First, I went to LA for my tenth Ring Cycle. That took two weeks. Then my computer conked out when I returned, and I had to get another and hook it up with the help of Bright House tech knights, who also resuscitated my printer.
Bart Birdsall came with me to his first Ring, my tenth. We had a grand time. We went to the Getty museum for a happy review of the Da Vinci Collection and the illuminated manuscripts. The former is an obsession of my husband, so I got him a bunch of Da Vinci books for his 78th birthday. Bart is a fan of the illuminated manuscripts; thus we spent time there. It is a splendid museum, not the Metropolitan, but impressive nonetheless.
We also went to the Hollywood Forever cemetery. It is wonderful. We got a map at the gate of all the dead luminaries' graves and spent several happy hours yelling at each other, "Come over here! I've found Cecil B. DeMille!"
The mausoleum was an exhilarating experience. Bart found Rudolph Valentino's crypt there: it had lipstick marks where women had kissed the marble enclosure and also sported fresh flowers. Some sappy woman has left a perpetual endowment of fresh flowers in her will for Le Valentino, who died at 31. Thanks to this beautiful fellow's fan, he has a vase of fresh flowers on either side in perpetuity. The last sight we enjoyed at Hollywood Forever was the old Rolls Royce hearse parked at the entrance. A Rolls Royce hearse is what I call class. I want my family to borrow it for my funeral.
We stayed in a cheap hotel that I had booked a year ago before they all sold out for the opera. It was in a Mexican section, so we ate a lot of Mexican food. I have come home eating tostitos and salsa for breakfast.
I wasn't sad to part with Le Bart at the LA airport. The lad snores, and I had to share my king-sized bed with him because the staff was too incompetent to furnish the cot promised. He was good to fetch and tote for me, however, and to keep me from falling off the curbs in my opera shoes. Next year Bart, his partner, Tim, and I will go to the San Fransisco Ring. I am girding my loins for a fight over the SF opera's shoddy treatment of women's need for adequate toilets and locating Bart's sleeping spot as far away from mine as possible.
On my agenda is writing the swells on the LA opera's board to complain about the lack of toilets for women in its opera house. I will send copies to all the LA opera sisterhood: the Valkyries, Brunhilde, Fricka, the norns, etc. I will send a copy to Placido Domingo, who sang his last Sigmund in this opera. I had heard him sing Sigmund at the Met 25 years ago. He is the best, still outsinging an LA competent cast. This was his last stage appearance. He said he was tired of singing at 70. I can understand that. I am glad I was there for his swan song.
Back to my crusade on toilets: The men flit in and out, but the women have to stand in lines, shamed at their need for potties, keeping modestly downcast eyes. The lines snake out into the lobby. Too few toilets for women is nothing but sexism.
George Bernard Shaw established the sanitation committee in London to get public johns for women for the first time. No public toilets had been a good way for sexists to keep women penned up at home. If there are no public potties, women have to stay put.
I am proud to say that I have a toilets-for-women crusade with opera companies all over the country and even Canada. I got into a toilet fight with Spight Jenkins, head of the Seattle opera, at its last Ring. I caterwauled over the new opera house's lack of toilets for women due to the sexism of the architects and Board of Directors, comprised of the y-chromosome corporate Masters of the Universe and a sprinkling of society Aunt Toms. Jenkins sent me an email by mistake in which he called me a pest. I sent it to the Board and demanded an apology. Jenkins yielded one accompanied with an invitation to have a drink when I next attended the Seattle opera. That's one drink I shall never imbibe.
I also shall tell the LA board what I thought of its production. That will be a fun essay to write and will not please the board; I will share it with you and the online Wagner Society.
First on the list of my chores is an analysis appearing below of April Griffin's school board candidacy.
La Griffin had the nerve to send out a press release recently which appeared in La Gaceta's "As We Heard It" to alert people that she was having a reception in some Tampa greasy spoon and suggested $50 as the contribution. That's a sign of how these third-rate pols' egos grow to Hindenburg proportions. Let them sit on a dais for a spell, and they think they are Bismark if they know who Bismark is.
If I had been able to convince myself to make the trip over to Tampa from the beach to the Griffin political hoedown, I would have refused to pay a penny in contribution at the door and would have hogged the question time to ask April embarrassing questions about her disastrous board tenure. Let's put it this way: I would not have been nice and would have threatened to summon the gendarmes of the Elder Abuse Council to deal with anyone who crossed me. I would then have stomped out and put a flyer on all the car windows in the parking lot to reveal what a dreadful specimen April had been in her two years on the board.
Somebody needs to tell vacuous board member Griffin what a mess she has made of her board service so far--if it deserves the dignity of that term. There have to be better candidates opposing La Mendacious April. I want to give these opponents a script and will send my comments county wide. What citizens need is information about what a mess-up April has been as a board member. Then they will turn April out.
I forgot to mention that my husband had hip surgery when I got back from LA; I had to strap on my Lee De Cesare, R.N., badge and take care of him. He is doing great, gimping around without his walker. I am proud of him. lee
I was a supporter of April when she first ran, ignoramus that I was: I gave her money and encouragement. I thought this Girls and Boys administrator lie atypical of her. It was typical.
Nobody had heard of this requirement. But Ms. Elia said it was sufficient to threaten his job. The state rules say administrations have unquestioned power over hiring and firing. So Ms. Elia demoted the guy and reduced his salary to satisfy April's anemic ego and willingness not to play fair by using underhanded tactics to injure a man for exercising his Constitutional right to free speech.
April's cover story saying that "somebody" called her and let her know about this situation sounds phony. If April got such a deep-throat call, she can produce the phone record that confirms that there was an elusive snitch. Better yet, she can identify the character to give the object of this malice, the emigrant-language-department guy, another Constitutional right ignored by her and Ms. Elia: the opportunity to confront one's accuser.
The Professional Standards Office is supposed to be for correcting lapses in professional standards of teachers and administrators. So says the State Board of Education.
The board and Ms. Elia don't want voters to know what really goes on in the schools to prevent their dirty behavior from seeping out to the public. Both will do anything to hold on to the power of a board perch or the superintendency. Board and administration want all school news to go through the Community Affairs office's laundromat to sanitize any negative data so as to make the public believe that the board and administration run a swell school system.
State regulations say that the professional-standards rules apply to both teachers and administrators. They don't in Hillsborough County. I asked for open-government information on how the Professional Standards office handles the charges against teachers and administrators. I asked for teacher and administrator charges. I got a batch for teachers; I got not one for administrators.
Steve Kemp, a teacher who substituted in a special-needs class got nailed with a Professional Standards charge filed by Special-Needs supervisor Smiley with the sheriff's office. The charge against teacher Kemp was child abuse of the special-needs children: a cooked-up felony charge. Kemp had a blog that examined the schools occasionally. That put him on a watch list for a Professional Standards charge.
A major problem with this punitive racket is that once a teacher gets nailed with a Professional Standards charge, the other teachers shrink back in horror from the accused teacher as if he or she had leprosy. This does not speak highly of a bunch of educated people who know their rights and exercise them. It's a wonder that democracy survives with so few people to protect it--even those who know the Constitution and have read Milton's Areopagitica.
Question: Why doesn't April move in a board meeting with the public watching that the board agenda be put on the board's Web site with a hyperlink to a question-and-answer section for the public to pose their questions about the agenda to board members with the questions and answers publicized on the site? Why isn't such dialogue mounted on the board Web site since the board is responsible for answering the public's questions about the way it runs the schools? Why hasn't incumbent candidate Griffin insisted on this open-government system by hammering the issue of hyperlinking the board's agenda and its citizen questions and board answers in public view on the board's Web site before board meetings?
The board attorney, Tom Gonzalez, goes along with illegal board customs by interpreting the laws to coincide with the board's and administration's evasions.
The taxpayers had to pay for Gonzalez's lazy incompetence. Motel-adultery Breath Falliero, elected board chair after all the board members and the world at large knew about her on-site adultery that assisted the divorce of the head of Community Relations Marc Hart and deprived his two little children of a father with the result of his daughter's illnes exacerbating and his son's grades plummeting. Motel-breath's own two teenage daughters' suffered as well from their mother's divorce by losing their father because of her adulterous activity. The board members thought no better of the board's ethical status than to vote in this ethically rancid specimen as chair.
I can tell why: He didn't read the contract. Who would read one of those small-font contracts that we all shrink back in horror from when a Web purchase cites three pages of dense data that we are responsible for reading? I wouldn't. I would rather be flogged than read the fine print. That's why we pay lawyers to read that stuff.
April didn't ask that question on the board either. She is for evading disapproval of other board members and Ms. Elia, not for protecting the students from administrators with psychosexual disorders.
April needs to tell us why she voted for an adulteress for board chair and why she didn't demand an outside psychiatrist to examine the Toe Cracker.
I stood at the head of the room for 28 years as a teacher. I can tell as can all teachers whether the class has read the material. The Board Class has not done its homework and read the back-up material. That explains their inane nattering during what goes for board discussion. Not knowing the background of the agenda, the board makes inane comments or chirps non sequiturs.
The above lays bare another of April's character traits. She is lazy.
The public schools shouldn't emphasize shop in the curriculum; they should emphasize history language, science, literature, math, and other academic subjects to help their students be literate, knowledgeable members of society. If a student wants to be an auto mechanic, that student can go to auto mechanic school after graduation. In public school, all students should take the academic subjects that will make them citizens in their world.
Mr. Valdes has only one positive in his favor. He has a valid degree in a non-Romper-room area while early childhood degrees abound in the administration at bloated salaries. The sine qua non for administrators in the ROSSAC halls of power is a reflexive sychophancy in dealing with the autocrat on the superintendent throne. Lacking this skill, they are out the door.
April didn't appear to understand that hers and Motel Breath Jennifer's mission violated the open-government provisos of state law, the equal-employment-opportunity laws, and ripped off the taxpayers with a manufactured job slipped into the book depository with hey nonny nonny business-as-usual aplomb.
I asked Mr. Medici-era hanger on Valdez for a job description of the manufactured perch. It took him about two weeks to compose one. Then I asked the Public Affairs office who held this job previously. No answer. The silence confirmed my suspeicion that this was one of the famous manufactured jobs for a mess-up administrator because administrators never get punished for not doing their jobs but only for ticking off Ms. Elia.
I have provided enough data in this piece for those opposing the incumbent candidates to ask pointed questions instead of wandering in off the street murmuring nonsense about "cleaning up the schools." The problem with candidates is that they don't observe the board in action and see what a reformer needs to do to better the schools. They should be at every board meeting to see how things work in the board Mafia and address reforms to what they infer is wrong. There is plenty to work in the reform area as my comments above show.
A serious candidate must find ways to make the public aware of their existence and the deficiencies of their incumbent opponents in the job, some of which leads I have provided in the articles on the three's conduct office, Griffin's being the last.
Candidates should get over the conviction that the press will rescue them and tout their virtues. The press is lazy, lacks curiosity, and will sit around in the newsroom chewing the fat until Doom's Day unless the candidate interrupts iyd on-the-job leisure activities of pursuing tremendous trifles. Don't be suckered by the self-promotional legend of the Crusading Press. Crusading, my foot. Lazy with no curiosity is more like it. The press pays attention when it can't afford to ignore an element on its beat. To be that element, you have to make noise--as much as you can. Forget about civility when entering politics. To the loudest and the most vulgar goes the prize. lee