Category Archives: Minnesota Politics

Trump “build-a-wall” bait

My Buddy sent me a post from Powerline (one of my favorite blogs -NOT). It was a doozey suggesting that a Somali woman who just defeated Rep. Phyllis Kahn in the DFL primary had practiced bigamy or immigration fraud. This Somali woman is obviously a treasure so if there is proof that this is true it greatly clouds her future. No one in the DFL and perhaps no one in the press wants to pry into the truth.

Powerline’s posting has forced the issue and this is the latest from the Strib: http://www.startribune.com/marriage-discrepancy-clouds-ilhan-omar-s-historic-primary-victory/390247381/

I am a great proponent of the truth and believe a full airing of this should be made.

As I emailed back to my buddy:

Buddy,

I agree the truth should be told.

That said I imagined a theoretical Jewish woman in 1940 who might have escaped Poland during the Blitzkrieg forging docs to marry her brother to get him safely to the US. It would be hard to find fault with this stratagem.

Of course, it would be unthinkable to imagine her running for the state legislature a few years later with this hanging over her.

Just a couple thoughts.

Harry

A Rosy Endorsement

In today’s Trib:

Erik Simonson gets my vote for Minnesota Senate District 7. He has the depth of knowledge and professional and personal experiences to continue to serve our community well. Simonson has built strong working relationships in St. Paul and across Duluth, brings four years of experience in the Legislature, and has been a leader on many diverse issues. His positive working relationships and connections with state departments are an asset to Duluth

As a parent of four children, I vote for candidates who understand the multitude of issues that impacts children and families. Simonson makes decisions that are well-informed and thoughtful.

As a Duluth School Board member and an advocate on education issues for more than 30 years, I support candidates who understand the importance of a strong public education system and the issues facing school staff, families and students. Simonson understands the socioeconomic disparities that create the opportunity gaps and that the community needs to help provide health, social and emotional support for students. Simonson is an advocate for funding early childhood education, investing in diverse post-secondary options, and making sure our schools are safe and supportive for all. Check out his track record at simonforsenate.com.

Rosie Loeffler-Kemp

Duluth

The writer represents District 1 on the Duluth School Board.

Ignore my criticism

“About this endorsement
This endorsement was determined by Forum Communications management”

Stewart kind of reminds me of Dan Quayle with more hair. I know, I know. That’s all ad hominem. I’m just jealous of his tongue.

BTW. I got a gander at it (the tongue) on the DFL website and it moved me to comment that it looked like the DFL was trying to elect Mills. It was sort of irrelevant. I liked another’s comment that the incumbent Rick Nolan sounded like everything he said came from the Democrat’s talking points whereas Mills sounded like a regular guy. Yeah, but I’m pretty sure he’s not exactly my kind of regular guy. More pictures here.

He reminds me too much of the college kid across the street this Fall dressed up in doctor’s scrubs during UMD’s Freshman Orientation. He was holding up a sign saying “Free pap smears.” He told me he thought it was a lot more creative than the sign held by the kids across the street. Their’s said: “You honk. We drink.”

Garbage in, Garbage out – for real this time

Art Johnston noticed a couple figures in the millions in the Auditor’s report that didn’t make sense. The Trib’s education reporter noticed some of them too. So last week Art called me up on Wednesday with the news that the Auditor had made a two million dollar error in her spiffy little report to the Duluth School Board. That’s when I first typed up this post’s headline. Its the familiar old line about what you get out of computers – “garbage in, garbage out.” Maybe you can guess where I’m going with this………

……..Nowhere!

I’m unimpressed with the work of the State Auditor. I was in high dudgeon when I began this post last week. Learning that the Auditor put actual numbers in the wrong columns and signed the mistake did little to improve my attitude. But I told Art Johnston recently that I’m inclined to err on the side of even handedness. To that end I was pleased to read the Zenith City Weekly’s take on the Auditor’s report which came out tonight after the School Board meeting. I’m very impressed. First with Jennifer Martin-Romme’s understanding of our finances and second by her ability to explain them. There is nothing about the Auditor’s report to lend any credit to the pro Red Plan side. Her story is a measured story.

I do have much to report about tonight’s school board meeting and Chair Miernicki’s huffy claim that he is simply following the example of two of the nation’s most popular politicians, Congressman John Boehner and Senator Harry Reid. But I’ll beg off tonight. I came home to news that one of my Grandson’s good friends, aged six, is the young boy who was killed when he rode his bicycle into a car a couple days ago. Its the sort of news that puts things in perspective. For tonight I’ll let the Zenith speak for me.

Garbage in, Garbage out – it turns out this is just a prologue

Its 3:30AM. I’ll bank on the last post to keep you interested to see what I write here until I’m good and ready to do a little more posting. I’ve got grandchildren for the next couple days and family visitors from outstate. I’m also in the middle of a small but fussy project to make my garage presentable. Claudia is tired of banging car doors into shovels and I think, after a quarter century its about time I paint some bare sheetrock. I really need more sleep. So, stay tuned.

As the amended title/headline says, it turns out this is just a prologue. I’ve added “Harry’s Diary” to the categories.

450 new visitors have perused this blog since I stopped adding posts four days ago. That meant that they plus probably an equal number of readers have read the previous post. That means that this school board member can be reasonably sure that a thousand folks have read that I was exposed to an STD by an older woman back in my collegiate years. I didn’t mean to part this particular post. Parking is what I call posts that are particularly telling when I don’t add to them so that my regular readers will be sure to catch the contents of a particular post. I didn’t plan to park the last post but I’m not particularly sorry I did. I’ve aimed with a grim determination to assure my readers of my “honesty.” I can’t think of many things that assure my transparency more than the revelation that I had sex before marriage and that it got me a shot to prevent a very nasty STD. I want my readers to conclude that if I’m willing to bear this personal detail that there won’t be much school board related stuff I’d be inclined to withhold. Ah, but I have been discrete. This may not continue for long.

I’ve got a good half dozen posts I’m eager to unload but once again that will have to wait. I’ll crank out Garbage in Garbage out tomorrow but I’ve got four or so things to type up afterwards which will delay adding any new posts till perhaps tomorrow night or Wednesday. The priorities include a resolution to ask for an accounting of the mysterious 27% of the cost of the Red Plan. The School Board is sure not to want the accounting but I’ll be asking for it anyway. The second, Art Johnston has agreed to type up. It is a return to a policy whereby two Board members can get an item placed on the agenda for discussion at a school board meeting. The next will be a letter to the Duluth Reader assuring then that I think Loren Martell’s version of the meeting we entertained the State Auditor’s staff is pretty much what I remembered it to have been like. This despite our chairman’s sober assessment of his report to have been a lie. Chair Miernicki sent in his rebuttal the week afterwards and poor Loren was a tad upset that his riposte was not allowed to follow up the drubbing the Chair handed him.

Here’s why I stopped writing four days ago. I’ve been busy. I’ve explained before that for this third term on the School Board I intend to put my family first. So, a couple days before my last post my father and brother in laws showed up for a visit. I spent much of the sunny days smearing joint compound on one half of my garage, my daughter started a new job as a teacher necessitating my becoming a grandson sitter, Con artists got into my computer requiring me to take it up to Best Buy’s Geek Squad for a three day check out, We spent a day picking and prepping thirteen pounds of blueberries, We went fishing with two small boys, oh, and Claudia and I celebrated our 40th Anniversary on Sunday by taking eight dozen cupcakes to church.

I know I could have taken a dip into blessed ignorance’s cesspool but, golly, its still summer. If the School Board is hellbent to let the ridiculous persecution of Art Johnston linger into the beginning of the school year and smell up autumn just like it smelled up summer, who am I to hurry the stench along. I’m getting pretty used to wearing clothespins on my nose. The cesspool has only robbed me of good night’s sleeps. I’ve had two good night’s worth over the past seven days. I’ll be waking up at 4AM to get my father-in-law off to Florida tomorrow morning. I’m hoping that having finally turned my attention back to the blog that this start on tomorrow’s “garbage” will get me one more good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s school board meeting. I could really use it.

I’ve got stories to tell that are far more harrowing than my pathetic visit to the Mankato State University Health Center to get a shot in my tush to forestall syphilis. Geez, I’m sixty-three years old! I can afford to show off a few blemishes. Its only saints that things to hide.

The Minnesota State Odditor

I woke my wife up in St. Louis this morning at 2:30 a.m. to get into our car in drive for ten and a half hours straight to get to Duluth and the State Auditor’s presentation. I unpacked the car and printed out a dozen pieces of paper related to the Red Plan the District’s finances and messages sent back and forth between the Auditor and Loren Martell who got the ball rolling. I hustled over to the Board room groggy from my long drive but twenty minutes before the presentation. I was handed the exhaustive 8 page report which concludes with a sentence that begins, “We were not engaged to, and did not perform an audit…”

No kidding. To every question Art Johnston and I asked the three, count em three, auditors did their impression of the great Hogan’s Heroe character Sergeant Schultz,”I know nothing.”

The only information they reviewed came from the folks we wanted audited. They declined to offer any opinions even when asked such safe questions as would the State Auditor frown on double dipping by vendors bilking local government? I asked that question although not perhaps as succinctly.

In my email to her staff member Mark Kerr I mentioned that my grandfather had been a state auditor until Kansas abolished the office years after his retirement probably for being redundant. I think it might be time for Minnesota to consider doing the same thing. After what I heard tonight I am sure all of the embezzlers in Minnesota’s local governments can rest easy.

Minnesota Supreme Court says: “ignorance of the law…

…is an excuse”:

A well deserved self administrated back pat from the Timberjay Newspaper:

Here comes the sun?

Legislators deserve credit for efforts to restore openness to government contractors
Every year, advocates of government openness celebrate Sunshine Week, set this year for March 16-22. It’s a time when many of us in the media tout the myriad benefits to the public that result from keeping government records open and available to the public.

While it’s easy, and often legitimate, to criticize the media for its at times overwhelming attention to the titillating and the sensational “often at the expense of real news” there are still those reporters willing and eager to do the hard work of the public watchdog. Yet without access to government records, it is almost impossible for even the most intrepid of reporters to perform their critical role in our democracy.

As regular readers of the Timberjay well know, gaining access to public information isn’t always as easy as one might expect given laws that require access in most cases. We’ve seen time after time instances where public officials were slow to respond to information requests, or simply violated the law by refusing to provide records that are clearly public. And as our longstanding legal case against Johnson Controls, Inc., demonstrates, when public officials fail to do their duty in drafting appropriate and legally-compliant consulting and construction contracts, it can let contractors off the hook and leave the public in the dark about key details of multi-million-dollar government projects.

In overturning a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court in Helmberger v. Johnson Controls, Inc., carved out a potential loophole that could exempt billions of dollars worth of public contracts annually from scrutiny.

Fortunately, Minnesota legislators on both sides of the aisle are now working to plug that loophole. Legislation, dubbed the Timberjay bill, that advanced unanimously in both House and Senate committees last week would essentially erase the Supreme Court’s recent decision in our case, and protect the public’s right to know.

The new legislation would still require governments doing business with private companies to include a notice in their contracts that any documents or other information they develop as part of that contract is subject to an open records request. But if, as in the case of the St. Louis County School District and JCI, that provision was never included in the contract, the law would apply nonetheless.

That was clearly the intent of legislators back in 1999, when they amended the state’s public records law to include government contractors. The state Department of Administration and lower courts had agreed with that view from the beginning.

The Supreme Court is the only judicial body that has taken the somewhat strange position that if a governmental unit neglects to inform a contractor of their legal requirements, their legal requirements don’t apply. At least as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, ignorance of the law is an excuse.

Fortunately, it appears few in the Legislature share that view, and with any luck, Minnesota will soon have a new law on the books that ensures that the sun will continue to shine on public construction projects. That’s worth our attention and appreciation during Sunshine Week.

The evidence shows that ISD 709 has been wounded by special education…

…notwithstanding my pooh poohing the idea in the last post.

A reader sent me a well reported story from Minnesota Public Radio about the state’s dealings with Special Education since about 2004 when I left the Duluth School Board. As I said, things were always bad. They’ve gotten much worse.

This does not in anyway excuse the spending decisions of the Duluth School District to hush up teachers for its squandering of operational funds to pay for Red Plan Bonds. What it means is that the District was put behind yet one more eight ball. Put another way it means that having crawled out to the end of a flimsy branch another hefty problem joined them on the branch taking them to the Earth.

Here’s the story on “cross subsidies.” Its long but, if you care about public education in Minnesota, you need to read it to make sense of the subject.

I had just read about Indiana (Next post) before getting the story and it had already resoured me on the Republican Party. I’ve had several more episodes of GOP souring since.

Some potential good news for Duluth’s school Board…

…and a lot of qualifications from me:

The DNT’s story on Governor Dayton’s tax proposal offers some hope in mitigating the Red Plan’s disaster in Duluth. (Golly, this one was actually on their website)

Dayton wants a billion additional dollars for education although three quarters of this would go to colleges. All Districts will get their share so Duluth won’t do any catching up with other Districts that don’t their own Red Plan ball and chain. Still, this District is desperate for any good news. I expect the Governor to get his way – mostly. He doesn’t even have a lower house majority of GOP to pester him any more.

NOTE: To put this $243 million more for public education in perspective look at it this way: Its 72 million less for the whole state than tiny Duluth spent all by itself on the Red Plan. ($315 million) It’ll be a drop in the bucket for us. Our share of it will be about 3% of the total or about $730,000. And it ain’t in our pocket yet. We won’t get any of it until the following school year. Meanwhile the District has to cut another $3.5 million and use up more of its rapidly diminishing reserve.

The Strib and the DFTRA pension

This morning I got a very brief peek at the news after waking up at 4AM to head to the Ft. Lauderdale airport and my frigid return to Duluth. I was very impressed to see the Strib far ahead of the Duluth News in covering the sorry plight of the Duluth Teacher’s pension.

Here’s the story and here’s the bit about Duluth:

The Duluth Teachers Retirement Fund Association, for example, which has just over 3,300 members, saw a negative return in 2011, but then saw a percentage return in the mid-teens in 2012, said Association Executive Director Jay Stoffel.

Still, the Duluth Teachers Fund has a long way to go before it’s healthy, Stoffel said. It has a $119 million unfunded liability, is only 63 percent funded, and has more retirees to pay than active teachers paying into the fund.

“Our board is concerned,” Stoffel said. “We certainly don’t think we’re in good shape. We have an actuarial consultant who has told us that we do need to do something.”

I knew immediately that I would have to offer kudos to the Strib once I got home and had a chance to link the article on my blog. BUT – HERE’S A SURPRISE TO ME.

I’ve gotten back to Duluth and just found the article again. Before I get to my reactions I just made a new discovery. The article was written by one of the Duluth News Tribunes best reporters. Brandon Stahl. That explains the inclusion of an interview with Jay Stoffel of DFTRA but since there is no mention of the Duluth Trib I wonder if the STRIB stole Brandon away from the DNT or if they are sharing his services. If its the former its a real loss for Duluth News paper subscribers.

Now about the DFTRA. In the post I wrote about the tour of the DFTRA that Mr. Stoffel gave me I said little about my biggest recollection of the meeting.

I asked Mr. Stoffel how the DFTRA could justify raising pension payments to teachers based on Investment earnings that had not yet materialized. This, by the way, is the important question an observent reader should wonder about in Brandon Stahl’s story. What I learned then was that the state of Minnesota seemed to be on the hook if the DFTRA or the TRA or PERA overpaid their retired members. That revelation gobsmacked me. In other words if they gave pensioners more than the pensions collected from active members their public employers of their investment earnings taxpayers would guarantee the pension payment increases.

THAT IS JUST WRONG. No one in the private sector get’s that kind of insurance for their pensions. Better than ten years ago I read about the terrible payouts and impending bankruptcy of Illinois pension plan. Nothing has been done about it and today its in the news again a financial monster that can not be solved so that Illinois public employees can expect full payment of the pension they have been guaranteed.

Minnesota’s crises pales in comparison but its still alarming.

I’ve often expressed contempt for Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker. Using his massive GOP victories as a cover to neuter public employees was the easy way to solve a problem with a guarantee of blow back. His disingenuous self righteousness curdled my milk. But. But. But. Walker was right to see public employees as far too powerful for the State of Wisconsin’s own good. Much the same can be said of most non Southern states including Minnesota.

The Brandon Stahl story makes clear that all these public employee pensions are expecting the Minnesota’s taxpayers to make good their over payment of pensions. The old fashioned Republican in me has one simple reaction to that kind of entitlement. Its a rude two word phrase.

DFTRA’s local problems have been grievously aggravated by the Duluth Teacher’s Union which will soon be lobbying the legislature asking that Minnesota taxpayers bail out their over generous pension. One of the many problems plaguing the underfunded DFTRA pension is the diminished number of teacher who’s payments to the pension keep the huge number of retirees getting those generous benefits. If I was a teacher with 35 or 45 teachers in my class seeing my earnings going to retirees I’d wonder if the stress I was enduring was worth it. Oh, probably. Their stress shortened lives will make it easier for the DFTRA to pay future pensions in full.

The Courts….Simonson and the DFL’s only hope

I was helping my Church’s mens’ group over at the Seafarer’s Center scraping and painting windows when I unwittingly splashed my head with white paint. I had to suffer the indignity of having the staff wash my head in a sink. On my way to the clean up I saw my old friend Mike Jaros in the hallway and we exchanged pleasantries.

Once I was dripping with water instead of latex we chatted a bit. We both agreed that unless candidate Simonson can get his name on the ballot west Duluth would get its first Republican legislator since Mike defeated Dwight Swanstrom in 1972 (or thereabouts).

I think there is precedent for this. In 1990 one of my heroes Arne Carlson became the GOP nominee for Governor after the disgraced nominee of the religious right, Jon Grunseth, was discovered to have chased his daughter’s girlfriend around his pool trying to rip her swimsuit top off.

Before the Courts or the Secretary of State intervened folks like me were busy trying to distribute stickers with Carlson’s name on it so mispelled write-in votes wouldn’t be thrown out. I asked Mike if he recalled whether Carlson’s name was printed on the ballot or whether the stickers had been used. Mike thought Arne got on the ballot.

Those rascally activist judges can’t be trusted. One of them just threw out Governor Walker’s law outlawing collective bargaining for Wisconsin’s state employees. Maybe Simonson and the DFL will get lucky and land such a judge.

Minnesota Voter ID pros

From the amendment’s sponsor Mary Kiffmeyer. She’s persuasive.

I resisted looking at this for a couple days thinking it would be a long written piece. Its from Powerline a blog I generally regard as a hackish GOP outlet.

I’ve snarked about the motives of the GOP around the nation on the various Voter ID laws that have been proposed. I know that diminishing democratic votes is one object of the legislation. I also know that Republicans since the days of the Kennedy Nixon election have been paranoid about registered voters in Chicago graveyards and poor Mexican Americans in Texas being paid five bucks to vote for LBJ and JFK. Nixon was gracious in defeat despite being cheated out of the Presidency in 1960. See “controversies.”

I think that Democrats ought to bite the bullet and support Voter ID laws that can assure voters a relatively hassle free method of registering to vote.

I ran as a Republican several times from the 1970s to the early 2000’s. I never smelled a whiff of serious fraud. Still, if we’re going to quell the paranoia about fraud its not asking too much to address the issues Mary Kiffmeyer lays out. I’m not sure whether I’ll still vote against the particular constitutional amendment that’s on the Minnesota ballot. I’ll have to research its wording and implication more.

Further I’m intrigued by a recent proposal I heard about proper ID. Why not demand that anyone buying a firearm carry and present a photo ID before purchase?

Western Duluth may soon elect its first Republican legislator in 40 years.

At this point I’d put money on Travis.

I like Julene Boe and her last name is easier to spell. I would have voted for her in a heartbeat.

Poor dim DFL. First Al Netland rushed to support the soiled Gauthier and when that fell through his party rushed to support a man so cold he turned his back on not only his baby daughter but his own parents. I’ve been reading letters from lots of folks describing the DFL candidate Simonson as a stand up guy but all I can think is cold fish.

After the Democratic Party’s opening convention night….

…there is no way the local DFL could nominate Assistant Fire Chief Simonson to replace Kerry Gauthier in good conscience:

Erik Simonson’s mother, Beatrice Simonson, said she, her husband and their daughter haven’t had contact with their son and brother since he stopped seeing his daughter. She said she and her husband wanted to maintain a relationship with their granddaughter.

“It’s sad. It’s a heartache,” she said. “But there’s nothing you can do.”

Erik Simonson said he has spoken with his brother several times but that he hasn’t spoken with his parents or a sister for about 18 years.

Unless all that messaging about women was just rhetoric.

Openly gay

Until I read this Star Trib story about the Duluth that is no longer your grandparent’s Duluth (I’m a grandparent!) I had never read that former candidate for the Congressional Seat held by Chip Cravaack was gay. This story mentions it as though everyone knew it. Not me. I only heard it rumored by a local DFL operative who explained to me that because of it this candidate would never get elected.

I feel better that I apparently didn’t out him.

In the near future, in that better world I anticipate our gravitating toward, it should be unnecessary to announce your sexual predilections when you run for office. We’re not there yet. If Obama only had a 5% loss of voters due to his being black if you were to compare that to oppositon based on sexual preference I’d guess that in Northern Minnesota that figure would be closer to 10 to 20%. If I’m right that would be enough to guarantee a loss for any DFL challenger to Chip Cravaack.

Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t excuse a candidate from failing to disclose possible impediments to his getting votes. Who can forget Senator Thomas Eagleton failing to tell George McGovern that he had undergone electroshock before being selected as a VP candidate by McGovern? That may account for the worst drubbing any democrat has endured in a presidential election.

If this candidate was still in the closet so that the Strib couldn’t mention it as though it was no big deal that would be different. But he semi-outed himself. I guess all his buddies and the political insiders knew but not the delegates at the DFL caucuses and conventions. Had they decided to endorse him even though they knew he had to bear the cross of being gay that would have been different, laudable even. Instead he allowed the delegates to remain uninformed with a potential bombshell to be detonated by the GOP after the primary. In a year when all Democrats are aching to take back the Congress he did them a major disservice.

Silver is tarnished

I just watched Almanac North and have concluded that the Assistant Fire Chief Simonson has a chance.

Travis Silver is a nice tongue tied-young man, probably a Ron Paul devotee, who doesn’t really know why he’s running for the legislature. He’s probably running because someone asked him to file just so the GOP could have a candidate. His chief argument could have been one of mine back in 1976 to wit: that Duluth ought to have a Republican in the legislature and not keep all its eggs in the DFL basket. For crying out loud, Given the opportunity he didn’t even say “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

I can imagine Travis getting barely 20% of the vote all the more for write-in candidates.

I mentioned the likelyhood that City Councilor Fosle and Chief Simonson could split the vote. Fosle didn’t show up on Almanac. He had some previous engagement. If he really wants to win he sure as hell should have skipped the previous engagement. My thought was he’s too chicken to show up or was afraid he couldn’t handle questions from Denny Anderson.

Simonson looked and sounded like a legislator. When the DFL endorses him they will put their shoulder behind his campaign.

I suggested that there was no way to get Kerry Gauthier’s name off the ballot. We’ll see. If the DFL can endorse Simonsen in time they may have an in to get his name on the ballot in the absence of a DFL candidate. The primary was in August which gives them close to a month before the ballots are actually printed up to make their case in court. They may be stuck with a write-in campaign but could probably win it. If they can set a new precedent they have a shoe in.

Can the GOP take West Duluth? and a reminiscence

I think so if two serious challengers run write-in campaigns in Kerry Gauthier’s district.

I don’t know how many “conservative” votes there are in the old Jaros/Munger house seat. When I ran a campaign in the area back in 1980 I discovered that Richard Nixon only got 23% of the vote in far western Duluth. That was 1972 and the biggest ever blow-out Presidential election in America’s modern history. George McGovern got three times as many votes as Nixon in west Duluth. That’s a tough district for any Republican.

I’d guess that the four decades that have passed have taken a lot of old New Dealers with them. Today a good Republican should get an easy 35% of the vote out west especially in a Presidential election year.

Gauthier’s name will be on the ballot even though he’s decided to “withdraw.” I’d be surprised if he got much less than ten percent of the vote. For argument’s sake lets assume that he gets 7% and the Republican, Mr. Silver, gets 30%. That would leave the two (so far) write-in candidates fighting over 63% of the available vote. It would take a near miracle to get that many voters to cast a write-in but if that happened one of the newcomers would have to clean the other’s clock. Could an assistant fire chief pull such a thing off over a sitting City Councilor? Could the reverse happen?

The Republicans are in deep doo doo (Broadkorb, Sutton, et al) all across Minnesota this year but I’ll bet some Minnesota Koch-brother-type would love to kick in some money to see at least one satisfying and unexpected GOP victory this year.

I’d like to add one more thought.

To my mind no one has been irreparably hurt by this incident except Mr. Gauthier. Thomas Huntley called him a “child molester.” From what I know about this day and age in America and what I know about most boys over the age of 17 I find that description a stretch not withstanding my previous description of the young man as a “boy.”

So let me follow with a personal story.

When I was 20 years old I got a chance to be an intern in Washington DC. I lived in a run-down block about eight blocks from the Capitol Building. Next door was a gentrified house lived in by two gay men, both college professors as I recall. I was living next door in an ancient town house in a room I painted black and white. (The radiator was zebra striped) I’d been in the city for about a month when I decided I needed to cook something and bought a cake mix. When I realized I had nothing to bake it in I got the crazy midwestern idea of asking my neighbors for a baking pan. The first two doors I knocked on got me nowhere but the third door, the next door, brought results.

An effeminate man answered the door and was delighted with my request. He invited me into a house with a lot more class than my grubby black and white. When I returned the pan a few days later he and his partner invited me to have a martini (my first) with them. They took me to a very cool backyard patio/garden showed me a platter of ripe tomato slices collected from a nearby Farmer’s Market and we had a very nice chat.

I asked my housemates if they thought the neighbors might be gay when I got back later that night. To their credits my housemates were indifferent. I got invited over several times afterward and was introduced to a number of men who seemed like sophisticates. One was a British fellow who had been the premier danseur for a Parisian Ballet Company. They were fairly interested in me and my drudge-like work in the bowels of the Congressional Office Buildings. The subject of marijuana came up. I told them I’d read a survey that summer that reported that something like 70% of the staff of the Congress admitted to using grass. Even in the office of my conservative Republican Congressmen the staff was so casual that all of the staff under the age of 30 (including me) confessed to the Administrative Assistant to having used grass. Some of the fellows at the party had usedJus grass, one expressed interest and another was a little shocked by the subject. It was a good chance for me to reciprocate for the martinis I had been served a month earlier and I offered to bring a dime bag over for them to sample. They thought it a capital idea so I did and we toked up.

In some ways the evening ended rather poorly. Marijuana has a tendency to make folks a little paranoid and that was the affect on me this particular night. I was surrounded by five pretty harmless gay men who were obviously interested in me. When I was sober this was not a problem. After the intoxication kicked in, however, one of them, produced a kitten and placed it on the sofa next to me. When the hand petting the kitten went astray and rubbed against my knee I mumbled an excuse and abruptly left the house.

I felt a little bad about my hasty departure the next morning. Even so we stayed on cordial terms although I only stopped by their house once more to say goodbye prior to flying back to a new school year at Mankato State. Both the partners mentioned that they would be in Europe the following summer and invited me to be their house sitter. I rather liked the idea.

My father did not. I’d told him the men were gay and it was likely their friends would drop by. My Dad was alarmed enough about the offer that I sent my old neighbors my regrets. They were honest regrets.

The point of this is that even though I wasn’t at all interested in sex with men had I been this would have been a comfortable a place to do some exploring. The primere dansur told us a very funny story about his youth in the Paris Ballet. He told us that all the ballerinas tried to have sex with him because, in the trade, it was considered good luck to sleep with a virgin. All the gay men at the party in D.C. thought this was very funny. Of course, as they all appreciated, the primere’s good luck was wasted on him as he was really not into ballerinas. On the other hand, had it been me in Paris I suspect I might have acted with a little more enthusiasm had a ballerina placed a kitten on the couch next to me.

Kerry Gauthier is close to my age and I know that he lived through a couple cruel decades as a young man where shame and humiliation were about the best he could expect in the way of public support. He says he’s suffered from addictive behavior for the past thirty years which may be evidence of that cruelty. I’m pleased that we seem to be heading to a new more enlightened age. I wish Mr. Gauthier well and I wish the same for the young fellow who answered his ad. They both deserved better than a public rest stop.