All posts by harrywelty

Anticlimactic Moody Mulch meeting and a jab back at the editors of the Trib

I am beginning my posts today with a throw away post about yesterday’s Business Committee meeting. I post it because I’ve tried to provide my ISD 709 wonks with ongoing information about the concerns of the District and mulch and District finances have both been part of that. But for me the first half of this post is strictly a chore. In eight weeks I’ll be free from an almost oppressive sense of obligation to keep readers informed.

So, here’s today’s News Trib story from soon to depart education reporter Jana Hollingsworth. (She won’t be allowed to report on ISD 709 while her Aunt sits on the Board) The headline, which Jana and her predecessors have always stressed are not the reporter’s to write, trumpets reduced costs for the mulch. In short, a simplified plan made for a $60,000 reduction in the million dollar project. This made it a little easier to swallow a $12,000 “change order “addition for the company overseeing the mulch replacement as they designed the simpler plan. Only Art Johnston objected and his qualms may be justified, however, for me this is not a battle I choose to continue.

The bigger deal was having our bond adviser explain to us how the Moody’s Investment Service downgrade of our financial status affected our borrowing for what is now to be called the Rockridge Academy. Steven Pumper said two things I found difficult to square. In response to my questioning about whether it was ultimately the state or the District taxpayers that were on the hook for bonds (or COP) repayments he explained that it fell on the state’s shoulders. He added that this meant that there was really no reason for our bonds to be downgraded forcing us to pay higher interest rates. However, he explained, Moody’s was simply giving bond buyers information that managed to raise our interest rates based on (and here I’ll insert my own words) the dimwittedness of ISD 709’s financing which has left us with virtually no reserve cushion. That last sentence almost deserves an exclamation point.

What makes this post worthwhile to me is a chance to point fingers back at the editors of the News Tribune who gratuitously gave Art Johnston and me a swift kick in the posterior the day after the election results were announced saying of us:

“Also Tuesday, voters picked a positive fresh start for the Duluth School Board, rejecting doomsday-trumpeting incumbents in favor of elected leaders who said they wouldn’t ignore the district’s very real challenges, including financial ones, but committed to working together toward solutions. It’s on the new board now to do just that. They can be held accountable, even if the task is thankless and won’t be easy.”

I consider myself an optimist not a doomsdayer. But optimism must be earned by realistically evaluating current situations. Our financially crippled Duluth Schools will continue to give lots of kids an education which will launch them into successful lives. But there will be fewer successful launches while the District lacks the adult contact time that many of our students need. That’s not a catastrophic tire blow out but it is a slow leak. Rather, I’ve always considered myself a “Cassandra.” She was an ancient Greek prophetess who predicted the future but was cursed by Apollo who made sure that no one would ever believe her prophecies.

FINGER POINT —> the Editors of the Trib who failed to heed my warnings are also flattering me by imitation by explaining opiningthat Duluth may not get permission from St. Paul to implement the sales taxes for street repair despite a whopping 76% yes vote in the recent election. As in my case I think the Editors are simply being prudent not doomsayers when they point out this glaring fact:

“It’s a good question, especially on the heels of a 31 percent water rate increase in Duluth, a 9 percent electric rate increase, revaluations of properties that are driving up property taxes by as much as 30 percent, and the coming unknown costs from Superior Street’s reconstruction and the Steam Plant’s conversion.

Like Duluth’s residents, businesses can only be asked to give so much. While fixing potholed streets is a basic city service and something voters Tuesday clearly declared as a do-it-now priority, workplace benefits are appropriately left to employer-employee negotiations. Government intervention here is government overreach. Calling on elected leaders to pick up the slack where union negotiators fail is inappropriate.”

A few weeks back I wrote a very modest column which I meant to keep the eyes of our next school board faced on the realities they will deal with so as not to find themselves mired in impossible promises to make the Duluth Schools the best schools in the nation. In that column I noted that twenty years ago local taxpayers put $14 million into our classrooms. Today we only put $2.5 million into them. That burden no longer rests on my shoulders and I’ll confess this is the first time in ten years that I’ve felt free from the responsibility of fixing things since I first predicted the District’s unhappy future.

Veterans Day 2017

Since the election I’ve woken from a couple of dreams about going door to door. In much the same way I keep thinking of new things to blog about the campaign I’ve just been through. This all comes at a time when I feel free of a great burden of public service and pulled to a larger burden of using the past to shine a light on the future. Think Book writing.

I still have about eight weeks to wrap up my final school board work. For instance, I’ll be meeting with the Superintendent at 8 AM this morning as part of his five-month-old initiative not to let unhappy school board members feel like they are out of his loop. Each month all of us meet separately with Mr. Gronseth and Chair Kirby in groups of three so as not to violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. Continue reading

Oh, I am not done blogging –

I’ve done a lot of thinking and had a number of things to write about among them…..

uprooting lawnsigns and my keeping my bank account and options open

Post mortem

“Doomsday” Cassandra, Prophecy

2016 and The good news

Western Lens wakes up?

… Its taken me a little time to come up with a sound analysis of the results and consequences of the recent election and settle on my likely future plans. But I find that I have more fire to blog early in the morning. Instead I went swimming at the Fitness Center and resumed reading that fascinating little book to Claudia I mentioned a short while ago about England as an Island of Hope during the Second World War. I found myself identifying with the leaders of all the nations overrun by the German blitzkrieg.

But its dark out and I’m not in the mood to post at the moment. I may not be tomorrow morning either as it turns out. Claudia just told me that tomorrow is the last day of the Minnesota History Museum’s World War 1 exhibit. We decided to go see it. I’ve missed writing about that war and my grandfather as I campaigned this summer. I will now have two years of vacation from public service – at least. Maybe a book will escape from my fingers.

Eternal Vigilance

I have had a night to sleep on the final words of my last post:

“I have no plans to comment on the Duluth Schools very much in the future. It’s time for me to write a book.

Sayonara.”

I am reconsidering this. The words that ring in my ear are these: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The last ten years of watching the Duluth School Board and its recent Superintendents have driven this point home to me. For instance:

I blogged a few days ago about the special meeting Alanna Oswald, Art Johnston and I called, under the provisions of Minnesota’s state statutes, about the expenditure of Compensatory Education funds in the western schools. We called it for November 15th at 5 O’Clock in the Board room. I took letters to be mailed to all of the school board members into the Superintendent for his executive secretary to mail to board members to make this official. The letters were not mailed out according to my request and according to the statutory provisions. The time was also changed to 4:00 from our designated time of 5:00. Par for the course.

I’ve mentioned to a very few people what I will now declare to the blog. I told Superintendent Gronseth that I knew we didn’t trust each other at a meeting a month or two ago. He doesn’t trust me because I blog. I don’t trust him because of stunts like this. By making it appear that the Administration has called the meeting and by not sending out the letters I took to his executive secretary it makes it seem as though the Superintendent will be in charge of our agenda. I don’t know that this is what he’s planning but it would be easier for him to endure our complaints should he decide to set the agenda for our meeting now that Art and I will not be returning the the School Board. That leaves Alanna Oswald, our fairly regular ally, at the mercy of the majority and in the same unenviable position that Art Johnston was in for the two years before I was elected – a lone voice of reason doomed to be ignored. That the Superintendent may be starting this with two months left of our tenure is unpalatable to me to say the least.

My plan is to begin writing a book having nothing to do with the School Board. Not campaigning every living hour will make this possible and still leave me time to report on the happenings of the Duluth School Board. I expect that Loren Martell will give up that ghost. He too has been operating on fumes for the past couple of years. But I will not leave Alanna Oswald to the mercies of a system that has been incredibly cruel and myopic to dissenters. I’ll be happy to pass on a minority report especially as I’m leaving two very good eyes on the Board as I depart it.

Time will tell whether the new Board with the machiavellian Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Superintendent in charge will allow Alanna to be run over by its freight train. I like and trust David Kirby and Nora Sandstad and am convinced of Sally Trnka’s good intentions. About the others I have my doubts which I will share with far more candor than even my eight loyal readers have grown accustomed to.

As a friend who offered me condolences in a text said, this Board will have a very hard time overcoming the difficult problems my blog and my campaign have taken pains to enumerate. Ah yes, I allowed, but that doesn’t mean our new school board can’t make things a lot worse by making stupid decisions. Perhaps while I’m writing that book I’ve been pining to begin, I can keep the School Board on its toes and make sure it doesn’t pull an Art Johnston on Alanna.

Sayonara

I got a very sweet phone message from Sally Trnka commending me for my service and telling me how nice it was to get to know me through the campaign.

I left a message back and commented that her call was very nice and that under the traditional roles it should have been me as the defeated candidate making a call to her.

I told her she had a good attitude that I was sure would serve her well and wished her the best of luck serving Duluth.

I have no plans to comment on the Duluth Schools very much in the future. It’s time for me to write a book.

Sayonara.

Harry’s Gang

I had about 1000 pieces of literature to drop on this the final day of campaigning. I fell short only dropping about 600 of them. I only failed to stuff 500 envelopes and they are next to the 400 I just emptied that I ran out of time to pass out on the East Hillside. There were 31 of these boxes of 500 envelopes which I stuffed at night until near bursting. I got 29 boxes of envelopes crammed with lit dropped.

I started just after 9 which would have been 8AM before daylight savings kicked in yesterday. I got 18,000 steps in before I had to call it a day and drive to Cloquet to be on Harry’s Gang at 4PM. I finished e 4th Street which I had skipped a month ago to hunt for lawnsign locations. By the time I got to the street today I didn’t have anymore lawnsigns left. I did notice these hoof prints in the cement which was laid down a couple weeks ago.

Some guy got jail time for writing his name in fresh cement recently. Its not fair that deer are made the exceptions. Oh Wait! I forgot. Its still their hunting season.

I managed to find Cloquet Public access television in their high school. At five we were seated, Cloquet Attorney, Pete Radosovich, Jill’s sister Patty Murto, a Barnum school board member Mike Line and me. I understand you could watch our hour long talk already on youtube. Its CAT7TV……This is as close as I’m going to come tonight finding it. Maybe I’ll look again tomorrow.

Near the end of the broadcast Mr. Radosovich asked us if we had any opinions on the Jill Lofald Art Johnston race. I said I’d prefer not to weigh in on that. Its gotten a little hot on Facebook lately. We dusted the topic off a bit but I don’t think anyone was damaged.

At the end of the interview I got a surprise from Mr. Radosovich, Attorney Radosovich. He handed me an envelope and I presumed it was full of agreements assuring CAT 7 TV that I didn’t mind them putting me up on the television. But the words I heard were different. I tore the envelope open roughly before realizing that I was being served a document from Mr. Radosovich for a lawsuit he was preparing against the Duluth School District. It was so unexpected I couldn’t help but laugh…..about being served after shooting a talk show. It was a little like showing up at a Thanksgiving feast and discovering that I was the turkey.

I will tape the envelope back up and take it into the Business Office tomorrow – unread .

Hillside Stories

Three months of walking Duluth will come to an end today. Looking at the city-wide map I’ve been marking in I’d guess that amounts to 40% of the city. By the time you count similar travels through 20 previous election campaigns there are very few corners of Duluth I haven’t seen.

Although I’m not knocking on many doors I have fascinating little chats with people every day while finding surprising connections. Yesterday was no exception. I began at the top of Lake Avenue passing out flyers in a spot I’d covered door-to-door 41 years ago when I first ran against Mike Jaros. Although the steps were covered with ice and snow my legs, thirteen years shy of becoming the legs of an eighty-year-old, did surprisingly well left foot be damned.

In one of the gems built since those ancient days with a spectacular view I paused take it all in. The homeowner saw me and invited in “to warm up.” He looked a little familiar. Like the other stories here today I’ll be vague so that few will be able to tell who he was but when he introduced himself I knew immediately what my connection with him was. Continue reading

“Dear Fellow Sufferers”

The paper version of the DNT today ended its extensive letters to the editor with an unintentionally funny critique of me from a Mr. Paul Podemski. Sadly I can’t find it in the online version but while looking for Mr. Podemski I discovered that he and his wife wrote a glowing letter endorsing Jill Lofald back in June. Its Jill’s older sister that has been waving my fund raising letter around telling everyone that I have violated the law asking for donations for the several candidates I’ve been championing. No doubt echoing Patty Murto’s concerns Mr. Podemski can’t quite bring himself to say I broke the law. He simply wonders if I might have. Maybe he’ll be the person to take Jill’s sister’s advice and plunk down the money to file a complaint against me.

Here’s his letter:

Reject abusive, pushy candidates

I received a campaign letter from Duluth School Board incumbent Harry Welty. It opened with the salutation, “Dear fellow sufferers.” Unreal. Who writes a letter with that kind of greeting?

The body of the letter included a claim that board member Art Johnston was forced to spend $75,000 to defend his position on the School Board. School Board members receive a payment of $630 a month, which amounts to $7,560 per year. Who in their right mind spends $75,000 to try to keep a job that pays $7,560? Welty has said he helped Johnston cover some of this cost. Anyone spending that kind of money to save a job that pays $630 a month should not be allowed anywhere near a checkbook – let alone one with taxpayers’ money in it.

Welty’s letter also indicated he was sharing campaign donations with Johnston and with School Board candidates Dana Krivogorsky and Kurt Kuehn. I wonder if this is appropriate. [sic]

Duluth, it’s time to wake up. There are many excellent candidates running this year who can communicate with other board members without having to use verbal attacks or without having to push someone to get their point across.

Paul E Podemski
Duluth

My eyes are still rolling at every sentence. Paul has no sense of the value of an election – the abuse of the power of censure -the costs to defend oneself in the face of a year’s worth of baseless allegations spread across the front pages of the local newspaper or, for that matter, campaign finance. He might ask Patty just who it was that asked her sister to appeal to a young lady not to compromise the reputation of an alleged assailant. It might help Paul come to understand the value of something as intangible as “reputation.”

As for “sufferers” its hard to keep track of them all: Taxpayers forced pay for a huge vanity project that has blown up in the City’s face. Voters who were bypassed with the denial of a referendum. Children who lost teacher contact time when earlier school board’s traded 200 teachers for new schools. Parents witnessing a stubborn gap between the success of rich and poor children. Residents of West Duluth who are finding their schools compromised and children exiting for neighboring school districts.

Here’s my letter which I sent to the 4000 people (all sufferers who donated to Let Duluth Vote to challenge our arrogant past school board in court over their Red Plan):

Dear fellow sufferers,

After ten long years its high time that the Red Planner’s death grip on the Duluth School Board is pried off.

You were with me when we demanded a vote on the half-billion spending plan. You saw the School Board thumb its nose at democracy by refusing a referendum and then attempting to remove your champion Art Johnston on phony charges. You saw their promises of an economical plan blow up into classes of 40 students and a mass exit of our students to neighboring districts. You saw them refuse to sell our white elephant buildings which continue to drain our district years after their debacle. All they offer now is cheerleading but the team they are cheering for has a 0 – 10 losing record.

What the Red Planners have done is best illustrated by the twenty years between my second year on the school board in 1997 and today, 2017. In 1997 local taxes for the Duluth Schools were $23 million dollars. Of this $14 million was spent in the classroom. This year our taxes are $31 million but of this only $2.5 million is spent in the classroom.

The Red Planner’s candidates are flush with money from the Democrat Party and Labor Unions. Our candidates are flush with good ideas and elbow grease. We desperately need some help to finally put the school board’s majority into the hands of sensible representatives who respect the public.

We must support Art Johnston, who was forced to personally spend $75,000 dollars to defend the election that put him on the school board. We must support Dana Krivogorsky who, like me, is running for one of two district-wide seats. We must support Kurt Kuehn who is running against the last remaining board member, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, who tried to remove Art Johnston.

We are pooling our resources so I’m asking you to send a check to my campaign for me to parcel out to our team. Please write a generous check to: “Welty for School Board,” and send it back in the enclosed envelope.

Many Thanks for your past support and for anything you can do to help us win for the first time in ten miserable years.

Harry Welty
formerly of Let Duluth Vote
now on the Duluth School Board running for reelection
and still fighting for honesty and common sense after all these years!

I may be operating on …

Fumes…But even fumes are explosive.

Yesterday I put in five hours and 15 minutes of step climbing, door-to-door lit dropping – 29,000 steps on my pedometer despite an iffy left foot. I must have passed out 700 pieces. I was grateful near the end that I hadn’t fallen in the slush, although I had one close call, and that I wasn’t “suffering” near the end.

I’m working the East hillside which I once represented as a Second District School Board rep. My eastern end of that district contained Congdon so it ran the gamut of rich to poor.

Back when I was putting in 30,000 steps a day passing out literature I started with the neighborhoods with much larger yards planning on ending my door knocking in the closer packed inner city neighborhoods. I now think I’ll end up passing out 13,000 lit pieces. I ordered 20,000 snow sculpture trading cards and others are also passing those out. I’ve held a few decks in reserve for the rare folks who actually ordered one. (Like I said one day they will be worth a mint on Ebay. Yesterday I got an anguished letter hoping I still had some left and putting in an order for two decks) Our flyer went out to 27,000 households skipping my 55812 and the East Hillside’s 55805 Zip Codes. We just didn’t raise enough to cover the whole school district which is likely about 33,000 doors. Not surprisingly, I’m finishing up 55805 which I only began door knocking on a few days back. I’d already finished most of my 55812.

Grandsons came over last night as I recuperated and I consumed a steak dinner while we all watched Antboy 3. Daylight savings gave me an extra hour of sleep and I took full advantage of it. Even so I woke in the dark and had enough fumes to go out and build a very modest snow sculpture. I was tempted to sully it with lawnsigns but decided that I simply wanted to honor the vote – all votes of all peoples for all candidates.

More door knocking this afternoon and tomorrow. I expect to sit in a stupor most of Tuesday.

Special School Board Meeting called…

…by Art, Alanna and Harry:

So says the press release from a leader of western Duluth’s Equity group, and its true. We have called a meeting to discuss with the parents their concern that contrary to a vote of the School Board there has not been a more equitable distribution of Compensatory Education funds:

Rats! it’s a PDF file and I will have to relearn how to display it. Later. I’ve had a long day going door to door…..with minimal foot pain. Time to watch the news and watch other people’s pain. Ah, Thank you Alanna. Its good to know smart young people:

Continue reading

Josh waved too

I mentioned that when the two SB political camps met last night at Blackwoods that only Jill Lofald acknowledged the competing candidates. That was incorrect. Josh Gohram also waved too if perhaps in some surprise at finding the other side camped at Blackwoods first.

Running on Fumes

Even in my cabin on a boat floating down the Yangtze River this August I would wake up thinking about my reelection campaign for the Duluth School Board. Reading the faraway Duluth News Tribune on the iffy Chinese Internet didn’t help distract me completely from these thoughts. This was a campaign I hoped I wouldn’t have to work at. I wanted to write a book about my Grandfather instead in “the good old days” before Facebook tore us into two warring unthinking halves with the help of Putin’s trolls and the Donald’s tweets.

With four days left to campaign I’m running on fumes and I’ve still got a gimpy limp. But its not as bad as yesterday when I shelved campaigning until the League of Woman Voter’s forum at Lakeside Elementary and dragooned Claudia to scrape off the last snow and winterize my patio. It was five non-stop hours of drudgery. But am I pleased with the vacant, leaf free result:

I don’t like to use campaigning as an excuse to avoid family obligations and chores. I could have put this off till mid November had the snow not fallen and threatened to make a cleanup impossible. I probably would have made a snow sculpture a day or two ago had the threat of freckled (leaf filled) snow not discouraged me. I still haven’t raked the actual back yard. That’s almost certainly not possible unless we get a massive thaw which I don’t expect at this point.

The major issue I wish to blog about is whether or not I violated the law raising money for allies running for the Board. If I did, and I don’t think so, it was only a technical violation not a violation of the spirit of the law. The chief accuser in this is Jill Lofald’s older sister Patty Murto who appeared today in the News Tribune crediting her sister with having a big heart and from having raised herself from western Duluth poverty.

Patty has taken on the awkward role of “good cop” and “bad cop” sticking up for her sister. After a string of biting emails to me a month ago confessing that Jill didn’t want her communicating with me I wrote back and suggested that she heed her sister’s wishes. She held off for about three weeks before starting up gain with some passive-aggressive emails. And she renewed an invitation for me to appear on Harry’s Gang that she had extended to me and my school board allies five or six weeks ago. I take it as a friendly gesture but my allies look on it with some justified suspicion. I’ll be on the show next Monday at a point where any stupidity from me is unlikely to affect the next day’s election.

Patty is probably more exercised because the News Tribune reported something unflattering about Jill which was re-reported by Loren Martell in his final column in the Reader before the election. I have wondered if this episode might have been on Patty’s mind from the beginning. I’ll add this. I too have screwed up as a teacher and simply am living with the luxury of not having to worry much about people pointing this out anymore. (Although my friends are regularly irritated that I keep pointing out my disappointing record as a teacher – its that honesty fetish of mine.) At any rate, Jill, although I still fault her for not being willing to meet with me for coffee, has remained cordial throughout what has become a testy election in the Western District. Last night after the LWV Forum some of my allies were at Blackwoods when Josh Gorham and Rosie walked in with Jill. Jill reciprocated a friendly hello while her “allies” grimly walked ahead without responding.

I still have close to two thousand flyers to pass out and four days to do the passing. Fortunately, my left foot is not hurting despite racking up 12,000 steps cleaning my patio yesterday. All night I kept waking up to think about where I needed to go door to door. Late this morning I googled for a zip code map and now know which areas I should walk the next couple days snowy forecast. I should be starting now and stop blogging.

Of course, I’ll be leaving my eight loyal readers wondering how I cheated on my campaign finance. Sorry. You’ll just have to wait. I need to wear my shoes down some more.

Oh, but first here is my mea culpa to a fantastic ad writer for sending in an only 99.9% perfect ad to the Duluth Reader:

Sorry _______,

I am operating on fumes by now and making split second decisions with folks like [the publisher of the Reader] who are as distracted as I am. That’s all explanation not justification. When I saw “proof” on the attachment I didn’t see it as a professional like you would have seen it. It simply didn’t occur to me that it needed another run through. I presumed it was what we sent to [our Printers] scrambled around for The Reader. Typos or resolution problems not withstanding it was great and I am deeply indebted to you. We all are. Your piece might be the single most significant ingredient in what could be a winning election.

Thanks and I hope I never, ever, have to run for election again after this. If I don’t, you won’t have to worry about my proof reading ever again.

Harry

Small “d” democrat

So, I didn’t add anything to the last post before I went to bed. (I heave a great sigh)

When I last posted I was hot to add details – now – the next day, not so much.

Its not as though I couldn’t have. In the afternoon I began reading a history book to Claudia, “Last Hope Island.” Its about all the little nations overrun by Germany in World War II and how their partisans assembled in Britain, the last hope, to help prosecute the war. Then after we put our grandsons to bed we watched an episode of Mindhunters. Its a crackerjack if repellent series on the early efforts of the FBI to analyze serial killers by interviewing them to get into their heads. It is I suspect more imagined that history but its gripping. The Rotten Tomatoes audience give it a 97% fresh rating.

On Halloween night we only got about 10 doorbell rings leaving us with a pile of candy we didn’t want to eat. It was cold and snow had fallen and I had done nothing to tidy up our yard or patio. I’d spent a portion of the afternoon testing out my foot by lit dropping again. My old next door neighbor gave me an insert for my shoes and the go ahead to forge on. 14,000 paces according to my pedometer were sore ones but let me cover one of the shrinking number of neighborhoods that have not felt my campaign presence.

I was chagrined about the snow. My yard, like most others, was full of leaves. Before yesterday’s snow began to fall I attempted to rake up the few that weren’t covered with snow. I only filled 3 bags. Usually its 12 to 14 bags. If we don’t get a good melt I’ll have to work hard not to let leaves get into any snow sculptures I attempt this winter. Snow Freckles. Phooey!

I was stopped a couple times while lit dropping with calls and texts. I learned that all the happy DFL crowd was on Brad Bennett’s Radio Show. Josh Gorahm had an advertisement and Sally Trnka did an interview. I guess they are Brad’s new friends. Its been years since Brad had me on and I don’t listen to talk radio. But I know Brad’s crowd and they aren’t happy DFLers. The appearance struck me as a sign of desperation. I understand that Brad was cordial. I’m not surprised. I also understand that he said of Ms. Trnka afterwords that she was full of fluff. That’s not a surprise either as she has done little to begin absorbing the School District’s situation having attended few meetings.

I also got a call from someone on my cell who began “Who did you vote for for President?” I’ve not passed out my cell phone number much but it was on the big mailer we just sent out. I began gingerly by explaining that there was no way I could have voted for Donald Trump. That honest if tepid reaction was what the caller wanted to hear and just the opposite of most of Brad Bennett’s listeners. Many of Brad’s listeners know me as a bad Republican but also a politician who hates stupid spending. My anti-Red Plan bonafides should serve me well with most of them. Sally Trnka’s reaching out is frankly good but I suspect it could irritate the DFLers that gave her such a rousing endorsement.

I also learned that all sorts of Socialists have recently been saying good things about me on some Facebook Pages. I’m not sure why but I’m delighted. After the Republicans Medical Insurance Evisceration Fiasco I’m ready for single payer socialized medicine.

I’m a small “d” democrat. Not a Big Arse Republican.

Nebraska (temporary title – will reconsider after Doctor’s appointment)

For about the last month I’ve been getting eager calls to appear on a television talk show broadcast out of Cloquet called “Harry’s Gang.” Its not my gang. Its a gang of politicos who meet in honor of Harry Newby, may he rest in peace. Harry was thirty years my senior and an active political analyst when I moved to Duluth 43 years ago. I listened to him grilling legislators every Sunday night when the legislature was in session. That was back when I coveted a seat in St. Paul in my twenties and early thirties.

My buddies all think this invitation is set up as a trap for me because the person inviting me is working very hard to replace my ally Art Johnston on the School Board. As for me. I would be honored to appear on Newby’s namesake. Harry was always so keen to make the Minnesota legislature unicameral. Ah, Nebraska. It must be Heaven!

More later. I’ve got to get ready to see a foot doctor to find out if I dare pass out the last couple thousand flyers I’ve spent hours stuffing.

OK, OK, I got distracted upon my return. These are the headings I will attack before I go to bed tonight.

My Left Foot

Last Hope Island

Brad Bennett’s New Friends

My new friends

Who did you vote for for President?

Emails as a form of miscommunication and paranoia

You’ve got Mail

Today 27,000 residents of Duluth will receive one of the best multi-candidate mailers I’ve ever seen. I did not design it. You will find this representation of our four campaign yardsigns in one corner.

The mailer, which gives a short description of each candidate’s reasons for running for the school board, says of the foursome:

In the upcoming School Board election, if you hope to elect members who are non-partisan advocates for everyone, who are independents not tied to special interests, and who will be willing to engage in healthy, respectful discussion about important issues, please vote for these candidates:

They believe that most of the current district problems can be traced back to budgets-and it’s time to bring ISD 709’s budget out of the dark. It’s time to let taxpayers see what the Board does with their money. Our district’s problems should be solved with transparency and openness-not behind closed doors. The partisan politics of past elections brought us to where we are today. If you want a different kind of board, you need to elect a different kind of candidate. Duluth’s schools need leaders like Kurt, Art, Harry and Dana.

These four candidates could not afford to send this flyer to all of Duluth’s residents so I will put portions of it here over the next couple days. Our financial limitations made a partial mailing necessary but I guarantee the voters that we are as frugal as previously careless school board were spendthrifts having squandered 200 teachers in exchange for vanity stoking new school buildings.

And one more thing for now. I got a call from the Trib’s Editor Chuck Frederick fact checking claims being sent into the Trib. Someone wrote in that I used campaign contributions to help pay my friend Art Johnston’s obscene $75,000 legal costs to defend the election of Western Duluth voters to put Art on the school board. I corrected that in one quick hurry. I had promised to help Art raise funds to defend himself but in that desperate two years could not muster the time to raise money. What to do?

As my long time readers know my Mother died during those tribulations and left me a modest legacy. I gave Art $20,000 to sustain him as Rosie Loeffer-Kemp and her pals tried to drain him dry. I’ve never spend money on a more worthy cause.

As for this year’s spending we four candidates pooled our resources for this mailer. I had access to the addresses of the 2000 outraged voters who in 2009 raised $40,000 in small checks to challenge Johnston Controls and the School Board in court demanding that the Red Plan be put out for competitive bids since we had not been allowed a referendum to accept it. Those LDV voters have not forgotten how the School Board thumbed its noses at them. They once again came forward with nearly $3,000 to cover the cost of this mailer. (I just got a call from an almost forgotten friend who told me it was a great mailer. I thanked her gratefully)

On Facebook I am being singled out by the sister of one of the candidates not pictured in our mailer for having violated the law in raising these funds. She’s encouraging folks to come up with the money to take me to Minnesota’s election commission. That’s ironic because she once helped me narrow down the choice of attorneys for Let Duluth Vote to challenge the Red Plan. As I’ve mentioned in the past I am a connoisseur of irony.

Tomorrow I’ll reprint the letter that is supposed to get me hauled before the judges of good campaign etiquette for the edification of my eight loyal readers.

Sprites Circling and other School Board hauntings

Must go shopping and fix tire. Will be back to explain this later this morning.

OK, So, I’m still letting my left foot rest and I’ve had plenty of other campaign related things to do such as distributing the decks of snow sculpture cards. That’s what I was doing on Park Point yesterday when I found this arresting conclave of spirits or sprites. I had three decks to distribute and was awarded with thank yous for running again for the school board.

I’ve not had time to decorate for Halloween but Claudia did buy a pumpkin today and asked for me to draw a face on it for her to cut out for tomorrow. I made sure we bought chocolate to hand out……just in case we have any left over.

I also snapped a picture of Lake Superior on my way home. After the lawnsign leveling snow storm of the weekend the lake looked like Chocolate Milk. I’ve never seen it quite that color before.

My daughter’s family are making up for my laggardly All Hallows celebrating. At our church’s trunk or treat they scared people for a good cause. Claudia made our grandson’s hair afire.

They should be on the school board with me. We’d dig up a few old skeletons and get a lot more done.

The tenth buddy

It was bagpipes and Scotland at our Presbyterian Church today. My Dad would have loved it. Our graying choir did OK and we had the job of making and serving cookies and treats after church in the basement after the service. I poured coffee, regular and decaf. But one ongoing drama had my attention though the morning.

The Mother of one of the kids who followed mine up the Sunday School chain reported that her son’s tenth buddy from our most recent conflicts had killed himself. She looked ahead and I could see from the choir loft that she was suffering intense pain. I’m sure she was wondering if her son could be next. She was surely reflecting his pain. She has faithfully reported this body count at our services for the past couple years since his return to civilian life.

These young troops are patted on the back when they return from conflict unlike the troops from Vietnam. The dirty secret is that most of us don’t want to follow them into service. We no longer harass them for defending the foreign missions our nation’s leaders deems necessary. But these young people go back again and again and again, as soldiers ever will, so as not to let down their buddies still in the field. And when they come back after years they are not the same; can not be the same, again.

My Grandfather fought for a year in France in World War I. He was shot to hell and like these young people today was hailed as a hero upon his return. But his year of fighting was only about four of five months at or near the front. He did not eat up his twenties going back and going back again. The nations of Europe did not have that Luxury. Their soldiers fought at the front for four years until they were lucky enough the have a leg blown off so that they could return to normal life. Look how well that served Europe’s future.

Its hard for me to put any credence in the faux patriotism from those in power who wave the bloody flag and send soldiers into the night or into a place like Niger with inadequate support and who then do little to insure that our soldiers don’t commit suicide upon their return or clumsily offer condolences to families who’s sons and daughters did what they made damn sure they never had to do themselves when they were young.

The Lost Children of Tuam

For the past two months I’ve read very little. No books. I’m looking forward to the end of this campaign so I can once again look beyond the Duluth Schools.

I woke at 3:30 and trudged up to my office to work on the mandatory Finance Report that will be turned in Monday it having been due yesterday, Friday. After returning to the accounting later this morning I paused to look at the New York Times online.

I have some Irish in me, although my Dad always joked that it was orange not green. The haunting photo above lured me into an extended story about human indifference and one woman’s quest to bring the dead to light if not life. Maybe it was the adagios I had playing on Pandora in the background but I used up a couple of tissues wiping tears away. Tales of human decency often do that to me.

How frauds threaten the First Amendment

I ran across this piece in the New York Times. The Western Duluth Lens has adopted Russian techniques to misinform and confuse those people who stumble into it. The authors gave it birth as a Facebook Page only last March and its lethargy kept it posting at a rate less than once a month. That’s about a day’s worth for my blog. Despite the encouraging name its backers have done little to promote Western Duluth. If they were working closely with Mayor Larson surely there would have been at least one story about their good works. Good works seems foreign to them.

I see that the wife of Congressional candidate Skip Sandman just slapped me upside the head based on the crap the Lens is promoting. I hope her husband Skip is a little less gullible but then again, like me years ago, he hopes to defeat a Democratic Congressman –
Rick Nolan.

Skip might actually succeed – not in getting elected himself, but in turning the 8th District back into Republican hands.

Babbette Sandman has willingly lent her reputation and credibility into the hands of the real villains behind the Lens who are keeping their identities secret. I’ll be watching the page to see how many more folks are snookered into joining the Lens’s chorus as the next ten days march on.

Anonymity is one of dishonesty’s best friends. Abe Lincoln would not approve.

BTW – Yesterday lincolndemocrat got 615 visitors and 10,946 page views. That’s some consolation in the truth department. Maybe the Lens checked me out as well. I wonder what else they can find in my millions of words to take out of context? Go for it…..whoever you are!