End of the Campaign odds’n ends

I’m not yet ready to start my new life free from the School Board. The final step will be to put all the campaign debris on the floor of my office away. That won’t take too long because I’ve already done it a couple of times earlier when it was a major task. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve begun doing to pull myself away is to begin reading aloud a new book to Claudia. I’ve said before that Last Hope Island is great. I’m about half through it. There have been several stories in it with pithy commentary about human frailty that I couldn’t help but associate with the campaign and the Duluth School Board. Those associations are among about ten items I’ve jotted down on a pocket sized note pad that are begging me to become future posts.

My readers are slipping away. What had peaked at over 600 has been winnowed down to 377 undernourished daily visits. Undernourished because I’ve not posted regularly. I suspect I won’t be able to help myself commenting on the School District over the next two years despite my yearning to write a history book or two. I’ve even mentioned to the publisher of the Duluth Reader an interest in writing about the Board. I told him a column might be called the “Minority Report” but frankly, I’m too eclectic to want to limit myself to writing about the School Board. A better name might riff on my old column’s name Not Eudora Redux. The Reader has a lot more eyes than my blog and I’d like that.

I couldn’t fall asleep the night of the election so I got up at 2 AM and took advantage of the light early morning traffic to pluck up most of my lawnsigns. Recent snows had hidden some of them under the drifts thrown up by snow plows. I recently recovered more of them as the snow melted away. I have yet to box them for some future election. I also added the last six contributions I received to an excel spreadsheet. I have to turn in another finance report in a couple days. I added another $220 “loan” to keep the account at $500 and avoid monthly $10 service fees over the next two years.

For those who are curious my fundraising totals are just short of $9500.00. I “loaned” my campaign about half of this amount. I also donated $1100 to other School Board candidates. Patty Murto has been trumpeting my deep pockets for some time so I thought I would make an accounting here. I donated just under what I “earn” for my annual School Board pay. Its a far smaller contribution than the hundreds of hours I have spent posting to this blog in an attempt to make what happens at Lake and Second street comprehensible for my readers.

I have three more snow trading card decks to deliver to donors. I’m pleased to have a few left. They will make fun things to give to friends and supporters in coming years. I’ve already got people asking me what I’ll make this year or what the check mark of snow currently sitting on my lawn means. I also owe the Lowell School a snow sculpture from my donation to the Mulch replacement parents.

I should note an online commentary about the recent campaign from my friend at the “Patient Cycle” Its a thoughtful piece that didn’t completely spare me. My blog was described as having “degenerated into a lot more snipping at opponents.” I believe its an entirely fair and honest analysis from beginning to end. On the other hand, I’m not sure sniping quite covers my reactions to “opponents.” (JUST REALIZED SNIPPING IS NOT SNIPING. THE FORMER SOUNDS LESS HOSTILE) Without mentioning my name Josh Gorham said of me on KBJR that I had unethically caused the failure of a sale of Central High. He never repeated that claim after I mentioned it in my blog. I can only guess from whom he got this piece of intel but I agreed with Alanna Oswald’s observation that he was simply repeating what someone else had told him. I hope he takes other such information from that source with a grain of salt in the future.

I did nit pick Patty Murto a bit because she was posting unflattering things about me and my com-padres on Facebook. At the same time she was trying to coax me to be a part of Cloquet television’s Harry’s Gang. Patty is Jill Lofald’s big sister and she was desperate to help the sister that she told me was a political innocent. When I mentioned this to Jill she rolled her eyes and told me that she didn’t consider herself a “Pollyanna.” I’d be more inclined to describe Jill as guileless myself. She seems to put an unfettered faith in our Superintendent, formerly one of her students. I suspect the difficulty she found herself in back in 04 was another instance of guilelessness. Like Bernie Burnham, the DFT President, Jill balked at meeting me over a cup of coffee. I had worn her down into agreeing to meet with me only to learn later that I’d be meeting with Patty instead. I considered that a diplomatic gaff but went ahead and had a cordial meeting with the older sister.

I understand paranoia and try hard to overcome it but Patty early on did her best to make Jill fear the most knowledgeable school board member of my quarter century involvement with the Duluth School Board, Alanna Oswald. Here’s how it came about:

Jill told Alanna that she intended to continue being a speech coach and substitute teacher in the Duluth Schools after she was elected. Alanna simply told her that she would have to get the School Board’s permission before continuing this work. Patty’s deep analysis of this was immediate. She told Jill that Alanna was threatening to block Jill from continuing this work. I did my darnedest to talk Patty out of this paranoia to no avail. I told her that when I had been on the school board in about 2000 I asked the Board to approve my resuming subbing for the District only to be shot down. Supt. Almanza was afraid I’d start throwing bombs or something and the majority of the Board went along with him. The Minnesota statutes are designed to prevent Board members from dipping into the well where they work. They are limited to earning $8000 in a fiscal year over and above their school board pay. Jill is already darned near that limit from the first half of this fiscal year during which she was not a school board member. I’d not blame the School Board if they chose to abide by what I think is the “spirit” of the law – that is, that the first half of the year would not be counted. In future fiscal years even the School Board can not OK Jill earning any more than $8000.

Jill’s sister got her thick skin fighting unlettered farmers on the Carlton County Board at the beginning of Women’s Liberation in the 1970’s and 80’s. After her victory Jill told me we could have that cup of coffee now. Apparently she is once again leaving it up to me to request a meeting. I’m thinking about it but I have a pretty full plate.

Oh, I also dinged the anonymous people behind the Western Duluth Lens who dredged up the ancient “gangrene” comment from my 2013 campaign. After the election they put up a post imploring Josh, Jill and Sally Trnka not to abandon Denfeld on the issue of Compensatory Education funding. The names were subsequently pulled from the site and now a “Juniper Wentworth” helpfully explains that the Lens will not tolerate dissension from their views with this comment: “This site will delete comments they do not agree with, even if they are respectfully written.” At least “Juniper” is honest.

And yes, I wasn’t shy about taking off my kid gloves where Rosie Loeffler-Kemp was concerned but I have little doubt that it was a two-way street. Rosie doesn’t blog but her analysis of the Central sale no doubt found its way to Josh Gorham’s KBJR interview.

Karl, forgive my degeneration. Our new President has a dread disease to which I have been exposed.