Art Johnston to the rescue

I’ve been impatiently waiting for today’s John Ramos story in the Reader. He’s been covering the saga of the proposed $35 million library for a couple months. Art Johnston told me the kicker long ago and its a kicker all right.

The proposal was based on the dreadful information that it took $75,000 a month to heat or cool the building each year. That sounded ridiculous to me months ago when the idea first was proposed. After all $75,000 over 20 years is a million and a half bucks. Taxpayers would be well advised to compare paying $75,000 for energy per year to, oh say, $2,500,000 a year for library bond repayments before rushing forward. The bond repayments would be much more than the $35 million. It would be closer to $50 million by the time you added interest payments. That’s where I get the $2,500,000 comparison figure.

Then Art told me what Mr. Ramos spills in today’s column. The puny $75,000 energy costs are nonsense. That’s because Art discovered, after handing the City some public data requests, that this is the cost of flooding the library with nearly 30 million gallons of city drinking water to cool or warm the building every year. After using all this treated water the pipes flush it back into Lake Superior. Its a problem with a simple fix called insulation.

Simple as it is it took an engineer like Art to figure out what was going on. The City paid some consultants $65,000 to analyze the problem and they never figured out the basic problem and instead suggested building a new library…….because that’s what their clients the City wanted to hear. Hell, $65 thousand is about what poor old Art will have to pay for the attorneys that kept him from being kicked off the Duluth School board by the Tribune’s editorial board and the School Board majority. Art has just possibly saved Duluth taxpayers from paying an unnecessary two-and-a-half million in unnecessary bond payments.

Here’s how John concludes his column:

The Reader owes a debt of gratitude to Art Johnston, who took it upon himself to file data requests with the city that unearthed much of the information in this article.

This leaves me with one simple question. How come the Duluth School Administration won’t honor the data requests of a sitting school board member but the City of Duluth will honor the requests of an ordinary citizen?