Sometimes a disease creeps up on you… little muscle twinges, a small rash, a sniffle, a headache. Duluth’s dismal state isn’t entirely the fault of Mayor Emily Larson. The twinges of Duluth’s current disease started back with Doty and Bergson. The rash and sniffle popped up with Ness. Now we’re stuck with a headache and no cure in sight.
What’s interesting is that in the last few years citizens have been able to see a much more “real” view of who our elected officials are with social media.
Recently, our “leaders”, most falling left of the middle, have taken to Twitter to be tough guys/gals -and if not tough, at least trenchant. For example, just last week, former Mayor Don Ness tweeted, “Can we just fast-forward to the part where AOC becomes President?”
While everyone can appreciate a good brainstorm session, typically the crazy, expensive, pipe-dream ideas are weeded out before you go public with them. AOC skipped that step with her Green New Deal in early 2019 and has continued to promote increasingly socialist goals that few Dems are willing to get behind. But considering the mess Ness started kicking up in Duluth during his 2 terms as Mayor, it would only make sense that he daydreams of an AOC presidency. Under Ness’s reign, we got an illegal contract with Fond-du-Luth Casino and lost out on money for roads and infrastructure, money that was supposed to go to roads ended up building a new police building, and the Last Place on Earth was left festering on Superior Street for years – the beginnings of the ever-present drug problem in Downtown Duluth today.
We’ve already reported on Mayor Emily’s snarky tweets, and city councilor Arik Forsman’s tweet version of a middle finger to tourists two weeks ago. Another councilor, Joel Sipress, who doesn’t have a presence on Twitter, but shares wordy posts on Facebook, had a lot to say about a local business that has a history of nearly 150 years in Duluth.
Duluth Pack hosted the President’s daughter Ivanka along with Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, when they visited the store this week to have CEO Tom Sega sign a Pledge to American Workers. The pledge, started in 2018 and signed by over 430 businesses, asks companies to promise to expand programs that educate and train American workers over the next five years – essentially asking the private sector to join the government in investing in the American worker. Currently, the program has provided 16 million new education and training opportunities.
Despite the obvious importance and patriotic innocence of private companies investing in our country’s workers, a couple dozen protestors showed up anyway to angrily shout and disrupt traffic during the visit.
On Facebook, Joel Sipress shared:
“So Ivanka Trump made a very brief foray into Duluth today for a photo-op with the owner of Duluth Pack (a local manufacturer and retailer of outdoor gear). The owner of Duluth Pack (who is apparently a big Trumpster, despite the fact that the Trump Administration has declared war on the very natural environment that is Duluth Pack’s bread and butter) signed a “pledge to American workers” in which he promised to provide job training for all the non-existent jobs that have been destroyed by the pandemic. My main takeaway from Ivanka’s visit is that she is as much of a coward as you would assume she is. While a spirited but orderly “welcoming committee” gathered across the street from Duluth Pack, Invanka snuck into the back entrance of the store. When the crowd relocated to the back entrance, Ivanka’s motorcade made a bee-line to the front of the store. So the crowd moved back to the front of the store. (Apparently Ivanka and her people thought that the crowd would be so flummoxed by their brilliant maneuver that the crowd would all just stand there agape staring at the abandoned back entrance.) When Ivanka emerged from the store, she dove into her awaiting SUV as fast as she possibly could so as to avoid having to even make eye contact with the unwashed masses of Duluth. Oh, and the press reports that she bailed on the event before the Q and A portion, leaving the business owner and our local Trumpster Congressman Pete Stauber behind with the unenviable task of explaining how getting private businesses to commit to training people for non-existent jobs will do a damn thing for American workers. Par for the course for the Trump family. A chip off the old block, Ivanka is.”
There are several disturbing things about Sipress’s snarky post. First, that a second term city council member hasn’t taken the time to learn about the century-plus old business and its CEO before throwing around descriptors like “Trumpster”. Second, his sarcastic comments about “non-existent jobs” when the city council has made less than a minimal effort at economic development in the city for over 20 years now.
And Third, the most disturbing thing, is his affinity for the orderly “welcome committee” that waved middle fingers and held signs, some saying “F*ck White Supremacy” while they spread into the street in front of the store. Really Charming. Such a lovely look for our most popular tourist area.
But of course, he’d approve. His wife, Claire Kirch (side note: it seems like a lot of married politicians on the left have different surnames. It’s easier to give them government funds that way, like Emily Larson with her husband, Doug Zaun, when his firm built the Steve O’Neil apartments), was front and center during the protest waving Mary Trump’s new book about the Trump family before hopping on her Twitter account to share how she greeted Ivanka with “jeers and drumming, and middle fingers” and how when Ivanka left Duluth Pack, Claire “screamed at her. Felt good.”
To say our leadership is a disappointment is an understatement. Oddly, it seems they’ve all taken a page from President Trump’s social media strategy and are aiming to show us their worst. It’s unfortunate when you have to tell your children not to follow their local representatives on social media because you don’t want them seeing some of this distasteful dialogue. How can we expect our (supposedly) nonpartisan elected officials to come together for the good of our city if they can’t even be civil during an event that asks businesses to be pro-American?
Like Pavlov’s dogs, it seems that all it takes is starting a word with a capital “T” to get them slobbering around the mouth. It’s not clear how we break them of this nasty habit. If they can make it through this sentence without spinning into a seizure maybe they can learn something: Take The Time To Think about your contribution To This Dismal Duluth.