Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The Campaign for Free Speech at the School Board Meetings Resumes
ACLU of Florida Tampa Chapter
P. O. Box 1481
Tampa, FL 33601-1481.
The chair of the school board of Hillsborough County, Ms. Carol Kurdell, refuses to allow me to comment on items on the agenda because she does not like what I say. She gradually went from censorship when I went up to urge that the board put the candidates for jobs' names on the Board Web page and a hyperlink to their credentials to refusing to let me speak at all by having my requests to speak confiscated by the head of Public Affairs, Steve Hegarty. A few meetings ago, Ms Kurdell arrived at not even calling my name for comment.
The board and administration has a long and unfortunate tradition of hiring chums and sycophants and not the most qualified people. They plaster "We are an equal-employment-opportunity employer everywhere and then ignore it by hiring unqualified buddies and camp followers. They don't want anybody coming to the board comment time and protesting this practice.
Chair Kurdell has sent the head of Community Affairs, Steve Hegarty, to me each meeting for the last several to explain that I can't comment for obscure reasons that he has trouble articulating, but the hint is that I have Alzheimer's because I am elderly and don't know what I am talking about. This fellow got the job over better qualified candidates and can't punctuate to save his life. He used to be a reporter at the SPT and believed in free speech then because his bosses did. Now his bosses don't believe in free speech, so neither does he.
I petitioned the ACLU to come once before because the chair at that time, Jennifer Fallliero, conspired with the huge Jolly Green Giant Security to kick me out of a meeting because I had used a name at the podium. You came and lectured the board on free speech; then Mr. Gonzalez, who doesn't cotton to free speech for citizens and lets the board do outrageous things to suppress it did finally take Ms. Falliero aside and lecture to her on the rights of people to express themselves fully to elected officials after your visit.
She returned to chair duty with the observation that Mr. Gonzalez had educated her about the First Amendment and now she understood that citizens can come and address the board and say any "mean and unkind thing they want to." At last she understood that she couldn't gavel people down and throw them out of the board room because she didn't like what they said or how they said it.
I know it is probably too late for you to attend tomorrow's board meeting on the 3rd, but perhaps you can come to the meeting after that and comment on the situation. They don't like the ACLU, but they have a grudging respect for it. If you can't remedy Ms. Kurdell's depriving me of free speech in a public meeting, I will move up the bureaucratic chain to the secretary of education, a man who emerged from the administrative bureaucracy and thinks along the same lines as Ms. Kurdell is my intuition; after him there is the attorney general, who is running for governor and has discovered that he is in favor of the Constitution.
I have been an ACLU member for many years and do nothing but read the bulletins that national sends out and pay my dues. I know I or any citizen can always ask for such problems as I cite above.
I enclose the agenda for tomorrow's meeting. I want to address the administrators' salaries.
lee drury de cesare
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33598
Posted by twinkobie at 8:21 AM