And the definition is: a Duluth version of character assassination. This is rather like Ralph Doty’s tribute to Mayor Bergson which was presented days before the Primary election leaving no time for rebuttal.
Ralph Doty: Beware of dirty tricks during the campaign season
Ralph Doty Budgeteer News
Published Friday, November 02, 2007
School Board candidates Harry Welty, Gary Glass, Deb Anderson and incumbent Tim Grover are centering much of their election campaigns on their opposition to the Red Plan for long-range facilities planning.
The nastiest and most misleading campaigns are being led by Mr. Glass and Mr. Welty.
In addition to their bitter attacks on the Red Plan, Mr. Welty and Mr. Glass are viciously attacking Johnson Controls, the company hired by the school board to conduct exhaustive studies of every school building, and to organize hundreds of public community sessions to get input about their findings.
On June 17, 2007, at a meeting of the Duluth Heights Community Club, Mr. Glass criticized Johnson Controls for what he claimed would be a financial windfall (he called it a “plum”) for the company if it’s later hired to manage remodeling and construction of school buildings. Glass contended that Johnson Controls stood to get up to $33.4 million. The Duluth News Tribune reported on Mr. Glass’ comments the next morning.
But Mr. Glass was wrong. So, the following day, June 19, the News Tribune published a front-page story of clarification. It turns out that Johnson Controls got $250,000 for the study and follow-up activities, and could possibly earn another $4.5 million for managing projects. Undeterred by the fact he was $28.9 million off the mark, candidate Glass continues his reckless attacks on Johnson Controls.
For his part, Mr.Welty, a former school board member (1995-2004), authored an attack-filled op-ed piece in the News Tribune (Oct. 21), accusing Johnson Controls of treating voters like “that frog in a cooking pot that is slowly heated until it boils.” He also charged that the company found “loopholes that stripped us of our vote.” (Fact is it’s not a loophole, it’s a state law).
Mr. Welty also recklessly alleges that Johnson Controls will “squeeze profits out of any subcontractor who takes part [in the project], not to save money for the school district but to line their own pockets.”
I guess that’s what we might expect from a perennial candidate for many local, state and federal offices who, as a board member, in April 1998 publicly used a black needle to stab a voodoo doll to “exorcise the evil spirits” from the school board. (www.snowbizz.com).
Long-time board observers also remember Welty’s obscenity-laced diatribe at a board meeting at which he expressed anger on several issues. He later apologized. (www.lincolndemocrat.com).
A few days ago, I called the Ohio community college where I served as president for 13 years, and confirmed that Johnson Controls is currently working on a large project on my former campus. A long-time employee at the college told me, “The college chose Johnson Controls because of its reputation, as well as the fact that they are under an Inter-University Contract (IUC) with the State of Ohio.” The IUC designation makes Johnson Controls an approved vendor in the state’s higher education system, without requiring colleges and universities to go to bids.
Some folks think that Mr. Welty is walking on very thin ice. If I were the CEO at Johnson Controls — a company with 130,000 employees worldwide — I’d consider taking legal action against him for his libelous and slanderous remarks about the company. You see, during election campaigns, most attacks on political candidates are fair game even if they’re not true. But Johnson Controls isn’t running for elective office and should not be subjected to a candidate’s reckless allegations.
What the Duluth School Board needs in future years is responsible and reasonable board members who can make up their minds based on facts and not emotions. Duluth will not get that type of leadership if Gary Glass and Harry Welty are elected Tuesday.
Ralph Doty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.