The Stephanie Kraft School Board corruption scandal is unfolding before our eyes.
According to a just-released School Board document, Kraft contacted district staff last month, on September 29, to get information regarding a developer who had hired her husband to influence her own School Board, according to a recently district document.
Kraft called the board's growth management director, Chris Akagbosu, about the Prestige Homes development. Prestige Homes owner Bruce Chait hired Kraft's husband, Mitch Kraft, to influence the school district to reduce the fees owed on his housing project in Tamarac by $500,000 in 2007, from $1.7 million to $1.2 million. At that time, Kraft pressured staff to put the developer's fee reduction on the agenda. On July 24, 2007, Mrs. Kraft voted with the rest of the board to approve it.
During the past two years, Prestige didn't pay the fee, and it ballooned back up to about $1.85 million, which angered Chait. He called School Board officials on September 29 and complained that he'd hired Mitch Kraft to lower the fees and that the recent increase wasn't fair.
After that phone call, he contacted Stephanie Kraft personally, and the School Board member then called Akagbosu. The following passage comes from an email sent byThomas Coates, the executive director of the School Board's Department of Facility Management, Planning & Site Acquisition, to his boss, Dept. Supt. Michael Garretson:
In the course of our discussion, Mr. Chait indicated that the had hired two lawyers, one of whom was identified by him as Mitch Kraft, to obtain the earlier reduction [in the fee]... The actual role played by Mr. Kraft was not discussed.
Since Mr. Chait has asserted that the husband of a School Board Member had been hired by him to assist in achieving the reduced mitigation, I feel that it is important for that information to be communicated to your for a discussion of its relevance and whether it should be communicated to the Superintendent and or the School Board Attorney... You should also be aware that Mrs. Kraft called Chris [Akagbosu] late Tuesday night to inquire as to why Mr. Chait had called her. Chris brought her up to date on the discussions.
So it appears that Chait called Stephanie Kraft to tell her that all the fine work her husband did to help get the discount on his fee had proven worthless. Then Kraft got on the phone to find out what had happened.
To see a digital version of Coates' email, click here.
More details to come.