Wednesday, December 03, 2008

All the News That's fit to Print

My husband has a little park named for him.

I never hesitate to tell newspapers what I think. They are lucky to get my analysis is my conviction. I did publicity of the emerging women’s movement forty years ago with the then three local papers, including the old Tampa Times, the afternoon paper before it closed. Sam Stickney was its editor and a horse’s ass who opposed the equal rights amendment. We hated him.

I always got good publicity for the women’s rights work we did. I was fighting the powerful in Tampa, the same ones reporters covered. They knew these folks were asinine dorks and published my criticism because their editors wouldn’t let them write the truth about the town's powerful.

I feel sad now that the newspapers are dying. The print press is a goner. Tomorrow’s news will all be electronic. Newspapers will occupy a niche of romance and nostalgia in communication’s history. But newspapers will be gone soon, very soon.

The young people in college today who want to be part of the press should take literature, philosophy, and history courses to be able to write for the sophisticated world-wide audiences that their clients of the electronic media will be all too soon. They should also take some linguistic courses so as to know the guts of language inside out; and they should pay attention to their style. As Yeats said, “Oh, great-hearted blossomed/Oh, brightening glance/How can we tell the dancer from the dance?” lee

On Dec 3, 2008, at 2:36 PM, "lee de cesare" wrote:

Mr. Tash, I recall attending an ACLU dinner years ago at which your predecessor was main speaker. I have forgot his name. But the main-speaker publisher of the Times held forth in continuous certitude, his eyes scanning the sealing as if conjugating the heavens on the issues he deigned to visit. One was his rock-solid belief that the Internet was an insult to journalism and that newspaper readers would never substitute it for the sacrosanct paper press.

I came home and told my husband how wrong the local god of print was and that the Internet would wipe out the print press in the twinkling of an eye. My husband neither agreed nor dissented, this strain of domestic diplomacy’s being the reason we have remained married almost 52 years. He complains only if I cook his steak too long. Metaphysics he leaves to me.

To confirm my prediction, I sold my NYT stocks for half of what I paid for them. They have not come back, nor will. So that congenital ninny dauphin Sulzberger may have to clerk in Barney’s in men’s wear before it’s all over.

The Tribune is dwindling to a newspaper ghosttown, and the Times, despite its seeming invulnerability will follow for sure despite its financial situation’s quirkiness.

The reason the print press is yielding to the blogs (mine are Daily Kos, RealclearPolitics, Politico, and Huffington—Drudge is tops for bigots) is that the print press is surpassingly cowardly about its choice of subjects and adherence to industry-standard boring writing. The administration of newspapers has become players in emphasizing the inane and dull aspects of society and avoiding the controversial and interesting ones. They walk on eggs because they think doing so will push them up the promotion ladder controlled by the duller creatures of the corporate news racket, preserve their industry, and insure their jobs.

Times corporate weeniness seals these timid publications’ fate of fast-approaching residence on the ashheap of communications history.

If newspapers dared to allow their foot-soldier reporters to report what they know is going on in public venues like, for example, the Hillsborough County School Board—a sample unreported story which resides in my comments below to the schools’ personnel guy—and turned the reporters loose to write in vivid styles with punchy diction and occasional vivid modifiers, I believe the press might prolong its existence in the competition against the blogs and the devilish magic of the Web. Not that I would count on this longevity were I a young person pining to be part of the press. Clearly, any such creature should apply to Slate.

Such lively management of turning loose the young reporters would at least slow the pace long enough for the likes of you, sir, to make it to retirement. And who the hell cares about what comes after that? Mr. Andrew Barnes (I remembered his name) made it to retirement to read Popular Mechanics, Field and Stream, and Playboy instead of the Spinoza and Epictetus fare he pretended to read when he was publisher. He was supposed to retire like Cincinnatus to his rural digs, but I hear he’s trundling around downtown St. Petersburg, delighting in the occasional recognition he gets from his semblable senior citizens who inhabit those rabbit-warren condos that look out over the bay.

To try what a lively newspaper commentary will do to combat readership slide, why don’t you turn loose Ms. Letitia Stein, your school-board reporter for Hillsborough County, to cover the savaging of a teacher for running a blog that is critical of the schools? La Stein’s columns are suitably newspaper-level dull, but I judge her to be in the upper percentile of Stanford Binet and able to comment on the history and rituals of the trapping and savaging of a teacher for lamenting the lousy job the administration and board are doing in a more arresting style than is her current mode.

Stein certainly knows this story as does Ms. Brown of the moribund Tribune. If Stein is capable of a lively style, let her tear loose and use it. She would have to be brain-damaged not to know the record of the vicious routine the board and administration apply to dissident teachers or even cafeteria workers. She is observant enough, as is Ms. Tribune Brown, to spot an ongoing instance of administration and board savagery as this case of Steve Trent rawly demonstrates in the school’s attempt to fire a teacher for First Amendment lese majeste against the overlords of ROSSAC, most of whom have early-childhood degrees or the more exotic credential of the head of Professional Standards, Ms. Linda Kipley, of a home-ec degree.

Home-ec degrees were last seen in the stomatolite mats that make the beginning of cellular thrusts at human life during the Precambrian period. A Cambridge geology scientist has also glimpsed Ms. Kipley under his microscope occupying a Cretaceous notch 190 million ago in which she was bating a dinosaur, an activity that began her journey to Professional Standards guru in Hillsborough County, Florida. This evolutionary slot has given Kipley’s innate sadism a venue in which to blossom in savaging teachers who said any little thing negative about the superintendent, whose ancestry we can confidently trace back to the Jurassic Period when dinosaurs were not to be fooled with. Common knowledge says that Ms. Elia is a outcrop of the genus Velociraptor of the Jurassic period. Scientific consensus in the geology world says that fact explains Ms. Elia’s addiction to mullet hairdos, which were the rage in the Jurassic period.

I hope that the above entreaty is not just one more instance of pissing in the wind or pearls before swine.

Pax vobiscum,

Lee Drury De Cesare

I see that all the bylines on the frontpage are male. Wired Witches International Strike Force and Quilting Bee will have to reconvene to picket the Times again for Cretaceous-period sexism. What ails the women at the Times? Why don’t they mount their steeds and charge the male sweat lodge and scatter the sexists into the tall brush at the edge of the clearing? The sisterhood should not let the fellows reenter the clearing until they have written five hundred times “I will play fair with the girls, I swear.”

Mr. Dan Valdez, Deputy Superintendent / Chief Human Resources Officer:

Sir, the Hillsborough County School System has a long and malignant tradition reaching back at least as far as the Erwin Crucifixion almost twenty years ago of targeting school employees—especially teachers—for dismissal if they challenge the superintendent and his or her henchpeople’s master plan of running the schools for the benefit of the ROSSAC few so that these maintain power and control of public state monies that come to the schools to support education of the county’s youth.

Teacher Steve Kemp runs a blog under the soubriquet of Goader. The blog sometimes criticizes the schools. Ms. Elia has a red-hot antipathy to criticism. She can’t take a punch and uses her senior power to get back at the person who commits lese majeste against the superintendent’s office. The Professional Standards cell block gets the nod from Ms. Elia to set up the criticizing teacher for firing.

This reign of terror has been an effective way to muffle criticism while taxpayers pay spin money to send out news releases from the Public Affairs Office touting the Golden Age of school performance since the elevation of Ms. Elia to superintendent. Ms. Elia has mistreated teachers just in the two years I have observed the board and administration behavior by 1. Imposing an extra class on them to solve her budget problems with no comment by the board; forcing a grade-inflation scheme on teachers so that she can get extra bonus points in pay: this scheme disenfranchises the children of the right to get the grades they earn so that they can get into good colleges and universities after graduation and as well insults teachers’ professional pride. 3. Ms. Elia purchased a multi-million-dollar commercial program of that has not worked in other venues without teachers’ input that teachers must implement. The board did not ask for a hearing on this program. Ms. Elia apparently is so contemptuous of the board’s role in the schools that she did not brief members on this program-the Spring,

Teachers stay intimidated and hunkered down for fear of losing their jobs to Ms. Elia’s Gestapo tactics; only a handful dare resist the Free Speech shutdown. Goader, who runs the blog cited above, is one of the few. His case of being charged with child abuse and suspended from employment in the schools is therefore highly suspect.

I became aware as a citizen of the dire straits in the schools for teachers’ freedom to comment on their profession when Ms. Elia and her lieutenant Linda Kipley teamed up to set up for firing a friend of mine, Bart Birdsall, a media specialist, two years ago. Bart is gay and sent emails from his home to Joe Stines, also gay and head of the county library, protesting Stines’s cooperation with county ordinance originated by Ronda Storms to shut of gays out of the public library.

I infer Ms. Elia suffers from latent homophobia or a fear of negative publicity associated with admitting that the schools employ gays.
She fears, I infer, that such knowledge will rile the bigots in the fens and the bogs of the county’s political periphery. She also showed this homophobia when she put her weight behind a move to notify parents of gay children that they were members of gay clubs, aiming to have parents punish gay children, one infers, even to kick them out in the streets. Previously, she had buckled to the bigots’ demands to deny Muslim children an equal holiday.

Ms. Elia and Ms. Kipley, the ROSSAC Bobsy twins of sadistic duplicity, lied nonstop in Bart’s case. They could find nothing to pin on Bart except some fugitive gnat of his having posted on the media board that gays were having a protest meeting. Such postings were the purpose of the community media board. There was nothing even marginally legitimate that Les Elia and Kipley could cite on which to fire Bart.

Ms. Kipley played her home-ec béarnaise mind games to make Bart as miserable as possible, including sending him an ominous registered letter to rattle him and render him of a mindset to stay in a crouch of terror for the rest of his time as a school employee. He had to go to counseling as a result of this situation to retain his sanity, but was not fired because there was nothing meriting his firing, and today has a Teflon shield to job scares from the administration lackeys due to his fighting the ROSSAC sadists who tried to terrorize him. If the administration discovers that you fight back, its carnivores leave you be and move on to a teacher who they think won't. I interpolate the sad circumstance that during Bart's ordeal, all the school gays shied away and avoided him so fearful is that group of the wrath of the administration on gay teachers. What the administration aims at is a steady stream of teacher-terror stories to keep the whole population of teachers cowed and afraid to resist for fear of getting the sack under some slippery accusation.

In the case of Steve Kent, Goader, here is what I understand occurred. Goader was assigned to work in the severely retarded children’s area one morning. He received no instructions before his attempt to handle this difficult population of students. The aide on duty left because of temporary burn-out, and Steve was on his own when two special-needs boys with harnesses left dangling on their persons from the bus rides became simultaneously obstreperous. Steve couldn’t handle them both at once. So he hooked one’s harness to a table or chair or something so that he could deal with the children one at a time.

The next thing Steve Kemt knows is that he is suspended from his job because of alleged child abuse. It seems the schools don’t investigate the truth of a charge before assuming guilt and suspending the person from his or her job. I don’t know how innocent until proven guilty works in this paradigm.

Since I helped Bart, I now will help Steve as best I can to keep his job since he is a good teacher caught in a Catch-22, I believe, that involves ROSSAC monitoring him to catch him in some contretemps. This play echoes the crucifixion of Mr. Erwin. The administration has changed none of its torture maneuvers since that sad time. The reason for administration intent to trap and fire Mr. Kent: his blog sometimes criticizes the schools.

Ms. Elia, the board, and the board attorney Tom Gonzalez do not believe in free speech. I had to petition the ACLU to come and address the board on this issue after Chairperson Ms. Jennifer Pole Girl Falliero had the large Jolly Green Giant head of security eject me from a board meeting for speaking a student’s name. Ms. Falliero, who took to the gavel like a pig takes to slop, made up the ad hoc rule that a speaker before the board could not utter a person’s name. Ms. Falliero does not know Robert’s Rules and is not about to learn them for the effort makes her head hurt.

I filed a Professional Standards charge against the Jolly Green Giant for intimidating an aged granny (me) by threatening to have her arrested if she did not vacate the premises. Ms. Falliero, of course, was enchanted with getting back at me for revealing that she had committed adultery with the head of the schools Community Affairs, Marc Hart, causing his divorce, and inflicting pain on his two young children. Mr. Marc Hart was fired to protect Ms. Falliero’s questionable reputation for being a school-board member. Ms. Falliero claims to be a born-again Christian but apparently gives herself a pass on the adultery commandment. After this chain of events, the entire board voted Ms. Falliero its chair, the vote being evidence for the board’s not giving a darn about Pole Girl Falliero’s conduct. They think an adulterous is just fine for the chair of a board that is in charge of the county’s children’s welfare. All they want to do is preen on the podium and gad about the Bay Area pretending to be patrons of education.

As a lark, I filed a Professional Standards charge against the Jolly Green Giant for removing me from the board room for speaking a person’s name. I petitioned the ACLU, which representative came to a board meeting and convinced Legal Sluggard Gonzalez and the board that a citizen’s speaking a person’s name was not grounds for eviction from the board room.

To my professional charge against the Jolly Green Giant security head, Ms. Kipley said that maybe speaking another person’s name was not a kicking-out offense but that I had overrun my three-minute time limit, and that was a departure from the shut-up-and-sit-down rules of the board and thus was legitimate grounds for kicking me out of the board room.

The seven board members sat silent during this whole saga of abuse of the First Amendment. So did the attorney for the board.

Most people outrun their time when they speak before the board. Three minutes is barely time to say “howdy,” and people have a list of grievances against the board and the schools that they want to air. But logic is not one of La Kipley’s strong points, her specialties in adroit productions’ being neckbones and rice and cracklin’ cornbread with a side dish of chitterlings au jus.

I am a registered nurse who logged many hours in psychiatric units and read every word Freud wrote. That training is perfect preparation for dealing with the likes of Ms. Kipley, other ROSSAC inmates, and the potted-plant lower-quartile specimens that comprise the board

Since I want to see that Steve Kent is not another teacher kicked out of his job for a cooked-up case of child abuse because he exercised his right to free speech, I have put on my thinking cap and give you the following list of queries under the Florida Public Records law that says that a citizen is entitled to anything written down in the function of the schools. I infer you are the repository of most if not all of these data.

Please send the answers to Linda Cobbe so that she can convey them to me.

These are dramatis personae I have so far gathered and am working on finding out the name(s) of anybody I have missed.

1. Steve Kent, Goader: the accused; 2. Mr. Smiley, supervisor of Area 5’s Special Needs section and the specimen who ratted out Steve Kent to the Ybor City police; 3. Sharon Morris, principal; 4. Ms. Sosca, department head; 4. Special Needs Children Aide Ann Ridosh; 5. The ubiquitous Ms. Kipley of the Professional Standards Cell Block. If I discover more names of those involved, I will send a follow-up email.

Here are my public-information questions:

1. Is the responsibility of at least one administrator to instruct a novice before sending him or her into the classroom detailed in the policy manual? Which of the three—Mr. Smiley, Ms. Morris, or Ms. Sosca—is responsible for educating a teacher such as Mr. Kent to the protocol of the classroom policy regarding restraints? Is there written evidence that one of these higher-ups fulfilled this duty? Did the responsible one not do so and a teacher such as Kent failed to observe the restraint rules, would the supervisor be suspended from employment and a hearing set to determine responsibility and continued employment?

2. May I have the job descriptions of Smiley, Soca, and Morris, and the aide?

3. What is the rationale for the different policies of restraint on the buses and in the classroom? Please cite these data from the policy manual governing these issues.

4. When aide Ms. Ridash withdrew from the classroom because of her psychological fatigue, whom did she notify, Ms. Morris or Ms. Sosca? What was the person notified obligated to do in this circumstance? Cite from the policy manual for that area, please.

5. Who observed Mr. Kent’s departure from the rules in dealing with the youngsters and reported him to a school authority? Who was that?

6. Why didn’t this person enter the classroom and assist Mr. Kemp instead of reporting him as derelict? Didn’t the emergency situation demand that the observing person help Kemp out instead of running to report him? Is there a written policy that outlines the proper thing to do when one observes a colleague violating a rule such as the restraint rule in the classroom?

7. Whom did the observer of the Kemp dereliction of the restraint policy report to? What is the chain of command in such incidents?

8. Is there an incident report of this event involving Mr. Kent’s restraining one of the children? May I have it?

9. Who was responsible for removing the children’s restraints since I understand that the restraints are supposed to be removed when the youngsters enter the classroom? Is there a check-off sheet to show that this is accomplished? May I see it?

10. Did the person whom the observer of the event reported to hasten to assist Mr. Kemp, or did he or she make the immediate decision to report him to the police?

11. Did this person notify Mr. Smiley of the situation?

12. Did Mr. Smiley make the decision to report Mr. Kemp to the police, or did he have to call a superior for that decision?

13. Was that superior Ms. Kipley, and if not, then who made the decision to report Mr. Kemp to the police? Was it Ms. Elia?

14. When Mr. Kemp was removed from his employment, was he given a full explanation?

15. Are there notes by anyone in authority that records the rationale for Mr. Smiley’s reporting to the police? I would like to see them.

16. Was Mr. Kemp immediately dismissed, or did he work until the end of the day? Who dismissed him?

17. Did Ms. Kipley or anyone in authority send a summary to Ms. Elia by email or inter-office mail?

18. I request all emails about this decision either before or after it. Your constant messages on school communication emphasizes that emails are public information.

20. When and where are Mr. Kemp’s hearing, and may the public attend?

21. Who will testify for and against Mr. Kemp?

22. Who will make the recommendation to the board about Mr. Kemp’s guilt or innocence?

23. When will the board rule on this issue?

24. Is there a narrative in the policy manual about the investigation, hearing, and firing or exonerating of teachers or others in such situations? May I have a copy if so?

25. Why did five or six days elapse before filing the charges against Mr. Kemp?

My object, Mr. Valdez, in this query for public information is for you to send to Ms. Cobbe as many of the answers to the above and as much data as possible for a citizen’s review.

This situation sounds to me like an effort to trap a teacher who has a blog that sometimes criticizes the schools so that the administration can cook up a firing of him.

Teachers and citizens have free speech granted by the Constitution. The administration of the schools cannot legally and ethically take that right away. I want to be sure that Mr. Kent gets a fair hearing in what I regard as ROSSAC routine entrapment; I want to hear what punishment Mr. Smiley, Ms. Soca, and Ms. Morris will get in this case since their dereliction preceded that of Mr. Kent. They sound the primary culprits to me. They threw a teacher into the classroom of special-needs children without giving him data on how to discharge his duties there. If the board and Ms. Elia don’t require this education of teachers before they begin to take care of special-needs children, they are the primary guilty parties.

I request all emails whose subject is this incident involving Mr. Kent. As the administrative and board literature often informs us, emails are public information too.

Pray send these data to Ms. Cobbe to convey to me as soon as possible.

Lee Drury De Cesare
c: all members of the board
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