After Nora Sandstad’s request to meet me to benefit from my “experience” followed by her hasty departure ten minutes later I twitted the young attorney in my blog. Then Loren Martell magically became a candidate and, as I enthused about his campaign, I twitted Nora again. Her next test will be to see if after my shots she honors our plans to meet for lunch to have a real discussion.
After the hellacious year our bewildering school board put Art and me though with front page allegations of racism, pilgrimages by Board and Administration to the Duluth News Tribune begging them to trash Art, two dubious censures, the waste of two teacher’s worth of salary on legal fees, the collapse of the court case, the retirement en masse of vindictive Board members, I sure hope Nora has a thick enough skin to be on the Board and endure the slights I might publish on my blog.
Nora will tell voters that she will rise above our school board’s petty feuding but I’m nervous about how she is being courted on her on her Facebook Page. I’ve been told that Nora and candidate Renee Van Nett have pictures and “likes” by the remaining members of the Board’s persecution squad.
Let me take a step back from my suspicions and explain that I may have some good news to report on that score. Nora took up Art Johnston’s invitation to meet him for lunch a couple days ago. Art left with a good impression.
Nora asked Art how the accusations leveled against him came about. Art explained that Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, Judy Seliga-Punyko and Annie Harala had made a motion to investigate him in June of 2014. (After so called “independent investigator” Mary Rice’s report was given to me I panned it as a “stinking fish” and characterized the trio as Chicken Little, Lucky Ducky and Loosey Goosey.
Art and I will never know just how the removal was engineered behind the scenes as Chair Judy Seliga-Punyko and Clerk Loeffler-Kemp could meet privately with top Administrators and the Board’s lawyers without our participation.
There has never been any love lost between Art and Judy. She once tried to have him arrested for trespass at a closed meeting of the school board. On the other hand, Art had twice asked Rosie to run for the School Board. Rosie hadn’t always liked Judy but once elected with Annie they became a regular sorority.
Like me Rosie saw only a part of the alleged “assault” on the Superintendent. Only Annie Harala saw it from beginning to end. I saw no assault. But Rosie enthusiastically curried the Chairwoman’s favor by getting on her high horse the moment the investigation was authorized. Rosie told KBJR News:
“The investigation was brought forward because of Art Johnston’s violent abusive and harassing and threatening behaviors,” School Board Member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp said Wednesday.
Violent abusive and harassing and threatening behaviors! Excuse me but that’s is a load of crap. I guess its Rosie’s way of thanking Art for twice asking her to run for the school board. It’s a wonder she has survived the last 40 school board gatherings without having Art stick a shiv into her brisket.
When Art showed Nora Rosie’s hysterical accusation the attorney admitted it was pretty terrible. Nora better watch out or Rosie will “unfriend” her too.
Art and Nora asked each other why they had run for the school board. Nora with small children yet to enroll said that she wanted to make sure the schools would be healthy when they arrived. Art talked about his engineering background and what he regarded as an irrational sales pitch to rebuild the schools in the Red Plan. He told Nora how our District’s CFO, William Hanson, told him that “Central is too good a location for a school.” Nora found this comment every bit as remarkable as Art had.
About the District’s current plight, eloquently described by Nora’s challenger Loren Martell, Nora told Art that several of her friends were planning to move to East Duluth because they wanted their children to attend eastern schools. This acknowledgment puts Nora head and shoulders over the three school board members who are quitting the Board.
Art told Nora what he has often said to me, “We don’t get elected because we like each other.” He added “nor do we do it to remove each other from the Board.”
Nora may take her place on the board as an independent minded and better yet fair minded member. She taught middle school kids. That’s a plus. Then she left teaching to get a law degree. On paper she’s a good candidate.
I will be supporting my friend of five years Loren Martell but I hope that doesn’t discourage Nora from having that lunch we promised each other at our last meeting. With luck, when voters go to the polls they will have two excellent candidates to vote for in the Third District.