Tag Archives: governor

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

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Reader Outlines Concerns Over Illiana

17 Dec

Letter to the Gazette:

On December 12, 2013, the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission
(NIRPC) voted to accept the Illiana Toll Road into their 2040 Comprehensive
Regional Plan. By voting the Illiana public/private partnership project into
the regional plan, the NIRPC commissioners are allowing the project to clear
one of the many hurdles in its path. Public comment was not allowed at this
final meeting until after the NIRPC commission members had already voted.
NIRPC Chairman and Crown Point Mayor David Uran stated that three meetings
had been held where public comment was allowed and commission members had
reviewed comments submitted by the public. I have my doubts about how many
of the commission members truly read through the valid arguments against
adding this toll road to the commission’s 2040 plan.
> Besides the environmental impact on the region, which has three major
environmental groups filing lawsuits to stop the Illiana Toll Road, two major
business magazines have had eye-opening columns that explain in great detail
the extreme cost to taxpayers when dealing with privately run toll roads.
Openlands, Sierra Club, and Midewin Heritage Association have taken legal
action to stop the toll road based on the inevitable consequences in areas
such as Des Plaines Conservation Area and Midewin Tallgrass Prarie in
Illinois. Bloomberg News and Crain’s Chicago Business both recently printed
columns exposing the fact that overly-optimistic projections take place in
almost all of these road projects. This has led private road companies to
seek “set” payments from the states instead of accepting any risk that tolls
may not match projections. This is a lose/lose situation for the taxpayer.
You pay the toll and pay the state taxes that also pay the difference of
these exaggerated estimates. This is corporate welfare on steroids!
> Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider let the cat out of the bag in
October of this year when interviewed by Crain’s reporter Greg Hinz. When
people throw around the 28,000 jobs between now and 2043, they are quoting
“job-years”(whatever the heck that means), not total new jobs. The actual
estimate is a possible “940 full-time jobs” created. Forty-seven miles of
road cutting through the most pristine farmland and homesteads, which rely
completely on wells for water, so two governors can create 940 jobs over the
next 30 years. It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn stupid and serious.
> Schneider also completely contradicted Indiana Rep. Ed Soliday’s claim at the
NIRPC meeting that a future Peotone Airport is playing no role in pushing
this project. According to Schneider, traffic projections for Illiana done
by IDOT assumed the Peotone Airport will eventually be built. I would have
told Ed that, but public comment was not allowed.
> At the meeting on the 12th of December, which was conveniently held on a
Thursday at 9:00AM in Portage, Indiana, INDOT Northwest Indiana Chief Bob
Alderman gave an impassioned, nearly 15-minute, speech about how the Illiana
Toll Road will make the Borman and I-65 safer for travel. Really, Mr.
Alderman? You truly believe widening I-65 between U.S. 231 and Route 30 will
make things safe when the toll road will be well south of U.S. 231? You
believe diverting traffic from U.S. 30 and the Borman between 2-percent and
8-percent over the next 30 years is going to make the Borman safe?
> I drove from Hammond to the Portage NIRPC meeting on the Borman in light
traffic and still had to drive ultra-defensively because people were driving
25-miles over the speed limit. How will building a toll road make people on
the Borman drive in a safe manner? Why not widen I-65 up to and south of the
toll road? Unlike what some are reporting in the news, the “widening” of
I-65 is NOT part of the Illiana Toll Road project. It is only being approved
at the same time.
> There is so much misinformation being thrown around in support of this toll
road that it is very hard to decipher truth from fiction at this time. But
what is for certain is that we have the governor of one of the most fiscally
sound state governments in the United States making a deal with one of the
most mismanaged states in the Union. Two major business magazines have
labeled this road a bad investment for Hoosiers. Our water will be
threatened by construction, possible hazardous waste trucking spills, and
distance from Lake Michigan and access to fresh water.
> The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) transportation research group’s
(TRIP) most recent study says that 11% of Indiana bridges are structurally
deficient and 22.5% of our roads are in poor condition. Between Illinois and
Indiana, well more than 100-million dollars has been spent just studying the
feasibility of the Illiana Toll Road. That money could have been better
spent fixing our current roads and bridges instead of creating temporary jobs
to build a road 22-miles south of the Borman.
> If I weren’t 100-percent convinced that the Illiana Toll Road will fail to
provide the estimated tolls or meaningful, permanent jobs, I wouldn’t be so
determined to stop this project. If I were convinced that building this road
would make the Borman, Route 30, or any other road around here safer, I would
be in favor of it. I don’t believe any of that. But don’t listen to me.
Look up the information for yourself. Study the facts about our watershed,
private toll roads, look up comments from Illinois Transportation Secretary
Ann Schneider and others who are not so adamant supporters of this project.
Is the purpose of a toll road to create permanent jobs?
>
Dan Blankenship, Lowell

Submit your letter, comments or thoughts to the Gazette:

Gov. Pence Names Rep. Suzanne Crouch State Auditor

16 Dec

Gazette Staff

 

INDIANAPOLIS—Governor Mike Pence today announced Representative Suzanne Crouch as Auditor of State for Indiana.  She will complete the term held by Dwayne Sawyer which runs through 2014.

“Suzanne Crouch has a lifetime of experience and a heart for public service,” said Governor Pence.  “Suzanne’s fiscal leadership in the Indiana General Assembly, her distinguished public career in local government, and financial background will be valuable assets to our state.”

Crouch served two terms as the Auditor of Vanderburgh County, and was president of the Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners. She was elected to the Indiana General Assembly in 2005 and serves as Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Auditor of the State has four primary duties: accounting for all of the state’s funds; overseeing and disbursing county, city, town and school tax distributions; paying the state’s bills; and paying the state’s employees.

Crouch received her degree from Purdue University.  She is married to Larry Downs, and they have one daughter.

Erin Sheridan, the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Auditor, is serving as Auditor on an interim basis until  January 2, 2014.

“Most Wanted” case highlights link between human, animal cruelty, multiple rewards offered

12 Dec

Gazette Staff

The U.S. Marshals Service and The Humane Society of the United States are alerting the animal welfare community of a fugitive on the USMS’ 15 Most Wanted List and are offering rewards for her capture. The fugitive, Janet Barreto, is allegedly linked to multiple puppy mill operations and the homicide death of a toddler.

Barreto may be selling small breed puppies or “rehoming” dogs for a fee through online classified ads using several different aliases. She may also be selling these dogs in flea markets and parking lots anywhere in North America, including Texas, California and Mexico, advertising in both English and Spanish. She has been linked to at least two puppy mills in recent years and she and her husband Ramon, who is also wanted, are well known for selling small dogs such as Yorkies, Maltese and poodle mixes. Following the death of a little girl in her care by blunt force trauma, the Barretos have been on the run for about five years.

According to the USMS, officials found seven other small children extremely malnourished and living in squalor in the couple’s Mississippi home in 2008. The Barretos were also running a puppy mill behind the home with more than 180 dogs and 50 cats, many of them sick or injured and living in inhumane conditions.

Melanie Kahn, senior director of the puppy mills campaign for The HSUS, said: “Too often, the boundaries are wafer thin between cruelty to animals and cruelty to the most vulnerable members of our society, young children. We hope that the dedicated animal welfare community will be the missing link in finding these fugitives.”

William D. Snelson, assistant director for Investigative Operations of the USMS said: “Our collaboration with The HSUS provides a unique opportunity for the USMS to broaden public awareness of this 15 Most Wanted investigation. We hope this partnership will ultimately result in additional leads that help bring Barreto to justice, while highlighting the horrors of puppy mill operations.”

There are several rewards that are available if a successful tip leads to the Barretos’ capture. The USMS is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading directly to Ramon and Janet Barreto’s arrest, and The HSUS offers a puppy mill tip line reward of up to $5,000 for successful prosecutions related to puppy mill cruelty.

Tipsters who may have information about the Barretos’ pet sales are urged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP. Those with general information on the location of Janet and/or Ramon Barreto, please call the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-800-336-0102 or email usms.wanted@usdoj.gov.

Background Information

  • In 2012, the Barretos resurfaced in Southern California, but were evicted from their rental property due to complaints about the noise and smell of animals.
  • When the Barretos fled California in June 2012, witnesses report that they had at least 10 dirty, neglected and malnourished dogs crammed in a cage in the back of their van.
  • Investigators were able to track the sale of several dogs through ads the Barretos placed before they fled California, but do not know what became of the dogs they still had in their possession.
  • The seven surviving children and the animals found by the USMS at the Mississippi home were placed with new families for care and treatment.

    woman wanted for child murder/animal abuse

    Name: Janet Killough BARRETO
    Alias: Janet KILLOUGH, Janet TORRES, Jeanie SEALE, Dealie HARRIS,
    Victoria LOPEZ, Vicky LOPEZ, Vicky ULLOA, Vicky CHRISTIAN,
    Vicky SMITH, Vicky Sara ULLOA

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.

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.”

Gov. Pence, Supt. Ritz Issue Joint Statement

27 Nov

 

 

Indianapolis, IN – Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz yesterday agreed to have the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) facilitate a conversation among the members of the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) regarding roles, responsibilities, and the operations of the Board.  Under the leadership of Superintendent Ritz, Indiana re-joined NASBE earlier this year.  Governor Pence and Superintendent Ritz also discussed the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).

“I am grateful to the Superintendent for her willingness to work with my administration to address the challenges and opportunities for Hoosier students, teachers and schools. I also appreciate the Superintendent’s willingness to work with members of the Indiana State Board of Education and NASBE to resolve differences that have arisen on the board,” said Governor Pence.

“Since the last meeting of the State Board of Education, I have said that the Governor and I needed to work together directly to address recent issues that have arisen,” said Superintendent Ritz.  “Yesterday’s meeting was a first step towards that goal.  I believe the Governor now has a clearer understanding of my concerns regarding the CECI, but much work remains to be done.”