Friday, June 02, 2006

Dr. Lamb and Candy Olson's Behaving Badly at Tiger Bay

ALANNA SWOR <>; Andrea Brunais <>; Angie
<>; Barbara <>; Beth McClain <>; Doug & Cathy SCW <>; edgecomb <>; Edith A Tobul <>; faliero <>; joan gentry <>; Jack Lamb <>; <>; Margie Jean <>; montolino <>; Patrick <>; rich <>; <>; <>; Tiger Bay Club of Tampa <>; valdes <>; Warren Rachels <>; Wolfe, Alvin <>; <>; <>; <>; <>

Ms. Olson and Dr. Lamb:

Your conduct at today’s Tiger Bay bodes more trashing of the First Amendment by school leadership.

You joined Ms. Elia’s implicit threat to cut off ad money to La Gaceta if it didn’t shut up my criticism of the Board and administration when Dr. Lamb spat at me that he resented my saying to him that I objected to the Board’s raising its salary equal to that of a veteran teacher with a master’s degree. Ms. Olson backed the expostulation as you both stalked away from a citizen’s petitioning for redress of grievance in your joint big-baby pout because a mere taxpayer dared express a grievance to you-- elected officials both.

Here’s the part of the First Amendment you two sullied today: "Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Maybe you are as shaky on a Constitutional officer’s duty to listen to citizen input as you are on the obscenity of a Board member’s extracting for two meetings a month what a veteran teacher with a master’s degree earns by honest full-time work. Even at these two monthly Board meetings, I have observed that you both sit
like potted plants on the dais in flatliner mode.

You don’t read the documents you should read—as the Elia real-estate scam shows, so you don’t earn honestly any pay at all: especially pay equal to a veteran teacher with a master’s degree.

Moreover, the Tribune reported that La Olson said she would not allocate any of the available funds to teacher salaries. What condescending abuse of teachers’ dignity and right to pay equal to their real worth La Olson revealed.

No wonder teachers are leaving the state in droves. Florida teachers stand near the bottom of pay in the nation and get, on top of that deprivation, the contempt of the likes of Board Member Olson. One does not hear of administrators' leaving. This state stands as greedy, incompetent school administrators' hog heaven.

Board members of your towering ignorance and hubris explain the teacher exodus from Florida. You raise your own bloated salaries with alacrity, but you thumb your noses at teachers who often have to take second jobs to survive. And the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers’ Association abets you by joining in the abuse of teachers with its members’ getting into bed with the administration and not standing up for teachers from whom they milk $500 a year from meager salaries.

You both offend me. You don’t do your constitutional duty. You don’t care a whit about teachers’ wellbeing. You never hesitate to rubberstamp the bloated salaries of the administration, who pet you into non-attentive silence. But teachers get your contempt.

Administrative calculated coddling of you to do a corrupt administration's bidding and makes you sneer at teachers’ need for more money in their paychecks and their right not to be tortured by Linda Kipley of the Professional Standards gulag, who got her job with no competition athwart Title VII and the Board's promise of equal job opportunity.

One notes that two of your administrative tax-paid promotional staff attended as court factotums with you today: Ms. Connie Munchkin Milito and Mr. Steve Blog-pilferer Heggarty. They don’t work for the taxpayers who pay them far too much. They work to bury under PR spin the Board’s and the administration’s poor performance of duty to the children and citizens of Hillsborough County, including rebuking a citizen who questions their conduct.

You are both a disgrace to public office. Your abuse of teachers and dereliction of duty offend me. It’s time for you two to exit the Board so that new Board members can replace you and your shameful performance.

lee drury de cesare
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, Fl 33708

Editor SPTimes:

Superintendent MaryEllia Elia's cliché-ridden smokescreen in today's paper shows a major reason why teachers have low morale. An NEA survey showed that 88 percent of teachers want to participate in curriculum and instruction decisions but don't get a chance in the top-down practice of the Hillsborough County school administration.

Hillsborough County teachers fear saying anything because anybody who speaks up except to praise the bosses suffers administrative retaliation through its Professional Standards department. Its zeig-heil process allows teacher no recourse but to submit to arbitrary, even sadistic punishment of the person running it, one Linda Kipley, former home-ec teacher and current Nurse Ratchit. The administration put the present occupant into this job to solve an administration problem. There was no advertising of the position, a situation athwart Title VII's equal-opportunity requirements. The Board and administration look the other way while she mistreats teachers.

Ms. Elia makes a quarter of a million dollars a year in a job the ad for which was tailored to her lack of doctorate. The apparently ghost-written piece appearing in the Times today does not represent her level of literacy. Ms. Elia's writing, which was on the Web page as her biography, featured basic grammar-punctuation errors.

Ms. Elia's public-relations response today makes the usual noises about raising teacher pay in the sweet bye and bye. Yet the School Board wouldn't use available money according to a recent newspaper account to raise teachers' salaries. The article quoted Board member Candy Olson as saying in an argument with Brian Blair and Ronda Storms that she didn't want to use available money for teacher pay.

Florida teacher salaries rank 29th in the national average--below Georgia's, a major reason why Georgia bleeds teachers over the state line from Florida. Yet when I recently told Board members Jack Lamb and Candy Olson at a public forum that their having raised their salaries to equal that of a veteran teacher with a master's degree offended me, Dr. Lamb said, "I resent your asking that question." Ms. Olson backed him up. These two don't believe in the Constitutional right of a citizen to ask an elected official about redress of grievances.

For teachers in Hillsborough County to get adequate pay, too-long-serving Board members Dr. Lamb and Ms. Olson must go; and administrative cartels like that run in Hillsborough County like an administrative gravy train of administrative bloated salaries must yield to a qualified, politically neutral administrator outside the in-house nucleus that has ruled the schools to teachers', students', and the community's detriment far too long.

lee drury de cesare, former teacher and union president
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Essay Grading Time for Superintendent Elia
----- Original Message -----From:
leeTo: maryellen.elia@sdhc.k12.fl.usCc: Wolfe, Alvin ; valdes ; terry ; schoolrecipient9 ; schoolrecipient8 ; schoolrecipient7 ; school recipient7 ; schoolrecipient6 ; schoolrecipient5 ; schoolrecipient4 ; school recipient3 ; schoolrecipient2 ; schoolrecipient1 ; ; Patrick ; Lyons ; Clements ; montolino ; Margie Jean ; Jim Mills ; Gene ; faliero ; Edith A Tobul ; edgecomb ; Bob ; Beth McClain ; Ben ; Barbara ; Angie ; ALANNA SWOR ; Andrea Brunais ; ; joan gentry ; ; ; ; huntley Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:34 PM
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:34 PM

Online Superintendent Biography
Ms. Elia, I mark errors below in your online biography. There were errors in you op-ed submissions to the SP Times and the Tampa Tribune. You should dock your ghost writer Heggarty's pay for these and make him review his grammar primer. One of you must learn grammar and punctuation for public communication.

Such errors as you make online and in newspapers embarrass the Hillsborough County School system and make the students cynical when you tell them with a straight face to become literate--to do as you say, not as you do.

MaryEllen Elia received her B.A. degree from Daeman College and her M.Ed. degree from the University of Buffalo. In 1983, she added masters of Professional Studies in Reading from State University of New York at Buffalo, and received certification in Educational Leadership in 1989.

“Masters” should be possessive “master’s” for elliptical “master’s degree.” No comma after “Buffalo”: it splits the compound verb “added” and “received.”

MaryEllen worked as a social studies teacher in the state of New York from September 1970 through June 1986. In August 1986, she was employed by the School District of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida as a reading resource specialist at Plant High School.

She served as the county's secondary reading supervisor from 1989 through 1991. With the advent of magnet schools in 1991, MaryEllen became the county's first magnet school supervisor.

From January 1997 through September 2002, she served as Director of Non-Traditional Programs which included magnet schools as well the ESOL program, alternative schools and dropout prevention programs.

Put a comma after “Florida”: conventional-material rule.Put a comma after “Programs”; a nonrestrictive adjective clause follows it.Standard English retains the last comma in items in a series: "alternative schools." One hopes that Hillsborough County schools teach Standard English and that staff uses it.

On September 4, 2002, MaryEllen was appointed to the General Director of Secondary Education, and on June 3, 2003, she was appointed the Hillsborough County School District's Chief Facilities Officer where she was responsible for all new construction for over 200 schools/educational facilities and district maintenance and custodial operations.

Put a comma after "Officer": the "where' clause is a nonrestrictive adjectival clause.

On May 19, 2005, MaryEllen was appointed Superintendent of Schools. Her tenure began July 1, 2005.

MaryEllen is married to Albert Elia and has two children, a son Albert and a daughter Tara.

Commas should enclose “Albert” and “Tara” since they are sole son and daughter according to the biography.

With compound adjectives before a noun, hyphens rank standard:magnet hyphen school supervisor; reading hyphen resource specialist. These hyphens mark two words before a noun acting as a single adjective.

Style: 18 percent of the verbs are passive (marked). English teachers plead with students to avoid flabby passive verbs. They vitiate rhetorical force.
You suffer from the Number One style error: wordiness: “With the advent of magnet schools in 199...”: pompous wordiness. Substitute “In 1991, MaryEllen Elia bacame..." Third-person pomp: e.g, “MaryEllen earned a Nobel Laureate in 1981 for wondrous deeds in the reading lab.” I submit we commoners should surrender royal third person to the English queen and refer to ourselves in unpretentious first person.

Your punctuation is not as bad as that of your predecessor, Dr. Earl the Pearl Lennard—few’s punctuation could be. But your performance shows why I work for basic-English tests for administrators like those teachers must pass before marginally literate administrators begin drawing their bloated salaries while teachers get pittances.

You have the additional problem of having one of those ditzy first names with which parents in the South afflict daughters. Others from my Georgia cousins are “Lula Belle,” “Darcy Jane,” “Sallie Sussanna, “and—worst—“Daisy Jewel.” Only South Carolina can produce more ridiculous names for girls. MaryEllen is a contender.

Names have epistemological consequences. I doubt that we shall ever see a Lula Belle, Darcy Jane, Sallie Sussanna, or Daisy Jewel sit on the Supreme Court. I wager there will be no MaryEllens either. Were I you, I would avoid summoning up that unfortunate first name in professional submissions. It invokes a whole Dempsey Dumpster of malignant lore about the frivolity and lack of gravitas of females. The male equivalents are Troy Lamar, Billy Bob, and Bubba Junior. These evoke obtuse bumpkins and bad gene pools. I'd retreat to "Mary" or "Ellen" were I you.

One infers that you pay as little attention to literate writing as you do to wasting taxpayers’ money by oblivious oversight when you headed the building department. For the $250,000 a quiescent Board lavishes on you, I believe that taxpayers deserve better performance not only in your husbanding of tax money from building-department crooks but also in your demonstration of literacy in public missives that represent both you and the School Board. Some of its members may object to looking like illiterate chumps in print.

Advice: Don’t allow young Hegarty to sin against literacy in your name. Doing so comprises a case of the blind’s leading the blind. You are better off to employ Ms. Cobbe, who works in obscurity in the public-relations office. She is a good if not a perfect punctuater. She or one of the other competent finalists whose applications I examined should have gotten the job.

One wonders how the candidate with the least suitable resume and absent the years of administrative experience cited landed the job that involves writing. I smell a buddy hiring here: the kind for which the administration is famous.

Heggarty noted in his resume that he had kept in touch with several administrative contacts when he was on sabbaticals from the Hillsborough County school beat. I asked for their identities as public information. He said no. Something tells me that Mr. Heggarty's toadying instincts made you one of these contacts. Heggarty's lassitude as a reporter able to evade skullduggery going on under his nose probably also recommended him to you for the job. Heggarty, as an indication of his character, sneaked into my Grammargrich blog and deleted my posting on his illiteracy. But I will put the rascal's illiteracy back in Grammargrinch eventually and change my password.

Back to inhouse illiteracy: Dr. Hamilton, against whom I lodged two unanswered professional-standards complaints for his misuse of the school email system for personal preening, is a prima facie case for administration illiteracy. We taxpayers, thanks to a supine Board, pay him $132,000 to write illiterate emails whilst prancing around as if he were Cato the Elder, god’s gift to the administrative hierarchy not to mention promotion facilitator to a female kindergarten teacher half his age who skipped up all
the rungs of the ladder from Romper Room to Tallahassee lobbyist to land in a top $120,000 job job, lacking all credentials except that the requisite old fool in such senarios, Dr. Hamilton, in-house aging Lothario, shines his light upon her whilst the superintendent abetted by the Board looks the other way.

Administrator-literacy tests are obligatory in Massachusetts, the Number One school system in the nation. You could secure one and test-drive it on Dr. Hamilton, who doesn't know the difference between "you're" and "your." That performance would provide you basis for evicting him from sharing a job with Dr. Otero as is now the case so that taxpayers fork over two salaries for one job, with one of the guys' not knowing the difference between "you're" and "your."

If the C students who got education-lite degrees from third-tier schools and now occupy administration sinecures had to pass a teacher-literacy test to keep their jobs, their ranks would thin: delicious thought for those interested in education instead of these administrative thugs fixed on milking the system for all the taxdollars possible that they can purloin via salary bloat and perquisites.

Lee Drury De Cesare

Lamb had that outburst at Tiger Bay to shut me up--like a big spoiled child when he doesn't want to hear any criticism. Lamb can't stand criticism. He's not tough enough for it; he is not used to it.

The Board has never had any public attention. People think it's irrelevant. The politicians say that education is their number-one priority and then ignore it. They say teachers are holy icons and then pay them pittances. Boards participate in the venerable hypocrisies about education and the value of teachers. Tash asks with plaintive bewilderment why teachers' morale is low. It's low because teachers know that they are the recipients of condescending twaddle in a country that despises intellectuals and anybody who represents intellectual impulses such as teachers.

The press is complicit. The people who fill its ranks are resistant to education, although I note a steady stream of hits on my Grammargrinch blog from press at the three big papers I concentrate on--NYTimes, Washington Post, and Boston Globe. These surreptitious hits--doubtless done when nobody is looking-- show that reporters for those flossy papers learn that literacy is important for decent press prose.

The press, however, shows it doesn't care about education by ignoring it and by downplaying School Board elections. The press declared Clayton Wilcox a paragon when he blew into town after a mediocre career in LA with his Nova diploma-mill degree and a thesis--probably bought and paid for--filled with grammar-punctuation errors.
The Democratic Club of Pinellas shouted me down when I cornered Wilcox on his lack of literacy--yet I am a former teacher and union president, traditional Democratic constituencies while Wilcox is a Republican drawing a bloated salary for feeble education credentials.
Nobody questioned the Board in Hillsborough County's approving a revised ad for superintendent to fit Elia's lack of Ph.D. The position is not important enough for public or press indignation. If it were the coach of the BUCs, there would be resume nitpicking to a faretheewell amongst the citizenry and the press.

That people don't care about education and just wish its exigencies would go away shows up every time I cite bad punctuation anyplace--including Ms. Elia's, making a quarter of a million dollars a year in a top education slot to see that children become literate yet herself bereft of basic literacy.

When pressed, people say it's not important for them to know how to punctuate--and, further, that it is not vital for school officials to know how to punctuate. I couldn't get Jennifer Faliero to understand the intellectual standing of the candidates--including literacy--was important before the last Board cave-in to the in-house Mafia's pre-picked candidate. These are the insider cartel that lets things like real-estate scams go on under its noses and with some of its collusion, I infer.

I think the schools should do away with English classes to put a stop to facile hypocrisy and let the populace retrace its steps back to the caves, in which there will reside TVs with 24-hour sports channels. We should return to the era when universal education was a pipe dream, a time during which only nobles and clergy were literate.

That'll be fine with the Pabst Blue Ribbon crowd and their dumb-ass apologists in the public and the press.


----- Original Message -----
Cc: ; ;
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:08 AM
Subject: Re:
In a message dated 6/4/2006 10:48:22 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:

He [Lamb] went beserk and said he resented my asking the question.

Why on earth would he resent it? That's what gets me. People should question something like that--Lamb's raising his own salary to what a veteran teacher with a master's degree makes. If he had a good defense, he should blurt it out, not simply say, "I resent you asking that question!" Since he had no solid defense, he's being a baby. I'm shocked. I thought he was one of the better board members after he said he would look into the Linda Kipley affair.

Bart Birdsall2309 W. Bristol Ave.Tampa, FL 33609(813) 258-8817 (home)(813) 362-7937 (cell)

Andrea Brunais ; Angie ; Barbara ; Beth McClain ; Doug & Cathy SCW ; edgecomb ; Edith A Tobul ; faliero ; Jack Lamb ; ; Margie Jean ; montolino ; Patrick ; ; ; Tiger Bay Club of Tampa ; valdes ; Warren Rachels ; Wolfe, Alvin ; ; ; ; ;

Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 11:34 PM

Mr. Garcia: Your comment that my writing illustrates a "Victorian density" misses the mark. You haven't read Dickens, Thackeray, or Trollope recently--or ever.

Victorian sentences are long, heavily laden with subordinate clauses. Mine aren't. One crochet of my writing is abstruse vocabulary. I won't reduce everything to Romper Room monosyllables. I write for myself, not for the masses. Why do we have wonderful words if we can't use them without the false accusation of "Victorian density?" Read Blood Meridian. Mc Carthy employs a quirkily abstruse vocabulary. But one does not mind going to the OED because he is so good.

I don't object to your term "stylized." I use words for effect. So does Yeats. So does everybody with a smidge of skill. I arrange syntax with care. I prune. If a writer does not care for style, then he or she does not love words and may as well be flipping burgers or bookkeeping.

You yourself represent a solid specimen for your genre. I would label your style with-it fratboy with a whiff of blue collar. It's a put-on, but what isn't? Your mode does not offend the reading masses. It makes them feel comfy about their lack of linguistic sophistication. Somebody has to write that way for papers like The Weekly Planet, so forge on and delight the dimwits who keep newspapers in business.

Expecting professional writers and school officials to use grammar and punctuation correctly is not "nitpicking." Writers and school officials must possess literacy. Otherwise, they should retreat with fellow illiterates to a cave and pick fleas off each other.

Patrick agreed not to change a comma of my work unless I consented, and he stuck by that promise as long as I wrote for him. We hollered over the phone over diction. We once had an argument about my combining "sleep with the fishes" and "go to the mattresses" in one paragraph. Patrick, always alert to nail any sexual allusions, declared I was trying to sneak in a sexual meaning by putting the two into the same paragraph. I labored in vain to assure him that Puzo had not used the terms in a sexual manner but finally gave up. "Take them out," I said, hanging up the phone in amazement that there was a man in the world who didn't know the patois of The Godfather.

The new columnist for La Gaceta is Andrea Brunais. I have known and loved her for forty years. We met when she wrote for the old Tampa Times. Andrea writes like a dream--pellucid, easy, natural. La Gaceta is lucky to get her. Ditto for Weekly Planet and you.

Pax vobiscum,

lee drury de cesare

Reading Between the Lines
Two school superintendents, two newspaper columns, trouble ahead?
Published 05.31.06
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For those who read the tea leaves of local politics, two recent newspaper columns provide some clues to the condition of Tampa Bay's two school superintendents.

First, the case of the disappearing columnist.

A few weeks back, columnist Lee Drury DeCesare left La Gaceta, the highly political trilingual weekly that is an important tout sheet for local political insiders.

For those who've never read DeCesare's column, here is an excerpt that captures her acidic and highly stylized approach, in this case a complaint to Gov. Jeb Bush about DeCesare's favorite target, Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia:

"La Elia et al do not deal with school problems such as non-performing schools, hiring irregularities, or real-estate cheats with alacrity but react with dispatch when any source threatens their right to abuse power and manipulate tax dollars for administrative bloated salaries and delusions of éclat."

DeCesare is, to be sure, infuriating for those who found themselves in her sights. (She has on at least one occasion, I confess, criticized Political Whore for saying nice things about Pinellas Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.)

She harangued and nitpicked journalists and school officials for grammatical lapses. She wrote with an almost Victorian density. She was the woman who rose from her seat at a Tiger Bay Club meeting to ask Charlie Crist if he was gay.

Her column was often a parody of muckraking and her reporting loose -- at best. But she is also that rare breed: a hellraiser. The former teacher and labor union organizer remains a hard-core feminist and education advocate. She is the only voice questioning administrators on both sides of the bay with a consistently pro-teacher, anti-administration take that you just don't find in the mainstream dailies.

So it is not surprising that she cheesed off the Hillsborough school system pretty good. A few weeks back, her boss, La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga, found himself at a meeting with Elia. He says he didn't know the subject of the meeting would turn to his columnist DeCesare.
"I was having a meeting for one purpose, and I guess she was having the meeting for another purpose," Manteiga relates. "She was encouraging employees to sue the paper for stepping over the line" in one of DeCesare's columns.

DeCesare had been dogging two female bureaucrats in the Hillsborough school system, and in one column, she questioned how they got their high-paying jobs, writing that tax dollars "shouldn't subsidize any casting-room-couch-employment protocols."

Manteiga said Elia had counseled the two employees that they could have a libel suit and asked the publisher to back off the criticism. Did she juxtapose that request with, say, the $11,388.62 in advertising that the school system spent in the past 12 months with La Gaceta? "No comment," is all that Manteiga will say.

DeCesare, however, doesn't demur.

"That's extortion. That's a classic ACLU case," DeCesare says. She wishes Manteiga had told Elia "to go to hell." But she concedes that a small weekly is in no position to defend libel lawsuits, and it's not in Manteiga's nature to pick a fight with Elia. "He's a sweet, good man. But he's not a fighter. I'm a fighter."

Elia, for her part, is a bit mystified by the dust-up and said she never asked for DeCesare's departure; she felt a responsibility to tell the publisher of the possible lawsuits to come. "I told Patrick, you and I know we've had a long relationship with your newspaper," Elia says. "What I said was, this was unacceptable. I am telling my employees they have the option to go forward and move on a lawsuit against the newspaper for printing that." She vehemently denies any hint of threatening La Gaceta's advertising.

Manteiga says DeCesare's column did go too far, and he adds that he edited out at least five previous sexually related allegations in her work. "Casting-room couch" got by his editing. "She kept throwing the same stone, eventually I missed it." When he asked her to tone it down and avoid libel, she resigned instead.

"Outside of that, Lee brought us a lot of readers, and that's not bad for a little newspaper," Manteiga says. "I love the First Amendment, and this was a real test of how much I love it. I read things about people I like [in DeCesare's columns] and it was real tough to put those comments in my newspaper." But despite unending criticism from Tampa's powerful, he kept her around, figuring that "just because I don't like what you say is an awkward reason for getting rid of someone."

No one should have to bear being libeled. But what happened to DeCesare does smack of press intimidation -- like killing a gnat with a cannon.

Hillsborough schools have plenty of room for self-examination. The St. Petersburg Times earlier this year wrote with painstaking detail how the school system used no-bid, handpicked real estate brokers to buy land for schools, paying high prices and fees to brokers who, in some cases, may have flipped properties to inflate values. Those problems came on Elia's watch. Elia promised quick change and delivered some.

Those issues, among others, are no doubt fodder for the fall elections; 10 candidates are running for three seats on the School Board, with incumbents being challenged in two of those seats.
Turning to the other newspaper column now, this one bodes poorly for Elia's Pinellas counterpart, Wilcox.

A week ago Sunday, May 21, the St. Petersburg Times ran a most unusual editorial, with a editorial sidebar from President and Editor Paul Tash. The Times had previously done some excellent work surveying local teachers and reporting on how professionally unhappy they are. The main editorial's headline on this Sunday was: "A crisis of morale in Pinellas schools."

That was quite a distance from the editorial board's unbridled enthusiasm for Wilcox just a year and a half ago, when the Sunday headline read, "Wilcox brings in winds of change."

Tash's sidebar column, which ran with his picture, made the editorial page disapproval that much more devastating. Tash related how his wife is a teacher and his parents were teachers. "So for me, our stories last week hit a particular nerve," he wrote.

The sea change in the Times editorial stance toward Wilcox doesn't bode well for his future. He has infuriated a renegade teacher group and the two school board members they elected; disappointed the union that represents the bulk of the teachers by failing to deliver real reform; and hangs by an often 4-3 vote on the school board. There aren't too many constituency groups still on board the Wilcox train; the Times support for him as an agent of change tended to compensate for that. Before a week ago Sunday.

Lee DeCesare's writing can be found online at Political Whore can be reached by e-mail at, by telephone at 813-739-4805 or on our blog at <>Andrea Brunais <>; Angie <>; Beth McClain <>; Doug & Cathy SCW <>; Edith A Tobul <>; Edward Stein <>; joan gentry <>; <>; Margie Jean <>; montolino <>; Patrick <>; <>; <>; Tiger Bay Club of Tampa <>; valdes <>; Warren Rachels <>; Wolfe, Alvin <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>

Dear Chair of Republican Party, Hillsborough County:

Yesterday my husband and I attended Tiger Bay in Tampa. Senator Sebesta and Representative Henriquez spoke. Tiger Bay advertised the event as one in which we would hear what happened in the legislature last session.

“Coach” did a pretty good job sticking to the subject. Senator Sebesta, in contrast, rattled on about himself and namedropped, citing at least four times how well he knew the four candidates for governor. Senator Sebesta is heavily involved into name-dropping. We didn’t learn anything about the legislative session but learned more than we wanted to know about how social insecurity afflicts Senator Sebesta’s ego.

The senator dealt with the question I asked, which is how he harmonized his vote to keep Schiavo alive in Tallahassee but returned to Tampa to attend a bar reception for Judge Greer and joined everyone in giving the judge a standing ovation. His answer was a variation of his name-dropping leitmotif: He knew Judge Greer extremely well.

The most astonishing part of Senator Sebesta’s performance was his exit. Four of us women went up to the podium and asked him to talk to us a few minutes. He pretended not to hear, and we later learned he told one of the people on the podium to stall us while he made his escape.

Being near the door, I intercepted Senator Sebesta, reminding him that four of us women wanted to speak to him. He said he didn’t have the time, that he had an appointment in St. Petersburg. I said that not having a conversation with him would disappoint four women who expected one.

He appeared to relent and said reluctantly, “Oh, ok.” I said, “Good. We would be disappointed if you weaseled out.”

“Weaseled!” he exploded. “That does it for you, lady!” and fled the premises.

Senator Sebesta’s uncivilized behavior does not hurt his chances for re-election since he is term-limited out. But such displays of lack of urbanity in a Republican exiting office holder hurt the chances of other Republican candidates because it connects his bad behavior with the Republican Party.

When you see Senator Sebesta at party events, at which one is sure he will be found, glad-handing and dropping names, keep in mind how careless this former Republican legislator is careless of his party’s reputation for courtesy and probity when dealing with voters.

I wonder how a man who can display such incivility to four women fooled the voters long enough to get into public office. Barbarous bad manners in an exiting Republican official reflect badly not only on him but also on the party.

I know that all Republicans are not so gauche; my husband of fifty years is a polite Republican.

Lee Drury De Cesare
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sigmund Freud's Casting-Room Couch in Vienna, on Which Analysands Confessed to Sleeping Their Way to the Top. We need one in Tampa at the ROSSAC Building.

The Problem of Childhood Obesity and Dogs and Their Owners: Lookalikes

I recently read two articles back to back that made me ponder the Hillsborough County School Board. One was a piece in the NYTimes that discussed the growing problem of obesity in children (see in NYTimes archives).

Childhood obesity leads to all kinds of health problems: Type II diabetes; asthma; liver disease; orthopedic dyscrasias; sleep apnea; digestive and kidney problems; high cholesterol and blood pressure. The last-named pair can lead to heart problems.

I happen to be a registered nurse and have seen these pediatric problems in hospitals.

The other article I read waiting in a doctor’s office --a piece on how owners and their pets get to look like each other. The paired pictures made me laugh. The pets and owners did indeed resemble each other.

In thinking about the NYTimes article on childhood obesity, I asked myself, “Why haven’t I heard of an all-out campaign in the Hillsborough County school system to combat childhood obesity? It’s as big a problem in the Bay Area as it is anyplace else.”

I believe I know the answer.

Over 63 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Have you gone to a School Board meeting and examined the contours of the denizens on the dais? Most sitting in the School Board arc fall slap dab within that statistic. They are not the greatest role models for students.

Dr. Jack Lamb wins the avoirdupois dais derby. Le Lamb presents a walking powder keg for stroke or heart attack. One shudders for his kidneys.

Ms. Elia has long ago gone way beyond chubby to double-chin-hood: her BMI replicates that of the old Roseanne Barr before she lost weight.

La Candy Olson bulges in all the wrong places: she suffers the apple-shaped body and veers to a sack-of-potatoes fat distribution. Fat around the middle counts the most lethal for extra pounds: fat tum-tums beg for coronary problems. Candy's expensive clothes don't fool us who have medical backgrounds and eyes to see.

Dr. James Hamilton is spreading out like Filene’s Bargain Basement. I saw a picture of him as a young man when I reviewed personnel folders. He then was in good condition. These were the days of splendor in the grass/glory in the flower in which he accumulated his reputation for cutting a wide swath amongst pedagogic femmes. Alas, Le Jimmy has gone to pot with emphasis on the pot—as in pot belly.

People in such obvious need of losing weight themselves don’t want to call attention to a problem to which they have succumbed. So to hell with a program to help Hillsborough County students stay healthy and avoid the statistic that says 70 percent of fat children become fat adults, with all the health problems getting worse from their obesity as they age.

The obesity of those on the School Board dais explains why they don’t launch a program to fight obesity in students. Such a program would call attention to their dictum of do as I say do, not as I do.

The only thin person on the Board dais is Jennifer Faliero— she has problems of the intellect, judgment, and courage, of course, but at least she models for Hillsborough County children a normal body weight. And she is pretty; hers is not the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium, to be sure. But she is a good-looking Board member amongst a Board bevy to whom the Gods of beauty gave short shrift. The Greeks said the two great gifts from the gods were brains and beauty. Faliero carries that Greek beauty ideal with scant help from most of her colleagues. Brains we won't talk about.

My desire to explore the connection between pets and their owners led me to hire a pet dick—that’s lingo for detectives who stalk and identify pets to assist in the phrenological forensics of their owner. I told my team of pet dicks to get pictures of the pets of Lamb, Elia, Olson, and Le Hamilton. I would have added Faliero and, to widen the field, the pets of Linda Kipley and Steve Heggarty if I had the bucks to spend on pet-dick services.

I omitted Susan Valdez because one hears La Valdez has made heroic efforts to lose weight and has succeeded spectacularly, thus becoming a role model for obese children who want to emerge from fatties into swans.

Mrs. Bricklemeyer is retiring, hence doesn’t count. Dorthea Ethridge I am still evaluating—whether to place her in the overweight category or into the obese one. The cut of La Ethridge’s clothes--which veer to shift couture--makes the evaluation tough even for a registered nurse. As for La Kurdell: I used to go with my husband to government seminars and conventions when he was mayor in Madeira Beach. Every time I saw Kurdell at one of these, she was pondering the picks at the dessert table. If you wanted to find her, you went to the desert table. Her bulk shows the results.

I plan to submit my obese Board essay to the Centers for Disease Controld and the National Institutes for Health. I trust both will deem it a sure-bet study into a heretofore little-investigated phenomenon: a scientific overview of how pets and their School-Board and administration owners look alike.

Below the paired pictures will convince you of the probity of my research so that you can confirm for yourself how much the subjects and their pets resemble each other. Then you can write letters to both the NIH and CDC urging that they accept my study.

Dr. Jack Lamb's fattest-dog-in-the-world, Tiny Tim. He is resting on Franklin Street, where Dr. Lamb has taken him for a walk to
fool people into thinking that he himself is an exercise buff. These show walks with Tiny Tim fool nobody, however, since Le Tiny refuses to walk more than three steps before he flops down thusly for a long rest. Dr. Lamb flops down beside Tiny.

MaryEllen Elia's cat, Pussy Willow Golightly, held by a school janitor whom Elia keeps in the crouch position on the public pay roll outside her ROSSAC office door to pick up her cleaning and fetch Chicken McNuggets when she's in the munchy mood, which is at least six times a day.

Candy Olson's dog, Fou Fou La Reine a-Go-Go. Fou Fou replicates her mistress's unfortunate mid-section fat distribution. Fou Fou and Candy both need a personal tummy trainer and a lock on the frig.

Dr. Jim Hamilton's dog, Rocko Lover-Boy Valentino: Rocko's midsection shows a spread that testifies to too much time spent in Margaritaville with his master. Margaritaville is the metaphor that Dr. Jim invoked when sending out an illiterate memo for the delectation or sufferance of his school-wide system of what La Jimbo considers his tax-paid vassals. This memo earned him a Professional Standards complaint from the kid here. La Abu Gharib Kipley has remained silent on the complaint, however.

This exacting research and the outlay of fees for the pet dicks have led me to demand that the School Board kick off a campaign to get students to abandon obesity for health and beauty.

My demand includes the Board's starting with itself. Dr. Lamb must hie himself to Weight Watchers. Candy Olson goes on Slimfast for the duration. La Elia has to stop having grease-laden lunches. The week after she threatened Patrick Manteiga with law suits and extortion by cut-off of ad revenue if he didn’t shut me up, Patrick put a picture of her and some guy sitting in an Ybor City restaurant chowing down on Grease Casserole.