You And You, But Not You: Honda Hiring Policy Draws Fire From Lawmakers

HondaHonda's exclusive hiring policy for its new Greensburg plant is attracting more criticism -- this time from Democratic state lawmakers whose constituents are barred from applying for jobs there. The Indianapolis Business Journal gets the scoop:

"Five state Democratic lawmakers from Anderson, Muncie and Pendleton have written a letter to Indiana Secretary of Commerce Nate Feltman to say they're upset that their constituents were prevented from applying for the 2,000 production jobs created by the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant in Greensburg.

"The lawmakers say their constituents should be able to apply for the jobs at the $550 million plant because their tax dollars were used to fund the incentive package that helped lure the Japanese automaker.

"Honda is taking applications from only 20 Indiana counties that are within about an hour's drive of the plant. The site, which will assemble Civic compact cars, is about halfway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Honda says the policy was driven by the need to ramp up the facility quickly and have workers who can make the commute, while experts say the real reason is probably to avoid union strongholds.

"Marion County is among the 20 counties, but Don Iannone, an Ohio economic development consultant told IBJ that Honda probably extended the hiring footprint to Marion County to add a few positions demanding high technical skills.

"The lawmakers represent a former United Auto Worker union stronghold because the area once had General Motors plants that employed thousands. The letter was sent by Rep. Dennis Tyler of Muncie; Rep. Scott Reske of Pendleton; Rep.Terri Austin of Anderson; Sen. Sue Errington of Muncie; and Sen. Tim Lanane of Anderson.

"In the letter, the lawmakers ask for a meeting with Feltman after Honda finishes initial hiring to discuss IEDC's policy about giving incentives to companies that don't open hiring to the entire state.

"'We feel that this policy should be re-evaluated, and if necessary, the General Assembly should intervene and decide whether this is appropriate policy for the state of Indiana,' the letter says.

"IEDC spokesman Mitch Frazier would only say that IEDC will respond to the letter."

It wouldn't surprise TDW at all to see some Republicans start asking questions about the policy and the state's decision to support it with tax incentives. Someone really ought find out if the Guv knew about the company's hiring practices before he signed off on the deal.

Consider The Source: IBJ Editorial Questions Guv's Indy Toll Road Plan

Orangecone_8For some random reason, TDW didn't get any mail on Saturday, so she missed this editorial in the Indianapolis Business Journal. Who else thinks it's odd that the publication owned by the Guv's former Commerce Secretary would have this to say about the proposed Central Indiana toll road?

"We don't know that the Commerce Connector is a bad idea, and that's the point. All that’s known is that the road, which would serve as a metro-area bypass on the east and south sides from Pendleton to Martinsville, could profoundly change development patterns and transportation in central Indiana for decades to come.

"But we don’t know the extent or nature of those changes. The only formal research done to date—a 2005 study conducted for the state by a New York consultant—didn’t exactly provide a ringing endorsement. The Daniels administration rightly points out that those study results don’t necessarily apply to the proposal on the table, which is precisely why more study is needed.

"The legislative process is the public's last meaningful forum for influencing whether the commerce connector gets built.

"This is where bipartisanship can be carried too far. When the governor asks for carte blanche to undertake a project about which so little is known, legislators of both parties owe it to their constituents to hit the brakes.

"Legislators should cooperate on common sense initiatives like improving Hoosier health. But checks and balances are needed in the case of a little-studied road proposal that could change the face of central Indiana."

Sweet, Shy And Nervy: Macho Man Maurer Mulling Biz Camp For The Fairer Sex

PillowTDW almost forgot to post this funny nugget from Star business columnist John Ketzenberger's column today. Professional women, it looks like you might just get a business camp of your own. Of course, we all know that unlike the boys-only camp, which teaches life skills like billiards, fly fishing and juggling, this long weekend would largely consist of hot female execs having topless pillow fights and giggling about the thrills of being on top -- of the corporate ladder, naturally. Because everyone knows that's what we gals do when we get together. Right, gentlemen?

In all seriousness, here's the item:

"A Mickey's Camp for women?

"Retiring Indiana Economic Development Corp. chief Mickey Maurer told me he's thinking about it. That would be a surprise for critics.

"You will recall Maurer has drawn heat in the past for excluding women from Mickey's Camp, the annual multiday networking and fundraising fete for men that he started in 2001. It's the kind of deal where local businessmen pay big bucks to drop names later. That didn't sit well with some businesswomen.

"Then Maurer took some heat in this space for calling his former boss at the state, Vera Bradley co-owner Pat Miller, 'a classy dame.'

"Some might say his two-year hitch at the state has made him see the light. But the notion that anyone would think he is sexist still rankles Maurer. To him, doing the camp is just another good idea. You can bet, though, it won't be called Mickey's Camp for Classy Dames."

Stumbling Along: Indiana's Economy Will Be Front And Center In 2008

Pinkslip The Star's John Ketzenberger uses his column today to talk about jobs and the economy. And how important both are to those folks who will find themselves on the ballot two years from now. (Honestly, John, can't a girl just get through this election without you bringing up the fact that another one is lurking a mere two years off?)

"It's the economy, stupid.

"But you wouldn't know it from this year's election.

"It's two days before we voters go to the polls, and we have gotten our fill of despicable personal attacks. Yet the campaigns have spent little time telling us how they would boost Indiana's still struggling economy.

"Here's a fearless prediction I'm happy to make: Even if the war in Iraq remains an issue in 2008, the economy will be at the center of Hoosier campaigns.

"Indiana is adding jobs, but slowly. Personal income is up, but it isn't keeping pace with inflation. Foreclosures and bankruptcies remain big problems.

"'Everything that I've seen in the economy is that this is a so-so year,' observed Pat Barkey, director of economic and policy studies at Ball State University.

"Indiana's economy is 'doing better overall, but not by a whole lot,' Indiana University economist Jerry Conover told The Star.

"If Hoosiers don't feel they have more buying power in the next two years, they won't care about gay marriage or abortion. They will care about pocketbook issues, like health insurance and the minimum wage.

"There's an economic gulf in Indiana, a state that's still 33,000 jobs short of the number it had as the 21st century dawned. Hourly workers feel it acutely, and union activists intend to make elected officials feel it, too.

"'We've watched over the years as corporations have gotten incentives and tax breaks,' said Ken Zeller, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO. 'We support that because we know it helps create jobs. But we continue to see job after job leave the state.'"

What Rats? What Ship? Walk -- Don't Run -- To The Nearest Statehouse Exit

Wavegoodbye_5Looks like everyone's favorite Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner, Joel "You Shut Up, It Works Just Fine" Silverman, will be leaving his post on Oct. 16. The Guv's Office just put out a release on several more departures, including chief of staff Harry Gonso and Department of Labor Commissioner Miguel Rivera. The big question: Wheeeeeere's Esther?

Here's the release in its entirety, since these don't always make it up on the Guv's website immediately:

News Release
For immediate release

Governor announces administration leadership changes

INDIANAPOLIS (September 27, 2006) – Governor Daniels today announced four changes in leadership at executive agencies and one in his office. The transitions will occur over the next few weeks to the end of the year.

"Several outstanding people made two-year commitments to state government, so we knew transitions would begin to occur in the natural course of business," said Daniels. "We began succession planning within the first several months of our administration because we knew maintaining the exceptional quality we started with would be a challenge."

The changes are as follows:

Michael "Mickey" Maurer, Secretary of Commerce and president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), already has announced he would leave his post at the end of the year. Nathan Feltman, current IEDC executive vice president and general counsel, will replace him as Secretary of Commerce and president.

Miguel Rivera, Department of Labor commissioner, has submitted his resignation effective October 6. He has accepted a private sector position. Lori Torres will be the new commissioner effective on or before November 1.

Joel Silverman, Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner, has submitted his resignation. He will leave the BMV, effective October 16.

Ron Stiver, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, will become the new BMV commissioner. He will be replaced by Andrew Penca, Workforce Development deputy commissioner for strategic research and development.

Harry Gonso, the governor’s chief of staff, will leave his post before the end of the year. Earl Goode, currently the deputy chief of staff and former commissioner of the Department of Administration, will take his place.

"Indiana has been so fortunate that seasoned, proven business leaders like Harry, Mickey and Joel were willing to enter public service. All have worked incredibly hard to reform state government and launch Indiana’s economic recovery," said Daniels. "None of them needed either the jobs or the headaches."

Earlier this month, Daniels hosted a picnic at the governor’s residence to meet people interested in state service. The 70-plus cabinet members and other agency heads were asked to bring a guest, someone qualified and interested in a leadership position. Lori Torres was one of the individuals who attended the event and emerged as a candidate for the Department of Labor position. Two other individuals already have been hired to state government positions since the event.

“I’m especially excited when we recapture Hoosier talent like Nate and Andrew and bring in fresh faces like Lori,” said the governor.

Continue reading "What Rats? What Ship? Walk -- Don't Run -- To The Nearest Statehouse Exit" »

Talk Is Cheap: Working Hoosiers Deserve Fewer Press Stunts, Better Results

BallofyarnDespite a loverly dog-and-pony show hosted earlier this week by the Indiana Economic Development Corp., today's Star held a few tiny insights into the actual state of our state's economy. From an update this afternoon:

"Indiana job and personal income growth will lag behind the U.S. average by about one percentage point in each year through 2008, according to a quarterly projection prepared by a panel of Indiana University economists.

"The Indianapolis area will be the only metro area in the state that will match the national average."

And from this morning's print edition:

"Unemployment in Indiana has hit the highest level in three years, preliminary government figures show. The rate reached 5.7 percent for July, up from 5.2 percent the previous month. That's the highest the state's jobless rate has been since June 2003, when it climbed to 5.8 percent. However, the figure is subject to revision as government analysts receive more detailed information in coming months."

Before the trolls chime in, let it be known that no one here is rooting for a bad economy. We just want the Mickey Maurers and Mitch Danielses of the world to come out of their palaces and take off those rose-colored glasses. Working Hoosiers are seeing their wages cut and their benefits slashed, and the Guv himself told Delphi workers that nine bucks an hour is a good job.

It would be nice to see the IEDC acknowledge that things aren't going as swimmingly as they'd like to think. Of course, that would require the higher-ups to stop slapping each other on the back long enough to figure out a plan.

(Insert mental image of IEDC top brass and the Guv batting a ball of yarn like kittens.)

Meow.

Bring Another Mai Tai, Doll: Commerce Secretary Maurer Leaving At Year's End

BeachSpeaking of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the Star's mid-day business update brings us this gem. Remember, friends, that Maurer is the guy who called his prior boss, Pat Miller, a "classy dame" when she left. You can see from his quote about 2007 that he's really in touch with working Hoosiers. And he obviously cares a lot about the job he's doing.

"True to his word, Mickey Maurer won't stay president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. beyond this year. 'I'll be on a beach somewhere. Call me,' Maurer said Wednesday when asked about the development corporation's activities in 2007. Maurer, an Indianapolis businessman, promised Gov. Mitch Daniels he would serve two years as president of the development corporation. Maurer also assumed the position of Secretary of Commerce after Pat Miller resigned at the end of 2005. No replacement for Maurer has been named."

Anyone want to put money on who will replace him?

Democrat Camp: We Don't Play Bonding Games, But At Least We Let Girls In

Tent_1TDW was reeeeeeeeeeeeally hoping to get an invitation to attend Mickey's Camp this year, but then she remembered, "Hey, you have to have a wiener to hang out in the woods with that bunch."

So, instead of a couple days of corporate bonding with the boys, TDW is heading to Southern Indiana this afternoon for the annual Indiana Democratic Editorial Association Convention. It's not quite so rustic at Caesars Indiana Casino Resort. And they have blackjack tables.

Fear not, though. TDW will take her laptop, and the site will continue to be updated throughout the weekend. Because the blog that's stagnant is the blog that dies.

Maurer Tries Out Loo Of The Future; Guv Awaits His Turn On The Techno-Throne

Not sure how we overlooked this gem of a photo last week, but it's one of those "better late than never" situations. This was in the Indy Star on June 21, but it might've been June 21, 2024, for all we know. Caption away!

Maurerdaniels

Fancy Mitch: Well, Maybe Holiday Inn Tokyo Was All Booked Up This Trip

Champagne_5J.K. Wall updates his daily blog from Japan with a bit of information about the place the Guv and his posse have been staying. (You'll recall that last week, someone posted something snarky from the Imperial Hotel in Japan, and TDW has been logging hits from the same IP address all week, which makes us feel kinda special.) Anyway, it looks like the Guv travels in style. A real man of the people, you might say. If you'd like to take a virtual tour of the hotel or check out its amenities, clickety here.

"Gov. Mitch Daniels took the afternoon off from his Asian trade mission, so I got the chance to get out of Tokyo and see a broader slice of Japanese life.

"I needed to. I've been judging Japan mostly from our hotel, the Imperial. And that is like judging the United States from the Waldorf Astoria in New York. From there, you’d never even know that Indiana exists, let alone what a Hoosier is.

"'The Imperial Hotel, people use that for wedding ceremonies, once in a lifetime,' said Minako Iwata, a mall manager I interviewed Thursday in Gotemba, small resort-type town west of Tokyo.

"Indeed, this hotel is so fancy, Daniels' visit is hardly a blip. Last year alone the hotel hosted actor Johnny Depp, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, King Hussein of Jordan, the presidents of Congo, Columbia, Romania, Indonesia, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras, and a slew of prime ministers, including Iraq's.

"Given that company, should we be surprised that Daniels wasn't listed in the Imperial’s 2005 famous person registry brochure? (Daniels was, however, mentioned in an article about Indiana today in the Asian Wall Street Journal. So he’s got that going for him.)"

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