The Power Of Positive Thinking: Vera Bradley Meets The Guv's Vacant Residence?

Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley is expanding its range to include home furnishings:

"The Vera Bradley My Home collection, made by Drexel Heritage, recently became available at 150 retailers nationwide. Locally, it's sold at Kittle's in Castleton."

Here's a solution: Things didn't work out for Vera Bradley co-founder Pat Miller at the Indiana Department of Economic Development, but this could be the chance of a lifetime for her company to swoop in and decorate the Governor's residence for the Decorator's Show House.

A second-time-around match made in heaven?

Both Of Indiana's Lieutenant Governors Have Received Back-Handed Compliments This Month, an agricultural news site, has named Becky Skillman its "ag [wo]man of the year in Indiana" for creating a Department of Agriculture and being a favorite of the Indiana Farm Bureau. That's nice, but this comment is a bit awkward:

"'The leadership of Becky Skillman has been outstanding, exceeding everyone’s expectations,' said Don Villwock, President of Indiana Farm Bureau."

What, exactly, had everyone been expecting? Don Villwock, meet Mickey Maurer. We think you mean these things as compliments, but we can't be sure.

Score Another One In The Loss Column For The Indy Star Editorial Board

RosieHey, Indianapolis Star: There was a time when you might have been considered a newspaper in motion. And then you go and write absolute tripe like this:

"When Indianapolis businessman Mickey Maurer becomes Indiana commerce secretary next month, perhaps he should hang one of those World War II-era posters about 'Loose Lips Sink Ships' on his wall.

"Loose language from Maurer's lips -- in referring to departing Commerce Secretary Patricia Miller as a 'classy dame' in a newspaper interview -- has his own ship listing a bit after a number of businesswomen objected to the remark. They felt it was an inappropriate and sexist remark for a man who soon will be in charge of attracting businesses to Indiana.

"As Jean Palmer Heck, an executive speech coach, told Star business columnist John Ketzenberger, 'If you're a leader, or you want to be a leader, you really have to think how your audience will react to what you say.'

"Yet, it's important to note that Miller says she wasn't offended. And Webster's Dictionary defines dame as 'a title given to a woman in authority or the mistress of a household.' Commerce Secretary Miller certainly has been in authority. Supporters would argue she's pretty classy.

"But movie stars boasting about this or that 'classy dame' long ago went the way of black-and-white films. Mauer's biggest problem may not be sexism. It may be that he's showing his age."

While it's funny that Maurer and the IEDC have to put up with one more day of coverage of his remark, it's not funny that the state's largest newspaper basically said, well, you know, he's old, so it's okay.

For the sake of banging our head against the virtual wall a little longer, let's rehash: It is not okay for the state's economic development liaison to the nation and world to use outdated, sexist -- yes, Indy Star, it's sexist -- language to refer to his outgoing boss.

Continue reading "Score Another One In The Loss Column For The Indy Star Editorial Board" »

Lots Of Things In Life Are Beautiful, But Brother, There Is One Particular Thing

Edna_1 Indy Star business columnist John Ketzenberger discusses IEDC President Mickey Maurer's reference to outgoing Secretary of Commerce Pat Miller as a "classy dame" with a number of businesswomen:

"Was it a compliment? Business owner Bev Middaugh thinks so.

"Was it inappropriate? Business owner Myra Borshoff thinks so.

"Does it affect how people perceive Indiana as a place to do business, especially since Maurer will succeed Miller next month? We'll see."

Thanks, John, for picking up this ball and running with it. Maurer's lack of manners obviously reflects poorly on him, but let's see how he defended the remark in the column:

"When I pointed out that 'South Pacific,' like the term 'classy dame,' is out of date, Maurer replied, 'That's all right because I'm out of date.'

"He also said he didn't intend the comment about Miller 'in any derogatory way.'

"'Folks that take issue with that need to move on and find something else to take issue with,' Maurer said."

Ohhh, we get it. So we, the citizens of Indiana, should accept that you made the stupid comment because you're old? Kind of like when you blush and ignore a goofy great-uncle's inappropriate racial reference at a family dinner?

No, Mickey. Not quite. And that's what John was getting at in his column. See, we would argue that the goofy great-uncle needs to be called out, but many would disagree, saying that those private words don't really hurt anyone. Fine. But, Mr. Soon-To-Be Secretary, you represent an entire state's department of commerce when you speak publicly, so we'd appreciate it if you'd just apologize -- yes, it wouldn't kill you -- and try to bite your tongue next time.

Maybe you could learn to handle such situations like your boss did in this column. Miller back-handedly dismissed your so-called compliment in what we would call a very classy way: "'You have to consider the source,' she said. 'I knew what he meant.'"

Consider the crusty, outmoded source, indeed.

Thanks For Your Hard Work: Here's A Self-Promoting Christmas Gift From Me To You

BulbJim Shella reports on his blog:

"Governor Daniels gave members of his Cabinet a silver ruler as a Christmas gift.  The ruler signifies Daniels' desire to measure results.  Engraved on the ruler is a quote from Winston Churchill:  'People who are not prepared to do unpopular things and to defy clamor are not fit to be ministers in times of stress.'"

Poll question: Who thinks Pat Miller got a ruler?

For our part, we'd counter the Governor with this Churchill quote: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

One Year And Out: The Face Of State Government Looks Different Every Day

RevolvingdoorLesley Stedman Weidenbener uses her Sunday Courier-Journal column to discuss the departure of Pat Miller and the other top-level staff losses the Guv has accrued in his office within his first year:

"Gov. Mitch Daniels last week lost the first person he appointed to a Cabinet-level position when Commerce Secretary Pat Miller said she needed to go back to the company she co-founded in Fort Wayne.

"It's a high-profile loss -- especially since Daniels actually picked Miller before he was elected and she campaigned with him -- but one whose impact seems unlikely to be severe.

"After all, Daniels had sort of muddied Miller's role in the administration right off the bat by naming her chief executive officer of the newly formed Indiana Economic Development Corp. (the replacement for the commerce department) but naming someone else its president."

On the subject of Mickey Maurer, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported yesterday that he will still leave the IEDC and his position as Secretary of Commerce at the end of 2006. So, two leaders in two years? That's great for continuity and the flow of institutional knowledge.

Here Comes The Spin: They're Leaving Because This Is Not Their Private Sector Club

Crybaby_1Matt Tully writes about the Pat Miller departure today. But there's something that bothers us about the tone of the column -- and the PR whitewash from the new crew.

"Daniels, who works at a West Wing pace after stints in two White Houses, wants his people 'to be exhilarated, not exhausted' by his wild first year. Still, he is prepared for turnover. That's crucial on a team filled with people who fondly recall life outside the Statehouse bubble."

Governor, you knew when you recruited these people that they were business-types. You managed to get them to commit to serving in your administration for a finite period of time. And they're still dropping like flies. What does that say about your ability to convince people to serve under you once they're in that position?

But that's beside the point.

The overarching premise of Daniels' argument is that it's such a huge sacrifice for these people to serve in public roles.

Continue reading "Here Comes The Spin: They're Leaving Because This Is Not Their Private Sector Club" »

Women Loved His Punk: We Open The Newspaper And Find That TDW Has Written Itself

Gangsta_2 Ordinarily, TDW wouldn't write more than one post on the same exact story, but today's Star article about Pat Miller's resignation includes a quote that needs some room to stretch out and breathe:

"[IEDC President Mickey] Maurer, who did not attend the news conference, called Miller 'a classy dame.'"

And so, because we believe Maurer shouldn't get a pass on this one, especially in Miller's farewell story, we write a list:

Others Terms Of Endearment Mickey Maurer Has Used To Refer To Pat Miller Over The Past 11 Months

  • Squaw
  • Broad
  • Sweetcheeks
  • Cupcake
  • The Little Missus Of Economic Development
  • Honey
  • IEDC's Ball And Chain
  • Minnie
  • Moll
  • Doll
  • Tootsie
  • Little Darlin'
  • Gal
  • The Vixen Who Has The Job That Should've Been Mine
  • It's Pat
  • The Bag Lady
  • Becky's Smart Twin
  • LG2

BREAKING NEWS: Pat Miller Has Resigned As Secretary Of Commerce

Patmiller_smallTalk about short-lived. Indiana Secretary of Commerce and Vera Bradley co-founder Pat Miller resigned today, leaving Mickey Maurer in control at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

That brings the total number of top staffers who've left the Daniels administration within the first year to four. Who's next?

Miller was practically billed as co-Lieutenant Governor during Daniels' run for Governor; she appeared on the campaign trail alongside him, seemingly to overshadow LG nominee Becky Skillman's lack of real-life [business] experience.

But rumor has it things didn't exactly work out for Miller once she arrived at the IEDC. She clashed frequently with Maurer, who reportedly was unhappy that he had a boss and that she was, well, a she.

Although Miller hasn't always been TDW's favorite cabinet member, we wish her all the best as she gets out of government and heads back to Handbag Central. We're not fans of the Vera Bradley line, but there are plenty of people who are, and it's a Hoosier business that's been growing -- and appears to be staying -- in Indiana. Good luck.

Here's a copy of the press release the Governor's Office put out on the change in power: Download patmillerresignation12.12.05.doc

And here's the two-graf update from the Indy Star.

Fort Wayne Paper Takes A Closer Look At The Indiana Economic Development Corporation

HelpwantedThe Evansville Courier & Press reported last weekend that the Southwest and Northwest parts of Indiana haven't exactly been showered with incentives by the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Today, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that its region appears to be getting more than its fair share. You can read the story for all the details of projects in the area, but TDW wants to highlight two things:

First, thanks to Niki Kelly and the paper for noting that negotiations for a $100 million hydrogen manufacturing plant in DeKalb County began under the previous administration.

It's important that people understand that economic development doesn't happen overnight; many of the projects the IEDC is claiming as its own were started years ago. For our part, Democrats should be happy that unlike in other areas of government, IEDC officials decided to continue the good work started before they arrived instead of chucking everything out the window.

Continue reading "Fort Wayne Paper Takes A Closer Look At The Indiana Economic Development Corporation" »

Where They At? There They At: Guv Finally Jumps Into Economic Development Issues

Alarm Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"Wake up, Indiana Economic Development Corporation!"

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. *muttering* "Whahuh?"  *yawn* "Leave us alone." Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"Hey! Now! Get your lazy butt out of bed!"

"Okay, okay. What?"

"We got deals! Get 'em done! Move, move, move, move, move!"

And so it goes. The Guv and his band o' economic development dwarves finally showed up to talk about the Toyota deal in Lafayette, which was reported and touted by local officials days ago.

"'The state is in serious discussions with Toyota,' said Patricia Miller, the Indiana secretary of commerce at a meeting Thursday of the board of directors of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. 'The Lafayette plant currently offers the production capacity that Toyota needs for its vehicles.'

"Gov. Mitch Daniels, chairman of the IEDC board, led the meeting, held Thursday morning at the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette.

"Afterwards, Daniels said a trip he took to Japan in July likely helped to advance the deal between SIA and Toyota. While there, he met officials of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. -- the owner of SIA -- as well as those from Toyota and Mitsubishi.

"'I think they know this is a state government that is growth-oriented and job-oriented,' he said."

That's odd, because TDW's been hearing that the IEDC is a largely slow and cumbersome agency that chases its proverbial tail and spends more time offering political incentives than running down good, high-paying jobs. But, you know, we hear a lot of things. Sometimes, it's just the sound of silence.

Continue reading "Where They At? There They At: Guv Finally Jumps Into Economic Development Issues" »

Read The Memo, Target: Vera Bradley Owns The Market On Hideous Paisley Designs

1203_paisley_skirt_12032005_ap55n09Vera Bradley Designs, the company co-created by Indiana Secretary of Commerce Pat Miller, is suing Target for copyright infringement. The Fort Wayne-based company is alleging that the national retailer's Isaac Mizrahi line stole a 2003 pattern called "Sherbet" for a skirt (seen at right) and several pieces of swimwear.

They do look a lot alike, but there's more to copyright law than that. Fortunately, the verdict is already in at TDW: All of these items are kinda gross. Don't buy them, and you won't have to worry whether you're carrying or wearing illegal designer baggage.

We will, however, forgive Target's Isaac Mizrahi line for its fashion faux-pas because they make cool, cheap shoes that look like they cost a lot more than they do.

Manhands Discusses State's Economic Development Strategy; Hoosiers Glad To Hear We Have One

Pat Miller, the state's Secretary of Commerce, visited North Manchester last week to talk to local chamber of commerce members about the mission of the flailing Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  After teeing up the predictable "how much things sucked when we took over" ball, Miller explained:

"But the IEDC is working to stop that and to work toward more prosperous times.P_miller_headshot_pic

"To do so, Daniels instructed the IEDC to have three main operating functions: speed, flexibility and customer service. Those three things, she said, will help Indiana 'retain, help grow and attract new business.'"

Speed: Finding out after the fact that a major employer in Southeastern Indiana was planning to shutter its factory doors and leave the state.

Flexibility: Bending the facts to take credit for dozens of deals initiated under prior administrations.

Customer service: Having a disclaimer on the IEDC website almost a year into things that reads, "Please bear with us as we overhaul our website. Thank you for your patience and for your interest in the great state of Indiana."

Continue reading "Manhands Discusses State's Economic Development Strategy; Hoosiers Glad To Hear We Have One" »

Here You Go, IEDC: An Ice Pack For Your Chin, Which Is Starting To Turn Black And Blue

What originally looked like a puff piece by John Ketzenberger about the new director of entrepreneurship at the IEDC turned out to contain a few much-needed, telling smacks upside the head for that agency.  To wit:

"It's an indication of the chaotic times at IEDC that it took 10 months to hire someone to direct key programs like the 21st Century Fund, the venture capital tax credit program and the Small Business Development Centers. They probably could have had Kidd much sooner."

And this one, which includes a factual nugget that most mainstream media have overlooked now that it's no longer in vogue to bash the current administration for lost jobs:

"Kidd may be just what IEDC needs to get things going in a state that has lost thousands of high-paying jobs."

And finally:

"With three teenagers, Kidd sees the immediacy of his new post. 'I want my kids to have jobs and stay here.'

"For that to happen, Kidd knows he has a big job ahead of him."

Thanks, John.  We apologize for pre-judging your column before reading it all the way through.

The Government Itself Keeps On Expanding And Expanding In All Of The Directions It Can Whiz

Inside Indiana Business carried two noteworthy items about state government this afternoon.

First, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has named Bruce Kidd as its Director of Entrepreneurship.  A new position from an administration that promised to roll back the size of government?  Stunning.  No details about how much Kidd will be paid to perform this role, but word on the street is that the IEDC could use all the help it can get these days.

Also from the world of growing government, Gov. Daniels today announced the formation of a new aviation division charged with overseeing the planned reduction of the state's 20-aircraft fleet.  In addition to creating the position of Aviation Director, Daniels revealed that "the aviation division will be overseen by representatives of the divisions impacted by the consolidation, including the commissioners of Natural Resources and Transportation, the superintendent of the State Police, and the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the governor’s chief of staff, Harry Gonso, who will chair the group. Department of Administration Commissioner Earl Goode will facilitate early implementation of the recommendations."

How many cooks can you fit into that tiny kitchen?

When All Else Fails, Just Keep Telling People You're Accomplishing Something. Right, IEDC?

It wouldn't be Sunday if TDW didn't let fly some vitriol in the direction of a deserving state agency.  You're up, Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  And here's why: We're sick to death of you taking credit for jobs you didn't create, slamming the prior administrations as though they ignored economic development for 16 years and pumping your fist like a hero when the state's still bleeding jobs every month.

Over the past nine months, Gov. Daniels has appeared -- many times unwanted -- at dozens of press conferences to steal the limelight away from deserving local leaders who've worked hard to close these deals for their communities.  On several occasions, he's piped up when the state actually had no involvement in a deal whatsoever.  And very nearly every transaction that's been closed since he took office began long before he ascended to the throne.  That has to sting a guy who takes such glee in dumping on his predecessors.

The Guv and IEDC also tend to promote the creation of jobs that aren't necessarily the kind of jobs Indiana wants to attract.  It's not exactly going to do much for our overall quality of life to bring in $10 per hour warehouse jobs.  There are counties and academic institutions pushing the economic development envelope, but it's a sure bet the team of fledgling (read: textbook-taught brains with no real work experience) kids assembled at IEDC are spending more time figuring out how to use their computers than they are digging into real issues.  There are some things you just can't learn in a classroom; it's a pity they jettisoned most of the people who knew the ins and outs of the economic development landscape in Indiana.  Not to mention the ones who stuck around just long enough to see the new goofballs in action before opting to return voluntarily to the private sector.

While the dog and pony show continues, we keep seeing -- or not seeing, if you read the Star -- statistics about Indiana losing jobs despite a positive national trend.  We lost 2,000 jobs in July, and we had the second-highest number of jobs lost in August (almost 9,000, for anyone keeping score at home).  And now, we read that 6,600 Hoosier jobs hang in the balance as Delphi Corporation enters bankruptcy proceedings.

Doubtless Gov. Daniels will continue to blame those who came before him for being inept, laying poor groundwork, etc.  It's such an easy song to sing, and you don't even have to be in tune.  Just clap your hands over your ears and shout, really.

But tell that to the poor guy who just lost his factory job after 30 years.  He has nowhere to turn for training.  And even if he could, the best he could hope for is a new position quilting overpriced makeup bags at Vera Bradley.  Oh, and while he's figuring all that out, he'll be eating scraps because his unemployment check's caught in a backlog that grows by the day because Mitch Daniels has behaved like an obstinate teen-ager since the day he took office.

We need a real economic development strategy to make sure Indiana keeps pace with the rest of the country.  Cutesy press conferences and the occasional headline don't put food on the table for real working Hoosiers.  But, then, it's not like Mitch hired too many of those.

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