Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ruth Lilly Dies

Ruth Lilly, 94, a philanthropist who was the last surviving great-grandchild of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly, died yesterday in Indianapolis.

The New York Times has the story here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sewer Payments Returned

From a press release submitted by Lindsae Gogulski of International Society of Primerus Law Firms in Grand Rapids, Mich.:

The outlook for the New Year just got a little brighter for 31 families in the Northern Estates subdivision located on the northwest side of Indianapolis. In the case of City of Indianapolis v. Christine Armour, decided on December 18, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that, due to a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the City of Indianapolis is required to pay back $8,968 to each of 30 households for a sewer assessment that they paid in 2005. An additional household will receive about half as much as a result of this decision. The City has also been ordered to pay interest and attorney’s fees to each of the homeowners.

In 2004, the City assessed each property owner $9,278 per parcel for a sanitary sewer project in the subdivision. The following year, the Indianapolis Board of Public Works decided to change the way it financed sewer projects and in doing so, adopted a policy which forgave 90% or more of the sewer assessments to the residents of Northern Estates who had elected to pay in installments over many years. However, the Board denied any forgiveness to those homeowners who had paid in one lump sum. As a result, the lump sum payers were out of pocket the full amount of $9,278 while many of their neighbors paid only $309 for exactly the same City service. In its opinion, the Court of Appeals concluded that this different treatment of similarly situated homeowners violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Court of Appeals found that the City did not have an adequate reason to justify its different treatment of lump sum and installment payers. The court affirmed an order entered in December 2008 by Judge John Hanley of the Marion Superior Court requiring the City to equalize the burden by refunding to the lump sum payers the same amount that had been forgiven from the installment payers.

The homeowners were represented by Ron Waicukauski and Davy Eaglesfield of the firm Price Waicukauski & Riley, LLC.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

IUPUI Commencement Set

Commencement ceremonies will be held at Indiana University-Purdue University 8 and 9 May 2010. For more details, email.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Countdown to Noon at The Children’s Museum

Now, this is the way to do it! Celebrate the New Year while you're still awake!

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 North Meridian Street, hosts a "Countdown to Noon" on New Year’s Eve, giving children and families an opportunity to participate in the excitement of the countdown to the New Year together. Activities in the museum's Sunburst Atrium from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday (31 December) include face painting, noisemakers, music and dancing. At noon, confetti cannons will herald the "Noon Year" and everybody'll join in the singing of "Auld Lang Syne", that most traditional of New Year's tunes.

As every Indy resident knows (or should know!), the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary family learning experiences that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. Wow!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why Ballard's Gonna Lose

"If anyone wonders why I and other Republicans are disgusted with Mayor Greg Ballard's performance in office, one need only look at the tax increases he pushed in 2008," writes Indy blogger Paul K. Ogden.

When even his fellow Republicans are jumping ship, what chance does the "accidental mayor" have in the next election? Sayonara!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Use for Defunct YMCA Property

The Center Township Advisory Board has picked Buckingham Companies to redevelop a 2-acre property the township owns at 860 West 10th Street near the Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis campus, reports Cory Schouten of Indianapolis Business Journal in "Property Lines".

The locally based developer plans to tear down the former YMCA branch and replace it with a $20.5-million mixed-use project featuring retail space, a fitness center and 210 apartment units.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ponzi Probe Ensnares Indiana Businessman

That's the headline on a page one story in the "Money & Investing" section of The Wall Street Journal today. "The federal investigation into Timothy S. Durham, who is also known for is extensive car collection and 30,000-square-foot mansion, is roiling Indiana politics, where Mr. Durham was a big contributor to Republican politicians, including Gov. Mitch Daniels," reporter David Kesmodel writes.

(And, just for chuckles, note that Durham was born in and grew up in Seymour, Ind. -- hometown of Johnny "Cougar" Mellencamp.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Housing Statistics Continue Upward Trend

Double-digit increases dominated the market in November, according to statistics released today by the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS®.

Both units sold and pended increased by 16 percent during the September to November 2009 period, when compared to the same period in 2008. Units sold and units pended also increased 6 and 9 percent, respectively, during the six-month period ending in November.

Total sales volume, average sale price and median sale price also increased during the three-month period. Total sales volume increased 19 percent to $950 million, while average and median sale price increased 2 and 4 percent, respectively.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Glazed America: The History of the Doughnut"

The doughnut isn't as simple as you'd think. In "Glazed America: The History of the Doughnut", Paul Mullins uses the baked good as a lens onto North American culture and society. Both a breakfast staple and a snack to eat any time of day or night, doughnuts cross lines of gender, class, and race like no other food item. Favorite doughnut shops that were once neighborhood institutions remain unchanged -- even as their surrounding neighborhoods have morphed into strip clubs, empty lots, and abandoned housing. Blending solid scholarship with humorous insights, Mullins offers a look into doughnut production, marketing, and consumption. He confronts head-on the question of why we often paint doughnuts in moral terms, and shows how the seemingly simple food reveals deep and complex social conflicts over body image and class structure.

His presentation takes place at 11:30 a.m. 11 February in the Faculty Club, University Place Conference Center, 900 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis. For information, contact Gail Williamson. Registration for the presentation is online.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Star Needs Good Copyeditors

Downsizing at The Indianapolis Star provides many chuckles, but today's snafu is golden. On the graphic accompanying the "Holiday Night Lights" feature on the front page of the Metro+State section, the interstate highways are mislabeled.

I-65 heading north is labeled I-74, I-74 heading west is labeled I-65, I-74 heading east is labeled I-65 and I-65 heading south isn't labeled at all.

Good job, guys! BTW, it's obvious the folks producing the paper don't really live in Indy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Well, It's Not Exactly Indianapolis

but, what the heck: Indy can claim John Mellencamp 'cause he grew up just down the road apiece in Seymour! In any case, his youngest son has a campaign to get his dad to stop smoking. And Mellencamp said he'd quit if 1,000,000 joined his Facebook page. What are you waiting for? Go here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cultural Trail on Track Toward Completion

Individuals, foundations and corporations have donated more than $1 million this year to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. To date, $43 million of the $55 million budget has been raised by both private and public funding for the eight-mile trail connecting downtown cultural districts and greenway trails. Details on donors are online.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Shrinking of the Merry Month of May

The month of May is getting shorter at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, reports Inside INdiana Business. IMS officials say activities leading to the 2010 Indianapolis 500 will be shortened by a week. Opening Day at the track will be 15 May 2010, with the race slated for 30 May 2010. Officials are also planning to condense Pole Day and Bump Day into the same weekend.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Indianapolis Catholic Schools Seek Charter Status

Two Roman Catholic schools in Indianapolis are applying to become mayor-sponsored charter schools, reports Inside INdiana Business. St. Andrew & St. Rita and St. Anthony are operated by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and are struggling financially. They are among six schools that operate within the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies, which has a combined annual budget shortfall of more than $2 million.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lilly Endowment to Help Upgrade Indy Parks

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded the Indianapolis Parks Foundation a grant of $7.3 million, reports Inside INdiana Business. The funds will be used for critically needed capital projects in parks that serve primarily low-income residents.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Patterson and Coffey Lose on Appeal

Two former editorial writers at Indiana’s largest newspaper failed to prove they were the victims of religious discrimination, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday (8 December), reports the Indianapolis Business Journal

James Patterson and Lisa M. Coffey claimed their former employer, The Indianapolis Star, engaged in systematic discrimination against “traditional Christians” who believe homosexual conduct is a sin. The Circuit Court affirmed summary judgment for the Star, finding the two failed to make cases of religious discrimination. In addition, the court ruled, neither former employee could prove they were meeting the Star’s legitimate performance expectations – Coffey repeatedly violated the overtime policy and Patterson continually made factual errors within his writing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kudos to Paul K. Ogden

Paul K. Ogden, an attorney with the Indianapolis law firm Roberts & Bishop announced today that a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of defendants who have appeared, or will appear, before the Marion County Traffic Court and Traffic Violations Court.

In the Complaint, three identified plaintiffs, Toshinao Ishii, Matthew Stone, and Adam Lenkowsky, allege that the courts violate the United States and Indiana Constitutions by punishing defendants who choose to have their day in court rather than simply pay the traffic or parking ticket they receive.

The Complaint alleges that Judge William E. Young of the Marion County Traffic Court fines defendants up to an additional $500 if they litigate their case and lose.

The Traffic Court website, according to lawsuit, threatens $10,000 fines. The complaint also cites a press release that City intends to authorize the new Parking Violations Court to fine defendants up to $2,500 if they challenge their parking tickets.

The lawsuit also notes that the Traffic Court’s additional practice of closing its courtroom to the public is unconstitutional.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

$2,500 for a Parking Ticket?

"On December 1st, the City of Indianapolis will pilot a parking citation court in an effort to improve the way the city collects revenue from parking citations," reads the press release from the mayor's office.

And, just what is this way to "improve" collection? "If citations are not paid prior to their scheduled hearing, the City may request a fine of up to $2,500 per citation. Upon receiving a judgment for an unpaid citation, individuals responsible could be subject to collections actions or having their vehicle registration suspended."

Hearings, of course, are inconveniently scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Guardian Home,5751 University Avenue, Indianapolis. Gee, thanks, Mayor Ballard! This Indianapolis Observer is in shock!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Next Shoe: Brizzi?

"For the sake of the integrity of our criminal justice system in this county, Carl Brizzi needs to resign his office immediately. Brizzi is knee deep in the Durham Ponzi scheme madness. He's not just a friend as he would like to describe him. He is a business partner and beneficiary of the largesse Durham acquired through his alleged Ponzi scheme." Thus writes Advance Indiana today.

Blogger Paul K. Ogden also chimed in, with "serious doubts that the apparent income of Prosecutor Brizzi can be explained without his being knee-deep in the Durham mess. Additionally, I have to wonder about whether the Internal Revenue Service may be paying a visit to Brizzi sometime in the near future."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ToxDrop Reopens on Lafayette Road

The ToxDrop Trader’s Point Collection Facility, 7550 North Lafayette Road, Indianapolis, will resume its usual hours of operation on the first and third Saturday of each month, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Upcoming dates are 5 and 19 December. For a list of accepted materials and additional collection sites, go online.