HETRICK: Here’s my answer to the governor’s fundraising letter

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Bruce Hetrick

A few weeks ago, I received what looked like a personal letter from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

I know it was a form letter. I know the return address was state Republican headquarters. I know it was signed by a machine.

But it arrived on “Governor Mike Pence” letterhead. It started off “Dear Mr. Hetrick.” So I took it personally.

In his letter, the governor said, “I have made job creation the highest priority of my governorship.”

Can’t argue with that. I like jobs.

He said he is following the Roadmap he brandished during his campaign.

He said, “I have the six goals of the Roadmap listed on a large chart on an easel I keep next to my desk.”

Great way to stay focused.

He said, “The six goals listed on the Roadmap are: increasing private sector employment, attracting new investment in Indiana, improving math and reading skills of elementary school kids, increasing high school graduation rates, improving the quality of the Hoosier workforce, and improving the health, safety and well-being of Hoosier families, especially children.”

At this point, I grew skeptical.

He said, “All of these goals make up the overall aim of my administration—to make Indiana the state that works.”

More skepticism.

Then he said something curious. He said, “I want to see positive outcomes as measured by independent sources. And I want to be held accountable for those results.”

My B.S. detector tingled.

Then, he said that because “special interests” will be attacking him over these worthy goals, he had to ask for money.

In one paragraph, he asked me for “$50, $100, $250, $500 or more.” In the next, he asked for “$1,000, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000 or even more.”

“With your support,” he said, “we can make Indiana an example for other states.”

My B.S. detector blared. I understand the need for such appeals. I understand their partisan perspective. But I don’t understand complete departures from reality, or logic leaps as wide as the Grand Canyon.

While Pence’s sermon sounds good, the preaching doesn’t jibe with the practicing.

If jobs are Job 1, why are we wasting time and money on divisive social issues and meddling with local government?

If we discriminate against gay people in our state constitution—against the wishes of major employers, local governments, economic-development officials and millions of citizens—how will that help attract and retain employers and workers?

Yet in a nation where constitutional amendments grant rights, our “jobs-are-my-first-priority” governor recently reiterated his support for a referendum to deny equal rights in our state constitution.

If we eliminate four at-large seats on the Indianapolis City-County Council, or block the right of central Indiana voters to control their own mass-transit destiny, how will that help create jobs?

Yet the General Assembly did both, and Governor “Jobs” signed off on the death knell for the four council seats (all held by Democrats).

If Indiana pulls out of the multistate “Common Core” educational standards and assessments, will a go-it-alone approach fulfill the “measured by independent sources” standard the governor set?

Yet, in announcing Indiana’s withdrawal from the Common Core consortium, Pence said, “I firmly believe it is the right and responsibility of the state to make independent, fiscally responsible decisions regarding standards and assessments.”

So much for independent sources. And we’ve seen in the A-F school grading fiasco of former state superintendent Tony Bennett what can happen when the state is left to its own fudge-the-numbers devices.

If Indiana ranks 49th out of the 50 states for per-person spending on public health, and if we fail to expand Medicaid in order to participate in Obamacare, and if we deny hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers health care in the process, and if we decline millions of federal dollars by going it alone, how does that fulfill the Roadmap objective for “improving the health, safety and well-being of Hoosier families, especially children”? Yet that’s what the governor has signaled he will do.

If the governor wants my $50, $10,000 or more, he’ll have to do more than talk jobs.

He’ll need to show me we’re doing everything possible to create jobs: by demonstrating that discrimination has no place in our state and our constitution, by letting local governments decide governance and transportation for themselves, by employing educational standards and assessment tools that are independent and globally comparative, and by investing in human health and health education to save lives and lower employers’ health care costs.

In his letter to me, Gov. Pence said he will be “meeting with Hoosiers and getting their ideas and input on how to make their lives better.”

Now he has mine.•


Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.


  • well..
    This will probably fall on deaf ears on this site, but sucking up to corporate interests is NOT a job creation strategy. It's the mother of all false equivalencies and there is no data to back it up. Want to attract jobs? Make Indiana a state worth living in. Pence is centered on helping his buddies at ALEC, not on "creating jobs."
  • Who should lead?
    I'm curious as to why you think bureaucratic institutions outside our state are better able to set academic standards and testing proficiency levels. We've seen the effectiveness of government programs like No Child Left Behind and the results are an abysmal failure. More of the same will not boost achievement. To attract businesses and improve our economy, Indiana needs to set itself apart and lead education reform, not follow the herd.

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!