Alliances

I’ve been meeting with a few people prior to being sworn in on the School Board in January. I’ve got some catching up to do since it will have been ten years since I was last on the Duluth School Board. I had an opportunity to do that and more last Saturday at this “summit” meeting for young people in northeastern Minnesota. Here’s a DNT story on the event.

I was invited by the Superintendent’s executive assistant a month before the November election and held off signing up until I knew I’d won. I was intrigued to attend because its based on an initiative General Colin Powell got started many years ago. Former Supt. Dixon’s wife Sarah is one of the Youth Alliances top brass and I thought she might attend. We got to know each other well before the Red Plan controversy on the District’s Endowment Committee.

Two new School Board members were at the meeting Annie Harala (who once worked for the Alliance) and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp. I talked with them a bit as well as the District’s number two man supervising the educational side of the District Ed Crawford. And both Dr. Dixon and Sarah showed up a little after I arrived.

We shook hands and greeted each other before taking different corners of the room. However after the conclusion of the Summit Sarah and I spoke at length about the Alliance. Dr. Dixon came over to listen in shortly afterward. We kibbutzed a bit and he informed me he just retired and lost some weight and was off his heart medications. I told him that after I rejoined the board in January I might ask for his prescriptions. He gave me a hearty laugh.

JCI’s Get out of jail free card

As the friend who emailed this to me said, “I guess the battle is over.” The scrappy little Timberjay was on the verge of getting a peek at how JCI went about its business with the St. Louis County Schools.

The Timberjay has asked for public data on the JCI work done on the St. Louis County Schools and took their case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. They seemed poised to get it when the Court ruled that it was indeed public. But then the Supreme Court pulled the rug out from under the public with this ruling that JCI didn’t have to disclose the public data:

“The government is required to provide clear notice in contracts for the performance of a government function that a private business performing such a function is subject to the requirements of the Data Practices Act and that the businesses must comply with those requirements as if it were a government entity,” Chief Justice Lorie Gildea stated in the ruling. Because the school district did not provide such notice, Gildea continued, JCI was not required to release the materials.

In my email of condolance I wrote:

What Bull,

So the District was supposed to quote the statute in the contract for the statute to apply? Brings new meaning to the old adage “ignorance is bliss.”

I’m guessing that Duluth is SOL too because I doubt we included that notice in our contract. Who was that notice supposed to protect? The taxpayers or the vendor JCI?

Harry

JCI has earned plenty of public dollars to insulate them in the courts from the taxpayers who forked the money over. They have claimed that their data is “proprietory” information or their own secret formula for success that they must keep secret from their competitors. To me this is like saying lying through your teeth to the customer or fraud are proprietary secrets. Our jails are full of people who would love to be able to make a similar claim.

If I had known this and attended the “Delegate Assembly” of the Minnesota Schools Association I would have offered a proposal to encourage all School Districts to include the new Supreme Court mandated language to assure that contractors could not hide public data in a contract.

As Mike Miernicki pointed out to me in a recent conversation no contractors would willingly disclose how much profit they earned from a public works project. However most public works projects, unlike the Red Plan, got their start in a competitive public bidding process to assure a fair price. That was not the case with the Red Plan and now it seems the state Supreme Court has placed one more obstacle in our way from getting any kind of accounting from JCI.

JCI wants $350,000 from the St. Louis County Schools

Suddenly the St. Louis County Schools have grown reluctant to pay off JCI.

REGIONAL Johnson Controls Inc. has requested payment of $350,284 that the St. Louis County School District still owes on its contract with the consultant.

Although the district doesn’t dispute the bill, it plans to withhold a portion of the funds until some of the work on schools meets the district’s satisfaction.

Good luck with that!

Sheeple continued

I know that lots of people believe fanciful things. For instance according to one poll a quarter of people think alien life has visited the Earth. By this I presume the 25% believe sentient life like the little green men of Mars has paid us a call. To me this mostly is explained by the typical person’s failure to understand how long it takes for travel to occur from point to point in space. Even if light speed can be reached, at present a dubious proposition, by humans it would take 120,000 years to cross from one end of the Milky Way Galaxy to the other. (and two and a half million to reach our nearest galactic neighbor Andromeda) If humans, or some other life form could attain a thousand year lifespan they would have to achieve some sort of suspended animation lasting 120,000 years in order to regain consciousness after a trip to the other side of the galaxy.

Recent observations have left us with the tantalizing possibility that there are 40 billion “Earth like” planets in a goldilocks zone orbiting their stars within the Milky Way. Life is almost certain to have formed on many of these bodies but reaching human-like sentience is probably exceedingly uncommon. It took four billion years for humans to evolve on Earth. Of course, if similar technical societies got started four billion years after the start of our ten billion year old galaxy they would have had six billion years to develop light speed travel before humans started hafting stone axes. They may exist and may have spread but simply not bothered to visit our fair planet with 40 billion others to check out.

But if they were zipping around through space they must certainly have invented their own communications systems like ours. If they’d done this a mere 120,000 years ago their electro magnetic signals traveling at light speed would have easily filled up the Milky Way by now leaving us with lots of hard to decipher signals. We’ve been listening for them from our outpost on Mt. Arecibo in Puerto Rico since the days of President Kennedy. Fifty years and nada.

So why do a quarter of people think that intelligent life has visited Earth with so little regard to the evidence? I guess because its just so compelling an idea. In my view that’s what drives much of the Kennedy conspiracy.

Dr. Kohls should be pleased that the sheeple he dismisses are a minority. His side has won the argument, at least until the current believers die off and are replaced by new generations less invested in suspecting Rich Texas oil men, the CIA or J. Edgar Hoover with the conspiracy.

The most remarkable aspect of the murder to me was the coincidence that a man who tried to assassinate one right wing general happened to work at the Texas Bookstore Depository for a few months before the President’s motorcade drove by it. That was just dumb bad luck. Ditto the hero hungry Jack Ruby with all his mafia ties being a regular visitor to the Dallas Police Headquarters. I’d almost be more inclined to believe in the little Green Men of Mars than those coincidences.

Then again coincidence is a fact of life. Although my chances of winning a multi-million dollar lottery are infinitesimal a few of the sheeple who “invest” in the tickets each year manage to win big. Dumb luck exists and statistics proves it. Lee Harvey Oswald won the lottery and so did Jack Ruby. The rest of us were stuck with sad results and fifty years worth of paranoid theories explaining away the nasty little lottery winners away.

Who are some of the suspects according to the conspiratorialists?

Republican, Earl Warren, who overturned Plessy v. Fergusson and integrated public schools with a unanimous Supreme Court vote.

Lyndon Johnson, who sucked up JFK’s vibrations to pass the Civil Right’s legislation that his rich, racist, oil millionaire backers hated.

The Kennedy Family

Me and a lot of nobodies like me who have been reading history books voraciously for fifty years. And also the many JFK loving Pulitzer Prize winning historians who have been writing those histories like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro, and Robert Dallek.

Virtually all of the newsmen who were at the Parkland Hospital and or in Dallas on the Day of JFK’s murder.

Virtually all of the police and Secret Service Agents and FBI agents who were in Dallas the day Kennedy was murdered.

Dr. Kohls’ retort would be that all of these people have been afraid to tell the truth because they would have lost their jobs because of the secret society that runs the world. I could say a lot of damning things here but I’ll just conclude by saying, Tosh!

Count me among the “sheeple”

Recent polls suggest that I’m in the 39% minority of Americans that believe Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President Kennedy. According to the Reader Weekly’s prolific anti-drug crusader, GARY G. KOHLS MD, that makes me a dupe or as he refers to me a “sheeple.” Fortunately for him the vast majority of people pay little attention to the government line. Here’s the unsolicited email he sent me with my comments interspersed in capped letters.

Below is more documentation putting the lie to the media coverage (and the perpetual cover-up) of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. The powers-that-be desperately want as many of us viewers as possible to believe the easily disprovable Big Lie Theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone crazed assassin of the president on November 22, 1963.

Last week I watched three of PBS’s JFK retrospectives, including Frontline’s “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” and the fraudulent pseudoscientific “ballistics special” on NOVA [proudly underwritten by David Koch!]. I also caught some specials on NBC, CBS and ABC, and I was uniformly frustrated (predictably) at the consistency of the propaganda that is being orchestrated to lead us comfortably numb sheeple to nod our heads and agree that the official theories about the assassination were correct. None of the compelling evidence that I list below was allowed to be shown.

During some of the retrospectives that I watched there usually was some denigration of the true patriots who have resisted the brain-washing and independently examined the evidence disproving the official story. These dissenters (who haven’t yet lost the ability to think critically) were just dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”.

The following are some of the important items that disprove the official story line and that were never mentioned on any of the JFK retrospectives that I watched.

1) JFK’s brain or parts of his skull were thrown backwards (out of a large exit wound in the back of the skull) onto the trunk of the limo – which is the reason why Jackie was famously seen on the film footage turning around and reaching backwards. The Secret Service guy testified frequently that Jackie was not reaching for him, but for fragments of JFK’s brain. Again this is more evidence that one of the two head shots that killed JFK came from the front.

THIS TERRIFIC ONE MINUTE PUBLIC SERVICE AD WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE JFK ASSASSINATION PRETTY CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES THAT DR. KOHL IS CLUELESS ABOUT HOW THE CONTENTS OF A SKULL WOULD REACT AS A BULLET PASSED THROUGH IT.

Continue reading

A poem video

Be forewarned this mentions T and A and some other dirty bits so skip it if you are a prude but I think it has a smashing message. I’ve filed this under the “books” category.

Happy sesquicentennial birthday to the Gettysburg Address

Four score (4 x 20) and seven years ago I was a quarter century from being born (87 – 62).

So I can’t very well let this day slip away without some comment on this blog. I began the Gary Will’s book about the Address a few years ago but quit a few chapters in. I got the point though. Lincoln really did give the US a new birth of freedom by seriously applying the Jeffersonian declaration of man’s equality to the nation he was busy sewing back together. To me its a large tragedy that the Grand Old Party has turned its back on Old Abe.

I enjoyed this short interview with the Columbia University historian Eric Foner and the reading of the Address by a rotation of NPR voices that followed.

I also heartily recommend the movie “Twelve Years a Slave.” Claudia and I drove to the Twin Cities after the election to catch our breath and see the movie before it got to Duluth. It makes clear the helplessness of identifiably black Americans in the pre civil war South.

To my reading public

Thanks for keep coming around. Even with a paucity of posts I’ve had over 5,000 visitors this November. Sorry I’ve got slow fingers lately. Its not for want of ideas for posts. Its more like the quiescence (fifty cents for silence) of a volcano just before an eruption.

I’ve had plenty to do, winterizing my yard has been completed, campaign reports turned in, some embassies to new colleagues on the Board pursued. I have a massive filing to undertake of many year’s worth of clippings about Duluth School news and I still have thank yous to send out. I am optimistic for the news school year as well as wary of overconfidence. I think you can expect to read much on these themes in coming months as well as hair lice.

I confined myself to school related posts for the most of the summer and fall. I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to the many other topics Lincolndemocrat has enjoyed pontificating about. Now that I’m poised to become an insider again I’ll likely be a little more discreet about my speculation where my soon-to-be colleagues are concerned as well as a little less clueless. Rest assured, however, that any public comments made by my fellow Board members I will consider fair game for my analysis.

It may be December before I swing back into blogging mode. I have a week’s worth of old science magazines to catch up on first. They always get set aside for more pressing obligations but I can’t bear to toss them without reading them cover to cover.

Anger and Logic

I passed out flyers on Friday before the election so as not to waste unused campaign materials. They cost the campaign $329.00 and I worked hard to raise the money.

The flyer was written two months ago when I was still working up the steam to campaign and it reflected my passion perfectly at the time. In fact I had toned it down after a day of thought. Originally I was going to begin it “I’m pissed off.” Instead I opted for the less crude salutation “I’m angry.” Even that seemed a little strong on the final Friday before the election. Still, even with a couple typos I hated to waste them. I got another 500 passed out that day.

The following day one showed up at my doorstep with a note on it. It was signed and I appreciated the feedback even though it was critical. It said:

“Harry, As a person who wants to support you, I was very turned off by this. You are asking people to use their head and be angry. Anger and logic are in different parts of the brain so that is difficult to achieve. My advice is to have a diverse group of friends read your material and then listen to what they say. This reads like an angry first draft.”

I have no way of knowing if this person ultimately voted for me. Her advice was very good but I’m terrible at asking people to help me. Other than my now infamous “volunteer” I did this campaign myself. Claudia hates politics and I did my best to hide the campaign from her. The piece was almost a first draft as the note writer suggests. But I’ve attempted to rush a lot of thoughts out here on the blog and I needed a flyer after the September primary to begin asking for lawnsign locations. I only printed up 3,000 thinking I could print more to correct mistakes. Sadly the first batch cost more than I expected and I never ran out of them. No money for corrections.

I disagree with the writer although I can appreciate her concern. Anger and logic may be in different parts of the brain but they are both in the brain. Like all mental functions we humans must juggle them at all times and they are always interacting. I look at anger like this. The difference between a rocket and a bomb is slight but critical. Both are explosives. A rocket however, is controlled just as anger must be.

Anger, like other strong emotions drives people. It is neither good or ill in and of itself. It is simply a strong reaction which may or may not be justified and which may be destructive and counterproductive unless controled. Logic may reside elsewhere in the brain but it is one of the intellectual forces which can turn anger to good or ill purpose. Everything else about my flyer suggests I’ve put a lot of thought, logic, into my campaign. Certainly I have more history with the Duluth Schools than any other candidate including Rosie. I think that anger or not this flyer demonstrates my use of logic. As noted in the preceding post I used that logic to win passage of the second levy question.

This is clearly a case where I have put my anger at over crowded classes, and the negative consequences of the Red Plan to a positive use. This is so much more useful than a fatalistic and cynical giving up.

Again I’ll concede that bits of this flyer sound like a first draft. But my first drafts are so superior to the final crowd approved banalities of my rivals for the School Board I can live with this. Besides, I labored much longer over the pieces I sent to be published in the newspapers, even the infamous tract about “gangrene” spreading through western Duluth. Our successful second levy, that I credit myself with passing, will be like a shot of antibiotics to make the gangrene retreat. That is of anger being used for good purpose.

Disappointing the voters

This KBJR story told about the successes for the levies in Duluth. You can read it or watch the minute and a half of it here.

I got a brief mention:

Duluth School Board–elect Harry Welty, who supports the levies, says it’s now up to the board to fulfill its duty of successful and cost–effective implementation of taxpayer dollars in the long–range facilities plan, especially after the breach of district trust the multi–million dollar Red Plan created for some residents.

“We on the school board have a huge responsibility not to disappoint them,” said Welty Wednesday morning. “They expect that money to be used to bring class sizes down.”

I can not stress enough how important it will be not to “disappoint” the voters. I have the uncomfortable feeling that there are too many people out there who have the attitude, “oh, well, we got the money. We’ll spend it the way we see fit.” If that attitude prevails I can assure you that there will be hell to pay and it won’t just be from me. New money should be spent on reducing class size first, second and third.

This is a particularly important issue for me because I know the infinitesimally small 2% margin of victory of the second levy question was my doing. If a hundred votes had swung the other way the District would have lost almost two million dollars. I spoke to 600 people at the 2,000 doors I knocked on. Every communication of mine in the Duluth Tribune, Budgeteer etc mentioned my desperation to get the class sizes down by passing the levies. I dug an additional $500 out of my pocket to put two ads in the Trib saying passing the levies was the most important thing this election. My flyer, which is also on the first page of my campaign website, makes it clear how important the levy questions were. It would me a mistake to underestimate the credibility I had with angry voters as the only Anti-Red Plan candidate supporting the levies. Had I opposed them as vigorously as I supported them I could easily have turned a few hundred votes if not a few thousand against it.

Since the second levy owes it passage to my enthusiastic support I’ll be very upset if I see it frittered away on paying teachers more rather than hiring more teachers.

Rosie Loeffler Kemp on WDSE

Claudia and I decided to break out of Duluth right after the campaign for a couple of days or rest and relaxation. I had my cell phone ringer off and missed the invitation to appear on WDSE’s Almanac North Friday evening as one of the newly elected school board members. I just caught the episode. Rosie was the sole voice who showed up. She held forth for a little over six minutes starting at 10:30 minutes in.

Lawnsigns and Cleopatra

Thank you Duluth. You won’t regret it.

I crawled out of bed at three in the morning after the eleftion to begin picking up the 270 lawnsigns I put up the previous month. Twelve hours later they were put away in my attic.

Much to say but I’m reading Stacy Schiff’s autobio of Cleopatra to Claudia as we drive out of town for a day of R and R.

“Gangrene” spreads to social media

I got a call just now 45 minutes into today’s election. Apparently my comments about gangrene spreading from western Duluth to eastern Duluth is now part of a Facebook campaign to discredit my candidacy. I’m not suprised. I told a friend who asked me about some of my recent actions it was the only one I regarded as a mistep. Using a baseball analogy I called it an “unforced error.” Its not that I disavow it its more that I didn’t do a good enough job explaining what I meant.

The Red Plan has led to a gross under staffing of our classrooms and families fleeing our new schools. Its worst out West where children are being bused from Duluth to Proctor. Test results are dire. I used gangrene to describe what’s happening because its famous for spreading. If the first levy referendum question fails we will be forced to cut another two and a half million dollars from the District’s budget. Is that a knock on West Duluth or is ignoring the calamity a worse knock on Western Duluth?

One of the people who brought this all about, Nancy Nilsen, is the person who stands to benefit from this last minute social media campaign. In her comeback attempt she has been aided by Judy Seliga-Punyko who endorsed her with very little commentary in a letter to the Editor recently. She has also been aided by her other confederates on the old School Board Tom Hustad and Ann Wasson who object to my constant reminders of the consequences of the dictatorially imposed Red Plan. They made much of the gangrene comment too in their recent letter to the editor.

I don’t know how long the social media campaign has been bubbling along. This is my first whiff of it. Its not the first whiff I have had of a character assassination campaign. I put the strange ad in the Reader to fight off the guilt by association campaign some unpleasant person is trying to spread.

I’ve always asked, “if you can’t be passionate about your children what can you be passionate about?” I stand by that today. I also stand by my observation that so far western Duluth has been most savaged by the Red Plan’s unintended consequences. I think passionate parents ought to consider that if they wish to make things better for their children. Killing the messenger has never solved anything. Electing someone too blind to see carnage when it lies at their feet is no better.