The Indianapolis Star has an article by the Associated Press entitled Time-zone letters may be forged. According to the story, two letters submitted to the USDOT docket purporting to be from the town of Ireland, Indiana and parishioners of St. Raphael Catholic Church in Dubois have typewritten names but no signatures. Some of the people listed claim they were not even contacted before the letters were submitted.
Roger Moon, writing for the Times-Mail of Lawrence County, has an article entitled Lawrence County residents silent on time zone issue. He is basically commenting on the USDOT docket for the Southwestern Counties’ petition to change time zones and notes the apparent absence of input to the docket from Lawrence County residents “despite the fact that many of the countyâ€™s residents are among the 67 percent of Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane employees who a DOT document reports commute from the Eastern to the Central time zone to work at the facility.” The comment period on the USDOT’s notice of proposed rule making has been extended to August 31, 2007.
In the docket materials, there is a real howler from the Governor for anyone who remembers the St. Joseph County situation. In that case, St. Joseph County petitioned to be placed on Central Time. The USDOT entered a preliminary determination that the petition should be granted. Neighboring Elkhart County expressed its displeasure and enlisted the services of the Governor who filed a letter opposing St. Joseph County’s petition despite a state law requiring the state to support any such petition. Now, we get the above linked letter from the Office of the Governor in support of Perry County’s petition to move from Central to Eastern if the request of the other 5 Southwestern Counties is granted. The letter includes this bit:
As you know, during the original round of decision-making on time zone selection in 2005, Perry County petitioned for an opposite result – to be included in the Central time zone. The law passed in 2005 that put Indiana on DST also specifically encouraged each individual county to assert its own view on the choice of time zone, and bound the state to support that view. As governor, my longstanding position has been that local preference should be respected as much as possible.
He adds a caveat about opposing local preference where that preference disrupts the “greater good of a larger region.” That’s to cover his ass because of his actions in St. Joseph County. He doesn’t point to the provision of the law that relieves the State of its duty to support a local petition when the caveat applies, because no such exception to the law exists.
Aside from that, the notion that the Governor has had a “long standing” position on anything other than the mere fact of Daylight Saving Time itself. From the inception of his campaign, he was for Daylight Saving Time. But, during his campaign, he was also on record as being in favor of state-wide Central Time. Then, as required by state law, he requested state-wide time zone hearings. Eventually, he just punted, allowing the state to drift by default into a primarily eastern daylight time zone. It wasn’t until the State was well and truly in the midst of the time zone debacle that he came up with the “local control for time zones” position.
As for the “greater good of a larger region” caveat, how in the world does he define that? I can’t say I disagree with him, necessarily, on this point — but I think that points out the flaw in the local control model. I think the relevant “larger region” is Indiana in its entirety. And, I think the “greater good” would be to have the entire state of Indiana on one time zone. Though I think Central Time makes a lot of sense with respect to Indiana’s geographic position, I understand that people have different preferences as to how they like to arrange their day with respect to the available daylight. That’s fine, and I don’t know that I can say one is inherently better than another. But, I think that for the Governor, a “greater good” analysis has to mean greater good for the citizens of Indiana. And, I think a single state time zone would do greater good for Indiana than split zones; even if a single zone might act to the detriment of individual localities — Lake County going to Eastern Time springs immediately to mind.
Perry County gets some time to make its case to the USDOT: Docket/Document Information
DOT is providing notice of a petition from the Board of Commissioners in Perry County, IN, to change the time zone boundary for the County from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone, and DOT’s request for additional information from Perry County to aid in its determination of whether this change would serve the convenience of commerce, the statutory standard for a time zone change. Other persons supporting or opposing the change to Perry County’s time zone boundary are also requested to provide comment. The final rule will be based on all of the information received during the entire rulemaking proceeding and whether the statutory standard has been met. DATES: Comments should be received by August 31, 2007, to be assured of consideration.
Rumor has it that Perry County has hit a procedural snag in its quest to remain on the same time as its neighbors in the Southwestern part of the state. The snag being that the US Department of Transportation does not seem to think it has received a request from Perry County to change time zones.
The saga goes something like this. Gov. Daniels campaigns on one statewide time zone that observes Daylight Saving Time, he stated that his inclination was for the Central Time Zone. Realizing that they can’t get DST passed if they are up front about the time zone issue, DST proponents just ignore it and leave the mess to be settled on a patchwork, county-by-county basis. A lot of counties go through the process, requesting Central Time:
Only a select few have their request granted, leaving a map that looks like this:
However, a number of those granted their request to be moved to Central Time, reconsider:
(Counties petitioning to change back to Eastern Time in yellow.) Pulaski County (in the northwest) has since had its request granted and is back on Eastern Time, effective March 11, 2007.
The Southwestern Counties (Knox, Daviess, Martin, Pike, and Dubois Counties) are now the subject of a proposed rule to return them to Eastern Time. Public comment is open at USDOT docket OST-2007-28746 until August 15, 2007.
Back to Perry County. The Perry County Commissioners did not sign on to the Southwestern County petition. Instead, they dithered for awhile and then recently adopted a resolution to the effect that, if the Southwestern Counties went back to Eastern Time, they wanted to do so as well. Rumor has it that the Perry County News is reporting
(in its paper version and not yet on its online version) that the USDOT does not have any documentation in front of them that it considers to be a petition on behalf of Perry County. Rather, they received some paperwork from Perry County that they considered to be evidence in support of change by the Southwestern Counties. Apparently the Perry County attorney never touched base with the folks at the USDOT to tell them what Perry County’s intent was.
The saga continues.
The notice proposes to relocate the time zone boundary in Indiana to move Knox, Daviess, Martin, Pike, and Dubois Counties from the Central Time Zone into the Eastern Time Zone. Comments are open for the next 30 days — July 16, 2007 to August 15, 2007 or thereabouts.
DOT requests comment on whether this change would serve the convenience of commerce, the statutory standard for a time zone change and whether the time zone boundary should be changed for other contiguous counties in southwestern Indiana. Persons supporting or opposing the change should not assume that the change will be made merely because DOT is making the proposal. The final rule will be based on all of the information received during the entire rulemaking proceeding and whether the statutory standard has been met.
Those who wish to comment should go to the main docket page at:
http://dms.dot.gov/search/document.cfm?documentid=476552&docketid=28746. Next, go to the bottom of the page where there is a link for “Comment/Submissions”. Unless you wish to register, simply click “continue”. For docket ID type “OST-2007-28746”. The rest of the “document information” is optional, but the “Operating Administration” is “OST”. The docket type is “regulatory.” The docket existence is “does exist”. The docket title is “Standard Time Zone Boundary in Southwest Indiana”. And, the remainder is your information. Next, click “continue” and it will take you to a page for submitting your comment.
I haven’t read more than a couple of pages of the NPRM, but I did note the USDOT’s explanation of the Southwestern Counties’ explanation of their dramatic switch in positions:
The Joint Petition requests a change that is contrary to the Petitioning Countiesâ€™ positions in their original individual petitions. The Joint Petition claims the original petitions â€œwere incomplete and conclusory, and the information they contained was limited and largely based on opinion and not backed by substantial and verifiable evidence.â€ The Joint Petition states that, since the January 2006 ruling, there has been â€œa groundswell of support for returning to the Eastern Time Zone, which has been a product of residents and businesses having been inconvenienced in ways that they could not have fully anticipated until the switch occurred.â€ Accordingly, the Joint Petition claims â€œto contain more extensive and thorough research on this issue.â€
The NPRM notes 300 or so comments submitted to the (old) docket on the subject of the Southwestern Counties but that they were not considered in making a determination on whether the notice of proposed rule making would issue — rather the USDOT apparently will consider them and any other comments submitted in the next 30 days in determining whether to go ahead and adopt the proposed rule.
I’ll leave it to you guys to dissect the NPRM here or, probably even better, on the USDOT docket.
I noticed that Wikipedia’s featured article today was Daylight saving time. Enjoy.
Just a note for all you Eastern Daylight Time fans. Today is the summer solstice. It didn’t get dark in Lafayette until about 9:54 p.m. That’s about 2 hours after I put my kids to bed.
Courtesy of a reader, here is Perry County’s petition to move to the Eastern Time Zone. I haven’t even opened the document and suspect I won’t get time to do so today, but wanted to at least throw a link up.
Update The USDOT had asked the Southwestern Counties for a second clarification of their initial submission. The response from their attorneys, Ice Miller, is here.
Irwin Horowitz wrote a column appearing at the New West Network entitled Should We Move Boise to Pacific Time Zone? Boise is apparently pretty far west in the
Central Mountain Time Zone — 11.2 degrees west of its meridian which is in excess of the 7.5 degrees off center which should more or less be the maximum. This results in later sunsets which in turn hinders the focus of Mr. Horowitz’s column, stargazing.
In particular, I always enjoy a bit of history, which Mr. Horowitz provides:
The origin of the longitude system (the Prime Meridian) was placed at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in England following an international conference addressing this issue in 1884. In an ideal world, 24 time zones would each be equally spaced around the planet at 15 degree intervals in longitude. Therefore, the relationship between the position of the Sun and local time would remain fairly close and times of sunrise and
sunset would be reasonable all year long.
. . .
In ancient times, the concept of a time zone was unnecessary. Wherever you were, you could always base your time on the local solar position, and if you traveled to a neighboring village or city, you would simply adjust to the new local time, as your travel time was always much greater than the difference in time between the two locations.
However, in the modern era, with the advent of faster modes of transportation such as cars, trains and airplanes, it became possible to travel to distant places at rates that were comparable to the shifting local solar time.
. . .
With the growing need to standardize train schedules in the late-19th century, President Grover Cleveland established the Interstate Commerce Commission, and authorized it with the power to regulate time zone boundaries in the United States. Its authority over time zones was transferred to the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) following the latterâ€™s establishment in 1966.
Essentially, the need for synchronizing time across large areas of space came about because of our ability to communicate and travel at speeds faster than a run (e.g. the telegraph and the train.)
Kevin Koelling, writing for the Perry County News, has an article entitled Commissioners Still Claim Majority Wants Eastern Time. The article has a lot of detail on the meeting which seemed to be dominated by a crowd of Central Time proponents urging the Perry County Commissioners not to submit a petition to the United States Dept. of Transportation seeking a change to the Eastern Time Zone. The County Commissioners had apparently already made up their mind, however.
Hopefully the commissioners have a way of giving Gov. Daniels an earful for putting them in this position in the first place. Choosing Eastern Time, the commissioners say they are chasing the dream of putting all of Indiana in one time zone. I have no opinion on which time zone is best for Perry County. But the burden shouldn’t be on county commissioners to get Indiana into one time zone. It’s a state issue and the state should have taken it up at the same time as they took up the issue of Daylight Saving Time. Instead, you have what appear to be truly bitter hearings at the local level.