Tuesday, August 2

Mitch Watch

Y'know, if this was real journalism I'd have some snazzy graphics to go with this by now.

Emperor Governor Mitch Daniels is off junketing in the Far East with around ninety of his closest associates this week, but he's still managing to make news on the home front, in person and by proxy.

The trip, which isn't costing Hoosier taxpayers a cent as it's all paid for by corporate donors*, has been played to the hilt in local media, of course. I especially enjoyed this bit from the Indy Star's Larry Ingraham:

The governor, as the state's top CEO, must take an active role in leading Indiana's investment-attraction efforts. Corporate CEOs around the world will ultimately make decisions based on where they feel they have been most welcomed.

Larry, Indiana does have a journalist shield law, but it's still illegal to stick your tongue that far up another person's fundament in public. Just so you know. And next time, just to keep things interesting, you might try "state's supremo CEO" or maybe "Big Chief".

My favorite moment in all the hoopla was when the mayor of Anderson showed the cameras his business card which was printed in ideograms. "So, they translated it into Asian?" my wife said. She's a pip.

Anyhoo, before he left Mitch, who is fairly short for an adult male, mixed it up with his own Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, over license branch closings. After a letter Bosma wrote to the state's top CEO became public, Mitch released another letter to make Bosma appear conflicted. And today came the surprise announcement that the governor's new Grand Inquisitor Inspector General had cleared his boss of any wrongdoing in the big RVgate scandal. So that's settled. Look for the Mitchmobile at a Republican fundraiser near you, assuming your state representative voted for daylight savings time after promising he wouldn't.

But the real fun--God, I just realized it's only Tuesday--was this week's license branch news. Joel Silverman, the top chief Commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and former ultimate head President of Galyan's, the now defunct Indiana-based sporting goods retailer which under his watch got its lunch money stolen by an out-of-state competitor, announced his new and improved improvements for whatever branches we have left. And dadgum if it doesn't take a real top CEO with genuine retail experience to make employees feel like peons and make noises about "serving the customer" while treating him like a addle-pated cypher. Among the new rules:

• Employees must wear khaki pants and dark blue shirts. This is, of course, the preferred peon dress code of CEOs whose fashion sense derives from the golf course.

• No gum or tobacco chewing, visible tattoos or body piercings, hats, or "fashion hair coloring, i.e. rainbow colors".

• No clocks in public view.
Silverman explained this one by saying the reason was "the tendency of government workers to be clock-watchers," but the memo said the reason was to "alleviate additional stress from customers who are constantly watching the clock."

• Only approved signage. No putting up employees' kid's drawings or ads for local businesses. Or presumably, one of those "You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps" signs, all of which add to customer stress.

• Every customer must be greeted within ten seconds. Because nothing ameliorates a four-hour wait like the fond memories of the mechanical "Good Morning" some geezer gave you at the door.

• Only approved BMV-supplied Christmas decorations with BMV ornaments -- cars, license plates, BMV logos, stop signs, road signs". I sense an anti-Christian bias here.

Not content to look like an idiot, Silverman was happy to sound like one, too. He said he'll be wearing the regulation uniform when he's in the branches, which I'm guessing will be about as often as he's in a Galyan's. Of the complaints of a "few" workers that they had to buy new clothes, Silverman replied, "I had to buy a few extra (polo shirts) myself." Because nothing assuages the feelings of a clerk who's just learned he has to cough up for forty hours a week worth of clothing he wouldn't be caught dead in while he deals with the actual customers who couldn't give a shit how he's dressed like knowing that the little dictator who ordered it will be writing a couple more golf shirts off his taxes next year.

But the real treat was this howler: "The biggest complaint has been the inconsistency."

I've been patronizing Indiana's antiquated, political-patronage run license branches for thirty-five years now. I've heard people complain about the long lines, the inconvenient hours, the fact that we're practically the only state in the nation which collects vehicle excise taxes when you buy your license, the hoops you have to jump through if your plate is stolen or you lose your driver's license. I've never heard anybody complain about a clerk wearing blue jeans or having green hair. And we managed to find the one guy in Indiana who thinks our problems will be solved by closing thirty branches and having every employee wear one of those nine-inch diameter "How May I Help You?" buttons to run things.

* It's interesting how Republicans are always pointing out that businesses don't pay taxes, they just pass the cost on to consumers, but when it comes to lobbying expenses or donating RVs or picking up the tab for world travel they go silent. Ain't it?


D. Sidhe said...

Good to know I'm unemployable by your state's licensing standards.

Theoretically, of course, litigation costs (and actual judgments against a company) are also passed onto the consumer, which makes the rush to protect gun manufacturers (and by extension, gun purchasers, who are often gun users, who may or may not be criminals, or who may or may not bother to keep their guns away from criminals and not to mention curious children, or who may, just for the hell of it, resell them into states with strict gun laws) not only stupid, but a perfect example of ironic injustice.

Thorlac said...

You know, I was going to crack wise about the apparent idiocy of some branches of Indiana's state government, but then I remembered that I was born and raised in Illinois (Midwestern HQ of Corruption-R-Us) and now live in Virginia (motto: It Ain't Progress Unless It Advances Judgement Day). I'll just sit here and frown now.

harry near indy said...

hey doghouse, the bmv sends me this form in the mail, i fill it out and pay the required fees and taxes and mail it back to them. then i get the stickers to put on my license plate.

and i must go every four years to renew my license.

i avoid the bmv like a black dude avoids a klan rally.