A few days ago we wrote Florida Descending into Theocracy and Chaos. We discussed several nightmare problems in Florida, but the trigger for that post was an article in the St. Augustine Record about their school district’s hiring a lobbyist (Beth Sweeny) whose previous experience had been as a staffer for rapturous Ronda Storms. If you need more background on her, then among our dozens of posts about Florida’s creationist queen, see Buffoon Award Winner — Ronda Storms.
Okay, but what’s the correction we’re posting about? Well, we doubt that our humble blog played any part in it, but it seems there’s been an uproar over hiring that lobbyist, and in today’s St. Augustine Record we read: Correction: School district did not hire lobbyist.
That’s quite a correction, and we feel obligated to tell you about it. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
The headline for an article in Saturday’s newspaper incorrectly reported that the St. Johns County School District has hired a lobbyist.
That is not correct. The district hired a coordinator of government relations, which is a low-end manager, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Joyner said Monday.
Oooooh! Sweeny isn’t a lobbyist — she’s a “coordinator of governmental relations.” Okay, let’s read on:
“We’ve been fielding calls all day,” Joyner said because of the incorrect headline, which read “School district hires lobbyist.” The story itself was factually correct, he said.
He’s been fielding calls all day? As we said, we doubt that this blog had anything to do with it. It was probably the good citizens of St. Johns County who found the original news unsettling. But — and this is worth emphasizing — the school superintendent says the original story was factually correct. In his mind the problem is all about the label of Sweeny’s job, not the job itself. The news story continues:
“She’s not a lobbyist,” Joyner said of new hire Beth Sutkowy Sweeny, the coordinator of government relations. “We belong to a consortium and pay a small fee for a lobbyist that represents (public) schools.” Sweeny is not part of that consortium.
Ah, they’ve already got a lobbying outfit, and the school district wouldn’t want Sweeny’s job title to get her confused with them. We continue:
Sweeny’s salary will be $60,921, and she will receive the same benefits as other school district employees. Her travel reimbursement will be the same as for others in the district, and she does not have an expense account, Joyner said.
Nice pay — but it’s quite understandable that the school district would place a high value on someone with five years of experience working with Ronda Storms. Here’s one more excerpt:
“What was a positive thing has been turned negative (by the headline),” Joyner said.
“She’ll help create a team of local individuals to formulate policy to help the kids.”
Beth Sweeny, we’ll be watching you. If you think that teaching Noah’s Ark in science class will benefit the children, you’ll be hearing from us.
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