Friday, June 4, 2010
When Lack of Transparency Becomes Transparent
By Jon E. Easter
On the surface of things, it should be pretty easy. When my budget needs cutting at home, I can tell you what I cut and why I cut it.
Governor Mitch Daniels is ordering budget cuts left and right due to serious state revenue problems. In this time where state budgets have been so hampered by the economic situation, I don't there's anyone that doesn't appreciate the difficult situation that the Governor and the General Assembly are in. So many things to fund, but there's so little money to do it. I get that part.
The problem is that there have been questions about the Governor's Office and its priorities, and the Governor is doing little to answer the tough questions.
It seems like as each day goes by, another school system is closing a school, laying off tens to hundreds of teachers, or cutting back on services. Governor Daniels blames it mostly on the districts, the teachers and on teachers unions. He will tell you that teachers are greedy and that there are too many administrators. He will say that custodial services and secretaries aren't important. Then, he will increase the standards and saddle the districts with more unfunded mandates.
Education is not escaping "Mitch the Knife", but we don't even know if education needs to be trimmed this much because the Governor won't tell us what has been trimmed in the first place. Governor Daniels is playing a game with the facts and refusing to release specific budget cut information requested by Indiana's Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington) according to the Associated Press. Daniels' office is telling Simpson that a list of cuts by the executive branch of Indiana government isn't possible to compile.
"Either the office is totally incompetent or they're keeping secrets," Simpson told the AP. "The public has a right to this information."
So, let me get this straight, Mitch. You are asking...no...TELLING local school districts how they should spend their money, but you won't show us how you're spending yours. My friend, that's a bunch of bull. Not only is it irresponsible, but it seems downright stupid. To think that the Governor's Office would not know what cuts they've ordered requires that office to believe this state is full of a bunch of idiots. Unfortunately, Mitch seems to think that we are all idiots.
When Channel 13 approached his office for clarification on job creation numbers that appeared to be incorrect, he refused to provide the information even though other states nearby readily provide the same documentation.
When Governor Daniels was challenged about whether he would return the campaign money that disgraced financier Tim Durham raised for his PAC, he refused. Daniels said the money already been spent with no indication what on. That load of malarkey was made bigger by the fact that his campaign could have written a check for the money Durham raised and have donated it to charity or returned it dollar-for-dollar and then raised more clean cash.
Daniels has a bad attitude whenever he is questioned on anything, and he now has a track record for blocking transparency in government. I guess we should not be surprised. After all, he was George W. Bush's budget director and was one of the architects of the largest government budget deficit in the history of our country. A fact that was conveniently left out of the 2004 race for Governor.
I think Governor Daniels has been teflon for far too long. The evidence is starting to add up, and everyone is starting to see what Democrats have known all along. Mitch Daniels is Napoleon with a bad haircut. He thinks he's emperor of Indiana and that he doesn't have to answer to anyone. With near complete control of state government and a huge say about what goes on in the largest city in the state, he's darn close. Thankfully, there are some out there that are not willing to agree with Mitch's sense of entitlement -- people like Vi Simpson, Democrat from Bloomington. People like the Democratic House and Senate members who talk until they are blue in the face about how it's been a nightmare dealing with Mitch. Media folks who continue to write good stuff and broadcast reports. Last, but not least, the tireless citizens who refuse to be stepped on by a Governor who needs a step stool to reach the top shelf.
If I were the Governor, I'd find the list that Simpson wanted, and I would release it because the lack of transparency is ironically becoming very transparent.