UPDATED: Stephanie Kraft Was Behind the Dr. Bill Boondoggle

You may remember the post about Bill Mathis, the psychologist hired by the board four years ago after it was discovered during the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the board was "dysfunctional." He was also contracted to help the School Board do its dog-and-pony-show evaluation of Supt. Jim Notter.

mathisbill.jpg
Dr. Bill likes golf
Well, Mathis, who calls himself "Dr. Bill," got a good gig. The Statewide Grand Jury found that the board paid Mathis, who lives in California, a whopping $325 an hour. The board also paid Mathis' associate, who also happened to have been his wife, $160 an hour. For his travel time to and from California, the board gave him another $85 an hour. That wasn't all. From the grand jury report:

In addition he was driven to and from the hotel, meetings and the airport by a District employee and provided with complimentary luxury skybox seats to a Dolphin football game. A series of contract renewals were placed on the consent agenda over the next three years, ultimately paying the consultant $331,000.

So Mathis was hosted like royalty, made a killing, and for what? Well, the whole of his work amounted to providing glowing recommendations of Notter and the board. Here's what he wrote at the top of Notter's evaluation:

mathisbilljan1.jpg
The board gave Dr. Bill and wife Jan $331,000. For what exactly, we're still not sure. 
"We have seen a School Board move forward while continuing to provide leadership in a chaotic financial time. 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."

What, you expected him to bite the hand that was sending him to the Dolphins skybox and making him rich? It's the oldest story in the book: Government hires "consultant" with big dollars and consultant says exactly what government wants him to say.  

So who was really behind the Dr. Bill boondoggle? It was Stephanie Kraft. See how she pulled it off inside. 

The grand jury discovered that Mathis was hired at the behest of the chairwoman of the School board at the time. Here's how the grand jury explains it:

Before the deputy superintendent who was tasked with finding/screening candidates could finish, she met with the former Board chair who told her "we found someone we like". While the deputy assumed the "we" meant the Board as a whole, in fact the Board chair was simply passing on a name given to her by another Board member who in turn had met the consultant at dinner with her lobbyist husband. The consultant, we were told, had previously worked with the Board member's husband on a similar project. Neither the deputy, nor the superintendent questioned why a Board member would be hand picking a consultant; in fact this was just another example of a Board member butting into the day to day operations of the District, a practice that District officials were accustomed to at the time and a practice that would worsen dramatically in the coming years.

 

Thumbnail image for kraftsmug1.jpg
Kraft
OK, let's break it down. Identifying the chairwoman of the board at the time is easy -- it was Beverly Gallagher, who is now in federal prison after her corruption conviction. But the real culprit here appears to be the board member and the lobbyist husband who pushed it in the first place. Who was that?

Why, the School Board's former first couple, Stephanie and Mitch Kraft, who are both now facing bribery charges for their involvement with dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait. The grand jury found that the Krafts and the Mathises continued a "social relationship" through the time of the contract that was never disclosed publicly.

Silly grand jury. Didn't they know that politicians around here always become good buddies with the lobbyists and government vendors they're supposed to keep at arm's length?  

The grand jury wasn't pleased with the incestuous nature of the contract or the steep price paid by taxpayers, especially since the Mathis contracts were put on the consent agenda without any discussion or bids. And also because the board could have easily gotten the same ridiculous service from a local psychologist for a hundred bucks an hour. From the grand jury report:

As the Board would soon find out, they could have hired similarly qualified local consultants for far less. In 2009, the District sought out alternatives and was quoted $100 per hour, not the combined $485 charged by the previous consultant. ... When it comes to spending taxpayer's money the Board is reckless. ... This process raises a whole host of questions, none of which were answered to our satisfaction. Why should taxpayers have to pay to train elected officials on how to behave appropriately and professionally on a board? Why do nine elected officials need anyone to help them evaluate the Superintendent they work with on a weekly, if not daily basis? Why are individual Board members directing the District on who to hire? Why are decisions to expand the scope of the consultant's work being made at training sessions with the consultant himself, rather than at a Board workshop or regular meeting in view of the public?

We believe these are all valid questions but by having this "non-controversial" item on the agenda these questions were never asked let alone answered.

This is not the biggest waste of money. Some might even say that this a mere drop in the bucket compared to the overall District budget. But to quote the late Senator Everett Dirksen, "A million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking about real money."

 

-- I might have been a little harsh on the American Greed program last night in the comments. No, it wasn't groundbreaking news entertainment. No, it didn't have any big interviews or give any real insight into Scott Rothstein. But it did competently communicate the broad sweep of the crime, which I suppose is exactly what it set out to do. I just wanted more.

By far the best part of the show was the new footage from Rothstein's "American Pie" night at a 2006 RRA Christmas party, where we see an obviously intoxicated Rothstein in full life-of-the-party mode, planting kisses on Stuart Rosenfeldt and Ted Morse. "That's right, we're breaking the fucking law," he says at one point. "We're lawyers; if we're not going to break the law, who is?"

Here's a chat with a very friendly interviewer from that night provided by CNBC:


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34 comments
Pulp
Pulp

Scott Rothstein is partying in the Bahamas right now.

SuchCrap
SuchCrap

Pulp, when is Kraft's court date? How long can they postpone this?

Hammerhead
Hammerhead

OK I'm a little slow so let me recap what I think I know. Stephanie Kraft used her lobbyist husband's - so called - psychologist friend to help to make her move to oust Till look like a good decision? Then she used the same guy to bless Notter, paving the way to his current $300k job that he is not even qualified for? Then she and Notter give the psychologist (vendor) box seats for Fins games while the psychologist gives all rave reviews of the board and the unqualified superintendent?

Maybe a case can be made that Dr. Mathis is culpable (or a co-conspiritor) in the plan to allow the board to abuse its power and steer an out of control construction program while knowing that Notter would choose to ignore the crimes and be praised by the psychologist? That whole period with the psychologist seems to point to a very large amount of the squandered dollars. I don't think that this psychologist should just be looked at as an opportunistic vendor. He was involved in the caper, right?

Now Stephanie and her lobbyist husband are facing charges, while Beverly is in prison and we are supposed to believe that neither of them is flipping on Dr. Mathis? If I was Dr. Mathis I'd be making contact with law enforcement to come clean, before Beverly and Stephanie sends him to the cleaners. In case he missed the beginning of his own story with the school board, they were "dysfunctional" "in-fighters" and he of anyone should know that a tiger never changes its stripes. Dr. Mathis let me give you some advice; run, don't walk to the nearest FBI field office and tell them what you know. You might just be able to convince them that you were a victim before they come after you as a target. Your call. You know what they say about psychologists; they can change but they have to want to change.

Lest we not forget about two major players in the caper that have fallen off the radar. Marko and Parks. They are key persons of interest in this story and the failure on the part of the grand jury report to mention them cannot be considered good for either of them. I would think that the "initials" are working that angle. They had better hope for a benevolent God or else hope that they can at least negotiate a warm prison to spend their golden years. I wonder if they can take their wives? Well either way they will probably not notice because they have always been "work-aholics" and didn't spend much time at home. Maybe they can find a prison east of Federal Hwy for Parks since he never liked to venture west of US-1 and he thought that was funny. Yeah - that's funny. Yeeeaaahhh.

How about Dinnen and Murray? They are in denial in a big way. They were never briefed on this as a possible scenerio. Life is about choices...you make them and then you prepare to accept the consequences. Well ladies, get prepared. Robin is scared and should be. She hung out with the wrong crowd and turned into one of them at precisely the wrong time. Ben Williams will find out soon enough that insanity or senility are not valid defenses because too many events have been documented where he was clearly in his right mind and made conscious decisions to represent a dubious group.

Well, let's wait and see what happens. They all really have choices...still. The real guys that law enforcement wants are the corruptors. Flip on them and you may even spend your second chance with your families. If not, just remember the good advice that you just didn't take. And who would've thought...it figures? Isn't it ironic??? Don't you think???

Sarge
Sarge

Pulp, it was obvious Nurick was telling some whoppers to the MSNBC crew, especially around his split-second "resignation" from RRA. I enjoyed Nurick being decked out in his RRA-like duds (cuff links and all) and his office looked pretty swank.

American Greed also gave passes to the Police Department ponzi guard and Chief "Mooch" Adderly's enjoyment of fine food and drink, compliments of Scotty. I am counting on the Chief to step on his johnson again sometime in the near future.

Christy
Christy

"Members of the School Board of Broward County, Florida have scheduled a two-day facilitated training and discussion session to be held next week as part of the District's continuing process towards excellence in the governance of the sixth largest public school district in the nation."

Dr Mathis trained the school board members

The sessions are scheduled for Monday, April 16 and Tuesday, April 17 at Citrix System, Inc. (851 N.W. 62nd Street, Fort Lauderdale). Dr. Bill Mathis, a nationally recognized expert on public and private sector governing board operations, will facilitate the meeting." 2007

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P...

So Mathis was running training sessions for the school board and then he evaluated the school board based on what he trained them on?

Did he get paid extra for these training sessions?(Page 1)

http://eagenda3.broward.k12.fl...

Description of the Process:"In February 2007, the interim Superintendent (Notter) and Board Chair, Beverly Gallagher, hired an executive coach and facilitation to begin the Board Training to assist the Elected Officials (9) and Superintendent in working effectively with each other respectively and together. In the first meeting, the Board and interim Superintendent committed to becoming high performance decision-makers, support excellence, and encourage an extra-ordinary working strategy with the Superintendent and all school partners. Amongst the new Goals and commitments, both successful Chairs (Gallagher and Bartleman), the following ...initiatives were started:"

anonymous
anonymous

Loved Rothstein comment in the interview..."Thank god for my lawyers...I wouldn't be here with them." Out of the horse's mouth...LE, round up the lawyers and arrest them, NOW!

Csharp
Csharp

Just saw an article on the Sentinel website about a bunch of rich assholes in the Landings neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale seeking a change to the parking laws to prevent trucks and mobile homes from being parked in their neighborhood. Apparently they are upset that the blight caused by a truck or an RV might devalue their homes, which are worth an average of $7 million. Oh the horror! Must be a slow news day. Maybe the SS should consider giving the same coverage to the outrage of the average tax paying citizen at the grand jury report. I won't hold my breath.

Mike
Mike

Hey Pulp

Shouldn't I have gotten some credit for being the FIRST POSTER to call Rottenstien out as a full of shit asshole and predicting his demise?

MIKE 1 year ago

Rothstien is the typical jewish thug filling his offices with convicted felons and paying the political "whores" to do his bidding.

Not suprising.

His day is coming.

Flag Like ReplyReply Scott W. Rothstein 1 year ago

Good afternoon Bob,Wow, I must have really shaken you up. I have never seen you write in such wildly slanderous ramblings. I apologize. I simply called you as a courtesy to politely attempt to get you to see the light. Judging by what you just wrote, it is clear that you can't seem to grasp the message i was trying to deliver. The people of our community are tired of you hurting innocent people to keep your job and make a buck. You want to call yourself a journalist, act like one. You want to make a living by writing fiction and harming good people, expect to be held accountable.

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach....

unowho
unowho

That was one wastefull bill Bill ,and you say they are doing a great job!!!You should have worked at RRA as a consultant the parties and perks were awesome and you could have travelled G5 style.Im sure you would report Scottie as doing an amazing job!!!Laughing his ass off all the way home with $331,000.00 he must have been saying, no wonder they call this State Floriduh!!!

Steve-O
Steve-O

On American Greed: I was happy to see any portrayal of the SR affair. However, a 1 hour documentary simply can't do this justice. They included a snippet of footage of the FLPD Street Crimes Unit surrounding the BofA Building, but failed to properly convey the surreal nature of the events of November 4th, 2009. No mention of David "Bagman" Benjamin driving SR to the airport? What about the stripper he kept at the Radisson on the Beach? What about his fucking fake-titted bartender wife? The Downtown Chabad? Franklin Adderley? Why was Footy's face blurred out?

At least it was great to hear Stacy Keach say "Scott Rothstein".

Debbie For Judge 2012
Debbie For Judge 2012

Dear Mr. Norman:

Thank you for writing about this important topic. The waste at the school board is an important issue and, along with your writings on pill mills, George Bograkos, Scott Rothstein, etc., you are doing a public service. There's much more to these stories, and you should keep writing about them....exclusively.

Sincerely,Barry Harris

onlyinfortlauderdale
onlyinfortlauderdale

i wonder why bill scherer on american greed did not mention that he himself hired scott rothstein as his lawyer for a case to get his attorney fees. also, he failed to mention that scott rothstein said that his mentor was the one and only bill scherer. scott wanted to be just like mr. scherer.

Fort Lauderdale Resident
Fort Lauderdale Resident

I enjoyed the Rothstein American Greed last night but it definitely lacked depth....after reading all of Bob's articles and following the Daily Pulp for the last couple of years, I felt like I was watching a "Cliff's Notes" version of what really happened.

IrvingFeiner
IrvingFeiner

The American Pie was amazing. Did Cohn see that? Probably why he tacked on an extra 10 years.

Nudnik sure seems to have a festering, soul eating, resentful grudge. Oh well, fuck him.

P_Nis
P_Nis

Can the program be viewed online?

Christy
Christy

On American Greed:Weak, very weak. Where was all the American Greed of Nuric living in Rothstein's McMansion, Where was the American Greed of all the LE Police officers working OTprotecting Rothstein? Where was all the American Greed emails from the attorneys? Love ya Bro? Szafranski, Salamone. All the attorneys call girls? The Money Sponge Boden got? The money Rosenfeldt and Villegas scooped and the hush cars they received. What about the suicide and Tony Villegas murdering Melissa Lewis? Weak Weak Weak. No Meatballs in the planter?

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

I have no effin clue as to why Dr. Bill was even consulted. Does anyone?

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

I wonder if she smoked a cigarette afterward.

Pulp
Pulp

That's not the real Pulp in case anyone was wondering.

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

SR is saying the exact thing now, from his prison cell.

anon
anon

Listen, onlyinfortlauderdale...I know Bill Scherer and Scott Rothstein could never have been a Bill Scherer.

Local_Lawyer
Local_Lawyer

You have to realize this was a national broadcast and most of the people never heard of the case before. I'm curious how this blog's hits are dong this morning with people wanting to learn more about Scott.

unowho
unowho

.... . ._.. ._.. _ _ _ !!!

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

all i can think of,,,when i read this,,,,,you must be very brave!!!!

Yachts
Yachts

I don't know The rate was way to steep. It's not wonder they are getting repimanded.

SimpleMan
SimpleMan

The answer is in the doggie bag.

Obermann
Obermann

Christy is right. This wasn't a full story, not even a good story. Bill Scherer came across well though.

dr_augusta
dr_augusta

Actually Virgil, the puffy shirt comment has been your best comment in months....

skydove
skydove

Maybe not, if she's a health freak. But it sure looks like they had a martini or two before. Poor Scott -- so distracted he forgot to mention structured settlements as part of his practice.

IrvingFeiner
IrvingFeiner

Actually, I was retained by the Sicilian Mafia to make fun of Rothstein here, as part of their new, kinder, gentler " Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli" policy.

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