Rep. Jackie Walorski submitted an entry (PDF) to the USDOT docket. For starters, her letter to the USDOT was very confusing to me, in that the letter head gave a return address of Marion, Indiana. That must just be a typo of some sort because her web page gives the same street address but with the city address of Lakeville, IN. She makes the standard argument that the economies of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties are intertwined, then jumps to the conclusion that this mandates Eastern Time for St. Joseph County. But, once again, there is no explanation for why, instead, Elkhart County shouldn’t be working hard to get its petition for Central Time on file.
Looks like the Daniels administration is getting into some Clintonian level parsing with respect to the Daylight Saving Time law. From the Indy Star:
The time of his life
The fourth and final hearing the U.S. Department of Transportation is holding on Indiana’s time zones will be Monday night in South Bend, and it’s expected to be a doozy.
St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, has asked to move to Central time to be in sync with its western neighbors. Other neighbors, though, are apoplectic. Officials and residents in Elkhart County, to the east, and Marshall County, to the south, are deeply concerned that their economic region will be split.
Even Gov. Mitch Daniels, who earlier said that time zones were something for each county to decide on its own, has called the situation “obviously unworkable.”
Daniels has said he will send a letter stating his views to the Transportation Department after the hearings are concluded, although a provision in the state’s daylight-saving time law seems to require the state to support local government officials no matter what they decide.
The provision says: “The state supports the county executive of any county that seeks to change the time zone in which the county is located under the procedures established by federal law.”
So would the governor be violating the law? It depends on what the meaning of “supports” is, said Jane Jankowski, Daniels’ press secretary. She said the governor’s office construes that as meaning he must support the process — not the individual decisions.
And we get down on Indiana’s students for doing poorly on the ISTEP tests. With that kind of reading comprehension, the fine folks at the Governor’s office would fail miserably.
The law again: “The state supports the county executive of any county that seeks to change the time zone in which the county is located under the procedures established by federal law.”
One sentence. Pretty easy as laws go. Sometimes laws are hard to read. This one isn’t. Let’s parse:
Who does the state support?
The county executive.
Which county executive?
The county executive of any county that seeks (1) to change the time zone in which the county is located; and (2) under the procedures established by federal law.
Did the St. Joseph County Commissioners seek to change the time zone in which it is located?
Did the Commissioners do this under the procedures established by federal law?
Is the State required to support the Commissioners?
Is the Governor part of the State?
Is the Governor required to support the St. Joseph County Commissioners in their efforts to change time zones?
Try again Ms. Jankowski.
The Indiana time issue is getting some love from overseas. The Sunday Times from the UK has a story focusing on the split in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. It covers some familiar territory, but I liked this passage:
Mitch Daniels, the Governor, used to be one of President Bushâ€™s chief budget officials. Now he has stumbled into an issue that many Indianans believe he should have left well alone. After his election last year, he pushed for the entire state to observe daylight saving. Businesses argued that the failure to follow the rest of America cost the state millions each year because of missed flights, scrambled computers and confusion over conference calls. The state legislature passed the plan. Next April the whole of Indiana will observe daylight saving.
But 19 counties want to switch from Eastern time to Central time. Dave Crooks, a Democrat who wants the whole state to observe Central time, said: â€œThis issue is bigger in Indiana than the war, same-sex marriage and abortion.â€
Stories in the Indianapolis Star and the Evansville Courier Press covering the Jasper story. (And, might I add, kudos to Mary Beth Schneider for covering all of these – I’m about as interested as a person gets about this issue, but even I wouldn’t care to sit through all of these hearings. The basic arguments remain the same, regardless of which part of the state you’re in.)
Burger said county residents had backed Central time by a 4-1 margin in a September local hearing, and that 81 percent of commuters into or out of Dubois County travel either from or into the Central time zone county. Illustrating the county’s orientation toward Evansville rather than Indianapolis and other Eastern time zone locations, Burger cited newspaper circulation statistics: The Evansville Courier & Press sells 2,376 daily papers and 4,944 Sunday papers in the county, compared with 265 dailies and 345 Sundays for the Indianapolis Star. “Evansville is by far where we get our information from,” he said.
Judy Colletta, moderator for the Department of Transportation, pushed speakers from counties outside of Dubois – they were numerous – to declare whether they would support Central time if Dubois remained on Eastern time. “That’s a loaded question,” exclaimed a man in the back of Jasper Arts Center. “That’s not the point. She doesn’t know the local issues.”
Those words still hung in the air when Spencer County Commissioners President Dan Rininger got a rise from fellow Central-time supporters, saying: “We’re dropping like flies over what happens to Dubois County. Being on the same time is the right thing to do.” Arguing the area geographically belonged in the Central zone, he added: “Someone years and years ago named us Midwesterners, not Mideasterners.”
Indiana Chamber of Commerce representative Brian Bergsma was on hand.
Brian E. Bergsma, said 65 of the 82 counties that could have petitioned for a change to Central did not do so. “We have not heard here any mention of anything to the North,” Bergsma added, including Indiana University. “It’s almost as if the state of Indiana ends where this petition process ends (in Southwestern Indiana) – and that is not true.”
Frankly, I’m having difficulty parsing that quote, so it could be that some important context is missing from what he actually said. But, in any event, I suppose that is ignoring counties like Orange and Greene where the issue was considered, but narrowly rejected. Or counties like Tippecanoe where the commissioners wanted to take a “wait and see” approach, noting that the petition process for changing time zones is always available. Even more than that, it’s to be expected. Why would counties like Bartholomew and Jennings even bother considering the matter when they know 6 to 12 counties to the west of them would have to change before they even get a shot at it? If Representative Crooks gets his referendum (I’m not holding my breath), then we would see what the true sentiment of these non-petitioning counties is like.
St. Joseph County’s lone pro-Eastern Commissioner had some somewhat harsh words for the mayor of Portage, who weighed in, asking St. Joseph County to join the city on Central Time.
“Butt out isn’t the right way to say it. That’s a little harsh,” St. Joseph County Commissioner Mark Dobson said Wednesday. “I don’t think they’d want me opining on issues in their county.”
I suppose that’s a reasonable position if, but only if, Commissioner Dobson delivers the same message to Elkhart County’s officials and Governor Daniels when they decide to opine on the issue.
Commissioner Dobson also seems to be somewhat dismissive of pro-Central sentiment. He says, “arguments should be based on economics, “not ‘I want to watch Leno at 10:30.'” I think he misses the point of just how broadly “convenience of commerce” is defined. If folks are, to take his example, “watching Leno” at 11:30 and are, consequently, chronically sleep-deprived, they are not going to be a very good work force and not as likely to be contributors to a vibrant economy. All of these issues are inter-related, and I think all of the consequences of one time zone or another should be considered.
The South Bend Tribune editorial board says that St. Joe County should ask for Eastern. The opinion piece just isn’t consistent, however. It argues for Eastern Time because St. Joseph County and Elkhart Couty should be on the same time. Fair enough. But, a discerning reader might ask, why shouldn’t Elkhart petition for Central? The wise folks at the Tribune explain, “It is clear that Elkhart County will not petition the DOT to change to Central time.” First, if it is as big of a problem as the folks at the Tribune suggest, why wouldn’t the Elkhart County Commissioners petition for Central Time? Particularly if enough folks in Elkhart County are disgruntled enough about not having a hearing on the subject that changes are made to the Board of Commissioners? Second, wouldn’t the same rationale apply in reverse? “Elkhart County should seek Central Time because it is clear that St. Joe will not withdraw its petition?” In short, the Tribune provides us with no real explanation at all as to why the burden is on St. Joe to go with Elkhart rather than vice-versa.
Second, maybe it’s because I’m not from around there, but the Tribune editorial board writes that a split with Elkhart County would be “a frustrating, confusing split” that should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, a split with LaPorte County and points west would just mean that St. Joseph County is an hour ahead of them. “That’s easy enough to get used to.” Seems to me, you can get used to one just as easily as the other.
I know that several media companies from the South Bend area have submitted petitions to the USDOT docket requesting Eastern Time. I’m not clear on whether the South Bend Tribune is one of them or owned by one of them. If the paper is, in fact, an active participant in this fight for its own business reasons, it should make that fact clear when it writes an editorial such as this.
Some submissions to the USDOT time zone docket I found interesting:
descends.” This means that in the summer on Eastern Daylight Time, observance can’t begin until 9 to 9:30; very difficult to do with children. The writer notes that 4:30 sunsets under Central Standard Time poses its own set of difficulties, but in the final analysis, not as burdensome as EDT.
Governor Daniels is very Zen. I had no idea. Apparently, he believes that one can support by opposing. In this case, the Daylight Saving Time law – SB 127, signed by the Governor on May 13, 2005, includes a provision that states “The state supports the county executive of any county that seeks to change the time zone in which the county is located under the procedures established by federal law.” According to the Governor’s general counsel Steve Schulz, the Governor is being supportive even if he formally opposes St. Joseph County’s petition. Like I said, very Zen. Schulz says that the law “requires nothing of Daniels except general support for counties that follow the federally prescribed procedures to initiate a time-zone change.” Even under that vague and non-committal standard, I don’t see how the Governor can provide general support alongside specific opposition.
John Zentz, Republican member of the Marshall County Board of Commissioners says that provision of the law “would appear to require Daniels and state government to support his county’s Central-time decision. “I don’t know how he can have a foot in both camps and do what the law says,” Zentz said.” Mr. Agostino goes on to report:
State Rep. Dale Grubb, a Covington Democrat who opposed daylight time as a hardship for his constituents near the Illinois line, said he had forgotten about “that little clause” in the law. But he said he can only interpret it to require administration support for specific county decisions.
“It just points out the conundrum the whole situation brings out on this,” he said.
Every so often, I like to read the legislation passed by the General Assembly. I’d advise the Governor to do the same. The bill that will bring Daylight Saving Time to Indiana is Enrolled Act, Senate Bill 0127 signed by the Governor on May 13, 2005. SECTION 1. of the act states “The state supports the county executive of any county that seeks to change the time zone in which the county is located under the procedures established by federal law.”
Governor Daniels, however, is pressuring the St. Joseph County Commissioners to drop their request. I have no idea how it would work out, but I’d argue that this gives the St. Joseph County Commissioners and possibly state representatives standing to go to court to ask for an injunction prohibiting implementation of the law. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’d also argue that state representatives have standing to oppose implementation of the law based on the Governor’s failure to comply with SECTION 3(c) of the law which required the Governor to petition the USDOT by submitting any documentation prescribed by the USDOT. The Dept. of Transportation requires information regarding the “convenience of commerce” (arbitrary as I think its criteria are), and Gov. Daniels failed to do it.
But, whatever the potential merits of a court case, I think Gov. Daniels is clearly violating the law. He is supposed to support the petitioning county commissioners of St. Joseph County. Instead he is opposing them to support the non-petitioning commissioners of Elkhart County.
[Updated 11:05 EST 11/14/05]
I went to the Logansport Time Zone hearings and was pleased to meet some of the folks who occasionally read this blog. There didn’t seem to be that many people there — maybe 75 (thought I could be mistaken due to the size of the auditorium), but it lasted the full 4 hours from 2:30 to 6:30. The public sentiment was almost universally in favor of Central Time. I’d guess about 90%.
The hearing was set up in a Phil Donahue format with the USDOT representative — I can’t recall her name; Joanne Petrie must have pulled some strings to avoid having to come deal with another Indiana time zone scuffle — introducing herself and going over the basics of who she was, why the Dept. was conducting the hearings, and the convenience of commerce criteria. The county commissioners from petitioning counties were allowed to go first. I recall officials from Starke, Carroll, and Cass Counties being there, mainly doing their best to express the will of their constituents — the average margin at their public hearings seemed to be about 2 or 3 to 1 in favor of Central. There was also some general grumpiness about this being dropped in their laps by the state and federal officials. Next, state officials were allowed to speak. Representative Steve Heim representing Starke and Marshall Counties was there and (I think) Senator Heinold, also from that area. Both supported Central time for their constituencies.
For some reason, Brian Bergsma from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce was allowed to go before any of the rest of the unelected individuals attending the hearing. He handed out some documents, spouted some statistics, and left pretty quickly after he’d finished speaking.
Hearing public opinion apparently isn’t high on his priority list. (I have received information suggesting this may be an unfair characterization. Fairness would seem to dictate that judgment be withheld on the Chamber’s interest in public sentiment until after future hearings. On the other hand, whether it does or doesn’t have such an interest, the Chamber doesn’t really have any duty to be overly interested in public opinion. It owes a duty to its members, no more, no less. That’s the nature of politics and the nature of lobbying.)
The public commentary varied widely in its quality. In my opinion, the most effective speaker was Tom Heller who came up from Columbus, Indiana. He addressed some of the statistics put forward by the Chamber of Commerce. Most telling to me was his retort to the Chamber’s talking point that 39% of Indiana’s exports go to eastern time zone states. Mr. Heller had crunched the data and determined that, using a state’s major export time zone destination as the criteria to determine the state’s time zone, Illinois and Wisconsin would be eastern time zone state; Utah would be a Pacific time zone state; and California would be either an Eastern time zone state or a Central time zone state.
There was a trucker who didn’t want his route from Winimac to South Bend to take him from eastern to central to eastern to central again. The route had to accommodate deliveries to some establishments that didn’t open until later in the morning or afternoon. The latest opener pretty much dictated when the route could be run. There were plenty of folks concerned that a later sunrise would make weather more of a factor in getting kids to schools. Under the current time situation, a two hour delay is usually sufficient to let weather pass. Under Eastern Daylight Time, the same weather situation would require a three hour delay which would result in the school being closed for the day. A lot of folks also addressed Indiana’s geographic position in Central Time. The Central Zone is to be centered on 90 degrees west whereas the Eastern Zone is to be centered on 75 degrees west. Indiana stretches from something like 84 to 87 degrees. We’re 3 to 6 degrees from the center of where the Central Time Zone is supposed to be whereas we’re 9 to 12 degrees from the center of where the Eastern Time Zone is supposed to be.
I made the argument that the process has been unnecessarily stacked against Central Time. For the past 30 years, we’ve been functionally on Central Daylight Time for 7 months out of the year and Eastern Standard Time 5 months out of the year. The least alteration from the status quo would be Central Time. Instead, we find ourselves with Eastern Time as the default. This came about because 30 years ago, Indiana wanted year round Central Daylight Time. Because of the way the DST law was written, this wasn’t an option, but year round Standard Time was an option. So, most of Indiana was shifted into the Eastern Zone with the understanding they’d opt for year round Eastern Standard Time which is, of course, the functional equivalent of Central Daylight Time. However, with Gov. Daniels, et al. having pushed through the Daylight Saving Time bill, that work around has consequences. Instead of defaulting to Central Time, as we were on back in 1968, we have a default to Eastern Time. This combines with the State’s failure to properly seek a state wide review of what time zone was appropriate.
Now, what we have is a county-by-county time zone review where a county that doesn’t petition or doesn’t meet a convenience of commerce burden is stuck in eastern time. Added to this, you have the fact that, the smaller the unit, the tougher it is to meet the burden. To take an extreme example, if the USDOT required every household to show switching time zones met the convenience of commerce, you’d have 2 or 3 houses at the border in the running and everyone else stuck in the default setting. Finally, the USDOT representative indicated that the Department would not consider changing a non-petitioning county. Put it all together, and Central Time isn’t getting anything like a fair shake.
Judging from the folks in the audience, admittedly a self-selected and unusually motivated bunch, there will be some political fall out from this. Almost universally, eastern supporters as well as central, the audience members faulted a lack of leadership in Indianapolis for the fix we’re in.
Update Some coverage of the time zone hearings in the newspapers.
People came mad and left disappointed at the first of four federal hearings on Indiana’s time zones. For more than four hours Sunday, speaker after speaker argued that all of the state should be in a single time zone, with virtually everyone favoring Central time. But that option isn’t on the table at this point, said Judy Kaleta, the senior conflict resolution counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation. . . . Nothing is final, Kaleta said, but unless a county asks for a time zone change, the federal government won’t act. That means most of the state will end up on Eastern time. . . . Several people blasted Gov. Mitch Daniels, drawing applause each time. Michael G. Jackson, a Cass County resident, blamed Daniels for pushing for daylight-saving time, which precipitated the current time zone debate, and for not making a time zone recommendation that unites most if not all of Indiana. “This never should have begun,” Jackson said. “This is a Mitch Daniels problem, and Mitch Daniels is going to have to fix it, not the DOT.”
Doug Masson, a Monticello attorney, echoed the opinion. Based on geography, Masson testified that the boundary for the Eastern and Central time zones would be somewhere in Ohio, not Indiana, a state that is only 140 miles wide. Splitting a narrow state with time zones is not a good idea, he said. “You just don’t have that much east to west in Indiana,” he said.
He also mentions something I forgot to. When Brian Bergsma, speaking on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, was speaking, he mentioned data supporting the Chamber’s contention that Daylight Saving Time saved energy. Someone in the back row shouted out “LIAR!” Honestly, that kind of crap just doesn’t help the cause.