A fine editorial

October 7th, 2015

This is the most heartening editorial I’ve read about the Duluth Schools in the News Tribune for many years. As I told Alanna Oswald, “It restores my faith in humanity.”

Like others in the Duluth school district, Alanna Oswald has noted with growing consternation the number of Duluth students choosing to enroll elsewhere. The potential for an even greater loss of student population as a result of the proposed opening of an Edison high school has been just as worrisome.

“The only option is to make our schools better,” Oswald wrote during a campaign season that has seen her grow stronger as a candidate. With that commitment, she has become the best choice for voters Nov. 3 in the race for an At Large seat on the Duluth School Board.

The editors of the Trib did what I expect them to do. They did the work of good reporters. I’ll humbly add that they made a better case for Alanna in this editorial than I have in a dozen posts in Lincolndemocrat.

“Fair enough”

October 6th, 2015

So, where have I been for the past couple days? I have a post with nothing in it lined up to talk about the persecution of Art Johnston by a gold star teacher. I know what will go there I just haven’t found the time to write it yet. The person who prompted my last post cut me a lot of slack for not polishing up my posts by accepting my excuse that I was too darned busy to fuss about editing so many words. “Fair enough” my critic wrote. But, I have worked harder for the past month trying to smooth out the worst shambles in my writing. too much is at stake for me to lose credibility with new readers unaccustomed to my blithe disregard for well written posts.

I have been, Well, busy. Read the rest of this entry »

Lean on me

October 2nd, 2015

An email I recieved today:

Hi Harry,

I read your blog earlier when you asked not to be judged for spelling errors and typos because you’re busy, have a lot to write, and write quickly. Fair enough. But your most recent post misspells Cheryl Lien’s name every time you write it. That seems to be more mean spirited than a typo could explain. Without even discussing the content of your post, you undermine your writing integrity with carelessness like that.

This friend is absolutely correct. I just checked the post and I misspelled “Lien” every time it came up in the post. The darned thing is that even my blog’s spell checker underlined my mispellings and I did not catch it.

I appreciate the note and even more the forgiving nature regarding my excuse, lame though it is, for typos. This, however, was a typo. I’d like to shrug it off as the old i before e problem but that would be a little glib of me. I mispelled the name wrong the first time I typed it and continued to do so. Frankly, the post’s content is far more hurtful than the misspelling. I know that.

So did the School Board when I warned them fifteen months ago that if they didn’t rethink the direction they were taking I’d have no other option than to write frankly about this sorry episode. Instead I was censured for my blogging and not my mistake of revealing the ten million sales price of Central. Then the Board compounded their vengeful act by changing their Ethics policy giving them the power to remove me should I ever actually tell my readers what I know.

Some organizations are too big for apologies

October 2nd, 2015

Including, of course, the Duluth School Board that promised so much with the Red Plan, took so much and then so much more and delivered so much less than promised.

Of course, the School Board signed on to the Civility Projects pledge which urgently requests apologies for screw ups. There is just no way an organization will do such a thing. The Organization as currently constituted will be composed of folks who feel that since they weren’t part of the organization at the time a mistake was committed it would be hypocritical to apologize since they would be putting words into the mouths of the people who really should apologize.

Ah, but individuals. That’s different. That’s one of the pleasing things about Walter Mondale’s acknowledgement that Ronald Reagan was really a mensch that I included a couple of posts back.

Among the organizations that ought to apologize for its ham handed mean spiritedness is the local AFL-CIO which “banned Don Ness for Life” from paying a call on their Paul Wellstone Hall at the Labor Temple. Hell, they ought to ban all the union workers at the Radisson’s restaurant as well because, as Mayor Ness points out, they had to cross the informational picket line out front to get to their union jobs first.

But while the local head of the union makes himself scarce Craig Olson, President of the Building Trades Council doubles down and sticks up for the decision. That’s the wrap up from today’s story in the Trib.

I’m still curious to know if Rachel Loeffler-Kemp was part of that unanimous vote to embarrass Mayor Ness.

Well, the Mayor has close to 5,000 likes in Facebook in regards to this unforced error by the Unions. Why apologize when you can just let this blow over? Festering always makes things better than an apology which

Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends – Part 5

October 1st, 2015

Mondale lauds Reagan

October 1st, 2015

From my Buddy:



I’m curious—as someone who has run for President and has served as Vice President, did your feelings about your average fellow citizen change as a result of these experiences?


I told somebody afterwards that I think I would have voted for Reagan if I weren’t running, because he is a nice guy. He never was mean to me. I was never mean to him, and look at that campaign. It was a pleasant year, I think, for Americans. I think we ended up a united country, and so I could see why the average American liked the guy. They thought he was stable and good. They had a lot of memories about Carter and me that weren’t very good from the tough times we’d had, and that was a cloud over my campaign. Even though I could explain it, people don’t all hold doctorate degrees in political science and sort out this stuff. They have to deal with moods and feelings and tendencies, and he persuaded them that it was morning in America, feeling good, and it worked.

My Mom always told me you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Of course, no one ever censured her.

What is the sound of one hand clapping. . .

October 1st, 2015

. . . and another good question sent to me by my teaching daughter:

Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends – Part 4

September 29th, 2015

This series of posts begins here:

Twelve years sped by, a couple of superintendents came and went, a half billion school building plan became reality, and a succession of heavily pro Red Plan school board majorities were elected to run roughshod over the pro referendum minorities. Superintendents catering to the majority cultivated subordinates who in some cases disdained the Red Plan’s naysayers. There was an attempt to remove the first naysayer, Gary Glass, but Dr. Keith Dixon who probably brought news of this possibility seems to have thought better of this divisive ploy. Glass is joined for his last two years on the Board by Art Johnston but both remain eunuchs by a five to two vote ratio. Then Art Johnston must forge on for the next two years as alone as Gary Glass had been in his first two years.

As Art faces reelection he becomes the subject of numerous letters-to-the-editor reviling him for not being a good sport when he is constantly denied the data he requests about the Red Plan. Before the filings take place one of the administration’s most ardent loyalists, Cheryl Lien, draws a bead on him.

Cheryl, (the subject of the original Post 2 in this series – since removed) has never been shrinking violet. One former Denfeld student told me that when she swept down the hallways kids stepped aside. One of her fans at East told me two things about Mrs. Lien. First, that she displayed great compassion for students in need. Lien had taken him under her wing when his family life fell apart and helped him get through it. But second, he conceded that she was driven and could be ruthless. Those aren’t his exact words but I think they are close enough.

Art believes that some of our administrators were urged to keep their distance from him. One administrator who told him she was advised to avoid him also told Art the following story as the 2013 campaign drew to a close.

In about May, preceding the candidate filings, the principals union held a gathering at Valentini’s Restaurant and invited Superintendent Gronseth to be their guest. According to Leea Powers, who I found to be calm, rationale and very smart, the Superintendent asked his principals who would find someone to run against Art Johnston.

“I’ve got It covered.” Cheryl Lien volunteered. She had found a young candidate with the magical last name of Minnesota’s longest serving Governor Perpich who would run against Art. If this took place as described it is stunning. I’ve written before about how Duluth Administrators handled school board elections. It wasn’t generally encouraged.

Administrators, especially the Board appointed Superintendent, put their careers on the line when they interfere in school board politics. There is no doubt that exchange like this took place because it was confirmed by Cheryl Lien’s own supervisor, Laurie Knapp, East High School’s long time principal.

Investigator Mary Rice, who interviewed all the principals at this meeting, chose to take a different interpretation than the one offered by Leea Powers, whom Rice characterized as being a “disgruntled” employee. Rice’s preferred interpretation of this event is that Lien’s comment was made in jest. If so, the levity was missed by Leea Powers who had already been told that Art Johnston was persona non grata as far as the Superintendent was concerned.

If Cheryl Lien was joking at the beginning of the election season she wasn’t joking by its conclusion. Many School Board watchers, including me, thought that Art Johnston was toast. He had been assaulted with several bitter letters to the editor accusing him of poor behavior during school board meetings. He had a strong opponent backed by many administration supporters in the PTA. It was, however, a different challenger facing Art than the one Mrs. Lien had taken credit for finding at her union meeting.

Cheryl Lien insisted that it was merely a coincidence that she chose Election Day, 2013, to warn Art Johnston’s partner, Jane Bushey, that she would be keeping a close watch over her in the coming year. Coincidence or not, Jane Bushey took the dreadful message to heart. She began keeping a diary of her interactions with Assistant Principal Lien and kept them up to date until the fateful East High graduation at the conclusion of the school year.

Next: Thou Shalt Not – Part 5

Habitat Habit

September 29th, 2015

I’d love to campaign today but my church has me signed up to paint a house that is a temporary home for the homeless.

My Buddy nudges me on the previous post

September 29th, 2015


From http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=15171:

“Now if we could just figure out how to tempt some of the 800 extra Duluth East kids to Denfeld to even up the school populations we’d have an even bigger improvement in safety.”

However, as I said to you on September 17, regarding which I have not received a response:

However, I am similarly critical about the decision of the district to have an east high school and a west high school, instead of just one high school – especially considering that the district had one relatively new facility that was centrally located. Who deserves blame for that? Marshall School functions with such a central location; why couldn’t the public school district?

A lot of water over the dam.

[Your Buddy]

To which I responded:

Yeah. A lot of water over the damn alright……pun intended.

Buddy, your question about a central location for a high school is a good one and I’ve written about it before on the blog. I don’t respond to all of your emails because……well…..I have a life to live. Its not for want of a willingness to reply.

Our task now is to make sure that the decisions we can’t undo don’t further compromise kids out west.


Meanwhile, I’m over the moon too. My Buddy sent me this link to some very cool pictures of the Apollo landings on the Moon in honor of the Lunar Eclipse Sunday Night. Claudia and I watched it battle the clouds in Duluth until its blood red phase.

I remember bicycling around Mankato, Minnesota, back in 1969 while stealing glances up at the moon when we first landed astronauts there.

Safety First, Equity Second

September 28th, 2015

While I have not been made aware of changes this year to the terrible traffic situation at East High School I’m gratified to learn that there has been a significant improvement in today’s front page story.

The improvement is a relatively easy solution. An adult traffic crossing guard has been hired to control pedestrians and cars at the dangerous 40th Ave East location. Even the kids recognize how awful the safety issues were because they are giving the crossing guard very little grief as he protects them like other guards protect elementary school children.

There is mention of a $200,000 fix to the drives at East. I presume this will be on the District’s credit card. Again, I’m only a school board member. I am the last person to find out about these issues. Nonetheless, I’m pleased that things have improved.

Now if we could just figure out how to tempt some of the 800 extra Duluth East kids to Denfeld to even up the school populations we’d have an even bigger improvement in safety. I like Alanna Oswald’s suggestion. She wonders if we couldn’t scratch up enough revenue to have a “pilot” Seven Period day out west. I think we could.

Bathroom Privileges

September 28th, 2015

Folks in Columbia Heights are demanding the resignation of school board member Grant Nichols. I sympathize with their irritation but disagree that having the rest of the school board remove him is the method to express their disapproval.

Evidently Mr. Nichols is accused of saying Muslims have unsanitary bathroom habits on his Facebook Page. He denies it but other Board members say he admitted having put this there himself. First the obvious conclusion I draw from this is whether he did or not he clearly knows now, belatedly, that this was a bad thing to have done. His denying he wrote this confirms it. If he lied about it shame on him but in his defense I’ve seen lots of other school board members too vain to admit their mistakes or apologize. This is hardly a hanging offense. For this sin I think the voters should be relied upon to do what they think best at the next election.

As for the notion that Muslims have unsanitary practices I recall a story from thirty years ago when Westerners were routinely imprisoned in Middle Eastern prisons for attempting to buy drugs. I recall the story of one American who bitterly complained that he was treated like an unclean dog by the Saudi jail inmates who discovered he wiped himself with his right hand. In Saudia Arabia this is the job of the left hand and those who are known not to use that hand are, or were 30 years ago to be unclean. This could be a much bigger deal in a nation with limited water resources for washing your hand several times a day.

Just in case defending Mr. Nichols draws fire I’d like to point to two items in my own defense. First, I had a Muslim roommate over forty years ago for a full school year. Second, As a school board member shortly after 9-11 I began inserting “Allah” into God’s place in the Pledge of Allegiance after I saw a really annoying anti-Muslim bumpersticker. Then I wrote a column for all of Duluth to read about it.

3 AM to 5 AM

September 28th, 2015

A recurring theme of this blog since the Red Plan smacked me up side the head is my disturbed sleep. I crashed just after the ten O’clock news began. Claudia was watching Father Brown on PBS instead of news pablum and I crawled into bed. I know I fell asleep immediately because I didn’t wake up when she finally came to bed. I woke up at 3AM from a dream about the school board race. That was five straight hours of sleep. It probably isn’t considered sufficient to ward off Alzheimer’s but it worked for me.

Five hours of making apple cider probably helped me fall asleep. We got a little over three gallons. (So much easier to buy it in the store.) I’d spent about six hours over the past week repairing damaged cider pressing equipment. The cider is sweet, almost cloying, but its from our tree.

This morning I woke up knowing that I had one last long political job to do before going out and putting up lawnsigns for Alanna and Loren. I have to finish the job of filing six months of paperwork and get it off my floor. Last week’s rainy weather was great for starting this task. I filled up my recycling bin for the Friday pick-up but now have to categorize, label and stuff folders with the remainder. Once that’s done I’ll have the month of October to campaign for some sanity with few distractions.

Very recently I ran across an occasional acquaintance who always starts a good-natured conversation with me about the School Board. He asked me who I thought had done the best at the Chamber forum and I said I thought it was Loren Martell. He told me an acquaintance of his thought Alanna had done the best. I quickly added that I thought Alanna was a close second.

For the record, I’d say Loren had the most to gain. He’s such a known quantity based on his disgraceful treatment by our school board and his resultant microscopic column describing our meetings that his presentation had to be a revelation to his detractors. He was not only knowledgeable and articulate but soft spoken. Unlike Alanna, Loren took a macro look at the District and made so much sense that no one could fault his analysis…..except for me. I think he’s far too optimistic about our ability to lease Central High.

Alanna demonstrated deep knowledge of the District on the micro level – in the classroom with the state laws and federal demands made on our teachers. Alanna also had the most laid back, non threatening, and good-hearted manner whereas Loren was focused.

I was curious about where my occasional acquaintance got his view of the debate and it was apparently one of the DFLers who’s party gave the endorsement to Alanna’s alternative, Renee VanNett. In this DFLer’s view Alanna won hands down. I was gratified to hear this and it echoed what I’d heard from a couple other DFL sources – that the DFL had some buyer’s remorse for their premature endorsement which came before School Board filings opened.

I’m not the only critic of the DFL. The Trib tsk tisked the endorsements a couple months ago. The DFL rushed to replace the discredited members of the school board with new allies for the remaining Art Johnston persecutors. I’ve been quick to point out what I regard as weaknesses in these candidates: prejudgment of Art, failure to attend meetings, refusal to meet with me right here on my blog. As I told my acquaintance this may not encourage these new board members to work with me should they be elected. Oh well.

One more thought about political parties. In a lot of ways political organizations can be “us” organizations like a fraternity or a social club. When this happens they promote their team wholeheartedly without ever acknowledging that there may be other folks who are superior to theirs.

Fortunately for my favored candidates, most voters coming to the polls in November will pay scant attention to the phrase “DFL endorsed” when they cast their ballots. In fact, a lot of today’s fractious school board members were DFL endorsed.

A 10 minute explanation of this blog for new readers

September 27th, 2015

I have ten minutes till I have to pick someone up for Church so here goes.

About 150 more people are paying a call on Lincoln Democrat daily now than at the beginning of the year. There will be close to 4,000 occasional readers of the blog this month. I presume, although I could be wrong, that most are Duluth residents. Some like me. Some detest me. Most are the folks who are the semi-wonks who follow the school board and want to know what’s happening in the schools. More are peeking at the blog now because of the looming election just 40 days away.

This post is meant to explain to my new readers things I’ve explained to old readers before. So, old readers, bear with me.

I am only fussy about making my ideas clear not submitting to an English teacher for a grade on grammer or spelling.
The last post was written up in one session and I’m sure, as with all such posts, when I review it for corrections I’ll wince at obvious mistakes. I may not take the time to improve it because my regular readers know by now that I can turn out a pretty polished piece of prose when I want to. In that respect looking at some of my posts is rather like looking at my snow sculptures a day or two before I’m finally finished with them. They are rough drafts that I may not get around to correcting. I’m busy.

Over the next forty days I’ll be doing my best to support a couple candidates for the school board. If you are reading this once or twice a week you know who I’m supporting and why. We need a new school board focused on education. Yesterday’s three posts in one is a reminder to all my readers that these and many more educational issues are what we should be focusing on not a feud between school board members.

That said, I am determined to explain to all my readers just how stupid and nasty the fight has been. Its a fight that is seven years old and frankly, I think the people of Duluth should know just how the institutional side has carried out this fight. I’ve written much about “Character Assassination.” When I resume writing about this current history – that I hope will soon be past history – I’ll detail what I’ve seen and witnessed. That’s because I wish to help rehabilitate Art Johnston’s character in the eyes of folks who have wanted to believe all the stories about how awful he has been.

I have been working harder to polish up my pieces for the new eyes reading over the blog but I won’t always make time to do this. I have a family that I’m giving more priority to than I have in the past. If you don’t like my typos, tough. Pay attention to the content.

Time to go and pick up my fellow parishioner. Adios.

Three posts in one

September 26th, 2015

I’ve got to go press apple cider. I’ll proof read this post later.

I meant to write 3 separate posts yesterday but got busy. I’ll distill two of them down drastically here. Both came up at the MSBA meeting and are some of the many concerns school board members must pay attention to.

High School vs. College

At our Thursday MSBA Area meeting we had a discussion about a new attempt by colleges to gut Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes and put more emphasis on the state financing PSEO (Pose Secondary Educational Options). The MSBA is obviously getting the word out because the Trib ran two like minded editorials from other Minnesota Newspapers on its opinion page defending AP and IB classes.

The issue is who gets the money to give our high school kids an early taste of college. AP and IB classes let public high school teachers a chance to get kids college credits that will save them money by giving them college credits before they graduate from high school. PSEO classes are college classes that High School kids take at College while they are still in High School. Public School’s are required to pay the colleges for this whereas AP classes deprive colleges of tuition payments when the kids get to college with credits already taken care of.

This is not a new issue. I heard lots of grumbling from both sides sixteen years ago while on the Board. However, colleges are making new demands to have properly accredited teachers because there is now a slump in enrollment. I tend to take the public school side of the funding issue although I was happy enough when my daughter got PSEO credit back in the 90′s.

Charter Schools Equity Read the rest of this entry »

Correction – Alanna has a deeper resume than I said

September 26th, 2015

I mentioned that Alanna Oswald is beginning her second year on the Minnesota Dept. of Ed. state-wide Title One Committee. Actually she is beginning her fifth year on the Title I committee at MDE.

No wonder the MDE staff has gotten to know her and appreciate her smarts and credibility.

And further I said Art Johnston tagged along with her as her guest at the meeting. Wrong again, Art is actually a new member of the Committee and is beginning his first year on it. I did say, didn’t I, that this involves the tricky process of overseeing tens, if not hundreds, of millions of federal monies in Minnesota destined to help poorer kids? In our District this constitutes a large chunk of the 9% of our general fund that comes from Federal sources.

I don’t know how Art finds time to do these things since he’s had to work feverishly for last year taking on freelance engineering projects to pay off his now $74,000 in legal fees imposed on him by our school board majority.

If the tone of my last post was just a little brittle it reflects my outrage for this terrible miscarriage of justice which distracted us from our real job – educating our children.

My loyal reader challenges me

September 25th, 2015

Loyal Reader:

Not to repeat Art’s Cassandra-like warnings, but…..is this worth the repercussions of revealing the contents of a closed meeting?

I mean, the shit will hit the fan if you do this, and will it even really help Art? Those who will believe it already believe Art, and those who don’t believe Art aren’t going to believe this anyway.

I admire your commitment to transparency. Truly I do. It’s rare to find an elected official who really WANTS the public to know what government is doing. But this is going to get you in a lot of trouble (fines, maybe, or a lawsuit — a real reason to kick you off the board).

Is it worth it?


Yes. The truth is its own reward or to paraphrase John 8:32 The truth will set you free. Today John Boehner resigned from the Congress. He’s free. I admire his decision and suspect it was prompted in large part by listening to Pope Francis yesterday call on Congress to behave itself.

When I was checking out the Bible verse that this paraphrase was based on I also saw a waggish riposte: The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.

It’s hard to imagine a more miserable experience than being on this school board since the Duluth East Graduation in 2014. I’ve been sitting on what I feel to be the real story and been rebuffed in my attempts to make peace with the warmongers on the Duluth School Board. I’m so galled that they have poisoned so many people against Art Johnston that quite frankly I would regard their removing me from the Board as a badge of honor.

At this moment one of the candidates for the school board keeps reminding us that one or maybe two board members have been the fount of all our problems. I am quite willing to serve with this candidate but I’ll be damned if he will take office in ignorance of the other side of the story.

Next – Thou Shalt Not 4

The MSBA Area meeting

September 25th, 2015

Last night one of the regional meetings for the statewide Minnesota School Board Association met at Cloquet’s Municipal Building. I attended these gatherings every year in my first stint on the Duluth School Board. Back then I was the only board member to attend. The Fall meetings precede the MSBA’s Legislative Assembly gathering in December. Art Johnston and I both put our names in to become delegates as did retiring Board Chair Judy Seliga-Punyko. Five other board members from around Northeast Minnesota did the same and every School Board member from northeastern Minnesota can vote for their choices to the Assembly. Four delegates will be selected. The candidates who don’t get elected all stand a good chance to be seated at the actual Assembly if those who are elected decide not to attend.

This year’s Assembly won’t have much to look forward to in terms of legislation because the next session of the legislature is devoted to passing bonding bills. Cities and Counties will scramble for state money to fix parks, municipal buildings and compete with state government interests. Legislators will take credit for getting state money for their localities and no one will much care about the statutes of the Land of ten thousand laws.

Art and I however, want to push a law that was introduced into last year’s legislature by DFL Senator Terri Bonoff. It would take away the right of School Boards to remove a school board member that they didn’t like thus negating the elections that put them into office. The law got many sponsors and Art and I lobbied for it in a couple visits to St. Paul. It would, of course, make a fiasco like the one we’ve just experienced in Duluth impossible. It would require a real crime to remove an office holder something like embezzlement or child abuse and not simply asking too many embarrassing questions or expressing frustration when denied public data.

Art Johnston had already spent the day at the Minnesota State Department of Education as the guest of board candidate Alanna Oswald. She is beginning her second year on the State’s Title One Committee that oversees the expenditure of tens of million of Federal Dollars that support the poorest children in Minnesota’s Schools.

Rep. Mary Murphy was at our evening meeting. She is currently the longest serving Representative on the Education Finance Committee having been in St. Paul for something like 34 years. As a Democrat she is in the minority but she is treated more generously by the Republicans than almost any other Democrat in the legislature. She gave us a summary of her long climb to the top and lamented her lowly status in her first years. Those were the years that I often substituted in her classes at Central High School.

I have always taken the MSBA seriously and look forward to the educational sessions at their statewide conference in January. I have written about the last two I attended on the blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

Out for blood? – an email exchange on the Thou Shalt Not series

September 25th, 2015

I woke yesterday morning to find an urgent plea in my email. One of my eight loyal readers was crushed that they missed the post I wrote about Cheryl Lein’s past misdeeds. My reader told me that every five minutes that day they kept pushing the refresh key hoping to read what I had promised to write about this ancient offense.

As I said, I don’t particularly care if anyone who did catch the post – in its four brief hours online – prints it out and passes it around. But to honor Art’s request I told this anxious and disappointed loyal reader that I would send the full text to them on the condition they promised never to leak it. I trust them. I sent it on but asked them for their opinion by writing:

One of the folks who saw it online before I replaced it told me this made me look like I was out for blood. Of course, I am. But, is that how it strikes you?

This is their response to the forbidden post and my question about its being blood thirsty: Read the rest of this entry »

Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends – Part 3

September 24th, 2015

Notwithstanding Art’s request that I take down that post about old news I’ve decided that this is a story that needs to be told to clear the air and erase wrong-headed preconceptions about Art Johnston. After all, I’m in this too. If I’m protecting a raving lunitic my judgement must be called into question. So, for now, consider that I am primarily defending my steadfast support for Art Johnston.

To that end there is one paragraph from the last post that I will bring back to life as it deals squarely with the main contention of this series of posts. That contention? There was a concerted effort by a great many people to bend the truth to portray Art Johnston as a man who should be removed from office. This idea will not die as long as folks like Annie Harala, the only witness to the complete “assault,” continue to maintain that there sure as heck was an assault and if only the public knew what she knew they too would want Art Johnston removed from the Board.

Well, before my readers join Annie at the hips I want to talk about the year Art Johnston suffered through leading up to the fateful East Graduation ceremony. East High School Assistant Principal Cheryl Lein had everything to do with this.

This is the paragraph I’d like folks to concentrate on before I go any further:

“I will now share one more vivid detail for no reason other than my indignation that “Investigator” Mary Rice told the School Board I had been vague about what exactly had happened all those years ago. Rice told us this when I asked her if she, as an attorney, would trust a witness, who was a known liar. I guess my alleged vagueness gave Mary Rice an excuse to evade my question.”

Mary Rice was a critical actor in informing Duluth that Art Johnston was bad news. Its worth remembering that the only evidence that the School Board brought to Federal Court to defend its decision to remove Art Johnston was Mary Rice’s report.

It’s also worth remembering that the District’s case foundered when it became apparent that Judge Davis didn’t accord Mary Rice’s report much weight. He went through all the claims against Art point by point and made it clear that every single one of them was based on an unconstitutional abridgment of Art’s free speech rights. I had been dismissive of the Rice report from the moment I first read it.

I may have more to say about this later tonight so stay tuned.

Next in the Thou Shalt Not series: Out for Blood?