Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Daniels, Staff Thin-Skinned about Major Moves Criticism

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Daniels, Staff Thin-Skinned about Major Moves Criticism

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mitch Daniels apparently doesn't want anyone to question or criticize the decision to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. Not long after I wrote a column questioning the toll road lease, the governor sent me a handwritten note chiding me for launching a "broadside" at him. Then, days later, his press secretary, Jane Jankowski, wrote a response to The Evansville Courier & Press (where the column appeared) in which she accused me of a "sloppy effort" and concluded by saying that I must not be serving my journalism students well.

Before this goes any further, there are a couple of things that I need to make clear. The first is something that I have written in this space several times: Mitch Daniels has been the most transformational governor I have seen. I have tremendous respect for the seriousness of purpose with which he has approached the duties of his office - and the creativity he has shown in his leadership.

In fact, not long ago I wrote a column lamenting his decision not to run for president because I said it deprived this country of the grand debate for which it has hungered for at least a generation.

That does not mean that I agree with everything that the governor has done or proposed. And I am somewhat disappointed that the governor and his staff don't seem to realize that reasonable people can and should disagree occasionally over important matters. But, then, given the personal nature of Jankowski's last shot, it seems evident that Daniels and his team are disappointed with me, too.

So be it.

In Jankowski's response, she argues that the $3.8 billion the toll road deal generated has been invested in building Indiana's roads and bridges - a fact no one disputes. In the original column, I acknowledged that the Daniels administration had inherited a "sagging infrastructure" and that the funds from the toll road lease had been used to build and repair Indiana roads and bridges.

She also takes issue with my concern that the state has "lost control" of the asset. She notes the state retains ownership of the toll road and can continue to regulate it.

Fair enough.

But, if we're going to talk about this, then let's talk about it. …

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