Friday, June 20, 2008

It's worth noting that the buildings of superior construction solid as a rock that Hamilton was in charge of in his recital (one-and-a-half-page- paragraph) were the same ones that Doug Erwin reported to have holes in the roof, water, water, everywhere, grungy paint, hollow doors, and ACs supposed to last 20 years that conked out in five.

You will note also how deferential the interviewing team is to Hamilton. God forbid that its servile members interupt one of Hamilton's amour-propre sililoquies and get in a question relevant to the Erwin complaints. The explanation is that they are all ROSSAC drones.

Hamilton start nitpicking Erwin in catty asides and ended up in a murderous rage recommending that he be destroyed. I think what he is angry with Irwin because besides disturbing the ROSSAC equilibrium of robbing the public with bloated salaries for these pooh-bahs who are trying to eradicate Erwin and ubiquitous theft and graft for the lower-level thieves is that he must have heard Erwin discussed Hamilton's odd relationship with Connie The Munchkin Mileto, and it got back to Hamilton. These are not lovely people, are they? lee

50th reunion of the HHC Class of '51; I am complaining about not enough women in the Hall of Fame. I was booed. lee


Read the passage below from Hamilton's interview. Employees have the same perception of Elia, yet they find it just dandy to ignore that, so why was Erwin crucified for this perception but Elia is not?

I believe that this passage proves that they played mind games on Erwin. They used this argument to try to shut him up.

And the conversations that both Dr. Lennard and I had with Mr. Erwin were to the point of, when it comes to perceptions, perceptions are what matters, and the employees believe that he was unfair, authoritarian, dictatorial, unreasonable, abusive or whatever. It really doesn’t matter what Mr. Erwins’ intentions were if that were the effects and what he was told was, that he needed to develop the kind of working rapport with his employees that were would be necessary to have an effective organization. And also told him that Mr. Newsome had the same kind of perceptual problems about Mr. Erwin.

What happened is that they pushed Mr. Erwin too far; he gave up trying to reason with them and checked in with the lawyer who won the case for him. I am a real fan of that woman. You will be when you finish reading the startling exerpts from the files that I am putting on the blog at intervals. lee





11 September, 2001


INTERVIEW/Present: James Hamilton, Deputy Superintendent David 0. Binnie, Asst. Superintendent, Human Resources

Wayne C. Dasinger, Internal Investigations Manager, Prof. Standards

LOCATION: Dr. Hamilton’s office

DASINGER: Is everyone in the room aware that we’re recording this conversation?


DAS]NGER: Dr. Hamilton, if you would, just by way of background, would you give us your recollection of how Doug Erwin came to be in the position that he’s in, and was he given any sort of specific mission in regard to...I think the quote was, “cleaning up the Maintenance, Grounds areas,” that you can recall?

HAMILTON: Doug Erwin was in this position when I was appointed assistant superintendent for operations, so his appointment preceded my involvement in the position. He experience was as a high school coach, driver ed teacher, then dean, when we had deans at Plant and then assistant principal of administration athletic director. And then, very early on, he was sent to Robinson High School as principal. That was the first time I had worked with him and I was returning to the District as a returning employee after having been in the private sector, and was his assistant principal for administration. So, I had some opportunity to work with him, kind of close up and personal and see some of his strengths and some of his developmental needs. I was there a year. ..went to Plant. It was interesting at the time because he. ..when Plant became open, really, kind of talked to me in terms of perhaps ft would be best for the world, particularly some of his ambitions that he seek a transfer to Plant, and then how I can become principal at Robinson. At the time, the superintendent, Dr. Shelton, analyzed that situation and determined that it would be not in the best interests of Robinson High School to have a turnover in principalship in a year and decided that Mr. Erwin would be better positioned by staying at that school, and I was appointed principal at Plant. I’m not sure how Mr. Erwin received that information, but I think that he soft of remembered it for a period of time. His career was marked by a series of transfers from high school to high school every three years or so and it was always interesting because I was his colleague on the high school principal’s council. His reports were always that, (A) he had done his work at the previous school, (B)everybody associated with the

—previous school was either incompetent or crooked or both and most of them drunks too and see that he had to go on and do more dirty work. I know that one of his initial transfers was to Plant City High School, and, at the time, area director, Larry Martin, inquired of me... I think before he talked to Mr. Erwin about going to Plant City High School, that the opening had occurred for that principalship and that the Plant City community was interested in hiring a high performing sitting principal, to run the school. They were unhappy with the range of the assistant principals who had applied for the position. 1 don’t know what motivated them to then turn to Mr. Erwin, but I explained to Ms. Martin that I was a resident of the Plant community and had long, deep roots in the area, and that Plant City really deserves someone who, I assume, has a relationship with the Plant City community. Eventually, I think that’s what they achieved with Bill Maxwell and now, Buddy Raburn is principal of the school. And, I think the school has shown improvement, as a result. Doug used to talk about Hilisborough High School when he transferred there. That was his next stop, and, again, there was concern that Mr. Hadley was a drunk and a thief and Ms. Holland was a drunk and a thief, and I don’t know whether any of that was ever proven. I know there were some problems after Mr. Erwin left that were addressed by the District. And, in terms of some of the vending coma&es, I think Mr. Holland was never shown to be anything except the dedicated employee who had a red and black running in his veins, and that’s what I know about that Now, he went to Armwood for whatever reasons and it’s interesting because the principal there, Evelyn Hughes, had long and distinguished career with the system, was concerned because Mr. Erwin had a pattern, a sort of character assassination of his predecessors and she was concerned with her reputation. Mr. Erwin has said that he was asked to be moved from the District, to go to Armwood, and in fact my understanding of this was, in retrospect that he had asked the District to move him. He had told his staff at Armwood, which is the long way of getting to the storied question that you the time that he was appointed director of maintenance, that he wasn’t going to be back the next year although there had been no vacancy and had been no job offer, and he .. .he’ll be going downtown...he’ll be a general director. He always operated from the presumption that Mr. Paul Wharton was the assistant superintendent for administration, promised he would be an area director and eventually assistant superintendent for administration, and it was always articulated critical. ..seemed to have a certain dissatisfaction that the system didn’t make good on what he perceived to be a promise. Mr. Edwards. ..Dr. Edwards was assistant superintendent of operations at the time that Doug was appointed director of maintenance and I was assistant superintendent for construction. As I recall it, there was a series of discussions between Mr. Erwin and Dr. Edwards concerning his appointment and at one point, Mr. Erwin said, no, he didn’t want the job. I’m not exactly sure of the multiplicity of factors that went Into offering him that position ‘cause I wasn’t privy to some of those conversations. At one point, Dr. Lcnnard asked that I talk to he and Doug about going to that position because I had had such a long relationship with him. And we did. There was a meeting in his office a long time ago, one afternoon. And the gist of which was that this was an area where we had to get more efficient and more effective and that we had a growing set of needs and a not growing budget, and that we wanted some more efficiencies. Doug had many strengths and some liabilities, as I think every employee does, but one of his strengths seemed to be that be had a good knack for organization. And, we believed, at least, based on some of the reports from his employee, pretty good knack for motivation and that he would be unencumbered by a long association with the division, so he


could see it with fresh eyes and we believed it was those fresh eyes, perhaps that could come up with some solutions and techniques that would improve performance, improve morale and decrease costs. And, that was the gist of my understanding as to how he came to the position.

DASINGER: At what point and time did some point in this time, you became in charge of the operation division, I guess.

HAMILTON: Mmm hmm, it was in January, of 1998.

DASINGER: Right, and Mr. Erwin was in the position at that point.


DASINGER: Did he come to you with his concerns in regard to his perceived corruption or inefficiency in the Grounds, or Maintenance areas in general.. .did he come to you with those concerns early on?

HAIMIILTON: Yeah, he did. I don’t how how much of it he ever reduced to writing because that was not one of his strengths, ever. And, also, he had a propensity then, and always, to talk in terms of generalities rather than specifics, that his basic perception was that he had a long list of deferred maintenance needs and that our new construction program was not cost effective and that helped consume resources, and that he didn’t have enough money to operate on and that he certainly felt that there were some things going on. He made a lot of statements about.., he believed that the employees routinely used company materials and equipment on side jobs that there was certainly a looseness in inventory control and purchasing procedures that he thought criminal implications and so forth. He never did come forward with any specific names, dates and places, nor did he ever come forward with a real specific plan as to follow up and track those issues, nor did he ever deeply engage in the details of purchasing and budgeting. That would lead to a data frail that would give us some clear indication of what was going on. However, I was concerned at the time that if there was, in fact, that perceptual frame work out there, that we ought to review it. So I talked to the superintendent, Dr. Binnie, I believe, and recommended that we get a third party to investigate the entire division of operations...interview all of the directors, all of the decision makers that were in positions to make decisions, and determine whether any conflicts of interest or any other irregularities. As I recall it, we engaged that private investigator named Oscar Westerfield for that task. He interviewed all of the people who were employed at the time, which I think included. I think Stan Domal is still in the system as whatever...director of phones and that kind of stuff, and Doug and Tom Blackwell and myself we didn’t run Custodial Operations at that time. He did a report. I recall it, the only thing he came up ‘with that was specific was there was some concern about one of the vendors who was ..did our phone work and I think that they pursued that...concerned with some providers or suppliers that thought his business practices were irregular. About that time, Mr. Domal retired.. .Jack Davis, I think, was then appointed to that position. We pursued that and as I recall it, neither the District nor anybody else for whom the information was referred never had any specific witnesses or evidence that led them to a real sense of irregularity. However, our review

of the expenses at the time and the equipment that we were dealing with and so forth, led us to — - - ---- -- conclude, led Mr. Davis to conclude that there were more cost-effective ways of doing business than contracting with that particular vendor and he so made those recommendations for different kinds of maintenance contracts and a systematic approach to retiring antiquated systems that

were inordinately expensive and difficult to maintain and get parts for and that vendor was, I believe, terminated in terms of his contract and other more cost effective mechanisms were put in place and we are still systematically replacing those old phone systems with ones that at least are more cost-effective to maintain. But, nothing else was ever established in terms of the hard evidence. At least there’s nothing that I was aware of. And, I thought we had asked all the pointed questions we were to ask of all the people involved.

DASINGER: Did you ever give Mr. Erwin instructions that there were certain people under his.. .in his chain of command, that were somehow protected because of their connections to board members or District staff, or anything of that nature, specifically David Busciglio, Henry Ballard, folks like that?

HAMILTON: Absolutely not. Mr. Erwin had an antipathy for Mr. Ballard and Mr. Busciglio that grew over time, and it was kind of an anomaly to me because his evaluative criteria apparently somewhat varied and he had a propensity to swing widely moods 0r attitudes towards employees. Initially, it was his assertion that Mrtfglio in his maintenance area, was the best that he had; he was the most efficient person. Schools like him; he gave the best service. He initially claimed to have good rapport with Mr. Ballard and was finding effective ways to use Ms services. And then, he became angered at Mr. Ballard and Mr. Busciglio where apparently some situations where he set forth and traveled around the District reviewing the specific performance of David Busciglio’s employees and was dissatisfied with what he saw. He felt like Ms. Busciglio’ s management skills were deficient with respect to scheduling employees and establishing work standards. And we in fact, were involved in an effort to establish work standards for our maintenance people which we’re are still only going to marginally, satisfactorily accomplished. The gist of which was to determine what the industry would indicated to be an appropriate amount of time to do a particular task, what the cost would be and so forth. At that time, he was very upset and unhappy with Richard Parrish, who was one of his maintenance managers. He felt like he was very ineffective and marginally incompetent. At a later time, he came to say that Richard Parrish was his best person. David Busciglio was often something to the effect, that if he was on fire, he wouldn’t piss on hint That was the way he characterized it. He established. ..he really had great difficulty coming up with a systematic work standards approach. I tried to direct him to industry consultants that evidently restructure construction programs, but that was only variably accomplished on his part and, somewhat angry at his staff. He seemed to have a difficult time communicating with them. So, eventually, I met with them, myself, and..which was a little bit problematic, considering the salary and title that Mr. Erwin carried, and established at least conceptually a set of work standards. Now, he would be able to use hypothetically at least with respect to date generated decision making about efficiency and efficacy in terms of operation. The, I think, be wound up essentially, asking them what they thought it would take to change a ballast and do this and do that The other, he established some very elementary and simplified work standards, and then Doug was to

implement those and follow up. He eventually drafted a document and wanted everybody to sign that worked for him, the gist of which says, “These are the things you do.” We were concerned about some things, and some of his concerns I thought were very valid. That’s why we asked for him to take that position alike. We had a history of broken equipment which delayed people getting out of the work yard. He had a situation of fueling the vehicles that was not very cost effective, so we didn’t get people into the field in a very effective way. He came up with, I thought, some of them, very good proposals in that regard. We did take a very substantial loan to replace vehicles and it was somewhat unfortunate because what will happen is that those vehicles will age all at the same time and that’s not atypical in our system and get resources and use them at once. We’re facing that right now in air conditioners, for example, have have a lot of 30 year-old air conditioners not coincidentally because we had a bond issue 30 years ago to air condition all the schools and now, ft’s a commercial system that clearly at the end of their life and beyond economical repair all at the same time and it would require major investment if to happen. We’re trying to do that through renovation of the schools, but he ah...put this thing forward and I asked him to work with the division of Human Resources about
it. One of his issues was he wanted to proviso at the end that said, you know, “If you fail to do these things, you’re, therefore, insubordinate,” because his skills, which I noticed as an employee, in terms of actually providing for employee development, were very poorly developed, and, as his employer, I did a poor job really of developing his skills in that areas of efficiency in my performance. I did it for him as his assistant principal, and he didn’t learn from that, and as his supervisor, I really didn’t do a good job of structuring. I did try to get him to engage with Marilyn Wittner and other people in the Human Resources division to develop those skills. He eventually .. .he had a situation that occurred with respect to his area maintenance managers, which I thought was unique. He had, I believe, I’m not sure about this...I looked at the files the other day to try and remember whether I was right or wrong and it didn’t really... wasn’t really very clear there either, but the gist of ft went something like this. He had put in place with.. .he had tried to put in place the work standards that we talked about and we also had put in place this document, which my understanding was, he had worked with Marilyn about to a degree that said, “These are the thugs that we want you to do: gas your trucks early. Stay in the field until your infield time; don’t spend half your day coming and going,” so forth and so on, things that should improve efficiently. And ah. . .he had, I think done informative evaluations of his area maintenance managers. I say...I think...I’m really not sure whether he had done them or it was time to do them. At any rate, he had basically said they were all coming along pretty well and doing pretty well and so forth and so on. And, he urn.. .then suddenly decided that somebody.. .all of them had been insubordinate, based on that document we put together because they weren’t acquiring the things that he expected them to do, to follow up on with respect to getting people in the field and so forth and so on. So, he suddenly, and without any documentation, wanted to put them all on Career Observation. And I sent him to work with Marilyn. He went forward with that, but relatively minimal documentation. It caused a lot of ill feeling among his area maintenance managers, and out into the field, it was a pretty demoralizing approach. I told him that I was.. .you know, pay him a substantial sum of money to operate his department and I anticipate him to do that, and I told him to go ahead and do that if that’s what he thought was best, but that he needed to prepare to have appropriate documentation and a career development plan for those employees that would be very specific in terms with coming


forward with how to improve theft performance. I think the records show that that didn’t happen and the area maintenance managers, at that point, were, you know, essentially talking to me and also to the Human Resources division about the very legalities of what he was doing and there wasn’t a lot of substantial documentation to support that. I worked with him for three or four months, I think. It seems like it was that long, at any rate, with regard to that tactic, and you know, there was really some concern expressed that this was only exposing the District to adverse consequences from the employees asking for the appropriate documentation and that he needed to provide that or re-establish them in their normal employment status and then started again with the documentation procedures, which he proceeded to not do for a while and I think we then talked with Marilyn. We actually went out and worked in the area of II or West or whatever day the Busciglio’s shop was at the time. Just to try to get the employees to talk to him and function with him because they felt very much that he was unfair in how he did business and demeaning, and how he managed them. And, eventually, he re-established them in normal employment status, and, as the record shows, I think there never was any documentation shown. It was interesting for me to observe that in that process, although there’s no evidence, I guess other than my recollection, one of his people, he said, came around and was doing very well and working with him well was Jim McClelland in Grounds, and he thought he was one of those desk guys. In fact, that’s how he characterized him at one point. He was also in position because of the retirement in the area IV, now East Maintenance Manager, he agreed to move Richard Parrish to that spot, at Richard’s request because he lives in the area. With great trepidation because it was a high performing unit. In his opinion, I think, generally, that was agreed to, and that Richard would have to perform well to maintain the job. I don’t think there’s any specific documentation for expectations in terms of performance. And then he was able to hire an area maintenance manager which he proceeded entirely as he should. It was his
responsibility and he hired... he promoted the guy that was the
assistant. He’s not longer with us.

DASINGEIt Roosevelt -Lawrence?

HAMILTON: Roosevelt Lawrence... and that was his. ..basically his hire, his protégé in the fact that, you know, throughout the dispute...that happened actually before all of this, puffing
everybody on Career of the things he said very really bothered him, that he wanted to treat everybody the same, so he put Roosevelt on Career
Observation too, although he thought he was a fine young man and was doing well.. But he figured that was the only way to be fair to everybody was to treat them all the same. And, that gave him some pause as to whether that was a good avenue to pursue, but he did it anyway.

DAS1NGER: I assume that was the time period that he referred to when he says that you changed David Busciglio’s evaluation personally or instructed him to or

HAMILTON: Either of those statements that he made are a balled-face lie. DASINCER; That’s the statement he made.

HAMILTON: Well, then that’s a balled-face lie. If he’d like to sit right there, I will tell him. That’s a balled-face lie. I’ve never seen David Busciglio’ s evaluations until the other day when I reviewed the ifies and was sure that they even existed. I don’t direct him to do a thing with those employees, except to follow appropriate procedures. By that time, he was at some kind of personal war with David Busciglio, to the point that David was asking for his removal from his supervision or he was going to leave the District. And, he was involved in some similar activities with Robbie Burkhart and had convinced Robbie to leave or he was going to terminate him although there was not documentation of that. The proof of which was when it came time for him to leave, we were not in a position to enforce his resignation. In fact, they still they still had him on payroll, I guess. I don’t even know that for a fact.

DASINGER: Burkhart? I think he’s gone.

HAMILTON: I don’t know.

DASINGER: I’m pretty sure he is. I

HAMILTON: That’s how much I know about it. But that’s his responsibility to run, not mine. Eventually, we spent many hours...David Binnie spent many hours working with David Busciglio and Doug to try and provide some kind of amicable or workable situation. We eventually agreed to transfer David to an inspector’s position, which we needed in new construction with experience in that regard as a maintenance manager. There was an Agreement to Earn for additional training required David, which he pursued and, I believe, I’m really not sure about this either because it’s really Jack’s responsibility...he is now a certified uniform building code inspector, so.. .all of that worked out...

DASINGEIt Well, that was one of Doug’s issues too, is that somehow Mr. Busciglio, in his opinion, was placed in a position he was not qualified for, but he has since done what the District required him to do in the open

HAMILTON: That’s correct. Actually, you know, I mean, if you really wanted to pursue that line of reasoning, the District might be faulted for putting Mr. Erwin in his position because he was less qualified for it, from construction standpoint, that David was for them. We’ve put people in positions based upon what we believe their total benefit to the District will be and when people take on those jobs for which they have less technical knowledge, there’s an expectation on the part of the District that they take the necessary steps to acquire that technical knowledge or organize their business in a manner that permits that person to manage effectively that which he can’t not have technical knowledge of. For example, either Mr. Erwin or I, both of whom were high school principals, were in any way qualified to know whether our Spanish teachers were speaking Spanish or Russian. Nor did we really have the qualifications to know what our calculus teachers were teaching and nor would we ever in reality, nor was there was an expectation of that. What there was an expectation for was for the District to have principals who would have a staff with an appropriate set of technical skills to provide for efficacious evaluation and that’s how we do business. That’s how come Mr. Erwin was selected for the job,


he has, I for the job I have and many of us for the jobs we have.

DAS1NGER: In regard to Mr. McClelland out at Grounds and all, in your recollection, was there any discussion with Mr. Erwin in which he attributed a quote to you? He said he came to you and said, “I’m running into these problems. I’m getting road blocks,” or something... I’m kind of paraphrasing, and he quotes you as saying, “Doug, Joe Newsome is your problem. If you go kiss his ass, your problem’s will go away.”

HAMILTON: That’s a balled-thee lie.

DASINGER: Well, that’s a quote he attributes to you.

HAMILTON: That’s a balled-face lie. He was. I said, variable in his assessment in Mr. McClelland’ s performance, going from his best employee to a very bad one. He came to me once or twice with respect to some suspicions he had about who was responsible for inventory that had disappeared and I don’t know when that occurred. Honestly, I still don’t know when that occurred, but one of those allegations had to do with some tractors that apparently had afready disappeared. I don’t know whether that happened in Mr. Erwin’s watch or not, but it’s really Mr. Erwin’s responsibility to A. buy them, B. protect the inventory, and C. determine who was responsible for their disappearance. I assume, ‘cause I directed him ,when he talked to me about it, that we would pursue fmding that out. Apparently, that was not in.. .was never any real clear closure on whether those things were linked and why, and at that point, I think I wasn’t his direct supervisor anymore. But certainly, that would be something we want to hold him accountable for. As far as his relationship with Mr. Newsome is concerned, I told Mr. Erwin on more than one occasion, that Mr. Newsome was concerned about how Mr. Erwin managed his employees. Mr. Newsome is a business man, so he’.s trained in experience and is very knowledge in number one, theimportance of high morale and effective employees in terms of getting the job done, and indeed, very sensitive to the fact that if you’re going to have those effective employees, you, as a leader, have to do something about it. Mr. Newsome has good rapport with all the District employees. It’s one of our strengths as a District. Our board members and our senior staff have a pretty, in my mind, an amazing personal interest and contact with employees, thousands of them and _____________somewhat first-name organization from top to bottom in a manner that I tbink any business would be shocked that we are able to accomplish, that we maintain that level of personal interest and sensitivity. That’s one of the reasons that we’re a great organizations to be employed with. But, Mr. Newsome expressed concern to me and I arranged opportunities for Mr. Erwin. In fact, once Mr. Erwin, Dr. Lennard, Mr. Newsome and myself met in Plant City about it, and the gist of which was, you know, Mr. Newsome had evidence, based on employee’s expressed concerns that Mr. Erwin’s management style was not effective in terms of creating high morale and high performance and that he wanted that changed. As a board member, he has, not only a right, but a responsibility to want that changed if that was the case. And the conversations that both Dr. Lennard and I had with Mr. Erwin were to the point of, when it comes to perceptions, perceptions are what matters, and the employees believe that he was unfair, authoritarian, dictatorial, unreasonable, abusive or whatever. It really doesn’t matter what Mr. Erwins’ intentions were if that were the effects and what he was told


was, that he needed to develop the kind of working rapport with his employees that were would be necessary to have an effective organization. And also told him that Mr. Newsome had the same kind of perceptual problems about Mr. Erwin. That is to say that he had conclusions based on what evidence he had, and he had perceptions based on what evidence that he had and, as 1 recall, there was a situation which literally, Mr. Erwin called out Mr. Newsome on the intercom at Plant City High School when he was principal, “Ya’ll don’t like what I’m doing, go on down to the drug store and talk to him ‘cause I don’t care,” you know. You know, Mr. Newsome’s professionalism in terms of over-coming that which certainly Mr. Erwin would not..

End of Side A/Tape 1

DASINGER: I’m sorry, we’re back on tape now.
HAMILTON: As I was saying, he hacL.understanding whether Mr. Erwin had literally called out Mr. Newsome on the intercom at Plant City High School and said, you know, “If you don’t like it, go down there and talk to them at the drug store, because I don’t care. He doesn’t tell me what to do,” something to that effect. I don’t even know whether that’s true. That’s part of the urn.. .perception that existed, at any rate, and as I said, Mr. Newsome’s ability to professionally overcome that incident shouldn’t occur, I think, is admirable. Told him that Mr. Newsome is a person who lcnows these people, who work for us, in these areas, particularly in his own community. He goes to church with them. He sees them in the grocery store, and if Mr. Erwin wanted to have a good working relationship with Mr. Newsome, he’d either take the steps necessary to let Mr. Newsome know him first hand, so that his perception would be shaped by the reality that is Mr. Erwin’s work ethic and personality and not what might have come from a disgruntled employee or someone else. Now, if that’s kissing his ass, then clearly, I’m deficit in my ability to provide Mr. Erwin leadership.

DAS]NGER: Well, that was his direct quote, so...

HAMILTON: Well, as I said, that would be a deficiency on my part, in terms of communicating to Mr. Erwin what is appropriate to develop effective working relationships.

DASINGER When you were in a position, Dr. Hamilton, of being the person who is in overall charge, of overseeing Mr. Erwin, did he ever come to you, or were you ever made aware that Mr. McClelland had what apparently was total control over bid processes and expenditures. Apparently, with very little District oversight and was...I mean, is that in your opinion, that was a proper way for him to be doing business or the way we are. Was that his job to do that sort of thing? Or, how did you interpret that situation?

HAMILTON: Well, first of all, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never had
that conversation.

DASINGE1t Mr. Erwin never discussed that with you though?
HAMILTON: No, but Mr. Erwin was charged with that responsibility. And, in fact, there was a period of time when I even took the budget step was charged to Mr. Dornal and his department and maintained even after Mr. Domal left and Mr. Davis took that position. They gave Doug total control and responsibility of that entire budget after they increased it about three-fold, plus channeled millions of dollars of two mu money as the board stopped using it for other necessary District purposes as our budgets improved and it was my expectation that that would have been• described, which it never was. That would make no sense to me that Mr. McClelland, Mr. Erwin’s employee. Mr. Erwin gets paid a substantial sum of money, the better part of a hundred thousand dollars a year and was given substantial authority, responsibility and latitude with managing multiple millions of dollars a year in budget, and that’s his responsibility, not Mr. Mcclelland’s since there’s a deficiency in the bid process of expenditure of those funds and that..if I had known, I would be holding Mr. Erwin accountable for that because that’s his job. That’s why I gave him that responsibility.

DASINGER: Mr. Erwin’s position there, just so you’ll know, is that he somehow felt that he was impeded from making changes in that area because of th perceived protection that Mr. McClelland enjoyed. Now, we haven’t found anybody who has said that Mr. McClelland was protected many way, but that’s Mr. Erwin’s perception of the thing.

HAMILTON: No...I think I’ve spoke with Jim McClelland, maybe once or twice in my life, I don’t know, ‘cause I really don’t have a need to in this job or in the other one I had. That’s what I had Mr. Erwin for. I think once or twice, as a principal, he was in my area, in my school doing stuff and I said, “Hi, Jim.” I don’t know who he is or where he lives, who he knows or what he does except that he knows more about growing plants than I do. So, if my issue is growing plants, I’d ask him. As a principal, and since I don’t grow plants anymore, I don’t ask him anything. But I expect Mr. Erwin to...Mr. Erwin spent a lot of time re-organizing that department, changing the way the tractor operators and mowers were organized, everything that he requested, everything that he requested, in terms of how to change who responded to who and who was evaluated by whom and where they were housed and what they were doing. He was given, as far as I ...intended, and articulated to him fhll authority to do that and, I think the record will show that he made substantial changes in the way that deal operated and often times, explained how much progress he’d made in terms of making the mowing operation more cost effective and how much better condition the athletic fields were. But, although I do notice that annually, in five-year plans, some of those same schools, I have got their athletic fields redone Which I raise questions with Mr. Davis about this last couple of weeks. But, never.. .never did I, nor would I protect anybody from anybody. And, interestingly enough, I’ve been an administrator in this District since 1974, which is a fair number of year. I have been promoted from teacher to Deputy Superintendent. I have been responsible for instruction, operations, and now three divisions and government relations, I share responsibilities with the superintendent and director for. I have overseen billions of dollars worth of District resources, hired hundreds, if not, well, maybe hundreds of employees as a principal. I have participated in interviews for hundreds of administrators. I have never had a board member, a legislator, a governor, the supethtendent, my area director, or anybody ever tell me to do anything about any of those things, ever, ever.

DASINGER: Well, that’s what...

HAMILTON: And even, in fact, nor do they ever call me, nor does anybody call on my behalf. My entire career, I’ve applied for jobs, interviewed for them and either got them or didn’t got them. In fact, I got all of them, except one. I don’t socialize with anybody in this building or in this District. I don’t know any of them personally. I’d just assume not, and, including Mr. Erwin, who once promised me a dinner when I was assistant super.. .prineipal for him 14 years ago. [haven’t gotten that dinner yet, either. But, that’s okay, I’m still gaining weight, so I didn’t need his dinner either. But, the realities are, nobody’s asked me to do anything like that ever, which is, you know, I thought, pretty normal, honestly. I think once, when I was principal at Plant, Sam Rampello was on the board, and he called me and said, “Jim, you’ve got a head custodian’s job open and I was wondering if you would interview “so and so.” I said, “Well, Mr. Rampello, I don’t have to interview. I’ve already hired him. I don’t know whether that’s what you want or not want. I really ...kind of doesn’t matter...because he’s the best person for the job, and so, that was the end of that conversation. That was the only call I ever got in my entire life and the guy’s still the head custodian at Plant to this day by the way, and a fme guy.

DASINGER: In regard to a gentleman identified as Joe Clark, who is an employee...

HAMILTON: Joe Clark is a civil engineer in the Planning & Construction department.

DASINGER: Did ah.. .Mr. Erwin attributes a statement to you in which he said that you asked Jack Davis to find out what Joe Clark knew prior to transferring him or doing some interaction with his employment status. Do you remember discussing that with Mr. Davis in Mr. Erwin’s presence or anything like that at all?

HAMILTON: Joe Clark is a civil engineer by training and we are in a position as a District given the...our engineers and architects don’t practice engineering, engineering and architecture. Excuse me. They provide technical support for the District, and that entire operation is privatized so that we have people who can oversee and provide technical insight into whether the consultants they hire are doing the job the way we ask. Civil engineering, which is got to do with where the water goes, primarily, is a very complioated and intensely regulated operation and by the time I became assistant superintendent of operations, we were already in a position where Mr. Clark’s responsibilities in that regard were essentially ...we’re not able to use his services because of the complexities of the regulatory process. We really had to deal directly with the architects we hire who then hire the engineers to do that work, and, to do otherwise, created such liability for the District because, you know, you pave a parking lot and flood a house, you own the house. The dog and the dog house with it. We really weren’t in a position to do very much effectively with his services. We were looking for better placement for him. Mr. Erwin has responsibilities in the Sites & Utilities department for things such as maintaining our retention ponds and doing some simple drainage correction tasks, in terms of site improvements. So, the thought was that, maybe Joe Clark would be more cost effectively used by being assigned to Mr. Erwin’s department During the conversations about Mr. Clark, somebody, and I don’t remember who, honestly.. .it really doesn’t matter.. .somebody essentially accused Mr.

—11—Clark of practicing civil engineering in the private sector on our employment ticket. And, I don’t-—-—-— have the expertise to lcnow that by looking at his documents and nor am I particularly skiliThi in terms of reviewing computer files. Mr. Davis is very skillflil in that area, and I asked Jack before, we did anything...I didn’t want to transfer an employee of Mr. Erwin’s department to a new assignment with the innuendo and perception that he was mis-using company time by practicing private-sector work in our ticket, and I didn’t tlñnlc that it was appropriate to send the employee to someone who could become problematic. If that could be the case, we would have retained him as resisting assignment and dealt with that with his present supervisor, who was then Tom Blackwell. So, I asked Jack to go into his computer files and review them and see if there was anything in those files that would indicate he was conducting work on our time, which Jack did. Went into the hard drive, I assume, whatever that is, and soft drive history records and Internet files and so forth, and found absolutely nothing. You know, at that point, we said, the guys not doing anything inappropriate, so he won’t be a supervision problem for Mr. Erwin and he might provide some help in that area, so we transferred him to that department. It wasn’t long before Mr. Erwin said he was a surly and uncooperative employee and wasn’t very good at what he did. Apparently, he had him do some engineering work for some corrections. I don’t know... it was Carrollwood or one of our schools, and it didn’t work out very well or something. Anyway, basically, he said he didn’t want him. So, we transferred him back to New Construction and we’ve now, basically, terminated that position ‘cause we can’t get good value for it and I believe there’s been an agreement reached with Mr. Clark that he’s going to retire or something in a relatively reasonable period of time and, in the meantime, we’ll do our very best to get the most value for our tax payers that we can. Until he’s finished with his career with us..
DASINGER: There’s also a statement attributed to you by Mr. Erwin that the District may have to hire some reporter because they allegedly were getting too close to a story involving Transportation. Do you remember any conversation like that?
HAI.{flJf ON: Mr. Erwin, apparently, needs some serious hearing therapy. I don’t know whether I ever talked to him about that reporter in his presence or not, but the person that he should be referring to is Linda Shankerry. Linda Shankerry was a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times and, in my opinion, was one of the finest reporters I’ve ever seen in the business. She was thorough, meticulous, intelligent, totally motivated to education and did a fabulous job as a reporter. So fabulous that the Times fired her because she wasn’t aggressive enough in finding fault with the school district. She did some great research work in terms of FCAT and how those scores work, what you could do with associating socioeconomic status and test performance and did it state-wide. I mean, incredible work. And I said then, and I still say today, if we had the money to hire a writer in our communications department and we wanted someone with great journalistic experience, we ought to hire her. I would have her work for me in a heart beat. And, I would do that, knowing that because she has intense integrity, that in the process of doing something, she found in that assignment that something wasn’t right, by golly, I would know, and I would know chapter and verse which I believe to be a strength.

DASINGER: So, it wasn’t in the context that she took, knew some form of dirt on the District or anything. You were just discussing her reporter’s skills, and that sort of thing.

HAMILTON: Right She was involved in the Transportation reporting, that problem that occurred a couple of years ago and reported everything she could find. That’s what her job is. You know, I have some...we have a lot of different reporters out there and we have varying levels of skill. And, you work a lot with them in these positions, more now than ever. Now, sometimes it aggravates us that they write stuff that we don’t like. Most of them are very skillful and very high quality people and I thought then and I still do that Linda’s incredibly talented and if we had a place for her on the District, we would be well-served to have her. She’s presently working for a local, like a Brandon news kind of place or something like that

DASINGER: I guess, to some up in your current position, Dr. Hamilton, what is your feeling in regard to our processes or land acquisition, new building construction, the way we do business with finns? These are concerns and honestly, Doug had brought up, inferring that sometimes we’re getting an inferior product for our money, and, in your roll that you currently have and had before this one, do you feel like our processes are where they ought to be in that regard?

HAMILTON: Well, I know a couple of things about that, one of which is that Mr. Erwin’s skills in terms of assessing the quality of construction are equal to or less than mine, which is why we hire engineers and architects to be responsible for design. We have inspectors who have licenses who are responsible for inspection. We have a safety department in a different division that quite frankly can be a pain in the neck in terms of their diligence, but that’s why they’re in another division and that’s why we have ‘em. And it would difficult for me to imagine all of those people being incompetent at the same time. With regard to land acquisition, no I don’t like where our land acquisition process is and that’s simply because we are intensely regulated and we are in a market place that is incredibly difficult and extensive to work with. We have varying need for site acquisition and land banking. We have.., unfortunately, are in a position where, number one, everybody wants a school and nobody wants it by them. So every place we go, we’re like a pariah. Secondly, the people who own the land, then this golden rule, them that has the gold, rules...are in a position to really, pretty much call the shots. It’s a seller’s market as you well know. So we wind up having difficulty finding sites. We have difficulty finding quality land because if you drive around Hilisborough County, you’ll find that there are probably 400,000 people from some other part of the county that live in very picturesque swamps. You know, they call them water front when they’re retention ponds. They call them conservation areas, when they’re cypress bay heads and swamps. All of New Tampa is nothing but fill dirt and drive down there, see where it drops off four feet. Well, that isn’t anything different for us than it is for Ryland Homes or anybody else. That’s the land that’s out there and that’s the land we have to buy. And, frankly, the land that isn’t like that is generally not located within an area where we are able to build the schools we want because of land-use regulations that exist from the Planning Commission that develops comprehensive plans and so forth. In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to buy that land cheaper, buy it farther in advance, buy it higher, dryer and quicker, but that isn’t a perfect world. We are still looking for a better way to do that, to organize a comprehensive land acquisition and planning department without creating a bureaucracy. There are 134 people in the planning department in the county government and we certainly don’t want 134 more employces...they got 42 lawyers over there. ..that’s way more lawyers than I like in one building. And, so that’s not a solution either. My point simply is that

other government models aren’t wonderful to look at There’s some private sector models that are very interesting. I’ve looked at those in terms of comprehensive land development firms. There’s plenty of them out there. Kuhn Development, lots of others that really go out, acquire big blocks of undeveloped land and immediately it pre-permitted and pre-developed and then sell it off and they have an integrated real estate acquisition, real estate law planning operation with the, you know, general contracting services necessary to do the work. In a perfect world, I either own that or I hire that kind of firm, but as a practical matter, the regulatory processes and our cah flows don’t really necessarily to permit us to do that. But, in terms of the honesty of the process, it’s a basic open-market driven approach and there’s enough people out there who hear “don’t want us around” or “I want to make money off of us,” that if we weren’t doing it right, we’d surely hear about it and we don’t. We have a lot of people who would like to do it for us. One of them is the planning cothmission who has spent a lot of time going around the community saying we’re terrible and don’t know what we’re doing. That’s the same county commission that told us that from 19... or 2000-2006, we’d have a total growth of 11,000, which we got the first few years of the cycle, so, question their credentials in that regard. Either that, or we don’t have to worry about building any more schools for the next four years, one or the other. The ...but in terms know, if the issues arc integrity and honesty, I don’t see any problem with that. If the issues are, “Is this the way we really like to do business,” you know, I’d sure like to get it cheaper, dryer, quicker, but the realities of the market place, the regulatory and environmental protection that are out there, all for good reasons are such that it’s ain’t going be easier, it’s only going to be harder. In terms of construction, architectural selection and so forth, we do our very best to hire the finns that perform the best. We don’t do hard bids for that very reason because historically, we have not been happy with the results, class of case in point, Wharton High School was done on a hard bid basis with Balcort-Beaty Company, which was a major international builder of bridges and highways, but they don’t do school construction in Florida anymore. They weren’t very good at it. They gave us a product that was more expensive than it should have been and less appropriately delivered. They replicated that school at Riverview High School fast track in 18 months. We had to change the actual structural design of the school to go with metal building with concrete in-fill instead of load bearing masonry walls and bar joist construction. That took about a year off the construction process, but added some costs, but the goal was to get Bloomingdale High School off of double sessions and so, that’s what we did. That was done with construction management at risk. It was a flawlessly developed building and was done in a very quick period of time. Over the course of the last several years, there’s several firms we no longer do business with. Some of them don’t like it very much. There are others that get a lot of business or a lot of firms get a lot of business. We got a lot of work and one firm couldn’t handle it all if we wanted to do that. These are companies with better.. .have national and even international presence, Beers, Batson-Cook, Beck, and there are strong local firms, Kalermeris, J.O., 54 years. These are companies, by the way, if you go ask the people who run them, they will tell you Biltmore Construction and others, for years, they wouldn’t be involved inour construction program because it was a pain in the neck to deal with, bureaucratically overbearing. The hard-bid method of delivery wasn’t very satisfactory to them and we were just a pain in the neck to do business with. If someone is too busy... a pain in the neck to do business with and they can make money out of it, that’s a heck of a commentary. Those same people love us and love to do business with us now, and will tell

you, I think, pretty straightforwardly, that given the fact that we have government money and government restrictions to deal with, that we are pretty close to a private sector model in terms of how we do business. There are companies that used to do a lot of work for us. We were unhappy with how they did business and they don’t get any more work, some of them are out of business now, and that’s fme. That’s what the market place does. There are other companies who have withdrawn from the marketplace and others that we’ve told, and I’ve told ‘em that table and the one in Mr. Davis’ office, told ‘em straight up will do it today, tomorrow and at the end of the day. These are things that you have to do for us. I want the building on time. I want it under budget. I want it on time or earlier. You’re going to have an aggressive minority business enterprise program that’s going to put all the people in this community to work ‘cause all the people pay taxes that support this program and construction industry has a history of racism in the way it does business. It will not be tolerated in this district, and if you don’t want to do business under those circumstances, don’t come tothis table. And, understand that you are asking to feed at the same government trough that you accuse people who work for the government of feeding at, and by God, if you’re interested in government money, go somewhere else. But, doing work for me and work twice, this is what you got to do. I’ve had people come and ask why you not get business. And I tell them why they don’t get business. There was a company, ________________Construction, that begged, borrowed, banged on our door loudly...tell ‘em, “Look, I’ve been to your job sites. I don’t like your work. I don’t like your financial statements. They’re three years old and they’re in Swedish currency and I don’t know what that means. I don’t know whether you’re going to go broke. If you ever get a submission in American dollar that’s current, I might at least look at ya.” And, that’s how we do business. The next hurdle for us, make sure we don’t get snookered in, is the change in the Florida building code, which will add significant additional requirements to construction of our projects and we’re working now, putting together an industry team because essential what I want that industry team to do, for free, is to do a study of Florida building codes for me and tell me division by division whether each construction project, what is.. .what the specific regulatory requirements will be in the new Florida building code and what the exact dollar cost of that will be in terms of additional expense and why it cost that much. And, I’ll tell you why that is. There are 16 divisions, you know, got to do with curbs and sidewalks and parking lots and trees. Got to do with air conditioning systems and toilets. Most of the Florida building code has to do with walls, windows and roofs. When we start talking to them about what the buildings cost, they point out to us that the basic building envelope is about 20% of the cost of the building, 35-40% of it is in the AC and the other key components of the building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, 45% of the cost of building the building. There ain’t a whole lot involved before the building I don’t think that’s going to impact that. The standards for indoor air quality and so forth are already established. So, I don’t want them...I’ll tell you a quick story. Twenty years ago, sugar went from thirty five cents a.. .or forty cents or something like that for a five pound bag, or five dollars for a five pound bag and there was some kind of sugar embargo. Cold drinks were ten cents, they went to seventy-five cents, and they said it was because of the sugar. Now, it doesn’t make any sense to me because there’s only this much sugar and the rest had to do with cans and labor and water and syrup and stuff like that, and the price of sugar came down, and the price of Coca Cola never did come down. I’m not about to let them do that with the building code. If I have to build a four-hour, fire protected roof, that’s going to cost me some dollars per square


foot, but it isn’t going to justi’ 25% increase in the price of the building and I...they will, as an industry, they can make those prices more conducive to how they do business, and they will. And, my job is to see that they don’t and my responsibility to the tax payers and students in this District is having hard data up front. And we’li sit down with them and in essence, require them to come forward in essence in competing roofs to tell us what they think this is going to cost and then we’ll take that out, we’ll have that compared with other people’s data and see what comes of that. You know, we hear it all the time about how we do poor job...we have a guy come in the board meeting...tells us that we could build exactly the same kind of building that we do today for the same money and have them be 75% more energy efficient if we use 25% ingenuity. You know, and I just do a few simple things. ..I went to look at Walmart and I went to look at Home Depot. Went to look at what they’re building...private schools and churches, places where there are private dollars that either scarce to come by because they are faith-based or other kinds of contributory organizations. I went to look at your church, Dr. Binnie. Did you know that?

Dr. BINNIE: I didn’t know that.


Dr. BINNIE: Good choice.

HAMILTON: Well, know, but one of the things I noticed in your church is when Itap on the post, they’re hollow because it’s made of ephesis, which is a structure we can’t use. So, you can build that church cheaper than I can because in a school building, you can’t use just ephesis which is an externally facing insulation systems that sort of a foam kind of thing with a stucco fascia that allows you to a. a water-tight building much less expensive because there’s no structural requirement threatening to hold things up, but kids could poke the pencils through it. It would be the same thing at Riverhills Church of God ___________________. So, it’s not like I didn’t look at the industry pretty thoroughly. I think probably ore throughly than Mr. Erwin did in terms of what we build and how we do it, and I’m pretty convinced that we could take a bath if we’re not real careful and we’re not going to let that happen. We’ll go out and do that and we’ll compare notes. Because churches will find that they can have certain blow-down issues and wind-born debris problems and other kinds of things. So, I want to know, you know, how they’re going to do that. We have companies, for example, Robins Belc_________ is a company who designed Wharton and Riverview High School and Randall Middle School. They also designed along with Aiphonso Architects, who did Plant’s renovation, the intermediate building, which is 125,000,000 dollar state-of-the-art high tech project. That construction built it. It says they have built Middleton, Blake, Ajonso...they’ll build a Fish Hawk area high school in Riverview. Those are multi-billion dollar corporations, doing business with the same people we do and selecting there without having to be subjected to govermnent purchasing rules for the same reasons we select them because they had a high quality product, at or under budget as USAA did with their USAA building, Beck build that. Beck build Progressive. Batson-Cook built half of the new technology park out there in Sabal Park. Hardin built 345 Bayshore. They built the Marriot Waterside. They built one million square feet for Citicorp in twelve months while 144 inches of rain fell on that..J went and looked at every one of those buildings, inside


-and out, during the construction process, studied theft schedules, and frankly, some of the people were not happy with it. Hardin hadn’t produced it the same way for us that we saw them do in the private sector and we haven’t hired them since and won’t until they produce on the job they have in a way it makes us believe that’s a good way to do business. That’s how we do business. I’m not sure how much of that detail Mr. Erwin knows or how much time he spent doing that kind of research, but I’m quite confident about what I’ve done and I would take that to the O.K. Corral any noon with anybody.

DASINGER: So, you feel good that we’re in a good place as far as those issues go?

HAMILTON: And we’ll only stay there if we’re as equally demanding and business-like in our orientation as we are to get there. There is a reason why we went from 550,000,000 dollars worth of unmet building needs three years ago to 60,000,000 dollars surplus today and that’s to do with who we hire, how we build, where we build, where we don’t build and what we do build.

DASINGER: Yes, Ijust saw ya’ll on the news about this last school you brought in under budget, so that was a good thing. Basically, Dr. Hamilton, that’s all I have that Tom asked me to ask you about. It there’s anything you want to add on the record, you can certainly do so, but those are all the questions that I have. Dr. Binnie, you have...

Dr. BINNIE: Nothing other than... anything you want to add?

HAMILTON: It would be in the best interest of the school district for a very speedy and objective conclusion to this investigation. It is also a responsibility

End of Side B/Tape 1

Start of Tape 2/Side A

DASINGER: I’m sorry, we’re back on tape, Dr. Hamilton. We can go ahead and conclude here.

HAMILTON: Okay. It is important for the District and for all concerned for an objective and reasonable conclusion to this investigation. It is also important in that we, in addition to addressing Mr. Erwin’s concerns, also provide for an employee development program for Mr. Erwin that does hold him accountable for his performance. It is not satisfactory in terms of performance to fill the world with innuendo unless there are hard facts and specific data to support it, and that has not been shown to me, at least, in all of my attempts to deal his concerns. It does concern me that he came to me on more than one occasion, one time very specific and said that he could be quiet about all of this if it were such that we could just kind of like buy out his contract. I explained to him that in my world, that sounded a lot like extortion and I wouldn’t entertain that and whatever he had in the way of concerns, we needed to address and then he needed to do his job or he needed to terminate his employment with the District, if that’s what he chose to do. Not too long ago, he talked again about, well, if we just leave him alone for 22 months, he’ll be quiet for 22 months. His responsibility is to do his job until we no longer


-choose to employ him or he no longer chooses to be employed by us. The draft was taken off the books some years ago and he is not here as in slavery. Involuntary servitude are against the constitution too. He comes to work every day because he chooses to just like you and me and everybody else who works for the school system. If he’s going to choose to do that, he needs to pay attention to his job and his responsibilities. The only thing that I’ve seen evidence of yet is that employees that work less than fifty yards from his office stole thousands of dollars of District money under his supervision and none of the checks and balances for the many dollars that hi is responsible for were ever followed through to uncover that. And, it only happened because their auditors found it. To me, that’s very problematic in terms of his job performance and time would be well spent if you were to address that. It’s also come to my attention in the last few years that he’s had three new vehicles. I don’t understand that and that needs to be address. And finally, it’s come to my attention he’s spent an inordinate amount of time talking about my personal life and that is an unacceptable rumor mongering about people’s personal lives even people who are in subordinate positions to his. It’s an unacceptable activity for a person who is the third ranking highest official in the school district and that’s something he’ll need to be held accountable for before this is all said and done as well.

DASII’JGER: Okay, we’ll conclude the interview.

End of Tape #2



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Revival Testimony Festival

Yearly Dinner on the Grounds at Family Cemetery at Burnt Fort, Georgia (Burnt by the wicked Yankees, of course. Our Civil War dead rest in the back of the cemetery. One boy is only 17 when he died.)

After Mr. Black comes Dr. Hamilton in the parade of the denigrators of Mr. Erwin. They aim to be adroit in their trashing but are as clumsy as elephants in a ballet of denigration.

Hamilton's ego is as big and a barn; it does not match his talents, which are flaccid. We have already dealt with his not being able to write the English language. He liked to pose a rough 'n tough boss and puffed his chest with claims that as a boss he is "a bastard." If that doesn't sound like an insecure specimen, I don't know what does. The taxpayers of the state paid top salaries to this old windbag suffering from marginal literacy for 30 years. What a waste of public funds.

I first became aware of Dr. Hamilton when I was writing for La Gaceta. Before the Jennifer Faliero sex scandal there had been a gossip flare-up that accompanied Ms. Connie Mileto's getting the $120,000 Tallahassee lobbyist job despite her meagre credential of kindergarten teacher. Rampant gossip said Dr. Hamilton intervened his behalf; that his principal wife was broken hearted and divorced him; and that this pas de trois gave entertainment in the halls and mop closets of ROSSAC and even got out to the provincial schools on the grapevine.

I figured I should write about this brouhaha in local education. So I asked the school public-affairs office for what I thought was the divorced Ms. Hamilton's address, but, lo, despite Mr. Hamilton's close friendship with Ms. Mileto, he had gone and got married again to yet another woman. This will have been Number Three. And his current Number Three was the address I got from the public-affairs office.

So ignorant of Dr. Hamilton's new espousal and thinking I was writing to the previous divorced wife, I wrote instead to the current Mrs. Hamilton this request for an interview:

April 11, 2006

Ms. Jean Hamilton

10396 Carrollwood Lane, #27

Tampa 33618

Ms. Hamilton:

I write a weekly column for La Gaceta. I enclose a couple that touch on the irregular hiring of Connie Mileto.

I believe it violated Title VII, so I continue to explore the issue. I have asked most recently that Ms. Elia and the School Board reopen Ms. Mileto’s and Ms. Linda Kipley’s jobs that were awarded to them by powerful senior male administrators for unknown reasons. I hear that the gossip about Ms. Mileto and your previous husband was rampant in the halls of ROSSAC at the time Ms. Mileto got her job.

I have heard as well that you were a nice woman, a good principal, and a conscientious performer in your profession. I also heard that you were heartbroken about the Mileto-Hamilton issue and retired at about that time and went to Pensacola. Hearsay is always apocryphal, but I believe that you should know what people have told me.

I was a teacher for 28 years, actually a professor of English at HCC, and was for a time president of the faculty union there. I know how administrations work and how the conduct of the administration too often goes athwart the wellbeing of students and teachers, indeed, the whole school operation.

While at HCC, I raised a ruckus each time I discovered another administration piece of skullduggery. I wrote about it and exposed the chicanery. There is nothing that cures unlovely conduct as shining a light on it. So many people know what’s right but fear to fight for it. These include college professors who can recite the Constitution but are too timid to defend it.

Today, I do the same thing I did at HCC for twenty-eight years for the county school system, in which I became interested when Dr. Lennard’s web page showed he couldn’t punctuate and got a quarter of a million tax dollars a year including perquisites despite his heading a school system that required children to learn the basic literacy skills he lacked.

I would be interested in any insight you could provide about Ms. Mileto’s rocketing to a $120,000 job from being a kindergarten teacher. There is nothing wrong, of course, with being a kindergarten teacher; but there is something amiss about that person’s being plucked from such background because of favoritism by the second in command in the administration hierarchy and put into one of the top jobs for no professional reason and without giving other people a chance to apply.

The last time I visited the public-information office to review files, it was shortly after I had written a column criticizing the Mileto hiring and referring to her as “The Munchkin” because she is so small. Both she and Ms. Elia made a point of coming to say a faux hearty hello to me in the public-information office. This was the first time I had occasion to see Ms. Mileto up close. I noted that the young woman is not only small but has a head too large for her body. I suppose one could say the Ms. Mileto is cute if one likes tiny specimens with mismatched body parts, but one must concede that she is far from having the allure of the standard femme fatale. I wouldn’t object to that mismatch affliction if Ms. Mileto’s ethics were better.

I would appreciate a meeting with you to discuss this irregular hiring situation. I continue to pursue it.

You can call me at 727-398-4142 (I live on the beach in retirement) or email me. I will understand if you don’t because I am sure the topic is not a pleasant one for you. But if you can give me any insights into the hiring, it would help me right a wrong if possible. I was able forty years ago to force the Tampa Police Department and Sheriff’s Department to hire women for the first time by calling in the persuasive forces of the federal government: The EEOC and the Justice Department. That task took persistence, but it was far from impossible. I hope for the same success eventually in the present one.

I hear that there is pressure on your previous husband to retire, a pressure I also hear that he resists. I see that Dr. Otero’s name occupies a space after Dr. Hamilton’s in parentheses in the online list of top administrators. I have, of course, inquired about this peculiarity, asking for both men’s job descriptions and to determine whether the taxpayers are funding two administrators for one job.

When men get old and lose their powers both professional and physical, that is the time that marriage and a family look a great deal more alluring than it might have in their rambunctious heyday. I wasn’t born yesterday. I speak this truth from the perspective of a 50-year marriage with four children and ten grandchildren. I hear that Dr. Hamilton and Ms. Mileto are no longer as companionable as they once may have been. This sequel does not surprise. It is the customary one.

I hope to hear from you.

Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

So the current wife handed over to her spouseirino Hamilton this communication from a journalist, and I guess he didn't like it, especially the part about aging males coming home to be taken care of . I am sorry to be frank, but I must speak as I find.

I wondered why I hadn't heard from who I thought was the divorced Mrs. Hamilton who had been a principal before she divorced her socially active husband, and everybody had good things to say about her.

Anyway the next time Hamilton saw me he looked daggers through me and clumped by like a wounded and irate buffalo.
Somebody then told me about his current wife, and I asked the public-affairs people if the address they gave me was the divorced Ms. Hamilton; they said no: it was the current Ms. Hamilton. The light bulb lit up.

I laughed my head off.

Be patient. I am scanning in Hamilton's testimony as soon as I can get to it.

Oh, lord. I see on the second page of Hamilton's testimony that he says this: "At one point, Dr. Lennard asked that I talk to he [sic] and Doug...." This is the guy who went up to Tallahassee to lobby for the schools with the legislature. He had represented himself as Cato the Elder so long that the early-childhood degreed administration believed him and took to saying "between you and I" to be as grammatically advanced as was Hamilton. Not all those guys in the Florida house are illiterate. Some spot such whoppers and make the correct dismissive inference." ldd

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008

Dear Governor Crist:

Enclosed is an excerpt from my blog on the hiring conduct of the administration and board of the Hillsborough County Schools.

Superintendent Elia habitually ignores the equal-opportunity laws and hires cronies instead of advertising for candidates and picking the best one. She just hired the husband of administrator Linda Kipley even though he has no college degree and even though there were many fully qualified candidates amongst the other 18 competing for the job that had the bachelor's degree in accounting that the job description calls for.

Dr. Michael Grego has just resigned, and it appears that Ms. Elia already has already replaced his Curriculum-and-Instruction position with a crony without advertising the job and getting the best candidates to form a pool of high talent from which to choose. The taxpayers expect that they will get the best qualified people for their money in these jobs; Ms. Elia ignores this expectation to turn the school system's high-paying administrative jobs into slots for buddies of hers or other high-level administrators.

The Hillsborough school board is an uninterested, feckless group of dilettantes who collude with Ms. Elia in this disgraceful situation that deprives taxpayers of the best people for their money in these jobs. Ms. Elia with this supine board's cooperation has turned the Hillsborough County School Board hiring practices into a crony job racket.

Floridians care deeply about education as does the whole country; every poll shows this to be the case. Both national parties say they will respond to this sentiment. Mr. Obama and Mr. Mc Cain will soon compete for this state's vote in the presidential election. You should be able to assure your national candidate that a Republican governor is concerned enough about the schools' dedication to education, not cronyism, that you make sure this corruption of the hiring process in a schools' administration such as that of Hillsborough County's does not contaminate Florida's schools. Hillsborough County is a primie facia case of such distortion of the hiring process that now deprives the schools of the most qualified people.

Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

c: Paul Tash, SPTimes

Letitia Stein, SP Times

Rosemary Goudreau, Tampa Tribune

Marilyn Brown, Tampa Tribune

Patrick Manteiga, La Gaceta

Howard Troxler, SPTimes