ğŸŽ¬ It's the second-to-last Monday of the year. Good time to catch up on movies!

☃️ Today's weather: Blowing snow possible with a high of 35.

👮🏽‍♂️ Situational awareness: Indianapolis police chief Randal Taylor is stepping down after four years. Taylor served for the entirety of Mayor Joe Hogsett's second term.

Today's newsletter is 948 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Bill Kole.

1 big thing: 🚌 IndyGo's 2024 challenges

Data: American Public Transportation Association; Note: Includes all modes; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: American Public Transportation Association; Note: Includes all modes; Chart: Axios Visuals

IndyGo is set to enter 2024 with continuing ridership struggles, a simmering battle with state lawmakers and no permanent leader.

Driving the news: IndyGo accepted the resignation of its much-heralded CEO, Inez Evans, just weeks ahead of a new state legislative session where lawmakers are once again preparing to take aim at the Indianapolis transit agency.

Why it matters: Evans' successor must oversee IndyGo's bus rapid transit buildout alongside a persistent post-pandemic drop in ridership.

By the numbers: IndyGo's local routes handled 549,206 rides in November, down 30% from 788,240 in November 2019.

Between the lines: IndyGo's lingering ridership struggles, plus rising construction costs, will fuel another attempt by some Republican lawmakers to derail plans for the Blue Line, the third leg of the city's BRT project.

  • State Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, told Fox59 he "will certainly have a bill" aimed at stopping IndyGo from dedicating two lanes on Washington Street to the Blue Line.
  • IndyGo for years has said eliminating the lanes would kill the project because federal funding requires them.

Catch up fast: Freeman and other Republicans have introduced similar legislation repeatedly over the past three years.

  • He argues IndyGo has failed to perform and that tying up the lanes will harm car commuters.

Reality check: Those legislative efforts have died each year and did not even come close to passing in 2023.

State of play: Jennifer Pyrz, a civil engineer who has been a leader on the Purple Line, has taken over as interim CEO.

What they're saying: "She understands this agency and the vital service the IndyGo team provides," IndyGo board member Mary Ann Fagan said in a statement.

What's next: The agency will start searching for a permanent CEO "over the next several months," per a statement.

The bottom line: It's a perilous moment for IndyGo's leadership transition.

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2. 📈 Colts, Purdue deliver huge wins

Nick Cross of the Colts intercepts a pass over the outstretched hands of Steelers receiver George Pickens during the second quarter of Indianapolis' home win Saturday. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What a weekend of sports downtown.

State of play: The Colts have a firm hold on an AFC playoff spot after rolling over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-13, Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

By the numbers: Quarterback Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes in a breakout performance.

The intrigue: The season could come down to Jan. 7 when the Colts host the Houston Texans.

  • IndyStar did a lot of math and concluded the winner of that game likely goes to the playoffs while the loser heads into the offseason.

Of note: Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has a concussion after a brutal hit by Pittsburgh's Damontae Kazee.

Lance Jones and Braden Smith of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrate during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats in the Indy Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Lance Jones, left, and Braden Smith of Purdue celebrate during the second half against Arizona. Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away Saturday, the Purdue men's basketball team defeated No. 1 Arizona, 92-84, at the Indy Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

  • Fletcher Loyer scored 27 points, Braden Smith 26 and Zach Edey 22.

What we're watching: Purdue could leapfrog Kansas to reach No. 1 when the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches polls come out today.

3. Pit stop: Two Chicks and a Hammer hit the 'burbs

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🛠️ Two Chicks and a Hammer are opening a store in Noblesville after closing their Indianapolis location. Owners Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, stars of the HGTV show "Good Bones," also plan to renovate houses in the northern suburb. (IndyStar)

  • Plus: Nordstrom Rack is opening a store in Noblesville, too. (WISH-TV)

💰 The Indiana Economic Development Corp. wants to spend $180 million to entice two unnamed advanced manufacturing companies to the state. (IBJ)

🏈 Our new professional indoor football team has a name: the Fishers Freight. It plans to start playing in 2025. (WRTV)

4. ☕ Starbucks unions accelerate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starbucks is softening its stance toward unionization after years of pushing back, Axios' Emily Peck writes.

Why it matters: It's a potentially huge shift for the chain and a signal of the staying power of a labor movement.

Zoom in: Workers at two Plainfield locations — one at State Road 267 near Interstate 70 and another at the Plainfield Commons shopping center — are organizing through Starbucks Workers United in hopes of forming unions next month, WTHR reports.

  • They would be the chain's first two Indianapolis-area stores to unionize.

Between the lines: Starbucks tried to fend off unionization by messaging about best-in-class wages and benefits.

What's happening: Change began in March when Laxman Narasimhan took the CEO reins from founder Howard Schultz, who had repeatedly clashed with workers over unionizing.

  • The corporate change accelerated this month — Starbucks vice president Sara Kelly sent a Dec. 8 letter to Workers United, saying the company wanted to restart bargaining.

The other side: Union representatives are skeptical.

  • "We are hopeful your letter is indeed the beginning of a sincere effort, and not a publicity move," Workers United president Lynne Fox wrote.

5. Meatless Monday: Cabin Kitchen at Guggman Haus

Come for the cards, stay for the food. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

👋 Arika here!

Regular readers know by now I am a native Hoosier, which means I was raised on euchre.

  • I was taught by my nana and house rules say you screw the dealer.

Yes, but this is supposed to be about food: Euchre brought me to Guggman Haus, which runs a casual league several times throughout the year.

  • The next one starts in January.
  • The unassuming walkup food window serves a surprisingly robust menu that goes beyond standard bar snacks.

What to order: The falafel burger, which comes topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion and is served with a roasted garlic vinaigrette and zippy harissa sauce.

  • The chickpea patty is hefty.
  • With the fries (which are 💯), it was enough for two meals.

Cost: $13.

If you go: 1701 Gent Ave.

  • Kitchen hours are 3-8pm Monday, 11am to 9pm Wednesday-Saturday and noon to 7pm Sunday.

PS: Shoutout to Axios Indy reader Michelle M. for the tip on Guggman's meatless options!

Our picks:

⛄ Arika made these snowball cocktails for a party over the weekend and 10/10 so fun!

🏫 James is thankful to have both kids healthy and back to school and daycare after a week and a half of COVID insanity at home.

ğŸŽ‰ Lindsey is back at work after a long weekend.