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Susan Valdes

Robocalls target Hillsborough School Board’s April Griffin — more than a year before elections

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On Memorial Day, April Griffin awoke to a barrage of calls and texts from friends. The Hillsborough County School Board member learned she was the subject of a negative robocall from a group calling itself “Citizens for Fairness and Equity.” Griffin initially described the call on her Facebook page as comparing her to “being like President Trump, supporting charter schools, and had racial undertones because it talked about me winning (taking away) an election for the chairmanship over the only black board member.”…

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In Tampa, public officials blast education bill, urge Rick Scott veto

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A host of political and education issues came together Tuesday in West Tampa to trash the massive $419 million public education bill that GOP lawmakers unveiled and passed in the final days of the Legislative Session. “This is the mother of all education bills, ” said Rep. Sean Shaw. The Tampa Democrat was referring to House Bill 7069, a 278-page conforming bill agreed to in secret and barely surviving a vote in the Senate before the Legislature adjourned earlier this month. HB 7069,…

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April Griffin says Ione Townsend blocked her from running for Hillsborough County DEC chair a year ago

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The reverberations from Monday’s Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee meeting continued on Wednesday when School Board Chair April Griffin said she was denied the opportunity to run for the DEC chair position a year ago by Ione Townsend, who ended up running as the only candidate to replace Elizabeth Belcher. In a posting on her Facebook page, Griffin said that with no groundswell of support for a chair to succeed Belcher, she had given the idea serious consideration and decided she…

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Uproar at Hillsborough DEC meeting; City Council, School Board members leave in disgust

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After a rough start, Hillsborough County Democrats re-elected Ione Townsend as party chair Monday night. A raucous first 50 minutes of the group’s reorganization meeting culminated in five Tampa City Council members and two Hillsborough County school board members leaving the hall in disgust when they were not allowed to participate in the Democratic Executive Committee election for local officers. In a related development that skewed the final tally of his race, Alan Clendenin, vice-chair of the Florida Democratic Party and…

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Joe Henderson: Some pre-primary thoughts for Hillsborough County

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I will be paying attention to a lot of things during Tuesday’s primary election. The weather, however, will not be high on the list. Even with storms in Tuesday’s forecast, it may not affect the turnout that much. As of Sunday, voters cast nearly 104,000 ballots in Hillsborough County for the primary election, either by mail or at early voting events like Sunday’s “Souls to The Polls” gathering at two Tampa locations. As of late afternoon, there were 3,267 votes…

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Joe Henderson: Supporters of MaryEllen Elia now get chance for revenge at ballot box

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Things really got nasty around the Hillsborough County School Board in early 2015. That’s when four of the seven members voted to fire Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. They didn’t like her brusque and dismissive style. They felt Elia believed the board worked for her, not vice versa. The move was, to understate matters, highly controversial. Oh, who am I kidding? I can think of few things the board has ever done that created the stir that did. Those who voted in…

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Susan Valdes proudly is standing by her vote to can MaryEllen Elia

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The Hillsborough County School Board’s stunning vote to oust Superintendent Mary EllenElia from her position in January of 2015 angered much of the Tampa Bay area’s business and political establishment. Linking his tweet to a Washington Post piece calling the firing ““Blunder of the Year?”, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn wrote, “‘Nuff said. School Board elections in 2 years. Just saying.” He was hardly the only local official who strongly disagreed with the decision. But with just six weeks to go before two of the four members…

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