Political Notebook

  • Signs of the times
    It’s spring, when the roadways are lined with flowers, wildlife and political signs.
  • Fries gets Farm nod
    Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries has received the endorsement of the Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT in his primary election race for the District 15 Indiana State Senate seat.
  • Wyss honored by commissioners
    The Allen County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday paid tribute to retiring state Sen. Tom Wyss at its legislative recap breakfast.
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Ritz petitions counter Daniels’ claim

Hoosiers concerned about recent education reforms want Republican leaders to know they ousted Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett for a reason.

The day after Democrat Glenda Ritz scored a surprising win, Gov. Mitch Daniels – along with legislative leaders and incoming Gov. Mike Pence – said the defeat didn’t affect their mandate for education reform at all.

Instead, they separated Bennett’s personality and tenor from the policies he advocated.

A petition at Change.org has been designed to push back – pointing out that Ritz received 1.3 million votes (more than Pence) and the voters sent a clear message on the direction of school reform.

“On the contrary: when Indiana voters elected Glenda Ritz as superintendent, we rejected the top-down, corporate reform model imposed by the state. We embraced Ritz’s platform and her research-backed proposals to support and improve our public schools,” the petition said.

It currently has about 8,300 signatures and calls on state leaders to “respect voters’ clear message on the direction of public education in Indiana.”

Among the positions taken by Ritz, the petition points out she ran against high-stakes testing, and for more local control for school boards, top teacher licensing standards and stopping the flow of public tax dollars to private education companies.

One Fort Wayne woman signed the petition with this message: “We voted for Glenda Ritz and against the current educational reform. Let her do the job for which we elected her and stop the rape of public education.”

More Lugar kudos

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was named the 2012 recipient of the Paul H. Nitze Award, given by public policy research group CNA.

Lugar was honored for reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the creation of the Nunn-Lugar arms control program in 1991 with then-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.

The program is credited with deactivating thousands of nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles and other weapons in the former Soviet Union.

The award was presented Nov. 17 at CNA’s 70th anniversary banquet and awards dinner. It is named for the former secretary of the Navy, who was an adviser on national security to nine presidents from the 1940s into the 1980s. Past recipients have included Nunn and Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman.

After his primary-election defeat, Lugar leaves office this year after 36 years in the Senate.

A new session

If you missed Organization Day at the Indiana legislature, don’t worry – we have it covered for you.

In the Senate, members were met with a bright new video screen – the old one was on its last leg and no one could read the votes. Now the bulbs are bright enough to burn retinas, but at least everyone can see it.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, handled the presiding duties instead of outgoing Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who already said her goodbyes to the chamber this year.

Incoming Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann watched from the rostrum to get an idea of her new duties in January.

And some senators were so busy taking pictures and chatting they missed taking their own oath.

Over in the House, seven members of Congress joined the festivities, including U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Howe.

House Speaker Brian Bosma also introduced a handful of kids and parents who used Indiana vouchers in the gallery, the way Indiana governors do during the State of the State address.

And Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, watched the action quietly from his new second-row seat after being ousted as the leader of the small caucus.

He couldn’t wait

In 2005, one of the first things Gov. Mitch Daniels did upon taking office was ask all members of key boards and commissions to resign so he could appoint people of his own choosing.

Fast forward almost eight years and Daniels apparently doesn’t feel that way anymore. Last week he appointed or reappointed dozens of people to various state boards and commissions rather than waiting until Gov.-elect Mike Pence takes office.

Here are some of the key appointments, and those from northeast Indiana:

•Retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan Jr., to the Indiana Business Law Survey Commission.

•Dorian Maples of Fort Wayne was reappointed to the Community & Home Options to Institutionalized Care for the Elderly and Disabled Board.

•Maureen Weber of Indianapolis was appointed as chairwoman of the Indiana Charter School Board.

•Roxsandra Clemons-McFarthing of Fort Wayne was reappointed to the Indiana State Commission on Aging.

•Sandra Kemmish of Fort Wayne was appointed to the Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites Corporation Board of Trustees.

•Dan O’Connell of Fort Wayne was appointed to the Indiana Tourism Council.

•Elizabeth Bechdol of Auburn was reappointed to the State Fair Commission.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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