Saturday, December 08, 2007

My youngest grandchild, Ethan Antonio: our grandchildren are our legacy along with what we have done in our lives to fling a challenge from us Minions of the Light against the skullduggeries of the Minions of the Darkness. The administration and the school board, of course, are the Minions of the Darkness. I assume that we are all agreed on that point. lee

The email below is from George W. Seevers, Jr. His father, George W. Seevers, Sr., was my history teacher at Hillsborough High. Mr. Seevers was one of those teachers who, in Adams' words, "affects eternity."

I discovered that I could write satire in Mr. Seevers' history class. His asked essay questions on tests and flagged grammar and punctuation errors. If Mr. Seevers asked something that I didn't know, I simply wrote him a funny piece on such things as how bad the food was in the cafeteria or how ugly the football-team uniforms were.

If I could make Mr. Seevers laugh, I got an A. I did not often fail and have since used this satirical talent as Juvenal, Swift, and Dickens did to scald the hides of the wicked.

Mr. Seevers recognized my intellect. He wrote my parents to send me to college. I went to nursing school first and nursed for fifteen years before I finally returned to college to get my degrees in English when I had four children. My first college was Columbia University, which Mr. Seevers had attended years before. He said he had been so poor that he didn't buy the course books but did well by taking careful notes in the class.

This example gave me the priceless idea that one does not have to follow the crowd but can strike out on another path to pursue a goal. Mr. Seevers taught me to embrace being different. It is the people in history, as he pointed out, who have the courage to march to a different drummer who make a difference in the world. Conformists never make a difference. They condemn those who do something different and, when it is no longer controversial, follow their examples. So most of the people who change the world are dead by the time their ideas gain acceptance, but they rest in the eternal eclat of having benefitted the world. The lesson I learned from this realization is that one should never expect thanks for what he or she does to benefit society. Just wait until you are dead; then you will be a star. Not only that, but the people who opposed you and called you all kinds of unkind names will say they were there in the trenches with you from the get-go.

Let the poor chumps say what's not true is my attitude toward these late joiners. Whom can it hurt? At least they finally came around. That's better than eternal allegiance to ignorance.

Another thing that Mr. Seevers taught me at HHS and about which my knowledge has since deepened is this: Nothing beats the power of the word: not armies, not despots, not any of life's assaults. If you can write, you can make a difference. My being able to write--the idea that I first got in Mr. Seevers' history classes when I was so young--is why in my small way I have been able to change the world.

When I got my bachelor's degree from Queens College in NY summa cum laude (only six out of three thousand graduates) Phi Beta Kappa, I paid tribute to the encouragement that Mr. Seevers had given me to follow my talents.

My knowledge of teachers' importance like Mr. Seevers in students' lives and the non-importance of administrations and school boards explain my resisting the despicable behavior of the Hillsborough County School Board and administration toward the teachers of the county today.

School-board rubberstamp ciphers and administrative parasites don't affect eternity. Teachers do. ldd

Dear George--but I will always think of you as Skeeter,
I am pleased to hear from you. I didn't know Mrs. Seevers had passed away, but I didn't see her at the last HHS Hall of Fame meeting, to which she always came so I got a chance to see her then. Your parents were both dear, wonderful, ethical people. We girls at HHS all wanted your mother to die so that we could marry your father. Your father had enormous influence on my life. He always told me that I should do something with my life that was worthy of it and even wrote to my dear, unsophisticated parents to tell them that I should go to college. I eventually followed his advice and did so well that I know he would have been proud of his protege.

Your father sang at my mother's funeral. I shall never forget that.
If Carole is in the public school system, my heart goes out to her. The administration is corrupt and the board a rubberstamp. Both treat the teachers abysmally. They just loaded on an extra class with no extra pay for the high school teachers. They are pretty desperately overworked this semester. The superintendent makes almost $300,000 a year, an obscene salary compared to the teachers' beginning salary of $34,000. The union is in bed with the administration. The Professional Standards office is used by the superintendent to cook up charges against teachers and to punish them for the least little thing, threatening their jobs and keeping them terrified.

My children went to South Tampa Schools--Grady, Chamberlain, and Plant--so I am still interested in that school system. Two of my grandchildren are still in South Tampa schools. I don't have time to monitor both Pinellas and Hillsborough, but both Dr. Wilcox, of Pinellas, and Ms. Elia, Hillsborough, are marginally literate. The superintendent job is a political scam. I don't know how things got so bad. The academic weaklings go into administration and lord it over the bright people, who go into teaching. But I am fighting the Minions of Darkness. I appear at board meetings and harangue them. They hate me. Boo hoo. And I also write a blog. Maybe Carole pointed it out to you: it's

I have a lively traffic on this blog, and I hope it boosts the teachers' morale and encourages them to oppose the oppression of the administration and the board.

I was professor of English at HCC and was the union president there also. I got the teachers to picket the administration their first and only time when it was trying to bust the union. Your father always encouraged me to speak up, and I always have. I don't think he would agree with much that I say, but your father, I think, was a Republican like my husband of fifty-one years, and I am a Democrat.

I would like to be able to talk to Mr. Seevers about the presidential race and the incumbency of Mr. Bush. He was obsessed with the Second World War and Roosevelt's role in it and would lapse into a lecture on it at the drop of the hat. I have his book on his view of things. He signed it for me.

Tell Carole to check my blog and to buck up the teachers. They have great power if they could bring themselves to use it. I don't suggest striking: that's how your father lost his job. But there is more one can do than striking to oppose oppression.

We have the protection of the First Amenment. A person can always protest and speak out against wrongdoing and vote out the rascals from the board. Tell Carole to check It is a teacher blog--The Wall--and provides a forum for teachers to sound off. People are afraid to sign their names, but they say some pretty pungent things signed "anonymous."

I am surprised you retired: you are so young. But retirement is not a fallow time. I have been so busy since retirement that I don't know how I had time to work. It's a grand time in life.

The best wishes to you, Skeeter, and let me hear from you again. Tell Carole to come to the board meetings and help me give those rascals on the podium h-e-two sticks as my Aunt Jessie used to say.


Lee Drury De Cesare, HHS Class of '51
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708
----- Original Message -----
From: "George Seevers" <>
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2007 8:30 PM
Subject: From George Seevers' son

> Dear Mrs. De Cesare,
> I was recently pleased to notice your mentioning Dad's name in your
> blog. I am attempting to work my way out of a forced early retirement. :-)
> For 15 years I pastored a Reformed Baptist in North Texas. Dad passed away
> in 2001 and Mother passed away in 2006. We have been attempting to sell
> their home for over a year and a half now. The real estate market crashed
> soon after Mother died. Carole, my sister, lives in the Tampa area. She is
> a special education teacher. As you can imagine, she has a rough time of
> it.
> Sincerely,
> George W. Seevers, Jr.

> Van Alstyne, TX 75495


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2007 15:21:15 -0800 (PST)
From:"lee decesare"
Subject: Message to School Board Chair Faliera,,,,,, "Tom Gonzalez" ,,,,,,, "Mary Russell" ,,,,,
Chair Faliera:

I have requests in to the board attorney Gonzalez for a month asking for public information. He has not responded to them.

My latest request to Mr. Gonzalez is for the financial windfall his firm has enjoyed from what appears to have been the no-bid perpetual contract that Dr. Lennard awarded Mr. Gonzalez and his firm. No other of the area’s firms got the chance to bid on the job. It was done behind closed doors as is all of the schools’ business.

Mr. Gonzalez is not exempt from the Sunshine Law just because he passed the bar. He's supposed to carry out the open-records law, not thwart it because it concerns him.

The board members took an oath of office to uphold the laws. I want you to instruct Mr. Gonzalez to obey the law and send me the data I asked for, or I shall have to appeal to higher authorities to get the school board of
Hillsborough County and its lawyer to obey the law.

I will appeal as many times as it takes to get the government-in-the-sunshine law obeyed by the
Hillsborough County board and its lawyer. And I will include the names of the board members as scofflaws if I do not get a response from you to this email assuring me that you have instructed Mr. Gonzalez to obey the open-government law and send me the data I have requested.

I would appreciate a timely response to this request, Madam Chair. When running for office, board candidates on the stump aver their eagerness to hear from voters. When elected, however, they disappear into the bowels of ROSSAC’s bunker and don’t even answer emails. Ms. Kurdell only recently ceased returning every email sent to her with a “spam” message attached to it.

La Kurdell has been on the board for fifteen years and as silent as the sphinx in Gaza until it’s election time when she suddenly becomes animated. Her only activity on the podium during those fifteen years has been to rubberstamp the administration’s dicta on the consent calendar.

If another board member asks for an item to be pulled from the consent agenda to examine it more closely in public, Ms. Kurdell leads her buddy Ms. Olson into jumping on that board member for being "disloyal" to the administration functionaries.

At board meetings, citizens get only two to three minutes to address the board. The chair’s chief activity during this time seems to be keeping an eye glued to the time bell so the chair can shut up the speaker mid clause.

Some of the other board members look on with a sneer at the citizen petitioner. Dr. Lamb’s incumbency as board chair featured a gargoyle-visage that forbade any feeling of the speaker that his or her comments were welcome.

I will be interested to see how you conduct your chairship. I hope it exceeds in hospitality of that of Dr. Lamb, who once snarled at me to stay home when I challenged him about using his office to get the stenographic services of the school board personnel to write a letter on board stationery to Mayor Iorio to abate his condo’s water bill. He implied I was a wet back because I live on the beach.

Such arrogant behavior as that some board members and attorney exhibit validates the truism that you can tell what kind of character a person has if he or she gets a little bit of power.

Very respectfully yours,

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