UPDATED: Leaked Confidential School Board Document Used in Campaign Smear
[UPDATED: Just received word from Broward School Board governmental affairs specialist Requel Bell that the sensitive school board background check document being used in the smear campaign against School Board Member Phyllis Hope is indeed exempt from public record disclosure. That means its release from the board's Special Investigative Unit was illegal. Still trying to find out how former School Board Member Marty Rubinstein obtained the document, which he recently posted online.]
Can Broward be saved from the insipid crook Stephanie Kraft? Can't the crone and her cronies do the public a giant favor and exit stage left? Hasn't she and her husband made enough dirty money from dubious lobbyists and developers to finally walk away from the public trough altogether?
No. She'll haunt the county for as long as she can; she's still plugged into her knot of power in that little piece of suburban hell they call Coral Springs.
More on her little cabal later, but check out the Facebook posting above that she posted yesterday.
Kraft was jailed for a day last week after she and her husband, Mitch, were charged with bribery, unlawful compensation, and other crimes by the state. The next day, she was removed from office by the governor. The day after that, she was at a campaign event like nothing happened. Today, she's still pretending to be a kingmaker.
This woman is like a bad rash on the ass of Broward County.
Now read what she wrote. It's an idiotic conspiracy theory about why the Sun-Sentinel doesn't savagely attack Phyllis Hope the way she wants it to. For Kraft to complain about "criminals" on the School Board... well, that's jaw-dropping considering the fact that she's out on bond on a slew of felonies herself. Kraft also shows her petty nature by dredging up Frank Till, the superintendent she helped oust.
These are very small people, so small I hate writing about them. Unfortunately, when it comes to the School Board, they can wield a lot of power over our money. Consider that under Kraft's watch, the board ran up $2 billion in construction debt while overbuilding the district. That comes to about $1,200 due from every man, woman, and child in Broward County. How can we not pay attention to these people, however repulsive and petty they may be?
Speaking of which, the "Marty" mentioned is Marty Rubinstein. Kraft was commenting on the Facebook page for Rubinstein's website. She and Rubinstein are friends and political allies.
Rubinstein is a former BrandsMart-working gadfly turned School Board member who was defeated by Phyllis Hope four years ago. That loss opened the door to his latest profession: sleazy political operative while living on disability checks. In that last political campaign against Hope, Rubinstein was tied to the hip of Neil Sterling, who gave Rubinstein his inaugural $500 check. (Sterling is the School Board lobbyist who put Kraft's husband on the payroll). Rubinstein had two political consultants on his team as well, Barry Harris and Bev Stracher, who are equally shady and both deeply involved in the current state corruption investigation that led to the arrest of the Krafts.
Rubinstein's favorite trick since being drummed out of office is to take money from candidates and then endorse them and attack their opponents on his rarely read blog without disclosing that fact.
Rubinstein is to politics what herpes is to lips.
Anyway, both Kraft and Rubinstein are trying to get Hope's opponent, Laurie Rich Levinson, into office. I very rarely take sides in these nasty little political races, and Levinson might be a perfectly good candidate, but I will say that an endorsement from the lowly likes of Kraft and Rubinstein should probably make voters run away from her on sight.
Rubinstein is now attacking Hope. Most of it is inane garbage, but the latest sleazy attack on is truly insidious; it's not only unseemly, but it also involves a School Board record that exempt from public records law and appears to have been illegally leaked to the former School Board member Rubinstein.
Inside we delve into the attack and the mystery.
Let's start with the smear job. Rubinstein dug up a nearly 30-year-old minor arrest for Hope, who was just four days out of her teens at the time and was a single mother in college. I'm not going to get into the details except to say that she paid a $75 fine for it and says she learned her lesson.
There are legitimate areas of attack on Hope, but this isn't one of them. Such sleaze, however, is par for Rubinscum's course. So why am I bringing attention to it? Well, let's look at the evidence Rubinstein himself posted:
Rubinstein obtained this document and put it on the internet, so let's break this down. First, it's a security-clearance document for Hope that was evidently faxed to someone on October 27, 2006, back when Rubinstein was still in office, before Hope defeated him. The clearance check was run by the school district in 2000, when Hope was hired to work as a data specialist at Piper High School.
As you can see, the information regarding the arrest came from the FBI, specifically from the National Crime Information Center. Understand that the NCIC contains seriously sensitive information that can be obtained only by law enforcement agencies under strict circumstances.
At the School Board, NCIC data can be obtained by the Special Investigative Unit, which is indeed a small law enforcement agency. But the data is classified. It is not included in School Board employee personnel files and generally isn't revealed to the public. Hope says she was notified yesterday by SIU chief David Golt that the information is exempt from public record law. I asked School Board spokeswoman Requel Bell, who spoke to School Board attorneys and said even they weren't sure whether the information is releasable under state and federal law. Bell said the board has not run into the question before. We're hoping for a definitive answer today.
What is clear is that the information didn't come from Hope's personnel file (Rubinstein did make an official request for her file in 2007, says Hope). We also know that neither Rubinstein nor anyone else ever made a public records request for Hope's security clearance report. Bell confirmed that.
So how did he get it? We don't know, but it seems clear that he didn't get it through normal School Board channels. I called Rubinstein's former campaign number and left a message that hasn't been returned. Beyond that, I won't speculate, and the release of the document could turn out to be perfectly legal and legit.
But here's the real outrage in all this: Rubinstein and Kraft are resorting to the lowest tactics, the proverbial politics of personal destruction. Why? Why don't they want to focus the election on the issues? Why don't they want to talk about the debt? Why don't they talk about the overbuilding, the love affair with greedheads like Sterling, the abject corruption, etc.
Probably because Kraft and Rubinstein, as former School Board members themselves, bear a sizable amount of the blame -- and guilt -- for a lot of those problems.
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