Thoughts on Episode 2 of Burn’s Vietnam

This episode covered my first recollections of Vietnam which go back to my move from Kansas to Minnesota. JFK was killed within two months of my move and no one was paying attention to what had been a low level conflict which the military reported was going swimmingly. It wasn’t. It would be another year or two before my ex navy Dad began swearing at LBJ’s build up. I don’t think that even then my Father could imagine that ten years later I would be subject to a draft that might send me there but he read history and saw the war as a disaster. Maybe that’s where I get my foresight.

I remember passing around a Mad Magazine at a boy scouting expedition and reading the issue that showed “Headlines as Children see them.” It showed a band of gorillas running across an endless plain of mason jars. The actual headline was about the “secret war” our CIA was conducting across the border in Laos. It was “Guerrillas Attack across Plain of Jars.” The jars were huge stone jars. According to Wikipedia:

The U.S. Air Force dropped more bombs on Laos, primarily the Plain of Jars, than it dropped during the whole of World War II. This included 262 million anti-personnel cluster bombs. An estimated 80 million of these did not explode and remain a deadly threat to the population.

What the second episode made clear is that all the important people in those early years lied through their teeth about the great successes of the war. The exception were a half dozen reporters who could see that Vietnam was nothing like the US government was reporting to be.

That’s what I expect a good newspaper to aspire to. Honest, accurate, neutral reporting.

For the past decade in Duluth our “paper of record” has been a sad exception. My reporting that the Red Plan has put our District millions of dollars behind the eight ball every year is not welcome. That I prophesied that this could happen eight years ago is only an irritation for the Editors of the Trib. Instead, they point to the “ugly” past and blame it not on the powers who tell us everything is hunky dory, but on the very people who have been doing the work of good journalists in reporting the facts on the ground. They refuse to be the messenger and are in fact doing their best to shoot the messenger.

I’ve had some talks with friends who recommend I stop rubbing the Trib’s limitations on its editor’s noses. Maybe that’s the right thing to do. But as I pointed out in the first of these Vietnam reflections that has been the modus operandi of the Republican Party which has suddenly made the Mitch McConnell types the pariahs of folks the party paid little attention to until Donald Trump came around.

I’m simply being a hectoring parent telling my wayward newspaper to grow up and stop defending the powerful at the expense of the powerless.

Take that into consideration before you vote for the school board in November.

And while you are at it I’m being outspent 2 to 1 by the powerful. Donations to my impoverished campaign can be made here: http://www.weltyforschoolboard.com/

The PBS Vietnam Series gets me thinking

I watched all the Stanley Karnow episodes in the 1990’s about Vietnam but I think Kevin Burns will bring a little more nuance at a time when it can be digested by the folks who weren’t born and didn’t live through the war. I agree with Burns that our actions during this war divided America. However, I also believe that the entire Civil Rights Era was an equal partner in this division having predated it by 200 years.

My eight loyal readers know that I put a disproportionate blame on the GOP for all our woes. That war became a sort of substitute for Civil Rights because it simply became impossible to be an avowed racist after Martin Luther King. But being a patriot – that was different. Many folks could use “America First” or “Better Red than Dead” or the “Domino Theory” in place of race baiting to hang their political hats on. Ditto the Pro-life movement. For years northerners thumbed their noses at “racist” southerners, never mind their own urban red lining and segregation, and “saving babies” gave southern Baptist types the same sense of moral superiority to throw back at northern baby killing sophisticates.

Over time the GOP, which had beat the Democrats up over catering to special interests – blacks, latinos, women’s libbers and unions, became their own assortment of special interests, patriots, pro-lifers, pro-NRA, and “small government” (code for don’t make us integrate.)

In time the GOP got so virulent about removing RINO’s like me that they perfected “primarying” by which they defeated “liberal” Republican office holders and purged a formerly pro-civil rights party of moderates. Of course, the Democrats did something similar if less rigorously.

As much as I bemoan the “demagogue” Trump I can see his allure to folks who feel neglected and I can even see that the promise of turning politics on its head might just improve our politics. His base has not yet rebelled when he’s worked out deals with Democrats. In an odd way his manner and his supporter’s devotion are acting as a rebuke to Republican stuffed shirts……the same folks who went along with the purge of liberal Republicans like me because it kept working to keep the Congress in their hands.

All those moderate Republican Presidential candidates Trump whipped for the nomination……they were the same folks who stood by as the Republican Party got more white, more angry and more self righteous. They were also the great exponents of free trade which blue collar converts to Republicanism are so fed up with.

But back to Burns and Vietnam.

I hope his ten part series can put some of the ghosts of that era to rest. My story during that Era can be summed up this way:

My family raised me to revere my Grandfather who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was both for staying out of foreign wars, which he blamed on Democrats, and for supporting our troops no matter how stupid the war was once we were stuck in one.

As a college student in the 1970’s I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions that this dual policy required. I was embarrassed for not being a part of the war as I objected to it. But the WW II generation fixed it so that future wars, like Vietnam, would be fought by poor kids while college students were exempted. Even then I saw that as grossly unfair while I was going to college with a draft number of 41, low enough to insure I’d go into the service if I quit college.

And what a hideous war it was making America complicit in evil doings that turned the stomach and the mind. Thus it always is with war. As Robert E. Lee said: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”

If America can survive Donald Trump without succumbing to his call of “America First” maybe he will succeed in answering the hopes of his most ardent supporters to break out of the gridlock that has made our politics so lamentable in recent years. He may do it by killing the “Party of Lincoln.” That is, if the Republicans themselves haven’t already accomplished it.

Harry Welty – Amazingly consistent

I just googled myself and the second item on the pop up list was from the election four years ago: http://www.duluthbudgeteer.com/opinion/2018528-candidate-view-duluth-school-board-harry-welty

The last lines in this letter in the Budgeteer are the heart of this campaing too:

“. . . be forewarned: I’m not a shrinking violet. If you would prefer someone who will keep his mouth shut rather than speak the truth, don’t vote for me.

P.S. Vote for the levies. We’re stuck paying off the Red Plan’s half-billion-dollar debt. Even if we have to dig a little deeper we want our schools to work and our children educated.”

The majority of the School Board I was elected to (ironically full of old friends of mine) chose to turn the Board into an inquisition of a honorable but too inquisitive member with trumped up charges and wasted my first two years defending him against their dim witted persecution. Mike Miernicki will never forgive me for defending Art just as I forewarned voters I was likely to do. Here’s the letter Mike sent the Trib.
The Red Plan is fact. Paying it off is as well. Yet the Trib keeps harping on my wanting to fight it. Nonsense. Maybe the Trib wants me to stop reminding folks that they fell all over themselves boosting it and, like our administrators and old board members, utterly failed to heed the warnings of my friends in Let Duluth Vote.

But when I quote Lincoln who encouraged “malice towards none…” What do they slap on the title above my call for a reasonable future? This:

And the Trib’s conclusion in backing away from their endorsement of me four years ago is this:

“That isn’t to suggest that the other two candidates on the primary ballot for School Board At Large, incumbent Harry Welty and long-time district critic Loren Martell, don’t care. But Welty and Martell continue to embody and reinforce the divisiveness that has hampered School Board effectiveness. And they remain lingering reminders of attempts to confuse the public about district matters and the vitriol that eroded the district’s reputation, costing it students.”

This from the Newspaper that never admitted that the charges against Art Johnston were ginned up and colluded in the election of a Demagogue as President of the United States BY THEIR SILENCE AND BRAVE STANCE NOT TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A FRAUD AND A LEGITIMATE CANDIDATE. Just as they fell prey to the con artists who promised nirvana with the Red Plan they were overwhelmed by Putin’s purveyors of Trump fantasies. Now they are misreporting what I offer our community – the experience and understanding to work our way out of an annual $11 million dollar hole that the Trib helped dig for our city’s public schools.

Its the Trib that is the “lingering reminder” of Red Plan boosters incuriosity, and their own journalistic shortcomings. They also printed lots of ads for the School District when it was flush with cash to promote the Red Plan.

I look forward to getting back on the Board and working with the embarrassed Trib because as I wrote some weeks ago I expect to be reading the Trib daily until the day I die at about age 100. I have no more malice towards them than a loving parent remonstrating with a willful child.

The back side

If you are not one of the 7,000 people who have received my snowsculpture trading cards to date you have no idea what they say on the backside that relates to my campaign. The back is strictly business. It mentions my campaign website where more in-depth information can be secured. It lays out the dire financial situation that no mere cheerleader on the School Board can solve. It will take smart financial guidance and a rare truth telling that our past school boards were either too afraid to expose or, more likely, simply ignorant of.

I send this with today’s Sunday sermon still ringing in my head – for forgiveness. I agree with it. Casting stones solves nothing. But forgiveness is not the same as the lazy vice of forgetfulness. As the Jews say: “Never forget.”

I will be part of serious financial management at a time when it is long overdue for the Duluth Schools.

HISOGYNISTS?

This is the corner of a Facebook Picture of one of the commentators responding to the hyped up allegation that I’m not honest. So far this nasty meme doesn’t seem to have gone very far but it has seven weeks yet to catch fire. I find the call to fight hate ironic.

I am about nintyfive percent positive that a nastygram sent to me telling me to “screw off” for causing trouble was inspired by this Facebook Page’s followers because it also added that “Gary Gl “ass”” was responsible too. Why would an anonymous corespondent mention Gary who quit the school board six years ago in disgust? Because someone mentioned Gary’s name as also being responsible in the comment section following the screed against me. But anyone paying attention to the Duluth School Board in the news, instead of on this Facebook Page, would know that it is Art Johnston’s name that has been linked with mine for four years not Gary’s. So, some members of this “feminist” organization are flattering the Putin-paid, anti-Hillary hackers who paid Facebook $100,000 to scuttle her campaign for President with lies and falsehoods. And ironically, they are bad mouthing Dana Krivogorsky because I donated to her campaign. Guilt by association, Anybody?

When I got the letter I jotted down my reaction:

“Long before pussy grabber, long before Hillary stalking, long before Neil Gorsuch I railed against the misogynist Donald Trump. In fact, almost a year before the woman’s march (which my wife and I marched in locally) I sculpted Donald Trump in snow as a warning against his demagogic misogyny and posted my revulsion for the man.”

I was an early supporter of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). I was a stay-at-home-Dad when my children were young. I was the de facto campaign manager three elections in a row for what I believe to be the first African-American woman elected to the Duluth School Board and I went to over 7000 doors to help elect Alanna Oswald to the school board two years ago.

We will not let hate win, indeed!

Good manners count – so to do donations

I was tied up much of the morning but I got an hour-and-a-half to pass out snow sculpture trading cards at Chester Bowl’s Fall Fest. I passed out roughly 250 cards. They went almost exclusively to children and I was impressed how nearly uniform their parents were in encouraging them go say thank you to me.

Like Minnesota Public Radio my campaign is always open to donations which can be made here on line.

I would like to think that I have many more potential helpers out there and I’ll start something of a drive for donations soon. More expenses are looming and I daren’t drop them if I want to have a chance to serve another term of office through 2020. Beat the drive. A lot of the kids who got my card had eyes that sparkled and even their parents couldn”t help but smile.

On 21st Av and 4th St. – Two steps forward one step back

A few days ago I took a picture through the blue spruce of the curbing that had been set into the big dig at my intersection. It suggested a speedy end to the month of construction.

It was not to be so speedy after all. My wife’s sister and family came up for a visit on Thursday where a brand new hole had been dug in the filled in excavation. There were huge yellow tubes laying on the ground nearby. My sister-in-law’s husband said they were probably gas pipes. He said they were bumble bee yellow for a reason.

Sure enough some of the workers told me that after they had laid the original gas lines the massive concrete sewer passages had been poured above them. Inspectors came around and made the gas specialists dig their smaller pipes out from under the tunnels to reroute them where they would be less prone to crushing by the massive sewers above. They told me it would likely add a week to the completion of this phase of the project at our busy intersection.

This morning it looks like the hole having been refilled is getting leveled for a big concrete pour.

Progress always has its steps backward.

Ruckus on the Editorial Board (My theory)

If I was a good journalist I’d call a couple people rather than read between the lines. But I’m a school board member so I’ll pass on that knowing that, in the case of the Trib and the Red Plan, I’m in good company.

I did not object to losing the Trib’s endorsement. I’ve been elected without it and I understand they are thin skinned about my accusation they dropped the investigative ball on the Red Plan……covering their arse’s is now “moving on.”

But their placing an attack on my by my aggrieve old friend Mike Miernicki three days before the primary and denying me a chance to rebut him was simply unfair.

I sent them a hot reply to Mike which they refused to run on the grounds that their coverage of the primary was over.

Shortly after I posted my nixed retort in my blog I got a cc’d copy of an email that had been sent to what looked like all the members of the Editorial Board. I thought a blog reading citizen had agreed with my thinking and sent her support of me to them as a rebuke. She wrote “VERY WELL DONE. You’re “the MAN”!

I don’t always keep track of names very well and I couldn’t recall the names of all the seven or so folks who interviewed me at the Trib’s offices. One of their names came up in today’s announcement of the replaycement of one of their “citizen” board members: “… the term of citizen representative Nancy Lanthier Carroll comes to a close.”

It was Nancy Carroll who sent her blistering comment to her fellow Editorial Board members and me. I don’t think it was her disagreement with them that led to her abrupt departure. It was sharing it with me and embarrassing the other Editors. That’s the same way the Duluth School District is inclined to treat the airing dirty laundry. You end up on the Human Resources Agenda as a “resignation” or “termination.”

That’s one more reason for re electing me. I’ll tell you more than the Trib will. In fact, you’ll learn more about our schools from me while I’m on the School board by about a factor of 10 over what you will learn from the Trib. Ink, newsprint and reporter’s health insurance cost too much for complete coverage.

Mischievousness in the pursuit of Sanity, Justice, Competence and other Miscellaneous virtues . . .

. . . And why it would be a damned shame if I am not reelected to the Duluth School Board this year.

Here’s a visual metaphor to explain my reasoning taken from a mural I painted in our church’s children’s rooms twenty years ago:

This is a picture of a small boy sneaking his head under the Red Tent. Twenty years ago the novel The Red Tent was so popular that church women across America began decorating Sunday School Rooms to look like the Red Tent. Because of my snow sculpting people in Glen Avon assumed that I could paint too. Well, I could use an over head projector. I could paint within lines – coloring book fashion. And I can improvise. When asked to paint a scene of a desert on the wall of a room painted red like the book’s tent in the Era of Jacob, who wrestled with the Angel, I gave it my best. (You can see the full mural and others on this page of my old website Snowbizz.com.)

Not having read the book there is, to my knowledge, no child peeking into the tent but I thought putting one on the wall doing just this, seemed appropriate for a Sunday School classroom. I borrowed a Sunday School student wearing a shepherd’s costume from our Christmas pageant.

As for the metaphor – that could me me peaking into the sacred precincts of our Schools or Government or the News Business just like I do when I pick up a history book. And I read lots of them. But unlike that little kid looking into the Red Tent I’m 66 years old and I have taught myself to write and report and look at big mysteries critically for most of my adult life. Few people in Duluth have the breadth of knowledge and experience I have when it comes to the Duluth Schools. Furthermore, I don’t keep it all to myself. To many people’s chagrin I share much of it with the public. As this election season goes on I will be sharing more.

But I’m an acquired taste. Not everyone likes my peeking into the tent or under rugs especially the folks who have swept disagreeable things under the rug to keep them out of sight. But peeking under the rug is called “transparency” and everyone says (officially) that its all the rage except for our President who calls it “fake news.”

I have been pretty subdued in the blog this summer. I’ve had other things to do – organize a school board campaign, visit China, garden, walk door-to-door. But the actual General Election is seven weeks away and my readership has doubled recently. Its time for all the blogging I’ve postponed to kick into a higher gear. There is so much to share.

I truly believe my being on the school board is absolutely vital to moving our schools into the future that the Red Planners promised Duluth. But the Trib, in looking for some magic solution, once again endorsed neophytes (newbies). I must say that the neophyte they endorsed over me as a “fresh face” in 2007 helped make the School Board distrusted while remaining completely ignorant of our downward spiraling finances for her entire eight years on the Board. Likewise, they endorsed a young thing, elected with me in 2013, who’s lone witnessing of an alleged assault (even the so called victim denied it) plunged the School Board into two years of farce. And now, once again, the Trib is trusting neophytes in the hope that their ignorance will give us bliss.

Mine isn’t a blanket condemnation. While looking for their editorial endorsements I stumbled into their videos of the school board candidates in the first few minutes of the Trib interview. I recommend looking at them. I was pleased with mine.

As for me sneaking under the tent, Well, my tent sneaking evidently caused a ruckus at the Trib leading to the replacement of one of the Editorial Board members. I’ll explain my theory in the next post as I ramp up my coverage of the School Board and campaign to rescue the District from a status quo of “Ask no questions.”

Card 43 out of 50 – One card short of a full deck

I have always been pleased by this snow sculpture. And yet at Bayfront Park’s Fall Fest one person winced when he looked at it. He was a teacher and was instinctively repulsed. Even after I explained its meaning he gladly accepted my offer of a more harmless looking snowsculpture.

Loren Martell warned me against using the spanking card (card 22 of 50) but I think even opponents of corporal punishment will find it sort of amusing. BUT THE CONFEDERATE FLAG???????

I took great care to explain this all to Robin Washington, one-time editor of the DNT, after he called to warn me kids were threatening to burn my house down over this sculpture.

After re-reading that post I realized there was little left for me to write about this 43rd card in my deck of 50, EXCEPT THIS: While I will keep it in the deck I send to donors I will pull every card 43 out of the cards that I pass out door-to-door or at events like Fall Fest. I think the other 49 cards in the deck will give this potent message of protest against the heroically denied racism of the neo-GOP a little context and cover. And it completes the deck!

And I will offer this for the irony challenged. This is a Rebel Elephant carrying the flag of the old Confederacy……The Elephant being the revered symbol of the Republican Party…..The party that was long called “The Party of Lincoln”…….who freed the slaves. They’ve been infested by southern Dixiecrat descendants whose grandparents loathed Honest Abe…..That’s why you rarely hear of Lincoln Day Dinners anymore.

I hope that makes it clear.

From one Artiste to another

Artist, James Zotalis

Caption: The Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior, 1862 – 1869 Faribault, Minnesota. The first church in America to become a Cathedral

Trading card collection of snow sculptures 1987-2017, by Harry Welty

There is apparently a religious conference in Duluth at the moment. One of its attendees is a Mankato classmate of mine, James Zotalis, an Episcopal Priest currently serving near Rochester, Minnesota. He gave me a call last night to see if I was at home. A friend from Duluth was having a heck of a time finding his way in the dark to my home with the intersection at 21st Ave blocked and darkened.

Jim had been regaling his friend with his story about a trip to Washington D.C. in the slummer of 1971 and the tour his old classmate, Harry Welty, then a Congressional summer intern, gave him of every nook and cranny on Capitol Hill. The host mentioned that Harry only lived a few blocks away. Jim called me while en route and, after a comedy of errors with phones acting up during instructions on how to get past roadblocks, we had a brief, cordial reunion in my driveway. I’d last seen Jim when I spent a weekend in his old stomping grounds, Faribault, which I visited to research a former Duluth School Superintendent.

Jim was serving an historic Minnesota Church at the time and introduced me to some Faribault folks in the same way as I introduced him to Capitol Hill. Before I left Faribault Jim gave me one of the prints of his depiction of Bishop Whipple’s church. Whipple was the priest who advised clemency to President Abraham Lincoln for the 300 Sioux warriors condemned to be hung in the aftermath of Minnesota’s Sioux War. When I mentioned that he had given me a copy he asked me if I’d read a book by a New York Historian about the incident. I hadn’t but I was well aware of the history. Its infamy lives on in our old hometown, Mankato.

When the subject of his artwork came up I paused and told him that it was time for me to reciprocate his generosity and ran into the house to find a deck of my snow sculpture trading cards to give him. His friend had already mentioned my prolific snow shoveling to him. Then he drove off into the night to resume his conferencing with a little trip to follow up the North Shore.

A discursive story that ends up back at my campaign

Last night I went to the first Glen Avon Presbyterian committee meeting as a member of a committee. Not being an official member of the Church I’ve never been asked to sit on one before but, as a 25-year member of the Choir, I finally managed to jump over that hurdle. This was the “Building and Grounds” Committee. I had just left the District’s Education Committee meeting and within minutes of having Chair Loeffler-Kemp cut me off before I could ask a question because our meeting was supposed to be cut short (we ended with 30 minutes to spare) I was climbing up to the Organ loft to analyze how we might restore the Rose window that was broken fifty years ago and boarded up. This meeting lasted even longer than the Ed meeting and it’s Chairman Mike answered my many newbie questions helpfully.

Then today I attended the Glen Avon Men’s Group where I was to introduce the archivist for Duluth’s Karpeles Manuscript library and museum. This was a fascinating talk about one of Duluth’s unknown treasures founded by Mr. Karpeles twenty years ago or more across from St. Lukes. A highly successful 1953 graduate of Denfeld High he has set up a dozen of these museums to house his vast collection (over a million pieces) of historical documents.

At the end of the meeting I hung around to ask Ms. Marklus if there was a local advisory board to help advertise the free museum. None of the dozen or so Karpeles museums had one and that struck me as a missed opportunity. I joked that I might soon be leaving one of my current boards based on the results of last night’s elections and might be interested. Mike, the Building and Grounds Chair, asked if that was a hint that I didn’t want my friends to support me in the General election.

“No, not at all,” I told Mike. “I can multi-task. Why I even joined my first Glen Avon committee recently.”

Vote today!

I recommend the non status quo candidates for the two open At-large school board positions:

Dana Krivogorsky
Loren Martell
Harry Welty

Why?

1. Willingness to abide by Red Plan financing plans by selling emptied schools to highest bidder.

2. Stepping back from old fights and alliances which have punished Red Plan skeptics (one failed attempt to expel and two censorships) and given the Board a black eye.

3. Continuing Support for transparency which has recently put all school board meetings online for public viewing.

4. Independence from the special interests which will have an outsized role today choking …. oops, that was a mistake…I meant “choosing” our local politicians. Sometimes a typos is unexpectedly Freudian and accurate. As reported in the Trib today:

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/politics/4326277-primary-voters-likely-exert-considerable-sway-today

And finally,

5. These three candidates have worked the hardest to study the complex challenges of the District and . . .

6. These three candidates are the surest way to win back lost trust with the voting public that is crucial for improving the financial prospects of the Duluth Public Schools.

Besides all of these – Group Think is not a virtue!

Countdown Pic – 56 Days left

I’m cheating today. A funny faced cat eluded my camera so I’m using the grainy squirrel from yesterday that almost got away. He/she was hopping down an alley with a full bagel in its mouth. Then he paused behind a Tansy as I finally got him in view. Snap.

I had many fun conversations today – some challenging. Here’s the best one:

I found four workman fixing a house. I introduced myself and said I was running for……. You know the political schtick.

The leader opened my letter and read it closely. As I walked on to the next house one of the guys shouted “And screw the damned Red Plan.”

I shouted over my shoulder “I’m afraid that’s a done deal.”

As I walked away I realized I hadn’t really captured my thoughts and competently broadcast them so I turned around and looked for the Red Plan man.

When I got close I hollered: “What I should have said was that I spent four years trying to get the voters a chance to vote on the damned Red Plan. And the Duluth Trib’s editorial board won’t forgive me for it!”

It was very gratifying to hear four grown men give that a lusty laugh. The Red Plan disaster isn’t their fault. Its the disaster caused by Duluth’s movers and shakers. The movers and shakers are too thinned to have an “I-told-you-so” on the School Board.

The Trib, the DFL insiders, and the leaders of the Public Employee’s Union all want cheerleaders who will make our schools the best in the nation…….but with no plan on how to go about doing this with millions cannibalized from classrooms to pay for the Red Plan……even while the future cheerleaders brag about Myers-Wilkins’ STEM program ………………which was recently scrapped.

Money trouble I presume.

16 years ago on Snowbizz.com

I found this old image courtesy of the Wayback machine.

In 1999 Claudia and I had decided to take a little trip to New York to overlap a visit there by Duluth East’s a Capella choir which our daughter Keely was a member of. I got the chance to take a picture of them on Liberty Island with a great shot of the World Trade Towers behind them and directly above my daughter’s smiling face. Shortly after 9/11 I posted the picture as a small memorial to the lives lost in the beginning of what is now called the “War on Terror.”

I’ve just signed up to receive this organizations e news

The Feminist Action Network

Maybe this explains the three women at the Harvest Fest who refused to take my campaign lit when one of them said they like my snow sculptures but not my “politics.”

I did tell a friend yesterday that if I had the choice to be honest or nice I’d pick the former. Does honesty make one a bully?

September 8, 2017

School Board Elections: Is this what passes for “honesty”?

I’m not much of a Duluth School Board aficionado. I pay closer attention during times of controversy and contention, and generally, I guess I feel grateful that anyone is willing to take on the job: it’s not just a political role with all of the barbed consequences you’d expect, it’s also an incredible time commitment (five-hour meetings!). This year I’m paying much closer attention.

We have so much work to do; the whole world feels divided. Whatever we can do locally, we should do. That’s why I need to talk about Harry Welty. I’ve heard for years that Welty is the cause of much of the dysfunction on the Board, and is obstructive and antagonistic when his peers disagree. To better understand what of this was rumor and what was fact, I read through Welty’s blog and watched School Board meeting footage. Welty’s blog is a collection of insults, condescension (to both peers and parents), rants, and outright bullying. He assaults the character and caliber of anyone who disagrees, calling them hysterical, inconsequential, or implying they’re stupid or irrelevant. Even cursory review of School Board meetings show him literally ignoring fellow members during decision-making, talking over peers, and dismissing or completely ignoring what his fellows are saying. More than ever before, we need leaders who listen, collaborate, and compromise. Welty does not, cannot, and will not – one great thing about Welty’s lengthy track record is that we can say that much with empirical certainty. I find myself asking whether the candidates he’s bankrolled (Bogdana Krivogorsky and Kurt Kuehn) can be expected to behave any differently.

The short of it is simple: a guy that resorts to name-calling, insults, and bullying has no place in any school system. That’s exactly what we’re trying to teach our kids not to do.

The School Board amended Duluth’s Civility Project’s list of dos and don’t’s by adding being honest and showing your evidence.

THIS IS MY RESPONSE:

I have a great many blog posts to my credit but not one has been quoted to demonstrate evidence of my name calling. Neither has any link been provided to any portion of dozens of meetings which I’ve attended which shows me being anything other than collegial.

This post is as nasty a case of “name calling” as I’ve read. I would be willing to accept an apology because, as I’ve always said, “If we can’t be passionate about our children, what can we be passionate about?”

Paper bags, Hurricanes, Credit Cards, Skipping Church to politic and the making of teenaged fanatics

8:10 AM! That’s when I woke up this morning. Its been months since I woke up that late after a long sound sleep. I give my 32,000 cell phone accounted steps yesterday the credit for that.

At eight last night I had four houses to go when the bag I was carrying tore open spilling out my campaign material. Today I patched up a bunch of the gift sized shopping bags I’ve discovered are perfect, other than their fragility, for holding the envelopes that contain my lit. Since my family is in Iowa for the big pot luck supper for Claudia’s family reunion I think I’ll skip church today and work on getting another good night’s sleep with another 30 thousand steps.

I got a call a minute ago. Claudia had trouble paying for breakfast with her credit card this morning and just learned that our card was hacked and is now caput. Thanks Equifax. Also her father got very upset in the sturdy home he was sent to and demanded to go to his own far more rickety home last night. That move was possible because Naples and Ft. Meyers on the Gulf Coast will be taking the brunt of Hurricane Irma.

I read a letter in the Trib today excoriating them for electing Donald Trump because of their mainstream coverage of the news and letting such racists as Eugene Robinson show up on the Editorial Page. I think Mr. Gerdes is a bit off. I agreed they were responsible but tendered a very different analysis in a post I wrote with a very different conclusion. To wit:

I could rest my case with a single editorial that is emblematic of their, finger-in-the-air-to-test-the-wind editorializing – their deplorable failure to point out that one of last year’s presidential candidates was a demagogue and a threat to our Democracy. The Trib was too chickenshit to choose an alternative to the Donald Trump.

I guess that if there is any good news from Trump’s election it is that as a demagogue he doesn’t believe in anything other than himself. Mr. Gerdes isn’t blaming Trump for backing off claim that illegals are rapists. No, he thinks the liberal columnist, Eugene Robinson, is a racist. Gerdes would rather blame the moderate sellout Republicans for letting the DACA dreamers future hang on Congress’s willingness to go along with Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive order. (I haven’t put that well. Its too convoluted but I hope you get the idea. I’ve got lit dropping to do so I don’t want to untangle this paragraph right now.) Where do thinkers like Gerdes come from?

A fascinating story on NPR this morning about a goody-two-shoes patriot gone bad had an interesting insight on the creation of malleable teenagers who become dogmatists like Gerdes. The author, a cousin of the goody-two-shoes, concludes that he’s the victim of too little “liberal arts,” eg. the lack of history being taught in the schools. He thinks it helps explain his cousin’s eagerness to accept nonsense drilled into him during the brutal training he got to become a Ranger. Sound like ISIS anyone?

That concern echoed a conversation I had yesterday as I went door to door. I told one person that I’ve seen our District strip the social studies faculty the same way schools stripped elementary schools of recess. The former denied kids challenges to their pre-conceived thinking the same way the latter deprived elementary kids the chance to run off their accumulating calories. We’re slower thinking and more sedentary and spending a lot of time reading Russian hacker generated propaganda on Facebook. It took Mr. Zukerberg a long time to figure out how to make money on Facebook. Electing Trump is one consequence of his success. That and an indifference to History.

58 days to go Photo

I started door to dooring at 9 and finished at 8. I took a picture of the streets I had already leafleted so as not to repeat them.

When I got home tonight I spent an hour watching news on Hurricane Irma. My father in law is in Jupiter, Florida on the Atlantic side in what is called flood zone D. None of his kids are with him but he has a caretaker who will move him to a much sturdier house through the big wind. I think he lost a porch in an earlier encounter with a hurricane.

After I had spent two hours walking I realized I’d forgotten to bring my water bottle. Rather than going home I decided I’d ask the first person I met at a door for water. That led to a long discussion of the hurricanes and earthquakes and then to End Times and The Book of Revelations. She was a believer whereas I’m not but when I left I noted that if the end was coming her kindness giving me water might have given us a few minutes delay.

I stopped at noon to head to Bayfront Festival Park for Harvest Fest. For about 45 minutes I passed out the trading cards and even sold a set for a twenty dollar donation. While there I came to a decision not to pass out one of them. That will be a post for tomorrow morning. I will still keep it in the pack of 50. I made the decision when a teacher looked stricken after I gave it to him. I explained what it was about and he understood, describing the card as “intense.” When I offered him a different card he took it with alacrity.