Mimi Larson: Thank you, Budgeteer, Judge Hylden, school board and communityIn Duluth, politics is like a contact sport. If you have a bold idea, you better put on your armor and be ready for a fight from opposition.
By: Guest Columnist Mimi Larson, Budgeteer News
In Duluth, politics is like a contact sport. If you have a bold idea, you better put on your armor and be ready for a fight from opposition.
At times, it has seemed that Let Duluth Vote (LDV) has been just that: a group that has for the past two years aggressively opposed the district’s facilities plan with what they say is a better idea.
But, in the last few weeks, new information has emerged that indicates LDV has never really had that better idea. Instead, they have been following a political strategy built on deception and half-truths.
LDV’s plan costs taxpayers more and does less. According to the numbers crunched by experts they respect, LDV folks produced an alternative plan that would cost taxpayers more than the Red Plan!
Yes, in total dollars the LDV plan is less than the district’s plan ($193 versus $293 million), but the important thing to look at is what it actually costs the taxpayers in our community. And LDV’s plan would cost us more every month.
Even LDV hasn’t disputed this. Their own numbers are that Plan B would cost $9.50 per month for an average Duluth home versus $9.22 per month with the district’s plan.
And while those figures are close to one another, the difference is that the district’s long-range facilities plan is investing $100 million more in improved facilities that wouldn’t happen with Plan B.
The $100 million updates 14 buildings versus repairing 18 buildings.
It’s simple: If we invest money in making our buildings and operations more efficient, rather than just patching problems, the savings can be used for even more improvements in our classrooms and cost the taxpayers less than what Plan B would.
When the construction is done and the bonds are paid off, the long-range facilities plan will provide $5.3 million annually in operational savings to be dedicated to teachers and programs. Plan B would only provide $1 million in such savings. The school district’s plan means a smaller tax increase, more money for improvements, greater savings in operating dollars and truly modern schools.
Thank you, school board members, for your hard work examining the options, working with the community and selecting the best option for a facilities plan.
LDV’s efforts have little to do with education. On July 26, Budgeteer columnist Ralph Doty wrote an articulate column exposing priorities in LDV. What we learned is that there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes collusion between Gary Glass and Harry Welty.
Although LDV leadership has tried to downplay these issues, it is now clear that Gary Glass has personally managed most of LDV’s activities this year, including helping pick the attorney who was expected to sue him. And it is also clear that Harry Welty is more interested in book deals than in modernizing Duluth’s schools.
The e-mails tell quite a story, but none were more disturbing than when Gary Glass angrily expressed his frustration that his/LDV’s attorney wouldn’t sue the other six board members individually — quite a remarkable use of legal firepower to achieve a personal goal.
Thank you, columnist Doty and the Budgeteer, for exposing the personal agendas that have been hidden in claims of helping educate kids.
LDV got spanked by the judge. On July 28, Judge Eric Hylden disqualified Craig Hunter, the attorney for both LDV and Gary Glass, from continuing to represent the plaintiffs in the case. And he didn’t grant LDV their request to stop work on the facilities plan.
Thank you, Judge Hylden, for reminding us that we all need to play fairly and honestly — even in politics.
And, finally, thank you to the Duluth community. Thousands of citizens have participated over the past three years in helping develop a sensible, long-overdue plan for the schools. Many of you continue to speak out in support of our kids, even while our opponents continue to toss unfair and often disgustingly personal attacks at people who do.
Whoever invented the term “change is never easy” probably had Duluth in mind. But, in the end, it’s gratifying to finally see more and more people coming together to move Duluth forward.
Mimi Larson is a parent of four children in the Duluth school system. She is also the founder of Move Forward Duluth, a community organization that supports the school district’s long-range facilities plan. Contact her at email@example.com.