Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spreading the Word to the Sisterhood


Dear Ms. McCollum:

I formed the habit of writing to wives of important men when I had a problem that needed the CEO of Xerox's attention many years ago.

I had convened the Tampa Chapter of NOW that got a write-up in the paper. So a young woman and a male friend came to me at my office at Hillsborough Community College (I was professor of English there for 28 years before retiring) because the men at the local office of Xerox sexually harassed young women who were recent hires in jobs that were not traditional secretarial. The men were comfortable with women as subservient stenographers and secretaries, but not sales reps, a "male" job. The passage of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act had prompted the central office of Xerox to demand the beginning of such hires whether the sexists were ready or not for the change.

Too many of the Xerox men expected these young women to act not as representatives of the jobs they were hired for but rather as a species of in-house prostitutes for the men's amusement. This denigration of these young women made me hopping mad.

I called the head of the local Xerox and tried to get him concerned about the situation, but he blew me off with the equivalent of "boys will be boys." I figured I had made my good-faith effort to get the local Xerox manager to do something to quell the harassment, and he didn't take me seriously. So I sought other means.

I knew from experience how long it took and what diligence it demanded to get the EEOC to act on complaints. And a charge by an individual is never forgiven, so her career is over even if she helps others who have suffered similar discrimination. Woe to her who bells the cat.

This young woman seemed desperate. I thus decided to write to the wife of the CEO of Xerox about the seamy situation at the local Xerox office. That way, the young woman's name would not be on an EEOC charge from the EEOC and ruin her career.

So successful was this letter Mrs. CEO Xerox that I have since lived by the maxim of "When things look hopeless, appeal to the wife of the power guy."

No more than a week later, Xerox sent a troop of its lawyers from headquarters down to the Tampa office. They fired some of the harassers and sent a number to Coventry. The sexual harassment abated. When these guys' jobs were on the line, they suddenly became fair-minded.

Years later the mother of one of the young women affected came up to me in the Publix vegetable department to thank me for intervening. She said she was glad to report that her daughter had made a successful career in the field.

I understand General McCollum will run for governor. At least that's the political gossip I heard. He will face Ms. Alex Sink, from the Democrats. I know her a little, and your husband will have a job on his hands to defeat this formidable woman. I gave wasted money to her husband when he ran for governor; the poor man was a dreadful campaigner. But Ms. Sink is a different story. She is graceful and articulate on a platform. She reminds people of everybody's favorite sister.

If General McCollum makes it into the governor's office, I hope he will be alive to the real needs of education. Most politicians invoke the template false piety of love for teachers and how we don't pay them enough and believe those old chestnuts suffice.

Every field in which women dominate features low pay. The K12 field comprises mostly women. In Russia, where the medical field is full of women, doctors get low salaries. However, pay for teachers at all levels is low in this country. My baby daughter as an insurance assistant vice president makes twice my salary at the end of my college teaching career.

It is true that we don't pay teachers well and looks to remain the same until their numbers go down precipitously as they escape to other fields that pay better than their teacher salary. Then the market will set teachers' salaries. But that will not come during General McCollum's time.

If General McCollum wants to promise something different and rational on the stump, he could cite ways of weeding out the great army of C-student administrators making bloated salaries in inverse proportion to their IQs. These reluctant scholars weigh down K12 Florida education by making C-student decisions at the top. All the then-Governor McCollum would have to do to weed out some of the dummies is to make clear that in his time in office schools will obey the Equal Employment Opportunity laws that the K12 hordes now disobey by word-of-mouth hiring of C-level buddies.

Ms. Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County, doesn't know where to put commas yet makes $300,000 a year from taxpayers who expect their children over whose education she presides to know grammar and punctuation to evade flipping burgers at McDonald's when they exit the secondary schools. This lady hires sycophants, children of board members, hangers on, and chums when administrative jobs come up with artificially bloated salaries. A Governor McCollum's touting Title VII as Mr. Crist has sponsored open government would cut into this practice, and the K12 cumulative administrative IQ would improve if the jobs got wide advertising that tapped into the better national talent pool. Then administrative decisions would improve. Pound for pound, smart people make better decisions than dumb people.

Florida teachers would approve of this practice. And there are many more teachers than administrators who vote.

As governor, General McCollum could sponsor the law that the Number One school system in the nation, Massachusetts, has on the books: To get a job in Massachusetts' school systems, an administrator candidate must pass the same language exam that teachers must pass to teach.

The second in command to Ms. Elia was Dr. Jim Hamilton, until last year when he retired to double dip by forming his own lobbying company. He didn't know the difference between homophones "your" and "you're." Yet he captured state school systems as lobbying clients without their the K12 administrative networks' doing any advertising of the job. This is example of the the K12 closed-to-outside-talent bureaucracy that violates the equal-opportunity laws. Dr. Hamilton is now consultant to Mixon and Associates. He brought his bevy of school-board clients with him as he moved his franchise to that company in Tallahassee.

Dr. Hamilton not only mixes up homophones but also can't write an extended piece with structural logic or moderate felicity. He reveals some strange ideas in his lucubrations such as his gauche essay instructing new board members how to dress for board dignity when the gentleman himself wears rump-sprung suits and looks like an unmade bed.

I wrote Dr. Machen, president of the University of Florida (and Mrs. Machen as well), about the state's flagship university's allowing lax vigilance or cupidity in theses committees. These lax committees turn loose to prey on the state K12 education system the empty-headed candidates who rush to infest K12 administration. More of these than we would like to think have bought and paid for their theses and slip them past thesis committees asleep at the switch. I cited Dr. Hamilton as a probable member of this faux Ph.D. genus. Such specimens as he have turned K12 administration into a racket in which literacy takes second place to cupidity.

Recalling that there are many more teacher voters than administrator voters, General McCollum as governor would please a significant part of the Florida education world by getting the Massachusetts administrator literacy law passed in Florida. Enacting the administrator literacy-test law in Florida would benefit the state's administrators' intellectual growth and hence mprove the K12 administration decision makers' thinking apparatus. It would for sure tickle teachers pink.

General McCollum could bring about better schools by putting an end to the practice of evading the equal-employment-opportunity laws by school boards themselves. In Hillsborough County, the board has ceded the hiring perquisite to Superintendent Elia. The superintendent exercizes as a kind of patronage privilege all hiring that interests her. She hires with impunity sycophants, buddies, the no-talent relatives of administrators, two of the board's children. An egregious case is Ms. Elia passed over qualified candidates with degrees and experience and hired the husband of the Professional Standards office administrator to the accounting department. He had only a high school diploma.

The accountant with the high school diploma and no accounting experience is spouse of Ms. Kipley, head of Professional Standards. She has a home-ec degree, but what she lacks in academic bona fides she has made up for in pliability and wretched ethics by helping Ms. Elia cook up professional-standards charges against teachers Ms. Elia wants to find ways to fire teachers if they speak up to oppose her policies or have a blog that critiques the schools.

The Hillsborough County Board is not big on free speech either. I got kicked out of a meeting and threatened with jail by the gigantic Jolly Greeen Giant head of security for using a name in my presentation before Chair Board Member Jennifer Falliero. Ms. Falliero plotted my eviction with the Jolly Green Giant head-security hulk to get back at me for exposing her adultery on school grounds with the head of the Public Affairs office, Marc Hart, whom she seduced by haunting his office. She broke up his marriage and made his two young children suffer with a drop in school grades for one and the exacerbation of an illness for another.

I have no sympathy for floozies who make little children suffer whether the floozy be off or on a school board. A granny of ten such as I will find a way to out this despicable behavior that the administration and board covered up while they fired the dumb cluck Ms. Falliero seduced, Mr. Hart, to his personal and professional detriment while making Ms. Falliero board chair.

I am never helpless, however unless I am facing the gorillas in the midst of the Serengeti. I got the ACLU to come and lecture the board and its attorney on the First Amendment.

The spectacle of a teacher's being punished on manufactured charges keeps other teachers fearful of speaking up for fear of being framed to lose their jobs too. That propaganda value is one reason for making these false charges and suspending a teacher to writhe in limbo with no idea of when or if he or she will ever be cleared of the false charge. Blogs discuss forbidden issues such as savaging of teachers by Ms. Elia and the Professional Standards Office. That's one reason why Ms. Elia and the administrators hate them and try to snuff them out.

Propaganda value is one of the main reasons for framing Special-ed teacher Steve Kemp. He has suffered the sustained fear of losing his job for a whole semester for having an education blog that the administration and board fear. Ms. Elia and her chair of the behind-the-scenes terror committee, Mr. Valdez, has held Mr. Kemp on suspension for the whole school year to get him to give up his dignity and his blog. He has not buckled yet. I hope for the First Amendment's sake that he won't.

Blogs are noxious to the board and administration because they present a picture different from the massaged and spun one that emerges from the Community Relations department to make the board and administration look good. The public pays for its own bamboozlement.

In sum, General McCollum could set a record of response to real problems in the schools if he gets to the governor's office. And you can and should be his chief advisor and dilute the sexist tradition of vacuous first ladies. For some reason, maybe because it has to do with nurturing the family's children, women are more interested in education than are men it seems to me, especially that of K12, although I have not yet seen any studies that confirm my belief.

When Mr. Obama announced for President in Philadelphia, I sent his campaign a thousand dollars and didn't buy a new dress or new shoes for a year. I feel perfectly correct in sending missives now to the First Lady of the nation to put in a word for some project dear to my heart. I sicced Ms. Obama onto the new Secretary of Education about conditions in the schools that involve poor administration by dumb administrators and outright crooked practices such as Superintendent Elia's flagrant misuse of taxpayer dollars to invent a job for a retiring administrator, Dr. James Hamilton, for the few months he needed a taxpayer salary supplement and an office from which I infer he cold-called on the school phones school-board clients statewide for his double-dipping consulting hustle.

I have received a letter from the national Secretary of Education about whom to call for help, and I shall call them. That job creation adventure of Ms. Elia for Dr. Hamilton should not go unexamined by critical eyes.

You can do much for the schools if your husband gets elected for governor, Mrs. McCollum. And I will write you from time to time to mention some issue that he needs to be aware of when he is governor and you are First Lady.

If General McCollum becomes governor, I will feel free since my husband is a Republican (married for almost 53 years to a Democrat) to come up to Tallahassee and sit in the waiting room until then Governor McCollum sees me to talk about my grave concerns that he can solve. It will do no good for him to tell his assistants to tell me that he is ill and cannot see me. I will say, "I am a registered nurse with license to practice in Florida. Take me to the governor's bedside so that I may recount to him my concerns about the school system whilst I lay a cool Sister-of-Mercy hand on his brow."


Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Blvd. 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

I enclose attachments. ldd

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faxes, Faxes, Faxes


General McCollum:

Thank you for your response to my request that you issue an opinion about the refusal of the Hillsborough County School Board to print the names on the Board's Web site of prospective employees and to hyperlink to their resumes before any hiring takes place.

In an open government, citizens should see the basis for decisions on employment that Superintendent Maryellen Elia now makes secretly and Board Members Candy Olson, Jennifer Falliero, Doretha Edgecomb, Susan Valdez, Jack Lamb, and Carol Kurdell approve without giving citizens a chance to offer input. The board and administration conduct an entirely closed hiring process. That defeats government in the sunshine.

The information you included in your response will be helpful in fighting the abuse of hiring that the board and administration have turned into a jobs program for relatives of board members, sycophants of all stripes, buddies, buddies of buddies, and favors for school administrators for doing the unpleasant jobs that the superintendent sometimes assigns them such as cooking up Professional Standards cases if the administration wants to fire or terrorize a teacher with losing his or her job unless the teacher deserts his or her dignity and Constitutional rights as the price for keeping that job.

There exists a case currently that involves special-ed teacher Steve Kemp, whom Professional Standards charged with child abuse on distortion of evidence that the sheriff threw out. However, Kemp's case has languished for a school semester after the sheriff threw it out while the administration, superintendent, and board try to terrorize this teacher into shutting down his education blog, the real reason for his cooked-up case.

The board, superintendent, and administration abhor blogs because they publish information that the board, superintendent, and administration want first sanitized via the Public Information Office. For instance, the administration just published a yearbook with a girl's pudendum showing in a picture, setting her up for ridicule for years to come when anybody opens that year book. The board and administration's position is that the exposed vaginal area of the girl is "just a shadow" and board members such as Chair Kurdell have responded when asked about the problem with an injunction not to discuss it.

The board and administration have refused at the girl's parents' plea to withdraw the limited year-book copies already distributed by the administration and to reprint the yearbook without their daughter's perineum in view. Steve Hegarty, head of the Public Information Office, has responded to people's inquiries this way when they ask about the situation: "We [board, administration, Public-Affairs Office] will not accept your version of this situation. We won't comment on the (vaginal area exposure)] questions."

In other words, the board and administration use the tax-paid Public Information office to promulgate stories favorable to them and suppress stories or redact unfavorable information about them. They refuse to answer questions on a negative incident such as the girl's exposed vagina in a school year-book picture.

Such outrages as refusing to give citizens hiring information before the hiring is done, punishing a teacher with a cooked-up charge because he has an education blog. and publishing a year book with a girl's pudendum pictured should not go on in the Florida school system. I hope that if you become governor, a job I understand you will be running for, that you take corrective measures to rein in abuses of teachers such as those perpetuated in the Hillsborough County school system, to encourage schools to have open governments, and to respect the dignity of students. The board does not correct the superintendent and administration in any of their unethical skullduggery's. It cooperates with the administration's punishing and terrorizing teachers and distorting public-relations reality to present the board and administration in a favorable light.

I shall forward a message to Mrs. McCullum via your office mail. A man's wife says a great deal about his character. I have been wife, a Democrat, for almost fifty-three years to the same old Republican guy and have a good deal of influence on his important decisions despite our political differences. The woman who cooks and has the babies in a household usually does have influence on her husbande and should have major influence in the family. George Bush has succeeded in turning my husband from life-long Republican to Independent, a feat that my fifty-three years of curtain lectures failed to do, although I cooked enough food in those years to feed India for a week. I asked my husband what he thought of you. He responded, "He's a pretty good guy." He was mayor of our little beach town for a dozen years until he couldn't take the bickering anymore. Now he is retired to his Stratolounger in front of the round-the-clock sports stations.

I am not a ninny voter, General Mc Cullum; I am a serious citizens who expects diligent service from our elected officials. Democracy promises that my ten grandchildren will live in a real democracy, not a sham one in which public officials such as those that inhabit the school system's board in Hillsborough County refuse to obey the open-government laws and hides information about the way the administration and board make decisions behind closed doors that affect the community's life.

The Dark Side, alas, took charge in the Hillsborough County schools in the early Nineties when administrator Mr. Erwin discovered newly built leaking, shoddy schools for which the board rubber stamped top-dollar payment to contractors. In addition, Mr. Erwin unearthed rigged bids and outright theft of school property and money. Mr. Erwin asked the superintendent and board to do something about these crimes. Instead, the board with the help of the attorney Tom Gonzalez, the firm of whom has held the job for thirty-seven years, sat by and let Superintendent Lennard and his administrative henchman try to convince people that Mr. Erwin was crazy and then attempted to take his job and pension away from him. They failed.

Mr. Erwin finally ran out of good faith and filed a Whistle blower lawsuit against the School Board.

The jury, thank God, saw through the board-and- administration lies and found for Mr. Erwin, awarding him a $165,000 settlement. When Mr. Gonzalez and the firm's lawyer who prosecuted the case complained to the judge about the size of the award, the judge told them that Mr. Erwin would have gotten more had he a more competent lawyer.

The taxpayers paid for the ethical violations and outright crimes of the board and administration in this dark incident in the board and administration's history. The taxpayers in fact subsidized unawares crime against the state.

Some of the Dark-side DNA of the Erwin years still motivates the board and administration of Hillsborough County. It emerges in such things as making hiring a racket for the pals, sycophants, hangers-on, pets and offspring of the board and administration; in refusing to let citizens view what goes on when the board and administration make decisions for the school district, and of using public relations to deny the administration's allowing a year book to be published showing a female student's private parts.


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


I make a citizen's request to General McCollum to appear before the Hillsborough County School Board at a date and time worked out by his office and the School Board.

I request that he address the importance of removing impediments now in place that keep citizens of the county ignorant about the process of decision making that the board and superintendent use to do school business. These decisions affect the whole community, so the community should see and hear the process. Presently the board and administration bar the community, teachers, and students from discussions of board and administration decisions. This is not open government.

Not only does the board not give teachers and students a regular slot on the board to comment about their concerns, the administration with the board's complicity punishes teachers who do or say anything that the board and administration disapproves of. They have, as illustration, suspended Special-ed teacher Steve Kemp for a school year for a trumped-up charge of child abuse by the Professional Standards office that the sheriff threw out. Ms. Linda Kipley, head of Professional Standards, claims she lost the charges of incompetence and failure to fulfill their job descriptions' duties of the three administrators involved in the charges against Mr. Kemp that I filed in February.

The School Board of Hillsborough County and its administration make a mockery of the First Amendment and the government-in-the-sunshine law of the state of Florida by its deliberate behind-closed-doors decision making affecting the whole community that it shuts out. Citizens and the school family get no information about how the board and administration make decisions that govern the schools. That's not the mark of democracy but of dictatorship.


lee drury de Cesare

c: Philip Claypool, head of Ethics Commission, State of Florida

Dear Mr. Claypool:

The Hillsborough County School Board allows the superintendent to cook up false charges against a teacher whom she wants to fire or terrify about losing his or her job.

Such is the current case of Steve Kemp, a special-ed teacher whom the Office of Professional Standards and Ms. Elia manufactured a case of child abuse against on distorted evidence to scare him into giving up his education blog.

The sheriff threw out the case directly, but the board and administration put Mr. Kemp on a semester-long suspension to try to squeeze the concession of his abandoning his education blog by terrorizing him with the threat of job loss. There he remains today.

The board and administration don't like blogs because they present a different version of what the administration and board do in leading the schools. The board and administration want all information about the schools to go through the vetting and revision process of the Public Affairs Office before it reaches the public so that the public will receive a rosy view of the board's and administration's actions. Hence, the public pays to have itself bamboozled by the board and administration about such outrages as the sadistic savaging of a teacher to make him or her give up his or her First Amendment right to author a blog.

I know state law gives the board and administration the right to hire and fire. But it does not give them the right to terrorize, abuse, and denigrate.

This is a matter of ethics. I ask that you review the situation for its violation of ethics and take corrective action.


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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Letter From the Attorney General

Gentle Readers: I wrote to the AG and asked for him to render an opinion on the secrecy of the Hillsborough County Board on such things as the names of candidates for jobs such as the principals that La Gaceta cited in this week's paper. I believe that there should be a hyperlink to candiates' credentials so that citizens have the chance to review applicants' backgrounds. Then they could judge whether Ms. Elia's choices made in secret hired the best people.

I cite as examples of crooked hires Connie Mileto because she was a favorite of Dr. Hamilton, not because she had the credentials for the job: she had neither suitable degree nor needed experience (she had been a kindergarten teacher).

I know Kipley's husband's getting the job in accounting was pure stealing of a job that should have gone to one of the four people with required accounting degrees and experience who applied (I examined the applications.)

Ms. Kipley's husband got the job because Kipley had lied to back up Ms. Elia's lies in using the Professional Standards division as vector against teachers whom she wanted to fire or throw into a state of anxiety because of the terror of the loss of their jobs. This is situation in the current case of Steve Kemp, whom she framed because he has a blog, and the board and administration hates blogs because they might publish some truth about the administration and board instead of the sanitized stuff that comes through the Community Affairs division.

This cruel behavior by the superintendent is vicious behavior that smacks of sadism. And the board sits with a glaze on its eyes and pretends that it knows nothing. It doesn't care what Ms. Elia does to teachers. Board members make sentimental noises about teachers for political posturing, but that is just political bilge.

I sent Steve Kemp to April Griffin for her help with his semester-long suspension for a cooked-up child-abuse charge that the sheriff threw out. Ms. Griffin did nothing public or discernible after the meeting to help Steve. At that meeting, she had told Steve not to say they met or report what they said. She made it seem shameful to meet with a teacher and be concerned with teachers' mistreatment.

After this fruitless meeting, Ms. Griffin apparently returned to her conversion regimen to become another board member who rubber stamps Ms. Elia's ukases.

What a disappointment Griffin is. When Kurdell and Olson jumped on her for asking that an item on the Consent Agenda that involved a no-bid contract to a former administrator be pulled for open discussion and Kurdell and Olson called her "disloyal" to the staff, Griffin should have shot back, "My first loyalty goes to the citizens as yours should." Instead, it made her wilt and give up doing anything bold or brave for the good of the schools and the welfare of citizens who pay the bills.

This lack of open government is what we need to emphasize in sending news out about the board and administration. Elections should include questions to the candidates about what they have done as incumbents or what they will do if new candidates to make sure citizens see what the school board is deciding and how its members do the deciding. They need to pledge that they will open the decision making to citizens and have an open government and not conduct the business of the schools behind closed doors.

We live in a democracy. We also live in a state that stresses the sunshine law. The School Board of Hillsborough County should not act as if its members and administration are exempt from this form of government and this state law.

Knowledge is power. Those who hoard knowledge hoard power. It is a trait that does not mark the open, responsible public servant.


This is the AG's seal. I have a new computer and can't figure out how to copy it. ldd



PL 01 The Capitol Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050 Telephone (850) 245-0158

Fax (850) 922-3969

Mr. Lee De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802 Madeira Beach, Florida 33708

The Office of Attorney General Bill McCollum has received your letter requesting this office issue an opinion regarding the actions of the Hillsborough County School Board in selecting principals under the Government in the Sunshine Law, section 286.011, Florida Statutes.

Regrettably the authority of the Attorney General to issue opinions is prescribed by law and is limited to public officials on questions relating to their own official duties under state law. This precludes this office from issuing opinions to private individuals or to public officials inquiring about the duties of another public official. I would note, however, that the Attorney General's Office is a strong supporter of the open government laws of this state and has urged greater transparency by governmental entities.

I am enclosing a section of the Government in the Sunshine Manual (which is prepared by the Attorney General's Office and printed by the First Amendment Foundation) discussing the importance of public participation in governmental meetings. An abridged edition of the manual is available online at: You may access the Attorney General Opinions referenced therein online at:

I would also note that while the agenda may not be published until shortly before the meeting, you may be able to obtain the information regarding the superintendent's recommendations prior to that time under the Public Records Law, Chapter 119, Florida Statutes. Section 119.011 (12), F.S., defines "public records" to include:

all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or

Mr. Lee De Cesare May 15, 2009 Page Two

received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.

As discussed in the manual, the Florida Supreme Court has interpreted this definition to encompass all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. See Shevin v. Byron, Harless, Schaffer, Reid and Associates, Inc., 379 So. 2d 633, 640 (Fla. 1980). All such materials, regardless of whether they are in final form, are open for public inspection unless the Legislature has exempted them from disclosure. Wait v. Florida Power & Light Company, 372 So. 2d 420 (Fla. 1979).



Assistant Attorney General

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crime Against Democracy in HIgh Places and in Low

I am following the national torture discussion. When Paul Krugman, NYT columnist, wrote a piece saying we needed to prosecute the higher-ups who advocated torture to "save the nation's soul." I sent it to Ms. Michelle Obama and asked that she persuade her husband to take seriously the Krugman advice. Don't underestimate the persuasive power of wives. I have been throwing my weight around in the kitchen for the same guy for almost 53 years. Ms. Obama is her husband's intellectual equal, so he should listen to her. He obviously does. He is the only president whom I have seen sit quietly and listen intently when his wife talks.

Thank God, Frank Rich's column yesterday says that even though the president wants to let the issue go (Obama's one fault is that he does not want to fight for any reason--he is a chronically pacific man) and "move on," events are catching up with the culprits. It looks like a groundswell of national revulsion will force the President not to "move on" and ignore the torture issue but to allow Justice Department prosecutions to go forward. My lord, I hope so.

The "we need to move on" phrase is the favorite mantra of those who did dirty deeds and don't want to be held accountable. The "moving on" mantra reminds me of the "move-on" chorus that emerged from members of the Hillsborough County School Board after the Doug Erwin case's verdict went against them. Their crucifixion of Erwin for trying to out crime in the schools---leaking buildings that developers got top tax dollars for from the board, rigged bids, and outright theft of both school property and money--backfired. The jury didn't believe the administration and board lies. It cleaned the board and administration's clock in the Court House and vindicated Mr. Erwin. The board fired not one person after this crime spree reviewed in Erwin's Whistleblower case. They should have begun by firing Erwin's torture trio, Lennard, Hamilton, and Davis. Mr. Gonzalez should have gotten the sack as well.

However, today developers' names adorn incumbents' donor lists in the Supervisor of Elections site. They know a bribable official when the see one. People who took bribes before will do it again reason these fellows.

Dr. Lennard and his two main thugs, Hamilton and Davis, tried to shut Mr. Erwin up by portraying him as crazy. These tax-paid villains schemed to fire him and deprive him of his pension. Attorney Gonzalez supported this effort with duplicitous lawyer verbiage as did the whole administrative structure plus the school board--the latter's support mainly was pretending that its members did not know what was going on.

If the higher ups were the ones trying to squelch Erwin's story, then logic says they were reaping the benefits of the crime. The vicious treatment of Erwin by Lennard et al has no other answer for me.

I believe I have written before that all of us citizens want to believe in our public officials. It is the intense wish of citizens in the world's putatively best democracy that its elected public officials be honest and work for the good of the country, state, or city we elect them to represent.

We are naive if we think most public officials have the good of citizenry in mind. They most often have their own good in mind, and when we learn what is going on, we are sickened by the revelations, not jubilant. Crooks and narcissists in public office mean our democracy has failed us. It is not the information we want to know about. We want to believe in the tooth fairy and in honest public officials who work for the good of the people who elected them.

Frank Rich (my favorite columnist because he writes so well and is so on-target in his criticism of government) shows in Sunday's piece below that the Bush administration was knee-deep in the torture outrage.

The torture idea didn't originate with a few marginally literate soldiers from the impoverished hills and hollows of the country who joined the army because it was the only job they could get. The rap from the Pentagon on them was that these country bumpkins thought torture up on night duty at Abu Gharib. That's what the cover story from the Pentagon and White House alleged. Instead, information is slowly leaking out that, as our suspicions suggested, torture orders came from the top, including waterboarding. That is the story that is now unfolding.

Moreover, the torture was not, as Cheney is claiming, to save American lives but to save the Bush administration's reputation by waterboarding a confession from a detainee that that a conspiracy by Iraq existed to attack the United States. That would justify the war the Bush team lied us into and remove the stigma of its members' lying us into the Iraq war that has killed and mutilated thousands of our service people and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

This cover-up sounds like the routine laundering of reality that goes on in the Public Affairs office to sanitize the actions of the board and administration.

If the White House and Pentagon can engage in dirty deeds and cover-up, then the Hillsborough School Board and ROSSAC can as well---and do. That was the barely hidden message behind Steve Heggarty's comment on the yearbook picture of the girl which exposed her pudendum for all the world to see that will look on and laugh at that yearbook picture of the poor girl for years to come.

Le Heggarty said, "We are not going to cooperate with your story" when asked about the exposure of the girl's private parts. The parents wanted the distributed issues of the yearbook recalled from the few students who received them, the books reprinted, and then reissued to the students.

But the board and administration care nothing for the psyche of a student. Students and teachers are mere serfs in a system of administration and board power and parochial grandeur. The teachers and students are necessary to suck money from the state that the board and administration then spend with a hey nonny nonny.

The administration and board won't take the trouble to rectify their error for a mere student or teacher. If it were an administrator's being embarrassed, that would be different. No measure is too hard or too costly to rescue an administrator--even the guilty ones like Principal Smith at Alafai.

Translated, Mr. Heggarty's response means, "We are going to stick by our cover-up lies and repeat them until they displace reality with our redacted version of the event to pretty up the board's and administration's "reputation."

It's well to remind ourselves that Heggarty used to be a reporter for the SPT and was expected to write text that was honest, not twisted, as his job now requires. Heggarty's job for the school board and administrtion is to write lies so that the bad behavior of these clients can come out looking OK for public consumption. That's essentially what the Pentagon and the Bush administration were trying to do with the waterboarding torture issue.

The point that I make is that if outrages against the truth can happen in the White House and Pentagon, they can happen in ROSSAC and the School Board of Hillsborough County. And we citizens do democracy no favor by letting these offenses against truth pass by without protest.

I have always hated Rumsfeld and considered Cheney in the throes of some major psycho-pathology. I also would like to smack Paul Wolfowitz silly.

I believe pathology of the School-Board members and Ms. Elia is far gone, far gone. They exist in some mental cul-de-sac of a world where they are all powerful and the teachers and students are serfs. I fear their illness may be past curing.

Op-Ed Columnist
Obama Can’t Turn the Page on Bush

Published: May 16, 2009

TO paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions.

That’s why the president’s flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos — whatever his motivation — is a fool’s errand. The pictures will eventually emerge anyway, either because of leaks (if they haven’t started already) or because the federal appeals court decision upholding their release remains in force. And here’s a bet: These images will not prove the most shocking evidence of Bush administration sins still to come.

There are many dots yet to be connected, and not just on torture. This Sunday, GQ magazine is posting on its Web site an article adding new details to the ample dossier on how Donald Rumsfeld’s corrupt and incompetent Defense Department cost American lives and compromised national security. The piece is not the work of a partisan but the Texan journalist Robert Draper, author of “Dead Certain,” the 2007 Bush biography that had the blessing (and cooperation) of the former president and his top brass. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen high-level Bush loyalists.

Draper reports that Rumsfeld’s monomaniacal determination to protect his Pentagon turf led him to hobble and antagonize America’s most willing allies in Iraq, Britain and Australia, and even to undermine his own soldiers. But Draper’s biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.

Take the one dated April 3, 2003, two weeks into the invasion, just as Shock and Awe hit its first potholes. Two days earlier, on April 1, a panicky Pentagon had begun spreading its hyped, fictional account of the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch to distract from troubling news of setbacks. On April 2, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of the United States Central Command from 1991-94, had declared on the Times Op-Ed page that Rumsfeld had sent too few troops to Iraq. And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.)

What’s up with that? As Draper writes, Rumsfeld is not known for ostentatious displays of piety. He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

The GQ article isn’t the only revelation of previously unknown Bush Defense Department misbehavior to emerge this month. Just two weeks ago, the Obama Pentagon revealed that a major cover-up of corruption had taken place at the Bush Pentagon on Jan. 14 of this year — just six days before Bush left office. This strange incident — reported in The Times but largely ignored by Washington correspondents preparing for their annual dinner — deserves far more attention and follow-up.

What happened on Jan. 14 was the release of a report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog, the inspector general. It had been ordered up in response to a scandal uncovered last year by David Barstow, an investigative reporter for The Times. Barstow had found that the Bush Pentagon fielded a clandestine network of retired military officers and defense officials to spread administration talking points on television, radio and in print while posing as objective “military analysts.” Many of these propagandists worked for military contractors with billions of dollars of business at stake in Pentagon procurement. Many were recipients of junkets and high-level special briefings unavailable to the legitimate press. Yet the public was never told of these conflicts of interest when these “analysts” appeared on the evening news to provide rosy assessments of what they tended to call “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”

When Barstow’s story broke, more than 45 members of Congress demanded an inquiry. The Pentagon’s inspector general went to work, and its Jan. 14 report was the result. It found no wrongdoing by the Pentagon. Indeed, when Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize last month, Rumsfeld’s current spokesman cited the inspector general’s “exoneration” to attack the Times articles as fiction.

But the Pentagon took another look at this exoneration, and announced on May 5 that the inspector general’s report, not The Times’s reporting, was fiction. The report, it turns out, was riddled with factual errors and included little actual investigation of Barstow’s charges. The inspector general’s office had barely glanced at the 8,000 pages of e-mail that Barstow had used as evidence, and interviewed only seven of the 70 disputed analysts. In other words, the report was a whitewash. The Obama Pentagon officially rescinded it — an almost unprecedented step — and even removed it from its Web site.

Network news operations ignored the unmasking of this last-minute Bush Pentagon cover-up, as they had the original Barstow articles — surely not because they had been patsies for the Bush P.R. machine. But the story is actually far larger than this one particular incident. If the Pentagon inspector general’s office could whitewash this scandal, what else did it whitewash?

In 2005, to take just one example, the same office released a report on how Boeing colluded with low-level Pentagon bad apples on an inflated (and ultimately canceled) $30 billion air-tanker deal. At the time, even John Warner, then the go-to Republican senator on military affairs, didn’t buy the heavily redacted report’s claim that Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, were ignorant of what Warner called “the most significant defense procurement mismanagement in contemporary history.” The Pentagon inspector general who presided over that exoneration soon fled to become an executive at the parent company of another Pentagon contractor, Blackwater.

But the new administration doesn’t want to revisit this history any more than it wants to dwell on torture. Once the inspector general’s report on the military analysts was rescinded, the Obama Pentagon declared the matter closed. The White House seems to be taking its cues from the Reagan-Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan. “Sometimes I think just keep walking,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” as the torture memos surfaced. “Some of life has to be mysterious.” Imagine if she’d been at Nuremberg!

The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.

And I do mean bipartisan. Both Dick Cheney, hoping to prove that torture “worked,” and Nancy Pelosi, fending off accusations of hypocrisy on torture, have now asked for classified C.I.A. documents to be made public. When a duo this unlikely, however inadvertently, is on the same side of an issue, the wave is rising too fast for any White House to control. Court cases, including appeals by the “bad apples” made scapegoats for Abu Ghraib, will yank more secrets into the daylight and enlist more anxious past and present officials into the Cheney-Pelosi demands for disclosure.

It will soon be every man for himself. “Did President Bush know everything you knew?” Bob Schieffer asked Cheney on “Face the Nation” last Sunday. The former vice president’s uncharacteristically stumbling and qualified answer — “I certainly, yeah, have every reason to believe he knew...” — suggests that the Bush White House’s once-united front is starting to crack under pressure.

I’m not a fan of Washington’s blue-ribbon commissions, where political compromises can trump the truth. But the 9/11 investigation did illuminate how, a month after Bush received an intelligence brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on his and Cheney’s watch. If the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried.