Broward News

Butterworth Looking for "Root Cause" of School Board Corruption: Maybe It's the Media?

At about the 2:40 mark of this Sun-Sentinel video, you'll hear Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler complain about the lack of positive media coverage of the Broward County School Board. Then former Attorney General Bob Butterworth plays editor, questioning why the dailies didn't give more coverage to some lame awards that the school district won.

That's right. The fellows who have been appointed and entrusted with the role of being critical of the School Board are on record as saying that people are too critical of the School Board. Gosh, if that doesn't make you optimistic about the prospects of this "investigation," I don't know what will!

After the jump, let's talk about "root cause."

Obviously, the root cause of this latest round of corruption is greed. But since that's an impulse hard-wired in the human condition, we can't hope to root it out. We just have to come up with a way to discourage it.

That's not as hard as it sounds. Ask yourself what keeps you from turning into the "Withdrawal Bandit" -- you know, the guy who knocked over a dozen South Florida banks by simply demanding money? It's not just that it's wrong. It's that you know as surely as the bandit did that eventually you'd get caught -- as he did -- and that a few months of wealth are not worth a few decades in prison.

The difference in the case of school officials and lobbyists is that they didn't believe they'd be caught. No, they guessed (rightly) that the Broward State Attorney's Office wouldn't pay attention to even the most brazen acts of corruption. They also guessed that the feds had bigger fish to fry -- terrorism, major narco-traffickers, and Madoffesque fraudsters. And even if they were proven wrong in this latter respect, well, they were confident that their local political and professional friends would be able to bail them out.

That's where the three guys above come in. They're now investigating the same School Board members and lobbyists they bump into at fundraisers. They have the power to expose the corrupt culture from the inside or to make it even more entrenched than it already is.

I'll try to be as open-minded about the commission's independence as Norman's trying to be over on Daily Pulp. But this blame-the-media bullshit makes for an inauspicious start.

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Thomas Francis