Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003

Reverse Voting

Dear Political Diary,

I got a belly laugh to start my day. Actually Claudia had to drive to the Cities at 5:30 so I got up and made her coffee first. It wasn't until about 7:30 that I got my belly laugh. That's when the newspaper was delivered.

I've been so busy straightening my house up after 20 years of accumulating stuff that I haven't had the inclination to compose diary entries. Dammit cat! "leave me alone. I can't type with you butting your head into my hands while I type. That's better. Now just lie down on my lap and rest your head on my wrist. That's sure to make my typing easier.

Sooooo, as I was saying, I've been organizing a lifetime of litter and hauling buckets of memorabilia that doesn't cut sentimental mustard off to be recycled. Its all part of my preparation for whatever comes next. (What comes next is one of many diary entries I haven't had time to write)

I really don't want to run for the School Board any more. I already feel as though I'm coasting. Still, I don't want to leave Mary Cameron in the lurch for her last two years and I feel obligated to find a good candidate to take my place. There are a lot of wonderful potential candidates. Unfortunately many of them don't have the stomach for it. 

Julio tells me that he doesn't think Eileen Zeitz Hudelson has any interest in coming back. I think he's being naive or worse disingenuous. When I told Julio that the one thing that could guarantee my running Eileen filing to replace me he joked, I think, that he didn't want me to change my mind about retiring. Ha ha!

Eileen's old allies have come to regret their early willingness to cut our School Board down from nine members to seven members. At the time they didn't realize that this would limit Eileen's chances of being reelected by taking two at-large seats of contention. I presume they did not want to jeopardize the new alliance with Mary Glass or Bob Mars by backing out of the Board reduction. Certainly they could not encourage Eileen to challenge Mike Akervik as that would undermine their alliance with him. That only leaves Eileen my Second District seat.

Although Eileen has a major problem. As someone who told parents she wanted to keep elementary schools open, at forums like the one at Lester Park her allies have all pushed in the opposite direction. That's because they  want to preserve their 9-12 high school configuration at all costs to preserve three high schools. Notwithstanding her comments at Lester Park they are headed in the direction of closing an elementary school. Certainly Bob Mars, our new chairman wants both secondary and elementary closings. On the other hand they all want to spare Mike Akervik from having to make a decision.

When the Chester Park parents, at my suggestion, prevailed on Laura Condon to spare their school it had the desired effect I calculated. She can not say no to the people. But she didn't want to make the decision alone so she talked Mike Akervik into joining her. He did and canceled the scheduled meeting to announce the closing of Chester Park. Although he was the Board Chair at the time he had no authority to postpone the meeting by himself. It was a technical point I was quite happy to overlook.

Since then he has implied that he really didn't join Laura in changing his mind. I'm not sure how he came to this conclusion because its quite clear he joined her making it 6-3 to keep Chester open at least for one more year.

Mike's pliability is what gave me the belly laugh today or rather one consequence of it. Today's News Tribune blasted the School Board for deciding not to televise our next "board retreat" on February 18th.

We had a particulary slender agenda at this weeks School Board meeting. Had Garry Krause not made a motion to televise the Board retreat we would have been out of the CAB by 7:45 or a sizzling hour and fifteen minutes after saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

But Garry, who has come to loath the backroom dealings which doomed Birchwood and threaten other elementary school moved to televise the meeting. I joined Mary and Bob in speaking for the television. For my part I said it might be a hard meeting for the cameraman to shoot because of its formality. I commented that once we all were asked to say nice things about each other to see if we could do it. That wouldn't go over well on camera with a stationary tripod.

Well, we took the vote and it was five four to televise. Mary C said that afterwords Laura nudged Mike with her elbow. After the vote was announced Mike stuttered that he wondered if we shouldn't vote again because he was beginning to regret the $200 expense for paying the cameraman. Mary Cameron was so amazed she offered to pay the expense out of her own Board stipend. 

I was tempted to comment but it was obvious that with Mike changing his mind the meeting would be shut out. I figured Mike looked so foolish that I couldn't improve on his dilemma. He however, just stuck his hand into the tarbaby further on his own. He said he'd really like us to take a reverse vote by which he meant he wanted to vote last. In other words he wanted to know how everybody else would vote before he cast his own.

Well, there are rare times when its nice to see how everybody else votes before you cast your own vote. In seven years, however, I can't recall any votes that I would have changed by virtue of being the last to vote. I figure that being last to vote is poetic justice. It helps make up for all the classes my teachers put me in the last row because my name started with the letter W. Yeah for alphabetical voting.

The Trib's editors were kind to Mike and didn't mention his role in the vote reversal. They conspicuously failed to give Krause credit for bringing the vote up. Mary Cameron, however, got a pat on the back by name for offering to pay the cameraman's wages. I called her up before she got to work to tease her about it.

Mike's fear of taking any tough stands before the election will do him much more damage than any decision he makes. Right now the entire Board is being made to look indecisive. The Chester Park parents probably all think he's just hoping to make it past the election before he has the stamina to close their building down. 

Taking his cues from Laura, who doesn't have to run for reelection this Fall, could be fatal to Mike's ambition.

At least I got some good press. A reporter from KBJR television walked on the ice at noon while I was working on my Memorial Park Snow Sculpture. No one else was there during the lunch hour so they interviewed me about the carnival. Some of us are naturals when it comes to sideshows.