Category Archives: Duluth Schools

Pardon me while I commit the crime of looking backwards

I found this story from a few days ago in the Trib unsurprising: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/education/4760757-School-construction-process-faulted-in-Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Education was recently criticized for not offering advice to school districts about the merit and costs of their building plans. Every School Board must take their building plans to the Department of Education for “review and comment.” This process took place for a very long time as we critics of the Red Plan took our concerns to the MDE.

The MDE strongly hinted to us in private that the Red Plan was deeply flawed largely due to its intention to use our General Fund (classroom operating monies) to pay for the building bonds. But damn them they were loathe to publicly call our School Board’s decision into doubt.

After the damage was done I ran across numerous MDE staff that shook their heads (in private) at the Duluth process for good reason. I can think of no good reason for them to have refrained from offering us an honest analysis. They let the Children of Duluth down.

After election analysis, hiccups

Remember. Any candidate who tells you what he or she will do after losing an election can’t be trusted. There was Nixon with his sour plaint to the press after Kennedy beat him then Pat Brown for California Governor.”You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.” And there was me yesterday saying I’d never run again or sounding a lot like it. Well, as part of my after election clean up of my garage and a ton of Oswald and Welty lawnsigns (my workroom and office remain to be tidied) I kept my lawnsigns for potential future use. Sorry Pete.

I have been remarkably cheerful at the prospect of leaving the fate of the Duluth School District to others since the moment the first 25% of my vote returns made it painfully obvious that I was going to remain a civilian. Although I’m not yet done with the District. Like so many other things I set aside completing my training to be a substitute teacher as the last weeks of the campaign ground down. I’ll be giving that a try soon. Even if I neglect my blog I’m likely to return to that subject after I have a few subbing gigs under my belt.

And just as I deal tit for tat to the Trib’s editors they deal tat for tit to me. Their summation of my defeat was succinct if not fully dismissive, “”.

Another message Tuesday came from school district voters: We’re ready to put behind us, where it belongs, all the angst and pain and controversy stemming from the long-range facilities plan that resulted in new and improved Duluth school buildings. Two of the faces of the past were defeated Tuesday “Former School Board member Harry Welty lost by about a two-to-one margin to incumbent David Kirby, and longtime district critic Loren Martell received just 46.09% of the vote to retired public school teacher Paul Sandholm’s 53.91%”

As I myself indicated in the previous post the voters probably were ready to see the back of me but the Red Plan’s hit on teachers will last another decade until the District finally recovers the general fund money they dedicated to those “new and improved Duluth school buildings.” Getting rid of me will not get the teachers back.

And a growing school district just got the approval from their voters for building bonds that eclipse the $319 million in bonding of the Red Plan. White Bear Lake with just as many students as Duluth OK-eyed a 326 million school bond. I doubt that theirs will dive out 20% of White Bear’s Public school students.

A sympathizer sent me a message to tell my I’m not such a bonehead. They are wrong of course. Almost all humans are boneheads. I chalked up one more boneheaded more move this morning when I read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Janet Kennedy was Duluth’s first elected black City Councilor. So I emailed the new Strib education reporter and corrected the story explaining that when I came to town there was a black city councilor. Then after sending that message I decided to do some checking that google seemed unable to help me with. I called the Duluth Libraries Reference desk for the first time in years. I asked them to tell me that councilors name. The call back set me straight. In 1975, the year after I moved to Duluth, Lurlene Baker was elected to the Duluth School Board. She was the black “city councilor” I had in mind. I’m surprised I’d forgotten that after making a big deal out of helping Mary Cameron get elected to the same school board. Mary was the second not first black school board member. I’m sure I’ve written that she was our first black board member before.

Engaged

It only took four hours and some phone calls but my letter is on its way to the Sunday before the election Trib. Sadly I would have had to send it in yesterday to get in this Sunday’s Trib. I’m sure if the thirty day’s hadn’t interfered my letter would have counted as a free letter to the editor. Now it has cost me $62.50. No wonder political letters have all but dried up.

I also OK’ed an ad for myself on my Facebook Page. I’ll have spent about $20.00 each on four week-long ad runs. Unless I take up the offer Facebook sent me to get some of their professional advice on how to turn this post as an ad Were Republicans ever good?. I’m tempted.

BTW for your curiosity I have received not a single order for this book online…except for my brother…who graciously gave me a nice contribution as well. I have “sold” about 75 books by donation. I will not be printing out huge numbers of them but I will print out a couple extra when I put the printing order in. That won’t be any time soon. The last six weeks I haven’t had the long quiet stretches needed to compose a book…..just the short intense moments to crank out blog posts. I hope I’ll be able to clear my head after the election win, lose or draw. And in that time I will put together a quickie book (sort of a Harry’s Reader stopgap book as a freebie for those 75 unfulfilled orders. Then it will be on to my Idiot book about public education then if I can martial the concentration I hope to explain how the Republican Party turned out so cockeyed.

BTW – My “Idiot” Book comes from the famous quotation of Mark Twain: First God created the Idiot. That was for practice. Then he created the School Board.” I love that quote. I put it on my Education page in my first School Board related webpage.

Heck I just googled it and found three occasions when I broadcast that bit of spite:

W4SB2013
www.snowbizz.com › WeltyforSchoolBoard
For God’s sake when I was in high school and a teacher’s orders were obeyed like … public that agreed with Mark Twain when he said, “First God created idiots.
Duluth Schools

www.snowbizz.com › ISD709
“First God created idiots. That was for practice. Then he created school boards.” Mark Twain. If you don’t read anything else on this page look at this. It is an …
The official source for all the blather of … – lincolndemocrat.com
lincolndemocrat.com › …

Jun 15, 2019 – The candidate I thought had it made in the shade, the ex-Chair of the ….. reference to finding stuff on my first website: www.snowbizz.com. … She embraced evangelical tenets, like trusting God, not one’s own feelings. …. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain’s assessment: “First God created the idiot.

My “community engagement letter”

The DNT will not print regular letters to the editor that have appeared elsewhere. However, Forum Communications will take advertising and now charges for publishing political letter to the editors, endorsements etc. I have been annoyed with this since the practice was announced a couple years ago although, I have to admit it has thinned out such regular endorsement letters from a couple candidates who begged tons of their friends to submit them.

A few days ago I posted a link to the letter my friend Kathy Bogan sent the Trib taking them to task for endorsing an “uncivil” Loren Martell. I believe that is a very unfair charge although, knowing Kathy, I don’t think she means to be unfair. But the Trib’s editors told me I couldn’t reply until November 17th over a week after the election. I opted instead for their community engagement letter AKA as an ad to make more revenue. Fair enough, but dammit, Half an hour ago their website told me I was going to get a confirmation email that would let me send in my letter. I’m still waiting for for the website I was referred to to sent me a notification that I am in their system. Its been 45 minutes and its still not in my email in box. Just in case I never get my “community engagement letter” in the doggoned Trib here it is. As a “paid” letter I guess there is no harm in my sharing it on my blog.

Here it is:

My friend, Kathy Bogan, criticized the editors of the Tribune for endorsing my friend, Loren Martell, in his fifth campaign for a school board seat.

I have known both Kathy and Loren for a long time during our school district’s tumultuous past. Kathy is an ardent caretaker of our children. Loren is the embodiment of speaking truth to power.

Kathy has called Loren’s justified critiques of school board members uncivil. Having faced unhappy citizen’s myself while on the school board, I see things differently. I have always asked myself, “if we can’t feel passionate about our children what can we feel passionate about?”

Loren Martell was humiliated by our school board during the Red Plan wars when his microphone was shut off during his allotted three minutes and he was handcuffed by a guard when the Board grew impatient with his criticism. Rather than fold under this coercion Loren dedicated the last decade to watching his tormentors like a hawk and scrupulously reporting on their work (including mine) in the alternative press.

I agree with the editors who endorsed Loren, saying that it was time he was elected to the Duluth School Board. I’d go farther. I believe that if there is any justice in the world Loren should serve on our school board. He will serve with distinction and humility. It is rare for someone with Loren’s keen insight on the complicated finances of public education or the duties of a public servant to offer themselves to voters.

I believe Ms. Bogan will come to see this in Loren as I have seen it in Loren for the last decade. Loren will do this, if for no other reason, than to honor the memory of his late wife, a dedicated high school art teacher.

Bless you, Bless you, Bless you!

A string of emails today that put some tears in my eyes:

Subject: No Response

Hello,
I sent in a form with my information about getting a sign and also along with a check for $25.00 donation for the book. I have received nothing but you have cashed my check on 9-24-19.
I sent a message on your FB page as well still no response.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Duluth, MN 558XX

I pray this is not how you operate and it’s just a overlook and or alot of orders to fill and I’m impatient. Thank You Continue reading

“Some people will do anything to win the sympathy vote.”

That was the first thing I told Alanna Oswald this morning when I walked into her busy room in St. Luke’s ICU. Unbeknownst to me last Tuesday, when I noticed she was missing from the School Board’s Business Committee meeting, she was a day away from death’s door shaking in her bed from what she thought was a concussion. She was wrong. She was in a state of toxic shock from a runaway infection.

The next evening, the day before I left for my fiftieth High School reunion in Mankato, she rallied enough to send me a text that she had just had half of St. Luke’s emergency staff vacuuming out the poisons in her system which would cost her more than a pound of flesh. She had not yet turned a corner that she let me know might finish her off. Not believing what she told me I asked if she would like me to visit her the next morning on my way out of town. She said yes. I called into the emergency room at a quarter to ten on Thursday and was told she was being attended to and to wait for fifteen minutes and call back. I got an hour of French practice in the waiting room between calls to see if the staff was finished fussing with her. I gave up the ghost the last time I was told it might be another twenty minutes. I stopped an hour out of town to see if she had responded to my text apology before leaving St. Lukes. She had. And her wry wit was fully in tact.

So today, after another bout of texting last night, she told me to come and visit. I got more gruesome details than I probably needed to know but all with the joking soldierly banter of someone at a dressing station having a shrapnel filled arm amputated. Alanna is a pretty jolly fatalist and she at least still had all appendages. She has been told she will be hospitalized for another seven days. She said she was going for a record ICU stay. She will not be at tonight’s school board meeting.

I told Alanna about our candidate’s East High School PTA meeting last night where UMD’s Mary Owen came and read a short statement. It to was full of good humor. Although no one was able to speak for Alanna her absence was more eloquent than any of the candidate’s answering questions.

It was a small crowd of nineteen according to someone reporting back to Alanna. I hadn’t counted attendance in the Media Center and because everyone was spread out I had guessed the number to be double that. In any event, the three remaining candidates were peppered with a steady stream of questions. Judy Seliga Punyko, who knows something about the Board, sent in a question asking the candidates to tell what they had done for the School Board. I was the last candidate to answer so, as the others spoke, I made up a list of a dozen things I had done. I was only able to get through a third of the list in my minute and half response time. Rosie Loeffler Kemp was present too as her former campaign chair, John Schwetman, raced through his answer like a Ronco popeil knife seller at the state fair. He had helped support previous levy campaigns and had kids in the schools.

I was first up in the two minute summation department and with my Symphony Chorus rehearsal five minutes off I stood up and explained my hurry to leave along with parting thoughts. I got unexpected applause as I left the Library. Maybe they were glad to see the back of me. At least that’s the sort of thing I rattled off to Alanna today during my visit. I just wanted to keep it light.

1st more business

null

When the electrical power to my house is restored I will post the picture of the Trib’s correction of their claim I released an unredacted report to the public. (Our house is being rewired as a safety precaution.)

I looked for it on the editorial pages where I was bashed in a tepid endorsement of my rival for the office. I didn’t expect the correction to undo whatever damage the faulty editorial did to me but, on reflection, I rarely look for corrections. I am sure I’m not alone.

The electricity is back on. Couple thoughts:

I’m not pleased that the correction of an untrue factual criticism of me in a column justifying an endorsement of my rival is so paltry. After faulting the old School Board chair for letting a potential danger to our children be placed next to the Superintendent without sharing this information with the other school board members the Trib now feels the sole objection to my election – my release of the price tag for a Central sale is worse. It is evidence of my “divisiveness.” In other words whistle blowers can’t be trusted. How Trumpian.

Furthermore, while there was a small chance my mistake could have cost the district the Central sale it didn’t. Chuck, when he left a message, told me that saying the sale fell though after I released the information was not wrong. True. However, the Trib left the implication of cause and effect to stand. I can only hope most readers can remember the truth of things and conclude the Trib was peddling Fake News.

That said, I’m hoping most folks don’t get past the first few paragraphs which were not kind to the former Chairman.

Look for my op-ed piece on Thursday. It will probably be side by side with the old Chairman’s sales pitch. I’m very pleased with my 500 words.

1st some Political business

I crashed at midnight with an UN-proof-read post. I intend to crank out 4 more posts on the power of American public schools that so many Republicans seem intent on destroying. But first, a couple School Board posts that need addressing.

I got a call this morning from a friend who was worried that the many visible double signs I put up (Welty Oswald) before heading to my reunion might hurt Alanna Oswald’s chances of reelection.

He was worried that Republicans who detest me for badmouthing Trump wouldn’t vote for Alanna. I acknowledged that this might happen. However, I would wager that the greater threat to Alanna would come from the pro-Red planners who have never forgiven me for being a naysayer.

I am content to go back to these yards and put some separation between our signs but I would guess that where my archest critics are concerned the damage is already done. If they wish to vote for a lesser candidate that is their choice and Alanna is innocent of my enthusiasm for her.

What I just sent to the Strib

1. A headshot in the highest photo resolution possible.

2. The link to your campaign website. Facebook Page: Harry Welty Givem Helty and WWW.Givemhellharry.org and WWW.lincolndemocrat.com

3. A short bio (roughly 50 words) – it could help to look at our 2018 guide linked above for examples.

Harry Welty, Age 67, history teacher, snow sculptor, blogger, frequent candidate for public office has served three terms on the Duluth School Board. Married to Claudia he has a son and daughter who graduated from Duluth’s schools. He has more opinions than you can shake a stick at and he can juggle.

4. Answers to the following three questions (using 50 or fewer words for each response):
…..1. Why should voters elect you?

So that voters can have the confidence that someone who understands school finance, the Red Plan, education law, the value of public education, the management role of a school board and the importance of teachers is sitting on what today is a pretty inexperienced Duluth School Board.

…..2. In order of priority, what are the top three issues facing Duluth Public Schools?

1st. That equity is not enough. Every child should be tended to carefully for twelve years of schooling no matter the shortcomings they bring to school. 2nd. That teachers should be given all the support they need. 3rd That the public is treated with openness and complete honesty.

…..3. What is your solution to that top issue?

In fifty words? Starting with a new Superintendent show respect to every employee of the district and expect the best from them and have them reciprocate this ethos to the students in their classrooms and to parents. Make every precious dollar in our budget work to maximum effect.

The Star Trib reaches out

I mentioned in my post about the last school board meeting that I met the new Minneapolis Star Trib reporter who will be covering education, or at least the Duluth School District, while living in Duluth. It turns out that there are four Strib reporters.

Katie just sent me this email as they start getting operations under way. I’ve filled out similar voter info forms for the Strib when I’ve run for Congress or the state legislature but not for the Duluth School Board. Here’s her note:

Hi Harry,

My name is Katie Galioto, and I am a reporter for the Star Tribune. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to introduce myself yet, but I am part of a new four-person team of journalists from our paper based in Duluth to cover local stories. I just moved to town this month.

I am reaching out because I am starting to compile information for an online Duluth Voting Guide we are working on putting together for this year’s municipal elections. We’re hoping it will be a good quick-stop resource for Duluthians looking to get caught up to speed ahead of Election Day with information on how to register, where to vote, etc.

We’re drawing some inspiration from the voting guide the Star Tribune produced ahead of the 2018 midterms, though our Duluth guide won’t be exactly the same. I’m attaching a link to that here in case it’s helpful to reference.

We plan on including a standard set of information about the candidates running in each race – so I am wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions about yourself and your campaign. Here’s what we are asking for from each candidate:

1. A headshot in the highest photo resolution possible.
2. The link to your campaign website.
3. A short bio (roughly 50 words) – it could help to look at our 2018 guide linked above for examples.
4. Answers to the following three questions (using 50 or fewer words for each response):
…..1. Why should voters elect you?
…..2. In order of priority, what are the top three issues facing Duluth Public Schools?
…..3. What is your solution to that top issue?

We would need all this information by no later than Oct. 7 in order for our digital design team to produce the guide. Please let me know if this is something you’d be able to do.

Additionally, let me know if you have questions or anything needs further clarification.

Have a good weekend!

Katie Galioto
Star Tribune Reporter

My Reply:

From: harrywelty
Date: 9/27/19 5:54 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: “Galioto, Katie”
Subject: Re: Star Tribune Duluth Voting Guide

Thanks Katie,

I met you briefly at the last meeting. I will send you the info before the deadline.

Four of you? Whoa. The Stib is ambitious. If you get curious I have a free wheeling blog that has had a lot to say about the Duluth Schools over the last dozen years: Www.lincolndemocrat.com

I was on the board the 4 years leading up to the 2017 election when the Anti-Trump mania dumped me. I’ve had a nice two-year vacation but am ready to get back to work. If elected I’ll be starting my 13th year on the board.

All the best,

Harry

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphon

The dilemma of a writer, The advantage of a blogger

The editors of the Duluth News Trib gave school board candidates a heads-up two weeks ago that we could send them a 500 word column for their paper for this year’s school board campaign. I sat on it for a while then woke up one night and cranked out a piece with lots of suggestions for the District. Last night I woke up with a rather different approach to a column and pounded a different one into my cell with my index finger. This morning I went over it a couple times not remembering that once formerly 700-word-columns had shrunk down by 200 words in these leaner and meaner days of journalism.

But I had written a 640 word essay. I had to cut 140 words from it. Such is the life of a writer. Well, before I trim my column down to size I’m going to share the original with my eight loyal readers. In a week or two you will be able to see whether I was able to preserve the sentiments in my column before I began whittling away at it.

This is a writer’s dilemma but its not one for a blogger. There is one risk. The Trib often warns people who submit something to them that they will not publish anything that was submitted to a rival publication. (That wasn’t expressed in my email invite however) I think they would be hard pressed to call my blog a rival publication. Its strictly not for profit and besides that, by the time I trim one fourth of this verbiage away the Trib will be hard pressed to claim that I made the original column public before they got hold of it. Stay tuned and see how well my message translates to newsprint after its blovia-ectomy.

Looking Back to Move Duluth’s Schools Forward Continue reading

The humiliation of two skeksies and my modest ambitions

By far the biggest political news of the Trump era came today in the humiliation of two skeksies. If the world is lucky those humiliations will get considerably more expansive.

There is a reason that the BBC (British Broadcasting) became the source of conquered Europe’s news during World War 2. Someone had to keep shedding light in a dark time. They still shine that light. Check out how the BBC reports on Britain’s skeksie, Boris Johnson: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49088773/boris-johnson-the-boy-who-wanted-to-be-world-king

For the same reason I rely on the New York Times more now than ever before:

The media outlets trumpeting the “Deep State” are close to outing themselves as the real deep state funded for decades by paranoid billionaires who have bought up once neutral news divisions and hired amoral shills like Tucker Carlson to foment a revolution of the downtrodden for the benefit of billionaires. Sadly, they purged all the moderates from one of two great political parties and financed political sycophants, such as Tucker Carlson, to take their place. Its a Deep State that is being pealed back by journalists who have tracked down the record and methods of these cynical opportunists.

For all my interest in the Duluth Schools I can not help but keep my wary eye out for the movement of these malevolent forces on the national and international level. The Fate of the Earth rests on the shoulders of democratic loving people all over the world who once looked to the United States as Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill.” Now we’ve been soiled by a man who’s go-to spirit once seemed consigned to nowheres-ville until he infected a brash young Donald Trump with his creed – Never admit you are wrong or that or that you lied. Hit critics back a thousand fold and take no prisoners . Trump’s muse was the mentally syphilitic Roy Cohn.

I have never fully abandoned my ambition to win a higher office than the Duluth School Board. This blog has been my attempt to explain myself to anyone interested in taking my circuitous career seriously. Yesterday at the SB candidate forum I was asked about transparency and mentioned not only my success at getting the School Board to record its meetings for public view on Youtube but this blog that has been in operation since August of 2006.

I’m careless about editing. I’m often in a hurry. I bite off a lot more than I can chew. But, I strive to write honestly knowing that my point of view is just that and without confusing what I write with “THE TRUTH.” Considering all that, I’ve been pleased with the modest growth of my tiny audience. When I mention my “eight loyal readers” I am only being a little facetious. Here are my stats for my last month of 2017 with six more days to add and all the visitors of my first full year of blogging in 2007

Unique visitors for September so far 3,474
Total visits for September so far 21,829
Average number of times each visitor has viewed Lincolndemocrat for Sept so far (6.28 visits/visitor)

compared with the first year Mar to Jan of 2007

Unique visitors for all of 2007 9,957
Total visits for for all of 2007 21,229
Average number of times each visitor viewed Lincolndemocrat for all of 2007 (2.13 visits/visitor)

My totally improper disclaimer on my now-to-be-discontinued Reader ads (Paid for by Welty for School Board, a committee-of-one run by Harry Welty his own darned self.) does describe my campaign style. I was a lousy Republican and kept getting lousier at being one as the Party became a wall of nativist, self-interest. I refuse to defer to bullshit just to advance myself politically.

I have been promising a book called “First God Created the idiot…” I will write it but the demands of being a grandfather, doing good works keeping up with the deluge of the New York Times AND figuring out how to campaign all-by-my-darned-self has crimped my free time. Out of stubbornness, I am sticking to my daily hour of French study but I’ve only read one book from start to finish this year. After the election win, lose or draw I will get it written, published and sent to my small select cadre of donors. I hope that will be made harder by my election. I do really want to be returned to my life’s project of making the Duluth Schools wonderfuller. If I am elected I will start out running but my blog may take a hit. The time I take to spill so many beans on the blog will likely be shifted to finishing that book. It will be a relatively modest 100,000 words compared to what must be 10 million words on my blog. I do value brevity.





PS – As for my book title: First God Created the Idiot…” It comes from the ever acerbic Mark Twain. The quotation concludes…“That was for practice. Then God Created the School Board.” I love that quote. When I first got elected I quoted it back to everyone all the time…..to keep my humility in check.

Go ahead. A fifteen dollar donation is considered a purchase. I might not get it to you immediately but it will be every bit as readable as my posts in this blog. Gosh. I hope that doesn’t give “buyers” cold feet.

Disgraceful

2019-09-24_09-37-52

Adelle Whitefoot wrote a good, if brief, run down of today’s school board candidate forum at the Depot. I have only one quibble. I will have to work with six other Board members and those who don’t see the forum’s recording but who read the coverage may think I said their failure to be transparent was a “disgrace”. That is a pretty fierce word of denunciation and I am 99.9 percent sure I didn’t utter it. It’s not in quotation marks.

What I did say was that their lack of candor reminded me of little kids who try hide what they’ve done when they’ve been naughty. That’s more embarassing than disgraceful.

I liked all the candidate photos that Clint snapped.

There are 21 applicants for my old school board seat…

…one of the two at large seats won by Josh Gorham. I owe Josh two big thank yous. First, he gave me a wonderful two-year vacation from the School Board. Second, his departure demonstrated that the Board’s dysfunction might not have all that much to do with my being on the School Board.

I know a few of the candidates. The brief bios in the DNT suggest a good crop of potential board members. There are a heckuva lot more people willing to serve than their were willing to run for an at-large office. 21 of them. Only two candidates filed to run at-large this year and we didn’t even have enough candidates to have a primary for any of the three seats being filled on November 5th. That’s a sad commentary on the nastiness that surrounds even local elections.

This Facebook post begs a reply

I intend to provide it but not tonight. I’m bushed.

Well, Well, Well. Someone has a sense of decency. This was taken down not long ago.

As I went about my business over the weekend I gave this post a lot of thoughts which now, apparently, no longer need much elaboration.

I will, however, enumerate a couple starting with this observation. Such posts are designed to undermine. Two years ago I endured two separate Facebook attacks which I felt had to be addressed. I replied to one such attack and the owner of the Facebook account removed my comments. The other Facebook attack was hidden behind the curtains of a group that sealed itself off from a general audience.

As for this since deleted attack it was based on guilt by association. Alanna, my former student who as a parent stuck her neck out to criticize the District as it shortchanged western Duluth students was reduced to being my buddy. My crime of not promising to roll over and play dead in the event of a teacher’s strike in a Union questionnaire was attached to “my buddy.”

All Alanna had to do was show that she answered one question on a Union questionnaire the opposite of me. She did. The accusation of being associated with me was withdrawn. That’s just as well because the fellow running against Alanna boasted that he had been the campaign chairman of two school board members who have caught hell in the last month. That may be an even worse association.

What was the question I gave such an unpardonable answer to? Now that the post is down I’m not sure anyone cares but… if you do. Continue reading

I don’t completely agree with Kevin

Kevin Skirwa-Brown wrote an op-ed piece a couple days ago about the disarray on the Duluth School Board. Let me note that our School Board is fully capable of dysfunction even without me serving on it. It was also gratifying to see the Trib write a hard hitting editorial about the importance of transparency. When Art Johnston and I were clamoring for transparency the Trib’s editors didn’t make a peep.

Much of what Kevin says I agree with. Kevin is one of the leaders of the equity group one which Art and I offered a lot of support to before we left office. So, I was a tad chagrined when I read his concluding sentence: “In the last election we made some progress in electing School Board members who valued transparency and equity. We have more work to do.

Art and I argued for two years to put all our meetings on cable TV. Art sent a dozen requests for information with my support and only after he left the board did he get some measure of it when the State came down hard on the School District. I mistakenly said the District paid a fine a few posts ago. To clarify, rather than risk paying a fine and for all Art’s legal fees the District offered a settlement of $55,000. That was unprecedented. I will agree with Kevin that the new Board has seen fit to follow Art and my example where transparency is concerned. That doesn’t include the incumbent I’m challenging who got dinged in the Trib’s Editorial.

The meat of Kevin’s op-ed is speculation about Denfeld Principal Tonya Sconiers and the reason she fell afoul of the Administration. Kevin writes: I feel we have an administration striking back at the only target it can for her outspokenness and perhaps as a way to cut off information to community members who rely on such information regarding policies and practices that are inequitable.

I don’t buy this and, unlike Kevin, I’ve been on the Board to look at this relationship up close. In fact, its just because of such uninformed speculation that jumped at the chance to have an internet presence. Even reporters, rarely talked about the human dynamics of school board actions. Tonya Sconiers was a team player right up to my election in 2013 until the conclusion of my four year term. When the Denfeld teachers sent the Board a letter begging for changes at Denfeld she jumped down their throats forcing them to send the Board a big “nevermind.” But the cat was out of the bag. The Trib wrote a story about the teacher’s concerns and I blogged about it. I did not however, mention Tonya’s successful squelching of the letter.

Until today I’ve only mentioned Tonya in four posts (unless I misspelled her name which I’ve done before) I’ve known her for twenty years or so and I always found her enthusiasm infectious and engaging. She was a natural to post as a principal and a coup for an administration whose hiring of minority staff has been so dreadfully anemic. Kevin is correct in writing about her Big Momma temperament. It does put some people off. I further agree with Kevin that the written directions given to Tonya by our new Assistant Administrator are embarrassing. I guess her outspokenness wasn’t a problem until she fell afoul of the Administration. And I am led to believe that she did make some serious mistakes. We won’t know for a long time what those might have been and that will only strengthen sympathy for Tonya…….among many. I can assure my readers, however, that Tonya made many enemies. Several of them (former students) stomped on her apparent grave in Facebook posts I ran across. The teachers who were squelched when she was the darling of the Administration are also not in Tonya’s fan club.

Kevin is right to be concerned, but as for Tonya’s advocacy for Denfeld? It appears to me that it grew more vocal as her position with the Administration grew more precarious not the other way around.

And one more detail to demonstrate Tonya’s status as a team player. I wrote this post about my most “distressing day” as a school board member. Its the day the District’s hired gun lawyer came in with her “stinking fish” semi-indictment of Art Johnson. It was a Kangaroo Court and I was still under the delusion that my fellow board members had a shred of decency. I thought if I could just act out what had obviously happened I could save the day and put a bad chapter to bed. So, when I bulled out onto the Boardroom floor to pantomime how it could have appeared that Art had shoved Bill Gronseth the Board adjourned itself and I was left standing out in the open like a first class fool. No one accused them of foolishness for pursuing this when the target of the “shove” said he hadn’t been shoved.

What I didn’t write in the blog post was that Tonya Sconiers came charging out to stand in front of me on the Board room so that I could not move. However I turned she stood under my chin for what seemed like ages as I realized I had no where to escape to. Tonya was making her defense of the Superintendent manifest. I tried joking with her but got nothing but the evil eye. I asked if she wanted to dance. More eye. Something caused a break between Tonya and Bill. I strongly doubt that it was Denfeld.

BTW – I am delighted that Mr. Skirwa-Brown is part of the Equity group. Nearly a year before the 2017 election I tried without success to coax a Denfeld parent into running for the school board. Kevin was one of the people I was angling for. He could have won. He’s frustrated with the Board now because he doesn’t have a say. I understand. That’s why I’m running. He didn’t