Ditto, Ditto, Ditto

Another friend sent me a link to Board Member Annie Harala’s endorsement letter in today’s Trib for the same three candidates Rosie Loeffler-Kemp endorsed in her letter yesterday.

My corespondent noted with some puzzlement that Member Harala didn’t really offer any reasons why they should be chosen other than that they would continue the Board’s successful work of the past two years. Its funny but most voters probably only know one thing about what we’ve done for the past two years. Annie sort of glossed over our best known “accomplishments” by writing: “In spite of public distractions…”

I’m sad to say that all our accomplishments did not bring new students to ISD 709’s schools. Art Johnston sent the following to the Duluth News Tribune two weeks ago:

A year ago, there were headlines on your front page that the Duluth Public School had an increased enrollment of “10”. We now have had a decrease in enrollment of -228. What’s happening to enrollment in Duluth Public Schools should qualify as news, particularly for this election cycle.

Nearly all newspapers that I’ve seen in the last month have been reporting on enrollment in their prospective schools. As far as I can tell, our Duluth public school have had one of the largest decreases of enrollment in the state.

I suspect that our student loss was precipitated in part by the “distractions” Annie mentions….the ones that started when her sharp eyes saw a “shove” that was not verified by the person alleged to have been shoved. How like-minded (to Annie) school board members would help us get past the “distractions” is hard for me to fathom.

Rank Vote

I don’t have a category for just “politics” or “elections” so I’ve lumped this post about Ranked Choice Voting under “hope” and “moderation.”

My Buddy has become a fan of Karl Schuettler’s blog “A Patient Cycle” and he sent me this link to Karl’s very sensible appraisal of the debate over ranked choice balloting. This is Karl’s last paragraph but the whole post is well worth a read for those still pondering the question.

From http://apatientcycle.com/ :

The shrill tenor of the debate and dismissal of critics as simpletons or bigots is especially ironic, given the claim that RCV is supposed to reduce negativity in campaigns. Somehow, RCV has become part of a religious cause; one that is incapable of self-reflection and above any criticism, and considers the cause more important than the deliberative democratic process it needs to go through to become reality. If only it were actually a cause worth fighting for.

As of yesterday Lincolndemocrat had 5,447 “unique” visitors for October

That’s not a record but its close. My head is so full of stuff to blog about it could explode. Instead I’m going to keep my fingers busy today passing out Obije and Oswald flyers.

The thought of the School Board remaining in the hands of the crowd that gave us the last Godawful year keeps me awake at night. Eight hours of going door to door is the best narcotic know of to provide a good night’s sleep. I didn’t dose myself yesterday so I was up till 3AM tossing and turning. Heck, some of our possible new school board members refuse to meet with me. Two thirds of them are Rosie Loeffler-Kemp’s choices.

You can’t fix stupid

Big Dorothy’s picture prompted one wag to send a friend of mine a video of the comedian Ron White. The post was titled “You can’t fix stupid.”

I’d never heard of White before but I got sucked into watching the routine which ended with that pronouncement. It fit perfectly with the set up. It may very well fit with the Duluth School Board. I didn’t take it personally but got a good laugh out of it. However, White’s humor is not for the faint of heart so I won’t go linking to it.

My friend was prompted by today’s Trib story about Martell and Sandstad to send me another email with a question in it that I don’t have THE answer to. Its a good question. Here’s the email:

Harry:

This, at http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/3869249-martell-sandstad-face-district-3-school-board-race, puzzles me:

The board currently has a problem with transparency and isn’t welcoming to the public, Martell said. Among other steps, he called for agenda sessions to be open to the public, similar to the Duluth City Council’s sessions.

See https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=13D.01, which pertains to meetings of public bodies in Minnesota. Has the Board ordained that its agenda sessions are not to be open to the public?

I’ll let my friend read my reply here in the blog.

For as long as I’ve been watching the Duluth School Board the Chair and Clerk have met with the Superintendent behind closed doors with his cabinet to set the agendas. Our policy used to guarantee that any subject that two board members wanted to discuss would automatically be placed on the agenda if they were given to the Chair about a week in advance. If agenda items were brought up at the meeting it required a unanimous vote at the meeting to be added.

The Dixon led Board changed this preventing minority members from placing anything on the agenda in advance or at the last minute.

If this is not illegal it is, as Loren Martell says, lacking in transparency.

Is such a meeting for agenda setting purposes required to be open? Again, I don’t know. Any meetings of a quorum of the School Board must be open unless they involve private student data or personnel issues which are required to be kept secret. We had such a closed meeting yesterday.

As I read the statute I see a likely exception when the Superintendent and his cabinet meet with less than a quorum of the Board for whatever reason. On the other hand I remember bitterly learning that my intentional exclusion a year and a half ago from a meeting by management to consider the teacher’s contract was illegal at a Minnesota School Board Association meeting.

Whether the law that my friend sent me has been violated for twenty years is uncertain. That it keeps the District’s business secret from not only the public but from elected members of the school board is without question. Loren is absolutely right about that.

If you are never told what’s wrong you sure as Hell won’t be able to fix stupid.

Not a laughing matter

I haven’t been motivated to do a lot of serious blogging for the past couple days but NPR had a good summary of No Child Left Behind that answered some questions I’ve been wrestling with since it went into effect the last couple of years of my former school board term.

In fact, there are a lot of things I feel like blogging about not the least being the News Trib story about the 3rd District school board race. Claudia read it and proclaimed it fair and balanced. I agree….but I have some thoughts about the race and the candidates. Some echo concerns I mentioned in the last post while other’s would be directed at the comments from the two candidates. In particular, the historian in me objects to Attorney Sandstad’s comment that we should stop looking back.

I’ll be passing out flyers for Charles Obije and Alanna Oswald most of the day so I may wait until tonight to come back to the blog by which time I may be too tired to think and type at the same time. I was up till eleven last night. I’d gotten a call from an ally who said he’d followed a truck that was picking up “orange” lawnsigns. Since Alanna Oswald has orange lawnsigns I reported this to the police. I then drove out to the neighborhood in question and was relieved that most of the lawnsigns I’d put up for Alanna over several days seemed to still be standing.

I don’t usually conclude that someone’s out to get my lawnsigns in local campaigns. Every candidate’s signs seem to be taking hits pretty equally this year. Win lose or draw I plan to wake up early the day after the election and pull down all the signs of my three candidates and put them away for future use or to junk them.

But the real focus of this post should be the NPR story I linked to at the beginning. What it described as quicksand was very important. So was what it reported about schools that had been in NCLB quicksand for five years. I think there is an important lesson in this for Duluth’s schools. But understanding history is probably the only way it can be taken in. Historical blinders are not helpful, especially when they hide the fact that the Red Plan took ten million classroom dollars annually and committed them to pay off bank loans to finance the building of pretty new schools.

I sure hope that, if elected, the candidate (candidates) encouraging us to look to the future will finally meet with me. I’ve been tested for distemper. Had I not been there is no way I would have put on a dress.

What’s so funny?

Claudia says I know who I am. I take that as the highest compliment from the person who has had to endure all the unwelcome scrutiny I have put her through. She’s a pillar of the community. I seem to be more of a bonfire.

So I dressed up as Dorothy Gale of Kansas. On her Facebook Page, read by many members of our very sober Presbyterian Church, Claudia hinted that the person soon to wear the ruby slippers (my old sneakers) really was from Kansas. I was born in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1950. While a lot of fellows would shrink at the thought of putting on a dress I’m not a lot of fellows. One of my earliest memories of men dressed as women was the Movie/Musical South Pacific. I wonder if that wasn’t the first use of coconut shells as faux braziers? Since then there have been a lot of World War II movies showing the sex starved GI’s and sailors dressed up as women in USO type shows. One of the guys in the gritty Stalag 17 did so too.

I found this picture in a blog post about cross dressing in Hollywood that says a lot more about the subject than I ever imagined writing.

I was thinking about my Dad and humor and ego as I began this. In a lot of ways my Dad had a tin ear for humor. As a kid I would tell him jokes from a book of jokes for kids. Even then I imagined myself as a comedian. I was always discouraged that he didn’t find them funny. They were in the book for God’s sake! They were supposed to be funny! I don’t know if I ever saw Dad laugh at a joke. He told me he enjoyed the absurd. He also told me that his father liked humor that was intended to puncture pretentious and pompous egos. The First Harry Welty, my Grandfather, thought Laurel and Hardy shorts were hilarious because poor old Hardy was as pompous as they got and he always got a comeuppance.

I guess this is just a reminder to my eight loyal readers that I am always my first target where ego is concerned. I might point needles at other people’s balloons but I’ve got a Bunsen burner under my balloon. Its just that I’ve taken the precaution of building my balloon with a hole in the bottom center so that the hot air will keep me aloft rather than blow me up.

I don’t necessarily distrust folks who resist self deprecation. I just worry that they lack the kind of humility that is necessary to work with their inferiors – folks like me. If they don’t watch out the joke will be on them.

A fond but sad farewell

This morning I said goodbye to my friend and neighbor Dick Gastler. Dick was a much loved social studies teacher at Denfeld High School for years. An early illness he suffered back in 1983 gave me a chance to take over his class as a long term substitute which led to later gigs teaching in the Duluth Schools.

His funeral was held at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and there were some fun quotes from his students in several displays. A big celebration had been planned for about this date many months back before Dick was diagnosed with a fast moving illness that replaced the planned celebration with today’s funeral service. It is a blessing that the one event led to so many of his students writing their fond memories of his classes which Dick got to read over and over again in his last months. According to the minister Dick kept singing right up to the end such was his good humor.

I saw Superintendent Gronseth sitting by himself and joined him. I asked him if he often attended other such occasions for lost members of the ISD 709 staff but he said not so much. Mr. Gastler had been one of his teachers and the two had sung together in the “Denfellows” men’s choir. It was nice singing along side the Superintendent whose vocal range is much like mine.

We chatted a bit about the recent meeting at Lester Park concerning rubber mulch. We agreed it was just one more complication for an already overtaxed school system. Although today’s occasion was solemn it was nice to be reminded of what schools are all about. Kids and caring teachers.

My Ruby Slippers

Two years BK (Before kids) Claudia had me dress up for a Halloween Party as Dorothy Gale. I’m sure I was fetching even with a full beard. I still have the beard although it is salt an peppered now. I have been asked to reprise the role for our church’s “Trunk or Treat this Sunday along Woodland Avenue and Lewis Street from 3 to 4:30 PM. Claudia is making me a lovely blue checkered, gingham dress and I used the magic of spray paint and glitter to make Ruby Sneakers. I hope all you other witches are properly jealous of me.

Trunk or treats are all the rage now. Folks decorate their car trunks and dress up kids to trick or treat in church parking lots. We will be serving hot dog’s too. Dress up your children or grand kids and stop by. Bring a camera and take my picture but be advised. Our nation is a lot more tolerant these days so you might not be able to use it for blackmail purposes in the future. I will be donating blood at the church that morning so I might look a little pekid. BTW – in case you were wondering its for the Memorial Blood Bank and not for any vampire themed reason.

No grounds

I was glad to see that Art Johnston finally replied to the last news reports about his laying aside his lawsuit against the School Board. No one wants to see this old story drag out any more than Art or me. Its been an embarrassment and given everyone a black eye. I know Art had to tinker with the letter as he negotiated with the Editors until they could find no grounds to refute what Art wrote. While the editors would probably not agree with Art’s thoughts in their entirety neither would the Trib have published them unless they met their journalistic standards. That assures Art’s letter real credibility. For my part I fully agree with what Art has written.

The letter got a pretty good spot today on what will become a busy letters page. The opinion page will fairly burst with testimonials for the various candidates until November 3rd’s election. The letter also had a headline that will assure it gets read. It addresses what I hope will soon become a moot point in School Board deliberations before the November 3rd election. Here it is title and all.

Reader’s View: No grounds to remove School Board member

Posted on Oct 22, 2015 at 9:40 p.m.

It is important to point out the inaccurate information that was in the Sept. 22 story, “Duluth School Board saga ends with lawsuit’s dismissal,” and in the News Tribune’s “Our View” editorial the following day, “Board, district can recommit to cooperating.” Both concerned the Duluth School Board majority’s abandoned attempt to remove me from the board.

Though rich in political innuendo, the effort to overturn my 2013 election failed because there were no grounds to remove me, no intimidating behaviors revealed and no conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, this legal issue cost about $250,000 and resulted in nothing but hard feelings, more angst toward our schools, and more money diverted from education.

Fortunately, three board members who spearheaded this political fiasco decided against running for re-election. None of the six School Board candidates up for election stated they would have pursued such action.

This is a hopeful sign that the health and integrity of our schools once again will be talked about at School Board meetings.

Art Johnston

Duluth

The writer represents the 4th District on the Duluth School Board.

Mulch Conundrums

The Trib has a good summary of our Mulch Meeting last night.

This morning I read a short article in the NY Times that related to our relationship with the environment.

The first was on a peanut product made in Israel called Bamba which everybody eats and most from a very early age. Someone noticed that there are almost no peanut allergies in Israel and wondered if there was a connection. Of course, I don’t recall hearing about peanut allergies when I was a kid although I remember some horror stories about milk products. Today, according to the article, one in 50 US kids suffer from peanut allergies. A study confirmed that children whose parents rigorously kept them away from peanuts as infants and toddlers were far more likely to have children with peanut allergies, sometimes deadly allergies, than parents whose children ate peanut laced products at an early age.

Of course, peanuts are not the same as PCBs (poly chlorinated biphenols) and a host of other modern chemical creations such as those that can be found in tire rubber. There is no doubt our flushing of cosmetic and medicines down our sinks produces fish that all turn into females. We have a profound influence on our environment that is, at present, far beyond our ability to fully measure.

So, I offer the following observations I made from last night’s meeting.

Of hundreds of chemical compounds likely to be found in tires the dozen or so measured by a laboratory did not show anything particularly alarming.

That said rubber, like wood chips, degrades over time. In the Lester Park school playground there is mulch from the equivalent of 12,000 tires. However, its much more worrisome than that. The shreds of tires are so small that the surface area of the rubber exposed to the atmosphere is factors above what 12,000 full rubber tires would be. Imagine an entire tire reduced to pencil shavings. Every atom in these tires is mere thousandths of an inch from the air. Its no wonder our kids come in with blackened hands. Kids aren’t very fussy about washing up after playing outside. Whatever is in the tires will be near our kids respiratory system for perhaps a thousand playtime hours before they go on to middle school. The bags of mulch from the manufacturer gives alarming instructions about washing up after contact with the bag’s contents to prevent worrisome things from happening. That’s an ironical warning on contents made for our children to play on.

It will take a couple years before some much more extensive tests on tire mulch are conducted elsewhere. Meanwhile some urban school systems have forbidden the use of rubber mulch.

Hauling off the mulch and replacing it with, oh say, wood chips is the least of our costs which might be $110,000. We might have to completely re-engineer our playgrounds by digging them deeper with new drainage systems and re-installing all the equipment or buying new playground toys.

This is just the sort of issue that requires a functional school board to deliberate on calmly. The controversy is only a month old. It could fizzle out or ignite. An unnecessary repair would be expensive but it might offer peace of mind. That peace of mind could end up being as unwarranted as the calm it affords parents who keep their children away from peanut butter in the early years of their lives………or we could discover, years from now, that we subjected our children’s immune systems to substances that could cause long lasting and irreparable harm.

On the Rock

The Trib only mentioned one item from our school board meeting last night – the sale of a small parcel of land adjacent to the Rockridge School for one hundred thousand dollars. That will pay for three years of heating and maintenance on the empty building should we be unable to sell it.

Along with the unsold Nettleton School and Central High its one of the Red Plan’s many albatrosses. We sold Lincoln School for a dollar. That was our lucky day.

Last night at the Board meeting when we discussed the many enrollment difficulties both Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Annie Harala emphasized that it was the role of School Board members to speak positively about our schools. How they square that with the terrible public record of the School Board over the past year and a half I’m not sure but I do understand the impulse, ignored though it has been.

Annie suggested another way to bring back students. Hiring more people to promote the good things about the school district in addition to our current PR person. Perhaps had we had two such folks they could have masked the antagonisms of the School Board last year and kept us out of the public eye. We might have to list among the qualifications for the job demonstrated previous experience with sainthood.

In the Dark

We had a reasonably calm school board meeting tonight but it left me with many questions.

It was nice to see David Kirby at a Board meeting two weeks before the election. Its the first time I recall seeing him here. He sat with Nora Samstad who made it through her first full meeting. It was a pretty short one, only an hour and a half long.

Art made a motion to add a policy item to our agenda. He had brought it up to our Board and Chair Seliga-Punyko six weeks ago but the Chair refused to let it be discussed. This is a problem because our rules require a unanimous vote to get anything on the agenda on the day of a meeting. Not surprisingly it was two votes to five to deny Art and me a chance to explain the proposed policy’s merits. It simply said that important information would be shared with the School Board in the future.

Then, at the end of the meeting, Art mentioned the recent loss of another 200 plus students. He showed a chart with all the losses and gains in students since 2005 to the present. There was a spirited discussion which was split. One side felt the discussion hurt our reputation with families. The other, minority, side felt that we needed better information to figure out how to stop the continuing loss of students.

I mentioned that I’d like to conduct exit interviews. To my astonishment one of the majority members said we’d discussed exit interviews three times in the last year. I was too dumbstruck to ask what we learned from them having no recollection of any such discussions.

I learned another fascinating imponderable today. Apparently only 40 percent of the families who appealed a decision to preventing their children from attending schools in different attendance areas got their wish. Last year it was 90 percent. I was shocked to hear this because I was appointed to serve on the Transfer Appeals Committee which makes these decisions. I was never notified of its having met all spring.

This information was shared with folks at the meeting called by Rep. Simonson to discuss the Edison schools and its impact on the ISD 709 Schools. Supt. Gronseth offered up this information much as he suggested that ISD 709 will only lose about 200 students to the new 600 student Edison High School. Maybe we should be doing some pre-exit interviews to make sure.

Annie Harala was the insider Board member who attended the meeting with the Superintendent. When the discussion of the new Edison High School came up Annie asked the Edison folks if they would put an end to the project for the good of everyone. She was informed that the project was too far along to stop. This is one time that “better late than never” doesn’t apply.

Boop boop diddum daddum WADM Boom

Art Johnston sent the local press the worrisome news that ISD 709 has suffered another significant drop in its October attendance. He’s a little surprised that no news source has mentioned this, as of yet.

The Duluth Public Schools disclosed to the School Board on Monday our enrollment figures for this fall. This showed another large, unpredicted decrease of students and raises lots of concerns.

The Duluth Public School enrollment for the start of this year is 8366 students in grades K through 12.

This is a loss of 227 students compared to the start of last year. Continue reading

More on mulch

Today’s Editorial Page had a op ed about our playground mulch. A meeting is to be held at Lester Park this Wednesday at 6:30PM to give the Board information about its chemical composition and potential threat to children playing on it.

Gary Glass gave me the name of one of his old EPA lab colleagues who did a little research on this subject a year ago after his grandson came home with black hands. I passed his name on to the parents who are concerned about this issue.

Dixon’s record passing operating levies

I have a friend who keeps me abreast of our old Superintendent Keith Dixon. He shared this information with me the other day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkc7V04SYD0&list=PLsyDmscCuwWk5DN5p73UlYNy9wdMXaM8R

The new superintendent of Centennial ISD 12

I think this fellow is the second superintendent after the Dixon “interim” period

Dixon is long gone but his record is stark. After pushing through a controversial building levy in Faribault, MN he was unable to pass an operating levy for the classroom which led to his jump to Duluth. Ditto Duluth.

Evidently he helped get another building levy passed as he left the Centennial School District. His successors are still trying to pass a levy for the classroom.

East against West Pt 1 Stained Glass

God is giving me this wonderful weather. That’s a pretty remarkable thing for an avowed agnostic to say but it’s how I’ve felt for the past two weeks as I’ve gone door to door passing out flyers for my candidates. Today, Monday, will be the same. I got out of bed at 2:30AM and checked the sky for Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Astro Bob wrote that I’ll get a good chance to see them along with Mercury while standing on the fifth member of the inner planets in a couple hours. I can see them because its not overcast, meaning I’ll have another sunny day to feverishly go door to door. I’m not the only one doing this. Loren Martell has done the same. I think he will be rewarded by voters pleased to see a candidate out on the hustings fighting for their vote. Certainly he tells me that, after discovering he lived in the Third District which is largely the Denfeld and Lincoln Park attendance area these residents and voters are as feverish to see justice done as he is. Some background.

I came to Duluth 41 years ago thinking my future lay in politics. To that end I needed to study this city and I never let any scrap of information about Duluth get past me unread. When I had a chat with Greg Fox a couple weeks ago up at the Kirby Ballroom on UMD I was pretty certain that he had in mind the same long Tribune story I had read a few years after arriving in town.

Like many others who are movers and shakers in Duluth Greg, the long time Number 2 administrator at UMD was a Denfeld grad. I made a biting comment about Denfeld’s fate and I saw him narrow his eyes and launch into the story this Tribune article told. It was about Duluth’s demographics. It explained, as Greg explained to me, how the ambitious students in eastern Duluth had for years left town to pursue college never to return while up and coming Denfeld Graduates moved to East Duluth and stayed in town to run it. I suspect I clipped this old article and saved it but, if so, I know not where I might have filed it away.

I’ll stop the history here but come back to it in a later post. What I woke up thinking about this morning is the unpleasant possibility that Denfeld could be abandoned like some ghetto school. Its what I hinted strongly at two years ago when I talked about gangrene spreading from west to east.

The great irony to me is that some of the most loyal Denfeld Alumni seem blind to this possible fate. Continue reading

Don’t walk away Renee

Renee Van Nett made the most compelling argument for her election to the school board early on; that when she comes to a school board meeting she doesn’t see anyone like herself.

Had things worked out differently I can imagine that before our meeting yesterday, I would have put up five Van Nett signs beforehand and not five Alanna Oswald signs. I’ll keep putting up Oswald signs for the next sixteen days but not because Van Nett is not a good candidate. She’s just not Alanna. My unwavering support for Alanna will become more apparent in future posts. I just can’t deny that Renee Van Net is a poster child for children who have been ill served by modern public education as much as she is a model of resilience in the face of great hardship.

When I met Renee at a Coffee House her daughter, Nevada, was playing on her Mother’s cell phone watching videos produced by some crazy Dad who evidently dresses up like Batman while his wife waves a frying pan at him.

We spent about an hour and a half getting to know each other. She met a sort of cerebral, white guy who defined “agnostic” for her. The white guy met a woman who gave him invaluable insights on growing up Native in Minnesota.

I didn’t take notes and it’s not for me to write Renee’s history but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind my sharing a few of the basics which are key to her character. Her Dad came back to the Rez from “the war,” Vietnam, in bad shape. Some combination of Agent Orange and too much alcohol brought about his early death at age 35.

Although born in Red Lake Renee, unlike her father, was not “enrolled” into the Red Lake band. In this she is like many other Native Americans who have tenuous ties to their tribes. She has moved between multiple Ojibwe reservations, the Twin Cities and Duluth through the years. She attended both the Duluth and Fon du Lac schools. In comparing notes it seems she might have been at Washington Junior High in ninth grade about the time I was teaching there in 1984-85. She has taken in foster kids to give the stability she had so little of during her youth.

I don’t know if Renee has ever read my blog but I’m sure someone has brought my previous comments about her to her attention. I haven’t really had much critical to say other than to point out that her cheerleading for our District’s successes seems to be in conflict with her real world experiences. At any rate Renee didn’t seem the least bit concerned by my comments.

I asked Renee what it was like in the Twin Cities with other Native Americans from a variety of Reservations. I got the impression that the main thing that connected many of them was their sense of otherness which also has driven them into the same neighborhoods. This is true of the Ojibwe from different bands and even more true of different Tribes. Renee told me that the Sioux and Ojibwe have kidded each other for generations about their dining habits. Today its kidding but it was more likely taunting a few generations back. The Sioux call the Ojibwe “rabbit eaters” while the Ojibwe call the Sioux “dog eaters.” I asked Renee how long it had been since she had eaten rabbit (I’m not sure she ever has)and pointed out that I’d be surprised to meet any Sioux today who had ever tasted dog.

I teased both Renee and her daughter and poked fun at myself. Nevada, like my grandsons, was too engrossed in the cell phone’s offerings to pay much attention to the adult conversation. I told her how I had put our movie “Zombie Grandson” on youtube and they both wanted to watch it before I could escape. I just told them to type in its title in Google with my last name. Of course, its also on the blog.

Renee strikes me as having a naive but also profound faith that she can find solutions and answers to the problems in our schools. Just as important is a welcome lack of egotism to interfere with finding those solutions. Whatever I might have written about Renee didn’t bother her. If anything it prompted her to ask me to meet with her and I was grateful for the chance. Her erstwhile allies both have two advanced degrees apiece but are keeping their distance from me lest, I suppose, I quote them out of context or say something unflattering about them. About the toughest thing I’ve said to date about either of them is their apparent trepidation to meet with me. Should they be elected they will have to meet me eventually. I can’t help but wonder if they could endure a meeting with a thousand angry Duluthians lined up to lambaste them like I have.

I know both David and Nora have much to offer. At Myers-Wilkin’s forum on Thursday both were asked about their previous experiences with minorities. Dr. Kirby surprised me by saying he had marched with Martin Luther King in Cicero, Illinois. I instantly envied him. My regard for King is so high that he is one of the few American luminaries I regret never having seen in the flesh. Dr. Kirby marched with him.

And I remember that march well. It made the news when I was 15 because someone threw a brick that hit the Reverend’s head. That was 1966 the year I entered high school. It was also the year the Left Banke put their one-hit-wonder “Walk Away Renee” (borrowed for this post’s title) on the pop charts.

Renee’s campaign was handed a blow when the Tribune changed its tune. Prior to the Primary the editorial board lavished praise on Renee. More recently, and to my delight, they lavished praise on Alanna Oswald. In this second endorsement the Trib confidently predicted that Renee would remain and offer valuable help to our schools after the election. I hope the Trib is right. I can’t help but like anyone that tells me I’m funny. I can’t help but respect anyone who has overcome so many obstacles placed in their path and then turned around to help others get past the same obstacles.

A little filler between political and other chores

I only have thirty minutes to add something of note before I head over to the Damiano Soup kitchen to serve lunch. I got up late after a welcome long night’s sleep. I followed that by catching up on some old Tribs I had set aside.

Yesterday, my neighbor, friend and political raconteur Dick Gastler died. I regret I didn’t look in on him recently. Many in the Denfeld family will be in mourning for him and his infamous green leisure suit.

I only tended to politics yesterday when I attended the Myers Wilkins’ forum for school board candidates. Most candidates were pretty evenly matched but I lingered afterward to talk with folks from the three campaigns I’m championing. I also caught up with Renee Van Nett to check that we were still on to meet tonight. We are. Would that the other two candidates had been willing to meet with me prior to the election.

I’ve always said that I’ve never met anyone who ran for the School Board who didn’t have our children’s interest foremost in their mind. That is certainly true of the three board members who are not running for reelection…….who perhaps took their focus off that target over the past year and a half. I’m confident that we will have a much different and more productive board starting next January no matter who is elected.

I promised some important analysis from Alanna Oswald last night but it will take me a while to format that for the blog so that will have to wait. I have crowed about the recent leaps in visitors to this blog but I discovered to my annoyance that they may not all be my target Duluth audience. Among the welter of information my stats gather up are visitors from servers in other nations. In the past few days visits from the Russian Federation have surpassed those of servers in the U.S. This has happened in the past with the Ukraine and China. I don’t trust the visit counts when this happens. It probably just means someone;s computer robot has planted something on my blog that I don’t want in order to attract hits of little consequence.

After lunch I’ll hand out more flyers, this time for Loren Martell and Alanna. I’ll post her research later tonight.