The Competition

Dear Political Diary,

I was still thinking about my conversation with Joanne Fay yesterday. She had suggested that I call Yvonne Prettner Solon to encourage her to run for Sam's seat. I sat in front of the phone for several minutes thinking that the last thing I wanted to talk to a widow about was politics. And yet, its commonly believed that she has her heart set on being Mayor. Running for Sam's seat would keep her name in play and give her options. Instead, I sent her a note of condolence with some strong encouragement to take Sam's place. 

Joann also advised me to run for Chair of the Board. I told her its not likely to happen. Too many board members are unhappy about my repeated requests to consider closing a high school. Mary Cameron told me some time ago that she plans to nominate me for the position. She got a very lukewarm response from Bob when she mentioned the idea to him. Garry Krause had suggested Mary Glass to me for the position. She might be a good compromise candidate. Garry isn't interested himself and, in fact, has raised the possibility of running for Sam Solon's seat. Eileen's old pack has lost her vote so they are down to three. One of those votes belongs to our current chair Dorothy who told me she doesn't want the honor any more. Mike Akervik shows signs of ambition but I have no idea if he's done any campaigning. Its anyone's race although no one seems to be angling for the position. Well, I won't either. I'll just act like old Thomas Jefferson who pretended he wasn't really interested when he ran against John Adams in1796. Actually Jefferson knew better than to run because following George Washington with a war looming was going to be an impossible situation. 

There will soon be another shock to the three high school system in the form of a new charter high school Harbor City International. It first reared its head last year and was proposed to be housed in the Soft Center. I opposed that because I didn't like the idea of the City subsidizing our enrollment decline. I don't have the same objection to its new proposed location - a warehouse on Michigan Avenue. This site will have so little caché that I'm skeptical of its success.

Jason Rice, a reporter for the NBC affiliate, called this morning to ask me what I thought about it. I told him that there were two possibilities. First, that Harbor City would put more pressure on us to close a high school. And second, that the school board might feel compelled to keep three high schools open to discourage an exodus of disgruntled students.

I told Jason that the Edison haters in Duluth blamed Edison for all of the 709 schools problems. I told him that in my opinion this was bogus. While I agreed that if we had to keep big empty elementary schools open this would be a financial drain.  However, I told Jason that this did not seem to be such a problem. I told him that when I'd asked the Administration to calculate the cost of bringing the sixth graders back to elementary schools I was told that there was no room for them. Jason broke out in a loud, hearty laugh.

When he dropped by for an interview we were interrupted by a phone call from a Twin Cities Architectural Firm. I had called them earlier in hopes they could tell me about the 1988 facilities study that said that Rockridge was a terrible site to add on to.

Jason told me that the fellow who was trying to start the new Charter was a former Edison teacher. Coincidentally, he also handled Jason's sled dogs. I twitted Jason and asked him if this would mean that the charter school would get special treatment. 

Both Frank Wanner and I got our sound bites in. We were both non committal although Frank sounded more dubious than me. When I saw the location that the school was proposed to occupy I found it hard to believe that it would be very serious competition.

Sophia from the ABC affiliate was watching her rival and gave me a call after the story aired. Then Ron Brochu, the Trib's education Reporter, called about it. This story is not going to go away. 

Then I got a final call from another Trib Reporter. He had a refreshingly different question for me. "If I were the Mayor," he asked me, "What would I say at the state of the city speech next Monday." He was asking the question of dozens of local citizens.

I apologized for my lack of eloquence and mumbled something about Duluth needing to bring environmental and business interests together. It will probably never happen. They both like to compete against each other too much.

next entry