Chief Branch Discipline Council
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
Mr. Gonzalez got the job as hand-off, I infer, from
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
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
As I recall his recital of forebears' origin, he claims them to have been an ancient family in
In sum, what Mr. Gonzalez lacks in legal competence he makes up for in venerable aristocracy, something
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.
lee drury de cesare
c: All School Board Members and
A bill to be entitled
Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of
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."
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.
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