WBEZ | Indiana http://www.wbez.org/tags/indiana Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Two neighboring states, one big financial gap http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 <p><p>George Brown of Valparaiso, Indiana, works for a steel mill these days, but at one time, his main gig was construction &mdash; across the state border in Chicago. The commute and that &ldquo;living in both worlds&rdquo; familiarity didn&rsquo;t prevent him from noting differences between the two states. Among them: The differing fortunes of state government.</p><p>He had picked up details here and there about how Illinois owed money (the state comptroller recently said Illinois has more than $5 billion in unpaid bills), how the Prairie State was hounded by bills coming down the pike (it has approximately $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities), and how it has the worst credit rating among U.S. states.</p><p>On the other hand, just a few years ago, Indiana&rsquo;s coffers were so flush that it returned money to state taxpayers.</p><p>The night-and-day financial picture between the neighboring states got him wondering enough that he sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why does the state of Illinois have a huge deficit, while next door Indiana has a surplus?</em></p><p>George&rsquo;s question couldn&rsquo;t come at a better time. Voters on the Illinois side of the border are deciding between candidates for governor, either of which is certain to confront some hard fiscal realities. The contest between the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Pat Quinn, and Republican Bruce Rauner is odd, though, in that there&rsquo;s a phantom player in the mix, too: Mitch Daniels, Indiana&rsquo;s former governor of Indiana.</p><p>Rightly or wrongly, Daniels is credited with cutting Indiana&rsquo;s budget and making the state&rsquo;s finances the envy of Illinois as well as the rest of the nation. Quinn pushes back on some of Daniels&rsquo; key tenets, while Rauner says he wants to emulate what Daniels did.</p><p>Regardless of where you fall on whether any state at all should follow &ldquo;the Daniels playbook,&rdquo; it is worth looking at what happened during his watch.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Daniels&rsquo; account of how the Hoosier State did it</span></p><p>After an eight-year term, Daniels left the governor&rsquo;s office in 2013. He&rsquo;s now president of Purdue University in West Lafayette. He rarely talks politics now, but after hearing George&rsquo;s question, he was happy to revisit his tenure as governor, especially as it relates to Illinois&rsquo; financial mess.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard not to notice, I mean it&rsquo;s national news the trouble you folks have had,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;They asked me what it was like and I said it&rsquo;s sort of like living right next door to&nbsp;<em>The Simpsons</em>, you know. Dysfunctional family on the block and we&rsquo;re looking in the window.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Daniels purdue shot..jpg" title="Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" /></div><p>As Daniels tells it, things were bad for Indiana as he entered office nearly a decade ago.</p><p>&ldquo;The state was absolutely, by a literal definition, bankrupt,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So, it had bills much bigger than whatever cash it had on hand. We said this has to end and I want to do it as fast as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>On his first day as governor in 2005, Daniels did something that is unimaginable in Illinois: He stripped bargaining rights for all state union employees.</p><p>&ldquo;These union agreements wouldn&rsquo;t let you change anything,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;You couldn&rsquo;t consolidate departments; you couldn&rsquo;t divide departments or reorganize them. You certainly couldn&rsquo;t outsource anything if you thought you could get it better and cheaper by hiring Hoosiers in the private sector. So, I finally decided that we simply had to cut clean.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indiana icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Indiana." /></p><p>But Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne, says it&rsquo;s uncertain how effective Daniel&rsquo;s move was in shoring up the state&rsquo;s bottom line.</p><p>&ldquo;Some would argue that when the unions had less ability to bargain, it made it easier for the governor to get some things done,&rdquo; Downs said. &ldquo;But given (Daniels&rsquo;) personality, I don&rsquo;t know if that would have been the sort of thing that held him back a whole lot. I think it had more to do with his approach to economics: The freer the trade, the better.&rdquo;</p><p>Daniels didn&rsquo;t stop with state union employees.</p><p>A few years later, he signed a bill to make Indiana the Midwest&rsquo;s first right-to-work state. The policy changed workers&rsquo; relationship to private employers; new employees were no longer required to pay union dues at workplaces governed by union contracts. It effectively weakened unions&rsquo; standing in the state. Indiana&rsquo;s GOP argues the move attracted business to the state and that, in turn, boosted state revenue.</p><p>Daniels also pushed through a cap on local property taxes across the state. The cap limits the amount of taxes local communities can collect from a homeowner at one percent of a home&rsquo;s assessed value. Proponents say that&rsquo;s lead to robust home sales and &mdash; again, the argument goes &mdash; puts money back into the state&rsquo;s coffers.</p><p>If you hear Daniels and other supporters tell it, these policies created enough fiscal momentum that a few years ago the state sent $100 checks to each Indiana taxpayer. The state currently has a $2 billion stockpile, which it&rsquo;s likely to hold onto this time around.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/stillinoyed billboard image2.jpg" title="An example of a Stillinoyed campaign billboard designed to highlight Indiana's business opportunities. (Source: Economic Development Corporation, Indiana)" /></div></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The fallout</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve driven through the Chicago area, perhaps you&rsquo;ve seen billboards along expressways that read <a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">&ldquo;Illinnoyed by high taxes?&rdquo;</a> That advertising campaign (<a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">conducted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation</a>) lures city residents and businesses to cross from Illinois to Indiana.</p><p>Michael Lucci says those ads &mdash; or at least the argument driving them &mdash; works on plenty of Illinois residents. Lucci is the Director of Jobs and Growth at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. He estimates that Illinois has lost more than 100,000 residents to Indiana over the last decade.</p><p>&ldquo;It does hurt Illinois that we have such a business-friendly neighbor right next door because the people in Chicago can look east 30 miles and say &lsquo;Look, there are jobs there, there are opportunities there and I can move there and still be close to my family,&rsquo;&rdquo; Lucci said.</p><p>But not everyone sees Daniels&rsquo; bumper crop budget as an achievement. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn isn&rsquo;t willing to stomach Daniels&rsquo; sacrifice of collective bargaining rights.</p><p>Earlier this year, the incumbent governor told a union-heavy crowd that he believes in collective bargaining.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s the best way to go and I look forward to working with you on it,&rdquo; Quinn said during an April debate in Chicago. The governor has argued that strong unions improve state residents&rsquo; income and quality of life.</p><p>Some in Indiana see a darker side to the budget surplus too. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is among them.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/illinois icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Illinois." /></p><p>&ldquo;We do have $2 billion in the bank and we are in a much better position in Indiana than they are fiscally in Illinois, but at the same time, I think Illinois streets might be in better shape than our streets right now,&rdquo; McDermott said. &ldquo;I think Illinois is providing better services during crisis than we are because they have more tools available. It cuts both ways.&rdquo;</p><p>McDermott, a Democrat, said that last winter the state did a poor job dealing with the snow and ice that shut down several Indiana highways. (Notably, according to the most recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, both Indiana and Illinois received a &ldquo;D+&rdquo; in infrastructure spending.)</p><p>McDermott&rsquo;s point is this: What&rsquo;s the use of a surplus if some basic services aren&rsquo;t being met?</p><p>&ldquo;We could expand the affordable healthcare act [ACA] in Indiana right now and insure hundreds of thousands of additional Hoosiers but they just refuse to do so even though there is 2 billion dollars in the bank, those hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers don&rsquo;t deserve health care like people in Illinois do,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Does Illinois have a chance of turning things around?</span></p><p>Of all people, Daniels is among those who say &ldquo;yes.&rdquo; Of course, it&rsquo;s no surprise that he recommends Illinois gubernatorial candidates Quinn or Rauner wrangle with public sector unions, pay more bills on time and slash spending. But the architect of Indiana&rsquo;s brand of fiscal conservatism also says Illinois can draw from its own good ideas. And he ought to know: He stole a few of them.</p><p>After <a href="http://tollroadsnews.com/news/chicago-skyway-handed-over-to-cintra-macquarie-after-wiring-1830m" target="_blank">Chicago leased its public Skyway to a private operation</a>, Daniels did the same thing for the Indiana Toll Road.</p><p>And then there was the program to let delinquent taxpayers pay with no penalty.</p><p>&ldquo;I got the legislature to conduct a tax amnesty,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;Indiana never had one. Many other states have, including Illinois. I can remember citing Illinois. It&rsquo;s kind of ironic now thinking back. I was saying then, &lsquo;Hey look, they had a successful program.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&#39;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 After deaths, state rep says Indiana is neglecting child protection agency http://www.wbez.org/news/after-deaths-state-rep-says-indiana-neglecting-child-protection-agency-110235 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Indiana%20DCS%202%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="Indiana Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Months after three young children died in a Hammond, Indiana house fire, a veteran Indiana lawmaker says the state has deprived the Department of Children Services of much-needed funds in order to &lsquo;pad&rsquo; its budget surplus.</p><p>The charges raise fresh questions about the ability of the agency to carry out its mission of protecting children from abuse and neglect.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/nearly-four-months-after-deadly-hammond-fire-several-questions-remain-110074" target="_blank">In the Hammond case</a>, six-month old Jayden, 4-year-old Dasani Young, 4, and Alexia Young, 3 all perished. Two other children managed to escape the fire, with their father Andre Young credited for saving their life.<br /><br />Several parties, from a juvenile judge to the city of Hammond to the birth parents themselves, have been criticized for not preventing the deaths. But many wonder how <a href="http://www.in.gov/dcs/index.htm" target="_blank">DCS</a> allowed the children, who were living in foster care just months prior to the fire, to return to a home with no running water, heat nor electricity.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe the whole system, the laws failed these people,&rdquo; says DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. &ldquo;Could we have done things better? Probably. Again, I don&rsquo;t know the case intimately. I wasn&rsquo;t the judge. I didn&rsquo;t hear the evidence.<br /><br />Bonaventura was appointed head of Indiana DCS in March 2013 following the ouster of the previous director over an ethics scandal.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think without question this is the most important job in the state,&rdquo; Bonaventura told WBEZ in an exclusive interview last month.&nbsp;<br /><br />Long before Bonaventura took that job, DCS was already facing scrutiny for its handling of several child abuse and neglect cases.</p><p>It still hasn&rsquo;t been officially determined if the three children in the Hammond house fire died because of neglect. But, in the wake of that incident and others, some see a pattern of neglect from those who oversee DCS down in Indianapolis. They say the agency, with 34-hundred employees scattered throughout 92 counties, doesn&rsquo;t get enough money or resources to properly do its job. And they point to other cases where kids may have fallen through the cracks as a result.<br /><br />Like the <a href="http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/gary/christian-choate-wrote-letters-detailing-abuse-mistreatment-before-his-death/article_b1fdc580-8a7d-50f4-b9a7-0503202d0f9f.html" target="_blank">notorious case of Christian Choate,</a> a 13 year old Gary boy whose body was found buried under a concrete slab in a trailer park in 2011, two years after he was first reported missing.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Indiana%20DCS%202%20%281%29%20.jpg" style="height: 438px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Many see the case of 13-year-old Christian Choate of Gary as perhaps the worst example of Indiana Department of Child Services failing to meet its job in recent years. Advocates say more funding is needed for Indiana DCS to prevent more children from falling through the cracks. (Flickr/Monte Mendoza)" />Bonaventura is very familiar with the case.<br /><br />&ldquo;Christian Choate was my case when I was judge. And, so I know a lot about that case intimately. That&rsquo;s probably any judge&rsquo;s or director&rsquo;s or anybody&rsquo;s worst nightmare what happened to Christian Choate,&rdquo; Bonaventura said.&nbsp; &ldquo;A lot of people failed Christian.&rdquo;<br /><br />Before she was appointed to run DCS, Mary Beth Bonaventura served three decades as a juvenile judge in Lake County, Indiana, much of that time as the senior judge. She also became known for regularly appearing on reality television shows like &ldquo;Lake County Lockup&rdquo; and &ldquo;MTV: Juvies.&rdquo;<br /><br />But far from the cameras, Bonaventura still agonizes over the death of Christian Choate, An investigation found that he was routinely beaten, starved and locked up in a dog cage, and that as many as 13 people knew the boy was being abused.</p><p>Bonaventura holds Christian Choate&rsquo;s father and stepmother responsible, and both are now serving time in prison. She also blames the parents of the three Hammond kids for allowing them to live in a house with no utilities.<br /><br />Still, Bonaventura wonders if the agency she now helms, which handles 13,000 cases at any one time, could have done more.<br /><br />&ldquo;Can we ever prevent that from happening? We don&rsquo;t know on a daily basis what people are doing in their own homes,&rdquo; Bonaventura said. &ldquo;But once we get involved with a family, we darn better should know what&rsquo;s going on in that home and prevent any further injury to any children.&rdquo;<br /><br />For DCS to &lsquo;know what&rsquo;s going on in a home&rsquo; it requires money to hire, train and keep experienced case workers &ndash; who make up nearly half of Indiana DCS&rsquo;s 3,400 employees.<br /><br />The average pay of a DCS family case manager is $35,000 a year &ndash;&nbsp;this from a state with a $2 billion surplus.</p><p>&ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t do us any good to have a surplus that&rsquo;s built on the backs of Hoosiers, on the backs of the less fortunate. And these kids have nobody to speak for them but the state,&rdquo; said Indiana State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, a Democrat from Munster in Northwest Indiana.</p><p>The veteran Democratic lawmaker takes issue with DCS budget cuts under recent Republican administrations. But more than that, she says DCS has also been giving money back under a process called reversion.<br /><br />$62 million in 2011 alone according to state records, nearly 14 percent of that year&rsquo;s DCS budget.<br /><br />In fact, in the last five years, the child protection agency has returned more than $118 million to state coffers.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="340" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/xsgYF/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="620"></iframe>Reardon says imagine all the DCS caseworkers you could hire with that money.<br /><br />&ldquo;The padding of the surplus that&rsquo;s been touted nationwide, Indiana&rsquo;s surplus,&rdquo; Reardon said.&nbsp; &ldquo;If we actually paid people more and had more employees to handle the workload, you might not have the turnover that you see.&rdquo;<br /><br />Two years ago, the turnover rate among DCS caseworkers was as high as 50 percent in some parts of the state. It can be a traumatic job, and state law stipulates that caseworkers are supposed to have no more than 12 active cases while monitoring 17 children.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Indiana%20DCS%202%20%283%29%20.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="Indiana State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon [D-Munster] says Indiana’s DCS has returned millions of dollars back to the state in order to “pad” the state surplus. (Photo provided by the Statehouse File of Indiana)" />According to DCS&rsquo;s own report from last year, only 3 of its 19 regions were in compliance with the state-mandated caseload law.&nbsp; And more cases are coming in since Indiana recently centralized its child abuse hotline.<br /><br />Last year, case workers handled more than 150,000 calls of potential abuse.<br /><br />&ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t even include the children that we haven&rsquo;t had contact with because a judgment call was made at the call center. These are actual real life children that need care and are in danger, and are not getting the services that they need,&rdquo; Reardon said.</p><p><br />After all the grim news, DCS may be starting to turn things around. This year the state is allocating $13 million in additional money to hire more case workers, boost salaries and enhance its child abuse hotline.</p><p>Last week, a DCS oversight committee, the Commission to Improve the Status of Children in Indiana, reported employee turnover has fallen below 16 percent on average.</p><p>But, even with the changes, DCS will not comply with the 12/17 standard unless additional measures are taken. In order to further ensure that caseloads are in compliance with the 12/17 standard, DCS will need to create 110 new Family Case Manager positions, according to Indiana&rsquo;s DCS 2013 annual report.<br /><br />Alfreda Singleton-Smith is DCS&rsquo; ombudsman, an independent state watchdog for the agency.<br /><br />&ldquo;The issue of fatality reviews and near fatality reviews is the one that started to be of concern simply because of the length of time it was taking to get those completed,&rdquo; Singleton-Smith told WBEZ.<br /><br />Singleton-Smith recently issued a <a href="http://www.in.gov/idoa/files/2013_DCS_Ombudsman_Bureau_Annual_Report_final.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> that found it was taking up to two years in some cases to investigate the deaths or near deaths of children. In that same report, Singleton-Smith said the delay was about more than DCS.<br /><br />&ldquo;In some cases, DCS has to wait to before they can complete their fatality review. The coroner, the prosecutor&rsquo;s office, law enforcement, the hospital, those outside individuals who have their own processes that they have to go through,&rdquo; Singleton-Smith said.<br /><br />Still, DCS head Mary Beth Bonaventura says her agency can &ndash; and must &ndash; do better.<br /><br />&ldquo;Two years is not acceptable. I just think there is so much to do at this agency and maybe at some point, not enough people to do it.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 27 May 2014 11:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-deaths-state-rep-says-indiana-neglecting-child-protection-agency-110235 Open tryouts and 'indie ball blues' in Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/open-tryouts-and-indie-ball-blues-indiana-110216 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bball.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>On a cold, gray morning in Gary, Ind., about 40 baseball hopefuls sat in the Gary Railcats&rsquo; home dugout, looking up at Manager Greg Tagert.</p><p>It was a bleak day, and Tagert&rsquo;s speech to them was equally bleak.</p><p>The men in the dugout had plunked down $40 for a chance to try out for the &lsquo;Cats - an independent-league team that is about as low on the hierarchy as you can get and still be considered pro ball.</p><p>The players trying out were minor-league washouts trying to hold on, or college stars looking for their big break.</p><p>Tagert told them that only a handful of them would make the cut today - five or less. And even those lucky few couldn&rsquo;t count on making the roster.</p><p>Whether or not you&rsquo;re a fan - baseball means American summer as much as barbecues, fireworks and the beach.</p><p>But for the men in that dugout it means something more -- it&rsquo;s an obsession, a dream job.</p><p>WBEZ spent the day at the open tryouts for the Gary Railcats.</p><p>The Railcats were last season&rsquo;s American Association champions - but the team&rsquo;s players are still looking for a way to move up.</p><p>Even though the small-time, Single A Durham Bulls--remember the movie Bull Durham?-- would be a dream come true for many of them, they are all really good at baseball.</p><p>Just about all the guys who tried out starred on their high school baseball teams. They&rsquo;re not good enough for the big leagues, but they are still way better than you.</p><p>The team&rsquo;s home opener is at 7 Thursday evening against the Wichita Wingnuts.&nbsp; They&rsquo;ll be playing at the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Video producer<a href="https://vimeo.com/jscott1908"> John Scott</a> is a filmmaker who lives and works in Chicago.</em></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ Producer and Reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150617705&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 14:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/open-tryouts-and-indie-ball-blues-indiana-110216 Residents decry BP's planned demolition of historic Marktown homes http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-decry-bps-planned-demolition-historic-marktown-homes-110157 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marktown-1.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Juan Laureano stands outside his Marktown home in East Chicago, Indiana. Laureano opposes a plan by BP to demolish 10 vacant historic homes within the Marktown neighborhood. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />When Juan Laureano invites friends to his home, it usually comes with a warning.</p><p>&ldquo;In the invitations I have to explain to them not to panic,&rdquo; Laureano says.&nbsp;</p><p>That&rsquo;s because to get to Laurano&rsquo;s home, you have to pass through one of the most heavily industrialized corridors in the country.</p><p>&ldquo;BP on side, Safety Kleen on the other, USG, Arcelor, so it&rsquo;s imposing. But once you arrive here, it&rsquo;s very peaceful, very quiet. It&rsquo;s home,&rdquo; Laureano adds.</p><p>&lsquo;Home&rsquo; is kind of an island.</p><p>Marktown&rsquo;s roughly 200 buildings are within the City of East Chicago, Indiana &ndash; but cut off from everything around it. With no grocery stores or schools nearby, it&rsquo;s never been high on &ldquo;must see&rdquo; lists for realtors. But five years ago Laureano moved to Marktown from Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;You know it&rsquo;s like someone planted a tudor-style English village in the middle of all this industry. It&rsquo;s very unusual,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>So unusual that people park their cars on the sidewalks because the streets are too narrow. Marktown was originally built by industrialist Clayton Mark in 1917 so workers could live near his factory.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marktown-2.jpg" title="The historic English-style Tudor neighborhood of Marktown. Designed in 1917, it’s narrow streets force cars to park on the sidewalk." /></div><p>The factory didn&rsquo;t last very long but Marks&rsquo; homes did.</p><p>By the 1970s, Marktown was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The planned worker community is often compared to Chicago&rsquo;s Pullman, yet it rarely gets the same attention from preservationists. But with the planned demolition by nearby oil giant BP, that may be changing.</p><p>The 10 structures slated for demolition on Monday are private property and not protected. They&rsquo;ve been vacant for years.</p><p>BP spokesman Scott Dean says they were voluntarily sold by the owners of a local tavern called the George Michel&rsquo;s Bar &ndash; the only business in Marktown.</p><p>&ldquo;Over the past many, many years, we have acquired property all around the perimeter of the refinery to increase green space. Property owners have a right to sell their properties,&rdquo; Dean told WBEZ this week. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a completely voluntary process and being open about the process and we have been very open about it for years.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Laureano says he can&rsquo;t believe BP would do this.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of sad that BP, being a British company, would want to demolish an English-tudor style village and knowing the bad PR that BP has received, they should use Marktown as an example and revitalize it,&rdquo; Laureano said.</p><p>In fact, the City of East Chicago hired an architecture firm a few years ago to figure out how to do just that.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/marktown.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/marktown.jpg" style="width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="The Marktown area is surrounded by heavy industry. (Satellite image via Google Maps)" /></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marktown-4.jpg" style="height: 201px; width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, residents complain that the city of East Chicago, Indiana has done little to preserve and revitalize Marktown." /></p><p>Architect Ed Torrez, who used to head the Chicago Landmarks Commission and now sits on the Board of Advisors of the National Trust of Historic Preservation, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bauerlatozastudio.com%2Fportfolio%2Furban-design-planning%2Fmarktown%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGP0XHgssLZ5q6XsVMsU1FGSHbgFw">led the project</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think (the houses) are a living museum, if you will, on how these were designed by a very talented architect, Van Doren Shaw,&rdquo; Torrez, president and principal of BauerLatoza Studio of Chicago, says.</p><p>Howard Van Doren Shaw was one of Chicago&rsquo;s most famous architects in the late 19th and early 20th century. Torrez once brought a bus load of urban planners from around the country to see Shaw&rsquo;s unique Marktown design in 2010.</p><p>&ldquo;We walked around and they saw the buildings. When we were driving back to Chicago, they were so amazed about this little town,&rdquo; Torrez said. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t believe that it was still there and it was so intact. Pictures do not do it justice. You have to go visit it.&rdquo;</p><p>Torrez said it&rsquo;s a wonder that Marktown has been around this long.</p><p>&ldquo;One of things I&rsquo;m always amazed at it has survived for so long with all the industry that has expanded around, it has stood there as a testimony to how strong and how significant this area is,&rdquo; Torrez said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been threatened before, a lot of times, lots of money and lots of investment. but It has stood there.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Still, Marktown faces many challenges.</p><p>Torrez says the area lacks publically-owned land and a business base to generate taxes. His plan called for the city to capitalize on the area&rsquo;s history to attract more visitors.</p><p>&ldquo;I think a number of the homes could be salvaged. I&rsquo;m saddened to hear about the current [demolition plans] for Marktown,&rdquo; Torrez said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll never get it back.&rdquo;</p><p>But while the City of East Chicago is moving forward on revitalizing other areas, Marktown is being left out.</p><p>Some say, despite its history, the neighborhood still has air quality issues.</p><p>&ldquo;I imagine (pollution) could be a factor but I&rsquo;ve been here for 55 years,&rdquo; says longtime resident Kim Rodriguez. Rodriguez also serves as a Democratic precinct committeeman in East Chicago. &ldquo;My brother used to come from Indianapolis and he would always tell me that he could smell the difference in the air.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marktown-3.jpg" title="Children play in the streets and sidewalks of Marktown. " /></div><p>With nearly 200 structures still in place, BP&rsquo;s bulldozers won&rsquo;t mark the end of Marktown, but Rodriguez worries about its future.</p><p>&ldquo;How long is it going to be before they&rsquo;re coming after you, and your home and your land because that is going to happen,&rdquo; says Rodriguez. &ldquo;BP could do so much for us, instead of destroy us.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland has offered residents incentives to move to other parts of the city where new development is taking place.</p><p>Rodriguez says she&rsquo;s not going anywhere.</p><p>&ldquo;My heart is here,&rdquo; Rodriguez said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine walking out of this door and never coming back. I don&rsquo;t know anywhere else.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter @MikePuenteNews or visit the WBEZ NWI Bureau Facebook page.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 09 May 2014 10:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-decry-bps-planned-demolition-historic-marktown-homes-110157 Judge orders Indiana couple's marriage recognized http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-orders-indiana-couples-marriage-recognized-110008 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_6.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>A ruling Thursday morning by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young requires the state of Indiana to recognize the marriage of a local gay couple. Starting today Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler are Indiana&rsquo;s only legally recognized same-sex couple.</p><p>But only for about a month.</p><p>The temporary restraining order expires in 28 days. The judge made the ruling after an hour-long hearing in Evansville in far southern Indiana.</p><p>The longtime couple who live near Chicago in Munster, Indiana, got married last year in Massachusetts.</p><p>Indiana, however, does not allow same-sex marriage.</p><p>But Quasney is terminally ill with stage 4 ovarian cancer, so they sued to have their marriage recognized&mdash;that way Sandler can receive death benefits afforded other married couples.</p><p>&ldquo;We are happy the court made the decision to recognize their marriage so she can focus on spending quality time in the days she has left with her family,&rdquo; the couple&rsquo;s attorney Paul Castillo said.</p><p>Indiana Attorney General Solicitor General argued against the injunction, stating that under current state law, the marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions and the relief sought could not be granted.</p><p>The decision does not affect four other lawsuits challenging Indiana&rsquo;s gay marriage ban.</p><p>Although county clerks in Indiana are still prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Castillo sees it as a positive step forward for gay couples.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is to make sure that same-sex couples throughout the state both have an ability to get married within their home state and have their valid out-of-state marriages recognized,&rdquo; Castillo said.</p><p>The issue of same-sex marriage remains a hotly debated issue in Indiana, although opposition isn&rsquo;t as strong as it used to be, even as recently as four years ago.</p><p>An effort to write Indiana&rsquo;s same-sex ban into the state&rsquo;s constitution failed in the Indiana General Assembly in the most recent session that ended in March.</p><p>The marriage amendment was opposed by many major corporations and public universities. &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-orders-indiana-couples-marriage-recognized-110008 Morning Shift: Same-sex marriage debate heats up in corporate America http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-10/morning-shift-same-sex-marriage-debate-heats <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr Andrea Goh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After controversies with Honey Maid and Mozilla, we examine how companies are handling the same-sex marriage issue. We also take a look at some of the challenges in overcoming health care disparities. Plus, the Leonard Cohen inspired music of Greg Ashley.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-same-sex-marriage-debate-heats-up-in/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-same-sex-marriage-debate-heats-up-in.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-same-sex-marriage-debate-heats-up-in" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Same-sex marriage debate heats up in corporate America" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-10/morning-shift-same-sex-marriage-debate-heats As Gary charter wins basketball titles, public schools fall farther behind http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bowman 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hoosier Hysteria will hit a fever pitch this weekend in Indianapolis.<br /><br />Not only is the city hosting the Midwest Regional for the NCAA men&rsquo;s basketball tournament, but the boys state high school basketball title games as well.<br /><br />Northwest Indiana will be well represented in the tournament with three region teams heading downstate looking for a crown in their respective classes. They include traditional programs like Lake Central in St. John and Michigan City Marquette, as well as relative newcomer Bowman Academy in Gary.<br /><br />Bowman is a charter school trying to repeat as state champions and win its third title in four years.&ndash; unheard of even in this basketball-crazed corner of Indiana. This from a school that started competing only six years ago.</p><p>But neither success nor acceptance has come easy for Bowman, a non-religious school named for African-American Roman Catholic nun Thea Bowman.</p><p>&ldquo;A couple of years, didn&rsquo;t nobody know who Bowman was. We couldn&rsquo;t play a good team for nothing,&rdquo; says Bowman&rsquo;s star guard, 6&rsquo;5 Davon Dillard, a junior who is already being pursued by the likes of Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State.</p><p>Dillard and his teammates chowed down on pizza and chicken wings before boarding two white vans early Thursday afternoon to make the two-hour trek south to practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse &ndash; home of the NBA&rsquo;s Indianapolis Pacers.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gained a lot of respect by proving it on the court, you know. Coming to Bowman, I&rsquo;ve been playing in some of the biggest championship games I&rsquo;ve ever played in,&rdquo; Dillard said. &ldquo;Being able to go down to state every year, that&rsquo;s a good feeling.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Bowman&rsquo;s quick rise also reveals just how far some of the other Gary schools have fallen &ndash; and not just in basketball.<br /><br />&ldquo;We get a lot of criticism but we just stay humble you know. We focus; we play hard, you know, we&rsquo;ve got a good coach in Marvin Rae. He gets the job done,&rdquo; Dillard said.<br /><br />Head coach Marvin Rae agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, when we first started, there was some animosity, actually we didn&rsquo;t play the Gary schools, they opted not to play us,&rdquo; Rae told WBEZ. &ldquo;When we first started, we had to travel to Rushville, Illinois to get games. We had to travel around. Our first year, we literally only had eight games.&rdquo;<br /><br />Suburban schools in Northwest Indiana didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman because of its small size. And &ndash; rightly or wrongly &ndash; because of Gary&rsquo;s reputation as an unsafe place to visit.<br /><br />But the city schools didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman either.<br /><br />&ldquo;I was not going to play Bowman because I knew right away what charter schools were built for: They are built to destroy public school systems,&rdquo; said John Boyd, a former teacher and coach at Gary&rsquo;s West Side High School, a basketball powerhouse and state champion in 2003.</p><p>Despite being a much larger school than Bowman, Boyd agreed to play one game against them in 2009.</p><p>&ldquo;I had gotten sick of people telling me I was afraid to play Bowman when I had some of the best talent in the state of Indiana,&rdquo; Body said. &ldquo;So, we ended up playing them and there was a situation that occurred.&rdquo;<br /><br />What occurred, according to Boyd, was a fight that ended any further games between Bowman and Gary schools.</p><p>But now, because of dwindling finances and declining enrollment &ndash; Gary public education struggling to keep its public high schools open. Of its five public high schools, only two still have basketball teams.<br /><br />Bowman&rsquo;s success &ndash; in the classroom and on the court &ndash; is now luring most of Gary&rsquo;s top talent in basketball and academics.<br /><br />And with other charter schools having varying success in Gary, Boyd says it&rsquo;s only going to get tougher for the Steel City.<br /><br />&ldquo;These charter schools are taking away students from the Gary public schools. Gary is actually a case study in how charter schools can come in and absolutely take over a school corporation which means that yes, Gary will have to close schools until they only have one high school,&rdquo; Boyd said.<br /><br />Gary&rsquo;s charter schools are often criticized for shifting resources away from public schools. Bowman&rsquo;s Rae says while he understands that criticism, &ldquo;we just kind of keep to ourselves and do what we do best and focus on each other,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bowman&rsquo;s success now attracts top teams from all over the region that flock to Gary to play them, with most games attracting the attention of college recruiters. Because of their packed scheduled, Marvin Rae says there&rsquo;s no room to play Gary schools now even if they wanted to.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a matter of do we want to play, at this point our schedule is full,&rdquo; Rae said.<br /><br />Rae insists he&rsquo;s not gloating. As someone who used to play at Gary Roosevelt High School &ndash; a one time powerhouse &ndash; he knows Gary&rsquo;s public schools are stressed.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;If we can sit down and help the Gary community schools and anyone else, we&rsquo;re always open to help anyone with suggestions and ideas,&rdquo; Rae said.</p><p>Even rival coach John Boyd has come to terms with Bowman&rsquo;s unmatched success and called Rae recently to wish him luck in Indy this weekend.<br /><br />&ldquo;They are probably the premier basketball program in Northwest Indiana right now. When you are winning championships you have to be revered,&rdquo; Boyd said. &ldquo;The Bowmans of the world bring attention to Gary, Indiana. We need to want Bowman to be successful.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 Indiana Senate approves diluted gay marriage ban http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-senate-approves-diluted-gay-marriage-ban-109719 <p><p>INDIANAPOLIS &mdash; The Indiana Senate has advanced a proposed constitutional marriage ban with language that pushes off the soonest public referendum until at least 2016.</p><p>The Senate voted 32-17 Monday afternoon in favor of the measure. The vote comes after the Indiana Senate&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-marriage-supporters-hail-setback-indiana-ban-109700">approved a version last week</a> which would put off a public referendum until at least 2016.</p><p>Indiana senators advanced the proposed ban without a provision that would ban civil unions. Under the state&#39;s constitutional amendment process, the civil unions ban needed to be included in the amendment for it to be placed on this November&#39;s ballot.</p><p>The Senate&#39;s decision last week marked a victory for opponents of the marriage ban just three years after legislators approved the amendment with broad support.</p></p> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-senate-approves-diluted-gay-marriage-ban-109719 Gay marriage supporters hail setback for Indiana ban http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-marriage-supporters-hail-setback-indiana-ban-109700 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_Geoff Livingston_indiana.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>INDIANAPOLIS &mdash; Opponents of an effort to place Indiana&#39;s gay marriage ban in the state constitution won a surprising victory Thursday as the Senate effectively pushed off a statewide vote on the issue for at least two years, and possibly longer.</p><p>In a parliamentary move that spared state senators a tough vote on the measure, the Senate advanced the marriage ban without the &quot;second sentence&quot; ban on civil unions. The House stripped that language from the amendment before passing it last month, and the Senate&#39;s decision not to restore the language before voting Thursday means the effort to amend the constitution must start fresh.</p><p>Even if Indiana&#39;s marriage ban clears the Senate on a final vote Monday, it would have to be debated again in the next biennial session, 2015-16, before it could appear before voters.</p><p>Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said many lawmakers sensed that the final say on the issue ultimately will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. A federal court ruling this week that Kentucky must recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states was weighed in private discussions among Senate Republicans, and Long said he could sense momentum building for a high court ruling.</p><p>&quot;In reality, I think the issue is going to be before the United States Supreme Court &mdash; as I&#39;ve said before &mdash; and it&#39;s either going to be a state&#39;s rights issue and each state decides for itself or it&#39;s going to be decided by the Supreme Court that it&#39;s a violation of the 14th Amendment,&quot; Long said. &quot;One way or another they&#39;re going to have the final say in this because the U.S. Constitution trumps a state constitution.&quot;</p><p>Indiana&#39;s gay marriage battle was playing out as federal courts in Oklahoma and Utah overturned constitutional bans and New Mexico&#39;s high court overturned that state&#39;s marriage ban.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134702960&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="721px"></iframe></p><p><em>Devonte Glass of Gary, Indiana (center) stands with friends who traveled to Indianapolis on Thursday to protest against an effort to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)</em></p><p>The state Senate&#39;s decision caps a sharp turnabout in Indiana, where just three years ago the constitutional ban passed the General Assembly with overwhelming majorities. But national attitudes on gay marriage have shifted sharply, and opponents of the ban were able to build a strong coalition that lobbied Indiana lawmakers heavily &mdash; privately and in public.</p><p>Indiana&#39;s gay marriage battle also opened a rift among Republicans in the solidly conservative state. Pro-business conservatives, including many who had worked closely with former Gov. Mitch Daniels, largely lined up against the marriage ban. While social conservatives, mostly aligned with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, fought hard to shepherd the ban to the 2014 ballot.</p><p>Some of the Republican Party&#39;s strongest fundraisers, including former George W. Bush economic adviser Al Hubbard and former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jim Kittle, opened their wallets for Freedom Indiana, the umbrella organization opposing the marriage ban.</p><p>&quot;Six months ago, if you&#39;d said lawmakers would refuse to put this issue on the ballot in 2014 by stripping out the deeply flawed second sentence, I&#39;d have said there&#39;s no way,&quot; said Megan Robertson, Freedom Indiana campaign manager and a veteran Indiana Republican operative.</p><p>The author of a proposal that would have restored the civil unions ban and place the constitutional ban back on track for a November referendum bemoaned the fact that he could not find enough support among Republican senators.</p><p>The ban&#39;s &quot;second sentence is officially dead in the 2014 IGA. Not enough support to reinsert it on 2nd reading,&quot; Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, wrote on Twitter. Long later chided Delph for discussing a private meeting of the Indiana Republicans.</p><p>When the constitutional ban came up for consideration Thursday, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann &mdash; who presides over the Senate &mdash; asked lawmakers if they had any amendments. The Senate chamber was silent, as were hundreds of activists just outside the Senate who had been chanting and singing just minutes earlier.</p><p>Ellspermann then acknowledged she had heard no amendments to the measure, and declared it ready for a final vote later in the Senate. Thursday was the last day lawmakers could have altered the measure and put it back on track for a November vote.</p><p>Delph later said he did not seek a vote on restoring the &quot;second sentence&quot; civil unions ban because he knew it would fail.</p><p>Supporters of the ban say it is needed to prevent courts from overturning Indiana&#39;s law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. But they struggled to find their footing after House lawmakers stripped the civil unions language.</p><p>Pence lobbied for a November vote on the ban in his State of the State address and at a rally of ban supporters, but later said he was removing himself from the legislative debate.</p><p>Angie Strickler, of Indianapolis, hailed the Senate&#39;s decison.</p><p>&quot;I think today&#39;s a victory period. I think putting the vote off until 2016 is a victory in the long run because so much is going to change between now and then,&quot; Strickler told WBEZ outside the Indiana Senate&#39;s Chambers on Thursday. &quot;Would it be nice if the Senate just vote it down and for it to go away forever come Monday, yes, that would be awesome. I would be proud of the senators for doing the right thing.&quot;</p><p>Gary, Indiana native Dovonte Glass also attended the key session of the Indiana Senate with a group of young opponents of HJR-3.</p><p>He&#39;s glas the Senate&#39;s inactin keeps a ban on same-sex marriage out of the state constitution, at least for now.</p><p>&quot;As long as we&#39;re human, we all deserve the same rights as everyone else. I think freedom means for freedom for everyone,&quot; said Glass, who attends Indiana University in South Bend.</p><p>But Sharon Pearson of Indianapolis, sat outside the Senate holding a sign in support of &quot;traditional marraige.&quot; She sat with her 10 year old daughter. She thinks the move to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States is bad for children.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m very disappointed. I was hoping that they were going to allow the people to have a voice in this important decision for Indiana,&quot; Pearson said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 16:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-marriage-supporters-hail-setback-indiana-ban-109700 LGBT members in NW Indiana fight against same-sex marriage amendment proposal http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indiana LGBT two-way.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana is a step closer to cementing the state&rsquo;s ban on same-sex marriage for possibly years to come. The state already outlaws same-sex marriage.</p><p>On Monday a senate committee passed a measure that would enshrine the ban in the state&rsquo;s constitution. Pushed by Governor Mike Pence, it goes before the full Senate later this week.</p><p>But not everyone supports the constitutional ban, known as House Joint Resolution 3. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce says it could hurt in attracting top talent to the state.</p><p>And some members of the LGBT community wonder why the Hoosier state is moving in the opposite direction of neighboring Illinois.</p><p>They recently sat down for a conversation with WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente at our bureau in Crown Point, Ind.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682