Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mail Sent from the Front Lines of the ROSSAC Redoubt

Outside Florence: Going to Visit David

Susan Blumendall

Chief Branch Discipline Council

4200 George Bean Parkway

Suite 2580

Tampa, FL 33607


Dear Ms. Blumendall:

I entered "Disciplining Lawyers" in a search engine and got you. Please reroute the message to the right person if you do not represent the local legal-regulation community that oversees lawyer behavior.

Attorney Tom Gonzalez makes $275,000 a year as the Hillsborough County School Board attorney. In another public rip-off, he is overpaid for his slender skills. However, the Hillsborough board members all stand in awe of the fellow because he is a lawyer: the genus that can sue you, strip you of all your belongings, and turn you into a street bum.

Mr. Gonzalez got the job as hand-off, I infer, from Crosby Few, previous school-board attorney, holder of the sinecure for more than 30 years. I believe this no-bid, no equal-opportunity hiring explains why Mr. Gonzalez claims that the administration and board jobs racket for relatives and chums does not violate Title VII ; nor do the no-bid buddy contracts the board and administration favor. As I recall, Le Gonzalez selectively parses the state and federal statutes to back up this interpretation.

Mr. Gonzalez's professional ethics are such that he once hinted that he could sue me for extortion if I carried out my suggestion of asking the federal government for compliance reviews of the school district's federal grants if the board and administration didn't stop their louche hiring practices. Mr. Gonzales conveniently ignored the SLAPP law that protects citizens who criticize their government. He counted on my not knowing about it.

My assessment of Mr. Gonzalez's horse-back rulings from the podium is that these demonstrate his settled policy of pronouncing legal assessments that he believes coincide with the board and administration's wishes no matter whether those rulings coincide with the law.

That tendency is what I lay before the discipline committee.

Mr. Gonzalez has been on the job long enough to have involved himself in the infamous Sam Erwin case. Mr. Erwin was a school administrator for thirty years who asked the board and Superintendent Dr. Lennard to do something about the crime and graft that he discovered in the schools.

In response, what Dr. Lennard and his administrative thugs did was try to convince people that Mr. Erwin was crazy. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany's citizens' abandoning the Jews when transported by cattle car to Buchenwald and Auschwitz, not one person came to Mr. Erwin's aid, so terrified were and still are school people at all levels of losing their jobs by administration fiat if they emit a syllable of dissent from the party line of the board and administration.

Logic says that savaging a school employee for asking that the administration and board stop graft and theft with the administrative and board gang's seeking to invalidate the whistleblower by calling him crazy makes sense only if board and administration were recipients of the graft Erwin had discovered.

When administration and board efforts to prove Mr. Erwin crazy failed, the board and administration crafted a battle plan to fire and deprive Mr. Erwin of his pension. They sent him on wild goose chases for fugitive evidence gathering to keep him spinning his wheels. The poor guy finally gave up on the people with whom he had worked 30 years and got Attorney Pricilla Ryan to represent him in a whistleblower case. Ms. Ryan won the case against Tom Gonzalez's and his firm's representation of the Board.

The jury didn't believe a word of the rehearsed lies administration and board witnesses produced. Those lies work only in the closed system of the board and administration's mythos of their unquestionable power and its resultant glory.

Mr. Gonzalez had pitched in to do his part in savaging Mr. Erwin during the frame-up period. He and board chair Carol Bricklemeyer summoned Mr. Erwin to the Gonzalez office on pretext of helping him.. Instead, the two debriefed him and then loosed him back into the administration-and-board gladiatorial arena to twist slowly in the wind under constant assault. Mr. Erwin's health and his wife's health deteriorated.

Mr. Gonzalez as his part in the cover-up when the story finally got out to the public that demanded explanation hired a firm to investigate the Erwin charges. But when the investigators reported that they found nothing but plots against Mr. Erwin, Mr. Gonzalez closed down the investigation.

I became an adept in the Erwin Whistleblower case by reading the boxes of court records that reside in the Public Information office--available as public information to anybody with the stamina to dig through them.

I as well set myself to observe the board's and administration's performance after the Professional Standards office framed gay friend Bart Birdsall with a cooked-up charge because he wrote to the county library head Joe Stines, also gay, from Bart's home computer to protest the library's dismantling a gay book display mounted by a USF graduate student as a class project. Impetus for this barbarous edict was Commissioner--now senator, alas--Ronda Storms's homophobic ordinance.

Negative publicity horrifies Ms. Elia, who lusts for positive publicity and praise She and her toady Linda Kipley, head of Professional Standards, doubtless cooked up the ersatz Professional Standards case against Teacher Birdsall to shut him up lest his identification with the school system suggest that Ms. Elia tolerated gays.

This suggestion could trigger retaliation by political bigots in the county's outlying fens and the bogs. They might lock-and-load to march on the school board at hints of gay coddling to deliver some ungrammatical invective, threats, and birdshots at the board. This lovely fracas would that would besmirch the schools' public-relations putsch by appearing in the newspapers.

Gonzalez's firm's losing the Erwin case and its $165,000 settlement did not prevent Dr. Leonard's recruiting Mr. Gonzales as Board attorney. My observation of the Gonzalez performance on the board dais says that Le Lennard intuited that Gonzalez would play legal shill for the Board's and administration's skullduggery, discovering legal rationales that sidestepped the laws.

That Mr. Gonzalez is lazy, slipshod, big-baby childish, boorish, and ranks no higher than midpoint in the Stanford Binet does not shake the Board's and administration's faith in him. The important thing is that he does their will with eking out opinions that reinforce their biases.

Gonzalez was too lazy to read recent Sheriff's opinions on the culpability of two school employees in child-abuse charges. One was Steve Kemp, a teacher thrown into a Special-ed profoundly retarded classroom without skills and absent orientation by two administrators ambitious for promotion, I infer. Mr. Smiley and Ms. Morris claimed that Kemp violated restraint protocol. This set-up charge gave the Professional Standards gulag pretext to put Kemp on a year-plus suspension even after the Sheriff threw out the child-abuse charge on the day Special-ed Supervisor Ron Smiley filed it.

A contemporaneous administrator who suffers from foot fetishism long acted out by ordering pubescent boys at King High into his office, ordering them to shut the door, ordering them to take off their shoes and socks; ordering them to present their bare feet to him to fondle got only a slap on the wrist and not even a referral to psychiatric evaluation.

A while back, Mr. Gonzalez's incompetence found expression in his failure to advise the board to get sufficient insurance to cover the collapse of a wall in one of the newly built schools. Thus, taxpayers had to pay for the construction of the replacement wall. No board member was savvy or courageous enough to ask Mr. Gonzalez why he didn't give good insurance advice.

Any time a citizen questions the legality and ethics of the Board's hiring without advertising or handing out contracts without competition, Mr. Gonzalez comes to life to give full-throated endorsements of both procedures in volume that would make Demosthenes look like a piker lecturing to the sea with pebbles in his mouth.

The reason for these booming endorsements is, of course, that Mr. Gonzalez got his job as a beneficiary of a no-bid contract handed to him with no advertising of the job.

Gonzalez was too slipshod to read the two Sheriff's Department reports used by the Times reporter that revealed that both Kemp and the administrative Toe Cracker had identical evaluations in their cases. Gonzalez claimed that only Kemp's case had a heads-up for further analysis.

Being called inaccurate offended the reporter, who had a spirited discussion with the PR deficient Mr. Gonzalez; the riled reporter wrote a second story confirming his first. Only then did Gonzalez get around to reading both cases. Instead of saying, "I made a mistake," he sent a redaction of linguistic somersaults to the Professional Standards office that made his erroneous assessment of the cases coincide with the Sheriff's reports. I wonder if he got do-overs in his bar exam.

Mr. Gonzalez pitched a big-baby tantrum on the night of the board meeting that was coincident with the discussion of the two cases. Board member Griffin had pulled him into the lobby to discuss some disputed issue. This is Ms. Griffin's typical suppression of open government. She should have brought out the issue in public view so voters could know what the quarrel was about. Both Griffin and Gonzalez looked and sounded wroth during their discussion.

When Gonzalez turned on his heel to return to the Board room, he took his wrath out on two citizens in his path. He denied to one that he, Gonzalez, was wrong about the two child-abuse cases; he aimed at the other a spittle spray of contempt, calling her an "old lady." That would be I. I am an old lady, but I don't want to be targeted for counselor spittle spray by a lawyer who can't control his temper on the job.

And one must perforce add this unlovely feature of Mr. Gonzalez's professional behavior: he has been known to munch chips and swill pop during board meetings whilst seated in his attorney's official chair. Perhaps such boorish behavior does not find mention in the bar's decorum standards, but it's not couth. My Southern mother would have said that the Board counselor acted like he was raised in a barn and must not have come from "a good family."

Mr. Gonzalez, in fact, is at pains to advertise that his family emerged from Castilian forebears, not from any of those mongrel Ybor Hispanic breeds. He makes certain as well that one knows he was born and had lived in since birth Anglo South Tampa.

As I recall his recital of forebears' origin, he claims them to have been an ancient family in Castile even before the Visigoths occupied Spain. The family had--I believe I have this right--employed as butler in those remote times a varlet named Sancho Panza. I am almost positive as well that Mr. Gonzalez says that the South Tampa area in which he resides is horse country that reminds him of the rolling steppes of Andalusia.

In sum, what Mr. Gonzalez lacks in legal competence he makes up for in venerable aristocracy, something Tampa needs more of, to be sure. And Lord knows the board needs as much as it can pay for.

Mr. Gonzales delivered one of his sly, duplicitous opinions at the November 3rd board meeting when Board Member Candy Olson asked him to comment on a citizen's objection to the schools' partial carrying out of the HB 669 bullying law. The complaint had to do with the Hillsborough schools' bullying procedure that named only students as victims in the law despite school employees' being mentioned as part of the victim population at least eight times in HB 669.

Knowing his board members' sentiments, Le Gonzalez said that the law had nothing to do with adults' being bullied, that it applied only to students. I got the impression that he and La Candy had rehearsed this slick pas de deux before settling into their board seats.

I append HB 669 below with my color annotations. I believe the reason Ms. Olson, other board members, and the administration do not carry out the bullying law as it is written is that it would give teachers a weapon in fighting the board and administration's bullying of them. It would hamper the Professional Standards office's keeping lists of teachers under surveillance for their voicing even a mild criticism of board and administration mismanagement so as to set them up for a cooked-up Professional Standards charge.

This sadistic ritual's aim is to terrify teachers about losing their jobs. It holds them up to ridicule school wide as Mr. Erwin was, with everybody's treating them as toxic. Bart Birdsall says that after Professional Standards filed the cooked-up charge against him that even his faculty friends would not speak to him.

The goal of this obscene treatment is to cow the teacher into supine silence. HB 669's being carried out in the schools as it is written to include adults would give teachers recourse with which to fight the false charges Professional Standards manufactured by the administration and supported by the board. A fully carried-out law would diminish the Board's and administration's ability to intimidate teachers who speak out against Board and administration policies injurious to education.

A teacher's having a blog ranks a special sin against the power and glory of the board and administration and its PR campaign from the Community Affairs Laundromat office.

Special-ed Teacher Steve Kemp's blog pinpoints why he spent over a year on suspension in a board-and-administrative effort to terrify him into deserting his blog. Tom Gonzalez marched lock step in this coercion of teacher Kemp as did Mr. Valdez, Personnel Director. Ditto for home-ec credentialed Linda Kipley, head of Professional Standards, whose husband just snagged the job of accountant with only a high school education and no experience, beating out at least four candidates with both required accounting degrees and experience.

The Professional Standards Office punishes only teachers, never administrators. It lies in wait for teachers to make a piddling mistake as did Steve Kemp to pounce with a Professional Standards charge. Professional standards also files charges based on lies about a targeted teacher's community activities protected by the First Amendment. Bart Birdsall's case illustrates this fact. The giveaway statistic is that the Professional Standards office does not have records of ever punishing administrators, only teachers.

I ask that you review the attached HB 669 bullying law and determine whether Officer of the Court Tom Gonzalez distorted its intent in opining in an open Board meeting that it does not apply to adults working for the schools, only students. I ask that if you deem that he did not act in an ethical fashion in this matter that you apply what remedies exist for aberrant attorneys to his case.

If making this call is not your office's function, please send it to whoever's job it is in the legal oversight community to make such judgments, or give me the party's name and address so that I may send it myself.

Thank you.


lee drury de cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

c: All School Board Members and

Andalusian Gonzalez>

HB 669 - School Safety
"Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act"


A bill to be entitled
An act relating to school safety; creating s. 1006.147, F.S.; providing a short title; prohibiting bullying and harassment of any student
or employee of a public K-12 educational institution; providing definitions; requiring each school district to adopt a policy prohibiting such bullying and harassment; providing minimum requirements for the contents of the policy; requiring the Department of Education to develop a model policy; providing immunity; providing restrictions with respect to defense of an action and application of the section; requiring department approval of a school district's policy and school district compliance with reporting procedures as prerequisites to receipt of safe schools funds; requiring a report on implementation; providing for construction; providing for severability; providing an effective date.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Section 1006.147, Florida Statutes, is created to read: 1006.147 Bullying and harassment prohibited.

(1) This section may be cited as the "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act."
) Bullying or harassment of any student or school employee of a public K-12 educational institution is prohibited:
(a) During any education program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution;
(b) During any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity or on a school bus of a public K-12 educational institution; or
(c) Through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network of a public K-12 educational institution.
(3) For purposes of this section:
"Bullying" means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students and may involve:
1. Teasing;
2. Social exclusion;
3. Threat;
4. Intimidation;
5. Stalking;
6. Physical violence;
7. Theft;
8. Sexual or racial harassment;
. Public humiliation; or
10. Destruction of property.
(b) "Harassment" means
any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or written, verbal, or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that:
1. Places a student or
school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property;
2. Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or
Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.
(c) Definitions in s. 815.03 and the definition in s. 784.048(1) (d) relating to stalking are applicable to this section.
(d) The definitions of "bullying" and "harassment" include:
. Retaliation against a student or school employee by another student or school employee for asserting or alleging an act of bullying or harassment. Reporting an act of bullying or harassment that is not made in good faith is considered retaliation.
. Perpetuation of conduct listed in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) by an individual or group with intent to demean, dehumanize, embarrass, or cause physical harm to a student or school employee, by:
a. Incitement or
b. Accessing or knowingly causing or providing access to data or computer software through a computer, computer system, or computer network within the scope of the district school system; or
c. Acting in a manner that has an effect substantially similar to the effect of bullying or harassment.
(4) By December 1, 2008, each school district shall adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment of
any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution. Each school district's policy shall be in substantial conformity with the Department of Education's model policy mandated in subsection (5). The school district bullying and harassment policy shall afford all students the same protection regardless of their status under law. The school district may establish separate discrimination policies that include categories of students. The school district shall involve students, parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, school volunteers, community representatives, and local law enforcement agencies in the process of adopting the policy. The school district policy must be implemented in a manner that is ongoing throughout the school year and integrated with a school's curriculum, a school's discipline policies, and other violence prevention efforts. The school district policy must contain, at a minimum, the following components:
(a) A statement prohibiting bullying and harassment.
(b) A definition of bullying and a definition of harassment that include the definitions listed in this section.
(c) A description of the type of behavior expected from each student and school employee of a public K-12 educational institution.
The consequences for a student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution who commits an act of bullying or harassment.
(e) The consequences for a student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution who is found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another of an act of bullying or harassment.
(f) A procedure for reporting an act of bullying or harassment, including provisions that permit a person to anonymously report such an act. However, this paragraph does not permit formal disciplinary action to be based solely on an anonymous report.
A procedure for the prompt investigation of a report of bullying or harassment and the persons responsible for the investigation. The investigation of a reported act of bullying or harassment is deemed to be a school-related activity and begins with a report of such an act. Incidents that require a prompt investigation when reported to appropriate school authorities shall include alleged incidents of bullying or harassment allegedly committed against a child while the child is en route to school or waiting for transportation to school at a designated school bus stop.
(h) A process to investigate whether a reported act of bullying or harassment is within the scope of the district school system and, if not, a process for referral of such an act to the appropriate jurisdiction.
(i) A procedure for providing immediate notification to the parents of a victim of bullying or harassment and the parents of the perpetrator of an act of bullying or harassment, as well as notification to all local agencies where criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator.
A procedure to refer victims and perpetrators of bullying or harassment for counseling.
(k) A procedure for including incidents of bullying or harassment in the school's report of safety and discipline data required under s. 1006.09(6). The report must include each incident of bullying and harassment and the resulting consequences, including discipline and referrals. The report must include in a separate section each reported incident of bullying or harassment that does not meet the criteria of a prohibited act under this section with recommendations regarding such incidents. The Department of Education shall aggregate information contained in the reports.
A procedure for providing instruction to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers on identifying, preventing, and responding to bullying or harassment.
(m) A procedure for regularly reporting to a victim's parents the actions taken to protect the victim.
(n) A procedure for publicizing the policy which must include its publication in the code of student conduct required under s. 1006.07(2) and in all employee handbooks.
(5) To assist school districts in developing policies prohibiting bullying and harassment, the Department of Education shall develop a model policy
that shall be provided to school districts no later than October 1, 2008.
(6) A school employee, school volunteer, student, or parent who promptly reports in good faith an act of bullying or harassment to the appropriate school official designated in the school district's policy and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures set forth in the policy is immune from a cause of action for damages arising out of the reporting itself or any failure to remedy the reported incident.
The physical location or time of access of a computer-related incident cannot be raised as a defense in any disciplinary action or prosecution initiated under this section.
(b) This section does not apply to any person who uses data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network when acting within the scope of his or her lawful employment or investigating a violation of this section in accordance with school district policy.
) Distribution of safe schools funds to a school district provided in the 2009-2010 General Appropriations Act is contingent upon and payable to the school district upon the Department of Education approval of the school district's bullying and harassment policy. The department's approval of each school district's bullying and harassment policy shall be granted upon certification by the department that the school district's policy has been submitted to the department and is in substantial conformity with the department's model bullying and harassment policy as mandated in subsection (5). Distribution of safe schools funds provided to a school district in fiscal year 2010-2011 and thereafter shall be contingent upon and payable to the school district upon the school district compliance with all reporting procedures contained in this section.
(9) On or before January 1 of each year, the Commissioner of Education shall report to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the implementation of this section. The report shall include pertinent data collected pursuant to paragraph (4) (k).
Nothing in this section shall be construed to abridge the rights of students or school employees that are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Section 2. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are declared severable.
Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

The "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" is a memorial to Jeffrey Johnston, son of Debbie and Robert Johnston. Jeffrey's story can now be found, with other "bullycide" stories, in the book, "Bullycide in America: Moms speak out about the bullying/suicide connection". The book can be ordered at

This site is a member of WebRing. To browse visit here.


Anonymous said...

attorneys police their own. even though he is an egregious example of a pile of dogshit your complaint will get bandied about until someone SUES HIM. And a federal judge will slam dunk his ass. He is messing with public funds. Maybe his trust account needs an audit. I'm sure he's all up in the koolaid with the others.

Vox Populi said...

Attorneys police their own because in that sense if they WANT TO they can allow each other to get by with murder. Only the rare complaint makes it past a certain level. I wonder what the school board attorneys are like across florida. I bet they're the same or WORSE. That would be interesting to uncover.