A pause to reflect while drinking uninspiring coffee from a drive in

The last two days were gorgeous for passing out campaign lit door to door. I only got about an hour in total because I was herding cats…..my fellow and sister candidates for the school board that I am supporting and upon which the fate of our public schools rests. I think we will do well and have only one concern – that I may find myself in the lonely predicament of once again being in a minority and effectivly out of the loop. I’ve been campaigning with ideas bubbling over about attacking insolvable problems. I always liked Hubert Humphrey’s definition of politics “the art of the possible.” Facing annual ten million dollar losses inflicted by the Red Plan that is a very hopeful attitude. The problem is it has to be backed up by brains, know how and grit. The mighty Duluth News Tribune has done its best to promote a string of candidates absent those qualities. I don’t begrudge them their opinions. I do, however, bemoan their long history of ignorance on the subject of the Duluth School Board. They are good people and good people are often foolish, vain and silly.

Good. The coffee has cooled a bit. My dentist had me worried that I’ve been eating too much pallet scalding food lately.

At eight a young fellow who promised to help me pass out literature called to tell me (in my words) that he was meeting with a poobah far more important than me and wouldn’t be able to help me after all. I think I’ll be a lot stingier taking him out for lunch in the future.

A little after that my old colleague George Balach called to give me grief about our mulchy playgrounds. George had already expressed his opinion to me that our district was in no position to spend big bucks to remove something that had not yet been proven to pose any danger to our students. I’ve never disagreed with him on that. My wife agrees. And yet I voted to change out the playgrounds. I don’t regret the decision. One comment has haunted me since the controversy began: “What if in twenty years you discover that the mulch caused cancers or some other malady in our children?” I am as prone to guilt avoidance as the next public servant and chose to expedite a change that might not end up having been necessary. I consoled myself by reminding myself how many families have already left our school district and deciding we didn’t need another reason to chase them to Wrenshall, Proctor, Esko, Hermantown, Edison, the parochial schools or home schooling.

Certainly, hearing that kids on the new playgrounds were looking like Fozzy Bear after rolling around in the new mulch was eyebrow raising. The Trib’s Jana Hollingsworth’s story is sober and not too alarming. What I’ve heard is that the mulch, has been called “waste wood.” (I’ve heard that the company suspected that they were stymied when they tried to put a bid in for the project) At least it doesn’t seem to be toxic and that’s the bottom line for now. As irritated as George was he said he still supported Art and me…..but he did want me to tell Art again that replacing the rubber mulch was ridiculous.

I just got a phone call that broke my concentration. Good. The weather beacons my door knocking boots to start walking. The phone call alerted me to Loren Martell’s latest column which I’ve read. I approve of it as it gives the wider public a peak at the recent chamber forum for school board members.

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