The School Board Machine, Broken Down

You hear a lot about the Broward School Board "machine" on the Pulp, but you probably wonder what it really is. Well, below I've compiled an incomplete list of the parts of the machine.

It is all the contributors who gave to Stephanie Kraft's campaign on May 18, 2006, during her last election. Most of the companies and individuals are tied to lobbyist Neil Sterling, who held a fundraiser for Kraft that day. The $450 from his wife, Cyd, was an in-kind contribution to pay for the food for the event. Not all those contributions are necessarily tied to Sterling or his fundraiser, but the great majority of them surely are.  

Understand that Sterling threw fundraisers like this for just about every School Board member, filling up their coffers with cash to help win elections. The board in turn has voted to give his clients hundreds of millions in projects. It's said that Sterling's fee is 1 percent of the total contract cost, which would equal a hefty sum, good for many more political contributions than he would ever need to make.

The list comes after the jump (with a few notes added in parentheses). After that, I've also added a memo from School Board Member Ann Murray to Superintendent James Notter calling for a moratorium on all Qualification Selection Committee business -- which is essentially the vehicle that gets pumps the money through the machine. Murray calls the QSEC process "broken." Ain't it the truth (see the Gallagher criminal complaint for backup). Kick up the soundtrack below and take a gander.



Cyd Sterling 450
Neil Sterling 500
Sterling Resources Group 500
Hurricane Resistant Construction 100
La Tite Roofing & Sheet Metal 250
Tiffany Burson 500
Rainbow Painting  100
Superior Interior Systems 250
Stone-Circle Underground 250
Woodland Construction 500
Imperial Flooring 500
Pirtle (Sterling client) 500
William Applegate (Drywall) 500
Zyscovich (Sterling client) 500
Donnell Duquesne & Albaisa (eng) 500
Johnson levinson Ragan Davila (eng) 500
Flynn Engineering Services 500
T-Square Express 500
Collin Edwards (engineer) 250
Fastrack Management & Consulting Inc 500
Collinsworth Dowling & French Group 500
Aida Curtis (landscape architect) 250
Difonte Cpnsulting 250 
SFCS Inc (construction) 500
SFCS Environmental 250
The Corradino Group 500
Gregory Durden (attorney) 500
Michael D. Wohl (developer) 500
MAHB Companies 500
Recreational Design & Construction (Sterling client) 500
Walters Zackria Associates (architect) 250
Miles Austin Forman 500
Palma Nova 500
Sunrise Prop. & Invest No. 14 500
Lauderdale Marketplace 500
National Resource Recovery Ltd 500
Allen S. Burgtorf 500
John Milledge 500 
Michael Tripp (public relations) 500
Cara Tripp 500
Jane Tripp 500
Norman Tripp (attorney) 500
Patricia Burns Jordan 500
Daniel E. Taylor 500
Robert D. Yates (attorney) 500
Christine Yates (attorney) 500
Garry Johnson (attorney) 500
Susan L. Johnson 500
Scott Jordan 500
First Lauderdale Investments 500
John T. Loos 500
Eugene K. Pettis 500
Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm 500
Paula Haliczer 500
DiPompeo Construction 250
U.S. Imaging Solutions 500
Caroll Vigil 500
Andrea Kessler 500
Paula Kessler 500
Edwina Victoria Kessler 100
Aruthur Rosenberg 200
Charles F. Fink 250
REL Enterprises 250 
Greg A. Lewen att 200
Patrick J. Murphy & Ass. (attorney) 250
Laura Brown (architect) 250
Brown & Brown Architects 300
Steven Marin (construction) 500
Marin and Sons (construction) 500
Blosser & Sayfie 500
Kelly Hancock 250
Tiffany Construction 500
Gail Elizbeth Pierson (software) 500
Barbara Hall (attorney) 250
Timothy Anderson 250
Shutts & Bowen (lobbying) 500
George I. Platt (lobbyist) 500
Alexander Heckler (lobbyist) 500
Hall & Rosenberg 500
D. Stephenson Construction 500
David M. Allen (financial planner) 250
Michael Murray 250
Harvard Jolly (architect) 500
Metro Engineering Contractors Inc 250
Roy Taylor (insurance) 500
Hugh B. Bishop 500
Rober P. Legg (engineer) 250
Miller Legg 200
Sonja Braziel 150
Shaun M. Davis 150
Palais Construction Co. 200

Total: $34,500


The Ann Murray Memo:

October 11, 2009
James F. Notter
Superintendent of Schools
600 SE 3rd Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Dear Mr. Notter:
In light of recent events which have put the practices of the district's QSEC (Quality Selection Committee) process into question, I strongly recommend an immediate moratorium be placed on all QSEC business.  The moratorium would include all contracts in the process of being awarded.
The process is broken.  We are under investigation of the FBI for wrongdoing.  It is important this Board and administration make a decision now.  In doing so, we will begin to restore the Broward County taxpayer's faith in our ability to govern and our ability to manage their interests.  Our Audit Committee and Facilities Task Force Committee have shared their concerns with the Board about the QSEC process and our methods for awarding contracts to various building contractors.  These committees are the voice of Broward County taxpayers.
As a board and administration, we are constantly advocating a transparent school system.  If so, this moratorium is the right thing to do.  The suspension of activity will give us time to seek input from all stakeholders and review our process.
We should give the public opportunity to express their concerns and ideas for change in a public forum set up at a time that is convenient for the general public.  By allowing public forum, we will reinforce our position of transparency and provide our taxpayers with a value in the process..  The forum should be set up after our workshop and should be scheduled before the board makes any decisions on the process of contract awards by QSEC.
During our workshop on October 27, 2009 internl departments including facilities and auditors should provide a report about our practices in awarding building contracts to include changes that could be made to insure adherence to the law or fair business practices.  We must also look at limiting change orders to construction projects and renovations especially if the changes are requested due to errors in project management.  The districat cannot absorb the cost of errors made by contractors and/or architects causing construction projects to spiral out of control and costing the district far more than the board originally approved.
In addition we should examine the possibility of monopoly of the district's construction projects and seek ways to open business to many companies to help build economic recovery in our county and re-establish fair business practices.
Ann Murray
School Board Member District 1

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