DES MOINES, Iowa (WISH) — Former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will join an already-crowded Republican field when he launches his bid for the nation’s highest office Wednesday.
Pence will make his opening pitch to voters in Des Moines, underscoring his stated intention of visiting all 99 counties in the state that has long opened the presidential primary season. Campaign officials said he will meet with supporters before he speaks at the midday gathering.
Pence will become at least the 10th major Republican presidential candidate to declare for the party’s nomination. The field already includes Pence’s old boss, former President Donald Trump, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will launch his own bid on the same day as Pence.
Pence will face an uphill climb not shared by his opponents. Although a close ally of Trump throughout his time as vice president, Pence became a target for the wrath of the 45th president and his supporters after he refused to comply with Trump’s demand that he overturn the results of the 2020 election.
On Sunday’s episode of “All INdiana Politics,” Republican strategist Mario Massillamany said he didn’t have high hopes for Pence’s campaign for that reason.
Pence’s older brother, U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, was more upbeat in an interview for “All INdiana Politics” in May. The congressman said Mike Pence would bring the party back to its traditional Christian, fiscally conservative values. He said Republican voters are ready to move on and find new leaders.
“I would love to see him debate former President Trump,” Rep. Pence said. “He’s a world-class debater.”
Former Vice President Pence will make his announcement at 1 p.m. Eastern. It will air live on WISH-TV, WISHTV.com and the WISH-TV app.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A firearm lawyer on Monday said a proposed gun ordinance could run afoul of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
The City-County Council on Monday night will introduce an ordinance that would ban any new sales of military-style rifles in the city, prohibit permitless carry, and raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21.
A provision in the ordinance would put it into effect only if state lawmakers repeal Indiana’s preemption law, which specifically prohibits cities from enacting such bans.
Mayor Joe Hogsett told News 8 he’s trying to show state lawmakers what city leaders want the legislature to allow them to do. He says Indianapolis’ population density means it faces crime problems other parts of the state lack.
“We think that getting these ordinances in place puts us in a good position to ask the General Assembly to either exempt or eliminate preemption,” he said. “Our message ought to be heard.”
The prospects for a repeal of the preemption law are dim at best. The General Assembly currently has Republican supermajorities in both chambers. Those supermajorities pushed through a permitless concealed carry law last year.
Marc Halata, a defense lawyer who specializes in firearm cases, says he’s not aware of any effort to repeal the law.
“Judging by the fact that (the ordinance) probably has no actual legal teeth to it unless the state repeals the 2011 Indiana Firearms Preemption Act, I would say that this is more of a political statement,” he said. “Maybe, you know, pandering to (Hogsett’s) constituency.”
Halata says that even if the preemption law was repealed, current case law could block it. He pointed to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last year in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case, in which the court held New York’s requirement that a concealed-carry permit applicant shows proper cause for applying for one was unconstitutional.
Halata says similar logic could be brought to bear on any municipality that tried to enact stricter gun laws.
Council Minority Leader Brian Mowery in a statement calls Hogsett’s proposal a political stunt.
“These measures, which are ‘enforceable only upon the removal or repeal of state or federal law’ represents another iteration of unserious policy proposals from the 25th floor,” he said. “City leadership should focus on addressing the root causes of crime in Marion County.”
Hogsett said he isn’t asking that the preemption be lifted for every other city in Indiana.
“We hold out hope that the General Assembly and those legislators from outside the city recognize and appreciate the unique challenge Indianapolis has,” he said.
The ordinance could get a committee hearing as early as this Friday. Officials with the mayor’s office said they plan for the council to bring it up for a final vote at its July meeting.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Every Tuesday, Dr. Lindsay Weaver trades her desk at the Indiana State Department of Health for the emergency room at IU Health Methodist.
During her shift, Weaver said she will treat everyone from gunshot wound victims to pregnant women.
“It’s easier to work in the ER than it is to do public health because there’s one person in front of you,” she said.
Weaver says working in an emergency room is one of the best ways to see where the gaps are in Indiana’s health care system because she sees so many patients with so many different needs. People who come into the ER often aren’t aware of the different public health resources available to them or don’t have a way to access them. She says the way to get around this is to talk to the patient about their individual needs and then find a way to connect them with all of the services they need at once.
For example, a new mother might get help with safe sleep environments, car seat setup and food access all in one visit. She said her goal as state health commissioner will be to ensure public health departments can serve as one-stop shops for everyone’s needs.
Weaver became the state health commissioner on June 1 after three years as the department’s chief medical officer. She succeeds the retiring Dr. Kris Box. Weaver’s early tenure was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, which began right as she assumed her previous post. In an interview with News 8 for All INdiana Politics, she said the pandemic showed the importance of collaboration across state and local agencies and the ripple effects health has on all aspects of life in the state. Prior to the pandemic, she said local health departments had little opportunity to share ideas. That has changed, and Weaver says she wants to build on that in her new role.
“Health really matters to all of us, including the economics of the state,” she said. “Thinking about health on top of that is really, really important.”
This spring, lawmakers approved legislation to provide additional funding to county health departments if they agree to provide a uniform set of services, ranging from immunizations and disease control, to health inspections and support for new mothers. Weaver said health officials are already working on ways to implement the law, which becomes effective July 1. She said local health departments are sharing ideas of how to measure success.
The Holcomb Administration drew criticism from small-government conservatives during the pandemic for mask mandates and the March 2020 stay-home order. When asked how she plans to repair trust in public health, Weaver said the pandemic was the first time many people truly saw what public health was about.
“Everybody was trying to do the best that they absolutely could to save as many lives as possible, to protect as many people, and I think it’s reminding people that that is really what public health is about,” she said. “We’re here to make sure that we can all live the absolute best lives that we can, and that often comes with recommendations, services, and things that we often take for granted.”
Weaver said she would like to focus on preventing obesity in particular. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Indiana had the 15th highest adult obesity rate in 2018. Weaver said helping people find healthy food options can help prevent a host of chronic conditions.
All INdiana airs at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on WISH-TV.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nicole Green sees food insecurity in her customers’ lives every day.
There’s the elderly woman who lives across the street and comes to pick up fresh eggs every week because she doesn’t have a car. There’s the woman who has her groceries delivered every week.
“Most of the people that come, come from close by. They walk, they catch the bus,” she said. “I’d say at least half are walkers.”
Green is the manager at Cleo’s Bodega, a small grocery store owned and operated by Flanner House. It opened at the corner of 24th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street in 2019. She said the store is the only place for 10 or 15 miles in any direction where customers can buy fresh produce.
Much of the area to the north and west of IU Health Methodist Hospital is marked as a food desert in the USDA’s Food Atlas. The USDA defines a food desert as any census tract in which at least 100 households are located at least half a mile from the nearest grocery store and lack vehicle access, or in which at least 500 people or 33 percent of the population live more than 20 miles from the nearest supermarket, regardless of vehicle availability.
Plans announced for the IU Health District earlier this year include a food production facility located in the area to serve at-risk people and neighborhoods. Mixed-use development that could host small grocery stores factors in as well. Green and Flanner House CEO Brandon Cosby said opening a grocery store is not as easy as it sounds. Grocery store profit margins are small, especially if a store is going to sell fresh produce at a price point people in low-income neighborhoods can afford, and startup costs are high. They said Cleo’s Bodega can support itself now but it needed a community development block grant to help get off the ground. Moreover, any new stores need to consistently market themselves to the community.
“People have the habits and the routines of shopping where they shop,” Cosby said. “Just because a new retail outlet opens up that’s closer and may even be as financially competitive or even more affordable, habits of shoppers are very difficult to interrupt.”
Green said people who live nearby still tell her they had no idea the store existed. She said she’s expanding the store’s use of direct mail advertising to reach the community. She’s also passing out ads in neighborhoods and churches.
Perhaps most importantly, Cosby said any effort to bring a grocery store to a food desert needs the full involvement of the people who live there.
“If you haven’t done any of the real, authentic engagement to really take into consideration the hopes, the dreams, the needs, and the desires and aspirations of the residents, that’s not something you’re doing for the community, that’s something you’re doing to the community,” he said.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Even 17 years after Staff Sgt. Richard Blakley’s death, his mother and stepfather said the loss still hurts.
Blakley had served in the Indiana Army National Guard for 17 years when he was killed in Iraq by an enemy sniper on June 6, 2006. A medic, he had just been wounded that January and refused to be rotated home due to the urgent need for medics. His stepfather, Don Shauwecker, said Blakley had planned to go to nursing school at Fort Sam Houston.
“He was doing what he loved and he was killed doing what he loved to do,” Shauwecker said. “We’re thankful for that.”
Don, along with Blakley’s mother, Janice, were among a group that gathered at Crown Hill National Cemetery for a Monday morning Memorial Day service. The service was held in a new annex to the national cemetery that opened last July just off 42nd Street. The service included remarks by Michael Stephens, the director of the Indianapolis regional office of the VA Benefits Administration. Stephens said he was named after an uncle who was killed in Vietnam a few months before he was born.
“For a Gold Star family, pretty much every day is Memorial Day,” he said. “So it’s been very special for my family and for me as I grew up.”
Stephens said the best way to honor the nation’s fallen is to remember their sacrifice every day, not just on one day every year. Shauwecker echoed those comments. He said families react to a service member’s death in any number of ways. Some are torn apart or want nothing further to do with the military. Others draw closer than ever to the military community. Some need more privacy than others. Shauwecker said remembering the names and stories of the fallen is what families like his most want people to do on Memorial Day and throughout the year.
“They’re never really gone until they’re forgotten,” he said. “So please don’t forget them.”
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Track neighbors young and old on Friday said they love the sight of people coming to town from around the world to watch the race.
At his home near Speedway Drive, Johnny Bland put fresh mulch in his planting beds and trimmed bushes. He lives with his wife and young son in a home he bought three years ago. He said he still remembers the thrill of seeing the crowds arrive for Race Day that first year.
“We’re only about a 10-minute walk but it’s still neat to see people park down here on your street to make that trip down to the track,” he said.
Bland said his home has become the focal point for family gatherings throughout the year. He said his family and friends love getting to hear the noise from testing and practice sessions.
A few blocks from Bland’s house, John Riczo and his daughter, Regina, finished hanging up their banners and posted the American flag. Riczo said he moved to the neighborhood near the speedway 50 years ago. He said the parking situation has gotten a little easier for the locals since parking spaces were installed along Main Street some years ago. He said he looks forward to seeing the race fans every year.
Riczo says they’re always cordial.
“If you don’t enjoy the crowd or the noise or the track, you should have never moved here in the first place,” he chuckled.
The speedway has always been part of Gloria Snyder’s life. Now in her eighties, she was born and raised in Speedway and has lived within a mile of the track almost her entire life. Like Bland, Snyder’s home has become a place for the whole family to gather for a cookout after every race. She said sometimes it’s easy for people who live near the track to take it for granted. When she travels and tells people where she’s from, she said people are always stunned.
“I don’t have a special word for it. It’s just a good time and it’s something that happens once a year and I would miss it,” Snyder said.
COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — A young woman who lives near the scene of Tuesday night’s shooting said the fact that it involved people her age scares her the most.
Americas Hankins on Wednesday said she and her mother heard the sirens when police responded to the scene. Their home sits just a few hundred yards from the site. She said she saw paramedics load one of the victims onto a helicopter for a flight to an Indianapolis hospital.
Four people were shot at a basketball court at Lincoln Park just before 7:40 p.m. Tuesday. Three of them were taken to Indianapolis hospitals due to the severity of their injuries. The fourth was taken to a Columbus-area hospital. Police described two of the victims as juveniles and two more as young adults. Authorities have not released any updates on their condition.
Hankins, who recently turned 18 and will graduate from high school this weekend, said she immediately wondered whether there would be any empty seats at her graduation when she learned the victims’ ages.
“My graduation is a big thing for me and I would hate for that to happen to somebody else, and then thinking about what the parents would be going through this close to graduation,” she said. “I know my mom would be devastated if something happened to me this close.”
Chuck Kirtman said he spends his lunch break at the park every day and sees children playing ball games all the time. He said Lincoln Park plays a big role in the community, particularly for youth sports.
“I don’t think it’s an unsafe area at all, but we’ve had a couple of these incidents here recently that kind of makes you wonder what’s going on around here,” he said.
Kirtman said he doesn’t plan to change his use of the park, though he added he doesn’t go there after dark.
Police arrested 18-year-old Alexander Parker and 18-year-old Edmarius Oats in connection with the shooting. Both face charges of aggravated battery and criminal recklessness with a weapon and Parker faces an additional charge of assisting a criminal.
Hankins said she and her family spent Wednesday inside out of caution and to process what they saw last night. She said police did a good job of responding to the shooting and the incident doesn’t change her overall perception of her safety in the neighborhood.
INDIANAPOLIS. (WISH) — Ben Braden has to be in the right position at the right time.
When Conor Daly’s car comes into the pits, it’s Braden’s job to plug in the fuel line and hold it steady as fresh racing fuel pours into the tank. He has only a matter of seconds to get this done from start to finish. He’ll be in the pits for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
At first glance, it’s a far cry from his last job. Braden spent six years in the NFL, playing guard for the New York Jets, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. He met Ed Carpenter at the gym during the offseason. When the time came to change careers, Braden, a longtime racing fan, said he called Carpenter.
“I asked if he knew of any opportunities in the racing world and he said come by the shop and we’ll see what you might be interested in,” he said. “That’s kind of where it started. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Braden said running the fuel line felt immediately familiar to him when he tried it. In football, he said he always had to make sure his hands and feet lined up properly to make the play and he had to watch the center. Refueling a race car uses many of the same movements. He said he uses a modified football stance to line up with an incoming car’s fuel receptacle and move his body with the car as it enters the pit stall.
“You’d be surprised at how your feet are set up really help with your hands, especially with fueling,” he said. “That’s something we talked about in football, your feet and your hands will mirror each other.”
Braden got to practice those movements late Tuesday morning. He and a team from Ed Carpenter Racing spent nearly an hour doing pit stops over and over again, using one of Carpenter’s old cars for realism. Braden said perhaps the most important similarity between the pit crew and his old football teams is the team mentality itself. Like a football team, he said racing teams go into the week leading up to a race with a set of goals and a plan to meet them, adjusting throughout the week as needed. He said the Indianapolis 500 itself even has parallels with the NFL’s postseason. Braden has watched the race on TV but has never had a chance to attend in person until now. This will be his Indianapolis 500 as a member of a pit crew.
“Definitely take it all in and enjoy the crowd and the atmosphere but at the same time, I have to still keep in mind, it’s still the same fuel hose, same car, try not to get too overwhelmed with it,” he said.
Back on pit row, the crew begins towing the training car back to the garage. Braden and his teammates will have another chance to practice on Wednesday before competing in the Pit Stop Challenge on Carb Day. Then, it will fall to them to help one of their drivers make it to Victory Lane on Sunday.
Braden said any professional athlete looking for a career change should consider joining INDYCAR. He said having good hand-eye coordination and being able to move quickly and adjust on the fly are critical skills for the crew members who go over the wall.
“It’s been awesome to feel like I can transition smoothly out of a career that I thought I would be in for a really long time,” he said. “You never know when the NFL is over.”
PERRY TOWNSHIP, Ind. (WISH) — A father of a high school student on Monday said he hopes new weapons detectors at two high schools deter students from bringing guns into the buildings.
John Haub said his daughter alerted officials after another student showed her a weapon at Perry Meridian High School this spring. He said he had talked to her earlier in her school career about remaining calm and telling authorities if she ever saw one.
“Just to make light of the situation to where they wouldn’t run or get spooked and try to do something with it,” he said. “I’m proud that she reacted the way she did. Luckily, the school did what they were supposed to.”
Haub said he hoped a move by the Perry Township School Board would reduce the chances another student will have to do the same thing. At a special meeting early Monday morning, the board voted unanimously to approve a $1.5 million contract for a set of advanced weapons detectors. The detectors will be installed at all student entrances at the school corporation’s two high schools, Perry Meridian and Southport. Associate Superintendent Chris Sampson said officials made the decision in response to the general security environment rather than any one particular incident.
“It will help keep our campuses safe and secure,” he said. “I’m not pretending to know that this will change the conversation out in the neighborhoods in Marion County but it will on our school campuses.”
School officials said their records show 10 incidents this past school year in which students were caught with weapons at the two schools. At least two such incidents involved handguns and two more involved knives. In each case, school officials said they were able to resolve the situation and there was no indication the student was planning an attack.
Sampson said the system is sensitive enough to pick up individual parts of guns as well as complete firearms. If it detects a weapon, staff will pull the student aside for a more thorough search. He said students will not have to remove their backpacks or any clothing in order to go through. Sampson said the system should be able to distinguish between weapons and harmless objects and any false positives can be resolved with a secondary search. The scanners will be portable, so they can be used at outdoor events such as football games as well.
The money for the system will come from an existing school improvement bond. Haub said he would have been willing to pay higher taxes to cover the costs of the system had it come to that. Besides the direct effect of detecting weapons, Haub said the mere presence of the system might be enough to deter some students from bringing them in the first place.
“I know they’re going to try to find a way around this but at least it slows them down long enough to think about it,” he said. “Metal detectors should have been in about five or six years ago if you want to know the truth.”
Sampson said the system should be fully operational by mid-September. The contract is for four years but he said the equipment itself has a projected service life of more than 20 years thanks to frequent software updates. The school corporation will own the system outright.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — U.S. Rep. Greg Pence on Friday said he’s been “begging” his younger brother, the former vice president and Indiana governor, to run for president next year.
In a wide-ranging interview for “All INdiana Politics,” the congressman said Mike Pence would be a good choice to bring conservative Christian values back to the forefront of the Republican Party. If elected, he said the former vice president would be able to assemble a “phenomenal” cabinet due to his extensive Washington contacts. Additionally, the congressman said he would love to see his brother debate former President Donald Trump, though he added he does not bear the former president any ill will.
“I wish (an announcement) was last month, so the sooner the better,” he said when asked when voters might expect a decision from the former vice president. “I hope he gets in.”
Pence said he didn’t think voters would reject his brother out of hand. He said he believes Republican voters are ready to move on from the Trump era.
“I’m not alone in thinking it’s time to take a different path, it’s time to look ahead and not backwards,” he said.
Congressman Pence also said he was optimistic a budget deal would be reached before the federal government defaulted on its debt, something the Federal Reserve warns could happen as early as June 1. His comments came before a top House budget negotiator announced late Friday morning budget talks were at a standstill and were being paused. Pence said members of Congress could have a deal to vote on as early as late next week. He said Hoosiers should not worry about losing access to federal services such as Social Security or veterans benefits.
“The Republicans have promised that we’re going to protect veterans. I won’t waver on that,” he said. “And Social Security, I don’t think that is going to be at risk in the short term. We do have to address it in the long term.”
Pence and fellow Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon this week endorsed Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch in her bid for governor. Pence told News 8 he disagreed with the notion that he chose Crouch over Sen. Mike Braun. He said Crouch is a longtime friend and would continue a string of Republican governors, going back to Mitch Daniels, with preexisting experience in state government and politics.
“All INdiana Politics” airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on WISH-TV.