Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ms. Elia, a person should avoid using words about whose meaning
they are not sure.

“Fortuitous” means “happening by chance” or "accidental." You need the
familiar word“fortunate.”

I could scream at board meetings when you say “indicate”

instead of“say.” Don’t use a sesquipedalian word to replace

a one-syllable word that means the same thing. Doing so says

the person is trying to sound learned but instead sounds foolish.

lee drury de cesare


I have some good news. Next week we will be able to get your paycheck to you a couple of days early, on Wednesday, November 21. That’s the day before Thanksgiving and two days before the scheduled payday.

Not long ago, I asked the folks in payroll if they could get the paychecks done early as a favor to our employees. It wasn’t easy, but due to some hard work and fortuitous circumstances we’re able to get it done.

I want to thank the employees who have worked hard to make this happen. Please have a great Thanksgiving, enjoy a long weekend with your family, and get an early start on your holiday shopping.

ryEllen Elia
Hillsborough County Public Schools
(813) 272-4050
(813) 272-4038

Ybor City's Roslins

Mr. Gonzalez:

I asked you for a list of public information over a week ago. This lack of response is not the timely yielding up of information for which the public-records law calls. Will you pray send it without my having to leaflet you with requests?

It shouldn't be necessary for a citizen to appeal to the governor, the attorney general, and the bar association to get school-board legal counsel paid for by citizens to carry out the public-records law.

I add another request for public information in addition to that for which I have already asked you. Your firm, I believe, handled both the original case against Doug Irwin and the appeal. Mr. Irwin was subsequently the
Hillsborough County Commission moral-courage award winner for his intrepid conduct in trying to alert the Hillsborough County school board and its administration about waste of tax money in the building area. Instead of thanking Mr. Erwin and investigating his charges, they sued him. I believe you were the lead attorney on that case. If I am wrong, who was?

I want to know what the dollar amount the taxpayers paid your firm for that case against Mr. Irwin and the school board's appeal after he won.

Also, did you advise the board to sue Mr. Erwin instead of investigating the charges, and did you advise an appeal instead of paying the damages the jury or judge awarded to Mr. Erwin?

I want to see selected filings for both cases. I don't know the term for what the initial pages of a law suit that lays out the charges is, but I want the statement of what the case is about that comes first in the history of a case. I also want to see the judge's ruling in both cases. I don't know the legal term for these statements, but they are like those that one sees on the Internet Supreme Court home page when a member of the Supreme Court writes the majority opinion at the end of the case.
May I have these data in a timely fashion in addition to the data I have already requested and that you have not sent to me?

What I don't want is to be buried in boxes of paper in order to discourage me from wading through them to find out the above information. I want these bare-bones statements that I cite above to better acquaint myself with the case. I infer you have them because you for some reason have your school-employment files. Everybody else's is in ROSSA

I am still trying to find out what the reason is for this exception in your case. If you know it, I would like you to tell me why you have this privilege. I have asked Dr. Lamb as I recall. But he has remained silent as he is wont to do. He will become more chatty as his re-election looms as doubtless will Ms. Kurdell, the board sphinx, who used to answer her emails with a “you-are-sending-me spam” message.

I wonder about your legal philosophy since hearing you deliver energetic defense at the November 16th meeting of the board's and administration's handing out no-bid contracts to acquaintances, friends, and various hangers-on. La Gaceta reported that the phone number given by Ms. Cathy Valdes’ no-contract-recipient buddy Mr. Blackwell did not have a human being answering it and that he got no response back to his question left on the machine of whether this school-board contract were Mr. Blackwell's first job after he retired from the school position he had held to open a company.

Somebody sent me a home number for Mr. Blackwell. I got a Minnie Pearl voice that answered the leave-a-message with, "It's another beautiful day. Let's live it for the Lord."

Yet this was the man's company that Ms. Cathy Valdes lauded as top of the line and respected all over the state. I respectfully suggest that an alert attorney should have uttered a word of caution to these laudations.

You rather endorsed the practice. I didn't think lawyers were supposed to be enthusiastic except in a jury trial. You kept referring to the board's being the unique repository of some arcane knowledge that made it achieve near papal infallibility in such matters as dishing out contracts with no bids. I would love to have an explication de texte to teach me what in the world you meant by this infallible knowledge harbored by the board, where it came from, and whether it has some religious authority as well as your apparent dogmatic endorsement.

Thank you.

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

PS: The below situation occurred when you were already board attorney, I believe. Did the board ask for your advice in shutting citizens out of discussions at school-board meetings and abridging their free-speech rights and right to approach government officials for redress of grievances? If you did, I will ask the public-affairs office for the notes on the meetings that dealt with this outrageous behavior on public officials' part who swore to protect the Constitution in their oath of office.

And the editor's comment on the pre-scripted school board meeting remains relevant. The consent calendar is still extant protocol. Do you now or have you since your employment encouraged the board to believe that it is in the public interest and open government for Ms. Elia and her myrmidons to hide everything behind the curtain of this consent calendar?

And have you rebuked in your legal advice any board member who asked for something to be removed from the consent calendar for open discussion as Roberts' Rules allows? And did you gainsay the castigation as appeared in the twin hissy fits of Ms.
Candy Olson and Ms. Carol Kurdell against Ms. Griffin's simple Robert's Rules request at the 16th meeting to revisit the no-bid issue?

In a broader context, I wonder at your sense of ethics. I know you and I read the same books as undergraduates because we were both literature majors. I am rereading Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King. How does Gareth's "Live pure, speak truth, right wrong, follow the king, wherefore born?" resonate with you? What about
Milton's Areopagitica's "I cannot praise a fugitive and a cloistered virtue unexercised and unbreathed"? I won't resort to Aristotle's three treatises on ethics, but Jefferson all his life remained a close student of the Greeks. He couldn't have written the Bill of Rights without them.

A lawyer shouldn't descend to the level of his clients if they are as ignorant and as marginally ethical as not a few of those who now serve and have served on the school board show themselves to be. The school attorney should provide to such as these the purest and highest interpretation of the law, not its lowest and most self-serving.

Attorneys who do the latter will end up belowstairs and have to hang out with such as Karl Rove, Roy Cohen, and F. Lee Bailey. Imagine being subjected to an eternal conversation to the likes of those. I’d rather talk to that Minnie Pearl lady who answered no-bid Mr. Blackwell’s home phone.

I don't know how to fix the text below bleeding into the dark space. Go to the cited Times and Tribune archives to read. It's worth reading. lee

School Board to public: Go away Series: EDITORIALS
Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; May 21, 2002;

The change brings into focus a troubling development of the modern-day public meeting - almost all are scripted well in advance. Elected officials don't have to defend themselves publicly or think on their feet. And in this case, turning off the cameras is the board's way of having it both ways - claiming to protect a person's right to speak, but only after the cameras are off and "the official meeting of the School Board is concluded."

Full Text:

Copyright Times Publishing Co. May 21, 2002

You would think the Hillsborough County School District, which has been embarrassed by allegations of mismanagement and waste, would be doing everything possible to improve its tarnished image. But instead the School Board is quieting its critics.

Under an offensive policy change, citizens who want to address the board during the public comment portion of meetings must wait until the official business is closed. Then the cameras go off, meaning that people who watch the televised meetings at home cannot hear what constituents said.

School Board member Glenn Barrington, who supports the new policy, said the public comment period tends to draw people to the meetings with something to say. Can you believe this? It's not asking too much of School Board members, or any other elected official, to take a few minutes of public criticism. It's part of the job, part of what we teach our kids about democracy.

If it's time Barrington is worried about, he should ask his chairman to speed the board meetings along. The three-to-five minutes a citizen has to speak is nothing compared to the time consumed by the board members' own self-serving commentary.

The change brings into focus a troubling development of the modern-day public meeting - almost all are scripted well in advance. Elected officials don't have to defend themselves publicly or think on their feet. And in this case, turning off the cameras is the board's way of having it both ways - claiming to protect a person's right to speak, but only after the cameras are off and "the official meeting of the School Board is concluded."

The district, which is struggling to regain public confidence after mishandling a whistleblower's complaint, should reconsider this policy change. The board can act only at an official meeting; shunting off the public comment portion until that meeting is concluded leaves the public with no influence on the School Board agenda. This makes public comment meaningless. But maybe that's exactly what the board had in mind.

Florida Jury Awards $600,000.00 to Parents of Handicapped Child

School District
Failed to Provide FAPE; Retaliated Against Parents and Child

APRIL 3, 1998. Five years after they requested a special education due process hearing. Andrew Whitehead's parents had their day in court.

The trial continued for almost two weeks. Andrew's father told Pete that the jury retired at two o'clock on the afternoon of April, 3, 1998. Less than two hours later, they returned with a resounding verdict for the parents.

Although the jury did not find that the school board intentionally discriminated against Andrew, they did find that the school board retaliated against the parents for attempting to protect their son's rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The jury awarded each parent $300,000.00.

On Saturday morning, The Tampa Tribune reported that the Hearing Officer . . . found that school officials discriminated against Andrew because of his disability and that their low expectations led to the boy doing worse in school. But Friday, the jury of five women and three men found that the school system did not discriminate against Andrew . . . (but) that the school system retaliated against the boy's parents when they tried to become involved with his education."
You can read this article at The
Tampa Tribune web site:

From: Anonymous []

Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 6:02 PM


Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Th....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Th...":

A lot of the district officials got their doctorates or master's degrees from Nova University. Anyone who has attended a real university has no clue what Nova is, and when you tell them, they say, "Is that like a correspondence course school? What is that?" Nova is a total joke. I would be ashamed to have a degree from Nova. It is the McDonald's of universities, and people go there to simply get the paper that enables them to move up in the school district. I would not hold my head up high with a degree from such a place. But they are into smoke and mirrors and fluff and not solid achievement. No wonder the schools are in trouble. When the top dogs are getting conveyor type degrees not for the actual learning but simply to jump the ladder, you have a house of cards that has no stable foundation.

I went to college to learn philosophy, literature, etc. and stayed a long time. That's why I do not make a lot of money now. I went for the actual knowledge and learning. This is something foreign to these people. They just want a fast food degree to jump two steps above others. It is all about money, money, money, and that is what is wrong with public education. Too many frauds who don't care about anything except filling their pockets with taxpayer dollars.

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