Penny Wise, Pound Foolish–Millionth Edition

These days, partisan divisions are so acute that we sometimes forget the stark differences that can also characterize members of the same political party. For example, I worked in the Hudnut Administration, and I often noted the dramatic differences between Republican Bill Hudnut’s approach to governance and that of his equally Republican successor, Steve Goldsmith.

I used to say that if a survey were to disclose that most citizens didn’t see any use for city planners, Hudnut would go out into the community and explain why planning was important; Goldsmith would say “Oh good. Let’s fire the planners.”

Goldsmith’s approach certainly allowed him to brag about “streamlining” local government. One of his many “reforms” was to get rid of the city’s lab, which–among other things– tested samples of the concrete and asphalt intended to be used by city contractors, to ensure it met specifications.

Evidently, we no longer have a state lab either...

The state’s infrastructure received a D+ rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Most recently, I-65 and State Road 156 have served as examples of Indiana’s crumbling roads and bridges, but Indiana’s infrastructure problems go far beyond those failures–we have over 1,900 structurally deficient bridges,  and a new report reveals the Indiana Department of Transportation approved asphalt ingredients that will significantly shorten the useful life of the roads on which they’re used.

The likely cost to Hoosier taxpayers is in the millions of dollars.

“In a cycle that should have two pavings, you have three pavings. That’s a lot of extra,” said Jason Heile, president of the Indiana Association of County Engineers and Supervisors.

INDOT is now testing the materials used, in order to determine whether they met the contract specifications–but this testing is after the fact. Had the testing occurred prior to the use of the asphalt in repaving, these huge costs could have been avoided.

We saved pennies by failing to test materials in advance. We’ll spend lots of pounds as a result.

It would really be nice to have elected officials who were more interested in actually governing than in grandstanding about how much money they are “saving” us.


  1. My sources inside INDOT tell me that not only do we have a lab (who knew about this), but we also had project managers who knew but had to stay quiet or lose their jobs. When even the REPUBLICAN Transportation Chairs want an independent investigation. ..

  2. All of Sheila’s regular readers know my views on Goldsmith and most of his administration. Prior to making his bid for mayor, the public was generally aware of many threats on his life during and after his time as Prosecutor. The story began circulating through Department of Metropolitan Development that he had applied to City Planning and Zoning to change his house numbers to protect the lives of himself and his family. I laughed till I was handed the letter to process through DMD’s legal representative then hand deliver to Planning and Zoning to be processed. This life-saving change of house numbers defies comprehension; no way to expect a logical and common sense administration of an entire city from this person. But; think of the entire process required to accomplish this, city maps, directories, US Post Office, township records and county Treasurer’s Office, etc., etc., etc. What did this approved request cost the City of Indianapolis in tax dollars and why was it done for this man? Not long after his inauguration, he demoted the Administrator of Planning and Zoning by creating a Deputy Administrator position, more tax dollars needed, then appointed a new Administrator – the former Director of the Male Infertility Department and the Indiana University Medical Center.

  3. Conservatism is a religion.

    By that I mean that its adherents desperately want it to be true and are willing to dispense with normal critical thinking because it would so good if it were true.

    Just think! All of those hours that we labor just to pay taxes freed of that burden! All of those nagging rules designed it seems to restrict us from bugging our too sensitive neighbors gone! All of the annoying sights and smells and sounds of people different from us gone forever!

    It must be true because it just feels so good when I’m in charge of others rather than merely equal.

    Democracy is such a burden.

    Yes, it is. It’s the price of freedom and freedom is a precious commodity denied much of humanity.

    Conservatism just does not work. It’s a wrong headed world view. It’s anti-freedom, anti-progress, anti-people. We need government like we have to be who we are. It’s proven every day. When we drop the ball the consequences ripple through the fabric of society.

    We see this every day but wouldn’t it be great if freedom was free? If responsibility could be only for ourselves? If the world could be simple?

  4. @ Hoosier47906…..Sadly, your post does not surprise me at all. It is terrible what employees are forced to do against their will just to ensure they can keep their jobs. This happens in the private sector also, but is so much more egregious when it happens at the expense of taxpayers.

  5. I am slowly and reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the majority of my fellow Hoosiers lack empathy, compassion and common sense when it comes to what the state government does. As long as the corruption, malfeasance, and poorly conceived plans do not affect them directly, they do not care. The majority only wants low taxes, no regulations that impinge on their money making schemes, and official recognition of their religious beliefs. Until the majority truly suffer the consequences of this course there will be no change.

  6. “The majority only wants low taxes, no regulations that impinge on their money making schemes, and official recognition of their religious beliefs.”

    This is the brand that Republican advertising disguised as news has cultivated.

  7. There is one other dimension of the Republican brand. Bullies. As children they were enabled by early puberty but as adults they need to be the best armed.

    The NRA and GOP are an unholy alliance in building then living off of that brand.

  8. I wonder how many people they’re willing to sacrifice before they fix the bridges and roads. We were lucky that the section of road on I-65 and SR 156 didn’t collapse before they noticed it was crumbling.

  9. Hoosiers are just uneducated rubes. The South in the North. Education is the only thing that matters, or should matter, to us.

  10. Conservatives are programmed to believe that government is bloated and inefficient. Proof? None at all except taxes are more than zero.

    But, their programming is successful and leads them to slash and burn everything that they can get away with regardless of the long term impact. It didn’t work in business and it doesn’t work in government.

    Time to leave them and their unaffordable programming behind.

  11. Pete, your typical 60 year old conservative is a lost cause. The way you leave them behind is to educate their grandchildren while watching them die off. Which of course is why Daniels and Pence have worked so diligently to destroy public education.

  12. The congress, both parties, do seem to be willing to subsidize corporate agriculture and cost overruns have been used in military contracts. The last military airplane to be produced within the stated cost was the B24 and I think it was contracted for in the late 30’s. I know the subject is about Indiana and Indianapolis, but it brought these topics to mind.

  13. What this is all about is corruption of omission and/or commission. At some point it is the responsibility of our elected and appointed officials to set standards and then provide adequate over sight. Right now in Indianapolis our streets and roads are filled with what appears to be dark chocolate some sand or gravel. We have a combination of cheap Brand X materials and Brand X politicians. Our Brand X politicians see their role in political life to be re-elected to do nothing for the people.

  14. Pete is correct when he identifies conservatism as a religion, and in his notes about bullies, et al. So are the rest of you.

    My point today is this: we NEED conservatives. BUT, our first step in getting to the serious, deep and thoughtful process both the United States and Canada require is to somehow separate these psuedo-whatever they are (pseudo because of their dishonesty, even within their own minds) from the true conservatives who could assist us all by thoughtfully providing a different lens, a true alternative, a curb on excess that every person can fall into, even those working hardest for social justice and responsible government.

    A potential example could be the exchange of mental hospitals for homelessness, which I believe resulted from an excess of hope for patient rights (understandible, commendable, liberal) along with an excess of hope for money saving (again understandible, potentially commendable, but deeply cynical and “conservative” as we seem to know it currently). I like to think, naively I am sure, that a genuine conservative voice might have helped steer a middle road through this tragic issue. I am not trying to sideline the present discussion, not suggesting a digression into the issue of our abysmal handling of mental health in our societies – I only sought a quick illustration of my idea – please forgive any unhelpful muddying, etc.

    Many labels for the “whatever they are” group come to mind, perhaps the mildest is ‘godless hoards’. This concern arises for me because in my firm lifelong liberalism, I have come to a requirement for at least attempting to understand alternate views in order to better understand my own. It is terrifying that unrelenting, nasty, destructive, venal, self-interest seems to typify that alternate. Thus it is no alternative at all and we, who need to perpetually improve our attempts to create a better world for everyone, are left on our own…

  15. We should fire all city planners. Anyone responsible for those bike lanes needs to be fired and run out of town. A few punches thrown in for fun would be deserved.

    “Had the testing occurred prior to the use of the asphalt in repaving, these huge costs could have been avoided.”

    Sheila is so naive. There are very corrupt elements that run Indiana, Sheila. These corrupt elements follow the Chicago lead and know there’s more money in paving a road three times than once.

    All the roads in Indiana are crap. The State roads, Indy roads, all of them. The roads were crap under Bayh, O’Bannon, Kernan, Daniels, Pence, Hudnut, Goldsmith, Peterson and Ballard.

    Until people from the outside expose what’s going on in Indiana, the government of this state isn’t going to improve.

  16. Pete, your Turing-test posts waste time and space, as you’re not in Indiana, and you have no knowledge of what goes on with Indiana roads. You lob these leftist platitudes that are irrelevant to the topic to give the mere appearance of contribution, while people on the left and right in Indiana just want good streets to drive on.

    Tell your DARPA handler that you shouldn’t be commenting on every post. Or are you one of those who gets paid by the post?

  17. Hoosier, the state of so-called public education is currently very anti-road and ought to be attacked and hurt. Lots of losers in public education who can’t teach a thing, but indoctrinate kids into being sissies who drive like old women and care about idiotic nonsense things like “sustainability,” “sharing,” and public transportation.

    These Common-Core “education” communistic idiots want to do everything possible to attack roads. These bad roads, too-narrow roads, criminal narrowing of existing roads with the farce of bicycle lanes is all by design.

    There’s a war on driving and personal autonomy. There are lots of very evil people who want you on a bus that travels a “buslane” that used to be a lane used by cars. There should be a bounty on these people.

  18. NVL. I’ve been waiting for years for someone to give me a solid definition as to what conservatives really stand for other than shrinking government down to something that could be drowned in the bathtub as Grover Norquist famously declared.

    The closet thing that I have come is that they’re deep pessimists who don’t believe that the future is worth investing in.

    Can someone enlighten me with a different definition?

  19. “I’ve been waiting for years for someone to give me a solid definition as to what conservatives really stand for”

    There are lots of places to have that discussion. Kindly have it in a forum and a topic the subject of which is not Indiana’s roads.

  20. What is conservative about war? The conservatives will have us in a war before the applause of inaugurating another Republican president will fade out. What is conservative about denying jobs, public assistance, food stamps, decent education, streets and roads that do not cause damage to vehicles, competent police training, clean air that doesn’t cause lung damage – what is conservative about allowing people to die without proper health care and/or medication? What the hell is conservative about today’s so-called conservatives? Other than conserving the money for themselves?

  21. We have residences in both Illinois and Ohio. Driving the highways of those two states and Indiana, it does not require a testing lab to see the difference between states that are paying attention to the work they are paying for and a state that is not.

  22. Gopper: At some point you are going to have to acknowledge that while your conservative principles and platitudes are meaningful in the vacuum you inhabit, they do nothing at all toward addressing any of the very real issues with our public transportation – or anything else for that matter.

  23. Then what the heck don’t you understand about my points about Indiana’s roads?

    Do you agree we need wider roads?

    Do you agree we need roads in better shape?

    Do you agree we need a lot more construction of roads to improve access?

    Do you love the automobile?

  24. Gopper has not been in a school for some time. While schools never did preach a gospel of destroying infrastructure (including classrooms and busses), there is no time to do so now even if they so desired. Standardized testing subtracts as much as one entire grading period from student instructional time in some grades. The expenditures for these tests are neither instructional nor taxpayer friendly, but testing addiction is what “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush engineered through No Child Left Behind. When former State Supt. Tony Bennett was out of a job in Indiana and then Florida, he went to work for a testing company.

  25. Gopper: I agree to all those things, but the mysterious ways you attempt to link education and poor teaching to poor roads and editorialize about teachers turning kids into sissies that drive like old women is what I find puzzling.

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