Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Editorial Boys on the Bus

Super-fat dog: symbol of Ms. Elia's and administrators' hypertrophied salaries

See Below Times Letter for Joyous News About the School-board Race


Editors, New York Times:

Today's editorial "Accountability in Public Schools" jumps on the usual suspect, teachers' unions, for the dire straits of education.

Never do these kick-the-unions template editorials mention that corrupt and incompetent administrations act a big part of the problem.
Nationally, administrative pay bloat and featherbedding rank a major problem.

The administrative-superintendent game is to ask as high a salary as possible and too often get it from naive, complicit, poorly educated boards. Then subsequent superintendent candidates nation-wide cite this marker for escalating the salary spiral for people with light-weight degrees from third-tier schools that head for administrations when they graduate because that's where the money is. Smart graduates with worthy degrees and interest in education become teachers to be lorded over by the C students who people administrations and pull down big money while they bungle their jobs.

The superintendent of Hillsborough County makes ten times what beginning teachers make. About $40,000 of that haul comes from teachers' raising student scores; the board gives credit for this achievement to the superintendent, not the teachers. The same indolent, undereducated board that stamps this obscene perquisite also sat by while the superintendent made teachers engage in grade inflation to make her performance look better.

The main thing unions do is try to keep teachers' salaries in the living-wage area. If boards made it a rule that a superintendent could not make more than three times that of the lowest-paid teacher, that would reduce obscene differences between teachers' and administrative pay. That's not going to happen with the nation's obtuse editors' piling all the blame on unions.

In Hillsborough County, administrators make five times the salaries of beginning teachers. The head of Professional Standards, for example, one Ms. Linda Kipley, gets $150,000 with a home-ec degree. The superintendent with the buddy-hiring jobs program the board allows her to run just hired this home-ec teacher's husband with a high-school education when applicants included four people with the job-description accounting degrees and experience.

Reason: Ms. Elia owes Ms. Kipley big-time for all the dirty work she has done for her in cowing teachers into silence.

The board and superintendent rule teachers get no raise in the present financial downturn. The superintendent grandly announced she would take a five percent pay cut for the fiscal year: $9000, which is about one-third of beginning teachers' salary. What the superintendent should do is give up the $40,000 teacher-produced bonus she now rakes in addition to the measly five percent pay cut.

One of the board members who campaigned on a reform platform has no college degree, little common sense, and a frail grasp of basic math. Elected, she fell in line with the status quo once and has complimented the superintendent fulsomely for her five-percent salary concession.

The board had reduced the Ph.D. requirement to Ms. Elia's master's to name her superintendent instead of much-better candidates with Ph.D.s and experience. The board sensed Ms. Elia would not mess with its members' incumbency and bloated travel expenses while a Ph.D. from Columbia might very well question them.

One board member spent $50,000 for a year's travel consisting of flying to Meccas of education such as Las Vegas to pick up gimcrack awards and prizes that school boards and administrations constantly pass around in an administration-and-board racket ritual to plug the holes in administrative degrees manqué and to cover over the cracks in their wretched administrations. Hillsborough county's poor children could have used that $50,000 to buy supplies they lack so that they could participate in class activities.

The superintendent with a compliant board uses the Professional Standards office to cook up charges for flimsy causes or no cause at all to rein in teachers and prevent their commenting on administrative and board mismanagement. The well-understood threat is job loss. And it works.

Teachers' fearing the loss of their jobs hunker down and don't look up; they just teach and ignore the outrages dumped on them such as Ms. Elia's buying a multi-million-dollar program called Spring that had failed in other venues without consulting teachers that would have to implement it. Professional Standards threat of job loss hushed the teachers; complicity kept the board mum.

Ms. Elia two years ago dumped another class period on teachers to cure her budget problems without alerting teachers. The board acquiesced. This year teachers get no raise; Ms. Elia makes the feeble five percent of her salary kick-in to earn points from the obtuse for faux show of doing her part.

The administration and board stifle teachers and deprive them of free speech, not even ceding them a settled place in the board agenda for comment. The danger is that teachers' comments might let voters look behind the curtain and view the administration-and-board shoddy management practices and question both board's and administration's bloated salaries.

It doesn't help when editors such as those of the Times issue their template condemnation of unions for all problems in the schools.

If editors stepped out of their editorial aeries and introduced themselves to the real problems in schools, these quidnuncs would discover that maladroit, greedy administrations comprise a big part of the mess.

The grammar felony in the sentence from your anti-union essay below also does not help education. It features a comma splice: a grammar felony.

Put a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb "then" and appear in study hall for comma remediation.

In the past, the federal government talked a good game about requiring reform in exchange for federal dollars, then it caved when it came time to enforce the bargain.

lee drury de cesare
retired teacher and former college-union president

c: Washington Post
St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Tribune

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pole Girl Has an Opponent! Thank You, All Cheribs and Seraphs (Oddly Enough, the Singular of these is "Cherabim" and "Seraphim": Go Figure

Minions of the Light, There is good in the universe. I know there is because
La Gaceta just announced in this week's "As We Heard It" that Dr. Stacy White, a Winn Dixie pharmacist, is running against Jennifer Falliero for the board.

That's celestial harpist music you hear now playing a
hallelujah chorus of thanks to the Forces of the Light. We Minions of the Light are members of good standing in this righteous group and wear our white robes and halos on all official occasions called by the Good Guys and Gals of the Heavenly Host and Hostesses.

Dr. White lives in
Valrico with his wife and three young children. Valrico is not Turkey Creek, but it's not New York City either. So Dr. White is likely to be conservative. No problem. I talk conservative fluently. I am from Georgia, which is right wing from state line to state line. I'll just treat Dr. White as if he were one of my Burnt Fort, Georgia, clan.

I am going to provide the pharmacist with ammunition to defeat La Jennifer. I'll start with the part of the divorce deposition which confirms that she had an affair with Marc Hart that broke up his marriage and made his two little children suffer: the little boy's grades fell; the ongoing medical condition of the little girl exacerbated.

Falliero initiated the affair by hanging out in Hart's office ostensibly for "mentoring." That word must have a definition that I was not aware of. She followed Hart out to New Mexico after Valdez fired him on a cooked-up charge of habitual drunkenness to stop the affair after Ms. Elia became superintendent. Falliero had ignored Lennard's order to leave Marc alone. Falliera, after she returned from the visit to Marc where he had gone out West after the divorce to look for work, dumped him. I suspect she discovered another admirer. I think that's why Marc called me up and asked to come out to the beach and show me the deposition.

La Jennifer was made board chair, of course, by all the adultery enablers on the board and wielded the gavel as if she were Thor. She and the Joly Green Giant head of Security plotted to kick me out of the board room for my using a name in my presentation (!) for fear that I would reveal her adultery. After I got the deposition, I was free to write about it and did on numerous occasions. Truth is its own defense.

Any woman who will lead a father--
dumbass though he be--to divorce his wife and leave his two young children brokenhearted and damaged cares nothing about children and should not sit on a school board. Unless Dr. White is Beelzebub's First Cousin, he would be an improvement over the Pole Girl.

Pole Girl was my name for
Falliero after this tale unfolded. Tom Gallagher berated me for calling her Pole Girl. That just floored me, as you can well guess.

The icing on the cake is that Jennifer Falliero claims to be born again and hence tried to force high schools to send parents notification if a youngster belonged to the gay-lesbian club in the school. This, of course, ensures that some bigoted parents kick gay children out into the street to fend for themselves.
I was proud to attend the board meeting that opposed this cruel measure sponsored by the Virgin Falliero. The ACLU checked in; USF checked in; some wonderful high school students stood up and opposed the measure, assuring me that the country would have good leaders when they hit the political circuit. The Virgin Falliero's effort was defeated. Whoopee for tolerance.

Falliero is on my bad list for eternity.

I will publish the data when I get Dr. White's address and phone number from the Supervisor of Elections. The SOE lists the salary of board members as over $40,000, which exceeds the salary of beginning teachers by about $7,000.

I have
misplaced that old Pole Girl clip art and must resort to another floozy clip specimen. lee

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farewell, the Danceroos

Chris, Margie, and Dany in Paris


Dear Ms. Obama:

Let me comment

on the psychosexual and racist implications of your wearing shorts as you deplaned from Airforce One recently and your older daughter's deplaning with nappy hair from the presidential hearse in a later picture.

Here is where you can make strides if you have moxie: in dress and in hair.

First, the shorts: Keep on wearing them, especially when you deplane from Air Force One. The people who swooned over your so-called First-lady impropriety would have you go back to bustles and corsets if they had their way. Make it OK for First Ladies and all ladies to wear shorts when they are going on a hike after deplaning.

Nobody says a thing about men's attire except to be laudatory. President Obama could exit Air Force One in a thong, and the masses would applaud it because he is a guy, and guys rule the world. The guy-rule privilege attitude would follow if he deplaned in a Renaissance codpiece: same oohing and aahing about his cool and with-it attitude toward sartorial shibboleths.

Now hair: The NYT has an eye-opening piece today about how black women struggle with straightening or not straightening their hair. It seems black women's hair straightened ranks more acceptable to whites because it does not call attention to black women's nappy halos of unstraightened hair and seems more "white."

First, your daughters: Let Sasha and Malia-I get them mixed up- wear their hair as they want to. Be noncommittal but supportive. I think it would be a good thing if they both chose nappy. I think it's cute and idiosyncratic. The white girls will be jealous that they

lack nappy hair.

Here, again, guys are home free. Black men solve this problem with very short haircuts like that of your husband. That's a chicken-out. Robert Oppenheimer didn't cut his huge height of wiry Jewish hair until he needed to get national-security clearance and propitiate the bigots on the committee. The fact that he was a genius was not the answer to his freedom to wear big hair most of his life. His being a guy is the reason. A guy benefits from the permissive attitude of the public, and Oppenheimer was forgiven for being Jewish along with sporting nappy hair.

Here's your big assignment regarding making nappy hair a part of the American demographic. You get some leeway in this task because if you go nappy before the next presidential election, kiss the White House goodbye. None of the president's rhetorical flair will get y'all out of the uproar that the Republicans will make. Rush Limbaugh will go berserk. Your nappy hair will be part of the national dialogue and how it symbolizes your affinity for socialism and implies the denigration of white women, the ones the Black men raped in the South and got strung up because the carpetbaggers who invaded the South after the North defeated the South in the Civil War didn't bring as one of their nostrums IV Viagra to juice up white guys and make them feel sexually equal to the Black men.

Bide your time. After Mr. Obama gets elected for the second time, go nappy. No in-between gestures: I mean mega nappy. Stop straightening your hair at that strategic moment in history to begin the diminution of racial tensions. Somebody has to be first. I nominate you.

The slaves that you emerged from didn't straighten their hair. They were too busy picking cotton for the white man. Make your ancestors your role models in this matter of nappy.

Non-nappy, straightened hair signals slavish obeisance to white prejudice that keeps blacks in their place: down.

You now participate in that obscene prejudice, Ms. Obama, by having your hair straightened.

After the second election for Mr. Obama, say so long to temporizing. Go unashamedly, triumphantly nappy.

Nappy hair is not a black-only condition.

I come from a Georgia family of terminally curly-headed people. We are three-quarters English, one-quarter Irish, so I don't know where this gene came from. You can spot any member of my family across the town square of the little Georgia farming community the family inhabits by the size of the aureole of their Anglo-nappy hair.

My oldest daughter, Cathy, inherited this out-of-control Anglo nappy hair. She let it grow until she had a foot-long nappy wreath around her head in high school. She looked astonishing: splendid and astonishing.

One day she came home from school, the flossiest, most snobbish high school in town, with her hair in its nappy glory.

I looked up and saw her profile against the laundry-room's window.

"Cathy," I said, "what do your classmates say about your hair?"

"Mom," she replied, they call me Lion Girl." Cathy pronounced this anti-establishment riff with intrepid self-confidence.

We lost Cathy when she was only 28. I will always cherish that "Lion Girl" comment from her high-school years. It showed Cathy's confident insouciance and willingness to buck the prevailing winds of social prejudice.

That memory makes me proud of my oldest child. She called the high school Dancerettes "The Danceroos."

I hope your daughters are as brave and as intrepid as was my Cathy.


Lee Drury De Cesare

Proud mother of Cathy De Cesare

Drip, Drip, Drip

Thank you. Could I have a copy of the redacted child-abuse report from the Sheriff's office on the Toe-cracker case that Ms. Cobbe added to the file?

Did Mr. Gonzalez ask her to add the redaction, or did she do it on her own initiative?

You said the secretary's notes on the section in which Gonzalez summarized a number of things in which he was involved at the August 11th meeting. May I have that excerpt now? ldd

-----Original Message-----
From: Linda Cobbe]

Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009

10:32 AM

To: lee

Subject: Re:

Ms. DeCesare, the board travel guidelines were approved at the Aug. 19, 2008, board meeting and are available by going to the agenda online. I believe it was item 8.02. I haven't received the attorney information yet.

Linda E. Cobbe

External Communications Manager

Hillsborough County Public Schools

901 E. Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33602

813-272-4602 (O)

813-493-6964 (C)

813-272-4510 (F)

Our mission is to provide an education that enables each student to excel as a successful and responsible citizen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Faites Attention Pour Le Sans Culotte Wannabe

Here is a sans
coulotte; lacks only the red hat. If you copy it to your picture program, you can blow it up. I can't figure how to make these images I get from the Web bigger for my blog.

Ms, Cobbe: I await the lawyer pay information for 2007: how much taxpayers paid Mr. Gonzalez's firm and how much they paid firms whom Gonzalez recommended.

I believe the board has revised its travel-funds privileges since the outrage about how much Susan Valdes spent: $50,000 in a single year. May I have a copy of that as well? Thank you. lee drury de cesare

-----Original Message-----
From: Anonymous []
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 6:27 AM

Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Phyllis Scaglione Hamm Passes.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Phyllis Scaglione Hamm Passes":

Do you recall if Phyllis judged all those downtrodden farm workers by the clothes they wore?

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 3:26 AM

Lee responds:

Clothes signaled to her when Phyllis dealt with people with little money for vanity or fancy clothes during the times she worked for the poor and the homeless.

Through the ages the poor have worn rags or cast-off clothes of the well-heeled of society. "Sans-coulotte" was the term that referred to the ill-clad, ill-fed, and ill-equipped volunteers of the Revolutionary army during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars, but, above all, to the working-class radicals of the Revolution. From this comes the now slightly archaic term "sansculottism" or "sans-culottism," meaning extreme democratic principles.

I bet a poll of Phyllis's mourners would show they all want the universal health care that other industrialized countries have but which the United States drags its feet about because the well-dressed donors to politicians from the insurance and drug industry don't want poor people's messing with their obscene profits.

Poor sans culottes get their politics from the intellectual left. But mixed into this situation in the South is some considerable amount of racism, unfortunately. The sans culottes provide today as they did in the French Revolution the poorly clad and fed bodies who protest against the Let-Them-Eat-Cake royals.

The French sans-culottes were for the most part members of the poorer classes or leaders of the populace, but during the Reign of Terror, public functionaries and persons of good education styled themselves citoyens sans-culottes.

Poseurs wanted to blend in the crowd of triumphant sans culotte revolutionaries for glamour and for safety. The distinctive costume of typical sans-culottes featured the pantaloon (long trousers) - in place of the culottes (knee-britches) worn by the upper classes, hence the name "without breeches"), the carmagnole (short-skirted coat), the red cap of liberty, sabots (clogs, wooden footwear mainly worn in the countryside). Today the sabots are the cheap shoes manufactured in Third-World countries with leather uppers and rubber souls.

Lack of influence on royalty or pols is the story of the poor politically: they don't have the emblems of power: the words, the clothes, or the cars to impress their needs on political higher-ups. Elected officials pay them no attention because they lack these symbols of power: a major one being good clothing.

This lack of good clothes doesn't mean that the poor wouldn't like to have nice clothes of their choosing and that they know that the power people will scorn them because they are ill clad. A lot of the poor today dress out of the Salvation Army second-hand stores and thrift shops.

The clothes of most of the people at Phyllis's funeral were sans-culotte attire. Their clothes told me that the people she had worked to help all her life did not forget her in death.

Poor people have another mark of lack of money: their negative dental condition. They can get into the health-care- for-the-poor systems like Medicaid if they are alerted to them; I believe that is one of things that Phyllis did: show unsophisticated poor people how to migrate the health-care system. But poor people don't have money for the dentist. And dental care is not a benefit in government Medicaid I believe: hence the bad condition of the poor's teeth.

Since I am a registered nurse, I subconsciously check out people's appearance both for signals of their health status and, because clothes have their own language, their economic condition. I get lots of clues just by looking at people as I did when I nursed in the emergency rooms of hospitals and they walked in with gunshot or knife wounds on Saturday nights chiefly from the poorer sections of town.

I messed up and overdressed for Phyllis's funeral service. I wore a navy-blue pants suit. If I had been thinking , I would have worn dungarees with the pants-suit top.

Now it's your turn. Tell us what the couture habits of smartasses are. You doubtless inhabit that class in the clothing hit parade. Most people are puzzled by the one or even two nose rings that smartasses affect. What does that jungle jewelry connote in smartass psychology: solidarity with the pygmies?

A police profile would report that smartasses come from addresses that signal middle-to-upper-class families; these sans coullote pretenders want to affect the glamour of authenticity that they see in the sans-coulottes class that works in the fields around Hillsborough county's periphery--if they can get work. Proletariat bosses are reluctant to hire ill-dressed people. They are bad for the outfit's image.

I bet also that a regulation smart-ass such as you has been to the dentist in the last six months with your parents footing the bill.

Love and kisses, lee, who was born to a bona fide Georgia sans-coulotte family during the Depression. The conditions when I was born give me a good grasp of what poor means in all its ugly aspects--including the emblematic status of clothes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Phyllis Scaglione Hamm Passes

The Council of Trent Farm workers, homeless, and feminists gather to mourn the passing of one of their own: Phyllis Scaglione Hamm.

Dear Karen,

The crush of people around you at your mother's funeral service prevented my talking more to you about what a fine human being she was.

Your mother, Phyllis Scaglione Hamm, was one of us original feminists who founded the National Organization for Women 45 years ago in Tampa in the old McManis Room of the public library. We voted your mother in as one of our first presidents (I believe it was after attorney Clara Britton died while president).

Phyllis did a great job as NOW president, and we did lots of protesting under her leadership. We hopped on anything that degraded women and took up our picket signs and marched.

I recall our picketing Mass Brothers Department store, which was on Franklin Street then, for charging women, but not men, for alterations. As I recall, that was Phyllis's idea. Little Kim Goodwin, then about four or five, carried a sign she staggered along with, that said "Hems for Her."

Tom and I went to Kim's wedding in California a couple of years ago, where she is now a practicing gynecologist and recently gave birth to a little girl of her own.

The manager of Maas Brothers pranced out to chide us and huffed and puffed about our "unreasonableness." He claimed with great gravity that the reason the store charged women, but not men, for alterations was that "women sew."

Viagra had not been invented then, alas. Had it been, I could have asked him if he were Viagra dependent and wasn't he scared of having a four-hour erection that the ads describe so that he would have to go to the emergency room of Tampa General and have all the Emergency Room nurses laugh their heads off at him in the nurses' lounge.

Your mother was a woman of substance. She spent her life working for women's rights, farm-workers' rights, the rights of the homeless. If a mistreated group needed somebody to speak up for it because its members couldn't do it themselves, your mother would do the job.

Those who came to her funeral services represented the many downtrodden people that Phyllis helped in her life. Phyllis's mourners were not a bunch of the Bay Area's flossy politicians and society snoots in attendance. Present to say goodbye to Phyllis was the homely crowd of people grateful to her working for their well-being as long as she lived.

A person's balance in the Book of Life concerns what he or she has done to make the world a better place. Phyllis gets high marks for all the good she did in her life. Her memory will always be blessed for her good deeds. The world is a better place because she lived.

Phyllis was four years younger than I; but she always seemed to me to be older, more grave, and more responsible than I in our civil-rights work. I laughed my way thorough the Women's Movement early years. The sexists were so ridiculous that you had to laugh at them. I had a great time. It always seemed to me that we had so much more joy and hilarity in our women's- rights work than the grim and joyless misogynists of both sexes in government and out who opposed our efforts.

Phyllis's speeches were of dignity and substance when she accepted a speaking engagment to explain our cause. I, in contrast, wrote the text for our annual Barefoot and Pregnant Awards and told everybody that Phyllis and I had to sleep in the hotel room with the lesbian contingent at one conference because the other radical-feminist wussies wouldn't. Phyllis would have never done that. She was too dignified and serious.

I will miss your mother's being on the earth. I always knew Phyllis was out there somewhere working for some good cause. Hers was the kind of spirit we need more of.

Your mother was my friend and my hero. I will never forget her and never stop regretting that she is no longer with us.

That you were by her side when she died seems just right to me. She brought you into the world, and you kept to her side when she left it.

If you need a mother or a granny's ear, call one of us old members of the original NOW sisterhood. We will fill in for your mother. We will be Phyllis's ears and heart to heed your tale and give you the best advice that we can.



Ms. Phyllis Scaglione Hamm

Ms. Phyllis Scaglione Hamm

  • BORN: June 19, 1936
  • DIED: August 11, 2009
  • LOCATION: Temple Terrace, FL

Gathering of Friends
  • Friday August 21
    5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Blount & Curry, Terrace Oaks
  • 12690 N 56th Street
  • Temple Terrace, FL
  • View Map

Hamm, Phyllis Scaglione, 73, of Tampa passed away on August 11, 2009, with her daughter by her side. She is survived by daughter, Karen Walter (Bill Morrow); brothers, Orlando Scaglione, Jr. (Patti), and Ray Scaglione, Sr. (Katrina); and many loving family members and friends. Phyllis graduated from Jefferson High School in 1954 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. She was retired from the University of South Florida, where she held various positions including Equal Opportunity Specialist. Phyllis was active in many women’s organizations and was a founding member of WMNF Radio and a board member of Mighty Mutts, Inc. Her devotion to the ones she loved knew no limits and her self-sacrificing support of family was demonstrated until her last days with us. Friends are invited to a gathering of her remembrance from 5:30-8:30pm on Friday, August 21 at the Blount & Curry, Terrace Oaks Chapel, 12690 N 56th St., Temple Terrace. Flowers will be accepted or donations may be made in her memory to Mighty Mutts, Inc., PO Box 290492, Temple Terrace, FL, 33687.