“Where this blog is headed” revisited – plus a little piss and vinegar

Lincoln democrat is 108 months old minus a week or two. This is its 12,830th post. Its the diary I share with whoever is prurient or curious enough to see what I’m pontificating about at any given point in my life. It is not quite a diary but I throw enough personal stuff in to make sure my readers can see the sinew and bones that make me frail and foible prone like any other human.

I’ve commented on the retirement of the Sullivan blog recently. I’m not sure when I first ran across it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t about the time of 9/11. I cautiously supported George Bush in his invasion of Iraq and I suspect that support was built in large part on the thinking of Andrew Sullivan the gay wunderkind of the conservative movement. Like Sullivan I ended up realizing what a mistake George Bush made. Sullivan’s hanging all his thoughts out in the public as he changed his mind was a stellar example to me of a kind of public humility I could identify with.

If you look down the column on the right you will see that my blog began in March of 2006 and wasted little time in linking to Andrew Sullivan’s blog. I did so first in my nineteenth post. Like many old hyperlinks it is no longer active so I’d have to search through Sullivan’s archives to find it now.

I also linked to Sullivan’s blog in 2008 in a post that caught me just as I was ending my run of 100 biweekly columns in Duluth’s tabloid the Reader Weekly. That was my 1,289th post titled “Where this blog is headed.” I was ending my regular column for the Reader (without pay) and beginning a second campaign for Congress as an Independent candidate. I would end up getting far fewer votes the second time around than in 1992 when I garnered 7% of the Eighth Congressional District vote as the “Perot Choice” candidate.

That I did so poorly was in part my sudden preoccupation with an ancient story going back to the Congressional election of 1974. I was visiting my Mother in a St. Paul memory care unit every two weeks and spent part of my visiting day at the Minnesota Historical Museum researching that old bit of Duluth history. That’s not the best way to conduct a campaign for Congress.

Since then I’ve been caught up in what the Reader Weekly’s readers have voted Duluth’s worst boondoggle in eight successive Worst of the Northland votes. I blame the Reader for that. Its publisher asked me to write about the Red Plan early on and when I resisted shamed me by reminding me that as a former school board member I had a better appreciation for what the School Board was up to than the average person. Thanks a million Mr. Boone!

Unlike Sullivan I have not built a team of writer/researchers who can keep Lincolndemocrat refreshed when I get winded or overcome with life outside the blog. The slowdown of the past few days is an example. I chose to set a dozen blog posts aside for a weekend celebrating a birthday and playing with my grandsons. That’s a perk I will not give up at the ripe old age of sixty-four.

Since that break a dozen other ideas have joined the ones that have been clammoring since last Thursday eager to be written. I’m like a novelist with twenty chapters all screeching at me to be written simultaneously. Sadly my ten fingers can’t each take on a separate post and crank it out while its socket mates take on other individual posts.

For the past week I’ve been more deliberate in writing my posts because, when the next election rolls around, I’d like to turn them into a book to raise money for Art Johnston’s legal fund. I’ve avoided setting up a fund raising website so far because what I’d really prefer to write a reminiscence about my Mother. Alas, my attempts at arranging some sort of truce has been for naught. Now I’m starting to show my fangs.

Last night Rosie Loeffler-Kemp stopped me after our Business Committee Meeting and heatedly took me to task for my recent post about her treatment of an African-American attendee at her annual Citizen’s in Action soiree. She told me that because I had left after the morning session I had not seen the many minority folk that showed up in the afternoon including a half dozen who formed a political panel. That may be true but what I reported did take place. Rosie took my dig with a lot less aplomb than I took her Front Page censure of me. Heck, I voted to censure myself too. The way she took after me you would have thought she just had her named smeared on the front page of the Duluth News Tribune for eight months like poor old Art Johnston has. And he encouraged her to run for the school board. That’s gratitude for you.

I wonder what Rosie will think of the next couple posts I have in mind to write about her. The Tribune has a deep well of material for me to plumb. Ditto the Seliga-Punykos.

My peace keeping is on hold for the moment almost certainly doomed by this post. Let me be the fist to say my fellow board members are good people. I just think they are who are blinded by their self righteousness. In a testy email to Mike Miernicki last year I mentioned the Scottish Poet’s poem about a “flea.” It turns out I had the wrong bug. It’s “Tae (to) a louse.” Its in English but with so much old country Scot in it that its a challenge to wade through, short as it is. Its about a superior woman, “Miss fine Lunardi,” who Burns sits behind in church. Despite her self regard she has a louse crawling out from under her Sunday bonnet. The line I remember from my high school English lit class was about the gift it would be if we, unlike Miss Lunardi, could see ourselves as other’s see us.

Burns puts it like this:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Rosie, who has had no compunction about censuring me and labeling Art a racist assaulter can’t bear the idea of being pictured as being as clueless as the local officials in Ferguson, Missouri. But I’ve got news for Rosie. Ferguson’s elected officials are good people too.

As for me seeing myself as others see me all I have to do is to recall what’s been said about my in the local papers through the years. Here’s a sample I’d long forgotten about until I started looking through the public library’s databases:

“The chief cheerleader, Let Duluth Vote’s Harry Welty, has posted statements on his blog in which a close confidant suggested a School Board member should have her head slammed against the wall…It is a disgrace to witness what the Let Duluth Vote group and its supporters have done to in an attempt to get their way. They have misrepresented the School District’s position, have vilified the Superintendent (including with an upcoming book that’s sure to be libelous) and exaggerated their claims of the Band-Aid Plan B that costs more and does less.”

Bill Punyko

By the way. I never got around to writing that first libelous book Bill was raging against. Unless the Chair of this board decides to avoid a distracting, losing, expensive lawsuit that takes us all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court the public will get a chance to see how libelous any book I write about this Board ends up being.

I’m not too worried. During our lawsuit against the un-bidded contract to build the Red Plan the District’s lawyers, including Kevin Rupp, printed out reams of my posts and handed them over to Judge Hylden. They were of no consequence. I’m still waiting for a Johnson Controls lawsuit which Ralph Doty was egging the company to bring against me.

Meanwhile what we should really be concentrating on gets more challenging by the day.

I haven’t got time for a full accounting of Johnson Controls unhappy influence on our schools but I’ll admit I’m still curious to know where the $84 million of mystery money went that they spent on “soft costs.” In any other Minnesota School District that would be considered public data. That, its seems to me, is the real reason our School Board has ginned up this overblown case to remove Art Johnston from the school board. They will spend a couple hundred grand to prevent Art and me from looking under their dirty rug.

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