Wednesday, 1-16-2002

Memorial Carnival

Dear Political Diary,

Gosh, I'm tired. I haven't gotten a good night's sleep for a couple days but I just took a benadryl tablet for my drippy nose and its going to knock me out. I got the nose by working on the Memorial Winter Carnival snow sculpture from 9 to 5 today.  Heck, even without the benedryl the physical exhaustion from chopping up and throwing a couple tons of snow around would have done me in. I wish I had another day. I didn't have enough time to do it justice.

Yesterday the Trib had a story on the slow pace of teacher contract settlements across the state. Only about 60 of 340 districts have settled. Its a combination of the state removing the penalty for not settling contracts by January and the ongoing financial uncertainty. I talked to my son's school counselor yesterday and after mulling over how to deal with my son we got talking about the District's finances. I told him that we wouldn't have any problems if our teachers gave up pay increases. I think he knew I was joking. He told me, "Well, you know that's not going to happen Harry."

Last night Mike Akervik took over as Chair of the School Board. He was a little tentative but he'll catch on. He'd joked at the start that he was hoping we could break the record for a short meeting. We had a very slight agenda and because of today's special Senate election our meeting had to wait until the polls closed. We began at 8:15 PM. No one wanted to stay late. Oh by the way, surprise, surprise, Yvonne Prettner won 80 percent of the vote.

Mike would have broken his record had it not been for the questions asked by Board members at the end of the meeting. To my delight Mary Cameron picked up the baton from me on two high schools. She asked if it was true that the Board had forbidden the Administration from researching the possibility of having two high schools. I stayed quiet and watched Laura Condon dance carefully around the issue. According to Laura the Board hadn't done anything of the kind. That ain't quite how I remember it.

If our District's finances tank for two years straight I think the two high school option will have to be considered. That is if the Board is composed of rational people. I watched the second half of Ken Burn's Mark Twain last night. A quote from the sage didn't auger well on that account. "First God created idiots. That was for practice. Then he created school boards." I've just put this quote at the head of my Duluth Schools Page.

I was even more pleased by the coverage Mary's questioning got in the Trib today. When Laura cautioned her against alarming the parents of East children Mary responded by hoping the Board would not alarm the parents of elementary children. Way to go Mary!

Tim Pawlenty flew into town to introduce his running mate Carol Molnau. I've watched her on Almanac. She seems like a nice woman but she won't bring any excitement to his campaign. I like Pawlenty but he's having to appeal to the social conservatives in the party. I'll feel better once the state convention is over and he can appeal to the average Minnesotan instead. I'm afraid I'll to have to respectfully disagree with him about school funding however.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Minneapolis and the annual Minnesota School Boards Association Conference. I'll be staying with my mother to save the district a little money. I don't know if any other Duluth Board members are going. I'm going to stop at 7:30 AM and phone one of the local radio stations to tell them about my sculpture at Memorial. Its to advertise the Carnival. I really wish I had a second day to gussie it up a bit. Its my second media snow story this week. Today's Duluth.Com newspaper had a front page story about the "dearth" of snow and its affects on my sculpting. Tim Franklin had taken three pics from my website and wrote a nice fluff piece for the Dot Com's 6,000 readers. Now the Duluth's snow birds will know what I've been up.

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