Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

Thank you’s

Years ago I attended some session during which a presenter made a good suggestion. She warned her listeners that it was easy to get discouraged and she suggested that we all collect thank yous and such. She thought that when we got down we could look in the old thank yous and remind ourselves that we weren’t such bad folks.

Until I got on the School Board in 1996 my little sunshine folder wasn’t very big. Then I started reading to classrooms.

I haven’t really looked at this box closely but last night I spread all the thank yous out on my office floor to make a little campaign video for a campaign webpage.

I don’t know if it will be ready before I fly off to Florida in a couple days to wish my Father-in-law a happy 90th birthday but it brought back a lot of nice memories. One of my thank yous was in braille.

Darwin, Einstein, Archimedes…

…Save the Earth and eat your wheaties!

That was my chant at today’s Duluth Earth Day/Science day march.

I only shouted it once but even my wife and daughter laughed.

This was my third march in a year since Trump’s election – the third in fact since Vietnam. It was a lovely day for the 1200 marchers. I took a couple of cell phone pics.

This post is about my first march since Vietnam.

The second March was January 27th’s Woman’s March.

Beezus and the code talkers

Beverly Cleary was six days shy of turning one year’s old when the United States Congress voted to go to war against Germany and join World War 1. She turned 101 two days ago and I was greatly surprised to learn of her age. Her Books about Beezus and Ramona were read to our children and, had I been a reader myself, I would no doubt have read them in grade school. She published her first children’s book in 1950 as I was finishing up my gestation. I was 41 when I published mine. The less said about that the better.

I made sure to watch all three episodes of PBS’s American Experience on the Great War Monday through Wednesday. It was an excellent series. You can watch it here.

I knew that my Grandfather’s Infantry Regiment would be highlighted and so on the second night I waited eagerly to see if the historian Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons would be interviewed. I was not at all surprised, but delighted none-the-less, when he made his first of several appearances to talk about the role of African-American soldiers. I texted him my congratulations and he texted back that he had only a limited role in the production.

Dr. Sammons wrote The authoritative book on the Harlem Hellfighters or as he corrected the Harlem Rattlers which is what they called themselves. I’ve mentioned him a couple of times on the blog because he was commissioned to do some research on my Grandfather for a speech he delivered on Leap Day last year. (which launched my current drive to write a book about him.)

On Wednesday night I had my grandson’s over and let them watch the first few minutes of the last installment before they headed off to bed. The next morning I was able to tell my older Grandson, who has a little Choctaw inheritance, something that was new to me. The Americans found their cable telephone lines tapped into by the Germans who could listen in on their planning and thwart their plans of attack. When one American officer overheard two Choctaw troops speaking in their first language he asked them what they were doing. Both of the Choctaws froze expecting to be reprimanded. One recalled going to a school where the teachers washed children’s mouths out with soap for not speaking in English. Instead the officer put them on the telephones to confound the Germans.

I had known about “code talkers” in the Second world war but this was new. Not even the Army forgets a good idea.

singing with positivitity

Loren Martell has once again covered our latest School Board meeting in the Reader. I make a couple of his paragraphs:

Mr. Welty referenced a story in the “bygones” section of the Duluth News Tribune about the State test results from 1997. The paper apparently reported, according to member Welty, that 20 years ago “81% of Duluth’s ninth graders had reached math skills suitable for the adult world, and 87% of our ninth graders had achieved reading skills that were necessary for the adult world…So my challenge to you (addressing Tawnyea Lake, the district’s Director of Assessment, Evaluation and Performance) would be this: if you could find some reference to these test results…and see if there is some way to let us know how our ninth graders are doing by these particular measurements, I would appreciate it…”

I am doing what I can to fight the negativity. I brought my grandsons to meet the family of our new CFO, Doug Hasler, Wednesday night. They’ve been in town scouting for houses and Doug invited the Board members over for an ice cream social at the home they were staying at down on Park Point. (Ahem, Denfeld attendance area)

I sang a couple bars of Gary Indiana with Mrs. Hassler when I learned it was her hometown. They’re all Hoosiers. Then I chided her for not forcing her kids to see the Meredith Wilson musical, Music Man, that features the song.

My grandsons ate their fill of ice cream and happily played fooseball down in the basement while we Board members explained the finer points of collecting agates to Doug’s older kids.

PS. our Grandsons enjoyed the Music Man when they saw it with us and Jacob asked me to sing Till there was You a couple times before bed…….of course, he also liked me to sing him songs about people getting killed – Joe Hill, Tom Dooley, Frankie and Johnny.

Principles before Principals – The rush to war

I’m two days late mentioning the centenary of America’s entry into World War 1. For the next 20 or so months I’ll be reminding myself of my Grandfather’s service in that war. Maybe I’ll even write a book about him which will cover the subject. I just peaked into the news clippings I printed out from Newspaper.com earlier in the year and the first mention of his joining the service that I found was August 11th of 1917 in the Salina Evening Journal. Two weeks later the Topeka Daily Capital published a story that should have made the folks at Great Bend, Kansas burst their buttons with pride. The Capital reports that, “Every man on the teaching staff last year with the exception of the City Superintendent has been accepted in one of the two training camps.” Among the new volunteers was my Grandfather George S. Robb.

That had not been my Grandfather’s prewar plan. There was a short announcement in the Salina Daily Union a month earlier on June 4. “Mr.[George]Robb taught in the Iola High school the past season and will be the principal of the Great Bend high school next year.”

All the books I’ve been reading to Claudia about China must have put her travel bug into high gear. We’re still a hundred days before we fly off to China but she asked me where we ought to go next. I teased her about getting ahead of ourselves but it occurs to me that I’ve always wanted to tromp around the battlefields near Sechault, France. September of 2018 would be the hundredth anniversary of the actions at that village that led to the awarding of his Congressional Medal of Honor. That would be a sweet little trip.

Chinese Bibliophiles

Again. A weekend with plenty of thinking and very little posting. Actually on Friday I spent a couple hours writing in an attempt to tie my reading on China today with America’s Gilded Age that I’ve also been reading about. One quick take away – plutocrats were a dime a dozen in both times and places. Another take away. American Government was in shambles. Is that true of one party China today? There certainly is a lot of order in Confucian China but there is much that is also unsettled. Anyway, I spent another couple hours tinkering with Friday’s work on Saturday before shelving it. I might post a vastly shrunken post on it later.

As for the rest of Saturday. I devoted it to China.

I long ago discovered that China was the other half of world history. I have a good handle on everything else but the Chinese language makes it hard for Chinese names to take seed in my brain.

I began keeping track of my serious book reading in 1979 when I read by far the largest number of books in a single year -30 of them. I’m not sure I’ve ever read as much as ten books in subsequent years. I occasionally bought books on China but I rarely got around to reading them. I got 53 pages into “A Short History of the Chinese People.” Taking it out again Saturday to see what I had previously yellowed out with a marker I found this:

“…Wang succeeded in cornering almost all the gold in circulation both within the empire and abroad. Even faraway Rome felt the drain, Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) prohibiting the wearing of silk because it was bought with Roman gold.”

I spent a couple hours on Saturday beginning Chinese for Dummies and finally understand the tonal system of Mandarin that I had mistakenly thought was strictly pitch based as in Do-Ray-Me. Time will tell how far I much I will pick up in the 107 days before I travel east. I finished reading the Osnos book to Claudia and began a book by Frank Ching I’d bought twenty years ago but through which I’d never gotten further than the prologue. I bought it for $4.98 on a remainder pile because it looked interesting. Indeed it is. Unlike the last two books on China in the 2000’s, Ching got in on China at the opening of China immediately after Mao as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

His book is not about China as it is today, although that comes through, but about his research into his Chinese Ancestors who have published histories (that escaped the book burnings of the Cultural Revolution) going back to the time of the Norman Conquest of England just shy of 1000 years ago. He begins with the grave he discovered of one of his earliest ancestors Qin (Chin) Guan. As I read it I couldn’t help but wonder if he was tied in with another Chinese personage I’d once bought a book about Su Tungpo. I’d never read far into “The Gay Genius” when I bought it for ten bucks thirty years ago from Atlantic World Books on 209 E. Superior Street in Duluth. It has a glowing recommendation of Pearl S. Buck on its book jacket which probably enticed me to purchase it. Frank Ching using the pinyin system writes the poet’s name as Su Dongbo. Su was Mr. Ching’s Great Grandfather’s times 33 muse and mentor. I’ll have to traverse over 800 pages to cover both books but I’ve pushed on with Frank Ching’s largely because it will cover one family line through the last 900 years of Chinese History. Its my latest read-a-loud to Claudia.

If China is to surpass the American economy in my lifetime I owe it to my curious self to find out more about this behemoth. Its been on my radar for fifty years since I got into an argument with my Gymnastic’s coach after practice waiting for a bus home. He interfered in a debate I was having with my Sioux-Norwegian Gymnastic teammate who subsequently married a Korean woman (Or was she Chinese?) and went into the Foreign Service from which he recently retired.

Claudia and I are making a little room in a downstairs bookshelf for all these books. Her reading list includes three Amy Tan novels and Life and Death in Shanghai while mine includes The Rape of Nanking and the Sons of the Yellow Emperor about the Chinese “diaspora.” Somewhere I also have a book on the Ming Era fleet that traveled to Africa a few decades ahead of the Portuguese. And of course, there is Wild Swans which I read to Claudia a couple years ago.

The Rape of Nanking

WDIO’s reporter, Julie Kruse, called me as I was adding another two books to “my reading list.” More on the books momentarily.

Today’s ongoing story in the Trib had caught Julie’s attention and the public’s apprehension about our superintendency has too. I gave her some background info and agreed to go on record so she and a cameraman zipped down for a quick interview. I had joked with her in advance that my inclination was to be more evasive than anything else and I tried to hew to that goal on camera.

I was wearing my wolf slippers when she came to the door and holding a stack of books on China. I explained I bought them the new feet with my grandsons at the Wisconsin Dells’ Great Wolf Water Park. Then I explained that I had gathered my books on China together to prepare for a summer trip to the same. Julie asked about the title “Rape of Nanking” which didn’t exactly sound like a travel guide.

The first of the books I entered on my old webpage was the one about the 1920 election. I powered through it and then today found the goodreads website which included almost 100 reviews from readers. Most enjoyed it as much as I did although a few quibbled about the gossipy things in it. Not me. I found FDR’s attempt to hush up the seamiest actions he took as Secretary of the Navy instructive. And when author, Pietrusza, commented archly that divorce rates had tripled in the decades leading up to 1920 so that by that date 1% of marriages had been sundered I appreciated that insight on the Era which was about to plunge into the Roaring Twenties.

I also added the book by Evan Osnos about China’s Age of Ambition to the list even though I still have about 50 pages to finish. Claudia and I have been tearing through it and it has taken some darker turns in the last couple of chapters. Among my unread Chinese related books was “Ancestors” by Frank Ching. I bought it on sale twenty years ago but it looks like just the book to take me back a thousand years into Chinese History. And last night I reread the prologue to Mr. Speaker so I’ll revisit that book about America’s Gilded Age.

All of these books are fodder to help me understand why we are the way we are today. From the preface of Mr. Speaker:

“The party labels of Reed’s day may seem now as if they were stuck on backwards. At that time, the GOP was the party of active government, the Democratic party, the champion of Laissez-faire. The Republicans’s sage was Alexander Hamilton the Democrats’ Thomas Jefferson. The Republicans condemned the Democrats for their parsimony with public funds, the Democrats arraigned the Republicans for their waste and extravagance. …..and what…constituted extravagance in federal spending? …a building to house the overcrowded collection of the Library of Congress.”

As one tidbit to support this I’ll note a news story from the Gilded Age which I found online last year. It mentioned my Republican Grandfather, Thomas Robb, and his neighbors taking the Santa Fe railroad to court for overcharging them. I know whose side Donald Trump would have taken.

Yesterday in threadbare detail

Yesterday I finished a couple more chapters in my 1920 book, did my Sing thing and then attended the Clayton Jackson McGhie Dinner at Greysolon Plaza.

I learned in the book that women had the right to vote in four Eastern States until 1807, which I couldn’t recall having heard before. It was part of the background in the 1920 book which had a marvelous twenty-page chapter describing how the Woman’s voting amendment passed a couple months before the November Presidential Election.

At the Sing thing I saw a recently retired school board member. We both did a superlative job of avoiding eye contact with one another.

At CJM I sat next to a current Board member who proceeded to chat me up for the first time in three years of our serving together.

I also exchanged a big hug with my old now school board ally, Mary Cameron. We were once thick as thieves until our differences over the Red Plan clouded our former alliance. We’ve gotten over that and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Ideas when they are like mosquitoes

I’ve been spilling my thoughts out the past couple days with the same sort of orderliness one slaps oneself while standing in a swarm of mosquitoes. Reading four non-fiction books in short order has only added to the swarm of ideas that I’ve been swatting at. The 1920 Book has taken me through the GOP’s Chicago convention and dropped me off in San Francisco about to follow the Democrat’s quagmire. The book on China today left me with a rebuttal of sorts to my recent suggestion that a China that can’t take a joke (or criticism) can’t hope to surpass America. In fact, the last chapter described a millennial who has been dissing Chinese culture and politics for eight years and has a huge following on the Internet. Of course, the Chinese Communists are now insisting on choosing Hong Kong’s new leader twenty years after Britain handed its old colony back to the Mainland. (Claudia reminded me that we were in England with our kids when that took place.)

Today, I hope to get two things done. I’d like to read some more about 1920 America. In much the same way that visiting Israel last year put a match under my toes to finally read the Old Testament I’m getting more serious about reading good historical books about every decade from my Grandfather’s birth in 1887 until my youth when he advised me never to vote for a Democrat.

To that end I have a number of books I’d like to dig into. Next I may read the rest of Mr. Speaker. I only got through the first 79 pages of the 378 page tome five or six years ago…wait…Ah my search engine found it….three years ago. Thomas B. Reed brought order to chaos during the Gilded Age taking an unruly House of Representatives, not unlike today’s, and putting it to good use before its members spit him out like a prune pit. This was a time when America had relatively weak Presidents and the Robber Barons were in charge. Reed has always interested me since Junior High when I read John Kennedy’s spare history Profiles in Courage and saw Reed awarded one of JFK’s nominations for greatness.

The other thing I’d like to do is find the bass parts for tomorrow’s sing-a-long at St. Scholastica. They are on the Internet and I’d like to get in a little practice. I have the sheet music but I learn better by ear.

I also have to add one more post about another difficulty the old Red Plan school board has placed on the current board’s shoulders. That’s next.

Paranoia Pt 1

……………………………Pages………Hits………Bandwidth

ph Philippines ph…… 13,847.. 14,925…. 296.13 MB

us United States us… 6,761…. 12,671….. 436.29 MB

cn China cn…………….. 2,858….. 2,872….. 13.08 MB

Looking at my blog stats this morning put this frosting on the cake of my thoughts about paranoia. a subject occasionally touched in this blog. Its been sort of a lifelong nuisance nipping at my heels. My son is inclined to think there was a conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination. I think the only conspiracy was the rush to hide the intelligence services ineptitude in hiding their role in keeping track of assassin Oswald. But that’s OK. He gave up on social sciences long ago so he’s welcome to whatever theories about politics he wants.

So, about these stats.

These are the top locations that viewers of my blog are hailing from. They don’t necessarily represent human eyes. For instance I can think of no good reason many people in the Philippines would visit my blog other than by accident. Most of the numbers “pages” and “hits” represent Internet robots searching for whatever they have been programmed to take note of. Perhaps the Philippines has lots of servers for clients all over the world. I think the stats from the US represent a much closer tie to my actual readers most of whom presumably come from Duluth. As for China…….

Well, I haven’t forgotten recent posts about the books I’ve been reading about China. They have emphasized what I’ve heard in the news. China does a very thorough job of scrubbing things out of the Internet that they don’t want chinese citizens to read and chief among these would be any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. Well, if the Chinese paranoia police are anything like the Trumpista’s hope to be, able to spot any anti-americanism on Muslim’s Internet connections they may have already noted my visa application to visit China and paired it to my blog. I doubt that they have……..yet……..but who knows.

If I was a Syrian wishing to get a green card to the US I’d be out of luck. As a tourist wishing to spend some of my Greenbacks sailing down the Yangtze, well maybe the Chinese would let me in.

I’ve got a meeting in half an hour to deal with paranoia in Duluth……lets see if I can get a start on paranoia #2 before I have to leave.

Flint – lost and found

A few weeks ago I gave my youngest grandson a small box of arrowheads for show and tell. Five were black flint found near Assaria, Kansas, on or near my Great Grandfather’s farm by my grandfather and his older brothers. One was a dubious arrowhead I found as a kid on a beach at a Topeka, Kansas, reservoir. The last was a white flint arrowhead I found in a state park in Arkansas. Apparently they came home but where they are now is anyone’s guess. They were lost track of and I am trying to reconcile myself to their loss. They were just stuff as they were to the Native Americans who left them behind. But I belong to the age of collectors and they were one of hundreds of ties to my family’s past and I rue losing them.

A week ago I pulled out a jacket that I bought hastily last year the night before we jetted off for our peace study in Israel. I also bought some slacks because I learned we would attend at least one Sabbath worship service where jeans would be looked on disapprovingly. The jacket was just like the one I saw being worn by one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s security detail when his party walked into a restarurant Claudia and I were at. Except that I’d bought a jacket at least a size too small. Today, less than a year afterward, the zipper is broken.

When I pulled it out of the closet I felt a bulge in an upper pocket and pulled out a piece of flint. I had found it at the huge Jewish cemetary facing Jerusalem. The graves were covered with stones left by mourners. They were some kind of token of remembrance. I carefully picked one off the ground rather than remove one from a grave. It appeared that the lot of the stones was to be repeatedly placed on new graves and washed off by rains only to be recycled over and over. Like the arrowheads they were only necessary for a short duration and not kept, as I had been doing, for posterity.

The arrowheads may turn up again but I suspect that’s not going to happen. I suspect the flint from Jerusalem will some day end up in one of my boxes of rocks and agates with no identification about its origen. There ought to be a good metaphor about life in this anecdote but I can’t put my finger on it at the moment. Maybe that itself is some sort of a metaphor.

“Best of Enemies” – Still a good movie 55 years on

I have mentioned the old David Niven flick Best of Enemies half a dozen times now in the blog. It is not to be confused with the more recent movie chronicaling the several decade-long feud between conservative icon William F. Buckley and his liberal alter-ego Gore Vidal.

Well, as with the Coach Klar posts my recollections proved faulty. The Italian and British soldiers did switch sides being captors and prisoners but there were no German Armies that brought them together. Their battles took place in an even more remote theater of the African War than the Sahara. This story was placed in Ethiopia. After years of looking for the movie I discovered over the weekend that someone uploaded it to youtube in the last year. Its free to watch although it was broken up into two halves. I presume this was done to more easily upload it.

The movie came out in 1961 when I was ten and I’m sure that when I watched it on television it was in black and white and cut down from the letterbox format to a squarish size to fit on our old tv.

There was an third force that upended the Brits and the Italians but it wasn’t the Wehrmacht. It was the Ethiopians themselves. In case anyone is inclined to search it out I won’t offer any further spoilers.

I enjoyed the movie this time too but I enjoyed it as much for its historical perspective. In the real war there would have been no love lost between the two European powers but by 1960 Great Britain and Italy were allies not enemies. You see much the same generosity of spirit in American movies set in post war Japan that were filmed in that Era. The old hostilities were being smoothed over even though plenty of American And British soldiers had deep scars from their encounters with the Japanese and other members of the Axis.

Getting to Maybe, a lunch-time anecdote

One of my favorite people was Jean Gornik. She ran the Damiano Center and I blame/give credit to her for starting me singing in public.

I was reminded of Jean after our meeting with Holly Sampson at Glen Avon this morning. As Claudia and I hashed over the subject of the oportunity gap, Claudia mentioned that she had been reading about Gornik in a book for her Religious Classes. I’d heard of it before, Getting to Maybe.

The passage about Duluth starts on page 176 and gave me some dates I’d wondered about. I recall cooking and serving lunches one Friday each month starting in the Reagan Era hard times. Sure enough, the book mentioned that the soup kitchen began ladeling out food in 1982. I continued serving lunch with other Glen Avon Presbyterian volunteers until 1998 when Damiano handed over the cooking to people it was training in as chefs. That program was defunded a couple years later and I resumed my place on the serving line.

I’m not sure if I began singing to Jean in the old or new millenia but she told me she was an Italian, despite her married name, and that she loved Frank Sinatra. I began belting out lines of “Strangers in the Dark” and other songs by that generation’s many Italian/American singers to amuse Jean and the folks lining up for lunch.

I have branched out beyond “Amore” but I can still ruin a good lunch.

“I am on a data privacy kick”

My Buddy twitted (as opposed to tweeted) me with this response to my third paragraph in the last post:

“9AM [meeting] was strictly personal with a financial advisor. Sorry, Data private.”

“That an elected official, who purports to be “liberal” and “progressive”, would say that, puzzles me. Did he mean to implicitly flaunt his wealth, by suggesting that the magnitude of it is such that he needs a financial advisor; or did he inadvertently and implicitly admit that he is not capable of managing his financial affairs by himself?

Your Buddy”

I replied in all good humor:

“I am on a data privacy kick, [Buddy]”

Now, in all seriousness,let me offer up a more candid answer to my “eight loyal readers” (including my “Buddy”)

I am on a data privacy kick. a real one. In a few minutes I am going to continue reviewing the billing from the Rupp firm. In fact, I wrote up a post and was just about to push the upload button when I realized I wanted to recheck one particular detail to make sure I wasn’t about to spout some Donald Trump level rubbish.

As to what my readers might conclude by my tease about visiting a financial advisor I’ll be blunt. I consider myself rich. I’ve considered myself rich since I was in elementary school even though it could have been said of me I was born with a stainless steel spoon in my mouth. I know people with a lot more money than me who would not consider themselves rich.

By the way, I tell people I married well. I haven’t dared squander the wealth my better half earned for us both. Had it been up to me I’d likely have blown it all on futile campaigns for public office. Instead, I had to be creative to be the successful “perennial candidate” that the editorial board of the Trib like’s to poke in the ribs every so often.

As to fiscal management let me say this. My Dad was an attorney. He always told me that anyone in court who acts as his own attorney had a fool for a client. Perhaps the same could be said of someone with a little money acting as his/her own tax and finance expert.

My comfort is on my mind especially as it contrasts with the poverty of children I have some responsibility for educating as one in seven votes on the Duluth School Board. Last night I attended the meeting at Denfeld which was written up in today’s Trib.

This morning our church men’s group had Holly Sampson as a guest speaker to talk about the “opportunity gap” between poor and rich children. She explained what the Duluth Superior Foundation is doing to help our community bridge that gap.

It is inspired by this book by Robert Putnam who did some of his research in Duluth:

Buddy,

I’ve been in noblesse oblige mode since I was a little kid and heard about the holocaust. I’ve tried to carry out this mission without too much saccharine, “nanny state,” bloviating. I started out trying to do this as a moderate Republican. I know I don’t always succeed in the platitude department and I sure as Hell failed doing it as a Republican.

And by the way, I wish I knew a lot more about Donald Trump’s financial tenticals with Putin and a lot of other rascals around the world. I ran for Congress twice and had to spill my financial beans out to the whole world each time. Trump……Not so much. Do some googling. I’m sure you could find my old records someplace if you’re curious.

Foresight, what might have been, and temper tantrums

I slaved off-and-on from 5 AM until midnight yesterday to whittle nonsense riddled old posts from 700 offenders to about 80 left today. It’s mind numbing work made bareable by interesting discoveries. Its been entertaining to review my early writings in Lincolndemocrat. I just read this one showing the letter I would be sending out announcing my candidacy for the School Board in 2007

The post reassured me that I have a powerful, if imperfect, Bullpoop detector.

The School Board told Duluth that the Red Plan would practically pay for itself. Now a decade after I began blogging about the Red Plan most readers will appreciate the fiscal twaddle handed us. Why it wasn’t the building plan that would be expensive! It was the exorbitant and unnecessary costs of holding a referendum on the plan that the School Board wanted to spare taxpayers.

Here’s a couple paragraphs I put in the letter:

Raising $437 million in taxes through deception is a lousy way to run a school district. Read the beginning of my testimony to the State Board of Education last week.

“According to the information coming out of JCI and the Duluth School District the average Duluth household will only pay between $9 and $11 per month in property taxes if the Red Plan is adopted for a maximum of $132 annually. Let’s test this.

If you multiply $11 dollars, by 12 months and then multiply that by 20 years you get $2,240 per household. If you assume that there are 2.5 people per household this would result in $896 in taxes for the average resident of the Duluth school district over the course the Red Plan.

But if you multiply this average individual tax burden by the 94,000 residents of the Duluth School District the resultant taxes over twenty years would yield only $84,224,000 a far cry from the $437 million it will take to finance the Red Plan.

If you simply divide the $437,000,000 figure by the District’s 94,000 residents, you come up with a considerably higher per person tax over twenty years – $4,649. As some wag once said, “figures never lie, liar’s figure.”

My letter explains how I will have to get elected to the Board to put the breaks on the Red Plan. What happened in that campaign was that I was ambushed three days before election day and defamed by a vicious misrepresentation about my early career as a school board member. Had I been elected I could have tipped the balance on the Board and helped put the Red Plan up for a vote and, if it failed, I could have helped craft a more modest building program and insured that it was sold with credible financial analysis rather than snake oil.

That is my prologue for a little discourse on my tantrum about reviewing the Rupp law firm’ legal billing. It worked. The invoices will be made available for me to peruse this afternoon. School Board member Art Johnston chimed in by sending our new CFO his official data request for the same info which was never honored. Back when Art’s request was ignored we had five board members who tried to remove Art so apparently state law could be brushed off. We have a new school board and I’ll be damned if this public data will be withheld any longer. At my election I was given the fiduciary responsibility for overseeing our school district’s finances and administration.

I was ambushed again at this week’s school board meeting. The majority orchestrated an unexpected motion to retain Kevin Rupp’s firm for the Duluth School District. To say I was enraged puts it mildly.

I’ll share a hideous and despicable example of the legal advice of our counselor, Kevin Rupp, recommended to the Board members wishing to remove Art Johnston. (I was serving on the Board at the time and this advice was not provided to me for my input) This was passed on to me by an unimpeachable source.

Rupp’s plan was to take an ambiguous and, as it turned out, inaccurate story about Art making racist statements and add it to a list of other dubious accusations. Hearing that Art would be accused of being a full-throttle racist horrified Mike. He protested that it was a terrible thing to do but Rupp prevailed and Mern went along with the plan.

For the next year every headline in the Duluth News Tribune shouted that Art was an accused racist. It’s no wonder that after a year of such treatment, news or not, Art is no fan of the Trib or of the system that perpetuated such a hideous lie. Hell, Art has served on the board of the NAACP for several years.

Discovering that our Board was willing to ignore my principled objections and distrust of the man made my flesh crawl. I would be willing to burn down Old Central in order to read the bills for the hundred grand-plus we paid Rupp’s firm to turn our school board and district into a laughing stock for a long two years.

Today those bills are waiting “downtown” for me to peruse this afternoon.

The Good Donald Trump

I had every intention of watching President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress last evening. Instead, I got Trumped by the School Board. We altered our February schedule so we could meet on the last Tuesday of February rather than the third Tuesday. And, as I’ve explained, our new more amicable Board pulled a Trump on me without warning. They rehired our oily, Machiavellian attorney, Kevin Rupp, whose practice has pioneered the removal of school board members who ask too many questions and bother their Superintendents.

So, I’m only catching up on Trump’s speech that today’s commentators are explaining was a traditional stick-to-the-teleprompter affair. (I gave a couple of those myself last night sans teleprompter.) But I haven’t changed my mind about our new President or the staff he has surrounded himself with – a staff that I think Attorney Rupp would find very agreeable.

An an old highschool acquaintance of mine and I recently “friended” each other on Facebook. Sue sent me a post this morning from the Guardian Newspaper that helps cement my contempt for our new “Common letcher and Chief.” Coincidentally, it involves an author whose book I plan to read at Lakewood Elementary next week. Its author is Australian, Mem Fox.

Last year when I read at Lakewood they asked me to read a book on forestry and suggested Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax. This year they are talking about recipes and asked if I had anything that might fit that topic for which I could bring a recipe for the students. I thought of Pavlova.

I love visiting book stores in other nations to see what local authors are writing for children. In England decades ago I discovered the charming book Five Minutes Peace. Four years ago in Australia I discovered Mem Fox among others.

My old classmate, Sue, sent me this disspiriting story about Mem’s latest trip to America and the moment she “loathed” America.

Thank you Mr. President. You have more than made up for the awful Nobel Peace Prize that those ditzy Norwegians gave President Barack Obama when he was beginning his administration.

Harry’s an unhappy camper.

It’s not quite midnight and I want to vent. Our School Board meeting went on till 10:30 PM by far the latest since I rejoined the Board. Only a couple issues consumed the night. We began early with a Committee of the Whole to discuss our next year’s budget at 5 PM. It was an excellent meeting which ended with 15 minutes to spare before the 6:30 School Board meeting. The school board meeting began with a long parade of parents, many advocating for a seven period day. Even they had to wait for some presentations of worthy students and teachers.

There were two long discussions. The first began when Alanna Oswald offered an amendment that on hearing I thought ordered a mandated 7 period day to begin in September of 2017. I was not alone judging by the panicked looks of several administrators. I immediately wrote down a substitute motion that backed off a full seven-hour day next fall but instead directed that we spend more money in our western elementary schools as a downpayment on our attempt to bring them equity. Art seconded my motion so I could discuss my alternative. The video is up on youtube, all 4 glorious hours of it. Tomorrow I’ll figure out when the discussion began give you the time signature.

Ditto the hottest discussion of the night that has left me wanting to vent. The Board on a 4-3 vote decided to keep employing Kevin Rupp’s Law firm. His name shows up in no less than 37 previous posts going back to March of 2009. I made clear my antipathy to him at our January meeting and was heartened when it appeared there would be support to find an alternative law firm. Once it became apparent tonight that Rosie and Annie, who’s unsupported allegations helped make our first two years a nightmare and the Board a laughing stock, were going to keep their attorney all good will left our meeting. Rupp’s law firm was retained despite my vehement objections. I warned the Board that if I was elected to the Board next fall and part of a majority I would sever our ties with Rupp’s firm. I further warned that if Rupp was used, as he has been in the past, to represent us in our all-imporant teacher contract talks I would have him removed no matter how far along those negotiations were. We still have the Ratwik firm, a big fancy Twin Cities law firm, to provide us a negotiator.

My grievances are legion. I was barred from the negotiations shortly after I got elected and Rupp did nothing. He is the Superintendent’s attorney, not the School Boards and I have been publicly insulted by him during a school board meeting; prevented from meeting with him; been denied access to his billing to see where $160,000 of the taxpayers money was spent on his firm’s services. Art was denied a formal data request for other mateials. I recently began writing up a sorry history of the many African Americans who were removed from our administration with Kevin Rupp’s assistance. And this “professional” had the nerve to say that Art Johnston said racist things. He belongs in the White House with Steven Bannon. Am I making myself clear?

I’ll give it a rest for now and fix old blog posts. I’m too worked up to go to sleep and I need to sleep on the subject of Kevin Rupp. Loren Martell will likely cover this in the next Duluth Reader but not till the second Friday in March – ten days from now.

’ Blog Housekeeping

For several years I’ve been greatly annoyed that bugs sneaked into my blog posts. They are punctuation bugs. Maybe you’ve noticed them especially if you’ve followed my search function to older posts. They are especially common from the time I began serving for my third term in 2014. I still don’t know what caused them to replace simple apostrophes and quotation marks.

Its harder to fathom what President’s means than President’s or School Board’s compared to School Board’s.

Over the past couple years I’ve gone back and corrected some of the old posts when I myself linked back to them. But there are about 900 such posts and I used a lot of apostrophes.

I have found a slow and fairly tedious way to correct the mistakes one by one. I’ve spent the last half hour correcting about seven of the exasperating posts. I’ll keep working on it as this blog is my primary means of communicating and Harry’s blog reads so much better than Harry’s blog.

OMG A new check suggests I have 6000 posts with the strange hieroglyphics.

I have always suspected that one botched attempt to fix of this blog turned all those apostrophe’s and quote marks into weird things. Ditto hyphens. 6,000 corrupted pages is almost 1/4th of ten years work. Sheesh!