No Kaboom

As the work on Fourth Street in front of my house proceeded yesterday morning I walked out to make sure the base of my brick steps survived intact. When the driver of the front end loader, which had just taken a scoop out of my hillside, hopped out of the loader looking for a zip tie I noticed a gushing wind. There went my gas line. He tied it off and I was glad I hadn’t been smoking. As part of the ritual the Fire Department sent down an engine. Pretty soon the muddy street was full of folks waiting for the nuisance to be dealt with. It was and Comfort Systems sent someone in to relight all our gas appliances.

I asked where most gas lines entered and was told they were all over the map…..or not on the map. Slicing through gas lines is very common and I was reminded about the advice to call before you dig. I could easily have sent a spade through the line if I’d been planting flowers. A friend from Comfort Systems told me he had already had a dozen or more snapped lines since the work on Fourth Street had begun.

Then I went out lit dropping. Just under 30,000 steps according to my cell phone’s pedometer. I began covering Duluth Heights. The folks there haven’t forgotten Central High. I got a few high fives.

Today you will find me at Lester Park’s Rendezvous. At a luncheon I intended recently Rosie Loeffler-Kemp explained to the organizer of the Chester Bowl Fall Fest that she was one of the Rendezvous founders. I’m grateful to her for today’s venue. It should be sunny.



I have had a long relationship with the News Tribune which began when I first ran against Mike Jaros as a 25-year-old in 1976. Continue reading

The DNT tosses my column in the circular file

The Trib won’t run my column after all. According to Editor Chuck Frederick it was too much like this post from a couple days ago.

I changed it significantly but I acknowledge that the bones are still the same: Chuck wrote me with the bad news:

Hello, Board Member Welty. I see you’ve posted on your blog most, if not all, of the commentary you had sent to us for publication as your “Candidate’s View” column in the run-up to the Nov. 7 election. As you ,now, we request, always, that local content published on the News Tribune Opinion page be original and unpublished. Your submission no longer is. Please consider writing an original submission of no more than 500 words, and then we would ask that you please refrain from posting it or publishing it elsewhere (including on your blog) until it has been published by the News Tribune. Your deadline would be Oct. 20.

Chuck Frederick
Editorial Page Editor

I wrote back to Chuck:


I will see what I can do.


These are the 352 words I first sent the Trib:

Duluth’s local property taxes spent in the classroom have dived from $14 million annually twenty years ago to $2.5 million this year. That’s shocking. But the editors of the News Tribune only harp about an “ugly” past that started when discredited school board members invented phony accusations to crucify Art Johnston, whose only crime was asking tough questions.

I’ll confess that I’ve been tempted to stop defending Art Johnston because the Trib has convinced many of my eastern neighbors that Art is not only “A” problem but “THE” problem! How cheap of me. My lawnsigns proclaim that “Honesty is the best policy.” Denying Art is like Peter denying Jesus.

If the Trib wanted to report the truly “ugly” they would explain how our School District redistributes state funds for poor children to our eastern schools.

My campaign lit says: “No one has worked harder than Art Johnston to point out the exodus of Denfeld students and the growing achievement gap. We need more than cheerleaders. We need Board members with a keen financial sense who understand that a divided Duluth is a threat to the whole city.”

I know Art can be forceful. People who make a difference often are. He once made me so mad when he first ran for the school board I told him I wanted him to win because it would be the worst experience of his life. I was right. His public data requests were ignored. The Board accused him of assault, racism, conflict of interest and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp told KBJR he was “dangerous.” Art had to defend the voters who elected him by spending $75,000 to remain on the Board. When his “colleagues” utterly failed they censured him.

Milquetoasts let the Jews get carted off to concentrations camps. Art is not a milquetoast. He is a man of honor and integrity. It’s been tough being his defender but I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t stick up for him.

That’s not a problem for the editors of the Duluth News Tribune. I wonder if they see anything when they look into theirs?

Harry Welty

I knew that the Trib was ridiculously sensitive about publishing opinion pieces that had previously seen the light of day before although they regularly post other newspaper’s editorials. Eleven years ago I wrote a column for the lowly Duluth Reader urging voters pass a referendum financing the expansion of the DECC. Supporters at the Chamber of Commerce loved it and wanted to have it republished in the Trib. The Trib flatly refused because it had appeared in the lowly Duluth Reader. Maybe there is a reason that the Reader’s special issue runs now exceed all but the Trib’s Sunday Circulation.

I would have had to make one change in my column anyway. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp didn’t tell KBJR television that Art was “dangerous.” She told them:

“The investigation was brought forward because of Art Johnston’s violent abusive and harassing and threatening behaviors.”

I will look forward to using the full 500 words the Trib will allow me rather than the 352 words I just submitted. I will put the extra 148 words to good use.

My head is pretty full…

I need to go door to door to empty it.

My eight loyal readers have company. According to my blog’s stats I’m perilously close to breaking the major records this year for readership. I should end up with over 5,000 individual visitors who have read over 70,000 “pages” this month. I put pages in quotes because I’ve never known exactly what that means.

I know that when I post a lot my numbers go up and when my posts have links to other things I’ve written that too increases the stats. But with about six weeks to campaign left I keep adding new tasks for every task I complete. Keeping track of it, let alone accomplishing them all is a mental challenge.

For instance, I’d dearly love to write a half dozen posts now on the subject of Vietnam, and my campaign but that takes time, a couple hours I don’t have with fifteen minutes left to go before 10 AM – an hour after I planned to be out door to dooring.

So, I’ll make that my deadline for posting this morning.

I was part of Homecroft’s “human fence” yesterday. They have got it down to a science by now so I only had to retrieve balls four or five times over the our and half of recesses I watched over.

Here’s a pic with the kids far enough away so as not to identify them:

A bunch of the kids recognized me from my reading to them last year and asked if I would come back.

And then there was the duck on a lower Woodland porch when I was door knocking. He cocked his head at me as I took a picture.

I added a bunch of “friends” to Facebook. I thought I was adding them to the welty for school board page but they are now part of my more personal feed. Many of them are prodigious posters and this morning one post I was looking at was superseded by a hundred others. It took me nearly five minutes to find it again.

I’m a pretty savvy researcher so that I have a pretty good idea what posts have some weight behind them. But reading Facebook for news is like taking a drink of water standing under Niagara Falls. No wonder the Ruskies had Americans so confused in 2016. I’ve given up trying to manage the campaign Facebook Page. I haven’t got the time or energy. I saw that one visitor there wondered where she could donate to my campaign on it. I hope she checks out my blog because I regularly link posts to my site which has a tab for donations.

I could use them. And I’m three minutes over my limit. Its 10:03. I have a lot more doors to visit.

Goodbye for now.



I had a lovely meeting with Sally Trnka. Should we both be elected I have no doubt we will work well together.

Chuck Frederick sent me an email thanking me for sending in my pre-General election letter/column. I told him I was trying to be efficient with my time. He was cordial despite a particularly critical letter by me of his editorial board. That’s a professional for you.

I just put in an order for another 10,000 snow sculpture trading cards. I’m short of campaign funds to pay for it so any orders by my readers now would be most helpful. You can donate to my campaign (and order your cards) at:

I am about to head out into the sunshine to go door to door which will be interupted by a couple hours being part of Homecroft School’s “human fence.”

Campaigning in the rain, and a side rant on people who refuse to meet with me – for coffee.

I didn’t go door to door yesterday. I managed to get some writing done and distribute some of the trading card decks that have been ordered. I picked up some lawnsign stands and, for the moment, I’m caught up with envelope stuffing for door to door work.

I enjoyed a long conversation with a supporter who wanted to tell me about an idea for the use of Central High School. It was interesting but I doubt it would make much money for the District. Its an idea being championed by a lot of ex employees at Central who are sick at the thought of its being vandalized which has begun to happen as it sits empty.

I joked that our retired teachers probably didn’t have much use for me but I was told that is not the case. I’d like to think that’s true. A lot of them thought the Red Plan was an abomination. I theorized ten years ago that their union was doing its best to shut them up about it. I’m not sure the DFT has changed all that much since that time.

NOTE: In the first version of the next paragraph where I have bolded “to avoid meeting with me” I originally wrote “to meet.” I hate when I write the opposite of what I mean.)

Two years ago when I stuck up for a teacher who was getting short shrift for a lapse in judgement my reward was a slap in the face by the DFT. I don’t like being threatened so you will see rather a lot of posts connected to this one in which I explain a heckuva lot about the DFT’s cozy relationship with some board members. Its president had already rebuffed a number of my requests to have coffee with me. She continues to resist meeting with me one-on-one although we are quite cordial when we run across each other. We had a lovely chat about my trip to China on Labor Day. We even sat across from each other during our last teacher negotiation and were given a tour of Old Central’s tower to celebrate a successful conclusion to negotiations. BUT. If there is anything that sets me off its the refusal of a person to meet with me for coffee. One candidate for the School Board has bent over backward to avoid meeting with me since filing. On the other hand I’m meeting with Sally Trnka this morning as she accepted my invitation to meet. We might very well be on the Board together after November.

In this regard I often mention that my campaign chairman, former Representative Mike Jaros, and I first met over coffee just before I filed to run against him in 1976. I ran against him again in 1978. We have always had a cordial relationship since that time. In fact, his opposition to the Red Plan, because it placed a heavier tax burden on poor Duluthians, cemented our alliance. We don’t agree on everything. We have different positions on Charter Schools but not on public education.

The only way to build common ground is to communicate. Running away from having coffee with me is a lousy way to get along.

Ah, but I did have one unexpected conversation yesterday that took me back to 1910. I learned about the grandfather of one of my constituents, Martin Johnson, who was known city-wide as the “wrestling firefighter.”

I asked if I could take a picture of part of Mr. Johnson’s scrapbook and was given permission. You can see his badge, a portrait of the wrestler in his togs and a clipping from the Trib about his bout with Ole Samson who’s ribs got broke during one of their matches.

21st Avenue, progress?

Because of yesterday’s rain the 21st Ave intersection on 4th street should have been opened today. But the City sent out a press release saying it would open at five yesterday and so the press release had to be obeyed. The barriers were taken down at five despite the work not quite being finished. Drivers will have to dodge big trucks today as they travel up and downhill.

As for my home, we might as well live by a football stadium now with the intense lighting that has been installed.

Don’t plan on turning east or west on 4th street anytime soon.

Vietnam, back home in Mankato

Tonight’s episode, yet to air, will carry the story of Vietnam up to 1969.

Last night got us to President Elect Richard Nixon. As the PBS series makes clear Nixon told a few people privately that there was no quick exit from Vietnam despite his campaign assurances that he was going to get that done and with honor and get it done quickly.

I was in my High School junior year during his second campaign for President. I’d been in fifth grade when he ran for President in 1964. I had energetic debates with my neighbor Becky Penney about who would win that election. Becky and her family were for JFK. My family was for Nixon. As a fifth grader it was all about family loyalty with me even though I had begged my Grandfather to go to Washington 1961 to shake hands with JFK who had sent him an invite to the Rose Garden.

My Grandfather offered me only one compliment of sorts. That was when he learned I was going to become part of our high School Debate team. Having debated himself he said it was an excellent activity for me to pursue. Ironically, my research in Debate led me to learn about Nixon’s Checker’s Speech and questions about his harassment of suspected communists. I didn’t trust him. When my high school speech teacher assigned his students to give a speech in another class I chose a History class and gave a hearty endorsement for Hubert Humphrey.

Nonetheless, I entered College as an independent. A few year’s later it was liberal self-righteousness that drove me to the Republican Party even as I opposed the Nixon Administration’s war policies. (I gladly voted for George McGovern) I’ve always believed in putting my feet in other people’s shoes. Sometimes that has meant wearing a tennis shoe and a wingtip simultaneously.

My first college protest blocking Mankato’s Main Street and Front Street and seeing how angry it made people who weren’t callow college students I concluded that inconveniencing people was not the way to win them over.

So, in 1972 when hundreds of college students from MSU and some local thrill seekers decided to block Highway 169 I had no intention of joining them. (This was where the reporter mentioned in the Tecla Karpen post filmed all the beer bottles and debris that the protesters left behind.) What I didn’t know was that my Dad, who had railed at LBJ years earlier when he was sending more troops to Vietnam, thought I would be on the highway at the protest.

A few years ago I was sent a portion of MSU President James Nickerson’s memoir about the war years at Mankato State. I regret to admit that I can’t find it at the moment but he mentioned my Dad, Daniel Welty, who was then the President of the Faculty Union.

He related meeting with Governor Wendell Anderson’s top assistant, the controversial Thomas Kelm, with my Father and other faculty present. Nickerson wrote that the hard charging Kelm said he was going to call out the national guard and force the students off the highway. At this Nickerson explained that Dan Welty strongly objected saying something like, You can’t do that. My son is on that bridge.

I don’t blame my Dad. He had been worried since I’d been in junior high that I might end up in Vietnam, a war he thought was damned foolishness. And at this moment six year’s later, he had to worry that I might get the Kent State treatment. That’s where four protesting Kent State students were shot to death by young national guard troops in Kent, Ohio.

The troops were never sent to Mankato.

Another rainy day

Today is another rainy day that I won’t be passing soggy literature door to door. Neither will I be part of Homecroft School’s “human fence” to keep the kids safe while they play on the parking lot until their mulch is replaced. The Principal called and asked if I could do it tomorrow instead.

I managed to get some other pressing business taken care of yesterday while hiding from the rain. Then at 3 I actually got three hours of lit dropping in and finished up a section of Piedmont Heights. My cell phone’s pedometer registered almost 15,000 steps.

I didn’t take any pics but I had a long conversation with a couple who had fought the Red Plan’s broken promises at their elementary school. They mentioned the parking lot that was smaller than promised, the cars parked dangerously so they put their lives at risk every time they try to pull onto Chambersburg Road, the angled bus drop off parking that drivers ignore because its too dangerous to back into the road behind them and the attempt to block off Ensign Road for a playground that the Fire Marshall was opposed to for safety reasons. They let me put up a sign right across the school.

In another week or two I’ll get serious about lawnsigns. In the meantime it’s a comfort to find so many friendly folks as I go out door knocking.

Oh, and today I finally looked carefully at my stack of unfinished Tribs and saw that our intersection is supposed to be open at 5PM today. All the light polls were put up yesterday and are currently attaching the top lights to them. I’ll believe its open when I see it.

How are Donald Trump and the News Tribune Editors similar?

In the first case: the US has suffered at least four straight climate crises, the fires out west and Hurricanes pounding Huston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, President Trump’s EPA shill says its not the right time to talk about climate change while all Trump wants to talk about is the NFL firing the “SOB’s” who protest the mistreatment of other Americans.

In the second case: Duluth’s local property taxes spent in the classroom has dived from $14 million annually twenty years ago to $2.5 million this year but all the Trib wants is to harp on is the “ugly” past they trumped up when five discredited school board members ginned up a phony case against a colleague who simply asked the tough questions they AND THE TRIBUNE didn’t want answered.

And here’s a confession on my part.

I started this campaign thinking I should stop defending Art Johnston so loudly since the Trib has managed to convince a lot of my neighbors in eastern Duluth that Art is not only a problem but THE PROBLEM! How cheap of me. I claim on my lawnsigns that “Honesty is the best policy.” Denying Art is a little like Peter denying Jesus.

I began to rectify that in one of the campaign pieces I am handing out now. If the Trib was doing its work all Duluth should know by now that our School District actively redistributes state funds given to us for our poorer children and spends it in our eastern schools where poverty not such a problem. So, on my literature I wrote: “No one has worked harder than Art Johnston to point out the exodus of Denfeld students and the growing achievement gap. We need more than cheerleaders. We need Board members with a keen financial sense who understand that a divided Duluth is a threat to the whole city.”

I know Art can be forceful. People who make a difference often are. He once made me so mad that when he first ran for the school board I told him that I hoped he would win because I knew it would be the worst experience of his life. Can I call em? His public data requests have been denied. Judy Seliga-Punyko called the police to arrest him, then he was accused of assault, racism, conflict of interest and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp told KBJR he was dangerous. Then Art was forced to defend the election he won by spending $75,000 on lawyers to remain on the School Board. When his “colleagues” failed utterly at that they censured him and for good measure they censured me. Now the Trib calls us “ugly.”

Milquetoasts let the Jews get carted off to concentrations camps. Art is not a milquetoast. He is a man of honor and integrity. Its been tough being his defender but I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t stick up for him.

That’s not a problem for the editors of the Duluth News Tribune. I wonder if they see anything when they look into theirs?

Duluth News Trib steals a page from the Duluth Reader and declares that…

… East High School is the best school in the area!

Except that the Reader’s ten-plus years of running a people’s choice awards issue didn’t have a category for best high school – thank goodness.

But the Trib does and its “Best of the Best” insert boasts that 59,404 votes determined the results. Now that’s not to mean that twice as many people voted for this popularity contest than will vote in the November 7th school board election. Hardly. They had about 185 categories so that any one person could have cast that many votes. If every voter in the survey had cast votes on all 185 categories each could have been decided by a mere 321 votes.

Of course, not everyone was very likely to cast a vote for the “Best chiropractor.” Who knows how many voted in that category at all.

Its incredibly obvious that the voting can be manipulated far more easily than Putin managed. Stuffed ballots would have been easy to pull off. Any Pizza place could have organized its fans and friends to do just that for the minutes of free publicity it would give them

As for East High “winning” – think about it. For the past twenty-five years East has been the biggest of three Duluth High Schools and currently has sixty percent more students than Denfeld. Furthermore, far more of them are likely to have parents who can afford to subscribe to the Trib. Winning for them was as easy to manage as my Dad’s intervention in the Washburn College May Day Queen vote. He was in Washburn’s Law school whose older students couldn’t have cared less about the undergraduate’s May Day festivities…except that his little sister, my Aunt Mary, was a contestant for her sorority. Someone had taken a picture of her in a fetching bathing suit and put it on a four by eight plywood board. My Dad simply had someone install it on the wall of the lawschool and all the lawyers-to-be fell over themselves to vote for the first time in Washburn’s May Day history.

But now its official. East High is the best high school in Duluth. Thanks Duluth News Tribune for frivolously and thoughtlessly interjecting more divisiveness in the Duluth Schools.

At least the Reader’s Best of the Northland Issue is a funky and tongue-in-cheek affair with off beat quotes from the people supporting their fiends or dissing their enemies. The Trib’s piece looks like slick, mindless, nonsense guaranteed only to get them more advertising dollars from the “winners.”

Vietnam, 1968 – PBS and me

I stuffed another thousand envelopes watching Sunday night’s return to Vietnam. It was about 1968 when I was in my last year of Debate at Mankato High and would switch over to being a Senior. I would drop debate because I wasn’t quite as dedicated as our teams survivors. Our coach was a misogynistic jerk who leered at girls in short skirts. Besides, I’d overcome my panic attacks and was drawn into the speech team’s story telling and our schools theatrics.

1967-68 was the year our family hosted an African student, Bedru, who unwittingly integrated the all white Mankato High. I was dating for the first time, tentatively and politely. I could drive the family car. College was a certainty two years off but even for a high school kid it was hard to keep one’s eyes off politics.

Last night’s PBS episode covered the basics that I was watching in my peripheral vision that seminal year. Martin Luther King was assassinated. (Ironically my Ethiopian roommate did not seem very moved by this. Perhaps he was used to being in a minority back home. BTW – I suspect that our family stopped hearing from Bedru a few years later after he was murdered as a political prisoner by his pro-American government.)

Bedru was however intensely interested in the Kennedy’s who stirred such hope across the third world. My intensely political father had us all up late to watch the California returns that would almost guarantee that his little brother, Bobby, would be the next president. Bedru, who was pulling for the younger Kennedy, stayed up even later than the rest of the family to watch the coverage from California after the results came in.

The next morning we discovered he had silently gone up to bed after watching Kennedy’s assassination.

Civil rights and Vietnam both came to a head in 1968 and I have many vivid memories from the events laid out in last night’s episode. For instance, my Dad’s shutting me up as I yammered questions just moments before Lyndon Johnson declared that he would not seek or accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for reelection. Its the only time I recall him ever shushing me.

I remember the riots that blazed across the nation after King’s assassination. The riot in Detroit has now been portrayed in a recent motion picture that I’d like to see. One took place in Baltimore. Three years later when I worked as a summer intern in Washington DC. I visited my friend Jim Zotalis in a suburb where he was an assistant in the Don Budge Tennis camp. I had just given him a tour of the nation’s capitol and he was reciprocating by hosting me. The drive into downtown Baltimore was a shock. I went through the King Riot zone and all the shops that had reopened in fire blackened brick buildings had heavy iron bars across the storefronts.

As for Vietnam, it was the fighting in the Tet Offensive that lasted a month in Hue that prepared college for me more than the other way around. A year-and-a-half later as a freshman I would see my first-and-only draft card burning and participated in a counter productive blocking of the downtown’s most important intersection. I’ve shunned self righteous crowds ever since.

I watched George Wallace, Richard Nixon and a bevy of Democrats vying for the job LBJ no longer had the fortitude to endure and that left me prepared for Donald Trump last year.

It was a helluva year.

Door to door photo – day 44 and counting down

I walked under a pine tree as I knocked doors in Piedmont Heights and found it festooned with galls so that it looked like it was full of coconuts. Because of church I only had the afternoon but still got about three and a half hours in. Two full days should more than cover it although it looks like we will have a lot of rain this week. I’ve got five full days of stuffed materials to pass out fully loaded. I’ll be running short of my snow sculputure trading cards soon after that a quick ten thousand slipping between my fingers.

My handout will be a challenge. Unlike some candidates with glossy pics and little else I’ve put my last thirty years researching and writing about the District to good use. I think it will take serious voters over ten minutes to wade through four pieces about candidates who can turn the District around. I’ll put them on the blog in a week or two for those whose houses I will never get to. If I knock on 15,000 out of a likely 30,000 doors I’ll be doing well. I’m already at about 6,000 over the past thirty days. I figure that in this off-year election it will only be the most intense voters who will visit the polls and they are just the sort who might just read that much info.

And I’ve got reinforcements. Loren Martell is back at the Reader and he was very kind to me. He sums up the Duluth News Tribune’s editorial board much as I have and did me the honor of using my words to finish up his piece:

After the paper’s latest exhortation, Mr. Welty wrote in his blog: “Perhaps it’s time the editorial board looked in the mirror to find the ugly past.”

Well said, Harry.

If the Trib ran across as many folks sour with the Red Plan as Loren, Kurt Kuehn, Art and I do they might have a better appreciation why their subscriber base has shrunk. The bunch of us run across very few believers any more and we still run across a great many who grit their teeth at mention of our current problems. Will they come out to vote though? That’s the million dollar question. Yesterday one fellow driving away from his Denfeld home told me it was a waste of time to vote. Next door his neighbor was in her garden and she told me she very much believed in voting.

I’ve been telling all the folks I see that I’ve been recommending candidates who will give our western schools a fair shake. No one has taken me to task over that position east or west.

The only thing likely to slow me down after a week’s lit dropping is affording more lit for the last six weeks. I’ve spent precious little time fund raising but this rainy week may give me a chance to give the DFL and Union contributors to the status quo candiates a run for their money.

Be prepared eight loyal readers. Pledge month is heading your way. As with MPR those of you who prefer to donate in advance are welcome to do so online here.

My snow sculpture cards will have shrunk from 10,000 to about 1,500 after the next five days. I need to order more. Long after folks forget I was on the School Board they will talk about the snow sculptures that that crazy fellow built every winter on 21st Avenue East.

A target on my back. “Bygones” twenty years ago

I left too early for church clean up to read the Trib but a friend noted the Bygones from twenty years ago and sent it to me:

From today’s Bygones,
Sept. 23, 1997

The Duluth teachers union filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to stop school administrators from taking action against teachers who distributed endorsement fliers in schools the day before the primary election. Administrators say teachers violated the board’s policy on political activities on school premises.

A plan to build a golf course at Spirit Mountain found little support at a public meeting yesterday. Most people who addressed the Spirit Mountain Board said they either totally opposed the idea or were concerned that promises by developers wouldn’t be kept.

Bygones is researched and written by David Ouse, retired reference librarian from the Duluth Public Library. He can be contacted at

My friend asked if this is when the unions started taking control?

I didn’t answer that question but mentioned that a short time later DFT Prez Frank Wanner told me “Welty you will be a target in the next election.”

I was. I won.

Things don’t always change. Recently our Superintendent had to send out an email to staff reminding them to campaign on their own time not on their work time.
No one was campaigning for me.

Tecla Karpen

No posts yesterday because I put in two 18-hour days in a row on my campaign. I shouldn’t have woken at 3AM tonight but when I did I thought about Tecla Karpen. She was the only person out of thousands of witnesses who commended me when she saw me at my finest. It was during the Vietnam War after a march on campus to protest it. It was the last march I would participate in until this year marching to honor Martin Luther King Day in Duluth. I wrote about it here along with that fine moment from my life. I did not however, mention Ms. Karpen who’s name was memorable enough for me to remember to this day. There is scant information about her on the web; she died last May; but there is this.

I thought I had mentioned her by name in the blog but was wrong. My Dad knew her but as the Faculty President at Mankato State, today’s Minnesota University, Mankato, he knew everyone. She was a speech teacher and I got an easy A or B in her class because I had long before gotten over panic attacks..

As I explained in the first post linked to I was outraged when a scruffy bunch of self righteous, preening protesters stood up before the quickly improvised speaking stand and screamed for a reporter to come to the microphone and justify his showing protesters at their worst on the news when they blockaded busy Highway 169. When he haltingly came to the microphone, a reluctant center of attention, they shouted him down with hoots and insults. Behind them stood a crowd of several thousand silent marchers who had just ended their two-mile march and had returned to the MSU commons to hear speakers. I was near the back by Armstrong Hall when I was overcome with contempt for them. I shouted over the gaggle and told the “suns of bitches” to shut up and let the man speak. Shocked at my flattery thru imitation they shut up. The reporter then explained, “I just reported what I saw.”

Only one person ever commented on this, Ms. Karpen. She told me I’d done a good thing and that she wished that she’d done it. Its about the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life. It was my man before the Tienanmen tank moment.

I mention this because of Burn’s continuing episodes on Vietnam which I have watched with great intensity while stuffing thousands of envelopes with campaign materials recommending my return and a change from the Red Plan status quo that still rules the school board. Sticking up for Art Johnston at the Editorial Board interview for his honor and integrity probably sunk my chances of getting the Trib’s endorsement so I have no choice but to pull 18-hour days.

My sticking up for the much slandered Art Johnston probably explains the Trib’s injured sniffing that Loren Martell and I were part of an “Ugly” past that the people of Duluth should get over. What a truly, shitty analysis by the leaders of a “newspaper” that still can’t bear to report that the Red Planners cannibalized millions of classroom dollars annually, for the next twenty years, to to pay for pretty new schools with overcrowded classrooms. They could have added that our status quo school boards were too chickenshit to raise our taxes high enough to pay for their vanity. They would leave it to our children to pay for it with less teacher contact time.

Yesterday, as I was going door to door in the heart of Denfeld, I ran across an older couple (that’s funny for me, a 66-year-old, to say) getting in their car. Before they could depart I gave them my song and dance and the husband impatiently asked me whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. I told him I was neither but he would have none of it. “You’re one or the other he insisted.”

I made a stab at summing up my long, tortured history with the two-party system. I explained that I had been a Republican but that I’d recently asked the DFL to endorse me but that I wasn’t good enough for them. (Never mind the School board is a non partisan office) As we fenced he asked me if I went to church. That apparently would be a deciding factor about my party choice. I said that I’d sung in the church choir for a quarter century. He said he’d been a Democarat most of his life but he was through with them. I got the idea he didn’t think the Party was Godly enough because he told me that he was a Republican now.

I tried to change the subject by telling him that I just wanted to treat the western schools fairly and he allowed that I had just said the magic words and I would get his vote. That was good enough for me.

Oh, and since I haven’t posted any daily campaign pics for a while I’ll offer up this from today… er yesterday …as I continued to tramp the Denfeld neighborhood. It is one of the loveliest lawn ornaments I’ve seen and it was in the yard of a very modest but tidy home:

I won’t be campaigning today. Having recently joined the church’s Building and Grounds committee I will be spending the day painting and picking up Glen Avon Presbyterian.

“Eat that mistake”

I’m meeting a candidate for the school board election in seven minutes for coffee. You will have to find that quote in the Trib’s latest mulch news.


I’m so treading water trying to keep above the editors of the Trib and the special interests who want to keep the cozy status quo. That meeting this morning had been rescheduled ahead a week and I was a week early. Well, being a week early at everything I’ve been doing is how I’ll win despite the occasional aggravation it causes.

At least I got to return home with a scone and take my grandsons to school.

That story on the mulch is here.

I want to hear why paying more than we wrote a contract for is justified. I’ll be putting in a day of shoveling snow to build a snow sculpture at Lowell School this winter as my part in paying for the mulch. I offered to build one at a silent auction by the parents wishing to remove the mulch. The $600 bid was the biggest single sale. I’ll be darned if I’m going to do that work for the contractors. I did it for our children.

Catching up on Energy

I was exhausted last Wednesday after the Primary election when we rescheduled our Business meeting. I began hallucinating when we got to a turgid conversation about energy savings. I saw Loren Martell in the back of the room leave the meeting and I decided to leave the meeting and thank him for running despite his disappointing fifth place.

But then I decided I really didn’t have it in me to go back to the meeting. I could catch it later on youtube after all.

I didn’t even follow up the next day in reading Jana Hollingsworth’s story in the Trib. Its under a stack of partially digested Tribs in the corner of my office. I did hear from Art later that it was a good story. That’s quite a tribute from Art. Well I just read it and it is a good story about our District’s energy use. I recommend it.

I just finished listening to the hour I missed of the meeting. It was a very thorough discussion which is easier to consume in Jana’s story.

One point I’d like to harp on like the cranky guy I am – We were sold a bill of goods by Johnston Controls. Our energy savings are one-tenth what they predicted. The problem with this is that to make up for this we have had to cut staff which was our other means of making ends meet on JCI’s unfulfilled promises.

That’s not to say that JCI doesn’t know the energy business:

This is one of the photos I took of the Shanghai skyline. That soaring building on the far right is one that was equipped with JCI technology. Its impressive. I saw a PBS NOVA program about JCI’s role in building and equipping the air units. I guess its easier to fiddle with tiny little Duluth than the People’s Republic of China.