Tag Archives: indianapolis

Indianapolis Experiences 142nd Homicide of the Year, Closes in on Chicago's Killing Rate

29 Dec

From Our Friend Paul Ogden in Indianapolis:

Indianapolis Experiences 142nd Homicide of the Year, Closes in on Chicago’s Killing Rate

With two more killings last night, Indianapolis now has 142 homicides for 2013 according to the Bart Lies! website which tracks Indy killings.  This is compared to 115 in 2012, 110 in 2011, and 119 in 2010.

A few years ago, City leaders conveniently redefined homicide to mean “murder” in order to get the count below 100.  Of course, “murder” is a legal term and something can’t technically be classified as “murder” until often a lengthy court process has taken place.  A person may have acted in self-defense and be acquitted of a murder charge, for example.  It still would be a homicide though.  Whether it is a homicide is determined at or near the time of the killing which makes it the figure used in crime reports, unless it is Indianapolis which tries to fudge the number, chiefly to fool media types who simply assume “homicide” and “murder” mean the same thing.

By contrast, Chicago, which has seen a substantial decline in killings, is closing out the year with about 458 homicides. If my math is correct, Indianapolis has one homicide for every 5,945 residents while Chicago has a homicide for every 5,928 residents.  So Indy’s homicide rate is still lower than Chicago…barely.

You can comment here or, leave a comment for Paul on his website http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/  This article is reprinted with permission.  All opinions expressed herein are those of the author.

 

Man Charged in Murder of Former Lowell Resident

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

New details are emerging in the December 20, 2013 killing of an Indianapolis area woman and her daughter. Marylyn Erb and Kelley M Erb were found in their Westfield, Indiana home by husband and father Thomas Erb. Marylyn Erb is originally from Lowell, Indiana.

Police arrived on the scene to find that the two women had been bludgeoned to death and their 2011 Buick Enclave had been used as the getaway vehicle. Police reports indicate that credit cards were also taken in the murder robbery and police were able to obtain video footage of an individual in a pontiac grand prix using the credit cards at various stores. The police report states:

It was determined that Chase credit cards were stolen during the home invasion and that those same credit cards were used at several locations during the afternoon hours of December 20, 2013. Video was obtained from several of these locations . . . The video shows a Pontiac Grand Prix pulling into the parking lot of the CVS.:

Police released video clips to the media and later received tips linking Christian Rene Haley to the crimes. An arrest was made and charges were filed in the matter on December 26, 2013. Police also were able to track a cell phone used by Haley to towers near the Erb home.

Those from the region who knew Marylyn Erb may leave their condolences at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/Batesville/guestbook.aspx?n=marylyn-erb&pid=168700621

American Legion Says Veterans Denied "Christmas" Cards from School Children

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Handwritten Christmas cards
from schoolchildren were denied distribution to veterans at the Dallas VA Medical
Center this week because they referenced the holiday by name, and American Legion
National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger is not happy about it. Neither is the
Liberty Institute, which has sided with the Legion in opposing a number of other
attempts to prevent free expression of speech and religion.

Also this week, the VA hospital in Augusta, Ga., announced a new policy that turned
away high-school students who intended to sing Christmas carols to veterans, as they
traditionally have in past years. And in Iowa City, American Legion members were
told they could not hand out presents to veterans if the wrapping paper said Merry
Christmas, a problem they solved by filtering the gifts through the VA chaplain.

The American Legion has asked VA Central Office for an explanation of why it appears
that Christians are being singled out for restrictions, especially when the holiday
honors the birth of Jesus Christ.

“First of all, VA’s decision to prohibit the delivery of Christmas cards that
mention Christmas is ludicrous,” Dellinger said today after Texas teacher Susan
Chapman was told Monday that her students’ cards would not be delivered to veterans.
“Second of all, VA has been down this road before, and recently. VA has been warned
through a federal court decree to stop denying freedom of religious expression at
its facilities. It’s pretty obvious the Dallas VA did not get that memo.”

When high school singers arrived last Friday at the Augusta, Ga., VA Medical Center,
officials reportedly gave them a list of 12 approved, secular holiday songs.
Unprepared to sing them, the students opted not to perform. “That’s censorship, pure
and simple,” Dellinger said of the rejected carolers. “Every Christmas, every
religious holiday, Christians are more and more often targeted for censorship and
restriction at VA facilities. Veterans in these hospitals fought to protect such
freedoms.”

Chapman, the wife of a U.S. military veteran, has requested that the Dallas VA
Medical Center immediately rescind its discriminatory policy and allow her and her
students – and any others in the future – to distribute Christmas cards
that say “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” or mention Jesus. Writing to VA
Secretary Eric Shinseki and VA North Texas Health System Director Jeffery L.
Milligan, Liberty Institute set a deadline of Friday, Dec. 27, for confirmation in
writing “that Mrs. Chapman and her students may distribute cards that contain the
phrase ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘God Bless You,’ or that contain other religious
references to veterans at the Medical Center and at all other VA hospitals, and that
the holiday card policies of the Department and the Medical Center (are) brought in
line with applicable law.”

“Of course, for this year’s schoolchildren, it’s a little late, and that’s really
disappointing,” said Dellinger, who leads the 2.4-million-member American Legion,
largest veterans organization in the country. “VA needs to let those children
deliver cards to the veterans now, and those who wrongly banned them owe an apology
to the children, the teacher and the veterans who were supposed to get them Monday.
This is a clear case of discrimination on the basis of religious expression; the
courts have already ruled that such policies are unconstitutional. The American
Legion fully concurs with that interpretation.”

City of Gary Says Sheraton Project is Neighborhood Stabilization

19 Dec

by Ken Davidson

At last night’s meeting of the Gary Redevelopment Commission, the Board approved a contract for environmental monitoring of the Sheraton Hotel project. The contract was awarded to Shrewsberry and Associates, LLC of Indianapolis. Shrewsberry and Associates has strong ties to State democrats, including former Chairman of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee William Crawford. Crawford came under fire for not disclosing his financial interests with the Firm when he was appointed to Ways and Means. Shrewsberry no longer lists its Board of Directors on its website or in public filings that are readily available.

The original Request for Proposals for the demolition called for the contractor to include asbestos remediation and monitoring within the proposal. This additional cost was calculated into the bids submitted by others who were not aware that the Board would later hire another firm and pay that firm separately.

All of this is not unusual for Gary. Although the above is questionable, at best, the Gazette receives reports of such irregularities on a semi-consistent basis. What makes this proposal astounding is how the City apparently plans to pay for the additional cost. The Gazette has learned that the City has included the Sheraton Property in the 2014 Neighborhood Stabilization Plan.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the purpose of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. Through the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed, abandoned and short-sale homes, the program’s goals is being realized.

The grant information provided by the City appears to reference this purpose:

[NSP] appropriates $2,717,859 for the purpose of assisting in the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.The grant program is commonly referred to as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

The Times of Northwest Indiana Legal Notice 12-19-2013

The Notice goes on, however, to list the “neighborhood surrounding the old Sheraton Hotel and its adjoining garage located at 465 Broadway” as an area of additional need. The Sheraton is not only a commercial property, it lies in the major commercial zone of the City. Sitting between City Hall and a Township owned office building, the structure is blocks from any residential structure. The neighborhoods that SHOULD receive relief under the program will not receive the funding intended for them. In fact, it seems likely that Gary will end up repaying another very large grant to the Federal Government.

With 10,000 abandoned homes, one would think that every cent of the NSP funds would go toward rehabilitation of residences.

Truck Loaded with Mail Rolls Over on I-65

18 Dec

Gazette Staff

Lake County-A semi loaded with mail rolled over this Wednesday, December 18, 2013, morning, closing the left lane on south bound I-65 at the 243 mile marker (this is three miles north of the Lowell exit).

Preliminary investigation by Master Trooper Martin Benner revealed that at approximately 10:51 a.m., this morning, a 2001 Volvo semi pulling a box trailer owned by Boss Trucking Incorporated out of Thornton, Illinois and driven by Robert Boutcher, 60 of Saint John, Indiana was south bound on I-65 when he changed lanes from the right lane to the left. There had been a previous crash in that location earlier which was off the roadway on the right and no lanes were closed because of it.

Boutcher stated he saw the crash activity up ahead and changed lanes to go into the left lane and began to slow down. He stated he looked to the right at the crash and when he looked forward another semi ahead of him was going slower than Boutcher’s semi. Boutcher steered to the left, went off the road, lost control and hit the barrier median cables. The Volvo semi then came back partially into the left lane before it went off the road again, losing control and hitting the barrier median cables for a second time causing the semi to roll over onto its passenger side in the median where it became entangled in the barrier cables.

Boutcher was taken to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point with non-life threatening injuries. He was wearing a seat belt. Boutcher was cited for Speed too Fast for Conditions.

The semi trailer was filled with United States Mail going to Lafayette then Indianapolis. No mail was lost. The Volvo semi was a total loss the trailer had damage to its passenger side.

The left lane is still closed for off loading of the mail onto another trailer and the up-righting of the semi.
The lane is expected to be closed for approximately another 1 ½ hours.

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.

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.

Indiana Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

9 Dec

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a detention reform and juvenile justice system improvement initiative that has demonstrated over 20 years, in urban and rural jurisdictions, that moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs is excellent public policy. JDAI has established outstanding public safety outcomes, minimized detention over-crowding and the need to build more expensive facilities creating savings for taxpayers, improved efficiencies in the juvenile justice system operations, and produced better outcomes for youth and their families.
JDAI is a comprehensive initiative of eight strategies involving system-wide change in philosophy, practice and policy. Marion County (Indianapolis) Indiana originally became a JDAI local expansion site in 2006 with funding support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and local community funds. Since that time, the county has enacted a number of system-reform efforts which have reduced the detention population by nearly 50% while also maintaining public safety. Since October 2009, Indiana has embarked upon a statewide expansion of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) model program . The Youth Law T.E.A.M. of Indiana was chosen to act as the JDAI Statewide Coordinator and a Statewide Expansion Team, consisting of 11 members representing state agencies and organizations, participated in a model site visit coordinated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to the state of New Jersey during May, 2010. Subsequent to this visit, it was determined that additional state agency leaders should be included to spearhead this important initiative. The Indiana Department of Correction and the Indiana Supreme Court agreed to become members of a lead-agency team along with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.n October 2010, four additional counties were added as Statewide Expansion sites, bringing the total to eight (8) Indiana JDAI County Expansion sites.
The eight Indiana JDAI Expansion Sites are:
*Marion County *Clark County *Lake County *Elkhart Count
*Porter County *Howard County *Tippecanoe County *Johnson County
a state-level Steering Committee is being convened to plan Indiana’s multi-year, multi-site initiative and implement initial steps. This Steering Committee includes representatives from multiple state-level child serving and juvenile justice entities as well as the Casey Foundation Technical Assistance Team Leader and representatives from each of the county replication sites. The agenda of the JDAI Steering Committee in Indiana will change over the course of the
JDAI promotes changes to policies, practices, and programs to:

    reduce reliance on secure confinement;
    improve public safety;
    reduce racial disparities and bias;
    save taxpayers’ dollars; and
    stimulate overall juvenile justice reforms

*Why Juvenile Detantion Reform Matters*
The Casey Foundation launched Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative o reverse the troubling trends in juvenile justice and demonstrate that juvenile detention and corrections populations could be substantially and safely reduced. Today, JDAI is part of the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, working with public agencies to implement innovative and effective reforms that improve the outcomes of children and youth who experience, or are at risk of entering, juvenile justice systems.
Detention is a crucial early phase in the juvenile justice process. An estimated 400,000 young people every year are admitted to detention nationwide and approximately 26,000 are held on any given night. The sheer volume of youth affected demands our attention. Detention itself has a significant negative impact on delinquency cases and is associated with negative long-term life outcomes. Research has shown that detained youth are more likely to be formally charged, found delinquent, and committed to youth corrections facilities than similarly situated youngsters. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Placement in locked detention – particularly if it leads to a lengthy period of correctional custody – interrupts the natural maturational process through which most young people grow out of delinquent behavior. Detention also represents a significant cost to taxpayers – more than $1 billion per year nationwide. Though costs vary widely from region to region (depending on salary levels, programming, and services), average costs per bed have been estimated at $48,000 per year. The average cost to build, finance, and operate a single detention bed over its first 20 years is approximately $1.5 million per bed.Detention populations over the past two decades have seen a dramatic worsening in the disproportionate representation of youth of color. In 1985, 43 percent of juvenile detainees nationwide were youth of color. That percentage grew to 56 percent in 1995 and 62 percent in 1999, rising to 69 percent in the most recent national count taken in 2006.

State appeals tobacco arbitration ruling

5 Dec

INDIANAPOLIS — Today Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office appealed the recent arbitration panel ruling that reduces by $62.8 million the amount tobacco companies pay to Indiana to offset the costs of smoking-related illnesses.
As the lawyer for State government, Zoeller contends the arbitration panel of three retired federal judges exceeded their authority under law and the process they used prejudiced Indiana’s case. The panel unfairly judged Indiana by using a new legal definition they created after the fact and imposed retroactively; and the panel based their ruling on erroneous findings and disregarded the State’s own laws. After consulting with the legislative and executive branches, Zoeller’s office today appealed the arbitration panel’s ruling by filing a “motion to vacate” in Marion County Civil Superior Court in Indianapolis. That court retains jurisdiction over the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between Indiana and the major tobacco companies, and has jurisdiction to hear this appeal of the arbitration panel’s ruling.
Zoeller’s office asks the Marion County court to vacate the arbitration panel’s entire award, or, in the alternative, modify the amount received. Zoeller seeks a reallocation of the amount tobacco companies pay Indiana and other states, so that Indiana would receive an amount closer to the $131.2 million payment projected and not the $68.4 million Indiana would otherwise receive next April as a result of the panel’s actions. Settlement monies that tobacco companies pay Indiana under the MSA indirectly reimburse the State for the medical costs to taxpayers of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema; and the funds are used for tobacco-cessation efforts.
“Fifteen years after signing the Master Settlement Agreement that was intended to bring some closure to the issue, the big tobacco companies continue to wage a legal battle against Indiana and other states to reduce their settlement payment for the consequences of their product on the costs of health care for our citizens. Triggered by the tobacco companies themselves, this arbitration process was extremely complex, and the panel’s fundamentally flawed ruling treated Indiana unfairly compared to similar states. Through this legal action we seek ultimately to restore the tobacco payments to Indiana to more equitable levels,” Attorney General Zoeller said.
At issue in the arbitration panel’s hearings was how “diligently” Indiana enforced the MSA in 2003. In the motion, Indiana objects strenuously to the arbitration panel’s creating a new definition of “diligent enforcement” after more than a year of hearings were complete and applying it retroactively long after Indiana had finished presenting its case. Moreover, 20 other states that settled rather than continue with the laborious arbitration process were not held to the newly-created “diligent enforcement” standard Indiana was subjected to. Their settlement also adversely affected the allocation of payment reductions to non-settling states. The motion notes the panel got basic facts wrong in their analysis of enforcement efforts Indiana officials undertook going back to 2002. See this excerpt from page 24 of the motion to vacate:
“In addition to irrationally faulting Indiana for things it did not do (incorrectly asserting that it did not establish its Tobacco Enforcement Unit until October 2003) and not acknowledging the many positive things it did do (filing 14 lawsuits when other states filed none), the panel manifestly disregarded the very framework it used to determine whether a state was diligent or not. Thus, the panel applied its own factors in an entirely arbitrary and internally inconsistent fashion, or departed from them entirely.”
A hearing date has not yet been scheduled on the state’s motion to vacate. Among the defendants are the major tobacco companies often referred to as the “Participating Manufacturers” or PMs including the corporate parent of Philip Morris Tobacco Company, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the Lorillard Tobacco Company and several other cigarette manufacturers.

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.”