Controversial Broward County School Board Member Bob Parks is expected to announce soon that he is withdrawing from the School Board race against challenger Nora Rupert and leave the board after some 24 years in office, according to reliable School Board sources.
Parks, facing his first opponent since 1998, may have had a tough reelection in front of him against Rupert. The School Board is broke and deeply in debt after it sold out to the construction industry and lobbyists during the building boom. Layoffs and cuts will likely be the norm for the near future.
And Parks, of all the board members, has a long history of chumminess with lobbyists and construction-industry folks. He was recently skewered here and elsewhere when the board voted to name a new athletic field at Coconut Creek High School after him. When School Board auditors determined that hurricane cleanup firm AshBritt had ripped hundreds of thousands of dollars off from board, Parks (along with Stephanie Kraft) came to the defense of the company and instead attacked the auditors for their findings. On top of all that, a continuing investigation by the FBI that has already led to the criminal conviction of Beverly Gallagher continues.
It makes it a cold season for incumbents, especially dubious ones like Parks. But sources say that Parks won't cite those controversies as a reason for leaving. He will talk instead of his age and his wish for
retirement and travel with his wife, they say.
Odd that he didn't come to that decision before he filed to run for reelection in February. Through March 4, he had raised in excess of $12,000, with checks coming from lobbyists like Neil Sterling and Bernie Friedman, School Board builder Pirtle Construction, and architect Bernard Zyscovich. One of his campaign managers was Barbara Miller, lobbyist Sterling's partner. Sterling has been deeply involved in School Board corruption for years.
This may open the door for his challenger, School Board activist Nora Rupert. But word on the street is that Jeanne Jusevic, head of the board's District Advisory Council and a close ally of Parks', is planning to jump into the race.
Whatever the case, I consider this development yet another piece of the housecleaning that needs to be done at the School Board.
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-- Speaking of housecleaning, just to clear up the spat yesterday between Cooper City resident Gladys Wilson and Mayor Debby Eisinger. It's official: Eisinger did, as Wilson suggested, falsely state that Gov. Charlie Crist had signed the red-light camera bill on May 11 when he in fact didn't sign it until May 13.
The importance of that detail is debatable, but here's the bottom line: Eisinger acted the fool during the meeting. She sits up there on the dais spouting her lines every meeting, and she needs to give the citizens their say too, even if they are pointing out her shortcomings. Especially if they are pointing out her shortcomings. Her outburst at Wilson was bush-league, stupid, and improper on a number of levels (including the fact that she tried to illegally shut down the meeting and stormed out of the room). Her competence and fitness for office has been in question in the past (like when she was caught drinking wine in a bar on the taxpayers' dime before a commissioner meeting), and as far as I'm concerned, it is again.
Here's the video evidence of Eisinger's misstatement from the May 11 meeting on the Crist vote: