Clerk of Court Forman Barraged By Brickbats

Boy, they're piling on Broward Clerk of Court Howard Forman right now. Chief Judge Victor Tobin seems to be leading a charge against the clerk and former state senator that is nothing short of cage match to the death.

Both the Sentinel and Miami Herald have done a story about Forman, at left, being struck with brickbats by his flurry of critics (and both newspapers have run both stories on their websites). Here's the lede on Sentinel staffer Lisa Huriash's story on the controversy:

FORT LAUDERDALE - Judges and attorneys took turns Thursday throwing brickbats at the Broward Clerk of Courts Office -- complaining about crucial paperwork missing from files, lost documents, and long lines for the public.

Broward Clerk of Courts Howard Forman wasn't present to dodge or return the brickbats at the forum called by Broward Chief Judge Victor Tobin. Afterward Forman said Tobin's meeting was "unprecedented and inappropriate" and he was never formally invited.

My god, Huriash used the metaphoric "brickbats" twice, which is enough to make one assume that the judges and attorneys actually brought brickbats to that meeting and began hurling them around. It all begs the question: What the hell is a brickbat?

It is, according to WikiAnswers, "a piece of a brick used as a weapon, usually thrown at someone in the hope of injuring them." 

There are real problems at the clerk's office, but they've been festering for literally 20 years. Which leads to another question: Why are Tobin and others trying to injure Forman now? And why so publicly and so violently?  

After all, if they had a real problem with him, they could have raised them when it actually could have done some good, i.e. when he was being challenged by Bev Kennedy for his office last November. Not a peep, let alone a brickbat. Or they could at least start this campaign behind the scenes, trying to get Forman's full cooperation to solve the problems before they alienate him and make him public enemy No. 1.

No, this reeks of politics. The Herald's Amy Sherman writes about wrangling over funding between the judges and the clerk, which is surely part of the tension. It's ridiculously early, but I think this may be the first skirmish in an effort to fundamentally weaken Forman before the 2012 election. There's rumors afloat that Ilene Lieberman, who is being term-limited off the commission, may be considering the clerk's office as her next roosting place. (You see, we don't have public servants, we have serial politicians who become leeches on the government -- they must find a host office or apparently they shrivel and die).

Tobin and Lieberman have been working together on Stacy Ritter's sham courthouse task force, too. But this is pure speculation. The point is that Forman's seat is a prime piece of political property. Just might be worth thinking about as we watch the chess pieces being played and the occasional brickbat being thrown in the continuing Forman throwdown.  

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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