I was astonished when the Tribune’s editorial board put all their eggs in one basket and recommended only one of the two at-large candidates who would pass on from the primary to the General election. They simply skipped the primary and endorsed one of three candidates for November’s General election. This was unprecedented. In forty years of reading their endorsements I don’t recall the Tribune ever ruling out candidates like this. I guess the voters have been told all they need to know about who Duluth should elect ten weeks from now. Only it wasn’t the full Editorial Board that made the selection. There were only two of five citizen members of the Board in on the interviews. This gave the Editorial Page’s editor an inordinate influence on the decision and yet all five names were listed on the editorial as though the three missing members of the Board had gone along with the majority. That’s my kind of decision making.
By contrast the Editorial Board endorsed two candidates for the Second District School Board Race Charles Obije and Dr. David Kirby. Just as in the At-large race only one of these candidates will eventually prevail in the November General election. So why did Chuck Frederick’s merry band deviate from precedent to endorse a single candidate for the At-large position? I have my theories. (That’s the next post in this series)
I wrote in the blog some weeks ago that it was worth pondering whether the Trib’s editors put their thumb on the scales when their readers sent in letters- to-the-editor regarding the Duluth School Board. That post was prompted by a woman who stopped by my house and told me that her letter supporting Art Johnston never saw the light of day after she submitted it to the Tribune. That post prompted an email exchange between me and the Editorial Page editor, Chuck Frederick, who challenged my suggestion with a plausible, and possibly, credible argument. He concluded by asking me not publish his email. I disregarded his request and published it anyway. That led the editor of a local tabloid to satirize him and I published that too. I felt his accusation that I had defamed the Tribune was ridiculous and felt it showed a bunker-like mentality that was worth pointing out to readers of the Editorial page.
Had I been the focus of Chuck’s ire I wouldn’t be writing and posting this. But instead of singling me out in an editorial critique, as the Tribune has done twice in the last year, he dumped on one of the smartest and most able candidates I’ve ever seen who filed for a school board seat.
The Editorial Board’s slight to Alanna Owsald was breath-taking. Her bonafides were so obvious that I had foolishly assured her she was a cinch to get the General election endorsement by the Trib never mind the primary. Heck, only one candidate wouldn’t be recommended and it was obviously going to be Jim Unden who refused to show up to be interviewed by the Tribune.
That morning Alanna teased me in a text message telling me that I had lied to her. I told her I was mortified because I always claim to be “an apostle of honesty.” Some oracle.
This lone endorsement gets even more suspicious. The Tribune’s editors decided even before the interviews that they would endorse only a single candidate and explained this to Alanna. When Alanna told me this after her interview was concluded I told her she had gotten it wrong. I told her the Trib would do this just like they handled the Second District race with two candidates getting the nod even though only one would eventually prevail in the General Election. It’s painfully obvious that Renee VanNett was going to get their nod all along. The interview was a sham.
In the next post I’ll speculate about why the Editor chose to demean Alanna’s reputation while inflating Renee’s qualifications beyond recognition. I’m sorry, but these posts will not be getting any prettier.