Good runners can complete a marathon in under three hours.

It took the Duluth School Board four hours to complete the May, 2017 meeting.

For those of you who can’t wait for the Reader’s Loren Martel to unpack yesterday’s meeting in next week’s Reader I’ll mention a couple details.

It was a four hour marathon but a productive one. I counted 35 people in the audience at the midway point but noticed that six were looking at their cell phones. I highly recommend this distraction to help future audience members pass the time when I’m engaged in a sonorous monologue.

SPEECH TRYOUTS

A half hour demonstration was scheduled before the meeting began to give High School speech competitors a chance to strut their stuff to the school board and early audience members. Their coach, Jill Lofald, is rumored to be contemplating a run for the School Board.

THE DEPLORABLES

During the public comment time at the beginning of the meeting my friend, Henry Banks, took our Chair, Dr. Kirby, to task for an impolitic moment at a recent meeting with minorities. He addressed the people at the meeting with a “You people…….”

The good doctor is a fairly blunt spoken physician, something I much approve of when consulting doctors. But a poorly thought out “you people” can be a big turn off to people who resent being lumped together and stripped of their individuality. Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, learned this painful lesson when she put all her detractors in the “Deplorables” basket. It became a badge of honor for Trump supporters even those the Secretary of State had no wish to offend.

Henry spoke sternly but at one moment he seemed to be taking on a tone that challenged our “civility” code and Supt. Gronseth jotted down a question for me on a note pad. “Personal attack?” Although it was open season on anything we Board members had said publicly I was moved to fight my disengaged microphone to get the attention of the target of the “attack” Chair Kirby.

While the mikes were fiddled with Henry stood down and waited patiently until I was on air. I commended Chair Kirby for his restraint while facing criticism and noted that we might be heading into personal attack territory. I didn’t express myself with David Gergen’s concision when he said that the nation might be heading into “impeachment territory.”

Henry put up with my interruption and then resumed his objections which in my opinion did not too far breach the attack mode. He got a little round of applause from the audience.

BOUNDARIES

while mulch took center stage it was not the only spending item we palavered over. We had a lenghty discussion about allowing the demographers RSP to finish its analysis and help the district draw new school boundaries. I was gratified when the vote swung my way with a little more room than I had anticipated. It was a 5-2 “no” vote. This seemed to be a harbinger of a kinder gentler school board.

There was one important decision left undecided after we had consumed four hours – whether and when to hold a meeting on equity as requested by the Denfeld parents. It appeared that such a meeting might be set to take place in July after our June budget setting meeting. July would be too late to easily re-adjust our spending to follow “free and reduced lunch” populations into the schools they attended. Art Johnston explained to the lone remaining Denfeld Equity champion after our meeting that Chair Kirby had promised we would hold a meeting with the Denfeld contingent. Three of us would call a special meeting if necessary. For my part I want the compensatory ed money distributed more closely to the spirit of the law and follow these children into their schools.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Hup – two – three – mulch. Hup – two – three – mulch.

The Trib reports that the Duluth School Board is giving playground mulch replacement new life and maybe a little quicker and cheaper:

The board was unanimous in its decision to rebid the playground project and change it to leave playground equipment in place, using cheaper safety measures to ensure kids aren’t hurt by that change. It is hoped that would save $300,000. District officials said the goal would be to have all 10 playgrounds finished by Oct. 1.

With apologies to the Chordettes – Bum bum bum …

…bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum

Mr. Sandman
Are you a bad dream?
Knock off a Congressman
to elect one who’s Mean.
Who’ll work for corporatists
rolling in clover
Destroying life on Earth till it’s-all-over?

I see in the Trib that Skip Sandman, who ran for Congress in 2014 is throwing his hat in the Congressional race again for 2018. He got 4% of the vote the first time as a candidate for the Green Party. If he got that many in 2018 he might be able to snatch victory away from a Democratic candidate. Nolan only beat Mills in 2016 by a scant 2 percent.

Such considerations don’t much trouble third party candidates like George Wallace, who helped elect Richard Nixon, or Ralph Nader, who did in Al Gore, and I should know! They didn’t bother me. I ran for the same seat in Congress that Skip is after in both 1992 and 2006 as a third party choice. In the first race I did even better than Skip’s 4% winning 7% of the vote:

James L. Oberstar, Democratic-Farmer-Labor 167,104
Phil Herwig, Independent-Republican 83,823
Harry Robb Welty, Perot Choice 22,619
Floyd A. Henspeter, Term Limits Candidate 8,602

I think Trump’s Ragnarök will provide a safe cushion for the incumbent Nolan but I’m not so sure how an unknown replacement for Nolan will affect the General election race a year from now. FUN FACT – Minnesota Populist politician Ignatius Donnelly penned a fairly popular novel by that name in the 1880’s.

More borrowing for 709?

Or as the Trib’s banner headline read this morning. School projects could lead to debt.”

It is debatable whether the rubber tire mulch is a toxic threat and there were other locations to teach Woodland Hills students than Rockridge elementary School. That said, time, inaction and the June deadline for making budgetary decisions means the Board will likely pursue both projects.

I will cavil a bit at one obvious point about the headline. While certainly true, all budgets, whether that of a family; a business; or a non profit like a church; or the school District, is constantly weighting budgetary priorities. Did a neighbor kid without proper insurance back his or her car into your garage? Unless you are sitting on a big pile of cash you will have to do some budgetary juggling. And District 709 no longer has a ten percent reserve, the protection of which, consumed my first eight years on the School Board.

We will pay to remove the rubber mulch although quite possibly for half the cost trumpeted by the Trib thanks to Cory Kirsling and other PTSA parents. We will fix up Rockridge. Both will be paid for by local taxpayers. My concern is that it not come out of taxes designated for the classroom but that it come out of taxes destined for capital projects (for buildings).

Only $600,000 of the anticipated $3.6 million expense could be siphoned out of our General fund for the classroom. (Too much for my taste) The rest would or could come from taxes already levied. But we have ongoing capital needs for maintenance which would lose out if we robbed money already set aside for it in order to replace our mulch and re-purpose Rockridge.

Budgets are not static and always undergo change through any given year. It’s just that the District has precious little give these days as our priorities change. I am used to walking on thin ice. I just don’t expect to find any money I should break through it – just ice-cold water.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Snowy friend

I’ve spent hours trying to take this photo from my Flickr and put it belatedly into my snowsculpting page where it should have been placed in March of 2015. This was the briefest of snow sculptures which I built for some Duluth spring enthusiasts after they agreed to pile the last and most recent snow on Canal Park into a pile for me to sculpt. They were going to have a bonfire and cook smores to welcome in Spring. This was an idea I found on the Internet of the March wind blowing in the new season.

Here’s the front view:

Where the Red Plan demographers drew the line…

…that supposedly divided our school population into two equal halves. (this was sent to me by Art Johnston today as he reviews our current proposal to hire more demographers to help us plan possible new school boundaries)

I learned something about the Dixon years that helps explain today’s vast inequity between Denfeld and East.

I’ve groused for years about the financial pretzel twisting that the Dixon’s administration pulled off to finance the Red Plan and keep people happy at the same time eg. spending down the reserve, balloon payments on bond costs, raising taxes surreptitiously after making impossible promises, ignoring public referenda, laying off teachers and lying among other crimes that slip my mind. There was yet another action I’d not been aware of.

Dixon broke the law by handing out Minnesota compensatory education funds to eastern schools that should not have been given them.

At the time Minnesota required that 65% of comp ed funds to go to the schools based on the free and reduced lunches they served. The district was only allowed to spend 35% of the millions of Comp ed dollars throughout the District including eastern schools. But under Dixon’s division of the spoils only 35% of Comp ed Funds followed the free and reduced lunch kids into their schools not the 65% state law mandated. Eastern schools got to share an undeserved Comp ed bonanza.

Today we are abiding by the law’s requirements which have been altered from the Dixon days. The State now only requires that 50% of Comp Ed funds follow poor kids into their schools and we meet that rule. I presume that the GOP legislators who are big fans of “local control” and not fans of Comp Ed are responsible for the change.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Denfeld Equity Questionaire

Yesterday my blog was down for much of the day. I presume this was the result of the worldwide hack. You can see it play out on this map over the day. I had no way to post and this one comes belatedly.

I had been sent this questionaire from the Denfeld Equity group and was reminded yesterday that I had not yet replied to it:

On April 18th, we provided a summary of our work outlining areas of inequity and specific recommendations for addressing them in the short term and longer term. We trust you have had plenty of time to consider them and now ask for your initial response.

We heard the administration’s desire to calculate the fiscal impacts of each of the recommendations before discussing the inequities. This approach, however, would sidestep the essential discussion of what is currently just vs unjust / acceptable vs unacceptable. Leadership requires that you articulate not merely what we can afford, but also what we must be committed to addressing.

The community engaged in these issues is eager to hear from you. We ask for your responses to the following questions by Thursday May 11th. Responding to our committee will allow us to share those replies with the larger community. Your response(s) will save you having to hear from and respond to each person individually.

1. How important is it that ISD709 do things for the 2017-18 school year that are not already being done to improve equity within the District?

2. Which examples of inequities and unmet needs are, for you, the most pressing? (this is not dependent on the cost of addressing them or inclusion on the list we generated, simply the most pressing inequities/needs)

3. Considering the four priority issues (not strategies) put forth by our group, which, if any, do you support addressing differently in some form in time for the 2017-18 school year?

Thank you for your response. We look forward to working with you to creatively consider how to address the pressing equity needs within the District.

Here was my belated reply: Continue reading

The Quality Steering Committee

I finally steeled my courage and attended, uninvited, the Quality Steering Committee. Chair Seliga-Punyko forbade me to attend when I asked out of courtesy if I could attend, although not appointed. I had enough other things going on so I decided to avoid that fight. More recently Alanna Oswald had gotten a similar no go.

I don’t know what the fuss was all about. I was greeted cordially and learned that it is a rehash of the topics dealt with in the School Board’s standing committees. About a third of the attendees are Union board members, a third are principals and the last third is other administrators. The meetings have freer give and take than the committee meetings and no one drones on.

When I left I thanked everybody and said that I wished I had invited myself to the meeting years earlier.

Comey, Pump priming, impeachment

Yesterday I spent a couple hours writing and editing my thoughts on Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. It added little to the debate so I never uploaded it and just deleted it. I suspect Trump only upped the ante and shook more of his supporters confidence. I also suspect that the most likely effect will be to force the FBI to double down on its investigation.

The President keeps handing out more ammunition to critics like me and, worse for him, late night comics. Its like like getting candy bars at Halloween and Comey’s firing was like five pound box of Russel Stover’s chocolates.

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t sleep so I got up and read the prologue to Jane Mayer’s highly praised book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. What came as a surprise to me was the about face of the Koch Brothers (the sixth and seventh riches billionaires in the World) who heaped abuse on Trump a year ago when he was swatting traditional GOP candidates aside like flies. These days they have supplied half of their allies, subalterns and lobbyists to the Trump Administration. Trump called these brothers part of the “swamp” back when he was going to clean it up. Its one rich swamp.

Like The Tammany political hack, George Washington Plunkitt, He didn’t. Worse, he doesn’t realize its meant to prime a depression not full employment economy. I doubt that the John Birch spawned Koch’s care much about anything other than dismantling the government with Trump’s eager help. God knows they hated Obamacare. Its not a good time to be Trump voting coal miner with black lung.

Evan Osnos the Author of the book Age of Ambition, about the new China, wrote an excellent and somewhat skeptical appraisal of the chances for Trump’s impeachment for the New Yorker. That was four days ago before the Comey decision.

A problem book

My Buddy metaphorically rolled his eyes over this story in the DNT about parents who wish to remove a young adult book by author Sherman Alexie from eighth grade assignments. His comment: “The **** with which school boards have to deal.”

Yup. I haven’t had to deal with a book banning since 1996, the year I was first elected to the School Board. (We left it, “War Comes to Willie Freeman,” in the library.) At issue this time is the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”

Written by Sherman Alexie in 2007, the young adult novel has been the subject of parental criticism and the target of school bans in other districts, but has also been the winner of numerous awards and the recipient of praise by many educators and parents. I read it to Claudia a couple years ago and found it very honest, funny and engaging.

The DNT’s very reasonable editorial on mulch…

that I will not abide by. It begins:

Now that estimates have come back at more than triple the originally talked-about cost, can the Duluth School Board please do right by taxpayers and take a step back on replacing rubber mulch on school playgrounds — at least until the science is there to tell us if the stuff is even a problem?

I may vote to put the mulch plan up for rebidding. Or, I may consider another parent driven plan that promises to be closer to the original estimated price and that might mean a one-year installation of all ten playgrounds.

So, its too early to follow the Tribune’s advice. And even if all we can do is accept one of the current bids I won’t rule out accepting it. That is for a couple reasons. First, the money will not come out of classroom money (General Fund). Second, This is an issue that due to the perception of stonewalling was greatly heightened parental unhappiness, Third, Its hard to ignore the question posed to me by a chemist “What if years from now you learn it was toxic and you let kids play on it for several years?”

I’m still working on a campaign website

If, after today’s many ridiculous posts which began here, you would like to see me put my long experience, keen insights and cool demeanor to good use you could make an online contribution to my campaign.

I’m afraid to rent a PO Box this year for fear of letter bombs. Keep your donation under $100.00 and nobody has to be any the wiser. That’s state law!

Welty for School Board donation page.

Meanwhile we are going to take Rockridge off the market…

… and spend $3 plus million to fix it for Woodland Hills which has just sold its white elephant Cobb Elementary to Many Rivers.

Do not get me wrong. I can’t blame Many Rivers. I can’t blame Woodland hills…….for our school board’s foolishness.

I’m pleased for Woodland Hills which our family has a long experience with. My wife Claudia Welty served on its Board of Directors for ten years finishing as the Chair of the Board. She served with Bill Westholm among others.

This is one of Minnesota’s preeminent schools for court adjudicated young people who have so many strikes against them that WH is often their last chance. I’ve teared up at the stories of its students at the annual Board of Directors dinners. ISD 709 provides the teachers for these students and they are paid for by whatever school district they came from. Its like open enrollment.

However, Woodland Hills’s upside is a downside for 709. Instead of selling Rockridge we are now going to spend millions to make an elementary school usable for high school aged children. We will pay more for transportation and will take over maintenance costs as well. Furthermore, the financial tables have been turned on us for rent/lease costs.

We haven’t decided whether to pay for Rockridge’s fix up from left over Red Plan monies or bonding or partly from our own general funds (classroom money). Until recently we were paying WH $150,000 annually to rent space in Cobb for our teachers to teach. Cobb’s growing decrepitude was about to force WH to double the rent to $300,000 annually. Maintenance costs were soaring.

So, if we were to bond for the Rockridge costs (to save classroom dollars) paying back the bonds will cost us over $400,000 annually. That’s a hundred grand more than if we had simply paid WH more to continue renting Cobb. Meanwhile we lose a sale……two sales actually. We lost the Nettleton sale and we lost the Rockridge sale.

Instead of attending the next MSBA School Boards Association Conference it might be cheaper for our school board to attend this one:

Sorry Rosie!

“I just post rumors”

The Trib also covered the most recent offer to buy Nettleton to fall through.

This was something I posted a week ago, possibly to the annoyance of some board members who wanted us to adhere to the policy forbidding the District from selling empty schools to “competitors.” I noted in that post that an even larger offer had been made by the Many Rivers Montessori for Nettleton than the unreliable developers who left us holding a costly bag yet again. Would that be you Rosie?

Alanna Oswald had asked me how it was I knew that it was Many Rivers negotiating for Woodland Hills Cobb school (after having given up on our school board). Today she sent me the story on Many Rives purchase with the comment, “I guess you were right.”

I wrote back, “I just post rumors. I can’t help it if some of them turn out to be true.”

So, because of our fear of a competition from a pre-school we have lost out on a better offer for Nettleton while continuing to be stuck with an annual cost of about $35,000 to heat the building and protect it from window breaking vandals.

I apologized to two gentlemen at yesterday’s school board meeting

The issue of mulch consumed a third of our four-hour marathon Business Committee meeting yesterday. I had tried to prepare my “eight loyal readers” by posting two text messages from a fellow I greatly admire who has led the charge to have the crumb rubber mulch replaced, Cory Kirsling. Those posts were “I won’t wait three years” Parts Three and Two.

I won’t rehash the whole meeting here but there are two stories in the Trib about it. The Mulch story puts the discussion in perspective. It’s replacement will cost more and take longer than the Board was led to believe surprise, surprise. Luke Sydow, of SAS has been attempting to find contractors who will do the work but none was willing to offer a bid to do it in a single year. That more than anything set the Board’s teeth on edge because its not a decision which will fly with parents. As the story indicates I would prefer to have our parents help us put together a consortium of local contractors using volunteer labor to do the job over the summer.

Mr. Sydow, had read my blog and took exception to some of the comments that had been made by Mr. Kirsling. Although, it took about twenty minutes for me to be recognized to offer it, I did finally get a chance to apologize to Mr. Sydow. But I also apologized to Mr. Kirsling. I had posted Mr. Kirsling’s comments without his permission. Had he spoken on the record he would have been more politic. Mr. Sydow was very gracious under the circumstances and we shook hands and I repeated my apology as he left the meeting. In a moment I will go back and append NOTES OF APOLOGY to the offending post.

During a three minute break afterwards Member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp stopped as she passed me and scolded me about offering more apologies for other inaccuracies in my blog. Then she zipped on and was halfway across the Board room before I could finish saying I would be happy to correct any other mistakes if she would only point them out to me.

PS: I just took a call from a local contractor who asked me incredulously if the School District had never heard of a “vacume truck.” He explained that they have them for the railroads to suck up taconite pellets that fall off the trains. He told me they could suck the mulch out of a couple playgrounds in no time. I told him that Cory Kirsling had been telling us this for several months. The contractor was gobsmacked that we were talking about a million dollar plus deal. He thought we could get all the playgrounds filled with wood chips for a hundred grand but he suggested simple earth would cost almost nothing. I had a short conversation with him about “attenuation” to explain why a dirt surface wouldn’t fly.

Whew! National Teacher’s Day

Why do I lead the title of this post “Whew”? Because in a school board member’s blog National Teacher’s Day should not go unremarked on and for this school board member, seeing today’s Google’s animation was just one more of a half dozen things for me to remark upon. Its not quite the straw that will break my back but I feel its weight.

If it was national school board day it would be more like that Woody Allen snippet from his spoof on Tolstoy Love and Death:

As a certified, if not certifiable, school board member I have license to use this clip in remembrance of that other wit, Mark Twain’s, toast to school boards.

BTW – I saw this movie when I was in college and I busted a gut with this gag. Until I just googled it I hadn’t seen it since. It still a good gut buster.

My daughter, a teacher, who was just awarded her Masters degree in education a couple days ago, shared this thoughtful appraisal of the “superteacher” on Facebook.

Word has it that one of the candidates for the school board this fall comes from the ranks of teaching. I hope this teacher doesn’t find themselves falling from a pedestal and into a Woody Allen spoof come January. And today’s Trib was full of stories about the Duluth School Board which hints of an idiot’s convention. I’ll add a couple of anecdotes while I’m at it starting with my apology.

I WON’T WAIT FOR THREE YEARS! – PART 3

NOTE: AT THE MEETING FOLLOWING THIS POST I APOLOGIZED TO THE WRITER OF THE TEXT MESSAGE QUOTED HERE AND TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF SAS WHO TOOK UMBRAGE TO COMPLAINTS ABOUT HIS COMPANY’S METHODOLOGY. I EXPLAINED TO BOTH MEN THAT I HAD NOT ASKED PERMISSION TO USE THE MESSAGE AND THAT I WAS CERTAIN THAT MR. KIRSLING’S PRIVATE MESSAGE TO ME WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE POLITIC HAD HE KNOWN HE WOULD BE QUOTED. I ALSO EXPLAINED THAT IT WAS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT PARENTS WHO HAD BROUGHT THIS ISSUE TO THE SCHOOL BOARD’S ATTENTION TWO YEARS AGO WOULD BE UNDERSTANDABLY DISTRESSED AT THE CURRENT ROADBLOCK SINCE THEY FELT THAT THEIR CHILDREN’S HEALTH WAS THREATENED.

It is now May. There are only two ways to make the possibly toxic mulch safe before the next school year:

1. We allow the Duluth community to do it for a very modest amount. or

2. We promise the moon to any contractors willing to meet our specs in one year’s time. They have all passed on $1.2 million. Maybe we can shake someone out for $2 million. or

3. We don’t let the children play on the playgrounds next year.

I lauded Cory Kirsling in the second of these posts. By the way he plans to get Minnesota’s playground safety inspector’s license in the next few weeks.

Before I share Cory’s take on the terrible predicament we are currently in you should know how fussy the Red Plan contractors were in fixing up one Duluth school playground. At Lakewood Elementary (with a relatively new playground) they simply removed the wood mulch and replaced it with rubber. That’s pretty much what I would let parents do to all our playgrounds now. Take out the rubber. Put in wood chips.

Now here’s Cory’s analysis:

This is the problem Harry….

The consultants gave a bid for what they were asked for. They were asked to give a bid based on what was asked of them.
Which was: how much to replace the mulch, removing the equipment to make sure that we had correct depth around the equipment, for fall heights or where the mulch meets the equipment for steps, or the slide bottoms (which just today I showed members of our group is ridiculous, because none of the playgrounds have a certain depth now, and is completely random everywhere)

We didn’t ask them to come up alternatives. Like pads on top of concrete bases, or raising curbing to meet new mulch requirements.
Or even inventive ways to remove the tire mulch like a vac truck, etc.

Also the board requested that a playground licensed installer do the work, because of warranty issues. Did anyone contact the playground manufacturer to see if we could just have a licensed representative on hand to direct the work? Or take in account that several playgrounds have older equipment that has no warranty. The consultants based all pricing on one playground schematic. That would be Lester Park, and off square footage. Which again includes sidewalks and green spaces. The administration or board didn’t ask them to do a site by site survey. So the consultants are basing all pricing off what was given them. Not what they went out and explored themselves.

I did explain all this before the consultants were hired.

Why nobody just asked the original playground installers to come in and give recommendations is beyond me. Skip the consultants and hire a engineer and ask that person to come up with the most cost effective method. Then have Dave Spooner [our Facilities chief] search out bids from companies.

Instead we had the consultants put bids out that nobody saw. Because they were posted on a wall at several locations. Not in the paper, or make a announcement on the news etc.

The district must overspend on so many projects it is mind boggling.

Graduation Ceremony – Harry’s Diary

Claudia and I left early Saturday for the Twin Cities with our grandsons. The occasion was the following day’s graduation ceremony for the United Theological Seminary. Claudia joined our son, Robb, as a master hers being a Master of Arts in Religious Leadership degree. Of course, our son expects to jump further ahead at the end of next year with his Doctorate.

On Saturday, in advance of the ceremony, we took the boys to the Minnesota Zoo and checked out the new traveling Australian exhibition with Wallabies and Emus galore. We wandered the Zoo for six hours before retiring to our hotel and an hour in the pool. The next morning we took the boys to the Science Museum in Minneapolis and took in the Omnimax movie about the desolation of the Southeastern Asian reefs. I couldn’t help but think about the decimation of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. I barely read the press yesterday but did note that once again President Trump has come to the rescue of polluters.

It was lovely in the Twin Cities yesterday and while Claudia practiced her graduation rigmarole with peers I walked over to a local playground with the boys for a little diversion before the ceremony began. I took dozens of grainy cellphone pics and woke up today with an urgent request from my brother in law to share them through Facebook. Its one more chore for me to add to my list of to-dos most of them related to ISD 709. A weekend away from Duluth and they are piling up.

Before I’d left for the Cities I was hit up for budgetary info on the District that I had promised and failed to give someone a couple months ago. This morning I discovered a couple of small wildfires burning in the 709’s backyard. I guess there’s no rest for the wicked. And by the way – I plan to send up a third edition of the I won’t wait for 3 years posts. Then, I’ll have to compose a response to a pretty demanding set of questions sent to me by the Denfeld parent’s group on district wide equity. Sometimes being on the Duluth School Board feels like being an electron in a lightening strike. Maybe Claudia’s study of heaven can help me come to terms with this occasional hellishness.

I’ve also ordered a couple more books to add to my list and one of them strays from my reading on the political era my grandfather George Robb was born into Its called “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” It will be a nice follow up to Karl Rove’s book on the first mega-money election for the Presidency in 1896: The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters.

Oh, and a few minutes ago Claudia handed me another book from the mail. Driven Out: The forgotten war against chinese Americans. This is yet another issue that pervaded the America of my Grandfather’s youth. America has long been a land where the Enlightenment’s principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution have wrestled with the messy resistance to the “Melting pot.”

I won’t wait for three years! – Part 2

Remember the name Cory Kirsling. Cory has bird dogged the mulch issue for a year and with an adroitness and tenacity that makes slow-but-steady bureaucracy eat his dust. When the Lowell PTA hopped on board with mulch replacement Cory helped its parents put a natural, non-rubber crumb, mulch, play space next to the soot staining main playground. Our district administration did not stand in the way and no one worried about insuring the volunteers. I blogged about this project last year.

In reply to a text message from me, Cory outlined what he has lined up to replace our tire mulch. His text, sans the name of people and businesses who have agreed to help remove our mulch, ends this post. These folks may be able to do this for less than our consultant will be paid by 709 to come up with a $1.2 million proposal following the fussy requirements demanded by the bid we sent out.

Now I’m not suggesting that Cory’s plans to help parent volunteers will give us better playgrounds than the $1.2 million plan we will be considering over the next two weeks. I’m not even suggesting that the controversial tire mulch is a threat beyond than the annoying stains it causes. But in the face of the unknown dangers lurking in the chemistry of the mulch I know this. Cory Kirsling has developed most of a plan that would get rid of all the tire mulch over the summer while the $1.2 million plan will keep children in contact with the dubious rubber mulch for up to three years. As a frustrated parent told me this morning, the government seems to be telling us that the people who remove the rubber mulch will have to wear hazmat suits to do the job. That’s OK I told her. We will simply order 6,000 child sized hazmat suits for our children to wear at recess for the next three years.

Here is what Cory just texted me based on the calls he made today looking for help to remove what might turn out to be a toxic substance poisoning our children:

I have contacted multiple people today.

1. ****** ********** of ***** construction. He has a vac truck.
He can remove all the tire mulch and do any drainage work that needs to be done with out moving a single piece of playground equipment.
He said he could do this at a fraction of the cost that has been proposed.

2. *** ***** Recycling will take all the tire mulch.

3. **** ********s will truck the tire mulch too Tri State. Again at a fraction of the cost.

4. ******s landscaping can provide all the EWF it will be yellow pine.
Resistant to mold.

5. We will use a seed spreader to spread the EWF .
The county uses these to spread hay on the side of roads.
We use all volunteers to spread it.

6. D****** believes we could do all the work this summer. It would take a couple of weeks.
He actually laughed at the consultants price.

I will have all the information by next week. But not in time for the meeting on Monday. We need to buy time.
Then we need to show the mismanagement and how little research this consultants did.
(They didn’t even go a look at each site, how can you give a accurate bid without doing that?)

Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE smartphone

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."