An email I sent out this morning.
Its Wednesday, lets get together today even if its only for 15 minutes, just to get acquainted. Gary Glass’s call for a referendum nestled next to the story about Dr. Dixon’s contract renewal is a start. Sarah, the innocent reporter who has sipped the Superintendent’s very charmingly dispensed purple koolaid, is looking at everything Gary says with far too much skepticism. We need to have her train that skepticism on the Red Plan. The “perceived” increase in the cost due to anticipated inflation doesn’t mean that the now $293 million bond proposal isn’t $36 million more expensive than the public was previous told it would be. (This inflationary increase – by itself – would probably be the second largest school bond Duluth ever tried to float)
We need to alarm people. We cannot stop this through a petition but we have to consider circulating one to counter Johnson Controls phoney survey. We need at least 5,000 signatures. That’s what we need to talk about. I want to call a meeting of the people on your list and get a petition started. There is a fifty day period, maybe less, to get our views to the Governor, the school board, and the press. Duluth voters must be given the chance to decided this bond’s fate. We need to issue an invitation to a meeting to begin the petition pronto.
Feel free to send this out to your email list to prepare them for the meeting. The group meeting should be this week after work if we can manage it. It only needs to be an hour long to organize the petition although I’m sure some people will want to spend additional time talking politics, school priorities and strategy. We don’t need to have everyone who will eventually petition come. If we got ten people together we can build from that. I’ll be thinking about how we can get 5,000 signatures in about 10 days time. with 25 people helping that will be a snap. maybe we can get 10,000 if we get even more helpers.
We’re talking about the School District raising a half-a-billion in new taxes for the bond and interest on this project. That’s damn near double the $305 million City health care crisis which has some city councilors talking about having Duluth file for bankruptcy. And what for? – a half ass proposal that moves junior high students to a High School and moves the high school students to the junior high. Half-a-billion dollars!!!
Last night Tom Hustad came up to me and explained that he had been told that whenever a School District has an opportunity to bond it ought to bond – sure – and bankrupt the community for an ill conceived project. Brilliant! I smiled and told Tom that we’d have to agree to disagree.
Duluth has a long history of holding referendums. The biggest up to now was in 1989 for $55 million dollars. It went down to flaming defeat. So did a $35 million dollar bond that followed it shortly thereafter. Now we face a bond six time bigger and the voters won’t be given a say.
Johnsons Controls has spent all its money on lawyers to comb through Minnesota’s statutes to find loopholes which will allow them to implement a bond without an election. They obviously didn’t spend it on architects or else they would have come up with a plan that would have had adequate parking for the new High School but, no, that would have meant clipping the company’s profits because of land acquisition they preferred not to waste money on. So, they are going to increase the enrollment of the new high school by half-again its current size and provide parking space for a third of cars that are sure to need parking spaces.
A half-billion dollars! Its bad enough that Duluth taxpayers are paying double taxation to take over the Federal Government’s Medicare costs for retired City employees. We don’t need the School District to follow the City into a financial pit.
Give me a call when you get this. ***-****.