The Carrier plant in Indianapolis laid off 215 of its employees Thursday in a cost-cutting move. The Indiana-based heating and air-conditioning plant’s latest round of lay-offs comes after already sending 600 jobs from the Indianapolis plant to Carrier’s facilities in Monterrey Mexico this past year.
The job cuts come one year after a highly publicized visit by then president-elect Donald Trump claiming to have negotiated a deal between Carrier’s parent company United Technologies, and the state of Indiana to save the plant from closing. The deal included 7 million dollars in tax incentives for the company to remain in business in Indiana.
Addressing a crowd of supporters and employees at the Carrier plant last December Trump promised, “Companies are not going to be leaving the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen.” The President even made the claim of adding jobs to the plant, “And by the way, that number is going to go up substantially as they expand this area, this plant. So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number”.
Trump’s speech at Carrier plant in Indianapolis Indiana December 2016
Last November the Rexnord Corporation, members of the same labor union as Carrier, closed down its nearby Indianapolis plant costing 300 workers their jobs. This year United Technologies also has plans to close their UTEC facility in Huntington Indiana, costing the state another 700 jobs. Around 60 former Carrier employees have enrolled in a company sponsored educational reimbursement program to earn a academic degree.
The state of Indiana is finding itself in the cross hairs of a lawsuit filed by a former inmate, Keith Cooper. The lawsuit is for the time he spent in prison, and he has a good chance considering he is the first person in Indiana’s history who has ever been pardoned for being innocent.
Cooper was convicted of armed robbery which caused him to spend a decade in prison. Cooper is now fifty years old, and living as a free man. His case came into the spotlight when Vice President Mike Pence, who was then serving as the governor of Indiana, received Coopers file with unanimous recommendations from the state parole board for exoneration and still declined to issue a pardon for Cooper.
Following Trumps win and Pence’s move to the White House, his predecessor, Eric Holcomb, quickly granted Cooper’s pardon which made him the very first man in the history of the state of Indiana to be pardoned for innocents. Cooper invested a lot of time in this pardon, six years of waiting for the pardon from the parole board followed by three years of waiting for the governor’s office to act on said pardon.
Now that Cooper is a free man, he has filed a complaint against the City of Elkhart, Indiana as well as the local police department stating that they manufactured and create evidence against him to create his guilt. Cooper was convicted of a 1996 robbery where one man was shot. Twelve years after the incident, in 2008, two key witnesses in the original trial, Michael Kershner and his mother Nona Canell, both gave statements that were recorded stating they had misidentified Cooper in the crime. Canell even stated that during the investigation she had even requested to see a suspect lineup but the Steve Rezutka, the lead detective on the case, told her there was no need because they had the right man. In 2006 DNA evidence even put another man at the scene, and the state court judge who had originally sentence Cooper offered him a deal for resentencing him for time served. Cooper was freed at that time but was still a convicted felon.
Five years later, Cooper filed a petition to have the crime he did not commit expunged from his record. After three years, the state parole board finally voted unanimously that Cooper be pardoned and sent the recommendation to Governor Mike Pence. Pence then did not act on the pardon for two years. In the summer of 2016, while Pence was campaigning with Trump for the Presidency, he had a letter sent to Cooper stating that to his knowledge, Cooper had not filed a petition with the Elkhart County court to determine weather post-conviction relief was available, the letter also stated that Pence would not be acting on the pardon.
Cooper spent years fighting to regain his good name, and it was well worth the effort because he has now restored his reputation. His lawsuit is pending, and while it does not name the governor in it, it does specifically name Rezutko, the investigator in the robbery, for maliciously prosecuting Cooper with false evidence. Cooper states that due to all this, he now suffers from depression as well as PTSD. If you would like to have a more detailed run down of the case, head to Buzzfeed.
In the Unites States, states are divided into counties and most counties are divided up into still smaller units of government called townships. These sub-governmental units handle mundane issues that are extremely local, such as maintenance of small dirt roads, ditching issues, hosting elections, trash collection and other basic needs of life.
But in the state of Indiana, the long-standing tradition of government by township has run into problems. More and more, incidents of corruption by local township officers have increased. For example, a trustee in Knight Township of Indiana’s Vanderburgh County allegedly misappropriated $70,000.
The temptation to misuse funds is great at the township level because oversight is not rigorous. Government at the county level undergos regular audits by the state, but many townships do not have their books audited by a third-party authority. That makes it too easy to “cook the books” if a township official is so tempted.
So now state lawmakers in Indiana have proposed the consolidation of 300 of its 1,005 townships. That means there will be a lot fewer of them to monitor, and larger township bodies will likely undergo greater scrutiny, such as annual audits.
The Indiana Legislature is expected to take up the issue during its 2018 calendar.
Although it may cause some controversy at the local level, there is likely to be little opposition from ordinary citizens. State-level officials hope better management at the township level will make for an more efficient and accountable Indiana government overall.