Duluth mayor-elect 'Risky Roger' Reinert on what he's been up to since blitzing incumbent Emily Larson in the November 8 general election – "If possible, I'm busier now than I was during the campaign. Actively winding up my legal work, and finishing the semester at CSS, while also actively engaging in the transition of Administrations. I've already met with current City Hall leadership and am assessing best fits for the leadership team in my Administration - a team that will deliver on core city issues, and the 5 big issues we talked about at length throughout the campaign.
I’ve also been busy meeting with our frontline City staff and sharing how excited I am to be a partner in the work that they do. There is no City without City workers! I recently talked to AFSCME Local 66. They are our plow drivers, street workers, park technicians, and other staff that provide a wide array of City services. I am meeting this week with our firefighters, and will also meet with our police officers.
One of the highlights so far has been visiting both fire and police on Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all our City workers who were away from their families that day, so the rest of us could be home with ours."
Loren Martel on losing his bid for District 3 Duluth School Board in the November 8 general election – "My biggest disappointment from losing is that my neighbors will continue to have no voice in school district decisions. Many people in Duluth’s central corridor feel they haven’t had a school board representative since Tim Grover broke all his campaign promises to them a decade and a half ago. Since Grover’s betrayal, they’ve felt like nothing but an ATM machine for the political machine.
The people in Duluth’s central corridor have been run over the rails. The central school tradition has been obliterated. Central High was torn down, the popular STC facility was lost and Nettleton – once a superb neighborhood school – has been vandalized blight for more than ten years. And after all the teardowns and shutdowns, nearly every person I spoke to – hundreds during the campaign – could not believe an expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars has led us to the old News Tribune building. Taxpayers are going to spend more millions – nearly $5 million, for purchase and renovation costs – to put a school down in that congested area and have the ALC kids use the government building plaza as their playground.
Many of my neighbors are appalled that wonderful Nettleton is sitting just blocks away from the DNT building, deteriorating. The new wing of the building was built in 1987, still only 36 years old. The owner of Nettleton indicated he would be interested in selling the school back to the district, but I couldn’t move that rock by myself as a candidate.
District taxes have gone up 300%, $32 million/year since (former Superintendent Keith) Dixon came to town. In my conversations with 3rd District residents, several questioned what’s been gained for education from all the money spent. They decried the loss of their schools and described the district’s long-range planning to me as 'knee-jerk,' with an endless, destructive obsession on buildings. 'If the school district is still obsessed with building new buildings' many asked, 'why isn’t one of them for the kids, on a real campus; why aren’t we putting administration down in that homeless-infested area?'
The two new buildings recently erected on the Central campus will cost taxpayers $39,485,250, nearly $8 million/year for five years, starting in 2029. We will pay millions of dollars of interest ($7,987,648.35,) so the district could defer the bond debt out and try to hide the payments, exactly what will happen from the bond referendum that just passed.
The News Tribune should run a parrot on its masthead for the way it reported on the bond referendum. Student newspaper reporters could have done a better job than the broadcast media. I’m the only one who dug in and did any real reporting. Everyone kept trivializing the 'ask' without looking into the fine print at all. What real reporter wouldn’t have questioned the claim about $21.8 million only raising taxes by a mere dollar?
Most of the Red Plan debt is paid down in 2028. We would have seen a significant drop in our taxes in 2029. As the bond broker put it during the July 13th Committee of the Whole meeting, passage of the bond referendum would be 'asking taxpayers to forgo a drop of debt for two years.' If the debt obligation was scheduled to drop, a lot more debt could be dumped into the space without technically raising taxes. A much truer reflection of the cost would measure from where tax levy was going to drop in 2029, not from where it was in 2028.
While Duluth’s establishment advocated for moving $21.8 million more Red Plan debt onto the taxpayers, the subject of the Red Plan, itself, was off-limits. Any mention of the subject was considered irrelevant and gauche. The most disturbing part of the entire spectacle was how much it mirrored the past, all taken from the same playbook. The p.r. campaign was as aggressive and misleading as anything I’ve seen since the Keith Dixon days. The public was not fully informed; most of Duluth’s citizens were kept in the dark. Numerous people thanked me for telling them what was actually going on during the campaign.
My refusal to support moving more Red Plan debt onto the backs of the taxpayers cost me the election. With this additional $21.8 million, Duluth citizens are now bearing $116 million more than they were originally promised they would have to pay. I can document that number, irrefutably. This should be the biggest news story in Duluth, but blissful denial in regard to a pernicious hustle has been our leaders’ state-of-being for years.
During one of the district’s referendum presentations, the Superintendent and Board Chair declared they were 'thinking about the kids.' I responded: 'There are three players in this: the kids, the teachers and the public. You talk about the kids a lot and certainly the teachers have their voices in there, but who’s looking out for the public?'
At a forum in Myers-Wilkins Elementary some years ago, I asked the then-reigning Chair of the Board what he thought about what the public was saying. His answer: 'I look at the public the way I looked at my ex-wife. When she used to complain that I didn’t hear what she said, I used to respond: ‘I hear what you say; I just choose not to do it.’' His remark perfectly epitomized the attitude I’ve seen, and still see, in the boardroom of ISD 709."
Over 115 Lake Superior College students in the art programs are holding a free art show today through Wednesday at the main campus’ second floor Commons. The student-organized show is open to the public and includes the mediums of painting and drawing, ceramics, digital photography, watercolors, jewelry, and digital graphic design. Students serve as docents. Some of the art is for sale.
“Our talented art students this fall semester created some excellent pieces,” said Cody Olander, art instructor at Lake Superior College. “The art department faculty are very proud of the energy and focus the students invest in their artwork.”
Several hundred pieces will be displayed. Each student must prepare their piece for display, which is a key component of the learning experience. The show starts at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. The show ends each evening at 9 p.m. – LSC press release