WTHI-TV news anchor Mark Allen preps the three Terre Haute area participants in Gov. Mitch Daniels' "twenty-first century town meeting" before the broadcast Wednesday.
Pictured (from left) are Charles Terrell Jr. of Shoals, Mary Puntney-Katchmar of Greene County, Elmo Hills of Clinton and Allen.
Valley residents ask the governor about issues
The questions came at Gov. Mitch Daniels from all directions Wednesday night.
Daniels participated in what was billed as a "twenty-first century town meeting," an hour-long forum aired locally on WTHI-TV (Channel 10) designed to give far-flung constituents the chance to ask the governor about the issues that matter most to them.
At the top of the broadcast, Daniels pledged to conduct the program in keeping with the informal tone of a town meeting.
"I hope we can recreate that same feeling of spontaneity," he said. "You ask whatever questions you like and I'll try to give you a straight answer."
The event was sponsored by WIBC-AM radio and television station WISH (Channel 8), both in Indianapolis. Stations within the LIN television family from around the state participated via live remote, allowing Hoosiers in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, South Bend and Terre Haute to question the governor on issues ranging from the possible leasing of Indiana toll roads to homelessness to immigration, even the Indianapolis Colts.
Three Terre Haute area residents participated in the forum, plucked from the hundreds of applicants who posted the questions they would ask the governor on the WTHI web site. Elmo Hills of Clinton, questioned Daniels regarding standardized testing for home-schooled students. The governor agreed that state-regulated testing for home-schooled children would benefit the students, but declined to outline a firm plan to remedy the problem.
"If there's not accountability in the system, we won't know (how home-schooled students are doing)," he said, "and that's unacceptable."
Charles Terrell Jr. of Shoals, Ind., chided the governor for spending too much time on the time zone issue while more pressing issues remained unresolved. Daniels told Terrell that problems related to interstate commerce and scheduling had forced state officials to take the time zone debate into serious consideration. But Terrell wasn't completely satisfied with Daniels' answer.
"I don't know if you noticed, but he kind of dodged the question," he said after the show. "If a trucker can't keep up with daylight saving time, then he's a bad trucker."
Mary Puntney-Katchmar, a school teacher and Greene County resident, planned to ask the governor about state funding for public schools. But the program ran long, and Puntney-Katchmar was bumped from the schedule.
WTHI anchor Mark Allen insisted her question be heard. He called for a cameraman, videotaped Puntney-Katchmar's query and pledged to deliver it to the governor. He said Daniels' reply would be included in an upcoming newscast.