Saturday, August 09, 2008

campaign contributions should be above reproach

From: lee de cesare []

Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:29 AM


Cc: 'Linda Cobbe'

Subject: information

In ’06, I believe it was, Dr. Hamilton delivered an essay to the board that made recommendations about the comportment of new board members, including the way they should dress.

I understand some board members expressed dissatisfaction with some of his recommendations and that he slammed out of the conference room in a snit.

I would like to have a copy of that recommendation under the public-information aegis. Ms. Cobbe says she can’t locate the document. Board members must have it as well as the attorney because I exchanged comments about it with him. Would you please give Ms. Cobbe the document so that she can make a copy for me?

Thank you.

lee drury de cesare

Ms. Kurdell:

In reviewing contributors to your campaign, I see contractors, roofers, architects, etc. You were on the board when Mr. Erwin was trying to get the administration and board to do something about the leaking, waterlogged new schools with ACs that pooped out after five years when they should have lasted twenty. You and others on the board were authorizing taxpayers to pay first-rate prices for third-rate schools to the businesses that built those shoddy schools.

So it looks ill now for you to be receiving contributions from people who may have had busniness in the past or may have business in the future with the board. If I were a board member and wanted to be above suspicion that I granted favors to commercial people who contributed to my campaign, I would return their contributions with a polite thanks and an explanation that I did not want to appear to have a conflict of interest.

Lee Drury De Cesare

Ms. Bricklemeyer:

I read the Erwin report and your part in his treatment appalled me. He went to you in desperation and asked for your help because he believed you were ethical.

You took him to Tom Gonzalez, who promised that if he were forthcoming that the Whistleblower Act would protect him, and Mr. Gonzalez seemed to promise he would protect him too.

Then when Mr. Erwin delivered his statement and trusted himself to yours and Mr. Gonzalez's protection, you both deserted him and left him to the foul treatment of Dr. Lennard, Dr. Hamilton, and Mr. Davis.

The ugly truth is that everybody in ROSSAC ganged up on him because they knew keeping their job depended on it.

What a shameful episode in the history of the school board, and what a shameful part you played in it.

Your failure to deal with theft from the schools, bid rigging, and new schools that leaked and suffered major water intrustion repeatedly reported by Mr. Erwin is not a proud record of your time on the school board. You betrayed the voters, the teachers, the students, and the concept of ethics that should rule a board member by not insisting that someone be fired after the court case vindicated Mr. Erwin. My candidates would be Dr. Lennard, Dr. Hamilton, and Mr. Davis. Not a single person was fired, however; they were simply reassigned at the same bloated salary.

That fact speaks ill of your responsiblity to the community and schools during that despicable time for the schools.

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

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mullet Hairdo, Here I Come

For the guy who wrote me asking how one gets information: I assume you mean from the schools. It's easy. The schools have to give citizens anything written even if it's on a piece of toilet paper. The Sunshine Law says so. You write your request to the public affairs office of the schools. Linda Cobbe is the person to write to. If you don't get the data within a few days, send a follow-up memo until you do get it. lee

Burnt Fort's yearly dinner on the grounds with two of my aunts in their 90's. Our family cemetery and little church are here. The church fell down from age, and the family men rebuilt it from timbers at the edge of the clearing. We have a historic one-room school house on the edge of the clearing. Our Civil War dead lie in the very back of the cemetery. One boy was only 17. The wicked Yankees burnt Burnt Fort, of course.

I want everybody to come to the Teachers' Forum on August 22--especially those who have been calling me names the last week or so. I want to see how much you look like Bela Lugosi. I am getting a mullet hairdo for the event. I don't want to be out of style. lee

Teachers’ Political Forum

Ask everything you want to know at the Teachers’ Political Forum!

We invited School Board members, candidates, and Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia .

Time: Friday, August 15, 2008 at 5pm

Place: The Columbia Restaurant; the King's Room

2117 East 7th Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33605

Price: $12.50

Special Guests:

Tampa Tribune

CTA Officials

ROSSAC Personnel

School Board Members

School Board Candidates

Patrick Manteiga La Gaceta publisher

Teachers: Let your voice be heard, Now is the time to solicit responses from those who set the professional and political climate of Hillsborough County’s Public Schools. Ask about issues concerning the teaching profession including, but not limited to:

  • Three -hundred minutes
  • 6/7 Plan
  • Text-book adoption
  • Springboard curriculum
  • Final exams’ grading scales
  • AP -and-honors placement
  • AP bonuses
reservation by August 20th

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What in the World Is a "Mullet" Hair-do?

From: Anonymous []

Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 9:12 PM


Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Scales Falling from Eyes.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Scales Falling from Eyes":

There is no hope for the current school board. There must be an automatic brainwashing session when someone gets on the board.

I agree with the person who commented that Elia wears her hair in a mullet style. With all her money she should get a better hairdresser, but I guess you can take the lady out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the lady.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 6:11 PM

One wishes for a superintendent with more chic, but I would settle for brains and savvy and having read the basic documents of Western civilization. Ms. Elia displays none of these. She got the job unfairly because the board didn't want its incumbency threatened, so it chose Elia, the insider. Board members figured she would not threaten their incumbency. A Columbia PHD with or without a mullet hairdo would have slapped the board dopes around big time. They knew that and chose a known quantity, although I don't think they knew how imperative Elia would be. But the board suck-ups quickly adapted to this mode. They bow and scrape to Elia to a faretheewell. What a forlorn crew the board is. lee

Scales Falling from Eyes

Another era, another battle forty years ago for the Equal Rights Amendment. Gloria lives in NY a glamorous sinecure; I get cuffed around down here in the intellectual and cultural badlands for wanting the teachers and students to get a place in the board agenda so they can give their input into the policies that the board and administration now impose on them from above as if they did not exist and did not matter.

Bart, the guy I helped when Elia and Kipley cooked up a case against him, and Anonymous have left comments on the evaluation of Elia by the board in which Griffin and Valdes have made a big turn around in the evaluation of Elia and have almost gone the distance in falling in line with the board's automatic obeisance to her excellence.

I am not surprised. The two's behavior from the start of their board career has presented an inevitable repudiation to their pre-election position of skepticism. Whatever original convictions the two may have had about improving the schools for teachers and students and keeping their promises to the community have disappeared in the jet fumes of Board Travelgate festivities. They have switched loyalties for airline tickets to Las Vegas and Alaska and other jumping destinations.

What gets me is that the superintendent evaluation does not even mention how Elia treats the teachers, the students, and the schools. It's as if the students and teachers were peripheral to the ROSSAC grandeur--bit players on the education stage.

The evaluation does not cite the grade inflation Elia imposed on the teachers and students; it does not cite the purchase of the Spring without the people's input who must implement it: teachers. The board like the administration considers teachers and students incidental to their ROSSAC kingdom, puffed-up soi-dissant importance, and self-bestowed infallibility. The students and teachers comprise the tax head count that provides the board and administration the tax money to strut on the town's stage as Very Important People, hire buddies to bloated-salary jobs by giving the lie to "We are an equal-employment-opportunity employer," and gadding around town to soirees to pretend to be beneficiaries of education, not its cormorants that feed off it for self-aggrandizement, not for promotion of education.

I write off Susan and April as round heels and regulation board members in thrall to the administration's desires.

Let's turn our eyes to Steve Gorham. Let's see if he if elected is tough enough and ethical enough to keep his promise and provide a ballast on the board for all the collaborators he will have to oppose, those whom Griffin and Valdes have now joined. Let's pray he is Galahad. lee

Did you read the article about Elia's new evaluation? That
disappointed me. They gave her good marks. That article made me think you are probably right. You know I defended April and Susan to you,but after reading that article, I am disappointed. I feel like when you get to the administrative level people act like anything less than "excellent" is giving the person an "F"....

The culture in the downtown administration and the board is that everyone there should be treated with kid gloves and pack them in feather down or bubble wrap and to walk on egg shells, but mistreat the teachers all you want.

It is such a strange culture.

Even CTA told me that "investigate" was too harsh for Kipley, but it apparently wasn't too harsh for me.

I guess when you move up to the administrative level you suddenly have no skin whatsoever, so everyone has to walk on eggshells, but teachers are supposed to have double thick skin.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Had I Been There":

I sort of agreed with everyone about Valdes being the better choice in the Valdes/Schmidt race, but after reading the article in the Trib about the latest Elia evaluation makes me think Lee is right about Valdes and Griffin. They have totally caved in.

It is sad. So we have a 7 member rubber stamp board now apparently, so after that article I am sort of in agreement with Lee, except that Schmidt is not a choice either. It is hopeless. People get on the board wanting to make a difference and somehow through peer pressure they are forced to go along with the majority. There is no hope.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 8:06 AM

You Know You Have Hit a Nerve When You Get Fan Mail Like This

Captain Obvious has left a new comment on your post "Had I Been There":

Lee, just because you can't see what benefit any of Susan's travels have accrued doesn't mean they aren't there. Logic 101 - absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. As a woman who uses her education as a cudgel against the administration, you should hold yourself to a higher standard. As it stands now, your tirades are approaching that state best described by H. L. Mencken:

"He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."

Only your writing is somehow worse - it retains the leftovers of its former clarity and grace, and it saddens the reader with memories of what must have been.. before.

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Posted by Captain Obvious to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 9:50 PM

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Had I Been There

To:;;;; Susan Valdes;;

Subject: monkey biz

I decided not to go to the board meeting today because as the British say I was feeling a little fragile.

Had I gone, I would have addressed the peripatetic board members who travel on tax money after they promised on the stump to "save every penny of tax money" with their fingers crossed behind them.

What does spending all that tax money reveal about the character of our board members? It means they are selfish, narcissistic, duplicitous, greedy, and shallow. That they go to such venues as Las Vegas and Alaska on tax money means they have contempt for their duty as board members to act in an honorable manner. It means the county needs an entirely new board. This one has struck out.

Handling their own travel money without any administration participation shows us what their priorities are. Those are me, me, me. If they can't handle their own travel money and not act like greedy children and gouge the taxpayers, then they certainly can't handle the schools' business. No wonder they yawn when Ms. Elia stacks the consent agenda with buddy hires. They are not interested in school business. They are wondering if they can manage a trip to the Riviera paid by the taxpayer chumps.

The state might as well turn the school boards over to somebody else for all the good the board members do the schools. There might as well not be a school board. The governor can appoint a local thug to rip off the taxpayers as superintendent as well as the board can. We all recall that this board lowered the credentials for Ms. Elia and charged the taxpayers $35,000 to cover up their scam with a show “national search for the very best candidate.” Ms. Elia got the job as the inside candidate least likely to interfere with their incumbency.

Ms. Elia has just replaced the last PH.D. slot after Dr. Gregor left with a master's person. One infers she wants to lower the administrators' credentials to her level. One wonders if Ms. Kipley’s husband’s degree-deficient husband, who took the job away from candidates with the cited credentials, presages Ms. Elia’s recruiting buddies out-of-work high school dropout relatives for administrative slots with salaries of $130,000.

The administration now has Davis with an early childhood degree and not one credit in technology as the head of technology; Connie Mileto with kindergarten credentials as the political officer in Tallahassee thanks to Dr. Hamilton's ardent sponsorship of her for a job that should have a political-science degree; Linda Kipley with a home-ec degree when she should have a psychology or criminal justice degree for Professional Standards; Cathy Valdes with an early childhood degree to manage major building when she should have a business degree. She and Elia managed to destroy a valuable school building by their maladroit handling of its sale. It is now in ruins, thanks to the stupidity of the two. This conduct makes me think that les Valdes and Elia are not sufficiently educated to value the cultural heritage of the area.

That Ms. Susan Valdes went on $50,000 worth of trips to pick up gimcrack awards that the educational bureaucracy downloads on each other by the Dempsey Dumpster is appalling. Ms. Elia must have gotten a dozen Greatest Superintendent in the Galaxy already this year. There doubtless exist slim pickings for awardees in the ranks. The competitors I have spotted look acromegalic.

That Ms. Valdes gobbled up all that travel money to pick up Cracker Jacks prizes does not say much for her intelligence. And it says her ethics let her think this greedy conduct is ok in a district where thousands of children can't participate in class activities because they don't have the money for the materials.

All the board members' travel expenses are too high. The board should get not one penny more than $2,000 each a year. That is sufficient to pay for that gaudy board hoedown that all the boards in the country hold once a year in California. One is sure that the attendees don't learn a thing at these brawls that expands their knowledge of schools, although they doubtless refine their taste for margaritas delivered with 3 a.m. room service. We have never seen any evidence of new ideas on the Potted Plant board in Tampa after these yearly bacchanals.

If the board members were interested in expanding their knowledge of useful data to benefit the schools, they could go out to Oregon and talk to the state secondary-school people about how they set up the federally funded program in which the entire state's students are learning Arabic. Hillsborough County has a pitiful little program in Chinese at one of the middle schools. The Muslim culture is something all our children and grandchildren are going to have to come to terms with. It would help to know the language.

Or a couple could go up to Gainesville and Tallahassee and talk to the admissions people about what impact Ms. Elia's imposition of grade inflation on the county schools is going to have on Hillsborough's students' chances of admission to the University of Florida or Florida State.

Another enlightened project would be to travel to a school that has incorporated the Spring in its curriculum and ascertain its success or failure. One hears this gaudy program has performed poorly where it has been adopted. Ms. Griffin would be a good candidate for this survey. She was the one who sat silent until Ms. Elia had inked the Spring contract for several million dollars, and then after the teachers found out about the perfidy and squawked, she tardily suggested that the administration hold a work shop. Not smart. Not at all smart. La Griffin should have insisted on a teacher workshop on the Spring before Ms. Elia signed the deal, not after. Griffin’s thinking in this matter is slow-witted and characteristic of the board's lack of talent for ratiocination that does not have to do with booking airline tickets to some spa.

In fact, the board always seems surprised at the programs Ms. Elia initiates, and Ms. Elia shows no evidence that she has informed the board or ever intends to inform the board about what she is doing with great piles of tax money without their knowledge. The board does not protest. It has trips to plan.

So far, the board members have been content to wallow in their travel excesses and lark around the country with a hey nonny nonny.

I want to see the folder in the Public Affairs office that holds the receipts for their travels. When I asked for it the first time, only Valdes and Olson had bothered to file. I will ask the Chambers of Commerce of the various ports of call if the board gad-abouts stayed at the poshest, most expensive hotels on the taxpayers’dime.

I shall send a copy of this message to all members of the spa-hopping board. They need to hear a discouraging word on their traveling excesses.

lee drury de cesare

Monday, August 04, 2008

Still No Answer to Why Teachers Won't Fight Board and Administration for a Piece of the Action

From: Anonymous []

Sent: Monday, August 04, 2008 1:01 PM


Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Every Dog Will Have His Day.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Every Dog Will Have His Day":

I agree that Susan has created a mess... and I have personally told her as much (Yes I have direct access to both Valdes and Griffin).

And I can agree that Susan needs to feel some repurcussions for some poor decisions, but gutless she is not.

As for needing an opponent right now, that's a no brainer. By having an opponent it allows her to run a campaign and further build her own name recognition. Any incumbent should WANT an opponent for that very reason.

Lee, both Susan and April are fighting, just not in the tone and tenor you had hoped for.

As for why the teachers do not revolt. One can only guess but it is an intriguing question.

Bueracracy seems to invariably evolve to a state in which the primary focus of the beuracracy becomes the perpetuation of its own existence.

This is where I believe that Susan and April have had an impact. Before April, the administration did not have to work to ensure that everything went according to script. In Candy's words it was all a "well orchestrated play". The administration now does have to work to perpuate it's existence. It's harder for them. It disrupts them. It makes them less organized and more prone to make mistakes. Why do you think the administration fights them so hard? If they were rubber stamping go along to get alongs, the administration would not be fighting so desperately to undermine them. If the were go along to get alongs, Elia's husband would have given $500 to Valdes instead of Schmidt.

In studying power, it is common to see the ruling class (i.e. Administration) create a system that is purposefully constructed to impose phsychological dominance on those who are ruled (i.e. staff, teachers, etc).

Consider this: Why did the Jews in the Nazi concentation camps not revolt in the face of certain extermination? They had a vast superiority of numbers. One could also argue that they likely had a superiority in character, courage and intelligence. Yet they did not revolt. I believe that the answer is that they had been pshycologically beaten down.

Another common tactic is to distract the "riff-raff". If you have a very dysfunctional environment were things that upset the workers are continually surfacing, the staff cannot focus long enough on a single item to craft a coheisve strategy to attack any single issue. If they cannot plan and execute a strategy, you have them where you want them: disorganized.

I think the school administration has leveraged these concepts in their organizational model. All in the name of perpetuating the existence of the system that they ride to luxury and power.

Additionally I don't think this economy makes it any easier. Jobs are hard to find and I assure you HCPS leadership is very aware of this. Threats of retaliation and termination are far more intimidating in a tough economy that in a booming one.

I could be way off base but that's my $0.02.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 10:00 AM

This response does not answer my question: why won't teachers fight the administration and board thugs?

The answer that Susan and April are busy behind the scenes does not answer the need for open government. If they are busy behind the scenes, why don't they bring the dialogue to the podium and demonstrate to citizens what they are doing? We don't see any proof coming from behind the Wizard of Oz curtain. Why do they tell you and not the rest of us about their activities to quell the administration? Knowledge is power. If Susan and April horde it, why do they do that? Is it that they are greedy for the self-importance of knowing stuff the rest of us don't? Are they really doing anything as they say they are? Are they so ignorant of democracy that they don't know that citizens are supposed to know what they are doing? That has been the problem with George Bush. He has hidden everything from the citizens, including energy-policy production and torture. I will never accept that elected officials can do things that they don't report to their constituents. Both these women took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. But when they hide goverment actions from citizens, they are not abiding by this duty of an elected official.

And why doesn't April put something on her blog that has to do with r

Every Dog Will Have His Day

Don't miss the comment section. I take my lumps from the fans. One guy tells me I am old and will die. This is invigorating stuff. lee

Dear Anonymous: You make a good point. I am dug in when I think I am right. And I usually think I am right. Every leader has to have that quality, or he or she is not a leader.

I am angry with Susan. She fooled me; that makes me mad, mad at myself for being a dope. I am a sap when it comes to being too easy to convince that you are a good person. Then I am furious when I find you fooled. me.

What revolts me is that Susan has not only been passive on the podium but that she pissed away all that money when there are children in the county who can’t afford the supply fees so can’t participate in the class projects. She must know about things like that, yet she spent $50,000 to go pick up those gimcrack cracker-jack awards the education bureaucracy manufactures by the truck load to hand out to each other to disguise the fact that its minions are the underperformers of the academic world but have captured its administrative apparatus and are lording it over the smarty pants in college who headed straight for teaching. I think I am mad at her now for her bad values, her plain old lack of brains, and her willingness to fall in line with Elia because she has a forceful personality behind closed doors and can overwhelm these weak board members.

I suspected Schmidt from the start but didn’t recall until his second or third communication that he had run before. But I thought it was good that Susan had an opponent since she needed rousting. When I became aware that he was the guy whose wife also had run against April or Susan in the past, the scales fell from my eyes in medias res. But Susan still needs an opponent to this day. Otherwise she will never do anything on the board. And even an opponent may not prize her from her torpor.

In addition, there’s the breakdown in our chain of humanity when we label a person a fiend for running against someone in a political race even if it’s for negative reasons. When is running in a political race anything but for the reason Darwin locates in The Descent of Man: to win the admiration of other people? He says in The Emotions of Men and Animals that the desire for admiration is the number-one motivater of the human psyche—both in humans and our cousins down the phylogenetic tree. All people who run for public office lust for approval and admiration. Schmidt lusts for the approval of Elia primarily. And he lusts for positioning himself to augment his retirement loot. That's what the double dippers Lamb and Edgecombe have done. This is all part of the Dark Side of the human psyche. And seemingly benign people who run for the school board have it as well as does every single soul on the planet.

I can’t hate Schmidt because he desperately wants a school-board throne. So does Susan, and I am not sure her motive is any more elevated than his. It’s what they do with the position that concerns me. And I don’t think Susan has done diddly. And besides, her open display of cowardice repels me. I hate gutlessness wherever I encounter it. That is what Susan and April have displayed on the board. Whatever other word you find for their behavior does not obviate its being gutlessness. The other board members have long ago surrendered their souls to Elia. But I thought Susan and April would not. Dumb me.

And, yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Hitlers of the world. I claim that right. I was a psychiatric nurse for a while learned to be fond of some of the worst patients on the ward---ones that would cut your face to ribbons if only they could get out of their strait jackets (which we euphemized to “camisoles”). Hitler was good to his dog, Blondie, a big old dumb German shepherd. And his slipping her a cyanide pill before he put the gun to his head was an act of love. Nobody is totally bad or totally good. I myself am about 51-49 percent divided. And my creative ideas emerge from the 49 percent side of my psyche. I don’t know if you have noticed, but crazy is always more interesting than sane.

Now that we have slogged through my psyche, let’s turn to yours. Maybe you can solve for me the mystery of why the teachers of the Hillsborough County school system are so terrified of Elia and her Wizard-of-Oz terror apparatus of the Home-ec Kipley's Professional Standards Cell Block that they cower behind anonymity and are afraid to turn up at the school board meetings or stand in the middle of the street and blast Elia and her minions to hell and back. Why are they afraid to use free speech as their Teflon armor? This is America. I shut Tom Gonzalez up from threatening me with an extortion law suit to close down my comments by filing an ethics charge against him with the Florida Bar. I didn’t win, of course in the ordinary sense, but I forced him to answer the charges, an exercise which ruffled his massive, misplaced self-confidence. I have the case online for general review. I sent it to the county law guys. Le Gonzalez has shut up on his threat of extortion law suits against me, and I feel some satisfaction in having paid him back a little bit for his telling poor Erwin that he had Whistleblower protection and then pushing him out in the clearing to be run crazy by Lennard, Davis, and Hamilton and the complicity of the entire school apparatus, including the board members, and his ending up a babbling bundle of nerves before he finally smartened up and went to an attorney who cleaned the school board and administration’s clock and got him a settlement so that he could flee the hell of the ROSSAC inferno to Georgia.

Write me an essay on why school people won’t come out of their holes and fight Elia et al in the open. If they can quote the Bill of Rights and Milton's Areopagitica, there is no excuse for this reticence to plow into Elia and her palace guard. Besides, teachers outnumber her. You are ninety percent smarter than she. You are probably 99 percent better looking too since she looks like a bag of dirty clothes on the way to the laundermat.

And don’t ever fool yourself that I won’t triumph over Elia. Just give me a little more time. I believe I will live to see a decent superintendent head the school system. And, yes, Susan will still be on the board and still be a coward. lee

From: Anonymous []
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2008 9:00 AM
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Comment Worth Considering from Valdes's Opponent.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Comment Worth Considering from Valdes's Opponent":


I have noted something interesting as of late and want to share it with you.

Your coverage of Schmidt started with enthusiasm and high hope. You clearly percieved him as a change agent.

As people started to weigh in with concerns you stuck by your guns challenging people to bring you the proof of Mr. Schmidts perfidy.

Mr. Schmidt himself delivered this proof in the Valdes/Schmidt debate.

Your disappointment was clear, but you continue to push Mr. Schmidt. Apparently you will not change for the very selfish reason that you want to punish Susan for daring not to do things your way.

Lastly people have started to weigh in with some very valid and well thought out arguments and you defiantly stand by Mr. Schmidt.

Lee, if you cannot accept and admit your mistakes. If you cannot change your mind. If you cannot separate your emotions and personal feelings from your work how are you any better than the Abu-Ghraib administration that you struggle against?

One of the greatest injustices that you have railed against is Elias close minded arrogance. Her inability to consider external perspectives and change.

You are exhibiting these same behavioral traits. I am beginning to wonder if the real issue between you and Elia is that you are too much alike. After all, the most difficult person to live with is yourself.

You admit no mistake, you defiantly refuse to consider a change in your position, and you punish those who dare not to grovel at your feet (i.e. Susan and April). Sounds like the very injustices that drive you to fight against the Elia administration.

One of the greastest dangers in war is that we must remain ever vigilant to not become that which we struggle against.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 5:59 AM

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Comment Worth Considering from Valdes's Opponent

Steve Gorham has sent back his candidate query below. I think everybody will like the answers.

I have appended the pile of abuse that I have taken for not condemning Mr. Shultz or whatever his name is. He is not Beelzebub, and his wife is not Vampira--although I recall her now that someone said she ran against Susan or April and must opine that hers is not the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium.

I claim the right to say a kind word about Hitler if I want to if the mood strikes me. Eva Braun kicked Blondie, Hitler's dog, when Hitler wasn't looking, but Hitler was kind to Blondie. And gave her a cyanide pill before he shot his brains out. That was thoughtful. I claim the right to find that slipping poor Blondie a cyanide pill so that she would die with her master an ok thing to do in a bunker right before you put a gun to your head.

There will be unfeeling louts who will defy me, but they won't change my mind.

These thugs who are beating up on an elderly, feeble, shy granny of ten should be ashamed of themselves.

Steve gorham's answers to the candidate query:

Would you oppose nepotism-buddy hirings like that just announced of Linda Kipley’s husband who has no experience in the field?

I would oppose any hiring practice that is not above board. We need to ensure that we are hiring the most qualified person in every instance. I am not a proponent of nepotism or “buddy” hiring.

  1. If you oppose violating the equal-opportunity hirings of buddies, relatives, and hangers-on that goes on routinely in this school system, what would you do to stop it?

As stated above I would oppose any hiring practice that is not above board. We need to ensure that we are hiring the most qualified person in every instance. I am not a proponent of nepotism or “buddy” hiring. I would demand that hiring policies are in place and followed to prevent this from happening. I would aggressively investigate any accusation and if substantiated ensure appropriate discipline is administered.

  1. In the name of open government, would you insist that the hirings recommended on the consent agenda administration appear with the job’s description and the applications of the candidates online?

I would consider this but would need to look at the hiring process in detail before making a decision.

  1. There is a woman applicant in the pool for the above job handed to Mr. Kipley whose national origin is Egyptian and who uses a walker. She has an accounting degree and years of experience in accounting with a major company.

All applicants should be reviewed and selected based on their qualifications and experience relevant to the knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job they are competing for.

  1. Are you ready to defend against an EEOC charge and an Americans with Disabilities charge if select an unqualified relative of an administrator and not a qualified woman By hiring Ms. Kipley’s husband who has no degree and no accounting experience?

All applicants should be reviewed and selected based on their qualifications and experience relevant to the knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job they are competing for.

  1. Would you insist that administrative jobs get advertising and not go automatically to the superintendent’s buddies?

I believe all job openings should be comprehensively advertised.

  1. Would you insist that administrative jobs have degrees in relevant fields?

I believe that having a degree in a relevant field is definitely a plus but it should not be the only criterion that is looked at when evaluating a potential candidate. Experience and portable skill sets should also weigh in on the decision.

  1. Would you consider an early-childhood terminal degree as adequate for chief-facilities officer?

I believe that having a degree in a relevant field is definitely a plus but it should not be the only criterion that is looked at when evaluating a potential candidate. Experience and portable skill sets should also weigh in on the decision.

  1. Would you think getting the Chief Government Relations officer should go to a kindergarten –degreed young woman whose chief credential was that she was protégée of an elderly male administrator concupiscent for the quietetide of retirement?

All applicants should be reviewed and selected based on their qualifications and experience relevant to the knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job they are competing for.

  1. Would you think one of the three administrators Jack Davis who mistreated Doug Erwin before Mr. Erwin won his court case against the school board for harassing him as whistle-blower should get the head of technology department when he has not one credit in technology but an early-childhood degree?

All applicants should be reviewed and selected based on their qualifications and experience relevant to the knowledge, skills, and abilities for the job they are competing for.

  1. Would you visit the schools and schedule meetings with teachers at intervals? If so, how often?

Absolutely, I would also schedule meetings with support staff. I understand that it is a team effort to educate our children and everyone plays a vital part. A school member should give attention to all of the hardworking professionals in our district who dedicate their careers to our children.

  1. Would you revisit the superintendent’s bloated salary and bring it in line with the teachers’ salaries so that the superintendent makes no more than four times the lowest teacher’s salary?

I would first compare her compensation level to that of her peers in other like size district before addressing her base salary. These results will provide us with the empirical evidence to make adjustments as required. I believe we should look at restructuring her bonus structure, life insurance, and retirement clauses in her contract immediately.

  1. The Professional Standards office has a reputation of sadism in punishment, of telling untruths, and of cooking up cases against teachers who criticize the administration. Would you have an overhaul of that office with a committee that has teachers and citizens on it?

I would not tolerate any department in our school district operating in this manner and would actively investigate any information indicating such behavior. In the spirit of sunshine and community involvement I would support having a committee of teachers, support staff, and citizens oversee such an investigation.

11. Attorney Tom Gonzalez promised a citizen and a media specialist that he would produce a pamphlet for teachers who must go to Professional Standards outlining their rights and obligations in that situation. He has not done so. Would you insist that he fulfill that promise?

I would insist that any member of our district who promises something fulfill that promise.

12. Would you have programs to minister to gifted students such as those in Oregon for foreign-language study sponsored by the federal government in such languages as Arabic and Chinese—the two growing populations that will increasingly demand our country’s political and economic attention?

I support expanding our language offerings to not only gifted students but to all our students. We live in a global economy and when our children leave our halls they should have the skills necessary to compete in a global world.

13. Have you read the files of the Doug Erwin case (available in Public Affairs Office)?

No, but time permitting I will try to read up on it.

14. Did you live in Hillsborough County when the Erwin case was tried? Who do you think was the most guilty for the circumstances that Erwin observed in the schools: theft, rigging bids, accepting below-standards buildings that leaked, buckled, and suffered ubiquitous water damage and ac breakdowns in two years of ac’s that should have lasted twenty years?

I believe that I was serving in the military during this timeframe. As a school board member I will not tolerate any of the above stated behavior. I will ensure that all credible accusations are investigated and guilty parties disciplined appropriately.

15. Would you agree for the taxpayers to pay negligent contractors first-class prices for 3rd-class work and materials?

No. We need to ensure that we are getting the highest quality work for the best price. Our children’s safety is dependent upon competent contractors and as a board member I will fight to ensure that we pay the best price possible for first-class work and materials.

16. Would you have fired Dr. Lennard, Mr. Davis, and Dr. Hamilton for their concerted retaliation against Mr. Erwin for repeatedly bringing these problems to their attention but which they ignored and, instead, plotted to make him quit is job?

I am not familiar with the situation nor was I around at the time that this occurred. Therefore I cannot in clear conscience cast judgment. However I will never tolerate retaliation against any employee of this district.

17. Would you have the courage to be the only board member to oppose something you think is wrong and speak up to say why you think it is wrong?

Absolutely, I am a man who stands by his convictions.

I am willing to believe that Schmidt is not on the up and up. But who is?

I supported both April and Susan when they ran for office. They were going to clean up ROSSAC. Instead, they have fallen in with the go-along-to-get-along creed that all board members seem to succumb to. They walk through the door to ROSSAC and morph into androids.

Susan is too gutless to utter a murmur on the podium; ditto April. April asked for the no-bid contracts to be open for bids. Kurdell and Olson jumped onto her for being "disloyal to the staff," and that quelled her enthusiasm for reform. She has been silent since. She can't take even a little cuffing around and get back up to fight.

I suggested that April have a blog. She opened one, and at first left some messages that got some protests from teachers and requests for further discussions. This stopped April's putting anything on the blog that educated the teachers or opened up controversial issues for discussion. I note she now puts a monthly message praising some teacher for winning an award or some such piffle.

I asked them both to put a teacher-student spot on the board agenda to welcome the most important part of the education community to feel free to come comment. They neither bothered to answer my request. So much for their concern for teachers and students. April distinguished herself by suggesting that there be a workshop on Spring after Ms. Elia had signed the contract for it. If she had been solicitous of teachers' having input into the adoption of a program that they will have to implement and that will give Ms. Elia another venue for "bonus" money, she would not have let Elia's purchase of the Spring slide by on the agenda and make the idiotic suggestion for a teacher workshop after Elia had already bought it with no teacher input and apparently no board input either.

I know Schmidt would be R2D2 for Ms. Elia. But I can't see much more activity for the good of the schools than he would do from April and Susan. They are too scared to do anything but sit on the dais and approve the agenda without bringing up one thing for discussion. How is that different from what Schmidt would do?

The Tribune held its nose and endorsed Susan against Schmidt. I don't see how it could have done anything else. The bottom of the barrel of the political class in the Bay Area runs for the school board. And the behavior of those who get elected to the board is egregiously bad.

Susan does nothing significant for the schools that I can detect. If a person has no courage, he or she is not likely to acquire any. I am afraid that describes Susan. I see nothing to prevent Susan from becoming another Carol Kurdell--mired on the board year after year and not doing diddly to improve the schools.

Mr. Schmidt's performance on the board is not likely to be any worse than Susan's. I am sure you are right about his pumping up his pension. But Susan's gouging the travel budget was no more admirable--especially in a county in which thousands of poor children can't participate in class programs because they can't afford to buy supplies. I don't see Susan's doing anything that benefits the schools to any significant degree. I would be happy to be wrong but fear that I am right. lee

From: Anonymous []
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 6:20 PM
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Comment Worth Considering from Valdes's Opponent.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Comment Worth Considering from Valdes's Opponent":

Dave Schmidt is so disengenuous. He is obviously a plant by the administration.

In the LoWV debate he accuses Valdes of a conflict of interest then stupidly discloses himself as the real scoundrel.

Per the Tribune endorsement printed on 02 Aug 2008 Dave stated that everything at the school district was running ok and he didn't see the need for much change.

I fear that Schmidt has pulled the wool over your eyes Ms. De Cesare.

As for April. She gave Susan $100 and has NOT endorsed Ms. Valdes. Additionally Mrs. Griffin is not one of seven persons who GIVES Ms. Valdes her job. As a board member Mr. Schmidt WOULD be one of seven persons directly responsible for giving Mr. Elias spouse her job... and don't tell me that Mr. Elias contribution doesn't impact his feelings towards Elia.

Another interesting consideration is this: Mr. Schmidt's wife Janice Torgerson (aka Ms. Administration Hag) ran against Susan in 2004, then Mr. Schmidt ran against April in 2006 and now Dave is running against Susan Valdes. Why does this couple want so badly to infiltrate this board?

You're a very intelligent person, so think about it. Mr. Schmidt is currently making more as a fulltime administrator than he would as a board member. As a board member he would have to quit his "day job" with the district... so he would loose that income. Why would anyone want to move to a job with a lower salary unless they know there is another payoff to be had?

Let me put it together for you. Alot of money is moving around at HCPS for those willing to sell their soul. Add to that a much more advantageous rate of contribution into the board member's retirement account(s) and you have your answer: Mr. Schmidt is just another Lamb or Edgecomb who is out to use the system to beef up his bank account.

Additionally he is clearly of low intelligence. Even if he were in this for the right reasons (Which I am confident that he is not) I don't think he has the intellect to keep himself from being co-opted by the administration.

Publish this comment.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 3:19 PM


Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 7:43 AM


Subject: Re: letter

Mrs. Decesare: I accepted Mr Elia's campaign contribution to counter the campaign contribution from April Griffin to Valdes, as well as Griffin's open endorsement of Valdes. Mr. Elia said he respects my real-time ability to advance student achievement and tightly manage educational finances.

I am not running against his wife, I am running against Valdes. My entire campaign has centered around advancing student achievement, particularly at our Title 1 schools. When elected, I will rail against the superintendent for not properly supporting the district's two "F" schools, or the three others that are threatened to be closed by the state.

I also know that our teachers should never have to spend their own money supporting their classrooms buying supplies. This happens all the time, particularly in Title 1 schools. When elected, I will pound the table and hound the superintendent to better support our instructional staff.

Point is, Mrs. Decesare, my current work with the district is unblemished by ethical issues or those related to fiscal mismanagement. I've managed $17 million in federal grant funds and understand the need for return on investment of our tax-payer dollars. I won't need $50,000 for on-the-job training.

Dave Schmidt

-----Original Message-----
From: lee de cesare
Sent: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 10:19 am
Subject: letter


Mr. Schmidt: I received your letter in which you say that you answered my query about your response to the email I posted on my blog from the man who said your relationship with the administration would make y ou an acolyte of Elia if you got elected. I did not get an answer to that comment.

People are concerned that you are a plant by the administration especially since Ms. Elia’s husband made a donation to your campaign.

What people want to know is how you would be objective in your decisions on the board being an administrator yourself and given your implicit ties with the administration and given that Mr. Elia’s donation to your campaign confirms those ties. Her husband would not donate to your campaign, logic says, if she thought you were going to oppose her.


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