Dec 16, 2002

Two Emails

Dear Political Diary,

This is a story told in two November emails. The first email is from former school board member Eileen Zeitz Hudelson. Eileen's email was sent to a number of members of the Duluth League of Women's Voters. In it she complains about a comment in a League document to the effect that the Duluth School District has no long range plan. Eileen is right. There is a plan, one that she helped craft. 

Eileen refers to me in her email but only with the pronoun, "he."

I have highlighted, in yellow, the paragraph from Eileen's email which I find most objectionable. In it she suggests that I had no objection to our plan when the School Board first decided to preserve 9-12 high schools at the expense of elementary schools. This is simply wrong. I began objecting at the all but secret meeting where this direction was decided and have been objecting to it ever since. 

What rankles Eileen is that, to date, the public has not embraced her preference for secondary schools over elementary schools. Saying that I "seemingly" agreed with the process that led to this decision is a gross distortion. 

Its worth remembering  that Eileen's preference for closing elementary schools was repudiated by the community when she was defeated for reelection. Her insistence on on a plan that she helped craft but which the public has not embraced says much about her desire to control the District's planning. Unfortunately for her, she can now only control the School Board indirectly at the Green Mill restaurant.  

Her recent membership in the League of Women Voters is probably one of the steps she has taken in the process of running for the school board again. Her criticism of the League's minutes demonstrates her desire to rewrite School Board history. She is rumored to be planning a run against me. Her challenging me is one of the few things which might induce me to run for reelection to the School Board.

I am the author of the other email. I sent it to the parents of Chester Park and Grant elementary children. In it I advise them how to lobby school board members. As with Eileen's email it has gotten out into the public. Julio, our superintendent, let me know that other board members had seen it and were not happy with its contents. I usually presume that my email is subject to escape so, except for some that I send to close friends and family, I write email that I can stand by. Just as Eileen's email irritated me my email has apparently offended Eileen's allies on the school board.

I can not always exercise candor as freely as I would like to. Putting one's analysis in writing, in an email,  is like leaving finger prints. I wanted parents to understand the motivations of school board members to make their lobbying more effective.  The School Board has reversed itself so perhaps my email was helpful in this regard. I am very pleased about this, especially since I have not been invited to the unofficial meetings at the Green Mill.