April 28, 2016-A Memorandum of Understanding obtained exclusively by the Gazette shows that Karen Freeman-Wilson consultant Bo Kemp entered into an agreement to locate a private prison in Gary in 2015. According to the one page agreement entered into between the Gary Economic Development Corporation and GEO Group, GEO Group would pay $390,000 per year to the Gary Economic Development Corporation in return for locating the controversial facility in Gary, Indiana. The agreement is signed by Freeman-Wilson consultant Bo Kemp who is director of the Gary Economic Corporation and David Venturella, who is a vice-president of GEO Group. The Gary Economic Development Corporation is a 501(c)(3) corporation with very little accountability to the taxpayers of Gary. $290,000 of the fee paid to the Gary Economic Development Corporation would be a “public safety and service support impact fee.” It is unclear why that fee would not go to the City of Gary to pay for public safety.

The GEO Group has said the proposed 800 bed facility would bring 200 jobs to Gary. Opponents cite problems with the private detention industry. Additionally, the facility would be located near the Gary/Chicago International Airport and many questioned whether it would affect the ability to draw other business to the area. The GEO Group has since been denied a special use permit by the Gary Board of Zoning Appeals.

The memorandum was signed before knowledge of the plan to bring the detention center came to Gary became public but, presumably, is still valid. It is inconceivable that Freeman-Wilson confidant Bo Kemp would have signed the agreement without the Mayor’s blessing. Absent a subsequent written agreement, the legally binding Memorandum of Understanding would still remain valid today.

The public first learned of the detention center plan one day before the Mayor’s re-election, November 3, 2015. At that time, the newly re-elected Mayor stated she supported the plan. Facing strong public opposition, Mayor Freeman-Wilson cited religious convictions and reversed course saying she could no longer support the plan to bring the facility to Gary. The plan was brought up again in April 2016 and the Mayor largely remained silent on the issue despite her stated religious convictions against it. The City Council will hear the matter at its next regular meeting.

unmarked squad car

April 28, 2016-An unmarked Ford Explorer police vehicle was involved in a motor vehicle accident after 10:00 p.m. this evening. Emergency personnel transported at least one person from the scene but it is unknown if the officer was injured. A source on the scene stated it was a Munster Police Officer although the incident occurred at 175th and Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond.

This is a breaking story, additional details will be released as they become available.

unmarked squad car involved in motor vehicle accident

PLEASE SHARE: Officers seek help from the public in locating boy
missing michael camp

April 26, 2016-The Starke County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public in locating a missing boy. According to a release, 16 year old Michael Camp was last seen on his bicycle on Saturday April 23rd at approximately 1:00 p.m. The bicycle was located at the Knox Library on Sunday, but Michael is still missing. ” Michael is described as being 5’5″, 130 lbs, brown hair, and brown eyes, last seen wearing a Camo hat with TENNESSEE on it, black NIKE coat, blue jeans and blue tennis shoes” according to the statement. The Sheriff states that he believes that Michael may have been en route to Hammond.

Anyone with information on Michael’s whereabouts or who has seen him, please call the Starke County Sheriff’s Office @ (574)772-3771 or call 9-1-1.

April 26, 2016-Many of the region’s ideas come from The Times, whether in the form of editorial policy or news coverage. Through their affiliated organization, One Region, and their extremely close connection to republican lawmakers, they are able to push legislation in ways that the ordinary citizen cannot. So when they suggest taking away your vote, people should take notice.

In an editorial on Sunday, NWI Times Investigative Editor Marc Chase points out some of the ways in which politics have infected Judge George C. Paras’ courtroom. Among them, Chase points out that political power broker Jewell Harris, Jr. is a magistrate in Paras’ courtroom. Instead of looking at how magistrates are selected, The Times suggests that the Lake Circuit Judge should be appointed rather than elected. The process for appointment of judges has been plagued with its own special corruption since its inception. This isn’t the first time that The Times/One Region board has pushed for disenfranchising voters in judicial elections.

The Indiana Constitution provides that circuit court judges shall be elected. Our founders believed that an informed citizenry would choose the best candidate available. All counties in Indiana elected superior court judges until 1973. At that time, the Indiana Legislature stripped the right to vote for superior court judges from citizens in Lake County and placed the power in the hands of a judicial nominating commission. The judicial nominating commission has nine members-4 attorneys selected by attorneys, 4 non-attorneys selected by the Lake County Commissioners, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court our his designee.

Removing accountability from the citizenry should never be taken lightly. This is particularly true when we look at the history of the Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission. Four of the members of the Commission, those who will choose our judges, are appointed by the Lake County Commissioners. To suggest that somehow removes politics from the equation is ludicrous. Add to the mix that we have had at least one member of the Judicial Nominating Commission and several county commissioners who have gone to jail on federal corruption charges and there is a recipe for total chaos.

Even determining who is on the Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission is a herculean task. Last year, after reports from members of the Lake County bar that some appointments had not been properly made, the Gazette requested records relating to the selection of those who nominate our judges and we were shuffled back and forth between Lake Circuit Clerk Mike Brown, the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Secretary of State. We never obtained those records despite numerous requests. Right now, as I write this article, I have to tell you that I have no idea who is responsible for selecting superior court judges in Lake County.

In 1995, after continuing complaints that the judicial nominating commission was not selecting women and minority candidates, the legislature required that four of the appointees be men, four must be women and that one attorney and one non-attorney must be minorities. Two of the appointments by the Lake County Commissioners must be Democrat and two must be Republican. In 2014, after repeated complaints from St. John Attorney Joe Hero, Justice Rucker of the Indiana Supreme Court halted the judicial selection process because the Lake County Commissioners had not appointed a Republican male as required by law.

The Lake Circuit Court has long been plagued by a cloud of corruption and partisan politics. In 1988, the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission, the State body that is charged with overseeing qualifications of judges, “initiated formal proceedings to inquire into charges of misconduct against Lake Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo. He was accused of seven counts of misconduct involving the exchange of cash for favorable resolution of traffic charges.” (See In the Matter of the Honorable Lorenzo Arredondo, appended below). Lake Circuit Court Judge Arredondo, through his attorneys, responded that the statute of limitations had run on the charges and they were dismissed. In short, a sitting judge was accused of taking bribes and the case was dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run. We should emphasize that there was no judgment on the merits of the claims and that a bringing of charges is not evidence of guilt.

Paras himself was elected to the position under a cloud of political favoritism. Judge Arredondo had become a formidable figure in Lake County politics and most attorneys in Lake County were afraid to challenge him. Judge Arredondo and then Magistrate Paras are alleged to have seized on that power by conspiring to keep the retirement of Judge Arredondo a secret until the last day to file to run. The two reportedly traveled to Indianapolis together to file the paperwork for Paras to run for the office. The prevailing wisdom is that, had attorneys in Lake County known that Judge Arredondo was going to retire, there would have been more challengers for the position.

Politics and corruption creep into our judiciay not a result of apathy but as a result of a monopoly on the information that is disseminated in Lake County. Most citizens have a single venue from which to obtain the news related to County government and the multi-billion dollar shenanigans that take place. Intentional or not, that news is filtered by numerous constraints including limited resources and personal bias. Add to the mix Indiana’s weak public record laws, and you have a citizenry that becomes frustrated and apathetic when it comes to voting. i say we can do better, we can educate voters and we can make the system work. The naysayers suggest taking away your right to vote.

Please let us know what you think in the comments, we may use comments in an upcoming article. You may also e-mail comments, concerns, or letters to

See the Court’s full opinion In The Matter of the Honorable Lorenzo Arredondo here

hillary clinton

April 26, 2016-Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton will visit Munster Steel in Hammond today. The visit is planned for 1:45 p.m. at 1501 Heuhn Street in Hammond. The event, announced on the official Hillary Clinton Blog, mistakenly says the event is in Gary, Indiana. Clinton says she will “discuss her support for Indiana’s steel industry and pledge her support to hold China accountable for trade abuses, such as steel dumping.” China has come under criticism lately for “dumping” steel on the U.S. market in an attempt to cripple our industry. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “Dumping occurs when a foreign producer sells a product in the United States at a price that is below that producer’s sales price in the country of origin (“home market”), or at a price that is lower than the cost of production.”

Presidential candidates are taking an interest in Indiana for the first time in decades due to the hotly contested races. Because of Indiana’s late primary, Presidential races are often already decided by the time Hoosiers head to the polls. This year Indiana has been called a “must win” state on the Republican side and is important on the Democratic side as Bernie Sanders seeks to find a way to garner enough electoral votes to remain relevant.

The release did not contain information regarding how citizens could attend the rally. Presumably, security will be tight.

Here is the complete announcement:
Hillary Clinton to Campaign in Indiana on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 *Updated

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton to Campaign in Indiana on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 *Updated

On Tuesday, April 26, Hillary Clinton will campaign in Indiana ahead of the May 3 Democratic primary. With nearly one out of five jobs supported by manufacturing, Clinton will highlight her strategy to “Make it in America”

by supporting Indiana’s manufacturers and preventing foreign countries like China from abusing global trade rules.

In Gary, Clinton will tour Munster Steel Co. She will discuss her support for Indiana’s steel industry and pledge her support to hold China accountable for trade abuses, such as steel dumping.

In Mishawaka, she will tour the AM General plant. Following the tour, Clinton will deliver remarks to employees on her “Make it in America” plan.

Tour of Munster Steel Co.
WHEN: 1:45 PM CT
WHERE: Munster Steel located at 1501 Huehn Street, Hammond, IN 46327

Visit to AM General Plant
WHEN: 5:45 PM ET
WHERE: AM General Plant located at 12900 McKinley Highway in Mishawaka, IN 46545