Deliver Us

South Florida's most corrupt hospital district is at it again, compromising health care to reward a crony

A key lieutenant in the racket is NBHD General Counsel Bill Scherer, whose law firm rakes in nearly $3 million a year from the district and doles out another $2.5 million in legal contracts. Scherer is not only on the public dole -- he's also on Scott's payroll, representing the doctor's companies in legal disputes. "Bill Scherer is one of the most disgusting things going on at [the district]," Dresnick says. "He has no business being anywhere near that place."

Scherer is also one of Jeb Bush's chief bag men in Broward County. He's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the governor. During the past five years, Scherer and his law firm have directly given nearly $70,000 to the Republican Party and Bush. Scherer, who is on the governor-appointed Judicial Nominating Commission, has also been named a "ranger" for George W. Bush for raising more than $100,000 for the president. "Bag Man Bill" also served as campaign counsel for the president during the 2000 election recount, during which elections officials threatened to kick him out of the Broward Courthouse after he began screaming about chads.

Scherer wouldn't comment for this story, but a rep from his PR service, Boyd and Powers (which also contracts with the district), says he hired another lawyer, Samuel Ullman, so that he wouldn't have a conflict of interest.

Despite the lawyer's shell game, the fact remains that Scherer is the behind-the-scenes power in the district, and if he didn't want the Scott contract to go through, it wouldn't have.

Another lieutenant in the Bush ring is powerful lobbyist Jim Blosser, whose law firm -- Poole, McKinley, and Blosser -- collects $72,000 a year from NBHD to lobby the Republican Legislature. In another clear conflict of interest, he also lobbies the district for numerous clients, including Dr. Steven M. Scott's companies.

Blosser, who began his ascent to power working for billionaire/civic vampire Wayne Huizenga, is also a presidential ranger. My count shows that Blosser and his law firms and partners have given roughly $56,000 to the governor and the Republican Party since 1998. He also served as a campaign officer for both the governor and the president. Jeb rewarded him by appointing his wife, Nancy, to Florida Atlantic University's Board of Trustees.

Just last September, Blosser and Scherer organized President Bush's fundraiser at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. The two lieutenants also share mutual financial concerns. Both have worked for Huizenga, both represent the developers for the rejected Palazzo project in a lawsuit against the City of Fort Lauderdale, and both serve as directors of Levitt Corp., the giant housing developer. And of course, both collect money from Scott and the NBHD.

These are ties that bind.

Next, we have the soldiers, those whose job it is to carry out the will of Scott's boys. That would include district CEO Trower, a glorified clerk who began working for the district 30 years ago as a respiratory therapist. The secret to his success: Trower is a good, useful tool. He does as he's told.

And then there are the seven Bush-appointed commissioners themselves, who operate as a rubber stamp for the political interests. Among them are Gul Cumber, whose son formerly worked at Blosser's firm, and Steven Berrard, another Huizenga flunky and close Scherer associate.

This giant incestuous mess of mutual interests has nothing -- not a damn thing -- to do with providing quality healthcare to the uninsured, which is supposedly the district's raison d'être.

It's really about lining pockets on the public's back (again this year, the board voted to raise our taxes). Consider that last week, during an obscure NBHD building and finance committee meeting, Scherer urged the board to raise Trower's salary from $404,000 to $600,000. Only one member of the public, activist Jane Kreimer, was there to witness the vote to approve the 50 percent pay hike.

Let's see, a bad CEO takes obscene raises while his organization is run into the ground. Where have you heard that one before?

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