Category Archives: Media

Why I haven’t succumbed to paranoia – a last thought

Its because of Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, Colbert etc.

For the time being late night television and many other sources give me confidence that we will weather the Trump administration as it continues to distinguish itself by bullying the Public Broadcasting System and Meals on Wheels. Comedy in China can’t be directed at the Communist Party but it can be directed at President Trump. Until Chinese citizens can do the same America will still have a leg up no matter the balance of trade.

Which reminds me of Egyptian exile Bassem Yousef. He was a funny man in another dictatorship.

Check out his interview on Samantha Bee.

Fake “Real News”

The Trumpians sent me an email with a link to this website promising non fake news:

The email said the Trumpians would unleash “unfettered capitalism.” Yipee! I can’t wait for the next Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire.

Just what I need. Another FOX News with its “Fair and Balanced” reporting. “Fair” as in the condition of a book or a collector’s coin = Excellent, Good or Fair and balanced in the sense of journalists trumpeting “conservative Republican” values balanced against journalists attempting to show some objectivity.

The latest on the Timberjay

A friend from Northern Minnesota sent me a link to the Timberjay Newspaper’s story about the court decision likely to be handed down on the lawsuit brought against it by its competitors and minority owners. The plaintiff’s lawyers sounds inept.

That reminded me that I’ve been waiting to link to the Zenith City New’s account of the suit that does justice to the primary issues in a pretty short space. I recommend it.

More Fox balance

My Brother looks at Fox News just to monitor how unbalanced it is. He tells me it is overloaded with anti-Hillary news while anti-Trump news is often missing. I don’t watch it to know if this is true.

A couple days ago a Chinese American professional we depend upon railed about this video that lampooned Fox News’s treatment of Chinese residents of a “Chinatown.” He was so offended he sent it to dozens of his clients and I asked him to send it to me. WARNING. It contains some rude expletives of derision aimed at Fox’s racism.

A couple posts ago I embedded links to two stories about black cops that I recently heard on NPR. Republicans in Congress often target NPR to deny it federal funding. They prefer Fox News. Its pure private sector you know.

The abandonment of true journalism

Donald Trump is, among other things, a fellow who has profited mightily by the faltering of twentieth century journalism. In its place is a dizzying array of Internet data dumps available for inspection by the curious and curated by interested persons from the honest to the nefarious. Somewhere in between are all the organizations which have a special interest in winning the public to their side. For the unwary and for people without the luxury of time to deeply investigate this inexhaustible library of data its far easier to let their tribal pals spoon feed them formulas.

My buddy is always telling me I’m being tribal when I bad mouth the Republican Party. I’m not sure what tribe this makes me a part of. I did attend Democratic precinct caucuses for about eight years never really becoming part of their machinery. For ten years before that I played gadfly in an increasingly purge happy Republican Party. Prior to that I quietly voted for Democrats when unappetizing Republican candidates won the primaries or GOP nominations. If I have a tribe to a large extent it could be called the tribe of the “Man without a Country.”

Here’s Wikipedia’s summary of this famous short story’s plot:

The protagonist is a young United States Army lieutenant, Philip Nolan, who develops a friendship with the visiting Aaron Burr. When Burr is tried for treason (historically this occurred in 1807), Nolan is tried as an accomplice. During his testimony, he bitterly renounces his nation, angrily shouting, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” The judge is completely shocked at this announcement, and on convicting him, icily grants him his wish: he is to spend the rest of his life aboard United States Navy warships, in exile, with no right ever again to set foot on U.S. soil, and with explicit orders that no one shall ever mention his country to him again.

I was haunted by the story which I read in an English class. That was the hope of the author Edward Everett Hale. Until perusing Wikipedia just now I had no idea who the author was or the circumstances for his the writing of the book. It was composed in the middle of the Civil War, a ripe time for an American to agonize about national identity. Lincolndemocrat takes particular note of the author’s being the nephew of Edward Everett, the orator and statesman, famous for the long forgotten speech that preceded Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and being the “grand-nephew of Nathan Hale (1755-1776), the Revolutionary War hero executed by the British for espionage.”

If I have a tribe its probably confined to my office. I will admit that it is a bit more capacious than the ship’s stateroom to which the story’s protagonist is confined for the rest of his life. Like the protagonist I have bits and pieces of evidence of my nation tacked to my walls. BTW – here’s the story long out of copyright. I didn’t reread it in full but just cut to the end to compare it to my memory of it.

About that end. I was probably 15 when I read the book and far less knowledgeable about the American history that had taken place prior to the story’s conclusion. That it was written during the Civil War and contemplation about what the union meant may not have registered with me quite as it does now.

My Buddy is no doubt right when he tells me the US will soldier on if Donald Trump is elected President. I suppose we would have survived if Huey Long had been elected or Joseph McCarthy but what a shame it would have been. The Presidents they would have supplanted were superior individuals. Its true that neither of these men were Adolph Hitlers but neither was Hitler early in his career. The great irony of Germany and the Reich was that a nation of such cultivated and sophisticated people could descend to the gas chamber, the charnel house and ruin. We seem to have past the time for a nuclear holocaust but our technology certainly leaves room for an even worse case scenario than that which transpired at the end of World War II. I can’t help but see seeds of destruction in today’s political tribal culture and campaign rhetoric and, frankly, its probably too late to stop Greenland’s icecap from melting.

I am troubled that the notion of American exceptionalism is often waved about by folks who mistake it for America’s wealth and power and not for the intangibles locked into our Bill of Rights. One of those intangibles is the right of a free press. Donald Trump can’t wait to get elected President so that he can change the libel laws like he plans to change the Generals and sue every newspaper that looks at him cross-eyed. Then he can enjoy the sort of freedom his good buddy Vladimir Putin enjoys behind the Kremlin’s walls. Donald Trump is just an eight hundred pound Albertson.

Yeah, compared to electing Trump, elevating Hillary Clinton to the Presidency would be a disaster. Remember Benghazi – or at least what the pretend newsman Roger Ailes wanted you to think happened there. That way you will be anesthetized to the coming of a White House with five letters tackily emblazoned on it in Gold leaf.

The value of true journalism

This story chronicles the lastest chapter in the saga of the Timberjay newspaper which incurred the wrath of its minority share holders by out-reporting them about the cozy relations between Johnson Controls and the sprawling rural St. Louis County School District on the dubious sales pitch for and constuction of a smaller version of Duluth’s Red Plan. The minority owners of the Timberjay, the Albertsons, “invested” twenty grand in their competitors a couple decades ago, foolishly it seems. Their minority interest gave them no say in the business practices of their rival and put their “investment” at the mercy of the Timberjay’s owners until such time as those owners died and/or cashed out their own investments.

When this young century’s biggest local news story emerged the Albertsons and the Timberjay took different paths towards profitibility. The Timberjay chose to play the part of journalists and investigated the story winning accolades in the process. The Albertson’s chose to rely on the School District to advertise in their paper and uncritically published the School District’s story full of holes and deceptions. Not surprisingly industry won out over sloth. Subscribers abandoned the Albertson’s paper. Galled by their fozen twenty thousand dollar asset they ginned up a legal case to get back at the Timberjay. If they succeed they will kill off the only real newspaper in rural Northern St. Louis County. Their attorney, Mr. Colisimo, is also the attorney who represented the School District and did his best to supress the release of damaging information related to the disastrous school building plan which has riven the County’s northern schools.

The Timberjay’s defense fund, that I blogged about a few weeks ago, has raised over two-thirds of its $15,000 goal thus demonstrating that there are still people who value true journalism.
.

The school board’s HL Mencken is retiring

Loren Martell just called. He is abandoning his coverage of the Duluth School Board.

Loren was frustrated that his column this week only made it to the Reader’s Online version. I too was surprised that it wasn’t in today’s paper copy. The Reader’s publisher Bob Boone, to whom I am grateful for his having published over 100 of my columns, gave Loren the impression that he thought Loren’s writing was a bit snarky. I’d be more inclined to describe his prose as aceberic like Mark Twain’s or HL Mencken’s. Okay, Okay. So the two words are not all that different.

Here’s a little dose of Mencken:

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Also attributed to Mencken No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. but this, alas, can not be verified.

Oh and today I was reading American Rose about the ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee to Claudia. HL Mencken coined the term. He must have been a good biology student. He coined it for the incomporable strip teaser Gypsy. Claudia was so overcome that she had to leave immediately afterwords and travel to her Seminary in New Brighton and cleanse her soul.

My contribution to good journalism

I have often mentioned the Timberjay. That’s the tough little newspaper that fought JCI and the marginally competent School Administration of the St. Louis County Schools all the way to the State Supreme Court and won. Well, the owners of a rival rural paper that defended a School Building project, not unlike our Red Plan, have taken the Timberjay to court because they no longer can survive on the School District Advertising which kept them afloat through the controversy.

The rival paper’s owners purchased a minority share of the Timberjay years ago and should expect something for their investment but it seems that pique is as much a part of the suit as their investment. They want the Timberjay dismantled and sold off. In any event locals have come to the Timberjay’s aid and made donations to cover their paper’s legal expenses from the attack. I just made a small donation to the defense fund as well. A serious newspaper is a precious thing and I’d encourage my readers to join me. Here’s the link to the defense fund.

And here’s the link to the Jay where you can review their coverage of the conflict.

Correction on last post

In the previous post I mentioned that Rep. Erik Simonson was flying in to St. Louis with Denfeld principal Sconniers to root for the Denfeld Robotic’s Team. Wrong! It’s the Activities Director, Tom Pearson, who is flying in with the Principal. That makes more sense.

I don’t always wait in the blog to pass on information I find interesting. This is one of the drawbacks to instant communication. Rather than erase the traces of my mistakes I prefer to highlight them to keep me humble. That way I don’t have to gush too much about my human frailty.

Perhaps the opposite of my tact is the one employed by veteran School Board commentator Loren Martell who anguishes about his mistakes when he makes them in the Duluth Reader. BTW. I like that about Loren.

In a column a couple weeks ago he wrote that Board Chair Annie Harala was a teacher employed by the Duluth Schools. I was the one to tell him it wasn’t so and he damn near withered away on me he was so distraught.

Here is his apology in the subsequent column. Its a doozey:

Striving for accuracy and eating crow Continue reading

Repairing the Board’s wounded reputation

I just watched the first half of Ken Burns biopic on Jackie Robinson on PBS. It is a reminder of the world I was born into in 1950. I’ll catch the second half tomorrow which will show us how when he came out swinging for Civil Rights he put a dent in his fan base. It reminds me of Lilly who occasionally babysat me and who took care of my Grandfather after he was widowed. They would argue baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers was her team even though she lived in Topeka, Kansas. When I looked up the “Lilly” link I discovered a mess. All of my 12,000 posts were altered when my blog was repaired. Now instead of apostrophe’s and quotation marks the nonsense symbols – “ – have taken their place. I just spent five minutes replacing about 60 punctuation marks in the Lilly post but that leaves me 10,999 more posts to correct. Times five minutes each that would take me about 1000 hours or 25 weeks of 40 hour weeks. I pray there will be a simpler solution. I’d much rather keep writing new posts than fixing old ones.

As I was saying I saw the Robinson biopic and it was good. Its second half begins tomorrow.

I thought I would publish one last post tonight. I just checked the Trib’s Facebook page again to see if the numbers had changed on the Sandstad/Oswald columns. I caught heck from Editor Chuck Frederick last summer when I wondered if he let his leanings affect his editorial coverage. I certainly can’t complain about the last editorial his paper published urging the School Board to set aside the policy in our path to sell Central to the Duluth Public Schools Academy. But I couldn’t help but notice that Chuck “liked” Nora Sandstad’s op ed piece but not Alanna Oswald’s.

It was striking what readers wrote in regarding Member Sandstad’s piece. I read through about thirty comments and I didn’t find a single one that was positive. Nora did get over 20 likes on them, including Mr. Frederick’s, but I didn’t see any one defend Nora’s point of view.

I think the school board seriously erred by cutting off community comment and dialogue so quickly and abruptly with a lot of misinformation still hanging out their in the air. This will have serious negative repercussions and it has been a publicity goldmine for Edison. It the latest in steps taken to curb Edison that have backfired.

I’m strongly tempted to bring this up once again to the School Board before the end of April when Edison’s contractors begin pouring massive amounts of money into paving over Snowflake. There is still time for us to reconsider.

“Erroneous Impressions”

I fenced with Chuck Frederick about a letter-to-the-editor supporting Art Johnston which did not pass muster. Chuck had his nose out of joint with my suggestion that the Editors favored one side in the school board wars over the other. In my own defense I didn’t say that outright. I only suggested it might not be all together without substance.

The Tribune staff is made up of all sorts of locals some on either side of the Red Plan debate and the subsequent issues which have followed its completion. From the beginning lower level News Tribuners have whispered in the ears of the Plan’s critics when they saw interesting things going on in the Paper’s inner sanctum. Sometimes its not even that subtle. Art had a member of the Editorial Board walk out on him during one of his sessions with the Board muttering that he was the problem with the Board. So, when the Editors make reference to Art there is always room to doubt the Editors’ objectivity. For instance on May 13th of this year the Trib’s editorial following the Board’s retreat from pursuing its efforts to remove Art from the Board was headlined: “No Victory for Johnston.” Subsequently a staffer told Art that this followed a delegation of Board members and Administrators trooping into the Editor’s offices to tell their side of the story. I too have met with the editors but not with such spectacular results.

Its not the first time the Editors have followed the Administration and or Board majority’s lead. A few years ago they reported that 32 million of savings would soon be available to spend on the District from all the Red Plan savings. Later the Trib had to eat crow and explain that they had misreported the facts in their editorial when no such bonanza was forthcoming.

This is a long prologue to the “erroneous impressions” title I’ve headed this post with. Yesterday I made some critical remarks about the apparent opinion piece about wetlands which I initially thought was about the environment only to discover it was more about beating up the Edison Schools.

Well, today there was an editorial that walked back even more than I disagreed with about the column. It was written by the Editors but it let Edison Schools headmaster rebut many of the details. It wasn’t quite an admission that they didn’t properly vet the column but unlike my unhappy letter to the editor writer it slipped past the Editors without a very critical going over.

Is this evidence that I was right to suggest the Trib puts its thumb on editorial comment. Hardly! On the other hand my eyebrow is always raised when my side has to jump through ever smaller hoops to get its point of view across.

DNT Missing in Action

12:01 PM – First email from my Buddy at:

Harry:

Why isn’t the Duluth News Tribune reporting that Loren Martell is a candidate?

[Your Buddy]

http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=14162 and http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=14144

1:35 PM – Second email from my Buddy at:

Harry:

Still no such confirmation at http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/3801842-duluth-city-races-take-final-shape. Were you doing a Dan Rather, yesterday?

[Your Buddy]

I told him I’d been told that Loren’s name was on the Duluth School District’s website.

8:39 PM – My Buddy confirms this in an email with the following link to an ISD 709 web page:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZE2k_VHtGHVrRpiIdBKsG-lEuX9cYwk0c-vLy3-11xs/edit#gid=0

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Part 1

Notes to Readers:

This is the 2,699 word long letter/email I sent to the Duluth News Tribune’s Editorial Page Editor, Chuck Frederick, on 7-15-2015. I’ve broken it into five sections for my blog and put them in order 1-5 which is backwards from how Blog items are usually uploaded. I’ve done this for readers who are not used to the backward in time layout of blogs.

I have taken names out to obscure people who don’t need to be thrust into my blog and for those district employees whose identification might embolden the current school board to remove me from the School Board. It is apparent to me that the District is more inclined to cover up the bad behavior of its employees than to absolve Art Johnston.

Part 1

Chuck,

I’ve got more on my mind than the letter Mxx Xxxxxxxx told me about but I’ll dispose of that first. Your email the other day jogged my memory. I’d forgotten that [he/she] sent the DNT an email [he/she] had sent to the Board with the idea of it being an “open letter” to the School Board for republication in the Trib. I told [him/her] I have seen many such letters before in newspapers and that I didn’t know of any reason that an emailed letter should be regarded by the Trib as though it had already been published in another newspaper or tabloid. Hell, no one sees the email sent to the Board. An admission here. I had noticed Mxx Xxxxxxxx email but hadn’t opened it yet. I’m sure it contained questionable facts because most everyone pontificating about the Board gets stuff wrong. But you have confirmed what [he/she] told me in one regard. You were treating [his/her] email to us as though it had already been published elsewhere. I agreed with [him/her]. That seems silly.

[He/She] did not tell me that [he/she] refused to let you edit or alter [his/her] prose. In fact, I got the impression [he/she] was surprised that you wouldn’t be more flexible. I told [him/her] what you told me. Letters to the editor can be negotiated to a mutual satisfaction grudging though it may be.

I thought long and hard before mentioning your name in my blog post about your putting a thumb on the scale. I had asked Mxx Xxxxxxxx to send me the email but [he/she] didn’t get around to it. I decided to put my little cheap shot in the blog anyway. I’d make some corrections now in it except I gather from your email you simply don’t want me to write about you or your editorial process at all in my blog. Please let me know if I’ve got that wrong because I too make corrections. I certainly don’t see why you should be provided unmentionability in my blog when no citizen caught up in the news can expect it from a newspaper. What you do have a right to expect is that when you are being written about what is published is fair and accurate. I apologize to you for not working a little harder to get the facts absolutely straight. In my defense, which I’ll grant is a crumby thing to add next to an apology, I put a question mark at the end of my blog title to suggest that there might be more to the story. That question mark was a riff on the question mark you headlined in the Trib’s endorsement of me two years ago “and who?”

Generally when I take the Tribune to task for its coverage of the School District I stick to needling the larger entity, “the Trib,” rather than its constituent human writers. In the old days I did mention Sarah Horner and took her to task a few times. I often mention Jana but I sure don’t have a Nixonian “enemies list.” I have liked every reporter and editor I’ve ever met. Back in my BB days (Before Blog) I might give a reporter a call and talk over my reservations about how a story was shaded. I never started a war with a reporter. I understand that those I’ve dealt with were committed to good honest journalism. You and I both know that it is rare for any reporter to dive into a story with the detail of an historian. If I’m fussy about reportage where I am concerned it’s because I take seriously a newpaper’s claim of being the* “first draft of history.” I want that first draft to be as free from* errors as you want it to be.

continued >

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Part 2

Part 2

Art Johnston is a good guy. He just sent me the email he sent you. I don’t blame him for his anger. He’s been treated very badly and it was your professional duty to explain his story with care. We can debate whether Jana nailed that or not but bear in mind Art has had to read some variation of the statement: “A four month investigation of Art by an impartial attorney found that he is a scumbag.” I’ve taken some liberties with that recurring statement but this sums up what your readers have read dozens of times over the past year. For many it’s become reality through repetition.

I told Art I thought Mary Rice would conduct a fair investigation. I changed my mind the moment I was through reading her report. Talk about putting a thumb on the scales. Her paid for prejudice was subtle but it was deadly. As just one example Mary Rice was dishonest in her presentation to the board when I asked her if Art’s chief accuser was a liar. She evaded the question by saying I had told her in my interview that I couldn’t remember what had happened all those many years ago. That was bullshit. I have my own recording of that interview with Rice and while I was fuzzy about a few things I was not fuzzy about the lies Art’s accuser tried to engineer.

All through this last year and a half I’ve been prevented from talking to or seeing our attorney’s analysis, and billing except for his warning to the Board that removing Art would be iffy and expensive. I got censured for sharing * that appraisal with Jana and the public that elected me. I’m regularly criticized by the Board for my transparency. I got hammered by your editorial for this once despite your many editorials extolling the virtues of transparency.

continued >

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Part 3

Part 3

In your email to Art you end it as engagingly as Art’s email engaged you. You sneeringly asked him if his lawsuit against the School Board was still on. That’s a good reporter’s question but you didn’t ask it as a reporter would. It was a cheap shot back at a guy you don’t like who had just poured out his understandable anger at you.

I think I’ve already told Jana the answer to your question. Since you’ve asked the question I’ll answer it. To all intents and purposes the only thing remaining to be done is having the judge rule as to whether Art will be reimbursed for the sixty thousand bucks he spent defending himself from a witch hunt. Once the judge rules it’s over. That won’t happen until the Board’s kabuki dance over the changes to our Ethics Policy are acted on. Unlike the Trib I’m personally offended that the Board punished Art over such a lame accusation of abuse of power in their attempt to subvert democracy. It’s hard for me to disagree with Art. From your first request that he step down to spare the city the tawdry year that followed the Tribune’s editorials made it look like it was wearing the school board majority’s heart on its sleeve.

Art is unyielding. No one in my life ever made me as mad as Art did back in the Let Duluth Vote days, not even Keith Dixon. But I’ve never doubted Art’s integrity. I was so mad at him that I sent him an angry email saying I hoped he would get elected to the school board because I knew he was in for the worst year of his life. I was wrong. It’s been six miserable years. Like Gary Glass before him he’s been told nothing. I find that astonishing. I find it even more astonishing that the Trib no longer has the capacity to see that Art has been kept in the dark. Art doesn’t exactly help his cause when he gets frustrated about being denied public data. That was Keith Dixon’s shtick but it continues unchallenged today. I agree with Judge Davis who made it plain that our nation was made great by stubborn people who went against the grain. That describes Art to a T.

continued >

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Part 4A

Part 4A

Let me tell you one of my own stories about how the District goes about getting its way. The Red Plan handed it $84 million in mad money that it has never accounted for. Art spent my first year on the Board telling me this. One of the few gratifications of the State Auditor’s report was its confirmation of this assertion. This invisible money went for “soft costs” spent on professionals providing services other than construction and materials. It was between a quarter and a third of the overall cost of the Red Plan. I suspect I know where a little of this money was directed. I’ve been suspicious about it since you left a message on my answering machine informing that the next day’s paper would outline the story of my alleged threats against Mxx Xxxxxxx’s children. Surely you weren’t surprised that I would leave you a profanity laced return message telling you to go ahead and publish that damned unfounded slur. It even gave you a chance to entertain your staff by playing the recording back to them demonstrating what a jerk I was. But after I sent you the long string of emails between Xxxxxx and me you called back with a big “never mind.” By the way, I’m not and never have been grateful to you for that. You simply did your fact checking and Xxxxx’s story evaporated. Thank God I didn’t delete [his/her] emails.

The kicker is this. Mxx Xxxxxxx showed up at the School Board hearing room wearing a “blue tooth” that was probably a surveillance device. [He/She] sat across the Board room from me and I was almost unaware of [him/her]. We were both at the noon meeting where another District lawyer, Sue Torgerson, was laying out a pretext for the School Board to remove Gary Glass. I was deeply offended by this sorry spectacle. Ironically, this was Jana’s first school board meeting as Ms. Horner couldn’t make it. I cackled and hissed at the proceedings muttering loudly and caustically at Ms. Torgerson’s legal histrionics. I wasn’t loud enough to interrupt the proceedings but I wanted the school board members to witness my contempt.

In [his/her] emails to me afterward (which I regret I can no longer find) Mxx Xxxxxxx claimed to have heard every thing I’d said. I told [him/her] I couldn’t recall having seen [him/her] at the meeting and [he/she] seemed incensed that I hadn’t noticed [him/her]. We exchanged several testy emails before[he/she] told me [his/her] children had been threatened. That changed everything and I immediately told [him/her] that if this had happened [he/she] should go to the police.

continued >

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Part 4B

Part 4B

The next thing I know I get your call telling me about the story you were going to put in the next day’s paper. You weren’t thinking about doing this mind you. The story was in the can. My foul message back to you was meant to slap you into reality. I followed that up by sending you all the emails which proved Mxx Xxxxxx was a petulant fraud.

There was one other person beside me, Jana and Mxx Xxxxxx at that meeting – Steve Greenfield. I’d never seen Greenfield at a school board meeting prior to the assault on Gary Glass. I don’t recall if I knew at the time that Greenfield was JCI’s public relations man in Duluth. Judging by the many thousands Greenfield made helping JCI pass the St. Louis County Schools building referendum with faulty information he must have gotten rich working on the Red Plan. I know about his pay for the St. Louis County School’s project because the Timberjay published those figures after their fight to get public data released. Greenfield’s generous remuneration fits into the category of “soft money.” Why was Greenfield at this crucial School Board meeting?

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx was unemployed. [He/She] had a bee up his bonnet about me. [He/She] was into technology. I was Johnson Controls most vociferous enemy and JCI was Steve Greenfield’s biggest client*. This was the meeting that could have removed the School Board’s only Red Plan critic. Xxxxx claimed to have heard everything I said under my breath from fifty away. [He/She] nearly got me pegged by your paper as a man who threatened school children.

It was damn awkward for me. Half way through his/her emails my wife told me that xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Even so, [his/her] xxxxxxxxxxxxx nearly succeeded with your unwitting help in blackening my reputation. If [he/she] had succeeded I would never have recovered. That’s the power of the press and that’s what the Tribune has meted out to Art Johnston.

It’s been four years since these events and my curiosity got the better of me a week ago. I called up Xxxxxx, who I never see at xxxxxx, and hoped to invite [him/her] to coffee to clear the air and ask [him/her] about my suspicions. The conversation proceeded like this: “Hello Xxxxxx, this is Harry Welty calling”…(ten seconds of silence)…click.

continued >

Letter to the Editorial Page Editor – Pt 5

Part 5

In the Dixon years the District has had its fingerprints on several such character assassinations. The first was committed by Ralph Doty using his Fargo Forum funded column in the Budgeteer to utterly annihilate my reputation three days before Judy Seliga-Punyko defeated me in the 2007 election. Doty hadn’t lived in town during my time on the School Board yet he was happy to mischaracterized my adventures as a board member and make me sound like a scumbag. For its part the Tribune enthused in its endorsement of Judy Seliga-Punyko that she was a fresh face.

So, did taxpayer money flow via soft money from JCI to Steve Greenfield to the unemployed Xxxxxx Xxxxxx? Can you blame me for wondering? Where was the $84 million in public “soft money” spent. Yes, it is public data all right but looking at it is like peeking under a dusty rug. We can’t have any of that. We should instead keep our eyes focused straight forward to the future, like a draft horse wearing blinders. I think that is a pretty fair description of the School Board’s and the Tribune’s editorial outlook.

The problem with that outlook is simple. As long as there are enough people to elect me to the school board even after I’m quoted in the Trib as saying that gangrene is spreading in the Duluth Schools there is good reason to look under the rug. Art Johnston, stinker that he is, and I both think it’s imperative to build back that public trust again. That requires accountability. That requires disclosure.

I think it is a damned shame that the Duluth News Tribune has not been on our side in the pursuit of the truth.

With humility and a little indignation, your friend,

Harry Welty

* denotes small changes correcting typos in the original email.