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Let Duluth Vote says it posted bond for lawsuit

The citizens' group that filed a lawsuit to halt the Duluth school district's red plan announced on the steps of the St. Louis County Courthouse this afternoon that it has posted the $100,000 surety bond the court ordered to keep the suit alive.

Let Duluth Vote
Foes of the Duluth school district's long-range facilities plan were all smiles Tuesday after announcing that they had raised $100,000 for a court-ordered bond. If they hadn't, their lawsuit would have ended. Larry Burda (left, in front) made the announcement at a news conference on the steps of the county courthouse in Duluth. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

The citizens' group that filed a lawsuit to halt the Duluth school district's red plan announced on the steps of the St. Louis County Courthouse this afternoon that it has posted the $100,000 surety bond the court ordered to keep the suit alive.

Larry Burda, one of the plaintiffs, four of whom have ties to the anti-red plan group Let Duluth Vote, said their group of Duluth citizens "have chosen to fish rather than cut bait.'' He said the plaintiffs were gratified that hundreds of people contributed money toward the $100,000 bond.

He didn't didn't know the largest amount donated by an individual. Let Duluth Vote member and lawsuit plaintiff Harry Welty said about 3,000 people have contributed to the group's cause.

If the $100,000 had not been raised to defray some costs of a delay in the project, the suit would have been dismissed by the court.

"This lawsuit is about an illegal and improper contract agreed to by School District 709 and Johnson Controls,'' Burda read from a prepared statement. "The school district entered into a binding agreement to use JCI for all professional services for implementation including repair, remodeling and reconstruction before there was any agreement as to fee structure. In other words, they bought the thing before they knew what the price was.''

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Burda opined that the school district's contract with Johnson Controls is void as contrary to public policy and was unfair to the taxpayers of Duluth.

An attorney for Independent School District 709 said today that the plaintiffs did not follow state guidelines in relation to their surety bond and is calling for the case to be dismissed.

Under state court rules, Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden has until mid-September to rule on the school district's motion to throw out the case and the plaintiffs' motion to issue a temporary injunction until a three-day court trial is held starting on Oct. 15 with Hylden deciding the case. A pre-trial motion hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18.

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