From Dysfunction to Distemper: IDEM Meeting Starts off Bad and Gets Much Worse


Indiana Department of Environmental Management scheduled a public meeting regarding project closely associated with State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon at McBride USW Hall but residents were threatened with arrest by Gary Police.

Gary Plan Commission President Russell Cundiff launched into a barely coherent tirade against Steel City Academy last night. Photo by Samuel Love.


May 11, 2018-An attempt to hold a public meeting regarding a public hearing involving a proposed waste treatment facility in Gary turned from dysfunctional to disastrous last night. Maya Energy, which is partially owned by Matt Reardon according to documents filed with the State, is proposing a solid waste treatment facility on property owned by the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission in Gary. Representatives from Steel City Academy say they knew nothing about the project until earlier this year, despite requirements to notice adjacent property owners at numerous stages of the proceeding. Students and staff of Steel City, residents of Gary, Munster, East Chicago and other communities showed up at McBride Hall in order to voice their opinions regarding the project based on the Notice issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Upon arrival, residents were greeted by locked doors according to numerous residents and activists. “We were originally told we would not be allowed in the building until 6:00 p.m.” according to Munster resident Rosalynn Jovanovich. “Everyone was orderly” stated Pam Eanes, who ran against State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon in the primary. “IDEM was there and they were waiting outside like the rest of us. The next thing you know, the police are there and they are saying we have to leave” Eanes explained. “Represenatatives from Steel City then suggested we have the meeting at Steel City [Academy].”

The meeting was fine according to attendees until Maya Energy Attorney Gerald Bishop left. Shortly after Bishop left the meeting, Gary Plan Commission President Russell Cundiff entered the meeting followed shortly thereafter by Maya Energy President and CEO Jimmy Ventura. Cundiff entered the room in a violent and angry manner and began verbally attacking the school. Several attendees felt unsafe as Cundiff screamed loudly with a clenched fist as he was surrounded by school personnel. As you can see in the video below, Cundiff screams “You shouldn’t even be here . . .this [Maya] facility is one of the reasons we denied your permit” referring to the school’s location on 35th Avenue. The Gary Plan Commission originally denied Steel City Academy’s Petition to locate on the premises despite the fact that ARC Bridges operated an educational facility at the location for years  prior to Steel City.

One has to wonder. . .why does a Plan Commission President have such a vitriolic response to the school nearly two years after the school opened? How did the Plan Commission member know about the Maya Energy project long before anyone else and what did he know? Who called Cundiff and told him that the meeting was at Steel City Academy? Perhaps someone could get some answers to those questions.

IDEM did not respond to request for comment regarding how and why residents were not allowed into the meeting.

Video courtesy of Andrea Armenth Arevalo:



  1. Thank you for posting that video…it shows how the school is totally in the wrong they tried to lie and say he was yelling to shut him up from telling the truth…it looks like the school city bypass the Gary planning commission…the school is illegally opened…thank again

    • Thank you for reading Danny. Just FYI, the school went to the plan commission with a request to allow them to expand the building. They were denied that right by this man and he admits that here. They did not expand, they occupied the existing building legally.

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