Thursday, May 18, 2017
What: One Region Chamber Reception
Host: One Region
When: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. CDT; a conversation with the governor at 3:40 p.m.
Where: South Shore Performing Arts Center
1040 Ridge Road
Munster, IN 46321
*Media are welcome.
May 19, 2017-According to Stephanie Wilson of Governor Eric Holcomb’s office, local media were invited to the Governor’s event yesterday at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster. Ms. Wilson made it clear that it was not the Office of Governor Eric Holcomb who excluded local media from the event. A calender event said “media are welcome” at the event. The Gazette reached out to One Region President and CEO Leah Konrady prior to the event to ensure that we would be allowed admission. Despite repeatedly downplaying the close association between The Times of Northwest Indiana and the not-for-profit, government funded, One Region cabal, Konrady did not even provide the courtesy of a return telephone call. When Gazette contributor Tom Davis arrived at the meeting he was told he “was not on the list.” I arrived at the event just after 4:00 p.m. and was denied admission as well. I spoke with a woman named Laura White at the front desk, she explained that only those on a list which she held in her hand were to be allowed admission to the event. A Munster Police Officer stood watch.
We spoke on air today with Jeffrey Smith of WLTH radio. Jeffrey confirmed that WLTH did not receive an invite to the event. The City of Gary is paying the lion’s share of the RDA tab for the West Lake Extension to Munster having committed $300,000 per year from local CEDIT money which is in addition to the $3.5M per year in Gary Casino revenue which the State of Indiana has taken from Gary for the project. The total commitment by the City of Gary to the project is expected to top $115M. The Town of Munster has agreed to contribute 34% of annual CEDIT funds to the West Lake Project. In 2016, that amounted to just over $310,000.
The event was held at the Munster Center for Visual and Performing Arts, a tax exempt property which is owned by CVPA Holding Corporation, a subsidiary of Community Foundation according to IRS Documents*. Community Foundation CEO Donald P. Fesko is also the Chair of the failed Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. As the Governor’s Appointment and Chair, Dr. Fesko has veto authority over any action taken by the un-elected board. Community Foundation is also sole owner of Community Resources, LLC, a for profit corporation that owns much of the undeveloped land near the West Lake Munster south station. That land is taxed at a nominal amount through a loophole in Indiana law called a developer’s discount.
Subsequent to the event, we called and e-mailed Leah Konrady seeking the procedures that were utilized for selecting media to attend the event. We did not receive a reply.
We hope to have much more on One Region soon.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the Center for Visual and Performing Arts was owned by Community Foundation. Title to the Center is held in the name of CVPA Holding Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Munster Community Foundation according to IRS Documents available at Pro Publica’s nonprofit explorer We apologize for the error.