Letter from Ralph Nader To Governor Daniels On Toll Road Privatization

Governor Mitchell Daniels
Office of the Governor
Statehouse
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797

February 7, 2006

Dear Mitch,

Assuming you were quoted accurately in The New York Times (February 5, 2006) your “dream” may turn out to be the public’s nightmare. It may be indeed like the Louisiana Purchase, only Indiana is the France of this deal. Assuming the figures quoted in The New York Times are correct, you are taking a miniscule up-front payment in return for a large downstream private profit to a foreign company which is being handed a captive customer base.

Given these impressions I must ask you, Mitch, where do you draw the line between private enterprise or public enterprise? Fighting wars? National Parks? Basic scientific research? Administering public elections? Police? Firefighting? The Governor’s Mansion? Governing? Tell us, where does your philosophy of privatization of historically public functions stop? Then tell us what you would support in oversight structures, citizen accessibility, and facilities making voluntary associations of users (consumers) more likely so as to watchdog the minuets between the state government, corporate lessees, campaign contributors and well-paid lobbyists? And, what about the levels of tolls to be charged in the coming years? Trillions of US government defense and other purchases from large corporations have not inspired confidence among taxpayers who regularly follow the Halliburtons of today.

For starters, please send me a copy of the proposed lease, presumably to be approved by the state legislature’s majority Republicans. Have you or are you putting this contract on the state of Indiana’s website? And by the way, since you favored putting federal government contracts online, with carefully prescribed redactions such as national security material, are you putting Indiana state procurement contracts with vendors and other state contracts and grants using taxpayer monies on your state government’s website? As Governor, there is no higher executive authority you have to seek, unlike when you were in Washington as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Your successor, Josh Bolton, by the way, has refused to further your excellent recommendations on federal government contract transparency, software purchasing to break up the Microsoft monopoly, and a cost-benefit standard for the massive Homeland Security expenditures.

A few more thoughts? Don’t you have the confidence to persuade your party in the legislature to support a revenue system that avoids any losses to the state from running the Indiana Toll Road? Must you go to Australia to secure the willpower to do that in ways that would probably extract excessive tolls from Indiana and out of state motorists? How have you provided access to public opinion in your state so that motorists and truck companies have a thorough opportunity to interact directly with you — their Governor — in public arenas? And does the lease require the use of modern pavement technology (performance standards) that can reduce greatly the potholes and fissures now plaguing our highways in winter and summer due to obsolete but profitable pavement designs for the companies whose power controls contemporary pavement specifications?

Unlike Josh Bolton — the Inaccessible Man — I am confident that you will personally reply and engage these concerns.

Best wishes,

Ralph Nader
PO Box 19312
Washington DC 20036

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