The Continuing Saga of Troy “I’ll Never Vote for It” Woodruff

Former Rep. Troy Woodruff gained my attention when he became the deciding vote for abandoning Hoosier Standard Time and imposing Daylight Saving Time on Indiana. (I can’t say for sure, but Richard Mourdock is probably the only state official at whom I’ve taken more shots over the years.) Mr. Woodruff cast his fateful DST vote after promising his constituents he would never vote for it. After that, Mr. Woodruff was the beneficiary of some RV-1 fundraising love during his next House campaign.

After losing his election to Kreg Battles, Woodruff had a soft landing with the Indiana Department of Transportation – which one could infer might have been repayment by friends and well-wishers in appreciation for the tough vote that probably cost him his position. (His wife also gained INDOT employment). But, then, he moved on from that position after some sketchy land deals.

And, now, Ryan Sabalow and Tony Cook, writing for the Indy Star, bring us another installment in the ongoing saga. “Indiana’s ethics laws generally require former state employees to take a year off before working for companies with which they directly did state business.” The notion is that you might not be a great steward of public funds with respect to a particular organization if you know that you can arrange for that organization to make big money from the State, then jump ship and cash in by becoming an employee of the company. Woodruff is skirting this restriction, after the Indiana Ethics Commission told Woodruff they would not grant him approval to quit his state job and become vice president of RQAW in whose favor Woodruff signed contracts in his capacity as chief of staff for INDOT.

“So what if I was an ‘independent contractor’ instead of an ’employee’ of RQAW?” Woodruff seems to have asked himself.

[A]n Indianapolis Star investigation has found that Woodruff is working for the very company that ethics officials had warned him to avoid for a year. But not as an employee. He’s an independent contractor.

“I’m doing it within the law,” Woodruff told The Star. “If I want to have an affiliation with those guys on a contractual basis, and it doesn’t violate the law, I feel like I should be able to do that.”

Government ethics experts say it appears Woodruff is on sound legal footing, thanks to a loophole written into the state’s ethics rules.

*Slow clap*

The extra daylight made things kind of shady

Mainly that headline, stolen from an old high school buddy, was too good not to use. Ryan Sabalow reports for the Indy Star that Troy Woodruff is resigning. Woodruff gained quite a bit of attention from this blog — probably bordering on unfair by my standards — from his time as a state representative when he cast the deciding vote that brought Indiana on to Daylight Saving Time after he promised his constituents he would never vote for it.

Woodruff was subsequently defeated in his bid for re-election and, not too long after, took a job at the Indiana Department of Transportation. It was difficult not to suspect some sort of connection between that job and the DST vote, given that he had done Gov. Daniels an immense favor by saving one of the governor’s primary initiatives at the expense of Woodruff’s credibility and his legislative seat.

The Indy Star started reporting connections between his family and highway land sales. That has led to an investigation, the results of which are apparently forthcoming:

Gov. Mike Pence ordered the investigation after The Indianapolis Star reported early last year that Woodruff did not disclose to ethics officials a land sale for the I-69 project and that he apparently intervened in a highway bridge project that benefited his relatives.

The Star’s investigation uncovered six I-69 deals that paid $1.86 million to Woodruff’s uncle and cousins, who then bought land from Woodruff and his family for more than market value.

Earlier this month, Mr. Woodruff was seeking an exception from the state ethics commission that would allow him to skip the one year “cooling off” period before he took a job with an engineering consulting firm with whom he had signed what’s characterized as “more than $500,000” worth of projects. (Highway projects can get pretty expensive pretty fast, so I’m not sure how substantial those contracts are in the scheme of INDOT projects.)

Update Ryan Sabalow further reports that the Inspector General did not find actionable offenses by Woodruff, though he suggests changes in the law that would avoid appearances of impropriety.

SCR 46 – Central Time Zone Petition

Sen. Greg Walker has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 46 which would petition the United States Department of Transportation to conduct hearings to put Indiana in the Central Time Zone. The petition would request that Central Time be the “default time zone” for the state but it would not prejudice the ability of eastern counties to petition to be put on eastern time.

The problems are familiar. Our state is, economically, torn between east and west. Some counties gravitate toward Chicago; some toward Cincinnati; some toward Louisville; and many are mainly concerned with being on the same time as adjacent counties. As much of the state as possible should be on the same time.

Geographically, Indiana is well within what should be the Central Time Zone. If one splits the globe into 24 equal, one hour time zones; the boundary between eastern and central time zone should be somewhere around Mansfield, Ohio. That’s approximately 250 miles to the east of where I live. I should probably be about 1/3 of the way into the Central Time Zone.

Personally, I guess I’ve made my peace with eastern time and Daylight Saving Time (which is much easier now that my kids are older and I’m not putting them to bed in broad daylight). What I would like is for the federal government to shorten the period of Daylight Saving Time and make it run from, say, equinox to equinox.

South Bend Schools considering joining Central Time Coalition

Kyle Stokes has an item entitled South Bend Schools Revive Old Indiana Debate: Central Or Eastern Time? pointing to a South Bend Tribune article about a proposed resolution for South Bend Community School Board for it to join the Central Time Coalition.

The coalition, as the name suggests, supports a switch to Central Time for Indiana. This is fall out from the Daylight Saving Time debate from several years ago. Prior to that, most of the state was on Eastern Standard Time, year round. This was the functional equivalent of year round Central Daylight Time. Eastern Daylight Time causes the hours on the clock to roll around earlier in relation to the sun – that’s why, mornings are suddenly dark again when we were given a taste of daylight in the mornings not so long ago.

In terms of schools, the argument goes, this is pernicious because kids internal clocks aren’t set to let them be as productive that close to sunrise. And, in terms of direct, objective dangers, there is concern about kids waiting for buses in the dark. St. Joseph County is an interesting case – they had petitioned to be on Central Time shortly after Troy Woodruff broke his promise and cast the deciding vote in favor of daylight saving time for the state legislature. Despite the promise that counties would be free to pursue their own preferences on the time zone issue with the Department of Transportation; the State intervened in opposition to St. Joseph’s request based on the protests by Elkhart County that St. Joseph’s time zone ought to serve the convenience of Elkhart County. The feds took notice of that and rejected the request of St. Joseph County to move to Central Time.

For my part, I don’t like the idea of Central Standard Time in the middle of the winter, with its 4:30 sunsets; but I also don’t like Eastern Daylight Time in early spring with its dark mornings. Given our geographic location, year round Eastern Standard Time/Central Daylight Time was the best balance of distributing the available daylight between morning and evening.

Obligatory Time Rant

Early on in my blogging career, I made my bones writing extensively about Daylight Saving Time. I haven’t done that for awhile. And, truth be told, I’m not going to do much now. But, I figured I didn’t want to let the time change pass without mention. Where I live, the time changed back to Eastern Standard Time, and I’m happy about it.

As we live through DST, I guess I have some mild annoyance about changing the clocks; but that’s not really a big deal. Philosophically, I can point to the fact that Central Time should begin somewhere around Mansfield, Ohio and, therefore, shouldn’t be starting so far west as Terre Haute. But, for me personally, the part that actually affects my life in a negative way is the morning darkness in September and October. (The late daylight was more of a problem for me in June and July when my kids were younger).

My proposal — and this is something for the feds, not the state — would be for DST to end on the equinoxes. Daylight time from March 21 to September 21; Standard time from September 22 to March 20.

A Modest Proposal: Eliminate Time Zones Entirely

Justin Graham, writing for the Evansville Courier Press, has a column explaining why, as a matter of geometry, it’s ridiculous for Indiana to be on Eastern Time. If you have 24 equal, one hour time zones and if the time zones use Greenwich England (for arbitrary historical reasons) as the starting point, then the boundary between Eastern and Central should be somewhere near Mansfield, Ohio.

But, I might suggest that we’re getting close to the time when it’s appropriate to do without time zones entirely. We’ve been adjusting our relationship to our clocks and the time of day as technology progresses. Before railroads and telegraphs, there was no need or ability to coordinate your efforts with any great precision with people who were very distant from you. Communications couldn’t travel much faster than the sun. With railroads and telegraphs, the ability and need increased a bit; but there was no need to coordinate much beyond the 750 mile width of a time zone.

But now, we are becoming increasingly connected with those around the world. It’s not at all unusual to work with people around the world. It might be time to put the world on a single standard time. The fact that Terre Haute is part of a time zone that should end at Mansfield shows we’re no longer too concerned with having 12:00 hours associated with the sun being directly overhead. In for a penny, in for a pound, maybe we should all go to Coordinated Universal Time.

Back To Double Fast Time Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the time to change our clocks back to double fast time.[*] Not much to say that I haven’t already. Here is the archive.

Still, I was beginning to enjoy the morning light. Oh, and studies show it might cause heart attacks.

[*]So called because you get +1 fast time for moving from Central Standard Time to Eastern Standard Time and +2 fast time for moving from Standard Time to Daylight Time.

Only Mostly Dead

Today’s Behind Closed Doors had a note about Daylight Saving Time. I had three “almost dead” references rattling around in my head:
#Monty Python’s The Holy Grail

The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
[a man puts a body on the cart]
Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.
The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.
The Dead Collector: He isn’t.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.
Large Man with Dead Body: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
The Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I don’t want to go on the cart.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don’t be such a baby.
The Dead Collector: I can’t take him.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel fine.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can’t.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.
The Dead Collector: I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when’s your next round?
The Dead Collector: Thursday.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I think I’ll go for a walk.
Large Man with Dead Body: You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Isn’t there anything you could do?
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]
Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.
The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man with Dead Body: Right.

#The Princess Bride

Miracle Max: He probably owes you money huh? I’ll ask him.
Inigo Montoya: He’s dead. He can’t talk.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Anyway, the Behind Closed Doors Note:

Eastern vs. Central

Just about the last thing many legislators feel like revisiting is the debate over what time it is in Indiana. The 2005 fight that narrowly shifted Indiana to daylight saving time still has lawmakers exhausted.

But some residents think the state should reopen the debate — not to repeal daylight saving time, but to move Indiana from the Eastern to the Central time zone.

The Hoosiers for Central Time Coalition is contacting legislators and school superintendents around the state, urging them to support a switch to Central time for the safety of students.

And don’t take my discussion of “mostly dead” as being dismissive of the possibility that the time issue may result in further changes. I thought the daylight saving time issue was dead most of my life — but the pro-DST faction kept bringing it up over and over again until they finally got legislation passed by dint of the thinnest of margins and the reneged vote of Troy “I’ll Never Vote For It” Woodruff. (I went with the Frankenstein allusion on that one.) It’s not like there has ever been anything like a mandate on the time subject in this state. We’ve seen before that a motivated group can get legislation passed even where the issue seems settled and the rest of the state has learned to live with the situation.