Saturday, May 12, 2007
If you use the Florida public-records law, you can get a considerable amount of data about what goes on in the ROSSAC bunker. Anything recorded--even on a piece of toilet paper--belongs to citizens if they ask for it. Send your requests for data to Linda.email@example.com. La Linda is the most efficient in the Public Affairs office. She can be snippy, but we can take snippy if the snipper is efficient.
For instance, Linda has taken umbrage at my calling Linda Kipley's Professional Standards cell block "Abu Ghraib." She also objected to my misspelling "Abu Ghraib." I may still be misspelling it.
If you want to waste time, you can banter with Linda. The Constitution covers banter with public-information people at School Boards. I used to banter, but now I get right to the question. A revolutionary such as I has little time for banter.
Linda is good about keeping a record of one's questions, a vital thing for me since I would forget my nose if it were not attached to my face. All my grandchildren say, "Granny is spacy." My mind is occupied thinking up new epithets for the Board and administration louts, so I am not a good record keeper.
So fire away with your questions to La Linda. If they get numerous enough, the Board will have to give Linda an assistant at $100,000-plus a year.
Marc Hutek is in line for the assistant-to-Linda job.
lee drury de cesare http://leedrurydecesarescasting-roomcouch.blogspot.com/
Ms. Cobbe: When will I get the secretary-produced Candy-comment from the last Board meeting? You said a secretary would produce it if I would pay for it.
I want to send it around to teachers and mount it on my blog. Thank you.
lee drury de cesare lee http://leedrurydecesarescasting-roomcouch.blogspot.com/
Friday, May 11, 2007
- At Tampa Tiger Bay, I approached you and Ms. Olson after a meeting to say that your raising your School Board salaries by $6000 more than beginning teachers earned offended me.
- The most recent primal scream you performed occurred at the end of the May 8th School Board meeting.
Mr. Burns: You score big points with a feminist for “chairone.” I can’t tell you how many knock-down-drag-out-faculty-lounge scuffles I have engaged in on linguistic discrimination. The twits at Harvard charged us feminists with “pronoun envy,” and we had one hell of a fight with the weather-bureau sexists getting them to alternate hurricane names.
The practice of naming hurricanes all women’s names was because women were “tempestuous and unpredictable.” That’s the kind of rigorous y-chromosome logic we women must put up with—including your wife and three daughters.
Where I taught, I wore the sexists down by never letting them get away without rebuke when they used a sexist term; then they would get up in an auditorium, use “chairperson,” and holler across the auditorium to me, “See, Lee: I’m using ‘chairperson’ just for you’” as if I were some loony feminist that they were propitiating. If you fight for women’s rights, you must accept the reputation of being the crazy aunt in the attic and wear the put-down as a garland of distinction.
My husband worked in human relations for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to keep our four children fed and in braces while I continued graduate school at Stonybrook and nursed at night in NYC. He was mayor of our little beach town for over ten years after early retirement; then he couldn’t take it any more and retired to escape from the most tiresome bunch of politicians ever to slap a back. If you beat Primal Screamer, you may kill some of those Board lovelies. So bethink yourself.
The superintendent and Dr. Hamilton are illiterati—
I tried to get the School Board to have the candidates’ terminal thesis as part of the application package. No luck. Jennifer Faliera, as dumb as she is pretty, didn’t see any justification whatsoever for a superintendent’s terminal thesis as part of the application. Your opponent, Primal Scream Le Lamb, once told me at a Tiger Bay meeting when I asked him why he approved Connie Mileto’s getting a $120,000-plus administrative slot with a kindergarten degree—along Dr. Hamilton’s solicitous help according to gossip and his wife’s divorcing him—and Linda Kipley’s getting the head Abu Gharib slot for $120,000 plus perquisites with a home-ec degree (I am not making this up) responded that he thought people ought to be able to work themselves up to the top from the bottom.
By an extension of that logic, the janitors and grounds keepers should have no educational impediments to applying for superintendent. One couldn't be worse than La Elia.
Why did you quit the business world for teaching? What does your wife do? How do you get along in a goddess-dominated house?
Monday, May 07, 2007
This is to remind you that I await the following public information:
- The written transcript of the remarks Ms. Olson made at the last Board meeting telling them that they had no chance of getting Ms. Elia's ukase reversed. The teachers need to read that hostile attack by Olson on teachers word for word.
- Ms. Elia’s retirement package.
- Ms. Elia’s expense account statement for the past year.
4. Here’s a new request: a statement of the billable hours the Board attorney submitted for Board reimbursement for the research he did to find a phrase in my past columns that Ms. Elia could invoke in threatening to sue La Gaceta. She made this statement to Patrick Manteiga in a meeting that he thought concerned another matter; Ms. Elia's threat to Manteiga represents a species of government-official-extortion gesture to stifle press free speech. It is the kind of threat that is a specialty of ACLU litigation that protects press free speech.
I would like all data on this situation: the request for it, whether the Board approved the project, the attorney’s response, the attorney statement for charges for the research, etc. If the attorney were not Mr. Gonzalez, tell me who it was and apply the request to him or her.
Please don’t say this record does not exist: Ms. Elia told Manteiga in a meeting that he thought concerned about other matters that she could authorize Linda Kipley and Connie Mileto to sue La Gaceta for defamation, apparently using tax dollars to pay lawyers to squelch free press speech. Afterward, Ms. Elia claimed she did not squelch press free speech, and none of the Board expressed public concern that Ms. Elia engaged in an effort to impose restriction on press liberty by what appears to be extortion on Ms. Elia's part.
This sounds like Dr. Lennard's punishment of Mr. Erwin for his reporting criminality in the building area. Instead of punishing the perpetrators of the crimes, Dr. Lennard sicced the Board legal team on Irwin. The Board lawyers lost at every stage and lost the appeal. The Board finally had to pay Irwin after spend hundreds of thousands on legal fees to punish a whistleblower.Then Board members issued their famous "let's move on" statement. After they promoted the crucifixion of an honest man to punish him instead of the crooks in the building department ripping off taxpayers, the Board members said, "Let's move on" to sugar over their participation in retaliation against a whistleblower. I recall distinctly that Ms. Edgecomb was one of the "move-0n" advocates. There were others. Nobody said, "You know, we should learn something from this case. We should learn not to expect the courts to ratify our punishment of innocent people just to please the superintendent, who wants to cover up his lack of competence."
There must be more ethical people to put on the Board than these collaborators with evil.
lee drury de cesare
Posted on Teacher Blog The Wall (http://call-in-6.blogspot.com/2007/05/eliasmonk.html)
Sunday, May 06, 2007
O Yees, O Yees
Below is La Gaceta’s recent editorial on teachers’ fight against mistreatment by Board and Elia. It’s hard to tell which of this duo of teacher haters acts cat’s paw.
The answer doesn’t matter. The Board and administration comprise a one-two punch bonded pair that aims to bring teachers to their knees.
I would add as third collaborator the present local CTA leadership.
A fellow who posts on the Wall teacher blog says he is researching the history of the CTA. His initial research suggests to him that it was a noble outfit. I didn’t get the same impression in my cursory Web CTA research. I found CTA’s history disturbing since Turnillo led it beginning in the Sixties. I append a past newspaper article on the CTA and more URLs for further exploration below.
These don’t portray past CTA as unmitigated help to teachers. It portrays the network leaders as too gutless to rein in their out-of-control executive director and members so out-of-the-loop that they didn’t know where their dues went or didn’t care.
I don’t judge the current Hillsborough
What I can’t understand is why the state and local CTA put up with Pat Tornillo’s obscene salary. It reminds me that the Hillsborough County teachers allow Lyons et al to refuse to put their salaries on the CTA information-lite home page. Not one CTA leader so far as I know has let out a peep about the obscene salary the Board hands to La Elia, not to mention CTA’s squawking about the $48,000 in teacher-generated money for raising student scores as a “bonus” for Elia, not teachers.
I await Elia’s golden-parachute-pension report from Linda Cobbe, Public Affairs office, along with a statement of the superintendent’s expense account for the past year. These should display eye-popping rape of education tax kitty. Elia’s not in Tornillo’s league yet, but she’s working on challenging him with Board collusion.
I also await Cobbe’s sending me Board notes that justified awarding the teacher-generated bonus to Elia. I have as well asked for a detailed description of Elia’s expense account for a year’s time and her pension- package summary.
Her academic credentials being in inverse ration to her greed, money is motive for Elia’s scheming her way into the superintendent job, so let’s see how much her efforts have netted her with the Board’s complicity.
Community colleges are as bad as public schools. Battling those
The print press sits by sucking its thumbs and reporting the installation of new traffic lights, never a peep of outrage at even criminality in the schools. Rosemary Goudreau, Elia’s girlfriend, even chided the teachers for their protest against the Elia-Board extra-class rip-off. The blogs must pinch-hit for the public to have a hint of what is going on in administrations of the
Follow the money is maxim here.
In no circumstance should union members lie down and let its union collude with the people who mistreat them. Either new leadership in Hillsborough
For things to continue as is, teachers may as well wear signs saying, “Kick me. I will pay you a big salary the amount of which you don’t have to reveal to me if you don’t want to.”
What bowled me over in the history of
One can tell from Turnillo’s comments in retirement that this man is an intellectual thug who suffers grandiosity. Why did teachers put up with him so long? Why didn’t they demand an accounting of his salary and expense account? Why didn’t local CTA staff report back to the troops on what was going on? Was there a Board that ratified his raping CTA? Where was oversight? Where was accountability? Where was common sense? Where in the world was courage?
Where also were local CTA representatives then in calling Tornilla to account for spending teacher dues on frolics? Wasn’t there one with guts enough to get up and say, “Listen, Mr. Tornilla, you can’t make this obscene salary when teachers get peanuts, and you can’t go on pleasure trips, stay in posh hotels, and buy jewelry and robes that rob CTA coffers.”
It’s probably the same reason that Hillsborough County CTA leadership’s does not stand up in a Board meeting and question the Board’s forking over to Elia teacher-earned $48,000 “bonus.” Despite its official piety toward teachers, the Board cuts them off after 3 minutes at the mike with blinking lights under the surly chairship of Le Lamb, who makes no bones about his not wanting anyone but the Board grandees and their administration acolytes to say diddly.
The Board addresses ninety-nine percent of civil comments to each other. At the slightest pretext, Ms. Edgecomb launches into one of her prissy grammar-school-principal decorum homilies, insidious attempts to shame teachers for exercising their Constitutional rights of free speech and the right to address elected officials for redress of grievances.
Telling is that Board’s unctuous piety that claims allegiance to sainted teachers has not manifested itself in Board’s assigning teachers a place of their own on the Board agenda. The reason for that lack of teacher place of their own on the agenda is that the Board does not want to hear a syllable from teachers despite its ritual empty praise of them.
The Board wants teachers to remain silent and work like donkeys who supply it with the financial base to sign off on Elia’s bloated salary, her pilfered bonus, her Croesus benefits, and, we will soon learn, her
Oddly enough, teachers—the ones who cough up dues from meager salaries that made possible Tornillo’s past baronial lifestyle and obscene salary and now the current unposted but no-doubt generous compensation of Hillsborough County’s Lyons et al --have remained silent and consented to be donkeys for Boards like the one at ROSSAC all across the state.
Where, in God’s name, was and is teachers’ sense of self-worth that they allowed and continue to allow the union to romp over their rights without letting out a peep?
It’s time for teachers to face reality, to strap on their breastplates, to pick up their pickaxes, and to charge whilst yodeling Brunnhilde ho-jo-to-ho war cry.
I will tell you where I think teachers were in Tornillo’s hegemony and where they still are, alas: the same place that thousands of teachers were on the last Board-meeting day when a relative handful of brave teachers picketed ROSSAC to protest augmenting mistreatment of those in the profession. Those stay-away teachers have to realize that when Elia gets away with one piece of effrontery in her disrespect for teachers, it whets her appetite to up the ante in her next anti-teacher outrage.
Those no-show teachers who didn’t turn up at ROSSAC with placards to march around the building dithered in fear, hid their heads under rocks, and hoped everything would come out ok for them if only they didn’t have to do a doggone thing to assist the process that a brave band struggled to advance.
A few of these specimens have had the nerve to attack me, not the Board or Elia but me--for circulating emails informing them of what’s going on. They don’t want to hear what’s going on because it highlights their rolling over for ill treatment. They want to remain ignorant so as evade responsibility for their gutlessness by invoking ignorance.
I have not been soothing in my ripostes. Teachers’ emails are pubic information. If those in denial can’t hit the delete button but instead beat their chests in the safety of their offices to posture as brave buckaroos by sending hostile emails to a citizen while saying not one syllable of rebuke to the Board and administration about ill treatment of teachers, I have no hesitation in returning to these folks an email raspberry.
Nobody should expect me to tolerate cowards with apologies and flattery about their faux prudence. I decline. Letting the Board and Elia walk on one’s self has nothing to do with reflection, prudence, looking at all sides, etc. It has to do with timidity morphing into lack of guts. I don’t admire gutlessness and will not kowtow to it when people invoke it in the disguise of prudence. Prudence, my foot. It’s cowardice.
This conduct represents venerable poltroonery. Poltroonery of the German populace explains how the Nazis ran
The world was ever thus. As
The supine many will always benefit from the genius, the courage, the prescience, the labor of the few. Think of Van Gogh’s never selling but two or three paintings in his life. He would have starved had his brother Theo not supported him while the traditional anal-retentive-stuck-in-a-rut art world sneered at his paintings. These are the same Van Goghs that Japanese industrialists now pay millions of dollars for at auction to hang in their companies’ foyers and board rooms to give the éclat to their environs of class and culture that only genius radiates.
As Shakespeare’s Miranda says in The Tempest, “Oh, brave new world that has such people in it.”
The world has caught up to the aesthetic revolution of Van Gogh’s genius just as it has caught up to Samuel Gompers’ fight for better working conditions. The naysayers to Van Gogh and Gompers reside in the slagheap of history’s rejects.
History salutes leaders and all those who struggle for benign change in all areas of life. In their own time, the dullards and collaborators rebuke agents for change and endorse bowing down to authority.
Along with the local CTA salaries, I suggest that
Those who should oversee this situation are probably mum now on any state official’s misbehavior. They are silent from gutlessness as were their semblables in the past. Not long ago,
Who in the world authorized that salary for Tornilla? What fawning idiots would rubberstamp that rip-off? Does CTA have a state board like the public companies I own that authorize obscene salaries for CEOs while share prices plummet? Listen to this: I own Enron. I am now a litigant in a class-action law suit against the company. I won’t get a nickel and shouldn’t for being stupid enough to buy stock in a company run by a bunch of crooks. Participation in the law suit has a nice aura of nuttiness that I always find alluring. I like to involve myself in crazy, empty rituals. Doing so satisfies my sense of whimsy.
And does state CTA currently have a board like Hillsborough County’s School Board that awards sky-high compensation to a superintendent who doesn’t know how to use commas, can’t write above 7th-grade level, and has third-rate bona fides while an administrative crew that falls into the lower fiftieth of Belview Wechley backs up this superintendent third-rater in the ROSSAC bunker? A literate executive of CTA would be nice for the probably bloated salary he or she rakes in. And one who can use commas correctly and write mature emails is imperative to head an educational enterprise of
What about this as one of Bill Maher’s New Rules? A state CTA honcho can earn no more than three times a beginning teacher salary; a school superintendent ditto. Don’t believe yammering about qualified superintendents’ being in short supply and hence worth any price the Board can rubberstamp with a straight face.
That’s the result of the insidious taint of superintendent national cartel spin. These cartel bozos mostly have shoddy degrees from third-rate drive-by diploma mills, but the cartel rip-off artists rank savvy enough to snow gullible school boards into pumping up superintendent salaries by citing each other’s bloated compensation as the going rate.
There has never been a superintendent or administration featherbedder shortage. Look at how many applied to be superintendent last time but lost to the worst candidate because Elia had devoted her entire school career to the politics of capturing the superintendent sinecure with a potted-plant Board’s approval. Dempsey dumpsters of administration flock to apply for any administration no-work job.
Where are there no applicants for the job? Teacher jobs, of course: there is a teacher shortage, not a C and D administrator shortage.
If the Hillsborough County School Board were interested in education instead of the “prestige” of sitting at Board meetings in the magic semi-circle posturing to imply its members possess great depths of wisdom but mostly palavering to each other about how the decision by Board Member A on the color of the cupcakes’ icing for the next workshop recess respite is exceeded only by the winning of Board Member B of the Transcendent-Board-Member-for-All-Eternity award, put out by some gimcrack faux-education trophy outfit in the armpit of the educational world someplace in the environs of the San Andreas fault, this Hillsborough-County-reality-directed interest would improve the Hillsborough County school system. These administrator-and-Board-member-award distributors work out of one windowless room in the basement of small-town Chambers of Commerce.
Ms. Faliera smirked in collusive flattery at last Board meeting that Ms. Elia had won the Superintendent of the Super-dooper Intergalactic Superintendent NFL Sweepstakes Doodah Doodah. La Elia feigned modesty by casting her eyes downward to her notes excoriating teachers.
What hooey. The only award Ms. Elia merits is a kick in the pants.
I decree no more solemn golden-circle award pronouncements at Board conclaves. The audience-- evens the TV audience—is beginning to lay in a supply of airline vomitus bags in which to barf in defense against this outpouring of Board incestuous narcissism.
I shall pass out some of these vomitus bags at the next Board meeting that I have kept from my airline-stewardess days. When there was turbulence, we stewardesses ran up and down the aisles thrusting a vomitus bag into any passenger’s hands who looked green. Back when I was a stewardess, airline travel was posh and available only to the moneyed travelers. A stewardess had to have a bachelor’s or nursing degree to get the job in addition to submitting to raising her skirt so that the interviewer—always a guy---could confirm that she had good legs. It’s important to serve coffee at a bazillion feet that one have good legs.
This above all: Teachers shouldn’t fork over their dues money to CTA in the blind hope that it will protect them.
That expectation is infantile and refuted by CTA history—state and local. I saw how misplaced was this hope in local CTA’s neglect of Bart Birdsall and other teachers in the grip of Kipley’s Abu Ghraib.
Birdsall, you will recall, is the teacher turned media specialist whom I infer Elia at the behest of girlfriend Pat Bean, County administrator, framed with Kipley’s and the computer division’s participation for his phantom misuse of school email. This while Dr. Academically Boffo Jim Homophone-Challenged
If that’s not misuse of school emails to showcase administrative illiteracy, I don’t know what is.
Board attorney Gonzalez promised to produce a pamphlet because of Bart’s case’s exposing the lack of teacher information about Professional Standards’ abusive punishment process. This pamphlet—if ever it emerges—will have resulted from Birdsall’s negative experience of Elia and Kipley’s framing him exacerbated by CTA’s ignoring him. Birdsall is in counseling now for the traumatic experience. But to his everlasting credit, Birdsall declined to lie down and let Elia and Kipley torture him for their sicko amusement and delectation in abuse of power. Bart’s spirit shocked the sadistic duo. That Birdsall fought back rattled them. I predict he remains safe from their effrontery in perpetuity because bullies pick only on cowards who don’t fight back.
Those who do push back have this comfort: If you fight tyrants, you at least win your self-respect.
If Gonzalez comes through, Bart will also have won for teachers vital information on the Professional Standards process which CTA never provided them. CTA didn’t check up on the unfortunates in Kipley’s cell block or offer any follow-up care for teachers immured in the Professional Standards dungeons either. The current CTA people are losers as far as teachers’ wellbeing is concerned. They spend most of their time sucking up to the administration.
I wish Mr. Gonzalez showed the same alacrity for this pamphlet project that he did in delivering lightening fast an opinion I asked for via Primal Screamer Lamb about Falliera’s use of a publicly supplied computer to canvass right-winger homophobes to attend the Board meeting on the school-notification issue.
This email blitz to homophobes pinpointed Faliera insidious attempt with flip-flopper Elia’s cooperation to stack the deck against the wishes of most students and teachers. Faliera’s campaign failed. The students and their supporters, including the ACLU, dwarfed the bigot delegation from Faliera’s base of the fens and bogs of ignorance. The anti-bigotry folks won the no-notification outcome.
You will recall that Elia’s flip-flop on this issue replicates her performance on the religious-holiday-equity issue. She convened a notification panel in that case that came back with a religious equity resolution. Then a couple of fens-and-bogs bigots menaced Elia, threatened her with God’s wrath—etc, the usual fire-and-brimstone flimflam. These represent the group that called Muslims “towelheads.”
Elia caved because, I infer, bigotry suits the cut of her jib. She wouldn’t make the religious holidays equitable for non-Christian groups and then circulated a memo to the incredulous that she was rough and tough and that nobody should interpret her caving as caving.
Ethridge left off opining about teacherly bad manners long enough to vote against Elia’s move to discriminate against Muslims and others not of the piney-woods-foot-washing-talking-in-tongues sects. I salute Ethridge for this vote with something approaching astonishment.
To return to ever-important money: Teachers should demand minute accounting of how their money gets spent by the CTA Pooh-bahs local and state.
I am, I know, beginning to sound like Godfather Coreleone Brando in his family-garden proselytizing of Michael about being on the alert for the chicanery of the Tataglia family. But this money thing is important. It may soon be time to go to the mattresses. If that be the case, pro-teacher partisans should hunker down in the ROSSAC lobby. Being uncomfortable with the outside heat at the picketing, I went inside the lobby and waved my sign aloft for the crowd to pretend that it was not reading out of the corner its eyes. My legend was “Elia’s loot--$262,000 plus teacher bonus $48,000” on one side; “Teachers need place on Board agenda” on the other. I twirled the sign so as to give opportunity for the corner-of-their eye readers to absorb both messages.
An eight-foot storm trooper sans mufti came up to me, looked down menacingly, and said, “Little Lady, you’ll have to take that picketing sign outside.”
“Who are you?” asked I.
“The Head of ROSSAC security,” guoth Pantagruel
“No,” said this Little Old Lady. Storm Trooper Pantagruel stalked away in offended majesty and bothered this Little Old Lady no more.
Why haven’t teachers protested Board-Elia mistreatment and gone to the mattresses long since? The usual impediments raise their heads: feeble courage, moral flab, lassitude—not to mention what Balzac cites in The Human Comedy: the human race’s routine fecklessness. And, yes,
And, yes, the CTA is prone to abuse of power. The CTA should post its expense accounts on the CTA Home Page pronto. And who in the world sets their salaries? Does this decision take place at the witching hour amongst CTA bigwigs under a tarpaulin on the banks of the
I hope the fellow who is researching CTA history will delve into these disturbing data the below news articles record about the paradigm of state CTA leadership.
Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters begins to look like a stand-up guy in comparison.
I append one of CTA’s past news articles in full after the La Gaceta editorial below along with URLs for several others. Read them and weep.
PS: Money, always money: Who paid Tornillo's legal bills, one wonders? What would a forensic analysis of the CTA state accounting archives reveal?
La Gaceta Editorial by Publisher
The school administration is trying to balance its $28 million cost of class size reduction on the back of just a few teachers. Elementary teachers, middle school non-magnet teachers and lB high school teachers are not being asked to do any more or sacrifice any money because of class size reduction. But high school teachers and middle school magnet teachers are being told that they will lose one of their planning periods and receive an extra teaching period in order for the district to save the money to pay for class size reduction for all grades.
This is unfair.
The quality of teaching will go down when there is less time to plan for teaching more students and classes. The administration says the contract allows them to do this and it’s right. It has been able to replace planning time with more instruction time since 1985, but has never done so. We believe the administration hasn’t because it would be bad for our kids and without applying this option for so many years most high school teachers had no idea this could happen.
These teachers feel like their downtown bosses are cheating them. When employees feel cheated, even the best have a tendency to change the manner in which they work. The relationship becomes jaded and spoiled. Enthusiasm fades, volunteerism dwindles, and creativity is stifled.
In the end, this savings will cost high school students the quality of their education and that’s a price we are unwilling to pay.
We hope the administration will visit the issue and try to find more innovative and broad-based ways to save the money, one where everyone shares a little of the pain instead of making a few suffer a lot.
With a one $1 billion budget, we should be able to find a way to save $28 million without hurting the quality of a child’s education. We stand proudly with all the teachers who are protesting.
What hadn’t dawned on me was that Tornilla led CTA into the ill-starred Sixties strike that resulted in the firing of the favorite teacher of my twelve years in public schools: George Seevers, history teacher at Hillsborough High. Mr. Seevers sang at my mother’s funeral. He taught me that I wrote satire and wrote to my parents that I should not go to nursing school but to a university because I “had a fine mind and should do something worthy of it.” I graduated from nursing school but obeyed Mr. Seever’s advice eventually and started back to
Others lost their jobs too in that Tornillo-led strike as well. That guy was a loser. Ldd
MIAMI HERALD PUBLISHING CO., DIVISION OF KNIGHT NEWSPAPERS, IN
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
The issue in this case is whether a state statute granting a political candidate a right to equal space to reply to criticism and attacks on his record by a newspaper violates the guarantees of a free press.
In the fall of 1972, appellee, Executive Director of the Classroom Teachers Association, apparently a teachers' collective-bargaining agent, was a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. On
[The text of the
"The State's Laws And Pat Tornillo
"Pat Tornillo, boss of the Classroom Teachers Association and candidate for the State Legislature in the Oct. 3 runoff election, has denounced his opponent as lacking 'the knowledge to be a legislator, as evidenced by his failure to file a list of contributions to and expenditures of his campaign as required by law.'
"Czar Tornillo calls 'violation of this law inexcusable.'
"This is the same Pat Tornillo who led the CTA strike from February 19 to
"We cannot say it would be illegal but certainly it would be inexcusable of the voters if they sent Pat Tornillo to
[The text of the
"FROM the people who brought you this -- the teacher strike of '68 -- come now instructions on how to vote for responsible government, i. e., against Crutcher Harrison and Ethel Beckham, for Pat Tornillo. The tracts and blurbs and bumper stickers pile up daily in teachers' school mailboxes amidst continuing pouts that the School Board should be delivering all this at your expense. The screeds say the strike is not an issue. We say maybe it wouldn't be were it not a part of a continuation of disregard of any and all laws the CTA might find aggravating. Whether in defiance of zoning laws at
Appellant sought a declaration that § 104.38 was unconstitutional.... The Florida Supreme Court [held] that § 104.38 did not violate constitutional guarantees. It held that free speech was enhanced and not abridged by the Florida right-of-reply statute, which in that court's view, furthered the "broad societal interest in the free flow of information to the public...."
The challenged statute creates a right to reply to press criticism of a candidate for nomination or election. The statute was enacted in 1913, and this is only the second recorded case decided under its provisions.
The appellee and supporting advocates of an enforceable right of access to the press vigorously argue that government has an obligation to ensure that a wide variety of views reach the public. It is urged that at the time the First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1791 as part of our Bill of Rights the press was broadly representative of the people it was serving. While many of the newspapers were intensely partisan and narrow in their views, the press collectively presented a broad range of opinions to readers. Entry into publishing was inexpensive; pamphlets and books provided meaningful alternatives to the organized press for the expression of unpopular ideas and often treated events and expressed views not covered by conventional newspapers. A true marketplace of ideas existed in which there was relatively easy access to the channels of communication.
Access advocates submit that although newspapers of the present are superficially similar to those of 1791 the press of today is in reality very different from that known in the early years of our national existence. In the past half century a communications revolution has seen the introduction of radio and television into our lives, the promise of a global community through the use of communications satellites, and the specter of a "wired" nation by means of an expanding cable television network with two-way capabilities. The printed press, it is said, has not escaped the effects of this revolution. Newspapers have become big business and there are far fewer of them to serve a larger literate population. Chains of newspapers, national newspapers, national wire and news services, and one-newspaper towns, are the dominant features of a press that has become noncompetitive and enormously powerful and influential in its capacity to manipulate popular opinion and change the course of events.
The elimination of competing newspapers in most of our large cities, and the concentration of control of media that results from the only newspaper's being owned by the same interests which own a television station and a radio station, are important components of this trend toward concentration of control of outlets to inform the public.
The result of these vast changes has been to place in a few hands the power to inform the American people and shape public opinion. Much of the editorial opinion and commentary that is printed is that of syndicated columnists distributed nationwide and, as a result, we are told, on national and world issues there tends to be homogeneity of editorial opinion, commentary, and interpretive analysis. The abuses of bias and manipulative reportage are, likewise, said to be the result of the vast accumulations of unreviewable power in the modern media empires. In effect, it is claimed, the public has lost any ability to respond or to contribute in a meaningful way to the debate on issues. The monopoly of the means of communication allows for little or no critical analysis of the media except in professional journals of very limited readership....
The obvious solution, which was available to dissidents at an earlier time when entry into publishing was relatively inexpensive, today would be to have additional newspapers. But the same economic factors which have caused the disappearance of vast numbers of metropolitan newspapers have made entry into the marketplace of ideas served by the print media almost impossible. It is urged that the claim of newspapers to be "surrogates for the public" carries with it a concomitant fiduciary obligation to account for that stewardship. From this premise it is reasoned that the only effective way to insure fairness and accuracy and to provide for some accountability is for government to take affirmative action. The First Amendment interest of the public in being informed is said to be in peril because the "marketplace of ideas" is today a monopoly controlled by the owners of the market....
However much validity may be found in these arguments, at each point the implementation of a remedy such as an enforceable right of access necessarily calls for some mechanism, either governmental or consensual. If it is governmental coercion, this at once brings about a confrontation with the express provisions of the First Amendment and the judicial gloss on that Amendment developed over the years....
The Court has expressed sensitivity as to whether a restriction or requirement constituted the compulsion exerted by government on a newspaper to print that which it would not otherwise print. The clear implication has been that any such a compulsion to publish that which "'reason' tells them should not be published" is unconstitutional. A responsible press is an undoubtedly desirable goal, but press responsibility is not mandated by the Constitution and like many other virtues it cannot be legislated.
Appellee's argument that the
Faced with the penalties that would accrue to any newspaper that published news or commentary arguably within the reach of the right-of-access statute, editors might well conclude that the safe course is to avoid controversy. Therefore, under the operation of the
Even if a newspaper would face no additional costs to comply with a compulsory access law and would not be forced to forgo publication of news or opinion by the inclusion of a reply, the
I join the Court's opinion which, as I understand it, addresses only "right of reply" statutes and implies no view upon the constitutionality of "retraction" statutes affording plaintiffs able to prove defamatory falsehoods a statutory action to require publication of a retraction.
The Court today holds that the First Amendment bars a State from requiring a newspaper to print the reply of a candidate for public office whose personal character has been criticized by that newspaper's editorials. According to our accepted jurisprudence, the First Amendment erects a virtually insurmountable barrier between government and the print media so far as government tampering, in advance of publication, with news and editorial content is concerned. A newspaper or magazine is not a public utility subject to "reasonable" governmental regulation in matters affecting the exercise of journalistic judgment as to what shall be printed. We have learned, and continue to learn, from what we view as the unhappy experiences of other nations where government has been allowed to meddle in the internal editorial affairs of newspapers. Regardless of how beneficent-sounding the purposes of controlling the press might be, we prefer "the power of reason as applied through public discussion" and remain intensely skeptical about those measures that would allow government to insinuate itself into the editorial rooms of this Nation's press....
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