Commission Oversteps Bounds With Sheriff Al

So let's get this straight: The Broward County Commission, at the same time that it is demanding major cuts in Sheriff Al Lamberti's budget, ordered him to give jail deputies $10 million in retroactive raises?

Lamberti railed at the commission, calling them, memorably, "whining, complaining, and moaning." On this issue, Lamberti, while totally in the wrong on so many others, is right. The commission is obviously playing politics -- whether it be pandering to the unions or some sort of venomous spite -- in this vote (John Rodstrom and Ken Keechl notwithstanding, since they voted against it).

Understand that the commission basically gave the jail employees 3 percent raises over their previous 5 percent raises. That's right, Stacy Ritter, Ilene Lieberman et al. just voted to throw $10 million away to make sure a set of government employees gets an effective 8 percent raise.

During a recession.

Unbelievable.

Ritter yelled at Lamberti yesterday to "fix your damn problems." That might sound like strong leadership, but how can she tell him to do that while the commission is essentially micromanaging his office in regards to a union impasse to order the agency to dole out another $10 million? It's absurd.

Don't get me wrong. Lamberti's behavior has been reprehensible as well. His pandering to the road patrol deputies with the same fat 8 percent raises while sticking it to the jail employees is rotten to the core. And that's what led to yesterday's showdown in the first place. But that doesn't change the fact that the commission overstepped its bounds and made an irresponsible vote.

-- Tom Jicha of the Sun-Sentinel does his take on the rehabilitation attempt by fired CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. In it, Jicha basically says that what comes around goes around and points to Sanchez's role in the firing of former Heat announcer David Halberstam in 1997.

"He went on the air on Channel 7 and attempted to destroy the career of [Halberstam] over a stream of consciousness remark that only those who live in the world of  'Gotcha!' could have twisted into a racist statement," Jicha writes in his blog post.

Wow. I had to look up Halberstam's quote. After the jump, you can see what it is and decide for yourself if it was racist or not.

I found the quote in a 1997 article by none other than Tom Jicha. Here is the offensive line from Halberstam: "I'll bet some of Thomas Jefferson's slaves would have made great basketball players."

That, of course, is taken out of context (I can see Jicha shaking his fist now), but it's a pretty startling quote to come from the voice of an NBA basketball team, isn't it? Here's the context from Jicha's old article:

This dreaded moment for Halberstam came a week ago Wednesday. He got off on a tangent about Heat player John Crotty from the University of Virginia. Interspersed with bits of game action, Halberstam noted Crotty's alma mater was founded by Thomas Jefferson. Halberstam continued that Jefferson probably would have been proud of Crotty except that there was no basketball in Jefferson's day. Next came the line Halberstam would give anything to have back. "I'll bet some of Thomas Jefferson's slaves would have made great basketball players," he said.

Rule of thumb for sportscasters: Don't mix slavery with your sports. Ask Jimmy the Greek. Jicha clearly liked Halmberstam and felt this was just a stupid idle remark, which it very well may have been. Hence the television critic's anger at the "lynch mob" (yeah, he used that term to describe those who criticized Halberstam). Should Halberstam have been fired? Ask the Miami Heat, but it was certainly a newsworthy moment.

ADDED: School Board muckraker Broward Cleansweep has apparently been banned from Facebook. Looking into why. Remember this is the site that someone calling themselves "Broward Conscience" -- and clearly tied to the board itself -- tried to extort into shutting down when it believed erroneously that the man behind the broom was a school board employee. That was real nasty. The Cleansweep's Twitter page is still up and running.  


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