Teaser for my next Reader Column

My artistry is modest but I had some fun today. I always like to find a fun picture to go with my text and as with today’s Trump cartoon I’ve got something put together for next week …. my last Not Eudora before the campaign is over in November. I haven’t filed for office yet. I’m in no hurry. I’ll send my column in after I file which still gives me the chance to reconsider. I’m not likely to change my plans….especially after reading Loren Martel’s column today.

It turns my stomach:

Six of seven members of the school board are DFL/union endorsed, including the current Chair, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and former Chair, Dave Kirby.
Recently John Schwetman announced he is seeking DFL endorsement to make a run at dislodging Alanna Oswald from her at-large Board seat. Mr. Schwetman is a friend of Loeffler-Kemp, and both Loeffler-Kemp and Kirby are on his campaign committee. In effect, DFL-endorsed allies are ganging up to throw Oswald (who is DFL, but not endorsed by the machine,) off the school board.

Alanna Oswald missed only one meeting I can remember in four years, when she was out of town for an MDE meeting. For a while, suffering from an infected gall bladder, she sat uncomplainingly through several meetings, running a high fever. She has been amazingly dedicated to the school district-—a very intelligent and competent public representative who always does her homework, and is often out in the schools and always accessible to the public.

I’m not suggesting board member Oswald shouldn’t have to get out there and convince her constituents she is still representing their interests, or that Mr. Schwetman doesn’t have a right to challenge her. I am unequivocally stating, however, that the political party that dominates our town has no legitimate criticism of Alanna Oswald’s record, and that she does not deserve to lose her job.

Alanna will try to secure DFL endorsement in her bid for reelection, but Mr. Schwetman (a union man with a lot of connections, who plans on being in Europe during the endorsement convention) has a strong chance at coming out on top, meaning all the big money from the machine‘s apparatus would flow into his campaign.

I also was defeated for the DFL endorsement by a candidate who couldn’t bother appearing at the DFL endorsement convention two years ago. David Kirby served on that Endorsements Committee. It was a bit of a shock to me to find him when I went in for my interview. The local DFL channels Donald Trump and his gutless Republican Congress far too often.

What I’ve been reading today Wed. 6/13/2019

Day two of this. For a year I have been saving news stories to my email to comment on them in the blog. For a while I’m going to post them immediately with very little commentary on my part. Then over the next few days I’m going to go back and delete all the news links I never alerted my eight loyal readers to.

The Polymet Mine which I’ve mentioned in recent posts is getting tough scrutiny by a newspaper I greatly admire the Timberjay. I will add that I have been close to persuaded that the mine will not be a threat to Minnesota’s water. That said I don’t like the strings that seem to have been pulled to free the mine from scrutiny. http://timberjay.com/stories/epa-releases-long-sought-comments-on-polymet-permit,15156?fbclid=IwAR2YlAhvBOtxq1usaG0OKSuK06AZydgYdI8U2tneCVwiIJt7ARktroQk2uU Continue reading

Thank you M’am

A couple days ago I volunteered to read to my grandsons before bed. Its something I did all the time a couple years ago but since they both began reading copiously I’ve fallen out of the habit. I miss it. I love to read to kids. Here’s one of my favorite books. For more push the “up” button. I’ve read a lot of books to Claudia too including all seven of the Harry Potter books – twice, except for number seven. I’ve only read The Deathly Hallows one once.

For this reading I pulled out a wonderful story from the time I led Great Books classes for my daughter back when she was in fifth grade. The story I chose to read was Thank You M’am by Langston Hughes of Harlem. It was written in 1931 a few steps from where my Grandfather earned his Masters Degree at Columbia University. Columbia and the Harlem Renaissance were next door neighbors. I thought I’d share it with you.

What I’ve been reading today Wed. 6/12/2019

For the last year I’ve been emailing important stories to myself to alert my eight loyal readers. I rarely link to them because I thought I should elaborate on them myself. No more. Most come from the New York Times and those following my links will no doubt discover that the Times will limit the number they can read each month without a subscription.

Here are important news stories from today:

Americans report that they are most interested in reading news about Health Care, Climate Change, Education and Economics but due to Facebook and Google spend most of their time reading divisive stories about National Security Politics, Immigration and Sportshttps://www.axios.com/news-consumption-read-topics-56467fe6-81bd-4ae5-9173-cdff9865deda.html?sfns=mo

Diane Hendricks is not one of America’s better-known billionaires. But she is, according to Forbes, the richest self-made woman in the country, with a fortune estimated at around $7.2 billion. Her wealth swamps that of better-known billionaires like eBay veteran Meg Whitman, Oprah Winfrey, Facebo… http://flip.it/tTxA-k

Some dying American coral reefs are being treated with anti-biotics http://flip.it/m4YpJM

Having gutted Russia’s democracy Putin is using other democracy’s legal systems to undermine them. https://www.npr.org/2019/06/12/731578176/report-russia-exploits-western-legal-systems-institutions-to-its-advantage

Today’s news requires me to lay out my first campaign plank/planks.

And these are no where near the top of my list in importance.

The Red Plan set aside about 18 million dollars to fix up Old Central High School. It was spent on other goodies instead. I can’t recall how much the cost of repairs had risen to when I was on the Board, perhaps ten million more. Today the Trib reports that the current estimated fix up costs are $48.5 million.

When I was on the Board in about 2002, Garry Krause asked me to second a motion to discuss selling Central despite its iconic and historic value. A buyer who has subsequently bought other abandoned Duluth Schools even came into the picture. But Old Central (also referred to as HOCH Historic Old Central High) remains.

Here’s my first campaign position. If we can sell it to someone who would abide by the National Historic Preservation guidelines I’d sell it in a heartbeat pending a vote of Duluth in a referendum to take place preferably in 2020 when the maximum voter turnout can be expected.

No Boards before the Red Plan or afterwards has been willing to raise taxes to bring it into full repair. It is a lovely symbol of our schools but a terrible drag on them as well. I personally don’t want to case a vote as one of seven school board members to sell it without public support and in this case I don’t think my election in 2019, should I succeed, ought to count.

On the other hand my view on New (but abandoned) New Central is simpler. I’d vote to spend the million or so needed to demolish it. I would do so for two reasons. It costs money to maintain. It will pull down the price we can claim for selling the land to a private developer. HOWEVER! I am in no hurry to sell the land unless we got an offer we couldn’t refuse. Today I’d say that price should be fifteen to twenty million dollars. Why see it so dear? Because our District has held empty land for years for future use. I think global warming, unless it can be reversed – and it probably can’t will make Duluth a prime location for coastal and sounthern people to move to. That could make a third high school necessary and there could be no better location for a third high school than in this central location. It would be Central risen as a phoenix from the ashes.

On my mark, Get set…….

I have a week to organize myself for my school board campaign. I’ll have two shots at a Reader column before its publisher cuts me off as a candidate. I sent one in today. It contains a cartoon I drew borrowing heavily from a children’s illustration. I figure that I’ve had a year to undo the damage Donald Trump inflicted on my school board campaign in 2017 by leaving Duluth’s outraged voters under the mistaken impression that by voting against me they were voting against Trump. Actually, I have enjoyed my vacation from the School Board and the Superintendent. Thank you Donald.

Here’s the cartoon. You will have to wait until the Reader comes out to see how its used.

Since the blog will be my daily contact with voters I’ve gotten interested in seeing how much attention it attracts by analyzing this year’s blog stats. Although less than half complete June is by far the most visited month for a long time, maybe ever. I’ve averaged 4,674 page views a day. And each “pageview” includes twenty posts.

In looking at my blog I checked out the very first post from March of 2006 where I declared my separation from the Republican Party. I also just discovered a post meant to be a quick reference to finding stuff on my first website: www.snowbizz.com.

Jerry Arnold – A good Republican, RIP

Here’s his obituary:
https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/obituaries/4623508-judge-jerome-jerry-g-arnold

I think the first time I met Jerry was a little before I gave a horrific speech at the Radison Hotel in Duluth in 1972 or 73. A couple of friends and I stopped in the hotel’s bar and Jerry was there. One of my College Republican pals began jawing with Jerry who was a vocal Republican in DFL Duluth. After we left my friend told me how Jerry was brilliant in saving him over some legal scrape.

I wouldn’t meet Jerry again until 1976 when I ambitiously ran against Mike Jaros and got a meager 32% of the vote. The next election year, 1978, Jerry showed me how to silk screen lawnsigns and came over to my home in Western Duluth, off of Piedmont Avenue and we began printing them out. There were so many my yard wouldn’t hold them and I started laying them out in our neighbor’s adjoining yard. I did so without asking them and looked up in horror to see them scowling down at me. That’s when I noticed Jerry’s short fingers on one hand. I’ve never wanted to use a snow blower since that time.

Jerry ran for Congress against Jim Oberstar in 1974 hoping that a nasty split in the DFL could win him a miracle race. It wasn’t enough. Later he saddled up with Ronald Reagan and Senator Rudy Boschwitz. The later didn’t recommend him for a post he pined for but he stayed a loyal Republican ever so close to the inside.

He had wit and good humor but I’d have hated to face him in court. I didn’t know him so well that I can relate a million stories about him but if his kids are anything like their Dad I’m sure I’ll hear some good ones at his funeral on Wednesday.

Rest in Peace, Jerry.

I had 43,421 pageviews in 5 months in 2006. . .

. . . when my blog was new. That was from August through December. In the first ten days of June 2019 I’ve had 48,005 pageviews.

Actually, for my blog’s first five months, March 7th through July, no statistic engine was keeping track of my hits. That didn’t start until August of 2006.

If you’re curious here is my very first post on March 7th where I declare my departure from the Grand Old Party. Donald Trump has brought me back with a vengeance.

In the Absence of Humility

In the absence of humility sexual predation is rampant. We expect it in secular quarters like politics but its true in the church as well. Catholics are and will continue to reel from recent expose’s. Ditto the Boy Scouts. Pedophiles flocked to the schools where Indian children were taken from their parents and shipped away to forget their Indian languages and learn of the greatness of the United States. It has made its way into Christian evangelism where, as was the case with Leroy Moore of Alabama, the true believers refuse to take the scales off their eyes.

What I didn’t know is that in a lot of the new evangelical churches the decks are stacked against victims by a contract kind of like Donald Trump’s non disclosure agreements. The Times’ story today about pedophiles in the evangelical world explains it thusly:

“It was the kind of community that Ms. Bragg, who was not raised in the church, wanted for her children. They signed the church’s Membership Covenant, an agreement stating they would submit to the Bible and to the authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders. Members promise to “practice complete chastity” unless in a heterosexual marriage, to “refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossip,” and to “diligently strive for unity and peace within the church.” Leaders promise “to lovingly exercise discipline when necessary.”

“Ms. Bragg could feel her faith growing. She embraced evangelical tenets, like trusting God, not one’s own feelings. She learned the importance of being slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Mrs. Bragg would learn the hard way that bowing to this church was like putting on a pair of handcuffs. Like the first eruptions of scandal in the Catholic Church these evangelical churches have no room for apology or confession. In this they are just like their hero Donald Trump and the new Republicans and Bill Clinton too for that matter.

half a ton of sand

I occasionally get a little anal retentive about clean up. Ten years ago I noticed a lot of cigarette filters along the thin boulevard along my retaining wall along 21st Ave East in Duluth. I collected 132 of them from street to alley. That’s bad. I was tempted to write about them in the Duluth Reader but never got around to it.

For about ten years the City of Duluth has been sweeping up the winter sand it strews on the avenue to keep cars from sliding off the road or into the intersection. This year I waited a long time to see the little sweeper that brushes off the sand. It drove up the hill one day but never returned to sweep my sand. A week ago I sent emails to a couple of City departments asking which was responsible for clean up. One supervisor told me it was street maintenance’s department but I’ve never heard back from them not even when I sent them this picture after I picked out the leaves which I took to the yard compost facility on 27th Ave West.

Over the week-end of nothing more than cold shoulder from street maintenance I began cleaning off the sidewalk. Today I called and left a message to the manager explaining that I had swept up the sand myself but telling him I hoped they would pick up the piles which I placed around a construction sign they behind. The sign was held down by a couple of 40 pound sand bags to keep it from blowing over. Comparing the bags with the two mounds of sand behind them I estimate that I swept up a thousand to 14 hundred pounds of sand. Imagine them along every half block of street artery in Duluth after the winter. The sand would probably do a good job plugging up our sewers. At least they aren’t cigarette filters.

What does 10,538 pageviews yesterday mean?

For those new readers joining my “eight loyal readers”……

I’m no Mark Twain. I’m no David Brooks. I’m not Sam Cook. (Duluth News Trib readers will know who he is…..although we’ve been confused for each other on occasion and we were both born in Kansas)

I’m a fellow who is addicted to knowledge (In high school I learned about Faust and his bargain with the devil to become omnipotent) At about the same time I clasped Socrates’s maxim to heart – “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m a politician, a teacher, and a writer and I won’t shut up in any of these endeavors. And furthermore, in all of these endeavors I’m guided by my addiction to knowledge and my daily fight against ignorance……especially willful ignorance….such as…..“I know you may be right but I find you so annoying that I’ll be damned if I’ll admit it” ignorance.

Its this last kind of ignorance that particularly troubles me. Its the sort of ignorance that leads to war and its bounty of death and destruction. Ironically, like a good fight sometimes war cleans the deck. But in today’s age on the verge of a Sixth Extinction or worse backing away from this kind of ignorance is particularly important.

In this I am right behind the next generation of young people abandoning the Republican Party. I have far more faith in them to protect my grandson’s future than the Alzheimers Network’s (Fox News) voters. The GOP’s favorite media lives by the same dim witted mantra as Donald Trump. “If Black Lung is good enough for West Virginia its good enough for America.”

Before I return to my message to new readers just let me mention one more Trump Era excrescence (that’s a fifty cent word for shit) Australia which is being hit harder by Global Warming than any other part of the Earth than the poles and killing off the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef just elected a Trumpian who wants to ignore the enviorment and sell more coal to China. How is China going to use this bounty. Its about to build 145 coal burning electrical generators in African and Asian nations even while China is shuttering its own coal-fired plants that made its capital the smog capitol of the world for the last twenty years. There are no words for such folly.

I write to be noticed. I write to win elections. I write to win hearts. I write to make people think and just maybe to show off 68 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. I try to write with some with and good cheer. The topics, being all to tangled with human ego, are not necessarily funny…….certainly not planetary extinction.

So, yesterday I had over 10,000 pageviews. I presume that’s largely because I put lots of links to previously well read posts. I’m adding more. The Trump ignoring editors of the Duluth News Tribune are a little sensitive about my criticism. I don’t know if they will be willing to endorse me. I don’t think its much of a problem if they don’t. BUT…..I have my work cut out for me this year. Two years ago I was not reelected to the Duluth School Board by a ton of anguished voters who thought by voting me off they were rescuing Duluth from Donald Trump. Ignorance is such a bummer. Curing it takes daily, hourly work.

And my beef isn’t with the Reporters of the Trib. Heck a couple days ago one of the reporters who covered me on the Duluth School Board gave me the friendliest call out as she drove by my front lawn. Nope. Its the poor editors under the thumb of a Koch-like media operation. They find me prickly.

10,538 pageviews means I’m not dependent upon the editors of the Duluth News Tribune to explain how crazy I am. I can do that myself just fine…..thank you very much!

A press release not published…

… By the Duluth News Tribune

Because press releases fill up space and require no actual work on the part of reporters, Duluth media outlets love them. They’ll parrot press releases from anybody–except for one person. So far, no Duluth media outlet has managed to parrot mine. Oh well. They’ll be crying when the Monitor’s kicking their butts around the block. T minus thirteen days to launch.

PRESS RELEASE–Launch of the Duluth Monitor

The Duluth Monitor, an online news publication, will launch on June 19, 2019.

John Ramos, publisher of the Monitor, says, “Duluth is badly in need of quality journalism. Over the last couple of decades, the news business in the city has been greatly diminished. The newspapers don’t have enough reporters left to cover basic governmental meetings, let alone undertake serious investigations. The TV stations offer great weather forecasts and bantering on-air personalities, but little else. We sense that people in Duluth and the surrounding region are hungry for meaningful news. We intend to supply that demand.”

Ramos is also the Monitor’s lead investigative reporter. He promises a big story for the launch.

Contact information:

John Ramos
218-391-8791
ramosjohn100@gmail.com

duluthmonitor.com

Most visited posts of 2019

This list is based on some conjecture. My statistics site can tell me how many hits or pageviews Lincolndemocrat gets every day. It doesn’t tell me what viewers are looking at. Its possible, even likely, that large numbers of readers don’t find posts until several days after they have been posted. I won’t always even guess what might have been the most popular post on some days.

The blog has grown. In 2007, Lincolndemocrat’s first year, there were 68,560 pageviews. So far this year its 524,081 pageviews just short of half-way through the year. 2019 could be my first million pageview year.

JUNE 2019 Click here

MAY 2019

May 3 – page 6,409 pageviews JESUS AND WASHINGTON, LONE WOLVES VS HERDS
May 14 – 9,794 pageviews I Double Dog Dare You to Call Me a Baby Killer
May 23 – 6,966 pageviews A FAILED TEACHER MAY TAKE ON A TEACHER OF PRINCIPALS
May 27 – 17,874 pageviews A MEMORIAL DAY REMEMBRANCE

APRIL 2019

April 30 – 6,016 pageviews GIVING MINORITY AMERICAN SOLDIERS THEIR DUE
April 26 – 5,021 pageviews Continue reading

75 years ago

This is one of the pictures I took of the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha beach last September.

Seventy-five years ago, on another June 6th, allied soldiers in the tens of thousands returned to France to finish Part B of the war my Grandfather had fought in 1918. This day in 1944 would be remembered more honestly than the vainglory reported back home from the First World War. A 42-year-old Indiana man wrote 700,000 words from the front and sent them to 400 newspapers back home. His name was Ernie Pyle. D-Day, however, called for a different kind of reporting. Pyle’s story is a fitting way to remember the men who died that day and every day of that war. Ernie would have understood the french woman who spoke on NPR this morning. A Normandy native she survived the invasion and walked along the beach after the battle just like Pyle did. Though she still lives within sight of the beach her memories of Normandy’s aftermath have made it impossible for her to bear walking along it for the last seventy-five years.

Here’s the first paragraph from today’s New York Times remembrance:

Most of the men in the first wave never stood a chance. In the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, thousands of American soldiers crawled down swaying cargo nets and thudded into steel landing craft bound for the Normandy coast. Their senses were soon choked with the smells of wet canvas gear, seawater and acrid clouds of powder from the huge naval guns firing just over their heads. As the landing craft drew close to shore, the deafening roar stopped, quickly replaced by German artillery rounds crashing into the water all around them. The flesh under the men’s sea-soaked uniforms prickled. They waited, like trapped mice, barely daring to breathe.

Read it all: The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day

Most visited posts of June

My most visited posts of June, 2019, so far:

June 4, 7,732 pageviews Hot Air (a SKY TV ad)

June 4, 6,657 pageviews IF I HAVE TO LIE TO GET ELECTED I DON’T WANT TO BE ELECTED

June 6, 10,538 pageviews MOST VISITED POSTS OF 2019

June 10, 10,548 pagevoews five posts. No idea if the most popular was an obit about a good Republican, Disappointing Street Maintenance or our local opera company. Try the Obit.

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To qualify (for now) as a “Most visited post” 6,000 pageviews a day are required.

Most visited posts of 2019 by month

If I have to lie to get elected I don’t want to be elected

And I do want to get elected:

I missed my deadline for the Reader. I haven’t done any serious recent blog postings but a few days ago I responded to a Facebook comment that every beginning teacher ought to be paid $60,000.

I took a little break after an hour’s French studies to clear my mind and I began thinking about that post and my reply which is copied below.

That $60,000 salary is bullshit. Its bullshit in the same way as some folks are saying the United States should pay full tuition for every college student. I called it Pie-in-the-sky in my reply which I think was thoughtful but America doesn’t need thinking on the left to be as addled as Trump’s tweets.

Here’s the facts. Public School Teachers make good livings. They are paid the same whether they are brilliant or mediocre. This offends some Republicans but who cares. Let them go into teaching. I’ve known dynamic teachers who petered out because of the demands of the job. Its called “burn out.” The challenge for any successful school is to prevent burn out. Using high pay to keep teachers motivated is a lost cause. It’s a lost cause that teacher’s unions chase after vigorously. They are as addicted to pushing up high wages as District Attorneys too often are by high conviction rates……whether the convicted are guilty or not. The rates become their bragging rights for reelection. Ditto teacher politicians in their unions. “We got you more pay and we poured out a lot of crocodile tears about all the other stuff like big classes. Keep us negotiating for more of the same.”

For instance, in Duluth our Teacher’s Union has made it damn near impossible to hire more teachers. Every scrap of money the state gives us goes into to paying existing teachers not hiring more to have smaller classes. When I asked Frank Wanner, then the DFT President, why his union would not support a levy referendum request in 1997 that the Board promised to use to hire additional specialist teachers his response to me was “What’s in it for us?” meaning the existing teachers. But the DFT got behind the Red Plan. They had to to stay in good stead with Duluth’s languishing construction unions and supported the ruinous Red Plan that diverted so much local levy into building bonds at the expense of a couple hundred existing teaching jobs. Ah, but after silencing teachers worried about the Red Plan, Frank did ridicule the School Board after the Red Plan’s damage was done – for not knowing better. Thanks a lot.

Some union leaders do see the forest for the trees. I once fell in love with the AFT’s (American Federation of Teachers) gnarly old President Al Shanker. As he aged he realized that public schools owed more to their students. Please read the link.

Here is a basic truth about teacher pay. Teachers, protected by tenure and unions, have it pretty good if they are reasonably good teachers. First, Its a secure job. Its protected during economic downturns because the public will continue to keep them employed. Second, Its a job with a summer vacation. I know. I know!!!!! Teachers hate it when this is thrown into their face but its undeniable. Three months of summer off to take more classes for a higher better paying degree, or to garden or to travel. Hell, I wanted to be a teacher for this reason. My father left a full time public job to become a college teacher who taught one summer session but discovered he could take his kids on six week camping trips to introduce them to America and Canada. Third, Its modest wages (which are looking better and better to a lot of low level service employees these days) are vastly supplemented by a generous public retirement plan…..in many states like Minnesota. My Dad’s TRA money covered half my Mother’s living expenses and housing needs until she died after six years in a dementia wing of a nursing home here in Duluth. Fortunately, she had some other income and savings for the other half thanks to prudent children who looked out after her interests.

What I wrote in my reply was this:

Harry Welty: Easy to say but a very tall order. How about guaranteeing all parents $40,000. How about guaranteeing no classroom has more than 25 kids. Both are worthwhile goals but pie in the sky. If Duluth was to implement this overnight on its property taxes I can’t calculate the cost but I can imagine it. $60,000 is probably the average pay without benefits for a Duluth teacher. Starting everyone at this salary might be like giving 500 teachers 10,000 each or $5 million. It won’t reduce class sizes. It won’t make kids learn more. Multiplied across America It will make Democrats very unpopular overnight.

A FRIEND’S REPLY: It is a commentary on our society that people would rebel against paying teachers a decent wage – commensurate with the importance of the job. But, people pay hundreds to see a professional sporting event, and the players are paid exorbitant salaries. We pay thousands for vehicles, and auto executives make millions. We pay for those salaries, and maybe we don’t like it, but we keep buying cars and trucks and we keep going to sporting events. But, we won’t pay what teachers are truly worth. It shows how little we truly value education.

Harry Welty: I can’t disagree with you. The challenge is addressing multiple priorities simultaneously. Gas taxes for infrastructure. Taxes for preschools. Taxes for conservation of federal lands and Health care The list is long and has been neglected for a long time while the Kochs and their ilk were spared. I take Bernie’s advocacy as a worthy goal but not as a practical one.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."