Forgive me for doing so many posts on this, but it's crucial that all the facts be reported regarding Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft's involvement in getting a $500,000 favor from the School Board for the development firm that employed her husband.
Longtime readers know that they get a jump on big stories on this blog all the time. This is a very big one that will be talked about in this county for a long, long time.
Let's start with what we know. We know that Prestige Homes hired Mitch Kraft to represent the company in trying to get a half-million discount from the School Board on mitigation fees it owed for a controversial development on two golf courses in Tamarac. Mitch Kraft contacted School Board officials on behalf of Prestige, but we don't know yet how much he was paid.
We know that Prestige was given special treatment in getting half a million dollars knocked off the mitigation fees it owed the School Board. We know that Deputy Superintendent Michael Garretson paid the district's growth management director, Chris Akagbosu, a visit telling him that Stephanie Kraft wanted the half-million discount to be placed on the July 24, 2007, agenda.
We also know that Stephanie Kraft emailed School Board receptionist Bette Ray to get an update on the matter and make sure board official Thomas Coates was getting the item on the agenda. And we know that the item made it to the agenda on the 24th and that Kraft voted along with the rest of the commission to give Prestige Homes the unusual discount.
Well, I just unearthed another School Board document that further details Kraft's use of her public office to help the company paying her husband. Akagbosu wrote a timeline of events on the Prestige saga on July 23, the day before the board voted for the fee reduction. He wrote of how district staff refused to schedule the Prestige agenda item on July 24 due to numerous "complications" involved in the developer's request and that the earliest it could be heard was August 7.
Well, for reasons unknown, Prestige was hell-bent on getting the
item on the July 24 item. Here's what Akagbosu wrote:
July 11, 2007 -- Board member Email Regarding Scheduling of the Board Item
The Deputy [Garretson] receives email from Board Member Kraft with direction to process the revised mitigation proposal for the July 24, 2007 agenda. The Deputy [Garretson] personally advises the Director of Growth Management [Akagbosu] about the email and indicates that the Superintendent and Board Member Kraft requested that the item should be scheduled for July 24, 2007 RBSM. The Director [Akagbosu] advised [Garretson] that (i) to date, written staff response regarding the revised mitigation and project unit mix had not been provided to the applicant; (ii) the cut-off period for the 7/24/07 meeting APG Meeting had passed; (iii) Subsequently, the deadline for submission of materials for the Executive Leadership Team meeting had also passed. The direction [from Garretson] was that the item should still be scheduled.
It's an extraordinary document. It's clear that Akagbosu recognized that improper and likely illegal acts were being committed with regard to the fee reduction and wanted to get it all on record. Just in case you're wondering, School Board members are not supposed to interfere in the day-to-day activities of the School Board.
But of course, they aren't supposed to sell out their office to the highest bidder either.