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Category: Politics

Does Mayor Ness realize that the tourism tax is taxing the residents of Duluth? »

Today in the Duluth News Tribune there is an article about our mayor wanting to bring back a .5 percent tax on our restaurants, hotels, and other amenities. My question is how do we as citizens of Duluth then get exempted from that tax? Should we not go to our local restaurants? Should we not go to Canal Park and support our local businesses?

This just seems unfair to those who live here to have us pay an extra tax to use our own local amenities. I’ve read that we pay very high taxes in our community compared to others, which made me wonder why we don’t get cards to exempt us from “tourist” taxes. This tax would go for the next 15 years and fund development of West Duluth. Well, that’s great, but what about us here in the Endion area? I can see taxing the hotels to get the tourists, but taxing restaurants makes me want to take my local money elsewhere.

I don’t think it is fair to those of us who live here, and if this is a push by our mayor there should be a way to exempt anyone who has a local identification.

Great Lakes as Carbon Corridor »

Maude Barlow published a report on March 17 about plans to make the Great Lakes a carbon corridor for oil from the tar sands of Alberta and the fracking wells of North Dakota. Mayor Don Ness recently stated his support for more pipelines, saying his previous commitments to lowering carbon emissions were irrelevant because “the pipeline makes no impact on carbon consumption in the city of Duluth.”

I think Mayor Ness is a good mayor with a good heart, but this sounds like sophistry considering the global nature of climate change. And it may show the type of compartmentalization of thought we all indulge in to protect ourselves from larger truths.

Mayor Ness also recently stated on MPR that he was not well-enough informed to have an opinion on shipping oil by tanker across Lake Superior. I hope he will appreciate a lot of respectful pressure from his constituents on this issue, because here’s the deal: On one end is Tar Sands and fracking devastation and on the other end are climate-changing emissions. In the middle is a lot of fresh water we would be absolutely mad to put at risk. Now is the time to stand up for the big lake we all love and depend on.

Duluth 2014 State of the City Address Video »

Getting to the Bottom of the Proposed Polymet Mine, Part 1 »


I’m hoping that this video, featuring Paula Maccabee of Water Legacy, will be the first of several that I will be able to share over the next few weeks.

Vacant city council seat up for grabs »

The Duluth City Council is accepting applications for the recently vacated Second District council seat previously held by Patrick Boyle, who recently was elected to the St. Louis County Board.

District 2 St. Louis County Commissioner Special Election Result »

With 11 of 11 precincts reporting:

Patrick Boyle — 2,783 (65.5 percent)
Jim Stauber — 1,465 (34.5 percent)

Should ATVs be allowed on trails within Duluth city limits? »

According to an article in today’s DNT, City Councilor Jay Fosle has “introduced a resolution asking city staff to consider the feasibility of opening one or more city trails for ATV use. The resolution is on the consent agenda, which means its passage is virtually assured Monday night.”

Duluth city councilor seeks to open city trails to ATVs

Duluth 2013 General Election Results »

39 of 39 precincts reporting

Duluth At-large City Councilor
Top two candidates are elected
Zack Filipovich – 9,658 | 33%
Barb Russ – 9,364 | 32%
Ryan Stauber – 7,884 | 27%
Ray (Skip) Sandman – 2,490 | 8%
Write in – 115 | 0%

Duluth Second District City Councilor
Patrick Boyle – 2,195 | 97%
Write in – 61 | 3%

Duluth Fourth District City Councilor
Howie Hanson – 1,853 | 61%
Garry Krause – 1,153 | 38%
Write in – 44 | 1%

Duluth At-large School Board Member
Top two candidates are elected
Annie Harala – 11,064 | 36%
Harry Welty – 7,648 | 25%
Nancy Nilsen – 6,966 | 23%
Henry L. Banks – 4,753 | 16%
Write in – 241 | 1%

Duluth District One School Board Member
Rosie Loeffler-Kemp – 3,317 | 56%
Joseph Matthes – 2,563 | 43%
Write in – 32 | 1%

Duluth District Four School Board Member
Art Johnston – 1,796 | 54%
David Bolgrien – 1,518 | 46%
Write in – 11 | 0%

Duluth School District Question #1: Renewal of School District Referendum Revenue Authorization
Yes – 12,211 | 66%
No – 6,403 | 34%

Duluth School District Question #2: Approval of Additional School District Referendum Revenue Authorization
Yes – 9,796 | 51%
No – 9,485 | 49%

Special Primary Election for St. Louis County District Two Commissioner
Top two advance
Patrick Boyle – 2,478 | 34%
Jim Stauber – 1,965 | 27%
Scott Keenan – 1,934 | 27%
Cary A. Thompson-Gilbert – 352 | 5%
Nick Patronas – 310 | 5%
Adam P. Jaros – 160 | 2%

Duluth 2013 General Election Sample Ballot »

Click to see it larger. Keep in mind some races will not appear on your ballot, depending on which part of town you reside in.

City proposal to privatize 17 Park Point street-ends? »

I’m wondering if anyone has heard of the city proposal to “privatize” 17 Park Point street-ends? Maybe this is old news?

Below is a letter from Dawn Buck, president of the Park Point Community Club, from this month’s Breeze of Park Point newsletter:

Duluth School District Ballot Questions »

Duluth 2013 Primary Election Results »

With 34 of 34 precincts reporting:

Duluth At-large City Councilor
Four candidates advance to general election; two will be elected
Barb Russ — 3,943 | 35.8%
Zack Filipovich — 3,081 | 28.0%
Ryan Stauber — 2,295 | 20.8%
Ray (Skip) Sandman — 1,175 | 10.7%
Ray Whitledge III — 525 | 4.8%

Duluth At-large School Board
Four candidates advance to general election; two will be elected
Annie Harala — 2,850 | 25.9%
Harry Welty — 2,103 | 19.1%
Nancy Nilsen — 1,948 | 17.7%
Henry L. Banks — 1,835 | 16.7%
Loren Martell — 1,175 | 10.7%
Joshua Bixby — 1,043 | 9.9%

Duluth District One School Board
Two candidates advance to general election; one will be elected
Rosie Loeffler-Kemp — 871 | 54.3%
Joseph Matthes — 454 | 28.3%
Marcia Stromgren — 278 | 17.3%

Duluth District Four School Board
Two candidates advance to general election; one will be elected
David Bolgrien — 463 | 37.6%
Art Johnston — 411 | 33.4%
Justin Perpich — 356 | 28.9%

Red Plan versus Let Duluth Vote? »

For those us who are new here, having only lived in Duluth for a decade or less, can any of you proud professional Duluthians add any clarity to this murky and mysterious topic?

I’m sure it goes deep, and emotions run high, and minds are made up, but I can’t seem to find any unbiased sources that describe what has exactly happened here. The available info, that which surfaces when one Googles the keywords seem somewhat scrambled and wishy washy, or Bud Lightish, considering the impact and money involved. So, who are the good guys? Who is right? What’s the deal with Johnson Controls? And did the deal have anything to do with Duluth’s irascible money woes back when taxes spiked when the JCI took control? Also, seeing as how I heard a couple of old timers complaining about this too, is the recent sewage water runoff charge mega increase on city utilities somehow all tied to this, or the casino? Is it starting to read like a Tarantino script? Help the undereducated non-native tax-paying simpletons like myself get up to speed on this complex matter. Thanks.

Duluth Primary 2013 Final Arguments »

In one of the most off, off, off election years of recent memory we can really focus our grey matter on pretty much hyper-local politics. In a year like this we get a little more mainstream media coverage of the smaller races, but even still, there are a few candidates who I haven’t met or really heard much about. I’d hate to base my decisions on who to vote for in the primary on who has the most yard signs out, or worse, how I feel about the people who have the yard signs in their yards. So, PDD …

"I Voted" photo, shamelessly cribbed from Tim Kaiser's FB Page

"I Voted" photo, shamelessly cribbed from Tim Kaiser's FB Page

So I am asking, who are you voting for this Primary Day and why?

In the interest of moderation and well-reasoned discussion maybe try to support your feelings and instincts with actual, you know, facts and evidence. Bonus points for spouting your own opinions and not those that have been fed to you by interest groups or ideologues. I haven’t voted yet, and I’ll be reading through the comments before I do, so here is your chance to sway my decision. Polls close at 8 pm. I live in the Duluth Hillside but you can talk about any Duluth-ish race, because, you never know, maybe you can sway someone else’s vote, too.

Mr. Nice in: We Have to Roll Together »

NSFW weekly episode. Mr. Nice gives back to the community.

Duluth 2013 Primary Election Sample Ballot »

Ultimate Portrait: Mayor Edition »

For inspiration in order to capture a “way out there” portrait, I posed the question to the Duluth Mayor Don Ness about the accomplishments he is most proud. This image is the result. See more of the story at

Mr. Nice Out of the Bag »

Listening to Steve O’Neil »

More than 15 years ago, Minnesota Public Radio aired a half-hour documentary about Loaves and Fishes here in Duluth. This was not long after Steve O’Neil and Angie Miller had started the first Loaves and Fishes house.

Stephen Smith produced the story. It includes lots of audio from Steve and Angie. You can listen to or download it here.

2013 Duluth Primary Election Primer »

The filing period to run for city and school board offices in Duluth has closed. There were a handful of familiar names tossed into the hat at the last minute today in the Duluth School Board At-large race.

The primary election will be held on Sept. 10 and include the following contests:

Duluth At-large City Councilor
Four candidates advance to general election; two will be elected
Zack Filipovich, 219 S. 21st Ave. E., Upper Apt.
Barb Russ, 322 N. 22nd Ave. E.
Ray (Skip) Sandman, 2602 W. Sixth St.
Ryan Stauber, 4723 Pitt St.
Ray Whitledge III, 202 N. 24th Ave. W.

Duluth District One School Board
Two candidates advance to general election; one will be elected
Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, 2902 Bald Eagle Trail
Joseph Matthes, 5319 Colorado St.
Marcia Stromgren, 6179 Lakewood Rd 55804

Duluth District Four School Board
Two candidates advance to general election; one will be elected
David Bolgrien, 1306 N. 57th Ave. W.
Art Johnston, 37 N. 93rd Ave. W.
Justin Perpich, 4211 W. Seventh St.

Duluth At-large School Board
Four candidates advance to general election; two will be elected
Henry Banks, P.O. Box 16811, 55816
Joshua Bixby, 2809 E. First St.
Annie Harala, 1129 N. Seventh Ave. E.
Loren Martell, 623 E. Seventh St.
Nancy Nilsen, 446 N. 85th Ave. W.
Harry Welty, 2101 E. Fourth St.

There will be two other races on the general election ballot Nov. 5. Patrick Boyle is unopposed in the race for Second District City Council. In the Fourth District, incumbent Garry Krause will face Howie Hanson. There will also be a School District operating levy on the ballot.