the group to resolve vital nonprofit status issues.  It remains unclear if that happened.

To get 300 acres of city land at Interstate 94 and Broadway, the foundation must be 501(c)(3) tax-exempt -- a nonprofit tax group.  Attempting to attain the status has not been without drama.  In December, the foundation merged with an existing nonprofit, officers of which the Times revealed had faced fraud accusations.

City officials said the blunder would be fixed, and the foundation would go solo.  "They have their federal not-for-profit status from the IRS," Rodriguez said recently.  Internal Revenue Service records, however, do not list any tax-exempt Jackson-named group in Indiana.  The Times requested, but was not provided, proof of the group's status from the city.  After an initial interview, Rodriguez did not return Times calls.

The agreement signed a year ago offers incentives for meeting various deadlines.  It dangles property tax freedom as a carrot for construction.  The land's tax-exempt status will lapse, for example, if construction doesn't start within two years of escrow closing.  Gary city attorney Susan Severtson did not respond to a Times request last week for more information on the escrow, which was supposed to close within 30 days of the June 2010 signing.

Also under the deal, Sahouri was to "make every good faith effort" to complete a feasibility study within eight months of signing.  San Jose, Calif.-based Aucopia Global LLC was contracted to conduct the study.  "We haven't been told anything at this particular point," Aucopia Director Frank Podesta said last week.  "We're sitting by and doing nothing.  "We've been in waiting mode for them to get all their stuff together," he added.   "We're in a holding pattern to see if it's even going to happen."

According to Krusas, it won't.  The plan likely stalled after the Indiana General Assembly rejected a land-based casino in Gary, she said.  "I think that the whole project was predicated on (a casino)," she said.  "We all have great ideas, but if you don't have the money to do the development without any assistance, then all it is is an idea."  Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, said a Jackson venue "absolutely" should be a Steel City priority.  "It doesn't have to be this project, but there needs to be something in the city of Gary," she said.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And this should come as a surprise to whom?

 

Gary Gab - Random Region Reports
Compliled by GDY
[18 May 2011]

U.S.P.O -

The city again is fighting to keep the U.S. Postal Service within its confines.

A feasibility study is being conducted by the USPS on combining the Gary mail processing center with South Bends.  If the two combine, Gary stands to lose 83 jobs at the center.  The Post Office is losing money.  People are not mailing things as much, and theyre ordering through the Internet.  Enough first-class mail is not getting processed.

Gary Roosevelt -

"We saw improvement in instruction from our last visit in March," Kwiatkowski said in an email.  "The school has identified many of their problems and is now working on an action plan to make significant changes in the school, but there is still a lot of work ahead."  Roosevelt students must make considerable improvement on End of Course Assessments in English/Language Arts and mathematics, which are being given over the next few weeks.  Last year, 14 percent of students passed the English/Language Arts section, which needs to be boosted to 38 percent by the end of this semester.  In math, students must improve a dismal 11 percent passing rate to 31.8 percent.

Gary Wallace -

The fight Jonae Washington started on a school bus Monday afternoon ended when her intended victim, another Lew Wallace student, fought back with a knife.  Washington told Goshay, "I dont want Angelina to go to jail for this, because I wouldnt have gotten cut if I wouldn't have gone on her bus and started hitting her," the police report states.

MLK Drive -

For a year, a familiar road-closure sign has greeted motorists driving on Martin Luther King Drive near the bridge over the Borman Expressway.  The Indiana Department of Transportation had hoped to reopen the bridge by next month, but progress on beginning repair work has stalled since its closure.

"Since I've been mayor, I've had the experience that you must cultivate your patience sometimes," Clay said.  "Our hope was to get it done earlier but sometimes the red tape gets in the way and thats one of the downsides of public service, red tape.  But on the upside, its going to be done, and we just got to be patient.  I wish it was moving a little faster for us."

 

Gary Primary Vote Tallys
Source - http://www.lakecountyin.org/cms-host/voters/microvote/2011PrimaryElectionResults/LakeElecSumm%20.htm
[4 May 2011]

In Tuesday's primary election Gary Democratic voters chose incumbents in all but the District 2 council contest.

District 2 challenger Michael L. Protho defeated current Gary City Council member Shirley A. Stanford by a narrow vote margin (1035 - 841).  The 57 year old Protho is a 35 year employee of the Gary Community School Corp., and was a precinct committeeman in the 2nd district for 14 years.

Incumbents also won the Democratic primary for Gary City Court judge and clerk for the city of Gary.  Deidre L. Monroe received a resounding victory in her race to keep her position as judge of the city court over Darnail Lyles.  City Clerk Suzette Raggs also handily defeated challenger Clorius L. Lay by a huge majority of votes.  In each race the rough totals were 11,000 to 4,000.

In the mayor contest a paltry 19,741 votes were cast for all candidates!  Of that total number, Freeman-Wilson garnered 11,364 votes, which equals 57.57% of the total.  Her chief rival, Regan Hatcher, received 6,872 votes or 34.81%.  Rudy, on the ballot even though he had officially withdrawn, received 185 votes!  All the other mayoral candidates collectively pulled in 1,320 votes.

Jim Nowacki, in his council-at-large bid received a mere 2,490 votes, or 5.57% of all votes cast.  The leader in this contest, Kyle W. Allen, Sr., racked up 9,145 votes for a 20.44% share. The other two winners in this contest were incumbents Roy Pratt and Ron Brewer.

 

Gary Primary Results
Compiled from Post-Trib and nwiTimes Sources
[3 May 2011]

The results are in.  The turnout was miserably low.  There were more precinct committee members, poll workers and campaign staffers than voters at all of the polling locations visited by the Times in Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond and Hobart.  Only about 22% of Lake County's registered voters went to the polls Tuesday.

Those that bothered to vote went with the machine candidate; thus assuring continuation of the same abysmal state of affairs, only with a different leader at the helm.  The Clay regime lives on, albeit without Clay staying on and occupying the city hall suite.  Freeman-Wilson, a former city judge and Indiana attorney general, won Gary's Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday night by a two-to-one majority over Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher, the daughter of former Mayor Richard Hatcher, who in 1968 became the first black mayor of Gary.

The winner will make history, and it would have matter not if it was either Freeman-Wilson or Hatcher, as being the first female mayor of the "Steel City."

I am still seeking actual voting numbers, as well as councilmanic race results.  It will be of interest to learn how perennial activist Jim Nowacki did in his bid?

 

Primary Election Day-2011
Commentary by GDY
[2 May 2011]

Tomorrow the primary votes are cast in the "Steel City" for the next mayor.  While there is a Republican on the ballot, all accept that this person has no chance come November.  Consquently, whoever wins the Democratic primary is most likely the next mayor of Gary.

Heaven knows, it is not like there aren't any candidates from which to choose.  Voters may take their pick from a field of 9 dems running for the spot!  Whether the voters realize it, or do actually give a hoot, this election could very well be critical in terms of the future, or lack thereof, for the city of Gary.

The two front-runners are Freeman-Wilson and Hatcher; both familiar names in Gary political circles.  That they are both familiar names, to me, does not bode well in terms of effecting a turn around from the status quo.  Is either capable of making a positive difference?  If so, which is best equipped to do so?  These are the questions which must be asked and answered by the voters.

Freeman-Wilson has the backing of Rudy Clay.  That is a strike against her, as far as I am concerned!  Hatcher is the daughter of Gary's first black mayor, Richard Gordon Hatcher.  Being such, alone, does not qualify one to run the City of Gary from the mayor's office.  She does have the support of the Post-Tribune.  As the Post-Trib long ago abandoned Gary, I do not know how much help that is to her effort?  What Hatcher does have is familiarity with both the workings of Gary politics, and the city's immense problems.  But, does she have any solutions?  That is the unanswered question.

A new way of thinking is what is needed in city hall.  Forget the "pie in the sky" schemes.  They have not, and will not, bring about the necessary transformation.  It is time for a reality check.  Shed the "Woe is me, I am but a victim!" cloak, accept the reality of the status quo and assume the responsibility to change it.

If I were allowed to vote in the primary (which I am not) my inclination would be to vote for Hatcher, with the hope that she would not get eaten alive by the politicos who have controlled Gary forever.

I shall be watching the vote, not only for the outcome, but also to see how many votes Rudy gets.  Knowing Gary, it is quite possible he could get more votes than either Freeman-Wilson or Hatcher!  Wouldn't that be interesting?

 

Brown Defends Gary to Indiana House
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Dan Carden
[25 Apr 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS | State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary), defended his hometown Monday against the allegation Gary has been troubling the rest of Indiana for more than a century.  "Gary is no different than any other community in the state of Indiana," Brown said.  "The people of Gary, IN, want the same things you want in your community; quality of life, good education and good neighbors."  Brown said his speech to the Indiana House was in response to a statement made Thursday by State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington).

In arguing against legislation creating a tool for financially distressed local governments that he believes is intended for Gary, Leonard quoted former Gov. Thomas Marshall, who said Indiana would be better off if Gary slipped into Lake Michigan and disappeared.  "My comments stand up," Leonard said.  "I quoted a governor from 1909 to 1913 and Gary was having financial problems then, even with the big industry up there."

But Brown said Gary's current problems are caused by outsiders and "supply and demand."  "Young white kids from the suburbs find their way into the projects of Gary, Ind., at midnight, any given night, to buy drugs," Brown said.  "As a result of that we found that young men in Gary want that trade; so they kill one another to get those suburban dollars.  "If you all didn't come in there, we wouldn't have half of our problems," Brown said.

He later invited every member of the House to visit Gary.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   "Stay calm!  Stay calm!", I keep telling myself, but it is mighty hard.  I love my hometown, but views like this make it hard to see any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

For over two score of years now the mantra has always been "the white flight from Richard Gordon brought about the demise of Gary."  Now, I am to understand it is not the white flight of the 70's that caused the problem at all, but the fact "whitey" will not stay out of the Steel City; sneaking in under the cover of darkness to buy drugs?

With all due respect, it is time to shed the mantle of victim, and take charge of one's fate/future/city!  Unless and until this happens, Gary will never, ever come back.

The reality is, Gary's current, deplorable condition is the legacy of 40+ years of being in charge of what used to be the second largest (now the fifth largest) city in the State of Indiana.  For 20 of those years, who was calling the shots, but Richard Gordon Hatcher?

Control of civic matters was passed, as desired, in 1967.  The time for Garyites to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the past 44 years, and the future, is now!  Despite more than feeble attempts to cast blame away from the those in power, the responsibility rests squarely at their feet.  Quit crying, take responsibility and do something!

I do find a bit of irony in the fact the propounder of these asinine remarks bears the name of "Charlie Brown."  Charlie, the demise of Gary is real.  Life on the mean streets of Gary is not a comic strip, to be enjoyed as some form of escapism. 

 

Deal on Majestic Star Payments Reached
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[22 Apr 2011]

GARY Mayor Rudy Clay on Thursday confirmed the city has reached a deal with Majestic Star casinos and has begun receiving monthly payments based on its local development agreement with the two boats.  Clay said the city has already received its first installment, a $576,696 payment from the casinos, owned by Detroit businessman Don Barden, who is in bankruptcy.

"The LDA is back in the pipeline," Clay said.  "Its been an unprecedented experience to make that happen, but Im gratified the city will start getting the money."  The monthly payments, based on adjusted revenue from the boats, will fluctuate each month, Clay said.  When the boats do better, the city will get more.

The monthly payments are separate from any back pay locked up in Bardens ongoing bankruptcy case, said Susan Severtson, Garys lead attorney.  Word on a sizable lump sum of back pay coming to Gary will come out soon, she said.  "The lump in the alleged escrow account is part of the ongoing settlement arrangement thats coming to fruition," Severtson said.

The monthly payments are based on a revised local development agreement former Mayor Scott King reached with Majestic Star Casinos in 2005, said Severtson.  Thet new deal calls for each of the two boats licensed to Barden to pay three percent of adjusted revenue to the city monthly.

The original LDAs, reached in 1995 with Barden and Donald Trump, called for Barden and Trump to pay three percent per month and four percent per month, respectively.  Neither casino has paid its monthly payments since 2007, said Councilman At-Large Roy Pratt, who has been adamantly questioning state gaming and city officials for more information on Garys share.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It seems to me that 4+ years of back payments, now long overdue, amounts to more than a tidy sum?  A sum that Gary desparately needs!


 

Mayoral Candidates List Cash on Hand
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[22 Apr 2011]

Pre-primary campaign finance reports reveal that Gary Mayor Rudy Clay was still collecting donations days before he left the race.  Clay dropped out of the Gary mayoral race on April 8, citing ongoing treatment for prostate cancer and family concerns.  Three days later, he put his support, campaign war chest and political organization behind fellow Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson.

Clay had $72,782 on hand at the close of the filing period which covered Jan. 1 through April 8, 2011 and the most recent contribution occurred on March 30.  That should provide a considerable boost to Freeman-Wilson, who had $17,584 on hand as of April 8.

Fellow mayoral candidate Ragen Hatcher had $3,244 at the end of the period, but her campaign owes about $5,500, which was described in the report as a loan from Gladys Givan of Muskegon Heights, Mich.  Other candidates for Gary mayor filed reports, with Harold Foster having $2,855 on hand and Saba Mohammed reporting $100.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   These campaigns do not appear to have a lot o money floating around, do they?  That they do not is relective of the economic situation in Gary.  What is in it for the wealthy to contribute to Gary politicians?

 

No Relief for Gary Taxpayers as State Lifts Caps
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk, and a
nwiTimes.com Report by Dan Carden
[14 Apr 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS A state board for the third and final time decided to raise the property tax caps for Gary, allowing the city to collect an extra $10.8 million in taxes this year.  The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board voted Wednesday to accept staff recommendations to set Garys levy at $40.8 million.

If Gary had received no relief from DUAB, the city would have been forced to work off a $30 million levy.  City officials contended the loss in tax revenue would have shut down the majority of city operations besides public safety.

Instead, Gary property owners will continue paying the highest tax rates in the state -- but for only one more year.

The DUAB recommended tax levies for the city of Gary and three other Gary taxing units translate into a 25% addition to the state's property tax rates.  That means a Gary homeowner this year will pay a property tax rate of 1.25% of assessed value, with rental properties paying 2.47% and business and industrial properties paying 3.68%.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay thanked DUAB for once again granting relief.  Gary successfully sought relief from the board in 2009 and 2010 as well.  "Gary is not the only city that is distressed," Clay told board members at Wednesdays meeting in Indianapolis.  "We are the only ones who came to the proper place."

This year is the final time Gary can go to the board because voters added permanent tax caps to the states constitution.

Even with this years relief, Gary faces significant challenges, said DUAB staff member Cristopher Johnston.  He brought up Garys 2010 census numbers and how the fall in population could impact the citys ability to receive grants.  "The city should challenge the status quo in how it delivers services," Johnston said.  The report makes note that cuts of around $5 million to $7 million are still needed for 2012 and mentions the city clerk, court, city council and fire departments as places where Gary could look to trim.  "These are necessary services," Johnston said, "but can we deliver them at a lower cost in the future?"

Along with Gary, the Gary Sanitary District, Gary Stormwater Management District and Gary Public Transportation Corp., petitioned DUAB.  For 2011, GPTC had asked the board to add $1.1 million. It expects it will receive $180,000.  Gary Sanitary District had requested $6.1 million and received a $3.7 million levy.  The district also had to adjust its levy to transfer $2 million to the city.  Gary Stormwater petitioned for a $641,668 levy, but the units request was lowered to $538,405.

 

Clay Backs Freeman-Wilson
Compiled From Post-Trib Reports by Christin Nance Lazerus and Michael Gonzalez
[13 Apr 2011]

GARY A capacity crowd squeezed into Freeman-Wilsons Democratic campaign headquarters at 2448 Broadway, shared by Billco Barber Shop, to witness the "passing of the baton," as Clay put it.  Mayor Rudy Clay pledged his political clout and war chest to former rival Karen Freeman-Wilson whom he endorsed for mayor Tuesday.  "Im going to continue to push to make Gary one of the greatest cities in America," Clay said.  "But it wont be under my leadership; it will be under Karens leadership.  At this time in history, shes the best person for the job."  "Im saying to my supporters Support Karen," Clay said.  "They should not only support her, but put in the hard work to get her elected.  Dont take anything for granted.  The future of Gary, Indiana, is right now."

Freeman-Wilson, a former state attorney general and Gary City Court judge, said that she and the mayor met over the weekend, but there was no "quid pro quo" involved.  "He asked for nothing, and I gave nothing for the endorsement," she said.  "I regret that his illness has suspended his campaign.  I was actually looking forward to running against him."

Freeman-Wilson and Clay attend the same church, and she said their shared Christian faith helped them realize they both had Garys best interests at heart.

Freeman-Wilson brushed aside questions about her association with Clay and former Mayor Scott King.  She said its important to learn from those who served as mayor.

Hatcher, the daughter of former Mayor Richard G. Hatcher, issued a statement even before Clay made his endorsement.  "If you liked the Clay administration and if you thought that Scott King was a good mayor, then Karen is your candidate," Hatcher said in the statement.

Ragen Hatcher, who won the endorsement of Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin, launched the first salvo of the day.  Before the press conference at Freeman-Wilsons headquarters, Hatcher issued a statement describing Freeman-Wilson, Clay and former Mayor Scott King, as the "old guard."

Those references drew biting responses from Freeman-Wilson, who said "(Hatchers) statement shows a lack of maturity.  Freeman-Wilson also said running for mayor is "about compassion to lead and having enough sense to know what to say and when to say it."  Her comments drew loud applause at the Freeman-Wilson event.

Hatcher fired back quickly:  "Maturity has nothing do to with the ability to determine our city has gone downhill since Scott King was mayor."

 

Clay to Announce Endorsement
Compiled From a Post-Trib staff Report, and a
nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[12 Apr 2011]

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, who last week suspended his re-election campaign, is expected to announce on Tuesday, April 11, which candidate he will back in the primary election.  Gary Mayor Rudy Clay will announce who he is backing to succeed him at a news conference this morning.  The endorsement will be only part of what Clay terms a "major announcement" at 11 a.m. today.

City councilwoman Ragen Hatcher and attorney Karen Freeman-Wilson are the leading mayoral candidates in Clays absence.  Clay wouldnt tip his hand as to who hes supporting, but it most likely isnt Hatcher, who said that shes not looking for a Clay endorsement.  "She already has stated publicly that she doesn't want my support.  I will adhere to her wish, for sure," Clay said Monday.

"Were running a new transparent and honest campaign and were not looking for the baggage of those past mayors who were entrenched in scandals," Hatcher said.   She said that she heard from a city contractor that Clay wants them to support Freeman-Wilson if they want to keep their contracts.

Clay denied Hatchers claim.  He also pushed back against a rumor that a possible federal investigation affected his decision to leave the mayors race.  "I havent seen any signs of that and I know its totally untrue," Clay said.  "I guess you can tell that its political season in Gary, Indiana."

 

Another Gary Murder Hits Close to Home
A GDYNets Commentary
[9 Apr 2011]

With a last name of Yaros, our family is too well acquainted with the personal tragedy resulting from murder.  A week ago a young woman, Jennifer Kocsis, was found dead on the grounds of the now closed Riley Elementary School.  A suspect has been taken into custody by the Gary P.D.

This latest tragedy is yet another example of the truism, "One can never go home."  It brutally reinforced the sad reality that the home I knew and loved has ceased to exist.  I attended Riley School, where the murdered woman's body was found.  The suspect, prior to his arrest, was reported as living with his mother in her home in the 800 block of East 44th Av in Glen Park.  The address of the Glen Park home in which I was born, raised and retain fond memories of was 825 E. 44th Av.  It subsequently turned out that the supect was living a mere 2 doors down, at 841 E. 44th Av.

 

Rudy Not Seeking Re-election
Compiled From a WBEZ Report by Michael Puente, and
a Post-Trib Report by By Mike Gonzalez and Jon Seidel
[8 Apr 2011 ]

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay announced Friday morning that he is suspending his re-election bid due to continued treatments for prostate cancer.  "I owe it to my family, myself and the great people of Gary to suspend this campaign for another term as mayor," Clay said at an emergency press conference at Gary City Hall.  The 75-year-old Clay intends to finish his current term, which ends Dec. 31.

Clay said his actions were prompted by a strong recommendation from his physician, Dr. Walter M. Stadler of the University of Chicago.

Clay shared excerpts from a letter he received from Dr. Stadler:  "Given your age and medical condition, and to avoid any potential reversal or harmful setback, it is my professional opinion that you give strong consideration to a less demanding routine when your current term as mayor expires."

A visibly shaken Clay said, given the situation, he has little choice but to follow his doctors orders.  "Stadler, Dr. Edwin Posadas and Carolyn Marinier successfully guided me through a grave and difficult challenge in my life and I completely value and trust their judgment," Clay said in a written statement.

Clay will remain on the ballot with nine other Democratic candidates in May 3 mayoral primary, however.  "His name will just stay on at this point," said Sally LaSota, head of the Voters Registration and Election Office in Lake County, Indiana.

Clay came into office in April 2007, after the city's Democratic precinct committee selected him to complete the term left behind by Scott King, who left office after serving more than 10 years office.  King said he wanted to return to practicing law, so he could earn enough money to finance his child's education.

Clay's decision to suspend his campaign comes while the city is facing serious financial challenges.  In less than a week, the city will learn if it will receive property tax relief from the state of Indiana.  Gary is seeking about $11.1 million in tax relief through the states Distressed Unit Appeals Board.

Gary's budget has dwindled in recent years due to a loss of residents.  The city is also in a dispute with the owner of its two casinos for millions of dollars in revenue that has yet to be paid to city and the city has had to reduce services and cut staff, including firefighters.

"I want to sincerely thank the God fearing people of Gary who always supported and voted for me to serve my community as Indiana State Senator, County Councilman, County Recorder, County Commissioner and Mayor of Gary," Clay, whose public persona is usually optimistic and joyful, said.  "The decision to cease my campaign is most difficult and disappointing but maintaining good health is my top priority.  I have faith that my supporters will understand this decision and recognize there is no other option for me at this time."

Here is the text of the media release provided by the Office of Gary Mayor Rudy Clay:

CLAY SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR
Prostate cancer treatments and the dynamics of a political campaign do not mix according to Mayor Rudy Clay:  Clay said "I owe it to my family, myself and the great people of Gary to suspend this campaign for another term as mayor."

Clay said these actions were prompted by a strong recommendation from Dr. Walter M. Stadler, an expert in prostate Cancer at the University of Chicago.  In a letter from Dr. Stadler he wrote:  "Given your age and medical condition, and to avoid any potential reversal or harmful setback, it is my professional opinion that you give strong consideration to a less demanding routine when your current term as mayor expires."

Clay said "I want to sincerely thank the God fearing people of Gary who always supported and voted for me to serve my community as Indiana State Senator, County Councilman, County Recorder, County Commissioner and Mayor of Gary.  The decision to cease my campaign is most difficult and disappointing, but maintaining good health is my top priority.  I have faith that my supporters will understand this decision and recognize there is no other option for me at this time.

God Bless Gary, Indiana ... The City I Love

"I think when the history books are written, my name will be in there for Gary, Indiana," Clay said.  "It may not be there for my time as a state senator, for my time as a county councilman, for my time as (Lake County's) first African-American recorder and a county commissioner, but, (my name is) gonna be there as mayor of this city."

His announcement immediately followed an emergency cabinet meeting with most department heads.  Visibly stunned, the department heads emerged from an adjoining conference room into the Gary Room, dimly lit by an overcast sky, some of them hugging each other while others shook their heads in apparent disbelief.

Several employees could be heard whispering "Jesus, Jesus" and "Oh God" moments before Clay took the podium.

Clay has previously denied rumors of an illness.

"I was shocked, but I wasnt surprised.  Everybody sort of knew Rudy was sick.  They talked about it but it never really was confirmed.  So it's sad to hear he has cancer, and he's confirmed it.  Obviously campaigning for mayor in a city the size of Gary is a tough ordeal," said County Democratic Chairman and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr.

Rudy Clay's Bio

1936 Born July 16 near Decatur, Ala.  The family later moved to Gary.  Clay's mother died when he was 18 months old and he and his younger brother, David, were raised by his aunt Mary Lucy Hunter.

Clay and his brother grew up at 26th Avenue and Polk Street with actor Fred "The Hammer" Williamson.  Clay graduated from Roosevelt High School, and attended Indiana University, Bloomington.  He served two years in the Army.  Clay worked as an insurance agent in Midtown before entering politics.

God has been a constant in Clay's remarks.  It's common for the mayor to thank God during his public addresses and hes been a member of Israel Church on 23rd Avenue and Washington Street since he was 6 years old.

1971 Announced candidacy for city councilman at large.  Clay narrowly lost in the Democratic primary.

1972 Elected to the Indiana state senate in the 3rd District becoming the only black senator in the General Assembly.

1976 Challenged by then-state Rep. Katie Hall in re-election bid, loses by 624 votes; Clay's brother, David, is fatally shot when trying to prevent a robbery at Monas Restaurant at 15th Avenue and Broadway.

1978 Elected to Lake County Council, 2nd District.

1982 Re-elected to county council.

1984 Elected as Lake County Recorder.

1986 Becomes Lake County Commissioner despite the FBI investigating him and other county officials in an alleged kickbacks scheme.  Clay is shot by unidentified assailants as he walked toward his home in Gary.  The buckshot is still lodged in his leg.  No one's ever been charged and the incident frightened Clay so badly that hes insisted on keeping a cadre of bodyguards.

2003 Clay ventured into a the race for mayor in 2003, but withdrew before the primary because he sensed a vote split over the hefty five-candidate field.

2005 State Democratic Central Committee names Clay the county party chair, much to the chagrin of some area Democrats.  He serves in the post until March 2009.

2006 Assumes office of Mayor after resignation of Scott King.

2007 Shortly before winning the 2007 primary, Clay unveiled an ambitious, if not curious, $60 million plan to revamp the city's downtown Broadway corridor.  It included an expensive renovation of the long-shuttered Sheraton Hotel, into a senior citizen center, and condominiums.   The new center would be powered by corn.  The dream never materialized, however.  Asbestos was removed from the Sheraton but it still sits empty amid a downtown of boarded up storefronts and fake facades.

2011 Clay announces candidacy for mayor in January, drops out of the race due to prostate cancer treatments on April 8, 2011 and serves last day in office on December 31, 2011.

Clay often drew the ire of critics for purchasing a Hummer with city funds to drive around in and he went through police chiefs with frequency. To date, there have been eight chiefs who have served under Clay.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Rudy has made the right decision for both himself and the City of Gary!  I am not at all sorry to see him go, and wish him well with respect to his ongoing treatment.  It will be interesting to see if his proclaimed love of Gary is such that he remains a resident, or moves on to a more prosperous locale to spend his remaining years?

 

FLASH!!!-- FLASH!!!--FLASH!!!
A GDYNets Report
[8 Apr 2011 1649 Hrs. Central Time]

Rudy's Reign to End?

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Mayor Rudy Clay will not seek reelection, and step down at the expiration of his current term, on 31 Dec 3011.  The stated reason is health concerns.  Due to the late announcement, his name will remain on the primary ballot, as early voting has already begun.

More to follow ... .

 

Gary Firefighters Stretched Thin
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Diane Krieger Spivak
[7 Apr 2011]

GARY - Gary's fire department, already struggling to keep up with layoffs and deteriorating equipment, could be down yet another rig Friday if three firefighters injured in a building fire Tuesday dont return to the job on Friday.  "We are stretched," said Gary Fire Chief Donald Williamson, who said Capt. Malcolm Maxwell, Lt. Frank Edmond and Engineer Jesse Shabazz, who were released from Methodist Hospitals Southlake campus Tuesday night, were scheduled to return to work Friday.  The three will need a doctors release to do so, however, Williamson said.  "It takes three to send a rig out," he said.

Firefighters Local 359 President Raynard Robinson echoed Williamson. "We are spread very thin," Robinson said.  "Its a dangerous situation for our citizens and for us.

Were down to five fire engines now, so we have to put one at each corner of the city.  Ive been on the job 19 years and Im riding a truck that was there before I got there.  Weve got a fleet of dead engines."  The average life of a fire rig is four years, he said.  "Its starting to wear on the guys," Robinson said.

Merrillville recently approved creating a fire territory, that, if approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, will begin hiring full-time firefighters next year.  Robinson said hes afraid if that happens, Gary could lose a third of its firefighters who would go to work for Merrillville for multiple reasons.

"Theres no way you can make it on what Gary Fire Department pays," Robinson said, noting a firefighters average pay of around $39,000 and an insurance premium increase.  Most work second jobs.  Gary hasn't hired or given raises in five or six years, Robinson said.  "And were not getting any younger."  The youngest is around 30, with an average age of between 37 and 40.  "Weve got more 60-year-olds than 30-year-olds," he said.  "Its the younger ones who are leaving.  "I hope the mayor or council or whoever needs to hear this understands," Robinson said.

 

Gary Mayoral Candidates Draw Crowd
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[20 Mar 2011]

GARY  - Dozens of residents were turned away after more than 500 people crowded a Genesis Convention Center room to hear 10 of the 11 remaining candidates for mayor of Gary answer questions.  The forum was sponsored by The Coalition, an organization of community, social, civic and faith-based groups.  The candidates, all of whom were invited based on the Lake County Voter Registration and Election Boards eligibility list, submitted written answers earlier to five questions and answered five more live before the packed room.

Mayor Rudy Clay was the only candidate who did not attend.  He did not return calls seeking comment late Saturday.

Clay's absence rankled many in the audience, but the turnout was indicative of a general displeasure with the city administration, said Eric Reaves, president of Miller Concerned Citizens, a group often critical of Clay.  "I think its sheer and utter arrogance that (Clay) wouldn't show up to answer to his constituency," Reaves said.  "I think he has an obligation, as the city's mayor, to appear before his constituency, not hide from them."

Several undecided voters saw this election as an important one.  Charles Deloney, a West Side resident, said the outcome of this election may determine if he remains a Gary resident.  "I want to hear what the candidates are talking about, so this is a good forum," he said.  "As for whether or not I stay, a change in leadership might help."

Aaron Greene, a West Side resident said, "I want to hear what is going to make Gary able to compete in the global market."  "My key issues are education and Gary's economic viability."

Reaves said he turned away another mayoral hopeful, Lester Lowe, from taking a seat at the candidates table because the Lake County Election Board threw out Lowe's candidacy for residency issues.

 

State Disappointed With Roosevelt Progress
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[18 Mar 2011]

GARY  - State education officials said some positive steps have been taken, but they were "disappointed at the lack of progress" at Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy following a Monday follow-up visit to check on several key areas.

The state visit was marred by fights that erupted, even while the state officials walked through the school.

Superintendent Myrtle Campbell and Roosevelt Principal Phylis Hammond did not return calls seeking comment, but a School Board member who attended a debriefing at the end of the visit, questioned some of the teams findings and suggested the results could be a wake-up call for the district.

"This, to me, should underscore the urgency that every minute of every school day counts and the urgency of improvement (at Roosevelt) this year," board member Barbara Leek said.

Roosevelt is working under a memorandum of agreement with the state to improve end-of-course scores on algebra and English, graduation rates, staff attendance and the evaluations of teachers.

LeeAnne Kwiatkowski, the Indiana Department of Education's turnaround director and a department attorney, visited Roosevelt for the first time since fall 2009.  Kwiatkowski said the final results of her visit will determine Roosevelt's future.  After years of academic probation, the state is considering actions, which range from remediation assistance to a state takeover.  The visits results will be taken into consideration along with test scores, attendance and follow-up visits when state officials decide what to do with Roosevelt, Kwiatkowski said.

A key issue is the time it took for district officials to get a leadership team in place at Roosevelt, Kwiatkowski said.  That group is in place now, but only after district officials took critical months to hire people, she said.  "We understand the district is being very strategic trying to fill positions, but were disappointed it took this long," Kwiatkowski said.  "To turn around a school, you need strong leadership, and thats one of the key pieces (Roosevelt) didnt have in place."

Kwiatkowski said student and staff safety was another key concern, with fights breaking out during the visit.  "I had conversations with students that fights were common," said Kwiatkowski.  "I wouldnt want to penalize a school because of a one-time occurrence, but, according to students and security, this is not a one-time occurrence."

 

Mean Gary Streets
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Pete Nickeas
[11 Mar 2011]

GARY POLICE:  BOY, 14, STEALS CHURCH VAN TO DRIVE TO SCHOOL

GARY | Police say a 14-year-old boy stole a church van and drove it to school because he didn't want to walk from his home, a few blocks away.

The boy -- wearing the burgundy shirt and khaki uniform of middle-school students at West Side Leadership Academy -- circled the parking lot a few times before parking the car, according to Officer Simon Lillie.

A school employee pointed the student out to Lillie, who said he drove behind the boy when he pulled into the school.

"He didn't say where he learned to drive.  He was doing just fine.  I was behind him but didn't think anything of it," he said.  "I just thought someone short was driving the van."

The employee said the boy parked the vehicle and locked an anti-theft device over the steering wheel so nobody could steal the van.

The boy's mother told police he must have taken keys while attending choir practice at Evening Star Missionary Baptist Church earlier in the week.

He was arrested Friday morning and transported to the Gary Police Department.  Charges are pending.

 

And Then There Were Eight
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Chelsea Schneider Kirk
[8 Mar 2011]

Nine Lake County candidates were removed from the May primary ballot on Monday; five were Democratic candidates for Gary mayor.

The list of Democrats hoping to unseat Gary Mayor Rudy Clay is now down to eight after the Election Board upheld challenges filed against Heather Hensley, Latanza Johnson, Jack Lieske, Lester Lowe and Derric Price.

In Lowe's case, Gary attorney Jewell Harris Jr. argued the candidate didnt meet residency requirements.  Lowe owns houses in both Gary and Crown Point, but the Election Board ruled he fell short of an important stipulation to run for Gary mayor, which requires mayoral candidates to live in Gary one year prior to the election.

Harris centered his case against Lowe on his house in Crown Point and the fact Lowe's children attend Crown Point schools.  Lowe maintained he bought the house in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood in 2009 with the intent of living in the house.  Lowe told the Election Board he transferred his homestead exemption to the Gary house and is renovating the home while he waits for the Crown Point house to sell.  Lowe's attorney, Darnail Lyles, said there was no evidence before the board proving Lowe's immediate family lives in Crown Point and that his clients children are stuck in Crown Point schools.  "My intent has always been to move to Gary," Lowe said.  "We go to church in Gary.  Our businesses are in Gary ... It made no sense to us to continue to reside in Crown Point."

The Election Board also ruled that Lieske didnt meet the one-year residency requirement.  A voter registration confirmation sent to the Gary address Lieske claims he lives at, 564 Carolina, was returned twice with the postmaster noting the house was vacant, Election Board Attorney Jim Wieser said.  Lieske originally filed his candidacy with the address of 546 Carolina, a vacant lot.  He argued the numbers were transposed, and he actually lived at 564 Carolina.

The Election Board dismissed challenges against Gary mayor candidate Larry Evans.

Candidates removed from the ballot on Monday can appeal to the circuit court.  The appeal must be filed no later than 30 days after the Election Board made its decision.

 

Attorney Hopes to Trim Gary Mayor Candidates
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[3 Mar 2011]

CROWN POINT | An attorney said only wholesale reductions in the number of Gary mayoral candidates will ensure a clean election.  "I believe there is a concerted effort to put as many candidates on the ballot as possible to confuse the voters and give the incumbent (Gary Mayor Rudy Clay) the greatest election advantage," Crown Point lawyer Jewel Harris Jr. said Wednesday.

The county election board will hear 16 candidate challenges Monday.  "I filed nine," Harris said.

Gary mayoral candidates Latanza Johnson, Jack Lieske, Saba Mohammed, Lester "Chip" Lowe Jr., Derric Price and Larry Evans are accused of being ineligible because they don't live within city limits and the Gary addresses they provided election officials aren't their true residences.  Gary mayoral candidate Heather Hensley is being challenged on the grounds she hadn't previously voted in an Indiana election.  Hensley said this week she is a former Illinois resident but now lives in Gary and is a registered voter.  She said work commitments made voting too difficult in the past two elections.

Harris said he isn't making the challenges to help any other candidate.  "I'm doing it myself as a concerned citizen.  Whoever you support, it doesn't give them a fair shot if someone is rigging the election to let anybody in there and pack the ballot with a lot of names," he said.

 

U.S. Steel-Gary Works Propels Chicago Area to Top
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Staff Report
[3 Mar 2011]

In its annual Governor's Cup awards released Tuesday, Site Selection magazine ranked the Chicago area as the No. 1 metropolitan area in the U.S. in corporate facility expansion projects in 2010.  The magazine cited U.S. Steel's investment of $220 million to modernize its Gary Works facility.

U.S. Steel's investment in Gary helped the Chicago area lead the nation in rankings for economic development projects.

The magazine cited U.S. Steel's investment of $220 million to modernize its Gary Works plant.  The investment involves the first large-scale commercial application in the U.S. of a continuous process for making a coke alternative.  "It allows us to replace existing coke batteries with new technology and improve the environmental performance of the facility," U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone said.  "The first phase will involve two modules."  The first two modules are expected to begin operating in November.  When complete, the modules will produce about 500,000 tons of the coke substitute.  In all, 500 construction jobs will be created during the work.

Indiana ranked ninth among states for number of new economic development projects in 2010. Indiana's ranking is up one spot from last year.

 

Clay Loads Ballot to Guarantee Victory
Compiled From a Post-Trib Letter to Editor
[26 Feb 2011]

The tactics being used by Mayor Rudy Clay of inserting his cronies into the mayoral race so he can continue as mayor must be recognized by the people.

Most of the mayoral candidates dont care about the advancement of Gary.  They will do whatever it takes to get Clay re-elected, regardless if their actions lead the city to sink even deeper into financial ruin.

The people on the outside looking in through the bars of content and complacency have to know Gary is hopeless when 13 individuals will conspire to have an individual re-elected who is not qualified to manage the city of Gary.

With the ongoing political schemes, Clay has a chance to be re-elected by a process that is being manipulated by the strings he is pulling.

Dwight Taylor
Gary

 

Clay:  Gary Won't File Bankruptcy
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[25 Feb 2011]

GARY If you ask Mayor Rudy Clay, the state of the city is just fine, despite an ongoing financial crisis.

In his annual address before a full crowd at the Genesis Center, a defiant Clay insisted the city is business-friendly.  He also spoke of the need to replace property taxes by opening the city to more businesses to restore the tax base.

Midway through the speech, he also addressed what he called "rumors and innuendo" about Gary filing bankruptcy due to revenue losses from property tax caps and being taken over by a state monitor, based on a bill by an area state legislator.  With a push from State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, language involving a takeover was amended, Clay said. 

"The only way that really any city can file bankruptcy is if the city council and the mayor agree to it," he said.  "Gary, Indiana, is not going to file bankruptcy.  The hard decisions have already been made, and weve already determined what must be done for Gary to thrive under the tax caps."

 

And The Horses Are At The Starting Gate
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[19 Feb 2011]

Here is the field for the 2011 running of the Gary Mayoral Primary Race:

Omar M. Abdallah (Scratched)
Robert L. Buggs, Sr.. (Scratched)
Rudy Clay
Larry Evans
Harold Foster
Ragen Hatcher
Heather L. Hensley
Latanza Shanelle Johnson
Jack Lieske (Scratched ?)
Robert L. Lewis
Lester L. (Chip) Lowe Jr.
Saba S. Mohammed
Richard L. Nash
Derric (NuGary) Price
Jeffery L. Tatum
LaVetta Sparks-Wade (Scratched)
Karen Freeman-Wilson

Charles R. Smith Jr. is the lone candidate on the Republican primary ballot.

Lieske and Price could have eligibility problems.  Indiana law requires candidates for local office to be registered to vote in the district theyre running in by candidacy deadline, which was noon Friday.

A voter confirmation card sent to Lieske's address in the 500 block of Carolina Street was returned undeliverable Wednesday, the day after he filed his candidacy papers.  The Lake Co. Board of Elections  Director canceled Lieske's voter registration.

Meanwhile, Lake County records say Price registered to vote Wednesday, the same day he filed to run.  La Sota said that means the post office didnt have a chance to deliver his card.  Brad King, co-director of the election division of the Indiana Secretary of States office, said a person is not registered to vote under state law until a seven-day period has expired after the mailing of the confirmation card.  "If the card does not come back during that period, the voter is assumed to be registered at the end of that seven days," King said.

 

And Then There Were Only 13 Gary Mayor Candidates
Compiled from a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[18 Feb 2011]

CROWN POINT | Robert Buggs Sr. said Thursday afternoon he is withdrawing from the Gary mayoral primary in protest over seeing the ballot packed with less-than-serious candidates.  Buggs, who entered the race last month, said he became discouraged over so many filing to challenge incumbent Gary Mayor Rudy Clay.  He said this will only split the vote and ensure Clay's re-election.

"My decision is based primarily on my concerns that a number of the candidates expressed intent is to distort the political election process.  I'm not sure if some of them can fill out their candidate applications," Buggs said.

He will encourage supporters to back a candidate who will improve the quality of Gary's education, improve public safety and health, build a trade school, expand union and minority jobs and tear down Gary's abandoned downtown Sheraton hotel.

Ironically, two more Democrats, Lester "Chip" Lowe Jr. and Larry Evans, jumped into the Gary mayoral race as Buggs was pulling out.  That brings the current total running for Gary mayor in the May 3 primary to 12 Democrats and one Republican.

 

No Land-based Casino
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Jon Seidel
[17 Feb 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS Sen. Earline Rogers and Gary leaders gave more than an hour of testimony to a legislative committee Wednesday about the need for a land-based casino in the Steel City.  But as promised, the public policy committee led by Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette took no vote.  Afterward, Alting said Garys casino proposal will need to be revisited.  "Wont be this session," Alting said.

Rogers said shes not giving up on the idea this year, though.  She said she was satisfied with the lengthy hearing given her Senate Bill 41, but the deadline for Senate bills to leave their committees is Thursday.  "You know that song, Weve only just begun?" Rogers said.

 

Health-care Officials Rip Gary Snow Response
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Mark Taylor
[14 Feb 2011]

GARY John Grimm knows the city of Gary faces severe financial problems and didnt expect city crews to plow all of its streets overnight after the recent blizzard. But Grimm, the executive director of the South Shore Health & Rehabilitation Center in Gary, said during and after the storm city leaders failed to protect some of Garys most vulnerable residents when its crews neglected to plow the alleys and streets surrounding the nursing home. Grimm said for an entire week the streets around the long-term care facility were not plowed, which he said "put the lives of many residents in jeopardy, as ambulances and emergency medical services and other medical providers were not able to access the facility."

He pointed out that a patient died at the 129-bed home on the day of the big storm Feb. 2, though it was unrelated to the weather. Neither ambulances nor funeral hearses could get near the nursing home because the streets hadnt been cleared. South Shore staff had to leave the residents body in a room with an open window until it paid a private contractor more than $1,400 to plow the city streets and alleys surrounding the home.

He said South Shore patients needing regular kidney dialysis treatment were unable to obtain it for days after the storm. "We also have patients with tracheotomies, respiratory failure, heart failure and strokes," he said. "These are some very sick and vulnerable patients who sometimes have emergencies and need to go to the hospital. Somebody could have died."

He said the city should have an emergency preparedness plan that includes clearing access to healthcare facilities requiring emergency services.

Grimm said he contacted Mayor Rudy Clays office, which never responded. "Its absolutely infuriating," he said. "I am accountable to my residents and their families, but the city doesnt even respond to our concerns. It sounds like they just dont care."

Karen Ayersman, administrator for Timberview Health Care Center in Gary, said she knows the city lacks equipment and resources and faced a record blizzard. But Ayersman said the side streets around Timberview were neglected for days.

"Healthcare facilities like ours were not cleared," she said. She said the private plow trucks her company hired could not even get to the nursing home parking lots to clear them because of the snow-choked streets. "Finally, we had to pay our own plow trucks to clear Taft Street because the city did not," she said. "Ambulances couldnt get through three feet of snow. It was definitely a problem."

Clay did not return calls seeking comment.

 

Gary Suffers From Chronic Shortage of Doctors
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Mark Taylor
[13 Feb 2011]

33 years after the federal government designated Gary a health professional shortage area, and 17 years after federal health authorities qualified it as a medically underserved area, Gary continues to suffer from physician shortages.

Those shortages are partially to blame for the poor health status of many Gary citizens, according to local doctors and hospital officials.  Gary is home to disproportionately high numbers of severely ill patients suffering from multiple potentially life threatening conditions, including heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma.

Race and income account for some of those health care disparities.  African-Americans suffer higher rates of those conditions.  Nearly one-quarter of Garys population lives below the federal poverty guidelines, with the economic status of more than half its people categorized as low income.

At one time the city was home to nearly 100 doctors, but now fewer than 35 have offices in Gary.

 

Gary's Loss
Compiled From a Post-Trib "Op-Ed" Column
[11 Feb 2011]

The city now has fewer than half the population of 176,000 in its heyday 50 years ago.

While we feel for the 'Steel City,' we dont appreciate the response of Mayor Rudy Clay.  "Those numbers may be on paper, but those are not the real numbers," Clay said.  "In reality, Gary has many, many, many more people than that."

Clay vowed to appeal, which we suspect is a political move to say the Census Bureau shortchanged Gary.  Rather than appeal, Clay should be finding out why his city lost more than 2,000 people annually over the last decade.

Some of the reasons are obvious poor schools, crime and a deteriorating infrastructure.

Instead of complaining, Clay should bring people together to determine how the city can begin luring people back to Gary. The city has the chance to turn this devastating loss into a positive future.

 

A Cause and Effect Analysis
Excerpt From a Post-Trib Column by Raymond Dix
[29 Jan 2011]

When people lose jobs they tend to move to a place where they believe they will be able to find employment.  Communities like Gary lose people who are inclined to work, become homeowners/stakeholders and raise families with similar values.  To some degree and over time, the hope necessary to maintain a positive outlook diminishes with each passing generation.  People who have lost hope also lose the desire to maintain healthy communities.

 

Rusted Out:  Clay Says City Has Many, Many, Many More People
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report By Jon Seidel, Chelsea Schneider Kirk and The Associated Press
                 and a nwiTimes Report By Marisa Kwiatkowski
[11 Feb 2011]

Garys population has slipped below that of Hammond, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday, with the Steel City losing 22% of its citizens in the past 10 years.  Garys 2010 total population was 80,294, according to the states Legislative Services Agency. Hammond, meanwhile, had a total population of 80,830.  Thats 536 more residents than Gary.

The Gary numbers reflect a 22% population loss since the 2000 Census, when its total population was 102,746.  Hammond, meanwhile, lost just 2.6 % of its total population since 2000, when its number was 83,048.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay disputes the 2010 population counts.  He said the city was severely undercounted despite officials who "worked like junkyard dogs" to encourage residents to fill out their census forms.  "The numbers you're looking at on paper don't really reflect the actual number of people that live in the city of Gary," Clay said.  "In reality Gary has many, many, many more people than that."

State Rep. Charlie Brown, a Gary resident, called the numbers "hard to believe."  "In fact, its impossible to believe," Brown said.  He, like Clay, said people must have decided not to participate in last years count.  "All the more reason we need a new mayor," Brown said.

State Rep. Vernon Smith, also of Gary, called the numbers "painful."  He said he remembers when Garys population was more than double the new count.  "I dont think we even did a good job," Smith said of his hometowns census campaign.

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. was surprised Hammond surpassed Gary in population.  He expected Hammonds population would outpace Gary in 2020, not 10 years earlier.  "Wow, I can't believe it," he said.  "That's shocking.  There's obviously a serious issue going on over there," McDermott said.

McDermott characterized Garys population loss as a regional problem that must be addressed.  "Its sad to see Gary dropping so fast.  Its extremely concerning.  I feel bad for Mayor Clay.  I know hes doing everything he can.  Its shocking to me.  I didnt think in any way Hammond would pass up Gary in the 2010 census."

McDermott credited his administrations focus on home ownership and the College Bound Scholarship Program as initiatives that stabilized population.  He actually thought the citys population would have taken a bigger hit because one of his first actions as mayor was closing the River Park Apartments.

Lake and Porter counties posted population growth.  Lake Countys population grew to 496,005, a 2.4% increase from 2000.  Porter Countys population increased 12% to 164,343.

In Lake County, Crown Points population grew 38% to 27,317 residents.  "We are one of the fastest growing communities in Lake County," Crown Point Mayor David Uran said.  "We are very proud of that, and we believe we bring a lot of quality of life."

The states population grew by more than 400,000 residents or 6.6% to 6,483,802 as of April 1, 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Indianapolis grew 4.8% to 829,718 residents.  Fort Wayne saw the largest growth among the five most populous cities as it jumped 23.3% to 253,691 residents.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And this comes as a surprise to who?  Why?  It is not like the decline of Gary in all respects is newsbreaking! 

 

Jackson Foundation Gets (Another) New Deadline
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report By Christine Kraly
[10 Feb 2011]

GARY | The Las Vegas-based group aiming to build a multimillion-dollar Jackson family megaplex has gotten another extension to become a nonprofit.  The city of Gary has given the Jackson Family Heritage Foundation until May 31 to establish itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a requirement in order for the group to proceed with its plans.  "We recognized that the 501(c)(3) process is a lengthy process," City Attorney Susan Severtson said.  "We wanted to come up with a realistic timeline."

Foundation President Simon Sahouri and family patriarch Joe Jackson joined Gary Mayor Rudy Clay in June 2010 to announce plans for a museum-anchored complex dedicated to Michael Jackson and his family.  The project is expected to cost at least $300 million.

The city signed a real estate deal with Sahouri and Joe and Katherine Jackson to transfer under certain conditions more than 300 acres of city land, for free, to the group to develop.  The foundation must have tax-exempt status before it can receive the land, Severtson has said.

The group became embroiled in incorporation confusion a couple of months ago when it merged with existing Merrillville nonprofit Positive Action.  Days after the December 2010 merger, The Times published a story that two Positive Action officers were accused of past financial fraud.  Severtson later said the foundation would attempt tax-exempt status on its own merits, a move the city supported.

The foundation and city also must eliminate discrepancies between the group's registered name and the name in its real estate agreement.

The agreement executed June 2, 2010, grants city land to the Jackson Development & Marketing Corp.  "Those documents, for a number of reasons, will need to be renegotiated," Severtson has said.

Severtson declined to say what action the city might take if the group misses the May 31 deadline, saying, "It's difficult to speculate what will happen four months from now.  "She said the city and foundation agreed on the due date.

Sahouri did not return a Times call seeking comment Wednesday.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It is getting hard to keep track, but if memory serves me correct this is the third deadline extended to with respect to this project?  While It may take some time to procure 501(c)(3) charitable staus, it does not take years!  I can tell you that.

 

Land-based Casino Bill Won't Get Vote in 2011
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[1 Feb 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS The committee chairman responsible for the legislation said Monday Garys land-based casino bill will get a hearing this year but no vote.

Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said that means shell need to make sure testimony on behalf of the idea is compelling enough to change the chairmans mind.  "I will be looking at the participants," Rogers said.  "I hope that you will at least allow the city of Gary to be heard this session," Rogers said.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, chairs the public policy committee, which has been sitting on Rogers Senate Bill 41.  If passed, the bill would let the owner of Garys two riverboat gaming licenses propose a land-based casino to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

"Land-based, to most Hoosiers, is an expansion of gaming," Alting said.  Rogers bill deserves to be heard though, he said, and it will.  Im going to hear it," Alting said, "but no vote."

Altings own casino bill passed the Senate last week.  It would make various changes to Indiana gaming law such as allowing card tournaments at casinos hotels.  Before the final vote, Rogers made a plea for Alting to hear her bill.

Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, also told reporters Thursday theres little support for land-based casinos in his Republican-controlled chamber this year.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   So much for the linch pin of Rudy's plan to bring Gary back from the brink of economic disaster?  Oh wait, there is still the Michael Jackson theme park!  

 

How to Assure Rudy is Re-elected
A GDY Op-Ed
[30 Jan 2011]

The best way to assure that Rudy is the last man standing after the upcoming primary is to throw as many candidates as possible into the race.  The more folk running, the less votes Rudy needs to garner a victory.  Do the math, it is a simple equation.

Here is what the field looks like, as of today

1. Richard L. Nash, D
2. Omar M. Abdallah, D
3. Saba Mohammed
4. Jack Lieske, D
4. Jeffery L. Tatum, D
5. Harold Foster, D
6. Robert L. Buggs, Sr., D
7. Ragen Hatcher, D
8. Karen M. Freeman-Wilson, D
9. Lester Lowe
10. LaVetta Sparks-Wade
11. R. Clay, D

 

Gary Cannot Keep Rudy as Mayor
A Post-Trib "Letter to Editor
[30 Jan 2011]

Gary is beset by crime and poverty, and dangles on the verge of bankruptcy.  A collection of urban myths provides an explanation of how the city arrived at this plight.

Former Mayor Richard Hatcher is blamed for the exodus of business from the city.  Former Mayor Scott King is blamed for digging the financial hole that the city is buried in.  The influx of South Chicagoans is blamed for the high incidence of crime in the city.  The fiscal monitors are blamed for the severe cuts that have been made to city services.  The short-changing of the city regarding casino monies has been blamed on a "conspiracy against the city of Gary."

Regardless of the credibility that is assigned to these myths, one reality soon will confront the residents of Gary. If they re-elect Rudy Clay as their mayor, they will have only themselves to blame.

Chester Baran
Gary

 

Former Assessor Challenges Own Assessment
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Bill Dolan
[29 Jan2011]

CROWN POINT | Former Calumet Township Assessor Booker Blumenberg may be unhappy with high taxes on his Gary home because its real estate value was poorly assessed -- by his own employee.

County Assessor Hank Adams said Blumenberg only has himself to blame since the assessment was the result of Blumenberg's own work.  Voters elected Blumenberg to assess all homes and businesses in Gary, Griffith and unincorporated Calumet Township from 1990 until he left office last month.

Members of the Lake County Tax Assessment Board of Appeals expressed astonishment at their Friday meeting over Blumenberg's letter protesting that the assessed value of his residence was "improperly derived and applied contrary to ... state law."  Adams said of Blumenberg's complaint, "He's apparently saying he did everything wrong.  He was the township assessor.  Why would he (as taxpayer) disapprove of what he approved (as township assessor)?"

County records indicate Blumenberg's home is worth more than $182,000 and that his tax bill last year was $3,979, although he didn't pay it. His total tax delinquency from previous years is more than $9,900.

Blumenberg, who didn't appear at the meeting, didn't return a telephone call Friday seeking comment. Board members postponed action on the matter.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It can only happen in da' Region! 

 

Gary Mayor Hopefuls Know Bankruptcy
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[28 Jan 2011]

GARY -- At least three of Gary's declared mayoral candidates have filed bankruptcy in the past.  Each says the bankruptcy has no bearing on their ability to manage finances of the cash-strapped city.

Bankruptcy filings can be found in the federal district covering Northern Indiana for Ragen Hatcher, Robert L. Buggs Sr. and Jeffery Tatum.  Hatcher is considered a major contender for the mayor's office.

Hatcher acknowledged her bankruptcy came after an investment deal in Indianapolis failed.  Two houses she owned there went on tax sale in 2006.  Marion County records show she owed about $15,000 at the time.  "I was faced with filing for bankruptcy on two of the properties," Hatcher, an at-large member of the City Council, said.  "However, I continued to maintain and pay all personal debt."

In her Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, Hatcher, daughter of former Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher, said she was making mortgage payments on properties in the 200 block of North Gray Street and the 2200 block of Bellefontaine Street in Indianapolis.

According to Marion County records, Hatcher took possession of both properties in 2002.  She owed $4,966 on the Gray Street property when it was purchased on tax sale in September 2006.  The Bellefontaine property, where she owed $10,514, failed to sell during the tax auction.  It was deeded over to the city of Indianapolis.

"This will not affect my ability to manage city budgets," Hatcher said of her bankruptcy.  "In having to maintain the integrity of city finances, it is imperative to have the ability to make difficult decisions that will create financial stability."

Records indicate Lake County properties in Hatcher's name have delinquent tax bills amounting to at least $2,428, but she said that's because she recently purchased them on tax sale.  She provided tax deed orders indicating taxes won't be due on those properties until later this year.

Tatum, who entered the mayor's race Tuesday, filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in 1998, records show.  Tatum, a Gary police officer, said he was forced into bankruptcy when Gary failed to pay medical bills as it had agreed to under his insurance plan.  He said he was hit with multiple lawsuits at once.  "I couldn't afford to, basically, live," Tatum said.

Buggs filed his voluntary Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in October 2006.  He said he did so to prevent foreclosure on rental properties he owned that had been overassessed.  He said he later won appeals on those assessments.  He also said there's "nothing negative" about a bankruptcy filing.  "Circumstances happen to people sometime," Buggs said.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   I do not know whether to take solace in the fact Ragen Hatcher is not living off of her daddy's money, or to be more than concerned that Ms. Hatcher thinks the "Circle City," not the "Steel City," is the Indiana town worth investing her dollars and efforts?

 

Odds Bad for Land-based Gary Casino
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Dan Carden
[28 Jan 2011]

INDIANAPOLIS | Gary's hopes for a land-based casino may have been dashed Thursday, one month into a four-month legislative session.

Speaking with reporters, Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne) said he is not likely to allow a committee hearing on Senate Bill 41, permitting a Gary inland casino, until Majestic Star comes out of bankruptcy.  Majestic Star, the owner of Gary's two casinos, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in November 2009.

"Right now, I just don't think we're ready to deal with a land-based casino in Gary because I don't really think we have a final answer as to who the owners are and what they really want," Long said.  Without a Senate committee approving legislation, it is all but impossible to get a final vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

State Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary) the sponsor of Senate Bill 41, said she spoke with Majestic Star representatives on Wednesday, who told her they're prepared to explain the company's financial situation to Long in the hope of winning passage of the land-based legislation.  "Of course, all of these questions could be answered in a committee hearing," Rogers said.

The Republican-controlled House also has not scheduled a committee hearing for House Bill 1415, a Gary land-based casino measure sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary).  House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) told The Times he does not support land-based gaming.

Long said another reason for the inaction on land-based gaming is "there doesn't seem to be a lot of support for that this year."  He said lawmakers are concerned a land-based facility could be Las Vegas-sized and that would be unfair competition to smaller riverboats and casinos located elsewhere in the state.

 

Hopefully, New Gary Will Rise From the Ashes
A Post-Trib "Letter to Editor"
[23 Jan 2011]

Gary is fiscally bankrupt.  However, under current state law, Indiana cities are not allowed to file bankruptcy.  Senate Bill 105 will change that.

Gary is out of money.  It cannot afford to provide its citizens with basic civil services and, due to constitutional tax caps, Gary cannot generate enough revenue to continue to exist.

Gary is now dead, and as the dead cannot bury the dead, I would welcome a state-appointed manager to do the job.  Our elected officials have allowed the diseases of ineptitude, corruption, cronyism and patronage to become terminal.

Gary has been on Distressed Unit Appeals Board life support, and last fall the voters pulled the plug.  A state-appointed undertaker is needed now.  I say R.I.P., Gary, you always will have a special place in my heart.

Perhaps with oversight from a state-appointed emergency manager, a new and better city will rise from your ashes, but first we can be sure that the very people who put Gary in the grave will try every trick in the book, including the race card, to poison the citizens against any "state takeover" of Gary so they can continue to feed on the corpse of this once-great city.

City Council candidate Tony Walker's recent use of slavery era terminology when discussing Senate Bill 105 underscores the truth that no one seems willing to confront.  The truth is that racism killed Gary.  Racist whites who fled Gary following the election of its first black mayor share the blame with racist blacks who ever since that election have insisted that Gary should always remain a black-dominated, black-controlled, black-oriented city.

It should be noted forever that the disease of racism was to blame for the death of the City of the Century.

Cullen B. Daniel
Gary

 

Gary Mayoral Campaign Reports Show Disparity
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[22 Jan 2011]

GARY -- Campaign finance reports for Clay, Freeman-Wilson and Ragen Hatcher were released Friday by Lake County.  A pair of front-runners in the race to knock Rudy Clay out of the mayor's office have a combined $859 for their campaigns, records show.  Clay's campaign has $72,537.  "That means he has a war chest," Karen Freeman-Wilson, one of the two challengers, said.

The reports show Hatcher for Gary had $93.89 on hand at the end of the reporting period. Karen (Freeman-Wilson) for Gary had $765.11.  Saba Mohammed also signed up to run for the office this week, but county officials said they don't have a report to release from that campaign.

Four businesses exceeded their maximum amount of donations to the Committee to Elect Rudy Clay in 2010, according to the mayor's report.  They were Alex Metz Sewer Inc., which contributed $2,500, B&W Security Agency Inc., which contributed $2,500, Hasse Construction Co. Inc., which contributed $2,250, and TRI Inc., which contributed $2,500.

Indiana law restricts those donors to $2,000 a year.  Nathaniel Williams, the treasurer of Clay's campaign, said the excess $1,750 has been refunded to the businesses.

In all, Clay's campaign said it took in $131,150 in 2010.  Freeman-Wilson's campaign said it took in $7,015 during that period.  "You certainly must have funds to run a campaign nowadays," Clay said.

Hatcher's report detailed activity between Oct. 8 and Jan. 15.  Her campaign said it took in $1,100 during those months.

Among Freeman-Wilson's contributions were donations of $1,000 each from Roosevelt Allen Jr., Charlie Brown and Bernard A. Carter.  Hatcher took in $750 from donors in Chicago and South Holland, Ill., and Muskegon Heights, Mich.

Hatcher said money won't decide the campaign.  "Talking directly to the people is the best way to get the word out," Hatcher said.

 

Clay Ditches Hummer
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[22 Jan 2011]

GARY -- Rudy Clay says he's losing the Hummer.  "It's become political," he said.

Gary's mayor has been driven around town in a taxpayer-funded Hummer H3 for nearly five years, ever since he took office.  Few of his decisions have drawn quite as much public ire, but Clay has defended it with equal passion.  "I've got one of the cheapest SUVs on the highway," Clay said in 2009, "and it's like the world is coming to an end."

Now, with the primary election just months away, he said he'll soon start using one of more than 100 fuel-efficient cars purchased by the city with a $3 million federal stimulus grant last year.  Most of those new cars are Ford Crown Victorias used by the Gary Police Department, but Gary also purchased 12 hybrid Ford Escapes.  "I will be giving the Hummer up," Clay said.  "That's the bottom line."

The fate of Clay's Hummer isn't clear.  He said Friday morning he planned to give it up when the lease ends.  But Gary's finance department said the city is leasing the car with an option to purchase.  With one final payment on Dec. 24, the vehicle will be the property of Gary's taxpayers.

Clay said he'll probably sell the 2009 Hummer back to the dealership from which it was purchased.  The dealer is willing to buy the car back for market value, Clay said.  If that falls through, the car could remain in Gary's fleet.

The mayor took lots of heat for his choice of transportation, but he's insisted it was an economical choice when compared to the 2003 Ford Expedition used by former Mayor Scott King.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   It does not sound to me like he is giving up the Hummer, if he is going to keep using it until next Christmas?

 

Lieske Licked:  Ends Race
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[18 Jan 2011]

GARY -- Jack Lieske says he's withdrawing from the race for Gary mayor, blaming an "unwarranted and ruthless" attack by a former campaign worker.  "I have no choice," Lieske said.

If elected, Lieske said his administration's initiatives would have included a major university, a lakefront marina and green housing for the disabled.

"I am deeply saddened that the city of Gary had an opportunity never seen before with the resources that I have developed over the last three years that will never be implemented," Lieske said.  "My entire goal was to empower people to take back their city, and because of one self-serving person, these initiatives will not become reality."

Illinois resident Traci Bismonte distributed a resignation e-mail addressed to Lieske's campaign manager last week.  In it, she said Lieske is not a Gary resident and hasn't set up a bank account to collect campaign contributions.

Lieske immediately denied all of it, saying Bismonte is disgruntled and has a personal vendetta.  "There is nothing that is true in this e-mail," Lieske said Friday.

Bismonte stood by her correspondence Monday.  "It is not a character assassination," Bismonte said.  "I simply told the truth."

Lieske's withdrawal comes just as the official kick-off of the campaign nears.  Wednesday is the first day candidates seeking office in this year's election can file for a spot on the ballot.  The deadline to do so is noon Feb. 18.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay has said he will try to keep his job in this year's election. Attorney Karen Freeman-Wilson and City Council member Ragen Hatcher have said they will run against him.  Lester Lowe, Richard Nash and LaVetta Sparks-Wade have also said they'll be on the ballot.

 

Gary Officials Should Share in Financial Woes
Compiled From a Post-Trib Ed-Op
[18 Jan 2011]

Before the city of Gary lays off another firefighter, authorizes another dime's worth of fees on its residents or shuts down children's parks, it needs to cut from the top.  The mayor and City Council should enact that symbolic gesture and give a good whacking to their own salaries, to acknowledge they really care and really can lead.

Despite a nominal pay cut, Mayor Rudy Clay makes $135,250 a year.  That's more than Gov. Mitch Daniels is paid.  Taxpayers should demand to know why, and what they get for it.  The nine council members each makes $27,530 annually.

The DUAB said Gary's council budget was three times larger than council budgets for South Bend and Evansville.  Why does the council need all that cash?  In South Bend, for example, the council doesn't have a staff.  If a council member needs assistance, a worker in the city clerk's office provides support.  Why can't that work in Gary?

Gary leaders need to be versed in making prudent, intelligent budget decisions.  They've shown little proclivity for it, thus far.  It took Post-Tribune stories exposing their cross-country travel excursions on the city's dime to stop that practice and to stop a "grants" fund in 2009.

Despite the criticism from DUAB members and in places like this one, there's still a disconnect between fiscal reality and Gary's leaders who should be developing reasons for people to move to Gary, not leave it.

So far, the exodus is winning.

 

Casino Funds Gary's Ace in Hole?
Compiled From a nwiTimes.com Report by Lu Ann Frankilin
[15 Jan 2011]

GARY | In light of the city's continuing financial crisis, Councilman-at-large Roy Pratt hammered home again Friday that the Majestic Star casinos owe the city millions of dollars in user fees based on an agreement forged in the mid-1990s.  That agreement states that Majestic Star I will pay the city 3% of its adjusted gross revenue each month, while Majestic Star II will provide 4% of its AGR, Pratt said during a news conference in council chambers at City Hall.

The money could help the city function, prevent further layoffs and department closures and keep the city out of bankruptcy, he said.  "We haven't been paid in 2 1/2 years," Pratt said.  "Gary is the only city with a riverboat receiving absolutely nothing."

How much money the casinos owe still isn't clear.  Pratt sent inquiries to various entities Monday, including the Indiana Gaming Commission seeking figures about what Majestic Star owes and what has been paid.  The commission asked for an extension until Jan. 22 to answer.


 

Mayoral Candidate Claims He's Targeted
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Jon Seidel
[15 Jan 2011 ]

GARY -- A man running for mayor says he's become a political target after a campaign worker slammed him in a resignation e-mail this week.  Jack Lieske also said someone tried to burn down his home on Christmas Day.

"I'm a target.  I'm continuing to be a target.  This is just crazy.  I'm trying to do the right thing."

Traci Bismonte, whom Lieske said was a "strategist" for his campaign, wrote in an e-mail Lieske "has never spent one night" in the home that burned.  "Mr. Lieske is not officially a resident of Gary."  Bismonte also said Lieske can't prove his Lake County voter registration.  County election officials confirmed no one with Lieske's name has a valid voter registration here.  Lieske said he now lives in the city's Miller neighborhood but won't say where, citing safety.

Bismonte also said she is owed $500, that no bank account has been set up to collect Lieske's campaign funds and that he called her inappropriate names.

Lieske said Bismonte is "disgruntled" and has a personal vendetta against him.  He said he'll file charges and sue.  "There is nothing that is true in this e-mail."

According to state law, candidates for mayor must be registered to vote by the time candidacy filing closes.  That's noon Feb. 18.  However, they must have lived in the city a year before the general election.

Lieske said he believes Bismonte is working for Ragen Hatcher, another candidate for mayor.  Hatcher denied it.  "There is nobody by that name working with us," Hatcher said.  "However, if she is interested, I would love for her to contact me."

Lieske said someone tried to burn down his home in the 500 block of Pierce Street.  He said a fire was set in the fireplace there Dec. 18.  On Christmas Day, he said, the home was set on fire again.  "They used an accelerant on all three floors on Christmas Day," Lieske said.  "It was arson."  Sgt. Mark Salazar, an arson investigator for the Gary Police Department, said no one has reported an arson at the property.

 

Gary Residents Decry Request for Bailout
Compiled From a www.wbez.org by Michael Puente
[7 Jan 2011]

Richard Barnes has had it when it comes to hearing about property tax relief for his hometown of Gary, Indiana.  Barnes traveled to Indianapolis Friday morning to urge members of the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board not to allow Gary to collect another $11 million in property taxes from homeowners and businesses.  "Property tax relief for the city is tax payments for residents," Barnes told the board. "The time has come to provide relief for the residents, not the government."

During this final go-around, some on the DUAB wonder if Gary is doing all it can to reduce expenditures.  Board member Mark GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne was shocked to learn that Gary city council members earn annual salaries of $26,000, among the highest in the state.  He said it should be cut.  "I think it would be very beneficial to the community and to all of you personally to announce a dramatic decrease in your salaries."

Near the end of the citys presentation, several residents had harsh words for their hometown including Jim Nowacki, a longtime critic of Gary city government.  "The reason the city cant function under the tax caps is because of waste, corruption and the scandalous abuse of the authority given to them," Nowacki said.  "I want the board to understand that this (Gary) is a nonfunctioning unit of government and not grant relief.  What you have here is not simply a unit of government that is in distress.  Youve got a unit of government that is a corrupt criminal enterprise."

 

Clay Says He's Right Man for Job
Compiled From a NWITimes.com Report By Lauri Harvey Keagle
[7 Jan 2011]

GARY | Rudy Clay will ask Gary voters to give him another term as their mayor.  Clay made the announcement at a Thursday morning news conference in a meeting room adjacent to the mayor's office at City Hall.  "I work 24/7 to make Gary a better city," Clay said.  "That renders me the best qualified person to bring jobs, hope and quality of life (to Gary). ...  We are prepared, we are experienced, we are proficient, and we are ready."

In a speech rich with the metaphors the career politician is known for, Clay said he plans to make job creation and restoring the tax base priorities.  "Gary needs a mayor that's already been in the cockpit and flew the plane," he said.  "You've got financial turbulence on one wing over here, lightning over here. ...  We have the best mayor right here now.  I don't even know what all the fuss is about."

Clay has come under fire for the city's dire financial situation throughout his tenure as mayor.  Most recently, city officials delivered layoff notices to 34 firefighters Dec. 27, blaming the move on 2011 salary budget cuts they expect will be required by the Distressed Unit Appeals Board.  The state board granted the city $21 million in relief from tax caps in each of the past two years.

Still, the city's property tax revenue has been cut in half since the tax caps were instituted.  "We've been able to streamline city government," he said.  "I think that's great. I  think that in 2012, we will be one of the few cities that'll be prepared for property tax caps because we were one of the few cities creative enough to go to the (board) and get help."

The city plans to appear before the board again Friday.

In addition to property tax revenue losses, the city also has lost revenue because of the bankruptcy of the Majestic Star Casino.

Clay was quick to point the finger of blame at previous administrations for the city's financial woes.  "After the abrupt resignation of the former mayor (Scott King), we inherited a city that was financially drained," he said.  Clay said on his first day in office, he was handed a $4.5 million NIPSCO bill, $900,000 water bill and $30,000 cell phone bill.

"A small city like Gary, Ind., reduced spending $62 million," he said.  "There is no city in America the size of Gary that could reduce spending $62 million and still keep the doors open, but we did."

Other successes Clay pointed to included using federal funds to demolish 101 abandoned buildings, paving 22 streets with $2.8 million in state funds and putting 96 police squads on the street with federal dollars.

There have been nine police chiefs during Clay's five year tenure in office, including the late Thomas Houston, who died in prison in November after being convicted of violating the rights of a man accused of burglarizing his home.  Clay insists that in spite of the turnover in the top cop's seat, firefighter layoffs and a high crime rate, "public safety is the No. 1 priority in our community."

Last week, Mayor Clay fired the incumbent fire chief.  Clay also was forced by a collapse in the city's garbage collections to privatize the service in 2008, leading to lawsuits and public anger over having to pay monthly garbage fees.

As mayor Clay earns an annual compensation totaling $135,250.  That includes $81,175 he receives as mayor and another $54,075 he receives as special administrator of the Gary Sanitary District.  Clay has also previously served as a Lake County commissioner and chairman of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee. He lost the chairmanship to Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. in 2009.

Among the close to 30 people in attendance at Thursday morning's announcement were Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, who hugged Clay after he finished his speech.

City Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher; attorney Karen Freeman-Wilson, a former city judge and former state attorney general; and Gary businessman Jack Lieske are among a number of candidates who already have entered the Democratic primary.

"We're going to run a vigorous campaign," Clay said. "This will probably be the most vigorous campaign I've ever run in my life."

 

Mercy Hospital Attached to Gary Police Station Hit, Cops Say
Compiled From a NWITimes.com Report By Pete Nickeas
[6 Jan 2011]

GARY | A Gary police officer heading to shift change early Thursday morning reportedly spotted two men tossing duffel bags from a window in the vacant Mercy Hospital attached to the Gary Police Department.

Police say they were stealing scraps from the building. Inside the bags were tools, and near the window where one man was standing police found freshly cut copper pipes and old electrical motors, said Lt. Sam Roberts of the Gary Police Department.

The man inside the building fled when the officer started asking questions, Roberts said. The other, Robert Lee Burns, 43, of Gary, was arrested and charged with burglary. He had an outstanding warrant for driving while suspended, Roberts said. More officers searched the building, but couldn't find the second man.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   What does it say about a city, or its residents, that citizens have no fear in burglarizing the building attached to the Gary Police Station?

 

Councilman Pratt Calls for Meeting, Cites Potential of Subpoenas
Compiled From a NWI.com Report by Rob Earnshaw
[5 Jan 2011]

GARY | Gary City Councilman Roy Pratt, D-at large, announced a Jan. 14 meeting at City Hall "so we can get information that we do not have."  He threatened the use of subpoena powers to get answers from the powers that be while speaking of the city's woeful state of affairs at Tuesday's council meeting.

His call for better understanding of what lies ahead financially for the city comes in the wake of the layoffs of 34 city firefighters and Majestic Star Casino's bankruptcy filing.  Bankruptcy filings show the casino owes the city more than $10 million in gaming subsidies, and the city claims it's owed another $25 million to $30 million in local property taxes.  "Here we are laying off firemen, (and) we have a major employer who owes the city millions of dollars," Pratt said.

Pratt said the council will send letters with questions to Mayor Rudy Clay, City Attorney Susan Severtson, the Indiana Gaming Commission, the city's bankruptcy attorney -- and maybe even Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Pratt said there is talk of "making our city bankrupt" and bringing in a general manager who would have control over the mayor and the council's decisions.  It was a reference to state legislation filed in Indianapolis that would allow cities to file for bankruptcy.  "(The manager) would run the city rather then elected officials," Pratt said.

Pratt accused Majestic Star I and II owner Don Barden of still making money from the casino but not sending one dime to the city.  "Here we're talking about closing down courts, going (downstate) asking for (help), and we haven't taken advantage of what we have," Pratt said.

The city plans to ask for property tax relief from the state Distressed Unit Appeals Board for the third straight year.  "If we don't pay our taxes, they take our houses, our property.  Here is a major developer (Barden) -- people keep saying he will not be there -- but he's there now.  He's making money.  They're using us."

Pratt said Gary should retain its two casino licenses, with one continuing to operate at the Majestic site and the other moving to a land-based location near Interstates 80/94 "where the traffic is."  The move would require legislation that state legislators so far have been unwilling to approve.

The plan for the proposed meeting Jan. 14 is for the officials invited to tell the council what will happen regarding these issues, Pratt said.  "If it doesn't happen we're going to go on the offensive," he said.  "We are going to subpoena.  We have subpoena power.  I'm going to ask the council members to subpoena the Gaming Commission, the administration, if necessary, our bankruptcy attorney, and, if necessary, the governor.  Hopefully, they'll give us the information."

 

Gary to Host Black Film Fest in Feb
Compiled From a Report By Sergio @ http://www.shadowandact.com/?p=36366
[5 Jan 2011]

As I always say there can never be enough black film festivals, and now you can add Gary Indiana to the list of cities with their own black festival.  The Gary International Black Film Festival will be held from Feb.11-13 with all films screened at the Glen Theater.

Though its unclear from the website for the festival if this is the first time the festival has been held in Gary films such as Night Catches Us, I Will Follow, Night.Fighter.Boy will be screened, and feelers have been put out to get The First Grader and Kinyarwanda as well. (Boy if they get those films thatll be a real coup!)

For more info on the festival go here ==> http://gibff.org/

 

'Urban Genocide' Way of Life on Gary Streets
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Lori Caldwell
[3 Jan 2011]

GARY -- The names and numbers change from year to year.  Even the cities Gary gets compared to when looking at homicide rates are different.  But this remains the same:  homicide victims, mostly young, black men, die in this city at a higher per capita rate than any other municipality of similar size.

No longer listed in the major cities of 100,000 or more residents, Gary appears to rank first among cities with a population between 50,000 and 99,999, which is the next grouping used by the FBI when releasing its annual Uniform Crime Report.  Although data from every city in that population range was not available, none of the cities with reputations for high crime rates reported numbers close to Gary's 54 violent deaths for 2010.

In 2008, with 40 homicides, Gary reached a low not seen for decades.  In 2009, 50 people died violent deaths.

'NO ONE WANTS TO GET INVOLVED'

Violent Crime Unit detectives say they often know who committed the most heinous crimes.  But people who could help solve a case won't cooperate by providing even an anonymous call.  Sgt. Larry Robertson said he and his co-workers get frustrated when they start asking questions and get blank stares from people who could provide even basic information.

"People of Gary should ask themselves why the communities around them don't have this level of criminal activity," Bond said.  "Urban genocide will continue until those who are brave enough actually stand up and do the right thing," he said.

Robertson said criminals who commit one homicide with no repercussions are likely to do it again.  "If they've killed before, they will kill again.  But now the blood is on the hands of the witnesses who walk away.  That's how I look at it," he said.

 

Sparks-Wade Enters Mayor Race
Compiled from a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[2 Jan 2011]

GARY -- Businesswoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade, a former division manager for the state's Child Protective Services, on Saturday threw her hat into the increasingly crowded race for mayor.  Sparks-Wade told several dozen followers at a West Side church she is not a politician, which separates her from the pack, and she promised to revitalize the city.  "We'd like to return to the days of old when one could graduate high school and get a job here in the city," she said.  "In my administration, our No. 1 priority will be jobs."

Sparks-Wade, who grew up in Gary and attended public schools before attending Tuskegee University in Alabama, was a 15-year CPS employee and manager before leaving to run her own consulting business, Integrity Solutions Inc.

She spoke of a "leadership void" in the city and claimed the city's budgetary woes, including, most recently, laying off 34 fire fighters, is due to poor fiscal management.  "Poor fiscal management has gotten us into this boat, and good government is going to get us out," Sparks-Wade said.

Others who have announced their intention to run include City Councilwoman Ragen Hatcher, former city judge Karen Freeman-Wilson, Lester Lowe, Jack Lieske and Richard Nash.

The official filing period opens the third week in January.
_________________
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It seems to me that Rudy has to be drooling over the number of primary challengers?  The more that enter the fray, the less number of votes he needs to prevail.

 

Clay's Time as Mayor Must Not be Allowed to Continue
Post-Trib
Reader Commentary
[2 Jan 2011]

It's time to take out the trash in Gary.  Rudy Clay must go.  He has not earned another term in office as mayor.  He has been an extremely poor and ineffective mayor. I t is time to excise the cancer known as Rudy Clay.  It is malignant and is a particularly virulent strain.  It must be removed before it spreads.

It is time to flush the toilet in Gary, but make sure the lid is down, as things in Gary have a way of coming back up.

Seriously, Gary residents:  Be proactive, and let's get rid of Clay in the next election.  Any other candidate of your choice is a better choice.  The future of Gary depends on it.

Ramon Romantico
Gary

 

Out with Old, In with New?  Gary Fire Chief Demoted
Compiled From a NWI.com Report by Susan Brown
[1 Jan 2011]

GARY | Mayor Rudy Clay confirmed widespread rumors Friday that Fire Chief Jeff Ward has been removed as the city's top firefighter.  It's true we're going to have a new fire chief," Clay said.

Ward will stay on as a captain with the Fire Department, but a new chief will be named next week, Clay said.  The new chief will come from inside the ranks, he said.

The recent layoffs of 34 firefighters did not prompt the decision to remove Ward, the mayor said.  "In fact, the chief presented proposals to save jobs, but the union turned them down," Clay said.

Clay said the decision to remove Ward was painful, but he declined further comment, saying he can't get too deeply into what is a personnel matter.
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[COMMENT -GDY]:   And how believable is Rudy on this one, one has to ask? 


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Created 1 Jan 2011 - 00:00:01 Hrs.

Copyright 2011, G. David Yaros.  All rights reserved.