Category: Governor Daniels

Guv Cries Foul

The GodfatherIndiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is not happy with the House Ways and Means Committee. This should come as no surprise since the Committee’s new budget calls for the inclusion of a comptroller general position that would review privatization efforts, and the Governor is not someone who believes in oversight on his sales pitches.

His view seems to be that oversight was needed during past administrations when Indiana had “the worst welfare system in America,” but not now that we are moving at the speed of unethical light.

He has also stated that, because of their opposition to the sale of the Hoosier Lottery, Democrats either don’t care about higher education and it’s potential benefits to the state, or they are playing political games. For more in-depth coverage of this topic, see Masson’s Blog.

The point, however, is that government–despite what Daniels believes–is not a business. It is not in existence to make money for stockholders. The benefits Hoosiers expect from government are not dividends, but efficient and uncorrupted service.

Efficiency, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. One cannot have excellence of product while maximizing profit. The two concepts are simply not compatible. The best that we can–and should–reach for is a medium between the two. The selling off of State assets to private industry is not a compromise, however; it is the slow ceding of control to those whose ultimate loyalty is to making a buck rather than looking out for the needs and desires of all citizens.

Selling Government

The U.S. government is selling it’s responsibilities to the highest bidder. If this does not particularly surprise or bother you.

When the largest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, gets more government money per year than the Departments of Justice or Energy, when the cost in pay and benefits for a contractor is double that for a government worker, when the Department of Homeland Security is asking contractors how to do their own business, and when nobody can prove that contracting is more efficient than government, something is wrong. Agency administrators are even proposing that contractors audit proposed contract pricing.

In 2001, 79% of federal contracts were competitive. That number fell to 48% in 2005. None of these companies are responsible to the country; their loyalty lies with their stockholders.

America itself is becoming a multinational conglomerate, with policy being made increasingly by the business world. President Bush’s “New World Order” is closer than you may think.

Those of us who dwell in Indiana should pay particular heed to this situation, for Governor Mitch Daniels has put our state on the same path. Virtually every major proposal on his agenda, from toll road sales to DST to the Lottery scheme is geared toward this same end. But then, what else should we have expected from the President’s former OMB chief?

Do we really want our State and our Nation to be a for-profit enterprise, governed by the wealthy and for the wealthy, where only those with enough capital can weather the unpredictable vagaries of the market?

BMV On The Move

In a 7-5 vote, the House Roads and Transportation Committee sent HB1262, authored by Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, to the House floor. The bill would transfer control of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from the governor’s office to the Secretary of State.

Pelath believes that the change will force public accountability. He also thinks that it will improve the election process, due to a law requiring photo ID at the polls.

BMV commissioner Ron Stiver later voiced his opposition to the plan.

Guv Holds Customer Service Seminar

Mitch Daniels sent about 60 top state managers from 12 different agencies to customer service school yesterday. The Governor told attendees that state agencies have an added burden of customer satisfaction because those customers have no alternative vendor to government services.

I cannot disagree with Mitch on this issue, but it seems that those managers should have already had some idea of their job before they were hired.

The problems afflicting the BMV, one of the state’s most troubled agencies, for instance, run far deeper than lazy and incompetent employees, although that is part of the problem–albeit a small part. A steadfast refusal to replace the ineffective individuals with more competent workers in order to save money does not add to customer service.

Other problems include the infamous implementation of an untested computer system–one that still does not work properly, yet continues to have such official backing that even a mention of “system trouble” results in disciplinary measures.

There is also a great lack of communication at the top of the agency; everybody seems to have a plan, but nobody else knows what it is. Policy is changed on a day-to-day basis, so that workers don’t really know what it is. Politics and the bootlicking of political contributors and cronies is worse than it ever was under the Democrats.

No questions are ever asked of those who were there before about finance, procurement, or logistics. The budget has been exhausted on such immaterial things as prettification and advertising.

It must be assumed that these same problems affect most other state agencies as well. For a group that came in promising a more efficient and businesslike way of operation, they have sadly disappointed. Their only solution seems to be selling these state operations off to the highest bidder, because they don’t want to do do it themselves–or else they are too incompetent.

2008 Race Begins For Indiana Governor

Senate Minority Leader Richard Young (D-Milltown), has become the first candidate to declare for the 2008 governor’s race.

Other potential Democratic candidates for governor are thought to include state Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville), Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard, Evansville Mayor Jonathon Weinzapfel, former House speaker John Gregg, and former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis.

While Gov. Mitch Daniels has not announced whether he will seek reelection, Mike McDaniel, a former state Republican chairman believes that he will.

I don’t see it myself. Daniels has spent his time in office alienating everyone he possibly could, from the citizens who elected him in the first place, to powerful members of his own party. While he is innovative, his autocratic style and insular governing practices–including the mass outsourcing of government by fiat–has infuriated many. But not high-level corporate executives, who love the money that he has thrown their way.

I predict that Mitch will not run again, but will instead seek a high-paying job in the private sector. Not only will he be welcomed with open arms by these companies, but his family life will benefit, too–his wife, Cheri, is a social climber who despises public service.

High-Cost Kindergarten

Gov. Mitch Daniels’ full-day Kindergarten plan will be extremely expensive. The plan would cost $54 million in the 2007-08 school year, but would balloon to $260 million by 2011-12. In addition, 82% of school districts need more faculty in order to implement the program, and 53% need more classrooms.

Dan Clark, deputy director of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association, says that the plan will actually save the State money in the long run, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Meeks believes that the program is just too expensive, and that parents should be doing their jobs better.

This program, one of Daniels’ better ideas, should be implemented. One would think that after selling off several state roads and departmental functions, with others up for bids, that full-day kindergarten could be afforded.

Governor To Privatize Benefits

Gov. Mitch Daniels will hold a press conference in his office at the Statehouse at 11 a.m. in order to announce his plans for privatization of the state’s benefits program, including eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, and welfare. The contract is said to be worth $1 billion over 10 years.

For months, the only negotiation on the table has been with a group led by IBM and Affiliated Computer Services, a company under fire for ethics infractions.

Daniels insists that this is the best way to serve the citizens of Indiana; that the old system is inefficient and needs to be reformed.

If this reformation comes anywhere close to benefiting Hoosiers, I’ll be very surprised. More likely, many people who need their benefits will be left waiting for an unreasonable amount of time, or will be cut off altogether. On the other hand, the state will get to build a few more highways, develop a few more state parks, and hand out a few more corporate payoffs.

Head-Hunting For Talent

It’s a war. No, not Iraq, a war between American cities to attract 25-34 year-old professionals to their town. Within 6 years, more than two workers will be leaving the workforce for every one coming in, and this college-educated demographic will be counted on to spark the future of the economy.

What draws these people in? Why choose one location over another? Studies show that such things as downtown living, multiple entertainment options, and public transportation rank high, as do opportunities in the entertainment, technological, and music industries. A diversified and tolerant population is also a plus.

How does a city such as Indianapolis stack up in this attempt to draw young, qualified professionals? Not very well. Crime is high in the city, and rising all the time. Living downtown is dangerous. Entertainment options are relatively few, unless you like to eat or visit a mall, and there is virtually no nightlife through the week. Nightclubs close at 3:00 AM, and are almost deserted after midnight. Public transportation is a joke in this city, which is built for automobiles. If you don’t want to drive, you have to depend on the high price of taxicabs.

While Governor Mitch Daniels has attempted to attract technological companies to the area, the entertainment industry has suffered under his administration, and the music industry has always been nonexistent here. The Indianapolis population is not very diversified, and the State’s leaders are trying to disenfranchise homosexuals. In addition, Daniels and Mayor Bart Peterson are political enemies, and the city’s well-being has become a pawn in games of one-upsmanship.

The young demographic is just not being sought out here. This is a group that seeks out location before job, not the other way around. And their chances of relocation taper off dramatically after they turn 35.

This city needs to reexamine its strategy for the future.

Bottom 5 Of ’06–Indiana

instatehouse.jpg5. Kyle Hupfer–State DNR Director negotiated a settlement to allow canned hunting to continue in Indiana and attempted to build and privatize state park inns.

4. Joel Silverman–Former BMV Commissioner instituted glitch-prone computer upgrade that brought Bureau of Motor Vehicle operations to a virtual standstill for two months, and affected police, prosecution, and voting efficiency.

3. Mitch Roob–Family & Social Services Administration Secretary attempted to privatize FSSA to an IBM-controlled, Dallas-based company for whom he used to work, and to which he still has ties.

2. Brian Bosma–Outgoing Indiana Speaker of the House tied up tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a frivolous lawsuit to allow Christian prayers and songs to be invoked during legislative session. Much of the money was funneled through his own law firm.

1. Mitch Daniels–Governor sold newly-created toll road to foreign consortium for quick cash, and waited until immediately after the Nov. 7 election to announce his intention to build and privatize another toll road, this one partially around Indy and dubbed the Indiana Commerce Connector. The new road avoids the wealthy areas north and west of the city, instead concentrating on uprooting those in the less-affluent southern and eastern regions. When does the announcement of a major light-rail-system project to Carmel and Fishers come?

Feel free to nominate other worthy candidates!