Dear Political Diary,
Saturday night I finally got out the modeling clay and made a model of a possible snow sculpture to honor George Harrison. The weather has been warm and the sculpture would be easy to make but it wouldn't last long. It may not be topical by the time the weather cools appreciably for me to bother. If I make this one it will be a first for me- a sculpture with lots of color.
I drove to the Twin Cities on Sunday night to attend the State School Board Association's Delegate Assembly. Over a hundred board members from around the state meet each December to debate and develop our wish list for the legislature. The evening session was a panel of five lobbyists who made predictions about the upcoming session.
The assessment: was grim. We can only hope that the recession starts to correct itself in a quarter or two. I asked a question in the QA follow up which got me corrected. I mentioned the double whammy Duluth faces with our defeated excess levy and a potential 10% across the board cut. One of the lobbyists pointed out that this cut was only slated for "administrative departments". This view was reconfirmed by Ron Soberg, our local lobbyist, who had inserted note to this affect in our weekly packet. I found it upon returning home this evening from the Assembly. However, Ron also said that the projected shortfall for the state was between $400 million and $1.4 billion. That would still mean, according to Ron, an additional $2.4 to 8.5 million cut for Duluth if the reductions were spread evenly across the state. Ye Gods!!!
Today's session went lickety-split. Its the fifth assembly I've deliberated in. I only spoke once and that was for one of the first resolutions which requested the state raise the per pupil equalization factor by a hundred dollars. Normally the Assembly doesn't look favorably on tinkering with the formula in quite this way. I got up and pointed out that while the Association usually only asks for an inflationary increase in state K-12 spending Minnesota had plunged from the 5th ranking state in the 1970's to the 17th ranking state in K-12 spending. I suggested that we might want to put education a little higher on the priority list than inflation would permit.
I was corrected again, this time from the MSBA lobbyist who pointed out that we always request "at least" an inflationary increase. Still, my comments may have been of some use. The resolution passed by a narrow 61 to 54 majority as did a number of other unlikely funding resolutions that might ordinarily have failed.
We dispatched the fifty or so resolutions before noon but I didn't stick around for lunch. I'd made a date with my daughter. We had some burgers and phosphates and talked about her life, her boyfriend, her voice, and Roman women. She had just made a presentation as a Roman Bricklaying women to one of her classes. I mentioned a book I owned (but had never finished reading) that she might find interesting, A History of Private Life which is all about the Romans. Her class will be over in three weeks so I won't bother to send it to her but she asked me to send her the title in an email so she could look for it in the library.
I took a detour before heading home and stopped at the State Capitol. I looked in to see if the Senate Minority leader Dick Day was in. He was out and so was his secretary Sara. I left a message for her and told her not to be surprised if she started seeing more of me. The message was also intended for Day. He visited Duluth a week ago to recruit Senate candidates but didn't give me a call. I gather that he's looking for a more serious candidate than me because he didn't give me a call. It must have been that first impression.
Back home again I checked out my email. Someone had written be a spirited attack on gun control. I figured my correspondent had read my gun control letter-to-the-editor and decided to set me straight. I sent him back a reply.
I have yet to finish the missive on the Duluth Schools that the Editor of the Twin Ports People requested I write. Its time I got on with it. What were those figures again......an additional $2 to 8 million in cuts over the $2.6 million we're already anticipating? Its going to be gruesome.
We will need those executioner masks I'd mentioned at the last school board meeting even though Laura Condon complained that she found my allusion distasteful. Its funny, but my Board member friend from McGregor complimented me at the Delegate Assembly for using it. He thought it was quite apropos. Imagine! Someone watches the Duluth School Board meetings in McGregor.