Saturday, January 31, 2009

If at First, You Don't Succeed...

Gloria Steinem and Lee in Houston in the early '70's at a national women's rights conference

Diane; Judy; StanSchmidt; AlWilliams; Judy;; Al;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; "';;; swhitted;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Dr. Smith:

The Florida Superintendents’ page lists you as president.

Two weeks ago, I addressed a request to the email listed on the site in which I asked for items of public information.

These were the following:

· A copy of Dr. Jim Hamilton’s contract for his position of lobbyist for the association;

· A copy of the ad that the association broadcast for the job opening and in which venues it appeared;

· The job applications of the people who applied for the job of lobbyist for the School Board Association.

· I asked in a follow-up to confirm to me whether the association were supported by tax funds and asked for

· A list of the federal grants the school board association has and the funding agencies.

I ask additionally for 1. the secretary’s notes on the discussion of the need for a lobbyist, 2. the needs study that the association did to confirm a need for this position, and 3. whether this vote for a lobbyist was by the assembly of members or whether others made it. If it were made by other than the assembly such as a committee, what were the people's names?

If the association runs on tax funds, it owes any citizen who asks for public information that specific information. It is not an optional duty to supply these data to a citizen. It is the law. The citizen, I suggest, also should have the courtesy of a prompt response that says the recipient has received the request for public information and should give the citizen an approximate time for its delivery.

Please provide the public data for which I am waiting. I will pay for the duplication. Thank you.

Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Who Are These People?

Here is a page from my hit counter's tracking system: the countries of origin where the hits come from. I have hits from around the US; that's because I think school employees have retired to those places. But for the life of me, I can't understand who is reading Casting Room Couch in Australia, Germany, and Argentina. Other pages show that I have a real following in Poland. Poland! lee

Country Location
United States Brandon, Florida
Australia Brisbane, Queensland
United States Odessa, Florida
United States Tallahassee, Florida
United States Bronx, New York
United States Sarasota, Florida
Argentina Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal
United States Spring Hill, Florida
United States Tampa, Florida
Germany Munich, Bayern
United States Lithia, Florida
United States Tallahassee, Florida
Australia Sydney, New South Wales
Spain Madrid
United States Palm Harbor, Florida
United States Brandon, Florida

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Knock, Knock

School Board Members, Marion County:

I asked as public information almost two weeks ago for your ad for the lobbyist-for-the-county job. I asked as well for the applications for the job that you gave to Dr. Jim Hamilton. I asked for a copy of his contract. I asked for the secretary’s notes on the board discussion of the job. I have received none of these.

A public-information request is not optional. Public entities by law must give this information to a citizen who asks for it. I look forward to your response to this second request for public information.

I am including Commissioner Smith on the cc list to let him know that a citizen is asking for public information from the Marion County School Board and administration and has not received acknowledgement of the request or the information in the two weeks since I asked for the data.

Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

District 1

District 2

District 3

District 4


1 comment from Casting-Couch Blog:

Anonymous said...

Besides, if Hamilton is representing various counties, hypothetically he is working for competing "companies." Each competing county wants as big of a slice of the pie (tax dollars from the state) as possible. If Hamilton gets Hillsborough the biggest share, he is making sure they get some of the dollars that other counties could have gotten. So the districts who hire him better make sure they know where his loyalties lie. He could hypothetically take another district's money with a smile and claim to work for their best interests, but then turn around and lobby for more money for Hillsborough. He will probably work harder for the districts that pay him the most, so the poorer districts that could use more would get less. Same ol' stuff.....good ol' boy stuff.....this whole deal exposes him as nothing more than a common crook.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gotta Keep a Hand in My Old Profession in Case I Have To Go Back to Work

Alanna's Drawing of Granny in New Mexico

Comment comes via mail from former Tampans and former school employees. They came to town to see friends some of whom still work in the ROSSAC bunker.

A direct quote from the letter says: "Many friends are former school board employees, or are still working for the board. Consequently, we heard about many of the same issues you write about. Apparently, intimidation and scare tactics are even more common than when we were there. The employees seem so unhappy, which is a very sad statement."

As to Dr. Hamilton, he..."seems to know how to get money out of the school system, doesn't he? We are not surprised that the HCSB is paying him big bucks but do not know why other systems feel the need to do so."

One expert opinion says that there is no way Hamilton can represent more than one county effectively. This expert does not hold Hamilton or his ethics in high esteem. Logic also says that "if he is working for the state superintendents' board, he is already representing all the counties."

The above summary is from an anonymous commentator and former school employee.

c: All members of the school board and administration


Chief Justice John Roberts Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543


January 22, 2009 NYT

Op-Ed Contributor

Oaf of Office



Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

You must have suffered much jocular humor from the shadenfreude crowd that exults when some squib appears such as Dr. Steven Pinker’s in the New York Times on a Supreme Court Justice’s administration-of-office flub.

Grin and bear it, sir. I have data about Le Pinker that will even the score.

Dr Pinker has a smart-alecky chapter in one of his multiple books criticizing what he labels “grammar mavens.” This is the book in which Le Pinker claims that we are born with language already stuffed into our heads. He affirms that our parents get no credit for teaching us a syllable.

Dr.Pinker’s pile-up of books and journal articles suggests that he lusts to replace Dr. Chomsky as cynosure of people who now name-drop Dr. Chomsky because doing so makes them sound erudite.

Such semi-literate grammar fixations as no split infinitives come from a time when people were anxious to become literate. The church and nobles had hogged all the education opportunities for so long that learning grammar seemed a desirable thing to advance one’s self. Grammar hustlers responded by publishing a bunch of grammar books with bad advice such as no-split-infinitives. These bibles of grammar held out against common sense. for a long time—up to the present in your case.

Classical Latin was poshest language at the time when grammar-starved masses wanted grammar knowledge. So entrepreneurs followed classical Latin as far as their abilities let them in order to give their grammar pamphlets authenticity. They hustled these to shop girls who yearned for the class speaking corrrect grammar would give them.

People have gradually caught on to this superannuated grammar scam and now know that there is nothing wrong with splitting an infinitive or ending a sentence with a preposition. I don’t know how you missed these data, sir, but catch up, for heaven’s sake.

That you messed up with the split infinitive in the swearing-in means was Le Pinker's lucky day. He got to use the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice as whipping boy in his New York Times squib. A triumphant Dr. Pinker grows in stature from the association.

Dr. Pinker himself suffers from a more pedestrian writing problem. He doesn’t grasp comma protocol and lapses into redundant commas because he lacks firm grasp of sentence structure. Any English teacher (“maven” in Pinker’s slur; that’s what I was for twenty-eight years before becoming a retired maven) can testify to redundant commas’ being most frequent remedial-English problem.

Commas have waned in the last four hundred years. Lean structural commas have replaced the plethora of rhetorical commas that clogged sentences until somebody smartened up and said,” Hey, what’s with all these commas? Let’s skinny them down.”

Superfluous commas today show as the equivalent of what Dr. Pinker condemns as “maven” flubs that invoke the grammar lore of yesteryear. Dr. Pinker is, in fact, a comma maven who uses the comma plethora of four hundred years ago but doesn’t know enough to realize he’s doing it.

God forbid that the New York Times proofreaders catch all superfluous-comma errors. They are still hip deep in rhetorical-comma mode themselves. So they let glide by Dr. Pinker’s comma errors along with other grammar-punctuation flubs in his Let’s-Make-Fun-of-the-Chief-Justice piece, in which Pinker says:

“Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. Nonetheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha! Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers.”

The first problem with the Pinker sentence above is pronoun-antecedent reference. “They" has two possible antecedents: "pedants" and "shibboleths." The reader shouldn't have to guess. Dr. Pinker should insert the correct antecedent to replace “they.” His comma is now wrong before the restrictive past participial phrase modifying “they.” If “pedants” or “shibboleths” replaced “they,” the comma would be ok.

Pinker: “In his legal opinions, Chief Justice Roberts has altered quotations to conform to his notions of grammaticality, as when he excised the 'ain’t' from Bob Dylan’s line 'When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.'”

The Pinker comma after “grammatically” is wrong. It cuts off a restrictive adverbial clause in its normal syntactical position at the end of the main clause.

Pinker epistles are everywhere. Most vigilant editors fix up the Pinker grammar or punctuation errors. So unless somebody reads one of the pile-up of books that Dr. Pinker pours out to swamp Chomsky, he or she doesn’t know about Dr. Pinker’s punctuation and style problems.

Dr. Pinker wants to replace Chomsky although Le Pinker’s area is psychology, not linguistics. But the man’s ambition is such that I believe not even Newton’s reputation is safe.

Bide your time, Mr. Chief Justice. Sooner or later the gods of justice will land Dr. Pinker on the docket of the Supreme Court.

When that happens, you give Dr. Pinker the pummeling of his life.


(Ms.) Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, Fl 33708

Steven Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard and the chairman of the usage panel of The American Heritage Dictionary.


Dr. Steven Pinker
Usage Panel: Houghton Mifflin Company
Dr. Noam Chomsky

Mr. Bill Keller, New York Times