Grand Jury Report: School Board Blew Hundreds of Millions of Taxpayers Dollars While In Lobbyists' Pocket

Well, it's finally official.

The Broward County School Board wasted hundreds of millions of your dollars while doing the bidding of a select group of contractors and lobbyists. You've been reading about that here for the past five years. Now the statewide grand jury has found the same thing.  

gottliebnotter2.jpg
Notter with Gottlieb
The final grand jury report was released last night (yes, that means they aren't going to issue indictments). To get an idea of its tone, understand that it stated flatly that were it not for a constitutional mandate to have a school board, "our first and foremost recommendation would have been to abolish the Broward County School Board altogether."

Another excerpt from the report:  

The Board has authorized the spending of billions over the last 10 years and has saddled Broward taxpayers with $2 billion in long term debt, and yet we have thousands of empty seats at under enrolled schools in the eastern portion ofthe county and critically overcrowded schools in the western part of the county and no concrete plans to address the problem. We find that the current situation is a direct result of the Board's lack of vision, foresight, planning and leadership as well as a deliberate attempt to withhold information in order to keep building unnecessary space. A great deal oftaxpayer money spent on this construction has been wasted as the direct result of the Board's interference and self dealing as well as a result of their failure to engage in any meaningful oversight of the District's building activities.

Evidence of the "deliberate attempt" to build unnecessary schools comes in the form of the Supt. Jim Notter and the board as they engaged in a school-building frenzy and failed to conduct state-mandated surveys that would have showed the new construction wasn't needed. It was simply a premeditated ransacking of the public coffers. From the grand jury report: "This was in our view driven mostly out of a desire to benefit contractors and the political fortunes of

Board members. The result of this effort is an abundance of empty classrooms, mostly in the east, $2 billion in debt and critically overcrowded schools in the western part of the county."

If all of this sounds familiar, it's because you read about it here in 2009. I heard a lot of excuses for the board's malfeasance after that piece was published, and so did the grand jury, which wrote, "We have heard the explanations... and reject them as not credible; they are excuses and bad ones at that."

Derelicts. Thankfully, several of the School Board members responsible for this debacle are out of office. One is in federal prison, one (Stephanie Kraft) is facing state charges, Bob Parks (whose high jinks are mentioned in the report) bowed out of office, and Phyllis Hope was defeated at the polls.

Some who were deeply complicit in this monumental theft of public funds -- including Maureen Dinnen and Jennifer Gottlieb -- are still up on the dais, however. And somehow Supt. Jim Notter has not only escaped criminal charges for his malfeasance but is still sitting in power. This report should lead to his immediate resignation.

The real problem, though, is that the lobbyists and contractors that steered this massive public fraud are still lurking in the background, waiting for a new set of puppets to come around with the help of their campaign money.

More on that issue, the report, and the worth of this grand jury coming soon.


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66 comments
Wheelchairs
Wheelchairs

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KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

I would like to post a belated apology to Pulp. When you originally reported Jennifer Gottlieb's sexual dalliances, I thought it veered toward the sleazy side and was a tawdry filler for a slow news week. In retrospect, she is a despicable individual completely devoid of morals, ethics and a sense of propriety. Your initial exposure into her psyche allows for an easier understanding of her level of corruption. Maybe you knew then what we now find out from a "grand jury". and if so, the earlier reporting makes this conclusion much more believable. If it was a coincidence, then at least it eventually served its purpose.

Legalscrivener
Legalscrivener

This has been going on for decades. Lobbyists recruit zealous PTA members or other "education-minded" folks who think the job just involves overseeing curriculum, when half the multi-billion dollar budget is construction. Remember Miriam Oliphant?

Anonymous One
Anonymous One

Watch the corruption in action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.... This is the garbage neighborhood residents were fed. The newest figures out show Beachside Montessori is 78% white, non-Hispanic. See Bob’s previous blog on that.

Eleanor Sobel is good friend of Jennifer Gottlieb, current State Senator, former school board member, former City of Hollywood commissioner.

She says its because the City of Hollywood is so cooperative (aka corrupt) that we can move forward. Who were the key players in this pet project.... former Mayor Giulanti, current Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober, city employee Lori Mertens-Black, commissioner Beam Furr who is a school board employee, Eleanor Sobel, current state senator, former school board member, former city of Hollywood commissioner.

These elitists now have their stand-alone special school. My child attended "Beachside Montessori School" It wasn't good enough for them to have the Montessori programs located at other existing schools. And let's not forget about the so-called lottery system that determines who gets in... A lottery system not open to public scrutiny and one that has so many exceptions it has only left 13 seats available at Beachside for the second year that the school is open. Gottlieb and Bober have their kids at Beachside, and no longer have to transport them to and from Virginia Shuman Young in Fort Lauderdale. Who knows what perks Beam Furr will get for being a good soldier.

Jennifer Gottlieb is now engaged in scare tactics. She is telling parents and Hollywood city commissioners that the entire school is in jeopardy, the Montessori programs will be severely damaged if the pre-K tuition is removed. Mayor Bober even takes it further. He stated at a recent City Commissioners meeting that giving scholarships would also be a mistake because those getting the scholarships would be more likely to take their kids out of the program after the scholarship runs out. Of course, he has no facts to back that up. Ken Gottlieb (Jennifer’s husband and state representative) was outside a recent City of Hollywood commission meeting shaking hands with parents from Beachside who had come to a City Commission meeting to protest the City from taking any further action on getting rid of the $135/wk, $4800/year tuition for the preK3 and preK4 programs. The newest figures out show Beachside Montessori is 78% white, non-Hispanic.

Totally Blonde
Totally Blonde

Please tell us the Feds are going after all the lobbyists in this town. Please..........

Mary Farone
Mary Farone

There are corrupt principals. The community should oust the existing superintendent who was appointed by school board cronies. The school board should be forced out, and term shortened. Principals should not hire their friends, and some should face the same fury and irresponsible bookkeeping, mingling of funds and prevent hiring their friends. This is all corruption that permeates the Broward School District. Parents and community should run the schools get rid of principals who are are in drop. Ask them to give up salaries. Schools need kids and teachers.

Barbarellao
Barbarellao

Folks, construction is the tip of the iceberg...I KNOW OF ONGOING MONTHLY COSTS IN THE MILLIONS where the school board pays for disposal of recyclables at the garbage burner AND pays unnecessary franchise fees to the cities to do so - literally BURNING MONEY rather than buying books. A DISGUSTING SCHEME! Looks like the democrats in charge figure nobody is watching - and on top of it, Ron greenstein watches and laughs...

Christy
Christy

Up and at em. Notter has spoken and he is not leaving. Therefore he will need to be removed by someone stronger. Is anyone up for that challenge? Notter has lost the Public trust and BTU's trust. That in itself violates Codes.

"Notter said Saturday that he's staying put."

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/ne...

Is the Good Ol Boy system going to protect Notter or will Broward do what is right and take Notter away in very tiny little handcuffs? Notter, You Lost the Public Trust , Don't be a toddler and go kicking and screaming. You need a "time out" to think this over. We the people want you to leave.

Mark
Mark

When do they start the investigation into why there is a seemingly bottomless barrel of money to tear up streets and then put them back exactly as they were? This isn't limited to Broward County -- I think the folks at the DOT are in bed with the road contractors.

BumFarto
BumFarto

I've got an idea, a SoFla "Minnesota" solution. We show up at meetings and read into public comments all 51 pages of the report. When someone times out the next reader takes up where the previous reader left off. When the cycle is completed, we begin again. Ad infinitum. I like this idea. I think it is smarter than selling pot in front of the Key West Fire House.

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

I took them more time than they wanted,,,,,,,to divide and conquer,,,,,,,,,,,now tying the lose ends!

Guest
Guest

Naturally... There probably will be no response by Notter or any of the School Boad members about the Grandd Jury findings . They wasted HUNDREDS of millions of dollars!!

Christy
Christy

I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore!!

BrowardCleansweep
BrowardCleansweep

Broom gets mention in grand jury report as does the Phyllis Hope leak

Addie
Addie

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!!!!!!

Guest
Guest

So what happens now? The board was found to have wasted millions of dollars. Notter is accused of looking the other way and being ineffective. NOTHING? Go back to work. Business as usual. Doesn't the saying goes that those that don't learn from the past are destined to repeat it?

boobies
boobies

before they go, i want to see barleman and gottlied in some hot lesbian action

Hammerhead
Hammerhead

A few general observations.

Donnie Carter may next in the administrative line, but never ever ever ever. Got it?

Jen Jen does look like Serene Branson...the woman who had the migraine aura and lost control of the connection between her thoughts and speech. Yet a second similarity.

The Satz gang could bring charges. They don't have the same multi-county restriction.

Notter should resign effective this Tuesday, but won't. Therefore, new Board members the onus is on you and we are all watching closely.

I would like to provide a list of those who have been brave enough to fill the leadership void identified in the grand jury report, but fear that would put them in peril. Many of them brought information forward to cause a grand jury review. Either way - thank you all.

The Feds have only just begun. Between this grand jury report, Mendlesohn's recent testimony and the two FEMA reports of school board and Southwest Ranches, the doors have been kicked in.

I agree with Dead Norm and Fly on the Wall, we need to mobilize. Just as nothing happens to an unethical elected unless someone officially files and ethics complaint, the state legislators and senators will not act unless they are officially notified and receive these complaints resulting from the grand jury report.

Dinnen, Williams, Gottlieb, Notter, Morgan, Carter, and many others should tender their resignations before they are forced to do the same. If not, the grand jury comment that the school board is incapable of ethical self policing will only be further magnified.

Dear Mr. Satz, I have one acronym for you...RICO. Research it...even more.

Pulp...as always...you da man!!!

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall

Let's see if we can put our money where our mouths are on this blog. Here is a list of the legislators for Broward County. Look them up on Google and send them an e-mail, a tweet or a letter. Let them know - enough already. I did. Bad things happen when good people do NOTHING.

Ellyn Setnor BogdanoffLarcenia J. BullardGwen MargolisNan RichJeremy RingMaria Lorts SachsChristopher L. Smith Eleanor Sobel

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall

We all need to write a letter to our state legislator about putting laws in place to stop this type of corruption. Unless there is a law, how can the individuals who commit these acts, be punished. Also, the State of Florida has departments that have looked the other way for years in monitoring the corrupt actions of the School Board of Broward County, even though they had authority to do so, i.e. the Inspector General, the Auditor General, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, the Florida Building Commission, the Department of Education. They were all put on notice over the years and never acted. Even if laws weren't in place, close monitoring of the Board's actions by State agencies authorized to prevent the corruption could have prevented what has happened in our county. I participated in the two previous grand juries and found how little impact these reports have because there is no punitive laws in place to stop them. If people in Egypt can pull down a corrupt government, using tweeting and Facebook, why can't the taxpayers in Broward County force our State government to act on our behalf? How long does it take to write a tweet, an e-mail, a letter to your state representative who cannot ignore communication from their constituents?

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

I just read the entire Grand Jury report. In its 51 pages they do not name names except of some witnesses and dead people. Although the Grand Jury report uses harsh language (often quoting the 02 report) they dont name names. They state clear and evident wrong doing by board members but refuse to act and name them.

It does mention Broward Cleansweep, and the advisor to the school board who threatened him. Interstingly the board took no action against the advisor.

A lot about JenJen and Beachside and her Citi dinners.

I am so disappointed.

I do like the recommendation to reduce the school board to 5 members.

unowho
unowho

Calling them dogs is an insult to mans best friend .They are selfish incompetent greedy pigs who think they are the untouchables.As Df3 says the`rules have to change or this will repeat itself over and over again.They must ALL be held accountable for there careless actions!!!

Guest
Guest

I agree with Judge Roy Bean and Death Frog 3. This board has been tainted and judged to have been incompentant to say the least. (I personally think criminal and corrupt) Cut off the Head! Fire Notter!

Judge Roy Bean
Judge Roy Bean

The Grand Jury waisted time and money, just like the School Board. The Jury unless its a Runaway Jury, is controled by the State Attorney who is assignes to work with them. He contols the flow and the out come. If no action is take look to the The SAO. They controled it. As far as Notter being fired, no chance he knows where the board buried the bodies. Fire him, he destroys the board members. Broward Town Normal.

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

This report is a sham and exactly what the board wanted. See there are no indictments. Just a bad "process." The fix is in. Even down to when they returned their report. Late Friday. Common knowledge, when you want to bury a story you release it Friday night so that the story doesn't gain traction and is "old news" when everyone returns to work on Monday.

This Grand Jury report is just as big of a waste of time/money as anything in it. There is no bite. The report basically just says, "you've been bad" but does nothing to punish the (in the words of dubya) "evil doers."

See if the report names specific deals, lobbyists, contractors and employees/borad members?

The report I'm sure will make recommendations, not mandates. So once again the thieves get away with it and there is nothing to make them change the rules so its business as usual. To me, this is worse than doing nothing. The report states the obvious but does nothing to punish.

Don Jimmy
Don Jimmy

Be careful what you wish for. If Notter is forced to leave or resigns, the next in line is the COO Donnie Carter. Suffice it say, with Carter, you have absolutely NO BRAINS whatsoever.

Christy
Christy

I do blame the teachers of Broward county and the students for putting up with this as well as the parents and all tax payors. Grand Jury is basically reporting Racketeer Influence and Corruption. (RICO). Embezzlement of School District Funds.This is the Foundation of our students education.

Former BCSB Employee
Former BCSB Employee

As a former employee of Broward Schools who was laid off in June despite many more years of seniority than others in my office, any news of corruption is really no news at all.

The main reason much of this construction was done was to line the pockets of the people at the top. Notter had to know what was going on. Why does he still have his job? Remember how the Board said the interim superintendent could not apply for the job permanently? Then they gave it to the interim (Notter) with the stipulation that he was supposed to obtain his doctorate as a condition of his being named Superintendent.

I pray that the next investigation focuses on personnel and last year's massive layoffs. They were done in violation of District policy and union contracts. My department ignored the rules of seniority and laid off only female minorities. One women had over 20 years of seniority but was let go behind the excuse of her "job category." She was never called back, yet the DIstrict continues to hire their friends and cronies. The BTU, which I had paid to represent me, did absolutely nothing for me, and in the end, my steward lied to the BTU executive board about erroneous statements he made which proved he never even tried to move me into a position I was qualified for which he was supposed to do per the BTU Contract. In spite of his lies, I presented his emails to prove his statements had been made in writing. Yet BTU was still able to keep me from bumping into another job for which I was qualified. FOPE is no better. They left their members hanging too, and many lost their jobs as well. The only thing FOPE did right was try to save some jobs by agreeing to furloughs. I am saying all of that to say this: the Board, Notter, the BTU, FOPE, etc., all of the leadership connected with this train wreck of a District needs to go. Thank you Pulp for daring to do what the mainstream media refuses to do - report these stories. It is unbelievable that many of the major players are still allowed to conduct business as usual, and that the Board School District's corruption continues to go unreported by other media sources.

janey
janey

Does anyone care that this is all on the backs of the teachers who work the hardest and are rewarded the least.

 Fullah
Fullah

This is PRECISELY why I have resigned from my instructional job with the district as of Tuesday--a corrupt board combined with a completely incompetent union. Thank you for following their misdeeds for the past few years, as you have inspired me to change careers entirely. May god have mercy upon their souls...

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

I am holding my breath. Maybe Broward needs a Wisconsin protest. Students and parents could boycott the schools until every last one of those complicit thieves resign and turn themselves in to the justice system. Not gonna happen because the public has that all too common combination of stupidity and don't give a shit.

Christy
Christy

Dr. Bill Mathis the $50,000 man evaluated Jimmy Boy All these years...

"We have seen a School Board move forward while continuing to provide leadership in a chaotic financial time," Mathis wrote. "I acknowledge and salute the current and past Board Chairs who played phenomenal leadership roles in a highly functioning and effective School Board... Keep up the good work for Broward County's children."

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach....

Avenger
Avenger

I've witnessed several fraudulent schemes when I was employed by the school board. I am glad I had an opportunity to talk to the FBI and FEMA. I gave them names, documentation, dates and times of all the events leading to fraudulent purchases of TV station equipment, video server, and FEMA claims. All these activities were known to Notter who proceeded with a cover-up! Shame on these people.

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

@ Bum Farto

That is a great idea actually. I am in. where do we sign up.

ura bozo
ura bozo

Poor Poor Bob. Pitiful Bob. is head is in the crapper.

Avenger
Avenger

Donnie Carter is compromised. I gave him "truck loads" of relevant and compromising documentation ... nothing happened! These people need to go and go now! The school children of Broward County deserve better, much better!

Megamouth
Megamouth

I agree with you, Hammerhead. If we all raise a ruckus over this hopefully we can draw more investigative agencies to Broward, and crank up the pressure !

Christy
Christy

Reduce board members to 0 members.

Christy
Christy

Chin up death frog, we need to be proactive.

DeadNormAbromowitz
DeadNormAbromowitz

Very true, in fact it was released over a three day weekend, hence it won't be until Tuesday that most will get back to school/work. Now, here is the question for you and everyone else...are we just going to continue to vent and post nasty things or are we going to organize and demand change? If dictatorships can be overthrown in foreign lands, can't we do the same???? I am in. The statewide grand jury does not have the authority to issue indictments, can Satz's office? Can a Broward Grand Jury be put together for that purpose? Can we appeal to the Governor to place an oversight board together to oversee the SB? We, the people need to make the change happen, just think if we start to organize from those that read and post?! think if we get friends and family involved, the grad jury report may actually be the "burning car" we need to rally around....

Christy
Christy

Mimi's picture is on the SS front page. Should be the other dogs, Jim Notter and school board members.

janey
janey

Just out of curiosity, what would you have the teachers do that would not harm the students

Former BCSB Employee
Former BCSB Employee

Fullah, I was non-instructional but I agree with you about the union. My rep could barely read and write. It was horrible to think that this person was being paid to represent me. I noticed not one BTU person was laid off last year. I also changed careers and got out of public K-12 education. It has been hard, but now I am making more money, and have way less aggravation. I miss my colleagues, who are so very dedicated to the students, despite being demoralized on a daily basis by senior management. Like you, I pray that God has mercy on their souls because Lord knows Notter and his cronies don't.

skydove
skydove

I agree that Broward isn't about to get a Wisconsin-style protest, and it does appear that public stupidity and apathy are significantly present here. But Wisconsin has been more than hospitable to progressive politics in general and to organized labor specifically for a hundred years. With that background, the protesters in Madison had no trouble securing the assistance of Organizing for America in the essential bus and phone bank steps of their endeavor. OfA, which began life as candidate Obama's 2008 campaign organization, is now busy helping out with similar protests in Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri. If it's true that Obama has conceded Florida already, a boost from OfA talent to efforts to rein in a seriously stenchful combination of corrupt school board members, corrupt lobbyists, and a corrupt union is likely to be a nonstarter.

Former BCSB Employee
Former BCSB Employee

Notter's entire evaluation read like a love-fest. In spite of all the corruption, adversarial relationships with the unions, school violence, Notter's failure to get his PhD, etc., he got the highest scores possible. Made me sick.

BumFarto
BumFarto

I am thinking kind of a mob flash event. We'd show up wearing the same color T shirt in order to self identify, sequentially sign in for public comments and begin reading. I'll spring for a Kinko's run so we'll have a few copies of the report to share. How do we get folks to commit?

Christy
Christy

Excellent Question. I'd put the children first and by pass county officials. We are in a state of emergency. School board must be shut down. And a New POA. Plan of Action.

Roy Rogers, Pirtle, Neil Sterling. Clawback

BumFarto
BumFarto

My good-looking, young-at-50, gay (not that there is anything wrong with that), nephew who used to play a Broward County teacher at work tells me that there is no such thing as a true Ph.D. in Education because there is no meaningful scholarship. He says that the dissonance between cognitive psychology and education is so wide as to suggest that one or the other of them is a fraud. Just sayin'.

Christy
Christy

Clawback those $50,000 annually for how many years from Mathis's for those bogus reports.

skydove
skydove

I like this guerrilla theater refinement of your idea, linked with the original thought of going to "meetings" (plural). It wouldn't take long for the chairman of any single meeting to figure out what was happening, and maybe not much longer to decide that enough is enough and to use procedural rules to stop the cycle. This is why it might be necessary to go to two, three, many meetings. People who couldn't make it the first time could show up for a later event.

The state Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has Robert's-based guidelines that include a section on "Disruption of Commission meetings." If the chairman "has reason to believe" that there may be attempts to "disrupt the meeting," he or she can read a statement warning that anyone whose "speech of conduct disrupts the business of this meeting" will be asked to leave. The next subitem (7.b) defines "disrupting" as "conduct or speech that prevents the Chairman from proceeding through the agenda at a normal pace. . . ." Presumably "normal pace" is subject to individual interpretation, but few would stand still for an infinite number of iterations of a 51-page doc.

Even so, a cautious chairman might well allow the whole report to be read once. People who chair public meetings in Florida are likely to be familiar with the note in the F&WCC guidelines to the effect that because protesters, as a rule, "wish to generate attention and media coverage, not cause a riot," it's advisable to avoid "over-reaction" (i.e., using force to "remove" disrupters, as set forth in Robert's Rule 73). Once might not be enough to spread the outrage, however, which is why multiple events probably would be needed -- not to shame the perps, since that seems to be impossible, but to prevent a higher authority (the governor, per Dead Norm?) from ignoring the matter.

unowho
unowho

Im in !!! Pulpster T shirts Pulparrazzi Lets DO It .We have to start somewhere!!!

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