Some Suggestions for the New Buzzword Commission

Well, the comments on the post about the newly appointed School Board Commission below show once again that this place has the smartest and most knowledgable readers in town. Which isn't surprising since you so often get to see the future front page of the Sentinel here a few weeks in advance (the paper got around to the Vista-Stephanie Kraft story this morning).

But I'm going to give the new School Board Commission for Truth, Beauty, Justice, Apple Pie, and Puppy Dogs a break. I know W. George Allen is a lobbyist, Jack Seiler is a lawyer/political climber, and Bob Butterworth is a longtime defender of the status quo in Broward. But I'm not going to assume that this thing Supt. James Notter has created is up to no good. I'm just going to watch it, and I encourage everyone there at the board to help keep us all up to date on what the commission is up to.  

Today, I'm just going to offer some suggestions to the guys running it.

1. Take a few deals and break them down. One would be the Vista insurance deal. Check out how Stephanie Kraft sold out her elected office on that one. Then take a look at the athletic facility being built at Blanche Ely High School. We're talking $7 million, including about $700,000 worth of artificial turf that nobody really

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wants for a school that is critically underenrolled and a school system that is $2 billion in debt and near-bankrupt. The worst part is that Balfour Beatty, the contractor that won the job, was $1.5 million over most of the other bids. Why did that company get it? Because it was their "turn." Make sure and talk to MBR Construction owner Ron Boss, one of those lower bidders who lost the job. He said publicly that word on the street was that the Balfour contract was fixed from the get-go. Also School Board Member Ben Williams, who defended the deal at a QSEC meeting yesterday for political reasons. So of course it's still a go at the inflated price. 

2. End the Qualification Selection Committee and Construction Management at Risk and put in a professional bidding process.

3. Take a few deals and break them down. One would be the Vista insurance deal. Check out how Stephanie Kraft sold out her elected office on that one. Then take a look at the athletic facility being built at Blanche Ely High School. We're talking $7 million, including about $700,000 worth of artificial turf that nobody really wants, for a school that is critically underenrolled and a school system that is $2 billion in debt and near-bankrupt. The worst part is that Balfour Beatty, the contractor that won the job, was $1.5 million over most of the other bids. Why did that company get it? Because it was their "turn." Make sure and talk to MBR Construction owner Ron Boss, one of those lower bidders who lost the job. He said publicly that the word on the street was that Balfour contract was fixed from the get-go. Also School Board Member Ben Williams, who defended the deal at a QSEC meeting yesterday for political reasons. So of course it's still a go at the inflated price. 

4. Investigate the Weitz Company, Rainbow Painting, Rick Kolb, Deputy Supt. Michael Garretson, and Garretson's nephew, Mike Mallory. That'll give you a real lesson in how the school board operates.

5. Spend a lot of time with School Board auditors Pat Reilly and Dave Rhodes. They've been pilloried for digging up problems with this board. When Rhodes came forward with the AshBritt audit showing the district had been ripped off $765,000, the board was outraged not at the waste and possible fraud but at Rhodes for bringing it up. The School Board, under the direction of Attorney Ed Marko, still hasn't asked the firm for the money. Matter of fact, Mr. Butterworth, you ought to personally see to it that the taxpayers get that money back. People would like that.  

5. Change the name of the School Board "members" to "supervisors." Think about it, these people are elected as "members." That word, of course, is also defined as the "male organ of copulation," which is synonymous to some with the word "tool." And that, unfortunately, is what these elected people are for the lobbyists and special interests that run the School Board. It's just a symbolic change, but it might have some subtle positive effect. 

More coming.


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