Jan 202018

Kathy Rietzel

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.

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 January 20, 2018  Posted by at 12:34 am ~ Column ~, ~ Opinion ~, Issue #252, Rick Boettger  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Is the School Board Turning Over a New Leaf?”

  1. Is the insurance company PGIT by any chance?

  2. My recollection is the bad old school board argued, themselves, that Reitzel quit after being given the choice of being fired or quitting, and a local circuit judge ruled, since Reitzel quit, she had no cause of action against the school district.

    Kinda reminds me of what I have read about Donald Trump litigates.

    Ludicrous, of course, to argue Reitzel resiging, instead being fired, was quitting.

    Ludicrous to argue she was not a whistle blower.

    School Board member Andy Griffiths told me it was he who went to the State Attorney about the Acevedos, after Reitzel had ratted them out, after she was put in a squeeze of covering for them, or ratting them out – my colorful spin on what Andy told me. Not spun, Andy told me that Reitzel waited to long to rat out the Acevedos, and that’s why he voted to get rid of her.

    I thought they should have given Reitzel a medal and promoted her.

    I encourage her to keep after them in court, not give in. She said she was not going to give in.

    Blame this on the schools’ insurance company I do not. The school board is the defendant and it alone can settle the case, or not.

    This don’t look much different to this old ex-fake lawyer, from when the Charles Eimers family sued the city of Key West, for its police murdering Charles. The city commission didn’t want to settle, and the insurance company really wanted the city to settle. The city commission laid the settlement on the insurance company, while saying the city police had done nothing wrong.

    I don’t think the city was paying for its insurance company’s legal counsel to defend the city, for typically a liability insurance company’s contract defense counsel are paid by the insurance company. So I imagine the insurance company lawyers defending the school district are being paid by the insurance company.

    Even before I ran for school board in 2012, I had come to the conclusion years prior that the government cannot be trusted to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, under oath or not under oath. The school board is just another government.

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