Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 8:54 a.m.
The idea to make the Broward superintendent's job an elected position was trotted out on a couple of TV news stations last night.
It's a horrible idea.
As bad as the Broward County School Board is, unfortunately, voters are worse -- and just as easily manipulated.
It would force the superintendent deep into the despicable world of Broward politics, where they would become sullied and exposed. You know, like our judges are. And our sheriff.
Notter was a terrible superintendent; we all accept that. But he would have been even worse if he directly owed the lobbyists and contractors paybacks for the political fundraisers that got him elected. The thought is downright chilling.
I don't think people know how absolutely screwed up the Broward Sheriff's Office is right now -- and it has a whole lot to do with
elective politics. It's a snake pit, a place where backstabbing and political retribution are commonplace. No decent person wants such an acidic mess in his or her life.
And it's expensive for taxpayers too. Did you know that Sheriff Al Lamberti, a Republican, has hired a full-time political promoter, Alan Berkowitz, on the taxpayers' dime whose job is to try to keep Lamberti in the good graces of the heavily Democratic condo crowds? Do you know that Lamberti has one of the largest public/media relations staffs in the state? There's a reason for that.
Then there's the ethically dubious public deals with political folks. The sheriff buys cars from Maroone Ford through Michael Albetta, a Democratic leader in Broward County who in turn promotes the sheriff in Democratic circles.
Is that a coincidence? Hell no. It's politics sullying BSO.
The sheriff should be appointed by the County Commission, period. And of course, the superintendent should remain an appointed position.
But here's the thing: The dysfunctional School Board somehow needs to get moving now to replace Notter with a national search. The idea of selecting an interim replacement from his sullied "lieutenants," as the Sentinel called them, is repulsive and would amount (again) to political malpractice.
The School Board, in fact, shouldn't do much of anything else before bringing in a competent leader from outside South Florida, because the board can't be trusted to do anything right on its own. The current chairman, Ben Williams, is a holdover from the past board who was sitting on the dais during all of the corruption and stupidity cited in the grand jury report. He never lifted a finger to do the right thing one time in his tenure -- why would anyone expect him to start right now?
Williams' words indicate he's living in la-la land. Amazingly, he said two days ago that Notter was leaving on a "good note." That jaw-dropping statement alone indicates incompetence on a massive scale.
It's clear the district is completely lost at sea right now. Idea: The Florida Department of Education is here reviewing the board right now, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with it. What the state officials need to do is to help the district find a qualified and competent superintendent. It needs help, and it needs help now.
-- In other news regarding BSO, one of Lamberti's top lieutenants, Capt. Robert Schnakenberg, has lawyered up in the ongoing State Attorney's Office investigation of BSO's Super Bowl detail.
The South Florida Times
, in a story
on the ethics complaint filed in the case, reports that Schnakenberg, who is director of BSO's criminal investigations, has hired Fort Lauderdale attorney Jeremy Kroll to represent him in the case. When contacted by the newspaper, Kroll wouldn't comment.
It's a far cry from a couple of months ago, when Schnakenberg openly spoke about the case with me and said there was no wrongdoing when BSO obtained credentials for the sheriff's son to attend the game.
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