Red Plan Koolaid

This is what passes for analysis by Red Plan partisans. Its the latest email sent out by Move Forward Duluth.

The claim that Let Duluth Vote claimed that it wanted to sow chaos two years ago is typical. It was a Duluth News Tribune editor who wrote that headline taking a statement of mine out of contest in doing so. All you have to do to see that Let Duluth Vote is one of the few organizations attempting to explain the history, frauds and truth about the Red Plan has only to visit the LDV website.

Any comments I’ve made about Plan B have expressed my frustration with the straight jacket its original language imposed upon the plan and the fact that as more and more of the Red Plan has proceeded it has made elements of Plan B out dated. That’s not what Mimi Larson is telling her devotees.

Plan B, whatever its limitations due to the two year old wording on its petition when Let Duluth Vote was trying to find compromise, spends over a hundred million less than the Red Plan yet according to Mimi Larson will end up costing taxpayers more than the Red Plan.

If Mimi is off by hundreds of millions concerning our old compromise plan how much nonsense is she spewing concerning savings on the Red Plan? She’s probably off by over a hundred million there too.

—– Original Message —–
From: Mimi Larson
To: ‘Mimi Larson’
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 1:05 PM
Subject: MoveForwardDuluth email: Be Careful of False Promises

Dear Friends,

People have been asking me what I think about the primary election on 9/15/09. I have given it a lot of thought, and my basic thought is that Duluth’s voters have a tough job ahead of them. Let Duluth Vote has done a very good job of creating chaos and confusion (those are their words from several years ago, not mine). In particular, they have worked very hard to convince people that there are other plans out there that will save taxpayers lots of money while still bringing our schools into the 21st Century.

We know now that Plan B is NOT one of those plans. In fact, the consultant who worked on Plan B (and who was complimented by LDV folks as being one of the best) told the school board that the current Facilities Plan is a better value for taxpayers. Plan B actually Costs More and Does Less — which is why Let Duluth Vote’s hand-picked candidates for School Board are running away from the plan. Heck, even Harry Welty has said on his web site that he doesn’t support it. It’s a shame we had to spend $70,000 to find out that Let Duluth Vote couldn’t get the job done and didn’t deliver a better plan as they said they would.
But that won’t stop candidates from making promises. Take Tom Kasper for instance, who is a good man and would probably make a pretty good elected official. But at times this summer, he has suggested that he might change the Facilities Plan to keep Nettleton and Lincoln Park open, keep using Morgan Park as a middle school and have the eastern high school located outside of the City of Duluth.

Those are easy campaign promises … maybe they are even ideas that make some people in the Nettleton, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park and Ordean neighborhoods happy..which will make Tom a little more popular than he is today. But if he is elected in January, someone is going to take a closer look at this plan, and I bet here is what they find out:

1. When it comes to the funds that can be used for building construction, it is at least as expensive to build a brand new eastern high school and make the improvements needed in Nettleton, Lincoln Park and Morgan Park as it is to build a brand new western middle school and upgrade Ordean. In other words, Kasper’s plan for using construction funds won’t save any money, and likely will cost more.

2. It costs $500,000 to operate an elementary school. So every year, we will have to raise another $1 million for our operating budget since Tom’s plan is to keep 2 additional elementary schools open. Meanwhile, since the western middle school and the eastern high school will be miles from where most of the students live, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on transportation that could be used for other operations. Where is this money going to come from — are we going to cut 10 more teachers or increase local property taxes to pay for the Kasper Plan?

From where I sit, the Kasper Plan is going to raise local taxes more than the Facilities Plan does.

As I said, Tom’s a good man. And it’s not my job to tell anyone who to vote for (unless you ask me in person). But it seems to me that the job of reorganizing Duluth Public Schools is important enough that we need to ask the challengers the same tough questions that our incumbents have faced for the last few years. And not settle for vague answers. After all promises are one thing but a well thought out realistic and doable plan is another. Here are some questions to keep in mind when other “plans” are touted: How much money does it cost? How much will local taxes go up? Will we truly be creating neighborhood schools? How many teachers will you need to cut? What is the proposed work for each school? Is it repairs or upgrades?

Our School Board looked at these questions and hundreds of others for 18 months. They searched for ways to keep our schools open, and they always came back to the same conclusion — we need to close some of our schools and improve the remaining ones if Duluth is going to teach today’s children and attract tomorrow’s families. If a candidate wants to go a different direction, they need to tell us what it is going to cost, and what the educational benefits are. Personally I think our School Board made the right choice with the facilities plan.

Tom, Maureen, Marcia and Art … what are YOUR plans, and what are they going to cost?


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