Notter May Not Remember, but Document Doesn't Lie
|Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter has unveiled a new haircut. This photo comes from her latest "Coffee With Stacy" event last week.|
Enough about fashion, let's get down to business.
When Broward County School Board construction chief Mike Garretson gave sworn testimony to state prosecutors just weeks before his untimely death, he told them that Stephanie Kraft wasn't the only school board honcho that was applying pressure to give the dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait a $500,000 break in a school fee they owed in 2007.
So too, Garretson testified, did his boss, Superintendent Jim Notter. When Notter was subpoenaed to testify (and given immunity), he claimed he didn't recall contacting Garretson on the matter. He claimed, in fact, that he didn't remember speaking to Kraft about it until it became a public matter in 2009.
Now it's understandable why Notter would have a memory problem. School Board members aren't supposed to meddle with the day-to-day business of the school board and he, as superintendent, had no business trying to get some developer a big break from taxpayers just because a board member was putting on the pressure.
But it's pretty clear Notter is either lying or he really is suffering from a bad case of amnesia. Inside see why.
When Kraft was applying pressure on school board staff to put the $500,000 fee break for the Chaits on the July 24, 2007 agenda, staffers already smelled something fishy. That's why then school Growth Management Director Chris Akagbosu wrote a memo on July 23, 2007, detailing all the suspicious events that had occurred regarding the item. And Akagbosu at the time apparently didn't even know that Kraft's husband, Mitch, was being paid by the Chaits to get the half-million dollar fee reduction done.
Akagbosu included in his memo to Facilities Management Director Tom Coates the fact that Stephanie Kraft had written an email on behalf of the developers to make sure the item was put on the agenda. In the memo, Akagbosu wrote that at the same time Garretson told him that he needed to put the item on the agenda because of pressure from above.
He reported that on July 11:
"[Garretson] personally advises [Akagbosu] about the [Kraft] email and indicates that the Superintendent [Jim Notter] and Board Member Kraft requested that the item should be scheduled for the July 24 [board meeting]."
Okay, so back in 2007 in the thick of the original controversy we have evidence that Garretson told a school board official that he needed to put the item on the agenda because Supt. Notter had requested him to do it. Why would Garretson, who had no dog in the fight other than wanting to please his own bosses, lie to Akagbosu about Notter putting on the pressure for Kraft?
Answer: Garretson wouldn't.
Maybe Akagbosu's memo will help jog Notter's faulty memory because the bottom line is that Notter needs to come clean on what happened instead of hiding behind memory problems. Then he should resign.