Wednesday, October 26, 2005

save us from daylight saving time!

daylight saving time for 2005 ends for the northern hemisphere this sunday. this will be the last dst change that we in indiana get to sit out, as we will be forced to start observing dst in april... though many counties still don't know what time zone they will be in come spring. (technically, those counties that are currently in eastern non-dst that move to central with dst will not actually change their clocks on april 2 either, but we're quibbling now.)

so it's oddly appropriate that we now have a major development in the tale of indiana's quest for daylight saving time. as always, doug at masson's blog has all the info you could want and more.

but first, a recap:

indiana is geographically located right at the cusp between eastern and central time zones, such that if the state were considered to be in eastern time zone, kids statewide would be waiting for the bus in pitch darkness during the winter, and it wouldn't truly get dark in the summer until close to 10pm. if the state were officially in central, the sun would rise obscenely early in the summer and it would be dark by 3 or 4pm during the brunt of winter. either situation would totally suck, so a couple decades ago, hoosiers came up with a compromise: the bulk of the state would stay on eastern standard time year-round. or in other words, most of indiana opted out of daylight saving time. this fixed any sun-rising and -setting problems, but caused a bit of confusion for people in other parts of the world, who couldn't always tell what time it was in indiana, and especially for indiana residents in the areas of the state that still observed dst.

arizona and hawaii did the same, for similar reasons. other countries like japan did also (not that they were copying us). and those other places didn't seem to have any problems. but parts of the indiana business community were unhappy. they said that our non-dst ways were hurting our economy. they even blamed indiana's "brain drain" on dst, rather than more obvious causes like... i don't know... our abysmal public education, our backward bible-belt ways, and so on.

in came new governor mitch daniels. mitch wanted dst. many hoosiers didn't want it, and those who did couldn't agree to what time zone they wanted. mitch promised us that he would move the state to being (pretty much) all on one dst-havin' time zone (he said he preferred central). using the kinds of dirty tricks that republican legislatures have perfected in recent years, dst was forced through on a razor-thin margin and became law.

but then, at least according to doug's interpretation, mitch didn't submit all the info that he should've to the dept of transportation. as a result, DOT said it would accept petitions, on a county by county basis, for where the time zone border would move. instead of the "whole state on one time zone" we were promised, we would end up with an even messier patchwork where chunks of the western part of the state would be on central and other chunks would be on eastern. not to mention a big intercounty battle over where the line will be drawn. 17 counties that previously on "eastern" (non-dst) submitted requests to be put on central time.

which brings us to the present day. the DOT has issued a proposal to move 5 of those 17 counties to central. the proposal is not final:

"An opportunity for oral comments will be provided at four public hearings in Jasper, Logansport, South Bend, and Terre Haute."

The notice emphasizes the preliminary nature of the proposed rule and, in particular, stresses that neither counties for which a time change is proposed nor counties for which a time change is not proposed should regard the matter as resolved. "If supplementary information is filed by the County Commissioners supporting the inclusion of additional counties and it is not otherwise refuted, an
appropriate change will be made in the final rule."

mitch daniels promised us that indiana would no longer be the land of confusion. we would be one state, one time zone. easy. simple. businesses would suddenly flock to set up headquarters here. what we are actually getting is a virtual checkerboard of time zoniness. if most or all of the counties that requested central end up getting it after the hearings, answering the question "what time is it in indiana?" will be far more difficult than it is now. if something closer to the current propsal goes through and most of the counties that requested central don't get it, we're going to have a bunch of really pissed off counties. (they're already pissed that mitch forced them to deal with this issue instead of fixing it on the state level as he'd said he would, but that's SOP for the daniels administration.)

as part of his diligent tracking of this story, doug has been maintaining an indiana time zone map. i am reprinting doug's map here, without permission (though i am at least copying it to my server). counties in gray already observe central time (with dst) right now. the red counties are the ones that DOT has propsed moving to central. pink counties are counties that requested central, but don't get it in the DOT proposal. and yellow counties are ones that initially filed for central, then thought better of it and revoked their central requests.

now aren't you glad that mitch decided to make the time zone issue easier for us?

be sure to read doug at masson's blog for further analysis, including why the DOT proposal makes no sense. (especially for, say, the region around st joseph county.)


Anonymous said...

As a born & bred Hoosier having since lived in other large cities and now residing on the East coast, I think perhaps I should move back to Indiana. The fact that this state's biggest "problem" is that they have to change their clocks a couple times a year (like EVERYONE else) makes it quite appealing. It must be nice! Oh, and just so you know, I was living in Chicago during the whole DST debate. Knowing I was from Indiana, I regularly got this question: "Why is this such a big issue?" My answer consistently: "It's not." So if you want to earn some respect from bloggers nationwide, I suggest you begin blogging about real issues, and "suffer" quietly through the chaos we affectionately call "spring forward, fall back."

stAllio! said...

if "EVERYONE else" jumped off a cliff, would you do it too? (never mind arizona, hawaii, japan, or the many other countries that don't observe DST)

if you actually read my post, you'd see that it is a big problem for indiana, since either eastern daylight or central daylight would stick us with pretty shitty daylight situations. there is a reason why indiana hasn't been on DST for the past couple decades: DST doesn't make much sense for indiana.

as for being our 'biggest "problem"', duh, of course it's not. but it's something we real hoosiers have been passionate about for many many years, and it's also nicely symbolic of the mitch daniels modus operandi: force the state to do something, then make the counties do all the actual work. he did the same thing for property taxes, etc.

as for "blogging about real issues", i have a feeling that you have not read anything else on this blog, as i've posted about DST maybe 3-4x in the past two years.