My first Board meeting in five years or so

It was hot when I picked up Liam to walk him over to the School Board meeting. Liam had asked to attend with me. As he speaks with the folks on the Let Duluth Vote list it helps him to get a sense of the Duluth politics he left a decade ago and the school board politics he never had any acquaintance with.

It hit 94 degrees and was humid as hell today when I drove our grandsons back from Cloquet where we sought refuge in the air conditioning of the theater that showed Smurffs 2. Having finished writing a replacement column for Tribune and the Editor suggested that I wait until tonight’s meeting to figure out how to tie up some uncertain passages in it. I was damned if I would skip out on the whole day with the boys. Their Mother would take the break to clean up the house for Tanner’s Saturday birthday party……which reminds me. I promised to paint Splinter or is it Shredder, for the party on some magnetic paint for one of the party’s games.

It was a sultry evening and I had planned to speak to the Board during the public speaking phase. I wanted to congratulate the Superintendent for his gamble to put the levy before voters and not have the Board simply reauthorize it on their own. Hey, I’d commented on his perpetual smile. I owed him a chance to see that I was more than a snotty Maureen Dowd type.

The problem was the second speaker threw me when he mentioned the levy and made me wonder if I really did grasp what was going on with the District’s finances. I had to ask the Superintendent to give me a head shake yes or no about his coming recommendations. Unfortunately I worded the question poorly and he didn’t have a clue what I was asking him. So much for me looking presidential.

We had to sit through two hours of hot humid meeting to get to that discussion and meanwhile I took notes like I always used to do on the meeting in the margins of the board agenda. Liam and I exchanged the odd note and I told him who some of the characters in attendance were.

Frankly, I needn’t have been so chagrined with my awkward question. The Board’s tortured discussion of the levy process suggested that no one could explain it and possibly few of them knew exactly what was going on. Their unfamiliarity with school finance was rivaled only by their tortured used of parliamentary procedure. Ah, It was just like old times.

I seemed to exert a fair amount of gravity in the space I occupied. Several folks came up and talked to me through the meeting. Others gave silent peripheral peaks at me, according to Liam. My presence was not universally welcome.

At the end of the meeting the Superintendent came up to apologize about not having gotten the gist of my question. It was a very cordial little talk and he did seem wounded that I was one of the few holdout candidates who had yet to take up his offer to pay him a call. It was my turn to apologize and said I’d been busy. He mentioned he understood about my painting and my grandchildren. Either he or an ally have been reading some of my posts. Excellent.

He did say he only had one question on his mind about me. He mentioned my voodoo doll. He had been a young teacher during that episode and I laughed and said it was a case of bad optics. That will dog me all my public life and I find it very funny to this day. I did write it up in my old website so that I could explain it rather than rely on others to tell the tale. Former Senator Ralph Doty used it against me three days before my last election to give Judy Seliga Punyko a victory over me. If he hadn’t pricked me with it the Red Plan could have been much more pink than red.

Just before bed I pulled out paper rather than start up the computer and have its bright face glare at me. That’s even worse than chocolate for keeping someone awake. It took four pages for me to write down what I know think is the explanation for the levy that was so badly butchered during the School Board’s discussion of the same.

I’m going to type it up on the campaign website next and then pass it around to the more knowledgeable on the subject for corrections this morning. Liam requested it because he fears the people he calls will ask him about it after tomorrow’s story. I figure they won’t stop asking about it until after the election in November. I better have it down straight long before then.

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