It’s a cool but sunny day with Nine days till the election. Oh, what to do?
Its dry so it’s tempting to rake the leaves in my yard and begin getting ready for Winter. But, Claudia and I both donated a pint of blood today during Church and as always, we’ve been warned not to do anything too physical.
Our church is hosting one of those “trunk or treats” this afternoon for which we will have to start decorating our car in the church parking lot at about 3:30PM. It’s already nearly 2PM. We both took a nap after lunch, Claudia because she was up early to bake a breakfast for Church and me because I’m torn between attempting to do about fifteen things I don’t have time to get done before the election. But, since the cockroach seems to have failed to pull off a Dotycide on me I think the results of the election probably won’t be nudged along much if I finally put lawnsigns up along Woodland Avenue or replace some of the fallen signs elsewhere in Duluth.
I really think my best bet is to use the dwindling campaign days while the public is focused on school issues to write in my blog and give people the best information I have while they are still paying attention. Yesterday 960 visitors came to the blog. I hoped they would also take my hint to look at my separate campaign website to read the critique of the District’s finances. It took me hours to transfer it from paper to a Microsoft word 7 document and figure out how to place it on the website with my comments attached. All that work and only 23 visitors showed up to read it. Maybe that serves my purposes better. I can still make the claim to be honest by showing something that undermines my argument to pass levies but know that hardly anyone will take the trouble to actually read the criticism of the Duluth School’s finances.
To that end there is an even more troubling indictment of the District and current school board by former School Board member Rich Paulson in the Tribune today. Rich deals with something different than the piece I spent so much time putting on my campaign website. Rich talks about the utter secrecy of the District in negotiating the last two teacher’s contracts. He points out generous health benefits and their financial implications. He points out how the details of both these public documents were kept out of sight by the Dixon administration for in the first case one year after they were approved by the School Board and in the next case by almost two years. I don’t in the least blame Mr. Paulson for the votes he will cast in opposition to the levies in nine days.
I will, as I have said many times, be voting for them. I would do this even if I didn’t expect to get elected to the School Board. If Art Johnston or I am not on the Board I see no one who would ask the kind of questions that ought to be answered. Ought to be.
I’m going to spend the rest of the day with my grandsons (I guess I’ve just decided what to do today) so the fifteen campaign related things I took a nap to stop thinking about……well, I’ll just think about them later. But before I go I’ll leave you with the mystery I’m trying slowly to unravel in the Cockroach series of posts which I will pick up again eventually. Where did the money go?
What money? you ask.
Well, in 2006 when we first embarked on the Red Plan the Duluth School Administration confidently said that Johnson Controls would only earn $4.9 million if memory serves. (I’ll have to look that up in old clippings to confirm that)
But the School District’s facilities man quickly explained to Gary Glass, one of my fellow candidates for the School Board, that JCI would get closer to 14% of the total cost of the Red Plan. That amounted to about $33 million dollars (again if memory serves). This, would actually be a pretty typical charge to expect for a project manager to oversee a quarter million school project. Nonetheless, having Gary Glass expose this news after having said they would only get 5 million caused heart attacks. Why if Gary was right the Administration must have either been clueless or lied. To cover this up, Ralph Doty, a former state senator, community college President and new Fargo Forum columnist called Gary a liar three days before the 2006 election. Doty called me even worse things. Gary survived to spend the next four years being denied public information while a Board member (not unlike the complaints of Rich Paulson) but I succumbed to Doty’s criticisms and lost that election.
So, the money. The money. What about it?
Well, we’ve gone from $4.9 million to 33 million but that’s just the beginning. Now that the Red Plan is all but finished a new Let Duluth Vote School Board member, Art Johnston has been able to compile the list of expenditures, not as they were estimated six years ago, but as they actually have been recorded in the public record. Johnson Controls can claim about 43 million dollars for the work their contract with the District entitled them too. That’s a ten-million-dollar improvement over Gary’s estimates six years ago which caused him so much grief from Ralph Doty.
The remarkable information Art has shared with me is that Johnson Controls actually collected, not just $43 million dollars but almost $85 million dollars for its work.
This is Twice what the contract authorized Johnson Controls to collect.
This is close to three times what Gary Glass estimated they would be paid when Ralph Doty called him a liar.
This is close to 17 times as much as our administration was prepared to admit that Johnson Controls would be paid in 2006 when the whole Red Plan project was undertaken.
No wonder some cockroach would rather have the public talking about my association with a less than stellar person than where the money for the Red Plan went.
If you didn’t pick up the latest Reader Weekly this is what I sent them for an advertisement I never imagined I’d have to pay for:
THIS CANDIDATE’S CLAY FEET
A TV reporter just called to tell me that an “anonymous source” had told her that I had falsely claimed to be a” retired teacher.” I told her she was in error but she insisted twice that there was no record of me teaching in Proctor or the Duluth Schools. Then she insisted I had obviously violated my quaint campaign slogan,” Honesty is the best policy.”
She sent a fellow to my home with a camera and he too insisted that my short-lived teaching career did not constitute being a retired teacher. I agreed that if I’d used this description it was a stretch despite my collecting Social Security and having taught off and on for thirteen years. He wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten tenure and I told him I just hadn’t met expectations. Then the reporter let the real scandal slip but I didn’t realize it.” Who is your campaign manager?” he wanted to know.” I’m my own campaign manager. I’ve always been,” I told him. He left my home disappointed but paused in my front lawn to record himself pointing to the word” Honesty” on my lawnsign.
It wasn’t until a second reporter called that I realized what the cameraman was driving at. If he’d asked me about my campaign” volunteer” he’d have been on the money.
A month ago I asked for prayers at my church for this volunteer after hearing a sermon describing how unwelcome some people feel in church. I told my congregation that I knew such a person. Of course, the prayers I asked for could just as easily have been for our congregation.
When we exile troubled people it robs them of a chance for redemption. Hard hearts make little room for the exhortation:” let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
My friend is not the only one to have clay feet. I have them in spades.
I lost three teaching jobs in a space of twelve years. The final termination came a few months before my Dad lost his battle with cancer. He went to his grave disappointed in me. I’ve sought a redemption of sorts ever since.
Redemption comes easy to our best teachers. They understand the old adage that we learn from our mistakes. If the adage is right I’m indeed fortunate. In addition to losing those three jobs I’ve lost a dozen campaigns for public office. That could make me the smartest person in Duluth. And judging by the crowded classes in Duluth that followed our spending half a billion on new schools I may even be a genius for predicting a Red Plan Armageddon.
One mistake I didn’t make was to offer a pariah friendship, respect and the trust to help me with my campaign despite the threat of anonymous sources. Wasn’t there was someone else who hung out with lepers, tax collectors and whores?
Paid for by Welty for School board, PO Box 3434, Duluth, MN 55803