Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tony George: Out

It's a developing story, but it seems that Tony George's family has turned on him. Or, rather, turned him out as CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, "This afternoon’s announcement that Tony George no longer would be president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other companies owned by the Hulman-George family had been anticipated for more than a month."

Anthony Shoettle goes on to say, "George will remain on the board of Hulman & Co. and focus on making the IRL profitable. A management team comprised of veteran IMS executives W. Curtis Brighton and Jeffrey G. Belskus will head the Hulman-George companies effective July 1."

There's more on IBJ’s motorsports blog, The Score.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Children's Museum Hosts King Tutankhamen Exhibit

OK, so it's only the B team (the A team exhibit opened at the same time in San Francisco) -- but, Indianapolis is the smallest market to boast an exhibit of "Tutankhamen: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs". The show opened Saturday (27 June) at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, and runs through 25 October. (Photo from Wikipedia)

It's pricey -- adult tix for weekend visits are $30 -- but something you're not likely to see outside Egypt (or, outside the other Tut exhibit touring the U.S.). Surprisingly, it's not a money-maker for the Children's Museum. According to Kathleen McLaughlin's article in The Indianapolis Business Journal this week, proceeds will go first to Arts and Exhibitions International of Aurora, Ohio, the show's for-profit producer. Only when their costs are covered will the museum begin to share in the profits.

However, hosting the show is for more than monetary gain, according to Jeffrey Patchen, the museum's CEO. The publicity around hosting King Tut is priceless, as Indy is the smallest market for either exhibit in the U.S. Being able to host the show stems from the relationship between the Children's Museum and the efforts of Suzanne Mubarak (Egypt's "first lady") to open a museum for children in Cairo. Patchen and other members of the staff have made several visits to Egypt. Indy's museum is consulting -- gratis -- on the "guts" of the Cairo museum: designing the exhibits. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, insisted that the Tut show make an Indianapolis stop -- he, himself, came to the opening last weekend.

This Indianapolis Observer was disappointed in the show. Sure, the 120 artifacts (1/3 of which are from King Tutankhamen's tomb) are beyond fabulous, but the signage is minimal. Even the audio guide (an extra $7 for adults) is sketchy, providing sentences of description rather than paragraphs of context for the handful of objects it covers. Egypt's pharoahnic period is far more complex than visitors will learn from this exhibit. Although it's supposed to place King Tut in context, it seems more to magnify his short reign (1333–1324 BCE). Historically, it was a footnote -- it's important primarily because his tomb was one of the few not to be completely plundered by grave robbers over the millennia.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Orleans Table

An exhibit of paintings by Melissa Sarat opened today (28 June) at the Indianapolis Art Center, 820 East 67th Street, Indianapolis (that's her "Evangeline", pictured at right).

Ms. Sarat will be there in person on 22 August (the day before the exhibit closes) to participate in this year's Artsparkle, to be celebrated in Mardi Gras Style in honor of the Art Center's 75th anniversary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cross-Country Travelers Visit Indy on Sunday

Ten students and two faculty members from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., is in the midst of a 40-day cross-country summer road trip to rediscover America. Theme of their 9,300 mile trip is "What Does It Mean to Be an American?"

On Sunday (28 June), their chartered sleeper bus arrives in Indianapolis. They'll chronicle their experiences on their daily blog as they attend Sunday services at Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church, visit the Gardens of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Gardens, have lunch at Bazbeaux Pizza and tour Broad Ripple Avenue, visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and walk the Mass Ave Cultural District and the new pedestrian greenway downtown.

The 10 Belmont University students from across the United States are accompanied by Dr. Ken Spring, Belmont University Sociology Department Chair, and Dr. Andi Stepnick, Belmont University Associate Professor of Sociology.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Indy Sustains Another Hit

In today's Wall Street Journal, there's a feature on the front page of the Personal Journal section titled "The Summer of Their Discontent". The caption for the photo reads: "Sierra Everett, a student at Lawrence Central High School in Indiana, had to pay for an online geometry course after her district canceled summer school."

...providing yet another reason not to live in Indy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If Corruption Isn't Bad Enough, Indy's Losing the Arts

"To be powerless in an environment where power is the defining force is a terrible thing. This, sadly, is where the Indianapolis arts scene finds itself. Politicians have been able to treat cultural policy here with cavalier indifference, believing they can do so without danger of losing support. It is now up to our creative class to organize and find ways to resist this foreclosure on the city's future."

Thus sayeth David Hoppe in NUVO. This Indianapolis Observer weeps for what has happened to the city in the last couple of years.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fighting Crime with Song

"The Indianapolis Children's Choir isn't a crime-fighting group, but that didn't stop the city from awarding it an anti-crime grant this year.

"It was one of a number of such grants highlighted Monday by Mayor Greg Ballard as part of a campaign by his administration to underscore its crime-fighting efforts and showcase the work of groups it has supported."

Read the rest of the report by The Indianapolis Star's Kevin O'Neal here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just When You Think Things Can't Get Worse...

"City hall is for sale. If you contribute when asked and engage a connected law firm to assist you, who knows how much taxpayers' money you can walk away with. Let your imagination roam freely."

Read the rest of Advance Indiana's commentary here. Yeah, he's talking about the sweetheart deal given to Tadd M. Miller.

There's more in this week's Indianapolis Business Journal: "The Capital Improvement Board could be forced to give up one of its most profitable assets so the city can pull off a $65-million public-private downtown development deal," notes Cory Schouten of IBJ. "But the potential hit to the CIB is only one of several hidden costs to taxpayers within the city’s latest public-private development effort."

This Indianapolis Observer is, well, both depressed and horrified.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Winners Announced at Indy International Wine Competition

Over 3,000 wines traveled to Indianapolis for one of the nation’s largest wine competitions, the Indy International Wine Competition, June 16-18, 2009 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Wines from 10 countries as far away as France, Australia and Spain were judged on appearance, aroma, taste, and aftertaste by 16 panels of judges. In all, 72 judges flew in from the United State and Canada to evaluate the wines.

Rancho Zabaco Winery of Healdsburg, California was awarded the Wine of the Year award for its 2007 Reserve Zinfandel. White Wine of the Year honors went to Stone Hill Winery of Hermann, Missouri for their 2008 Vignoles. Barrel Oak Winery of Delaplane, Virginia won Red Wine of the Year for their 2008 Norton. Rosé Wine of the Year was awarded to Butler Winery of Bloomington, Indiana for their 2008 Chambourcin Rosé.

The Sparkling Wine of the Year was awarded to Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery of Michigan for their Leelanau Brillante Sparkling Wine and Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery of Canada took the Dessert Wine of the Year honors for their 2007 Minus Nine Icewine.

Ertel Cellars of Batesville, Indiana won Fruit Wine of the Year for their Strawberry. The last two categories, Honey Wine of the Year and Honey Wine Blend of the Year were awarded to Winehaven Winery & Vineyard of Minnesota and to Oliver Winery of Bloomington, Indiana, respectively.

E&J Gallo Winery of Modesto, California was awarded the Winery of the Year Trophy, sponsored by the Leisure Family. The Pacesetter Trophy honors the Best International Brand of the entire competition. E&J Gallo Winery won two double gold, 17 gold, 38 silver and 32 bronze medals.

Huber Orchard & Winery of Starlight, Indiana won the Winemaker of the Year Trophy, honoring the winery that wins the most gold medals by brand at the competition.

The Indiana State Fair Wine Competition began in 1973 as an Indiana-only event. The competition began admitting entries from across the world in 1992. Indiana was well represented in the competition, with 25 of the state’s wineries entering. Hoosier wineries took home a total of 10 double gold, 36 gold, 108 silver, and 120 bronze medals.

The Indy International is sponsored by the Indiana State Fair and coordinated by the Indiana Wine Grape Council.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tough Economic Times Affect Voluntarism

Tough economic times are producing both positives and negatives for the volunteer programs of area nonprofits, according to a recent survey conducted by United Way of Central Indiana’s (UWCI) Volunteer Center.

More than 56 percent of local nonprofits that responded to United Way’s survey report an increase in the number of volunteers compared to a year ago. At the same time, more than a third (35.2 percent) reported a drop in volunteers.

Almost 40 percent of respondents reported that budget cuts in the past year meant they had to turn to volunteers to fill administrative and client service roles previously assigned to staff.

In late May and early June the survey went to 167 nonprofits that use United Way’s Volunteer Solutions Web matching service, including human services, environmental, arts, education and other agencies. United Way of Central Indiana serves six counties and includes Indianapolis.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mysteries In History: Home and Garden Tour

Eight homes ranging from Victorians built at the turn of the last century to a 1930s bungalow will be on the "Mysteries in History" tour of the Woodruff Place neighborhood of Indianapolis. Five gardens, from heirloom to modern in design, also are included.

Hours for the tour (about 1700 east, between 10th and Michigan streets, Indianapolis) are noon to 5 p.m. both Saturday (27 June) and Sunday (28 June). Tickets are $12. For more information, contact Tessie Lloyd-Jones, 317:636-4194.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Indy International Wine Competition

The annual Indy International Wine Competition kicks off today in the Blue Ribbon Pavilion of the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1201 East 38th Street, Indianapolis, and runs through Thursday (18 June).

The judging is open to the public at no charge: watch 80 wine judges from throughout the United States, Canada and Europe taste, analyze and score the various wines. They haven’t announced how many entrants they have this year, but last year’s competition attracted over 3200 entries from 17 nations and nearly every state.

The Indy International is sponsored by the Indiana State Fair. Judging takes place from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. today and tomorrow, and from 10 a.m.- noon on Thursday. Admission to the judging is free, but parking in the fairgrounds’ lots is $5 per vehicle.

The Indy International Wine Competition is the largest scientifically organized and independent wine competition in the U.S. It began in 1973 as an Indiana-only event, but in 1992, it began admitting entries from across the world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's the Real Plan for the CIB?

"Given [Gov. Mitch] Daniels' lust for privatization and selling off taxpayer-owned property, it only stands to reason that he's taking a close look at privatizing the [Capital Improvements Board]."

Thus sayeth the Indianapolis Times. Anybody wanna place their bets now?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is Everybody in City Government Corrupt?

The questions swirling around the purchase of BankOne property on the eastside of downtown continue.

"A $65 million public-private plan for the redevelopment of a vacant downtown office building is raising eyebrows for its unusual approach and potential risk to taxpayers," writes Cory Schouten in the Indianapolis Business Journal.

"City of Indianapolis officials' flagrantly ignored Indiana law in awarding more than $20 million in public subsidies to a politically-connected developer recently," asserts Advance Indiana.

"Beyond the clear violation of Indiana's "fair market value" appraisal requirement, the deal as constituted immediately rewarded Tadd Miller with a multi-million-dollar windfall," Advance Indiana says, adding "it's just more pay-to-play bullshit that drives everything in Indianapolis government. The players have no fear of engaging in these 'public-private' partnerships because they know local prosecutors will look the other way, regardless of how badly they screw over the taxpaying public.

This Indianapolis Observer is wondering when Indy's taxpayers will wake up!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Zoobilation: A Night on Dragon Island

One of the most popular events Indianapolis has to offer will be in full swing tonight, according to Inside INdiana Business. This year's Zoobilation theme is "A Night on Dragon Island" in honor of the Indianapolis Zoo's newest exhibit, Dragons of Komodo. The fundraising event will feature more than 70 restaurants, entertainment and exotic decor. Each year, Zoobilation raises more than $1 million to support the care and feeding of the zoo's 2,500 animals and 6,000 plants.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Everything About This Deal is Corrupt"

"The whole argument for bailing out the CIB has been a complete fraud from day one," asserts Advance Indiana. "Now that House Speaker Pat Bauer has enormous leverage in a special session to force the deal he wants, he's going to demand that Indiana's gambling industry get an extra helping hand from the legislature as a condition to bailing out Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board."

Gary Welsh concludes: "Everything about this deal is corrupt. Hopefully, federal law enforcement officers are paying close attention to what is about to transpire during this special session."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Orkestra Projekt: Agitate!

The final concert of Orkestra Projekt’s sixth season is set for two performances: 7:30 p.m. 19 June and 7:30 p.m. 20 June in the Fringe Building, 719 East St. Clair Street, Indianapolis.

"Agitate" continues to rock (verb: to move back and forth, to cause to move to and fro violently, to impair or destroy the composure of).

The feature is "Different Trains" by Steve Reich, a contemporary American composer. It is a piece written for three string quartets and voices on prepared tape with the addition of a live string quartet to complete the performance. He describes this as a musical documentary. It is presented in three seamless movements: "America – Before the war", "Europe – During the war", and "After the war". With train whistles, vocal phrases, and instruments mimicking those vocal phrases as closely as possible, Steve Reich explores the themes of separation and Holocaust providing an immersive experience.

Then comes a piece by Tan Dun, the contemporary Chinese composer famous for composing the music for the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". His piece, "Lament: Autumn Wind" is scored for six instruments of any type and a voice of any range. We will feature an interactive experiment to involve the audience in the selection of the instrumentation during the performance.

The third, a world premiere, is "Bigot", a piece for quintet by New York native Scott Comanzo. Scored for string quintet, it describes a conflict between a reactionary and a radical.

Of course, we make this adventure into new music feel safer with some arrangements of Led Zeppelin tunes "Dancin’ Days" and "Black Dog".

All Orkestra Projekt concerts feature this experience of new music, casual atmosphere, free light hors d’oeuvres and drinks and some of the coolest classical music audiences in Indianapolis.

Orkestra Projekt’s casual and intimate concert environment attracts young professional adults, families, and others who want to connect with the world of contemporary classical music and be intensely entertained at the same time.

Check here for ticket information; prices are $5-19.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Fat Lady Has Sung

"Chrysler appeared poised to emerge from bankruptcy by early Wednesday [10 June 2009] after the United States Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear a challenge by three Indiana state funds and several consumer groups to the sale of most of its assets to Fiat."

Thus sayeth The New York Times.

The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland

"The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland" is food writer Alison Stein Wellner's paean to St. Elmo's Shrimp Cocktail:

"For the St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail, the shrimp swoon all over themselves and are slathered in a thick cocktail sauce. A fork on the side of the bowl spears a lemon, saltines were scattered around the saucer. I squeezed the lemon, seized my knife and, in the middle of a sentence, popped some shrimp into my mouth.

"I dropped my cutlery as a sensation that I can only describe as what electrocution must feel like shot down my throat and then up my nose, forking its way into my brain. My hands started to rise and—yes!—I had the urge to clap my hands on my skull to keep the top from blowing off. My hands shot up in the air, my eyes started to water.

"And then it was done. As my hands went back onto the table to liberate a saltine from its wrapper, I looked at this seemingly innocent shrimp cocktail, in the middle of downtown Indianapolis, with new respect."

(Unfortunately for St. Elmo's Ms. Wellner ate her horseradish delight at Harry & Izzy's, not St. Elmo's Steak House.)

Read the whole piece on WorldHum.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Indiana Holds Up Chrysler Sale to Fiat

According to The New York Times, the Supreme Court agreed this afternoon to delay the sale of most of Chrysler’s assets to Fiat pending further consideration of an appeal by three Indiana state funds and several consumer groups, in a move that injects a new element of uncertainty over the carmaker’s fate.

IDI Salaries in the Stratosphere

"Indianapolis taxpayers pay the non-profit corporation, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., a yearly subsidy in excess of a million dollars," notes Indy blogger Paul K. Ogden.

He then continues, noting: "an examination of the corporations’ 2007 income tax forms (publicly available due to their non-profit status) shows they pay lavish salaries and are hoarding cash in investments while at the same time begging for handouts from our local elected officials.

"President of IDI, Tamara Zahn, was shown on the 2007 report as making a $185,000 salary, along with an additional $13,284 given to her employee benefit plan for compensation of nearly $200,000. Vice President of Real Estate Development Terrence P. Sweeney makes approximately $88,500 in combined compensation while Vice President of Marking/Communications, Julia Watson, pulls down nearly $108,000. Molly Williams, Vice President of Finance/Administration, makes over $89,000

"The report also lists the compensation of the highest paid employees at IDI. In 2007, Fredric E. Laughlin, Director of Management Services, made approximately $89,000 while Anne Maschmeyer, Beautification Manager, made nearly $70,000. Henry Bosworth, coordinator of the Bike Patrol was paid $51,400."

This Indianapolis Observer is rendered speechless.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Accidental Mayor Bobbles the Ball, Again

"Mayor Greg Ballard's handling (or actually, mishandling) of the Capital Improvement Board fiasco was just another sad example of the mayor's lack of leadership. Not only did he allow Gov. Mitch Daniels to get the drop on him, but he came away looking like a fool, essentially handing control of the CIB over to the governor."

So says the Indianapolis Times blogspot. Read more here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do You Have Roots in Pike Township?

The Pike Township Historical Society hosts an "Ice Cream Social" from 2:30 to 4 p.m. next Saturday, 13 June, in the Fellowship Hall of Salem Lutheran Church, 7200 Pollard Street, New Augusta.

If you'd like to attend, call 317:293-3548 or (after 6 p.m.) 317:299:8460.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Peterson Gets New Gig

Eli Lilly and Company reports that former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson will be joining Lilly as senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications, reporting directly to chairman, president and chief executive officer John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D. He will be a member of the company's executive and the operations committees.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Well, It's About Time!

According to John Ketzenberger's Commentary in today's Indianapolis Star, "It's time to break up the financially strapped Capital Improvements Board."

His prediction was right on. According to this morning's update, "The CIB also would no longer exist under the proposal and would be merged with the Marion County Building Authority to create a new entity, the Facilities Management Board of Marion County, which will operate 13 facilities within the city."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kids Bicycle Safety Event

On Saturday (6 June), there's a bicycle safety event just for kids at Crown Hill Cemetery, 700 West 38th Street, Indianapolis.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and admission is free.

There'll be a "bounce house" and "balloon twister", a magic show at noon, a bicycle safety speaker and free hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones and iced tea -- even a chance to win a free bike helmet or even a free bicycle. For more information, call 317:925-3800.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Just When You Think Things Can't Get Worse...

"It is an absolute outrage that the Ballard administration is proposing yet another multi-million dollar give-away to a politically-connected developer at a time the City is struggling so much financially."

Yep. The boys on the 25th Floor are at it again. Read it all here, courtesy of Advance Indiana.

This Indianapolis Observer is wondering: just what is Mayor Ballard thinking?

Secretary of Agriculture Comes to Indy

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be visiting Indiana tomorrow (2 June). Vilsack will make stops in Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Danville.

If you want to see him in Indy, head to the National FFA Center, 6060 FFA Drive (near West 86th Street and I-465 West) between 3 and 4 p.m.