Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Always Another Layer

Inspector General Kirby J. Mole

and General Counsel Lynn Hearn

Claude Pepper Building
West Madison Street Tallahassee, FL


I hardly know whom in the government to appeal to for this problem; I read online the report of Ms. Sheryl S. Steckler that catalogues the deficiencies in the state Child Abuse agency that her inspection revealed. I request that you share this letter with Ms. Steckler.

I filed a charge with the state child abuse-agency via the local Tampa bureau chief, with a copy to the state head, Mr. George Sheldon. Both gave me the bureaucratic runaround. The local agent said it couldn't do anything about abuse of children by the schools. He must have gotten this boilerplate from Mr. Sheldon. Mr. Sheldon did not respond to any of my letters, which asked for public information.

The Attorney General says public-information requests should get an answer in 48 hours. Mr. Sheldon has let several months slide without responding. He is a scofflaw. How does he keep his job one wonders.

I knew Mr. Sheldon when he lived in Tampa. He was in the legislature until Mr. Bilirakis defeated him.

Then George hunkered down in Tallahassee to await a bureaucratic slot to open up that he could jump into. I don't say all bureaucrats are feckless, but George is. It's too bad that he got the job as head of the child-abuse agency. Bureaucrats of George's ilk, unable to shoulder responsibilities of higher-level jobs, should go into the lower reaches of bureaucracies if elected officials have no better sense than to act as job resource for them.

George's high-level position and low level of responsibility makes possible his ignoring child-abuse complaints if it involves higher-level people and instructing the local child-abuse bureau chief to say that the complaint is not the agency's job.

I believe the state can find a better candidate for the important job of head of the child-abuse agency than George Sheldon.

Fortunately, Senator Ronda Storms responded to my request by writing George and asking him to report back to her about what he did to deal with this problem of child abuse in the Hillsborough County public schools. I am grateful for public officials such as Senator Storms. Her war on gays I don't support, but her courage I do. She is one of those rare legislators not afraid to take on unpopular issues and do difficult tasks that others shrink from.

Most people elected to public office become instant weenies, but not Senator Storms.

What I request of your office, gentlepeople, is that you funnel my dilemma to the right person in your agency--or in another agency if that be the case. I am counting on you high-level bureaucrats' doing your job of helping a citizen solve the dilemma I present: abuse of special-needs children in the Hillsborough County system that the state child-abuse agency ignores because the abusers are the superintendent, the school board, and the special-needs children's supervisors.

I hate disparate treatment of people who offend against such pivotal laws as the child-abuse law: it appears that the child-abuse people think there's one rule for a trailer-park offender; there's another rule for a school board, school superintendent, and her special-needs supervisors. That's not the way democracy is supposed to work.

Pray let me have a response to my request that the child-abuse state apparatus headed by Mr. Sheldon do its job despite its fear of offending powerful abusers of special-needs children such as the board of Hillsborough County, its superintendent, and its special-needs supervisors.

Citizens hate when bureaucrats pretend that citizens are non-entities in the scheme of political life, a kind of decorative Greek chorus that is not to be answered or paid attention to except at election time.

I have asked George to set up a meeting with Ms. Elia, the board, and the special-needs supervisors involved: Smiley, Ross, and Morris so that the public can weigh in on this situation and so that the board and administration bear responsibility for the abuse of special-needs children in Hillsborough County.

Pray support this suggestion if you are concerned about the wellbeing of special-needs children. And send Ms. Steckler back to the child-abuse agency to see what George Sheldon is doing if anything.

lee drury de cesare

15315 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33706

C: Senator Ronda Storms

All members Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation



school board and administration, Hillsborough County


National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse

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