. . . as an elected official.
This was a pretty good story from KBJR on the Compensatory Education Funding and our discussion of the subject at our Tuesday Special meeting.
. . . as an elected official.
This was a pretty good story from KBJR on the Compensatory Education Funding and our discussion of the subject at our Tuesday Special meeting.
There was one noteworthy absence from yesterday’s special School Board meeting to give the Western School Equity group a public hearing – the newly elected representative of the Denfeld area.
A short while ago I spent an evening in the Duluth Public Library looking through the annuals of Duluth’s high schools to get a better picture of the many connections between current poobahs in the Duluth Schools. I looked through a great many Denfeld books trying to figure out which class Jill Lofald had been a member of. When I failed to find any evidence of her I was puzzled. During every public forum I was at Jill made it sound like she was Denfeld born and bred not just a long time Denfeld teacher. When I asked a friend about this they pointed out that Jill graduated from Esko’s schools. I guess I should have figured that out in advance because her older sister was a member of the Esko school board.
The meeting itself turned out to be a much bigger deal than I had anticipated. Alanna Oswald, Art Johnston and I had originally wanted no more than to let the equity group sit with us at a school board committee meeting to talk with us. When our Administration and its majority on the school board did its best to thwart this discussion the three of us once again made use of the State statute allowing three board members to call a special meeting. It was the Central High School sale discussion all over again with a large audience of concerned citizens.
Board member elect Josh Gorham was at the meeting. He’s been a regular at our meetings for a couple months now. I even saw Sally Trnka briefly when she hugged her old rival Dana Krivogorsky who had been watching the meeting on youtube before she arrived to watch the meeting in person for the last hour and a half.
There were a lot of Denfeldites at the meeting as well. At the beginning of the hour the three meeting callers had to plead with the majority to allow the equity folks get that chance to have an exchange of information and discussion as Chair Kirby seemed intent on limiting non-school board members limited to the three minutes they have at our regular public comment portion of school board meetings. We managed to soften up the opposition to this so that Kevin Skirwa-Brown and others managed to say just about everything they wanted to the School Board.
But the discussion included a couple of eastern parents who spoke in support of continuing to spend the western kid’s money to keep eastern class sizes small. They had been whipped up to attend by reelected member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp to counteract the lobbying by the western parents. Their appeals did not do them much credit and took on a very NIMBY tone even when they bent over backward to try and sound fair minded. Fortunately, one Eastern parent who described himself as a “cake” (East High cake eater) took the opposite approach expressing embarrassment that his kids got to have poor kid’s money spent on them. I thanked him after the meeting.
These comments brought two more Denfeld supporters out to stick up for the work of the equity folks. Dr. Mary Owens spoke eloquently about this being an issue of Justice. At the end of the meeting I told her that if she ever wanted to run for the school board I would be her campaign manager. Denfeld grad and teacher Tom Tusken also spoke forcefully and mentioned that anyone who thought there were small classes at Denfeld should sit in his class of 37 kids.
Jill Lofald’s neice Jana Hollingsworth was at one of her last school board meetings and wrote a fair news story about it for today’s Trib. Its one of her last because the Trib has concluded that her familial relationship with Jill will call her journalistic impartiality into question. Someone new will become the education reporter for the Trib and that’s too bad because it takes a reporter years to figure out the complicated story of our schools. When I served on the Board in my first incarnation near the end of the golden era of Newspapers the Trib had three education reporters. Its too bad that Ms. Lofald’s election will put the school district on the Trib’s back burner. I suspect the Superintendent and the majority of School Board members will breath a sigh of relief.
“That’s just Charlie being Charlie.” That was the rationalization Charlie Rose’s right-hand woman gave the young ladies who told her disturbing stories about their boss. She just chalked it up to …I don’t know, eccentricity I guess.
A cavalcade of clay feet have been revealed to be little more than heels in recent weeks. I, for one, appreciate the stink. It’s long overdue and there is nothing eccentric about this. From CK’s exhibitionistic Onanism to the barring of a District Attorney from his local shopping mall all of these stories have been “creepy.” As our soon-to-be President said on tape, “When you’re a star they let you do it,” adding, “You can do anything.”
I’ve put a lot of thought into the sexual proclivities of men since my best friend told me how he persuaded a neighbor kid to pimp his twelve-year old sister so that my buddy could have sex with her. We were high school freshmen. I would be five years older before my first such experience and it would be with an older woman where the power differential was more nearly equal. Continue reading
It is time for me to confess that Mary Rice, the attorney hired by the district to defame Art Johnston, was right to stress that I didn’t have perfect recall about what took place in 2004. Its because the accurate information was never entered into the record that I have just cast aspersions on those who did know what in fact had taken place.
I was probably wrong about the person I was sure had attempted to suborn a witness to give false testimony. The Duluth News Tribune made that clear a few weeks ago with information that was a surprise to me.
It now seems that, despite my imminent retirement, one school board member with good recall of what took place in 2004 will remain on the Duluth School Board.
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.
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.
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.
…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:
If you are just opening Lincoln Democrat for the first time today I suggest you begin with the first post in the Snow Purge series #1. Like snow the information is accumulative.
Finally, Today was my day to share my candidate’s views in the Tribune’s Op Ed page following Dana, Sally and Josh. Here are my thoughts in 200 not 500 words:
Loren Martell always writes long, very long, columns about the School Board. (With millions of words on the subject here at Lincoln Democrat I should talk!)
Today’s piece in the reader is, however, simply mesmerizing. Its mesmerizing for his honesty and its exposure of the powers-that-be in this City and how they have brought our public schools down to their knees and then punished any truth tellers pointing the finger at them for the destruction they are responsible for causing. For once I can tell you all to read it to the end.
Here’s a sample:
“The bad headlines
The News Tribune and the rest of the establishment painted me and others who opposed the Red Plan as bad citizens who didn’t care about the little children’s future. The reason we opposed the Red Plan was because, right out of the gate, we saw that it was a dumb idea. We did not believe running up a bill of nearly half a billion would “save” $122 million; we did not believe the vacated buildings would sell for big money; we did not believe the huge aquatic centers and all the other over-the-top extravagancies would be a magnet for students; we did not believe getting rid of all the schools in the center of Duluth–a city nearly thirty miles long, with an already existent east-west divide–would create “educational equity.”
A week or so ago (10/18/17,) the News Tribune reported on a forum sponsored by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. Comments from some of the attendees were included in the report. One concerned mother “explained that she moved to Duluth to raise her children because of the city’s size,” but had “come to feel there’s a ‘good side’ and a ‘bad side’ to the city, and (is) troubled by the division.” Another woman said “she’s concerned that the ‘trouble students’ only live on the western side of Duluth, and the division began when the school district closed Central.”
At what point does it become evident that this town has been listening to the wrong people: the News Tribune and the rest of the stodgy establishment? Just look at what the alternative press was saying, back in 2008: ……………..”
We in northern climes often view winter as a time of purging the ills of the warmer months, disease, rot, allergens etc. And so, when I woke early this morning and found snow beginning to accumulate on our lawn’s grass I was delighted at the change in scene and chortled as I went from window to window to see what the different views displayed.
Claudia and I settled down to sip our coffee and watch the traffic along 21st Avenue, a snow tradition at our home, to see how the conditions were affecting the passing traffic. Not too bad. I hopped in the Traverse to drive to McDonalds for some egg sandwiches.
I’d already read a half a dozen Friday articles about our schools and they reminded me of another kind of purge – the possible purge of the noxious myths of the Red Plan that have allowed exSuperintendent, Keith Dixon’s ghost, to rule the Duluth School Board for the past six years since he touchingly left Duluth – holding another $19 million bag of Red Plan doggy turds.
My ailing foot is not about to go out today to pass out more literature. Fortunately, my team has scraped up enough to reach most voters without depending on my mobility. So, I will spend the morning pointing to the various sources that strongly argue for this second purge.
Our budget reserve comes close to evaporating. Here’s the straight forward story from the Trib.
Like member Nora Sandstad, Alanna Oswald and I were told by the Superintendent that Special education “cross subsidy” payments to Edison skyrocketed by about a million more dollars this year. The explanation had something to do with a legislative change in the special ed formula that caught the Minnesota Department of Education by surprise.
I am puzzled however by Jana Hollingsworth’s report that Edison got $1.7 million from us four years ago in 2013 but is getting $2 million this year. That’s only a $300,000 increase not a million. Did the “cross subsidy drop to $1 million last year? I don’t know. I’ll have to have this all explained to me in depth.
The suggestion that special education has caused our fiscal problems was part of a question addressed to five of the six at-large and District 4 candidates tonight at the League of Woman Voter’s forum. (Sally Trnka sent her regrets from a conference she had to attend) I acknowledged that this was something that merited attention but added that the payments to Edison paled before the $11 million dollars drained from the classroom in recent years to pay off Red Plan building debt. Its this debt, far more than special education, and the additional investor concern over our negligible fund reserve that has prompted Moody’s to downgrade some of our building debt to just above junk bond status.
The “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”
This is one of my provocative snow sculptures from 2009 as the Red Plan was proceeding at break neck speed. Some people took it as a commentary on the Duluth School Board. I never bothered to disabuse anyone of that interpretation.
Put in an order online with a donation to the Welty For School Board campaign:
Fifty snow sculpture cards for 30 cents apiece for only $15.00.
I am a connoisseur of all things ironic and recent stories, that have been a surprise to me and everyone I know, may have an incredibly ironic connection.
I blame one administration suck up for bringing down a ton of bricks on my colleague Art Johnston three years ago. Long time readers may know to whom I’m referring although I’ve never quite been enough of a “provocateur” to use such incendiary language before to describe her. I can’t help but wonder if the recent news about Art’s challenger wasn’t brought about by the very same person, thirteen unlucky years ago, sowing time bombs and mayhem wherever she went.
I highlighted the word provocateur because I described myself as such to Jana Hollingsworth for today’s story about the At-large school board candidates.
I was thinking historically. More examples of my kind of provocateur: Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, Martin Luther, Frederick Douglas, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Duluth Independent School District No. 709, MN’s underlying general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) and full term certificates of participation (COP) ratings to Ba1 from Baa2. Moody’s also downgrades the district’s annual appropriation COPs rating to Ba2 from Baa3. Concurrently, Moody’s assigns Ba1 underlying GOULT ratings and Aa2 enhanced ratings to the district’s $3.6 million Taxable General Obligation Facilities Maintenance Bonds, Series 2017A and $615,000 Taxable General Obligation Capital Facilities Bonds, Series 2017B. Following the sale, the district will have $51 million in general obligation (GO) bonds, $147 million in full term COPs, and $33 million in annual appropriation COPs. The outlook on the underlying ratings is negative.”
The Editorial Board of the Duluth News Tribune has, like the DFL, generally approved of most of the last decade’s Red Plan School Board majority. Its funny, but they don’t get a mention in the Moody’s report.
And remember. There is one more shoe to drop.
I attended this meeting tonight. It brought together citizens concerned about the East West divide. It turned out not to be a discussion so much as a class on how to listen to differing opinions.
Among the faces present was former Superintendent Mark Myles. I didn’t sit at his table but we chatted on the way out after the meeting had run its course.
Mark was a strong proponant of a single Central High School all through the Red Plan. In that he had a lot more foresight than the editors of the Trib. I was surprised when he said what we ought to do now was have one high school hold 9th and 10th graders and the other 11th and 12th graders. “You ought to get the xxxx’s to do this,” he suggested. Of course, I have twice been quoted in the Trib as supporting this idea but I’m not sure our ex-superintendent realized it.
Its as close, after the fact, as we could come to uniting Duluth once again. It would take some serious community discussions before racing ahead to make it come to pass. We don’t need another Red Plan but we could use the equity.
…a liar and a seven-year-old sexoholic?
Well maybe, but I’m still profoundly disappointed in their at-large school board endorsements. They only grudgingly endorsed me four years ago and they have badly confused my principled fight to protect Art Johnston as something ugly when in fact, the only thing ugly about it was the Tribune’s siding with the School Board members who pushed lies to remove Art. As I wrote a couple year”s ago:
Art and I did have a chance to voice our displeasure with the attorney for the District Kevin Rupp. The allegation I leveled against Rupp for pushing the Board to throw Racism on the barn wall last June to see if it would stick comes from an unimpeachable source. I would be amazed if any Board member denied it. This was only the most disagreeable reason I cited for replacing Rupp.
It was chair Mike Miernicki who was sickened by our attorney Kevin Rupp’s recommendation to charge Art Johnston with saying racist things. But Miernicki took the vile advice and it was the Duluth News Tribune who trumpeted the baseless allegation over and over for a year. The Presidential candidate that the editors did not oppose calls this Fake News. Now he wants to undermine the First Amendment. Good work Editors!
In fact, for ten years the editorial board has played the prostitute to school administrations of dubious character. They jumped on board with Keith Dixon, who I’ve always suspected was a charming sociopath. When Gary Glass correctly pointed out that Johnston Controls would earn $30 million from the Red Plan the newspaper quickly countered Glass with Dixon’s lie that the program managers would only earn $4.5 million. After that their columnist at the Budgeteer used this gross misinformation to write a column calling Gary Glass the liar.
Time and again the Trib backed the wrong end of the horse. The Red Plan would not segregate Duluth. The Red Plan would only cost half of its real cost. The new buildings would save a great deal of energy. The old buildings were far too large for Duluth’s needs. The old buildings would be sold and help retire the bonding debt. Interest payments were not part of the cost of the Red Plan. Now the editor’s mantra is “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” The real crime of the incumbent, Harry Welty, is that he is one of the few people who spoke up as the disaster unfolded. That merits the Trib’s dismissal: “Voters can thank Welty for his service — and then jump at the chance for the change that’s needed to finally solve those problems…” The problems the Trib’s editors were to blind to anticipate and too vain to acknowledge
One of the candidates the Trib heartily endorsed showed up for only the second school board meeting tonight since she announced her candidacy five months ago.
I’ve never seen a candidate campaign so little in all the years I’ve been watching the school board. I guess the Trib finds her ignorance as blissful as their own.
Meanwhile the hardest working new candidate Dana Krivogorsky got the Trib’s try-again-at-the-next-election schtick. Alanna Oswald offered a far more cogent testimonial. I wonder if the editors can relate to anyone who understands our schools and takes the time to study them. Krivogorsky’s only crime is guilt by association – with me.
And there may be another reason the Trib acts as it does. Thin skin. I have twitted the Trib time and time again on the blog in posts like this one where I engaged the Editor. And there was the time the editor accused me of defaming the Trib which resulted in this post on his “big boy pants.”
I’ve been to 10,000 doors all across Duluth this summer. I am not sure who the editors think their audience is but I doubt that they understand them very well. The Trib is in an echo chamber populated with poobahs who don’t want to be reminded how wrong they were about the Red Plan.
Now the Trib’s editors are promoting the Superintendent’s “dream team” so we will never have to worry about him jumping ship again.
I write this not in anger but with resignation. The last “fresh face” the Trib endorsed over me in 2007 prevented Duluth from reevaluating the Red Plan before Duluth took the plunge. Had the Trib endorsed me instead of helping elect a pretty young pet of Dr. Dixon’s our schools would not have been ripped asunder. There are solutions to our problems, painful solutions, but I’ll guarantee the fresh faces the Trib is endorsing this election are no improvement on the Fresh Face who cemented the Red Plan into place with the Trib’s help.
One of my constant fears as I go door to door is letting pets loose – especially on warm days when folks have their front door open and I open the screen door a crack to slip in my literature. A couple days ago as I finished up Park Point I saw this sign on a door.
Its going to be another lovely sunny day today and I’ve got more neighborhoods to canvass and more lawnsigns to stake up. But the list of eight things I wanted to get done yesterday is still sadly undone and its a minute to nine AM already.
I have an Education committee meeting tonight at 4:15 and a forum on Duluth Poverty at 5:30 at Denfeld with a school board question time to start at 6:30. Chair Rosie Loeffler-Kemp is using that as an excuse to avoid the meeting having scheduled her daughter Rachel to take her place. Its been quiet on our committees lately and last night’s business meeting was one of the shortest on record ending well before 6:30. I understand Rosie will be missing the big televised forum for the News Tribune/Chamber of Commerce on Friday too. The Duluth Trib’s editorial board will give her a pass on that absence and interview her privately later on.
The elephant in the room is what is happening in our western schools. In today’s positive Trib story about an unexpected bump in the enrollment of many area schools is the disconcerting news that some of that increase, like that at Wrenshall’s, is fueled by departures from Duluth. Half of Wrenshall’s 14% growth comes from West Duluth:
“Wrenshall’s 390 students this fall illustrate a 14 percent increase. Half of the district’s students are residents and half come through open enrollment, with the largest number coming from Duluth.”
In fact, the western elementaries have plunged while eastern elementaries have soared in enrollment. You can find that chart in the story. Congdon is bursting at the seams and Lowell and Lakeside have grown dramatically. Still, we have put off reboundarying as the Administration has not yet felt the need to move in that direction after three years of heated lobbying by eastern families to begin it. Piedmont has suffered the worst enrollment loss.
Ah, 9:12. I’ve got a lot of leg work ahead of me today. Pardon my brevity.
I explained that long time West Duluth Representative Mike Jaros, would be the seed pearl of my next tutorial. But first let me check to see how many times over the last eleven years I’ve mentioned Mike on the blog……..Wow 95 times
The 2008 post was the beginning of my unqualified support for Mike. He joined me in attempting to restrain the rapacious Red Planners and, like me, he failed. I made a personal vow never to undermine him again through any veiled criticism.
In one or more of the 95 posts I have described our first meeting back in 1976 when he agreed to meet me for coffee and despite our looming face off how we got along famously. Ever since my gold star seal of approval always begins with adversaries who are willing to sit down and palaver with me. That is a standard one of the other side’s candidates this year has badly botched this election. Not Sally Trnka. She met with me and, although I am supporting Dona Krivogorsky, I consider Sally a good soul. (I’ve not gotten round to inviting Josh Gorham for coffee although some of my allies have and that’s a good sign. I once told Rosie Loeffler-Kemp we should get together but her eagerness to censure me put a pretty cold damper on my former invitation and we’ve never had a one-on-one. I just get veiled lectures/threats from her at closed meetings about not blogging.
You see, I was raised in an Era of a genial, if intense, cold war between the two major political parties which have now fallen so out of favor. If you search for references to my Grandfather and Harry Truman you will see that I’ve said of my Grandfather that he had a grudging respect for Democrats. That is so unlike the current mood in political circles. From the outset of my political career that has been my chief modus operandi. I will not unfairly malign the other side. I will malign their actions or hypocrisy if the public ought to be appraised of it but the faults I point out must not get in the way of my being able to work with adversaires. As I’ve always said of school board candidates: “I’ve never met one who didn’t have the best interests of children at heart.” That includes the Red Planners of whom my chief criticism has always been that they were insensitive to the public, stubborn, self righteous and foolish. They still cared about kids…….although some of them have stooped to pretty despicable depths to mischaracterize the motives of their critics, like me and especially Art Johnston.
So, where does that leave me with regards to Tutorial 6? Simply here at the “Golden Rule,” the real golden rule not this one: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I practice this with one proviso. “Beat me up once, shame on you. Beat me up a second time, watch out!”
Tutorial 6 is in the air. It will be about Mike Jaros and me and it will be meant to be hopeful.
But I got home from church today and got a little whiff of hope in the form of a donation. As I mentioned in the Tutorial 5 post I learned that my Friday mailing had already been delivered yesterday – Saturday. Well one of the recipents couldn’t wait for the mail and saved themselves 54 cents postage. They stuck the return mail envelope in my mailbox while I was a church.
There was a note inside. It read:
“Good luck, Harry and team!
Thank you for all you have done. I still remember the first letter from you just after we moved to Duluth, and thinking: “if half the stuff this crazy guy is writing is true, this is terrible!”
All the best,
They enclosed a check for $100 dollars.
And for the record. What I told them in that first letter was far less than half of the terrible truth. We’ve got classes of 40 children to prove it.
Here’s that first letter. Gosh, was I ever prescient! – Except about winning in court.
I’ve gotten a little blowback from my supporters about the tutorials. They wonder why I’m telegraphing to the “opposition” what I’m up to. One of the regular phrases I get when I email or text my friends is “this is not bloggable.” (Heavy sigh from me)
I understand that honorable reporters are constantly faced with requests for anonymity from their sources. I understand that sources are shy about being fingered lest they be punished (as whistle blowers) or for being gossipy. Our Civility Pledge disses gossip for instance. That’s one of the planks of the pledge I have a problem with. Ignorance isn’t bliss.
For instance’ I’ve already hinted that the Gronseth Administration is pulling a fast one first having begged us to OK a quick resolution of a change order for mulch followed by a recommendation that we delay a scheduled October discussion until November. Do they hope to delay of a potentially embarrassing million dollar snafu until after the election? The TMI in me (too much information) doesn’t think sweeping inconvenient truths under the rug is good practice or policy. It only aggravates paranoia. If we’d had open and honest discussions during the Red Plan years we might not have had 40 and 50 student class sizes.
So, back to my tutorial about all that stuff I’m passing out in my TMI package. Here’s a small portion of the four-foot-long map of Duluth’s political precincts (purchased in the City Clerk’s office) from Fondulac to Lake County that I have covered on foot. (marked in yellow) Continue reading