A quick primer on the big numbers in Indiana state politics

It’s been said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. In Indiana politics, the milk is abundant thanks to what critics say is one of the loosest regulatory systems in the nation.

According to a review of campaign finance data from 2000 through 2015, state-level political committees have taken in a total of $942 million in contributions. That’s nearly a billion dollars raised to run campaigns and influence election contests for the Indiana General Assembly, the governor’s office and other statewide positions such as state superintendent of public instruction.

Construction of Cronus fertilizer plant delayed as costs soar

In October 2014, state and local officials and Cronus Chemicals CEO Erzin Atac donned hard hats in an empty farm field to announce a deal to bring a $1.4 billion nitrogen fertilizer plant to central Illinois.

Atac said he hoped to break ground in 2015 in Tuscola, Ill., with plans to complete the plant by early 2017.

But this spring Cronus Chemicals quietly announced on its website that the estimated cost is now $1.9 billion – more than 30 percent above the original estimate. The website also says the plant will not be finished until the last quarter of 2019 – or at least 30 months later than the initial completion date.

Indiana’s heroin pipeline has unclear beginnings

The latest drug to take hold of the state doesn’t make as much sense, though. Heroin, the highly-addictive drug derived from the opium plant, has worked its way across Indiana, even into some of its most rural regions. But unlike meth, home-grown heroin doesn’t exist in the state.
So where is it coming from? The answer depends whom you ask.

Indiana’s contested moratorium on opioid treatment programs

Many treatment facilities offer abstinence programs that require patients to stop using all drugs immediately. A much smaller cadre of facilities, known as Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), offer an alternative approach that involves weaning individuals off of heroin by providing them with a substitute drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine.

Heroin’s new hold on Indiana

With a new case in the headlines seemingly every few days, there’s no doubt Indiana is in the grips of a heroin problem. But depending where you live, the severity of the issue can be dramatically different.

IJEC launches new initiative, expands resources

This week the Investigative Journalism Education Consortium begins a new initiative in bringing together journalism educators from throughout the world who teach investigative reporting.

The idea to expand the range of IJEC emerged from the Global Investigative Journalism Conference held in October in Rio de Janeiro where the conference organized for the first time a professor track of sessions and presentation of papers.

A tale of one meth lab

A single gram of meth is often enough to keep an addict satisfied for a day, according to agents from the Illinois State Police’s Zone 5 Meth Response Team. Beginning in June 2012, drug task force agents tracked 78 occasions when people who had recently purchased pseudoephedrine arrived at Tena Logan’s residence in Loxa, Ill., according to a written statement by FBI task force officer Scott Standerfer, in the case against Logan.

Two decades of meth use

Michael Pasley first used meth in his early teens. Two decades later, his use came to a quick end when he was arrested April 5, 2010, in Mattoon, Ill. The arrest came after he spent 22 straight days high on meth. He had been in a friend’s garage for about the final two weeks “just cooking and doing dope” before the police found him, said Pasley, 35. Yet during his two decades of meth use, Pasley was not always quite so addicted to the drug.

Meth use on the rise again in Illinois

Once thought to be on a downward spiral, recent criminal reports indicate that meth use is climbing again. In fact, Illinois registered the fifth-most meth lab seizures and arrests in the country last year, behind Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky.