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Thursday, July 15, 2010

A 'Gentleman's F' for Effort for laggard School Board Integrity Czars Butterworth, Seiler & Allen

Above and below, July 13, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier looking south at the Broward County Schools HQ, 600 S.E. Third Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.


So, did you see or hear anything in the newspapers or on TV about the long list of qualified applicants hoping to succeed Ed Marko for the General Counsel's position with Broward County Schools?
The man who has held that position since... well...

BEFORE Don Shula was ever the Dolphins head coach; BEFORE microwave ovens were common in every home; BEFORE the Florida Turnpike's Homestead extension was completed and trips to The Everglades on non-air conditioned school buses from North Miami Beach took HOURS while you slowly melted into the plastic seat you sat in; and back when attending the New Year's Eve Orange Bowl Parade was nationally televised on NBC-TV from downtown Miami, and was one of the real entertainment highlights of the year for many South Florida kids?

See BrowardBeat's June 24th post Bar Brawl Expected When Lawyers Fight For Ed Marko’s School Board Job by Buddy Nevins,
http://www.browardbeat.com/school-board-will-discuss-ed-markos-fate-big-money-legal-job-could-open/

I mean the depth and breadth of their professional educational experience, the cultural diversity of the backgrounds of the applicants, blah, blah...


Actually, since I chose not to attend the screening meeting Wednesday and no South Florida print or TV reporter apparently had the time or inclination to attend, either, judging by the complete lack of stories I'm finding anywhere on it at 2 a.m., you and I and the rest of the taxpayers in Broward County have no earthly idea who these applicants are.


Speaking of a story that South Florida reporters have largely slept on, did you happen to notice this story the other day in the Sun-Sentinel -below- about the latest news with the so-called three-legged ethics panel appointed by Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter last October, the group that Broward NewTimes columnist and Daily Pulp blogger Bob Norman accurately called the School Board Integrity Czars?

Guess what? They missed their soft deadline of May for delivering a public report full of recommendations, school ended in June and we're now a week past the Fourth of July.
And school starts again in six weeks.


The working deadline now is.. well, Butterworth & Co. don't want to be pressed for deadlines or mileposts, which is interesting since that's sort of the shifting attitude that's allowed things down here with the school system to snowball to the point where his panel was necessary in the first place: insufficient personal or professional accountability by elected officials or administrators to the public, and a perfect willingness to kick the can further down the road.

Seriously, how many times did I (accurately) use that 'can' analogy to describe the very
unprofessional working ethic I saw from Hallandale Beach City Hall and its employees the first two years of this blog?
(Not that this has changed.)

Rather ominously for concerned Broward citizens and taxpayers who hoped for more diligence and speed on their part, panel member Bob Butterworth said "he is confident Broward School Board members "want to do right" and will take the integrity commission's recommendations seriously."
WTF?

For such an accomplished man, Butterworth often seems awfully naive to the grim realities of what his local universe is composed of besides hydrogen, water and sunshine.

He seems not to have learned anything about the fact that in Broward County, and especially in the School Kingdom, where unicorns and rainbows and promises to do better abound, it's much more than just a few people in power or authority who will do whatever they think they can get away, it's probably closer to a good third, and that is pretty reflective of all city, county and state government employees in Broward and Miami-Dade.
The reality all around us seems to accurately reflect that central fact.

One of the reasons that Broward is so corrupt is, simply put, because so many honest, talented and accomplished people with something positive to contribute to society, want NOTHING to do with government.
NOTHING.
This, of course, only increases the odds of success for the crooked folks to make their deals. Chicken or egg?

If you happen to be reading this post from some other part of the U.S. or from overseas, where I'm happy to say I've made a few fans, please understand what I'm saying here.


People here in South Florida don't just say that this area is more corrupt than the rest of the United States because it's a throwaway line and a form of self-deprecation, they say it because it is all-too-true.

Perhaps not to Nigerian email corrupt exactly, but if Transparency International paid a visit and audited local governments and state agencies in Broward and Miami-Dade counties using the standards they use to judge these things for their reports, the truth is that they would fit right in with the low-achieving countries that make Scandinavia look so good in comparison.
http://www.transparency.org/

The World's Most Corrupt Countries

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/17/haiti-somalia-afghanistan-business-most-corrupt-countries.html


Here in South Florida, the bribery and back-scratching as it were, is always right near the surface, and is practically built into the institutional framework of the organizations, like sitting Broward County Commissioners getting to give input on purchasing decisions, or weighing-in on very important land use/zoning decisions on multi-million dollar development projects while serving on other government panels simply because they are Broward County commissioners, as was discussed repeatedly at the Broward Ethics Commission meetings I attended over the past year that South Florida TV stations completely ignored.

Not that those early morning meetings helped woo TV cameras down to downtown Fort Lauderdale, since South Florida TV reporters are not generally early risers.

-------

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Panel prepares ethics report for Broward schools
Two months behind schedule, volunteer commission readies list of recommendations

By Rafael A. Olmeda, Sun Sentinel
6:26 p.m. EDT,
July 11, 2010


The volunteer panel created to develop ethical reforms for the Broward school district is finally planning to finish its work. But the three-member commission has yet to issue a timetable.


Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, attorney W. George Allen, and former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth were tapped last October to make up the Commission on Education Excellence through Integrity, Public Ethics and Transparency. While no deadline was ever set, they had hoped to put a set of recommendations before the School Board sometime in May.

The school year ended June 9 without a report.


Now, Butterworth said the panel will set a meeting this week to develop a timetable for issuing its report.


Butterworth offered no explanation — or excuse — for the delay other than the busy schedules maintained by the three commission members, all of whom are volunteers with a full-time workload.


"We've had good input from the community, from meetings that we've held and from people who've weighed in online," said Butterworth. "In retrospect, May was an ambitious date, one we were not able to meet."


Without going into specifics, Butterworth praised the School Board for addressing some ethical issues while contending with an academic year that began with School Board members Beverly Gallagher and Stephanie Kraft being under scrutiny for ethical conflicts.


Gallagher pleaded guilty in March to a federal bribery charge, admitting to receiving $12,500 in illegal payments. She is serving a 37-month prison term.


Kraft revealed in October that her husband's business had ties to School Board lobbyist Neil Sterling. Her failure to disclose the relationship sooner was a lapse that carried no penalty until the board later tightened its rules. Now both lobbyists and board members will face sanctions for failing to reveal such ties.


Kraft announced earlier this year she is not running for re-election in August. The Sun Sentinel reported last month she is under investigation by prosecutors in a corruption investigation that recently snagged Tamarac City Commissioner Patricia "Patte" Atkins-Grad, who was removed from office.


Butterworth said he is confident Broward School Board members "want to do right" and will take the integrity commission's recommendations seriously.


"When you're a public official, you have to operate in a way that considers not only the reality of wrongdoing, but the perception of it as well," Butterworth said. "The School Board can do what it wants with our recommendations. It's not a commission mandated by law or by the voters. But they want to do right, and I think in the end they will."


--------

Elsewhere, take a look at this press release page from the Broward School Board's official website. http://www.browardschools.com/press/

Tell me where you see anything about the Screening Committee that met on Wednesday afternoon, or anything announcing the time and date of the two scheduled meetings for parents about Hollywood's Beachside Montessori Village K-8 school not being open for students on time on August 23rd, the day before the primary election?

Or on the School Board's listed web page for the school, http://www.browardschools.com/schoolsplash1/schoolsplash.asp?infoid=2041?

Let me save you the trouble of looking -the pertinent information is NOT there.

Hmm-m-m... not there.
Sort of like how the three public meetings of the preposterously named Excellence through Integrity, Public Ethics and Transparency panel weren't televised or taped for later broadcast on the Broward School Board's own cable TV channel, BECON even though Broward taxpayers have already paid for all the equipment. http://www.becon.tv/

And did you ever happen to take a look at the feeble Integrity website for Butterworth & Company, http://browardschoolsintegrity.org/ which features two news articles for two of their five bits of information "In the News," just as was true many months ago?

How terribly, terribly underwhelming and uninspiring, and when you throw into the mix their lack of use of the TV station and their NEVER having a single meeting in southern Broward County, how can any honest person say that it's not just business as usual,
par for the course?


In case you're somewhat new to the blog, I often wrote about that typical lack of logic and common sense with this particular gang earlier in the year when it was happening, even while everyone else with a blog was ignoring the answer to greater communication right in front of them, so just use my blog's search box at the top left and type in Butterfield to find those earlier posts.

The correct information about the two meetings at South Broward High School on Thursday night and on July 21st is at http://www.beachsidemontessori.org/index.cfm, but tell me, if it isn't mentioned on the School's Board's main page and the first web page the website gives for the school -and it isn't- why would people necessarily think there's yet another website with that info for a school that hasn't even opened yet.
Can you riddle me that?

Once again, someone in authority has dropped the ball and not used logic or common sense, always South Florida's fatal flaw regardless of the issue.

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