Saturday, May 29, 2010

Workers, Unite!

Polegirl Jennifer Falliero, Running for Four More Swinging Years on the Board

James Carville's
challenge to the President to come to Louisiana and supervise the oil-spill emergency got POTUS, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia on a plane to the emergency site in Louisiana.

Never underestimate the value of publicity in moving politicians from inertia to action--from dog catcher to president.

Maybe this plea will get the incumbent opponents on the stick and the union leadership out of its
magisterial authority pose and on the job of protecting the teachers. ldd

Mr. Nicholas Whitman, Executive Director Classroom Teachers Association:

Sir, during this election cycle the CTA has a chance to do something solid to improve teachers' rights and status in the Hillsborough County Schools.

It can challenge the use of the Professional Standards office as a weapon of intimidation to keep teachers muffled so that they don't speak out about what they see wrong with the schools so that the public will have a competing version of what goes on in the schools with that which comes out via the Community Affairs Laundromat.

I asked for past charges against teachers via public information from the Professional Standards office. I received a stack in response. I then asked for charges against administrators. I got nothing.

The Florida educational law according to the Secretary of Education's Web page is supposed to apply equally to teachers and administrators. That protocol is not what the Hillsborough County board and administration follow. Both use the Professional Standards office to punish teachers, either by exaggerating a trivial contretemps or by making up violations by teachers whole cloth.

As far as I have observed in my two years of scrutiny of the board and administration, no administrator has had a charge of Professional Standards violation filed against him or her. Only teachers are targets. The Professional Standards office response for request for teacher and administration past charges confirm this invidious disparity. That means that the office's lopsided use by the board and administration means teachers, never administrators, are targets of job-threatening Professional Standards charges.

Teacher Steve Kemp's cooked- up case of child abuse that the Sheriff's office threw out the first day that Mr. Special-ed Supervisor Smiley filed it is proof of the administration's use of Professional Standards charges to kick teachers out of their jobs since Mr. Gonzalez's summary letter to Mr. Kemp's attorney said Ms. Elia first intended to fire Kemp on the strength of the Professional Standards' reporting and investigation of the case without giving him a chance to rebut it. Only the Kemp lawyer's intervention, including the inclusion of a photo of the special-needs children's junk-room classroom, got Steve's job retention with non-paid days by him as a substitute for the immediate firing plans of Ms. Elia.

I cite in comparison as the most recent example the scandalous case of the bad principal of Alafia that the parents finally got removed by not falling for Ms. Elia's blandishments to save the principal's job despite her deficiencies. Ms. Elia dangled before the Alafia parents including the promise to send the erring principal and her assistant to Eckerd for its $4500 a pop personality makeovers, not to mention Ms. Elia's hiring the principal a pricey consultant to birddog her management style and suggest ways that the principal, Ms. Smith, could act like a human being in her position of authority.

When the parents wouldn't buy the cure despite Ms. Elia's two papal visits to Alafia to consult with them but insisted that the principal, Ms. Smith, vacate the premises, Ms. Elia dispatched Jennifer Falliero and April Griffin, current board members, out to Alafia to talk Ms. Smith into quietly quitting her job with the promise of a comparable job with the same salary to be created by Ms. Elia and rubberstamped by the ever-complicit board.

That carrot worked. Alafia got a new principal, and the county school employment list got a ghost job holder of Ms. Elia's created job at the same $60,000 salary that Ms. Smith made as principal of Alafia. The new job lacked job duties. Ms. Elia parked Ms. Smith in the Book Depository with her phantom job subsidized by unaware taxpayers. In other words, Ms. Smith is getting paid for having been a terrible principal.

I asked 1. for a job description of this new Book Depository Smith job. It took Mr. Valdez two weeks to cook up one for the Public Affairs office to send me. Then I asked 2. for who occupied this job before Ms. Smith: no answer. That translates to nobody did.

That background data completes the picture of this taxpayer rip-off.

A footnote to this tale is that Ms. Olson got the ever flexible board attorney to declare that the HB 669 bullying law did not apply to teachers or staff, only students. The other state schools show teachers using the law, and the state union attorney says it does apply to teachers and staff.

But in the Hillsborough County schools, the people who administer the bullying law turn back teacher and staff complaints as uncovered by HB 669, thanks to the idiosyncratic Gonzalez ruling from the podium that teachers and staff are out of luck when it comes to the state bullying law.

Ms. Olson's goal, one infers, is to prevent teachers from using the state bullying law to deflect the use of the Professional Standards office to cook up cases against them, depriving them of their free-speech rights as a price for their jobs by making the penalty for speaking out a Professional Standards charge.

This situation of punishing teachers for free speech is very much a union issue. The CTA should get interviews with the three incumbents running for re-election--Griffin, Falliero, and Olson--to clarify their positions on the punishing of teachers for free speech by threatening their jobs with marginal or cooked-up Professional Standards charges. I suggest a union-sponsored open setting for these and other questions that the teachers or citizens have for the three board incumbents who want a four-year term to continue their collusion with the administration in such teacher-hostile practices with the Professional Standards office as those outlined above.

Effective union leadership is always proactive, not reactive.

This situation gives the Hillsborough County CTA a chance to show that it aggressively protects the rights of its members. It is also time for the CTA to come out for teachers' free-speech rights without Professional Standards reprisals. It should make clear that punishing teachers for speaking out or having blogs as was Steve Kemp's case is not acceptable to the union CTA leadership and that the leadership will oppose the unconstitutional practice of shutting teachers up with job threats for their speaking out on school practices of which they disapprove.

The CTA also has the chance to expose the collusion of the administration and board members such as Jennifer Falliero and April Griffin in not punishing administrators for their mess-ups and creating them substitute jobs at taxpayer expense as a last resort of this administrator protection for wrongdoing.

This cooperation by the incumbent board members running for re-election in administration practices hostile to teachers is something that should come out in the public discussions of their suitability for public office.

Ms. Olson's opponent would be smart to nail her on the issue of punishing teachers by getting the school lawyer to cut them arbitrarily out of the state bullying law's protection. People love teachers. They don't love board members or board attorneys.

Smart politics is always to be on the side of the teachers, the people you remember into old age as the ones who influenced your life.

lee drury de cesare

Friday, May 28, 2010

Those NYT Pretentious Movie Reviewer Boys Give Me a Pain: Let Me Leave Off Kicking the School Board Long Enough to Whack One of Them

MANOHLA DARGIS: Big NYT City-boy Reviewer:

Regarding your review today of Prince of Persia:

You are just jealous of Jake's pecs.

You are probabaly a pile of mush from all those NY Rueban sandwiches and potato salads for lunch that NY men dote on to their bodies' downfall.

Your reviews show that you can never resist being a smart aleck when something like this picture pops up as an antidote to the auteur flicks you dote on made in France and shown in NYC art houses with ten people in the audience.

This gratefully gaudy picture will make a big splash down here in the aesthetic badlands, where the main attraction most days is tractor pulls.

I am going to make my old man take me to it. I make a habit of going to anything condemned by y'all smart-ass city boys. What you spoof is inevitablly an aesthetic experience for those of us with real-life points of view.

This Prince picture is what most of the country calls a good movie. If you want to read A La Recherche du Temps Perdu and sigh over art films, go for it. But get off that movie beat at the NYT. You lack the temperament and the pecs for the job.

A long-time reader onto your tricks, sirrah.

(Ms.) Lee Drury De Cesare

Message to the Opponents of Falliera, Olson, and Griffin

One of the worst problems that I have detected in my more than two years of observing the school board is that its members evade government in the sunshine.

The board and superintendent decide everything behind closed doors and then plop it wrapped in coded language on the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda is just that: the board consents to this agenda in the privacy of Ms. Elia's office without public discussion.

The one time in recent history that the recently elected April Griffin asked for the no-bid appointment of a former school administrator to a contract to come off the Consent Agenda for open discussion so that the voters could hear it caused Board Members Carol Kurdell and Candy Olson to jump onto Griffin and accuse her of "being disloyal to the staff."

If La Griffin had a lick of sense and any educational sophistication (she has no college degree and a blog festooned with basic grammar-punctuation errors that the teachers labor every school day to remove from students' writing), she would have told Olson and Kurdell that her loyalty goes to the voters, not to the staff.

But Griffin lacked the savvy and courage to fend off these two long-time collaborators (Olson twelve years on the board; Kurdell even longer) with the administration. The two's history includes cooperation with the savaging of one Mr. Erwin for asking that something be done about the graft and theft he found in the administration of the schools. He pushed back when he got no help from the board or administration and won his Whistleblower lawsuit: the voters paid this abused whistleblower a settlement of $165,000 for the administration's and board's criminal attempts to fire him and take away his pension.

Olson was on the board then; she did not suggest firing one person for this criminal behavior on the administration's part, originating from the office of Dr. Lennard. Nobody got punished for outrageous criminality.

Olson's opponent should ask her to explain her silence on this issue and why she did not suggest punishment for somebody, starting with the firing of Dr. Lennard.

April Griffin, when chided by Olson and Kurdell, dropped her attempts at open government with that one effort on a no-bid contract to a former administration buddy and has since cowered in abeyance to the rollover of open government that is standard for the board. Griffin is scared to let out a peep and now does Ms. Elia's bidding, becoming a regular Elia gofer.

Griffin's cowardly behavior does not represent the interests of the voters and students but the continued nail-down of the hegemony of the administration and entrenched board. The schools have a multi-million-dollar budget and the perquisites that go with it; the administration and board get to hire buddies and sycophants to bloated-salary jobs without advertising as the equal-employment-opportunity laws say they should. Board members fly around the country on so-called learning trips that are disguised vacation larks at the taxpayer expense.

Such power is what the board and administration fight to keep.

To ensure open government, board opponents of the three sitting, colluding board members with the administration up for re-election--Olson, Falliero, and Griffin--should demand that the Consent Agenda appear on the Board Web site with invitations to voters to ask questions and make comments about each issue. The board should promise to answer these concerns in open session as an exercise of government in the sunshine.

This procedure would be a big step in open government that the board and current administration now evade so that they can run the schools for their own benefits and convenience without the public's knowing what is going on and without its having a chance to weigh in.

I see Dr. Stacy White says on his election Web site that he will attend to voters' expressed concerns. Let's see how he responds to the above suggestion to implement his promise with available technology.

Computers now make open government possible. Challenging candidates in this election should stress the current incumbents' attempt to hide government and keep it out of the sunshine.

Challengers to current members running for re-election--Falliero, Griffin, and Olson-- should also demand that this Consent Agenda scam stop and that board members make use of technology now available and easy to use to ensure open government.

Call Dr. Steele, head of computers, and ask him about the possibility of this way to get voters open government for a change on the school board. If he stutters for fear of losing his job, just keep talking to him until he calms down. My impression of him is that he is a pretty good guy. He is a recent addition to the administration and its only Ph.D. in it and has not had enough time to become corrupt yet. Apparently not many buddies and sycophants of the administration and board have Ph.D.s. Before Dr. Steele's tenure in this job, a Mr. White held it with an early childhood degree. My inference is that Dr. Lennard put him in the position because he needed a second honcho in addition to Dr. Jim Hamilton to help him torture Mr. Erwin for revealing the administration scams.

What happened to Mr. White? I heard he got the sack for rubbing Ms. Elia the wrong way.

That's the only way an administrator gets fired: rubbing Ms. Elia the wrong way.

Other administrators who mess up are not fired; Ms. Elia creates them a job title paid for by the voters and moves them to the gulag of the Book Depository, where they pare their nails and work crosswords every working day.

lee drury de cesare

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some Background on Candy Olson's Footdragging on the Bullying Situation

I got Bart Birdsall's ok to file his email below. Bart watched the schools evade a bullying policy for years. He and his friend Jane, who had a gay son in the schools, chased after all the board members to get a bullying policy. All gave them the runaround. I once chased down Dr. Lennard at a political event and pledged him to instituting a bullyng policy to protect gay children, some of whom came to Bart and told him they wanted to commit suicide because of the gay bullying they experienced in school. Lennard said he would see about such a policy. He lied, of course.

Now that the state has trumped this conduct with the state bullying law HB 669. Candy Olson had Tom Gonzalez issue an interpretation of it from the desk that said it covered only students, not teachers or staff. Gonzalez will say a law means anything the board wants it to say to keep his obscene $275,000 salary. Olson is a big fan of Linda Kipley, who heads the Professional Standards office and helps Ms. Elia cook up charges against any teacher who hints at speaking out about things wrong with the schools. Olson does not want teachers to have an anti-bullying law to protect themselves from the vile use made by the board and administration of the Public Affairs office charges to keep teachers in line. lee

From: lee de cesare []
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:32 AM
To: 'William Birdsall'
Cc: ''
Subject: RE: Bullying

Can I put this email on my blog? I haven't heard from the challengers whom I sent the last blog entry too. They are probably hiding out because it scared them. lee

From: William Birdsall []
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:33 PM
To: lee de cesare
Subject: Bullying


Rose Ferlita worked on this. The school board was dragging its feet, so Rose went ahead and spearheaded an anti-bullying program for the county because of the Walker Middle School incident. Sad, isn't it? It takes someone who is not in the schools to get something started. The school board should have acted on bullying issues way before the Walker incident. Rose Ferlita is the only Republican that I have voted for in my life, because the Republican agenda is way too white trash for me to give my votes to......I vote all Democrat, Democrat, Democrat. I want my taxes going to art, museums, music, etc. not war or anything vulgar. But I make an exception for Rose Ferlita. I think she is a good woman.

It is a crying shame that I told all the school board members for years to take bullying issues seriously, and back when I was on an Anti-Bullying Committee, everyone wanted to discuss mottos, logos, buying pencils to hand out to students. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. As soon as I started getting the large group to agree to helping gay students, suddenly I was put on a smaller committee with Candy Olson to "contain" me, I believe. They took me away from the bigger group, because I was convincing the larger group that something needed to be done. This is why I can not stand Candy Olson. I believe in my heart she was in on this dirty trick.

Then, years later, what I predicted came true, and only Rose Ferlita speaks up after the Walker Middle incident. It took a County Commissioner (who could have easily shrugged this issue off on the school district and washed her hands of it) to get something done about this.

Too bad Rose isn't on the school board. She would kick them into action instead of lethargy.



May 20, 2010

County's Bully Busters Program Wins National Award

Hillsborough County Criminal Justice Office is pleased to announce that its Bully Busters initiative has received national recognition from the National Association of County Information Officers.

The program won a Superior for its comprehensive public awareness campaign to bring attention to the problem of bullying; educate the public; encourage reporting bullying behavior; and promote a zero-tolerance attitude toward bullying in Hillsborough County.

Last month, Bully Busters was featured in the National Association of Counties. (NACo) County News newsletter as a national leader in the effort to stem youth bullying. The Bully Busters program and the Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee were both created by Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita last August after news broke of an alleged sexual assault at Walker Middle School.

Bully Busters is completely funded with grants and donations, including $50,000 provided by the Sheriff's Office. Bully Busters is a joint effort with the County, the County's Criminal Justice Liaison, Children's Services, the Sheriff's Office, and Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay to battle bullying in Hillsborough County.

The awards will be formally presented during the National Association of County Information Officers conference in July.

For more information, contact Carol Michel, Community Relations Coordinator, at (813) 276-2033.

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