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May|June 2005
Double Daylight By Margot Sanger-Katz
Made in India By Daniel Brook
Sleepstalking By Aaron Dalton
Rodzilla By Suzanne Sataline
Old Yeller By Suzanne Snider
Cases & Controversies
The Prudent Jurist By William H. Simon

Double Daylight

In Indiana, time wounds more than it heals.

By Margot Sanger-Katz

THE KINNEY BROTHERS SHARE A PLOT OF LAND in Plymouth, Ind., about 90 miles southeast of Chicago. When their father died, Don inherited the Tri-Way Golf Club and David got the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre next door. Don needs daylight to keep his golfers on the course; David prefers darkness to bring in moviegoers. But the brothers got along just fine—until last fall, when a new bill in the State Legislature fractured their family.

The issue that has divided the Kinneys is daylight saving time, a modern convention that Indiana refuses to follow. (Arizona and Hawaii are the only other states to take such an unorthodox stand.) Indiana, which dubs itself the "crossroads of America," is surrounded by four states that are divided between the Eastern and Central time zones. With business and cultural ties on both sides, most Hoosiers have straddled the crossroads of time by never changing their clocks. During the winter, most of the state shares time with the Eastern time zone, along with Cincinnati and New York City. In the summers, it runs Central, synchronized with Chicago and Omaha.

Indiana is exceptional in more than one sense. It lost more jobs per capita in the last recession than any other state. Mitch Daniels, who served as budget director for the current president, campaigned for governor last year and promised to institute daylight saving time to jump-start the economy. He won, and made good by pushing the Legislature to put the issue on the docket in February. Daniels argued that all the missed conference calls and late deliveries—due to outsiders confused by Indiana's unique time warp—were costing Hoosiers money.

Celadon Trucking, a shipping business based in the state, sponsored academic studies that attempted to link Indiana's floundering economy to its time. But neither they nor anyone else has been able to prove that the state's clocks are hurting its coffers. Even the governor admitted in his state of the state address that there was no evidence that the new bill would benefit the economy. Still, a parade of business owners insisted that chronometric reform would improve their bottom lines. The change "communicates in a very serious way to our trade partners that we're open for business," said Cameron Carter, the president and CEO of Techpoint, a state trade group that represents high-tech businesses and that lobbied extensively for the bill. Marvin Logan, the vice president of distribution at Houghton Mifflin, testified that when he asked the company to expand its operation in Indiana, the chief financial officer's response was, "Why would we spend money in a state that doesn't know what time it is?"

David Kinney thinks his drive-in is doing fine the way things are. His brother Don circulated a petition at his clubhouse favoring the switch, and David put up a sign on his movie marquee: "Say no to double or eastern daylight time." (David, like many who oppose the change, uses the term "double daylight" to emphasize that Indiana already gets plenty of daylight.) Standing behind the counter of the concession stand at his indoor movie theater, he launched into a diatribe that he has perfected in a flurry of letters to his local officials, editorials in the Plymouth Pilot, appearances on WTCA's "What's Your Opinion," and testimony before the commerce committee of the Indiana House of Representatives. "First of all," he said, "you should know I'm a Ph.D." (He got his doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology at Purdue University.) "The public is fairly uneducated in terms of the implications of this," he went on to say, before expounding on how double daylight would lead to all manner of ills—including, but not limited to, sleep deprivation, heart disease, decreased worker productivity, and child abuse (the obvious result of parent-child conflict over pre-sunset bedtimes).

HOOSIERS' ATTITUDES ABOUT TIME run not red-blue but young-old, urban-rural, and East-West. Some of the opposition to clock-changing comes from old-timers afraid of change; seniors don't like resetting their electric alarm clocks (resetting after every thunderstorm is quite enough, thank you) and farmers fear their cows will come home at the wrong time. Others simply dislike Eastern time and all that it represents. "We're in the Midwest, not in the Mideast," said Gary Cook, a former state legislator who is now Plymouth's mayor. On the floor of the Indiana House recently when the measure was being debated, similar sentiments were aired: "In my part of the state, they know we've got more in common with Evansville and Chicago, Illinois," Representative Dave Crooks declared, "than we do with Bangor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; and New York City." His fellow legislators burst into cheers.

With a populace that is almost exactly split on the issue, few lawmakers have wanted to stake out a position on a measure that might alienate significant portions of their constituents. As one Democrat was quick to point out during debate on the floor, if the bill passed, voters in his district would be changing their clocks just six days before the next election, and anti-daylight citizens might exact their vengeance at the polls.

It's practically an annual tradition in Indiana for a legislator to raise the daylight question. Usually, the measure doesn't make it out of committee. But many Hoosiers thought this year would be different because of Daniels's strong support for the bill and a new Republican majority in the state House of Representatives that supported him. The bill sailed out of the commerce committee, survived the amendment process, and, for the first time in 10 years, was poised for a vote.

But when it came time to vote, political gamesmanship cost the daylight saving measure its day on the floor. The House Democrats walked out two days in a row to deny the Legislature its required quorum. They claimed to be taking a principled stand against the governor's "power grabs," which included a bill to give an executive appointee prosecutorial powers, a step that Democrats saw as a violation of the separation of powers. It just so happened that daylight saving time was on the agenda as well. Republicans waited in session until nearly midnight of the deadline, but the clock ran out on the time bill.

Vote or no, daylight saving time remains "an explosive issue" in the Kinney family, according to Don's wife, Jan. David distributes six-page fliers at his movie theaters while Don solicits signatures on a pro-daylight petition in his clubhouse. For years, Don and David have plowed snow from each other's driveways and mowed each other's lawns. Now when they speak, the brothers must studiously avoid the topic of time in order to keep the peace between them. "I have to take a neutrality position because my wife and my brother are fighting over this tooth and nail," said Don. David, for his part, faults his brother for not wanting to hear his side of the story—in all its exhaustive detail.

As she sat in her living room, Jan Kinney defended her stance. To David's scientific and social theories, she said, "I've got a rebuttal for every one of those." (For example, she cited studies showing that more daylight leads to more happiness.) David and Jan have traded guest columns in the Plymouth Pilot, David to make the case against double daylight, Jan to debunk the term. But though she's resolute in her pro-daylight position, Jan would like the fight to die down now that the legislative deadline has passed. When she talks about the feud, her face assumes a pursed, frustrated expression. "I hope it's over," she said, not too hopefully.

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