Category Archives: Education

Don’t let the cats out! Meow – Meow, Meow, Meow – Meow!

One of my constant fears as I go door to door is letting pets loose – especially on warm days when folks have their front door open and I open the screen door a crack to slip in my literature. A couple days ago as I finished up Park Point I saw this sign on a door.

Its going to be another lovely sunny day today and I’ve got more neighborhoods to canvass and more lawnsigns to stake up. But the list of eight things I wanted to get done yesterday is still sadly undone and its a minute to nine AM already.

I have an Education committee meeting tonight at 4:15 and a forum on Duluth Poverty at 5:30 at Denfeld with a school board question time to start at 6:30. Chair Rosie Loeffler-Kemp is using that as an excuse to avoid the meeting having scheduled her daughter Rachel to take her place. Its been quiet on our committees lately and last night’s business meeting was one of the shortest on record ending well before 6:30. I understand Rosie will be missing the big televised forum for the News Tribune/Chamber of Commerce on Friday too. The Duluth Trib’s editorial board will give her a pass on that absence and interview her privately later on.

The elephant in the room is what is happening in our western schools. In today’s positive Trib story about an unexpected bump in the enrollment of many area schools is the disconcerting news that some of that increase, like that at Wrenshall’s, is fueled by departures from Duluth. Half of Wrenshall’s 14% growth comes from West Duluth:

“Wrenshall’s 390 students this fall illustrate a 14 percent increase. Half of the district’s students are residents and half come through open enrollment, with the largest number coming from Duluth.”

In fact, the western elementaries have plunged while eastern elementaries have soared in enrollment. You can find that chart in the story. Congdon is bursting at the seams and Lowell and Lakeside have grown dramatically. Still, we have put off reboundarying as the Administration has not yet felt the need to move in that direction after three years of heated lobbying by eastern families to begin it. Piedmont has suffered the worst enrollment loss.

Ah, 9:12. I’ve got a lot of leg work ahead of me today. Pardon my brevity.

TUTORIAL ON A HARRY WELTY CAMPAIGN PART 6

I explained that long time West Duluth Representative Mike Jaros, would be the seed pearl of my next tutorial. But first let me check to see how many times over the last eleven years I’ve mentioned Mike on the blog……..Wow 95 times

The two posts which topped the list (prior to this entry) were “Bless you Mike Jaros” from 2015 and an earlier post from 2008 “Who will replace Mike Jaros.”

The 2008 post was the beginning of my unqualified support for Mike. He joined me in attempting to restrain the rapacious Red Planners and, like me, he failed. I made a personal vow never to undermine him again through any veiled criticism.

In one or more of the 95 posts I have described our first meeting back in 1976 when he agreed to meet me for coffee and despite our looming face off how we got along famously. Ever since my gold star seal of approval always begins with adversaries who are willing to sit down and palaver with me. That is a standard one of the other side’s candidates this year has badly botched this election. Not Sally Trnka. She met with me and, although I am supporting Dona Krivogorsky, I consider Sally a good soul. (I’ve not gotten round to inviting Josh Gorham for coffee although some of my allies have and that’s a good sign. I once told Rosie Loeffler-Kemp we should get together but her eagerness to censure me put a pretty cold damper on my former invitation and we’ve never had a one-on-one. I just get veiled lectures/threats from her at closed meetings about not blogging.

You see, I was raised in an Era of a genial, if intense, cold war between the two major political parties which have now fallen so out of favor. If you search for references to my Grandfather and Harry Truman you will see that I’ve said of my Grandfather that he had a grudging respect for Democrats. That is so unlike the current mood in political circles. From the outset of my political career that has been my chief modus operandi. I will not unfairly malign the other side. I will malign their actions or hypocrisy if the public ought to be appraised of it but the faults I point out must not get in the way of my being able to work with adversaires. As I’ve always said of school board candidates: “I’ve never met one who didn’t have the best interests of children at heart.” That includes the Red Planners of whom my chief criticism has always been that they were insensitive to the public, stubborn, self righteous and foolish. They still cared about kids…….although some of them have stooped to pretty despicable depths to mischaracterize the motives of their critics, like me and especially Art Johnston.

So, where does that leave me with regards to Tutorial 6? Simply here at the “Golden Rule,” the real golden rule not this one: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I practice this with one proviso. “Beat me up once, shame on you. Beat me up a second time, watch out!”

“good luck Harry and team!”

Tutorial 6 is in the air. It will be about Mike Jaros and me and it will be meant to be hopeful.

But I got home from church today and got a little whiff of hope in the form of a donation. As I mentioned in the Tutorial 5 post I learned that my Friday mailing had already been delivered yesterday – Saturday. Well one of the recipents couldn’t wait for the mail and saved themselves 54 cents postage. They stuck the return mail envelope in my mailbox while I was a church.

There was a note inside. It read:

“Good luck, Harry and team!

Thank you for all you have done. I still remember the first letter from you just after we moved to Duluth, and thinking: “if half the stuff this crazy guy is writing is true, this is terrible!”

All the best,

XXXXXXXXX

They enclosed a check for $100 dollars.

And for the record. What I told them in that first letter was far less than half of the terrible truth. We’ve got classes of 40 children to prove it.

Here’s that first letter. Gosh, was I ever prescient! – Except about winning in court.

TUTORIAL ON A HARRY WELTY CAMPAIGN PART 5

I’ve gotten a little blowback from my supporters about the tutorials. They wonder why I’m telegraphing to the “opposition” what I’m up to. One of the regular phrases I get when I email or text my friends is “this is not bloggable.” (Heavy sigh from me)

I understand that honorable reporters are constantly faced with requests for anonymity from their sources. I understand that sources are shy about being fingered lest they be punished (as whistle blowers) or for being gossipy. Our Civility Pledge disses gossip for instance. That’s one of the planks of the pledge I have a problem with. Ignorance isn’t bliss.

For instance’ I’ve already hinted that the Gronseth Administration is pulling a fast one first having begged us to OK a quick resolution of a change order for mulch followed by a recommendation that we delay a scheduled October discussion until November. Do they hope to delay of a potentially embarrassing million dollar snafu until after the election? The TMI in me (too much information) doesn’t think sweeping inconvenient truths under the rug is good practice or policy. It only aggravates paranoia. If we’d had open and honest discussions during the Red Plan years we might not have had 40 and 50 student class sizes.

So, back to my tutorial about all that stuff I’m passing out in my TMI package. Here’s a small portion of the four-foot-long map of Duluth’s political precincts (purchased in the City Clerk’s office) from Fondulac to Lake County that I have covered on foot. (marked in yellow) Continue reading

21,000 steps and a mulch footnote

Crud.

I just pounded in a couple hundred words and was on a role when my clumsy fingers replaced them all accidentally with nothingness and there was nothing saved for me to go back to. I haven’t had that happen to me for a couple years and it drove me nuts.

I began by saying I’ve been very busy juggling again. I offered a litany of things I have been doing this morning. Reflecting on it the most interesting thing I wanted to write about was the candidate forum held last night by our students.

The eight of us had a minute and a half to answer really big questions that each of the seven students present asked us. Most of the questions involved problems our kids face in class. Many of the replies were glittering generalities. I won’t say who glittered the most. I didn’t sugarcoat things.

I explained how twenty years ago when I was on the Board $14 million local dollars went into the classroom. I described it as a “Golden Age.” I then explained that this year only $2.5 million local dollars are going into the classroom. I then parenthetically mentioned the much decorated school counselor who heard me say the same thing earlier in the week and came who over to tell me that when she was hired she was one of 30 counselors in the District. Today there are only 12 counselors – the kind of people who might be able to address the needs the students at the forum were asking for.

I was surprised that Fourth District candidate who spoke immediately after me dismissed this factoid by saying that lots of other District employees had stepped in to do the work of school counselors.

Its becoming apparent that Ms. Lofald now views herself as a chief defender of the School Administration, by which I mean a single individual. He was in the audience listening at the time.

And yes, I got 21,000 steps in yesterday marching across Duluth Heights despite the donation of a pint of blood. More friendly but aggrieved people met me. Here’s a pic I took of the sights along my travels. The nest was closer to half again the size of my hand.

Oh, and of interest to Mulch folks. I just got my school board packet. You may recall that at the September meeting the Administration offered anguished justifications for paying an additional $12,000 for a mulch change order when a bare majority of us asked to table the expenditure until the October meeting. Well, the Administration now wants us to postpone the consideration of the expense until the November meeting. Vindication for us skeptics?

MY FORTY YEARS OF DNT REPORTERS AND EDITORS

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I WOKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO WRITE A FUND RAISING LETTER AND IT BECAME THIS EXTENDED STREAM-OF-THOUGHT PIECE ON MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE. PLEASE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT I HAVE NO DESIRE TO TIDY ITS 1903 WORDS UP WITH A COUPLE PROOF READINGS. IT IS AND WILL REMAIN IN ROUGH DRAFT CONDITION PROBABLY FOR AS LONG AS THIS BLOG CAN BE FOUND ON THE WEB. BTW – I RECOMMEND SKIPPING IT AND CUTTING TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH.

I have had a long relationship with the News Tribune which began when I first ran against Mike Jaros as a 25-year-old in 1976. Continue reading

Duluth News Trib steals a page from the Duluth Reader and declares that…

… East High School is the best school in the area!

Except that the Reader’s ten-plus years of running a people’s choice awards issue didn’t have a category for best high school – thank goodness.

But the Trib does and its “Best of the Best” insert boasts that 59,404 votes determined the results. Now that’s not to mean that twice as many people voted for this popularity contest than will vote in the November 7th school board election. Hardly. They had about 185 categories so that any one person could have cast that many votes. If every voter in the survey had cast votes on all 185 categories each could have been decided by a mere 321 votes.

Of course, not everyone was very likely to cast a vote for the “Best chiropractor.” Who knows how many voted in that category at all.

Its incredibly obvious that the voting can be manipulated far more easily than Putin managed. Stuffed ballots would have been easy to pull off. Any Pizza place could have organized its fans and friends to do just that for the minutes of free publicity it would give them

As for East High “winning” – think about it. For the past twenty-five years East has been the biggest of three Duluth High Schools and currently has sixty percent more students than Denfeld. Furthermore, far more of them are likely to have parents who can afford to subscribe to the Trib. Winning for them was as easy to manage as my Dad’s intervention in the Washburn College May Day Queen vote. He was in Washburn’s Law school whose older students couldn’t have cared less about the undergraduate’s May Day festivities…except that his little sister, my Aunt Mary, was a contestant for her sorority. Someone had taken a picture of her in a fetching bathing suit and put it on a four by eight plywood board. My Dad simply had someone install it on the wall of the lawschool and all the lawyers-to-be fell over themselves to vote for the first time in Washburn’s May Day history.

But now its official. East High is the best high school in Duluth. Thanks Duluth News Tribune for frivolously and thoughtlessly interjecting more divisiveness in the Duluth Schools.

At least the Reader’s Best of the Northland Issue is a funky and tongue-in-cheek affair with off beat quotes from the people supporting their fiends or dissing their enemies. The Trib’s piece looks like slick, mindless, nonsense guaranteed only to get them more advertising dollars from the “winners.”

Catching up on Energy

I was exhausted last Wednesday after the Primary election when we rescheduled our Business meeting. I began hallucinating when we got to a turgid conversation about energy savings. I saw Loren Martell in the back of the room leave the meeting and I decided to leave the meeting and thank him for running despite his disappointing fifth place.

But then I decided I really didn’t have it in me to go back to the meeting. I could catch it later on youtube after all.

I didn’t even follow up the next day in reading Jana Hollingsworth’s story in the Trib. Its under a stack of partially digested Tribs in the corner of my office. I did hear from Art later that it was a good story. That’s quite a tribute from Art. Well I just read it and it is a good story about our District’s energy use. I recommend it.

I just finished listening to the hour I missed of the meeting. It was a very thorough discussion which is easier to consume in Jana’s story.

One point I’d like to harp on like the cranky guy I am – We were sold a bill of goods by Johnston Controls. Our energy savings are one-tenth what they predicted. The problem with this is that to make up for this we have had to cut staff which was our other means of making ends meet on JCI’s unfulfilled promises.

That’s not to say that JCI doesn’t know the energy business:

This is one of the photos I took of the Shanghai skyline. That soaring building on the far right is one that was equipped with JCI technology. Its impressive. I saw a PBS NOVA program about JCI’s role in building and equipping the air units. I guess its easier to fiddle with tiny little Duluth than the People’s Republic of China.

Good manners count – so to do donations

I was tied up much of the morning but I got an hour-and-a-half to pass out snow sculpture trading cards at Chester Bowl’s Fall Fest. I passed out roughly 250 cards. They went almost exclusively to children and I was impressed how nearly uniform their parents were in encouraging them go say thank you to me.

Like Minnesota Public Radio my campaign is always open to donations which can be made here on line.

I would like to think that I have many more potential helpers out there and I’ll start something of a drive for donations soon. More expenses are looming and I daren’t drop them if I want to have a chance to serve another term of office through 2020. Beat the drive. A lot of the kids who got my card had eyes that sparkled and even their parents couldn”t help but smile.

Well, I shudda known better than to boast

It turns out that Gary Westorff has me beat in his giving to school board candidates. His wife also gave Josh Gorham $500 making their joint contributions an impressive $1,500 for pro status quo candidates. If you don’t count the money I’ve spent on myself so far I’m behind Gary in funding candidates. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

So far the fundraising champ is Sally Trnka who has cash on hand, as of the latest report, of $3515 almost the equal of everything I’ve spent on my own campaign. She’s raised a close to a record $6100 to date for a Duluth School Board race. Not bad for a novice.

This is the first year I haven’t sent out a fundraising letter. I have about three weeks of literature to pass out so I’ll wait and see if my appeal (in the door to door piece I’ve been handing out) pans out. I need to make one more $400 dollar expenditure which will extend my lit dropping by another three weeks after that. I’ve got time to consider sending out a letter although my blog and the website serve that purpose as well.

My eight loyal readers have nearly doubled as the election season has started kicking into gear. I have, until 2016, always believed that voters make rational decisions when given ample information. Duluth voters have had forty years to size me up. They know my eccentricities. If I’m not reelected I’ll be relieved of the great burden of undoing the damage past school boards have done.

A critical email asked me recently what I had done for the Duluth Schools since my return to the Board – what educational initiatives I’d brought to the table or supported.

Before I jot down my reply I’d just like to note that for the first two years I was on the Board some modest inquiries for public data by Art Johnston and me brought about a two year Kangaroo Court persecution that embarrassed all of Duluth based on charges championed by the folks who are behind the candidates I haven’t been donating to. I was pretty busy defending the 2017 election results for those two years and had little time to visit schools or do anything useful. Nonetheless:

I pushed for more transparency in School Board actions leading to the videotaping of all of our meetings for the public to see at their leisure rather than at 4PM when many citizens are still at work.

I successfully helped replace rubber tire mulch that had our parents in a tizzy and giving them one more reason to open enroll their students elsewhere.

I helped conclude the best teacher’s contract possible with the very pro union majority on my school board.

I have cheered on Administrative attempts to better coach teachers.

I helped champion the work of Alanna Oswald which brought about the state’s intervention and funding to greatly help one of our struggling schools and, while they were at it, realigning our long neglected curriculum a requirement imposed upon us by the state of Minnesota.

I unsuccessfully, but forcefully, pushed for a more equitable spending of our funds for the western schools particularly the Compensatory Education funds meant for children on free and reduced lunch. Half a million of this is spent on eastern schools that do not generate the funds because they have a much smaller population of impoverished children.

I also tried to sell our costly empty old schools to get more money for our classrooms. Again, the same folks championing the candidates I have not been contributing to did everything they could to prevent these sales. This cost ISD 709 about $20 million dollars and cheated our students.

Oh to be in a majority! Check out the lawnsigns in my front yard……..when the construction crews leave.

I know, I know. You can only vote for two of these At-Large candidates. But you can’t miss with any of these three.

Gary Westorff has a grievance

Gary is one of the Education Minnesota union leaders and was rumored to be likely to file for the Duluth School Board election. He makes a lot of money representing the union. A friend complained to me today that the President of Education Minnesota makes $200,000 a year while the Minnesota Commissioner of Education only makes $150,000. I told my friend that this was probably true in every state in the nation.

I suspect Gary makes as much as the Commissioner. That may be why Education Minnesota is planning to raise dues in light of the Supreme Court case that may not go their way.

As you can see Westorff is angry that I claim to be a former teacher. In fact, I told the Editorial Board one of my chief motivations for being on the School Board was my utter failure as a teacher long ago when teachers were so common School District’s threw them in the water like suspected witches in Medieval times to see whether they would sink or swim.

I also made light of my credentials for the biography Education Reporter Jana Hollingsworth asked me to send her. I was surprised how safe I sounded like in her story for tomorrow compared to what I sent her. This is what she got from me and cleaned up to make me sound more respectable. As you can see I didn’t tout my being a great teacher:

Hello School Board candidates,

We are putting together a preview story to run before the Sept. 12 primary, and would like each of you to provide the following:

Age (this will run in September, 1-2 weeks before the primary, so consider an upcoming birthday)

I was born in 1950 which makes me 66 years of age. I’ve outlived my Father by four years.

Occupation

Unsuccessful, long retired teacher, unpublished author, Stay-at-home Dad, Politician who lost 13 of 16 previous elections, If it’s true that we learn from our mistakes mine is a formidable intellect.

Family situation if applicable (partner or spouse, kids and where they go to school, for example)

Grandfather of two boys aged 7 and 10 who attend Northstar Academy. Father of two graduates of East High School, one a teacher in Two Harbors, the other in his last year of doctoral studies in Physics and Chemistry at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. Also, a heavy cross for my better half, Claudia Scott Welty, to bear.

By the way – I am donating to the serious school board candidates who know something of what our District faces and are tough minded and honest enough to win over our public to the cause of fixing the problems past school boards have inflicted on our children. I have put my money where my mouth is. So far half of my yearly stipend for being a school board member has been donated to them.

Gary is a generous contributor as well. So far he’s given Rosie Loeffler-Kemp $500 but he’ll have to dig deeper than that into his six figure income to match me.

NOTE: The Welty campaign could use a little help. Consider donating here at: http://www.weltyforschoolboard.com/

a Twin Cities journalist friend comments on the DNT School Board endorsements

he writes:

Unbelievable “editorial board” decision by the DNT

They just have no shame at all.

Inconsistent too

Never have liked newspapers making endorsements at all. How much influence does that paper have anymore? The circulation is barely 20,000 daily now

the circulation and the staff is about 1/4 of what it was just 20 or 30 years ago

Ironically the Star Trib had an article today about the frequently brought-up topic about “getting along” with your fellow elected officials

Here’s that story. It rings true. Art Johnston could never get his motions seconded for discussions until I got elected with him in 2013. Because of Dixon era policy changes we couldn’t even get subjects on the agenda until Alanna Oswald was elected two years later.

Local Minnesota officials who often cast the lone dissenting vote talk of ‘life on an island’

They agreed the majority is eager for agreement and to avoid a public fuss.

By David Peterson Star Tribune

September 2, 2017 — 6:59pm

Janice Rettman said she never gets a second for the motions she offers on the Ramsey County Board. Continue reading

I’ve never met a school board candidate who didn’t want to help educate children…

… So what?

The last ten year’s worth of Duluth School Board members reduced the local taxes going into our classrooms from $14 million to $2.5 million.

These Board members loved children. Their own children were in the Duluth Schools. Many of them matriculated from the Duluth Schools. They only wanted the best school buildings for our children. “Schools for the 21st Century!” If I can level any serious accusation at them it would be this: They refuse to acknowledge the damage they did to our schools. But, God knows, they cared about our schools and our children all the time they were inflicting the damage.

As Mark Twain wrote: “First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he created the School Board!”

And as for that title above this post there is an important qualification. “I’ve never met.”

I never met the greatest murderer of school children in US history – Michigan farmer and school board member Andrew Kehoe. He blew up a school and killed 38 children in 1927.

There have never been any Kehoe’s on the Duluth School Board, thank goodness, but as I noted before “pride, goeth before our children’s fall.”

I’ve touted my “candor” in campaign literature and on my blog. But I’m also a convential nice guy. I believed my Mother when she told me that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Therefore, my candor is edged with a heavy layer of diplomacy. I breached a diplomatic wall in the last post. I mentioned I’m supporting Kurt Kuehn in the First District Race for the School Board. Kurt is challenging my colleague Rosie Loeffler-Kemp.

My “eight loyal readers” know that I’ve mentioned Rosie’s machinations many times in my blog. But, I’ve been coy. Now, I will be completely candid. I do not want to serve with Rosie anymore, particularly if she is part of a majority and I remain in a minority.

She led the attempt to destroy Art Johnston costing him $75,000 and the School District $200,000. She pushed and voted to censure me the week my Mother died for doing nothing more than blogging that there was a ten million dollar offer for the purchase of Central High School. Perhaps Rosie is the person who told candidate Josh Gorham that it was me who killed that deal because I was being “unethical.” That’s what Josh told Barbara Reyelts in the recent interviews which KBJR/KDLH has conveniently failed to put up on the Internet.

Rosie’s success has astonished me. I knew her as a fairly harmless PTSA (Parent, Teacher, Student Association) President years ago ratting out her successor Judy Seliga-Punyko for running roughshod over the PTSA Board. I’ve told many a political novice that you can never tell who opposes you now that might one day become your ally. And to this point Rosie and Judy became fast friends during the first two years I returned to the School Board as they pulled out all the stops to make the Duluth School Board look like the most dysfunctional school board and laughingstock in Minnesota history.

Rosie was not only Duluth’s PTSA chair but for three years was the Minnesota State PTSA chair. I have seen little from Rosie in the last three and a half years to explain how she could have been elevated to such a position in Minnesota. I defy anyone to go through the last three years worth of School Board committee meeting videos on you-tube to show evidence of Rosie’s understanding for what’s going on in the Duluth Schools. One reporter once told me that they never asked Rosie for a comment because she never had anything useful to say.

I’ll leave it to Rosie to respond to this bit of candor of mine. She helped recruit candidates to run against Art Johnston and me and we have reciprocated.

As far as I am concerned she stands for the sweep-the-last-ten-years-under-the-rug-agenda that has put our schools and our children behind the eight ball.

How much more candor will I dispense? I don’t know but I may not be done. I’m feeling an attitude coming on.

Ramos Correction

John Ramos, true to form, admitted a mistake, albeit a tiny, picky mistake in his last column. He did not realize that there were eight school board candidates appealing to the Duluth Federation of Teachers for their endorsement. It was strongly suggested that his failure to mention former Denfeld teacher and current Speech Coach, Jill Lofald, was typical of the Reader’s carelessness. As a former writer of for the Reader myself, clocking in at over 100 columns, I am hurt by this presumption. My “Not Eudora” columns can be found on my old Snowbizz web site.

Here’s John’s acknowledgement in last week’s Reader:

“Last week, John Ramos inadvertently left Jill Lofald off a list of School Board candidates who participated in a screening session at the Duluth Federation of Teachers. Ms. Lofald was there.

Ramos regrets the error.”

I have been known to make “inadvertent” mistakes too. I once prematurely mentioned that the School District had a ten million dollar offer on the table for Central high School on my blog. That was inadvertent because I mistakenly thought the figure had already been mentioned in the press. I was censured by the school board for that. BTW – four of the six board members who voted to censure me have quit the school board. Only Rosie Loefler-Kemp and I are running for reelection. And yes, we both voted to censure me for that mistake of mine.

I think it may be fair to say that ten years worth of Duluth school boards inadvertently failed to check our finances while they began looting $11.5 million from our classrooms annually to transfer to Red Plan debt repayment. Sometimes inadvertent mistakes should be judged on the basis of their scale.

BTW – Not one of the passel of school board members who robbed our children in this way over this period of time have ever acknowledged their inadvertent mistake.

No, No, No, Loren Martell didn’t get more face time with the editors than I did

I will not be making it easy for the people I advise on who to vote for for the Duluth School Board. At least not with the At-large candidates. Only two of the five candidates will be elected and I’m rooting for three of us – Loren Martell, Dana Krivogorsky and me. In fact, I’ve put all three of our lawnsigns on the front yard that no one will be able to see for the next month while road construction blocks our intersection.

Shortly after Loren’s sign went up Loren told me I’d misreported how much time he got to spend with the News Tribune editorial board. I recalled him saying they gave him a little extra attention and since I’d spent 40 minutes with them I presumed he must have gotten a full hour. Naw, he just got the same 40 minutes I got. We both offer corrections to the other when they seem to be warranted and Loren didn’t want anyone to think he got special treatment.

I’ll mention one of the things that I told the Editorial Board when the subject of the Superintendent came up. I told them what I always say about Mr. Gronseth, “I think he has a good grasp of what is good for kids,” or words to that affect. I also said I had no objection to his looking for other superintendent positions. I told the Editorial Board that I had given a lot of thought about how candid I wanted to be with them as I presumed I would be “on record” through the interview. I told them that this was a pretty good time for me to be diplomatic but I also told them that I figured the Superintendent and I were probably rooting for different candidates.

Hint to voters: I’m partial to that old maxim attributed, probably incorrectly to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

The folks I’m rooting for are all aware that the last ten year’s worth of Duluth School Boards are the ones who diverted $11 million annually from the classroom to build “21st Century” school buildings. I sorta think the folks I’m not rooting for would prefer to be cheerleaders when they are running for a management position.

No plans for today except stuffing envelopes when I get a new flyer

The interview with the DNT Editorial Board…

…was very cordial. Loren Martell told me that he got almost an hour with them, much longer than expected. I got about forty minutes as someone else was waiting in the wings. I should have taken better mental notes but I recall their being two citizen representatives and Chuck Frederick and four other DNT operatives from the publisher down to an employee representative.

We began with a longish remembrance by Chuck and me of Jimmy Kimmel’s show thirteen years ago periodically following the quixotic attempt by a Duluth brick layer to build the biggest snow sculpture ever which he later ratcheted back to the biggest one in Duluth history. I got invited to offer a couple of observations as a recognized expert on the subject. And Chuck was there too. Kimmel sent Chuck an autographed picture of the event which an earlier story by Chuck in the Trib had prompted. I made Chuck promise to let me see it. I noted that back then Kimmel was infamous for frat type humor whereas he recently made a compelling speech about health care with the near loss of an infant son.

As my eight loyal readers know 38 minutes is hardly enough time to cover the millions of words I’ve spilled about the Duluth Schools here in the blog but it was a fun, fast, interview.

***

I decided to skip a fairly important presentation last night put on by the Minnesota Dept. of Education about the replacement to No Child Left Behind. It was partly because I am pooped out from so much gallivanting and partly because I had both grandsons over last night and their folks and family time seemed more important. You can read about what I missed in the Trib.

***

I’ll be at home with the boys this morning but before they woke up I went back through my China posts. Yesterday while I was at the Board meeting Claudia showed our youngest grandson and his Dad the recent NOVA episode about the Terracotta Army and the book she bought while we were there. Today she is going to the book club that lured her to the cruise we took. She’ll be offering her travelogue. My summary can be found in the China series and the last five or so have links to Facebook slideshows which are short but snappy with pictures I took of each of the locations we spent time visiting. I’d suggest reading from beginning to end which in the blog means from earliest (at the bottom) to most recent (at the end).

***

And we picked up our Chevy Traverse in Hinckley with its Serpentine system repaired and humming again. Now all we have to do is figure out how to deal with the intersection of 21st Av and 4th St. which will be plugged up for the next month on the major fix up being imposed on it. And I thought our traffic was loud!

When FLIKR begins cooperating with me again I’ll try posting a picture of all the trucks out front.

Begging the Chair’s Indulgence

I made one stop on the way to Duluth, Mankato, my residence from Junior High through college. I had hoped to have time to take my grandson to the hilltop where my folks, his great grandparents are buried. There wasn’t time for that if I was to get to last night’s monthly School Board meeting. I did, however, take him for a walk through Minneopa State Park. He experimented, as thousands had before him, carving some lines into the soft sandstone that bore witness to better than a century of love declarations. The Falls were lovely but sadly the Buffalo imported to the glacial stone debris below the old Seppman Grist Mill all remained hidden as we drove through. From thence on it was a rush to get to Duluth.

I did make my grandson take a break from his cell phone to read something I’d written years earlier about my move to Mankato. I told him writing was my way of carving lines in the sandstone to be remembered .

Before cresting the hill to descend to Lake Superior I called Claudia and asked her to order hoagies for me to gulp down so I get to the School Board meeting on time. I had about twenty minutes to change cloths and find my board agenda. I missed the roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance but got to the Board meeting in time to congratulate the East Cheerleaders for good works which I just missed hearing about. At least my handshakes were on time. My other eclipsing colleague, Art Johnston, who had a better view than me in Casper, Wyoming, was still in transit home.

Summer meetings can be short. At the beginning of the Education Committee Report from last Tuesday the Board was congratulated on finishing it up in an hour and fifteen minutes. My being in Colorado that day probably helped speed things along. I would drag out this night’s meeting to an hour and a half by launching into a story from my travels to make a point. It might have been five minutes longer had the Chair and the Clerk not objected to my story telling. They were not in the mood for a raconteur. I launched into a prologue to express my concern that recent budget cuts to the Curriculum Department and the many initiatives undertaken to improve teaching might fall seriously short. But veering into the example of my travels with too much on my mind leading me to sit on a flimsy water bottle in my back pocket elicited only impatience. I did beg for the Chair’s indulgence considering that our’s would be a short meeting but gave up in the face of a crowd eager to go home early. My three minutes of prologue start at the 48 minute point and end with my concession and cutting to the chase. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wDG8dKpA_U&t=42s

Candidate Welty’s view

It’s Online here with the headline: Incumbent’s View: Red Plan fight isn’t over; funds needed for classrooms.

This is my text in full:

I have much to be modest about when asking Duluth voters for a fourth term on the Duluth School Board. My determination to bring about equity, my candor, and my experience are, however, something I value deeply and which I think recommend my continuing service.

I ran four years ago determined to make the Red Plan a thing of the past. To my shock, my inquiries for public data, to lay old questions to rest, were met with fury, stonewalling, and, finally, hysteria. And the Red Plan was never dead. For 10 years, Duluth School Board majorities refused to acknowledge that their financing of the Red Plan would loot locally levied property taxes from the classroom for decades to come.

Twenty years ago, in 1997, my second year as a School Board member, Duluth school property taxes were $23 million; $9 million of this was for debt servicing, and $14 million went to the classroom. Today, local school property taxes are $31 million. But this year’s Red Plan debt servicing takes $28.7 million, leaving only $2.5 million for the classroom. That is $11.5 million less for our classrooms despite an $8 million property tax increase.

If you care to do the math, our average teacher costs $90,000 per year. I will leave it to others to explain the insistence of some that the Red Plan is over.

What is not over is the loss of $11.5 million for the classrooms each year at a time when our district is expected to meet the needs of a growing poor and minority student population desperate for teacher contact time in order to bridge an infamous learning gap.

Like it or not, Duluth now has a nearly half billion-dollar investment in new schools to protect. Our board has refused good offers to sell derelict buildings, even though such sales were made a critical part of the Red Plan’s financing.

I will do what I deem necessary to raise the funds we need to educate our children. I will, to the best of my ability, hold true to my conviction that voters should be offered referendums to raise the necessary funds. However, if given no alternative, voters must know that I may decide to vote to raise additional taxes even if the public has soured on providing them.

I can hardly blame the public. Ten years ago, district residents were denied a referendum on the Red Plan, and this was just after our state Legislature placed a heavier property tax burden on more modest homes than on those of the more affluent.

Not every child can do what Abraham Lincoln did: educate themselves beyond a meager few years of an elementary education to the law, to Congress, to the presidency, and to the rescue of the American nation. What Lincoln would have given to have been educated in the Duluth public schools!

We owe it to our children to remember President Lincoln’s words: “with malice toward none.”

Let’s give our children an education we can be proud of.

Harry Welty is a candidate for an At Large seat on the Duluth School Board.

Fallout from the John Ramos column

Here’s WDIO’s story about the teacher union’s endorsement.

While I was in flight back to Duluth, WDSM’s Brad Bennett, an ex Duluth School Board member, was engaged in a spirited 5-minute discussion with an agitated listener who bashed Art Johnston and the writer of a recent Reader column John Ramos. It starts at the 35 minute point in the 2nd hour.

My eight loyal readers have ample evidence of my thoughts about Art Johnston and the travesty of “justice” he endured at the hands of the School Board of 2014-15. The listener bashing Art and John suggested that it was no surprise that information in the Reader was unreliable.

I’ve always considered John Ramos to be an exceptionally careful reporter. Of the Ramos column in question at the Reader I only read one bit of inadequate information besides the failure to include Jill Lofald in the list of candidate attendees at the Endorsement screening. John reports that the attempt (travesty) to remove Art and invalidate his lawful election cost $43,000. It was far closer to costing taxpayers $200,000. As for the “tens of thousands” it cost Art to defend himself and those election results – it was closer to $75,000.

Brad and I go waaaay back. When I became Board Chair in 1998 Brad encouraged me to require that the School Board start saying the Pledge of Allegiance to begin school board meetings because he knew one of the new board members elected in the 1997 election was an atheist and resisted saying the Pledge with its mention of “under God.” She had also been worried that she might be asked to place her hand on a Bible for her swearing in as a new board member. We don’t do that.

At some point in Brad’s subsequent Radio talk show career he started calling me “AC-DC,” and “Madman Welty.” He was referring generally to my wavering support of the Republican party. “AC-DC” is a term suggesting both gay and straight proclivities. I was not very pleased with Brad’s teasing/taunting so I wrote a column in the Reader which demonstrated that Brad himself was all too human during his stint on the School Board. His wife at the time told me she would never forgive me for it. (Sorry, but some of the links in that column have gone bad over the last 15 years. One of them had the photo of a wrecked ISD 709 car)

Brad is a big boy and never, to my knowledge, disparaged me for my “payback.” In fact, we went on to have spirited debates over other issues which also made it to my space on the Internet.