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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Voters Remorse: Ann Murray on thin ice in August with constituents after latest Broward School Board debacle

My comments follow the articles.
Miami Herald

Broward schools chief keeps his job through 2014
By Patricia Mazzei
August 19, 2009

The Broward School Board unanimously extended Superintendent Jim Notter's contract by three years Tuesday following an annual evaluation that praised the schools chief.

Notter's contract was extended until June 2014, with a possibility of a further extension until 2015. It does not come with a raise unless other district staff members also get one -- something not in the plans this year.

"We're being responsible and doing what's right,'' School Board member Ann Murray said. "We have confidence in what he's doing.''

Notter, who is paid $299,000 a year, voluntarily cut $26,000 from his compensation last month. He was appointed superintendent in 2007.

Reader comments at:


Going into Tuesday, of the many people in South Florida
-far too many!- whose perennial sub par performance
DIDN'T merit having their contracts renewed -while
they still had time left on them to prove their worth-
the two most obvious were U-M head football coach
Randy Shannon and Broward School Supt. James

Both have gotten to their present post thru the insider's
route and both are examples to me of the South Florida
version of the Peter Principle, Banana Republic 2.0.

That's the stealth version that's employed when news
reporters, TV cameras and the well-informed public
aren't around to see what's really going on, and asking
their pesky questions.

And now we read that after Ann Murray's been

largely invisible to her constituents for months,
as I wrote about just the other day, she's now
suddenly the one who singing James Notter's
praises after his contract was renewed unanimously?
What am I missing, exactly?

Murray ran on a platform last summer of changing

things dramatically at the Broward School Board,
and not becoming a compliant clone of the existing
members and the pervasive culture of corruption
and cronyism that's made the system a cesspool
and laughingstock.

After emailing this article to a well-informed Broward
friend who WAS a self-admitted 'strong' Murray
supporter, they replied simply, "Invasion of the
Body Snatchers."

Now even Murray's most-fervent supporters are

starting to realize know that her performance on her
audition does NOT bode well for her re-election
prospects next year, as well it shouldn't.

If she'd actually done what she promised, Murray's
name ought to be the one that's on the tip of Broward
taxpayer's and reporter's tongues for zealously defending
the work product of School auditors in revealing possible
School system complicity in over-billing by AshBritt,
but where has she been?

I might've made a mistake in voting for Murray last year,
but trust me, I won't repeat that mistake NEXT YEAR.
And I'm far from alone on that score.

And what about School Board member Jennifer Gottlieb?
What exactly has she done of late to show anyone
attention that her performance is one marked by either
merit or a commitment to zealously guarding the taxpayers

Tell me, does her being referred to as "nice" by most
people I interact with at civic events or public gatherings,
somehow translate into her having a guaranteed govt. job
for life, at least in Broward County, regardless of how
poorly she actually performs those oversight and legislative

I keep wondering if my time in Washington around people
who were well-known and highly-regarded for good reason,
makes me, therefore, somehow unqualified to comprehend
what Jennifer Gottlieb's special ability or talent is, to the
extent that she's able to get elected to public office for no
discernible reason.

I say that because I've yet to see anything on South Florida
TV or read anything in any newspaper or blog, that left me
clearly thinking afterwards that I'd seen some glimpse into
some expertise, skill or insight that could reasonably explain
why Gottlieb got elected in the first place.
That has never happened.

That doesn't make Gottlieb unique in South Florida,
of course, just part of a very, very long list of people
down here who prove the ultimate validity of the
Peter Principle.

This area has always been noted for having more
unqualified candidates than other parts of the country,
and that's been true for decades.

This is, after all, a part of the country where someone
who genuinely couldn't speak English, ran for Congress
not once but three times in the 1970's and '80's.
And got votes.

Gottlieb's big accomplishment over the past year has
been what, exactly, urging the School Board to cast
a meaningless ceremonial vote last Fall against the
proposed constitutional amendment that would ban
gay marriage?
Like anyone cared what they thought?

I should also mention here that a lot of the well-informed

people I've spoken to and become friendly with since
last November's election, have made a point of telling me,
almost always with a resigned sigh in their voice,
what a big disappointment Jennifer Gottlieb has been
to them.

How they are truly dismayed at the extent to which she
not only carries the water like a drone for the Broward
Teachers Union, the BTU, but also for her starring
role in what happened to Lincoln Park in Hollywood,
after the whole neighborhood made such an inspired
effort to make it more attractive and useful for everyone.

Contrast that with how it looked immediately after the
School system got hold of it and neglected it.

The latter effort is particularly galling to some folks in
Hollywood, even among those who don't live in that
immediate neighborhood, who continually bring it up
in conversations with me about other Broward County
matters -as if I'd forget.

But the truth is, what really rankles these folks to their
core is how the two of them together, Gottlieb and
Murray, have really caused them to doubt their own
ability to judge people, i.e. political candidates.

Some have told me that while they may well have
voted for long-shot candidates in the past, in other
places they've lived, since they (and their families)
moved to South Florida, they've really tried to be
diligent about finding out facts about local candidates'
background and experience, however they could.

Obviously the Internet has been a big help with that
effort, because they now could look for archival
articles and columns online and have more info to
base their decision on, and pass that info along to
friends and family

They stated that because of this effort to be well-informed,
they rarely had voted for someone for whom they
had immediate voters' remorse for.

But the practical experience of Gottlieb and Murray
in office, as opposed to them in campaign mode,
had really disabused these folks of their belief that
once in office, the two would be diligent representatives
of the public who'd be more demanding and more
assertive about the actions and policies of the Broward
Superintendent and his staff.

Instead, they elected two women who just shrug and
vote for whatever the pack wants, consequences be

To those community activists in particular, who really
pride themselves on not just keeping well-informed
about what's going on hereabouts, but even knowing
what's going to happen BEFORE it does, and why,
the combination of first Gottlieb and now Murray
BOTH being such self-evident wash-outs on reform
and accountability, and not making any tangible
difference for Broward kids and taxpayers, represents
a real big poke in the eye.
And it stings!

Like me, these folks in Hollywood and elsewhere
around the county are recalculating and recalibrating
their political antennae to make sure that those very
mistakes are not repeated in 2010.

It's my belief that Broward County simply can't
afford more wasted votes on people who fail the
basic test of being truthful before and after an election,
and faithful to their constituents' best interests at all times.

Those wasted votes on the Broward School Board
have had very real consequences, because they've
empowered an otherwise clue-less and tone-deaf
person like School Board member Stephanie Kraft
to show voters and taxpayers her true colors.

On June 16th, Kathy Bushouse of the Sun-Sentinel
captured this institutional tone-deafness perfectly in
her Broward Politics blog post,
School District may ask voters to approve higher taxes
which concluded quite ridiculously:

Voters may be more inclined to support a tax increase if they
know what they might lose without it, said board member
Stephanie Kraft.
"Honestly, I've already gotten several e-mails from people saying,
'What about that project? What about that project? " Kraft said.
"A lot of people have indicated that they may not be opposed
to doing something to get those projects built."

That's the very creepy mentality that's gotten the county's
taxpayers into the dire situation that Bob Norman has
been writing about aggressively for months from his
Daily Pulp blog, even as local South Florida TV stations
have largely washed their hands of even trying to explain
the story or identify who the villains and heroes are.

In his blog today,
Derelict School Board Wants More of Your Money
and yesterday's post titled,
Hollywood People Stand Up for School Board Auditors

Norman has shown just what's been going on during
the recent sleepwalking reign of Jennifer Gottlieb
and more recently, while Ann Murray slept.

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

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