An email recently sent to me at my school board email:
I am disappointed by your recent post:
“I’d like Art Johnston to go all the way to the US Supreme Court and
win a judgement that the Duluth School Board has violated his free
speech rights and then levy a multi-million dollar judgement against
the District. If insurance will pay for this dreadful fight maybe that
makes it OK. To hell with our children!”
I appreciate the usefulness of an iconoclast or a gadfly, and I
realize that this post was meant to be tongue in cheek, but this is
out of hand. The Red Plan is done. Let’s just move on.
Please change your attitudes or resign from the board; let Duluth move
on with the business of educating our kids.
My Reply (by the way point J. refers to the “Atom Bomb” that I will soon be writing about. I’ll bet Loren Martell will write about it too in tomorrow’s Reader Weekly)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me Mr. B. It’s good to have those who disagree with me share their opinions for the sake of something I’ve seen little of while on the School Board, honest, open discussion.
I believe that I’ve put one or two million words about the Red Plan and the actions of the school board relating to it on my blog. That may, as you suggest, be a sign of my unwillingness to move on. You have expressed disapproval of my criticism of the Board but I wonder if you find it objectionable that the Board majority saw fit to smear an unpopular colleague with accusations of racism, violence and conflict of interest to justify removing him. Apparently the Board majority deemed [this] preferable to simply releasing the public data he requested.
Unfortunately, this brand of vengeance has hardly been easy for the District or the children we were elected to educate. The majority of the board had a 5 -2 voting majority to thwart our every request for accountability. It would have been much less traumatic for everyone had they just kept on out voting us until the next election.
I must add that describing the paragraph of mine you quoted as the words of a gadfly or iconoclast don’t really describe my intent. My words sprung from bitter outrage at the injustice hurled down the by the majority. I’m sure they all realize now that they bit off more than they could chew. I believe they are too vain to admit that they made a mistake and so we will fight this to a bitterer end. My Mother often told me that it takes two to have a fight. I wonder where your disapproval of that other side has manifested itself.
Forcing Art Johnston to dig deeply into his pockets to defend his reputation and the sanctity of the votes Western Duluth cast for him is just the most recent affront to democracy and justice by the Board majority. Here are a few additional actions I find deeply offensive.
A. refusing to hold a referendum for the largest single school building plan in state history.
B. Adding an additional sixty million to the cost over the course of a few years bringing the total cost to just shy of half a billion.
C. Raiding the general fund three years in a row of six million classroom dollars to pay for their ever expanding plans leading to massive teacher layoffs and the overcrowding of classrooms.
D. The routine practice of turning off microphones of citizens during the public comment time.
E. An attempt to remove duly elected Board member Gary Glass
F. Routine refusal to make public data available
G. Writing letters to the editor in support of the Board under the names of people who did not write them.
H. Using the power of the Chair to ease out a superintendent (IV Foster) by discrediting him publicly for actions that were not nearly as deplorable as were reported to the press. This is an example of the practice of character assassination of which I’ve been the victim myself on at least three occasions. Member Johnston is just the latest victim.
I. Removing Art Johnston based on dubious claims that the Board failed to report to police.
J.A current attempt by the board chair to add an additional fifth year to her term of office to which she was not elected in order to evade facing the voters this year.
It’s not only Red Plan critics that are having a hard time moving on to ferret out the truth. Its supporters are having a hard time giving up sweeping its dirty little secrets under the rug. We’ve impeached Presidents for less.
Thank you again Mr. B. I write to you with every bit as much sincerity as you when you wrote to me.