To: Jim Poyser, managing editor, NUVO

Jim, I hope you don't mind that I'm turning in my column for Oct. 8 a little early. It's getting to the point where it is pretty easy to predict a week ahead where the news is going, so I built the column around local events that seem certain to happen this week.

Democrats win ballot lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by Marion County Democrats challenging the Republican county clerk's design of the November 2003 municipal election ballot has been resolved. Local Democrats had charged that the ballot's grouping of candidates in a single column according to office sought, regardless of party affiliation, would confuse voters.

Superior Court Judge U. Gene Debs ruled in favor of the Democrats and ordered that candidates be listed on separate parts of the ballot, grouped and highlighted according to party name. In his decision, Judge Debs cited the near-complete lack of difference between the mayor and council candidates' views on affordable housing initiatives, a living wage and the city's looming Wishard health care crisis. "If we don't list these parties differently on the ballot, how the hell do we expect a voter to tell them apart?" the judge said.

The Indianapolis Star to be produced in Virginia

Completing a transformation that began when the Gannett Corporation purchased the newspaper in 2000, the publisher of The Indianapolis Star has announced that the newspaper will now be compiled and printed in McLean, Va., and flown to Central Indiana each morning. "We found significant cost savings over the last few years by keeping our editorial department under-staffed by dozens of people," said Star publisher Henry Barbara. "It was a natural step to replace the entire staff with a bespectacled man named Horace who sits in a cubicle in McLean."

Horace's chief duties will be to cut and paste Associated Press and USA Today articles for reprint in the daily and Sunday Star, as well as collect fees from families who seek obituaries of their deceased loved ones. But Horace will not be overburdened, publisher Barbara insisted. The "Indiana Living" section will now be produced by a Boise, Idaho, free-lancer, and the editorial page work has been contracted out to the Heritage Foundation. The sports section will be turned over to the marketing department of the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts owner Jim Irsay says he plans no changes.

Marion County Jail recognized with housing award

As part of a public relations campaign to improve an image marred by overcrowding, unsafe conditions and inmate deaths, the Marion County Jail has announced that it is the recipient of the Indianapolis Perpetual Homelessness Commission's first annual Secure Housing Award.

The award recognizes the jail for being the single largest provider of housing to low-income people in the city. Also noted is the jail's status as the No. 1 provider of shelter and food to the community's mentally ill. "With the low-income housing stock diminishing, and mental health care at Wishard and Midtown being made harder to get, we expect to have a lock on this population for years to come," says Marion County Jail Warden Sig Mundfreud.

Indianapolis-Haiti-I-69-Colts contract flushed out

Solving several of the city's most backed-up problems with one dramatic exit strategy, Indianapolis Mayor Peter Barteson announced that the city has reached agreement with the Republic of Haiti to get much-needed fertilizer to the arid country to the south.

The plan calls for the city's routine sewer overflows to be diverted from the White River down a culvert in the middle of the planned I-69 route all the way to the Mexican border, where the human waste will be flown to Haiti. Haiti's payments of $15 million per year will be directly dumped to the Indianapolis Colts as part of an agreement to keep the team in town.

At the press conference announcing the agreement, Mayor Barteson adopted a defiant stance toward his critics. "I want to say to all my constituents who claim they don't give a shit about the Colts: Unless you don't get enough fiber in your diet or you're using toilets in Hamilton County, you do now!"

Fran Quigley is a contributing editor to NUVO, where this article originally appeared - ...