Category Archives: 2017 Sch. B. election

Tutorial on a Harry Welty campaign Part 2

D. I knew there would be more alphabet coming:

So here’s what I’ve prepared to pass out. Picture One:

Each of the boxes once contained 500 business sized envelopes. Now they each contain roughly 200 envelopes each stuffed with my idea of intelligent campaign literature. (that’s coming). A rough estimate is that you see before you 2,000 pieces of literature on my office floor. In a night of watching television I can stuff about 400 to 500 envelopes. That is roughly what I have been passing out on a semi-daily basis for the past 40 days. I’ve passed out 8,000 pieces so the math doesn’t work. It works out to about 200 pieces a day and to cut myself some slack a lot of my early days were in neighborhoods that had big lawns that took longer for me to march across. Five hours of marching is not unusual followed by two or three hours of stuffing more envelopes at night and you cover about sixty percent of the time I put in to my campaigning.

In the picture you see two more items of interest.

First you see a box full of gift sacks with handles. Each has roughly 70 stuffed envelopes. It is much easier to hold them in this container than loose in my hand. This is what I can pass out solo on a good day.

Second you see three of the DFL/labor endorsed candidate post cards with very little information on the candidates. These examples were mailed out before the recent primary election. They function as prettified checklists to make sure voters don’t stray from the party’s ticket. They assume voters have no agency in choosing candidates and will base their votes on affiliation over competence.

As a long time ticket-splitter I have little but contempt for such content-free campaign stuff.

Tutorial on a Harry Welty campaign Part 1

What follows is how I will either win or lose this election for the school board. It may end up being 7, 8, or 9 posts. I got three hours sleep and then woke up wondering how much more I would have to spend to guarantee the kind of campaign I’d like to end my career with (assuming that at age 66 this really will be my last campaign – a tall assumption that!)

So here a a couple of preliminaries because I’m just too fussy to KISS (keep it simple stupid.) Stuff about me:

A. My favorite comedian is Harry Anderson. You may remember him from the tv series “Night Court” where he played a judge. Before that he was a comic magician and I think he once made an appearance on SNL. (Ah, I see he did) As you will see from this video his schtick was to show his audience how his magic tricks worked. Then he would end up confounding them anyway. Heck, that’s what all my Internet stuff from 1999 on has been – an attempt to explain what I do…….and yet I still confound people.

B. My Mother who raised me to revere her politician father (for his war heroism) once told me on the outset of a campaign that she really didn’t want me to be a politician – such was her disdain for so much of politics.

C. I’m sure I could fill out the whole alphabet but lets go on to the next post:

Into the rain

I was surprised to find I had 19648 steps on the pedometer today. I got a late start but kept working until dark and rain descended. I came home wet. I passed out a lot of flyers today filling in missing gaps in the region between Kenwood and Duluth Heights. I only have about five days of flyers left but I’ve ordered more which should be available by Monday.

On one of the roads I found a stand of beautiful blue flowers with an aspen backdrop. I have no idea who planted them but I deemed them worthy of a picture.

I don’t seek out conversations but every day I meet more people who have their own little slice of the public school pie to share with me. I’m on the right track. So is Loren Martell. A sample:

The narrative the DFL is selling–the great fallacy of this campaign–is that the conversation should have nothing to do with the past, that what happened over the past decade is irrelevant. In fact, in the DFL’s narrative, any glance in the rear view mirror should expose only one villainous group–the powerless Board minority members, like Art Johnston and Harry Welty, who were speaking the truth.

Blaming the people who had no power in the room is like blaming creditors who bring up the bills for a bankruptcy.
As the dominant, majority voice, it was the DFL-endorsed who rubberstamped Keith Dixon’s spending spree. It was the DFL that blew a thirty million dollar reserve fund, jacked the tax levy by $19 million, concocted a debt payment plan that robs more than $3 million annually out of classrooms to pay for swimming pools, and left the district so broke it had to raid its already pathetically under-funded maintenance fund.

21,000 steps and a mulch footnote


I just pounded in a couple hundred words and was on a role when my clumsy fingers replaced them all accidentally with nothingness and there was nothing saved for me to go back to. I haven’t had that happen to me for a couple years and it drove me nuts.

I began by saying I’ve been very busy juggling again. I offered a litany of things I have been doing this morning. Reflecting on it the most interesting thing I wanted to write about was the candidate forum held last night by our students.

The eight of us had a minute and a half to answer really big questions that each of the seven students present asked us. Most of the questions involved problems our kids face in class. Many of the replies were glittering generalities. I won’t say who glittered the most. I didn’t sugarcoat things.

I explained how twenty years ago when I was on the Board $14 million local dollars went into the classroom. I described it as a “Golden Age.” I then explained that this year only $2.5 million local dollars are going into the classroom. I then parenthetically mentioned the much decorated school counselor who heard me say the same thing earlier in the week and came who over to tell me that when she was hired she was one of 30 counselors in the District. Today there are only 12 counselors – the kind of people who might be able to address the needs the students at the forum were asking for.

I was surprised that Fourth District candidate who spoke immediately after me dismissed this factoid by saying that lots of other District employees had stepped in to do the work of school counselors.

Its becoming apparent that Ms. Lofald now views herself as a chief defender of the School Administration, by which I mean a single individual. He was in the audience listening at the time.

And yes, I got 21,000 steps in yesterday marching across Duluth Heights despite the donation of a pint of blood. More friendly but aggrieved people met me. Here’s a pic I took of the sights along my travels. The nest was closer to half again the size of my hand.

Oh, and of interest to Mulch folks. I just got my school board packet. You may recall that at the September meeting the Administration offered anguished justifications for paying an additional $12,000 for a mulch change order when a bare majority of us asked to table the expenditure until the October meeting. Well, the Administration now wants us to postpone the consideration of the expense until the November meeting. Vindication for us skeptics?

19,000 steps

After noting that I had yet to lit drop yesterday I steeled myself to do just that. I got in four hours (19,000 steps) covering a portion of Duluth Heights and was greeted by this not so little arachnid at one door. I got the willies when I saw him/her and subsequently dropped my literature when putting it in the screen door. It had the leg span to cover a fifty cent piece.

Compare it to the key lock.

I’m used to seeing large spiders in the early fall but they are more often orb spiders with fat abdomens. This looked like a baby tarantula. In either case they live precarious lives as a favorite bird snack.

So far I have covered most of my imediate eastern part of town and felt like I was getting a pretty good reception. That only improved as I moved west to the Denfeld area but this Central Part of town seems even more sympathetic. They know they and their children have been shortchanged.

At one door I met a woman as she was leaving her car and she asked if I was “lincolndemocrat.” That was very gratifying. We had a long talk about bullying at her daughter’s school which I’d never heard of and of grade school children sending emails to her daughter telling her to kill herself. Remember the last post about the counselor bemoaning the loss of so many counselors from her early years? So how did this mother deal with this issue. She reluctantly informed the schools then took her child out despite being a third generation Duluth public school student herself.

The current school board’s policy is to adopt an articulate but mostly symbolic anti-bullying policy and then sugarcoat some grim realities…..realities that are the direct consequence of cannibalizing classroom money to the tune of $11 million dollars annually to pay off loans to build new schools.

I told Chuck Frederick, the Trib’s editor, yesterday that I won’t be upset if I lose this election. That is the voter’s choice and I have other things to do. I also told him that I will never forgive myself if I don’t work my fingers to the bone to win reelection. That’s true too. In 40 minutes I’m scheduled to donate my 101st pint of blood. When I do this I’m always told to go home and avoid any heavy work. Today I will test that recommendation by resuming my leafleting of Duluth Heights despite a painful limp that I suspect comes from an undiagnosed bone spur in my left heel. Its a good pain and I’ll take plenty of liquids.

Tonight at 5 I will attend a school board candidate forum put on by our high school students. I’m looking forward to that.

BROKEN RECORD ALERT: You can donate to my campaign here.

Its sunny again so why am I not out going door to door?

Because I’m juggling right now. I just came back from the offices of the News Tribune where the Education Reporter had scheduled a half hour interview with me. She turned off her recorder with about five minutes to go and we had a candid cordial conversation about stuff she wouldn’t put in the story anyway. There’s nothing I would have minded her recording so she only saved a little battery power. I also stopped by to see the Trib’s editor Chuck Frederick and show him my proposed op ed piece. Its a little novel and I wanted to plead my case for putting it in the Trib as written. He saw nothing wrong with it other than some data he wants to confirm before he publishes it. I was pleased. It was a cordial meeting and I joked that my testiness with the Trib’s editorial board isn’t new. I recall twitting (not tweeting) the editors a quarter century ago long before he found himself in the Editor’s chair.

I’ve also been making calls to arrange for my first fundraising letter. It may go out Friday if all goes well. My hints to my eight loyal followers about helping out seem to have been falling on deaf eyes. I could use a little help as Claudia has been noticing my regular withdrawals from our bank account. She is good with the 70-hour-weeks I’ve been putting in to campaign but she seems to think that if I want to get back on the School Board there ought to be some tangible demonstration of help from my potential constituents. (That’s a hint and none too subtle hint at that. So is this link.)

I mentioned that there were some interesting happenings at the Ordean/East school board forum on Monday night. I’ll just mention one.

It went pretty quickly because for the six questions we were asked we were given one minute to reply. They were questions like do you believe in God, why or why not? You know, easy-peasey questions. I answered one of them in 31 seconds and another in about 12. The quick replies caught poor Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, who answered them after me, off guard. And one of my answers brought a school counselor over to chat me up. It was the astounding factoid (the one I’ll have to prove to Chuck Frederick) that twenty years ago our District put $14 million local levy dollars into the classroom whereas now we only put $2.5 million into the classroom.

The counselor came over to lament the loss of her fellow counselors. She told me that when she was first hired, in what I called the District’s “Golden Age,” she was one of 30 school counselors on the District payroll. Now she is one of 12.

She could obviously relate to the loss of $10 or $11 million dollars from the operations budget and understand how that impacted her. The kids she helps have critical, emotional needs that no teacher with 40 kids in a classroom can attend to.

As I told the East parents: Our school board could use financial experts far more than public relations experts.

Now I can go door to door.

Habitat for H2O

My rain gauge showed just shy of two and a half inches of rain. It was just one more setback to finishing up the intersection.

I woke up in the dark to find an ICO truck fueling up the heavy machines parked in front of our house. There was a foot of water sitting in the forms where sometime soon our new sidewalk will be poured. Yesterday the gutters were finished and a little asphalt was sprayed on fourth street. Its hard to imagine what will be attempted today.

As for me I’ll be working at Habitat for Humanity in Superior today. Our outside project was cancelled so I expect I will be doing some interior painting.

Yesterday it was rainy too and I made some headway on writing fundraising letters and organizing my next mailing. I also printed out some more flyers and stuffed more envelopes for door to door which won’t likely continue until Wednesday.

I also attended a PTA candidate forum at Ordean East last night. If I didn’t have to hop in the car and head for Habitat I’d mention a couple of them. But no time. Ta, Ta.

Rendezvous with Dana

Yesterday at the Lester Park Rendezvous was a long beautiful day. Dana Krigovorsky and I had set up Alanna Oswald’s canopy the night before but we arrived just after nine and set up tables, campaign lit, and Dana’s selection of kid attractors including jumping frogs, balloons and some chewy candy. The later would pull off a crown of one of my molars before the day was over. (No prob. I already had a dentist appointment scheduled for Monday and I have insurance.)

The lines are drawn. Even as the sister of one of the other side’s candidates bemoaned the stupidity of the school board dividing up into factions that process has hardened into cement. The other side’s materials could be found in the DFL booth’s literature a couple spots down from ours.

Kurt Kuehn reserved our booth. He’s running for the First District seat. You will find my signs paired with his along London Road.

Dana Krigovorsky and I are the At-large contingent for the non partisan school board race and you can see a few of our paired signs already although I have discouraged Dana from putting up too many yet. They are a bear to maintain and she has already noticed that her signs are beginning to disappear especially in the vicinity of large clusters of DFL candidates signs. As I recall she told me that she had replaced eight successive signs at the home of one such black hole. I’ve told her its coincidental but new candidates are usually extremely sensitive to the general rough and tumble of a political campaign especially when each sign costs five dollars.

We were so busy passing out balloons, frogs and, of course, my snow sculpture trading cards that we hardly caught a breath until about 1:30. I placed my cards in a messy heap and told the kids to pick out the one that appealed to them. It was like watching kids pick out penny candy in the old days.

Dana is short for Bogdona. Mike Jaros who speaks several Slavic languages told me it means “God’s gift.” If she is elected she surely will be mine. Although being in the minority for four years improved when we grew from two to three in the last election its still not much fun when the insiders seem to be, well, insiders. Over the past month it has seemed as if the DFL candidates who are not on the Board have had the benefit of inside knowledge that has not yet been shared with we three actual board members. Something may be cooking with the Central sale. At least one of the DFL challengers hinted about some machinations that we actual board members in the minority have yet to learn of. An 11th hour announcement, perhaps, to help the preferred candidates? If I found myself in the majority I don’t think that would be a concern any longer.

Dana doesn’t care if folks call her Day Na. Its pronounced Donna as is Bogdona.

Wish us well. We don’t have a political machine shoving us onto the board and we will work as hard as board members as we have worked as candidates.

CONFESSION. I asked for a DFL endorsement myself this year hoping my antipathy for Trump would count for something. Nope. It was the first time in 16 campaigns that l asked for it so complaining is probably just sour grapes on my part.

No Kaboom

As the work on Fourth Street in front of my house proceeded yesterday morning I walked out to make sure the base of my brick steps survived intact. When the driver of the front end loader, which had just taken a scoop out of my hillside, hopped out of the loader looking for a zip tie I noticed a gushing wind. There went my gas line. He tied it off and I was glad I hadn’t been smoking. As part of the ritual the Fire Department sent down an engine. Pretty soon the muddy street was full of folks waiting for the nuisance to be dealt with. It was and Comfort Systems sent someone in to relight all our gas appliances.

I asked where most gas lines entered and was told they were all over the map…..or not on the map. Slicing through gas lines is very common and I was reminded about the advice to call before you dig. I could easily have sent a spade through the line if I’d been planting flowers. A friend from Comfort Systems told me he had already had a dozen or more snapped lines since the work on Fourth Street had begun.

Then I went out lit dropping. Just under 30,000 steps according to my cell phone’s pedometer. I began covering Duluth Heights. The folks there haven’t forgotten Central High. I got a few high fives.

Today you will find me at Lester Park’s Rendezvous. At a luncheon I intended recently Rosie Loeffler-Kemp explained to the organizer of the Chester Bowl Fall Fest that she was one of the Rendezvous founders. I’m grateful to her for today’s venue. It should be sunny.



I have had a long relationship with the News Tribune which began when I first ran against Mike Jaros as a 25-year-old in 1976. Continue reading

The DNT tosses my column in the circular file

The Trib won’t run my column after all. According to Editor Chuck Frederick it was too much like this post from a couple days ago.

I changed it significantly but I acknowledge that the bones are still the same: Chuck wrote me with the bad news:

Hello, Board Member Welty. I see you’ve posted on your blog most, if not all, of the commentary you had sent to us for publication as your “Candidate’s View” column in the run-up to the Nov. 7 election. As you ,now, we request, always, that local content published on the News Tribune Opinion page be original and unpublished. Your submission no longer is. Please consider writing an original submission of no more than 500 words, and then we would ask that you please refrain from posting it or publishing it elsewhere (including on your blog) until it has been published by the News Tribune. Your deadline would be Oct. 20.

Chuck Frederick
Editorial Page Editor

I wrote back to Chuck:


I will see what I can do.


These are the 352 words I first sent the Trib:

Duluth’s local property taxes spent in the classroom have dived from $14 million annually twenty years ago to $2.5 million this year. That’s shocking. But the editors of the News Tribune only harp about an “ugly” past that started when discredited school board members invented phony accusations to crucify Art Johnston, whose only crime was asking tough questions.

I’ll confess that I’ve been tempted to stop defending Art Johnston because the Trib has convinced many of my eastern neighbors that Art is not only “A” problem but “THE” problem! How cheap of me. My lawnsigns proclaim that “Honesty is the best policy.” Denying Art is like Peter denying Jesus.

If the Trib wanted to report the truly “ugly” they would explain how our School District redistributes state funds for poor children to our eastern schools.

My campaign lit says: “No one has worked harder than Art Johnston to point out the exodus of Denfeld students and the growing achievement gap. We need more than cheerleaders. We need Board members with a keen financial sense who understand that a divided Duluth is a threat to the whole city.”

I know Art can be forceful. People who make a difference often are. He once made me so mad when he first ran for the school board I told him I wanted him to win because it would be the worst experience of his life. I was right. His public data requests were ignored. The Board accused him of assault, racism, conflict of interest and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp told KBJR he was “dangerous.” Art had to defend the voters who elected him by spending $75,000 to remain on the Board. When his “colleagues” utterly failed they censured him.

Milquetoasts let the Jews get carted off to concentrations camps. Art is not a milquetoast. He is a man of honor and integrity. It’s been tough being his defender but I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t stick up for him.

That’s not a problem for the editors of the Duluth News Tribune. I wonder if they see anything when they look into theirs?

Harry Welty

I knew that the Trib was ridiculously sensitive about publishing opinion pieces that had previously seen the light of day before although they regularly post other newspaper’s editorials. Eleven years ago I wrote a column for the lowly Duluth Reader urging voters pass a referendum financing the expansion of the DECC. Supporters at the Chamber of Commerce loved it and wanted to have it republished in the Trib. The Trib flatly refused because it had appeared in the lowly Duluth Reader. Maybe there is a reason that the Reader’s special issue runs now exceed all but the Trib’s Sunday Circulation.

I would have had to make one change in my column anyway. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp didn’t tell KBJR television that Art was “dangerous.” She told them:

“The investigation was brought forward because of Art Johnston’s violent abusive and harassing and threatening behaviors.”

I will look forward to using the full 500 words the Trib will allow me rather than the 352 words I just submitted. I will put the extra 148 words to good use.

My head is pretty full…

I need to go door to door to empty it.

My eight loyal readers have company. According to my blog’s stats I’m perilously close to breaking the major records this year for readership. I should end up with over 5,000 individual visitors who have read over 70,000 “pages” this month. I put pages in quotes because I’ve never known exactly what that means.

I know that when I post a lot my numbers go up and when my posts have links to other things I’ve written that too increases the stats. But with about six weeks to campaign left I keep adding new tasks for every task I complete. Keeping track of it, let alone accomplishing them all is a mental challenge.

For instance, I’d dearly love to write a half dozen posts now on the subject of Vietnam, and my campaign but that takes time, a couple hours I don’t have with fifteen minutes left to go before 10 AM – an hour after I planned to be out door to dooring.

So, I’ll make that my deadline for posting this morning.

I was part of Homecroft’s “human fence” yesterday. They have got it down to a science by now so I only had to retrieve balls four or five times over the our and half of recesses I watched over.

Here’s a pic with the kids far enough away so as not to identify them:

A bunch of the kids recognized me from my reading to them last year and asked if I would come back.

And then there was the duck on a lower Woodland porch when I was door knocking. He cocked his head at me as I took a picture.

I added a bunch of “friends” to Facebook. I thought I was adding them to the welty for school board page but they are now part of my more personal feed. Many of them are prodigious posters and this morning one post I was looking at was superseded by a hundred others. It took me nearly five minutes to find it again.

I’m a pretty savvy researcher so that I have a pretty good idea what posts have some weight behind them. But reading Facebook for news is like taking a drink of water standing under Niagara Falls. No wonder the Ruskies had Americans so confused in 2016. I’ve given up trying to manage the campaign Facebook Page. I haven’t got the time or energy. I saw that one visitor there wondered where she could donate to my campaign on it. I hope she checks out my blog because I regularly link posts to my site which has a tab for donations.

I could use them. And I’m three minutes over my limit. Its 10:03. I have a lot more doors to visit.

Goodbye for now.



I had a lovely meeting with Sally Trnka. Should we both be elected I have no doubt we will work well together.

Chuck Frederick sent me an email thanking me for sending in my pre-General election letter/column. I told him I was trying to be efficient with my time. He was cordial despite a particularly critical letter by me of his editorial board. That’s a professional for you.

I just put in an order for another 10,000 snow sculpture trading cards. I’m short of campaign funds to pay for it so any orders by my readers now would be most helpful. You can donate to my campaign (and order your cards) at:

I am about to head out into the sunshine to go door to door which will be interupted by a couple hours being part of Homecroft School’s “human fence.”

Campaigning in the rain, and a side rant on people who refuse to meet with me – for coffee.

I didn’t go door to door yesterday. I managed to get some writing done and distribute some of the trading card decks that have been ordered. I picked up some lawnsign stands and, for the moment, I’m caught up with envelope stuffing for door to door work.

I enjoyed a long conversation with a supporter who wanted to tell me about an idea for the use of Central High School. It was interesting but I doubt it would make much money for the District. Its an idea being championed by a lot of ex employees at Central who are sick at the thought of its being vandalized which has begun to happen as it sits empty.

I joked that our retired teachers probably didn’t have much use for me but I was told that is not the case. I’d like to think that’s true. A lot of them thought the Red Plan was an abomination. I theorized ten years ago that their union was doing its best to shut them up about it. I’m not sure the DFT has changed all that much since that time.

NOTE: In the first version of the next paragraph where I have bolded “to avoid meeting with me” I originally wrote “to meet.” I hate when I write the opposite of what I mean.)

Two years ago when I stuck up for a teacher who was getting short shrift for a lapse in judgement my reward was a slap in the face by the DFT. I don’t like being threatened so you will see rather a lot of posts connected to this one in which I explain a heckuva lot about the DFT’s cozy relationship with some board members. Its president had already rebuffed a number of my requests to have coffee with me. She continues to resist meeting with me one-on-one although we are quite cordial when we run across each other. We had a lovely chat about my trip to China on Labor Day. We even sat across from each other during our last teacher negotiation and were given a tour of Old Central’s tower to celebrate a successful conclusion to negotiations. BUT. If there is anything that sets me off its the refusal of a person to meet with me for coffee. One candidate for the School Board has bent over backward to avoid meeting with me since filing. On the other hand I’m meeting with Sally Trnka this morning as she accepted my invitation to meet. We might very well be on the Board together after November.

In this regard I often mention that my campaign chairman, former Representative Mike Jaros, and I first met over coffee just before I filed to run against him in 1976. I ran against him again in 1978. We have always had a cordial relationship since that time. In fact, his opposition to the Red Plan, because it placed a heavier tax burden on poor Duluthians, cemented our alliance. We don’t agree on everything. We have different positions on Charter Schools but not on public education.

The only way to build common ground is to communicate. Running away from having coffee with me is a lousy way to get along.

Ah, but I did have one unexpected conversation yesterday that took me back to 1910. I learned about the grandfather of one of my constituents, Martin Johnson, who was known city-wide as the “wrestling firefighter.”

I asked if I could take a picture of part of Mr. Johnson’s scrapbook and was given permission. You can see his badge, a portrait of the wrestler in his togs and a clipping from the Trib about his bout with Ole Samson who’s ribs got broke during one of their matches.

Another rainy day

Today is another rainy day that I won’t be passing soggy literature door to door. Neither will I be part of Homecroft School’s “human fence” to keep the kids safe while they play on the parking lot until their mulch is replaced. The Principal called and asked if I could do it tomorrow instead.

I managed to get some other pressing business taken care of yesterday while hiding from the rain. Then at 3 I actually got three hours of lit dropping in and finished up a section of Piedmont Heights. My cell phone’s pedometer registered almost 15,000 steps.

I didn’t take any pics but I had a long conversation with a couple who had fought the Red Plan’s broken promises at their elementary school. They mentioned the parking lot that was smaller than promised, the cars parked dangerously so they put their lives at risk every time they try to pull onto Chambersburg Road, the angled bus drop off parking that drivers ignore because its too dangerous to back into the road behind them and the attempt to block off Ensign Road for a playground that the Fire Marshall was opposed to for safety reasons. They let me put up a sign right across the school.

In another week or two I’ll get serious about lawnsigns. In the meantime it’s a comfort to find so many friendly folks as I go out door knocking.

Oh, and today I finally looked carefully at my stack of unfinished Tribs and saw that our intersection is supposed to be open at 5PM today. All the light polls were put up yesterday and are currently attaching the top lights to them. I’ll believe its open when I see it.

How are Donald Trump and the News Tribune Editors similar?

In the first case: the US has suffered at least four straight climate crises, the fires out west and Hurricanes pounding Huston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, President Trump’s EPA shill says its not the right time to talk about climate change while all Trump wants to talk about is the NFL firing the “SOB’s” who protest the mistreatment of other Americans.

In the second case: Duluth’s local property taxes spent in the classroom has dived from $14 million annually twenty years ago to $2.5 million this year but all the Trib wants is to harp on is the “ugly” past they trumped up when five discredited school board members ginned up a phony case against a colleague who simply asked the tough questions they AND THE TRIBUNE didn’t want answered.

And here’s a confession on my part.

I started this campaign thinking I should stop defending Art Johnston so loudly since the Trib has managed to convince a lot of my neighbors in eastern Duluth that Art is not only a problem but THE PROBLEM! How cheap of me. I claim on my lawnsigns that “Honesty is the best policy.” Denying Art is a little like Peter denying Jesus.

I began to rectify that in one of the campaign pieces I am handing out now. If the Trib was doing its work all Duluth should know by now that our School District actively redistributes state funds given to us for our poorer children and spends it in our eastern schools where poverty not such a problem. So, on my literature I wrote: “No one has worked harder than Art Johnston to point out the exodus of Denfeld students and the growing achievement gap. We need more than cheerleaders. We need Board members with a keen financial sense who understand that a divided Duluth is a threat to the whole city.”

I know Art can be forceful. People who make a difference often are. He once made me so mad that when he first ran for the school board I told him that I hoped he would win because I knew it would be the worst experience of his life. Can I call em? His public data requests have been denied. Judy Seliga-Punyko called the police to arrest him, then he was accused of assault, racism, conflict of interest and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp told KBJR he was dangerous. Then Art was forced to defend the election he won by spending $75,000 on lawyers to remain on the School Board. When his “colleagues” failed utterly at that they censured him and for good measure they censured me. Now the Trib calls us “ugly.”

Milquetoasts let the Jews get carted off to concentrations camps. Art is not a milquetoast. He is a man of honor and integrity. Its been tough being his defender but I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t stick up for him.

That’s not a problem for the editors of the Duluth News Tribune. I wonder if they see anything when they look into theirs?

Door to door photo – day 44 and counting down

I walked under a pine tree as I knocked doors in Piedmont Heights and found it festooned with galls so that it looked like it was full of coconuts. Because of church I only had the afternoon but still got about three and a half hours in. Two full days should more than cover it although it looks like we will have a lot of rain this week. I’ve got five full days of stuffed materials to pass out fully loaded. I’ll be running short of my snow sculputure trading cards soon after that a quick ten thousand slipping between my fingers.

My handout will be a challenge. Unlike some candidates with glossy pics and little else I’ve put my last thirty years researching and writing about the District to good use. I think it will take serious voters over ten minutes to wade through four pieces about candidates who can turn the District around. I’ll put them on the blog in a week or two for those whose houses I will never get to. If I knock on 15,000 out of a likely 30,000 doors I’ll be doing well. I’m already at about 6,000 over the past thirty days. I figure that in this off-year election it will only be the most intense voters who will visit the polls and they are just the sort who might just read that much info.

And I’ve got reinforcements. Loren Martell is back at the Reader and he was very kind to me. He sums up the Duluth News Tribune’s editorial board much as I have and did me the honor of using my words to finish up his piece:

After the paper’s latest exhortation, Mr. Welty wrote in his blog: “Perhaps it’s time the editorial board looked in the mirror to find the ugly past.”

Well said, Harry.

If the Trib ran across as many folks sour with the Red Plan as Loren, Kurt Kuehn, Art and I do they might have a better appreciation why their subscriber base has shrunk. The bunch of us run across very few believers any more and we still run across a great many who grit their teeth at mention of our current problems. Will they come out to vote though? That’s the million dollar question. Yesterday one fellow driving away from his Denfeld home told me it was a waste of time to vote. Next door his neighbor was in her garden and she told me she very much believed in voting.

I’ve been telling all the folks I see that I’ve been recommending candidates who will give our western schools a fair shake. No one has taken me to task over that position east or west.

The only thing likely to slow me down after a week’s lit dropping is affording more lit for the last six weeks. I’ve spent precious little time fund raising but this rainy week may give me a chance to give the DFL and Union contributors to the status quo candiates a run for their money.

Be prepared eight loyal readers. Pledge month is heading your way. As with MPR those of you who prefer to donate in advance are welcome to do so online here.

My snow sculpture cards will have shrunk from 10,000 to about 1,500 after the next five days. I need to order more. Long after folks forget I was on the School Board they will talk about the snow sculptures that that crazy fellow built every winter on 21st Avenue East.

Burns, Vietnam 3

I had hoped for a short meeting so that I could get to the second airing of the third PBS Vietnam installment. No such luck with the mulch discussion. You can watch it here:

I had to wait until 10 to catch a repeated episode and took the occasion to stuff my campaign materials for later door to door work. It was tough staying awake for the next hour and a half because I’ve had some pretty short nights lately. Still I soldiered on.

The chief takeaway from this episode was the loss of faith in our government because of officials and military men who refused to be honest about the developing debacle.

I watched that debacle and that cynicism grow for a decade. I got married a few weeks before the government of South Vietnam fell. Most folks of that era don’t think American’s faith in their leaders survived it just as many Duluthians faith in our public schools took a hit over the Red Plan.

That’s why my lawnsigns say: “Honesty is the best policy.”