SOUTH BEND -- The County Council passed a resolution Tuesday in support of St. Joseph County being in the Central time zone.
The 5-2 vote, with one abstention, along with earlier votes in support of Central time by the South Bend and Mishawaka councils, is expected to trigger a request asking federal Department of Transportation officials to hold time zone hearings here.
County Commissioner President Cindy Bodle, D-District 3, said that she will seek a meeting with county, South Bend and Mishawaka officials to pull together all information needed for the petition.
The Indiana General Assembly voted earlier this year to move the state to daylight-saving time and, as a condition of the change, asked Gov. Mitch Daniels to ask the federal agency to hold hearings to determine which time zone the state should be in.
Daniels complied but did not make any recommendation to the DOT. That department subsequently announced that it would not hold any hearings unless asked by individual counties.
Most of Indiana is already in the Eastern time zone, which is where it will remain unless the DOT authorizes a change.
David Niezgodski, chairman of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which oversees operation of the South Shore railroad, and John Parsons, marketing director for the district, both pushed for Central time.
According to Parsons, the South Shore, which connects South Bend to Chicago, is the only commuter railroad in the country that splits time zones.
"It's just a matter of common sense," said Niezgodski.
The railroad's argument in favor of Central time could be one of the most convincing.
The resolution adopted by the council "recognizes that the standard in the federal statute for such decisions focuses on the 'convenience of commerce and the existing junction points and division points of common carriers engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.' "
County Commissioner Mark Dobson, R-District 1, said the commissioners will seek to compile all information necessary to the petition well in advance of the Sept. 16 submission deadline.
John F. Gaski, an assistant professor in the University of Notre Dame College of Business Administration, presented a formula called "Reilly's Law of Retail Gravitation" to prove that South Bend should be on Central time because it lies comfortably within Chicago's sphere of economic influence.
But James Reabe, of Granger, indicated his belief that it is more important for the area to be in tune with Michigan, which would mean adoption of Eastern time.
County Council member Mark Root, R-District I, argued in favor of Eastern time, saying most flights out of the South Bend Regional Airport are to Eastern time zone locations.
Council members Randy Przybysz, D-District A; Andy Kostielney, R-District B; Joseph Baldoni, D-District H, Mark Catanzarite, D-District G; and Dennis Schafer, R-District F, voted in favor of the Central time proposal. Root and council member Dale DeVon, R-District C, voted against the measure.
Council President Rafael Morton, D-District D, abstained, citing a possible conflict of interest with his employer, WSBT-TV, which has supported Eastern time.