Grand Jury Report Another Exercise in Futility

When ineffective governments lack the strength or wherewithal to act, there is only one thing left for them to do.

They issue reports.

cristparty.jpg
After Rick Scott is sworn in as governor tomorrow, grand jury starter Crist will have more time to party
I can't say that the statewide grand jury that has been investigating the Broward County School Board's construction department will fail to make cases, but the fact that it issued a big fat report over the holidays is not a good sign.

Last Wednesday, the grand jury called together to fight corruption by outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist and headed by Chief Broward Judge Victor Tobin put out a 127-page report titled "A Study of Public Corruption in Florida and Recommended Solutions." You can read it here if you have a good part of your day to kill. Listed at the bottom of the title page, as if to eliminate any doubt about where ground zero for corruption in the state resides, is the city where the study was written, Fort Lauderdale.

The report begins with gobbledygook about corruption being an "enormous issue that is broad in scope and long in history." It talks about the theft of "vital public funds" and, in a flush of creativity, coins the term "Florida Corruption Tax" (italics are theirs). Before listing the recommendations, the grand jury writes that they are "as valid now as they were a decade ago."

Perhaps that is a faint echo to the last report issued by a grand jury that looked into Broward County School Board corruption. That grand jury was called by Michael Satz and headed by John Countryman and produced a 77-page report in 1997. Seventy-seven pages and no arrests. Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm noted at the time that the report failed to "indict a single miscreant" and landed the "largest thud imaginable." He noted that it was a reminder that the board had "wasted millions upon millions in an incredibly shabby construction program."

"Thanks, Your Grand Jury," wrote Grimm, "but we already knew that."

Ditto on this new report. Look, people don't want reports from grand juries. We in the media can handle the reports. People want the crooks who have stolen our vital public funds to go to jail.

OK, so what were its recommendations? The usual. Stiffen penalties for corruption, toughen laws, count private contractors that do business with governments as public officials under the law, stop bid-rigging, etc.

Perfectly fine suggestions. Just wish it would come after some arrests rather than in lieu of them.

After the current report was released December 29, newspapers dutifully splashed it on the front pages. That doesn't mean there won't be headlines to come of actual arrests made by this grand jury, but it does look a little grim right now.

The good news is that Satz's public corruption unit has been making cases, including the arrest of the Mr. and Mrs. Stephanie Kraft. I recently wrote about the fact that the Coral Springs Commission has in its wisdom decided to keep Mitch Kraft, who is charged with bribery and unlawful compensation along with his wife, on its planning and zoning board. Inside, see a photographic clue as to why that small outrage is occurring.

Here's the picture:

kraftpowers.jpg

Recognize these two men? At left is Mitch Kraft and at right Coral Springs Commissioner Tom Powers. It was taken during Powers' 2008 campaign and was included on the commissioner's campaign website (props to Broward Cleansweep for digging it up). Kraft and Powers have long been political allies.

Now remember that Mayor Roy Gold brought up the idea of removing Kraft from the board during a commission retreat. Gold said the first person he asked was Powers, who was recently acquitted of a criminal Sunshine Law violation himself.

"Tom said, 'Look, he's been charged, but he's innocent until proven guilty,'" Gold recalled. "And that's what I heard repeatedly. There was no vote for a support of a suspension."

There you have it. In the real world of politics, cronyism beats out justice at regular clip. Maybe the Coral Springs Commission will issue a report on it.


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39 comments
v-pills
v-pills

Anyone out there today?

herry christan
herry christan

Listed at the bottom of the title page, as if to eliminate any doubtabout where ground zero for corruption in the state resides, is thecity where the study was written, Fort Lauderdale.wedding lehanga

SuchCrap
SuchCrap

My favorite Karma is spelled F E D ' s.

Dead Norm Abromowitz
Dead Norm Abromowitz

Happppppyyyyyy New Year Pulp Nation, it's me, Dead Norm! Off topic for a sec., how da hell does the FCC allow a drunk Dick Clark host a TV show? I mean, he wuz slurring his words and everything! I look better then him and I'm dead....hell, I been dead! I mean, when Lil M can still walk around and dis guy can't???? Ahhhhh, I'll have a seat at the table for him waiting, I mean milk has a longer shelf life! Speaking of shelf life, next time you see someone from Kings Point, pull down their depends and look at the expiration date on der ass, it'll tell you why they are being so nice to you, but it don't help, believe me...... Anyway, I hear Zsa Zsa is legally changing her name to Eileen, hehehehehehe, sorry folks, I had a good new year, me, Crazy Ed and Lil M' went to meet Mitch,Russ and Stewart and waited for their testicles to descend, kinda like the ball drop at time square! OK, I gotta jet, been busy as shit here last few weeks, lots of new faces...and yu know what, when you die, you ain't shit no more, no one cares who da fuck you thought you wuz, when you go in for the dirt nap, your just another dead fuckin guy.....Ohhh, and don't despair, there's this guy Karma, fucks with people all the time, sneaks up behind ya and sez, hey, remember that time when you did......? And ya say, naw, I don't remember, he sez, too bad, I do.........fuckin karma, fucks with everybody........

Amazing Karnack
Amazing Karnack

Karnack foretold that he had become a patient man. Karnack says don't be fooled by a report that could only come as recommendations as no grand jury can directly change the statutes. Karnack says there is much more to come. Karnack says 2011 will become known as the year of orange. Karnack says do you really believe that FEMA asking for monies back from Southwest Ranches is a random act after the school board’s (ongoing) FEMA disaster and the arrest of its closely linked former school board member and now county commissioner. Karnack says if you buy that FEMA is that good on its own then the school board has got some prime under water property in Southwest Ranches it would like to sell you.

Karnack foretold that the code and language of the machine had been broken. Karnack says be patient and watch as the puppets and their facilitators fall from the sky like black birds in Arkansas. Karnack says you can see by the report how the puppets created weak laws to protect themselves. Karnack foretold that there are many initials involved. Karnack says the conductor and his many friends know the evil machine and how it is destroying our culture. Karnack says they are working diligently to make a case against all of those who have betrayed the public trust. Karnack says they know how important this work is. Karnack says that train has left the station. Karnack says the train still goes clickity clack, clickity clack, clickity clack.

skydove
skydove

@ guido

duck alignment = putting one's ducks in a row (not that it's so important, but I thought I'd posted this response an hour ago -- now it sits at the top of my comment box, time-stamped "0 minutes ago." I give up, @ 7:39 p.m..)

SuchCrap
SuchCrap

Like I said...What is the point of Grand Jury after Grand Jury when nothing is done?

Tonyt
Tonyt

It is easy to say it's just politics etc.... That being said why not starve them of their drug of choice with as few tax dollars as possible? Why would you give money to known thieves? If the people of the state & Broward don't demand this then we deserve this scum.

skydove
skydove

@ guido [I probably should update my browser, I can't work the Reply function]

duck alignment = putting one's ducks in a row

Walking, quacking &c like a duck, evidence of which already suggests in abundance, isn't enough in court.

skydove
skydove

Attention from MSM would help but at this stage probably wouldn't be decisive because so many of the perps have committed ethics violation in ways known directly only to fellow conspirators, who are highly motivated to continue to lie, intimidate, punish, and, of course, exploit loopholes. Look at jad's years of experience; look at what Fly on the Wall went through, which apparently included court proceedings against him.

Broward Cleansweep may be right about the grand jury discreetly suggesting that the feds need to increase their presence in Broward. But in the current environment, where the enforcement regs don't seem to have teeth and whistle-blowers are stomped on, the people who've been protecting each other all along have been free to go on yellow alert and deploy their safety nets.

Some of what has been done here may seem trivial -- all the comments about fat ladies with their orange hair and baseball caps and flabby arms and lobbyist husbands, who also are no prizes -- but it keeps the pressure on, encouraging blog readers to add more substantive tidbits, which will find their way to people who can help. Any assistance in the immediate future is likely to be behind the scenes, but think momentum, think clickety-clack. The more cages are rattled, the more chance there is that guilty parties will be spooked into making mistakes, and the more time for duck alignment is afforded to the feds.

Guest
Guest

Good Afternoon All!This is all very discouraging. Reports and reports. All this paper pushing. Examples must be set and the guilty punished. That's great that new ethical guidelines will be set, but there has be a lot of corruption on going and those wrong doers must be brought to justice and swiftly!

herbcaenentertainmentaward
herbcaenentertainmentaward

They don't have to arrest anyone we have history on our side as tax payers. America can not survive with all the pensions. There is talk about shutting down the government. There will be bankrupt cities all over the US and no pensions for police, firefighters, city workers, politicians with State or local governments. That is why General Motors had to file for bankruptcy and restructure. Now it has a chance to survive.Sad to say but this is the only way America can survive by restructuring.

R. D. M.
R. D. M.

and the people just continue to take it up the a**

I'm saving my money for the day I can get the hell out of the dump that is Broward County.

there's a dwindling middle class that cares, the Rich want to stay rich and the poor have no voice.

randomthought101
randomthought101

The irony of Caryl Boies death is that her father's firm makes millions defending big tobacco. I wonder how he feels about that now?

Pulp
Pulp

Fort Lauderdale attorney Caryl Boies, the daughter of famed Al Gore lawyer David Boies, has died at 48 from lung cancer. Boies owned law officed in town and was becoming a force to be reckoned with before her diagnosis. If ever there was a powerful message to stop smoking this is it.http://www.sun-sentinel.com/ne...

Gatorfl
Gatorfl

Politician's Creed: "We Protect Our Own at Taxpayer Expense"

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall

The problem is the State Legislature has to change the laws and we all know who makes up the State Legislature? Many of the same individuals these new laws would indict if these laws were in place. The School Board is just a stepping stone to higher political office. Remember Diana Wasserman-Rubin was a School Board member who approved agenda items involving her husband's business. There are more. Many of the School Board employees who are aware of the corruption are unwilling to do anything about it for fear of losing their jobs and are willing to do illegal acts to keep it. Many have committed harassment, discrimination, threats of violence and made false statements to maintain the "status quo". Where else can you get two week vacations a year, 10 sick days, 10 holidays plus health care, vision care, dental care and a pension? They have a lot at stake. Can't the School Board provide protection against those that identify whistleblowing and fire those who commit illegal acts in their policies and procedures if they were really interested in the personal characteristics they profess is what they promote in their logo?

Local_Lawyer
Local_Lawyer

Coral Springs made a decision about its future when it chose to elect a great Mayor in Roy Gold but then give him a Commission with Vignola, Bruck and Powers (last election, mind you.) Of course, no one would step up to even challenge Vince Boccard. Good job, CS.

Justwondering
Justwondering

For 2011, I predict that this grand jury report will be used by law enforcement agencies to indicate that there isn't anything they can do to fight corruption. How sad and ridiculous. It is pitiful. We have laws on the books that have consistently been broken without consequence (e.g., Ritter/Klenet, Lieberman/Michaelson, and a host of others). This is NOT rocket science. Issue indictments and arrest warrants. At least try. Please law enforcement agencies, stop sitting on your hands and protect the people who pay you to do so. To do otherwise is unacceptable!

therealyaz
therealyaz

Please tell me someone got arrested.

Guido
Guido

duck alignment?

therealyaz
therealyaz

Until all of this is brought out in main stream media, on a regular basis(meaning daily). I don't think it will go anywhere. Unfortunitly not everyone reads this blog. We do know all the perps do and the sa,feds ect.. They are hoping it stays this way so they do not have to act. If nobody sees it, it does not exist philosophy is what they go by now i am afraid.

Gatorfl
Gatorfl

There are 2 kinds of pensions--funded and unfunded. The great majority of pensions are funded; what we're hearing about are the cities and states who have unfunded pensions. Not sure if the Feds fund them or not, probably not.

Pulp
Pulp

Had to check that out and it's true. According to the book about Boies, V. Goliath, his biggest client in 2000 and 2001 was "Big Tobacco." Forgot he also was involved in the huge Microsoft anti-trust suit.

http://books.google.com/books?...

Hellvis
Hellvis

Yes some of us are here. This blog has been very entertaining over the past year and a half, for me anyways. It seems once the troll chased away the regulars and the change to disqus we lost a lot of commenters. To all the wary commenters you dont need to sign up, and you can use a fake email everytime, of course you dont get a avatar but who gives a crap about that.

Blah
Blah

Yes, getting their ducks in a row

anon4ever
anon4ever

BTW, apropos of the discussion above about disqus, there needs to be some instructions put out there for those who want to post anonomously. That's clearly why there has been such a dropoff in comments. Unless the anti-anonymous forces are calling the shots now...

Guest
Guest

So very true-There seems to some what of a "Fear Factor" with the main stream. Whether it be ratings or afraid of rufflling feathers and sad to say majority of the people here just don't care.

Pulp
Pulp

It's true that disqus for some reason has scared some folks away from commenting. I've heard directly from some who are afraid of it, which I don't understand, because it's just as secure as NT and you can come on just as anonymously as ever.

IrvingFeiner
IrvingFeiner

Disqus is ok I guess, but something about it makes posting not as fun---its too organized or something.

I'm guessing its a New Times system wide change, havent checked though. So, nothing to do about it but adapt I guess.

I'm thinking maybe its the replies that go under the comment you are replying to, rather than to the top of the pile that's just not as fun. Its something.

Rosenfeldt and Adler start getting indicted and their firm checks to the transie and regular ho's get leaked to the press, maybe things will pick up.

Or maybe when Rebbe Kaplan gets indicted for scheckel laundering so he can figure out what his priorities are, things will pick up.

Too Bad
Too Bad

You cannot come on just as anonymously as ever because it asks for a valid email address. Sometimes it lets me post using a made up email adress, while other times it kicks the address back as invalid. I still try to post from time to time, I was a familar/frequent contributor, but now I don't so much. Disqus is the "fix" that broke the blog. It is too bad, but things change and not always for the better.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Disqus was introduced somewhere within that bandwidth of time with all the holidays. Do you think there may be more participation once folks get back home, back to work, back to their routines?

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

I was going to suggest that you address this issue in greater detail in the body of one of your blogs. I have noticed a precipitous decline in the number of comments since the new Disqus system was implemented.

I have also noticed that comments are now much more muted. I personally believe that this blog--from a comments perspective-- is at its best when it resembles the Wild West.

IMHO

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