Gov. Daniels comments on State Fair report


Victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse are sharing another pot of money donated to the State Fair Relief Fund.

The families are splitting $114,000 collected after an initial payout of $900,000 in charity donations last December.

But what is the State of Indiana doing to prevent another tragedy?

Gov. Mitch Daniels responded for the first time Wednesday since the release of critical findings to questions about change and accountability.  He commented on the IOSHA findings against the Indiana State Fair Commission.

Firefighters assigned to the Indiana State Fair knew what should happen as hundreds of fans stood outdoors last August, awaiting the Sugarland concert with severe weather approaching.

In radio dispatch tapes obtained from the night of the collapse, one firefighter asks the command post:

"Have they released fans from the grandstand yet?"

"I have no information on that," responded dispatch command. "I will check and advise," he added, just minutes before the structure toppled to the ground.

State labor investigators have determined the State Fair Commission failed to act in time.

"I trust that they came to a sound conclusion," said Gov. Daniels speaking publicly about the findings and accountability for the first time since the release of the official state report.

"You are a governor that has touted accountability. Why has there not been any accountability for the members of the Indiana State Fair Commission at this point?" questioned 13 Investigates.

"I want to wait until we have the professional report," said Daniels. "But that won't be the end of it. We're going to wait until we have the two larger reports of the overall event before we decide anything."

He's talking about the structural report on the cause of the collapse and an in-depth look at how Executive Director Cindy Hoye and her team responded before, during and after the tragedy.

At one point, Daniels attempted to deflect the severity of the labor findings and the blame.

"There's absolutely no way of knowing, and there's nothing in their report that said we would have had a different outcome, if they'd had a different plan in place," refuted the governor. "But that's no excuse for having the best possible plan," he conceded.

Not quite. When Labor Commissioner Lori Torres spoke about "not knowing," she was only speaking of injuries. She did in fact specifically call out the state's slow response.

"Clearly, had an earlier evacuation based upon timely national weather service information, as well as visual sightings of lightning in the sky before the collapse, would have changed things," Torres said a week ago.

Speaking of changes, dual bills in the House and Senate call for legislative changes requiring permits and inspections for all temporary outdoor stages.

Days after the collapse Daniels said he would support such a measure. On Wednesday he said, "We may be able to do it without legislation. One direct step that I have strongly encouraged is getting away from temporary stages."

Instead, Daniels said modernizing the Pepsi Coliseum is a "failproof" way of ensuring Indiana doesn't have a repeat.

IOSHA fines

Eyewitness News reported last week that IOSHA was imposing fines on Mid America Sound Corp., the Indiana State Fair Commission and IATSE Local 30 stagehands union in connection with the Aug. 13, 2011 disaster.

The state is fining Mid America $63,000 for three violations of the industry-accepted standards for outdoor entertainment events using temporary structures.

The report also found that the Indiana State Fair Commission failed to meet certain standards, including safety measures and exposure to severe weather. The Commission paid a $6,300 fine last week.

The stagehands union faces an $11,500 fine for violations related to protection, training and maintaining the required records.