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Monday, April 20, 2009

re 4/20/09 Miami Herald: Broward commissioners ask for help to stay out of jail

My comments follow the article.
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Miami Herald
April 20, 2009

Broward commissioners ask for help to stay out of jail

Broward County commissioners voted last week to invite South Florida's U.S. attorney, R. Alex Acosta,

to come to County Hall to instruct them about how to avoid being arrested on federal corruption charges.

Commissioners are jittery since federal corruption probes led to guilty pleas by three Palm Beach commissioners and two West Palm Beach city commissioners over the last three years.

''It's a very scary thing,'' said Commissioner John Rodstrom, who raised the issue.

The commissioners' workshop will examine whether the elected officials should prohibit themselves from soliciting contributions from lobbyists and others to benefit charities or the campaigns of political allies. The practice is commonplace but becomes problematic when those solicited later turn up at the county seeking contract approvals or other favors. Representatives from the United Way and other charities appeared Tuesday to implore commissioners to continue to help them raise money, saying the needy would otherwise suffer.

Commissioners were sympathetic, but they want guidance. They told County Attorney Jeffrey Newton to compile a list of everyone in the country who has been convicted and sentenced under the federal honest services statute. A workshop will be held within 60 days, Newton said.

-- DAN CHRISTENSEN

Reader comments at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1007757.html?commentSort=TimeStampAscending&pageNum=1

__________________

April 20th, 2009

Headline of the year!


I've often told many of you all in the past, thru the occasional email and citation of some specific incident since I returned to South Florida five years ago from Arlington County, that politicians down here really
are MUCH more corrupt than other places, it's just that the sunshine and warm weather makes it seem somehow more mundane and innocuous, plus there's no Faulkner or Robert Penn Warren to tell the tale, or make the guilty seem even a tad sympathetic, if permanently flawed.

Seeking "guidance" from the U.S. Attorney won't be any help, esp. considering that it's the unscrupulous and unethical acts of their spouses that are actually a large part of the back story here, and the fact that the various Broward County Commissioners keep acting like they're continually "surprised" to discover what their own spouses have been doing to make a fast buck, was, in fact, illegal, unethical or just downright creepy, is but a symptom of the disease.

In the end, the problem is that they simply can't help themselves.
They are never truly remorseful, just sorry they got caught.

The truth is, many have been living beyond their means for so long because of their official position, of traveling with an entourage and legion of govt. flacks on the taxpayers' dime, all around the world and the country for often dubious reasons.

Likewise, their spouses having had access and entree to potential clients and patrons that they'd not have otherwise had, so the idea they might have to give that all up is very hard to accept.

Yet even with the economy here being so bad because it's so dominated by real estate and tourism, two areas that are so price-sensitive, they still resist common sense cuts and see the Obama stimulus as the Golden Fleece.

And the worst part is that other institutions in South Florida are just as unsavory if not worse, since this sort of unethical chicanery exists in the county school systems down here FAR beyond what would be acceptable in VA, MD, and yes, even D.C.

I say that as someone who knows most of the D.C. Schools' scandal stories of the past 25 years.

For a good example of what I'm talking about, see this excellent piece by Bob Norman from last Tuesday titled simply, School of Corruption: The Broward School Board awards a million dollars in work to an unlicensed company
with this addition from yesterday,
Deputy School Superintendent Is "Appalled" By Employees

This in a school system, Broward County, that last Fall, thought nothing of simply using their govt.
website to run propaganda about the then-upcoming State Constitutional ballot questions in November.

Not just running incomplete and clearly misleading information that seriously mis-characterized the proponents' p.o.v., but NOT even displaying the ENTIRETY of the individual ballot questions, just selected excerpts, without acknowledging they were just excerpts, because if
parents/taxpayers read the whole thing, they'd likely be for it, based on their own experience
with the spending patterns and priorities of both the Broward County Commissioners and the Broward
County School system.

You see, the Broward County School Board wasn't content to just channel Chicken Little and cry on cue for the TV cameras, but actually used Broward taxpayer-funded govt. facilities, resources and personnel to make overtly political messages and place them on a website paid for and maintained by taxpayers.

Naturally, nothing happened to any of the people responsible for this because that's the political and ethical culture here.
They arrange to have their attorneys tell them what they want to hear and then the puppet says what the puppet-master wants to hear.

Or, if you prefer, His Master's Voice!


[MastersVoice.jpg]
The dog keeps good rhythm, but isn't much of a watchdog!


That's the characteristic level of govt. accountability and scrutiny in the state's 4th-largest county, which is losing thousands of students and families every year just as much, if not more, for Quality of Life reasons as economic ones.

They're voting with their feet, and that's a sure vote of No Confidence.

Perhaps we're heading towards a TIME magazine redux...

PARADISE LOST? SOUTH FLORIDA

Paradise Lost? South Florida November 23, 1981

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