Gee, Mrs. Kraft, Tell Us What You Really Think

OK, so I was sent some Facebook comments made by School Board member Stephanie Kraft and a few other folks regarding my stories about Jennifer Gottlieb's extramarital romance with a School Board banker and the alleged involvement of a School Board employee in exposing it.

Former School Board member Darla Carter, who was unseated by Gottlieb in 2006, wrote on Facebook that she found the Gottlieb situation "so disgusting and wrong" and said she had heard about Gottlieb's involvement with Citi banker Rick Patterson at the time it happened. 

Here is how Kraft responded, in part:

"I think that article is disgusting. Just innuendo. Nothing more. Who cares if there were flirty emails sent? The contract between the Board and Citibank was entered into months before this supposedly occurred, and it was renewed three years later. So what? What was the purpose of this article other than to embarrass her?" 

OK, I've got to respond to this. Because Kraft isn't the only one trying to sell this as a personal attack. And a lot of people don't seem to understand what this is really about, including Kraft (who must be getting good at rationalizing unethical behavior by now).

The first thing I said to Gottlieb when I got her on the phone before publishing anything was, "I want you to know I don't care about your

personal life. I'm only going to question you about this because it impinges School Board business."

Understand that the object of Gottlieb's affection, a Citi banker named Rick Patterson, was working on all of the School Board financial deals, along with reps from several other institutions. Votes regarding School Board debt (with more than $2 billion in the hole, the board isn't short on debt) and other issues involved Citi and Patterson. It wasn't just Gottlieb's vote to hire Citi in the first place.

She met Patterson in Tampa at a free lobster and steak dinner thrown by banks looking to gain (or keep) School Board business. Enough said, I would think.

Not for Kraft, though, who writes it off as "innuendo" and says it serves no purpose to report about it. Such is the ethically bankrupt state of the Broward County School Board -- scandals that would lead to resignations and public apologies in other places are treated like business as usual by the School Board leaders. Tossed under the rug. Forgotten.

But why is Kraft still even part of the discussion? Why does she still sit on the dais and walk around like she's not completely damaged political goods. Between her husband's payments from both lobbyist Neil Sterling and developer Bruce Chait, I've seen more than enough to believe she should have already joined the ranks of charged and suspended Broward politicians. One thing that's certain: Her ethical lapses far outweigh those of Gottlieb. Yet she's still playing the role of (lame duck) education leader in Broward County.

Remember Ana Gardiner? She had a couple of years to remain judge and do whatever nonsense she could before she finally resigned in the face of an investigation. There is something to be said for swift justice. We could use a little more of it right about now.

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman