"Miss Gottlieb, YOU Are the Distraction" | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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"Miss Gottlieb, YOU Are the Distraction"

We all knew that Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman -- once perhaps the most powerful woman in the county -- disappeared for a few months, missing commission meeting after commission meeting without explanation.  

After weeks of questions, Lieberman claimed her AWOL status was due to a health problem. Then we found out that she had been testifying against her former friend, then-Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco, in a criminal corruption case in which Lieberman herself plays a key role.

But the extent of the hooky she played while collecting her $90,000-plus public salary is pretty staggering. The county's visitor lists reveal that from December 10 through March 30, Lieberman had only five days when she met with anyone (Mitch Ceasar, Ron Greenstein, and John Milledge among them) at County Hall. That's five days working in the office during a period of 16 weeks. 

Try that one in your job and see how long you last. 

​All of her colleagues on the commission, thankfully, had many times more meetings, some of them on a near-daily basis. 

-- Broward County schools building inspector Michael Marchetti has long been appalled at the influence of lobbyists and contractors -- and their proxies, the School Board members themselves -- on school district staff in the building department.

Marchetti has shed more light on the rampant corruption at the district than perhaps any other employee. The grand jury report wouldn't have been the same without him -- and the board would have dodged a lot of heat if he hadn't been there to document their transgressions. 

So it's understandable that he's not pleased that two of the holdovers from the old very bad board -- Jennifer Gottlieb and Ann Murray -- are leading a charge to privatize the facilities and construction department where he works. The two largely discredited politicians are trying to flip the script and blame staff for the systemic corruption that originates between board members and the lobbyists and contractors who fund their campaigns. 

At yesterday's board meeting, Marchetti confronted the board and had his Al Pacino "I'm out of order? You're out of order!" moment. See the powerful video inside. 

The School Board went on to vote unanimously to explore the idea of privatizing the building department -- though Gottlieb, who is leading the charge on the issue, is avoiding the "P-word," as new School Board member David Thomas called it. Instead, she used the euphemism "separate." 

UPDATED: After the meeting, a Sun-Sentinel reporter asked Gottlieb about Marchetti's speech. Here's what was reported: 

Gottlieb said after the meeting that she disagreed with Marchetti's assessment of the board, and said current members weren't the ones overstepping their bounds. 

"Those days are behind us," she said.

Funny, Gottlieb herself is a current board member who was singled out for particularly harsh criticism by the grand jury report for interfering with staff on behalf of her own unneeded pet school in Hollywood, the $25 million Beachside Village Montessori. But I guess bringing that up would be another distraction.

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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

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