I early discovered April's penchant for lying when I supported her in her first run for the board. When she first ran, she claimed to be a Boys and Girls club executive. The press caught this lie. I advised that she never to lie to the press, that it would remember and never forgive her. But she has continued to handle the truth loosely in her board career. I infer this represents a life-long habit. Not being able to trust what Griffin says diminishes her value in a public office. People who lie to make themselves look better suffer from low self-esteem or some kind of personality disorder. I infer that April falls into that untrustworthy category.
Since he had himself a no-bid contract, board attorney Tom Gonzalez joined in to say that handing out no-bid contracts to buddies--or by extension, one infers, graft contributors-- was a perfectly legal thing for the school board to endorse. Gonzalez fits his legal opinions not to the law but to the fool-the-taxpayer desires of the board and administration.
Besides lying, another of April' character flaws is lack of courage, for which she substitutes lies or capitulation. The vote to retain the no-bid contract for the former administrator was 2 to 5, with only Griffin's and Valdes's voting no. Yet April's election Web site says she is responsible for doing away with this practice. I judge that to be another lie. I doubt that statement's accuracy. After that board-meeting meltdown of April, Ms. Elia hired former administrator Dr. Jim Hamilton as lobbyist at $65,000 a year without advertising the job. Somebody told me the salary has increased to $95,000.
It says something about April's character that she would team up with Motel Breath Falliero for this task. Not only did Falliero tell Griffin in a staff meeting shortly after April came onto the board that she should quit if she couldn't get with the program the others obeyed without question. This admonition sent April stomping out of the room, slamming the door behind her. April doesn't fight. She runs.
In a later hostile gesture toward Griffin, Chair Falliero waved the gavel and screamed at April that she would kick her out of the board room because Griffin said something Falliero didn't like.
The aggressor, Ms. Motel Breath, practically lived in Mr. Hart's office, claiming she was there for his "mentoring."
Candy Olson, who on her triumphant election post statement said she wanted to be the institutional advisor of new board members plays board Tiresias.
For the sake of exposing Griffin's attitude toward the laws that she is supposed to carry out and not subvert as board member, let's look more closely at the offenses against her position as one elected to uphold the laws and the taxpayers' right to expect a public servant to perform this duty that April evaded in the Smith foray.
In my NOW work, I was able to get a black woman, Thelma, to file charges against the police department for constantly "losing" her application to be a police officer, and I convinced another woman, Marsha, to file charges against the sheriff's department for giving her the runaround when she applied to be a sheriff's deputy.
I filed charges with the Justice Department to make Sheriff Malcolm Beard hire women deputies or lose his government grants. Marsha got her deputy job and proceeded to smash her patrol car into telephone poles on a regular basis, hence was let go on legitimate grounds. But Marsha's entrance into the deputy ranks opened that job for many other local women. When I see women officers on the street today, I feel like a proud mother whose child has won a Nobel laureate.
The board, if it had respect for the citizens that elected it, would also provide on the Board Web site citizen information listing job descriptions with applicants' biographies so that citizens can read online whether the board and administration follow the state and federal laws that the board members take an oath to uphold when they are sworn into office.
I would like to do a forensics exam of Dr. Lennard's USF thesis. I am sure it is ghosted and that the thesis committee was asleep at the switch or on the take. Dr. Lennard could not write a university-level thesis if his life depended on it.
And the Pinellas County attorney not only has his duties spelled out on paper in his contract, he works full-time on this job while Gonzalez flits in and out of the board room and has business with other entities in the area. He has, for example, a contract with USF. I wrote to USF and got a copy. A Dempsey dumpster must back up to Gonzalez's office every month to unload his loot from all these tax-supported clients.
Tom Gonzalez does not deserve the highest pay to a school attorney in the state. He did not attend Yale, the Number One law school in the country's ranking; he attended Florida State's law school, Number 56 in the country's ranking of law schools. He writes so badly--grammar-punctuation errors abounding and a style of fusty, flatulent legalese that is almost impenetrable--that I wrote the Florida State Law writing faculty to rebuke its members for graduating him. Taxpayers deserve an attorney who can write plain English without remedial-English grammar-punctuation errors. Gonzalez should enroll in one of the 9th-grade English classes in the schools.
Le Gonzalez pays no attention to the board's business. So contemptuous is he of his job that he swills soda and munches chips on the board dais during session. No board member rebukes him for this unprofessional behavior. My Southern mother would say he was raised in a barn.
I once observed Gonzalez's response to the board's questions about why it (the taxpayers) had to pay for the replacement of a fallen wall in a new school. Gonzalez hemmed and hawed, shucked and jived, recounted incidents in the professional life of his uncle contractor, and finally confessed that the school--i.e. the taxpayers--must pay for the wall replacement because he, in effect, didn't have the professional sense to tell the board to get the right amount of insurance for the project. In other words, he didn't read the fine print of the contract. Why should he? Nobody checks up on him. The board members are too intimidated by his third-rate law degree and his bluster to nail him down.
RIP Falliero was chair then. She kept caterwauling about how mad she was at the contractor. It did not occur to her to be mad at the attorney and quiz him on his dereliction. The voters are right to have turned out Falliero on other grounds than adultery on the job--stupidity, for example.
Not only does Gonzalez not pay attention to contracts, he can't even master simple things like getting the reading of sheriff's reports right. Teacher Steve Kemp and the King High administrative Toecracker got identical notices from the sheriff. Gonzalez filed his assessment with Professional Standards saying their notices were different--only to discover that the SPT reporter had published in the paper that the sheriff's reports on the two were identical. Gonzalez confronted the reporter and called him wrong.
The reporter stood his ground and repeated the story in the paper. Gonzalez tardily read the reports and raced to file a redaction of his submission to the Professional Standards office. I don't know how he justified it, but Linda Kipley would have joined in the cover-up with her customary participation in covering up administration error.
One is not surprised. You know that a woman like Kipley who wears see-through plastic baby-doll stilettoes to work is ready for criminal sprees that involve falsifying documents.
I witnessed Gonzalez misrepresent the bullying law as not including teachers at the behest of Candy Olson, who does not like teachers and does not want them to have the protection of the bullying law as a buttress against false Professional Standards office charges to threaten their jobs if they speak out. Gonzalez twisted the law to say that it excluded teachers while at other school districts teachers were already using the bullying law. Everything is ad hoc in the administrative methods of the board, and Gonzalez buttresses this unorthodox, slap-dash conduct by ignoring or twisting of the law.
With her hustings concern for economy in the schools, has April ever asked Mr. Valdez to do a survey of board attorney salaries in the state? Has she asked him to collect a representative sampling of contracts of board attorneys? Has she asked for a review of the hiring procedure that produced Mr. Gonzalez as attorney? No. No. And No. April tells political lies easily. She, in fact, lies when something inconvenient disturbs her. She would lie if one asked her these questions about the Gonzalez scam on the public.
Griffin's worst lie is unproven but so resonant of her habit of lying that I put it in April's lies category.
A guy named, I think, Dave Schmidt has a blog on which he criticized April. She says she believes in free speech, so if she were displeased, she should have blasted him back in his comment section. Instead, she got Elia to have her staff sift through his personnel file to find a gnat with which to trap him. With customary mendacity, she claimed that a handy elf had turned up and whispered Dave's sin in her ear. Oh, sure. The old elf scam. We know it well.
The gnat turned out to be that Schmidt's stepson had constructed the Web page for the language-for-emigrants program that Mr. Dave worked in; somewhere in the small print, there is a proviso that one must report any employment by a relative in the schools or be charged with a conflict of interest. Dave was so charged. Rewarding her faithful board pooch Griffin, Ms. Elia demoted Mr. Dave and reduced his salary. This retaliation against free speech summarizes Griffin's pathology: a meanness of spirit and a flaw in her character. Fortunately, this story made the paper.
This trap is a standard terror tactic to cow employees into being drones for the board and administration. I suggest April should be ashamed of herself. She's not tough enough for public office and acts like a big, spoiled baby when criticized.
Ms. Elia is so steeped in corruption that she has long passed the boundary of shame into the wilderness of blasted souls such as trod the wasted moors where Macbeth's three witches hold court. I believe she is growing warts with hairs sticking out of them as we speak. Her latest caper that a reader wrote me about is that she threatens to apply for some superintendent job in Nevado, or some western state where the buffaloes roam. The read on this gesture is that she is using it to bump up her salary in Hillsborough County and that the board is dumb enough to go along,
Now as to April's claim that she loves teachers: Let's look at her record.
When Steve Kemp had been on suspension for a year on the child-abuse charge that the supervisor of the special-needs children, an insidious viper named Smiley, lodged against him with the Sheriff's office, I suggested that Steve make an appointment with April Griffin to see if there were anything she could do to make things right. April met with him. That's to her credit. But at the end of the conversation she told him not to tell anyone that they had met and to be patient "because good things are happening behind the scenes."
Question: why should Kemp have to keep things quiet about meeting with a board member? Are teachers toxic or what? Don't they deserve the attention of board members? And why should things be happening "behind the scenes"? Why aren't they happening on the board dais so that the public can review the situation? April is addicted to out-of-the-sunshine board monkey business so that nobody but the board and Ms. Elia's Star Chamber cohorts know what's really going on. This behavior violates government in the sunshine and violates April's claim to foster free speech.
And if Griffin values teachers so much, why does she not ask for a blanket review of the Professional Standards charges on file? I asked for teacher charges from Professional Standards; I got a whole stack. I asked for administrator charges: not one did I get. We are talking shameless invidious enforcement here despite the State Education Web site's saying both teachers and administrators are liable for professional standards charges. No administrator ever gets a Professional Standards charge. That was the invidious situation with Steve Kemp and the administrator Toecracker foot fetishist whom the administration tolerated until a parent finally complained to the press.
So why, if she respects teachers, hasn't Griffin asked for a review of the charges over, say, a five-year period for professional standards violations to check for parity between teachers and administrators? Because Griffin is totally in tune with the administration's aim to use the Professional Standards office as a trap for teachers that threatens their jobs to shut them up. Griffin knows this ugly fact. She does nothing about it. She endorses it.
To tie the ribbon on this truth of Griffin anti-teacher bias, there's this: I wrote her and Susan Valdes asking for a settled place on the agenda for teachers and students to speak. Neither answered me.
Another Griffin First Amendment suppression occurred when I heard her in the back of the board room where the Alafia mothers had gathered to speak to the board about the Alafia situation. I overheard Griffin tell these Alafia mothers who came to confront the board about their refusal to accept Ms. Smith as the principal of their children's schools that they would be "injuring the schools" if they testified before the board on the Alafia case.
Why wouldn't instead these mothers exemplify the best tradition of the freedom of citizens to address the elected members that represent them in a public forum? The Constitution calls the process appealing for redress of grievances. When I went up to blast some other evil practiced by the board and administration, I said that the mothers had a perfect right to address the board, that their doing so was in the best tradition of democracy.
The mothers had given me one of their defiant t-shirt rebukes to the board, and I wore it draped around my shoulders when I addressed the board.
Unhappily, the mothers succumbed to April's anti-free-speech lie that their addressing board about Alafia's vile principal would harm the schools while it, in fact, would harm only the indifferent board and administration and make them more responsive to the public that they purport to serve.
A young man came up as spokesperson for the Alafia parents and made an ass of himself by sucking up to the board. That is the wrong approach. This attitude of citizens is what inflates naive board members self-regard and causes them to be contemptuous of voters. The equation should be the other way around. Parents should keep in mind that board members such as April, who has a GED and a penchant for lying as credentials, are public servants. They should keep in mind that public servants such as board members should serve the public, not the other way around.
If I knew what April's church was, I would send its women's sodality a record of her deficient service on the board. Not knowing her church affiliation, I might send a message to all the churches in Seminole Heights, where she has her home. It would be the Christian thing to do. Maybe the church activists could call on her serially and give her ethics lectures. I, by the way, am Episcopal. Turn me in to the hierarchy at any time. I will fight back with leafleting the major Episcopal church in the district.
I see the Web has eight or nine pages of churches in Hillsborogh County. Maybe all of these should get information on April's louche performance as board member during her incumbency. Churches are the locales where a community's morals are under concentrated attention. I doubt that April's board performance would merit their approval. I have left out the synagogues and Muslim religious. I don't know if there are any Buddhists in Hillsborough County. We must include them too. They all need to know what a vile, unethical board member Le Griffin has been.
The time has come to give another candidate a chance at a board slot. I suggest that Sally Harris should replace Griffin. I have talked to Sally. I sense she is a person who may have the chutzpah not to cave in to the evils of the board and administration. I even see her bringing up issues under Roberts Rules on the dais in board time with which the other members will have to wrestle in the public eye.
We can hope that Salyt will pipe up on the dais and say, "Madam Chair, I move that we discuss the disparate numbers of teachers as compared to administrators charged by the Professional Standards office so that we can suggest a remedy to this unfair situation."
To see if this motion gets a second so that the discussion can begin will be delicious. I think there's hope that Susan will second the motion and immediately go on the revenge list of Ms.Elia's Star Chamber retaliation brigade. I would not be surprised if Ms. Ethridge seconded the motion. There must be some shred of rebellion in the psyche of a woman whose race has suffered centuries of savaging in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Or Board Member Sally could say, "Madam Chair, I move that we request Mr. Valdez and his personnel apparatus to review Board Attorney Tom Gonzalez's pay, contract obligations, and work product and then compare them to those of similarly situated board attorneys across the state."
We can then judge whether Sally serves taxpayers by tackling some of the evils that I have pointed out that Griffin has ignored or participate in or whether citizens have to tough out Sally's incumbency of four years before moving on to another prospect.
Meanwhile, I am clicking through the lists of churches in Hillsborough County. I shall also see if there are temples and any mosques. The religious community is the repository of ethics and morality in any community. Maybe it needs to hear that a board member in charge of the community's children is ripping off the First Amendment, telling lies by the bushel, and cheating the tax payers of money by giving it to a former principal for a manufactured job who should have been fired.
Not only religious ethics but secular ethics also condemn April's lying to the public that she ran for office saying she would protect. From Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics to Dear Abbey, all moral commentary on Ms. Griffin's behavior in public office would feature condemnation.