Category Archives: Education

Snow Purge #3

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: ……………..”

Snow Purge # 1

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.

The Other Shoe Drops

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.

GET’M WHILE THEY LAST – SNOW SCULPTURE CARD 40 OF 50

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:

https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/i/btn/btn_donateCC_LG.gif

Fifty snow sculpture cards for 30 cents apiece for only $15.00.

Irony watch

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 – Read it and weep

It begins:

“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.

Read it all and weep.

And remember. There is one more shoe to drop.

Civility for the East/West divide

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.

Can Duluth voters take an endorsement seriously from editors who did not notice that Donald Trump was an ignorant demagogue,…

…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.

Don’t let the cats out! Meow – Meow, Meow, Meow – Meow!

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.

TUTORIAL ON A HARRY WELTY CAMPAIGN PART 6

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 two posts which topped the list (prior to this entry) were “Bless you Mike Jaros” from 2015 and an earlier post from 2008 “Who will replace Mike Jaros.”

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!”

“good luck Harry and team!”

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,

XXXXXXXXX

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.

TUTORIAL ON A HARRY WELTY CAMPAIGN PART 5

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

21,000 steps and a mulch footnote

Crud.

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?

MY FORTY YEARS OF DNT REPORTERS AND EDITORS

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I WOKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO WRITE A FUND RAISING LETTER AND IT BECAME THIS EXTENDED STREAM-OF-THOUGHT PIECE ON MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE. PLEASE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT I HAVE NO DESIRE TO TIDY ITS 1903 WORDS UP WITH A COUPLE PROOF READINGS. IT IS AND WILL REMAIN IN ROUGH DRAFT CONDITION PROBABLY FOR AS LONG AS THIS BLOG CAN BE FOUND ON THE WEB. BTW – I RECOMMEND SKIPPING IT AND CUTTING TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH.

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

Duluth News Trib steals a page from the Duluth Reader and declares that…

… East High School is the best school in the area!

Except that the Reader’s ten-plus years of running a people’s choice awards issue didn’t have a category for best high school – thank goodness.

But the Trib does and its “Best of the Best” insert boasts that 59,404 votes determined the results. Now that’s not to mean that twice as many people voted for this popularity contest than will vote in the November 7th school board election. Hardly. They had about 185 categories so that any one person could have cast that many votes. If every voter in the survey had cast votes on all 185 categories each could have been decided by a mere 321 votes.

Of course, not everyone was very likely to cast a vote for the “Best chiropractor.” Who knows how many voted in that category at all.

Its incredibly obvious that the voting can be manipulated far more easily than Putin managed. Stuffed ballots would have been easy to pull off. Any Pizza place could have organized its fans and friends to do just that for the minutes of free publicity it would give them

As for East High “winning” – think about it. For the past twenty-five years East has been the biggest of three Duluth High Schools and currently has sixty percent more students than Denfeld. Furthermore, far more of them are likely to have parents who can afford to subscribe to the Trib. Winning for them was as easy to manage as my Dad’s intervention in the Washburn College May Day Queen vote. He was in Washburn’s Law school whose older students couldn’t have cared less about the undergraduate’s May Day festivities…except that his little sister, my Aunt Mary, was a contestant for her sorority. Someone had taken a picture of her in a fetching bathing suit and put it on a four by eight plywood board. My Dad simply had someone install it on the wall of the lawschool and all the lawyers-to-be fell over themselves to vote for the first time in Washburn’s May Day history.

But now its official. East High is the best high school in Duluth. Thanks Duluth News Tribune for frivolously and thoughtlessly interjecting more divisiveness in the Duluth Schools.

At least the Reader’s Best of the Northland Issue is a funky and tongue-in-cheek affair with off beat quotes from the people supporting their fiends or dissing their enemies. The Trib’s piece looks like slick, mindless, nonsense guaranteed only to get them more advertising dollars from the “winners.”

Catching up on Energy

I was exhausted last Wednesday after the Primary election when we rescheduled our Business meeting. I began hallucinating when we got to a turgid conversation about energy savings. I saw Loren Martell in the back of the room leave the meeting and I decided to leave the meeting and thank him for running despite his disappointing fifth place.

But then I decided I really didn’t have it in me to go back to the meeting. I could catch it later on youtube after all.

I didn’t even follow up the next day in reading Jana Hollingsworth’s story in the Trib. Its under a stack of partially digested Tribs in the corner of my office. I did hear from Art later that it was a good story. That’s quite a tribute from Art. Well I just read it and it is a good story about our District’s energy use. I recommend it.

I just finished listening to the hour I missed of the meeting. It was a very thorough discussion which is easier to consume in Jana’s story.

One point I’d like to harp on like the cranky guy I am – We were sold a bill of goods by Johnston Controls. Our energy savings are one-tenth what they predicted. The problem with this is that to make up for this we have had to cut staff which was our other means of making ends meet on JCI’s unfulfilled promises.

That’s not to say that JCI doesn’t know the energy business:

This is one of the photos I took of the Shanghai skyline. That soaring building on the far right is one that was equipped with JCI technology. Its impressive. I saw a PBS NOVA program about JCI’s role in building and equipping the air units. I guess its easier to fiddle with tiny little Duluth than the People’s Republic of China.

Good manners count – so to do donations

I was tied up much of the morning but I got an hour-and-a-half to pass out snow sculpture trading cards at Chester Bowl’s Fall Fest. I passed out roughly 250 cards. They went almost exclusively to children and I was impressed how nearly uniform their parents were in encouraging them go say thank you to me.

Like Minnesota Public Radio my campaign is always open to donations which can be made here on line.

I would like to think that I have many more potential helpers out there and I’ll start something of a drive for donations soon. More expenses are looming and I daren’t drop them if I want to have a chance to serve another term of office through 2020. Beat the drive. A lot of the kids who got my card had eyes that sparkled and even their parents couldn”t help but smile.

Well, I shudda known better than to boast

It turns out that Gary Westorff has me beat in his giving to school board candidates. His wife also gave Josh Gorham $500 making their joint contributions an impressive $1,500 for pro status quo candidates. If you don’t count the money I’ve spent on myself so far I’m behind Gary in funding candidates. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

So far the fundraising champ is Sally Trnka who has cash on hand, as of the latest report, of $3515 almost the equal of everything I’ve spent on my own campaign. She’s raised a close to a record $6100 to date for a Duluth School Board race. Not bad for a novice.

This is the first year I haven’t sent out a fundraising letter. I have about three weeks of literature to pass out so I’ll wait and see if my appeal (in the door to door piece I’ve been handing out) pans out. I need to make one more $400 dollar expenditure which will extend my lit dropping by another three weeks after that. I’ve got time to consider sending out a letter although my blog and the website serve that purpose as well.

My eight loyal readers have nearly doubled as the election season has started kicking into gear. I have, until 2016, always believed that voters make rational decisions when given ample information. Duluth voters have had forty years to size me up. They know my eccentricities. If I’m not reelected I’ll be relieved of the great burden of undoing the damage past school boards have done.

A critical email asked me recently what I had done for the Duluth Schools since my return to the Board – what educational initiatives I’d brought to the table or supported.

Before I jot down my reply I’d just like to note that for the first two years I was on the Board some modest inquiries for public data by Art Johnston and me brought about a two year Kangaroo Court persecution that embarrassed all of Duluth based on charges championed by the folks who are behind the candidates I haven’t been donating to. I was pretty busy defending the 2017 election results for those two years and had little time to visit schools or do anything useful. Nonetheless:

I pushed for more transparency in School Board actions leading to the videotaping of all of our meetings for the public to see at their leisure rather than at 4PM when many citizens are still at work.

I successfully helped replace rubber tire mulch that had our parents in a tizzy and giving them one more reason to open enroll their students elsewhere.

I helped conclude the best teacher’s contract possible with the very pro union majority on my school board.

I have cheered on Administrative attempts to better coach teachers.

I helped champion the work of Alanna Oswald which brought about the state’s intervention and funding to greatly help one of our struggling schools and, while they were at it, realigning our long neglected curriculum a requirement imposed upon us by the state of Minnesota.

I unsuccessfully, but forcefully, pushed for a more equitable spending of our funds for the western schools particularly the Compensatory Education funds meant for children on free and reduced lunch. Half a million of this is spent on eastern schools that do not generate the funds because they have a much smaller population of impoverished children.

I also tried to sell our costly empty old schools to get more money for our classrooms. Again, the same folks championing the candidates I have not been contributing to did everything they could to prevent these sales. This cost ISD 709 about $20 million dollars and cheated our students.

Oh to be in a majority! Check out the lawnsigns in my front yard……..when the construction crews leave.

I know, I know. You can only vote for two of these At-Large candidates. But you can’t miss with any of these three.

Gary Westorff has a grievance

Gary is one of the Education Minnesota union leaders and was rumored to be likely to file for the Duluth School Board election. He makes a lot of money representing the union. A friend complained to me today that the President of Education Minnesota makes $200,000 a year while the Minnesota Commissioner of Education only makes $150,000. I told my friend that this was probably true in every state in the nation.

I suspect Gary makes as much as the Commissioner. That may be why Education Minnesota is planning to raise dues in light of the Supreme Court case that may not go their way.

As you can see Westorff is angry that I claim to be a former teacher. In fact, I told the Editorial Board one of my chief motivations for being on the School Board was my utter failure as a teacher long ago when teachers were so common School District’s threw them in the water like suspected witches in Medieval times to see whether they would sink or swim.

I also made light of my credentials for the biography Education Reporter Jana Hollingsworth asked me to send her. I was surprised how safe I sounded like in her story for tomorrow compared to what I sent her. This is what she got from me and cleaned up to make me sound more respectable. As you can see I didn’t tout my being a great teacher:

Hello School Board candidates,

We are putting together a preview story to run before the Sept. 12 primary, and would like each of you to provide the following:

Age (this will run in September, 1-2 weeks before the primary, so consider an upcoming birthday)

I was born in 1950 which makes me 66 years of age. I’ve outlived my Father by four years.

Occupation

Unsuccessful, long retired teacher, unpublished author, Stay-at-home Dad, Politician who lost 13 of 16 previous elections, If it’s true that we learn from our mistakes mine is a formidable intellect.

Family situation if applicable (partner or spouse, kids and where they go to school, for example)

Grandfather of two boys aged 7 and 10 who attend Northstar Academy. Father of two graduates of East High School, one a teacher in Two Harbors, the other in his last year of doctoral studies in Physics and Chemistry at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. Also, a heavy cross for my better half, Claudia Scott Welty, to bear.

By the way – I am donating to the serious school board candidates who know something of what our District faces and are tough minded and honest enough to win over our public to the cause of fixing the problems past school boards have inflicted on our children. I have put my money where my mouth is. So far half of my yearly stipend for being a school board member has been donated to them.

Gary is a generous contributor as well. So far he’s given Rosie Loeffler-Kemp $500 but he’ll have to dig deeper than that into his six figure income to match me.

NOTE: The Welty campaign could use a little help. Consider donating here at: http://www.weltyforschoolboard.com/