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BusINess » Government

Archives for the ‘Government’ Category

LaHood: Rail means jobs

Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, listens to U.S. Rep., Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., talk to media Thursday after the Rail Delivers Jobs summit at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, listens to U.S. Rep., Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., talk to media Thursday after the Rail Delivers Jobs summit at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made an impassioned pitch Thursday to 300 Northwest Indiana business leaders to become partners with the Obama administration when it comes to high-speed rail.

“If Indiana gets its act together, you could be a dominant player in this plan in this region of the country,” LaHood told them at a Rail Delivers Jobs summit in Chesterton.

Getting the five-year reauthorization of the federal transportation bill passed by Congress, with the Obama administration’s $53 billion request for high-speed rail intact, will be key to getting the job done, LaHood said.
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Million dollar storm

Snow melts last week in the Walmart parking lot in Highland. Warming temperatures helped gradually melt the 20 inches dumped on the region at the beginning of the month. (Photograph by Jonathan Miano/The Times.)

Snow melts last week in the Walmart parking lot in Highland. Warming temperatures helped gradually melt the 20 inches dumped on the region at the beginning of the month. (Photograph by Jonathan Miano/The Times.)

Two weeks after the Blizzard of 2011, many communities were just finishing cleaning up, with a little help from higher temperatures that caused most of the snow to melt gradually, preventing flooding.

Lake and Porter counties were hit with more than 20 inches of snow, high winds and bitter cold over several days starting Feb. 1. The estimated cleanup tab is at least $1,334,249.
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Steelworkers urge lawmakers to defeat bills limiting unions

Hundreds of steelworkers, who packed the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday to ask legislators to vote down several so-called right-to-work proposals, gather for a group picture. (Photograph by AJ Mast/The Times.)

Hundreds of steelworkers, who packed the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday to ask legislators to vote down several so-called right-to-work proposals, gather for a group picture.
(Photograph by AJ Mast/The Times.)

More than 600 steelworkers packed the marble halls of the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday asking legislators to vote down several so-called right-to-work proposals.

“We realize it’s a Republican-controlled House and Senate, but we’re hoping enough Republicans see the light and stop this,” said Jim Furan, of LaPorte, a heater at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant.

At least five different proposals pending in legislative committees would take away some collective bargaining rights from union workers or prohibit non-union employees from having to contribute a fair share toward union-represented services.

“Eventually, you won’t have a union to fight for your benefit packages,” said Calvin Caldwell, of Valparaiso, a mechanic at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant.

Pete Trinidad, of Portage, vice president of United Steel Workers Local 6787, said that’s exactly what Republicans want.

“They are just freewheeling attacking labor, which was a big problem for them in the last election,” Trinidad said.

But labor clearly is not giving up without a fight.

Trinidad said Tuesday was steel’s biggest lobbying day at the Statehouse in years, and steelworkers wearing blue USW ballcaps were easily spotted throughout the rotunda, hallways and galleries of the Statehouse.
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‘Land baron’ takes on Lake County’s tax system

This abandoned industrial building at 2800 E. Dunes Highway in Gary is one of approximately $10 million in properties that Andrew L. Young, an Illinois investor, owns in Gary and surrounding areas. (Photograph by Dan Shelton/The Times.)

This abandoned industrial building at 2800 E. Dunes Highway in Gary is one of approximately $10 million in properties that Andrew L. Young, an Illinois investor, owns in Gary and surrounding areas. (Photograph by Dan Shelton/The Times.)

Most Northwest Indiana residents line up and pay their taxes annually without a whimper.

The few thousand who put up a fight must play by the taxing authority’s rules—troop to its office, fill out its paperwork and plead their case to its hearing officers.

Not Andrew L. Young.
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Odds bad for land-based Gary casino

Gary’s hopes for a land-based casino may have been dashed Thursday, one month into a four-month legislative session.

Speaking with reporters, Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he is not likely to allow a committee hearing on Senate Bill 41, permitting a Gary inland casino, until Majestic Star comes out of bankruptcy.

“Right now, I just don’t think we’re ready to deal with a land-based casino in Gary because I don’t really think we have a final answer as to who the owners are and what they really want,” Long said.
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Wal-Mart, Michelle Obama announce effort to make, sell healthier foods

Wal-Mart President and CEO Bill Simon looks on as First lady Michelle Obama takes part in Wal-Mart's announcement of a comprehensive effort to provide healthier and more affordable food choices to their customers, Thursday in Washington. (Photograph by Cliff Owen/Associated Press.)

Wal-Mart President and CEO Bill Simon looks on as First lady Michelle Obama takes part in Wal-Mart's announcement of a comprehensive effort to provide healthier and more affordable food choices to their customers, Thursday in Washington.
(Photograph by Cliff Owen/Associated Press.)

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer, says it will reformulate thousands of products to make them healthier and push its suppliers to do the same, joining first lady Michelle Obama’s effort to combat childhood obesity.

The first lady accompanied Wal-Mart executives Thursday as they announced the effort in Washington. The company plans to reduce sodium and added sugars in some items, build stores in poor areas that don’t already have grocery stores, reduce prices on produce and develop a logo for healthier items.
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IRS changes may not mean a taxing time

Tax preparer Dorothy Colvin organizes receipts at Precise Accounting and Tax Service in Hammond. Recent changes in the tax law have delaying the filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Tax preparer Dorothy Colvin organizes receipts at Precise Accounting and Tax Service in Hammond. Recent changes in the tax law have delaying the filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions. (Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks/The Times.)

Recent changes in the tax law delaying filing of individual tax returns with itemized deductions are affecting local tax preparation services as well as their clients.

CPA Robert Clausing, of the Lansing accounting firm of Robert Clausing & Associates, said the delay would be at best, “an inconvenience.”

“We will obviously not be able to file the returns as early as we like,” Clausing said. “We’ll have to hold on to the forms until the government programs are ready to handle them for electronic filing.”
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Indiana regulator, NiSource director planned day at the races

The field breaks from the starting gate in the first race on Keeneland's opening day of the fall meet in 2006, in Lexington, Ky. This August, a day after Indiana's top utility regulator approved an order authorizing NIPSCO to hike electric rates, a director of the utility's parent company sent a thankful e-mail inviting him to take in thoroughbred farms and the races in Kentucky Bluegrass country. (Photograph by Ed Reinke, file/The Associated Press.)

The field breaks from the starting gate in the first race on Keeneland's opening day of the fall meet in 2006, in Lexington, Ky. This August, a day after Indiana's top utility regulator approved an order authorizing NIPSCO to hike electric rates, a director of the utility's parent company sent a thankful e-mail inviting him to take in thoroughbred farms and the races in Kentucky Bluegrass country. (Photograph by Ed Reinke, file/The Associated Press.)

A day after Indiana’s top utility regulator approved an order authorizing NIPSCO to hike electric rates, a director of the utility’s parent company sent a thankful e-mail inviting him to take in thoroughbred farms and the races in Kentucky Bluegrass country.

In the next two weeks, the invitation was firmed up with offers of a stretch limo, a racetrack suite and dinner at an exclusive Lexington restaurant for then-Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Chairman David Lott Hardy and his wife.
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Clay says he’s right man for the job

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay announces his plan to run for re-election at Gary City Hall on Thursday. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay announces his plan to run for re-election at Gary City Hall on Thursday. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

Rudy Clay will ask Gary voters to give him another term as their mayor.

Clay made the announcement at a Thursday morning news conference in a meeting room adjacent to the mayor’s office at City Hall.

“I work 24/7 to make Gary a better city,” Clay said. “That renders me the best qualified person to bring jobs, hope and quality of life (to Gary). . . . We are prepared, we are experienced, we are proficient, and we are ready.”
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Local building unions make a play for PLAs with municipalities, developers

A Northwest Indiana group representing unionized building and construction trade workers has a New Year’s resolution to secure more job commitments for its members.

The Northwestern Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council will ramp up its lobbying of municipal officials and even private developers to establish project labor agreements. With construction forecasts showing stagnant activity in the new year and declining union ranks, the labor movement is attempting to gather as much work as it can to tackle significant unemployment.
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