Ilene Lieberman Gives Wrong Answer

Categories: Politics

So Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman won't say why she's gone AWOL from commission meetings, telling the Sun-Sentinel (the WofP, actually) that she is "dealing with some personal matters, and I'm not at liberty to discuss them at the moment."

lieberman2.jpg
Not at liberty? That implies that someone has forbidden her to speak. We know she's under criminal investigation for her involvement with dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait (as well as the involvement of her husband, Stuart Michelson, who recently announced his resignation from his job as city attorney in Sunrise). But she says it has nothing to do with the State Attorney's Office. Michelson jumped off the phone when he was contacted by the S-S yesterday. 

After the jump, a quiz about the Lieberman case and my ultimate conclusion.

Question: What would your boss do if you didn't show up for work for several weeks and refused to say why?

Answer: It would never happen because you'd probably be fired within the first few days. 

Who is Ilene Lieberman's boss?

OK, so what are you going to do about it?  

Look, if she's got medical issues, then that's unfortunate. Nobody wishes her ill health. But if she's going to stop working for us -- a job we're paying her $92,000 to do -- then she needs to at least send in a doctor's note.

I don't know what to believe at this point. A very good source tells me that there are no serious health issues, that it's "bullshit." Another tells me Lieberman is going through some kind of medical tests. Obviously there's a lot of speculation about the ongoing SAO criminal investigation.

Whatever the case, she's gone over the line with her lack of accountability -- and she needs to resign. 

-- Regarding the statewide grand jury's corruption investigation: A source close to the probe tells me that state investigators are still working on the case, which is focusing on the Broward County School Board's construction department. The source used the term marathon. I guess that's good news.

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Justwondering
Justwondering

I don't know of any employer who ignores their employee absences. Instead, employers demand and deserve explanations. So, too, do we the employers of the county commissioners deserve explanations for any and all instances where county commissions are absent from attending meetings at county government center.

truthfulness
truthfulness

It's painfully obvious that it is a serious health problem and she feels after years of public service that she is entitled to some privacy in her life. The media needs to let her be and allow her to get better instead of bashing her about the head. One thing we've all learned about Ilene Lieberman is that she's human like the rest of us. (Remember how Ann Kolb fought while she was sick and still served on the County Commission? Only the media was sympathetic -- there weren't any blogs back then, just real professional journalism occurred and respect for those who have given themselves to public service.) Say what you will about Ilene, she has been a dedicated public servant. You may not agree with everything she did or said, but she did her homework and was always prepared to do battle for what she believed in.

Reasonable
Reasonable

Sorry, NO SALE!, She is a public figure and a representative of the county. She is also being paid with tax dollars. I have every right to know that she is physically and mentally fit enough to hold office. There is also no way anyone "fights" an illness, it is a mere delay of the inevitable. Mostly doctors and medication are the fighters, sick people just lay there...I know, I was one of them, I did not beat cancer, it merely did not get bad enough to kill me, yet. Anyway, Ilene has made her bed, she has treated people poorly and with obstinance. Her husband is thought to have taken advantage of people and they are not figures that belie sympathy. If she is truly ill, she should resign, as defending herself in a pending criminal investigation and possible illness can noway make her aa assest to the people of Broward County. No, I wish her no ill will, nor do I care to coddle her. Everyone has problems . I agree with JAD, hanging around for health benefits is most likely the reason she hasn't resigned, that and the appearence it may have on the criminal investigation....

guest
guest

We all know it's you Barry Epstein with your hidden agendas. You are a political wannabe... that will never be; a disgruntled misery who need to get a real life -- maybe one with compassion one day. Sick people don't lay there (maybe YOU do).. they fight. It would be just like you to kick someone when they are down.

jad
jad

In response to an inquiry by Skydove @ around noontime yesterday (Thursday), I believe that there are several excuses that can be valid for a Broward County Commissioner to phone-in her attendance, permitting the lack of a physical presence at the “scheduled” & “noticed” open public hearings. There may be others, but I will center on the 2 that are the most obvious, after a brief mention of a certain unavailing provision of the Broward County Charter.

Article II of the Broward County Charter looks at (the Legislative Branch of the Board of) the Broward County Commission. Sec. 2.01 E does recognize that a vacancy in the office (of county commissioner) could exist, with an explanation that the definition for such a vacancy is that as provided by Florida Law. One thing that is a fact is that a commissioner who does not reside in the district, which he or she serves, is deemed to have vacated that office. (I mention this because of the little problem Broward County had when the former Governor wanted to appoint a person to a seat who did not reside in the district (of Josephus Eggelletion), and the Governor parsed the law & deliberately misconstrued sec. 125.83(2), F.S., -- with the explanation that since the person did not live in the district upon appointment, as an “appointed” commissioner -- in the stead of the art. VIII, sec. 1(e), Fla.Const., constitutionally defined & sec. 2.01 A(1) charter defined elective office of an “elected” commissioner -- he could not have vacated the seat. Really!!! But, what else is new on that front?) Under (the 1974 law of) sec. 125.83(3), F.S., the county charter is to define the meaning of vacancy in office. It seems that neither State law nor the county charter has fulfilled an obligation to define what constitutes vacancy in office. Nevertheless, there is a provision in the Florida Constitution that gives the Governor the power to force a commissioner out of office, if the commissioner is acting as though not attending to the duties of the office. Although art. IV, sec. 7(a), Fla.Const., might apply if the Governor were to sign an executive order describing a vacancy in office by Commissioner Lieberman due to her acts of neglect of duty or other listed reasons, the Governor would have to determine if the reasoning is valid when examining the excuses that Commissioner Lie-berman might have developed.

The first is the fact that a county commissioner can be known to have a debilitating illness, considered a disability (of which we are aware of Lieberman’s Parkinson’s Disease). (Even though this is a public position) there is no way that the (general public as the) employer can toss the commissioner into a status of unemployed, if the commissioner continues to perform to the best of his or her ability. There are loads of federal laws governing a situation where the employed is recognized as a disabled person, with protections for the job status (which may be a reason why those-looking-to-hire are careful about hiring the disabled). In addition, the Florida Constitution protects the disabled (from being deprived of any right because of their physical disability) under art. I, sec. 2 of the Declaration of Rights, Fla.Const., with subsequent appropriate legislation governing the circumstances, published in certain sections of the several volumes of the Florida Statutes. More to the point, when a commissioner is under investigation, where the commissioner knows that there is a possibility of loss of job & benefits (which includes overly generous health care benefits), loss of pension & retirement benefits (including health care for an irreversible, pre-existing condition), and (State) prison and/or (federal) penitentiary time, the stress can cause the disability to be magnified. So, the disability that was not that intrusive, becomes unbearable (due to the stress) and complicates the ability to perform (permitting a limited medical leave), but not enough to be reason for removal.

Another reason that a commissioner may not be able to be fired from the job is the same reason that would be given for anyone in a similar situation where the person is being investigated for criminal acts, yet not indicted. A civil investigative subpoena can be issued to gather information on certain enterprising acts (that fall under the provisions of the Florida RICO Act). While we know that the Statewide Grand Jury has been investigating the criminal activity of several commissioners, other agencies are also free to investigate the matter. Sec. 895.06(1), F.S., names 2 others, besides the Office of Statewide Prosecution, -- which are the Department of Legal Affairs and the State Attorney. Since we know that State Attorney Michael Satz is inadequate, we can discount an investigation under his aegis, and assume that the Department of Legal Affairs (that would be well aware of the meddling of the State Attorney in Broward County to squelch any findings that could harm those that are the politically connected and powerful in Broward County) has instituted such an investigation. The law (under subsection (3) of sec. 895.06, F.S.,) says that “any” Circuit Court can issue the subpoena, within certain parameters. Since Lieberman’s husband has Tallahassee connections & associates, it may be that Leon County has been useful in issuing this type of subpoena. Again, Broward County is just so d*mn incompetent and so intertwined with the corruption, that any field agent or investigator should know to NOT knock on the doors of a Broward County Circuit Court.

If this subpoena causes conflict in a working relationship, the employer can not use this to convert the employed into an unemployed. If you look at what is being investigated with public corruption, and you know that the Statewide Grand Jury can investigate under (sec. 905.34(3), F.S.,) the Florida Rico Act of Ch. 895, F.S., you can see that a subpoena can probably be issued into money laundering, and other areas that would excuse the person (from the workplace) brought into testify that is providing information. It has been reported that Lieberman’s hubby made quite a bit of money with financial transactions with other public agencies and municipalities and through contract agents paid with public funds. Sec. 896.102(1), F.S., contains a requirement that all persons engaged in a trade or business, who receives more than $10,000 MUST report these transactions, by completing returns and filing these returns with the Florida Department of Revenue. These returns are subject to disclosure pursuant to subpoena, per sec. 896.102, F.S. (The general provisions for the State Revenue Laws can be found in ch. 213, F.S., which does oversee sec. 896.102, per recognition in sec. 213.053(w), F.S., sec. 213.053(9)(c), F.S., and sec. 213.053(14), F.S.)

No matter why this person remains in office, her days are numbered. It is my belief that the commissioner should resign her post. However, because of her pre-existing & debilitating condition, she may not be able to get insurance. If the family has been totally dependent on the benefits of her commission provided insurance, she is really out of luck with help with medical expenses (if forced out of office). She is in a bad spot. She has assets that she must use before a program like SSI, with Medicaid, or other medically needy program can kick in. However, (because of forfeiture laws & possible imminent proceedings) she may be prevented from selling off her assets to get herself into a position where she could apply for any medically needy program offered by the State or the federal government, for the indigent. So, even though the stress of the investigation is sapping her strength to fight her disability, she is stuck with staying on the job so that her medical condition can be treated. She will not find herself alone in this type of situation. There are plenty of people in Broward County who are stuck without insurance or any means to seek treatment because the laws written by people like her prevent them from receiving any assistance. Talk about a karmic event!

Anyway, without interference by the Governor (under the authority of art. IV, sec. 7(a), Fla.Const., to remove a county officer for neglect of duty or a permanent inability to perform official duties) & under nothing more than a cloud of suspicion that only brings about a Grand Jury report with no indictment (different than the Jeb Bush removal of Miriam Oliphant), Lieberman will probably remain in her position until keechled in the next election cycle.

Alsoanonymous
Alsoanonymous

JAD, I believe you are mistaken. Are you sure you're right about Lieberman having Parkinson's? The only thing "of which we are aware" is that former county commissioner Diana Wasserman Rubin, who has already resigned, has Parkinson's. I have never heard or read anywhere that Ilene LIeberman has Parkinson's and when I asked someone who knows her well that person had never heard such a thing either.

Alice
Alice

Try shingles under the skin. Painful.

skydove
skydove

Thanks, jad. Your meticulously researched and thought-out responses are always worth waiting for.

So bottom line: Lieberman don't have to go to no steenkin' meetings, since conveniently enough, "vacancy in office" hasn't been defined, and it doesn't seem likely that Scott will have as an early agenda item the removal from office, on what might be seen as a technicality, of a health-impaired woman in the opposing party.

The Leon County finesse you suggest could work on paper, but inevitably it would provoke a defense, which in turn might bring out past connections the new governor would prefer not to publicize.

RICO, which Herb also has mentioned, looks like it should be applicable. But again, does the political will exist to apply it here, with predictably catastrophic effects on a sick woman?

"Lieberman should resign" is easy enough for us to say, but it probably won't happen. Even so, her "wasted" salary may turn out to be money well spent insofar as it means having her both effectively removed from the dais and earnestly explaining things to the feds, as someone suggested earlier.

IrvingFeiner
IrvingFeiner

Looks to me like a terminal case of over-processed split ends.

Stank Bitch
Stank Bitch

Her only illness is "career scumbag." She's been condescending, trashing and stealing from the public she was elected to serve. Rest in Peace whether it is is prison, obscurity or cremation. Death to Tyrants.

Ozaymandius
Ozaymandius

I wouldn't be so hot for Lieberman to resign. She will be replaced by an appt by Scott....

Mikesartin
Mikesartin

Nah, Scott's a politician. Thus Liebermann would be replaced by one of our own Broward County token black/white perineal semi-democratic appointees (not that there is anything wrong wid dat) Sorry, did "wid dat" sound racist?

skydove
skydove

I'll pass on the racist part, but your substitution for perennial was brilliant. Be sure to recycle.

Googoo
Googoo

Pulp,

Can you offer any factual insight as to what can be done & what steps need to be taken to remove Lieberman from office? I don't think anyone is entertaining the possibility of her actually resigning on her own, so how is a sitting County Commissioner legally removed from office?

Like you, I do not wish anyone ill health, but I do not believe that is the issue here anyway.

If you can't carry out the requirements of office & you will not resign, then you need to be removed.

Would love to hear what other posters with expertise on this issue can offer.

Pulp
Pulp

Short of a recall, I don't believe it can be done.

Guest
Guest

I agree with you 100%. Shouldn't the Broward County Mayor Sue be the one to suggest that and the other Commissioners? Her absences are unacceptable. As an elected official she is derelict in her responsibility to the people she is supposed to fully represent. She is accountable to we, the people and must resign or be removed.

Anony
Anony

If I can make a prediction here, I would say Ilene Lieberman is not a liberty to talk because the Feds are dragging every bit of cooperation they can get out of her before charges are filed. I'll bet they got her on something. Feds were digging too deep and they were some issues regarding a remod on her house, or was that Stacy Ritter?

AlsoAnonymous
AlsoAnonymous

Ironically Lieberman's constituents have a congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer and did not let it interfere with her duties at all. She chose to keep it a secret until after the treatment was successful and no one could have guessed as she did not miss a beat in the duties she was elected to perform.

The mayor of Coral Springs has a brain tumor and he announced it and has now announced his upcoming surgery at Johns Hopkins.

I don't believe she has been ill for all these months when she has missed meetings but even if she is she has a duty to her constituents to let them know. The time is passed for that now. Lieberman is a POS who should resign immediately.

randomthought101
randomthought101

I think it is sad that she is having health problems. She is also upside down on her law office that she bought during the boom and has a big note with Bank of America. Her husband just lost his job with Sunrise. She knows she should resign, but can't give up her Tax Payer funded Heath Care plan that pays for 100% of her Health Care. How sad......

therealyaz
therealyaz

They have 100% health care in prison too.

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

Unfortunately, Oompaloomphatic Carotenemia is not covered by the plan.

Mikesartin
Mikesartin

MC, I love you like a brother (not that there is anything wrong with that) but I do believe you meant to write oompaloomaphathic carotenemia. But what do I know? I am just a dead Key West Fire Chief living in Leisurvillle.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Isn't it wrong for a reporter to use another reporters work for their reporting? Doesn't anyone do their OWN work and investigations anymore?

WhoopettyDo
WhoopettyDo

It's looks rare for the Pulp. Look at his JenJen's whitest school story. He does a whole article on the Montessori school being the whitest in Broward, and then after it's gone to print makes a note at the bottom saying there is another school that's whiter. Making the whole article a crock. I don't trust his sources either. He over uses unnamed sources and destroys what little credibility he has left.

anon
anon

its team norman/wallman. between the two of the they can almost write a passable story... neither one can do it alone, especially sweet britt... hey bob, i wonder what percentage of clicks on her stories come straight from links in yours...

Scott
Scott

Anon, is the shift key on your keyboard broken?

Elliott
Elliott

Broward County owes a debt of gratitude to both Bob and Brittany for shedding light on all of this corruption. I don't think they share stories, but if they did that would be okay in my book. They are both excellent writers in spite of what "anon Ken Keechl" says above.

Pulp
Pulp

If you read this blog you know that the vast majority of it is original reporting and when I want to sound off the news, I cite the source. As a side note, I think I was the first one to make an issue out of Lieberman's absences a few weeks back.

County
County

Bob;I think there is a county ordinance that says if you have three unexcused absences that you have to be replaced. Mostly, all the cities have the same code. So we aren't they looking for a replacement

skydove
skydove

Do we know that Lieberman's absences are in fact unexcused? She's lawyered her butt out of prison all this time; it makes sense that she'd have covered herself in this matter. Maybe jad will undertake to search the applicable rules to see what constitutes a valid excuse and to whom and in what form it must be tendered. The lady who's colored herself orange may well be doctoring -- for anxiety, for incapacitating reaction to medications prescribed to treat the anxiety, &c. But if we don't know how she's obliged to report any of this, or to whom, we can only say that she should resign, not that she must be kicked out.

therealyaz
therealyaz

There is no excuse for her behavior. Hopefully someone on the commission will step up. But don't count on it.

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