Monday, February 07, 2011

Egypt's Crooks in Government Are Not the Only Looters of Public Money

NYT story below on Cuomo's lowering superintendents' sky-high salaries reminds us of the situation in Hillsborough County.

Elia's salary is a bloated $300,000, The board lowered the Ph.D. to her master's to hire her; it turned down candidates with the requisite terminal PH.D. and plentiful, varied experience.

Elia's experience was in the only supervisory jobs she had in the Hillsborough County school system. This supervisory job revealed Elia's having overbuilt classrooms and letting a real-estate scam operate under her nose that a SPT reporter walked in off the street, spotted, and wrote about.

I have asked for Ms. Elia's hiring record and that of Tom Gonzalez. whose $275,000 salary is the highest among the state board attorneys. Gonzalez has no contract: he apparently submits billable hours, and the money comes pouring out of tax coffers with no question. It's like the $5o million a day pouring into Mubarak and his thugs' hands.

The SP School Board's attorney makes $175,000 a year, he has a definitive contract of duties, and works an 8-hour day. Gonzalez's having no contract means that he can and does contract other work such as South Florida business.

I requested the Elia-Gonzalez hiring information three times of the Public Affairs office. Absolute silence. Finally, I wrote to the attorney general of Florida to complain. The answer to the AG's inquiry from Ms Cobbe was that she had never received the requests for public information from me when they sit right now in my computer's files, showing I sent them to her.

Ms. Cobbe had sent me public information before--sometimes with a little snippiness on her part and nudging on mine. So this behavior puzzled.

My inference for this lie about the Public Information office's not receiving my requests is that Ms. Cobbe is scared to mess with the Elia and Gonzalez employment files because she might get fired for doing so. Firing for ticking off Elia is a regular ritual in ROSSAC. People walk on eggs.

I infer Ms. Cobbe was scared to mess with the Elia or Gonzalez files for fear of losing her job. The law said she should fulfill a citizen's request for information, but her ROSSAC experience told her she would be on dangerous ground when she delved into Elia's and Gonzalez's job files. That's how jobs are lost in ROSSAC: Ms. Elia throws a lightning bolt at the culprit, and it's curtains.

The board knows about this ongoing obscenity of vicious treatment of employees and does nothing to rein in Ms. Elia as the public believes the board members do. I further believe that the reason the board looks the other way at termination-of-employees times is that the quid pro quo that Elia and the board worked out at Elia's hiring said that Elia wouldn't mess with board perquisites or incumbency and that the board members wouldn't mess with how Elia ran the schools and treated its personnel. No Ph.D. from Columbia, having read and believing Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, would sign off on such thuggish exchange of favors. The ritual is a little like a Mafia practice except that Ms. Elia doesn't tell some ROSSAC thug to make the offender sleep with the fishes but instead tells the employee victim to see Mr. Otero for termination of employment. The Mafia's ritual is more elegant and venerable. Unfortunately, Florida state law makes the administration and board masters in the employment area.

This note reminds everybody that there are resources to ensure that you get public information requested. When you have done your best to cooperate with ROSSAC and if its minions dig in their heels, squawk. Tattle. Rat out. Go up the chain of command for help.

This is America. That is what public officials are for: to help us citizens see that bureaucrats obey the law.

Note the NYT article below about Cuomo's lowering superintendents' salaries. Elia's is $125,000 over Cuomo's limit. I bet the whole ROSSAC gang has bloated salaries. Yet the complicit board keeps upping these ROSSAC payoffs no matter if the economy is on its last legs, especially Elia's: she gets the "bonus" that Earl the Pearl Lennard set up for his greedy little self for teachers' upping students test scores. God forbid that teachers get a raise. Naturally, the board continued that bonus-for-teachers' work obscenity for La Elia.

The money has bought no elegance for Elia. There's a limit to what a St. John knit can do for you. Eliae continues to look like a squat, dumpy Russian peasant woman coming off a barley field after a hard day of shucking--or whatever peasants do to barley.

Let's see if one board member has the courage to call for a review of ROSSAC's across-the-board loot and make it harmonize with the crippled economy and also demand a review of the reputed order to bus drivers and other low-level employees that a reader wrote me about, which, she says, had their salaries lowered but their work load remained the same.

Information like that makes me want to have somebody sleep with the fishes.




Cuomo, Pushing School Cuts, Offers a Target: Superintendent Salaries

Carole G. Hankin, the schools superintendent in Syosset on Long Island, made an unexpected cameo appearance in Albany last week: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo cast her salary as a prime example of wasteful spending by school districts.

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo suggested that school superintendent salaries were too high.


Mr. Cuomo did not mention Dr. Hankin by name in his budget address, but he did offer her salary: $386,868, more than the pay of any other superintendent in the state. “I applied for that job,” the governor joked, adding that he had decided to run for governor, which pays $179,000, only after he had been rejected.

Mr. Cuomo’s remarks came as he presented a budget calling for a $2.85 billion reduction in local school aid, a proposal that has already drawn fierce criticism from educators. But the governor offered some criticism of his own for school officials.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said that school districts had enough means to withstand the decline in state financing, and pointedly suggested that they look at whether they are spending too much on their own bureaucracy.

More than 40 percent of New York State’s superintendents earn at least $200,000 each year in salary and benefits, Mr. Cuomo said.

“I understand that they sometimes have to manage budgets, and sometimes the budgets are difficult,” he said. “But why they get paid more than the governor of the state I really don’t understand.”

Mr. Cuomo repeated his joke about coveting Dr. Hankin’s job in encore presentations of his budget plan in Purchase, in Westchester County, and in Amherst, near Buffalo.

“We have $500,000 school superintendents,” he told reporters after his appearance in Purchase. “We can’t pay those kinds of salaries.”

Mr. Cuomo is not the only governor grappling with deep financial problems who has singled out school district leaders.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is imposing a cap of $175,000 on most superintendents’ salaries, depending on district enrollment, and Mr. Cuomo’s criticism raised the specter that he might pursue a similar path.

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, John Milgrim, declined to discuss whether the governor was considering a cap of his own. Mr. Milgrim would say only that despite the proposed school-aid cut, Mr. Cuomo believed that layoffs “are not inevitable and that school districts have numerous ways they can bring down costs and be more efficient, including a reining in of salaries of superintendents and other administrative personnel.”

As attorney general, Mr. Cuomo investigated cases of school administrators who earned salaries and pensions simultaneously, a practice known as double dipping. Aides to Mr. Cuomo suggested that the governor viewed superintendent salaries as another example of government spending that is far beyond the state’s means given the fiscal conditions.

But the issue of school administrators’ salaries also offers an alternate villain to parents angry about the governor’s proposed cuts to school aid.

Whatever Mr. Cuomo’s motivation, his comments upset some school superintendents.

“The state and the schools are facing difficult times that ultimately require strong leadership,” said Robert N. Lowry Jr., the deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “Superintendents are trying to provide that leadership, and in many districts, they have passed up raises or made other concessions to save money for their districts and also to set an example.”

Mr. Lowry noted that the average salary for a superintendent — about $163,000 last year — was far from the figures Mr. Cuomo has been citing. (The national average is about $160,000, according to the Educational Research Service.)

Mr. Lowry added that the dollar savings from reducing superintendent pay would amount to an insignificant sum in comparison with Mr. Cuomo’s cut to local school aid. Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, which opposes the school-aid cut, sounded a similar note.

“There is a huge disconnect,” Mr. Easton said, “between the governor focusing on the top 1 percent of superintendent salaries and offering a fiscally irrational tax cut to people making the same amount of money, or 10 times that.”


Anonymous said...

So sad that Elia and the school board steal from children. I doubt they see it that way, but that is what they are doing. They are the scum of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Ms. DeCesare,

Keep up good work! Traditional media is being replaced by online blogs and online social networks. Teachers are too fearful to stand up and fight. Stand up and report corruption, and you'll be "punished."

Anonymous said...

It is good for these crooks on the school board to know that even some people are onto their shenanigans. In the end they could care less, because they are shameless. Already everything you have reported about Tom Gonzalez, the entire school board, and MaryEllen Elia shows that these people are absolutely shameless and have not ethical compass. They probably don't care what others know or don't know. Still it has to be good for the world that they know that a few people know about their bad behavior, and you can bet that God knows. The entire ROSSAC building is probably going to hell one day!

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