A NEW DAY DAWNED IN INDIANA this week, as new Governor Mitch Daniels and a Republican-controlled statehouse began work in the spirit of cooperation and progress.
It didn’t take long for our new governor to take a hotly-contested issue on with full force.
Governor Daniels has endorsed a proposal for the entire state of Indiana to adopt Daylight Savings Time — although parts of the state set in two time zones. Under the plan, most of Indiana would “spring ahead” and “fall back” with the eastern part of the U.S.; while the western corners of the state which include Gary and Evansville and other communities would stay in line with Chicago.
The new governor believes that Indiana not being on Daylight Savings Time hurts the state economically, calling it a “jobs issue” at a recent press conference. He believes that the state being on a different time costs Indiana business when dealing with other states; and is firmly convinced that Daylight Savings Time here will put more Hoosiers to work by attracting more jobs and industry to the state.
It will also end the confusion. What time is it, anyway?
With “fast time” and “slow time” a cornerstone of discussion here in Switzerland County, having the state adopt Daylight Savings Time would put to rest once and for all a longtime Switzerland County argument.
Those residents who work across the river and in Ohio would suddenly find themselves not having to get up at ridiculous hours of the early morning to get to work; and never again would anyone get confused and miss a wedding that they really wanted to go to.
The 11 o’clock news would come on at 11 p.m., and no one would have to decipher clock changes as they drive to a neighboring county for a meeting or a dinner.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just be normal, like every other state?
I guess it would, but why is it that I just can’t agree with this?
Switzerland County is a unique place, and in many respects it is a “hidden jewel” to the rest of the world. No pays much attention to us, but there are two times a year when the entire nation takes notice.
When Daylight Savings Time arrives for the rest of the nation, Switzerland County straddles the fence and waits for the media to come calling.
Now Rhonda Griffin and Eve Purnell do an outstanding job, but tell me what else happens that can get national television shows to do live remote broadcasts from downtown Patriot?
What else gets Switzerland County on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and others?
In short — you can’t buy the level of publicity and national exposure that this county gets by not officially adhering to either time standard. People wonder how we all live in such a place; and Vevay Newspapers has actually had people come into our office who came to the county because they had heard about the time difference.
During his campaign, Governor Daniels seemed to be pointed toward moving all of Indiana to the Central Time Zone — where Evansville and Gary are now — and then going on Daylight Savings Time.
That would put us an hour behind Cincinnati and Louisville — who would still be in the Eastern Time Zone — all year around.
That might be confusing down here along the river, but at least everyone in the state would be on the same time all year long.
But the bill that the Governor is most likely to support keeps the state in two time zones, but then brings in Daylight Savings Time. Under that plan, we would be on the same time as Cincinnati and Louisville all year long, but would always be an hour ahead of Evansville and Gary.
If the Governor wants to end the confusion, I believe that he must take the initiative to first put the entire state in the same time zone — either Eastern or Central — and then proceed with his plan to adopt Daylight Savings Time.
What we are all going to see at the capital concerning this matter will have nothing to do with political parties, but it will have everything to do with geography.
The northwest corner of the state, where Gary and Merrillville and South Bend and others are closely tied to Chicago — which is in the Central Time Zone — are going to fight tooth and nail not to go to the Eastern Time Zone.
But leave them alone and that portion of the state will constantly be an hour behind the rest of the state, which can’t be good economic news for a portion of the state still struggling with the downsizing of the steel industry.
It is important that the major metropolitan areas of the state — which are also where the major industries are — be on the same time as the state capital if the real reason for the switch to Daylight Savings Time is for economic growth.
If the new governor believes that time confusion is costing this state economic opportunities, then adopting Daylight Savings Time but leaving everything else the same doesn’t do anything — because there will still be two times in the state.
What it will do is perpetuate the image that lawmakers don’t believe that the state exists outside of the I-465 loop that circles Indianapolis — and the ongoing feeling that our leaders believe that Indiana is Indianapolis and nothing more.
The people of this state elected Mitch Daniels to lead us, and I believe that he can do just that.
If he and the legislature can only figure out what time it is.