WBEZ | Indianapolis http://www.wbez.org/tags/indianapolis Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en End of the line for Amtrak’s Hoosier State train? http://www.wbez.org/news/end-line-amtrak%E2%80%99s-hoosier-state-train-106809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Amtrak Dyer .jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Amtrak&rsquo;s Hoosier State line has long been a popular way for college students at places like Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana to travel to Chicago for concerts, sporting events and to shop, especially on weekends.</p><p>&ldquo;The Friday train can be pretty packed,&rdquo; Marc Magliari, Amtrak&rsquo;s Chicago-based spokesman, told WBEZ on Tuesday.</p><p>But that service between Chicago and Indianapolis could be disrupted if Indiana lawmakers don&rsquo;t act soon to provide funding. The Hoosier State line runs four days a week between the two cities, carrying on average about 120 passengers per trip on trains that can accommodate up to 270 people, depending on demand. In 2012, some 37,000 riders boarded the Hoosier State line, according to Amtrak.</p><p>By October, the Hoosier State line could make its last run if $3 million in funding doesn&rsquo;t come through from Indiana lawmakers. That&rsquo;s because in 2008, Congress decided to eliminate funding for Amtrak routes that are less than 750-miles. Chicago to Indianapolis is less than 200.</p><p>Tim Maloney hopes that does not happen.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very interested in seeing more (Indiana) investment and involvement with transportation alternatives to motor vehicles on highways because of the environmental and energy-savings benefits that those alternatives provide,&rdquo; said Maloney, senior policy director the Indianapolis-based Hoosier Environmental Council.</p><p>Maloney&rsquo;s been keeping a watchful eye during this last week for legislative action in the Indiana House and Senate. Hoosier lawmakers are busying putting the final touches on a new two-year budget. Maloney said the Senate&rsquo;s version of the budget includes funding to keep the Hoosier State line going.</p><p>Maloney believes there is a demand for alternatives to driving between Chicago and Indy, even though Amtrak can take up to five hours compared to approximately three hours in a car from downtown Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We believe there will be a growing demand for those alternative based on high gas prices and demographic changes. So, we think it&rsquo;s a good idea for the state to diversify its transportation investment, including passenger rail and urban public transit,&rdquo; Maloney said.</p><p>Indiana isn&rsquo;t the only state who has to decide whether to keep an Amtrak train route to Chicago up and running. A route from Chicago to St. Louis and Detroit to Chicago are also at risk of losing funding.</p><p>If the Hoosier State route is eliminated, passengers can still utilize the Cardinal line that runs three days a week from Chicago to Indy. Because the Cardinal line connects to the East Coast, funding continues. Maloney says Amtrak has seen an 80 percent growth in the last five years and thinks it could get more.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s close to 40,000 passengers a year and that&rsquo;s based on having just one train a day going each day,&rdquo; Maloney said.</p><p>Maloney said work is being done to improve travel times, primarily because Amtrak often has to stop for freight trains in its path during its four-stop trip which includes one stop outside Chicago in Dyer, Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;But there&rsquo;s no question travel times need to improve. That&rsquo;s a key for attracting more riders,&rdquo; Maloney said.</p><p>But besides travel convenience, Maloney says there&rsquo;s also an issue of jobs. Amtrak operates a maintenance center in Beech Grove, a suburb of Indianapolis that provides about 550 jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;Amtrak spends over $21 million dollars a year buying goods and services from Indiana companies,&rdquo; Maloney said. &ldquo;There are 99 companies in Indiana that benefit and can benefit from passenger rail service, that&rsquo;s second only to Ohio.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Transportation has hired an engineering consultant to evaluate what types of schedule changes might make Amtrak service in Indiana self-supporting. If Hoosier lawmakers don&rsquo;t make a decision this week on whether to fund the route, it could write the money into the budget and decide at a later time whether to use it on the route.</p><p>But Maloney questions some media reports suggesting Indiana can wait until October to decide.</p><p>&quot;If the legislature doesn&#39;t allocate the funding this week, it may not have the money to fund it later. This is a very important time,&quot; Maloney said.</p><p>On Wednesday morning, the Hoosier State pulled into the depot in Dyer, Indiana with no one boarding or getting off. When asked if she thinks Indiana will continue funding for the route, a female Amtrak conductor speaking from a window said, &quot;I think they will.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Michael Puente is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/end-line-amtrak%E2%80%99s-hoosier-state-train-106809 Indiana Governor signs human trafficking bill http://www.wbez.org/story/human-trafficking-bill-heads-indiana-governor-95922 <p><p>A bill to toughen Indiana’s penalties for sex trafficking is now the law in Indiana.&nbsp;</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill today, just in time for this Sunday’s Super Bowl, which officials fear could become a magnet for prostitution.&nbsp;The law gives greater latitude to prosecute those who force girls, some as young as 12, into the paid sex trade.</p><p>“Let’s hope that the law has the deterrent affect that we hope for, and that these criminals will decide to take their awful business somewhere else,” Daniels said from his office Monday morning. “But if they should try it here at least we know our prosecutor will be armed with a tough law much more certain of producing successful prosecutions and long jail sentences.”</p><p>As many as 150,000 people are expected to descend upon Indianapolis for this Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.&nbsp;Officials anticipate a substantial increase in prostitution, with out-of-town girls brought in to meet the demand.</p><p>Abby Kuzma, head of the Consumer Protection Division for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, said it's appropriate for the state to step in. “We need to be protecting our children,” she said.</p><p>Kumza spearheaded the office’s push in the Indiana legislature for passage of the bill. She said victims are often abused. Volunteers, including cab drivers, have been trained what to look for in those visiting the city.</p><p>“We will be working on the ground and through the Internet. We will have volunteers working very hard to try to identify victims and rescue them,” Kuzman told WBEZ in an interview earlier this month.</p><p>The law strengthens current state regulations in several ways:</p><ul><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; For Individuals who are arrested for human trafficking those under 16 years of age, prosecutors will no longer have to prove force or threat of force against the victim</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; The law amends who can be prosecuted. Indiana’s current statute limits prosecution to parents or guardians who sell their children. The law is expanded to include any individual who sells children.</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; Sexual conduct such as fondling, arousing or other activity that is otherwise not technically prostitution, will be subject to prosecution.</li><li style="margin-left: 40px;">&nbsp; &nbsp; The bill makes recruiting, transporting or harboring anyone younger than 16 for prostitution a Class A felony punishable by a prison lasting between 20 and 50 years.</li></ul><p><br> The Indiana House voted 93-0 in favor of the bill late last week. It cleared the state senate in a 48-0 vote, just days after the new legislative session began in early January.</p><p>Final action in the House was held up by several weeks while Democrats boycotted the House. They were protesting contentious right-to-work legislation proposed by House Republicans.</p><p>Daniels may also sign the right-to-work legislation this week once the Indiana Senate votes a final time on the measure on Wednesday. Daniels is hoping to ward off any potential picketing by pro-union members at Sunday’ Super Bowl.</p><p>The National Football League’s Players Association is contemplating some sort of demonstration leading up to the game. The NFLPA is on record opposing the right-to-work law in Indiana.</p></p> Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/human-trafficking-bill-heads-indiana-governor-95922 Indy preps for the Super Bowl's underside http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-preps-super-bowls-underside-95876 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-27/homelessness superbowl_puente.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/homelessness superbowl_puente.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 354px;" title="Steve Skinner is just one of dozens of homeless people who live in downtown Indianapolis. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)"></p><p>Super Bowl 46 is a little more than a week away. This year the big game is being played three hours south of Chicago in Indianapolis.&nbsp;Indy’s pulling out all the stops to keep visitors entertained with parties, concerts and festivals.&nbsp;For some longtime planners, it’s like having your team about to score the go-ahead touchdown.</p><p>“So in the red zone now that we are, and approaching that goal line, all of the people that have been involved will physically be able see what we have put the fruits of our labor into over the last four years in this community,” says Diana Boyce, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.</p><p>Boyce is busy these days making sure there’s enough hotel space and an onslaught of international media is taken care of.&nbsp;She’s happy to talk about the economic impact that the Super Bowl will have on Indy.&nbsp;But she hesitates when it comes to two issues: what Indy will do with its sizeable downtown homeless population and how it will combat a predicted increase in prostitution.</p><p>“Those are important issues that are in a community whether they’re hosting the Super Bowl or not,” Boyce says. “We are not the experts in handling any of those so we are relying on the experts to look for their expertise and rely on them as well as our public safety officials to address it as they do every day.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/diana boyce 2.JPG" style="width: 267px; height: 400px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Dianna Boyce, spokesperson for the Super Bowl host committee. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)">Indianapolis officials estimate there are 1,500 or so homeless people in the downtown district.&nbsp;They can be seen outside the city’s flagship Circle City Mall and upscale hotels just down the street from Lucas Oil Stadium, the Super Bowl venue.&nbsp;</p><p>One of the people living on the street in the district is a man named Joe.</p><p>“I just come out of prison and got paroled to the mission. I’ve been in prison since I was 15,” says Joe, who won't&nbsp;provide his last name.</p><p>Joe says he is worried that he could get rounded up by police as the Super Bowl approaches. He says&nbsp;it's been done before when other big events came to town.&nbsp;</p><p>“I’m sure they’re going to (happen). They can arrest you on anything they want. Will it stick? No, but they’ll hold you until whatever the event is over and they’ll release you and they ain’t no charges filed,” Joe says.</p><p>Moving, rounding up or transferring homeless people away from downtown may not be a wise move, says Michael Hurst, program director for the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) in Indianapolis.&nbsp;“The worst thing you can do with a special event is displace those individuals who are homeless because if you displace them, if you take them away from where that they’re spending their days and spending their nights,” he says,&nbsp;“you are also taking them away from the social services network that’s working to engage them and get them into services.”</p><p>Hurst, a Chicago native, says the homeless tend to gather in downtown Indy because that’s where several shelters and other services are located. He says, for the most part, the city and its police force work well with the homeless and have a plan in place.&nbsp;Hurst says he’s been assured that police will not do any such round ups as the city preps for the game.&nbsp;</p><p>“But I also know that they are going to get more of that pressure the closer we get to game day. And, that pressure can come from a variety of business owners, convention and visitors people and all of those kinds of folks,” he says.</p><p>Meanwhile, Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Mike Bates says there are no plans to harass the homeless.</p><p>“There certainly won’t be any forced relocation. We wouldn’t do that at all. Certainly we’ll address the issues,” he said in an interview with WRTV-TV in Indianapolis. “We will approach these individuals and work with them in cooperation with all the other agencies.”</p><p>Another issue on the minds of police and others is human sex trafficking.</p><p>Abby Kuzma, director of consumer protection with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, is taking a lead role in combating this. &nbsp;</p><p>“Whenever you have a huge influx of people, particularly with respect to an event that is attracting men, that has a party atmosphere, statistically people know there’s an increase demand for commercial sex and that means a risk for human trafficking,’ she says. &nbsp;</p><p>Kuzma says victims are usually under-aged girls. She’s working with volunteer groups and others to get the word out on what to look for — usually, signs of abuse.</p><p>The Attorney General's office is working with state lawmakers to strengthen the law that punishes pimps and others who force young people into prostitution.</p><p>“If we strengthen the law, it will make it a lot easier to prosecute the traffickers and protect the victims and that’s what we’re looking for,” Kuzma says.</p><p>But there’s not much time left to do that, and with Indiana’s legislature dealing with divisive labor issues this month, getting a new human trafficking law adopted in the next week could be a tough task.</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-preps-super-bowls-underside-95876 For Indy, Super Bowl more than just a game http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-super-bowl-more-just-game-95841 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-26/super bowl 4_puente.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The City of Indianapolis is getting set to host the nation’s biggest one-day sporting event: Super Bowl 46 on Sunday, February 5.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-26/super bowl 4_puente.jpg" style="width: 267px; height: 400px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="This blue scarf will be worn by thousands of volunteers to greet visitors to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)">The excitement is already building. Indy’s spent millions of dollars getting ready for the game over the last four years and officials hope it will pay off. The glitz of the game is just for a day, but Indy’s big play is for a lasting legacy.</p><p>Of course, the City of Indianapolis is no stranger to hosting big sporting events. It’s hosted the Big Ten football championship, the NCAA men’s basketball final four.</p><p>And, let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all: The Indianapolis 500. But when it comes to the Super Bowl…there’s really no equal in America.</p><p>“In terms of a one-day event, this is not only Indianapolis’s biggest sporting event, it really is the world’s biggest sporting event,” says John Dedman, vice president of communications for the Indianapolis Sports Corporation, the entity that made the bid to the NFL to host the Super Bowl.</p><p>“The Super Bowl is America’s holiday,” Dedman says. “The media attention around the Super Bowl, the buzz that’s creating for Indianapolis and Central Indiana is just a level above anything we ever been able to do here before.”</p><p>When the National Football League announced in 2008 Indy would be hosting the Super Bowl, it triggered a massive investment in the tourism economy. The downtown now sports a number of new hotels, public art, attractions and other tourism attractions designed to showcase the city.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-26/super bowl 1_puente.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 267px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Morgan Greenlee and John Dedman stand in front of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where Super Bowl 46 will be played. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)">"We’ve added in the past three years you’ve seen about $3 billion in new tourism products added to Indianapolis,” says Morgan Greenlee, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. “We are calling this the year of the fan. There have been so many things that we are doing to make sure that that happens with the Super Bowl Village, the NFL Experience taking place inside. We are doing everything we can possible do to welcome people especially from Northwest Indiana and Chicago.”</p><p>A lot of the attention has been focused on downtown, but Super Bowl’s influence is being felt across the city.</p><p>Just a short drive from downtown Indy is a neighborhood called the Near East Side, a down-trodden area with abandoned housing and shuttered storefronts. It’s hard to find basic groceries in this part of town, I’m told.</p><p>The Super Bowl tourists won’t be coming to this part of town, but the game is having a positive economic impact on the neighborhood anyway. You can see that in the revitalization projects underway throughout the neighborhood.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-26/super bowl 3_puente.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 354px;" title="Drew Reinhart (left) stands in front of the home he's rehabbing in Indianapolis. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)"></p><p>"We’ve been on this one about three months now. It was completely boarded up. I mean, just a wreck,” says Drew Reinhart who is rehabbing a three-story, 3,000-square-foot–thousand home in the neighborhood.</p><p>It’s just one of dozens of abandoned homes that are getting a makeover.</p><p>“I think it’s amazing what they’re doing down here. I think they should have done it a long time ago before it got as bad as it did. I think it’s kind of sad that it took the Super Bowl to get some of this started. Now that it is, I think it’s a good thing,” Reinhart says.</p><p>Indirectly, the NFL has influenced this trend. It’s traditional for the league to make a donation in cities where the Super Bowl is played.</p><p>In this case, the NFL donated $1 million for a new community center on the Near East Side. The city of Indianapolis could have simply matched the funds …&nbsp; but the community went further.</p><p>“It was really Indianapolis that said yes we can do that but couldn’t we do something much greater as a community,” James Taylor says, who heads the Boner Community Center &nbsp;in the Near East Side. Taylor and host of volunteers raised more than $10 million to build what will be known as the Chase Near East Side Legacy Center.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-26/super bowl 2_puente.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="James Taylor sits inside the new Chase Near East Side Legacy Center in Indianapolis. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)"></p><p>It will be housed near a high school where some of the buildings date back to the Civil War era. The Legacy Center will have everything from computers and cooking equipment to a greenhouse and state-of-the-art fitness facility.</p><p>Josh Bowling lives in the Near East Side. He says the Legacy Center is spurring community participation unlike he’s seen before.</p><p>Every night we’re having different meetings about folks that want to come in and do different program for adults, for kids, for seniors,” Bowling says. “It’s going to be a place that we can be a hub for activity in the neighborhood. We don’t really have that now.”</p><p>The Legacy Center’s James Taylor thinks all this work could have happened without the Super Bowl being played in Indy but “There’s nothing like a deadline to create a call for action. I mean, the world is coming to your doorstep. You want to showcase what you are as community.”</p><p>The Legacy Center will open two days after the last points are scored in the Super Bowl.</p></p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 07:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-super-bowl-more-just-game-95841 Hoosier House still divided over union issue http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-bosma/hoosier-house-still-divided-over-union-issue <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Indiana House Majority Speaker Brian Bosma, Republican (Photo by Mike Puente, WBEZ).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>House Democrats continue to stay away from the Indiana Statehouse, despite the fact their absence is now hitting their own pocketbooks.</p><p>Indiana House Majority Speaker Brian Bosma hopes to get business started Tuesday.&nbsp;The Republican leader didn&rsquo;t have any luck Monday restarting the session.</p><p>&ldquo;Roll call shows 62 members present. For the beginning of the third week in a row, we fail to have a quorum for the conduct of business, much to the pleasure of the protesters,&rdquo; Bosma said as union organizers could be heard cheering outside the House chamber.</p><p>Bosma said the House levied $250 against each absent Democrat. About 30 or so remain in Urbana, Illinois. Fines will continue each day until they return.</p><p>Democrats are boycotting the current legislative session because of what they view as anti-union legislation proposed by the GOP.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Terry Goodin of Austin said his fellow caucus members are prepared to stay out &quot;as long as it takes&quot; to get Republicans to agree to changes, even if that means staying out past June 30 when the current budget expires.</p><p>Goodin says if that happens, Democrats wouldn't be to blame for shutting down the government. He says it's Bosma's responsibility to negotiate and bring back Democrats.</p><p>While the standoff inside the Indiana statehouse continues, union groups plan to continue rallying just outside. The Indiana AFL-CIO says it expects thousands of union workers to attend a &quot;We Are Indiana&quot; rally Thursday morning.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-bosma/hoosier-house-still-divided-over-union-issue