A shot over the bow

Chair Michael Miernicki once said when he prevented Art Johnston and me from getting information related to something, probably the Red Plan’s financing, that “We are not sweeping things under the rug.” Like Hell.

Mike’s blindness is not really meant to be a part of this post which could be the start of a busy day after I get back from swimming 1000 yards to relieve stress, and donate blood, and serve food in the Damiano’s soup kitchen. But my actions are very much a result of the entire School Board’s blindness and refusal to acknowledge the elephant in the Room. We have to figure out how to do more than put salve on the Red Plan’s wounds, fewer teachers, more kids in class, fleeing families (another 36 kids this month Art told me), stories of teachers struggling to keep things in order.

My old Buddy sent me this question to tease me, (I hope) after my post about keeping our eyes out for today’s Trib story on my recent activities:


What are we going to do for drama after the Art Johnston matter is settled?


[your buddy]

This morning I woke up early dreading to see what would be in the Trib. It could have been hideous. A recounting of my whereas’s directed at the Superintendent would have soured Duluth for weeks to come. So, the first thing I did was to go through the last week’s news clippings. Jana Hollingsworth has been busy writing about both the School Board’s indigestion and – get this – children. I know, I know. She has no sense of priorities. The egos of seven petty adults is so much more entertaining and that’s what we are about – Soap Opera slathered in frosting and fecal matter.

Well, I was almost as ecstatic when I finally read the article as Art was when the Board realized it was over-matched in points of law and fact and crawled back to the Board Room looking for some new indignity to heap like the sore losers they are. The story was accurate and left out all the fecal matter. It gives me room to withdraw my motion but it does not prevent me from going into detail at some later point perhaps in a book this summer which is increasingly becoming my sole option to find a way to pay for Art’s legal expenses something I told the Trib yesterday that sickens me. Furthermore, to a board that hides from meeting with me or reading my blog it gave me a chance to let them know what is at stake and how far I’m inclined to go to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It was my shot over the bow. There will be a new school board and I will have two years to prove that I can once again be a productive Board member instead of a scold, a tattle-tale and a guy pulling out my hair at my powerlessness before such spiteful – yes that’s the word – vengeance.

My session with the Trib left me searching my conscience for the right thing to do. I have much more of a story to tell but two other items I read today should be read by my eight loyal readers.

Karl Schuettler, a young fellow whose analysis of the School Board I’ve highly recommended before wrote another thoughtful piece our our current contretemps. In his email he apologized before hand was mostly “nasty” to everyone. It was, and it was largely deserved. Art resents Karl’s barbs when they are directed at him and I must admit I’ll defend Art later in the day from Karl’s barbs. But after the last crumby eleven months no one on this board deserves a pass. As my Mom always told me “it takes two to have a fight.” In our case it just happens to be seven. There is however one thing that Karl said that should appeal to Art. Unlike the prissy News Tribune editorial yesterday Karl sees this as a total victory for Art. I agree. Oh, and what nastiness did Karl write about me? Well, I’m a mediocre school board member for one thing and I am unable to argue that point with Karl. He wrote:

I am most curious to see how the victorious minority now responds. It is a real win for Johnston and Harry Welty; perhaps the first of any substance they can actually claim in their sometimes noble and often floundering attempts to stand up to the overpowering majority. If they can be magnanimous after this success and return discussion to the pressing issues facing the district class size, charter school questions, traffic concerns, and so on, without belaboring old grievances too much, they’ll be in great position to seem like the winners of this whole mess, and the momentum could carry them into the November elections. If bitterness over their treatment over the past months rules the day, then we can expect more of the same, and their victory over this past week will be nothing but a hollow settling of personal scores. They’ll spin a narrative in which they’re the defenders of liberty or some such thing, hiding the fact that they have so far been mediocre and largely ineffective legislators. Being a gadfly is all well and good, but anyone who thinks that this is an end unto itself completely misunderstands what Socrates was up to.

and Loren Martell wrote a masterly analysis on the recent hearing before Federal Court Judge Davis. It shreds the District’s legal defense of both the Federal free speech issue and the State case that the Board gave up on pursing. I wish Jana Hollingsworth had been more savvy at reading the underlying legal issues and arguments instead of just the Judge’s theatrics to impress everyone that he wasn’t taking sides when in fact he barely acknowledged any of the School District’s legal arguments. The extent of his concession was that free speech can not be used to cloak misbehavior. Then, he utterly undid the precarious timetable of the alternative state case by imposing one more federal mediation session on the same day as the hearing that would have allowed the school Board to proceed with its removal of Art.

There is plenty here for my eight readers to chew on. I’ll see if I have any finger dexterity left after my busy morning and the sacrifice of a pint of blood. Even if I do once again turn my attention to our children this blog will continue looking over my shoulder for some time to come.

Sorry for the hurried non proof reading. I may come back and clean this up later.

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