Attorney general weighing options on Teising case
State has 45 days to request Indiana Supreme Court look at the reversal of former Wabash Twp. trustee’s conviction. Plus, Christmas dinner could use drivers. Pressure builds on Purdue-NW chancellor
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Thanks for your patience while we took some time to visit family. And for those keeping score, you might see a few breaks in the action between now and the New Year. Not many, but a few. Thanks for reading. And thanks for subscribing. Now, time to catch up on a few things …
ATTORNEY GENERAL ON WHAT’S NEXT IN JENNIFER TEISING CASE
It didn’t take long for Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington to ask the Indiana Attorney General’s office to attempt to transfer the theft case against former Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising to the Indiana Supreme Court, after the Indiana Court of Appeals overruled a January 2022 conviction.
The case hinged in both decisions – first by Tippecanoe Superior Judge Kristen McVey and then by a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals – on the definition of residency.
The lower court ruled that Teising had done enough to give up residency by pursuing “a nomadic RV lifestyle” for much of 2020 and parts of 2021, after she sold her West Lafayette home. McVey ruled that Teising, then, had forfeited her township trustee position and that the paychecks she collected amounted to theft. The Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the lower court had misinterpreted Indiana statutes on residency and that Teising had never established residency outside Wabash Township, so she shouldn’t have been charged or convicted of theft.
Here's more on the Court of Appeals ruling: “Teising ‘vindicated,’ conviction overturned for ousted Wabash Township trustee.”
The Attorney General’s Office has 45 days from the Dec. 15 ruling to ask the Indiana Supreme Court to consider the case. Late last week, Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office issued this statement about its intentions:
“As the Office of the Attorney General, it’s our role to defend criminal convictions. This is especially important when a government official abuses the public trust. By law, a trustee must be a resident of the township that he or she represents. Taxpayer money should not be handed over to elected officials who don’t stick around to serve their community. Here, the evidence presented by the State showed the defendant was guilty of theft; however, the Court of Appeals disagreed. We are evaluating the decision to decide whether to seek further review.”
PRESSURE CONTINUES ON PURDUE NORTHWEST CHANCELLOR
Calls grew into the new week for Purdue Northwest Chancellor Tom Keon to resign, after he uttered a string of made-up Asian words in a joking moment during a commencement ceremony Dec. 10 on the regional campus in Hammond.
The Times of Northwest Indiana reported Sunday that the campus’ faculty senate, already at odds with Keon over management style and questions about shared governance, was preparing a vote of no confidence if Keon stuck around. "He has to leave," Thomas Roach, chairman of the faculty senate, told The Times in a story published Sunday. "There's no question about it."
The faculty senate at Purdue Northwest joins the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a petition at Change.org and rounds of academics and Asian American groups heaping scorn on Keon.
After a local sport radio personality, speaking during the graduation ceremony, mentioned that he used a fake language to help calm children in his family – and using it during the ceremony after hearing a fussing child in the audience – Keon came to the microphone and rattled off what he called “sort of my Asian version” of the speaker’s tactic.
Clips of his performance spread quickly. Here’s a clip, queued up.
Last week, Keon issued an apology, calling his actions “offensive and insensitive.” He also wrote: “We are all human. I made a mistake, and I assure you I did not intend to be hurtful and my comments do not reflect my personal or our institutional values.”
Purdue issued a statement that Purdue trustees, which oversee regional campuses, accepted the apology.
No word, as of Monday, about Purdue’s next move.
ONE LAST MOVE AFTER THE NOVEMBER ELECTION
Among the dozens of county and township officials taking their oaths of office during a Monday afternoon ceremony at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse was Yadira Salazar. Not on the November general election ballot, Salazar replaces Jennifer Weston as Tippecanoe County treasurer. Weston ran uncontested for the county auditor position with two years left on her four-year term as treasurer. On Dec. 12, Tippecanoe County Republican precinct committee officials chose Salazar over Bob Plantenga, who is finishing his second term as county auditor.
Salazar, secretary of Tippecanoe County Republican Party since 2020, is an Ivy Tech and Indiana University graduate who started working for the county in the commissioners’ mail room in 2018. Since then, she was an accountant in the county highway department, before taking a job with the Indiana Department of Revenue. Her pitch during last week’s caucus?
“I said that I think we need to get younger as a party,” Salazar said. “I hope I can inspire other people to run for office.”
CHRISTMAS DINNER IN THE WORKS, DRIVERS STILL NEEDED
One of the great Christmas Day traditions in Greater Lafayette is the annual community dinner, hosted by the Friends of Downtown. Free meals will be available for carryout from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Lafayette Jefferson High School, 1801 S. 18th St. Delivered meals are available, if ordered by Friday, Dec. 23 – call 765-420-1647.
Community dinner organizers still need volunteer drivers to deliver meals. To volunteer, call: 765-714-1399.
FINALLY … ANOTHER (LOCAL) SONG FOR THE SEASON
A year ago, the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette hosted a thing called “Chillin’ Out,” billed as a special winter edition of the museum’s Friday Night Live. Among the performances during that online show: Chris June, a founder of Lafayette-based band June IND, and his son, Lane, with this ukulele and harmonica version of Chuck Berry’s “Run, Run, Rudolph.” This clip picks up where they start.
Bonus coverage: Check the holiday performances that followed in the one-hour special. Some prime local stuff.
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