President Ira Paul's 2008 Tallahassee Trip Highlights

2008 Tallahassee Trip Highlights

Material distributed: IVBE letter to Legislators calling for a forensic audit of MDCPS and other large districts

Salaries and Earnings for MDCPS employees whose base salaries were $100,000 or more as of October 31, 2007

Salaries and Earnings for MDCPS employees who’s gross wages were $100,000 or more as of December 31, 2007

Checks written to the Miami Herald totaling 1.7 million dollars and checks written to El Nuevo Herald covering the same time period totaling $487.  (This might explain the discrepancy in coverage between the two newspapers.  El Nuevo Herald prints the facts while the Miami Herald ignores the facts and puts a positive spin on MDCPS and its Superintendent)   

List of Cars and SUV’s given to the top administrators earning the most money

Copy of the Auditor Generals Final Audit for MDCPS showing that MDCPS lost, mismanaged, misspent, or had stolen 3.1 billion dollars.  (The report included the Superintendent’s response, which was laughable at best.  The undocumented overtime rose from 21 million to 28 million and only covered undocumented overtime for employees earning $10,000 or more.  The hurricane was the excuse given for the prior audits.  Since we did not have any hurricanes during the past 2 years they had to come up with another excuse the excuse given this time were the multiple traffic accidents that destroyed building facilities.  If they are going to lie, they should at least come up with a story that sounds believable.  The audit exceptions were the same as those in the previous audits, and not one of them has been corrected.)

Other items discussed were splitting large school districts into smaller ones.  The Florida constitution allows for the consolidation of smaller districts, but not the other way around.  The legislators are looking at this but nothing is going to happen this year.  The Florida Constitution would have to be amended in order to do this.

I am also on the board of directors for Cut Property Taxes Now, Inc. and met with key legislators to advance the 1.35% solution.  The House has been cooperative the Senate side has not.  For more information on this issue visit www.cutpropertytaxesnow.com.

A senate committee chaired by Senator Rudy Garcia will be meeting on Wednesday to address this issue, I have asked the Miami Group to flood the offices of Senator Rudy Garcia and Senator Alex Villalobos with phone calls and email to encourage them to support this.  The lobbyist we hired will be working on the other members of that committee.           

Meeting with Jan Russo, Director of Teacher Outreach for the Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

The above information was shared with Jan Russo.  I explained than I would not be able to attend the Foundation’s Educational Summit in June and that I would be on an Alaska Cruise during that time.  I asked about the Fordham Institute Florida Event that was moved to Tallahassee.  No information was available.  Jan said she would try to set up a meeting for me with the Commissioner of Education.  The meeting never materialized.  I was also informed that Cathy DeMoisey, Executive Director from the Professional Educators Network of Florida (PEN would be there on Thursday and I was invited to the 3:00 pm meeting scheduled for that day.  Cathy had to pick up some people from the airport in Jacksonville and drive them to Tallahassee for the meeting.  The flight was delayed so I departed for Miami and promised to stay in touch.

Meeting with Dr. Stan Marshall and Bob Sanchez of the James Madison Institute (JMI).

The above information was shared with Stan and Bob.  Stan called the Attorney General’s office and asked to be connected to Bill McCollum.  Stan explained the situation in Miami-Dade and was instrumental in setting up a meeting with Kent Perez, the Attorney General’s Cabinet Aid.

Meeting with Kent Perez, the Attorney General’s Cabinet Aid.

The above information with respect to MDCPS was shared with Kent and he informed me of two available options, the Governor’s office and the ethics committee.  He stated that the Attorney General was limited in what he could do and said that he would go over the material and contact the Auditor General and find out who they contacted what steps they have taken after the final audit.  He also said he would contact the Miami-Dade State Attorneys Office and find out what they are doing.

Meeting with Christian Camara, Legislative Analyst Committee on State Affairs for the Florida House of Representatives.

The above information was shared with Christian.  Christian asked me to take over his position on the Technology Committee for the Republican Party of Miami-Dade.  This is a voluntary position and involved maintaining the web site.  Christian said he would train me when he comes down in May and teach me what I need to know to do this.  I also serve as a Committeeman for the Republican Party of Miami-Dade.  I was also informed of a Senate Committee meeting chaired by Senator Alex Villalobos to advance the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of which I’m against.  Florida voters will be considering an amendment to protect marriage between a man and a woman.  The ERA is passed would invalidate this.  In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that its state ERA mandated same-sex marriage, and recently Maryland struck down its same-sex marriage ban based on its ERA.  Other meetings prevented me from testifying.  Sad to say the ERA passed the committee 7-3.  The good news is that even if it makes it to a full vote, the House will not hear it.

Meeting with Schools & Learning Council Chairman Representative Pickens

The above information was shared with the Representative who was a former school board attorney and is attuned to education issues.  He was very interested in the information provided and I gave his a total of 18 copies enough for everyone in his committee.  He informed me that he will be term limited out and that Representative Traviesa his Vice-Chair will be chairing the committee next year and suggested that it would be a good idea to meet with him as well.

Meeting with Schools & Learning Council Vice-Chairman Representative Traviesa

I met with the representative and we spoke about the above subject and he told me that they could sure use another Ralph Arza.  I told him I would give Ralph his regards and he thanked me for the information I shared with him and for my hard work and dedication.

Meeting with Committee on K-12 Chair Representative Flores

The above information was shared with the Representative who is attuned to education issues and was shocked and frustrated by what is happening in Miami-Dade.  She was very interested in the information provided and I gave hers a total of 6 copies enough for everyone in her committee.  She also took note of the salaries, fringe benefits and the media blackout by the Miami Herald.

Meeting with House Speaker Marco Rubio

I was able to talk to the House Speaker last Monday while he was in Miami and was the guest speaker for an event sponsored by the Federalist Society.  We spoke briefly, mainly on property tax relief and he is well aware of my involvement on school reform issues.  I told him I would be in Tallahassee next week and he told me to stop by his office.  I did not get a chance to visit him as he was extremely busy but I did get a chance to meet with the Special Assistant to the Speaker Bill Wilson whom I shared all the above information with and he said he would brief the Speaker.  He found the information I shared to be very troubling. 

Meeting with Majority Leader Representative Adam Hasner

The above information was shared with the Representative and he thanked me for the updated list of salaries.  We discussed the Audit and the media blackout by the Miami Herald and told me he was aware of articles in El Nuevo Herald and asked if there was anyway I could get it translated into English for him.  I promised that I would keep him updated and would send him additional information.  We also discussed some of the good things coming out of the Tax and Budget Committee.

Meeting with Representative David Rivera

The above information was shared with the Representative and he reviewed the information and thanked me.  He mentioned that the lobbyists from MDCPS would be visiting him and was grateful for the information so that he now has something to beat them over the head with.  Like everyone else, he was shocked by what he saw in the audit.

Meeting with Representative Eddie Gonzalez

The above information was shared with the Representative who happens to be my Representative.  Eddie was very supportive and offered me the opportunity to present legislation that he would be willing to sponsor.

Meeting with Representative Robert Schenck

My Representative Eddie Gonzalez introduced me to Representative Schenck and I met with him in his office.  He is a former teacher and was very interested in the information I shared with him.

Meeting with Representative Kurt Kelly

Kurt was the last person I met with and I most certainly would have missed him had I not seen a poster with his name and picture on it.  He was very gracious and even though I did not have an appointment, he took me in ahead of other people who were waiting to see him.  I was all out of material to distribute and briefed him on what was going on.  We also talked about IVBE and he asked about Charlotte and some of the others.

Meeting with Education Pre-k-12 Appropriations Chair Senator Wise

The above information was shared with the Senator who is attuned to education issues and was shocked and frustrated by what I shared with him.  He was very grateful for the information provided. I gave him a total of 6 copies enough for everyone in his committee.

Meeting with Education Pre-K-12 Chair Senator Gaetz

The Senator was not available and I met with Adam Grizzle his Legislative Aid.  Alex took notes and was very interested in the information I shared with him.  I gave him a total of 7 copies enough for everyone in the Senator’s committee.  Afterwards he asked me to come back and told me that he would like to introduce me to the Senator.  Unfortunately, the few times I was able to check back, the Senator was not available.

Meeting with John Hallman, Vice-President, Florida Taxpayers Union and Lobbyist for Cut Property Taxes Now, Inc.

John is the paid lobbyist for Cut Property Taxes Now, Inc. and is in Tallahassee for the entire session.  His main objective is to advance the 1.35% solution.  We met with Senator Haridopolos who was very helpful and sympathetic to our cause and assisted us in getting forward movement.  John asked if I could help set up a meeting with Senator Rudy Garcia and Senator Alex Villalobos.  I told him I should be able to get a meeting with Senator Garcia.  But I would do more harm by approaching Senator Villalobos since I had an active roll in campaigning against him and used my 527 Teachers United for Better Schools to help his opponent.  The other person who came up with me from Mi ami didn’t have this problem and was able to get him a meeting with Senator Villalobos.

Overall, I would have to say mission accomplished.  This was by far the most productive trip I’ve had in all my visits to Tallahassee.  I don’t think my school district and teachers union are going to be very happy when they come to Tallahassee to ask for more money and get beat over the head.  I only hope that those responsible for the 3.1 billion losses will be prosecuted and held accountable.  Just wishful thinking on my part!

Ira