…not for our recent Chairman.
Art Johnston and I have a similar problem. We never seem to throw anything away. The clear evidence of Art’s overflowing documentation is his office. Its got boxes of stuff all over the floor. That is a problem for me too but I have been in the habit of taking stuff up to my attic when I start feeling like one of the characters out of that television series about hoarders.
Actually, resistant as I am to tossing things out, I’ve been slowly and steadily cleaning out my attic for ten years or more. I probably got started about the time I fell off the School Board in 2004. It didn’t take me long, however, to begin accumulating at about the same rate I was tossing old stuff out. I’ve kept documents from my many races thinking they might made an interesting book about what drives a “perennial candidate” as the Trib’s editors are wont to call me. In my case its a story about how a “liberal” Republican coped with the two or three decades of purges that culled moderates from the party. That I landed in such infertile GOP soil as Duluth at the same time is another part of my ridiculous life.
Then In 2006 I caught wind of one of Minnesota’s biggest political scandals that had as its epicenter Duluth. I have a closet’s worth of documentation on that. A couple weeks ago I ran across someone who remembered two years worth of blog posts threatening to get that book written. She wondered if I ever managed it. No, I told her, but its too good a story for me to abandon. Its still qeued up waiting to land.
I set it on the shelf however, for another local scandal of sorts – the Red Plan. Once again I found myself threatening to write a tell all…..or at least one side of a tell all since the other side seemed to burn all its documents. Kevin Rupp was probably helpful with the lighter fluid.
Now I’ve got another book about the District’s educational politics in mind. Its one of a succession of books I’ve had in mind to write about the Duluth Public School experience. I think I have to write this same post once a year so I hope my long time readers will forgive me.
I plan on having my attic remodeled into an office some time in the next couple months. I need a space of sufficient size to put my stuff in some sort of orderly confusion if I’m ever going to finish any of my books.
One helpful item I have is my blog. Over the last several days of blog silence I’ve been going to that Wayback site that preserved most of the diary entries I lost a few years back. I’ve been printing them out and putting them in a three-ring binder. Unlike my blog entries diary entries were one-time compilations usually written at the end of a day. I didn’t write them every day and I only kept the School Board diary going for nine months. (It later morphed into a Politician’s Diary which had a short half-hearted life) I quit writing about the School Board because they stirred up a few of my fellow members who didn’t like me putting any spin back on their top serves.
Oh, there was one diary entry that wasn’t captured by the Wayback Machine. I only found a tantalizing reference to it in the page I set up for the year 2000″s May entries. It included the first paragraph of each day’s entry over the month. I titled the May 23rd entry “Missing Cues” for reasons that without the entire text are unclear. But this was the first paragraph:
Dear School Board Diary, The local section of the paper detailed a libel suit which our previous Superintendent Mark Myles is bringing against Al Netland, the President of AFSCME. Al had written a column over a year ago accusing Mark of benefiting financially from his association with the Edison Schools. It wasn’t true. Having had my own run ins with Al over the truth I didn’t have much sympathy for the union boss…
I’ve been looking for this information since last year’s MSBA convention.
At the end of that conference in an all too brief friendly period I got a ride back to Duluth with Chair Miernicki and Bill Westholm. Several future posts may include snippets of the conversations we had in the car. One of them involved this story. Mike was waxing eloquent on District history and speaking with great authority.
It may have been prompted by riffing on what Dr. Dixon might have gotten out of the Red Plan. Mike told us that Mark Myles left the Superintendency to collect an Edison paycheck. I’m not sure if I bothered to correct the Chairman or not. I might not have. But it was proof that Al’s damage had taken hold of at least one credulous teacher. I’m sure it was first spread around by Frank Wanner.
I devoted a fruitless day searching out the real story after my ride with Mike but I couldn’t recall the year. Now, with the help of the Wayback Machine, I had the month and year at hand and was able to go through my twenty year news clipping file. I quickly found both the story referenced in my diary and how it was settled in September of the same year.
In May Netland pooh poohed the suit, “This is nothing new,” he said at the story’s conclusion. However, Myles was paid to drop his suit and also got a fulsome apology from David Holwerk the then publisher of the Tribune.
BTW – I used to copy stories from the Trib’s early webpage back during this period and placed them on my webpage so that I could link to them from my web Diary. (The Trib only kept their stories on the web for about seven days) Holwerk, sent me a letter prompted by the Trib’s attorney’s telling me they owned the copyright and telling me to remove them from my website. I ignored the request for a year or so because the web was still in its infancy and I wasn’t convinced that I was doing the Trib any damage even though they clearly owned the copyright. When I finally did remove a couple year’s worth of stories, a sizable task, I managed to lose the diary posts too. Until the Wayback Machine I thought they were all lost forever.
This is proof that there is some truth to the claim by the fellow who alerted me to the Wayback Machine last year when I lamented the loss of all my early diary entries: “The Internet never forgets.” It turns out the Web has a memory almost as good as mine.