I like the way the DNT finds good counterpoints to balance off left and right, pro and con. The damning letter in the Sunday Trib will no doubt be followed by others from students delighted by the benefits of the Red Plan. But that will be for later. In the meantime the Trib published a same-day editorial about a serious problem that begins by twitting Red Plan critics:
At the risk of reigniting a tinderbox, remember back when the Duluth school district first decided to close Central High School? Remember all the angst and venom and suspicion that the district must have some deep-pocket buyer all lined up, just itching to pounce on that prime piece of hilltop real estate?
Wouldn’t that have been nice?
I never bought into the rumors about FonduLac buying the property for a casino although after watching the driven Chair Driver attempt to extend the existing downtown casino I’d be less skeptical of that rumor now. Mostly I remembered how the District sold five elementary schools for pennies on the dollar twenty years ago. Its a buyer’s market for old schools and the initial figure of $26.37 million in projected sales struck me as pie-in-the-sky not all that different from Johnson Control’s estimate of two million in annual energy savings after the completion of the Red Plan. BTW – where is that energy audit? We’ve had a couple years of energy savings under our belt by now haven’t we?
The DNT always trumpeted the “Move Forward” folks selling points. When critics of the Red Plan said the District wouldn’t negotiate Mover Fowarders said they had made tons of compromises.
All those compromises were for a bigger plan and more spending. That was not what the Red Plan critics were looking for. Remember the original price tag for the Red Plan was supposed to be something like $259 million. (not counting interests to the lenders – that wasn’t part of the cost according to the Red Planners) After all their compromises the price tag went to $293 million. Now as we know its up to $315 million and still Red Plan proponents like Judy Seliga Punyko are upset that some things may be shelved…….like the Grant and Congdon schools makeovers!
Upon reading the editorial Claudia commented that it was odd that the School District should be asking the City to help it out of its financial bind. I don’t agree. After bending over backward to let the Red Plan get around dozen’s of potential roadblocks I think the City Council is like the hero of the Chinese proverb who saves another man’s life. He takes on the obligation of protecting that man for ever.
The DNT editors blame the economy not Johnson Controls or Keith Dixon:
Blame the economy for the troubles. The original estimates were done in 2006 â€” right before the recession hit and the real estate market tanked.
Bullshit. The economy tanked in 2008 after a year’s worth of bad indicators in the home mortgage market and Red Plan critics were crying out for relief long before the bulldozers moved in and the District started compromising its plan upward to the tune of an additional $60 million worth of spending.
Its worth noting that Kerry Leider who explained the current economic difficulties of selling our old school to the Trib was around when we sold off the last lot of elementary schools for a pittance. At least I think he was. If not he was here shortly afterward and should have been aware what albatrosses around our necks old schools would be. Having a dozen to sell off at the same time should have been obviously much more difficult bad economy or not.
Leider goes on to say:
“The revenue from the sale of property will be used to make part of the debt payments on amounts borrowed.”
…and if the sales don’t pan out what will the school board use to pay off all our incurred Red Plan building debt? More operational expenses, of course. That’s sure to make Sunday’s letter-writer happy.