Sunday, May 24, 2015

Star: BMV Fee Overcharging Problem May Have Been Attributable To Patronage System

The Star's Tony Cook and Tim Evans have a good story today pondering the possibility that the political patronage system that led to the hiring decisions regarding persons in key administrative positions at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles may have contributed to the agency's decision to illegally raise the fees charged for certain services by about $60 millions and to ignore subsequent concerns raised about doing so, which are now being refunded after a couple of class action lawsuits drew attention to the fact it happened. The story is very informative, though not surprising to those of us who follow state government.

In particular, the story examines the hiring of Harold Day as the BMV's chief financial officer. A video clip of his deposition in the legal proceeding accompanies the story. Day, who has no college degree, could aptly be described as an amiable dunce who was unable to answer the most basic questions, including which branch of government the BMV was a part. It never occurred to him that BMV bank accounts with balances between $5 and $20 million should be earning some interest, let alone whether the fees the agency was charging were legal. His only apparent qualification for the job was the fact that he was a ward chair in Perry Township and is married to Susie Day, a former Indianapolis City-County Council member and current Perry Township Trustee. Day was recommended for a state job the former Perry Township Trustee. Politics obviously drove the hiring of Day, notwithstanding a BMV spokesman's assertions to the contrary.

Day wasn't the only top official whose qualifications were examined. Ron Hendrickson, the former deputy commissioner in charge of driver's licenses has no college degree and previously worked as a snow plow operator and pizza shop owner who served as a precinct committeeman on the east side. Former BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell had a business degree from IU and formerly ran his family's business. He got the job due to his friendship with former state GOP chairman Jim Kittle. It's interesting that the lowest on the totem pole who got his job through political patronage, Mathew Foley, a deputy director, discovered the fee overcharges and recommended the agency correct the problem but ran into resistance from Waddell and his staff, who were more concerned about the impact the loss of the ill-gotten revenues would have on Gov. Daniels' budget priorities.

It's interesting that all of this happened on the watch of Mitch Daniels, just one of many bad decisions made while he was governor that will continue to haunt state government for years to come. To hear Star political columnist Matt Tully, you would think only bad things started happening in state government when Mike Pence became governor. Tully bases his opinion that Pence has been a disastrous failure as governor almost entirely on his decision to sign Indiana's version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and to pursue the JustIn information portal, neither of which cost Indiana taxpayers a dime. Wait until people figure out what a colossal boondoggle those Ohio River bridges prove to be when they have to start paying those tolls being levied to make big payoffs to more of Mitch's political cronies. It's unfortunate the Star hasn't examined those as closely as it has the BMV mess, which Pence inherited from Daniels. The $106 million penalty the state paid this month to Goldman Sachs to unwind another one of those messy interest rate swap agreements that happened on Mitch's watch was but another colossal and costly failure.


Anonymous said...

The very day that Perry Township Constable, Roy Houchins, was to give testimony under oath to the FBI about township corruption, he died under mysterious circumstances outside the back door of a Southside tavern. Harold Day may be uneducated and incompetent, but he is not a crook. He is simply a puppet. His puppet masters are the current Perry Township City Councilors and a former Perry City Councilor, who now heads the state GOP.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Day deposited the $5 to $20 million cash balances into the specific bank he was told to use. You probably will not be surprised to learn who controls that bank. Ask Day who ordered him to use that bank.

Anonymous said...

Exemplary work as always Gary! In the article it mentions the fact BMV officials knew about the overcharges as far back as 2007. Ironically Ron Stiver was the BMV commissioner at that time. He had been transferred their after he turned DWD into a train wreck two minutes into his time there! Why Stiver hasn't been slapped around yet after all the lives he has destroyed is a mystery to many Indiana Republicans! Also if the Star had been doing it's damn job instead of kissing Daniels asks most of these problems could have been avoided! This is just more proof that Pence was intended as a fall guy for Daniels corruption and ineptitude. Wake up Mike! You are an idiot but not this stupid! Fire every Daniels holdover now!

Anonymous said...

Connect the dots on deaths, illnesses, trials and tribulations of whistleblowers under Mitch and Mike and more.