Thursday, March 06, 2008

BAP Award, given for years after I founded Tampa Now in the late 60's. City, county, state, national, and international awards went to recipients to their chagrin. These awards confirm my belief that satire is more effective than begging, pleading, and beseeching in changing minds. lee

Ms. Carlton (column below):

My husband cut out your “Cruella-de Vil” article for me. I am delighted Ms. Falliero discovered Cruella and my being doppelgangers. Cruella has always been a role model of mine.

You are not Maureen Dowd yet, but you are closing on her. That beautiful, witty lady is in her fifties and coming to the end of her sparkling writing career at the NYT. She gives women a boost because she writes rings around the fellows on the NYT op-ed page. It's time for you to rev up to apply for the token op-ed woman job at the big-city paper of record if Dowd eases out and to make a part of the contract a spiffy editorial job for your husband, who will love NYC when he escapes the press outback of these forlorn climes.

You have a Maureen-Dowd wit. You must practice your writing and read your brains out among the great authors so that you will be ready when the time comes to slip into Dowd’s spot. Balzac is a must. He taught Proust about social snobbery. Dickens can nail a character almost as fast as Shakespeare can. So read all of Dickens that you have not yet got to. And don’t forget Chaucer. You will comprehend the language in two pages.

I never heard of the fur-coat-out-of-puppies. characterization of Cruella. I didn’t see the movie. That revelation is just delicious. I embrace the characterization implied by La Falliero and make it my own. Creulla, c’est moi.

It’s a puzzle that the school board La Belle Sans Merci didn’t return your calls. One supposes that she’s still reeling from the intricacies of Tom Gonzalez’s lecture to her on the First Amendment. There was a time when La Falliero thought she could wind the press around her little finger.

Poor old round-heels Hooper of your newsroom wrote a sappy valentine to Ms. Falliero. I warned Hooper that if he kept that up that I was going to report in to Mrs. Hooper and let her know what a femme fatale La Falliero is and that she would pounce on poor old Hooper before he knew what hit him, suck the blood out of him, and then throw his carcass on the dung heap of eviscerated swains that La Belle Dame Falliero has gutted and discarded so far in her vamp career.

The Brandon City Council has declared dibs on this Jennifer carcass collection for land fill, claiming any work product of its school-board member belongs to the Brandon franchise.

Men fall in droves before Falliero’s potent spell. Maybe it’s her unorthodox anatomy. One of my blog correspondents wrote that La Falliero has hips as big as the Hindenburg. The National Center for Disease Control has lately debunked
the fallacy that Hindenburg hips comprise an impediment to vamps. It confirmed in controlled studies that Hindenburg hips are a sine qua non for the psyches of more men in the control pool than we ever could have imagined. De Gustibus non disputemn est.

Then there’s poor Marc Hart, the ur-victim of Falliero’s potent erotic magic. She destroyed his marriage; blighted his two little children’s souls; and observed with cool objectivity the abrupt end of Hart’s school-administration career, his job's having been head of public affairs until Beelzebub Valdez summoned Hart to his office to carry out Elia’s orders to fire him to keep the press and public from catching on to flagrant adultery tolerated in the halls and offices of ROSSAC.

Yet on the balcony of my condominium on the Gulf of Mexico, where this heartbroken fellow came to visit me, he professed to be still besotted with La Belle Dame. Marc told me he still loved the board her. Only the seagulls joined us as auditors of another sad tale of passion and passion spent--spent in this case on one side.

I don’t know how long Ms. Falliero’s school-board career will last. Not much longer than the next time she runs for office is my expectation. I have discovered a beautiful young Brandon teacher who is as smart as Ms. Falliero is obtuse; who can speak with authority from a well-furnished mind, and whose salary as a teacher, I reminded her, is less than the school board member’s whose office she can challenge and do her fellow teachers and the Brandon community some good.

Ms. Falliero, one recalls, showed her back to Brandon, slipped out in the middle of the night to South Tampa, enrolled her two daughters at Plant pronto no doubt with Elia's help, and told the press when it caught her out that she hadn't moved, then she had, then she hoped it would be "under" the radar, then having admitted lying, turned tail back to Brandon. Stability is not one of the Brandon's on-again, off-again board member's salient traits.

If our Brandon teacher accepts the opportunity to run against Falliero when the latter’s board seat is up again for the voters review, then I will cheer her on, donate to her campaign, and be proud to be among her audience on election night to shout “hurrah!” when she unseats La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

The Hillsborough County teachers who had a splendid interview of three and a half hours yesterday with Ms. Rosemary Goudreau and her sidekick Vicky, whose name I have not mastered yet but will because she is a woman of substance, can look forward to a four-three breakdown of the board after Fred Burns beats Le Lamb and our Brandon paragon beats Falliero. Patience and defiance are all they need maintain for that result to arrive.

Ms. Goudreau showed herself to be a woman who can listen to teachers’ sometimes overwhelming data downloads and extract the goody at the bottom. The editorial-page editor has an analytic mind wedded to a talent for running a meeting even when her participants are a group of teachers all of whom have theatrical talents without which they would not be good teachers, and all of whom have no compunction about interrupting each other to air their views.

What amazes me is that that this lively, forceful teacher group doesn’t realize that if it organized a tag team for board duty and showed up at every board meeting to harangue the board on the same issues that its members downloaded on Goudreau and Vicky, its members could effect revolution by waking the sleeping giant of voters to the sad situation of the schools in Hillsborough County.

All this group needs do is to accept its importance to the students, parents, and voters of Hillsborough County and step up to the plate and accept the gravitas of teachers’ centrality in the community's esteem and affections. They don't need the board's and administration's love and approval, which they seem to yearn for. They have love and approval in spades from students, parents, and all of us in the community at large.

Nobody listens to or respects whiners. People respect people who rear up on their hind legs and defy mistreatment and fight against it. People respect those who don't expect others to rescue them but who rescue themselves.

Teachers should not complain about their not getting respect from the administration or the board; they should know in their bones that they have it from the more important parents and students and act accordingly. Teachers can overwhelm the board and this incompetent administration if they choose to do so. Teachers' quandary comes from a lack of nerve, not a lack of credentials with the community.

People shouldn’t be afraid of their government as is now the case with the school board in Hillsborough County; government should be afraid of the people as the board would be if that board room full of teachers at the Tribune Building yesterday becomes board monitors from hell.

This teacher group, augmented, I hope, will next visit with Mr. Tash of the Times. I expect that Mr. Tash will give a willing ear to teachers' concerns. His wife, mother, and father are teachers. I will not join in this visit. Teachers no longer need me in this effort to give newspapers teachers' side of the story. They know how to do it.

Besides, I have done a stern review of a piece of Mr. Tash's writing for BayAreaGrammargrinch, which I am sure did not endear me to him. And wrote to the Pulitzer committee to kick him out on the basis of grammar, punctuation, and masthead sexism and to replace him with a woman to make the Pulitzer's composition closer to parity for women.

Ms. Carlton: Thank God, you made no comma errors. Dowd does all the time, not to mention her not being able to learn possessive-before-the-gerund despite all my best efforts.

But here’s your pronoun-antecedent mess-up in the last paragraph: “…everyone got their [sic] say…” “Everyone is singular; “their” is plural.” Change “everyone” to “people,” or change “their” to “his or her.” I favor “her” solo. “Her” jolts people into recognizing that women are more than half of the human race and should thus have ownership of the generic pronoun by sheer numbers.

This issue always get chauvinists to fall into pouts of wounded amour propre and Aunt Toms into soothing them with,“There, there dear boys; only unladylike women want equality in language or anywhere else. Real feminine Stepford women are in line with men’s being in charge in perpetuity and women’s’ simpering their approval of their own second-class status.”

Crella de Ville DeCesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Name calling must be okay now

By Sue Carlton, Times Columnist
Published March 7, 2008

Disney's Cruella De Ville.

Breaking News Video

Excuse me, but did anyone else notice a certain elected official at a certain public meeting refer to a certain gadfly by the same name as a certain evil cartoon character best known for wanting to make a fur coat out of puppies?

Or was it just me?

It's true the subject of the meeting at the time was free speech, not to mention name-calling. And we are talking about the Hillsborough County School Board here.

This week, the board showed up for Round 2 on a wacky public-speaking rule previously invoked by Chairwoman Jennifer Faliero. Besides requiring that any citizen hoping to have a say before the board follow certain guidelines - a three-minute time limit, for instance - Faliero announced that no one was allowed to say anyone's name.

Speak the name of the person you're talking about, and risk getting kicked out. Faliero later said the rule was to ward off personal attacks.

Enter Lee Drury De Cesare, sharp-tongued critic, frequent speaker and perpetual thorn to certain public figures, Faliero included. Guess what? De Cesare said a name and kept talking as the buzzer sounded. Faliero told a security officer, "Do your thing," and De Cesare was escorted out.

At the next meeting came a polite visit from the American Civil Liberties Union, a clarification by the School Board lawyer that name saying is in fact not verboten, and talk of the First Amendment. Even Faliero got into the spirit with, "People can say whatever they think about their government. ... I am very thankful that I live in this country where people can get up and say whatever hurtful, untrue things that they can. We just have to take it."

De Cesare referred to the treatment she got as "vulgar" and requested an apology from Faliero, which did not appear to be forthcoming. When De Cesare finished, Faliero said, "Thank you, Ms. De Vil."

Or maybe it was "DeVille." Maybe Faliero absolutely positively did not mean Cruella De Vil, the infamous fur-loving villainess of 101 Dalmatians. Maybe any resemblance between the white-haired, elegantly dressed De Cesare (resplendent in red that particular day) and the Glenn Close version of Cruella is purely coincidental.

Maybe Faliero had a song stuck in her head from the '70s band Mink DeVille, or she was ruminating on whether her next car should be a Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Maybe it was a genuine slip of the lip - De Vil, De Cesare, De Vil, De Cesare - though you would think the name would be excruciatingly familiar by now. I don't know. Faliero did not return my calls for comment.

Did good come from this meeting? Sure. In all that free speech talk, April Griffin wisely managed to get fellow board members to agree to "request" rather than "require" that speakers watch their content. And Susan Valdes offered up an apology for how things went down last time. As is supposed to be with public boards, everyone got their say - the gadfly, and the public official in her sights. Now the citizens who were allowed to hear it get to make up their minds on what they think of all that free speech.

[Last modified March 6, 2008, 23:57:15]

Professional Standards: Out There on Its Own, Dispensing Abu Ghraib Injustice Ad Lib

Linda, I'm sorry I just got to read this. With respect to the first question, it is my opinion that there is no process by which a person may grieve a professional standards decision not to charge. The grievance process is limited to allegations of violation of Board policy. An administrative decision is not subject to review simply because one disagrees with it.
Thomas M. Gonzalez

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