Category Archives: Duluth Schools

On Being Charlie

“That’s just Charlie being Charlie.” That was the rationalization Charlie Rose’s right-hand woman gave the young ladies who told her disturbing stories about their boss. She just chalked it up to …I don’t know, eccentricity I guess.

A cavalcade of clay feet have been revealed to be little more than heels in recent weeks. I, for one, appreciate the stink. It’s long overdue and there is nothing eccentric about this. From CK’s exhibitionistic Onanism to the barring of a District Attorney from his local shopping mall all of these stories have been “creepy.” As our soon-to-be President said on tape, “When you’re a star they let you do it,” adding, “You can do anything.”

I’ve put a lot of thought into the sexual proclivities of men since my best friend told me how he persuaded a neighbor kid to pimp his twelve-year old sister so that my buddy could have sex with her. We were high school freshmen. I would be five years older before my first such experience and it would be with an older woman where the power differential was more nearly equal. Continue reading

Our Little Thing – 2, Addendum

It is time for me to confess that Mary Rice, the attorney hired by the district to defame Art Johnston, was right to stress that I didn’t have perfect recall about what took place in 2004. Its because the accurate information was never entered into the record that I have just cast aspersions on those who did know what in fact had taken place.

I was probably wrong about the person I was sure had attempted to suborn a witness to give false testimony. The Duluth News Tribune made that clear a few weeks ago with information that was a surprise to me.

It now seems that, despite my imminent retirement, one school board member with good recall of what took place in 2004 will remain on the Duluth School Board.

Our little thing – 2

Last spring I learned that my daughter was applying for a position with the Duluth Schools. I quietly cringed but said nothing. There is more than a whiff of favoritism about our District which only seems to have intensified during the Keith Dixon years. I would hate to have my daughter suffer for my perceived crimes.

The thing I regret most over the past four years was my reluctance to visit schools early on. I stayed out of them because I had taken Art Johnston’s side in an almost unfathomable war and was worried that my comings and goings would be reported to higher-ups who would not forget the transgressors willing to talk with me. It’s often said that no good deed goes unpunished and associating with lepers is not popular.

Sometimes it was painfully obvious that the District’s employees felt the same. For instance, I made a date to speak with one principal but when I arrived at the office learned that she had decided to travel up the North Shore with her husband instead. She had called my land line to warn me but I rarely answer that phone anymore and missed the heads up.

In recent weeks something else has become painfully apparent to me. When I was defending Art Johnston back in 2014 one Board member had inside knowledge that could have supported a claim I made to the investigating attorney hired to flay Art Johnston alive. I gave evidence of an earlier attempt to give false testimony to the District by one of the chief witnesses against Board member Johnston. That employee’s former boss was on the Board with me and read the claim but never stepped in to support my testimony. He also helped the same employee exit her school gracefully after her colleagues learned of her actions. She later became an administrator and once again supplied misinformation, in an attempt to give the School Board grounds to remove Art Johnston.

Old friendships die hard in our District and it pays to be a favorite.

The night the attorney made her report to the School Board I ended up looking like a fool by attempting to act out what I guessed had taken place after the East High School graduation. My mistake may have given the Board more confidence to embark on the futile year-long fight to remove Art Johnston that would mar our reputation and waste $200,000.

For a long time I believed that Mike Miernicki had honestly described his interaction with Art Johnston following Art’s argument with the Superintendent. I no longer believe Mike was being honest. I know Mike willingly, if reluctantly, agreed to make racism one of the complaints against Art. They were the foul harvest of a spy network set up by the staff member who had attempted to subvert the 2004 investigation.

This is what I now suspect happened on that fateful night. Art Johnston found Mike Miernicki and expressed his outrage with the Superintendent for the harassment of his long-time partner. Shortly after this Mike was besieged by three irate female Board members who insisted that Art had assaulted the Superintendent. (The Superintendent himself denied any assault) In an attempt at gallantry Mike embellished his account of being accosted by Art explaining how he had been spun around. That charge forced his best friend, the former supervisor of the spy mistress, to either back Mike up or undermine Mike’s testimony. I believe friendship prevailed once again and recall how uncharacteristically passionate Principal Westholm was in defending his own honesty.

Of course, Mr. Miernicki suffered a few slings and arrows himself during the two years he fruitlessly attempted to kick Art off the Board and I’m sure he nursed his wounds carefully. He wrote two savage critiques of Art this election season. One came before the primary and the second arrived before the general election. And the false claims leveled against Art will not die in the public imagination.

During the campaign the spouse of one of the “positive” candidates posted on Facebook the claim that Art had assaulted Bill Gronseth. When the spouse was informed of her mistake she took the post down with a replacement explaining that she guessed she had gotten in trouble for posting it. She chose not to admit any mistake.

It is important to discredit such uninformed thinking and to make sure the heads of our new school board members stay free of fog. They will face enough of it for the next four years.

I’ve been lauding the book “Last Hope Island” a lot lately and I’m reminded of the story it tells of Czech President Edvard Benes. The British forced Benes to hand Czechoslovakia to Hitler at Munich. Fleeing to England afterwards Benes was ill used by the British government which blamed the Czechs for not defending themselves even though they agreed to let Hitler take it over. One British diplomat said of Benes’s treatment that it was “a tragic illustration of the dislike that men feel for those whom they have wronged.”

Et tu, Mike?

Our little thing – 1

A quick search on Wikipedia tells me that “little” is not originally part of the Sicilian Mafia’s term for itself, “our thing” or “Cosa Nostra.” I’m not sure where the “little” came from but since I’m talking about our public school hierarchy here rather than organized crime its seems more appropriate and less threatening to insert the qualifier “little.” We educate children. We don’t put people’s feet into cement before tossing them over a bridge into a river. Although, come to think of it, IV Foster might beg to differ.

This is a topic I’ve covered before. To commence this post I began by entering the term “parking pass” into my search engine which led me to a post I recalled composing a few years back in which I made this assertion:

I have felt for a long time that there is an unhealthy favoritism riddling the Duluth Schools which I believe is corrosive. I’m just not sure that my corrosive criticism will make things better. I’ll try to stick to simple criticism from now on.

And this led me to the post preceding it which I began by grimly describing how our closest relatives, chimpanzees, reacted to perceived unfairness. Its always a surprise to jump back and read my old posts. Continue reading

End of the Campaign odds’n ends

I’m not yet ready to start my new life free from the School Board. The final step will be to put all the campaign debris on the floor of my office away. That won’t take too long because I’ve already done it a couple of times earlier when it was a major task. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve begun doing to pull myself away is to begin reading aloud a new book to Claudia. I’ve said before that Last Hope Island is great. I’m about half through it. There have been several stories in it with pithy commentary about human frailty that I couldn’t help but associate with the campaign and the Duluth School Board. Those associations are among about ten items I’ve jotted down on a pocket sized note pad that are begging me to become future posts.

My readers are slipping away. What had peaked at over 600 has been winnowed down to 377 undernourished daily visits. Undernourished because I’ve not posted regularly. I suspect I won’t be able to help myself commenting on the School District over the next two years despite my yearning to write a history book or two. I’ve even mentioned to the publisher of the Duluth Reader an interest in writing about the Board. I told him a column might be called the “Minority Report” but frankly, I’m too eclectic to want to limit myself to writing about the School Board. A better name might riff on my old column’s name Not Eudora Redux. The Reader has a lot more eyes than my blog and I’d like that. Continue reading

The 2017 election’s good news a post mortem and a caution or two

A week ago I wanted to begin a post by writing that my defeat for School Board was a small price to pay for the successes of the Democrats in many regional elections. I attribute my defeat mostly to President Trump and the outrage he has caused and continues to cause as President. I anticipated that I could have a very difficult time with the election after I participated in the woman’s march early in the year simply because I was a man. That proved not to be the case as Josh Gorham won handily enough so it was something else that drove the numbers. (One woman’s organization did pester me)

Angry Democrats just would not give up. Continue reading

Anticlimactic Moody Mulch meeting and a jab back at the editors of the Trib

I am beginning my posts today with a throw away post about yesterday’s Business Committee meeting. I post it because I’ve tried to provide my ISD 709 wonks with ongoing information about the concerns of the District and mulch and District finances have both been part of that. But for me the first half of this post is strictly a chore. In eight weeks I’ll be free from an almost oppressive sense of obligation to keep readers informed.

So, here’s today’s News Trib story from soon to depart education reporter Jana Hollingsworth. (She won’t be allowed to report on ISD 709 while her Aunt sits on the Board) The headline, which Jana and her predecessors have always stressed are not the reporter’s to write, trumpets reduced costs for the mulch. In short, a simplified plan made for a $60,000 reduction in the million dollar project. This made it a little easier to swallow a $12,000 “change order “addition for the company overseeing the mulch replacement as they designed the simpler plan. Only Art Johnston objected and his qualms may be justified, however, for me this is not a battle I choose to continue.

The bigger deal was having our bond adviser explain to us how the Moody’s Investment Service downgrade of our financial status affected our borrowing for what is now to be called the Rockridge Academy. Steven Pumper said two things I found difficult to square. In response to my questioning about whether it was ultimately the state or the District taxpayers that were on the hook for bonds (or COP) repayments he explained that it fell on the state’s shoulders. He added that this meant that there was really no reason for our bonds to be downgraded forcing us to pay higher interest rates. However, he explained, Moody’s was simply giving bond buyers information that managed to raise our interest rates based on (and here I’ll insert my own words) the dimwittedness of ISD 709’s financing which has left us with virtually no reserve cushion. That last sentence almost deserves an exclamation point.

What makes this post worthwhile to me is a chance to point fingers back at the editors of the News Tribune who gratuitously gave Art Johnston and me a swift kick in the posterior the day after the election results were announced saying of us:

“Also Tuesday, voters picked a positive fresh start for the Duluth School Board, rejecting doomsday-trumpeting incumbents in favor of elected leaders who said they wouldn’t ignore the district’s very real challenges, including financial ones, but committed to working together toward solutions. It’s on the new board now to do just that. They can be held accountable, even if the task is thankless and won’t be easy.”

I consider myself an optimist not a doomsdayer. But optimism must be earned by realistically evaluating current situations. Our financially crippled Duluth Schools will continue to give lots of kids an education which will launch them into successful lives. But there will be fewer successful launches while the District lacks the adult contact time that many of our students need. That’s not a catastrophic tire blow out but it is a slow leak. Rather, I’ve always considered myself a “Cassandra.” She was an ancient Greek prophetess who predicted the future but was cursed by Apollo who made sure that no one would ever believe her prophecies.

FINGER POINT —> the Editors of the Trib who failed to heed my warnings are also flattering me by imitation by explaining opiningthat Duluth may not get permission from St. Paul to implement the sales taxes for street repair despite a whopping 76% yes vote in the recent election. As in my case I think the Editors are simply being prudent not doomsayers when they point out this glaring fact:

“It’s a good question, especially on the heels of a 31 percent water rate increase in Duluth, a 9 percent electric rate increase, revaluations of properties that are driving up property taxes by as much as 30 percent, and the coming unknown costs from Superior Street’s reconstruction and the Steam Plant’s conversion.

Like Duluth’s residents, businesses can only be asked to give so much. While fixing potholed streets is a basic city service and something voters Tuesday clearly declared as a do-it-now priority, workplace benefits are appropriately left to employer-employee negotiations. Government intervention here is government overreach. Calling on elected leaders to pick up the slack where union negotiators fail is inappropriate.”

A few weeks back I wrote a very modest column which I meant to keep the eyes of our next school board faced on the realities they will deal with so as not to find themselves mired in impossible promises to make the Duluth Schools the best schools in the nation. In that column I noted that twenty years ago local taxpayers put $14 million into our classrooms. Today we only put $2.5 million into them. That burden no longer rests on my shoulders and I’ll confess this is the first time in ten years that I’ve felt free from the responsibility of fixing things since I first predicted the District’s unhappy future.

Veterans Day 2017

Since the election I’ve woken from a couple of dreams about going door to door. In much the same way I keep thinking of new things to blog about the campaign I’ve just been through. This all comes at a time when I feel free of a great burden of public service and pulled to a larger burden of using the past to shine a light on the future. Think Book writing.

I still have about eight weeks to wrap up my final school board work. For instance, I’ll be meeting with the Superintendent at 8 AM this morning as part of his five-month-old initiative not to let unhappy school board members feel like they are out of his loop. Each month all of us meet separately with Mr. Gronseth and Chair Kirby in groups of three so as not to violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. Continue reading

Eternal Vigilance

I have had a night to sleep on the final words of my last post:

“I have no plans to comment on the Duluth Schools very much in the future. It’s time for me to write a book.

Sayonara.”

I am reconsidering this. The words that ring in my ear are these: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The last ten years of watching the Duluth School Board and its recent Superintendents have driven this point home to me. For instance:

I blogged a few days ago about the special meeting Alanna Oswald, Art Johnston and I called, under the provisions of Minnesota’s state statutes, about the expenditure of Compensatory Education funds in the western schools. We called it for November 15th at 5 O’Clock in the Board room. I took letters to be mailed to all of the school board members into the Superintendent for his executive secretary to mail to board members to make this official. The letters were not mailed out according to my request and according to the statutory provisions. The time was also changed to 4:00 from our designated time of 5:00. Par for the course.

I’ve mentioned to a very few people what I will now declare to the blog. I told Superintendent Gronseth that I knew we didn’t trust each other at a meeting a month or two ago. He doesn’t trust me because I blog. I don’t trust him because of stunts like this. By making it appear that the Administration has called the meeting and by not sending out the letters I took to his executive secretary it makes it seem as though the Superintendent will be in charge of our agenda. I don’t know that this is what he’s planning but it would be easier for him to endure our complaints should he decide to set the agenda for our meeting now that Art and I will not be returning the the School Board. That leaves Alanna Oswald, our fairly regular ally, at the mercy of the majority and in the same unenviable position that Art Johnston was in for the two years before I was elected – a lone voice of reason doomed to be ignored. That the Superintendent may be starting this with two months left of our tenure is unpalatable to me to say the least.

My plan is to begin writing a book having nothing to do with the School Board. Not campaigning every living hour will make this possible and still leave me time to report on the happenings of the Duluth School Board. I expect that Loren Martell will give up that ghost. He too has been operating on fumes for the past couple of years. But I will not leave Alanna Oswald to the mercies of a system that has been incredibly cruel and myopic to dissenters. I’ll be happy to pass on a minority report especially as I’m leaving two very good eyes on the Board as I depart it.

Time will tell whether the new Board with the machiavellian Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Superintendent in charge will allow Alanna to be run over by its freight train. I like and trust David Kirby and Nora Sandstad and am convinced of Sally Trnka’s good intentions. About the others I have my doubts which I will share with far more candor than even my eight loyal readers have grown accustomed to.

As a friend who offered me condolences in a text said, this Board will have a very hard time overcoming the difficult problems my blog and my campaign have taken pains to enumerate. Ah yes, I allowed, but that doesn’t mean our new school board can’t make things a lot worse by making stupid decisions. Perhaps while I’m writing that book I’ve been pining to begin, I can keep the School Board on its toes and make sure it doesn’t pull an Art Johnston on Alanna.

Sayonara

I got a very sweet phone message from Sally Trnka commending me for my service and telling me how nice it was to get to know me through the campaign.

I left a message back and commented that her call was very nice and that under the traditional roles it should have been me as the defeated candidate making a call to her.

I told her she had a good attitude that I was sure would serve her well and wished her the best of luck serving Duluth.

I have no plans to comment on the Duluth Schools very much in the future. It’s time for me to write a book.

Sayonara.

Hillside Stories

Three months of walking Duluth will come to an end today. Looking at the city-wide map I’ve been marking in I’d guess that amounts to 40% of the city. By the time you count similar travels through 20 previous election campaigns there are very few corners of Duluth I haven’t seen.

Although I’m not knocking on many doors I have fascinating little chats with people every day while finding surprising connections. Yesterday was no exception. I began at the top of Lake Avenue passing out flyers in a spot I’d covered door-to-door 41 years ago when I first ran against Mike Jaros. Although the steps were covered with ice and snow my legs, thirteen years shy of becoming the legs of an eighty-year-old, did surprisingly well left foot be damned.

In one of the gems built since those ancient days with a spectacular view I paused take it all in. The homeowner saw me and invited in “to warm up.” He looked a little familiar. Like the other stories here today I’ll be vague so that few will be able to tell who he was but when he introduced himself I knew immediately what my connection with him was. Continue reading

Special School Board Meeting called…

…by Art, Alanna and Harry:

So says the press release from a leader of western Duluth’s Equity group, and its true. We have called a meeting to discuss with the parents their concern that contrary to a vote of the School Board there has not been a more equitable distribution of Compensatory Education funds:

Rats! it’s a PDF file and I will have to relearn how to display it. Later. I’ve had a long day going door to door…..with minimal foot pain. Time to watch the news and watch other people’s pain. Ah, Thank you Alanna. Its good to know smart young people:

Continue reading

Running on Fumes

Even in my cabin on a boat floating down the Yangtze River this August I would wake up thinking about my reelection campaign for the Duluth School Board. Reading the faraway Duluth News Tribune on the iffy Chinese Internet didn’t help distract me completely from these thoughts. This was a campaign I hoped I wouldn’t have to work at. I wanted to write a book about my Grandfather instead in “the good old days” before Facebook tore us into two warring unthinking halves with the help of Putin’s trolls and the Donald’s tweets.

With four days left to campaign I’m running on fumes and I’ve still got a gimpy limp. But its not as bad as yesterday when I shelved campaigning until the League of Woman Voter’s forum at Lakeside Elementary and dragooned Claudia to scrape off the last snow and winterize my patio. It was five non-stop hours of drudgery. But am I pleased with the vacant, leaf free result:

I don’t like to use campaigning as an excuse to avoid family obligations and chores. I could have put this off till mid November had the snow not fallen and threatened to make a cleanup impossible. I probably would have made a snow sculpture a day or two ago had the threat of freckled (leaf filled) snow not discouraged me. I still haven’t raked the actual back yard. That’s almost certainly not possible unless we get a massive thaw which I don’t expect at this point.

The major issue I wish to blog about is whether or not I violated the law raising money for allies running for the Board. If I did, and I don’t think so, it was only a technical violation not a violation of the spirit of the law. The chief accuser in this is Jill Lofald’s older sister Patty Murto who appeared today in the News Tribune crediting her sister with having a big heart and from having raised herself from western Duluth poverty.

Patty has taken on the awkward role of “good cop” and “bad cop” sticking up for her sister. After a string of biting emails to me a month ago confessing that Jill didn’t want her communicating with me I wrote back and suggested that she heed her sister’s wishes. She held off for about three weeks before starting up gain with some passive-aggressive emails. And she renewed an invitation for me to appear on Harry’s Gang that she had extended to me and my school board allies five or six weeks ago. I take it as a friendly gesture but my allies look on it with some justified suspicion. I’ll be on the show next Monday at a point where any stupidity from me is unlikely to affect the next day’s election.

Patty is probably more exercised because the News Tribune reported something unflattering about Jill which was re-reported by Loren Martell in his final column in the Reader before the election. I have wondered if this episode might have been on Patty’s mind from the beginning. I’ll add this. I too have screwed up as a teacher and simply am living with the luxury of not having to worry much about people pointing this out anymore. (Although my friends are regularly irritated that I keep pointing out my disappointing record as a teacher – its that honesty fetish of mine.) At any rate, Jill, although I still fault her for not being willing to meet with me for coffee, has remained cordial throughout what has become a testy election in the Western District. Last night after the LWV Forum some of my allies were at Blackwoods when Josh Gorham and Rosie walked in with Jill. Jill reciprocated a friendly hello while her “allies” grimly walked ahead without responding.

I still have close to two thousand flyers to pass out and four days to do the passing. Fortunately, my left foot is not hurting despite racking up 12,000 steps cleaning my patio yesterday. All night I kept waking up to think about where I needed to go door to door. Late this morning I googled for a zip code map and now know which areas I should walk the next couple days snowy forecast. I should be starting now and stop blogging.

Of course, I’ll be leaving my eight loyal readers wondering how I cheated on my campaign finance. Sorry. You’ll just have to wait. I need to wear my shoes down some more.

Oh, but first here is my mea culpa to a fantastic ad writer for sending in an only 99.9% perfect ad to the Duluth Reader:

Sorry _______,

I am operating on fumes by now and making split second decisions with folks like [the publisher of the Reader] who are as distracted as I am. That’s all explanation not justification. When I saw “proof” on the attachment I didn’t see it as a professional like you would have seen it. It simply didn’t occur to me that it needed another run through. I presumed it was what we sent to [our Printers] scrambled around for The Reader. Typos or resolution problems not withstanding it was great and I am deeply indebted to you. We all are. Your piece might be the single most significant ingredient in what could be a winning election.

Thanks and I hope I never, ever, have to run for election again after this. If I don’t, you won’t have to worry about my proof reading ever again.

Harry

Snow Purge #3

Loren Martell always writes long, very long, columns about the School Board. (With millions of words on the subject here at Lincoln Democrat I should talk!)

Today’s piece in the reader is, however, simply mesmerizing. Its mesmerizing for his honesty and its exposure of the powers-that-be in this City and how they have brought our public schools down to their knees and then punished any truth tellers pointing the finger at them for the destruction they are responsible for causing. For once I can tell you all to read it to the end.

Here’s a sample:

“The bad headlines

The News Tribune and the rest of the establishment painted me and others who opposed the Red Plan as bad citizens who didn’t care about the little children’s future. The reason we opposed the Red Plan was because, right out of the gate, we saw that it was a dumb idea. We did not believe running up a bill of nearly half a billion would “save” $122 million; we did not believe the vacated buildings would sell for big money; we did not believe the huge aquatic centers and all the other over-the-top extravagancies would be a magnet for students; we did not believe getting rid of all the schools in the center of Duluth–a city nearly thirty miles long, with an already existent east-west divide–would create “educational equity.”

A week or so ago (10/18/17,) the News Tribune reported on a forum sponsored by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. Comments from some of the attendees were included in the report. One concerned mother “explained that she moved to Duluth to raise her children because of the city’s size,” but had “come to feel there’s a ‘good side’ and a ‘bad side’ to the city, and (is) troubled by the division.” Another woman said “she’s concerned that the ‘trouble students’ only live on the western side of Duluth, and the division began when the school district closed Central.”

At what point does it become evident that this town has been listening to the wrong people: the News Tribune and the rest of the stodgy establishment? Just look at what the alternative press was saying, back in 2008: ……………..”

Snow Purge # 1

We in northern climes often view winter as a time of purging the ills of the warmer months, disease, rot, allergens etc. And so, when I woke early this morning and found snow beginning to accumulate on our lawn’s grass I was delighted at the change in scene and chortled as I went from window to window to see what the different views displayed.

Claudia and I settled down to sip our coffee and watch the traffic along 21st Avenue, a snow tradition at our home, to see how the conditions were affecting the passing traffic. Not too bad. I hopped in the Traverse to drive to McDonalds for some egg sandwiches.

I’d already read a half a dozen Friday articles about our schools and they reminded me of another kind of purge – the possible purge of the noxious myths of the Red Plan that have allowed exSuperintendent, Keith Dixon’s ghost, to rule the Duluth School Board for the past six years since he touchingly left Duluth – holding another $19 million bag of Red Plan doggy turds.

My ailing foot is not about to go out today to pass out more literature. Fortunately, my team has scraped up enough to reach most voters without depending on my mobility. So, I will spend the morning pointing to the various sources that strongly argue for this second purge.

The Other Shoe Drops

Our budget reserve comes close to evaporating. Here’s the straight forward story from the Trib.

Like member Nora Sandstad, Alanna Oswald and I were told by the Superintendent that Special education “cross subsidy” payments to Edison skyrocketed by about a million more dollars this year. The explanation had something to do with a legislative change in the special ed formula that caught the Minnesota Department of Education by surprise.

I am puzzled however by Jana Hollingsworth’s report that Edison got $1.7 million from us four years ago in 2013 but is getting $2 million this year. That’s only a $300,000 increase not a million. Did the “cross subsidy drop to $1 million last year? I don’t know. I’ll have to have this all explained to me in depth.

The suggestion that special education has caused our fiscal problems was part of a question addressed to five of the six at-large and District 4 candidates tonight at the League of Woman Voter’s forum. (Sally Trnka sent her regrets from a conference she had to attend) I acknowledged that this was something that merited attention but added that the payments to Edison paled before the $11 million dollars drained from the classroom in recent years to pay off Red Plan building debt. Its this debt, far more than special education, and the additional investor concern over our negligible fund reserve that has prompted Moody’s to downgrade some of our building debt to just above junk bond status.

GET’M WHILE THEY LAST – SNOW SCULPTURE CARD 40 OF 50

The “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”

This is one of my provocative snow sculptures from 2009 as the Red Plan was proceeding at break neck speed. Some people took it as a commentary on the Duluth School Board. I never bothered to disabuse anyone of that interpretation.

Put in an order online with a donation to the Welty For School Board campaign:

https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/i/btn/btn_donateCC_LG.gif

Fifty snow sculpture cards for 30 cents apiece for only $15.00.

Irony watch

I am a connoisseur of all things ironic and recent stories, that have been a surprise to me and everyone I know, may have an incredibly ironic connection.

I blame one administration suck up for bringing down a ton of bricks on my colleague Art Johnston three years ago. Long time readers may know to whom I’m referring although I’ve never quite been enough of a “provocateur” to use such incendiary language before to describe her. I can’t help but wonder if the recent news about Art’s challenger wasn’t brought about by the very same person, thirteen unlucky years ago, sowing time bombs and mayhem wherever she went.

I highlighted the word provocateur because I described myself as such to Jana Hollingsworth for today’s story about the At-large school board candidates.

I was thinking historically. More examples of my kind of provocateur: Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, Martin Luther, Frederick Douglas, Jesus of Nazareth.

Moody’s – Read it and weep

It begins:

“Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Duluth Independent School District No. 709, MN’s underlying general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) and full term certificates of participation (COP) ratings to Ba1 from Baa2. Moody’s also downgrades the district’s annual appropriation COPs rating to Ba2 from Baa3. Concurrently, Moody’s assigns Ba1 underlying GOULT ratings and Aa2 enhanced ratings to the district’s $3.6 million Taxable General Obligation Facilities Maintenance Bonds, Series 2017A and $615,000 Taxable General Obligation Capital Facilities Bonds, Series 2017B. Following the sale, the district will have $51 million in general obligation (GO) bonds, $147 million in full term COPs, and $33 million in annual appropriation COPs. The outlook on the underlying ratings is negative.”

The Editorial Board of the Duluth News Tribune has, like the DFL, generally approved of most of the last decade’s Red Plan School Board majority. Its funny, but they don’t get a mention in the Moody’s report.

Read it all and weep.

And remember. There is one more shoe to drop.