For the first time since I began writing columns for the Reader Weekly turned Northland Reader turned Duluth Reader I have started going trough the columns which began in 2001. I’m looking for columns to be part of a Volume One in a Welty Reader I hope to use to unseat Congressman Pete Stauber. There are a dozen columns of the 300 or so I’ve written that I frequently link to in my blog posts. But going through every one of my columns is like reading a big book. 300 columns averaging 800 words is about a quarter million words far more than I envision for a volume. Tonight I almost got through the year 2005. Reading them from the start has helped me put some somewhat forgotten years in a clearer perspective. In 2002 I tackled the wide variety of subjects including personal memories and I was impressed with what I’d written. This was partially true of 2003 and 2004 years in which I was finishing my service after eight years on the Duluth School Board. However, these two years were full of school board conflict and I used my columns to explain how I saw issues for which other board members had very different views. I had a bully pulpit they didn’t although they could have written in the Reader too. They chose not to but some of them particularly resented my championing my views which centered in 2003 with the need to close one of our three high schools and in 2004 when the oxygen in the Board room was swallowed up when the Administration retired a winning high school Hockey coach.
Both controversies overwhelmed the board and my taking controversial stands made it very tempting to closely analyze my thinking.
I was largely impressed with how I spelled out the details of these controversies but suddenly I wasn’t writing as much about the larger and often more eccentric issues that caught my mind. As I read through them there seemed to be fewer columns that were can’t miss for a Welty Reader volume although if I ever wrote a book about my experiences in public education I’ve got a lot of material to work with.
Most of those controversies were evaporating in 2005 a year I was seriously thinking about abandoning the Republican Party and I found myself thinking that damn near every column that year, about 25 of them could easily be interesting to a reader far too many for the first volume I envisaged starting with. Some will go into a second or third volume because my first and possibly only volume needs to have columns from the Era of the Trump Presidency and his attempted overthrow of an honestly elected government.
Dividing 220 pretty good columns will be a challenge. Do I want to be chronological, have issued based categories, or show my slow tortured separation of a political party going bonkers? I showed a page I drew up to get a sense of my column output and basically it was strong production of roughly 25 a year from 2002 – 2006. When I got wrapped up fighting the School Board after I stepped off I added some additional columns but then from 2009 until 2018 during Covid and half way through the Trump Presidency I came roaring back from 2018 to the present.
I have an embarrassment of riches to sort through including some fun silly columns that offer relief from some heavy criticism of the politics that has been plummeting into a black hole for a very long time.