Gov. Eric Holcomb marked his first month in office by announcing several executive actions Here’s a summary:
Keith Cooper pardon: The executive order pardons Cooper for his 1997 felony robbery conviction in Elkhart County. Cooper served nearly 10 years in prison for the crime, but was released early for time served in 2006. All eyewitnesses in the case have recanted their testimony and DNA evidence did not implicate Cooper in the crime. The Indiana Parole Board unanimously recommended that a pardon be issued. “My decision is based on a review of the facts,” Holcomb said. “Keith Cooper has waited long enough and is deserving of a pardon.” The order does not pardon Cooper for a 1997 felony battery charge to which he pleaded guilty. Cooper has said he was defending himself against an inmate in the Elkhart County Jail.
East Chicago lead contamination: The executive order declares a disaster emergency for an area of Northwest Indiana city grappling with lead contamination. The 30-day declaration will allow the state to work with the new federal administration to “petition for greater assistance and more resources” to help move the around 100 residents who still live in the affected area, replace water infrastructure and expedite remediation and demolition efforts, Holcomb said.
Cellphone tower deal: Holcomb announced that he would end contract talks surrounding a cellphone tower deal that Vice President Mike Pence had assured Hoosiers would fund a series of bicentennial projects he launched during his time as governor. Holcomb announced the state is terminating discussions with Ohio-based Agile Networks, and that he’s directed his staff to “develop alternatives that we might pursue,” including rebidding. Holcomb is expected to decide on those alternatives by the end of March. The decision will provide more information on how to handle the bicentennial projects, said Stephanie Wilson, a governor spokeswoman. In September, Pence had announced plans to lease excess space on the state’s 341 cellphone towers to Agile Networks. In turn, the company would have paid $50 million in upfront costs for the building projects. But the tentative deal struck by the Pence administration was much broader than originally intended, prompting concerns from lawmakers and opposition from companies like AT&T and Comcast.
Resource: indystar.com 2/2017