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Sympathy for Beverly? Maybe in 2006; Not in 2007

Suspended Broward County School District member Beverly Gallagher was a deeply flawed but still sympathetic figure three years ago when she gave New Times' Bob Norman the amazing interview that was the centerpiece for this article.

Norman had busted her cold, finding that Gallagher had landed a job with the Community Blood Centers with the help of Neil Sterling, the lobbyist for James Pirtle Construction, which consistently won votes from Gallagher for lucrative school district projects. In speaking with Norman, Gallagher comes off as too guilt-ridden -- or maybe too naive -- to try dissembling. So Norman then explained to her how perfectly she had set herself up for criminal corruption charges.

In a surreal moment that you'd expect at the police station with a table, chair, and two-way mirror, Gallagher caved:

"I will quit my job and get another job then," she said through her tears. "But how am I going to pay my mortgage this month? How am I going to put my kids through college? And how will I get another job? If I ask my other friends, like George Platt... I can't do that either?"

Platt is another major lobbyist at the school board. I told her that wasn't a good idea.

"Then, Bob, I ask you, where can I find a job?" she asked through tears. "When people try to find a job, they network to find a job, and they talk to people they know. That's the only way I know to get jobs."

But Gallagher didn't quit her job at the Community Blood Centers. And one year later, the same seemingly naive, self-pitying Gallagher allegedly sat down with an undercover FBI agent whom she thought to be a crooked lobbyist and told him she'd rig bids to ensure his clients landed school district contracts. They could "make a lot of money together," she said, according to the complaint.

Over on Pulp, faced with a photo that captures Gallagher dashing from cameras like a roach from the light, Norman sounds a sympathetic note. Personally, I can't get there. I see a public figure who was going to keep screwing the public until she got caught. Gallagher practically begged investigators to bust her.

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Thomas Francis

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