Thursday, May 31, 2007

O'Reilly Raceway Park sold

The Glendora, Calif.-based National Hot Rod Association has sold O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, along with other assets, to an investment group led by the developer of DirectTV, according to The Indianapolis Business Journal.

NHRA sold O'Reilly, formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park, along with its three other tracks and its Powerade Drag Racing Series to HD Partners Acquisition Corp. of Santa Monica, Calif., for $121 million. HD Partners is led by Eddy Hartenstein, who launched DirecTV a decade ago.

The NHRA will remain the sport's not-for-profit sanctioning body and focus on its amateur drag-racing activities, IBJ reported.

It was not immediately clear how the sale of the local track might affect its operations. O'Reilly Raceway Park hosts the NHRA's biggest annual event, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, which will be held this year from 29 August through 3 September . ORP officials were notified of the sale yesterday afternoon.

The U.S. Nationals have been held in Indianapolis since 1961. Industry insiders say HD Partners now will determine such issues as whether the event will remain here, or if the track will expand or downsize.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Patchen tapped for national post

Jeffrey H. Patchen (right), president and CEO of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, has been confirmed by the United States Senate as one of three presidential nominees to serve as a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board. The other two are Douglas G. Myers, chief executive officer of the Zoological Society of San Diego, and Lotsee Patterson, professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma.

The board advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal agency that is the primary source of federal support for the nation's museums and libraries.

The National Museum and Library Services Board (NMLSB) is a 24-member advisory body that includes the IMLS director and deputy directors for libraries and museums, the chair of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and 20 presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed members of the general public who have demonstrated expertise in, or commitment to, library or museum services. The NMLSB advises the IMLS director on general policy and practices, and on selections for the National Awards for Museum and Library Services.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

$1,645,233 to Dario

Dario Franchitti earned $1,645,233 from a record purse of $10,668,815 for his victory May 27 in the 91st Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This year's event purse broke the record of $10,518,565 set in 2006. This is the sixth consecutive year the overall purse for the field of 33 drivers has exceeded $10 million.

The 92nd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is scheduled for 25 May 2008.

Monday, May 28, 2007

52 homicides

The murder rate in Indianapolis has advanced a few since the last time this Indianapolis Observer noted it. But IndyUndercover is keeping track for all of us.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dario Franchitti wins 91st Indianapolis "500"

Ashley Judd's husband, a 34-year-old Scotsman, takes the checkered flag at Indy.

Read all about it:

In Sports Illustrated

In The New York Times

In The Indianapolis Star

In The Washington Post (and, the photograph is from the Post)

In The Chicago Tribune

...and probably a million other places!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hilbert auction at Sotheby's yields $8.8M

From today's Indianapolis Business Journal Daily:

Hilbert auction at Sotheby's yields $8.8M
by J.K. Wall

Steve and Tomisue Hilbert's furniture and housewares fetched $8.8 million Thursday in a Sotheby's auction in New York.

The total exceeded the estimated value of the Hilbert collection, which Sotheby's predicted would be $5 million to $7.7 million.

On June 8, the Hilberts are scheduled to sell eight paintings, which could be worth more than $3 million.

The most expensive item sold Thursday was an ornate, 18th Century chest, thought to be first purchased by an ambassador in Paris. It went for $740,000, according to auction results posted on Sotheby's Web site. A set of decorative sideboard dishes fetched $644,800, the auction house reported.

Sotheby's will deduct undisclosed fees from the sales total.

The auction comes less than six months after the Hilberts settled a bitter, three-year legal battle with Conseco Inc., the Carmel-based insurer that Steve Hilbert co-founded. Conseco claimed that Hilbert owed it as much as $300 million in unpaid loans and interest borrowed to buy company stock in the late-1990s.

Terms of the court settlement were confidential. It is known, however, that the Hilberts ceded real estate in Hamilton County to Conseco, which is trying to sell it. Conseco has had Hilbert's former mansion in Carmel on the market for nearly two years. It is listed at $20 million.

The listing ("The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture") is here (registration required). Sale total: 8,839,620 USD.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oceans: the new exhibit at the zoo opens Saturday

The grand opening of Oceans - the newly redesigned waters building - is Saturday (26 May) at the Indianapolis Zoo.

You'll see bonnethead sharks, purplemouth eels, moon jellies, dogsharks, shrimps, angelfish, anemones, clownfish, and more. There's even a shark touch pool.

The penguins will be back, and their exhibit includes a special "window" in the floor so visitors can see them "fly" back and forth from one side of their exhibit to the other.

You won't want to miss all the excitement on opening weekend when the Zoo cranks it up for the summer season with extended hours until 6 p.m. This event is included with regular Zoo admission.

Parking may be a challenge, especially on Memorial Day (28 May). When the parking lot reaches capacity, the Zoo will ask visitors to park in designated lots on the IUPUI campus and take a shuttle bus to the Zoo. As of now, the Zoo plans to use the shuttle buses on Monday from noon through the end of the day.

Zoo operating hours today are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. But -- hours change on Saturday (26 May) to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

Did you know you can purchase your Indianapolis Zoo tickets online? Check the website for more information.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

George Foreman buys into Panther Racing team

George Foreman (left) and Vitor Meira, a Panther Racing driver

Two-time IndyCar Series Champions Panther Racing announced today that two-time heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman and his sons will become the team’s newest co-owners.

Foreman, a 1968 Olympic gold medalist and an ordained minister, is making his first return to professional sports since he retired from boxing in 1997.

The team is currently in preparations for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis "500" -- which is set for this Sunday, by the way. The qualifiers are NASCAR driver John Andretti, who is making a one-race return to Indy-car racing, Kosuke Matsuura – 2004 Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis – and Vitor Meira, who finished second in the Indy 500 in 2005.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Do we get the Super Bowl in 2011?


It'll be in Dallas.

Do we get the Super Bowl in 2011?

Network Indiana/WIBC reports that the group presenting Indianapolis' bid to host the 2011 Super Bowl includes some heavy hitters and well-respected business leaders.

A decision is expected to be announced around 2 p.m. today, says Inside INdiana Business.

Hosting the event would cost the city up to $25 million, with the money to come from private sources. Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay has pledged $1 million toward the effort.

It is estimated that the Super Bowl would bring about 98,000 visitors to the Circle City and would have a $262 million economic impact. Indianapolis is competing against Dallas and Phoenix.

Indianapolis-Carmel is a metro area?

Worldwide ERC and Primacy Relocation have ranked Indianapolis-Carmel among the top five large metro areas to relocate for families, according to Inside INdiana Business.

The central Indiana area placed fourth for areas with a population of more than 1.25 million. Rankings were based on several factors, including cost of living, crime rates, education, recreation and leisure, arts and culture and population growth.

Full results of the survey are available this website, and will be published in Worldwide ERC's MOBILITY magazine this summer.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Longworth departs City Market

Nikki Longworth no longer is executive director of the Indianapolis City Market, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Her departure ends a sometimes-controversial six-year tenure.

A market employee confirmed the departure, reports the IBJ. Additional information was not immediately available.

The market is in the midst of a $1.8 million renovation that is running behind schedule.

Watch your government in action?

Many public meetings, including the City-County Council,are now available on the internet.

New technology allows programming on the city-county television stations, WCTY Channel 16 and Government TV2, to be available by live webcast, as well as through an archived video collection of public meeting broadcasts over the city's website.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Simons endow posts at Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that shopping mall developer Melvin Simon and his wife, Bren Simon, have given the Indianapolis Museum of Art $10 million to endow the director and CEO position.

The donation will be added to IMA's endowment of $367 million, but interest proceeds will fund salary and professional development expenses for the museum's head.

Though several large art museums have endowed directorships, the Simons' gift will be the largest ever given to underwrite the top position, according to the IMA.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

IPS publishes personal information on the web

In what appears to be one of the broadest online school security failures ever in the U.S., thousands of confidential Indianapolis Public Schools student records were available to the public through Google searches.

An Indianapolis Star reporter using Google found information on at least 7,500 students and some staff members, including phone numbers, birth dates, medical information and Social Security numbers.

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fountain Square offers free wireless!

Visitors to the Fountain Square Cultural District can check their e-mail while they’re having lunch and surf the Web while they’re having coffee — free. Fountain Square has become Indianapolis’s latest free eWireless Hotzone — and everyone with a wireless-enabled laptop computer is invited to give it a try.

The Wi-Fi project is being undertaken in three phases, and will eventually include the entire Fountain Square Cultural District and the Cultural Trail along Virginia Avenue from East Street to the Pioneer Fountain. Plans call for the entire project to be completed by the end of this coming June.

To create the free Wi-Fi zone, The Fountain Square Merchants Association and Fountain Square Main Street partnered with local wireless provider eWireless. The historic Fountain Square Theatre is providing the broadband connection and mounting one of the necessary antennae on the billboard atop the theatre building while eWireless is contributing installation and technical resources.

Equipment for the project is being purchased with a Technical Assistance
grant from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) through the Indianapolis FOCUS Program.

Fountain Square is an historic commercial and residential neighborhood located south east of downtown Indianapolis. The district blends retro and new art influences in its architecture and the unique collection of art galleries, independent restaurants, local retailers, antique shops and one-of-a-kind entertainment destinations. The Fountain Square Main Street Program, part of the Indianapolis FOCUS (Fostering Commercial Urban Strategies) Initiative, is a program of SEND. The Fountain Square Cultural District is part of the Indianapolis Cultural Districts Initiative, and SEND serves as the lead organization in Fountain Square.

eWireless is a locally owned and operated company, based in Indianapolis, specializing in Wireless Internet technology.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Agriculture is a $25 billion a year industry in Indiana

A new initiative will educate urban high school students about agriculture, reports Inside INdiana Business.

The Hoosier Agribusiness and Science Academy will educate students through apprentice projects and field trips to agricultural businesses about the thousands of high-tech, high-paying jobs that agriculture provides.

The first session is 1-21 June. Classes will be held at the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Lawrence. Activities will include field trips to Dow AgroSciences, Red Gold, and Fair Oaks Farm. Curriculum will cover animal, plant and soil science, food, horticulture, agribusiness management, landscaping, and natural resources.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

OK, so it's not local news, but postal rates go up Monday

On Monday (14 May) the price of first-class stamps rises to 41 cents from 39 cents.

But, that’s not all. To qualify as a letter-rate mailing at 41 cents for the first ounce (and 17 cents for each additional ounce), your letter must weigh no more than 3.5 ounces, have a maximum length of 11-1/2 inches, a maximum height of 6-1/8” and a maximum thickness of ¼”.

If your letter exceeds these dimensions, it will be classified and priced as a large flat envelope (which are 80 cents for the first ounce!).

Go here to read all about the new rates and fees.

Voting is the right of every American citizen

"...why not just move the entire country to the vote-by-mail system we use in my home state of Oregon? It's quick, it's convenient, it leaves a paper trail, and we have had no credible accusations of voter fraud since it was adopted during the 1990s -- and a stunning 86 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election."

Well, why not? It sure would solve the problems we had last Tuesday!

Here's the whole article by Garrett Epps in today's Salon: "Karl Rove's big election-fraud hoax"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Election Day Debacle

Fewer than 7% of eligible Marion County voters went to the polls yesterday.

There are no words to describe the chaos some of them encountered -- missing poll inspectors, incorrect ballots and voter rosters, locked equipment.....

This Indianapolis Observer, who worked in the polls for many years, does NOT think reducing the number of polling places is the answer.

There were no lines (at polling places where everything "worked") yesterday -- because fewer than 7% of eligible voters turned out.

When more than 50% vote -- such as during a presidential election -- lines can stretch out the door and around the building at polling places, and people have waited for an hour or more to cast their ballots. Poll workers are hard pressed to make sure those who have signed the roll actually wait around to cast their ballots.

Shrinking the number of polling places might work for a May primary, but that would guarantee chaos in November.

Better recruitment of inspectors and other poll workers is essential. The Democrats failed miserably here. (That said, the Republicans had years to build up their poll worker rosters.)

Another solution would be more voting by mail or having the polls open longer (6 a.m. to 6 p.m. is not efficient in a society with normal working hours that are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

The best and brightest need to put their heads together on this and come up with a solution before the 2008 presidential election!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New concertmaster for symphony

Zachary DePue, a 27-year-old member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will be the next concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

ISO officials told symphony musicians this morning that the 15-month search for a new first-chair first violinist had ended.

He will succeed Hidetaro Suzuki, who retired from the ISO in September 2005 after 27 years as concertmaster.

A native of Bowling Green, Ohio, DePue is a 2002 graduate of the Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. That year, he joined the Philadelphia Orchestra’s first violin section.

Source: The Indianapolis Star

Monday, May 7, 2007

Local gas prices near record

According to The Indianapolis Business Journal, gas prices are near record highs in Indianapolis. Prices jumped about 20 cents over the weekend, with many area stations charging $3.19 a gallon for regular unleaded. The record of $3.20 was set 3 Sept. 2005. Analysts say we could see prices near $4 this summer.

Friday, May 4, 2007

BAA "out" at Indianapolis International Airport

The Indianapolis Airport Authority says it will end its contract with BAA Limited over the management of the airport in December, one year before BAA's contract was to expire, according to Inside INdiana Business.

The Authority says BAA had notified it that it would not pursue a new or extended contract. BAA will begin a phased hand over of management to the Authority in the next couple of months. The Authority says about 460 BAA employees will be brought under its operations in July. The Authority says the early cancellation of the contract is expected to save the airport about $2.3 million.

L'Affaire Tobias means no IUPUI appearance

Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis says Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard will speak to students during commencement ceremonies on 13 May.

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias has withdrawn as commencement speaker for the IU School of Law in Indianapolis.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

L'Affaire Tobias, day 6

Gary Varvel's cartoon in today's Indianapolis Star.

From Varvel's blog:
Here's the scoop. We had a discussion in the office about this cartoon and we were split. When I drew it, I sketched but didn't ink in a box of "Cialis" between the brief case and the newspaper. Some felt it was unfair. Some thought it was fair game (since he worked for Lilly). Everyone thought it was funny. After all, it's not like everyone hasn't already thought of it. I am just providing the visual. Ultimately, I was a little uncomfortable with it so I left it out.

And, this also from today's Star:
"Fighting the urge to rub it in" by editorial columnist Dan Carpenter.

And this one from the Los Angeles Times, (thanks, Ruth):
"Washington sexual fantasy service 'madam' identifying clients: Service owner says her clients were "high in the echelons of power' and she wants their help in her legal defense".

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

L'Affaire Tobias redux

Two articles in today's Indianapolis Star:

"Tobias drawn further into sex scandal: Escort service owner may seek him as trial witness"


"Tobias faces long road to rehabbing a reputation"

There's a "sample" page of Deborah Jeanne Palfrey's phone records (dated August 1996) posted on Slate today.