For the past six months I’ve resisted the urge to blog – much. I came onto the School Board in January with an open mind. The Red Plan was behind us as a construction project but its obvious destructive consequences had to be dealt with. I do not take back a single thing I said during my campaign to be elected including my comments about the gangrene that is spreading throughout the schools – it is being held in check but there will be very little improvement any time soon because the remedy requires money. For the past four years we have taken six million each year out of operations to pay off bonds. Thanks to the $4 million dollars that the legislature has pumped into Duluth and the $1.8 million annual levy increase we no longer need to borrow six million from operations year by year. Still, local taxes going into operations are ten million less than they were in 1997. We will not be adding back the music program of old, we will not be reducing class sizes to the days of old either. In short, the glory days are over but we have very pretty new schools. I guess that’s something.
All this reinforces one other hard comment I made when I campaigned last fall, that our recent school boards were among the most incompetent in Minnesota history. It remains to be seen if the current board I serve on will be any better. I had some hope that we could improve but the events of the last week lead me nearly to despair.
Tonight after giving it much thought I can say that I am condemned to purgatory for the next year and a half until the seating of the next school board after the 2015 election. I’ve worked my butt off for the past six months to make sure this would not happen, that we could make progress despite the vast obstacles before us. Left little other choice I’ve decided to retreat to my campaign slogan, “Honesty is the best policy.” What I will be reporting from hear on out will be honest as all get out. That doesn’t mean it will be true but facts are stubborn things and I will stick to them as I explain what I have deduced on the ground and in the arena for the first six months of my four-year stint on the school board.
I won’t get too far into that story tonight on this blog. Rather I will compose the history leading up to this moment elsewhere and post it bit by bit in roughly chronological order. I will attempt a great deal of analysis of the characters in the story, always a dicey thing to do, their motivations and what I’ve witnessed over time that leads me to my conclusions. What is happening now is very dark indeed and I intend to shed as much light on it as I can at no expense to the public compared to the expensive and secretive travesty that I expect to be produced by Fascistski, Mark and Johnson out of Eden Prairie. I expect them to be as credible as the “scientists” that Phillip Morris used to pay to testify that cigarette smoking was a healthy activity.
I’ll make a couple quick points that will be expanded upon when I really take care of next week’s rainy forecast to begin typing in earnest. I’ll do it with bullet points like the indictment brought against Art Johnston:
– This attempt to remove Art is part of a remarkable succession of such attempts by the Dixon cabal to remove school board dissenters. In Faribault Dixon tried to implicate one lone Board critic with forgery and theft and attempted to remove another Board member just as he attempted to remove Gary Glass in 2010. This is the fourth such attempt only this time its being attempted by an acolyte.
– I’m no innocent fan of Art Johnston. For four years I’ve felt little sympathy for the terrible experience he has endured as a dissenting school board member. In fact, before he was elected in 2009 I wrote him a private email in which I told Art that I hoped he would be elected because I knew he would have the worst four years of his life.
– Art Johnston is close to incorruptible.
– Art Johnston has been a new man since I joined the Board. He has rarely behaved in a manner that could have brought him condemnation. For the past month I’ve practically been Art’s Siamese Twin so close that I know with almost total certainty that the charges brought against him are not merely a fraud but clearly intended to blacken his reputation.
– The attempt to remove Art was hastily arranged and has very likely been employed when it became obvious that an earlier attempt to teach him a lesson by punishing his partner of 14 years would come to be regarded as thuggish.
– It probably did not help Art’s cause when I met with the Superintendent last week and told Mr. Gronseth, with all confidence, that I expected to be in a majority after next year’s election. I can’t help but wonder if in the face of being exposed for being bullies the Superintendent and his subordinates didn’t revert to the Dixon playbook in a clumsy attempt to make it just that much harder for my prediction to come true. After all, for it to come true I only needed to elect two new allies on the school board from three candidates. Without Art I’d have make sure that all three of the successful candidates were potential allies of mine a considerably higher hurdle. Perhaps that was all the incentive necessary to jump horses in the middle of the stream although at the moment both Art and Jane Bushey are in the Superintendent’s crosshairs.
This drama/sham will play out all summer insuring a great summertime spectacle. I’m in no hurry to spill all my beans. All the posts I’ve sat on for months can now come out from under cover. Because this blog is not just about the dizzying world of the Duluth Public Schools I’ll keep posting whatever suits my fancy. Look for Harry’s Diary items, Political commentary, Republican bashing and a host of other topics like those you can find on the long list at the right side of this blog.
Don’t be surprised if I don’t always blog post. My long time readers know that I decided before I began running last summer to put my family first. At the moment that means summer projects, gardening and family time. As important as the Duluth Schools are to me after devoting twenty-five plus years on the cause it will always fall second in line on my priority list.
Today I went to the Zinema with Claudia and watched two very warm but obscure movies, Chef and Lunchbox.
Ah, I should explain the posts title now.
I blogged a day ago that I had self appointed myself the treasurer of the Art Johnston Legal Defense Fund. I set up an account, put $150 bucks in it and opened a post office box. Today I got a call from an old colleague, the one who put the legal defense fund idea in my head two days ago telling me this was a mistake. Claudia could hear her through my head from my phone after I parked my car before going to the movies. Claudia heartily agreed. I will surrender my official leadership of this although I will sure as hell help raise money for the cause. I should have known better. Four years ago it was what Gary Glass did that caused Let Duluth Vote’s attorney to be sent to Siberia. The attorney should not have been representing both a school board member and the folks challenging the school board in court. Sue Torgerson, you taught me that lesson very well.
I’m not alone in my impulsiveness. Chair Mike Meirnicki had the smarts to remove himself as the chairman of the pre-Kangaroo court authorizing an investigation because he had leveled one of the indictment’s complaints against Art. But it didn’t occur to Mike (or me for that matter) to recuse himself from voting to proceed with an investigation. I’m not the only fool rushing in.
Speaking of the Chairman, I picked up the Reader while at the Zinema Theater and brought it home. I uploaded a thumbnail of its cover earlier today but I couldn’t read it. It was too small. When I got home I finally took a look at the Reader’s cover and burst out laughing. Its the funniest front cover the Reader has ever published.
By the way. I will pay little heed to complaints that I’m being uncivil. Some of the folks I’m facing wanted to hassle an employee to punish her husband. That’s not only uncivil it’s evil.