I’m baaaack!

A mixture of caution, orneriness, mental exhaustion and the knowledge that the upcoming primary election isn’t all that critical (Red Plan critics will have four strong candidates in November no matter what) stilled my fingers for the last week.

Caution because I reluctantly agreed with my other four plaintiffs to negotiate a possible dismissal of the suit even though I have found a law firm with a lovely view of downtown Minneapolis that would likely represent me if I were to go it alone. Negotiations of this sort don’t benefit by public curiosity.

Orneriness because in the dog days of summer even my own allies are feeling a little peckish about me.

Mental exhaustion because every couple of months for the past two years of the Red Plan fight I’ve needed a break.

And finally, as a practical matter, its August and most people aren’t thinking about the primary election.

But all good things must come to an end. I was just forwarded this silly analysis from Mimi Larson the leader of Move Forward Duluth (and probably the other new pro red plan organization that just formed) Obviously, I’m overdue to edit that dead horse post I promised. The rough draft was already over 1600 words long when I left it a week ago. Maybe I’ll pick it up Sunday. In the meantime I’ve got a court brief to write this morning first. I’m taking my notes and my laptop over to Perkins to get started. Its almost four AM. It should be quiet. Then its off to the waterpark with the Tan Man. We’re celebrating his second orbit around the sun.

Dear Friends,

These past few days the DNT has aired their endorsements for school board election. They have been refreshing as criteria for who the DNT has endorsed seems largely based on a candidate’s actual accomplishments and solution focused approaches to the challenges faced by the District. I know for me that is like a breath of fresh air compared to what has become a mudslinging campaign for the past 2 years on the part of opponents to the Long Range Facilities Plan.

This email is not about candidate endorsements. However, it is about taking a good hard look at what the issues, priorities and ultimately the integrity is of those who are running. After all, don’t we want impressive role models and forward-thinking school board members?

And because the DNT endorsements have been on my mind, what has also surfaced recently is a Point of View article by Gary Glass. I was out of town last week when it was run but did find a copy and frankly was disappointed and appalled at the continued misinformation and mudslinging I continue to see in his words. Gary’s strategy as a candidate seems pretty easy to understand — throw as much manure on the wall as you can dream up, and try to get Facilities Plan supporters to clean it all up. For Gary, there will always be another wall to soil.

We need to understand this and keep it in mind as we sort through his words. He obviously is the self-appointed leader of LDV’s small army. Gary has planned the legal strategy from the start, directed the drafting of Plan B, guiding the recent lawsuit against himself and the District, and is now apparently leading their (LRFP opponents) school board election strategy.

I think Gary’s goal is to be elected Board Chair and/or hand-pick the next Superintendent. He is so focused on those goals that he is actually running for one school board seat while already in the middle of a term for a different board seat – an act so self-serving that it is hard to find a parallel in Duluth history.

So, when following the battle plan for the school board being charted by Mr. Glass, it is important to remember a few things:

1. Gary’s legal compass doesn’t work. His first lawsuit (the one where attorney Grant Merritt never got paid after sending his bills to Glass) was dismissed by the judge. His second lawsuit has been declared unlikely to succeed by the presiding judge.

2. Gary’s ethical compass doesn’t work. He provided plaintiffs advice on a lawsuit where he was a defendant. He negotiated and reviewed the contract for the attorney who was suing him. And he tried to get that attorney to personally sue the other six school board members in an effort to intimidate them.

3. Gary’s financial compass doesn’t work. In a school district that is challenged by significant operating fund deficits – the fund used to pay for teacher salaries and education programs – Gary is supporting a Plan (B) that is $400,000 a year more expensive than the Facilities Plan today and a whopping $4.2 million more costly per year in the future. That’s because more buildings equal higher operating costs. He also is a school board member who voiced opposition to last fall’s levy for programming.

4. Gary’s taxpayer compass doesn’t work. Plan B costs taxpayers more and spends less on education, a bad formula for success. And, by not fixing the operating fund deficits in the future, he leaves taxpayers with a terrible choice – higher taxes through operating levies or cutting teachers and programs.

Don’t we want, don’t we need school board members that have a better compass than this? I know I do.


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