• Has decided to fund Indiana's highways by increasing the tolls on the Indiana Toll Road, which runs west from the Ohio Turnpike to the Chicago Skyway and thus is so far north it's barely even in Indiana. This is one of those little Reaganaut tricks, substituting "revenue enhancement" for "tax increases" (specifically the gasoline taxes which traditionally fund Indiana's highway building) in order to claim one hasn't enacted the latter. Mitch calls this "creative thinking". It's the sort of magic much beloved of CEOs and hosts of kids' birthday parties. At any rate, having people who are almost in Michigan pay for all of Indiana's road improvements certainly qualifies as a neat little trick.
• Oh, we're not done thinking creatively: Mitch is also considering leasing the operation of the Toll Road, and the boondoggle-in-waiting new I-69 section from Evansville to Indianapolis (much loved of the state's GOP based on the fact that environmentalists hate it) to what he still refers to with a straight face as the "private sector". This has prompted calls for tightening educational requirements for business degrees in state colleges, as "proposing the same solution to every problem" does not qualify as "creativity" in some quarters, apparently.
• Speaking of education (I've been blogging for seven months now and that's my first decent segue) Mitch has appointed Tom Reilly, Jr., former head of Reilly Industries, as a Trustee of Indiana University. Some local folks think Mr. Reilly's job description should be "trusty" in the Michigan City federal pen. Reilly Industries was fined $2 M in 2000 for its part in a vitamin price-fixing scheme (it was part of the worldwide niacin cartel that operated from 1992-98), is responsible for about $100 M in Superfund clean-up costs in several states (including Indiana; Reilly Tar & Chemical on Indianapolis' southside was perhaps the single-worst polluter in town for years), and just to top things off, one of the cartel members (and a Reilly partner from 1982) was Degussa AG, once part of Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Schaedlings-bekampfung, the suppliers of Zyklon-B to the Nazis and employers of slave laborers from the concentration camps. One of the products the Reilly/Degussa partnership produced was Kosher certified vitamin B3.
• The director of the state agriculture department, Andy Miller, apparently envious of BMV chief Joel Silverman's scrapbook of press clippings, decided to strongarm the Blackford County commissioners after a local zoning board turned down an application for a confined dairy feeding operation and its attendant 20 million gallon manure lagoon. Miller threatened to withhold state economic development support if the comissioners didn't moo their support. Commission President Robert O'Rourke noted, "(Among) other thing(s) we are elected officials and this guy is an appointed official." Maybe he meant annointed.
• The Star's Dan Carpenter dug out Department of Natural Resources honcho Kyle "The Young Michael Brown" Hupfer's curt denial that the administration was planning to double logging operations in state forests. That came a couple of months before the announcement of a five-fold increase, which makes Hupfer the closest thing to an honest functionary in the administration.