The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 22, 2020 1:00 am

Swearing-in ceremonies canceled

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Gov. Eric Holcomb is nixing traditional celebratory inaugural events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we'd love to celebrate our historic victories together to usher in the second term of Governor Holcomb, the time just isn't right to do so,” Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer said.

Similarly, a public swearing-in ceremony for newly elected Allen County officials will not take place this year.

The ceremony is traditionally held at the Allen County Courthouse on or around Dec. 31 in years when there was a November general election. However, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, county officials have decided to forgo a public event this year.

Rather, county officials elected in November must make their own arrangements to take the oath of office, a news release said Wednesday.

Those elected in November include Circuit Court Judge Wendy Davis; Allen County Treasurer William Royce; Coroner Jon Brandenberger; Surveyor Jeff Sorg; County Commissioner Nelson Peters; and Allen County Councilmen Robert Armstrong, Ken Fries and Kyle Kerley.

New leaders

Two area senators were named committee chairs Tuesday.

Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, will take over the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, the Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee.

Two other area senators retained committee assignments – Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, Natural Resources, and Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, Tax and Fiscal Policy.

Wi-Fi, not latte

Starbucks came to Michelle Chambers' rescue Nov. 14.

The at-large member of the Fort Wayne City Council was out and about when it came time to participate in a telethon to raise money for minority entrepreneurs and artists living on the city's southeast side.

So Chambers pulled into a Starbucks parking lot to “borrow” its Wi-Fi signal. She used her cellphone to join the Zoom session benefiting the Human Agricultural Cooperative and the Family & Friends Fund for Southeast Fort Wayne.

“What I love about this, it's a collective. The whole community is behind this,” she said. “What I know is, we are stronger together.”

Chambers, who has donated to the nonprofits in the past, announced she was donating an additional $100 on Nov. 14. Then she prepared to move on with her busy day without the benefit of a hot drink from Starbucks.

Teachers union urges funding

The Indiana State Teachers Association is calling on state lawmakers to fully fund public schools and pay educators more.

ISTA officials announced these and other key priorities for the 2021 General Assembly at a news conference Monday. It intends to release its full legislative priorities in December.

“The state must ensure that students do not pay the price in this pandemic, nor can we afford to fall further behind on addressing teacher pay,” ISTA President Keith Gambill said in a statement.

The ISTA has affiliate organizations in every Indiana county and in almost 300 school districts, including Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools.

The association also is asking lawmakers to restore teachers' bargaining rights on workload issues including hours, days, prep time and class size, according to a news release.

A recent survey about the effects of the coronavirus on Indiana teachers found only 36% of educators believe they received adequate training for virtual and hybrid learning; 95% have seen an increase in workloads because of the pandemic; and 71% have considered retiring early or leaving the profession because of workload increases, among other findings, the release said.

“For too long, educator voice has been silenced in shaping student learning conditions and educator working conditions,” Gambill said. “Our educators are doing an amazing job for our students, working long hours – mostly uncompensated. Indiana's lawmakers must act before Indiana's teacher shortage is worsened.”

Dave Gong, Sherry Slater and Ashley Sloboda of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook, email Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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