Stuff it… of my you tubed videos

I filmed it while stuffing some these 4000 envelopes. It’s been on the blog before but with the primary looming I thought new readers might be interested to see the informal me.

When I’ve finished passing these out in the next two weeks I’ll be out of flyers. If you’d like to help guarantee that my campaign will be able to print out more for the other 30,000 households in Duluth you could make a donation here. If you do you’ll get a spiffy set of snow sculpture trading cards.

I’ve never met a school board candidate who didn’t want to help educate children…

… So what?

The last ten year’s worth of Duluth School Board members reduced the local taxes going into our classrooms from $14 million to $2.5 million.

These Board members loved children. Their own children were in the Duluth Schools. Many of them matriculated from the Duluth Schools. They only wanted the best school buildings for our children. “Schools for the 21st Century!” If I can level any serious accusation at them it would be this: They refuse to acknowledge the damage they did to our schools. But, God knows, they cared about our schools and our children all the time they were inflicting the damage.

As Mark Twain wrote: “First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he created the School Board!”

And as for that title above this post there is an important qualification. “I’ve never met.”

I never met the greatest murderer of school children in US history – Michigan farmer and school board member Andrew Kehoe. He blew up a school and killed 38 children in 1927.

There have never been any Kehoe’s on the Duluth School Board, thank goodness, but as I noted before “pride, goeth before our children’s fall.”

I’ve touted my “candor” in campaign literature and on my blog. But I’m also a convential nice guy. I believed my Mother when she told me that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Therefore, my candor is edged with a heavy layer of diplomacy. I breached a diplomatic wall in the last post. I mentioned I’m supporting Kurt Kuehn in the First District Race for the School Board. Kurt is challenging my colleague Rosie Loeffler-Kemp.

My “eight loyal readers” know that I’ve mentioned Rosie’s machinations many times in my blog. But, I’ve been coy. Now, I will be completely candid. I do not want to serve with Rosie anymore, particularly if she is part of a majority and I remain in a minority.

She led the attempt to destroy Art Johnston costing him $75,000 and the School District $200,000. She pushed and voted to censure me the week my Mother died for doing nothing more than blogging that there was a ten million dollar offer for the purchase of Central High School. Perhaps Rosie is the person who told candidate Josh Gorham that it was me who killed that deal because I was being “unethical.” That’s what Josh told Barbara Reyelts in the recent interviews which KBJR/KDLH has conveniently failed to put up on the Internet.

Rosie’s success has astonished me. I knew her as a fairly harmless PTSA (Parent, Teacher, Student Association) President years ago ratting out her successor Judy Seliga-Punyko for running roughshod over the PTSA Board. I’ve told many a political novice that you can never tell who opposes you now that might one day become your ally. And to this point Rosie and Judy became fast friends during the first two years I returned to the School Board as they pulled out all the stops to make the Duluth School Board look like the most dysfunctional school board and laughingstock in Minnesota history.

Rosie was not only Duluth’s PTSA chair but for three years was the Minnesota State PTSA chair. I have seen little from Rosie in the last three and a half years to explain how she could have been elevated to such a position in Minnesota. I defy anyone to go through the last three years worth of School Board committee meeting videos on you-tube to show evidence of Rosie’s understanding for what’s going on in the Duluth Schools. One reporter once told me that they never asked Rosie for a comment because she never had anything useful to say.

I’ll leave it to Rosie to respond to this bit of candor of mine. She helped recruit candidates to run against Art Johnston and me and we have reciprocated.

As far as I am concerned she stands for the sweep-the-last-ten-years-under-the-rug-agenda that has put our schools and our children behind the eight ball.

How much more candor will I dispense? I don’t know but I may not be done. I’m feeling an attitude coming on.

Back when Republicans were likeable

The long planned E 4th street project has finally reached my home’s intersection on 21st. Avenue. Its a noisy mess which has been plagued with rain and huge pools of red water covering the clay turned up in the massive excavations. Dismantled street lights and absent traffic make for an eerie calm and darkness. Last night Claudia and I sat in the darkness over our sunroom lit by solar lights in flower pots listening to a young couple trying to navigate around the pit in the gloom. The man’s voice was full of imprecations about how he couldn’t see an effin thing and the woman’s voice was reassuring. “He’s not going to have that girlfriend for long,” I told Claudia.

This morning I went out to take some pictures from my neighbor’s front yard and gingerly stepped over a fresh pile of deer scat. The local wildlife doesn’t mind our inconvenience in the slightest.

A year ago Claudia and I signed over the temporary rights to our front lawn for a windfall of $800 to the County. When our sidewalk was removed a week ago the workers were careful not to damage our relatively new and expensive brick steps. We spent some to keep our home true to its original condition. I am a little worried that the diggers that dumped a ton of soil on the bottom two steps may have damaged them. I hope when its removed its done with men and shovels instead of a bull dozer.

The best yard in Duluth for showing off political lawnsigns has been temporarily transformed. The three at large school board candidates whose signs are laid out on the rhubarb I planted a couple of years ago sit forlornly unread by the 30,000 vehicles which usually breeze up and down our avenue every day.

I began to remedy that yesterday by passing out my upgraded literature on London Road. I was out with Kurt Kuehn. (Remember that’s pronounced KEEN) Kurt is challenging Rosie Loeffler-Kemp for the first District seat. We slapped up five signs on east London Road. Meanwhile dozens of another school board candidate’s signs went missing over the weekend. I hope ours don’t suffer a similar fate. And the frustration of lawnsign maintenance is why I have taken to putting up signs just a couple of weeks before elections rather than months beforehand. Ah, but there is a primary in a little over two weeks. The Trib has already started endorsing candidates for the City Council. No doubt the School Board endorsements are soon to follow. Yesterday I went to the DNT’s offices to get a new head shot taken. They’ve been using a nice photo from a few years ago when I was still wearing a beard and I had more pepper in my hair. Salt is making new inroads and I didn’t want people to think I was trying to disguise my age. As Ronald Reagan once said of Walter Mondale when folks were accusing the President of being decrepit:

Float like a butterfly . . .

For reasons that passeth my understanding I have been unable lately to upload my cell phone pics to the blog from my Flickr account. Well, Google also captures my pics and this is a Red Admiral Butterfly I caught on one of our garden’s cone flowers. The picture has nothing to do with anything I routinely blog about.

This one does:

Over the past four or five days I’ve put 20 plus hours into stuffing about 4,000 envelopes to pass out door to door. I added one more item to it that I didn’t pass out my first day going door to door before driving to Nebraska to watch the full eclipse. It has a little more meat to it. I was pleased with the op ed piece I wrote for the Tribune so I printed up 5,000 copies in hopes it might make my request for donations a tad more compelling. (I’d wager that less than one in three voters reads the Trib these days) I will resume passing out my literature tomorrow and will do so in such a way that the post office will not call me back to complain that my flyers are touching mail boxes.

One thing puzzles me. I caught 3/4ths of Barbara Reyelts’s interviews with school board candidates on Sunday morning (including mine) just as their News Director, Kevin Jacobsen, told me they would be scheduled. It may be Reyelts’ last appearance on KBJR. I can’t find them anywhere on KBJR’s website. That is unusual. The local TV stations do so little “public affairs” programming its surprising they would bury the little they produce. I heard that after the first interview, the one between Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and her challenger Kurt Kuehn (pronounced Keen), Rosie read Barbara the riot act. I missed that single interview Sunday but someone captured a blurry video of it. Rosie did not acquit herself very well. Mr. Kuehn did.

Rosie is Annie Harala’s close ally and both board members worked hard to recruit candidates with the help of folks like AFSCME’s longtime President, Alan Netland. They want to keep the balance of power unchanged on the Board after Annie’s departure. In fact, I’d say that all the new recruits they found sounded a bit fuzzy in the Reyelts’ interviews. Kevin Jacobsen is Annie’s husband so I can’t help but wonder if this helps explain why the interviews didn’t make it to KBJR’s website. Probably not, but then its hard at times not to scratch one’s heads over strange doings. In any case, their absence seems like a slap in the face to Barb Reyelts.

Ramos Correction

John Ramos, true to form, admitted a mistake, albeit a tiny, picky mistake in his last column. He did not realize that there were eight school board candidates appealing to the Duluth Federation of Teachers for their endorsement. It was strongly suggested that his failure to mention former Denfeld teacher and current Speech Coach, Jill Lofald, was typical of the Reader’s carelessness. As a former writer of for the Reader myself, clocking in at over 100 columns, I am hurt by this presumption. My “Not Eudora” columns can be found on my old Snowbizz web site.

Here’s John’s acknowledgement in last week’s Reader:

“Last week, John Ramos inadvertently left Jill Lofald off a list of School Board candidates who participated in a screening session at the Duluth Federation of Teachers. Ms. Lofald was there.

Ramos regrets the error.”

I have been known to make “inadvertent” mistakes too. I once prematurely mentioned that the School District had a ten million dollar offer on the table for Central high School on my blog. That was inadvertent because I mistakenly thought the figure had already been mentioned in the press. I was censured by the school board for that. BTW – four of the six board members who voted to censure me have quit the school board. Only Rosie Loefler-Kemp and I are running for reelection. And yes, we both voted to censure me for that mistake of mine.

I think it may be fair to say that ten years worth of Duluth school boards inadvertently failed to check our finances while they began looting $11.5 million from our classrooms annually to transfer to Red Plan debt repayment. Sometimes inadvertent mistakes should be judged on the basis of their scale.

BTW – Not one of the passel of school board members who robbed our children in this way over this period of time have ever acknowledged their inadvertent mistake.

No, No, No, Loren Martell didn’t get more face time with the editors than I did

I will not be making it easy for the people I advise on who to vote for for the Duluth School Board. At least not with the At-large candidates. Only two of the five candidates will be elected and I’m rooting for three of us – Loren Martell, Dana Krivogorsky and me. In fact, I’ve put all three of our lawnsigns on the front yard that no one will be able to see for the next month while road construction blocks our intersection.

Shortly after Loren’s sign went up Loren told me I’d misreported how much time he got to spend with the News Tribune editorial board. I recalled him saying they gave him a little extra attention and since I’d spent 40 minutes with them I presumed he must have gotten a full hour. Naw, he just got the same 40 minutes I got. We both offer corrections to the other when they seem to be warranted and Loren didn’t want anyone to think he got special treatment.

I’ll mention one of the things that I told the Editorial Board when the subject of the Superintendent came up. I told them what I always say about Mr. Gronseth, “I think he has a good grasp of what is good for kids,” or words to that affect. I also said I had no objection to his looking for other superintendent positions. I told the Editorial Board that I had given a lot of thought about how candid I wanted to be with them as I presumed I would be “on record” through the interview. I told them that this was a pretty good time for me to be diplomatic but I also told them that I figured the Superintendent and I were probably rooting for different candidates.

Hint to voters: I’m partial to that old maxim attributed, probably incorrectly to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

The folks I’m rooting for are all aware that the last ten year’s worth of Duluth School Boards are the ones who diverted $11 million annually from the classroom to build “21st Century” school buildings. I sorta think the folks I’m not rooting for would prefer to be cheerleaders when they are running for a management position.

No plans for today except stuffing envelopes when I get a new flyer

The interview with the DNT Editorial Board…

…was very cordial. Loren Martell told me that he got almost an hour with them, much longer than expected. I got about forty minutes as someone else was waiting in the wings. I should have taken better mental notes but I recall their being two citizen representatives and Chuck Frederick and four other DNT operatives from the publisher down to an employee representative.

We began with a longish remembrance by Chuck and me of Jimmy Kimmel’s show thirteen years ago periodically following the quixotic attempt by a Duluth brick layer to build the biggest snow sculpture ever which he later ratcheted back to the biggest one in Duluth history. I got invited to offer a couple of observations as a recognized expert on the subject. And Chuck was there too. Kimmel sent Chuck an autographed picture of the event which an earlier story by Chuck in the Trib had prompted. I made Chuck promise to let me see it. I noted that back then Kimmel was infamous for frat type humor whereas he recently made a compelling speech about health care with the near loss of an infant son.

As my eight loyal readers know 38 minutes is hardly enough time to cover the millions of words I’ve spilled about the Duluth Schools here in the blog but it was a fun, fast, interview.


I decided to skip a fairly important presentation last night put on by the Minnesota Dept. of Education about the replacement to No Child Left Behind. It was partly because I am pooped out from so much gallivanting and partly because I had both grandsons over last night and their folks and family time seemed more important. You can read about what I missed in the Trib.


I’ll be at home with the boys this morning but before they woke up I went back through my China posts. Yesterday while I was at the Board meeting Claudia showed our youngest grandson and his Dad the recent NOVA episode about the Terracotta Army and the book she bought while we were there. Today she is going to the book club that lured her to the cruise we took. She’ll be offering her travelogue. My summary can be found in the China series and the last five or so have links to Facebook slideshows which are short but snappy with pictures I took of each of the locations we spent time visiting. I’d suggest reading from beginning to end which in the blog means from earliest (at the bottom) to most recent (at the end).


And we picked up our Chevy Traverse in Hinckley with its Serpentine system repaired and humming again. Now all we have to do is figure out how to deal with the intersection of 21st Av and 4th St. which will be plugged up for the next month on the major fix up being imposed on it. And I thought our traffic was loud!

When FLIKR begins cooperating with me again I’ll try posting a picture of all the trucks out front.

Back to the campaign

As I was traveling back home yesterday the Post Office called and left a message that the campaign material I dropped door to door on Thursday should not have touched, hung from or been stuck behind mail boxes. I promised I would adhere to this carefully from now on. It may be a challenge to find an alternative when screen doors are locked as I prefer to open them and close my materials into them.

Which made me worry about my failing to put a “Postage here” square in the corner lest donors forget to properly mail them. I bought a rubber stamp to do this and am going back to stamp the notice on all my stuffed envelopes.

Which made me think that the light hearted letter Mike Jaros signed for me might not have been informative enough. I copied my op ed piece in the News Tribune and ordered them to be printed and tri-folded. I’ll add them into the previously stuffed envelopes while stamping “postage here” on them as well.

Fortunately, Paypal alerted me that I had received some contributions through the Internet. A little bit more and I should be able to cover these unexpected costs. You can contribute below if you don’t want to wait for the possibility that I’ll reach your house before the campaign is over. Of 35,000 homes I’ll be lucky to get to one-third of them by November.

Feel free to help ……. and while your at it to get a set of snow sculture trading cards.

Minnesota not so nice

CBS reports that an organization called Wall Street 24/7 Minnesota is the second most unequal state in the Union just behind Wisconsin.

In Duluth although our students MCA test results trended up on average this trend did not include our minority students. Our “educational gap” is as great as ever.

This reinforces the need to keep “equity” on the front burner during this school board election.

Begging the Chair’s Indulgence

I made one stop on the way to Duluth, Mankato, my residence from Junior High through college. I had hoped to have time to take my grandson to the hilltop where my folks, his great grandparents are buried. There wasn’t time for that if I was to get to last night’s monthly School Board meeting. I did, however, take him for a walk through Minneopa State Park. He experimented, as thousands had before him, carving some lines into the soft sandstone that bore witness to better than a century of love declarations. The Falls were lovely but sadly the Buffalo imported to the glacial stone debris below the old Seppman Grist Mill all remained hidden as we drove through. From thence on it was a rush to get to Duluth.

I did make my grandson take a break from his cell phone to read something I’d written years earlier about my move to Mankato. I told him writing was my way of carving lines in the sandstone to be remembered .

Before cresting the hill to descend to Lake Superior I called Claudia and asked her to order hoagies for me to gulp down so I get to the School Board meeting on time. I had about twenty minutes to change cloths and find my board agenda. I missed the roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance but got to the Board meeting in time to congratulate the East Cheerleaders for good works which I just missed hearing about. At least my handshakes were on time. My other eclipsing colleague, Art Johnston, who had a better view than me in Casper, Wyoming, was still in transit home.

Summer meetings can be short. At the beginning of the Education Committee Report from last Tuesday the Board was congratulated on finishing it up in an hour and fifteen minutes. My being in Colorado that day probably helped speed things along. I would drag out this night’s meeting to an hour and a half by launching into a story from my travels to make a point. It might have been five minutes longer had the Chair and the Clerk not objected to my story telling. They were not in the mood for a raconteur. I launched into a prologue to express my concern that recent budget cuts to the Curriculum Department and the many initiatives undertaken to improve teaching might fall seriously short. But veering into the example of my travels with too much on my mind leading me to sit on a flimsy water bottle in my back pocket elicited only impatience. I did beg for the Chair’s indulgence considering that our’s would be a short meeting but gave up in the face of a crowd eager to go home early. My three minutes of prologue start at the 48 minute point and end with my concession and cutting to the chase. You can find it here:

E Calypso

I am a driving wimp. I like to let Claudia drive while I read to her. A trip to the Cities clocking in at 2.45 hours is OK and I can manage the drive back on the same day. More than that – backbone daggers.

There was a broken bolt on a pulley for the serpentine belt. Not fixable. A trip that I thought was given a still birth came about because my daughter let me use her vehicle while mine was left in Hinckley for repairs. My Grandson and I didn’t get into a hotel until 9:30 PM far too late for a swim as I’d promised him. And the weather forecast for the next day suggested another long drive into iffy cloud cover. But it mostly worked out. I had an old map of Nebraska in an almanac and I evaluated all the roads along full eclipse’s route and matched it with semi-reliable day old satellite imagery.

I had to wake my reliable 6 AM riser grandson at 7:30 to get a move on. From 8 until we crossed into Mountain Time Nebraska we were shrouded in fog and then covered by dense clouds. It didn’t look good. We passed by the Rosebud Casino where I gassed up my daughter’s car. Tan huddled over his cell phone playing games and I listened to all two hours of NPR on Nebraska Public Radio. Trump’s going to give a speech. He’s going to imitate the foreign policies of the Presidents he called fools for not abandoning Afghanistan. At best, he’s an annular eclipse.

As I raced down back roads through Nebraska’s Sandhill country I saw small breaks in the clouds. I was heading in a zigzag west and south nearing but never quite reaching the panhandle. I had Tan look at my map and tell me the times in each of a half dozen tiny towns that the eclipse was expected to arrive and the mileage to calculate which one to head for. I decided that Tryon, Nebraska, was within reach and as good a bet as any right smack dab in the center of totality give or take a mile.

As we turned south the breaks in the clouds grew wider. Soon large swaths of sandhills had sun shining on them. We began to see cars pulled off on this remote road with folks setting up lawn chairs to get a view of the show. It turned out a lot of them were Minnesotans who had taken the same roads we had.

As the time for eclipse neared I pulled over to get our eclipse glasses out and instructed the Tan Man to see if a bite had been taken out of the sun. He thought so and I still had 30 miles to cover to get to Tryon. No problem. The show was going to take an hour from start to finish. I sped up and that did me in. Doing seventy to outrace an eclipse in a sixty mile per hour zone got me pulled over by the friendliest Highway patrolman in Nebraska. My heart lurched when he asked for the papers my daughter should have had in her car – registration and insurance. It took some digging in the glove compartment but we discovered it was all good.

As the moon progressed to an eighth of the distance the patrolman issued me a warning ticket. As I promised to abide by the speed limit he told me I was already in the epicenter of totality. Recounting the experience to the Texans who joined us later I explained that this patrolman would never see a busier day on this quiet stretch of backroad for the rest of his career.

The garrulous Texans, a 40-ish son and his cataract suffering father, had just made a nineteen-hour trip from Huston. They had just talked to another Minnesotan who had made a nine-hour trip. I allowed that we had come from Lake Superior further north and had 14 hours under our serpentine belts.

The patrolmen had followed me after ticketing me and I lost the steam to drive into Tryon perhaps another 12 miles ahead. I knew I would still get at least a minute of totality from the point of ticketing and, when I found a hilltop overlooking both east and west, I pulled off the road and climbed a short distance warning my Grandson not to step on a snake.

Sadly, one of the wispy clouds moved in as totality approached by which time we could no longer move out of its way. Still, we saw the coronal ring as the moon’s shadow passed over. A friend’s email afterwards noted that some folks found the experience spiritual. I replied that I had experienced it with a couple of gabby Texans.

Its been twenty hours of solo driving for me in two days. I’ve got another six or seven to go from the Sheratan in Sioux Falls. (We hopped in the pool at 9 last night.)

I Facebooked our experience and, for those of you who will have to wait until 2024 for the next eclipse over the US, I’ll whet your appetite with these modest pictures of our hour in and out of the Sandhills. Continue reading

Eclipsing my campaign

Couldn’t sleep last night. I’m heading out with my grandson to catch 2 minutes of total eclipse if we can find a route that will take us to cloud free skies. The Tan Man usually wakes up at 6 AM on his own. If he wakes in an hour and a half we’ll sneak out three hours earlier than I had originally planned. (Must take advantage of my wakefulness)

As I opened up the computer a headline that cried out for reading – I ignored it – said that people taking off for the eclipse will cost the U.S. economy $750 million. Heck, that’s half again more than the cost of the Red Plan. Its always helpful to have a guidepost to put things in perspective.

It might have been my mighty effort to pass out campaign literature yesterday that made sleep difficult. My cell phone’s exercise app said I spent 250 minutes walking yesterday. It was four hours under a reasonably hot sun and I suffered twice because because I hadn’t taken water with me to hydrate myself. The app said I put in 26,000 steps or something like that. I managed to pass out close to 500 of my lit pieces. That’s 1/20th of what I printed out. Unless it leads to some orders for my “trading cards” that will be the end of my door to door work because, as I have indicated before, I simply refuse to spend anymore on school board campaigns. You can tote up my expenditures if you check out all the candidates, including my own, campaign finance statements. Its me versus the DFL and the DFT. I’ve also contributed to some excellent candidates who I hope to serve with over the next four years should I prevail in the September primary and the November General election.

But, I’ll be out of town until Tuesday when I return for the next school board meeting. The following day, Wednesday, I’ll be interviewed by the News Tribune’s Editorial Board and resume my door to door work. Depending on the weather I should be able to increase my average daily lit dropping. I think my record two years ago when I was helping Loren Martell and Alanna Oswald was something like 36,000 steps.

The campaign for the Duluth School Board is simply that important to me. But I won’t let it eclipse the next couple days with my Grandson. Now I must go to my weather apps to see where the clearest skies are forecast.

Candidate Welty’s view

It’s Online here with the headline: Incumbent’s View: Red Plan fight isn’t over; funds needed for classrooms.

This is my text in full:

I have much to be modest about when asking Duluth voters for a fourth term on the Duluth School Board. My determination to bring about equity, my candor, and my experience are, however, something I value deeply and which I think recommend my continuing service.

I ran four years ago determined to make the Red Plan a thing of the past. To my shock, my inquiries for public data, to lay old questions to rest, were met with fury, stonewalling, and, finally, hysteria. And the Red Plan was never dead. For 10 years, Duluth School Board majorities refused to acknowledge that their financing of the Red Plan would loot locally levied property taxes from the classroom for decades to come.

Twenty years ago, in 1997, my second year as a School Board member, Duluth school property taxes were $23 million; $9 million of this was for debt servicing, and $14 million went to the classroom. Today, local school property taxes are $31 million. But this year’s Red Plan debt servicing takes $28.7 million, leaving only $2.5 million for the classroom. That is $11.5 million less for our classrooms despite an $8 million property tax increase.

If you care to do the math, our average teacher costs $90,000 per year. I will leave it to others to explain the insistence of some that the Red Plan is over.

What is not over is the loss of $11.5 million for the classrooms each year at a time when our district is expected to meet the needs of a growing poor and minority student population desperate for teacher contact time in order to bridge an infamous learning gap.

Like it or not, Duluth now has a nearly half billion-dollar investment in new schools to protect. Our board has refused good offers to sell derelict buildings, even though such sales were made a critical part of the Red Plan’s financing.

I will do what I deem necessary to raise the funds we need to educate our children. I will, to the best of my ability, hold true to my conviction that voters should be offered referendums to raise the necessary funds. However, if given no alternative, voters must know that I may decide to vote to raise additional taxes even if the public has soured on providing them.

I can hardly blame the public. Ten years ago, district residents were denied a referendum on the Red Plan, and this was just after our state Legislature placed a heavier property tax burden on more modest homes than on those of the more affluent.

Not every child can do what Abraham Lincoln did: educate themselves beyond a meager few years of an elementary education to the law, to Congress, to the presidency, and to the rescue of the American nation. What Lincoln would have given to have been educated in the Duluth public schools!

We owe it to our children to remember President Lincoln’s words: “with malice toward none.”

Let’s give our children an education we can be proud of.

Harry Welty is a candidate for an At Large seat on the Duluth School Board.

Fallout from the John Ramos column

Here’s WDIO’s story about the teacher union’s endorsement.

While I was in flight back to Duluth, WDSM’s Brad Bennett, an ex Duluth School Board member, was engaged in a spirited 5-minute discussion with an agitated listener who bashed Art Johnston and the writer of a recent Reader column John Ramos. It starts at the 35 minute point in the 2nd hour.

My eight loyal readers have ample evidence of my thoughts about Art Johnston and the travesty of “justice” he endured at the hands of the School Board of 2014-15. The listener bashing Art and John suggested that it was no surprise that information in the Reader was unreliable.

I’ve always considered John Ramos to be an exceptionally careful reporter. Of the Ramos column in question at the Reader I only read one bit of inadequate information besides the failure to include Jill Lofald in the list of candidate attendees at the Endorsement screening. John reports that the attempt (travesty) to remove Art and invalidate his lawful election cost $43,000. It was far closer to costing taxpayers $200,000. As for the “tens of thousands” it cost Art to defend himself and those election results – it was closer to $75,000.

Brad and I go waaaay back. When I became Board Chair in 1998 Brad encouraged me to require that the School Board start saying the Pledge of Allegiance to begin school board meetings because he knew one of the new board members elected in the 1997 election was an atheist and resisted saying the Pledge with its mention of “under God.” She had also been worried that she might be asked to place her hand on a Bible for her swearing in as a new board member. We don’t do that.

At some point in Brad’s subsequent Radio talk show career he started calling me “AC-DC,” and “Madman Welty.” He was referring generally to my wavering support of the Republican party. “AC-DC” is a term suggesting both gay and straight proclivities. I was not very pleased with Brad’s teasing/taunting so I wrote a column in the Reader which demonstrated that Brad himself was all too human during his stint on the School Board. His wife at the time told me she would never forgive me for it. (Sorry, but some of the links in that column have gone bad over the last 15 years. One of them had the photo of a wrecked ISD 709 car)

Brad is a big boy and never, to my knowledge, disparaged me for my “payback.” In fact, we went on to have spirited debates over other issues which also made it to my space on the Internet.

Estes Park

Welty family reunions have most often converged on Estes Park, Colorado in a valley surrounded by foothills and the Rockies. One of my first memories was seeing Damn Yankees at a Drive in Theater when I was ten or so. Love the scene with canibals putting missionaries in a soup pot. Ten years later we saw Anne of a Thousand Days in the tiny downtown theater.

Its always been a tourist Mecca and even my cousins are astonished at its carpeting of new housing developments. The general level of material wealth is worth comparing to what I saw in China. Even if China’s GNP overtakes that of the United States they won’t likely match such places at Estes which has a hundred years headstart in developing creature comforts.

Its impressive rock architecture like this that helps give the community its ambiance:

And roving herds of elk overrunning gardens that seperate it from other locales:

An employee of the Stanley Hotel was busy shooing this bull away from the grounds along with his harem when our family stopped by for cocktails. The Stanley was the inspiration of Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

Much of what I’ve said of Estes could be said of Duluth as well at least as compared to China. Unlike the expanding Chinese Cities ours spread out into single family homes. The Chinese are expanding up as well but into apartment generic blocks.

As with our trip to China a few weeks ago national news was hard to ignore. As always Seth Meyers is a wonderful antidote. I loved this piece of his.

I also enjoyed Facebooking my weekend and appreciated my freedom to do so after being frozen out of Facebook while in China. Furthermore my reunion saw the first time that I wasn’t with my wife during our anniversary. Claudia was with two very handsome boys in the Dells and our anniversary communications were all Facebooked.

I’ll be heading home in a couple hours and to a birthday party for one of those boys. I’ll be taking him to the path of the total eclipse on Sunday and I bought eclipse sun glasses at the Visitors Center at Rocky Mountain National Park. Its been a busy August and from reports I got while in Colorado from back home School Board politics are heating up. I’ll start going door to door soon but I know that voters don’t pay much attention to local elections until Labor Day.

Candidate Martell’s view

Very thoughtful.

Loren has strongly suggested that the insiders in one local political party have a particularly heavy responsibility for leading the Duluth School District into its Red Plan disaster. I have suggested that these candidates substitute management and inadaquate finance with poms poms.

The school board candidates are now out with their campaign lit highlighting their DFL endorsements: