WW III – Getting past the Day of Infamy

My reluctance to proceed with the World War lll posts is getting to a few of my avid readers. Here’s an email I got a couple days ago:

“Handsome Harry: Is that all you are going to give us what is posted on your website? We have inquiring minds and have an insatiable desire to know. ***”

I’m only beginning my 7th of 24 months before Duluth elects a new school board in which I have some hope of being a part of a majority. In fact, I have very little doubt of this coming transformation. This stupidity only cements my confidence.

But 18 months is a long time to wait. And our classrooms show little sign of shrinking. World War III is, as I told the Duluth News Tribune, a terrible distraction. It is a distraction, however, that the majority has chosen to inflict upon Duluth. Art and I are innocent bystanders. As for Art’s partner Jane Bushey; she is a nanny goat tied to a tree to catch a tiger.

I had hoped to build a coalition on the existing board to work toward some budget resolution and an honest assessment of our chances to win some compensation for the incompetent work of Johnson Controls that left us with forty-plus kids in classes and schools that will be overcrowded mere years after the Red Plan’s completion. So far I have proven unequal to that task. Explaining why I have failed would require me to analyze my fellow school board members which would almost certainly annoy them and make coalition building all the more unlikely. That’s the reason I’ve bitten my tongue, or fingers, in this blog for the past six months. But the senseless attempt to remove Art Johnston suggests to me that it would be folly to bother with reconciliation. That’s ironic because the Civility code we just adopted encourages “apologies.” It will be a cold day in hell before this Board says it’s sorry to Art Johnston. I might as well proceed as though war is inevitable. We are well past December 7th.

Its not as though I gave up on building bridges. I have been a jolly good sport and bent my back to encourage Art to be a jolly good sport too. I’ve been coming to Board meetings singing. I’ve set up one on one with all my fellow Board members save one and with the Superintendent too. But, of late, my veiled references and comments about current going’s on in the blog have not been popular. Chair Miernicki sent me an email quibbling with my blog’s skepticism about charges of assault.

We were going to meet so that I could hear his side of the story but that was canceled in favor of a golf outing last Thursday and has not been rescheduled. I may be the only Board member not to know what took place from his perspective.

This is a small town and everybody eventually learns everyone else’s business. I recall an old Board colleague of mine who used to go out with all the Board members after School Board meetings to unwind at Grandma’s restaurant. He got an anonymous letter from a teacher when he first faced reelection telling him that he was shooting off his mouth at Grandma’s in front of the wait staff and that a lot of them were the children of teachers who reported everything he said to their parents. This Board member was so shellshocked by that claim, which was probably true, that he curled up in a fetal ball and was crushed in the next election.

What have I heard about this Board along those lines? Apparently one of Art’s biggest critics on the School Board has been going around town boasting to all who will listen that Art is going to get taken out. Charming.

Sunday’s story in the DNT is just the beginning. It revealed that one of the primary justifications, perhaps the only one, for removing Jane Bushey from her job at East High was bogus. The father of one of her children has never contemplated suing the District because of her conduct. Yet this was the reason Jane was given for being stripped of her seniority rights “for her own protection.” No wonder Art Johnston is testy. No wonder Jane described Art has heroic in her defense at our last school board meeting. You can watch her defense of Art in the District’s June meeting video at the 56 minute mark on Youtube.

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