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John Donnelly, of Key Largo, continued his and my discussion reported in yesterday’s post at this website.
Violence and aggression perpetrated upon anyone, at anytime, can be a serious criminal matter. As such, these behaviors must always be addressed with the utmost concern and caution by school authorities.
A tone is set at school by the principal, as to the seriousness with which bullying will be viewed.
Classrooms maintaining a standard of behavior that reinforce positive conduct and achievement, while punishing disorder and malfeasance, will decrease chaos, confusion and fear for all students. A safer and more orderly environment that promotes exciting and constructive learning activities, will minimize turbulence and trouble.
There was never any doubt who was in charge of my classroom. And to whom a student would contact, regarding any violation or threat they perceived to their well being.
Most of my life I taught and coached adolescents. Although each one of my students was very beautiful and interesting, some of them had difficulty getting along with others. Violence and verbal aggression were a significant part of their personalities.
A student who knows that you love them and will protect them, can relax long enough to learn advanced skills. They can begin to construct a new way of relating to themselves, their classmates and the world at large. It’s really not difficult to create a healthy, prosperous and enlightening experience for students.
Bullying did not occupy one iota of our school day. When one of my students were bullied outside of my classroom, they came to me with their problem. Contact was immediately made with the bully. This individual was faced with making some very quick and serious decisions. It didn’t take long for everyone in the school to know my position on this matter.
The school administration was left out of it. They were incompetent and incapable of dealing with this issue. Behind the scene they enjoyed and benefited from my interventions on these matters, however during my 20 years at one school, they referred to me behind my back: “As a whacked out Marine from Vietnam”.
My students and myself maintained our classroom autonomy and prided ourselves in our achievements and success. Throughout the day, while I taught my classes, we provided a refuge for unruly students who were sent to me by their teachers. These students knew the drill, they worked quietly on their assignments until I was able to speak with them.
I’ve never endorsed speaking to anyone in an unkind or disrespectful manner. My students were taught how to analytically reason and think, while reaching solutions to scholastic and vocational problems. They were instructed with the means to live their lives independent of the opinions, ideas, attitudes and comments of others.
These students were never indoctrinated with the fraudulent notion that someone else’s ‘words can hurt them’. They were made aware that the power for words to hurt them, could only come from themselves. They were trained to utilize the powerful behavior modification tool of ‘extinction’.
Simultaneously they developed confidence in themselves through skill mastery and academic achievement. Their self-respect and esteem were firmly constructed upon a work ethic that they developed through the successful mastery of projects, which they took great pride in.
Please correct the standard proffered by the school district that: “words can hurt” to “Words Do Not Hurt Those, Who Do Not Want To Be Hurt By Them”, or “Hurtful Words Harm Those Who Speak Them”.
These are the types of banners that need to greet our students each day. Not the ridiculous baloney that has been thrust upon them.
Impressionable young students are taught to be fearful and apprehensive, as they are dropped off at the entrance of a school and greeted by an enormous banner directing them to the nefarious notion that: “Words Can Hurt Them”.
It may go something like this: I better be careful, oops-watch out, somebody is going to have a bad day, I better get ready, there they are, here it comes, their “words are going to hurt me.”
Really… Will I be injured every time and by everyone who says words that I believe are hurting me? Will it ever stop? What a lovely learning environment.
My students were strong, competent and capable. We knew how to take care of ourselves. We had one another. And we knew where to go when we needed back up.
If the leadership in our schools is not competently delivering on all of its responsibilities, then they should be shown the door.
Morning, John –
Looks like you used a dual approach, you did not tolerate bullying of your students and your students trusted you to intervene, if they came to you for help, and you taught them that words are just words and the bully might be screwed up and the one needing help, not the other way around.
Vietnam veteran and School Board member John Dick was at last night’s City Commission meeting to speak in favor of the Commission building a Vietnam memorial in Bayview Park. He is one of the five School Board members who, based on your email, should be shown the door. How could a man who was in Vietnam, believing he was defending Americans, now turn a blind eye from defending school children?
Several Viet vets spoke last night, emotionally. Two spoke of the need for healing, for being recognized, finally, after coming home from Vietnam and not being welcomed back, not given a parade. They got choked up. The city commissioners and mayor commended them, said it was way past time they received the recognition and respect they deserved. I just sat there, really conflicted. I did not go over there. I was spared it by a miracle.
Two of my college fraternity brothers were killed over there. A number of friends and acquaintances went over there; some came back seemingly okay, others came back not okay and never would be okay, if all the help they got was what this world had to offer them. A number of Key West’s homeless people are Viet vets; they are still in battle shock; they are still over there in their dreams, as one of the Viet vets said last night.
I cannot imagine what any of them experienced over there because I did not experience it. I cannot know the horror they experienced. I cannot know their bravery. I cannot know their terror. Because I was not there. But there is something I have experienced which they have not, and it is being healed of horrors of different kinds, which had wrecked my soul without me ever leaving America.
The various soul wounds were healed by my being taken back into what caused them, and seeing all of it, and feeling all of it, and living all of it emotionally. It often was terrifying, beyond belief terrifying. It opened my eyes in ways I didn’t want them opened. It left me wasted, limp, exhausted, rivers of tears having run. Oceans of tears. And all I did was hang on for the ride, encouraged along the way by explanations from above of what was happening in the moment, what it was about.
I do not think those men last night will know the healing for which they so yearn, if not consciously, then in their souls, unless they take the first step that cannot be gotten around. The first step is to face what Vietnam really was; it was a huge lie; it was a fabricated war; it was a war to benefit American capitalists; it was a war to test American military weapons; it was a war for Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s natural resources, rubber, oil, heroin. It was an EVIL war, which evolved into a proxy war against the Soviet Union, which backed North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Charley.
Those young brave men were sold out; they were told they were fighting for American freedom; they were lied to, they were bullied, they were abused, and were not in America when many Americans woke up to see what that war really was, so they could not participate in the rebellion back home. They were under orders they had to follow; they could be shot and killed by their officers for not following orders. It was a total lose-lose for them, and for America.
That’s what they need to face now, if they wish to begin to heal. Last night, I was having a lot of random thoughts which were not tied together. I did not feel okay speaking during citizen comments. I didn’t know what to say in a way that would be okay. I don’t even now feel what I wrote above would have been okay last night, but perhaps that’s my shortcoming; perhaps not at least trying to speak to what their healing would require was my fault, my betrayal of them, to add onto the betrayal they experienced by being sent to Vietnam.
I can say the same thing for Iraq and Afghanistan war vets. Those wars were just as off the tracks, just as wrong. Lies on top of lies. Corporate America made out great. War memorials will not heal those soldiers, either. However, talking about war memorials, getting emotional, can open the door to the truth taking over and winning out in the end; it can lead to real healing, instead of what has happened so far, which, alas, only protects their ripped souls from getting the help they so desperately want.
Imagine that being taught to today’s American school children; the real Vietnam war, the real Iraq war, the real Afghanistan war. Imagine American school children having teachers like that, healed American war vets, who would not for a heartbeat stand for bullying in their sphere of influence; who would not for a heartbeat stand for their students coming to school presenting symptoms of child abuse, or child molestation, at home; who would instill in their students that they were safe with their teacher, who would fight for their freedom, for their liberty, and dispense justice where it needs dispensing. All the while, teaching them the abc’s, and telling them stories which prepare them for the real world, and teaching them a trade they can use to pay their way in the real world.
Imagine the effect such a teaching protocol throughout America would have in America. It would be a revolution, a shot heard around the world, not entirely different from the revolution in America while American boys were being abused in Vietnam, after President Johnson promised on national TV, I watched and heard it, he would never send American boys to die in a war in Asia. His predecessor, John F. Kennedy, had mostly figured out Vietnam was a bad idea and he was getting cold feet, and then he was dead. I still ain’t too sure then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson didn’t have a hand in that.
President Johnson puts medals on American Vietnam troops
Be that as it may, you did not address my suggestion yesterday that you run for Ron Martin’s School Board seat up your way this year. Commentary on various issues of critical concern is one thing; boots on the ground, slashing your way through jungles, crawling in trenches, and bellying through tunnels is something else altogether. America is in dire straights. Absent a Divine Intervention, which changes every American in a flash, not expected to happen, probably the only way to fix America, or at least try to fix her, is to raise an entirely new kind of generation of children.
Today’s Key West Citizen article – www.keysnews.com – on the Vietnam memorial:
Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
City could spend $150K on memorial
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
City commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday to invest up to $150,000 — roughly one third of the whole price — for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Bayview Park after some emotional comments by locals who fought in the unpopular war.
“We’re not asking for more than we deserve: a thank you, a welcome home and a place to heal,” said Henry Fuller, a Vietnam veteran and member of the memorial planning committee.
With little discussion, commissioners approved to support the project, which early estimates tag at costing $443,000.
“Booyah!” Commissioner Mark Rossi said as a “yes” during the roll-call vote, drawing cheers from the audience at Old City Hall. He recommended the city put a price on the expenditure, and the panel amended the agenda item to add a spending cap of $150,000.
Architect Bert Bender presented a design for the park, which he said improves the city’s property as it honors war veterans and could attract tourism all by itself.
“They really bring people into communities; Vietnam memorials across the county in particular,” said Bender, who is donating his expertise to the project.
The memorial will take up a 75-foot swath of Bayview Park, off Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive, and include landscaping and flagpoles.
The granite memorial will bear the names of soldiers who were either born or lived in Key West during the war years, said committee member Jerry Hughes, himself a Vietnam vet.
Committee members have said previously that Vietnam veterans from the Florida Keys may be included.
The point is to honor with the monument those soldiers who returned home from the war, but anyone may buy a paving stone to honor a veteran, according to officials.
“Everyone can still be recognized, like myself, by purchasing a paver block put in front of the memorial,” Hughes said.
Each paver block can hold up to three lines of text, such as a person’s name and military unit, he said.
“You will still be within the memorial park,” Hughes said.
John Dick, a county school board member who served in Vietnam, said as commander of the American Legion Post 28, this memorial is long overdue.
“Some gave all but all gave some,” said Dick. “Bayview Park is the perfect place.”
Several Vietnam Veterans rose to address the commission. One quoted from the movie “Platoon” and choked back tears as he described how some vets can answer the question, “When were you in Vietnam?” with, “Last night.”
Commissioner Billy Wardlow and Mayor Craig Cates sponsored the proposal. Commissioner Tony Yaniz gave his own tribute to the veterans, thanking them for their service and reminding the audience of the special debt owed to Vietnam soldiers, who returned home to a hostile nation.
“Vietnam veterans sometimes had to hide in shame their honorable service,” Yaniz said. “I don’t think we should hesitate one more moment in honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Very early in the City Commission meeting, Brian La Pointe, PhD, an internationally recognized ocean health and welfare expert,
schooled the commissioners and mayor and audience in Old City Hall and watching on TV in what had killed all but 6 percent of the reef years ago, and why: nitrogen chemical runoff in south Florida into rivers and the Everglades, which then made its way into the Bay of Florida and then down to the Florida Keys and Key West. Brian used what I figured were infrared-like satellite photos, which showed the chemical infiltration into the Bay of Florida years ago, and now again, to get even worse after once again chemical run off is diverted into the Everglades. It was a devastating presentation. Every Keys resident should see it. Kudos to Commissioner Weekley for sponsoring it.
I told Brian afterward out in the front hall, that I would love to have a link to the slideshow presentation to share with my readers. He said he could provide that. I asked if it would be narrated like he had just presented? No. I said the commission meeting was recorded and perhaps he could get an audio of his comments and blend them with the slideshow, which then could be shared far and wide. He said he will talk with City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who had sponsored the presentation.
Later in the meeting was an item on the agenda for giving the city’s grantwriter a $500 raise, from $2,500 a month to $3,000. I told the commissioners and mayor that I had signed up to speak to that item thinking I would say I figured they had costed out the grantwriter’s compensation versus the grant revenues the grantwriter was producing for the city, but after hearing Brian La Point speak, I had a new thought.
Have the grantwriter write a grant for the city to partner with Brian re stopping the chemical run off into the Bay of Florida, which will kill the rest of the reef (and the underwater coral nurseries the city and the county governments are giving grants to renourish the reef). I said here’s why that’s a good idea.
I recently attended a Marine Sanctuary Steering Committee meeting in Marathon, and when I told them what Brian had just explained last night, the head of the Sanctuary kept shaking his head, no, to me. The Chair of the Steering Committee is the South Florida District Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, stationed in Ft. Myers. They didn’t believe me. When I told Brian about that out in the hall, he said he had long had that kind of trouble with them.
I said, it was my impression that it was Brian’s point of view prevaling years ago, which stopped the chemical run off from being dumped into the Everglades. Now the chemical runoff is killing the manatee on the east and west Florida coasts, those areas are up in arms and Tallahassee has given into them, and that’s why the chemical run off will be run through the Everglades again, then into the Bay of Florida, then down into the Keys.
I told the commissioners and mayor that they need to go to war, and they need Brian La Pointe working with them. Surely the Tourist Development Council will fund such a grant request. Saving what’s left of the reef is about promoting tourism. (A considralbe discussion had occurred over the Vietnam memorial promoting tourism, and the Tourist Development Council funding part of the cost of the memotial.)
My time ran out. Nothing in today’s Citizen about La Pointe’s presentation, hopefully tomorrow.
Here’s the Citizen’s report on the toning down Fantasy Fest item on last night’s City Commission agenda. The item should have read: “Ban women’s bare breasts, even if they are painted”:
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
No vote taken on Fantasty Fest nudity
Weekley scraps proposal, will return with ideas to limit ‘Fantasy Zone’
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley on Tuesday withdrew his proposal to redefine Key West’s law that makes body paint an exception to the ban on public nudity after a lackluster response by his colleagues.
Weekley proposed rewriting the local law to require an “opaque covering” on women’s nipples, and no longer allow body paint as a clothing alternative during the annual week-long Fantasy Fest.
“We need to reel it in,” Weekley said. “It’s time for us to take a stand.”
A few commissioners agreed with Weekley that the October festival, which draws tens of thousands to the island for unabashed revelry, has become a bit over the top when it comes to public nudity.
But no one had a solution to setting a Fantasy Fest standard when it comes to public parading and costuming.
“I am opposed to debauchery,” said Commissioner Tony Yaniz, “but I don’t believe bare breasts constitute debauchery.”
Weekley pulled the item, but he promised to return with ideas to redraw the limits of the “Fantasy Zone,” where revelers may show more skin during the week-long party.
Body painted revelers are supposed to stay in the “Fantasy Zone,” which comprises mostly Duval Street only during Fantasy Fest.
Despite Weekley’s decision to pull his proposal, the subject generated a hearty discussion at Old City Hall.
One local said the proposed law would turn the police department into fashion police, and warned that singling out women’s breasts is probably unconstitutional.
“It’s discriminating against women,” said John Walsh.
Police Chief Donie Lee told commissioners his officers didn’t report seeing more public nudity at the 2013 Fantasy Fest when compared to past festivals.
“Different people see things in different ways,” Lee said. “A police officer has to observe it, not a citizen or someone who says something after the fact.”
Lee said that about 130 police officers patrol the island during the annual festival, and not all are from Key West.
“Lewd acts, sexual acts in public, exposed male or female genitalia, we have zero tolerance for that,” Lee said. “I would like clear direction on what the community standard is, and what you would like us to do, and we will do it.”
Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Mark Rossi took turns blasting the idea of the city laws sexualizing women’s breasts by requiring special coverage.
“We’ve got to get away from female breasts as sex organs because that’s not it,” said Lopez. “The breasts are not genitalia.”
Rossi, who owns a Duval Street entertainment complex, said enforcing new nudity rules at Fantasy Fest is a waste of police officers time.
“If you don’t like it, don’t come down to Duval Street,” Rossi said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Key West law already forbids public nudity, defining it as the exposure of “male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering or the exposure of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple.”
Weekley’s proposed revision would add that body paint doesn’t count as a “fully opaque covering.”
Mayor Craig Cates said he would support the new language but believes it would take a few years for it to catch on with the revelers.
No one on the dais spoke in favor of jailing people for nudity violations. A citation or a fine would do, Cates and Weekley said.
“I’d rather leave the ordinance the way it is right now and enforce the laws on the books,” said Commissioner Billy Wardlow.
Former commissioner Bill Verge told them to approve the changes proposed by Weekley.
“You have to get started somewhere,” said Verge, who joked that he considered appearing at Old City Hall in full body paint. “Tell people this is our community standard. It does get more outrageous every year. We won’t lose any visitors.”
Another former city commissioner wasn’t in attendance Tuesday but has launched an email campaign to leaders over nudity at recent Fantasy Fests.
Harry Bethel recommends jailing revelers who violate the local nudity ban to send a message that the island wants visitors to button up.
“Public nudity is a disgrace to our community and our residents,” Bethel wrote to the commission recently. “We do not deserve this class of people that we know would never dare to do in their hometown what they do in ours.”
Weekley on Tuesday night took pains to say that the company that promotes Fantasy Fest, Market Share, isn’t to blame for the behavior of some revelers.
Commissioner Teri Johnston agreed, but added that Key West’s image suffers as a result of some of the Fantasy Fest photos that get blasted worldwide via the Internet.
“It’s the city that takes a negative impact,” Johnston said. I’ve always been a proponent of, ‘If you don’t do it in your hometown, please don’t do it here.”
Well, it has long been my impression, going back about 50 years, that Key West holds itself out as a place where people can come, let their hair down, do what they would not dream of doing back where they live. A place where the weird turn pro. A seedy, raunchy, anything goes place. Perhaps Teri,
who is my City Commissioner and my friend, lives in a parallel universe Key West, just next door to the Key West where I live?
The fact is, we are our reputation. Fantasy Fest is Key West, Key West is Fantasy Fest.
I think it was Jimmy Weekley who said last night that the Chamber of Commerce is very upset about Fantasy Fest. No one from the Chamber spoke last night about taming Fantasy Fest.
During my citizen comments on that item, I said Fantasy Fest doesn’t mean or do much for me. I tend to try to be away from it, to avoid the noise and crowds. However, I do look it over, and it has been this way quite a while.
I asked Jimmy Weekly
if he had been born again, gone through a religious experience? Was he now feeling guilty, trying to make amends? I said I wondered why he was sponsoring Harry Bethel’s new ordinance, instead of Harry’s city commissioner (Tony Yaniz)?
I told Jimmy that I ran against him in 2003, and again in 2007, and he did not then speak of taming Fantasy Fest. What had changed? Not Fantasy Fest.
I said they would tone down Fantasy Fest, which is the city’s biggest attraction people love to come to Key West for. They would tone down Fantasy Fest people all over the world know by googling Fantasy Fest and seeing all the photos on the Internet. Then, they come here and Fantasy Fest is changed? They come here and think there has been a bait and switch? They have been lied to?
All the while, Duval Street’s strip joints, lap dance parlors and whorehouses are running every day and night. Narcotics are being trafficked in those places. I know, because people who go into those places tell me. I told Commissioner Mark Rossi
that he owns some of those clubs, and I am not saying they should be shut down. Nor should Fantasy Fest be toned down.
My time was up. Walking away from the speaker’s station, I said, “Hypocrisy!”
A woman who said she worked for “KONK Life”, a local publication, asked for the spelling of my last name. I gave it to her, said, “That’s Guy de Boer’s publication?” She said yes. I said I’d been on Guy’s radio show lots of times.
During the commissioners and mayor’s ensuing comments, Jimmy Weekley told me, no, he had not had a born again experience; he was hearing from constituents that Fantasy Fest needed toning down, they were offended. Fantasy Fest mostly happens in his voting district, so he probably is getting most of the complaints.
During final general citizen comments at the end of the meeting, I told Jimmy that I really liked his idea for containing Fantasy Fest to Duval Street, Whitehead and Simonton Streets. I said that’s where all of that should happen. People who live in neighborhoods cannot drive to Fantasy Fest, no parking. If they ride bicycles or walk, they can wear raincoats or long shirts with tails, so as not to offend their neighbors.
I added, the citations it had been suggested city police officers give to Fantasy Fest revelers would be treated as trophies to be pinned to walls when the revelers went back home. They would not pay the fines.
I also said during my closing citizen comments, that I’d noticed Cowboy Bill’s was a lot quieter lately, since the noise ordinance discussion at the previous city commission meeting; the pedestrian walkway on North Roosevelt Blvd, just below Salt Channel Bridge, was seriously dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists, who have to cross there if they are going either direction; and there still are coconuts in the trees above the streets in the cemetery (waiting to detach and drop on and kill people).
I suppose I also should mention one other item on last night’s city commission agenda.
A local doctor had bought land on the water, some kind of marina, from the city, and he had ended up getting in dutch with city code enforcement, and before the city magistrate, and a fine had started running, and it had gotten to about $110,000, which I think was more than he had paid for the land. The doctor’s lawyer made it sound like another case of Bubba Justice, and while I might have been skeptical, the entire tale just plain smelled bad to me. It smelled doubly bad because Assistant City Attorney Ronald Ramsingh was arguing the case for the fine being reasonable. I concluded some time ago, after watching Ramsingh behave in Tree Commission meetings, that he should be disbarred and put in prison. I had published that.
I did not say that during my citizen comments; only that the case smelled awful and the commissioners and mayor ought to pass it over and look into it themselves. I said I had learned about cases smelling bad when I had practiced law.
The doctor was offering $10,000 to settle that for which he felt he owed nothing. The city commissioners and mayor, after first leaning toward taking that offer, ended up making a counter offer for 1/3 of the fine.
Teri Johnston said she had to trust the magistrate, because she had observed him during several proceedings before him. It was not the magistrate who concerned me; it was Ramsingh. I saw him talking last night like I’d seen him talk at Tree Commission meetings.
I told City Manager Bob Vitas that I had a transcript of a Tree Commission where Ramsingh and the Tree Commissioners talked about getting caught the meeting before by a property owner’s lawyer, stopped them in their tracks, the lawyer did. Ramsingh and the tree commissioners talked about how they had to make changes so they could keep on doing doing what the lawyer had stopped them from doing. I gave that transcript to Tony Yaniz and he got mad at me; he didn’t read it.
Vitas said there is nothing he could do about city legal, they reported directly to the City Commission, he had no control over them.
The City Commission controls the Tree Commission. The mayor appoints tree commissioners with advice from the city commissioners. Tree commissioners then serve at the City Commissiion’s leisure. The same magistrate hears Tree Commission appeals, which are few because it gets worse for property owners if they go before the magistrate. They settle, instead of appealing. They are not allowed by Ramsingh to appeal to the City Commission, which they have a right do to in some circumstances. They are made by Ramsingh to appeal to the magistrate, if they do not settle. I have seen that with my own two eyes.
The doctor and his lawyer did not indicate whether or not the City Commission’s counteroffer would be accepted. I bet the doctor doesn’t buy any more land from the city.
My oldest Bashinksy first cousin Leo in Birmingham, Alabama sent this morning:
A vote for Sloan is a vote for change.
He’ll give you his two sense worth
and a lot more to boot.
This message has been brought to you
by the Sloan Campaign for better Government
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West