by Rick Boettger…….
The District made a positive move last week in their legal wrangling with Kathy Reitzel in her whistle-blowing case against them. They admitted she was a whistle-blower.
To recap: Kathy was head of finances for the School District when Monique Acevedo stole over $400,000. Kathy turned over evidence to board chairman Andy Griffith. The district used this evidence and Kathy’s extended testimony to send Monique to prison and get her husband Randy fired from his job as superintendent.
Then they fired her. This was abominable behavior. It is clearly forbidden by just laws designed specifically to protect people like her, with insider knowledge, in order to encourage others to do the same. They have fought her lawsuit for eight years, which is how they use our taxpayer money to harm innocent individuals seeking justice: Linda Gottwald, the people fighting the grinder pumps, are two others.
Why am I so hopeful about this? Well, the firing and legal stonewall started under the bad-old-days school board. By bad old days, I mean the board that turned down a giant offer from the state and the Rodel Foundation to buy and renovate the Harris School and make both an artist’s colony and a culinary institute out of it. They sold it later for a reduced price with no benefits to the community. The bad old board who bought Marathon Manor, a massive white elephant.
The old board never was able to discipline the administration. But the new board did, regarding the cost over-runs at HOB—imagine—accountability! Now, I have heard enough rumors about this new board’s attitude towards the Reitzel case that I believe they are generally in support of doing the right thing and giving her a just settlement. What I believe is that the insurance company is the reason the suit is not being settled. And the reason they are fighting against all hope in what, before a jury, will be an open-and-shut case is that it is a can’t-lose proposition for them.
The insurance company pays out for the eight years of being fired when Kathy wins. But the legal fees are being paid by the district, that is, by us taxpayers. The insurance company has no money of its own to lose by burning up our money in a hopeless case. So they are pressing on. Their current move before the big trial is to try to get the damages limited to actual job loss, denying any claim for pain and suffering. This is just another waste of our legal dollars, as the precedents for admitting pain and suffering are numerous and clear. But the insurer doesn’t care about wasting our money.
Boy, this is a hopeful relief for me, getting to blame the usual villains, and insurance company, instead of the generally earnest and capable citizens on our School Board.
By the way, researching the old Harris School fiasco revealed two more glaring follies. First, the three women who voted AGAINST selling to the state and Rodel after grilling them for so long the state withdrew its offer, Ann Cohen, Debra Walker, and Eileen Quinn instead jumped at the chance months later to sell to —drum roll please— CAY CLUBS! Whose leaders are already in jail or appealing their sentences for their large Ponzi scheme Keys developments. Sigh. What an opportunity lost.