On this date in 1923, Warren Harding, an amiable, if corruptible president who sometimes questioned his own abilities to govern, died of a heart attack in San Francisco. Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn in during the night by his own father, a notary public. On this same date in 1928, President Coolidge became the first chief executive to visit Minnesota’s Iron Range, the only to do so outside the context of a campaign.
I made a wonderful online find, a Time Magazine account from August 1928 of Coolidge’s visit to the Range as he wrapped up his presidency. I encourage you to read it.
My favorite legend of the Coolidge visit to the Range comes from his Hibbing stop, mentioned briefly in the Time story. In the story he climbs a new viewing stand overlooking the Hull Rust Mine. Local historians have told me that many expected Coolidge to give a speech at the Hull Rust to inaugurate the new viewing stand and commemorate his historic visit. But the understated Coolidge, known to history as “Silent Cal,” merely watched the shovels and trains, turned and said, “That’s a pretty big hole,” got back in his car and left for Virginia, Minn., where he was presented with animal pelts.
Mind that the paper company will still be able to use this land on its normal logging schedule, which is how the value of these particular acres have always been calculated.
This is not only bad for the people of Itasca County and the noble intentions of the legacy forest’s many architects, this is the sort of thing that could end up dragging down the whole legacy amendment program. A generation of complacency, inconsistent leadership, and the seeping influence of foul national political brinksmanship has created an environment where powerful monied interests (both corporate and political) are able to run rough shot over whole regions. We will be asked to defend this sort of deal, and there is no liberal or conservative defense for this kind of shenanigan.
To take $44 million and then try to get millions more from a county that provides health, human service and law enforcement protection to a county with one of the state’s higher poverty levels? Who does that? They only do this because they think they can get away with it. And that’s why this must not stand.