Son of an attorney

I have spent a lot of time since my interview with Attorney Mary Rice typing up a rough draft of my own interview of a black ISD 709 employee who appears to have been badly treated. She also wanted my interview notes:

This is the email I sent her to accompany my notes and typed recollections of the meeting.

Mary,

As per my promise these are pdfs of my six pages of notes from an interview with XXXX XXXXXX and my more extensive typed story based on these notes.

You will  see that the typed notes begin with a preface explaining that the typoed notes are not to be considered the final story and my plan to check with XX. XXXXXX to make corrections and amendments. If and when I amend my story I will supply that final version to you should your investigation still be in progress.

To the extent that it is possible for a witness to find an interview with an attorney agreeable I have enjoyed our interaction. That is, of course, immaterial to the reason for the interview. I regard the investigation that we are engaged in as assinine. I will continue to report on this investigation in my own peculiar and unorthodox fashion by blog. I presume you will be appriaised of any comments I make about the investigatioin in www.lincolndemocrat.com which may bear on your further investigations.

I will be heading out on a trip to visit my son in St. Louis tomorrow but hope to locate my notes on the meeting I had with Supt. Gronseth, Bill Hanson and Tim Sworsky. I do not know if I will be able to produce a similar typed version of my fuller recollections of that meeting before I return to Duluth next Tuesday. Give me time and I will send them to you.

Wishing you success at uncovering the truth

Harry Welty
Duluth School Board member

Son of an attorney
Admirer of many attorneys especially Abe Lincoln

Mary replied succinctly:

Thank you Harry

I got off easy

I was wrung out after nearly two hours of being interviewed by Attorney Mary Rice. Art Johnston spent five hours with her today. That’s about a grand or two in legal costs.

I told Art that she seemed OK to me and that I detected no bias (although, of course, I can’t shuck off the suspicions I’ve outlined in earlier posts about Attorney Rupp’s priority in this investigation). Art came away feeling much the same as me. Mary Rice, however much her work costs the District, seems to be even handed. Of course, With the lame case brought against Art Johnston its hard to see any reason for her to lean hard against Art’s side. There is no other side. Its only smoke and mirrors.

And boy oh boy, did Art ever tell me a funny story about how one of the Board members tried to have him arrested a couple years ago. Three cops were called to Old Central to arrest a “trespasser.” The trespasser was Art and when he told the police he was a school board member they seemed pretty befuddled. Apparently she still hasn’t given up on the idea of getting Art sent to jail.

Along came Mary pt. 3

I ended by telling Mary that I thought the big unspoken issue in this investigation is the provocation of Art Johnston. I spell it out in my fundraising letter.

She was very interested in the notes I told her I took (but did not type out) after meeting with Bill Gronseth and his subordinates when I advised him that he was getting terrible political and financial advice. I told her I would type them up and give them to her. She seemed to wince a bit. I think she didn’t want me to type them up. Ditto notes I took from an employee who was treated so badly she stands as a beacon of racial discrimination and mistreatment by the Duluth Schools.

Its a story every bit as sorry as the one about Jane Bushey’s persecutor.

I expect Kevin Rupp to be sharing all these interviews with Supt. Gronseth immediately to warn him how to defend the District. I hope I’m wrong.

Along came Mary pt. 2

As Mary Rice handed me my legal disclaimer to sign indicating that I understood all this secrecy rigamarole I handed her my four page fundraising letter telling her that it was a good summation of my thoughts. She skimmed it.

She had her laptop out and typed as she asked questions and while her recorded got my spoken answers. My mind doesn’t much feel like trying to recall all the lines of questions because I drank too much coffee yesterday afternoon and got barely any sleep last night. I’ve got a school board meeting in an hour and it was all I could do to read the old minutes.

I told her I was eager to read what she had to say when her report came out since we were voting tonight to treat Art as a politician with all the warts visible rather than an employee vulnerable to lots of accusations but with no data to support it……the manure on the barn wall to discredit him publically.

Frankly, I have no confidence that any of this testimony will ever make it public. Mary offered no such assurances. As I told her I’m offended that the glory of American law…the accused’s ability getting to face his accuser doesn’t apply in these data privacy cases. Its a situation that favors the manure spreaders.

Along came Mary pt. 1

Attorney Mary Rice interviewed me for nearly two hours this afternoon. She was cordial and as we went into the office behind the School Board dias for our session I sang a few bars of the Association’s “Along Came Mary.” She told me it came out in 1967 which I don’t doubt because it was her name. I set out three old tape cassettes and started them telling Mary I had no idea how to use them so I hoped one of them would record our conversation. She put her singleton down and we commenced.

I was handed a form letter to sign saying I understood that this was part of an investigation. It asked me to keep everything discussed confidential and I explained that since it only asked rather than demanded I planned to make anything we discussed public. She said that was up to me.

She explained that she was strictly neutral. I’d like to think so but Mary was clearly not my attorney however neutral she acted in our interview. Art Johnston’s attorney says her firm helps our attorney, Kevin Rupp, to investigate errant school board members. We’re paying them but they work at Kevin Rupp’s discretion. I presume their loyalty is to Kevin.

How neutral is Kevin? Like the Superintendent I think he is loyal to whoever constitutes the majority on the Board. That’s who will extend his contract into the future. That may not be Art and me who in any case constitute a painfully small minority.

Kevin has his own material interest in this investigation. He is paid handsomely by our District to advise us and negotiate our contracts. He is thick as thieves with the Superintendent and already once condescended to deprecate my knowledge of the law at a school board meeting. He’s managed to negotiate our teacher’s salary to the fifteenth highest in the State previously. I still don’t know how it will rank after his most recent efforts where he did not advise the Superintendent to let me participate despite our District policy listing me as a member of the negotiating committee.

Kevin may have as much reason as the Superintendent to keep me the smallest minority possible long into the future. Mary was a very nice thorough person but excuse me for some unease with her assurance of neutrality.

Sorry Mary. That’s how I look at it. You did tell me you are aware of my blog and I think suggested that you had taken a peek at it. I’m not sure how you phrased that but I’m not sure I’ve got the endurance to live through those two hours of interview again to catch your exact acknowledgment of that fact.

Friendly Advice

I explained earlier that I’d been told the email I am still unable to retrieve myself warned me not to send my fundraising letter out. My buddy sent me an email surprised to hear that our employee, The Superintendent, was telling his bosses, the School Board, what they could and could not do. Well, someone kindly sent me the email and it turns out I was not told to withhold my letter after all. I was only advised to be careful not to violate data privacy laws.

Dear Member Welty,

I have received your draft letter. Should you decide to disseminate this letter, I recommend that it be revised taking data privacy laws and inaccuracies into consideration. This recommendation should not be considered as an endorsement of your letter.

Sincerely,

William Gronseth Superintendent of Schools

Here’s what Board member Art Johnston wrote back to the Superintendent:

The audacity of Supt. Gronseth to talk about “accuracy” and “data privacy” is unbelievable.

Is it really necessary to remind him that he has alleged that I assaulted him!! Accuracy?
Or data privacy after Supt. Gronseth has done a reputation lynching on me?

I call on him to follow his own advice and drop his accusation against me. And he should reread the emails that his staff (and maybe he) had been sending about my spouse Jane Bushey.

So Supt. Gronseth now wants us to be quiet after what he has done? And then he hides behind silence and his lawyer?

Art is clearly wrong. The lawyer is the School Board’s not the Superintendent’s.

How far does the acorn fall from the mighty oak?

Sorry (not really) to be oblique.

Its a question I’ve been asking myself for some time now although at first I wasn’t thinking so much of an acorn.

I got a call today during an interesting interview here in the Twin Ports. It was from the Superintendent’s office checking to see whether I had accessed my new email account recently. Its been two weeks. Its nice to know the administration is checking my email and grew alarmed at the prospect of my not reading the email I was warned was warning me. Still haven’t read it.

As it happens I figured out how to open it up minutes before I had to race to that meeting. I left the email site open without looking at any of my new emails. Trouble is that when I returned home it had frozen up and I had to shut the whole computer down without reading any of the emails I’d received. I tried it again later tonight but the same thing happened. My cat threw up and I had to clean up then forgot about the email site being opened. Its 10:30 and I still haven’t read the darned warning. Times a wasting. I have to meet our attorney for my inquisition tomorrow. I’d carelessly put the meeting down for Wednesday on my calendar. Did I mention the wrong date in one of my blog posts? No worries. That got corrected in the phone call too.

Jeez, with folks reading my every rant I can’t get away with anything.

I got a couple fun emails today. First, from a Duluth graduate who reminded me that I read to his elementary class years ago wearing gorilla slippers. Second, from someone close to one of the Board members who is on the other side to let me know they were glad I was helping Art Johnston. Double cool.

I’m sure my lawyer will question the bejesus out of me tomorrow. I must make sure to make it clear that poor old Art has been provoked to within an inch of his life. Before the summer is out I’ll have to write about this…….Oh, that’s what my offending letter does. I can’t wait to see if it raises much for Art’s cause.

This is me

My blog.

And its just the misfortune of those I disagree with that I am so eager to share my thoughts to escape oblivion. By the time I got back home from my Mother’s I was thinking about the unpleasant detour the School Board is making me take. Its all very, as my Grandmother would say, provoking.

I’ve not been able to get into my School Board email for a couple weeks now because the District has been changing the system. I gave Art Johnston a call when I got back and the first thing he asked me was if I’d seen my recent email. Evidently the Superintendent sent me a caution against saying things that were part of the District’s secretive deliberations. Boy was that a message doomed to be lost on me. I hate our Star Chamber process.

I told Art I hadn’t but you, dear readers, can be reasonably sure I’ll put the email up on my blog when I get to it.

Our conversation moved on to two people our District has punished in the Star Chamber system with its legal ability to say, As Sergeant Shultz used to say on Hogan’s Heroes, “I know nothing.” Make that “I can say nothing.”

Maybe I can’t either but that’s not likely to stop me.

There was a case I read only glancingly a while back involving a Boys Basketball coach who got canned. His seemed like a pretty sympathetic case to me. He was sticking up for his kids and paid the price of being removed from the team because of it.

How different my memory of another coach in a different sport who treated too many of his kids like dirt but was reinstated because his State Championships gave the district a lot of good ink. This is a district that seems a little too satisfied with the superficial.

There is one person I’d like to get the low down on this coach from but he didn’t respond to my suggestion that we meet after he canceled our last get together. That may be what I can expect to happen more often over the next 16 months.

Thank goodness I’ve become so mellow.

Who I am

or who am I? That’s a philosophical question. My answer is simple. Its what I remember whether true or not. When I stop remembering, I will cease to exist and live on only so long as I am part of other people’s memories. I’ve always aspired to a long life and so perhaps that drives my desire to write.

This pontification is prompted by two things; First, my comment earlier about wanting my attic as a place to write and 2. by the last glimpse I had before I left the memory care unit where I just sung to my Mom.

For the past six years I’ve been acutely aware of patient/residents who ceased to reside in Mom’s unit and their replacements. For my past couple visits there has been a new resident at my Mother’s wing who, I would judge is about my age. She does not seem very verbal but you wouldn’t give her another thought if you saw her sitting in a library.

Today as I passed out through the inner lobby its television was set on World Soccer highlights. Having not bothered to watch any of the matches I was curious to see some of the best moves including, I hoped, the one that won Germany the top prize. Sure enough, I did see it. Very pretty. But what I really noticed was the new woman and I presume her husband, although it could have been a brother, sitting below the set. He was watching the tv while the woman held his arm and wrist and rubbed and stroked them as though its owner was precious to her. Whatever else was gone that precious human connection still flickered.

It was a poignant reminder of something I can take for granted when I visit Mom. I no longer tear up when I sing Wayfarin Stranger to my Mom before I go but it was good for me to see the last grasp of tender memory in this woman. Its a fate that is as certain as death.

Do I seem “mellower?”

I cleaned my garage on Saturday. Its sort of an initial step before working on my attic to turn it from a dusty place to store stuff to a writing loft to suit my vanity. I hope to set it up organize all the records I’d like to have easily accessible to write a number of books. My eight long suffering, loyal readers can certainly vouch for my incapacity to stop my fingers from flying before posting nonsense to this blog.

Stuff from the attic might fit in the garage if I clean the garage out. I guess that’s my modus operandi. At any rate puttering around in the sun kept me out of Claudia’s hair while she worked on a sermon for Sunday. It was a good one about the parable about the sower of seeds. She’s a third generation Iowa farmer (in absentia).

It was grandkids Sunday so the blog suffered but recent visitors will have noted the gauntlet that the District threw down. I’m to be interviewed about the crimes of Art Johnston. I’d give my full throttle reply about a 99% likelyhood of making an appearance before the end of this week before I drive down to visit my son in St. Louis and retrieve the air conditioner we gave him last fall that he doesn’t need afterall.

I’ve got my four page appeal for donations to the Johnston Defense Fund written and a PO Box for donations set up. I won’t be part of any legal work on Art’s behalf because I saw how that blew up in Gary Glass’s face three years ago. I will help raise money for the attorneys however.

Which leads me to the comment I found so ironic at yesterday’s Taste of Greece festival put on by the Twelve Holy Apostle’s Greek Orthodox Church at Marshall School. A teacher from Chester Park who I went to the Wolf Ridge Center back when my kids were in grade school told me he thought age had made me mellower. Well, in some ways I suppose. I need to keep a little mellow to avoid blowing a gasket as my pipes are sixty plus years old. But really, I’m not so sure. I campaigned saying West Duluth’s schools were suffering from gangrene last Fall. I’m on the verge of counterattacking my new colleagues on the School Board for recklessness, tyranny, cluelessness a whole host of other sins.

Maybe because its summer no one is much paying attention including this teacher. Maybe I’d have been a lot noisier twenty years ago. I don’t know. My bet is on its being summer.

Time for me to go sing to my Mom and come home and tidy up the attic. That’s a good thing to do on a rainy day.

My attorney interview is scheduled

By attorney Mary Rice, at 12:30pm next Wednesday, July 16th, in the Board Conference Room at Historic Old Central High School. It will be about 90 minutes in length.

I’ll try not to drag it out for the taxpayer’s sake.

In the movies lawyers are always asking witnesses to stick to “yes” and “no” for their answers. That’ll be hard for me.

Throwing away a full house

The Trib has written its second editorial concerning the School Board majorities legal shenanigans. The first called on Art Johnston to examine his conscience and consider stepping down. BZZZZZZZZZ (wrong conclusion) Today the editors second guess our mum administrators and conclude that just maybe they should set some limits on the investigation. BZZZZZZZZ (wrong again, there should never have been an investigation, but the Trib is getting warmer)

I can think of some more serious things to be investigated. Funny how the Administration had a full house threw away his best cards and now faces a disadvantage to a seven card hand with only two aces.

Summer Cold pt. 2

I promised “honesty” in my campaign. I did not pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” I need some wiggle room on this score because my chief objective is to save the Duluth Schools and make them the best place they can be for our children. Its that “whole truth” clause that gives me pause. There’s a lot of the whole truth in the letter I just delivered to my colleagues. It ain’t pretty but telling that truth won’t necessarily help me accomplish my chief objective. It will cause panic, outrage, and a year and half’s worth of general disorder. It also will assure me of a board majority in a year and a half. I don’t want to wait that long to clear the air and begin working as a team to solve our problems.

At the moment the Board majority is under the sway of the Superintendent who is convinced happy talk will get us past classrooms with way too many children in them. My view of happy talk is a little cynical right now. If you’ve seen the first Schrek movie you may recall the scene when Shreck first enters King Duloc’s capitol. He encounters a parody of Walt Disney’s Small Small World ride. (Here it is on youtube) That’s because Disney and Dreamworks Animation were at each other’s throats when the movie was made. That’s sort of my take on the happy talk in the school district. Its empty as long as we can’t manage our classroom numbers.

The Board majority is no doubt right that the Red Plan is done and there is no turning back. As I’ve written recently its probably also true that there is a diminishing chance that we could seek some restitution from Johnson Controls. That said I desire, as a historian if for no other reason, to know just what the hell happened through the course of the Red Plan even if learning it sets people’s hair on fire.

Its already set five heads on fire. That’s why Art Johnston has been targeted for extinction. He believes that JCI, Johnson Controls, was paid at least $87 million dollars to build our Red Plan schools. If they were there ain’t no getting it back but that doesn’t mean Duluth shouldn’t be informed of what a poor decision it was to hire the firm to loot our treasury. Besides that other school districts might be spared a ravishing when JCI begins sniffing under their skirts. The entire story of the Timberjay is a testament to that newspaper’s crusade to get the truth out. Sadly the Minnesota Supreme Court said they were absolutely right that the information should be made public except that the Court denied them access to that information. Duluth citizens have the same right and its only the Duluth School Board majority that stands in the way of a full accounting.

I want to know if Art Johnston is full of shit. I hope he is. But seven months on the School Board have given me little confidence in his critics. Our CFO shows no interest in sharing the data needed to account for the Red Plan’s spending. The Board majority is shielding the Business Office from any kind of an investigation. Why does this gall me?

In 2007 when Gary Glass announced that JCI would be paid $33.4 million to build what then was said to be a $257 million plan the District pulled out the stops to have its pals denounce Gary as a liar saying JCI would only be paid $4.5 million. Two years later it turned out Gary had been right all along. But the cost of the Red Plan swelled to $319 million. That’s sixty million more than the original sticker price. If what Art Johnston says is right it is almost exactly what was added to that original $33.4 million that JCI stood to earn from the Red Plan.

Just think what Duluth could do with sixty million dollars. We could replace the lost gaming revenues from the Fonduluth Casino and fix our potholed streets for a decade. God knows I’ve done my best on this blog to trumpet Art’s allegations. I want to know if he’s full of it or if JCI’s bank vaults are full of our taxes. The current School Board just thinks such an investigation is a distraction from the business of running our schools. I don’t think keeping your head in the sand is good leadership. Knowing we were lied to and possibly ripped off won’t solve our problems but at least it will clear the air.

Hiding this knowledge, should it be true, will only serve to save the reputations of a half dozen folks who for the most part have retired from the scene. Its seems to be that this School Board would rather hide the negligence of half a dozen friends rather than look out for the interests of 8,000 school children who deserve some recompense from JCI for a job poorly done.

If this School Board won’t open up the records to uncover the truth I’d just as soon go to war with them. They’ve done little in the last seven months to earn my respect.

Summer Cold pt. 1

Last night I went to bed after watching what to me was an uproriously funny and highly inappropriate Australian TV series called the Rake, season 1 episode 2. There’s an American version from Fox that is evidently based on the Ausie version. Its about the life of a lawyer but not just any lawyer. In the first episode he defends a state economist accused of cannibalism.

Due to a lot of truncated and light sleeping nights I turned in at 9:30 and managed to stay in bed for six hours despite waking up every hour. I’d gone to bed with the beginnings of a sore throat and its evident to me that I’m coming down with a summer cold. I blame the School Board for wrecking so many recent good night sleeps.

I got up early yesterday too and cranked out six single-spaced pages of a letter to be sent to a couple thousand households in Duluth asking for money for the Art Johnston Legal Defense fund. If you interested in contributing, since Art has already accumulated a couple thousand dollars worth of legal fees, send a check to the fund at: PO Box 3075, Duluth, MN 55803.

I have a lot to say but I intend to whittle it down to four pages before mailing it should that become necessary.

To that end I’ve edited it twice so far. When I woke up this morning with a cough I had a brilliant idea. I’d take it to the superintendent and drop it on his desk to nudge him into reconsidering his hopeless vendetta against Art Johnston. Then I got an even better idea. I printed up a copy for each of the five Board members who want to push this “investigation.” There’s not much time to reconsider. I’ll mail it out next week if they are hell bent on Civil War.

Art would really like to shelve this fight for Jane’s sake but the more entrenched the Board majority becomes the more ornery it makes me feel. As for me, I am almost at the point where I’d welcome a fight that would discredit the whole kit’n’caboodle.

So, At 4AM I put my tome in 5 big manilla envelopes, put on a hoodie and stumbled out into a dark rainy morning to hand deliver one to each of the avenging Board members. I’ve only been to Bill Westholm’s house before so I thanked God for my cell phone’s ability to navigate me to some pretty obscure locales in Duluth. It was so dark I’m not a hundred percent sure I even delivered my dynamite to the right houses but I’m sure neighbors will bring them to the right spot if I was one house off.

It took me two hours to finish up. You long time readers know I’m pretty stuck on Abe Lincoln. Well, right now I’m thinking about his right hand man, US Grant, who won him the Civil War. The U stands for Ulysses, a great name for a warrior. Those of you historians out there might recall that from Appomattox on the “US” was given another meaning. That’s how I’m feeling at the moment.

Another Dixon whopper – make that two

I have always wished that I started much earlier keeping track of Dr. Dixon’s lies. The list I included a few posts ago was simply the ones I could think of off the top of my head. I just found another one I’d written about in the blog.

Since this deals with our City government itreminds me of another Dixon lie going back to his Faribault days that I’ve written about. In short, Dixon talked the Faribault City Council into giving him $10,000 for a “youth center.” When the Council asked him how the youth center project was coming along he shocked them by telling them it was one of the school cafeterias or some other preexisting space in one of his schools. They were too embarrassed to make a public stink out of it because it would have made the City Council look foolish.

My 22 minute message

Once again I woke up too early this morning this time a little stiff and achy from a lumpy pillow. As I lay hoping to fall back to sleep the first sentence of a fund raising letter for Art Johnston’s legal defense fund popped into my head. I was soon up typing a five-page request with lots of details that I have yet to spill across my blog. That’s because once raised there will be no turning back. We are close to that now as the folks intent on playing tyrant continue to push Art and me toward an incivil war. Its not one I expect to lose but I can’t say the same for our schools.

I have yet to sit down to work on a good editing of those five pages. That will require a lot more than simply proof reading to correct mistakes. Its why I didn’t go back and edit this recent post. Its just too taxing when my head is moving on to other things.

I got a funny reminder of just how long winded I can be this morning. After three hours of typing I looked up at the time and remembered I was supposed to be the moderator for our men’s church group this morning. Fortunately, I had time to shower and shave first and look for today’s newspaper. It hadn’t been delivered yet but after cleaning myself up I checked my email and found my old buddy had forwarded George Hovland’s letter-to-the-editor to me. He commented that George writes well. No kidding! George must have a good editor himself.

Our guest at the Men’s Club was recently retired Public Defender Fred Friedman. He’s been in the defender’s office for over forty years and had been in charge of it since 1986. I knew he was a good speaker because in my earlier stint on the School Board I heard him give a Law Day speech at Denfeld. I’m sure I’ve written about it before but a quick search didn’t turn up my recollection.

Fred was already at the church when I arrived and although we’d been in the same city for four decades it was my first hand shake with Fred. Fred recognized me and smiled and told me that he and his offices secretaries had a private joke about my having left a 22 minute long phone message at his office. He told me it was the record phone message of his 40 years on the job. We both found that very funny. I obviously have as hard a time editing my mouth as I do my fingers. I have no idea what I called the public defender about. Possibly, it was about the Red Plan but that seems an unlikely place for me to have been making inquiries about Johnson Controls or the school district.

Once I smooth out a rough draft of my fund raising letter I plan on handing it to the Superintendent to ask for an armistice. I’d rather not make my complaints public. But at this point I’ll only accept a truce if I can be assured that in addition to calling off the inquisition and restoring Art’s significant other to her duties the two of us, Art and I, will be allowed to ask reasonable questions concerning the Red Plan and its financing without being stonewalled.

God Bless George

His letter in today’s newspaper:

Reader’s view: Johnston pays steep price for democratic dissent
By George Hovland

As a taxpaying Duluthian with a strong prejudice against Bill Gronseth, the worst but among-the-highest-paid schools superintendents in Duluth history, I can only say, the “investigation” of School Board member Art Johnston for as yet largely undefined offenses could not be further off the mark (Our View/Duluth School Board: “Is investigation really necessary?” June 13).

If any charges should be leveled at anyone, they should be directed at the two bringing the accusations against Johnston for their inability to function within the protocols expected and for their failure to realize that dissent is a function of democratic institutions. Gronseth and company may not appreciate the importance of a minority opinion among School Board members, but those of us who are still troubled by the divisive outcomes of the Red Plan certainly appreciate our voice on the board. Johnston has represented those of us who felt the plan was too expensive and that it increased racial and financial disparities in our community rather than being the “fix” it was touted to be.

Knowing Johnston as an honest professional who asks probing questions of the board’s actions, as his oath and obligations mandate, I think we should honor and applaud him. Further, if we consider him as a partner defending his highly qualified significant other, who with love and infinite patience has worked with challenged children at Duluth East High School, his defense of her should be an example for all of us.

As the presumed leader, Gronseth, because of the actions against Johnston and his partner, allowed the wrong message to be sent to the public that pays him and, more importantly, to the students learning life lessons in our schools.

George Hovland
Duluth

Stupidity Insurance

We had a new reporter at yesterday’s Human Resources and Business meetings. When I saw John Myers instead of the vacationing Jana Hollingsworth I asked him if he was planning to do an article on our wildlife. He then had to endure a three hour marathon on terrain that was completely unfamiliar to him. He managed a very serviceable story all things considered. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp who knows everybody who’s anybody in Duluth and who isn’t afraid to let everyone else know it graciously welcomed John to our proceedings. It got her a quote in the story saying the sort of thing Rosie is want to mention:

“‘This is all about transparency and making board communications open,’ said board member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp.”

The transparency Rosie referred to had to do with a resolution written for us by our attorney Kevin Rupp which we will consider next Tuesday. It states that we will not treat private data about Duluth school board members as we would data concerning our employees. This will make it possible to shed some light on the many accusations against Art Johnston so that the public can determine for itself how much of the mud thrown up against his barn has stuck to the wall.

I have been waiting for the accusations to be made public since this brouhaha began. I told John that this resolution put Art’s accusers at the disadvantage of public scrutiny. I believe this will be of great benefit to Art.

Art’s attorney was puzzled by this resolution. He represented a school board member in southern Minnesota whose School Board majority was attempting to have him removed also with the assistance of our Kevin Rupp. In that member’s case a similar but opposite resolution was drawn up to treat the Board member as though he were an employee whose records should be kept from the public. I presume that this was to protect the Board majority from having to publicly air their grievances and accusations.

However much money Attorney Rupp collected from that School District his advice did the majority little good. No county or city attorneys wanted to take the case and so the dissident board member remained after a lot of hostile and useless fuss and bother.

Perhaps the change in the resolution is a reflection of Rupp’s trying to make up for a previous poor performance. If so, its hard for me to see how he will improve upon his record of attempts to removed ornery Board members. Perhaps he will only end up helping Art by giving him some ammunition to turn the tables on his not so collegial persecutors.

We had a half hour discussion during the Business meeting about a proposed change to all our many insurance policies. We did this a couple times when I was on the Board a decade earlier. It was a topic I relished because, as I told the presenter, my Dad used to work as an insurance investigator for the State of Kansas. He also taught Risk Management at Mankato State and taught CLU (Certified Life Underwriter) classes.

During our discussion of proposed increases in coverage for educational boo boo insurance (pardon my technical jargon) to cover a school system for screwing up Art asked if it would cover the School Board should a persecuted Board member decide to sue his colleagues for oh, let’s just say, maliciously blackening his reputation. The answer was yes and Art mused that such coverage might come in handy. Consequently, John Myers wrote about the potential threat to the District of Art taking the School Board to court. I guess if the Board majority is intent on pursuing its case against Art this is just one more potential liability they are handing the voters should they lose. Duluth taxpayers better hope we vote for those higher premiums next Tuesday to keep our butts covered should our School Board screw up yet again.