Thugs for Better Schools III

If this post is going to get written in a timely fashion I’ll have to do it without the benefit of perusing my records. It’s about candidate Doug Frisk back before he made himself a public figure and could send me an email taunting that he could sue me for slander but not vice versa because I was a public figure.

That email may exist but I don’t have easy access to it. I had it on my old PC which I recently and reluctantly handed over to my son with the request that he figure out how to capture the five years worth of email on it and load them on a CD for future reference. This Frisk email along with a string of twenty or thirty others between the two of us were sent to Chuck Frederick at the News Tribune. Maybe Chuck kept them. I might even have printed them out and stuck them in one of a thousand or so folders related to Let Duluth Vote that I’ve stashed away in my attic. I was once going to write a book. So, although I’d like to be able to reference them for the Thug III story, for the moment I’m reduced largely to my memory.

After a few hours of digging I might find some old posts from this blog that referred to Doug but that will also be difficult as I never referred to his name in print, at least not that I can recall. That means I can’t type his name in the blog’s search function and find those posts. I suspect Doug printed them all out because, of course, my blog comments about a nameless antagonist referred to him. Any half competent detective could have used them to identify Doug thereby unfairly exposing him. According to Frisk that unlikely possibility proved that I had libeled him.

And there are a lot of posts to go through to find obscure references to Mr. Frisk. A year and a half ago I calculated I’d written about 3 quarters of a million words about the Red Plan. By now it’s probably well over a million which puts it up there with the 1,089,000 words of the entire Harry Potter series. Its funny how both of these Harry’s had a “he who must not be named.”

Poop! I didn’t mean to push the “publish” button yet. I’ve got a lot more to write and a helluva lot of editing to do. Its 9:30 on Thursday now. If I were you I’d come back this afternoon and read the finished product. But if you want to see how this transforms over time go ahead. It might whet your appetite for more. When I’m finished this will be one of the longest posts I’ve written and also one I most regret writing.

I’m going to begin by giving Mr. Frisk the benefit of the doubt and theorize about his motives for threatening me.

Doug Frisk is a father of children who attend the public schools. I can only presume that he liked the idea of the Red Plan and considered its opponents enemies of his children’s education. So far so good. At the time he began threatening me he was also un or underemployed. As readers of this blog know, we who have too little to keep us busy can get preoccupied with the damnedest things.

So Doug had motive and the time to attack me. This might have been awkward for him because, as it happened his wife worked for my wife. His wife sang in a church band with my daughter. His children babysat my grandchildren at church functions. He eventually pointed this out to me himself. He didn’t let this stop him. To my knowledge we had never met so his only association with me was what he read about me in the press or what he picked up by reading my blog. For my part I had no awareness of him at all as he does not regularly attend the church where I belt out songs for the choir.

Perhaps after reading the half million words in my Blog Doug concluded I was just a smart ass who was deserving of a good comeuppance. (As for the last I’ve never denied being one but in my own defense, I generally apply my wit to cutting the arrogant, powerful, and clueless down to size.)

As I recall I was in Fairbault, Minnesota on a fact finding mission when Mr. Frisk sent me his first email. I believe it concerned grief he was getting from Anti-Red Plan partisans for his support of the Red Plan. What this involved I have no idea. I believe his email was a little abrupt. I doubt that I was very cordial in reply. I had no idea who he was.

In a follow-up email he accused me of fomenting my allies to threaten his children. I was taken aback by this charge and I dropped the sarcasm and told him to talk to the authorities about any threats made to his children. I’m not sure just how many emails were exchanged at this point perhaps ten. They would continue.

At about this time I was already involved in a lawsuit against JCI and the School District over the contract which the District hadn’t bothered to bid out to JCI to oversee the building of the colossal Red Plan. Eventually our suit would grind to a halt when the defendents successfully had our side’s attorney removed. At the time Frisk began emailing me the School Board majority was doing everything it could to hide their legal maneuverings from our side. I can’t say I blame them.

They had one huge problem, however. One of our allies, Gary Glass, was on the School Board and was entitled to be a part of discussions with the Board’s attorney, Susan Torgerson. Certainly Dr. Dixon and his loyal Board members were desperate to deny Glass any chance to see or report the District’s legal maneuvering. Their attorney, who also represented Glass, began making public relations accusations that Glass had given the Board majority a justification for removing him from office. I was outraged and offended by this political theater and a charge they never could substantiate because it was untrue.

On the afternoon that Attorney Torgerson swooped into town she arranged for a closed meeting which would exclude Glass and lay the groundwork for removing him from the Board. With a day’s notice I wasn’t about to miss this noon meeting and showed up to keep my eye on the duplicitous bastards who were conspiring against their critics. I make no apology for the use of the word bastard. I don’t know that I’ve ever used it before in quite such a personal context in this blog but that word describes perfectly my attitude toward the Board majority and Dr. Dixon at that instant.

Hardly anyone showed up for this vital but surprise meeting. Sarah Horner the Trib’s education reporter couldn’t attend but her colleague, Jana Hollingsworth, who was the Trib’s higher education reporter was there in her stead. I’d never met Jana but found out who she was and made sure she and the majority Board members could see me and my body language as they proceeded with their charade. Inside I was seething but on the outside I joshed and joked at the asinine but lethal procedures and Torgerson’s self righteous preening as she heaped contempt on her client, Gary Glass.

There was one other person in attendance, JCI’s PR man and Chamber of Commerce insider, Steve Greenfield. All I knew about Greenfield was that he enjoyed my Reader article which had been published a year earlier which urged a “yes” vote on an extension to the DECC Arena and that Mary Cameron had told me that he took advantage of a black woman friend of hers who had been smitten beyond reason by the well coifed ad man. Oh, and one more thing. Greenfield had just put a video he had created with JCI’s Red Plan money panning an alternative to the Red Plan which was intended to make Art Johnston look like a joke.

I sat myself about fifteen feet away from Steve so that he too could get the full impact of my derision although I didn’t speak loud enough for anyone but someone sitting next to me to actually hear. I was satisfied for them to see my derision. I wrote a post about this horrific spectacle in my blog.

Somewhere in my Blog I said that no one else but these folks was in the Board Room when Attorney Torgerson was raising hell. Mr. Frisk emailed back indignantly telling me he too had been at the meeting and that I couldn’t have missed him because he was a large man with a full beard. (Until this time he was just the guy who had sent me angry emails. I’d never met him) Then Frisk added that he had heard every disgusting thing I’d said at the meeting. I was a bit taken aback by this claim and wondered how I could have missed his presence. I thought back and it occurred to me that perhaps there had been a man fitting his description that had come in at the last minute and sat on the opposite side of the room from me. Certainly, from that distance no one could have heard anything I’d had to say. I figured he was either bluffing or that he had spoken to Greenfield who might have overheard a few of my louder snorts of derision.

When I mentioned this email to some of my friends in Let Duluth Vote my description of Mr. Frisk’s rang a bell for several members. They recalled seeing such a man with a suspicious listening device in his ear at various school board meetings. They had decided that what I thought was a harmless blue tooth appliance was actually an evesedropping device. If that was the case it would have explained Mr. Frisk’s confidence in reporting that he’d overheard every thing I had said at this sham School Board meeting. They are both consultants. They both showed up at the same time. They both shared the same cause and one of them, Greenfield, had a lot of Red Plan money courtesy of JCI. Not long after this Greenfield saw to it that some of the 1500 emails I was ordered to give JCI got into the hands of the Fargo Forum columnist, Ralph Doty, who wasted little time to write a damning column against me for my ghastly emails. Ralph angrily reported that I had given Let Duluth Vote supporters a little grief for using the “b” word. (Of course, that’s not the spin that Doty put on it.) Such was the unprintable nature of my private email.

Assailed on all sides by JCI’s minions I decided that despite the awkward connections between Frisk’s family and my own his actions were such as to merit a mention on my blog. Without giving much away I mentioned that someone had been contacting me in these threatening ways. It might have been at this point that Frisk sent me the email telling me that he was entitled to sue me for slander. I’m sure I replied “go ahead.”

I’d have to spend more time than this post is worth to fit the events in chronological order but not long after this I got a phone message from Chuck Frederick an editor at the Duluth News Tribune. The message informed me that the Trib had just interviewed Frisk, who had also visited the Duluth Police, and that the Trib was about to publish a column outlining Frisk’s contention that I wanted his children harmed.

To say I was put into a cold fury is an understatement. I called Frederick’s office and got his answering machine. I wish I had the tape of what I told his message machine but in this blog post following Frederick’s call this is how I recalled the message I left Chuck:

You can print any f***ing thing you want in your M*****F***ing newspaper. I’m going to send you all the emails ******* sent me something something something.

Chuck turned out not to be one of the bastards. A short time after leaving this message and sending Chuck a couple dozen email messages I got a call from him. He had reviewed the long string of email from Mr. Frisk and told me simply that there would be no column in the Trib. Fini!

And fini was fine with me. Sure, JCI’s publicist, Greenfield, rich with ISD 709 money was handing out ammunition to our local newspapers to trash me and quite possibly paying Mr. Frisk to threaten me but I didn’t want to embarass Mr. Frisk’s family. I still don’t. Mr. Frisk has done a good enough job of that himself. Now that he’s made himself a public figure I guess I’ll have even less to fear about his suing me for slandering him.

I must, however, confess some anxiety at the prospect of Mr. Frisk’s getting himself elected to the Duluth School Board.