Thursday, August 20, 2009
Voters Remorse: Ann Murray on thin ice in August with constituents after latest Broward School Board debacle
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
After emailing this article to a well-informed Broward
friend who WAS a self-admitted 'strong' Murray
supporter, they replied simply, "Invasion of the
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 paying
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org The Broward County Auditor’s Office has begun looking into whether Hallandale Beach should be required to repay some of the millions in tax dollars allegedly misspent due to “gross mismanagement” by city officials.
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb j.mp/13xk92t— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 15, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about, By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org. The Broward Inspector General’s final report on the “gross mismanagement” of millions in tax dollars by Hallandale Beach is sharply critical of city leaders it says have shown a “basic misunderstanding” of what’s gone wrong.
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds j.mp/11ysUve— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 13, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about browardbulldog.org/2013/04/browar…— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) April 23, 2013
FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HB CRA
Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex on S. Federal Highway/U.S.-1, where attention to details and appearances has never been their strong suit in the nine years I've lived here, since returning to South Florida after 15 years in the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks to the city's incompetent, myopic and poorly-managed DPW, the spotlights seen above in 2011 on the city's monument sign, at the corner of U.S.-1 & S.E. 5th St., have NOT worked since June of 2012. Which is to say that they have NOT worked since City Manager Renee C. Miller has been in place. But attention to details and appearances really DO matter when you are a government, and the situation with the lights is but the tip of the iceberg. The city's log of Visitors & Lobbyists, which is required by law to be up-to-date, was TWO MONTHS old as of last Friday. Really. August 7, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights ReservedBROWARD INSPECTOR GENERAL FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HALLANDALE BEACH COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
Csaba Kulin re Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield's comments re ethics at City Hall
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 and Hollywood.
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.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.
Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.
If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."- Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpted from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster: In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...
"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administrations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly. At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accommodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...
In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accommodated...
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."
-New York Times, September 22, 1851
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
-Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 HB City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission, on November 2008 ballot.
Six YEARS after the county's voters had overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission had yet to live up to its legal responsibility. That's why!
Corruption Isn't Unique to South Florida, It's the Level of the Stupidity That Is
"[Chicago Mayor] William Hale Thompson was defeated Tuesday after a campaign which he alone made disgraceful. The election was an ejection, a dirty job, but Chicago has washed itself and put on clean clothes. Thompson recognized the [Chicago] Tribune as his chief enemy. The Tribune was glad to earn that opinion. It certainly tried to do so. It has taken the fight to him on every occasion during the long and depraved course of his administration. It is unpleasant business to eject a skunk, but someone has to do it. For Chicago, Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character. He’s out. He is not only out, but dishonored. He is deserted by his friends. He is permanently marked by the evidences of his character and conduct. His health is impaired by his ways of life and he leaves office and goes from the city the most discredited man who ever held place in it."
-Excerpts from April 1931 Chicago Tribune editorial following Republican "Big Bill" Thompson's loss to his Democratic rival Anton Cermak. A friend of organized crime during the Al Capone era, Thompson was the last Republican elected mayor of Chicago. But less than two years later, Mayor Cermak was shot while shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt at Miami's Bayfront Park. He died from gunshot wounds to his lungs three weeks later.
Looking NW towards Hollywood from the State Road 858/Intracoastal Bridge, Hallandale Beach, FL
Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test from David M. Singh Jr. Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test by David M. Singh Jr., March 14, 2011 Looking northwest towards Hollywood from the Intracoastal Bridge/S.R. 858 in Hallandale Beach, FL, (left-to-right) Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. http://vimeo.com/21009538
Hallandale Beach in The Miami Herald over 25 years ago
"For years people living in and out of its condo-walled sector east of U.S. 1 have wondered what to do about the city of Hallandale. In the 19th Century the condo giants would have served as ideal fortresses. From top floors of the towers, enemy ships could be readily spotted and blown out of the Atlantic. Oceanfront dwellers could have been protected from the west by the Hallandale Beach Boulevard drawbridge and moat called the Intracoastal Waterway. But this is the 20th Century..."
-Miami Herald Broward Columnist Bill Braucher's first paragraph from July 24, 1983.
To which Hallandale Beach Blog can only say, Bulls-eye!