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State Journal: Holding action; The cat's meow; Mecham's mounting woes

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After taking the offensive on education in 1987, Gov. Robert D. Orr of Indiana has switched to the defense to thwart attempts to revise the school-reform package he pushed through the legislature last May.

In a not-so-veiled reference to the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Governor warned in his Jan. 7 State of the State Message that ''special-interest generalissimos who could not get their way last spring are marshaling their forces for another attack on accountability in public education.

"They must not prevail," he asserted.

The teachers' union wants a new $20-million program for "at risk" students to be funded through the state's school-aid formula, rather than through a separate line item as the reform law stipulated.

It also objects to an education-department rule that prohibits parent-teacher conference days from being counted as instructional time in the new 180-day school year.

A day after his address to the legislature, Governor Orr bestowed Indiana's highest honor on an unlikely recipient: Garfield the Cat.

The plump, irascible cartoon character was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Mr. Orr for his appearance in an 11-minute videotape designed to encourage the state's 12- to 14-year-olds to seek a college education.

Jim Davis, Garfield's creator, said he was pleased that "a self-serving, lazy, apathetic, orange cat" could do something positive for education.

Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona has come under increased pressure to resign following his indictment this month on charges of fraud, perjury, and filing a false campaign-finance report.

The charges brought against him by a state grand jury marked the latest in a series of incidents that have catapulted Mr. Mecham to national prominence. His comments on blacks, women, Hispanics, homosexuals, and Jews have cost the state millions of dollars in cancelled convention bookings, touched off a recall campaign, and led lawmakers to talk of impeaching him.

The grand jury charged that Mr. Mecham intentionally concealed a $350,000 campaign loan from a Tempe developer. The Governor has called his failure to report the loan an "honest mistake."

Carolyn Warner, the former state school chief, is a leading candidate to replace Mr. Mecham in a special election if he resigns or is forced out of office.


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