First let me make this very clear. I have never known anyone who ran for the School Board was not a good person or who didn’t want the best for our children or our schools. That includes the most inept school board members in Minnesota history who currently serve on the Duluth School Board. I like them all but there is not a one of them, including me, who hasn’t messed up badly.
Desperation has made me far more candid about all of our human failings than is generally good for any politician to be. Some things are best left unsaid. Even now I am thinking deeply about how far to go.
This post is about someone I have no quarrel with. That Renee VanNett is running for the Duluth School Board is commendable. I do not wish to argue with the Tribune’s editorial endorsement of her for the General Election. However, since the Tribune short circuited their endorsement by jumping directly to the November election I have no confidence that they will follow up their glowing editorial description of Renee with anything approaching hard, factual journalism. I think that leaves the voters in Duluth in the lurch. About all I’ve said about Renee is that her head has been turned by three school board members who don’t want to lose control of the Board. They claimed an assault took place and they are right. The Duluth School District has been violently manhandled for a year and a half. Oh, as for that other “assault” after the Duluth East graduation… I was a witness. I was ten feet away. I heard no shouting. I saw no one on the floor. Art Johnston was pointing at a standing school superintendent who obviously wanted to leave. This was called assault. Not in a million years was it an assault.
I suspect that Renee, who had a hard time of it as a student in the Duluth Schools, will come to her senses if she is elected to the Duluth School Board. She will remember where she came from and vote accordingly.
That said, I have heard some things that might be every bit as concerning as the possibility that Alanna Oswald is out for blood. I think Renee is naieve. I reported one instance of this which was rather humorous. It was when, after a meeting on minority mother’s in the Duluth Schools, Renee expressed anger at the Duluth Federation of Teachers for not endorsing her while she was in a frienly conversaton with Alanna Oswald. Neither candidate got the DFT’s endorsement. It was only after saying this that Renee realized that this was probably the wrong thing to say to her competitor. It was the same as saying I’m mad at the teacher’s union for treating us the same. I deserved their support not you.
This isn’t all that big a deal. Who hasn’t done the same sort of thing. When I was engaged to Claudia I introduced her to a History prof at my college as I was conducting some political work. The professor proceeded to bore us for half an hour although I only planned to pick something up from him and move on. As we stood by his door to leave I got my words completely tangled up and told him the truth accidentaly: Instead of saying “we’ve” and “you” I said: “I think you’ve kept us long enough.”
There is another strike against Renee. Its not the very long and impressive list of organizations she has belonged to. Its her reputation for missing their meetings on a fairly frequent basis.
Everything about that impressive editorial endorsement is suspect. The Editors misinformed their readers through ommision and or ignorance about Alanna Oswald. They puffed her challenger’s abilities without realizing she has such a poor record of attending the organizations she belongs to. Just compare the written and spoken words of both candidates and I think one stands out but not the one who the Trib endorsed.
This editorial was the most blatant example of thumb pressing I’ve seen in the Duluth News Tribune over the past 41 years. Whether it was based on payback to Art and me or sheer ignorance the Trib should be better than that. I’m so disappointed.