MPR and me

I was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio Friday night. I was surprised that a reporter from the Twin Cities would call and ask about the Plan B referendum what with so much else going on this election. I mostly joked around because the refrendum has been turned into a eunuch and neither a winning or losing vote will mean much. I predicted that it would fail because voters will go in and see it claims it will cause increased taxes. (Not true of course) Still, I said I’d be voting for it. That’s a protest vote, you know.

The interview probably won’t be aired because it really isn’t that important. Still, I checked the MPR site today and put my name into their search engine to see if I’d missed it. Answer: Nope! I was rather surprised, however, to see so many stories quoting me pop up. They must never clean out their old radio stories.

Social Security

US citizens not only live longer they are taking their Social Security earlier. This means the Federal Goverment/taxpayers will need to cover their social security for an increasingly long span of time even while they become a larger share of the population and a greater burden.

I’ll be eligible to take early retirement in a little over two years. Somebody stop me before my fellow old codgers and I ruin our Grandchildren. Quick, sign them up for the Future Tea Partiers of America.

Logic so compelling that…..

…..Red Plan apologists are spending thousands to discourage voters from following it.

From today’s Trib:

Two years ago, citizens petitioned for an alternative to the Red Plan. Plan B would’ve kept more neighborhood schools for millions less. The vote on Plan B should have happened two years ago when the district could have compromised. The district has spent two years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to discredit Let Duluth Vote and disallow, derail and delay the public’s vote on Plan B. One has to ask why the district has worked so hard to keep us from voting.

The district says the vote is nonbinding and there seems to be no intention of listening to the results. The district has rushed to buy property, tear down buildings, bulldoze green space, sign contracts and build to make sure the Red Plan was too far along before you got a chance to vote. The district seems to want you to believe that Let Duluth Vote wants to undo everything already built. This is not true.

Please Vote “yes” for Plan B. It won’t raise your taxes, but it might send a message to the superintendent and School Board that you don’t appreciate having them take away your right to vote. Vote “yes” to send a message.

Brenda Anderson


Our legacy

So much of the neocon dogma that helped launch the Iraq War springs from their unhappiness that we didn’t win the Vietnam War. Maybe we should take some satisfaction in knowing that no one won it.

“Are you happy now?”

“Let me explain how it works to you. I’m the anchor, your’e the guest. I’m the interviewer you are the interviewee.”

“The self described FOX News “anchor” was probably a Miss America contestant. God Bless America. God Bless the First Amendment. But not you bloodthirsty Moslems.

I’ve been chewing over the Juan Williams firing at NPR for a while now. I’ll be the first to say NPR was clumsy. But the defenders of Williams must not have given a lot of thought about the kind of thing he said about people wearing Moslem garb on airplanes. Would a Menonite wearing his black hat and sporting a long beard be telling other passengers that he first and formost associated himself with his religion? How about a Jew with a yarmaluke? What would Juan think about passengers getting nervous with a black man wearing copious amounts of gold jewlery and black shades? Would he be signaling that he identifed with gangstahood over Red Blooded Americanism?

These are all worthy academic questions but Juan was very quick to give Bill O’Reilly a pass on his really crude assertion that the world’s Moslems are out to get America. In a way his reputation as a historian of the US Civil Right movement lends O’Reilly’s program legitimacy. In fact he uses it to defend himself when he begins to explain his qualms about Moslems on a plane:

“You know Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the Civil Rights movement.”

I suspect that Williams removal from NPR has long been considered and that the Moslem garb quote was a last straw. He’s got a two million contract with FOX now so its hard to feel sorry for him or Fox. It now enjoys William’s civil right’s street cred to project their famous “fair and balanced reporting. It reminds me a bit of Sen. Jesse Helms famous black Senate Staffer. I guess we should all be happier now.

Ford and Rubin

On the earlier post Vic rightly comments:

“To say that what someone said is not true, is not synonymous with saying that that person is a liar. One can simply be wrong about what one says, which is not synonymous with being a liar.”

And I might add the reporter has inserted the worth “truth” which implies that one of them has engaged in deception.

Still, my suspicion, and it is just that, is that Rubin communicated his interest in succeeding Mitchell to Ford one way or another and that it was no secret among the staff. There is nothing wrong with ambition or candor. At the moment Rubin is a candidate with more and bigger lawnsigns and the endorsement of the DNT. He’s doing just fine. The last thing he needs is a last minute accusation that he felt entitled to succeed Mitchell. No one much likes entitlement. Certainly Rubin is working very hard to win the job from Ford so he’s not waiting for it to be handed over. And according to Ford’s recollection that’s what she told Rubin he would have to do four years ago.

Maybe, as Vic suggests, she or Rubin is simply wrong, perhaps due to faulty memories. I don’t think I’d buy that conclusion considering the circumstances. Whatever conversation took place between them would likely have been burned pretty well into their memories because it involved something the one had just achieved and something the other had very much counted on. I simply suspect one of them is being less than forthright about the conversation. The conversation itself is not very important – rather like Martha Stewart’s receiving inside trading information. As you might recall that’s not what sent her to prison. In the criminal justice system the truth is supposed to count for something.

the burden of proof

I was surprised and delighted when Melanie Ford defeated the previous long standing St. Louis County Attorney Alan Mitchell. My sense was that he was the power behind the scenes and I didn’t like a rumor I once heard circulating about him. I certainly didn’t like the shabby treatment Ford received at the hands of County Board after unseating Mitchell. This seemed to confirm an unhealthy influence on the Board by Mitchell.

I’ve no particular interest in the race. Ford never came to the aid of Let Duluth Vote but I would have been surprised if any County Attorney had. Her challenger Mark (I think) Rubin has the support of the old staff which once again smacks of good ole boy politics. He also grins a lot while Ford looks the cold fish.

I was tugged in her direction today with this short passage from a Trib story on the race:

“Shortly after I was elected, he told me that he was supposed to be the successor to Alan Mitchell,” Ford said of Mark Rubin, a veteran of the office who has worked there 32 of his 56 years. “I said, ‘Mark, you’ve got to run for the job.’ And here we are.”
Rubin denied having such a conversation with his boss.

“Integrity means speaking the truth; none of that is true,” he said, also disputing a contention by Ford that he has been running for the office for four years. He says he publicly announced his intention to run in April 2009 and made it formal a year later.

What Ford says has the ring of truth. Lots of similar offices have a guy on staff ready to take the place of the leader upon his retirement. My Father was one example. As a young staff attorney in the Kansas State Insurance Commission he thought about replacing his boss the Commissioner at some future date.

This is now a his word vs. her word issue. While some might have found fault with Rubin for saying this it could just as easily have been a mark of Mr. Rubin’s honesty. He does not claim that Ms. Ford ever did anything to make his work difficult. I think thats a mark of a good leader. Perhaps Ms. Ford has chosen to withhold some critical detail. Clearly Rubin is running and I’ll bet this is no surprise for anyone who works with him. What he has done, however, is to say that his boss told a lie about him. That is a very serious charge especially because what she said is so believable.

I’ve called people liars in this blog. Its an outlandish charge but one I’m fully prepared to back up. I would have believed Rubin had he put some credible spin on his conversation and I can think of many justifications for his alledged comment not the least of which is candor. Instead, his flat out denial leaves me to choose between the adversaries in this race something I can not do without guessing. Her charge against him is that he was ambitious, candid and unhappy to find his long range plans upset. His charge is that his boss is a liar. Melanie Ford is clearly right that he was ambitious. Rubin is clearly right that a lie has been told its just not certain by whom. In a court of law there is something called the burden of proof. Its a burden Mark Rubin can not carry.

Mr. Facebook

I just got a call from someone who thought I was still running against Roger Reinert for the State Senate. My caller had first attempted to call Roger at a former campaign headquarters but was informed that Roger no longer worked out of it. The woman answering the phone promised to relay the caller’s concerns to Roger.

For my part I offered to look Roger’s phone number up in the phone book for my caller. I was astonished that to discover that Roger has an unlisted number. Astounding! And yet the Tribune made Roger’s Facebook page half their reason for endorsing Roger’s Senate Campaign because it showed his innovative efforts to be available to the public.

A fat lot of good that will do most of Roger’s senior voters who have not established Internet accounts. Mr. Web looks to be hiding from the very folks he wants to elect him to the State Senate. Now that’s being connected.

A private/public partnership

Its not just Move Forward Duluth that rolled out the big guns today. Dr. Dixon has sent out the District’s legally required flyer about next week’s two-year-late referendum. About the only thing they get right is that the referendum is non binding which begs the question why anyone would spend money to defeat it or the District would put gratuitous information bad mouthing it in the voter’s hands.

Most politicians are forbidden to coordinate public and private propaganda campaigns like that. As per usual Dr. Dixon is above such petty considerations.

SSA backwards

I posted Move Forward Duluth’s email earlier. Today their thousand buck add showed up in the Trib. I only noticed it because the word “backwards” was printed backwards.

There’s not much point arguing against it. As I’ve said before they are painting the largely irrelevant and non-binding Plan B proposal as a Frankenstein Monster. I suppose if it were to pass a case could be made for making modifications to the last two projects that are in the design stage. That won’t happen, of course, because the school board majority won’t change for another 14 months. As for the courts…………..I don’t expect the last judge standing to do anything exceptional.

Why place the add? The Move Forward folks are driven by one concern alone. The unlikely passage of the Plan B referendum would be a public rebuke to a school board that has managed for four years to deny voters a chance to weigh in on the Red Plan. God forbid! That’s why the alternative plan has been spray painted by Move Forward Duluth.

Someone tagged the retaining wall by my house again last week. Ugly as it is its no match for MFD’s ad.

An environmental study in wintertime?

A point made in the story on the environmental suit just registered with me. The District’s pals evaluated the new Western Middle School site during the winter. Well, yeah, that’s odd. What were they checking out? Snow cover? I expected any environmental review to be as minimal as the one conducted at Ordean but apparently I overestimated the District’s and its partner’s diligence.

The Congressman for Malaysia

I first heard Congressman Oberstar’s latest cheapo TV ad a couple of days ago. It featured a tiny video of his oponant Chip Cravaack saying something about how Maylasia was a model of entrepreneural spirit. Then a snippet of a Cravaack saying, “like Malaysia” was played back three times in response to questions asked by the narrator but, of course, never heard by Craavack. I was in another room when I heard the voice over guy say “Chip Cravaack would be a good Congressman……….for Maylasia.” I laughed strenuously. It ranked right up there with Science Mystery Theater for a good laugh.

It was Jimmy’s first attack ad and its hard to say whether its cheesiness or its ineffectuality was more glaring. After a second viewing tonight I’m pretty sure it will drive a lot of undecideds to the Cravaack camp.

I felt) as far back as 1992 when I first ran against Oberstar that no one much loved him. The same was true when I ran against him in 2006. Its just as true today and Chip Cravaack has been a model candidate. Cravaack has done nothing sleazy in fact, his ads are a model of restraint. And tonight the Congressional GOP put on a blistering television ad scorching Oberstar. It was effective.

Up until a few days ago I was telling folks that while Oberstar won’t get his usual minimum 59% of the vote but that he should still pull through. Had he gotten the national Democrats to help him early he could have saved himself. Instead he had someone produce a rinky dink ad that does him no credit. I think its too late for Oberstar. I’m not eager for the GOP to take over Congress but it will be nice to demonstrate that I was correct all along about Oberstar being a paper tiger. This Congressional District will never be the same again…….if it even manages to survive reapportionment.

But Republican Pundits hate Denmark

One more reason to root for California’s referendum proposing to legalize marijuana. From a post on

The numbers are staggering. In 1970 one in 400 American adults was behind bars or on parole. As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it’s one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. According to the King’s College World Prison Population List (PDF), the U.S. is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly a fourth of its prisoners. Judging by these official numbers, America’s incarceration rate leads the developed world by a large margin, although it’s doubtful that authoritarian regimes such as China’s are providing accurate data, especially about political prisoners. But among liberal democracies, the competition isn’t even close: As of 2008, the U.S. incarceration rate was 756 per 100,000 people, compared to 288 for Latvia, 153 for England and Wales, 96 for France, and 63 for Denmark.

Now I suppose you want an example. OK. Bill O’Reilly is one of them.

A Dane disagrees with Bill.

Republicans are also tough on crime. Look at all the Mexican gang bangers on their ads this year.

The “backwards election”

Be very afraid.

An email to Duluth’s forward thinking people:

From: mlarson@**********.com
Subject: MoveForwardDuluth email update: Vote No on Plan B
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 05:51:31 -0500

Dear Friends,

Last fall, after the school board elections, I thought the need for MoveForwardDuluth was over. The community vote maintained a majority support on the Board for the District’s Long Range Facilities Plan, buildings were under construction and feedback was incredibly positive about the completed school projects. And it has been a pretty quiet year for contested issues relating to the LRFP. However, now I know there still is one more obstacle we need to address before all of us can breathe a sigh of relief that finally the debate about which school facility plan is best for our community is over. Continue reading

To Censure or not to Censure

An interesting email circulating among School Board members:

Requested Meeting
william c. hanson
This message was sent with High importance.
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2010 10:37 AM
School Board
kathleen a. kaufman
We received a request to schedule a Special Meeting and are reviewing it with our attorneys.
The meeting is not on the schedule for next week. As you know, it is our normal practice when scheduling a special board meeting to poll board members regarding availability. In addition, it is also generally our practice to group board meetings together, for example scheduling a special board meeting on the same night we have a regular committee meeting or a regular school board meeting.

Bill Hanson
CFO/Executive Director of Business Services
ISD 709 – Duluth Public Schools
215 North 1st Ave East
Duluth, MN 55802


October 21, 2010

Independent School District 709
215 N 1st Av. E.
Duluth, MN 55802

The following School Board members request a Special Meeting of the ISD 709 school board on Tuesday October 26 at 6:30 at the regular board meeting room at HOCHS.

The agenda of this meeting will be to censure the presiding Chairperson due to misconduct and dereliction of duty at the October 19, 2010 regular board meeting.

This is under the authority of School Board By-Laws 9070 and 9070.

Art Johnston, 4th District Member

Gary Glass, Member at Large

Tom Kasper, Member at Large