Whipping them with our noodles
People on Dr. Dixon’s citizen’s committee which gave us the Red Plan were pledged to keep their silence once a decision was made should they disagree with it. During the process their questions were deferred until the end of the analysis. After the analysis was complete they were told it was too late to ask questions.
The analysts were mostly experts from outside
When citizens began objecting to such details as the half billion price tag they were told that it was their own fault because they had not bothered to attend the community meetings. Dr. Dixon had already found a novel legal justification for avoiding a referendum.
When people pointed out that Johnson Controls would get a
huge return Dr. Dixon corrected them saying that
Today, faced with complaints that Red Plan projects not yet approved by the MDE, will add another $90 million in bonding debt his loyal School Board Chair, Nancy Nilsen, wrote a constituent: “We have levied for all of it. There is not another levy. . . We levied for the whole amount last year and it is what is being seen in your current property tax.” She’s wrong.
At this month’s school board meeting Dr. Dixon grandly
said that none of the fall operations levy would be spent on the Red Plan. But
after the meeting he told a worried Tim Grover, who is counting on having a new
Central middle school and
In other words Dr. Dixon can build new schools with operations money. The fall operational levy will give Dr. Dixon more money to build with but even if it fails Dr. Dixon’s top priority - the Red Plan - can be financed with the existing operational levies so long as he has a cooperative school board.
You won’t read any of this in the News Tribune. If you wonder why, pick up a copy of last week’s Reader and see what Ron Brochu had to say about the Trib. Ron used to cover the school district when I was on the Board. Or read what Virgil Swing, a former Tribune Editor, writes about the Red Plan in the Budgeteer. At least a few of us are asking questions.
Dr. Dixon’s teacher allies are beginning to see the
outlines of a disaster. They realize what a low priority Dr. Dixon has put on
passing the operations levy which could keep them working. Dr. Dixon’s pet
organization, Move Forward Duluth, has spent thousands of dollars recently but
said nothing to encourage voters to pass the levy. Instead their ad money, some
of it extorted from Dr. Dixon’s subordinates, has been spent telling
Dr. Dixon shows no sign, has never shown any sign, that he is willing to compromise. The law, as his lawyers interpret it, gives his school board the absolute right to plunge off a cliff with our schools and there's nothing we can do about it. His lawyers aren’t always right.
Dr. Dixon has publicly announced his desire to work on Let Duluth Vote’s Plan B compromise that he delayed for nearly two months to keep it off this fall’s ballot. But at the same time he has ordered the architects to speed up their Red Plan drawings by three months to prevent anyone from putting a stop to it by electing a new school board.
Dr. Dixon can be stopped and a compromise worked out. There are at least three ways.
If Ryan Stauber beats Tom Huntley or Steve Townsend beats Mary Murphy or Alan Kehr defeats Roger Reinert one of them could reintroduce Mike Jaros’ bill for a binding vote on the plan. The Governor has changed his mind and now says he’ll sign the law. If a court challenge is initiated the Red Plan could be ruled illegal. Finally, and less likely, a recall petition could put the existing school board to flight before next fall’s election.
Let Duluth Vote will meet every Thursday from now until the
election to organize and fight for our rights and an honest accounting. We meet
at the Central Height’s Community Club at
Its time this School Board got hit with something a little stronger than a wet noodle. Try our spaghetti!
Harry Welty is a
small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.lincolndemocrat.com