Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends“ Part 4

This series of posts begins here:

Twelve years sped by, a couple of superintendents came and went, a half billion school building plan became reality, and a succession of heavily pro Red Plan school board majorities were elected to run roughshod over the pro referendum minorities. Superintendents catering to the majority cultivated subordinates who in some cases disdained the Red Plan’s naysayers. There was an attempt to remove the first naysayer, Gary Glass, but Dr. Keith Dixon who probably brought news of this possibility seems to have thought better of this divisive ploy. Glass is joined for his last two years on the Board by Art Johnston but both remain eunuchs by a five to two vote ratio. Then Art Johnston must forge on for the next two years as alone as Gary Glass had been in his first two years.

As Art faces reelection he becomes the subject of numerous letters-to-the-editor reviling him for not being a good sport when he is constantly denied the data he requests about the Red Plan. Before the filings take place one of the administration’s most ardent loyalists, Cheryl Lien, draws a bead on him.

Cheryl, (the subject of the original Post 2 in this series – since removed) has never been shrinking violet. One former Denfeld student told me that when she swept down the hallways kids stepped aside. One of her fans at East told me two things about Mrs. Lien. First, that she displayed great compassion for students in need. Lien had taken him under her wing when his family life fell apart and helped him get through it. But second, he conceded that she was driven and could be ruthless. Those aren’t his exact words but I think they are close enough.

Art believes that some of our administrators were urged to keep their distance from him. One administrator who told him she was advised to avoid him also told Art the following story as the 2013 campaign drew to a close.

In about May, preceding the candidate filings, the principals union held a gathering at Valentini’s Restaurant and invited Superintendent Gronseth to be their guest. According to Leea Powers, who I found to be calm, rationale and very smart, the Superintendent asked his principals who would find someone to run against Art Johnston.

“I’ve got It covered.” Cheryl Lien volunteered. She had found a young candidate with the magical last name of Minnesota’s longest serving Governor Perpich who would run against Art. If this took place as described it is stunning. I’ve written before about how Duluth Administrators handled school board elections. It wasn’t generally encouraged.

Administrators, especially the Board appointed Superintendent, put their careers on the line when they interfere in school board politics. There is no doubt that exchange like this took place because it was confirmed by Cheryl Lien’s own supervisor, Laurie Knapp, East High School’s long time principal.

Investigator Mary Rice, who interviewed all the principals at this meeting, chose to take a different interpretation than the one offered by Leea Powers, whom Rice characterized as being a “disgruntled” employee. Rice’s preferred interpretation of this event is that Lien’s comment was made in jest. If so, the levity was missed by Leea Powers who had already been told that Art Johnston was persona non grata as far as the Superintendent was concerned.

If Cheryl Lien was joking at the beginning of the election season she wasn’t joking by its conclusion. Many School Board watchers, including me, thought that Art Johnston was toast. He had been assaulted with several bitter letters to the editor accusing him of poor behavior during school board meetings. He had a strong opponent backed by many administration supporters in the PTA. It was, however, a different challenger facing Art than the one Mrs. Lien had taken credit for finding at her union meeting.

Cheryl Lien insisted that it was merely a coincidence that she chose Election Day, 2013, to warn Art Johnston’s partner, Jane Bushey, that she would be keeping a close watch over her in the coming year. Coincidence or not, Jane Bushey took the dreadful message to heart. She began keeping a diary of her interactions with Assistant Principal Lien and kept them up to date until the fateful East High graduation at the conclusion of the school year.

Next: Thou Shalt Not – Part 5

My Buddy nudges me on the previous post

Harry:

From http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=15171:

“Now if we could just figure out how to tempt some of the 800 extra Duluth East kids to Denfeld to even up the school populations we’d have an even bigger improvement in safety.”

However, as I said to you on September 17, regarding which I have not received a response:

However, I am similarly critical about the decision of the district to have an east high school and a west high school, instead of just one high school “ especially considering that the district had one relatively new facility that was centrally located. Who deserves blame for that? Marshall School functions with such a central location; why couldn’t the public school district?

A lot of water over the dam.

[Your Buddy]

To which I responded:

Yeah. A lot of water over the damn alright……pun intended.

Buddy, your question about a central location for a high school is a good one and I’ve written about it before on the blog. I don’t respond to all of your emails because……well…..I have a life to live. Its not for want of a willingness to reply.

Our task now is to make sure that the decisions we can’t undo don’t further compromise kids out west.

Harry

Meanwhile, I’m over the moon too. My Buddy sent me this link to some very cool pictures of the Apollo landings on the Moon in honor of the Lunar Eclipse Sunday Night. Claudia and I watched it battle the clouds in Duluth until its blood red phase.

I remember bicycling around Mankato, Minnesota, back in 1969 while stealing glances up at the moon when we first landed astronauts there.

Safety First, Equity Second

While I have not been made aware of changes this year to the terrible traffic situation at East High School I’m gratified to learn that there has been a significant improvement in today’s front page story.

The improvement is a relatively easy solution. An adult traffic crossing guard has been hired to control pedestrians and cars at the dangerous 40th Ave East location. Even the kids recognize how awful the safety issues were because they are giving the crossing guard very little grief as he protects them like other guards protect elementary school children.

There is mention of a $200,000 fix to the drives at East. I presume this will be on the District’s credit card. Again, I’m only a school board member. I am the last person to find out about these issues. Nonetheless, I’m pleased that things have improved.

Now if we could just figure out how to tempt some of the 800 extra Duluth East kids to Denfeld to even up the school populations we’d have an even bigger improvement in safety. I like Alanna Oswald’s suggestion. She wonders if we couldn’t scratch up enough revenue to have a “pilot” Seven Period day out west. I think we could.

Bathroom Privileges

Folks in Columbia Heights are demanding the resignation of school board member Grant Nichols. I sympathize with their irritation but disagree that having the rest of the school board remove him is the method to express their disapproval.

Evidently Mr. Nichols is accused of saying Muslims have unsanitary bathroom habits on his Facebook Page. He denies it but other Board members say he admitted having put this there himself. First the obvious conclusion I draw from this is whether he did or not he clearly knows now, belatedly, that this was a bad thing to have done. His denying he wrote this confirms it. If he lied about it shame on him but in his defense I’ve seen lots of other school board members too vain to admit their mistakes or apologize. This is hardly a hanging offense. For this sin I think the voters should be relied upon to do what they think best at the next election.

As for the notion that Muslims have unsanitary practices I recall a story from thirty years ago when Westerners were routinely imprisoned in Middle Eastern prisons for attempting to buy drugs. I recall the story of one American who bitterly complained that he was treated like an unclean dog by the Saudi jail inmates who discovered he wiped himself with his right hand. In Saudia Arabia this is the job of the left hand and those who are known not to use that hand are, or were 30 years ago to be unclean. This could be a much bigger deal in a nation with limited water resources for washing your hand several times a day.

Just in case defending Mr. Nichols draws fire I’d like to point to two items in my own defense. First, I had a Muslim roommate over forty years ago for a full school year. Second, As a school board member shortly after 9-11 I began inserting “Allah” into God’s place in the Pledge of Allegiance after I saw a really annoying anti-Muslim bumpersticker. Then I wrote a column for all of Duluth to read about it.

3 AM to 5 AM

A recurring theme of this blog since the Red Plan smacked me up side the head is my disturbed sleep. I crashed just after the ten O’clock news began. Claudia was watching Father Brown on PBS instead of news pablum and I crawled into bed. I know I fell asleep immediately because I didn’t wake up when she finally came to bed. I woke up at 3AM from a dream about the school board race. That was five straight hours of sleep. It probably isn’t considered sufficient to ward off Alzheimer’s but it worked for me.

Five hours of making apple cider probably helped me fall asleep. We got a little over three gallons. (So much easier to buy it in the store.) I’d spent about six hours over the past week repairing damaged cider pressing equipment. The cider is sweet, almost cloying, but its from our tree.

This morning I woke up knowing that I had one last long political job to do before going out and putting up lawnsigns for Alanna and Loren. I have to finish the job of filing six months of paperwork and get it off my floor. Last week’s rainy weather was great for starting this task. I filled up my recycling bin for the Friday pick-up but now have to categorize, label and stuff folders with the remainder. Once that’s done I’ll have the month of October to campaign for some sanity with few distractions.

Very recently I ran across an occasional acquaintance who always starts a good-natured conversation with me about the School Board. He asked me who I thought had done the best at the Chamber forum and I said I thought it was Loren Martell. He told me an acquaintance of his thought Alanna had done the best. I quickly added that I thought Alanna was a close second.

For the record, I’d say Loren had the most to gain. He’s such a known quantity based on his disgraceful treatment by our school board and his resultant microscopic column describing our meetings that his presentation had to be a revelation to his detractors. He was not only knowledgeable and articulate but soft spoken. Unlike Alanna, Loren took a macro look at the District and made so much sense that no one could fault his analysis…..except for me. I think he’s far too optimistic about our ability to lease Central High.

Alanna demonstrated deep knowledge of the District on the micro level – in the classroom with the state laws and federal demands made on our teachers. Alanna also had the most laid back, non threatening, and good-hearted manner whereas Loren was focused.

I was curious about where my occasional acquaintance got his view of the debate and it was apparently one of the DFLers who’s party gave the endorsement to Alanna’s alternative, Renee VanNett. In this DFLer’s view Alanna won hands down. I was gratified to hear this and it echoed what I’d heard from a couple other DFL sources – that the DFL had some buyer’s remorse for their premature endorsement which came before School Board filings opened.

I’m not the only critic of the DFL. The Trib tsk tisked the endorsements a couple months ago. The DFL rushed to replace the discredited members of the school board with new allies for the remaining Art Johnston persecutors. I’ve been quick to point out what I regard as weaknesses in these candidates: prejudgment of Art, failure to attend meetings, refusal to meet with me right here on my blog. As I told my acquaintance this may not encourage these new board members to work with me should they be elected. Oh well.

One more thought about political parties. In a lot of ways political organizations can be “us” organizations like a fraternity or a social club. When this happens they promote their team wholeheartedly without ever acknowledging that there may be other folks who are superior to theirs.

Fortunately for my favored candidates, most voters coming to the polls in November will pay scant attention to the phrase “DFL endorsed” when they cast their ballots. In fact, a lot of today’s fractious school board members were DFL endorsed.

A 10 minute explanation of this blog for new readers

I have ten minutes till I have to pick someone up for Church so here goes.

About 150 more people are paying a call on Lincoln Democrat daily now than at the beginning of the year. There will be close to 4,000 occasional readers of the blog this month. I presume, although I could be wrong, that most are Duluth residents. Some like me. Some detest me. Most are the folks who are the semi-wonks who follow the school board and want to know what’s happening in the schools. More are peeking at the blog now because of the looming election just 40 days away.

This post is meant to explain to my new readers things I’ve explained to old readers before. So, old readers, bear with me.

I am only fussy about making my ideas clear not submitting to an English teacher for a grade on grammer or spelling.
The last post was written up in one session and I’m sure, as with all such posts, when I review it for corrections I’ll wince at obvious mistakes. I may not take the time to improve it because my regular readers know by now that I can turn out a pretty polished piece of prose when I want to. In that respect looking at some of my posts is rather like looking at my snow sculptures a day or two before I’m finally finished with them. They are rough drafts that I may not get around to correcting. I’m busy.

Over the next forty days I’ll be doing my best to support a couple candidates for the school board. If you are reading this once or twice a week you know who I’m supporting and why. We need a new school board focused on education. Yesterday’s three posts in one is a reminder to all my readers that these and many more educational issues are what we should be focusing on not a feud between school board members.

That said, I am determined to explain to all my readers just how stupid and nasty the fight has been. Its a fight that is seven years old and frankly, I think the people of Duluth should know just how the institutional side has carried out this fight. I’ve written much about “Character Assassination.” When I resume writing about this current history – that I hope will soon be past history – I’ll detail what I’ve seen and witnessed. That’s because I wish to help rehabilitate Art Johnston’s character in the eyes of folks who have wanted to believe all the stories about how awful he has been.

I have been working harder to polish up my pieces for the new eyes reading over the blog but I won’t always make time to do this. I have a family that I’m giving more priority to than I have in the past. If you don’t like my typos, tough. Pay attention to the content.

Time to go and pick up my fellow parishioner. Adios.

Three posts in one

I’ve got to go press apple cider. I’ll proof read this post later.

I meant to write 3 separate posts yesterday but got busy. I’ll distill two of them down drastically here. Both came up at the MSBA meeting and are some of the many concerns school board members must pay attention to.

High School vs. College

At our Thursday MSBA Area meeting we had a discussion about a new attempt by colleges to gut Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes and put more emphasis on the state financing PSEO (Pose Secondary Educational Options). The MSBA is obviously getting the word out because the Trib ran two like minded editorials from other Minnesota Newspapers on its opinion page defending AP and IB classes.

The issue is who gets the money to give our high school kids an early taste of college. AP and IB classes let public high school teachers a chance to get kids college credits that will save them money by giving them college credits before they graduate from high school. PSEO classes are college classes that High School kids take at College while they are still in High School. Public School’s are required to pay the colleges for this whereas AP classes deprive colleges of tuition payments when the kids get to college with credits already taken care of.

This is not a new issue. I heard lots of grumbling from both sides sixteen years ago while on the Board. However, colleges are making new demands to have properly accredited teachers because there is now a slump in enrollment. I tend to take the public school side of the funding issue although I was happy enough when my daughter got PSEO credit back in the 90’s.

Charter Schools Equity Continue reading

Correction – Alanna has a deeper resume than I said

I mentioned that Alanna Oswald is beginning her second year on the Minnesota Dept. of Ed. state-wide Title One Committee. Actually she is beginning her fifth year on the Title I committee at MDE.

No wonder the MDE staff has gotten to know her and appreciate her smarts and credibility.

And further I said Art Johnston tagged along with her as her guest at the meeting. Wrong again, Art is actually a new member of the Committee and is beginning his first year on it. I did say, didn’t I, that this involves the tricky process of overseeing tens, if not hundreds, of millions of federal monies in Minnesota destined to help poorer kids? In our District this constitutes a large chunk of the 9% of our general fund that comes from Federal sources.

I don’t know how Art finds time to do these things since he’s had to work feverishly for last year taking on freelance engineering projects to pay off his now $74,000 in legal fees imposed on him by our school board majority.

If the tone of my last post was just a little brittle it reflects my outrage for this terrible miscarriage of justice which distracted us from our real job – educating our children.

My loyal reader challenges me

Loyal Reader:

Not to repeat Art’s Cassandra-like warnings, but…..is this worth the repercussions of revealing the contents of a closed meeting?

I mean, the shit will hit the fan if you do this, and will it even really help Art? Those who will believe it already believe Art, and those who don’t believe Art aren’t going to believe this anyway.

I admire your commitment to transparency. Truly I do. It’s rare to find an elected official who really WANTS the public to know what government is doing. But this is going to get you in a lot of trouble (fines, maybe, or a lawsuit — a real reason to kick you off the board).

Is it worth it?

Me:

Yes. The truth is its own reward or to paraphrase John 8:32 The truth will set you free. Today John Boehner resigned from the Congress. He’s free. I admire his decision and suspect it was prompted in large part by listening to Pope Francis yesterday call on Congress to behave itself.

When I was checking out the Bible verse that this paraphrase was based on I also saw a waggish riposte: The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.

It’s hard to imagine a more miserable experience than being on this school board since the Duluth East Graduation in 2014. I’ve been sitting on what I feel to be the real story and been rebuffed in my attempts to make peace with the warmongers on the Duluth School Board. I’m so galled that they have poisoned so many people against Art Johnston that quite frankly I would regard their removing me from the Board as a badge of honor.

At this moment one of the candidates for the school board keeps reminding us that one or maybe two board members have been the fount of all our problems. I am quite willing to serve with this candidate but I’ll be damned if he will take office in ignorance of the other side of the story.

Next – Thou Shalt Not 4

The MSBA Area meeting

Last night one of the regional meetings for the statewide Minnesota School Board Association met at Cloquet’s Municipal Building. I attended these gatherings every year in my first stint on the Duluth School Board. Back then I was the only board member to attend. The Fall meetings precede the MSBA’s Legislative Assembly gathering in December. Art Johnston and I both put our names in to become delegates as did retiring Board Chair Judy Seliga-Punyko. Five other board members from around Northeast Minnesota did the same and every School Board member from northeastern Minnesota can vote for their choices to the Assembly. Four delegates will be selected. The candidates who don’t get elected all stand a good chance to be seated at the actual Assembly if those who are elected decide not to attend.

This year’s Assembly won’t have much to look forward to in terms of legislation because the next session of the legislature is devoted to passing bonding bills. Cities and Counties will scramble for state money to fix parks, municipal buildings and compete with state government interests. Legislators will take credit for getting state money for their localities and no one will much care about the statutes of the Land of ten thousand laws.

Art and I however, want to push a law that was introduced into last year’s legislature by DFL Senator Terri Bonoff. It would take away the right of School Boards to remove a school board member that they didn’t like thus negating the elections that put them into office. The law got many sponsors and Art and I lobbied for it in a couple visits to St. Paul. It would, of course, make a fiasco like the one we’ve just experienced in Duluth impossible. It would require a real crime to remove an office holder something like embezzlement or child abuse and not simply asking too many embarrassing questions or expressing frustration when denied public data.

Art Johnston had already spent the day at the Minnesota State Department of Education as the guest of board candidate Alanna Oswald. She is beginning her second year on the State’s Title One Committee that oversees the expenditure of tens of million of Federal Dollars that support the poorest children in Minnesota’s Schools.

Rep. Mary Murphy was at our evening meeting. She is currently the longest serving Representative on the Education Finance Committee having been in St. Paul for something like 34 years. As a Democrat she is in the minority but she is treated more generously by the Republicans than almost any other Democrat in the legislature. She gave us a summary of her long climb to the top and lamented her lowly status in her first years. Those were the years that I often substituted in her classes at Central High School.

I have always taken the MSBA seriously and look forward to the educational sessions at their statewide conference in January. I have written about the last two I attended on the blog.

Continue reading

Out for blood? – an email exchange on the Thou Shalt Not series

I woke yesterday morning to find an urgent plea in my email. One of my eight loyal readers was crushed that they missed the post I wrote about Cheryl Lein’s past misdeeds. My reader told me that every five minutes that day they kept pushing the refresh key hoping to read what I had promised to write about this ancient offense.

As I said, I don’t particularly care if anyone who did catch the post – in its four brief hours online – prints it out and passes it around. But to honor Art’s request I told this anxious and disappointed loyal reader that I would send the full text to them on the condition they promised never to leak it. I trust them. I sent it on but asked them for their opinion by writing:

One of the folks who saw it online before I replaced it told me this made me look like I was out for blood. Of course, I am. But, is that how it strikes you?

This is their response to the forbidden post and my question about its being blood thirsty: Continue reading

Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends – Part 3

Notwithstanding Art’s request that I take down that post about old news I’ve decided that this is a story that needs to be told to clear the air and erase wrong-headed preconceptions about Art Johnston. After all, I’m in this too. If I’m protecting a raving lunitic my judgement must be called into question. So, for now, consider that I am primarily defending my steadfast support for Art Johnston.

To that end there is one paragraph from the last post that I will bring back to life as it deals squarely with the main contention of this series of posts. That contention? There was a concerted effort by a great many people to bend the truth to portray Art Johnston as a man who should be removed from office. This idea will not die as long as folks like Annie Harala, the only witness to the complete “assault,” continue to maintain that there sure as heck was an assault and if only the public knew what she knew they too would want Art Johnston removed from the Board.

Well, before my readers join Annie at the hips I want to talk about the year Art Johnston suffered through leading up to the fateful East Graduation ceremony. East High School Assistant Principal Cheryl Lein had everything to do with this.

This is the paragraph I’d like folks to concentrate on before I go any further:

“I will now share one more vivid detail for no reason other than my indignation that “Investigator” Mary Rice told the School Board I had been vague about what exactly had happened all those years ago. Rice told us this when I asked her if she, as an attorney, would trust a witness, who was a known liar. I guess my alleged vagueness gave Mary Rice an excuse to evade my question.”

Mary Rice was a critical actor in informing Duluth that Art Johnston was bad news. Its worth remembering that the only evidence that the School Board brought to Federal Court to defend its decision to remove Art Johnston was Mary Rice’s report.

It’s also worth remembering that the District’s case foundered when it became apparent that Judge Davis didn’t accord Mary Rice’s report much weight. He went through all the claims against Art point by point and made it clear that every single one of them was based on an unconstitutional abridgment of Art’s free speech rights. I had been dismissive of the Rice report from the moment I first read it.

I may have more to say about this later tonight so stay tuned.

Next in the Thou Shalt Not series: Out for Blood?

“I never met a man I didn’t like.”

I took this maxim to heart when I was a kid. I’m not sure how its author, Will Rogers, got into my head. Rogers was a rope trick vaudevillian from Oklahoma and became something of the Nation’s conscience through the Depression. He was killed in a plane crash before World War II but still his memory hung on so that I was well aware of him as a kid. I never saw his movies, I never read his newspaper columns. I only heard him in snippets. He was a gentle political commentator who said famously, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” He was so All American that he was part Indian. (I should go check Wikipedia to make sure I’ve got this all down right but if I’m wrong my Buddy or someone else will correct me and I’ll duly note it in some future blog post.)

My late night writing about Art Johnston, and Cheryl Lein and the current campaign for a new and improved school board must have been stewing in my head all night. I woke up with that quote in my head. The first time I heard it, back in my elementary school days, I decided that’s how I was going to be: I’d never meet a man I wouldn’t like.

Some men, and lately a few women, have made that a challenge. Continue reading

Fafinski Mark & Johnson

I couldn’t help but notice the law firm that would be representing UMD’s former women’s athletic coaches in their pending Title 9 lawsuit.

Some of my readers may recognize the name from a previous blog entry. The Board’s hired gun who “investigated” Art Johnston was one of Fafinski’s legal partners, Mary Rice. Only in the case of Art, Ms. Rice was busy manufacturing and embellishing excuses for his unconstitutional removal.

I’m not all that surprised that this firm is well aware of the means by which large institutions, like UMD, can mistreat people. It’s just ironic that having helped hog tie Art Johnston for the offense, Fafinski can just as easily switch over to defense.

As they say, Justice is blind. So is the law.

Quick comments about last night’s SB mtg.

Number one: No Duluth News Tribune reporters were present. I’m not sure if that’s a first at a school board meeting. Then again, their lead ed reporter just had a new baby girl. Congrats Jana.

Number two: It was, as has been the case for the past five or six board meetings, business-like and even friendly. So much for past overblown complaints about Art Johnston’s demeanor.

Number three: Only candidate, Alanna Oswald, sat through it all as she has every board meeting this summer with one exception. That was when she interviewed with the DFT endorsement committee. What happened with the DFT? Here’s a clue. I told Alanna I’ve never gotten a DFT endorsement and I’ve won three of my seven campaigns for the School Board. At least it wasn’t a vile and contaminated process like the AFSCME endorsement.

Number four: We had a long but important discussion of our student test results. Continue reading

God help me – I’m candid

One after another of Duluth’s six school board candidate’s have spoken in praise of transparency. I like the talk. I want to see the walk.

So, will today’s candidates for the school board turn the Duluth Schools around? I don’t know but I completely agree with the Tribune’s editors that there is hope based on the forum they spoke at yesterday. I’d take any of them, even Dr. David Kirby who seems most wedded to Judy Seliga-Punyko’s vengeful actions, over today’s school board members.

That appraisal of Dr. Kirby is about as candid as it gets, just short of brutality. I think voters ought to keep my observation in mind because I know they are as sick of the current school board (including me no doubt) as I am. The only difference is that I’ve had to endure it up close day by day including a dubious motion of censure. A new Judy Seliga-Punyko is the last thing we need.

I’ve been just as candid in appraising the Tribune’s passive aggressive side taking. They routinely listened to, and gave comfort to, our now departing Board members over Art Johnston. One member of the editorial board walked out on a meeting with Art. The editors begged Art to admit that he was a violent, racist by resigning from the Board. They ridiculed Art when the Board dropped its attempt to remove him while squandering a quarter-of-a-million dollars on their vendetta.

And I heaped abuse on the editors when they slammed one of the two best candidates in the field in what appeared to me to be retaliation against me for my criticism of the editors. I’d like to think my blog criticism got them to reevaluate their pettiness because the reporters especially have accorded Alanna Oswald the respect she deserves. Even today’s editorial was a welcome change in that it lauded all six candidates equally for their vows to get along with each other.

But I can’t let the editorial off Scott free. It expressed doubts that Art’s dismissal of his suit had a genuine constitutional issue. In case any of them are reading this let me explain it again as I did yesterday.

The Trib’s editors wrongly described our new ethics policy as having been a “model policy” written by the Minnesota School Board Association. In fact the attorneys for Judy Seliga-Punyko’s School Board inserted poison pill language into the model language giving the Board the right to remove Art, me, or any other Board member for the release of private data. After what I posted yesterday and will post again today I am now subject to removal. Then again, the editors of the Duluth News Tribune may not fully understand the essence of our Constitution’s First Amendment based on their misunderstanding of the word “defamation.

But my biting the elephant’s leg is no more helpful to our school’s future than the elephant’s editors picking on my favorite school board candidate. I’m ready to call a truce. I hope the Tribune’s editors are too. I share their enthusiasm for this year’s crop of hopeful and cooperative sounding school board candidates.

Art’s brief press release demonstrating . . .

. . . his attorney’s contention that our ethic’s policy is as unconstitutional as it was when he first challenged the school board’s failed attempt to remove him from office.

I have voluntarily dismissed my lawsuit against the Duluth School Board after the Board failed to remove me, and dropped their attempt at removal.

This matter is far from settled as the Duluth School Board majority has failed to revise the Code of Ethics, and overtly threatens to remove any elected school board member, and even candidates, if they speak about issues. I may need to resort to legal action again, if the school board majority does not change their ways.

This action by the Duluth School Board has come at an enormous legal cost; and at a cost of the school board of ignoring financial, academic, and leadership issues at our school.

And I may have to resort to a lawsuit if the Board attempts to remove me for my Thou Shalt Not series.

Thou Shalt Not Rat Out Our Friends – Part 2

This story begins with Part one.

Cheryl Lien is a very good teacher. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX taken out at Art Johnston’s request XXXXXXXXXXX

MRS. LIEN HAS BEEN GIVEN A REPRIEVE BY A MOST UNUSUAL BENEFACTOR. AS YOU CAN SEE THERE ISN’T MUCH LEFT OF THIS ORIGINAL POST. ALL THAT IS LEFT IS THE FIRST SENTENCE AND THE LAST CLAUSE OF THE CONCLUDING SENTENCE. I TOOK THE REST OUT AT ART JOHNSTON’S REQUEST. HE CALLED ME AT CHURCH CHOIR PRACTICE TONIGHT AND TOLD ME HE DIDN’T WANT ME TO FACE A LAWSUIT FROM CHERYL LIEN FOR DEFAMATION.

I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE HOW IRONIC THIS IS. CHERYL LEIN FORMED A SURVEILLANCE GROUP TO SPY ON ART AND HIS PARTNER. SHE GOT MIXED UP INTELLIGENCE AND USED IT TO SET OUR VINDICTIVE SCHOOL BOARD OFF ON A QUARTER MILLION DOLLAR WITCH HUNT ACCUSING ART OF RACISM, VIOLENCE AND ALL MANNER OF HORSESHIT. TO THIS DAY PEOPLE LIKE OUR GOOD DR. KIRBY BELIEVE THIS CRAP AND ARE GOING AROUND IN THE PRESS BLAMING ART FOR ALL THE PROBLEMS OF OUR GOD FORSAKEN SCHOOL BOARD. I WANT SO BADLY TO NIP THIS IN THE BUD BUT ART IS STOPPING ME.

I HAVE ONLY TOLD ART’S SIDE OF THE STORY IN DRIBS AND DRABS TO DATE. I WANT TO COUNTER THE PERSECUTORS WHO SUCCEEDED IN NAILING HIS REPUTATION TO THE CROSS AND THE EDITORS WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER BUT STILL TRUMPETED THE WRONGHEADED OPINION THAT ART WAS THE PROBLEM AND OUGHT TO JUST GO AWAY.

TO SAY I’M A LITTLE DISMAYED TO HAVE ART REQUEST I TAKE THIS POST DOWN IS PUTTING IT MILDLY. I FELT LIKE I WAS CLEANSING MYSELF WRITING IT. I KNOW THE DEFAMATION LAWS WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT I’M PROTECTED FROM CONVICTION IF NOT LEGAL HARASSMENT BY 1. HAVING TOLD THE TRUTH AND 2. TELLING IT WITHOUT MALICE. WITHDRAWING IT LIKE THIS MEANS THAT THE POSSE OF ART JOHNSTON HATERS CAN CONTINUE TO SPIT ON HIS REPUTATION.

BEFORE I GUTTED IT THIS POST WAS UP FOR ABOUT SIX HOURS. JUDGING BY MY STATS I SUSPECT IT HAS BEEN READ BY ABOUT 100 PEOPLE. IF ONE OF THEM PRINTED IT OUT IT MAY SHOW UP SOMEWHERE ELSE. ITS SAID THAT NOTHING ON THE INTERNET EVER DISAPPEARS. I WOULDN’T MIND IF IT DID TURN UP. THIS POST WAS ABOUT A VERY UGLY EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF ART JOHNSTON’S PERSECUTOR. TAKING IT DOWN IS UNDESERVED GOOD FORTUNE FOR ART’S TORMENTOR.

ART WANTS IT DOWN BECAUSE HE SEES IN THE TRIB’S COVERAGE OF THE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION THE FAINT POSSIBILITY OF SOME REASONABLE COVERAGE. I HAVE MY DOUBTS. I SAW WHAT CHUCK FREDERICK DID TO THE SUPERLATIVE ALANNA OSWALD BECAUSE HE WAS MAD AT ME. FORTUNATELY, I HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE TRIB’S ACTUAL REPORTERS.

NEITHER DO I HAVE ANY FAITH IN THE GROUPIES OF THE SCHOOL BOARD MAJORITY. THEY ARE BENT OUT OF SHAPE BECAUSE ART AND I HAVE HAD THE TEMERITY TO POINT OUT WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT THEIR HALF BILLION DOLLAR RED PLAN HAS BEEN. I YEARN TO CONFRONT THEM WITH THE OUTRAGES THEIR HEROES HAVE FORCED ON OUR CHILDREN, OUR SCHOOLS AND THIS COMMUNITY. GOSH, I KNOW THIS MAKES ME SOUND AS VENOMOUS AS ART’S DETRACTORS BUT I HONESTLY LOOK AT IT AS SIMPLE JUSTICE – LIKE THE JEWISH PEOPLE WHO WILL FORGIVE BUT NEVER FORGET.

I JUST SANG MY GRANDSONS TO SLEEP WITH THIS VERSE FROM “I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING:

I’d like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace through out the land

IT’S A LOVELY SENTIMENT BUT IT SEEMS SO NAIVE WHEN I CONSIDER HOW OUR SCHOOL BOARD HAS ACTED OVER THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF.

MY WIFE HAS JUST HELPED PRESENT THE WONDERFUL TOUCHSTONE AWARDS FOR ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE MADE DULUTH AND THE SURROUNDING AREA A BETTER PLACE. SHE WOULD BE APPALLED BY MY HEART’S DESIRE TO EXPOSE THE SEEDY TRUTH THAT ART JOHNSTON HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF THE SELF RIGHTEOUS AND NOT THE VILLAIN THEY HAVE CALLED HIM FOR YEARS.

OK, ART. I’VE PULLED THIS POST FOR NOW BUT I’M FEELING VERY ORNERY. I DARE ANYONE TO RAISE THE CHANT AGAIN THAT ART JOHNSTON IS THE BAD GUY ON THE SCHOOL BOARD. FRANKLY, HE’S DWARFED IN THAT DEPARTMENT BY MOST OF THE REST OF US.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX taken out at Art Johnston’s request XXXXXXXXXXX that didn’t make it consensual.

* * * *

Thou shalt not Rat Out Our Friends “ Part 3 (I had planned to continue this tomorrow but I may not. In fact, Art asked me to remove this post. He wants me to curtail the telling of the story that will clear his name. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea)

Next: Thou Shalt Not Part 3