from the free speech section of the Florida Keys blackboard jungle

There is an  equally heart-warming  a Key West homeless survey that would make Jesus proud  post today at


 upside down American flag

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 11:26:04 -0800


Subject: Muzzle?




I heard you comment at the last Board meeting that you hoped to never again have to listen to the level of detail as when Board member Ed Davidson drilled down into the HOB Change Orders. I also heard your jocular but pointed exchange on Friday with Bill Becker on “Morning Magazine” about Davidson’s commentary on issues before the Board, about how he is routinely exceeding the three minutes formerly accorded him as a citizen. The theme seemed to be how to restrain Davidson because the meetings were running too long. Are you suggesting that the Chair should muzzle or otherwise limit Davidson when he speaks?

I find Davidson’s probing of the issues before the Board to be refreshing, a decided change from the previous silence, if not seeming disinterest, that marked the Board. Many of us voted for Ed Davidson as a reform candidate because we wanted someone on the Board who would speak out. Too often, critical issues have been ignored by the Board amidst deafening silence in the rush to adjourn.

Take the HOB Change Orders as an example. In your discussion with Bill Becker, you suggested that the HOB Change Order were no big deal, mere housekeeping matters, despite the fact that Superintendent Porter and his two predecessors had routinely violated Board policy if not state law. I am glad that Davidson exposed the depth of misfeasance, possibly malfeasance, and I strongly urge him to continue. He is correct, these Change Orders need to be aired and resolved now not in a mad dash at the elventh hour as the project comes to a close.

Ultimately, the managment of the School District rests with the Board. As you well know, you have a very important oversight responsibility that has not always been properly or adequately exercised. The duty of the Board is not to rubber stamp whatever the Superintendent wishes to do. Rather, it is the responsibility of the Board to be certain that, among other things, that Board policy and state law are always followed to the letter. After all, the Superintendent now works for you.

Again, I strongly urge Ed Davidson to continue drilling down into issues that concern him and to take whatever time is necessary to fully vet the matter. If your concern is that Board meetings are running too long, then shorten the agenda and meet more often. Silencing Ed Davidson is not an appropriate resolution to problems with meeting length.


Dr. Larry Murray

Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate



To:; CC:;;;

Subject: RE: Muzzle?

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 17:48:49 -0500

Larry, All –

Actually, Ed got 5 minutes to speak once at each School Board meeting when he was merely a citizen. Perhaps he’s making up for being muzzled for 10 years. Perhaps Andy should get a muzzle. The pet store in the Big Pine Shopping Center has several selections. Perhaps Bill Becker should give Ed equal time on his show, behind Andy, since there is no telling what Andy is going to say when he gets on the air. Just let Ed respond to Andy. Might be really enlightening for the Florida Keys public, if public enlightening is what Bill wants. Maybe Ed’s real public enlightening is what is bugging Andy, since School Board meetings are televised and live streamed. Maybe the Griffiths Rule is being trampled a wee bit by Ed. Like he ever worried about criticizing anyone in public, where they darn well ought to be criticized for messing up, if they are public employees, doubly so if they are elected public employees. Maybe Ed is only just getting warmed up. Maybe a day will come, soon perhaps, when Andy will wish you or I had been elected, Larry, instead of Ed. Maybe if Andy doesn’t like how Ed goes about his oath of office, Andy can resign. I told him in 2011 not to run again, to get on with his life. Meanwhile, I see no legal way Andy, with or without the rest of the Board members’ consent, can limit the time Ed wishes to speak to agenda items and other Board/District issues. But then, legal has not been a strong suit in the Board/District’s affairs since I started following the local blackboard jungle action during the Acevedo scandal.





Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 18:52:45 -0500

Subject: Re: Muzzle?



Sloan; You are quite correct, especially as an ex- and recovering attorney, that there is no way short of a Constitutional Amendment that I intend to be stifled or censored in public dialog by anyone else in the School District — and I in fact specifically stated that when I nominated Andy Griffiths for the Chairmanship at my inaugural meeting.

During the entire School Board campaign I stated pretty clearly what my attitude was about accounting transparently for the expenditure of taxpayer’s hard-earned money — “every penny, every day,” as I recall! I got elected saying that, and I intend to serve by doing that; and there is no virtue whatsoever in short meetings of the Board if the taxpayer’s business and the students’ welfare have not been adequately discussed — and particularly not if any apparent irregularities, and the customary lack of accountability for such, have not been thoroughly explored in the bright sunshine where they belong as a matter of public ethics, long-established (though often previously ignored) School Board policy, and Florida Law!

Capt Ed Davidson, School Board District 3





Subject: RE: Muzzle?

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 20:46:35 -0500

It’s been my experience, Ed, that mainstream/the establishment/the status quo really does not like people who shake its tree, and I think that is your experience, too. I don’t think they yet have a clue what has landed in their midst. Do you have anything to add to the two Sean Kinney articles in last Friday’s Keynoter reproduced below?


Board members give schools chief mixed marks By SEAN KINNEY

Posted – Saturday, January 12, 2013 10:40 AM EST

Keys schools Superintendent Mark Porter without hesitation has graded his nearly six months of job performance as a B-plus — and received similar marks from members of the Monroe County School Board who offered up evaluations as Porter is now settled into the job.

Board Chairman Andy Griffiths and board member Robin Smith-Martin independently graded Porter at the B-plus level. Board member John Dick opted for an “incomplete.”

“At this time, I really don’t see much of a signature of Mark Porter on anything in the Monroe County School District,” Dick told the Keynoter. “He is still gathering information I suppose, so at this time I really cannot give him a letter grade. I don’t think I can judge.”

Griffiths, a 20-year board veteran, qualified his grade by noting “that would be like trying to give a kid a grade after two weeks in class.”

That said, “I think he’s a good communicator and he speaks very well.” He also praised Porter’s initiative to develop a five-year strategic plan with multiple opportunities for public engagement and inclusion.

He said that when it comes to strategic plans, “generally they bang one out, cross it off their list and put it on shelf. It has little utility. This is the first one I’ve seen in 20 years that includes the community at large and I think that’s very good.”

Smith-Martin agreed with Dick’s assessment of not seeing Porter’s “signature” on any particular project but said, “He’s very smart and he’s a good listener. His deliberation and decision-making is very purposeful.”

Porter was hired Aug. 1 to be the first-ever hired rather than elected Monroe County schools chief. His three-year contract pays $150,000 per year.

He came to the Keys as former superintendent of South Washington County (Minn.) Public Schools and replaced Jesus Jara, who moved on to become the deputy superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Central Florida.

Board members Ron Martin and Ed Davidson, the latter elected to the board in November, couldn’t be reached for comment on this story.

But when the board met on Tuesday at Coral Shores High School, Davidson praised Porter’s efforts so far and lauded him for accepting responsibility for approving construction change orders in violation of board policy.


Schools superintendent grades himself a B-plus By SEAN KINNEY

Posted – Saturday, January 12, 2013 10:40 AM EST

Each year, the state Department of Education grades every school in the state in an effort to see how they’re performing.

This week, Monroe County School District Superintendent graded himself on how he’s done since being hired Aug. 1 — a B-plus.

In a Thursday interview, Porter discussed the past five months and looked forward to the impending budget cycle and 2013-14 school year.

He described his first five and a half months at the helm as primarily “listening and learning,” and said he didn’t want to take a “bull-in-a-China-shop approach” right out of the gate.

“When you come on board in August, literally days before the start of the school year, you realize you’re not going to make any changes right away,” he said.

Looking ahead, “Some things need to start happening.” He singled out completing the $38.6 million Horace O’Bryant reconstruction, slated to be done in June; staffing issues; and creating a five-year strategic plan.

Of work he’s completed, Porter discussed his realignment of titles given to top-level staffers. He finished that, which was started by predecessor Jesus Jara, by realigning duties and responsibilities.

“A lot of this is a little bit invisible and behind the curtain, but I really felt we had to take that on quickly. One of the things we really want to do is create a system of accountability.

“The more important part is to provide people with clear expectations. Hopefully one of the things it will do is cause us to be more efficient. It frees up our resources to go to the classroom and hopefully it will result in a higher performing workforce.”

Porter noted that with four months of financial data accumulated under his watch, and the impending summer budgeting season ahead of a July 1 fiscal year start date, “that’s something I need to be responsible for,” he said.

Porter beat out 56 other applicants, earning a three-year contract worth $150,000 per year.

Describing an often-overlooked nuance, Porter noted that in addition to him being the first-ever hired, rather than elected, superintendent, the board has never been in a position before to direct a chief executive.

“It’s an ongoing and evolving relationship with the board and they’re also adjusting. I think we’re really seeing some evolution in that regard,” he said.



Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 21:32:36 -0500

Subject: Re: Muzzle?


Have spent past 4 days at the annual Everglades Coalition conference on the mainland, attending as Chairman Emeritus of the Fla Audubon Society — Secy of Interior, 4 Congress persons, numerous agency heads and officials. I’ll let the articles stand, will now listen to whatever Andy said to Becker, then request follow up time….




Subject: RE: Muzzle?

Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 04:54:55 -0500

Myself, have spent the past 4 days in hell dealing with evil-doers. And the 4 days prior to that. And the 4 days prior to that. And so forth and so on … Hope you had a good time in the Glades with the big whigs …

As for the First Amendment, it seems to carry far less weight with the School Board and Superintendent Porter, himself a lawyer, than it does with any other government or public agency in the Keys, as far as the members of the public are concerned. However, I don’t see anything legal that can be done about that, since members of the public are allowed a brief statement at each School Board meeting on whatever topic they wish to speak. I suppose we citizens have the members of our Armed Services such as yourself, past and present, to thank for protecting that shred of our free speech on school issues during their defense of America in the Vietnam War, the Central American War, the Grenada War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and so forth and so on …

I felt singularly discriminated against when Superintendent Porter proposed no public comment at School Board workshops, after I had pretty well bullied the Board into letting me address it publicly at the end of the last workshop I attended, because I wished to speak to Superintendent Porter and some of the Board members giving the District glowing high marks, while utterly failing to honor their pledge to our community to have high school graduates college or career ready. I gave the Board and District an F-minus for not having any high school graduates career ready, even though that’s what more than half of them need to be.

I could have waited until the ensuing School Board meeting to have my say during the allotted brief time citizens get, but I was feeling pretty rough and was not sure I would be able to last that long. So I asked to be allowed to speak during the workshop, which had ended before the allotted time and my speaking for 2-3 minutes would not have extended the evening even one second, since the Board meeting was coming next. Not wishing, apparently, to have a repeat of that unexpected citizen report card in the bright sunshine on pubic television and internet live stream, Superintendent Porter later proposed no further public comments during Board workshops.

The outcome was, Superintendent Porter got F-minus on citizen free speech, and any Board member who did not give Superintendent Porter F-minus at the Board meeting where his free speech censorship was considered, also got F-minus on citizen free speech. I was not there, so I don’t know which Board members earned F-minus for not giving Superintendent Porter F-minus, but if I had to hazard a wild-ass guess, I would say all Board members received F-minus on that subject. I’m glad, though, to see that you, Ed, don’t intend to let Andy Griffiths censor your Board member’s right to free speech.

It probably doesn’t interest you, but I dreamt in a nap yesterday of going into dealings with a Mississippi lawyer. On waking, I knew that meant I needed to read the most recent issue of the Keynoter, because Sean Kinney and his wife are Old Miss grads. Any time I dream about Mississippi, it means I need to read the Keynoter. So I went online and pulled up Friday’s Keynoter and read about Superintendent Porter’s report cards: his on himself, and some of the School Board members’ report cards on him. Which, of course, led to my report card on Superintendent Porter’s comprension of free speech. I give the same F-minus grade to the entire School Board. Perhaps that explains why so few citizens attend School Board meetings, which I seriously doubt bothers the Board and Superintendent Porter in the least. In fact, my immpression from attending School Board meetings is they wish no citizens show up to speak.

I was told by a woman I didn’t recognize in a dream at an ungodly hour this morning that I am supposed to be on vacation. I told her on waking that I sure would like to be shown how to be on vacation. Then, I told her if I never had anything further to do with the School Board/District, that would be too short a vacation for me.



About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also and If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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