Outside Florence on my way to see Michaelangelo's David
School-board candidates: Here is my take on April Griffin for the benefit of her two opponents; I will post on Jennifer Fallaiero soon. So far Falliero has only one opponent. Too bad. She is the worst member of the board and needs replacement. You will read about Jennifer on my blog. I won't send out any more letters to you. Lee
School-board candidates: Here is my take on April Griffin for the benefit of her two opponents; I will post on Jennifer Fallaiero soon. So far Falliero has only one opponent. Too bad. She is the worst member of the board and needs replacement. You will read about Jennifer on my blog. I won't send out any more letters to you. Lee
First comment 0n this blog entry:
Board Member, Dist. 4 Stacy R. White
School Board Member, Dist. 4 Curt Miller
School Board Member, Dist. 6 Scott David Barrish
School Board Member, Dist. 6 John T. Mattox Filed
School Board Member, Dist. 6 April Griffin
School lowdown at LeeDruryDeCesaresCasting-RoomCouch.blogspot.com
Jennifer Falliero has not filed. I think the candidates have until June to file. I don't see Candy Olson's filing yet either on the Supervisor-of -Elections site; but I believe she comes up for election in '10. I will deal with her record when she files. Her performance is a lulu.
I think I am on track to get a teacher to run for Candy's seat. This child grew up across the street from our family in Beach Park and now lives with her husband and two children a few houses from the Bay Shore. That's a South Tampa coup: to move from Beach Park to the Bay Shore. She comes from a political family and should have the network and savvy to win a race even with a Precambrian-era incumbent of Candy's ilk.
Candy has suffered a South Tampa loss of face with having to sell her house and decline into a condo after her divorce from her former husband, rumored to have come out as gay and saying he "had never been happier" after he left the closet and Candy. I wrote to Ye Mystique Krewe's social arm to confirm the rumor. Any outfit that indulges in that tacky orthography is prima facie a ding dong outfit. Ye Mystique didn't answer. My Southern mother would say they were raised in a barn.
I don't think a man gay, straight, or bi would find life with Candy beguiling.
This exotic divorce is not something a timid opponent would post on an election pamphlet perhaps, but I would. People do not vote for a candidate about whose personal life they laugh out loud.
The only way that pathologies in the school system will lessen is through new blood on the board. The current board to a person ranks repository of greed for power; it's in a holding pattern for incumbents who hang on to the perch for the social and political luster they are convinced it gives them The well being of the schools is peripheral to the gaggle of characters who now adorn the board.
The scary thing is that the 2010 winners serve four, not two years. So if these incumbent turkeys get in again, the public is stuck with them for four years, not two. It's time to start bucking for term limits.
Meanwhile, I shall post summaries of two incumbents' records and characters for their opponents listed above. Ms. Griffin has two challengers, so I start with her profile.
Observation teaches that unsophisticated school-board hopefuls think that good intentions without supporting data and anti-incumbent ammunition are all they need for election. Their lack of information makes them look feeble in efforts to unseat incumbents. I supply some data to the hopefuls. They should attend school board meetings to assess the situation they want to enter.
Candidates can use Public-Information privilege to get information from the Public Affairs Office. They have a government-in-the-sunshine statute that gives them the right to that information. The Public Affairs person is Linda Cobbe. She can be snippy, but she is competent.
The major dilemma in all elections is reciprocal ignorance: voters don't research candidates and issues. Voter lack of interest exacerbates challengers' uphill struggle in school-board races because even though pious public consensus intones that schools reign most important issue in elections, voters' real view is that schools are a trifling concern--whereas whether to fund a new stadium is vital.
The challenger who unseats an incumbent has both the problem of voter disinterest and also his or her lack of information about what's going on in the schools. They don't know their opponent's record as well. I have cringed when I heard challengers display ignorance of vital issues on the stump and incumbents' sly gloss of these issues to evade scrutiny of their record in public forums. Incumbents are disingenuous. Let's be candid: they lie like rugs. They learn to lie more fluently in office. This skill is what they misconstrue as statesmanship.
If opponents don't attend board meetings--and I recommend that they do--then I suggest they read my blog. The raw quality of some entries may rattle them if they are prudes and narrow thinkers, but they will not be ignorant if they keep up and read past postings and reader comments. Caveat: We don't need any more prissy moral poseurs on the board. Board members have invoked morality with straight faces while voting in board adulteress Jennifer Falliero as their chair.
What are my qualifications for this job of candidate education? I am of the teacher genus. I taught for 28 years as professor of English at Hillsborough Community College and served as FUSA union president there for a time. Mine was the first FUSA presidency in which teachers picketed the Davis islands administration enclave when then-president Tammini-Hall Mort Shandberg tried to bust the union and evade affirmative action obligations of a federal contractor.
Shanberg got the job rumor says by undermining HCC's first president with board members who wanted a campus in Ybor City. The deal was that Shandberg would build a campus in Ybor City that the sitting president did not favor if the board fired this president and passed the job to Shandberg. It worked. Crooked politics are a given in presidential appointments at HCC. Things in higher education are not as bad for teachers as they are in public schools because no college or university can shut down free speech without becoming a laughing stock in the academic world. I will never lose if I have free speech. I will mop up the floor with the opposition with words. This is my gift from a family double helix filled with the genes of fluent, vicious, unctuous, irrepressable, spellbinding speakers and writers on both sides of my family.
I know grammar, literature, rhetoric, and linguistics; I also know the academic system inside out. Its shucking-and-jiving politics represent my particular area of expertise. I have read Machiavelli and understood him. A knowledge of Genghis Khan also assists my comprehension of school politics.
I know that most unions are in bed with the administration. CTA has been for the two years I have observed the board. However, it has a new president, so we must assess his devotion to teachers' interest in comparison to his sucking up to the administration. I rely on people to report any CTA sucking-up sightings. Serious board candidates will set up a meeting with the CTA president and grill him on issues that he should be on top of. The new CTA president has a law degree among other academic gewgaws. In his job guts are more important than a law degree.
I can't tell you how many nationally respected scholars I have worked with or taken classes from who were gutless wimps when it came to challenging wrongdoing. Do you remember how Hitler kicked out all the Jewish scholars, faculty and students in the schools, colleges, and universities while the rest of the faculty and students looked the other way? People of that puisne ilk do not confine themselves to Nazi Germany; they inhabit schools, colleges, and universities right here in the land of the democracy; they ignore outrages going on right in front of them, hunker down, and hope somebody else does the tough work of keeping democracy up and running.
Before exiting the hospitals and going back to school in NYC, first to Columbia, then to Queens, then to the State University at Stony Brook, I worked as a registered nurse. We were poor and needed my salary to care for our four children. My nursing experience means I know when people are malingering and shucking and jiving about not doing the hard work that keeps our country and our institutions democratic. That knowledge comes from saying to dozens of post-operative patients, "Move, Mr. Jones, move! I don't care if it hurts. If you don't move, you are going to get a pulmonary embolism that will turn you into matter that does not feel anything."
God help me, I was also an airline stewardess as well during the days when a stewardess had to have a nurse's or bachelor's degree and good legs.
If challengers of incumbents don't have courage or brains sufficient to confront the thuggery of the ROSSAC system, things won't change. We need at least one brave, determined person sitting on the board dais. A plethora of the gutless now inhabit the board. Some like Carol Kurdell and Candy Olson are parochial board tyrants who vex and nag other members; but they don't go outside the board and talk back to voters. They are not that dumb. Talking back to voters they are scared to do.
The board does not need more of these two's ilk. The challenger who wins a place on the board to replace April and Jennifer should ignore Candy and Carol's nagging and go full steam ahead to stamp out the crooked features that the ROSSAC thugs--administration and board--have put in place.
If challengers don't have the moxie to ask for items to come off the agenda for public discussion, they should not run. If they don't have the intrepidity to introduce rogue Roberts Rules motions in medias res while Ms. Elia, the attorney, and most of the board try to slither past such outbreaks of democracy by nudging forward the secretly arrived-at Consent Agenda, they should not run for the board. If they will speak up and challenge the dog-and-pony show that comprises board meetings, they need to run for the good of the schools.
Timid specimens should hunker down in the aggrandisement in which they live and shake their fists at the TV. They can continue to make theatrically empty threats about denizens who sit on the board dais now and do no citizens' work but only the administration's and board's business to preserve their status of power over tax money and other unlovely perquisites for which they claw their way onto to the board to relish.
Jobs given to buddies and sycophants and no-bid contracts are at present covered-up board business. They ride by on the Consent Agenda with silent collusion. If prospective board members don't know and won't use Roberts Rules on the dais (none of the current members do know Roberts Rules: new chair Susan Valdes does not) to bring up a controversial issue for discussion so that viewing voters can find out the board's opinions, they should stay out of a school-board race. If challengers lack sufficient guts to intervene in a discussion--or non-discussion (the board members' standard ploy to evade responsibility in order to protect their job and bypass government in the sunshine), they should not waste filing money to run. If they, however, are up to bellowing, "I move that we discuss this issue by bringing it off the Cooked Consent Agenda because the voters need to hear about this outrage," they should run, run, run for the board.
If voters can get just one gutsy board member on the podium not afraid to challenge the authority of the resident moribund, complicit board-and-administration crooks, that person could cause a cataclysm that would bury the malefactors on the board and the administration. Waiting for that event is almost like waiting for the Messiah.
I would like to support a candidate who knows a few lacks and crimes of the present board and administration who promises in writing to expose these toxic issues, pound away at them, and cure these problems by tenacity and sheer force of personality. This challenger would not be afraid to hold press conferences in the lobby after a board meeting to debrief the public. That would put the fear of God in ROSSAC. If a challenger is too ignorant and too scared to open his or her mouth against board-and- administration malfeasance and to hold a press conference to enlarge on this belief, this craven should accept that he or she does not have the right stuff, should exit the race and stay home to fume in private about what he or she would do if only he or she were on the school board.
Any opponent too prissy to use a candidate's personal failings (e.g. Falliero's ROSSAC-site adultery with Public Affairs Supervisor Marc Hart, fired by the administration--i.e. Elia and Valdez--to protect Falliero's "reputation")such as April Griffin's chacterological deficiency of gutlessness may as well kiss sitting on the board goodbye. Another board cipher will not help the schools. A winning opponent will come out swinging and challenge Griffin's cowardice and collusion with the administrative torture of teachers by the Professional Standards office as an opening gambit.
The text of this pointed question is, "Ms. Griffith, please explain to me and the voters why you have allowed the administration to use the Professional Standards office as a tool to file false charges against teachers to shut them up about the schools or lose their job. And explain also what you have done about the Professional Standards Office's having stacks of teachers' records whom administrators have filed charges against but not one administrator's record of Professional Standards charges and punishment.
And pray tell why, Ms. Griffith, you didn't demand that the administrator at King High who called pubescent boys into his office, who ordered them to shut the door, who demanded that they take off their shoes and socks and give him their feet to fondle have a psychiatric examination for foot fetishism practiced in the schools on students on school property?" Did the King High foot fondler's administrative status protect him while a teacher would have been hung out to dry and fired?"
Prospective opponents should leave the county, its children, and its citizens who foot the bill to muddle through with the present gang of thugs until some stalwart wunderkind turns up with the strength and the courage to sit on the board podium and pop the whip to clean out the board-and-administration Augean stables.
That board messiah should run, run, run. And I will get out my pom poms to cheer "Sis Boom Bah!"
This message I shall send by snail mail to challengers below. If they want subsequent comments on their opponents, they must read my blog. They are also free to comment on my blog if they have the cuhones to do so.
Stacy R. White (This guy is a druggist, I believe.)
P.O. Box 1056
Valrico, FL 33595-1056 Phone: (813) 507-0580
Incumbent: Jennifer Falliero: Has not yet filed for re-election
Scott David Barrish
10739 Keys Gate Drive Riverview, FL 33579-4052
Phone: (813) 391-5136 Incumbent: April Griffin
John T. Mattox
8001 Dell Drive
Tampa, FL 33615 Phone: (813) 382-6980
Incumbent: April Griffin
I have observed Board didoes* and gleaned public information for over two years after my friend Bart Birdsall became target of a cooked-up Professional Standards charge. This two-year observation means I have the Big Picture down cold. The false charge against Bart resulted I infer from Ms. Elia's desire to strut her new power as superintendent and to express oblique homophobia because Bart is gay.
La Elia likely didn't want the political primitives in the Medieval fastnesses on the periphery of the county who hunker down in the fens and bogs to know that schools under her superintendency employed gays. La Elia with La Linda Kipley as home-ec-qualified toadying sidekick* thus cooked up a charge against Birdsall, had the computer department perform a fishing expedition on his emails, and threatened his job because he had exercised his free-speech rights in the community.
Free speech is the first thing any aspiring school board-candidate who believes the oath of office that says he or she will protect the Constitution should take on.
The school board, the administration, and the overpaid, complicit board attorney, Tom Gonzalez, do not believe in free speech. It is the first item in the Constitution, but the board-and- administration clan of scofflaws backed by their overpaid consiglieri ($275,000 in one year) find free speech from citizens inconvenient for their lust to dominate the tax money that pours over the transom from Tallahassee based on the head count of students. The board and administration want to have the Public Affairs Laundromat sanitize any information about the schools so that the public will not know how they really run them. Citizen free speech sabotages that goal. Any teacher such as the persecuted Steve Kemp who has a blog is a special target because a teacher blog sometimes outs the outrages that go on in the schools. And this happens in a democracy that is standard for the world only because people elect deficient board members who foster this vile activity of suppression by the administration of teachers.
Board and administration use tax money hey-nonny-nonny to bloat their salaries and to indulge in no-bid hires and no-bid contracts for buddies and sycophants. This hiring pattern results in an administration chocoblock with C and D students who majored in non-challenging subjects in college. Tom Gonzalez for one has a no-bid contract, which is why he claims Title VII and equal-opportunity clauses in federal contracts don't apply to contracts held by the schools. I asked Linda Kipley for Gonzalez's honors in college (went to Florida State) such as PBK as an undergraduate or Law Review as a law student. I have received no data so far. We can guess what that means.
It's as if the board advertised, "If you are a C or D student in basket weaving, sign up for a $150,000 per annum administrative job in the Hillsborough County schools, where mediocrity is no impediment to a climb up the administrative ladder. The only sine qua non is to worship Ms. Elia and bow to her every whim. There is one Ph.D. in the administration now in computers. That's because the rest of the administrators and board members haven't figured out e-mail yet.
Candidates should pay attention to Ms. Elia's behavior in her mini-dictatorship. Ms. Elia got shopping fever on some recent tax-paid trip and bought a multi-million-dollar gee-gaw called "The Spring" that had failed at other institutions. She did not bother to get teachers' input before she made this impulse buy even though teachers had to implement it. Now it's failing in Hillsborough County. But what's a few million dollars of tax money squandered by an impulsive superintendent in a buying spree? When some question came up about the program, April Griffin offered the mega-ninny suggestion to have a work shop on the situation. The work shop should have preceded Ms. Elia's nutty splurge on a failed program, not after. This suggestion means to me that Elia did not even bother to inform the board of her impulse buy. But what the heck:Tax money is play money to the board and administration. Susan Valdes, current chair, spent $50,000 in one year on travel while the county's poor children can't participate in class work because their parents can't afford to buy them supplies.
With their ability to squander tax money, board members can strut around town and fly hither and yon around the country staying in first-class hotels. They can gather at tax-paid school political party hoedowns with troughs of tax-paid high-end grub supplied to them along with room service. Free food may be a major reason why the current incumbents ran for the board. If you don't think the board members are eating their way through their incumbency, come to a meeting and view their sizes. They stay clear of the need to educate children in nutrition and exercise for the obesity epidemic among the young because they themselves are overweight and provide poor role models for diet and exercise. Only one board member is not overweight: Jennifer Falliero. She has, however, more serious ethical problems than being a fat bad role model for the students.
The which board member shuts down free speech when she is chair. I tried to quiz Chair Falliero on her record of school-site adultery. She and the Jolly Green Giant head of security colluded in a pre-arranged ejecting of me from a meeting on the basis that I had "exceeded" my time.
The Jolly Green Giant gendarme towered over me in the foyer and threatened to call the police to arrest me if I didn't "leave the premises" immediately. How I wish I had told him, "Go ahead, by bucko."
My ten grandchildren would have gone wild with glee if their granny adorned a jail cell. They would have descended en mass to bring me a McDonald's burger, fries, and milkshake. They would have taken digital pictures galore for immediate circulation and for posterity. I would have been the family legend for centuries, the Number One topic at all the extended clan's Thanksgiving dinners.
The overpaid Mr. Gonzalez did not intervene in Falliero's bashing of the Constitution. Heck, he has better things to do such as eating chips and swilling Coke on the dais during board meetings. He finds the First Amendment inconvenient, too, once having issued an oblique threat to sue me for extortion for my saying that if the schools did not begin to advertise jobs and not award them to relatives and sycophants that I would ask the federal government for a compliance review of the Hillsborough County schools to see if they deserved to keep their federal contracts that require equal-opportunity employment practices. When he found out that I not only knew the First Amendment's scope but also of the existence of the SLAPP law, he subsided.
We teachers know dumb and smart. This veteran teacher sitting berfore her CRT screen now says that Mr. Gonzalez would not smash into the upper reaches of IQ assessments. His Stanford-Binet score would not coincide with the $275,000 yearly pay shakedown of taxpayers that he pulls off with the board's and administration's collusive disregard for taxpayers.
After Falliero and the Jolly Green Security Giant had evicted me to squelch my free speech, Le Gonzalez gave adulterous Chair Falliera a tardy private lesson on the First Amendment. Imagine a person's running for public office, winning, and taking the oath of office not knowing what the First Amendment is about. Imagine voters dumb enough to elect her. Help us, Jesus and John Dewey.
Falliero acted like Nero as chair. When she gets a gavel in her hand, she becomes drunk with power. She bangs the gavel, waves it as an ominous sign of her might, and once told April Griffin that she would expel her from the board room if she didn't shut up. Griffin swallowed the threat meekly since she has the guts of a butterfly. She should have said, "Try that, sister, and you will find yourself under the dais with a gavel in your mouth."
Besides lack of guts, Griffin suffers from marginal literacy.
The opponents of Griffin should go to her Web site to see this serious issue that disqualifies her from leading a school system as board member.
View Griffin's blog to find the following samples among many others of basic illiteracy.
Board Member Griffin's Illiteracy on the World Wide Web:
Building leaders through hands (hyphenated adjective before a noun) on experiences
• The Food Project is a hands on (hyphenated adjective before a noun) experience that teaches kids from all over, (redundant comma cuts off a restrictive participial phrase) including the inner cities; (dead wrong superfluous semicolon A semicolon is a weak period; it usually comes between parts of equal rank) not only where their food comes from, (redundant comma but [truncated correlative "not only but also') leaderships skills, civic duty, etc.
• I have met with many teachers (comma: compound sentence) and I have heard time and time again from good teachers who...
• She has been married to Brian Griffin for 19 years (comma for compound sentence) and they are the proud parents of two sons (comma for nonrestrictive adjective clause )who attend Hillsborough County public schools.
• But as a student I remember having to write book reports on various presidents, (redundant comma separates compound gerund object phrases) and having to memorize speeches.
Never (hyphen for sudden interruption) and I mean never, (not comma: hyphen to close the sudden interruption) did my mother have to (the?) ability to opt out of my doing school work.
These punctuation errors are trifles, you say, and we should overlook them since Griffin did not have the get-up-and-go to work for a college degree? That's right: her terminal education is high school. And whichever high school it was let April graduate without mastering basic punctuation.
Employers don't think inability to punctuate, to write literate sentences, and even to construct reports are trivial. They complain that the schools don't send them literate people to hire.
If a person wants to flip burgers in McDonald's or clean buildings at night when the office staff is gone, that person should do what Board Member Griffin has done: ignore the importance of her own education. Eighty-five thousand more people moved to the unemployment line this quarter; I bet a lot of them are not up to the high- tech jobs and literacy skills needed to compete.
Parents want their children to come out of secondary school with at least the ability to punctuate correctly. A board member who has not mastered this basic skill does not assure them that she cares about her children's literacy since she doesn't care about her own and won't support with vigor the county's children's mastery of this basic element of education. There are two universities and a community college in Tampa. Board member Griffin should matriculatein one.
Incumbents are hard to unseat. So if I were running against Ms. Griffin, I would pound this literacy issue. Parents want their children to learn how to write and punctuate. Those high-school graduates who don't master basic punctuation have a hard time getting into good colleges and universities. Any candidate who can't do the basic chore of punctuation herself or himself is not up to the job of school-board member. That's April's situation.
Opponents' question to Ms. Griffin when she and they are trapped on the podium in a public forum: "Ms. Griffin: explain why your own educational status is not an impediment to a school system dedicated to literacy." Dig in and follow up this query with more having to do with the necessity of a board member's having a college degree. The audience will have some educated parents: advise them to check Griffin's blog and quiz her themselves.
One gets a point across by repeating it. To teach a student to avoid dangling modifiers, a teacher must repeat, repeat, repeat the lesson until it sinks in. The same thing goes for voters. The challenger must teach voters the flaws of the incumbent over and over again; otherwise, like reluctant students, voters go into the voting booth and vote for the familiar incumbent name.
An excellent candidate did not succeed against Carol Kurdell in the most recent election. La Kurdell has been on the board so long that her board seat has moss on it. So after such a stretch (12 or 13 years I think) as an incumbent, "Kurdell" is engraved in voters' reptilian brain. A successful candidate against her would have engraved another message: that Kurdell shuts down free speech for citizens who want to comment on the board agenda.
Besides cowardice and lack of education, lack of sponsorship of the First Amendment is a third issue of vulnerability for Griffin. She has never challenged any board member who deprives a citizen or another board member of First-Amendment rights. She did not point out to Falliero when the latter was board chair that she had no standing to kick her, Griffin, or even me, a mere citizen, out of a meeting. She did not challenge Carol Kurdell when Kurdell was chair and refused to let me speak on board issues marked for citizen comment. Kurdell and toady Steve Heggarty hinted the reason for denying me free speech was that I had Alzheimer's. That would be a good thing to put on flyers for voters in nursing homes and senior centers. That Kurdell's anti-Constitutional act was a shutdown of a citizen's free-speech rights bothered no board members. But Griffin has modeled repeated pettite appercus on the podium that she believes in free speech. Talk is not action. Griffin has sat silent and let a free-speech shutdown happen even to herself much less to citizens. A determined opponent will ask her to account for her dishonoring the First Amendment. The opponent should bore in on this issue. Americans are jealous of their free-speech rights. They don't trust pols who try to shut them up.
Ms. Griffin suffers a personality flaw that renders her ineffective board member. Let's be plain here: She lacks guts. Any of the board quidnuncs can terrify and shut her up. The press reported that Griffin once slammed out of a room when Jennifer Pole Girl Falliero said something snippy to her. Griffin should have not exited in a hissy: she should have stood her ground and fired back at the Pole Girl, "Get lost, sister, or take on another adultery campaign." I think Roberts Rules does not frown on the semiotics at shooting birds at jerks. At least I am interpreting it that way. The bottom line is that voters don't want a coward to represent them.
When she first came on the board, Griffin made one stab at being a forceful, innovative candidate: she asked that an item be taken off the consent agenda for discussion. The item was the approval of a contract for a retired administrator who had gone into the contracting business in his field after retirement from the school system. This was example of no-bid contracts for buddies that the board and administration use with flagrant disregard for saving taxpayers' money by accepting bids and going with the lowest bid. To make the matter worse, the board blazons on anything not nailed down: "We are an equal-opportunity employer." So that takes us to the realm of big-time political lying about a scummy board-and-administration practice that bleeds taxpayer money and gives it to chums.
The ritual La Griffin interrupted by asking for this buddy-administrator item to come off the agenda for discussion highlights the lack of government in the sunshine that the board and administration indulge in. The board and administration make decisions in a ROSSAC Star Chamber out of the public eye. They engrave these behind-the-scenes decisions on cement papyrus in the ceremonial hands-off record that rolls by the board on the Consent Agenda. Green lights up on members' desks to shoo the Consent Agenda off stage unexamined. Red stop lights don't ever appear.
When Griffin and I were still on speaking terms, I complained to her about lack of government in the sunshine. Her response--and this shows how little she knows about democratic government--was "But you don't' know how much we do behind the scenes." She didn't understand that she had just revealed violation of the government-in-the-sunshine law.
I saw Griffin in the lobby in animated conversation with lawyer Gonzales during a board meeting. This exchange I inferred models her antipathy to or ignorance of open government: I should have gone up to them and said, "Why don't y'all discuss this hot issue on the podium in the full glare of government in the sunshine so voters can know what's going on?"
When Griffin gets a challenge--usually from Candy--on the podium, her answer is a muffled "I would like to discuss this off the podium." Why not discuss it on the podium for voters' open-government benefit" Why doesn't Griffin have the moxie to say, "Fire away, Ms. Candy-poo. I'll give you back as good as you dish out. sugarbritches."
A determined opponent would nail Griffin on her lack of support of government in the sunshine--not once but over and over and over again. Think dangling modifiers.
Carol Kurdell and Candy Olson, resident board battleaxes, slapped Griffin down when she asked for the no-bid contract to come off the consent agenda for public discussion. They told her she was "disloyal to the staff." Anybody who didn't have the grit and wit to snap back "My loyalty is to the voters, not to the staff" is not ready for prime time. Such displays reinforce my suspicion that Griffin would not soar into the upper reaches of the Stanford Binet.
After that Candy-Carol rebuke on Griffin's asking for the retired administrator's no-bid contract to come off the agenda for discussion, Griffin's newcomer courage drained out of her. She subsided to become one of Elia's routine board androids. That's her zombie status at present.
As board android service, Griffin pleaded with a group of Alafia parents in back of the board auditorium not to go up to the podium to speak on the issue of their refusal to accept any longer the toxic principal Smith because of her multiple failings in that job. Griffin told the parents their speaking before the board "would harm the schools." Nonsense: their airing their opinions would have helped the schools and made other parents vow to speak to the board on issues which they disputed as well.
Griffin was not concerned with protecting the students and the schools; she had morphed into an apple-polisher for Elia. She had become a go-along-to-get-along android committed to protecting the board-and-administration franchise, not the schools and the students.
Griffin even went with Falliero--yes, the same one that made Griffin slam out of a room because the Pole Girl insulted her and on another occasion ordered her out of the board room when La Jennifer was chair--on a top-secret mission to the embattled Alafai principal to get her to resign with the carrot of Elia's providing her another job paying the same money that she made as a principal. Had I been Griffin, it would have been a cold day in hell before I cooperated with the Pole Girl in anything.
Elia has fulfilled her promise and manufactured a job for Alafia mess-up principal Smith that is nothing but featherbedding. The featherbedding job pays her $60,000-a-year principal's-job wages. I wonder how this jibes with Griffin's and all the board's pledge to "save every taxpayer penny."
Elia had even offered to pay the $4,500 each for Ms. Smith's and her assistant principal's tuition at an Eckerd program to teach them how to be human beings if the parents would keep Smith as principal of Alafai, but the fed-up parents said "no way." To date, no board member questioned this splurge of taxpayer money nor the manufactured job nor the reason why Smith did not get a Professional Standards charge against her that a teacher would have garnered along with crucifixion in the parking lot. Her opponent might ask Griffin to explain the ethics and funding of the Alafai Smith caper and the rewarding of the highly unskilled principal with a made-up job accompanied by principal pay in a recession that is second only to the Depression in severity.
The snag for the the board and administration is that they need teachers to teach the student head count that gives the tax revenues to the ROSSAC grandees to continue the board's and administration's power and community pretense of being patrons of education.
But the board and administration don't like teachers. The reason evolves as a part of the ritual split that takes place at graduation from colleges and universities. Smart graduates head for the classroom. Dumb ones with shallow degrees head for administration, where the money is. There they bloat their salaries and lord it over teachers from their administrative power perches. Ms. Elia's salary is $300,000: nine times that of a beginning teacher who often must work a second job to make ends meet. And $47,000 of Elia's bloated salary is "bonus" for the rise in student scores that comes from teachers' work. The board sanctions that theft.
An opponent should ask April why she rubberstamps a deal that rips off the teachers. The opponent could also ask April to justify board members' salaries of over $40,000 when a beginning teachers start at $33,000. Teachers do real work. Current board members are poseurs and drones in the education system who lolligag on taxpayers' time.
The board and administration won't allow teachers and students a set place on the agenda to comment on the running of the schools. Even at HCC with its toxic administration, board meetings begin with student, teacher, and citizens' comment time. The County schools' board and administration regard themselves as denizens of the Big House. The students and teachers are field workers who do the work that brings in tax money to the Big House; hence students and teachers deserve no place on the board agenda because they are institutional low lives.
Teachers dare not complain about anything. The board and administration use the Professional Standards office to keep teachers in fear of losing their jobs by cooking up charges against them or by augmenting a trifle that a teacher has stumbled into which the administration can pass on to a Professional-Standards as a firing offense. Professional Standards keeps a teacher watch list and waits like spiders for a teacher on the list to do some little thing that triggers the administration to leap up and file a Professional-Standard-lose-your-job charge against them.
My buddy Bart's case was one such. Steve Kemp's recent child-abuse case was another. Kemp was on punishnebt leave for a year for a charge that the sheriff threw out the first day the administration filed it.
Then Steve had to serve five more school days without pay as part of the settlement for an offense which he had not committed. Not one board member, including Griffin, has ever asked that a committee of administrators, teachers, and parents review the Professional Standards record and its procedures.
Griffin certainly has not. She is too terrified that Les Candy and Kurdell will accuse her of "disloyalty to the staff," on which taunt she will go into a Betty Boop dither and begin to gibber.
I suggested that Steve Kemp ask Ms. Griffin for an interview on his situation while the administration was trying to terrify him into giving up his blog. Griffin met with him. That's good. But she told him to be quiet about the meeting but that "good things were happening behind the scenes." Whisper. Whisper.
The logical question to ask about this sneaking around to help teachers migrate the vicious punishment apparatus of the Professional Standards office is this: What is wrong with a board member's helping a teacher out in the open? Why must it be secret?
One would infer that since Griffin says she is a supporter of teachers that she would be proud for voters to know that she goes out of her way to support them. Evidently not. She is so scared of Elia and board condemnation for assisting a teacher that she hushes up any contact she has with teachers in trouble with the zeig heil Professional Standards gulag.
The public likes teachers. It does not like administrators. A savvy opponent of Griffin's would nail her on this advice to a teacher to keep their meeting secret. The opponent would repeat the question "Why do dishonor teachers this way, Ms. Griffin?" until it stuck in voters' minds.
Amid April's basic punctuation-error pile-up on her Web page is the chirpy sign-off of "At your service." Whose service? It should belong first to the voters. A logical person would have to say that April has rapidly rolled over to be at the service of the administration and board's power lust. She has become just one of the ROSSAC gang in a constant status of going to the mattresses to save board-and-administration power over tax money and other privileges.
Any opponent of Griffin for the board seat who can't take these data and give Griffin enough hell so that voters learn what she has not been doing to help the students and the schools and instead what she has done to help only the board and administration bloodsuckers needs courage injections him- or herself.
We must not leave Superintendent Elia unanalyzed. She will be the person whom a new board member must face down or buckle under to. She is at the power center of the shoddy doings backstage in running the schools. To give you some flavor of her management style, she piled an extra class on teachers without extra pay and didn't even give them the courtesy of notice so that they could comment. She as well forced teachers to inflate student grades so that she would look better with the state school bureaucracy. The board sat mute and did not rebuke her for these infractions.
Teachers poured into the board room to protest the imposition of another class without pay. I attended and learned a lot from observing the dynamics of board-teacher relations.
The board sat in sullen silence and showed teachers little respect or empathy. Dr. Lamb, then chair, said that teachers' applauding each other's comments violated Roberts Rules. Dr. Lamb knows nothing about Roberts Rules. That ruling was mere persiflage of an ignorant man who wanted to rebuke teachers for daring to stick up for themselves. He didn't have the moxie to utter the truth: "We on the board hate you teacher proletariat. Get out of here and go back to fields to tote that barge and lift that bale and leave the running of the schools to us overlords knowledgeable about milking the system we have crafted for all it's worth."
The superintendent is a small woman with a big reputation for leadership via bullying. No administrator loses his or her job except by pissing off Elia. She is not tall, about 5' 2" I hazard. I regard Ms. Elia's as a short, dumpy little individual who, even clad in a pricey St. John's knit, which usually smoothes out bulges and which her bloated salary affords, she still looks like a small sack of potatoes. Her power is not attributable to her prepossessing appearance, however. My inference is that it comes from malignant ambition, daring, and sadism via bullying. I also believe she didn't get enough praise as a child for she is famished for praise. I believe Ms. Elia's mother died recently. I would have loved to have talked to the lady about Elia's childhood or, better, have Uncle Sigmund conduct the interview.
Elia has a bachelor's from a small upstate New York college that had grammar and punctuation errors on its Web page when I checked it. Her major was history, a respectable major in a good school. But I judge this not to be a good school. My guess is that she never cracked Hamilton's Federalist Papers, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and forget about Thucydides' Peloponnesian War.
Ms. Elia has one power attribute: a booming lower-register voice. I have always thought that she would make a good TV anchor or tobacco auctioneer. There was a persistent rumor that she cussed out underlings in her office in street argot. I wrote and asked her if she did. She didn't answer, so I asked her if she did in a public meeting. She did not answer; but I have not heard of any more cussings-out rumours' occurring in the superintendent's office. That tells us that Elia is not uneducable.
Reports say that Ms. Elia's career in the schools was a drive to the top from the minute she stepped in the door. She was obliging and even flattering to those who could assist this goal; she was wretched to underlings. She had the nerve to apply for the superintendent job despite not having the cited Ph.D. She had done her spade work in the subterranean promotion subterranean schools' racket to achieve the goal. She scoped out board psyches and knew her prey.
The board responded like trained seals. Its members reduced the terminal degree to Elia's master's ; they found flaws in the other candidates with PhD's from distinguished institutions and with distinguished records of experience in administration. The board discovered that Elia's meager in-house experience of managing a department that dealt with building and real-estate adequate even though in Elia's tenure in that local schools' management job a real-estate scam came to light when a reporter from the SPTimes walked in off the street ands spotted a it. Elia said she had not noticed this problem right under her nose. So much for her administrative vigilance. In that job, she overbuilt classrooms so that her first chore as superintendent was to perform a redistricting that badly upset communities of children and parents.
Mysteriously, the board chose Elia, the resume of whom was the least impressive. I reviewed the file of the candidates and insist on the fact that Elia's credentials failed against those of her competitors for superintendent.
To cover its gluteals, the board ran a "nationwide" ad for a superintendent for $35,000, subsidized by taxpayers, of course. Ironically, taxpayers funded this cover-up that kept them in the dark. Griffin was not yet on the board to vote for Elia. But my bet is that she would have done so had she been sworn in by that time. She is now certainly an Elia deciple.
What was the Elia attraction for the board? Here's my intuitive analysis: She was an in-house candidate. She was a known quantity that board members felt would not disturb their incumbency and require them to do more work as a snooty PH.D. from Columbia might demand.
One of Elia's political coups was to get the idea across to the board that she would go easy on board members and prop up their self-inflating pretenses. This phenomenon occurred in some kind of political osmosis that defies logic. This politically insidious conduct is where Elia excels. She is intellectually mediocre; but she is politically canny. She knows how to manipulate such insecure people as sit on the current board.
The board always picks an insider for reasons of their own survival and wellbeing. They excavated Earl Lennard from the bowels of the schools in the vo tech fastness of sluggish intellectual ferment. I would stake my reputation on his buying his thesis at USF's school of education.
Just how La Elia captured the power of the superintendency is a psychological enigma of board incompetence, sloth, and fear of the unknown. The board is hip deep in its responsibility for inflicting Elia on the schools. Its members don't have the courage or the care for the students to hire a first-class superintendent. Ability scares them to death.
We turn in subsequent days to Ms. Falliero, the board's resident Pole Girl and pin-up for Motel 8.
*didoes: In Virgil's Aeneid, the queen of Carthage, where Aeneas lands on his way to found Rome, is named Dido. When Aeneas deserts her at the gods' urging to get on with the job of founding Rome, she kills herself. Hence "dido" has come to mean some prank or outlandish behavior. May father, who read the Greek classics when he had a job watching a fire tower in my native Georgia, would say to us children, "Now don't cut any didoes with me, children. I am in no mood for them."
*Linda Kipley has a home-ec degree. Such went out in the Precambrian Age. No respectable college or university now awards these faux sexist degrees. Kipley's job calls for a master's degree. It should be in a subject such as criminal justice, psychology, or the toughest and best--philosophy. That such a person with such pitiful credential holds a job that probably pays $150,000 says something about the board's hiring the academically feeble instead of the academically excellent for jobs paid by the taxpayers. The icing on the Home-ec Kipley cake is that (at Elia's insistence I bet) the schools recently hired her husband as an accountant. He has no college degree. He is a high school graduate. His competitors for the job had accounting degrees and the experience called for. That scenario gives an opponent to Griffin a textbook case of wasting taxpayer money to hire buddies and sycophants instead of qualified people. The opponent should ride this hard. He is a fool if he doesn't.
c: All Board Members