Category Archives: UGLRC

Bookin it 9

I got a good night’s sleep and have spent a productive hour writing a couple pages this morning from 8:30 to 9:30.

What I began riffing on was prompted by some old news clippings and some of my old notes which don’t conform to the story line I’d already set up chapter by chapter. It will be interesting to see how these all get integrated together later on.

Among the things I typed up so far was the following tidbit which I decided fit better into an endnote than the actual material I was busy typing:

“The FBI carted out all of Governor Anderson’s files during the height of the UGRLC scandal to pour through them for evidence of misdeeds and only a small fraction of those relating to the SBC or the UGRLC itself survived to reach the Minnesota Historical Society”

If I keep ripping out more pages today my blog posts will be severely limited. Wish me luck and silent running.

Don’t forget the “usual caveat.”

Fun with paranoia

Last night I was up till midnight again reading Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate. What a great book! Oh, I’m sorry. I think I’ve said that before.

Before going to bed I googled Billie Sol Estes and came up with a JFK assassination website which had lots of interesting information in it. I sent the site’s author an email inquiring about a mysterious news story I’d read in the late 1980’s about a man who had just claimed on his death bed that Lyndon Johnson had ordered another man’s murder. (Not JFK but someone else who was in a position to blackmail the President about his personal corruption)

Having just read Caro’s book the story seemed considerably more credible but my newspaper never followed the accusation up. This was in the days before the Internet or Google so the story just receded from view. Then last night after finding the site (one of many such JFK sites) I sent an inquiry about that mysterious old news story (along with a link to my web page about the Boyd Scandal) to the website’s author.

He wrote back this morning and said he would post my question on his site. He also invited me to send him a biography which he also offered to post for people who might have information about my research.

Here’s the email I just sent him.

Thank you John, After I sent you the email I realized that I probably saw the news story shortly after reading Robert Caro’s first book in 1984 or 85. The news story must have come out between 1985 and 1990. Caro’s book so impressed me with LBJ’s mania to be President and his ties to Brown and Root that it enhanced the credibility of the death bed confession I’m trying to locate. It was such a potent accusation – US Senator/President orders the murder of a political threat – that I could never understand why it was never followed up by our newspaper. I am a JFK conspiracy skeptic but I am open to serious research about the interesting little dust bunnies that history tried to sweep under the rug after JFK was murdered. Coincidentally, conspiracy enthusiast, Jim Fetzer, is a neighbor of mine but I’m non-plussed by his theory that Paul Wellstone’s charter plane was brought down by an electromagnetic pulse. In my opinion Fetzer’s work mostly serves to discredit other assassination researchers. I’m a local eccentric in Duluth, Minnesota. I’m an ex-liberal Republican (I’m still a liberal) who has failed to establish much of a political presence in our very Democratic oriented part of Blue State, Minnesota. I’m best known in town for my winter snow sculptures. I was a history teacher and served on the Duluth school board for eight years. I run for office promiscuously. I just ran a Quixotic race for Congress. It was my 12th campaign but my 5,508 votes were about 150,000 votes short of a victory. I was a columnist for our local tabloid the Reader Weekly and my columns and other miscellaneous stuff can be found with a little poking around on my Internet closet: I also blog every so often at Six months ago an interesting lead from another JFK website wetted my appetite to dig deeper into the 1973 Boyd Scandal which is closely tied to HHH. The new lead involved yet another long-forgotten Minnesota scandal from a decade earlier, 1963-64, that threatened my Father’s pension. My father was particularly chagrined about this at the time because he had been a fraud investigator for the Kansas State Insurance Commission prior to moving us to Minnesota. This time period coincided with LBJ protégé HHH’s, move from the Senate to the Vice Presidency when money would have been at a premium for the 64 presidential campaign. This earlier scandal involved a failed Minnesota insurance company (like the kind my Dad used to investigate) which managed Minnesota‘s state pensions. One of the company’s leaders threatened to expose the state’s Democratic party to charges of corruption (he never did) while another executive who was sent to prison later claimed to have information about the Kennedy Assassination. I don’t know where my research is headed but it is an interesting little cul de sac. Feel free to use this email as my biography. Harry Welty

Oberstar Watch – Earmarks

This morning I woke to an interesting bit of intelligence about our seniority rich Congressman. It seems that Oberstar used the much criticized earmarking power to authorize 11 million in pork for an almost nonexistant entity (Its only met once since 2004 according to the post) called the GLMRI or Great Lakes Marine Research Institute.

I’ve grown suspicious of anything Oberstar related with the word “Great Lakes” in it. That’s because of the infamous UGRLC Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission which at federal expense provided the work of three secretaries to help win Jim Oberstar the contested Democratic primary in 1974 and his automatic election to Congress. After writing about this last November the only man convicted for stealing any portion of a much talked about missing million dollars gave me a call and prompted me to begin writing a book about the scandal. Sorry to say campaigning for Congress has forced me to shelve the project for now. If only I had three federally financed secretaries to help me mail out fund raising letters. 

Back to the earmark. Some of you may recall that the so called blogosphere ganged up to discover the US Senator who put a hold on legislation to publicize the names of Congressmen who stick earmarks secretly into legislation unbeknownst to the world. Lots of old salts in the Congress hate the idea of transparancy where people can see whose bidding they are doing. Jim must be one of them as he’s been touting his seniority as an important reason to reelect him. Who can quibble with more pork, especially if its our children who have to pay for it?

Business North

I let Chris and Mel know that I wanted a day to get myself back in campaign mode before we got together again so we will meet at a bagel shop tomorrow morning.

But politics did intrude before the day was over. I returned a call from, Wayne Nelson, the editor of Business North magazine. He wanted an interview pronto so I told him I could show up after our cat inspections. He took that information gamely enough and when I got to his offices in the old Carnegie Library we had a good two hour long talk/interview.

I mostly covered the same ground that is on my website and he’d already been there so he wasn’t taken by surprise by anything I had to say. It was fun visiting him because to of my old associates now work with/for him. Richard, my old editor from the Duluth Reader and my former student, Paul, one of the best writers in Duluth.

Wayne inquired after Don Boyd. It turns out that Wayne had just started working for the Duluth News Tribune when the Boyd scandal broke out. Wayne had a number of very interesting insight to share about the hotest political scandal in the state’s history. He spoke a little derisively of Minnesota’s reputation for honest government. When the scandal broke out 20 or more reporters camped out in Duluth’s Radisson hotel which put the Trib in a panic not to get scooped.

Wayne told me that this resulted in some sloppy stories about the missing million dollars which turned up later not to have been missing – at least not the million that Don Boyd had been responsible for.

Apparently the state wasn’t the only dumping ground for political hacks back then as many worked for the Trib. Wayne told me that some were very poorly trained at journalism. Furthermore some actively leaked information from the newspaper to the movers and shakers in the DFL which helped the latter point the finger at the happless naieve Don Boyd. That by the way is my interpretation not Wayne’s.

I pricked up my ears at this info because I had begun writing an online book about the scandal and only gave it up when it proved incompatible with campaigning for Congress. If I lose I’ll pick it up again in November. If I win I’ll search for someone else to write the story.


Kelm anecdote

One man who looms large in the story of Don Boyd is Thomas Kelm a cat who always seems to have landed on his feet. The subject of numerous unflattering stories during his days as Gov. Anderson’s Chief of Staff he seems now to be the stuff of legends. Last week in his Budgeteer Column, Ralph Doty slipped in a little anedcote about the fellow. A sample:

“On the day the bill was scheduled for a final vote, Gov. Wendell Anderson let loose his lobbyists, led by his chief of staff, Tom Kelm, a tall, robust man who, to folks less than 6 feet tall, looked like the giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk.” He was skilled at intimidating even the toughest lawmakers.”

Washington Here I come

Don’t worry Jim. I’m only coming as a visitor. My wife has a conference and I’m tagging along. I’ll see the sights for four days then return home on Wednesday.

As I said before I’ve been pretty busy organizing the material on the Boyd scandal and haven’t blogged as much as I’d like to. Besides that, I have a column to turn in to the Reader in the next couple days. Fortunately, I can now do that and blog with our new laptop away from home.

Its 10:30 and our flight is scheduled to leave at 6AM so I need some shuteye. Its been a long day. I got up at 3:30 AM to begin writing. At 8:30 I went over to the Damiano Center (soup kitchen) and spent two ours helping to prepare the afternoon meal. I’m tall the tables are low and my back is sore.

At noon I met with an accountant from Eikill and Schilling who did some of the accounting work for Don Boyd. I’m looking for verification of the results of the auditing that Don Boyd told me he had done after he got out of prison. The list of people I need to call to check out one thing or another is growing.

Hooray, 1000 pageviews

Yesterday I broke 1,000 pageviews. That’s particularly satisfying because I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been putting much content on the blog. I hope today to be able to put together a convincing explanation about how unjust Don Boyd’s prosecution and incarceration was. He’s told me several times that the IRS agent who investigated him admitted that he wasn’t guilty of anything. I’m inclined to agree. His boss, however, who was found guilty on the same count was later found innocent on a technicality. Justice indeed!

I spent a large share of yesterday organizing and filing Don’s voluminous records so that I can more easily access them as I continue writing the book. It’s occurred to me that to do this justice it may not be practical to count on finishing it by November.

I had lunch with the Publisher of the Reader Weekly yesterday. I warned Bob that I may take on a new project in a few weeks that might conflict pose a conflict of interest. He asked me to postpone my decision for a couple of weeks while he considers whether to let me continue my column, Not Eudora anyway. I’ve written it for four years and while its been a pleasure I might be better off concentrating on the book writing that I’ve flirted with for the last few years. If I quit that could be the end of the column for good but I’ve roughed out one more for next week.

278 stories on the Boyd Scandal

To give a sense for the intense interest in the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission scandal a quarter century ago I’ve scanned in the Duluth Public Library’s catalogue of news stories about it.

The scandal broke half way through 1978 and was wrapped up early in 1981. My count of the news stories in both the Duluth Tribune and Herald is 278. They were mirrored by similar articles across the state of Minnesota. After all this effort the Feds only managed to convict one man for mail fraud in what they claimed was an attempt to steal a piddling $60,000. Of this amount about $20,000 was proven in court and to the IRS’s satisfaction to have been taken by Don Boyd’s boss but only after Boyd got out of prison for attempting its theft. His boss got off on this charge on a technicality. No one has ever accounted for the missing million dollars alleged to have been embezzled.

How badly did HHH want to be President?

As I write this book its been important to put the times in context. Governor Rudy Perpich was a generation past Humphrey and not particularly in awe of him. I’d always assumed the opposite. A lot of people didn’t take Humphrey seriously at the time. His nickname, “the Happy Warrior” is both fond and dismissive. Certainly he didn’t have LBJ’s famous streak of cruelty. But as this article points out HHH would do what he had to hold his place in line for the Presidency:

“Historians later wrote that Johnson told Hubert Humphrey to “crush the rebellion” and get the MFDP off the front pages, or Humphrey could give up on the idea of ever becoming vice-president. Humphrey instructed fellow Minnesotan and future Vice President Walter Mondale to “suppress the MFDP by any means necessary” and this was accomplished through secret meetings, and false statements, and by using information on the MFDP’s strategy gathered from FBI informants.

Johnson, Humphrey, and Mondale finally offered MFDP to seat two at-large delegates to be selected by Johnson (to ensure Humphrey that Hamer would not be selected). MFDP delegates refused the compromise. Humphrey reportedly pleaded with Hamer (whom he reportedly found “distasteful” because she was poor and uneducated) to accept the compromise so he could become vice president and push civil rights.

Mississippian Rev. Ed King, also a delegate, years later told how Hamer expressed no sympathy for Humphrey’s dilemma:

‘Senator Humphrey. I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs for trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County. Now if you lose this job of vice president because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take it this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about.'”

Perhaps, as Fannie Lou Hamer predicted, it was just this kind of pusillanimousness that cost HHH the Presidency. He also stuck with LBJ on Vietnam like glue and lost his race with Nixon in 1968. In the process he lost the loyalty of Minnesota Democrats like Rudy Perpich. Further, his better than decade-long ambition for the presidency may also explain much about the events which I’ll be writing about.

Rudy Perpich Revisited

Yesterday I read a little over a hundred pages of Betty Wilson’s book “Rudy.” It carried him from his birth to his first electoral defeat running for reelection as governor in 1978. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the man. In his last years he did something I highly approved of at the time; he set up the Center for victims of torture. It was an odd thing for a state governor to do.

Rudy was odd and to those who met him one on one charismatic. My first impression of him stuck with me till the day he died. I was at what was then Mankato State College at an anti-Vietnam war rally. I heard John Kerry give his well rehearsed but eloquent protest against the war. I also hear Perpich. I was embarassed for the man and the state of Minnesota. I guess he was famous for his inarticulation. At a big DFL gathering someone told the crowd that the governor was a better dancer than speaker whereupon Rudy began dancing a polka with a startled waitress.

Whatever he lacked in speaking ability he made up for in ideas. He drove people nuts thinking about things to make the state better. Many never came to pass but others did. His quirks and the resurgence of the GOP defeated him in 1978 the year of the “Minnesota Massacre.” Claudia and I were both at the GOP state convention that year and it was thrilling. That was the high watermark for me as a Republican. From then on I fought a reargaurd action to stay in the Party. Apparently that’s how Rudy often was as a Democrat. The odd man out challenging them constantly. I could have liked Rudy Perpich.

One other thing happened in the last month before Perpich was defeated the first time. Its what the triumphant Al Quie said gave him the sense that he was going to win. It was the scandal at the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission.


I could almost see becoming a historian

Other than my mile swim I devoted my entire day to reading though old books and newspaper clippings. Seeing them all together through the lens of Don Boyd is almost enough to turn me into a cynic.

I read through a little of Governor Elmer L. Anderson’s autobiography. Elmer was a venerable old Republican and by today’s standards a liberal. He wrote about his smearing by Hubert Humphrey in the phony I35 scandal. It cost him relection to the Governor’s office by about 90 votes in 1966. He saw HHH as a weak man who was too intent on becoming President for his own good. It reminded me of a short column I ran accross a few years ago that quoted Fannie Lou Hamer to the same affect.

Rereading an old Minnesota political history by G. Theodore Mitau, who took Humphrey’s place at Macalester College, I rediscovered a scandal that was first bubbling over when I first moved to Minnesota. Because it threatened my father’s pension plan and involved the Minnesota State Insurance Commissioner I remember it well. My Dad used to investigate insurance companies for the Kansas State Insurance Commissioner and he ended up with a very low opinion of Minnesota’s insurance regulation. Jack Abramoff doesn’t have anything on yesterday’s DFL.

Cigar Trouble

My investigations of the Upper Great Lakes scandal has taken me on some unexpected turns as well as a trip down memory lane.

I ran for the legislature in 1976 when I was just a pup. The Republicans paid little attention to me because I was running on the DFL side of the city. An ambitious young man, Thomas Berkelman, approached the Republicans and asked for their endorsement for Duluth’s marginally Republican district. They turned him down because they had already pinned their hopes to a local television commentator so Berkelman got the DFL endorsement instead.

It turns out that one of the Upper Great Lakes Commission’s secretaries spent close to two full months working on Tom’s campaign out of the UGRLC office. Paid help was something the GOP couldn’t have offered Tom and he was elected to the House of Representatives. While there he met a young Republican legislator, Kathleen Blatz, and married her. She was subsequently appointed Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court by Republican, Governor Arne Carlson.

In 1971 Berkelman, now a lobbyist, was arrested outside a tobaconnist shop and found with cigars that he hadn’t paid for on his person. A video camera showed him pocketing the cigars. After an embarassing trial (he was the husband of the State’s Chief Justice) Berkelman was aquitted.

The Chief Justice, who recently retired, has since remarried Wheelock Whitney the Republican candidate for Governor in 1982 who challenged Rudy Perpich.

It’s funny but I just discovered that Rudy was eager to kill the Upper Great Lakes Commission in 1977. I wonder if it had any thing to do with all the help that the UGRLC gave Jim Oberstar in 1974 in defeating the DFL nominee for Congress, Tony Perpich, the Governor’s brother?

A former City Councilor chimes in

I just got a call from a former city councilor. The Councilor too enjoyed the column. The Councilor also told me that that the UGLRC scandal helped convince them to switch to the Republican Party. Since then the Councilor has switched to being an Independent.

The Councilor had a friend on the periphery of the UGLRC stew who had witnessed how hard Duluth Democrats worked to get Oberstar the DFL nomination. That friend had also told the Councilor who the next Mayor of Duluth would be (thirty years ago that is). The friend had been handed an envelope with $5,000.00 in it to give to this mayoral candidate’s campaign. The friend refused to be a bag person so someone else had to pass the money on. I think I’d like to talk to the friend. I have a feeling that there are lots of interesting stories out there.



After my last post I returned to the manuscript and found it a little quicker read. Thank goodness. Before setting it aside to get in a my first mile swim in eight days I got a call from Duluth’s former Mayor, Ben Boo. Ben was calling to tell me that he’d enjoyed my column about the Million Dollar Man.

Ben helped put the Upper Great Lakes Commission to bed after the scandals. Most of the commissions were axed by Ronald Reagan. Appointed by Republican Governor Quie Boo told me the place had been a rat’s nest. Those are my words not his but that’s what he meant. My column was a trip down memory lane, so to speak.

Its nice to know someone is reading my columns. So far only 36 people have visited the Old News site. I’ll have to upload some more info soon to keep them coming back.