By Maureen Hayden
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue Jan 08, 2013, 03:25 PM EST
Love him or hate him, there's one area of consensus on the soon-to-be departing Gov. Mitch Daniels: He transformed Indiana state government in ways few of his predecessors ever did.
In 2004, he was the first Republican in 16 years to take the governor's office and he wasted little time firing up what he called a "freight train of change."
One of his first acts in office was to sign an executive order doing away with collective bargaining for state employees. One of the big pieces of legislation he signed into law in his final year in office was the "right to work" bill that bars labor contracts from requiring non-union members to pay union dues.
He pushed for the property tax caps that are locked into Indiana law; championed the creation of the nation's largest voucher program that gives low-income parents public dollars to put their children in private schools; outsourced the Indiana toll road and the welfare system to private entities; and changed our clocks when he shoved the state onto daylight saving time.
Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Indiana Politics, has described - with more much eloquence than I can muster - how transformative Daniels has been both in politics and governing. In the forward he wrote for a book that contains excerpts from speeches Daniels made over 22 years, Howey lists Daniels among the 10 governors in Indiana's almost 200-year history who were true change agents.
Given how we cautious, conservative, stubborn Hoosiers tend to loathe change, that's a big deal.
"Whether you regard him as a hero or adversary, few Hoosiers will argue the notion that his eight years at the Indiana Statehouse have been impactful and have altered the trajectory of the state at a time when just about everything is changing on a global scale," Howey wrote.
Daniels officially leaves office when Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence is sworn in on Jan. 14.
Daniels' impact has been, and will be, measured in so many ways - with praise and disparagement.
For me, part of the measure will include a small moment I witnessed in August, when Daniels welcomed a group of Muslims who came to pray in the Indiana Statehouse. They were there at Daniels' invitation. In his first year in office, Daniels started the tradition of the Governor's Iftar Dinner as an annual event conducted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
As the event began, I saw a young college student approach Daniels to introduce himself. What was so touching about it was the fact that the young man was an immigrant from war-torn Syria, born in a country now governed by a ruler who wouldn't think twice about killing him. Yet on that August evening, he was chatting warmly with Daniels, who is the grandson of Syrian immigrants, and who is an evangelical Christian who's served two presidents in the White House.
The young man left the encounter saying Daniels inspired him.
"He makes me want to do something good with my life," he told me.
Daniels left the encounter saying how pleased he was that the dinner had become such a tradition.
"Since the beginning, I've been conscious of the imperative to serve everyone," Daniels said, "people of all faiths and people with no faith at all."
- Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Word on the street and in the media is that it will be a really bad summer for mosquitoes. Or should I say, it will be a really bad summer for humans, because it will be a great year for thirsty mosquitoes.
June 14, 2013
As a Christian, I feel compelled to respond to a recent letter to the editor.
When Barack Obama announced his presidential campaign back in February 2007, he did it in front of the old Springfield, Ill., Statehouse in a speech full of references to Abraham Lincoln.
Ordinarily I don’t take requests, but a bunch of people have written to ask how I’m doing with my weight-loss surgery and I thought this might be the most efficient way to answer.
June 11, 2013
I am a grandmother who went to the Brownsburg graduation ceremony on June 7 and due to very poor planning on Brownsburg School’s part, I could not sit and watch my twin grandsons graduate in person. I was directed to an overflow room where I had to watch it on a TV screen and could not even take pictures.
What you are now hearing across the land is a collective whine. Blue-state Democrats are upset that Texas Gov. Rick Perry dares come and play in their sandboxes, and worse, threatens to “poach” jobs from their states.
The website Politico reports that Perry’s attempts to lure jobs to Texas are “infuriating to prominent Democrats around the country.”
I am the first to admit I am behind the times when it comes to technology. I remember way back in the olden days of the 1990s when I was actually ahead of the game. Now there are second-graders that are more tech savvy than me. I just decided to stop my forward technological progression a few years back.
June 7, 2013
College graduates facing a crushing debt – some more than $100,000 – is a very big and a very real problem.
But U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposal to deal with it won’t solve the problem. It is a cheap ploy to divert attention from the real problem.
It is appropriate that the worst scandal of the Obama administration — the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives — is a scandal of administrators and bureaucrats, of otherwise faceless people endowed with immense power over their fellow citizens and running free of serious oversight from elected officials.
Because I am a With-It type guy who is Down with all the latest Technostuff, I recently agreed to teach an online summer class for one of my local universities, which shall remain nameless but whose initials are IUPUI.
June 4, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
Trish Staine had just finished running 10 miles while training for a half-marathon when she started going into labor. The mother of three said she hadn't gained any weight or felt any fetal movement in the months before and had no idea she was pregnant. Is it possible for a woman not to know she's pregnant before she starts giving birth?
June 17, 2013
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