If the conflict between the Broward County Commission and BSO were a game of chicken, then Sheriff Al Lamberti just swerved out of the way.
After talking tough about shutting down the minimum-security stockade and laying off 177 jail employees, Lamberti today has come up with a new idea that he's putting out to all BSO employees: If you're willing to take an eight-hour furlough within the next two months, the jobs and the stockade can remain open.
Lamberti is informing his troops of the idea today, as is the Sheriff's Office union, the Federation of Public Employees, said Sgt. Tony Marciano, a FOPE official.
"We're notifying our members right now," Marciano told the Pulp moments ago. "If enough people agree to participate in the furloughs, we'll all keep our jobs and the stockade will remain open."
When Lamberti said he was going to close the stockade, he may have believed the commission would blink. After all, the jail system would immediately become overcrowded, and the county could face $1,000-a-day federal court fines.
Instead, County Commissioners stared him down and talked of taking over the entire Department of Detention from Lamberti -- and a lot of deputies actually backed the move. Losing the jail system isn't something the sheriff can afford; the entire BSO empire could crumble, especially amid rumblings that Pompano could leave the fold as well.
The furloughs, if enough agree to take them, will not only save the jobs and the stockade but also buy the sheriff more time to decide his next move. Marciano urges all BSO-ers to take the furlough.
"It's the right thing to," says the sergeant. "Eight hours isn't too much to ask."