Tag Archives: Business/Finance

Governor Pence Authorizes Bonuses of up to $1,000 to State Employees

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Governor Pence has authorized one time, end of year bonuses to be paid to State employees. The bonuses of up to $1,000 will be based on performance reviews to be completed in January. The Governor states that the bonuses are in lieu of pay raises and will not affect the budget. We would love to hear your opinions, is this sound fiscal policy? Sound off in the comments section.  

Here is the Governor’s letter to State of Indiana employees:

Fellow State Employees,
As 2013 draws to a close, I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your service to the people of Indiana over the past year.
Through the efforts of dedicated State Employees like you, Hoosiers continue to receive quality service and support when interacting with our state government. Indiana is strong and growing stronger due, in part, to the commitment you exhibit every day in service to the public.
Because of your efficiency and commitment to fiscal discipline, Indiana leads the way with a balanced budget, AAA credit rating and a reputation for sound fiscal management.
While our present circumstances do not permit us to increase base pay, because your service to Indiana has been exemplary, I have authorized a bonus that you will receive once performance evaluations are completed in January.
Employees who meet expectations will receive a $500 bonus, those who exceed expectations will receive $750, and those rated outstanding will receive $1,000.
I hope this news will be an encouragement to you for a job well done in 2013.
Thank you for your service to the good people of Indiana. It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve alongside men and women like you.
God bless you and your family with a memorable holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely,
Governor Mike Pence

NIRPC Passes Illiana, Lowell Residents Outraged, Union Members Cheer

12 Dec

by Ken Davidson

In perhaps one of the most contentious public meetings of the year, a room full of people who face losing their farms and family homes squared off with union members looking for temporary jobs.  Union members cheered as NIRPC voted to approve the Illiana Toll Road while farmers cried.  Perhaps the best comment was from a Lowell resident who said “move the road closer to Cedar Lake and Crown Point since they want it so bad.”  That comment clearly points out the irony of communities who have nothing to lose weighing in on the fate of people’s homes in rural south county Indiana.

Christine Cid stood up to the machine once again and voted against the Illiana.  You will recall that Cid was the lone democrat on the County Council standing against the income tax.  This time Cid was joined by County Chair Thomas McDermott.  McDermott, acting as Mayor of Hammond, clearly stated that communities along the 80/94 corridor may be harmed by the southern corridor.  Thus, the question as to why Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson decided to support the controversial plan.  Freeman-Wilson would appear to have the most to lose with the construction of the tollway as she has pinned Gary’s revitalization hopes to the plan to be a transportation hub.  The Illiana Toll Road is expected to be a catalyst for the proposed Peotone Airport as well as a truck route to avoid congestion.  The primary economic growth Gary has seen in recent years has been along the 80/94 corridor.  In the event the Illiana is successful in removing even 20% of the truck traffic from the area, that could be a large loss in jobs and tax revenue for Gary.

The real story here is Governor Mike Pence.  Pence chimed in today praising the Board for passing the plan.  Pence would do well to remember his base if he plans to run for re-election.  It seems that he was outmaneuvered politically during this entire process.  Maybe we will see a Governor McDermott after all.

Secretary of State suspends securities broker license for failure to pay child support

11 Dec

Today in Indianapolis, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is suspending the license of Indiana securities broker Ronald Stuppy for delinquent child support payments in Porter County. Effective immediately, Stuppy is no longer licensed in Indiana to sell securities. He is the third securities professionals to have his license suspended for delinquent child support since the law enacting this suspension procedure went into effect in July of 2012.
“He can’t skirt his child support payments and continue using his professional license to make money in Indiana,” said Secretary Lawson. “Hopefully the loss of his livelihood will motivate him to start making payments.
“This also provides investors with some additional security. Investors don’t want a financial professional who can’t meet their own obligations telling them how to invest their hard earned money.”
Ronald Stuppy owes almost $20,000 in child support payments in Porter County. The suspension occurred after Secretary Lawson confirmed Stuppy owed a significant amount in child support payments. Stuppy is currently residing in Riverside, California.
The Secretary of State’s office works with the Department of Child Services to identify financial professionals who are registered with the Securities Division of the Secretary of State’s office and who are behind in child support and not making payments. Individuals who do not make arrangements for payment with county prosecutors will receive a warning that payment is required and that a suspension is possible. If the individual does not respond, then the Securities Division may suspend their license.

Gov. Pence Announces Indiana Maintains AAA Credit Rating

5 Dec

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today announced that Indiana has maintained its AAA credit ratings from all three bond agencies: Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings. Indiana has held AAA ratings with all three agencies since April of 2010.

“Fiscal discipline is the foundation of our prosperity,” said Governor Pence. “Today’s news is a testament to the hard work and discipline of State employees at every level and the fiscal leadership of the Indiana General Assembly. In the years ahead, our administration remains committed to maintaining a fiscally stable environment within our state for the betterment of both Hoosier families and businesses.”

Secretary of State Announces Details of Settlement w/ Teachers Union

3 Dec

INDIANAPOLIS (December 3, 2013) — Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced today that her office has finalized a settlement of a federal securities fraud lawsuit for $14 million with the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and the National Education Association (NEA).  The litigation accused ISTA and NEA of defrauding Hoosier schools out of over $27 million. ISTA and the NEA sold health plans with benefits, which were unregistered securities, to 27 school corporations. ISTA and the NEA then used the money from the health plans for their own benefit to cover funding shortfalls and for risky investments, instead of investing on the schools’ behalf as promised. The $14 million settlement will go to the school corporations to compensate for their lost investments.

“In the next ten days, school corporations will see a recovery four years in the making. Teachers and administrators alike can finally put this lawsuit behind them,” said Secretary Lawson. “They will receive 50 cents on the dollar for the money ISTA and NEA misappropriated. We strongly believe our case supported full repayment by ISTA and NEA, but we knew they were willing to spare no expense on endless litigation. This settlement gets these school corporations a much needed, immediate financial boost.”

 

ISTA offered teachers and other school employees a medical plan that allowed school corporations to invest their excess claim balances to offset future health care costs. The Secretary of State’s complaint alleges that ISTA did not invest the money as promised, but instead used the money to cover significant shortfalls in their long-term disability plan and to invest for ISTA’s own benefit. ISTA continuously issued phony financial statements to schools misrepresenting investment fund balances.

“ISTA took money from one fund to pay claims and cover deficiencies of another, then issued falsified statements to clients to create the illusion of funds,” alleged Secretary Lawson. “This is a classic example of a Ponzi scheme.

“ISTA and the NEA have repeatedly tried to play the victim and have made multiple attempts to dismiss the case. The truth is they intentionally misled those they claim to support and protect to cover their own shortfalls and to invest in risky securities for their own benefit. They have a moral obligation to repay the full amount.”

This litigation was not fought at the taxpayers’ expense.  All legal fees were paid with fines collected from violators of Indiana’s securities laws.  To maximize the recovery to schools, Secretary Lawson waived the right to levy fines against ISTA and the NEA and to seek repayment of attorneys fees.

 

False Jobs Report: Sen. Coats Calls for Investigation

24 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Citing “serious trust issues”, Senator Dan Coats has penned a letter to the heads of Commerce, Labor and Securities requesting a full investigation. The scandal comes after a Philadelphia area employee alleges he was told by a supervisor to submit false numbers. The New York Post alleges the scandal goes straight to now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. The reports allegedly caused the official unemployment numbers to drop below 8% in the weeks prior to the 2012 elections providing Americans with a sense that the economy was doing better than it actually was.
 

This is a serious allegation that can have serious impacts on our
economy and our markets. The monthly jobs report provides critical data
that influences markets, industry and Federal Reserve policy. As the
ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee and a member of the
Commerce Committee, I am calling for an investigation into this matter.

One of the jobs reports in question, released in October 2012 just
ahead of the presidential election, showed that the unemployment rate
had dropped sharply from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent even though the
economy had added only 114,000 jobs.

This administration has a serious trust deficit with the American
people. From Benghazi to the IRS enemies list and most recently, the
many broken promises with Obamacare, we have seen an alarming pattern
of a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability from this
administration.

These recent allegations regarding the jobs report only add to the
mistrust the American people have of this administration.

Former EC Library Director Gets 4 Months Home Detention in Tax Fraud Case

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

Manuel Montalvo, 39, of East Chicago, Indiana, was sentenced by District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to 24 months of probation, with home detention of 4 months, and a $1000.00 fine after pleading guilty to the felony offense of filing a false tax return for the tax year 2009. According to documents filed in this case, Montalvo admitted that he provided false information about deductions including that he had $23,382 in business expenses and $17,063 in medical expenses. In fact, both figures were made up. Montalvo filed the false returns while employed as the Director of East Chicago Public Library. This case was the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gary Bell.

Allstate Issues Tips to Avoid Insurance Scams After Storms

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — While most home-repair contractorsare honest and provide quality work, Allstate Insurance reminds homeowners affectedby the recent tornadoes to be on the lookout for workers and companies engaging incontractor fraud.

Here are some ways to avoid getting scammed by contractor fraud in the aftermath ofthe storm.

Be wary of contractors who solicit door-to-door. Work only with established contractors and those who have a solid reputation.

Work only with licensed, bonded and insured contractors and have them provide you with documentation.

Require references and check them out.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against contractors you are considering. Victims of contractor fraud often file complaints.

Don’t feel pressured into signing a contract, and never sign a contract with blanks. A contract should include the contractor’s name, business name, phone number and address.

Avoid payment-in-full up front. Some contractors may require a partial up front payment, but the amount should not exceed approximately 20% of the total estimate amount.

Never let work begin on your home or business until the contract is finalized.

Don’t pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work and avoid making cash payments.

If anyone performs unauthorized work on your property and demands payment, consider contacting authorities.

Never let anyone persuade you to seek reimbursement for nonexistent or exaggerated losses or damages. This is insurance fraud, which is a felony.

Starwood Capital Acquires Southlake Mall, 6 Other Malls

19 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Starwood Capital Group, a private investment firm, announced that it has acquired a majority interest in 7 malls from Sydney, Australia based Westfield Group.  Local Westfield Southlake Mall was included in this purchase agreement.  Starwood has announced that they will drop the Westfield name from the mall and it will revert to the original name, Southlake Mall.  In a statement, the company indicated the transaction would lead to new investment in the malls:

"We are excited to be acquiring a portfolio of regional malls that are dominant and
well positioned within their respective submarkets, and which feature strong anchor
and inline sales performance," said Jeff Shuster, Vice President at Starwood Capital
Group. "This transaction offers our investors an opportunity to generate attractive
risk-adjusted returns. We plan to invest fresh capital across the portfolio to
improve the assets, attract new tenants and position the malls to continue to best
serve their local communities."

The other malls acquired are:

  • Belden Village Mall in Canton, OH
  • Capital Mall in Olympia, WA
  • Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, OH
  • Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted, OH
  • Parkway Plaza in El Cajon, CA
  • Plaza West Covina in West Covina, CA.

$9 Million in Grants to Help Schools Improve Safety

11 Nov

INDIANAPOLIS—Surrounded by students and staff at Cedar Elementary School in Avon, today Governor Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grant funding to local schools and school corporations through the Secured School Safety Grant Program. The Indiana Secured School Safety Board approved the grants.
“The safety of the students, teachers, and administrators in our schools is of the utmost importance to the people of Indiana, and I count it a privilege to distribute these resources to schools across our state,” Governor Pence said. “These grants will allow our public schools and school corporations to add resources that will help secure our schools so they can focus on educating our students.”
The program is a dedicated state grant fund that provides matching grants to school corporations, charter schools, or coalitions of school corporations and/or charter schools applying jointly to:

    Employ a school resource officer (SRO)
    Conduct a threat assessment
    Purchase equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite the notification of first responders.

School corporations, charter schools,or coalitions with an average daily membership (ADM) of at least 1,000 students applied for grants up to $50,000 per year. Eligible entities with an ADM of less than 1,000 students applied for grants of up to $35,000 per year.
**list of schools who have gotten grants by county:

  • Lake County
      Aspire Charter Academy received $12,718
      for school security equipment.
      Crown Point Community School Corporation received $50,000
      for school security equipment.
      Gary Community School Corporation received $25,000
      for school security equipment.
      Hanover Community School Corporation received $27,687.76
      to employ an SRO.
      Lake Central School Corporation received $39,463.50
      for school security equipment.
      Lake Ridge Schools received $50,000
      for security equipment,threat assessment, and employ SRO.
      Lake Station Community Schools received $40,000
      to employ an SRO.
      Merrillville Community Schools received $30,170
      for school security equipment.
      River Forest Community School Corporation received $7,100
      for school security equipment.
      School Town of Highland received $50,000
      for school security equipment.
      School Town of Munster received $30,298.60
      for security equipment and to employ an SRO.
      Thea Bowman Leadership Academy received $15,000
      to employ an SRO.
      Tri-Creek School Corporation received $49,316
      for security equipment and to employ an SRO.
      Whiting School City received $50,000
      for security equipment,threat assessment, an SRO.

    Porter
    Duneland School Corporation received $35,000
    for security equipment.
    East Porter County School Corporation received $49,549.50
    for school security equipment.
    Neighbors’ New Vistas High School received $35,000
    to employ an SRO.
    Portage Township Schools received $49,658.09
    for school security equipment.
    Porter Township School Corporation received $45,000
    for security equipment and an SRO.