The blame game

The public is about to get two really grim reports about the finances of the Duluth Schools in coming days. I’ll give my eight loyal readers advance notice of one of these issues here tonight as it has already been reported to investors everywhere.

But first, After my first two years with Red Plan Status Quo types expending all their energy to prevent Art Johnston and I from exploring our finances and then trying to remove him at the princely cost of $200,000 taxpayer dollars I think its time for the public to appreciate what the largely DFL backed School Board of the last decade has left them. Wreckage. Wreckage. Wreckage.

And the Duluth News Tribune’s editors heap all the blame on we few souls in the minority who have simply tried to stave off the assault and abuse of the Red Plan majority. Our questions were ugly. Our refusing to surrender was ugly. Goodness knows the majority censuring Art and me was ugly……so it was our fault. The cure? More inexperienced but DFL endorsed school board members yet to be contaminated with the destruction of the Red Plan ……which, of course, had nothing to do with the news I’m about to report…

Certainly the grand Red Planner, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, was heartily endorsed by the Trib and has been lauded by innumerable old PTA friends from her past. She’s the biggest fan of our Superintendent you could possibly find on our School Board… all the others have had the good sense to melt away rather than face the voters.

We’ll see if the voters blame Art and me very soon… The next post will herald the new more difficult Era we face on the Duluth School Board.


I wrote about the poltergeists bedeviling my campaign who pulled my campaign lit out of doors and stuffed it in mail boxes. At least that was my theory. I asked Dana Krivogorsky to retrieve it at the Main Post Office and see if my lit packages had telltale creases in them from having first been placed in a screen door.

She took some photos and sent them to me with the heading. “Yep.”

Get’m while they last – snow sculpture card 36 of 50

In consonance with the previous post and with this blog in general is card 36 of the series.

I did this close to President’s Day under a fairly warm sun so that this homage to the Lincoln Memorial was not fated to last long. Also, unlike my massive busts of other famous people, the head on Abe here is only a little larger than a real head.

A few days after sculpting this one fellow grumbled that it didn’t look like Lincoln – this after a few days of the sun taking its toll. That’s why I took a photo immediately after completing the job. ( I like the askew tie that sculpture Daniel Chester French showed in the original at the Lincoln Memorial). Some time later students at UMD asked me to sculpt Franklin Roosevelt out of snow using the newly discovered photo of him sitting in his wheelchair. It was to be built in honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such photos were almost unknown in Roosevelt’s lifetime as he was always pictured from the waist up or standing and hanging for dear life to podiums. Sadly, snow is much harder for me to fashion into delicate features. They are better made large and viewed from a distance.

Put in an order online with a donation to the Welty For School Board campaign:

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

9 weeks down 2 to go – Poltergeist watch

After laying off my feet for a couple of days my gimp has gotten better. Maybe its numbness that keeps me going door to door but I expect to have put my campaign in front of every door in the Duluth School District one way or the other by November 7th. I have been on fire with a single thought for those nine weeks – Campaign as hard as you can and you will never have to live with a guilty conscience for having slacked off in what has proven to be your life’s most fundamental objective (aside from family): Keeping the Duluth Schools in good order.

Sometimes campaigning is a slog and as annoying as poltergeists are they keep things interesting. For instance, After passing out campaign lit on E 3rd and 2nd streets yesterday I got a message that the Post Office had found 15 of my lit pieces in mail boxes. IN MAIL BOXES!

As far back as 56 years ago passing out flyers for my Boy Scout troop I was taught to keep non mail out of mail boxes. As a candidate I got by that by sliding my literature behind them for years but about eight weeks ago I was called by the PO and told that even TOUCHING a mailbox was not permitted. I vowed not to do it again and with only a handful of exceptions have held to that this campaign. Slipping them through slots in doors onto the floors of a home or porch are exceptions.

But 15 pieces! No way. I thought that perhaps some other campaign was pulling them out of screen doors because they were making it hard for new lit to be placed in them but when I went back to check that wasn’t the case. Someone was following me and putting my lit in mailboxes for the fun of it. I figure they saw the magnetic “Welty” sign on the back of my car and deduced a lit drop was in progress.

Then today on a Facebook Page called the “Western Duluth Lens” its authors expressed shock that my yard signs were springing up all over western Duluth because I had recently said Western Duluth was “gangrene.” To my delight a supporter had discovered this accusation ten hours earlier and showed it to be phony. My defender must have looked up “gangrene” on my blog and immediately found the context for my usage of the word four years ago when I was elected. And what I wrote four years ago has been borne out by the outrage all across Western Duluth about the state of their schools.

And yesterday I got an inkling of what may be yet another attack on me and an ironic one at that – the accusation that I will raise taxes if I get elected.
Dana Krivogorsky just called and wondered what was going on because after her column in yesterday’s paper she got five calls asking her about my wanting to raise taxes. I asked her to find out from the next person who calls her about it where this orchestrated message is coming from. If its from the “other side’s” supporters that would be ironic because its their candidates who will be most open to raising taxes, not me. They’ve got the union endorsements from folks who always think we should pay public servants more.

I ran accross a taxophobic fellow myself on 3rd Street yesterday. He told me he had planned to send me a donation until he found out I thought taxes were a necessary part of the solution to my school board predecessors dumping 200 teachers in the devil’s bargain over new schools. We had a long talk and he agreed that I would likely be a far more conservative tax voice than Sally or Josh would be but he didn’t write my campaign a check while we talked.

And yesterday one of Art Johnston’s critics, who is tied to his challenger, began a full fledged Facebook war calling me a moneybags and saying one of my fund raising letters was “illegal.”

The end of a campaign is stressful and I’ve seen more than one shoe-in candidate lose the election because of panic. I’m not in a panic. As I said at the beginning of this post I plan to work my tush off campaigning so as not to be angry with myself should I lose. But there is something equally important to me. I must win this election on the merits of my campaign. As I wrote to another candidate recently: “I would rather lose honorably than win dishonorably.”

I am a school board member looking out for the interests of our children, not a poltergeist out to win at any cost.

Get’m while they last – Snow card 12 of 50

Shortly after I sculpted Bill Clinton in 1992 I added a saxophone for him to play. The AP (Associated Press) sent out the DNT’s photo of it in all directions and WDIO did an “on the Road” video about my making the Clinton bust that preceded the addition of the instrument. I had relatives around the nation call to tell me they’d seen it on their nightly news programs. That began a series of requests for me to make other sculptures elsewhere that allowed me to come up with far more than thirty snow sculpture trading cards.

One of the first venues to call was Cable, Wisconsin which wanted to get a little of the Birkebeiner glory that mostly went to sister city Hayward. I went there three successive winters and ended with this teddy bear. I was paid. Given a room in a local hotel. And the snow was piled up by heavy machines. It was heaven.

This is the final project I made for them and my inspiration was “Snuggles” the bear. It would be my last because I finally was elected to the School Board in 1995 and the five (leisurely) days I took to sculpt for Cable took a back seat to my new responsibilities on the Board.

This third attempt was almost thwarted by a heat wave which almost derailed the ski race. I finished a couple days ahead of the race’s start and poor snuggles melted to a heap of nothing. I got a frantic call from Cable begging me to return and fix it up and extracted a promise of a team of snow shovelers to help me loft the snow up fifteen feet. The replacement was done in a day and never quite achieved the snuggliness of the original. That has been one of the many challenges of sculpting snow – the weather. Often I finish on a hot day by the time the dark has descended and I can’t get a decent photo. The next day an evening’s melt can leave a bedraggled sculpture in its wake or melt it completely so that occasional passers by will never even know it graced my yard.

As I began passing out my packets one family had small children in the yard and I told them about the cards. Not all of them are cute. Certainly Donald Trump snarls out from the cards he is imprisoned on. But in this case a little girl found snuggles and squealed with delight about getting the teddy bear. I enjoyed that squeal.

Cards can still be ordered online here.

Legal theory

I managed to gimp around for four hours today passing out my campaign package. It was tough hilly terrain with lots of steps to reach homes perched up high. There is little doubt that I will all but finish passing out the 13,000 pieces I had printed. Others are passing out my snow sculpture trading cards and other items I’ve cobbled together.

One of my allies told me he met his first Harry Welty hater of the Summer and Fall who told him none of my allies would get his vote. A heated debate has been waged on Facebook in which one person claimed to have the “illegal” campaign fundraising letter I’d sent out. That resulted in my own text message banter about my illegal yard signs which don’t explain what I’m running for. They just say I’m for “honesty.” I assured my fellow banterer that I was pretty certain the Supreme Court would back me up on my freedom to extol “honesty.”

Donations are trickling in from several letters I sent out illegal or otherwise. A few mailings have been a complete bust but even my “campaign packet” contains an envelope to be mailed back to me with donations should the recipients be so moved. About a dozen have come back that way and while they will not allow me to repay the “loans” I made as the piggy bank for this campaign I think they will make it unnecessary to spend any more of my resources on this election. The person with my “illegal campaign” letter also said she read my blog and understood what I was doing. Yup. I’m Mr. transparent and maybe even Mr. Moneybags but its still tough competing with an entire political party.

In my four hour gimp along the hillside I stopped to have several long conversations with residents. These are helpful because they help crystallize the thoughts that I’m still putting together. The line I’ve used about our trading 200 teachers for new schools came from such a conversation. Its a great distillation of a very troubling truth. I mull over these conversations long afterwards. Just a few minutes ago a very interesting idea popped into my mind from the last and longest conversation of my door to door today. What if we could legally stop paying off all or some significant portion of the $28 million we are tossing to big mutual funds every year? Oh, this is an interesting idea.

The last conversation was with a fellow who worked with big money finance and who I discovered had spoken with me before. He told me all the things I tell my readers and added that we are so screwed in Duluth due to the Red Plan’s financing…..(my words not his but his were equally blunt). He suggested doing something I’ve thought about before – playing New York City or Detroit and declaring bankruptcy to stop paying the bonds. I don’t quite buy his suggestion but it just occurred to me that there might be a legal justification. What if the bonds were imposed upon the taxpayers of Duluth illegally or through fraud or through negligence? This is the beginning of my legal theory. The attorney we hired to challenge the Red Plan explained it to me. As in science a theory imagines how the courts will interpret the law under circumstances that have yet to be tested.

I recall from my Father’s contract law class that contracts that were entered into because of fraud can be abrogated. How about bonds?

There are several possible ways in which it could be argued that the Red Plan was problematic.

First, there is the issue I always wished we had pursued in court, the refusal of the School Board to allow voters to make the decision by referendum. In fact, this is not a perfect complaint. The state legislature of recent decades has given school boards more authority to bond for buildings under certain situations like to make buildings safe for children. But these laws only covered a portion of the $315 million buildings of the Red Plan. Could we persuade a court that by preventing voters from having a say the bonds set up to fund the plan can not be fully enforced? I wonder. I wonder.

And then there is the issue our attorney pursued. His theory suggested that previous Minnesota court decisions (not statutory law) required a real bid before any public body would be permitted to authorize a building plan. He alleged that no bids on the Red Plan had ever been taken. This issue was never tested in court because the powerhouse lawyers of Johnson Controls and the District got Let Duluth Vote’s attorney pulled off the case leaving us without capable counsel to proceed to court. When that happened LDV had to scramble not to lose the $100,000 bond raised by its small time donors that the court required we raise before proceeding to court. The Court imposed the bond on the plaintiffs so that if we lost the District and JCI would not incur costs for the delay in starting construction. To get the money back for our donors the five plaintiffs, including me, had to promise never to raise the issue again in court.

Well, Harry Welty the citizen might not be able to raise the issue in court again but the Duluth School Board could and it could afford a much more potent battery of attorneys to take the case to court. (Damn it, but Rosie and her crew squandered $200 grand in court trying to undo the election that put my fellow plaintiff, Art Johnston, on the School Board) Another challenge to repaying the bonds would be that it was the duty of the lenders to fully research the conditions under which the Red Plan proceeded. We could argue that they should have known it was risky to lend money to a District that was ignoring the required public vote on a building project.

Dana Krivogorsky has suggested some kind of finance committee to make our school district’s dealings more transparent. I’ve had much the same thought for a couple years. I’ve even made up in my head a list of half a dozen people I’d like to sit on it to examine our District’s financial options. I took down the name and phone number of the fellow I talked to tonight. He’d be a good addition to the mix. He wants the Mutual Funds that loaned us money to take the hit.

It will be a lot colder tomorrow when I go out. Who knows what other interesting ideas I’ll pick up?

I’ll edit this tomorrow morning before putting my illegal contributions into my semi-transparent campaign finance report – (I don’t have to report who gave me donations of $99.99 or less.) That’s a secret…….Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Get ’em while they last

I only have 50 decks left of my snow sculpture trading cards. I have parceled out most of the 20,000 total cards printed house by house one-card-at-a-time as I’ve traveled the City. Unless I get a lot more donations that’s what I will do with the remaining cards. – break up the fifty remaining decks and pass them out house by house. It looks unlikely that I’ll ask for a third run of them. They may really end up costing $1000 on Ebay.

Procrastinating buyers will have to visit my campaign web page and put in an order before they are all gone. (I call it my “campaign webpage but frankly this blog is my campaign.”

About the snow sculpture above. Its the first sculpture I fell in love with and that expressed something I felt about politics. I made it shortly after losing my first of three unsuccessful school board races. In what I now call a “Golden Age” we still had our troubles and I pictured them here as a “monkey on the back,” King Kong raising his fist over Old Central. Later my wife and I would come to call him “Phil” from a Farside Cartoon.

In the corner of each card I’ve put the logo I designed for a short lived publishing house I wanted to start, “Welty Press.” You will see the same image of Phil on each of the trading cards down in a corner. As for the colors on the card’s margins – there are five, yellow, orange, red, blue and green. I’ve selected 50 of over 100 sculptures and put them in chronological order. Yellows were the earliest years; green are the most recent.

Phil made another visit to my home after yet another campaign loss and this time he was a really big gorilla, about 16 feet tall from the sidewalk up. He was put on weather forecasts all over the nation after one of our local stations started the trend.

I’ll put up a card-a-day for the next 16 days to remind you to put in orders before the last fifty decks disappear. Better hurry, Some entrepreneur may decide to buy all 50 remaining decks as an investment although, if I get an unlikely avalanche of requests, I might order a new run of them to meet pent up demand. Don’t count on that happening. (Though I did just get a very nice donation with a note telling me to keep the cards for the campaign. Gosh, was that ever nice!)

The Trib – today

Time for me to door knock again but first a nod to the Trib. Art was treated fairly in the Front page story about his campaign and it struck me that he hit all the concerns that I know have been driving western parents out of the western schools.

And the other District Seat, far eastern District One, had its day in the Op Ed Page’s sun.

My take: Rosie Loeffer-Kemp was all resume. Kurt Kuehn was all results. I’ll take results over resume any day. I hope the voters agree.

And there was the letter-to-the-editor calling Art and me “holdovers.”

“The Red Plan opponent holdovers on the Duluth School Board continue to disrupt, discourage, disturb and distract from the need to address the inequities between schools.”

Hell, its our kind that insists that “the need to address the inequities between schools,” NOT be papered over with platitudes. The true “holdovers” are folks like Rosie Loeffler-Kemp who sided with the Red Planners. She’s the last one left on the Board.

Fixing what’s wrong with ISD 709 will not be easy because the candidates championed by this writer are the ones who traded 200 teachers for brand new schools.

Not the Trib

Lincolndemocrat certainly doesn’t have the heft of the Duluth News Tribune but these stats demonstrate that in a crunch the people of Duluth pay attention to it. October’s stats are impressive already and there are nine days left for it to accumulate more views.

The Trib does have some good stuff in it……like this letter to the editor from former School Board member Rich Paulson. Its gist?:

“Selling Central has been the no. 1 topic whenever anyone mentions the Duluth public schools the past two years. Many want it sold to any interested purchaser.”

“Daddy, make me a snow dinosaur”…

Another shameless pitch for a donation

OK, OK, OK. This blog is no “Go fund me” or “kickstarter” page. But my “eight loyal readers” have morphed to 500 daily readers. Not all of you are hating me as you read. Whether you agree with me or not I hope you find my blog engaging. I work hard at it and even go the extra trouble of editing it more carefully these days.

My foot is giving out going door-to-door and I gratefully find donations in my mail box every other day. (My door to door packet includes a return envelope with the suggestion that a donation would be appreciated). I’ve actually been able to keep my campaign’s financials on life support this way. As for my pitch for online donations? Early on, (two months ago), I got a $200 donation that gave me the altogether wrong idea about how I might be able to match the DFL money machine. The next two donations however were for $30 and $15 dollars. That’s right 3 donations in two months! My faith in my business acumen has been utterly shattered. I’m no Donald Trump!

Well, this is what my regular readers are missing – a 50 card deck of Duluth winter nostalgia.

I think they would be a great stocking stuffer for any Duluthian who has moved away from home. Count on this. Someday the 200 remaining decks are going to be listed on Ebay for a thousand dollars. Each! (probably by the time the Starship Enterprise has been built)

Donate here.

And this is snow sculpture trading card #2.

Its my first public snow sculpture and was prompted by my then first grade daughter, Keely, who asked me, “Daddy, make me a snow dinosaur.” I was beginning my duties as a “house husband” and imagined a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex looming over 21st Avenue. Gosh, was I disappointed. When it was done I called it an “iguana with a bad overbite.” I added a stegosaurus below it to make the prostrate “T Rex” look like it was in attack mode.

As people who have watched my perennial political career can attest I don’t let failure get in my way. It only pushes me to work harder and smarter. I had over 100 snow sculpture photos to choose from for my thirty year career that I suspect will be continued this coming winter. I get lots of requests (mostly non paid) to build snow sculptures elsewhere. I know my skills are modest but I do have a sense of humor e.g. “Barney meets Godzilla.”

I had originally imagined “selling” tons of these cards with lots of donations left over to help fund the Duluth Schools Educational Endowment Fund. Well, that hasn’t worked out but maybe I’ll be able to fund a mailing by the last week of the campaign if this offer catches on. Can any of my readers help me stir the pot on Facebook?

There will be old folks in their 90’s talking about the crazy guy who made snow sculptures in Duluth long after my battles over the public schools have run their course. They’re just fifteen bucks. That’s 30 cents a card!!!!!


Dana K has new cards and I’ve begun stuffing them into my fat little packet for door to door distribution. They are long overdue because I have to keep correcting folks who call her “Day nah” thinking that she is a him. Her name is pronounced Donna in Slavic tongues, short for “Bogdana” (Boag-Donna), meaning “God’s Gift.”

I also like telling folks that if she were to introduce herself she would sound like a good no-nonsense, Russian armed with a Kalishnikov…..”let me see your papers.”

I quickly explain that she is a Ukrainian by birth and not a Russian and that she came to the US at 15 and never managed to shake her accent. For that I’m grateful and I frequently go into a little shtick telling them how I imagine her sitting next to me as my colleague demanding she be given the long withheld data Art and I have fruitlessly requested in her thick Slavic accent. “I vahnt to see da data and I vahnt to see it now!”

I tell voters about Dana’s Johns Hopkins education in science and how she’s good at math something our previous school boards were absent and which lead to the loss of 200 teachers in exchange for half a billion in new buildings that previous Boards didn’t set aside any money to maintain.

BTW – I crack Dana up every time I launch into my cheesy Russian accent. Damn it. I could use more colleagues on the Board with a hearty sense of humor.

Stuff that happened today – Friday October 20th, 2017

I saw the predictable 4th District endorsement early this morning when I brought the Trib in. I only read it ten minutes ago at about 11:30 PM. The editors almost exceeded the limit of superlatives for Speech teacher Jill Lofald. The only thing they neglected to mention was her devotion to the top administrators of the District. Art Johnston was tarred with negativity. How ironic that the Trib’s inclination is to kill the messenger. Three words that I always used to describe Art were absent from the superlatives showered on Ms. Lofald not that she doesn’t have them herself. They are “integrity,” “honor” and “courage.” That’s something our western schools need now more than ever.

I resumed going door to door for a sustained period of time today. Hallelujah! I’m still gimping it but the pain has receded a bit perhaps because I did so little walking early in the week. That’s a shame as we will not see such marvelous weather again before November 7th. I also made a call to set up an appointment with a foot specialist just to stave off a possible recurrence of the pain.

My preoccupation with the campaign has come at some cost. It slipped my mind that I was scheduled to serve at Damiano Center’s Soup Kitchen this afternoon. They had a lot of folks in line and my absence put a lot of strain on the volunteer servers. I always sing there and I always sing going door to door. I didn’t sing anything today. I just grimly pressed on. I also checked my School District email for the first time in ages and found a lot of messages I had to reply to by beginning my message: “I’m very sorry but I’ve been a little preoccupied for the past couple weeks.” As our President might tweet, “Sad.”

Fourth Street at our intersection is still blocked off but the lights are on. They are permanantly set at green for the time being which means its impossible to escape onto 21st Avenue during rush hour. I took a picture of them as I headed home after door knocking:

I was amused today to find that someone had stolen my defaced lawn sign which called me a house husband. I wonder if it was the vandal who was aggravated at the possibility that I would get the house husband vote.

I hate it when someone steals a popular sign.

I am bushed. I’ll edit this tomorrow. Tomorrow is here. Its raining so I’ll attend to indoor things until it stops.

I was stopped in my tracks for an hour I spent talking with an African American woman about life in general and about how Blacks are treated in Duluth. She has some experience. She came to Duluth in 1957 and raised two sons here. Her’s is a fascinating story. Like the author Ralph Ellison she often feels invisible. Like so many other African Americans she feels expected to speak for all 30 million of them whether its Bill Cosby, Martin Luther King or Colin Kaepernick or or or or or you name them.

When I got home I found someone had anonymously mailed me one of my cards back from my door to door work. I smiled and shook my head reading the only thing written on it:

Charters! I wish this person had perused my blog. There are over 220 posts dealing with the Edison Schools alone. And why the anonymity? Too many Americans are afraid of their politicians.

Does reporting the words and deeds of an elected official constitute “sexism” if the official is a female …

… and the reporter is a male? Or, vice versa?

Last night Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and I attended the Chamber of Commerce’s Pat ourselves on the Back dinner at the DECC. The School District has a table at it every year. (We are Chamber members) In fact, this year we paid for two tables. I sat at a table with two Board members that I’ve not spared in recent blog posts. One was Rosie.

After the dinner Rosie stopped in front of me and gave me a tongue lashing about not asking her where she’d been before I blogged that she may have been avoiding speaking at a candidate forum. I only once began to say something but she shushed me and plowed on to her threat at that women were noticing how sexist I was treating women. She told me she had missed the forum for a family function that had been planned for over a year. She chided me for not asking her where she was before insinuating that she was skipping town to avoid the exposure. It occurred to me that this was fair enough criticism. This is the offending paragraph:

“She ducked out of recent school board forums quite possibly because someone warned her she is a poor public speaker. That did not stop the Trib’s editors from granting her the only private interview with the Editorial Board of the four District School Board candidates. Such favoritism is hard to swallow but what they said of Rosie’s challenger Kurt Kuehn could also have been applied to the two at-large candidates the Trib’s editors did endorse. What did they say of Kurt? Just this:”

This is the offending post if you’d like to keep reading.

Had I asked Rosie where she’d been off to I’d have reported her answer. I’ll add, perhaps gratuitously, that our relationship is strained enough that I wouldn’t have necessarily believed her excuse. I will also add that Rosie has known for four years that October of 2017 would be her last month to campaign for reelection. That she was willing to set a trip far away from Duluth when she would be expected to speak at forums (she missed two of them) was her own fault even if it was a family function. She nonetheless left her daughter to stand in for her at both functions although the folks running both refused to let her daughter speak for Rosie. Geez, I forced my wife to take a trip to China in the most excruciatingly hot month of summer so I could file for reelection.

If anything, my mention of Rosie’s special treatment by the Trib’s editors was my chief target of ridicule. Rosie was collateral damage.

As for the threat that I’d be pegged a “sexist” that was hardly news. Rosie began consorting with a newly organized woman’s group months ago and had already won their devotion although to my knowledge none of Feminist’s Action’s members knew a whit about the Duluth School Board. Heck, I probably marched with most of them during the Women’s March last winter. They never approached me for information but I learned from a friend who attended their semi-secret meetings that they had already targeted me as an enemy of women. Is it possible that Rosie and other school board members attending these meetings said the same kind of things about me privately that I publicly say about Rosie on my blog where everyone knows it comes from me? I’m not really asking. I have no doubt Rosie has little good to say about me. If I’m right about this Rosie is violating one of the tenets of the School District’s Civility Code, “Don’t gossip,” that she reads aloud before every school board meeting gets underway.

Whatever the Feminists discussed I began seeing signs of their repugnance for my politics six or seven weeks ago.

I have always looked sideways at the distaste of gossip. Gossip is the sharing of information informally regarding people who are not part of the conversation. This can be both innocent, instructive and corrosive. The latter quality is what springs to most people’s minds. Take, for example, the notorious daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She had the legend “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, come over and sit by me,” needle pointed onto a sofa pillow in her living room.

But I’ve just been hearing about a very useful kind of gossip regarding powerful people like Harvey Weinstein the Hollywood bully who did his exercise on the casting room couch. Gossip is how his victims warned other women to beware. Surely the Civility Code we adopted does not mean to prevent gossip under these circumstances.

I’d like to take one of Rosie’s implications to pieces – that by criticizing the words and deeds of women I’m a sexist. Tosh!

Bear in mind that my serious criticisms of Rosie et al began with the vicious attack on Art Johnston. Was that attack sexist on the part of his female colleagues?

When Alanna Oswald, not then on the school board, asked Annie Harala what had happened Annie told her privately, that if Alanna knew what Art had done she would want him off the school board too. Well, if there was anything Annie knew about Art I didn’t know she didn’t tell me what warranted canceling the election that put him on the School Board. In fact, I knew a lot of mitigating circumstances that made me extremely sympathetic to Art.

I would have to go back and read year’s worth of blog posts to discover exactly when I began emphasizing the not so sunny machinations of my board colleagues, both male and female, but I’ll bet there were very few pointed criticisms until the Board hired an attorney to assassinate Art’s character.

The names to look up for this research would be of both genders Male: Mike Miernicki, Bill Westholm Keith Dixon Kevin Rupp and female Annie Harala, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Judy Seliga-Pynyko.

If anything, the unwillingness of the Board to compensate Art for his legal expenses and the subsequent censuring of both Art and me only made my comments about our “colleagues” more pointed as diplomacy took a backseat to candor. And remember, my blog is read by a few hundred people each day. The News Trib has a far wider readership. How about waking up to this headline just before Christmas (although I do like the picture)?


I also laud people I like regardless of gender. I’ve heaped praise on many women including Mary Cameron, Alanna Oswald and Dana Krivogorsky. (I’ve sent out fundraising letters and paid for a pro-Krivogorsky flyer that I’ve been passing out for Dana) I’ve excoriated women, other than my colleagues on the School Board, like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter and men like Donald Trump.

So Rosie. Its true I didn’t ask you where you went.

Readers, pay no attention to that post.

As for all the other posts I’ve written. Bear them in mind before you follow the siren song of the editors of the News Tribune. They didn’t think Hillary Clinton was any better than Donald Trump. They aren’t the sharpest pencils in the box either!

And before my boots start walking

I just sent out my last fundraising letter to 55 folks who mostly know me through church. It pretty well sums up my thoughts. Of course my recent loyal readers are always encouraged to help out as well. They can make a donation online. Someday the folks who didn’t order my snow sculpture trading card decks will kick themselves when they realize they’re worth a thousand bucks on Ebay.

Here’s that letter:

October 19, 2017

Dear Friend,

I am running for the school board again because I think I am needed there. Twenty years ago, when I served on the board I didn’t realize that it was a golden age for our public schools. Local taxes poured $14 million dollars of the total 23 million levy into our school’s operations. Today, although our levies have been raised by $8 million for a total of $31 million, only $2.5 million of this goes into operations and by extension into the classroom. That is why you have read news stories about 40 and more students to a classroom; inequity between eastern and western schools; children whose families have no cars who can’t be bussed to school and a growing educational gap between have and have-not students.

Behind my sense of humor and light touch there stands a fellow steeped in history with a stubborn desire to set things right – no matter how challenging the problem. And the Duluth Public Schools have a big problem. These stresses require more revenue from a weary revenue providing public that has felt cheated by the School Boards of recent years. That public demands an honest accounting of what has gone wrong and will need reassurance before voluntarily surrendering more taxes to solve these problems. That will require a leadership from our School Board which has been sorely lacking in the past.

I think I might just have what it takes to win the public’s trust and move our public schools in the right direction. I’m a fellow who has read history, lived the school board for a quarter century, is not afraid to speak up and who can find the elephant in a block of snow – literally. I also am capable of prodigious quantities of good natured work. I’ve been putting in twelve-hour days campaigning through most of the Summer and Fall.

I could use some help. I’ll keep doing the leg work but some financing would amplify my campaign. A donation would be greatly appreciated.
With best regards,

Harry Welty

A pause to reflect while drinking uninspiring coffee from a drive in

The last two days were gorgeous for passing out campaign lit door to door. I only got about an hour in total because I was herding cats… fellow and sister candidates for the school board that I am supporting and upon which the fate of our public schools rests. I think we will do well and have only one concern – that I may find myself in the lonely predicament of once again being in a minority and effectivly out of the loop. I’ve been campaigning with ideas bubbling over about attacking insolvable problems. I always liked Hubert Humphrey’s definition of politics “the art of the possible.” Facing annual ten million dollar losses inflicted by the Red Plan that is a very hopeful attitude. The problem is it has to be backed up by brains, know how and grit. The mighty Duluth News Tribune has done its best to promote a string of candidates absent those qualities. I don’t begrudge them their opinions. I do, however, bemoan their long history of ignorance on the subject of the Duluth School Board. They are good people and good people are often foolish, vain and silly.

Good. The coffee has cooled a bit. My dentist had me worried that I’ve been eating too much pallet scalding food lately.

At eight a young fellow who promised to help me pass out literature called to tell me (in my words) that he was meeting with a poobah far more important than me and wouldn’t be able to help me after all. I think I’ll be a lot stingier taking him out for lunch in the future.

A little after that my old colleague George Balach called to give me grief about our mulchy playgrounds. George had already expressed his opinion to me that our district was in no position to spend big bucks to remove something that had not yet been proven to pose any danger to our students. I’ve never disagreed with him on that. My wife agrees. And yet I voted to change out the playgrounds. I don’t regret the decision. One comment has haunted me since the controversy began: “What if in twenty years you discover that the mulch caused cancers or some other malady in our children?” I am as prone to guilt avoidance as the next public servant and chose to expedite a change that might not end up having been necessary. I consoled myself by reminding myself how many families have already left our school district and deciding we didn’t need another reason to chase them to Wrenshall, Proctor, Esko, Hermantown, Edison, the parochial schools or home schooling.

Certainly, hearing that kids on the new playgrounds were looking like Fozzy Bear after rolling around in the new mulch was eyebrow raising. The Trib’s Jana Hollingsworth’s story is sober and not too alarming. What I’ve heard is that the mulch, has been called “waste wood.” (I’ve heard that the company suspected that they were stymied when they tried to put a bid in for the project) At least it doesn’t seem to be toxic and that’s the bottom line for now. As irritated as George was he said he still supported Art and me…..but he did want me to tell Art again that replacing the rubber mulch was ridiculous.

I just got a phone call that broke my concentration. Good. The weather beacons my door knocking boots to start walking. The phone call alerted me to Loren Martell’s latest column which I’ve read. I approve of it as it gives the wider public a peak at the recent chamber forum for school board members.

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.

Ho Hum

The Tribune’s editors continue in their dreary analysis and endorsements. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp who was a major reason for the ugliness that cost me an endorsement is apparently not to be faulted. That’s not all the Trib’s editors are turning a blind eye to. They faulted the DFL for endorsing candidates but they have so far endorsed all the same candidates for the School Board endorsed by the DFL. They faulted Rosie for refusing to sell Central but that doesn’t trouble them in this endorsement.

What they hang their hat on is an impressive resume that has never managed to obscure Rosie’s limited ability to demonstrate a deep understanding of educational issues. A reporter once told me that Rosie is never quoted in news stories because she never has anything to say.

My irritation must be obvious. Rosie led the charge to remove Art Johnston then she made both Art and I charter members of the Censure of the Month club when she saw to it that we were both censured for dubious reasons.

She ducked out of recent school board forums quite possibly because someone warned her she is a poor public speaker. That did not stop the Trib’s editors from granting her the only private interview with the Editorial Board of the four District School Board candidates. Such favoritism is hard to swallow but what they said of Rosie’s challenger Kurt Kuehn could also have been applied to the two at-large candidates the Trib’s editors did endorse. What did they say of Kurt? Just this:

“Kuehn’s commitment appears genuine and well-placed, but his knowledge of the district and promise of effective representation for District 1 don’t match Loeffler-Kemp’s.”

That goes ditto for their at-large endorsees.

There is one Trib endorsement left and that one is easy to call. It won’t be Art Johnston who did not assault anyone, never had a conflict of interest, never said anything racist, and who defeated all these scurrilous charges in Federal Court while the Trib sulked because Art wouldn’t simply quit the Board and then voted the way the Trib wanted us all to regarding the sale of Central High School. The Trib prefers public officials to be more like Senator Mitch McConnell even as they refused to oppose Donald Trump.

What a think tank. They couldn’t see the Red Plan con and now prefer that no one points out that we traded 200 desperately needed teachers for new schools so cramped that we can’t add many more children to the buildings despite what appears to be a growing elementary school population. Sheesh!

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.

I do not envy Congressman Nolan

This news story surprised me today. Annie Harala who is stepping down from the School Board; it has been rumored for health considerations; has been appointed as Congressman Rick Nolan’s campaign manager.

How being the campaign manager for the most imperiled Democrat in Congress, through what will be one of the most tumultuous campaigns in Northeastern Minnesota history will be an improvement over being on the Duluth School Board, I have no clue. Certainly my question will not be welcome by Annie but it is certain that it will be one of the mildest worries Annie will have to deal with.

My default attitude toward Annie was set at: “she’s the classmate of my son, what’s not to like?” One of the first things Annie told me when she began running for the school board four years ago was how my son, Robb, reacted when his teacher brought in a science lesson for the second graders to study. It was a bucket of lamb eyeballs from a family member’s farm. “[teacher], Robb’s on the floor.” That’s what the students told the teacher. One look at the bucket and my son was out like a light. Its one of the reasons I was skeptical when Robb suggested he might like to become a doctor in his early college years.

Other less enthusiastic comments about Annie’s four years serving with me can also be found on the blog. She was never able to rise very far above faction on the School Board but that is exactly what she will have to navigate as Rick Nolan’s campaign manager. Environmentalists vs. unions. Gun rights militants vs. gun control militants. Rural Trumpeteers vs. Urban look-down-their-nosers. And then there will be the money issue. Nolan is extremely reticent about becoming one of the Congressional money grubbers but he’s facing the most charming and alluring Republican candidate in the Eighth Congressional District who will have access to millions of Kochain money. All this while Nolan’s party is choked with dissension. Annie failed to win me over and I’m a cupcake. She’ll need to up her game.

Meanwhile, one of the DFL’s many factions, women still recoiling from Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, has waded into the local non-partisan City Council and School Board races. For the thinnest of reasons they are pushing three candidates one of whom is Annie’s close ally Rosie Loeffler-Kemp. But then again they aren’t endorsing anyone. (you could have fooled me) The Feminist Action recently published questionnaires they had given local candidates and I was one of four school board candidates who was listed as “Did not respond.” Its true. I didn’t. None of the feminists ever sent me or the other three school board candidates their questionnaire. I pointed this out and was sent one after-the-fact and filled it out with virtually no disagreement from the many positions they wanted their candidates to take. But, it was too late. I had already been blackballed when I tried to join their sorority.

I hope Annie can give Representative Nolan an admission pass to the group. He’ll need it because many of the people his shaky campaign needs seem hellbent on dividing up DFL votes to elect the Republican Stauber.

Roseate Spoonbill

Today’s pic is not mine and its not Duluth. Claudia is visiting her father in Florida. She saw this dramatic bird, a roseate spoonbill, in a tree by the man made pond at her Dad’s place. I’ve never seen one except in birding guides.

Because of Claudia’s absence, which will last through the week, I have had even more time to campaign albeit on one bum foot. I was working on a different end of town today. Everything about today encouraged me.

But I woke up at 3:30 and decided to get up and stuff envelopes. I’m a couple days ahead of schedule on that score. But I’m suffering sleep deprivation. Znnnnnnnnnooookkkkkk! Oops, sorry. Must of dozed off.