Tag Archives: President

20,000 Hoosiers to Lose Unemployment Benefits on December 28

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Indiana Department of Workforce officials are warning that up to 20,000 hoosiers will not get unemployment benefits beginning next week. The budget deal passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama does not provide for extended unemployment benefits. That means that hoosiers are eligible for 26 weeks of benefits under the Indiana plan. Those who have been receiving benefits under the federally funded extension will no longer be eligible for benefits. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development explains:

What happens to Hoosiers on unemployment when the federal extensions expire?
Unemployed Hoosiers will not be able to receive any further federally extended benefit
payments.

What can I do to help my situation before the federally extended benefits expire?
It is important for you to visit your local WorkOne as soon as possible to get help with
your job search. WorkOne staff can help you update your resume, recharge your job
search and interview skills, strengthen your computer knowledge, get your Indiana High
School Equivalency Diploma, become certified in a high-demand industry and match
your skills with new career opportunities to find a new job. All of these services and
more are free of charge. Log on to http://www.workoneworks.com to find out more.

Are there any other programs to help unemployed Hoosiers with food, rent, or other items?
Visit The Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) website at
http://www.in.gov/dwd. Click on “Unemployment for Individuals”, then click on “Resource
Guide for the Unemployed” on the left side of the page. This guide provides information
about other programs that can help while y

As of June 25, 2013, Indiana University reported 25,000 Lake County residents as unemployed. While the overwhelming majority of those are not receiving extended benefits, it is clear that many local residents will be affected. Statewide it is estimated that 20,000 will lose benefits immediately with many more losing benefits in the coming weeks when the 26 week benefit expires.

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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.

Tech Giants Ask Government to Reform Spy Program

9 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Rarely do we see tech giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Yahoo join forces.  That is exactly what has happened today.  In a seething letter, the respective CEO’s of the above companies all sign on to a plea to standardize government intrusions into the digital lives of citizens.  The statement begins:

The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information. . . .We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

Apparently, the risks and costs associated with complying with endless government information requests has taken its toll on these corporations.  The real question for me is where are the cellular phone companies on this issue?  Where are the people on this issue?

This report comes on the very day that the Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana State Police have purchased a piece of equipment that will allow them to monitor cell phones without a warrant.  According to the Indy Star, the Stingray device can be mounted on a police vehicle and can monitor all cellular communications in the area. State police refused to comment on the system. http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2013/12/08/indiana-state-police-tracking-cellphones-but-wont-say-how-or-why/3908333/

The full text of the Tech Giant letter is as follows:

An open letter to Washington

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Aol logo Apple logo Facebook logo Google logo LinkedIn logo Microsoft logo Twitter logo Yahoo! logo

Krieg Calls for Feds to Investigate McDermott Campaign Finance Issues

26 Nov

by Ken Davidson

In the wake of recent FBI activity in Lake Station, political activist and former county surveyor candidate Eric Krieg planned to call on the Lake County Board of Elections to refer Mayor Thomas McDermott’s campaign finance reports to the office of United States Attorney David Capp. Krieg will have to wait until the Board meets in December to present his allegations as this month’s meeting was cancelled.  In a statement provided to the press prior to the planned meeting, Krieg compared McDermott’s payments to his wife with the recent conviction of Former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. He outlines several allegations of impropriety in the reports including:

-Payments to Kelly Consulting, Inc. of over $300,000.  The payments ranging from $3,000-$4,000 per month span a period of over ten years. Krieg alleges that Kelly Consulting, Inc. is owned by Marissa McDermott and that Indiana law requires a written contract on file with the election board in order to pay family members for campaign services;

-a one time consulting fee paid to David Woerpel. This payment is alleged to have been in the amount of $6,000 and paid around the time that Woerpel was charged with a crime in Lake Superior Court;

-A single payment of rent for McDermott for Mayor Headquarters in the amount of $1,000. Krieg alleges that free rent should be reported as an in-kind donation on the finance report.

Krieg explained that the contributions to Kelly Consulting, Inc continue in non-election years. The address for Kelly Consulting is listed as 7134 Knickerbocker, Hammond, IN 46323. Documentation was provided from the office of the Indiana Secretary of State showing that Marissa McDermott is listed as President of Kelly Consulting, Inc. Total payments to Kelly Consulting from the McDermott campaign for the years 2005 to present totalled just over $330,000.

The lack of payment to Kaplan controlled Pyramid Development may be the most damaging allegation. As reported previously, Pyramid Development is owned by McDermott friend and contributor Greg “Krazy” Kaplan. Kaplan later sold the building to the Purdue University Foundation for a reported $1M. Politically connected WJOB radio has announced that they will move into the building sometime next year. So far, they are the only announced tenant.  While not illegal on its face, the entire transaction certainly seems to require some explanation. To date, we have heard none.

You can see Mayor McDermott’s 2011 campaign report here:  http://lwvcalumet.org/files/cfb.mcdermott_jr_thomas_m_2011_annual_rpt.pdf

Gary Airport Authority Fails to Comply with Davis-Bacon; Other Legal Requirements

21 Nov

by Ken Davidson

The Indiana State Board of Accounts has issued a comprehensive report indicating that the Gary Chicago Airport Authority (GCIA) failed to comply with the Davis-Bacon Act which requires prevailing wages be paid on public works projects. The stunning finding was just one of many findings by the Board. In so finding the Board stated:

Davis-Bacon Act

Airport Management relies upon paid consultants to ensure compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act
(payment of prevailing wages).

1. The contractors submitted payment applications to the Project Engineers. Before the Project
Engineers approved the payment, the Project Engineers must receive the certified weekly
payrolls from the Contractor. The Project Engineers stated that they ensured the wages paid
equal or exceed the applicable prevailing wage rates. However, no indication was made on
the copies of the certified payrolls or other forms of documentation maintained as evidence
that such reviews were conducted.

2. A system of controls to ensure all certified payrolls were received did not exist.

3. The management of the Airport Authority did not receive any correspondence from the paid
consultants to ensure compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act.

Additionally, the Board pointed out that the GCIA was required to repay nearly $10 million to the Regional Development Authority because it failed to properly account for the money. It appears that this finding may result in an additional $10 million in Federal and State grants requiring repayment. The Board found that the Authority billed invoices to the RDA, the US Department of Transportation and the Indiana Department of Transportation and received reimbursement from each. The system was supposed to provide a total of $9,917,559.93. Instead the GCIA received that amount from both Federal and RDA coffers.

The Board also found that the GCIA awarded change orders totalling over 20% of the bid price. The law states that change orders cannot exceed 20% of the total bid price.

The report goes on and on, reporting a litany of violations. This report covers the time period before the current board took over. You will recall that the Gazette has reported that Nathaniel Williams was President of the GCIA Board at this time. Nathaniel Williams was also in charge of maintaining the records at the Gary Housing Authority when they lost hundreds of properties to tax sale, failed to make repairs with grants that had been awarded and failed to utilize insurance proceeds to repair burned out properties. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson appointed Williams to the Airport position after many of the issues at GHA were discovered.

FBI Visits LakeStation IN.

15 Nov

FBI agents arrived at the office of Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist on Friday. Federal investigators had subpoenaed documents from Lake Station’s Board of Works. Sources say the computers were removed from the building and at least Three FBI agents were seen going into City Hall and talking to the Mayor.
In February, the State Board of Accounts audit ordered Soderquist’s stepdaughter Miranda Brakley , former court employee, To repay the city $13,130, money she wrongly received after she was fired in 2012. Miranda Brakey was a deputy court clerk responsible for collecting bond payments for the Lake Station. In 39 cases she neglicted to deposit The Funds totaling $16,464. A week after she was fired, the Lake Station City Council, moved two deputy positions from City Court Judge Christopher Anderson’s budget to the Clerk-Treasurer’s purview and Brakley was rehired. She received $468 for seven days vacation and $12,661 for unused compensatory and sick time even thought she only had 30 minutes of vacation remaining . Two weeks later, Lake County Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins issued a temporary restraining order against the Brakley’s rehiring…. more to follow later.

Senator Coats Issues Statement on Obamacare "Glitches"

27 Oct

Gazette Staff

 

Indiana Senator Coats issues a statement today pledging to fight for a delay of the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act.  In the statement, Coats said:

An email I received from Daniel in Elkhart, Indiana, summarizes the experience many Hoosiers are having with the recently launched Obamacare online health insurance marketplace:

“I have tried for two weeks to apply through the marketplace, only to electronically sign my application and be kicked back to my ‘profile page.’ This is the most bizarre system I have ever experienced. If a company put a business website together like this they would go out of business.”

Despite its $400 million cost to taxpayers, the president’s health care website has been plagued by nationwide accounts of technological complications since it launched on October 1. It also has been reported that the site provides inaccurate information about the federal tax credits available to those seeking health insurance. An experienced online database programmer told CBS News, “I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that.”

President Obama and Harry Reid slammed Obamacare through the Senate on Christmas Eve 2009 and strong-armed it through the House of Representatives a few months later. They have had almost four years to prepare for the rollout of their health care law and this is what it looks like – a disaster. A recent Associated Press poll revealed that only seven percent of Americans believe the rollout of Obamacare has gone either very well or extremely well.

Despite the website’s numerous glitches and many other implementation problems, the administration still insists on fining taxpayers if they don’t purchase health insurance. This week, the Obama administration  announced a six-week extension to sign up for a health care plan before facing a penalty. This brief extension is certainly no consolation for the millions of Americans that are seeing their premiums rise and their paychecks fall.

Now is the time to pass my bill to delay the Obamacare mandates for a year.

First, a delay of the Obamacare mandates would provide all Americans with the same relief that the administration already has given to businesses. The Obama administration announced this summer that it will delay penalties for employers who do not provide health insurance coverage to workers, but not provide the same delay for all Americans. Don’t individuals deserve the same relief from Obamacare as businesses? My bill would codify that delay and extend the same delay to all individuals and families.

Second, delaying the Obamacare mandates until after the 2014 midterm elections would return the decision of Obamacare’s fate to the American voters. As of today, we do not have the votes in the Senate to repeal or defund Obamacare, but if we can delay the mandates, Americans will be able to decide whether they want to keep Obamacare or replace it with step-by-step, consumer-drive health care reforms.

My bill mirrors legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) that passed the House of Representatives in July with the support of 22 Democrats. And several Senate Democrats have come out in support delaying parts or all of the president’s health care law.

As bipartisan acknowledgement of Obamacare’s problems increases, I will continue to fight for a vote in the Senate. This law’s failures are more than mere glitches.