Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

My award for public service

Today I received a friendly letter from the Minnesota School Board Association. It informed me that I had attained the “President’s Award” for 2017-2018. This was for completing over 300 hours of attendance at MSBA sponsored meetings. I am to be presented with a certificate for my many hours of service as a school board member at January’s Leadership Conference luncheon. I don’t plan to attend having lost the recent election.

My ardor to continue writing about the Duluth Schools is waning rapidly and it remains to be seen if I will continue with the “Our Little Thing” series. That was the question asked of me by an acquaintance who texted me to point out I’d left Number 2 blank. I wrote back this explanation: Continue reading

The Cowboys – a movie review for grandparents

I’m always thinking back on movies I think will appeal to my grandsons. Beau Geste was a hit and so was John Wayne’s 1972 The Cowboys.

I haven’t seen the movie since I turned voting age 45 years ago but my recollection was that it was a great ride about an old cowhand forced to hire school boys to drive his cattle to market. Being made in the hippy era I thought the worst sins of Hollywood would be modest and for the most part this turned out to be correct. Claudia was worried about Native American’s getting the short end of the stick but I couldn’t recall that they made any appearances at all. One of my Grandsons traces a slice of his ancestry back to the Five Civilized Tribes which calls for a little extra sensitivity.

There was just a hint of the subject. One boy shows up with an attitude and a 30-dollar gun. Asked by Wayne about himself when he tries to join the drive he tells Wayne that he’s “a mistake of nature.” Could he be part Indian? The fight he starts with a school boy moments later starts with his insult in Spanish about another boy’s mother. The other boy knows enough of the language to take exception to the remark. John Wayne takes the “mistake’s” gun and kicks him out despite his remarkable display of horsemanship. What follows is a nod to Horst Buckholz’s role in the Magnificent Seven with the mistake shadowing the Cattle Drive until he rides to the rescue winning redemption, gratitude and acceptance.

The film also deftly handles race when the drive’s cook shows up. He’s not who Wayne’s character hired. He’s black, courtly, confident and a raconteur. The N word is bruited about two or three times in impeccable usage that showed the sting but redounded against its users. After the movie it led to a followup conversation with my youngest grandson. What is the “N word” he asked and without saying the word I explained. Then he wanted to know what the “C word” was.

Unlike boys of my generation my grandsons rarely see cowboy themed entertainment. It took a while for my younger son to get into the story-line of a gold rush emptying out cattle country of cowhands. I particularly enjoyed the short appearance of Slim Pickens as a barkeep. Early on there was some brotherly get-under-the-skin foot-kicking back and forth on our sofa but the movie grabbed their attention by the time the “cowboys” aged 10 to 15 had to prove their mettle by riding a nasty little bronco for a count of ten to be signed up for the drive.

Wayne chews up the scenery as expected in his familiar role as a cowboy icon. At the end of his career he also played Rooster Cogburn in True Grit and a dying ex gunman in his final picture, “The Shootist.” His Wil Anderson in The Cowboys is a satisfying role and the only false note for me was a scene where “Wil” cures a stutterer with a conservative tongue-lashing about growing up. It works, of course, as it never would in reality. However, Wayne’s terse, no-nonsense, screenwriter polished, conservativism is vastly more eloquent and appealing than the vitriol being tweeted today from our seven-year-old Commander and Chief. Sad.

The chief reward for a kid watching this movie is the idea that young kids can step up and take on the tough jobs adults do – even using guns in the heat of battle. Sometimes it comes at a cost, as it does in the movie. My alphabet word curious youngest wiped tears away once, but this movie doesn’t coddle its audience. Instead, it routes Bruce Dern’s nasty cattle rustlers and gets the cattle to Belle Fourche as you knew it would.

Veterans Day 2017

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

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

Oh, I am not done blogging –

I’ve done a lot of thinking and had a number of things to write about among them…..

uprooting lawnsigns and my keeping my bank account and options open

Post mortem

“Doomsday” Cassandra, Prophecy

2016 and The good news

Western Lens wakes up?

… Its taken me a little time to come up with a sound analysis of the results and consequences of the recent election and settle on my likely future plans. But I find that I have more fire to blog early in the morning. Instead I went swimming at the Fitness Center and resumed reading that fascinating little book to Claudia I mentioned a short while ago about England as an Island of Hope during the Second World War. I found myself identifying with the leaders of all the nations overrun by the German blitzkrieg.

But its dark out and I’m not in the mood to post at the moment. I may not be tomorrow morning either as it turns out. Claudia just told me that tomorrow is the last day of the Minnesota History Museum’s World War 1 exhibit. We decided to go see it. I’ve missed writing about that war and my grandfather as I campaigned this summer. I will now have two years of vacation from public service – at least. Maybe a book will escape from my fingers.

Harry’s Gang

I had about 1000 pieces of literature to drop on this the final day of campaigning. I fell short only dropping about 600 of them. I only failed to stuff 500 envelopes and they are next to the 400 I just emptied that I ran out of time to pass out on the East Hillside. There were 31 of these boxes of 500 envelopes which I stuffed at night until near bursting. I got 29 boxes of envelopes crammed with lit dropped.

I started just after 9 which would have been 8AM before daylight savings kicked in yesterday. I got 18,000 steps in before I had to call it a day and drive to Cloquet to be on Harry’s Gang at 4PM. I finished e 4th Street which I had skipped a month ago to hunt for lawnsign locations. By the time I got to the street today I didn’t have anymore lawnsigns left. I did notice these hoof prints in the cement which was laid down a couple weeks ago.

Some guy got jail time for writing his name in fresh cement recently. Its not fair that deer are made the exceptions. Oh Wait! I forgot. Its still their hunting season.

I managed to find Cloquet Public access television in their high school. At five we were seated, Cloquet Attorney, Pete Radosovich, Jill’s sister Patty Murto, a Barnum school board member Mike Line and me. I understand you could watch our hour long talk already on youtube. Its CAT7TV……This is as close as I’m going to come tonight finding it. Maybe I’ll look again tomorrow.

Near the end of the broadcast Mr. Radosovich asked us if we had any opinions on the Jill Lofald Art Johnston race. I said I’d prefer not to weigh in on that. Its gotten a little hot on Facebook lately. We dusted the topic off a bit but I don’t think anyone was damaged.

At the end of the interview I got a surprise from Mr. Radosovich, Attorney Radosovich. He handed me an envelope and I presumed it was full of agreements assuring CAT 7 TV that I didn’t mind them putting me up on the television. But the words I heard were different. I tore the envelope open roughly before realizing that I was being served a document from Mr. Radosovich for a lawsuit he was preparing against the Duluth School District. It was so unexpected I couldn’t help but laugh…..about being served after shooting a talk show. It was a little like showing up at a Thanksgiving feast and discovering that I was the turkey.

I will tape the envelope back up and take it into the Business Office tomorrow – unread .

Hillside Stories

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

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

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

Running on Fumes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry _______,

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

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

Harry

Small “d” democrat

So, I didn’t add anything to the last post before I went to bed. (I heave a great sigh)

When I last posted I was hot to add details – now – the next day, not so much.

Its not as though I couldn’t have. In the afternoon I began reading a history book to Claudia, “Last Hope Island.” Its about all the little nations overrun by Germany in World War II and how their partisans assembled in Britain, the last hope, to help prosecute the war. Then after we put our grandsons to bed we watched an episode of Mindhunters. Its a crackerjack if repellent series on the early efforts of the FBI to analyze serial killers by interviewing them to get into their heads. It is I suspect more imagined that history but its gripping. The Rotten Tomatoes audience give it a 97% fresh rating.

On Halloween night we only got about 10 doorbell rings leaving us with a pile of candy we didn’t want to eat. It was cold and snow had fallen and I had done nothing to tidy up our yard or patio. I’d spent a portion of the afternoon testing out my foot by lit dropping again. My old next door neighbor gave me an insert for my shoes and the go ahead to forge on. 14,000 paces according to my pedometer were sore ones but let me cover one of the shrinking number of neighborhoods that have not felt my campaign presence.

I was chagrined about the snow. My yard, like most others, was full of leaves. Before yesterday’s snow began to fall I attempted to rake up the few that weren’t covered with snow. I only filled 3 bags. Usually its 12 to 14 bags. If we don’t get a good melt I’ll have to work hard not to let leaves get into any snow sculptures I attempt this winter. Snow Freckles. Phooey!

I was stopped a couple times while lit dropping with calls and texts. I learned that all the happy DFL crowd was on Brad Bennett’s Radio Show. Josh Gorahm had an advertisement and Sally Trnka did an interview. I guess they are Brad’s new friends. Its been years since Brad had me on and I don’t listen to talk radio. But I know Brad’s crowd and they aren’t happy DFLers. The appearance struck me as a sign of desperation. I understand that Brad was cordial. I’m not surprised. I also understand that he said of Ms. Trnka afterwords that she was full of fluff. That’s not a surprise either as she has done little to begin absorbing the School District’s situation having attended few meetings.

I also got a call from someone on my cell who began “Who did you vote for for President?” I’ve not passed out my cell phone number much but it was on the big mailer we just sent out. I began gingerly by explaining that there was no way I could have voted for Donald Trump. That honest if tepid reaction was what the caller wanted to hear and just the opposite of most of Brad Bennett’s listeners. Many of Brad’s listeners know me as a bad Republican but also a politician who hates stupid spending. My anti-Red Plan bonafides should serve me well with most of them. Sally Trnka’s reaching out is frankly good but I suspect it could irritate the DFLers that gave her such a rousing endorsement.

I also learned that all sorts of Socialists have recently been saying good things about me on some Facebook Pages. I’m not sure why but I’m delighted. After the Republicans Medical Insurance Evisceration Fiasco I’m ready for single payer socialized medicine.

I’m a small “d” democrat. Not a Big Arse Republican.

Nebraska (temporary title – will reconsider after Doctor’s appointment)

For about the last month I’ve been getting eager calls to appear on a television talk show broadcast out of Cloquet called “Harry’s Gang.” Its not my gang. Its a gang of politicos who meet in honor of Harry Newby, may he rest in peace. Harry was thirty years my senior and an active political analyst when I moved to Duluth 43 years ago. I listened to him grilling legislators every Sunday night when the legislature was in session. That was back when I coveted a seat in St. Paul in my twenties and early thirties.

My buddies all think this invitation is set up as a trap for me because the person inviting me is working very hard to replace my ally Art Johnston on the School Board. As for me. I would be honored to appear on Newby’s namesake. Harry was always so keen to make the Minnesota legislature unicameral. Ah, Nebraska. It must be Heaven!

More later. I’ve got to get ready to see a foot doctor to find out if I dare pass out the last couple thousand flyers I’ve spent hours stuffing.

OK, OK, I got distracted upon my return. These are the headings I will attack before I go to bed tonight.

My Left Foot

Last Hope Island

Brad Bennett’s New Friends

My new friends

Who did you vote for for President?

Emails as a form of miscommunication and paranoia

Sprites Circling and other School Board hauntings

Must go shopping and fix tire. Will be back to explain this later this morning.

OK, So, I’m still letting my left foot rest and I’ve had plenty of other campaign related things to do such as distributing the decks of snow sculpture cards. That’s what I was doing on Park Point yesterday when I found this arresting conclave of spirits or sprites. I had three decks to distribute and was awarded with thank yous for running again for the school board.

I’ve not had time to decorate for Halloween but Claudia did buy a pumpkin today and asked for me to draw a face on it for her to cut out for tomorrow. I made sure we bought chocolate to hand out……just in case we have any left over.

I also snapped a picture of Lake Superior on my way home. After the lawnsign leveling snow storm of the weekend the lake looked like Chocolate Milk. I’ve never seen it quite that color before.

My daughter’s family are making up for my laggardly All Hallows celebrating. At our church’s trunk or treat they scared people for a good cause. Claudia made our grandson’s hair afire.

They should be on the school board with me. We’d dig up a few old skeletons and get a lot more done.

The Lost Children of Tuam

For the past two months I’ve read very little. No books. I’m looking forward to the end of this campaign so I can once again look beyond the Duluth Schools.

I woke at 3:30 and trudged up to my office to work on the mandatory Finance Report that will be turned in Monday it having been due yesterday, Friday. After returning to the accounting later this morning I paused to look at the New York Times online.

I have some Irish in me, although my Dad always joked that it was orange not green. The haunting photo above lured me into an extended story about human indifference and one woman’s quest to bring the dead to light if not life. Maybe it was the adagios I had playing on Pandora in the background but I used up a couple of tissues wiping tears away. Tales of human decency often do that to me.

Snow Purge # 1

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

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

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

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

Irony watch

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

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

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

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

9 weeks down 2 to go – Poltergeist watch

After laying off my feet for a couple of days my gimp has gotten better. Maybe its numbness that keeps me going door to door but I expect to have put my campaign in front of every door in the Duluth School District one way or the other by November 7th. I have been on fire with a single thought for those nine weeks – Campaign as hard as you can and you will never have to live with a guilty conscience for having slacked off in what has proven to be your life’s most fundamental objective (aside from family): Keeping the Duluth Schools in good order.

Sometimes campaigning is a slog and as annoying as poltergeists are they keep things interesting. For instance, After passing out campaign lit on E 3rd and 2nd streets yesterday I got a message that the Post Office had found 15 of my lit pieces in mail boxes. IN MAIL BOXES!

As far back as 56 years ago passing out flyers for my Boy Scout troop I was taught to keep non mail out of mail boxes. As a candidate I got by that by sliding my literature behind them for years but about eight weeks ago I was called by the PO and told that even TOUCHING a mailbox was not permitted. I vowed not to do it again and with only a handful of exceptions have held to that this campaign. Slipping them through slots in doors onto the floors of a home or porch are exceptions.

But 15 pieces! No way. I thought that perhaps some other campaign was pulling them out of screen doors because they were making it hard for new lit to be placed in them but when I went back to check that wasn’t the case. Someone was following me and putting my lit in mailboxes for the fun of it. I figure they saw the magnetic “Welty” sign on the back of my car and deduced a lit drop was in progress.

Then today on a Facebook Page called the “Western Duluth Lens” its authors expressed shock that my yard signs were springing up all over western Duluth because I had recently said Western Duluth was “gangrene.” To my delight a supporter had discovered this accusation ten hours earlier and showed it to be phony. My defender must have looked up “gangrene” on my blog and immediately found the context for my usage of the word four years ago when I was elected. And what I wrote four years ago has been borne out by the outrage all across Western Duluth about the state of their schools.

And yesterday I got an inkling of what may be yet another attack on me and an ironic one at that – the accusation that I will raise taxes if I get elected.
Dana Krivogorsky just called and wondered what was going on because after her column in yesterday’s paper she got five calls asking her about my wanting to raise taxes. I asked her to find out from the next person who calls her about it where this orchestrated message is coming from. If its from the “other side’s” supporters that would be ironic because its their candidates who will be most open to raising taxes, not me. They’ve got the union endorsements from folks who always think we should pay public servants more.

I ran accross a taxophobic fellow myself on 3rd Street yesterday. He told me he had planned to send me a donation until he found out I thought taxes were a necessary part of the solution to my school board predecessors dumping 200 teachers in the devil’s bargain over new schools. We had a long talk and he agreed that I would likely be a far more conservative tax voice than Sally or Josh would be but he didn’t write my campaign a check while we talked.

And yesterday one of Art Johnston’s critics, who is tied to his challenger, began a full fledged Facebook war calling me a moneybags and saying one of my fund raising letters was “illegal.”

The end of a campaign is stressful and I’ve seen more than one shoe-in candidate lose the election because of panic. I’m not in a panic. As I said at the beginning of this post I plan to work my tush off campaigning so as not to be angry with myself should I lose. But there is something equally important to me. I must win this election on the merits of my campaign. As I wrote to another candidate recently: “I would rather lose honorably than win dishonorably.”

I am a school board member looking out for the interests of our children, not a poltergeist out to win at any cost.

Stuff that happened today – Friday October 20th, 2017

I saw the predictable 4th District endorsement early this morning when I brought the Trib in. I only read it ten minutes ago at about 11:30 PM. The editors almost exceeded the limit of superlatives for Speech teacher Jill Lofald. The only thing they neglected to mention was her devotion to the top administrators of the District. Art Johnston was tarred with negativity. How ironic that the Trib’s inclination is to kill the messenger. Three words that I always used to describe Art were absent from the superlatives showered on Ms. Lofald not that she doesn’t have them herself. They are “integrity,” “honor” and “courage.” That’s something our western schools need now more than ever.

I resumed going door to door for a sustained period of time today. Hallelujah! I’m still gimping it but the pain has receded a bit perhaps because I did so little walking early in the week. That’s a shame as we will not see such marvelous weather again before November 7th. I also made a call to set up an appointment with a foot specialist just to stave off a possible recurrence of the pain.

My preoccupation with the campaign has come at some cost. It slipped my mind that I was scheduled to serve at Damiano Center’s Soup Kitchen this afternoon. They had a lot of folks in line and my absence put a lot of strain on the volunteer servers. I always sing there and I always sing going door to door. I didn’t sing anything today. I just grimly pressed on. I also checked my School District email for the first time in ages and found a lot of messages I had to reply to by beginning my message: “I’m very sorry but I’ve been a little preoccupied for the past couple weeks.” As our President might tweet, “Sad.”

Fourth Street at our intersection is still blocked off but the lights are on. They are permanantly set at green for the time being which means its impossible to escape onto 21st Avenue during rush hour. I took a picture of them as I headed home after door knocking:

I was amused today to find that someone had stolen my defaced lawn sign which called me a house husband. I wonder if it was the vandal who was aggravated at the possibility that I would get the house husband vote.

I hate it when someone steals a popular sign.

I am bushed. I’ll edit this tomorrow. Tomorrow is here. Its raining so I’ll attend to indoor things until it stops.

I was stopped in my tracks for an hour I spent talking with an African American woman about life in general and about how Blacks are treated in Duluth. She has some experience. She came to Duluth in 1957 and raised two sons here. Her’s is a fascinating story. Like the author Ralph Ellison she often feels invisible. Like so many other African Americans she feels expected to speak for all 30 million of them whether its Bill Cosby, Martin Luther King or Colin Kaepernick or or or or or you name them.

When I got home I found someone had anonymously mailed me one of my cards back from my door to door work. I smiled and shook my head reading the only thing written on it:

Charters! I wish this person had perused my blog. There are over 220 posts dealing with the Edison Schools alone. And why the anonymity? Too many Americans are afraid of their politicians.

A pause to reflect while drinking uninspiring coffee from a drive in

The last two days were gorgeous for passing out campaign lit door to door. I only got about an hour in total because I was herding cats…..my fellow and sister candidates for the school board that I am supporting and upon which the fate of our public schools rests. I think we will do well and have only one concern – that I may find myself in the lonely predicament of once again being in a minority and effectivly out of the loop. I’ve been campaigning with ideas bubbling over about attacking insolvable problems. I always liked Hubert Humphrey’s definition of politics “the art of the possible.” Facing annual ten million dollar losses inflicted by the Red Plan that is a very hopeful attitude. The problem is it has to be backed up by brains, know how and grit. The mighty Duluth News Tribune has done its best to promote a string of candidates absent those qualities. I don’t begrudge them their opinions. I do, however, bemoan their long history of ignorance on the subject of the Duluth School Board. They are good people and good people are often foolish, vain and silly.

Good. The coffee has cooled a bit. My dentist had me worried that I’ve been eating too much pallet scalding food lately.

At eight a young fellow who promised to help me pass out literature called to tell me (in my words) that he was meeting with a poobah far more important than me and wouldn’t be able to help me after all. I think I’ll be a lot stingier taking him out for lunch in the future.

A little after that my old colleague George Balach called to give me grief about our mulchy playgrounds. George had already expressed his opinion to me that our district was in no position to spend big bucks to remove something that had not yet been proven to pose any danger to our students. I’ve never disagreed with him on that. My wife agrees. And yet I voted to change out the playgrounds. I don’t regret the decision. One comment has haunted me since the controversy began: “What if in twenty years you discover that the mulch caused cancers or some other malady in our children?” I am as prone to guilt avoidance as the next public servant and chose to expedite a change that might not end up having been necessary. I consoled myself by reminding myself how many families have already left our school district and deciding we didn’t need another reason to chase them to Wrenshall, Proctor, Esko, Hermantown, Edison, the parochial schools or home schooling.

Certainly, hearing that kids on the new playgrounds were looking like Fozzy Bear after rolling around in the new mulch was eyebrow raising. The Trib’s Jana Hollingsworth’s story is sober and not too alarming. What I’ve heard is that the mulch, has been called “waste wood.” (I’ve heard that the company suspected that they were stymied when they tried to put a bid in for the project) At least it doesn’t seem to be toxic and that’s the bottom line for now. As irritated as George was he said he still supported Art and me…..but he did want me to tell Art again that replacing the rubber mulch was ridiculous.

I just got a phone call that broke my concentration. Good. The weather beacons my door knocking boots to start walking. The phone call alerted me to Loren Martell’s latest column which I’ve read. I approve of it as it gives the wider public a peak at the recent chamber forum for school board members.

Lawnsign Maintenance

One of my least favorite political chores is picking up and replacing damaged and lost lawn signs. But at five bucks a pop and with a limited supply I knew I had to put some back up on 21st Ave east when I saw them badly abused along with their lawnsign partners, the Dana Krivogorsky signs. At the bottom of the hill I discovered that one midnight author had decided to amend my sign to, I guess, humiliate me.

I am indebted to the anonymous vandal who thinks a man should not stoop to “woman’s work.” I’ve put it in my front yard and from now on will put any other signs of mine which are defaced right next to it. As for being a dreaded house husband, its true that baby boom boys were raised to be “bread winners” but a couple bad breaks put me in the position to test whether I could walk the talk. The “talk” was my 45-year conviction that women and men are equals. Being an equal meant valuing the work of women with the respect it deserved and not looking down on traditional roles. I was at home most of the time that our children grew up and they didn’t turn out so badly – a daughter with a masters in Education and a son a year away from completing a Chemistry/Physics doctorate at one of the nation’s top 20 universities in the field of science.

Besides, had I not been a “house husband” I would never have begun the hobby that makes all Duluth smile every winter- snow sculpting. While I have not bragged about being a house husband I’ve not shied away from the label. The following admission is taken from a post last year.

“Hillary’s sins were often petty as for instance when she told reporters that she wanted to do more than bake cookies. As a house husband myself when she said this I was mortally wounded but I got over it.”

I owe a debt of gratitude to the anti-feminist ridicule bestowed on me. That sign will help me win a much larger share of the house husband vote and, with the shaky economy of recent years, its probably enough to assure my reelection.

I’ve now relocated the sign to my front yard. 40,000 drivers and passengers who pass by will see it every day until the election on November 7th.

The Chamber Forum about which I will say very little

I think it was recorded. Haven’t checked to see where it an be viewed. Someone reading this will tell me. If it is available I’ll link to it. It consisted of four segments. City Council at large, City Council District candidates, School Board at-large, School Board District candidates.

I was usually well under my minute with my answers. It was concision on my part.

Chuck Frederick and I joshed with each other. He also returned the documents I showed him that demonstrated how twenty years ago we were putting nine million more local dollars into the classrooms than we are today…….despite our raising taxes for the Red Plan by eight million dollars.

I’ll be showing them to my readers shortly.

My best line at the Forum was that our past school boards “traded teachers for brand new schools.”

I’m sorry this is going to be brief but I’m bushed. I ran more campaign errands after the Forum. I put up more signs and passed out flyers until 6PM.

The most surprising thing all day was when I came home after the Forum wearing my suit. Claudia looked at me and said “That suit is hanging on you. Have you lost weight?” I hurried to our scale for the first time in a couple months and stripped to my skivvies. 188.6 pounds! I haven’t weighed that little for about twelve years when I was swimming regularly and caught pneumonia during Christmas and barely ate for a week. I have noticed that I’ve been cinching my belt up recently.

Walking is good for a person. I don’t expect to crest 190 again for the next four weeks.

Asking for it

I have been waking up with posts to write lately but I’ve been forcing myself to turn over and fall back asleep. My attic office has been strewn with campaign projects and documents so that I’ve had to worry something hiding under a stack of papers of critical importance has been forgotten. So, after passing out 150 flyers in the drizzle I’ve decided its time for me to vacuum the carpet and sort everything. Its likely the last vacuuming my office will get until after the election.

I have put a few new posts in and I’m gratified at the interest they’ve generated. About 225 visitors since October 1st have spent at least half an hour pouring over the blog. This month may set the record that last month just missed. There are interesting things to note on LincolnDemocrat you won’t find anywhere else.

Another post will deal with the treatment accorded our six-month superintendent IV Foster. Foster was black and hardly given a chance before he was run out of town. He was rumored to have (gasp) dated white women!!!!!!! We’ve had lots of conversations lately about how minority children are treated in the District. If a black superintendent can be railroaded out of town in half a year I’m not sure they stand a chance!

Its also about time I show my readers the School District documents that show how our District has switched from using our local levy for classrooms to using just about all of them to pay off building bonds. I’m waiting for the Tribune’s editor to return those to me so I can upload them for my audience.

But before I enter any more posts I need to put my campaign finances in order. I’ve got to organize a couple more fundraising letters to pay for new campaigning. I’m worried that I will not be able to treat my earlier “loans” to my campaign as loans but will have to simply turn them into more donations. Between helping Art fight off the School District’s attorneys and this campaign I haven’t been able to put a cent of my school board stipends for the past three-and-a-half years, roughly $7,500.00 per annum, in the bank. This “job” is simply done for the “reward” of keeping boneheads from doing any more damage to our children. Remember Mark Twain’s evaluation of School Boards. He was not a positivist.

We threw away $14.5 million that could have hired a lot of teachers for three years running to get us back on track. The Trib editors that railed about how stupid this was endorsed a passel of candidates who said they would have turned it down too. That’s blindness, not “ugliness,” on the part of the Editors. I’ll have something to say about ugliness too. Especially if they end up endorsing a First District candidate who has organized a lot of tepid endorsement letters that have been popping up in the Trib. None of them mention the two years of ugliness she helped engineer. Its the victims that have paid the price.

Ah, but that all can wait. I have more vacuuming to do.