If the treatment afforded Pauline Oxby is any indication, Indiana's 20-year I-69 epoch has only gotten uglier under Gov. Mitch Daniels. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) took her property through eminent domain and dropped I-69 on her front doorstep.
Oxby, an 83-year-old rural Oakland City woman, said she fought INDOT for economic justice as far as she could. Her son handled the negotiations, the 20-year widow said, and she doesn't recall exactly why the state said it wouldn't buy her house.
"I don't remember anymore," she said in late March, a couple weeks after INDOT contractors took down the row of trees that fronted her property, some since before she and her husband bought it in 1953.
But Oxby's memory doesn't fail on the gist of what INDOT said: "They just said, 'No, we're going to take your yard.'"
I-69 Destruction Begins Photo Album
It's us, again. You know, the coalition from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. We don't know why you won't return our calls, but we'd just like to say how much we like and admire you, and how much we'd like to get fired up about your candidacy for governor.
We're already getting fired up for the presidential race. It's been a long time since we had one candidate, much less two, as exciting and different as the two now vying for our party's nomination. And, not since JFK, have we seen the machine offer up anything as exciting as Obama. Could it be possible in our wildest dreams that we Hoosier Democrats are actually going to be given a meaningful chance at shaping that nomination?
Yes we can. Change. Those are the words and sentiments that resonate among us and our party. Those are the words and sentiments that will bring a wave of the young, the hopeful and the willing into the voting booths this spring and fall.
While traveling the state this past year and considering an independent run for governor, Steve Bonney learned that his political agenda mirrors that of his fellow Hoosiers. What they spoke to him about most often were property taxes, the state of the economy, job losses and quality of life.
"Those are the issues that I always heard," Bonney said during a videotaped interview in The Bloomington Alternative studio on Feb. 15. "They're always the issues that I focus on anyway."
And as he expounded upon his political views and his efforts to get on the 2008 ballot, Bonney called for more than just new political leadership in Indianapolis. He proposed a new way of thinking.
"You cannot solve any single issue without a context," he said. "And the context is holistic thinking."
VIDEOS: Introduction - Interstate 69/Environment - Government Finance/Taxes - Energy/Agriculture
Steve Bonney is an independent candidate for governor of Indiana. The following are his comments on the U.S. District Court ruling on the citizens lawsuit against I-69.
It is clear that the courts are determined to protect the institutions of government. They are able to do so because our laws are increasingly vague on the specifics, thereby allowing court decisions to be vague.
What we now have is an assemblage of vague case law upon which courts can make any decision they wish. We have truly lost the separation of powers that the Constitution mandates, as the executive and legislative branches are given a free rein by the courts.
U.S. District Judge David Hamilton's ruling on a citizens' lawsuit against the I-69/NAFTA Highway should be a call to action for Americans who care about the future of life on the planet and the fate of their democracy.
The 58-page ruling exposes the nation's environmental protection laws as laughable frauds and offers insight into the political mindset that earned Indiana its 49th-place ranking in Forbes Magazine’s October 2007 "Greenest States" list. "Indiana received across-the-board low marks," the influential business magazine said.
Hamilton's decision also details how federal laws are flouted and manipulated by the public-private forces of greed and environmental devastation in corrupt, toxic backwaters like Indiana.
The twin specters of I-69-corridor property owners being evicted and Mitch Daniels sinking a spade into the earth and declaring I-69 officially under construction have sparked a new wave of highway resistance in Bloomington.
"Eviction proceedings have already begun for half a dozen families whose homes once lay along the first two miles of the proposed route," Roadblock Earth First! activists said in a July 9 e-mail. "These people have been physically removed from their homes or will be removed in the coming weeks. And, unless I-69 is stopped, in the coming years over 400 more homes will find themselves similarly replaced by cold concrete."
In the communique, the activists announced the "evictions" of I-69 planning offices in Oakland City and Petersburg.
Tom Tokarski, from Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads (CARR), was unaware of the Earth First! actions when he sat down in the Soma Coffeehouse the next day. But he has talked to landowners in Southwest Indiana.
"People are definitely being bought out," he said. "They are definitely working on the first two miles."
High gasoline prices are a wake-up call. They also present us with an opportunity. We can wring our hands and pound our heads against the gas pump. Or we can heed the warning and begin to plan a transportation system for the future.
The world is rapidly changing, and we have to change with it. We should not fear change but direct it to our advantage.
A few realities are now apparent. Gas prices are going to remain high; most experts agree that this is a certainty. We cannot build our way out of congestion; every major city in the nation proves this point. Energy sources are going to change.
Where this will lead is still being determined, but our dependence on fossil fuels contributes to our vulnerability to perverse markets forces, foreign entanglements and terrorist threats.
A remarkable event occurred in Indiana politics on March 24, when an Indiana governor actually listened to the people and responded to their concerns.
This development was even more dramatic when the source of this arguable democratic miracle is considered – Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s political CEO, whom some were calling “Little Napoleon” because of his autocratic approach to governance.
Add to that the fact that Daniels’ sudden respect for the democratic process involved a pair of proposed highways, the most fertile grounds for political pork, and it was indeed a historic day.
It was also a development that offers some sobering lessons for citizens whose opinions on new-terrain Interstate 69 were treated like contaminated soil by local and state Democrats for 16 years.
Few remember that, as Mitch Daniels promoted his Major Moves public- private partnership tolling lease of the Indiana Toll Road last year, the bill that passed in the Indiana House along party lines would have given the governor the right to privatize and toll any road, bridge, airport or port for up to 100 years with single, upfront payments.
State Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, found agreement with majority Republicans when she said, “I would not give Joe Kernan this authority.”
The Legislature limited Major Moves to the sale of the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years and the privatization of I-69 as an internationally leased and tradable property for up to 100 years, except for a section between Martinsville and Indianapolis.
Only residents of Monroe County are likely aware that Daniels told the Herald-Times editorial staff that I-69 would be a “toll road or no road.”
A comment from the back of the public library auditorium in Greenfield brought the house down with applause — "Tell the governor we do not want this road."
The same citizen made two other points in his allotted three minutes that again garnered near unanimous agreement: "We don't always use money as the gauge of economic development. We value the rural quality of life here in Hancock County."
Now, those are Hoosier values.
So went the meeting — the first conducted by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to hear comments about the proposed Indiana Commerce Connector (ICC). The boisterous crowd was in no mood to hear the usual blather from the county economic development director who kicked off the public comment period. After a chorus of cat calls of "three minutes," he sat down.