A Tribute to Frank Till

Former Broward County School Superintendent Frank Till is finally going back to work.

Till, who was fired by the School Board in 2006 for no apparent reason, today was chosen as the top school official in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I think it's safe to say that Cumberland County made a solid choice.

Look, Till is no hero, and I was never a huge fan. He's just a consummate boring bureaucrat, a benign fellow who did a yeoman's job holding the School Board together. He protected the status quo and made no great changes. But he seemed a decent fellow who truly cared about schools, and believe it or not, that can be a rare trait at the highest levels of the School Board.

No matter what anyone thinks of him, it's hard to deny that the school district has been diminished in Till's absence. Understand that the Broward School Board has a decades-long  history of corruption and waste of taxpayers' dollars, especially in its multibillion-dollar construction department (anybody remember Ray de la Feuilliez?). But today, it is worse than it has ever been. Greedy lobbyists like Ron Book and Neil Sterling pull all the strings, and taxpayers provide the funds. If the public truly knew how many millions of its dollars has been wasted and stolen at that board, they'd be livid.  

Don't get me wrong: There was plenty of waste and corruption with Till at the, uh, till, as well. But he at least put a damp blanket on it. This guy there now, Notter, is like gasoline on fire. And the board itself is composed of a dangerous mix of dimwittedness, low character, and avarice. The place is crawling with scoundrels -- and the scoundrels run the entire show.  

So why was Till fired in a 5-4 vote? To this day, no one is sure. It seemed to be a bit of strange alchemistry, perhaps the work of witches. It was as if the board, driven by dark and unseen  forces, was compelled to sacrifice Till to the Bitch Goddess it worships. Board member Stephanie Kraft led the charge, and even she couldn't explain it, except to spout generalities about communication and a vague loss of confidence. The others in the "yes" crowd -- Robin Bartleman, Marty Rubenstein, Bob Parks, and Darla Carter -- were equally incoherent. (Oddly, one of the worst board members, Beverly Gallagher, voted against it even though she seemed to support it).  

A couple of days after the vote, Kraft had this to say about her accomplishment: "We now have the opportunity to come together as a new group and set our own destiny."

Nobody seemed to notice how frightening those words were at the time. We're living that destiny today and hoping to be delivered from it. Godspeed to Frank Till, and God help us.  

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman