lie, lie, lie

Chair Miernicki was so incensed by Mr. Martell’s assertion that he had abruptly adjourned the meeting with the state auditors that he wrote in to correct Mr. Martell. Mike’s letter contained the world “lie” three times as if to reinforce how he felt about Mr. Martell. In response Art Johnston and I along with Loren himself all wrote to the Reader Weekly. If you stop by the nearest convenience store you will find out three replies.

For the purpose of this post I will include only Chair Miernicki’s letter followed by my own.

Chair Miernicki, the floor is yours:

I recently read the July 31st article by Loren Martel entitled “A Few Words About the State Audit.” In it I was personally attacked by Martell. He claimed in the article that as chair of the School Board, I had “shut down the meeting” while “Board members still had lights on. That is a lie. That did not happen. When I read the Martel article, I did two things. I asked other board members if they saw any lights on. All said, that they there were no lights on. I then went to the district office and listened to the recording of the inside of the meeting. In the recording, I asked Art Johnston if he had any more questions. Mister Johnston said he had one more and asked the question. We had three state auditors present, and 1 of them answered Mister Johnston’s question.

I have a computer monitor in front of me that shows who else on the board has his/her light on. There were only two members who still wanted to comment. Annie Harala went next and thanked the auditors for their report. That left Rosie Loeffler-Kemp. I called on Ms. Loeffler-Kemp who also thanked the auditors for their time and effort. There were no further lights on. There were no names on my screen. Mr. Martell claims in his article that I have that I “seem to have trouble with representative democracy. Board members still had lights on.” He was sitting at the back of the room and could not see my computer screen. I swear to the readers that there were no lights on and it there were no names on my computer screen. I thanked the Auditors and said “Welcome to Duluth.” We then adjourned the meeting. No one was cut off from asking further questions.

I understand the Loren Martel is angry with the outcome of the audit. He has spent a great deal of personal money and time fighting the Red Plan. The State Auditors Office found that the district had done nothing wrong. What bothers me is that Martel chooses to openly lie about what happened at the end the meeting. I will say again that there were no microphone lights on and no names on the computer screen. To clean otherwise is a lie. Mister Martell owes me a retraction or an apology. I doubt if I will get either.

Mike Miernicki
Chair, Duluth Board of Education

BTW – the Auditor did not find that “the district had done nothing wrong.” Instead they offered no opinions and refused to speculate about whether the District had made mistakes. As Loren pointed out they repeatedly refused to give the all clear to Duluth when prompted repeatedly by Member Loeffler-Kemp to do so.

Here’s my letter in reply to Mr. Miernicki:

”That is a lie.”

“That is a lie.” So wrote Duluth School Board chair Mike Miernicki in a bitter rejoinder to the excellent Duluth Reader column of July 31st by Loren Martell. Mr. Martell was detailing the recent State Auditor’s report on the District’s financial management of the infamous “Red Plan.” Loren, who had singlehandedly brought the audit into existence, had to endure the presentation of eight skimpy pages after his two-year wait. The Auditor’s final page summed it up nicely “W” did not perform an audit.”

Chair Miernicki’s dismissal of Loren’s column ignored the first 23 paragraphs to highlight the “lie” in Martell’s next to last paragraph describing the Chair’s announcement that the meeting was over at 6pm sharp. Chair Miernicki backed up his accusation by saying he had asked other Board members if this was true. Apparently, these other board members agreed that no Board member’s microphone lights (which signal questions) were still on when he stopped the meeting. Then the Chairman listened to the audio recording of the meeting.

There are two problem with the Chairman’s research. He only surveyed some board members and I wasn’t one of them. I sit directly opposite Art Johnston and clearly saw Art’s resignation when the meeting was called off while his microphone’s light shone brightly. Art and I joked darkly about this after the “adjournment.” Secondly, an audio recording would fail to show a bright microphone light.

The Auditors had retreated to “we have no opinion” in answer to most of our questions. Art and I simply decided it wasn’t worth a fight with Chair Miernicki when he ignored Art’s light. If Mr. Miernicki did listen to the audio he must have heard his own thrice announced proclamation that the meeting would close at 6 sharp. This annoyed me greatly because I had woken up in St. Louis, Missouri at 2:30am that day for an eleven-hour drive back to Duluth to make the damned meeting.

Often a lie is little more than two people having an honest disagreement. I can easily follow both Mr. Martell’s and Mr. Miernicki’s logic about what constitutes a violation of parliamentary procedure. Art and I should have objected but we didn’t and Mr. Miernicki has conveniently failed to mention his thrice stated declaration that he would shut down the meeting regardless of our questions.
Mr. Martell and Mr. Miernicki both feel that they have accused each other of lying. That’s too bad. As for the Chairman’s thin skin I’m not sure it’s all that warranted. He recently sent me an email accusing me of lying in a four-page analysis I wrote about Art Johnston’s recent treatment. I had threatened to make the four pages public and when Mike claimed my analysis contained lies I asked him to point them out so that I could correct them. He told me I’d find out what was wrong when I published them. That was not a very helpful way to get me to the truth.

Furthermore, I had only shared my lies, if that’s what they were, with my fellow board members and the Superintendent. That can’t be said of Chair Miernicki’s accusations against Art Johnston. Last week the front page of the Duluth News Tribune had this charming headline: “Email accuses Johnston of “slandering’ district employees.” To date the worst Chair Miernicki has suffered was the description of how he abruptly ended a meeting in the 24th paragraph of a 25-paragraph column. It’s hard to imagine how such an easily bruised man would feel had he been the one made to suffer a summer’s worth of nasty headlines brought about by a fellow school board member.

Harry Welty
At large member of the Duluth School Board