News Flash: Jim Notter Wasn't the Real Problem

Jim Notter couldn't even tell the truth as he was going out the door.

The Broward schools superintendent made a surprise announcement that he was retiring yesterday, leaving three years left on a contract that pays him $299,000 a year.

notterjimboss.jpg
Notter always did pretend to be boss, but he never was
The resignation was a much-anticipated move after the scathing grand jury report blasted the corrupt School Board and pointed to Notter as one of the chief problems. But Notter claimed the report or the corruption at the district had nothing to do with his decision to retire at the end of the school year in June and "go on a cruise and enjoy life."

"I'm telling you, it doesn't have a bit to do with it," he said after the meeting. "The fact of the matter is that my decision was made prior to that. I'll be 65 in August..."

This is the same guy who, when public pressure was building for his resignation in the wake of the February 18 report, dug in his heels and announced, with all but one of the School Board members behind him, that he had "no plans to

retire or resign." 

Well, that's Notter -- he's always been sort of a used-car-salesman type. And it's great to see him go. But get this straight: Notter is not the root cause of the problems at the board; he was simply an enabler of them.

Ever since the now criminally charged Stephanie Kraft engineered the ouster of Frank Till in 2006 and the board installed Notter, it has been the board that has had all the real power. The figurative public beheading of Till sent a message to Notter and whoever else might have filled the seat: Do what we say or you will lose your big-shot position and big fat salary.  

And controlling the board members was the dark prince of real power, Neil Sterling, who filled their campaign coffers and had his partner, Barbara Miller, run many of their campaigns. In exchange for making their political careers, Sterling had those same board members award his clients -- including Pirtle Construction and Vista Health -- more than a billion dollars worth of contracts in the past five years (the health insurance contract alone came in at $1.7 billion).

Thumbnail image for krafttongue.jpg
Kraft sticks out her tongue on the way out of jail
Kraft -- and incredibly manipulative, vindictive, and at times maniacal politician -- was Sterling's ringleader on the board. In exchange for her dirty deeds, Sterling secretly put her husband, Mitch Kraft, on his payroll for years. The other dark bookend of Sterling's power came from the hooligan Bob Parks, another malignant board member.  

The superintendent was a bureaucrat, not an autocrat. There's no hint that Notter took any dirty money for enabling Sterling and the dirty board. Why would he? He's making an obscene salary from taxpayers. All he had to do was make the vile Kraft and Parks happy -- while tossing whatever was left of his shriveled soul out the window.

The other board members ranged from abjectly and very amateurishly corrupt (Bev Gallagher) to clown-like (Ben Williams). Then you had the go-alongers like Jennifer Gottlieb and Robin Bartleman, both of whom were Sterling acolytes whose campaigns were funded by him and who counted his partner Miller as their campaign manager.

Gottlieb and Bartleman were all teary-eyed yesterday after the announcement, while the ridiculous Williams said with a straight face, "I think [Notter is] going out on a good note because he's been a good superintendent."

sterlingmug.jpg
Sterling
What Sterling, a former School Board member himself, achieved in making the School Board pawns to him and his clients is a monumental achievement in evil -- and it took a lot of hard work and money (which of course came from the contractors and subcontractors he represented and who became very rich). But all of that would have been nearly useless if the superintendent didn't go along with the scheme. He needed control of the superintendent's chair. 

In Notter, Sterling got that via the devious Kraft and Parks. Here's a big example of how Notter allowed the corruption to thrive:

During the building boom, Sterling wanted his clients like Pirtle Construction to keep getting hundreds of millions worth of school-building contracts. The problem was the district didn't need them. So how do you build schools when there is no need for them? Why, you willfully choose not to do state-mandated school population surveys so nobody can tell you to stop.

A good superintendent never would have allowed that to happen. Notter, year after year, chose not to do the surveys -- and the state took way too long before finally forcing the district to do one. By that time, it was already too late -- the board had already gone on a seemingly drunken building binge, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and leaving the district taxpayers $2 billion in debt.

It's a horrendous legacy. But right now, the School Board stands at a historic crossroads. The malicious architects of Sterling's empire are gone. Sterling himself has gone into remission, though he's still lurking. Kraft is facing criminal charges. Parks left office. And Gallagher is in prison. Left behind are newbies and relative lightweights.

The long chain of corruption is exposed and, at the moment, somewhat broken. The beauty of Notter's resignation is that there is now a possibility -- just a possibility -- of bringing in a strong leader from far outside the corrupt culture of the district. And this time, the people can at least hope that the new superintendent will finally represent the children and taxpayers rather than those who want to rob them.


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64 comments
Hopeful Broward parent
Hopeful Broward parent

I am not one who can propose any perfect (or not so perfect) solution to this political cancer appropriately named the Crystal Palace. I do have a few observations that I hope do not gain the attention of the trolls who live on these blogs. Bob, you do a great job...keep up the pressure.

The ONE thing I can say is that we are to blame as we are the only one's in true power. Our power is our vote. The apathy to have less than 10% of the voting population dictate which crooks get these positions is woeful.

The next item of interest is we KNOW the players as lobbyists are there. We know the names. We know they are there for the vendors. They are NOT there for the kids. HOWEVER, neither is the BTU. How can there be a "Union" where only a minority of the licensed teachers are even in the "union"? When I was a union laboror as a kid, I HAD to join the union or I did not work! How can ancient "union" negotiated provisions rule today's world, when budgets are getting slashed, the private schools are stripping away our talented kids and trust is gone? The "union" President for life, Pat Santaramo has refused to budge on many issues that literally hurt the students. Tenure IS an issue in that some teachers are bad as teaching professionals and yet still work. Articles in the ancient "union" contract allow for the reinstatment of previously layed off teachers by years of experience, but ONLY for those years while teaching in "Broward County". This means a great professional teacher, who has 20+ years and who is an real professional would NOT be hired for a different non-qualified younger teacher with only two or three years experience in Broward. The "reason" the 20+ years of experience was NOT in "Broward" but in a different county or State. This does not make sense at least to me who pays the taxes. Get rid of the BTU or "insist" that ALL teachers become members of the "union" so IF the teachers want to work here in Broward they MUST be in the union. This way, we have a real union, NOT this sham of a political, favor ridden and shallow organization.

The School Board as well as the staff, union and dais is like an infestation of elected and appointed poisonous bugs that are really hard to kill. You have to kill them one at a time. You have to be dedicated and you cannot let children pets or the innocent near the pesticide until the deed is done.

Neilwatcher
Neilwatcher

Rest assured SRG Technology (Aka Neil Sterling) isindeed lurking and working deals with SBBC.

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

I believe Neil Sterling is the progeny of Ft. Lauderdale's Sterling's Men & Boys Clothing store. Don't let this man measure your inseam.

Christy
Christy

Is there an attorney out there who can stand up for Broward kids and slap Notter with a lawsuit. Notter thinks he can just walk away now and enjoy his family and friends.Not so easy Notter. You need to be held accountable.

Christy
Christy

We all know that the Lobbyists are the problem. They are the cancer cells that have taken over the district. Like cancer. The lobbyists need to be cut out. Removed.

Why isn't Sterling in jail?

jad
jad

Maybe one or more of the pulpsters can help in figuring out how to show the involvement of so many public servants & government officials in the 2-billion dollar RICO debt scheme, built on State bonds. First, establish a clear answer to the question of who or what the person or entity was in the receipt of the bonded moneys (for the consideration when building new schools in Broward County). There is definitely a figure of 2-billion dollars being bandied about as the “actual” debt. And, news organizations have made pronouncements that Broward County residents have been the people responsible for manufacturing such a debt. However, I’m not sure that the 2-billion dollar figure is exact & the “actual public” debt, and, whatever the debt, I don’t understand how the debt must be paid out of the pockets and pocketbooks of the residents and citizens of Broward County, rather than paid by the entirety of the populace of the State of Florida (if the debt were to have been issued in the sole manner recognized by Florida’s Constitution)

It seems that when this debt was being manufactured, those money launderers in this county could rely on Scott Rothstein and his connections to State government, through Charlie Crist & Alex Sink. Rothstein and his cohorts (and persons like Mitch Caesar) know what needs to be done if you want to successfully command your own business interests -- If you can control the top, there is no problem in taking care of the underlings. Thus, the local citizenry can be exploited & browbeaten into believing that there is a solid 2-billion dollar debt for schools that would need to be repaid by the local citizenry. However, if this is, indeed, deemed a State debt, there should be an outcry into how the money was portioned out. And, there should be a hue & cry from all of the citizens of this State when finding that the spending of the (loaned) money has mainly aided the players in Broward County (or those Broward-County-friendly lobbyists & co-adventurers in Tallahassee), if the debt has to be paid by all of the counties of the State.

While it is greatly debatable that the county probably did not need to enter into the deals that put the county (and possibly other counties) into such a debtor’s hole, that debate should be put aside until we learn who is responsible for the payment on the debt. It is my belief that the debt may not have to be repaid by (only) county residents. (And, it is quite possible that the debt need not be repaid at all, if issued fraudulently -- caveat emptor.) This is not because county residents have not benefited from such an atrocious spending spree, but in the way that the debt had to be made. The Florida Constitution has recognized a couple of ways that bonds can be issued to assist in the building of schools. Since this has been addressed in a special way, there can be no other manner unless the Constitution were to be amended to establish another manner to issue a bond to build more schools. So far, there has been no amendment, and the Constitution seems to prohibit what has been done.

There are a few specific areas in the Florida Constitution that address how moneys are legitimately gathered to be used for a lawful purpose for schools. The one particular section, that most of the people are familiar, is that which includes the authority for identified entities to be authorized to levy ad valorem taxes. Art. VII, sec. 9(a), Fla.Const., names a school district as an entity with power to levy an ad valorem tax, and also identifies the fact that the Florida Legislature can authorize (through a General Law) a way to collect another type of tax for a certain respective purpose. Art. VII, sec. 9(b), Fla.Const., describes the taxing arrangement for local entities to tax the assessed value of real estate of the citizenry to pay for services, which permits a school district to levy up to ten mills for ALL school purposes. In addition, a school district can levy a higher amount (than the ten mill ceiling), if the freeholders should authorize the added debt through the adoption of a general obligation bond. (The school district, like the State, is prohibited, under art. VII, sec. 10, Fla.Const., from using any of its taxing power or credit to aid any private person or business entity, like a charter school.) Therefore, taxes can only be levied & collected for a public purpose. School districts have a restricted ability to issue bonds, or certificates of indebtedness, or tax anticipation certificates (payable from ad valorem taxation) to finance a capital project that has first been authorized by Florida Law, only if adopted by a majority vote of the freeholders. The only time that the freeholder need not vote is if the bonds have already been issued (by previous vote of the freeholder), wherein the bonds are refinanced at a lower interest rate. There has been no recent vote in Broward County that would have permitted the Broward County School Board to have issued bonds. So, if Broward County has not issued the bonds, the State would be the only other entity that would have the constitutional power & authority to issue bonds for the construction of schools.

First, let’s examine other constitutional financing arrangements that support Florida’s free public schools. Art. X, sec. 15(c)(1), Fla.Const., does recognize a trust fund called the State Education Lotteries Trust Fund, which trust fund can be appropriated by the Florida Legislature, strictly for school purposes. In order for the Florida Legislature to appropriate these moneys that have been set aside, it must follow certain steps. Art. III, sec. 19(b), Fla.Const., states that separate sections of the State’s appropriations bill does identify the major program areas, together with supporting various trust funds. One specific major program area is for “education enhancement ‘lottery’ trust fund items.” Another specific major program area is for “education,” which includes all other funds used for educational purposes. Each major program area does include an itemization of expenditures for “state operations,” “state capital outlay,” “aid to local governments and nonprofit organizations operations,” “aid to local governments and nonprofit organizations capital outlay,” “federal funds and the associated state matching funds,” “spending authorizations for operations,” and “spending authorizations for capital outlay.” Additionally, appropriation bills passed by the Florida Legislature would include an itemization of specific appropriations that exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) in 1992 dollars. So, a review of a general appropriations bill, of a major program area for the State Education Lotteries Trust Fund, would show the exact amount appropriated and the exact agency in receipt of the appropriation for this particular trust fund.

Anyone can search out where moneys for schools could have been budgeted and how trust funds for school purposes were appropriated. A review of the separate sections of a general appropriations bill used for each and every major program area of the State budget, where there has been a specific breakdown of itemized areas, should not be that hard to accomplish. Any person would be able to detail WHERE THE MONEY WOULD BE FOUND IN THE BUDGET, WHERE THE MONEY WOULD BE SPENT, and WHICH TRUST FUND WOULD BE APPROPRIATED FOR SCHOOL PURPOSES & WHAT AMOUNTS WERE BUDGETED TO GO TO WHICH AGENCY. There are various trust funds held by the State that have been established for use for school purposes. The lottery is just one mentioned in the Florida Constitution. Two others mentioned in separate subsections (of subsections (d) & (b)) of art. XII, sec. 19, Fla.Const, which trust funds would pertain to the support of education, have been identified as a “motor vehicle license revenues trust fund” and (an “Institutions of Higher Learning and Junior Colleges Capital Outlay and Debt Service Trust Fund” otherwise known as) the “Capital Outlay Fund.” It seems, that (since these trust funds have already been identified) if either trust fund were to end, that art. III, sec. 19(f)(1), Fla.Const., could be depended on by the Florida Legislature to create or recreate the trust fund, by a 3/5 vote of the membership of each house of the Florida Legislature (as described in art. X, sec. 12(e), Fla.Const.). However, only one of those trust funds could be recreated, as the Capital Outlay Fund has not yet expired, so can not yet be recreated. The motor vehicle license revenues trust fund expired January 1, 2000 -- per art. XII, sec. 18(a), 1885 Fla.Const.. Thus, this particular trust fund can be recreated. However, just because the trust fund can be recreated, does not permit bon ds to automatically be issued in the same way as had been perm itted in the constitution, prior to expiration. If bonds are to be issued on this particular trust fund, once recreated, constitutional prescriptions & proscriptions must be obeyed.

Even though art. III, sec. 19(f)(3), Fla.Const., does identify certain trust funds, such as “trust funds established for bond covenants, indentures, or resolutions, whose revenues are legally pledged by the state or public body to meet debt service or other financial requirements of any debt obligations of the state or any public body” and “other trust funds authorized by this Constitution” to be excluded from art. III, sec. 19(f)(2), Fla.Const., termination in four years or less from initial establishment, this does not lengthen any time period in which to issue bonds. The trust funds backing the bonds and the time period that bonds can be issued, pledging the full faith and credit of the State, are two very different time periods. For instance, the “Florida Education Lotteries” is a trust fund identified in art. III, sec. 19(f)(3), Fla.Const., as being excluded from the termination period mentioned in art. III, sec. 19(f)(2), Fla.Const.. Regardless, the fact that this particular trust fund does not terminate does not grant any power and authority to the State to be able to issue bonds to be supported by this trust fund, unless constitutional guidelines are followed.

Art. VII, sec. 11(a), Fla.Const., is very clear in that “State bonds pledging the full faith and credit of the state may be issued only to finance or refinance the cost of state fixed capital outlay projects authorized by law, and purposes incidental thereto, upon approval by a vote of the electors.” Revenue bonds can be issued only if refinancing the bond at a lower interest rate. Art. VII, sec. 11(d), Fla.Const., is the only other section addressing the issuance of revenue bonds for a specific purpose (that also must adhere to the mandate that all revenue bonds must be approved by the Florida Legislature, per art. VII, sec. 11(f), Fla.Const.). Revenue bonds can only be issued without a vote of the electors “to finance or refinance the cost of state fixed capital outlay projects authorized by law, and purposes incidental thereto, ” which revenue bonds are “payable solely from funds derived directly from sources other than state tax revenues.” There has been no vote taken to issue 2-billion dollars in State bonds, pledged by the full faith and credit of the State. Therefore, there can be no revenue bonds issued for these bonds. The issuance of 2-billion dollars in bonds is a questionable act, as neither Broward County not the State has put the question before the electors, as explicitly demanded by constitutional mandate.

Florida can issue bonds,, pleding the full faith and credit of the State, to be paid from the funds of “gross receipts taxes” which taxes are those paid into the “public education capital outlay and debt service trust fund” in the State treasury, otherwise identified as the “capital outlay fund.” Besides several other “trust funds,” Art. III, sec 19(b), Fla.Const., would recognize the existence of this Capital Outlay Fund. The Capital Outlay Fund would be listed under the major program area titled “Education -- all other funds,” which would be overseen by the Florida Legislature and administered by the State Board of Education (NOT A LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD).

The fourth paragraph of art. XII, sec. 9(a)(2), Fla.Const., is very explicit, in the directive that “State bonds pledging the full faith and credit of the state may be issued, without a vote of the electors, by the state board pursuant to law to finance or refinance capital projects theretofore authorized by the legislature, and any purposes appurtenant or incidental thereto, for the state system of public education provided for in Section 1 of Article IX of this Constitution (hereinafter referred to as “state system”), including but not limited to institutions of higher learning, community colleges, vocational technical schools, or public schools, as now defined or as may hereafter be defined by law . . . no proceeds shall be expended for the cost of any capital project, unless such project has been authorized by the legislature.” This paragraph had amended art. XII, sec. 19(b) of the 1885 Florida Constitution that had restricted the spending of bond moneys to “acquiring, building, constructing, altering, improving, enlarging, furnishing or equipping capital outlay projects theretofore authorized by the legislature and any purposes appurtenant or incidental thereto, for Institutions of Higher Learning or Junior Colleges, as now defined or as may be hereafter defined by law, and for the purpose of constructing buildings and other permanent facilities for vocational technical schools.” Clearly, when the Constitution was revised in 1968, the people enlarged the area that the gross receipts taxes could be applied to be more than institutions of higher learning and junior colleges. However, the date of existence for the trust fund had not been altered. This trust fund began in January 1, 1964, and it was given a life span of fifty years (which means it sunsets in 2014). If there is a 2-billion dollar debt, it is questionable that the gross receipts taxes for the next 2-years will be able to cover this debt. However, it is questionable that this is a valid debt, since it has not been shown that the Broward County School Board followed the guidelines established in the Constitution for issuing bonds based on the income of gross receipts taxes.

Under the 1885 Florida Constitution, it was essential that the Florida Legislature first authorize the construction or acquisition of the capital outlay project, in order for the State Board to then use its power to authorize any expenditure or pledge any payment on the bonds. As before, the succeeding 1968 Florida Constitution described the same role for the Florida Legislature and the State Board. The amount of the revenue derived from the gross receipts taxes would no longer be certified by the State Comptroller, since an amendment to the Florida Constitution rolled the Comptroller’s & (chapter 18, F.S., 2003,) Treasurer’s identity into that of the Chief Financial Officer (the role that would be played by Bill McBride’s wife, Alex Sink, under art. IV, sec. 4(c), Fla.Const. & chapter 17, F.S., once the art. IV, sec. 4(a), Fla.Const., Governor’s Cabinet was modified to merely be composed of the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Attorney General, and the Chief Financial Officer). The way that the Comptroller’s role had been restricted in the 1885 Constitution was in the demand that the Florida Legislature must first vote (with a 2/3 majority, as such majority is described in art. X, sec. 11(f), Fla.Const.). The Chief Financial officer would have had to play an instrumental role with the Broward County School Board in the issuance of the bonds totaling a 2-billion dollar debt.

Former art. XII, sec 19(c), 1885 Fla.Const., outlined how moneys could end up in the hands of a local school board. Again, this would be out of the control of the local school board, and the matter handled from the top. Thus, the first description given is that the capital outlay project first be authorized by the Florida Legislature wherein the regulations of the moneys, from the bonds, refunding certificates, or gross receipts taxes, would subsequently be determined by the State Board. It was only after these initial steps by the State had been taken that a local school board could enter the picture. This was done when the State Board would decide that it would use the money for the local board or transmit the money to the local school board

Art. XII, sec 19(e), 1885 Fla.Const., further specified that no capital outlay project could be financed unless a bill specifically authorizing the financing is approved by a 3/5 vote of the “elected members of each house.” The second paragraph of art. XII, sec 19(d), 1885 Fla.Const., additionally identified the State Board of Administration to be the fiscal agent of the state Board. Furthermore, the first paragraph of art. XII, sec 19(d), 1885 Fla.Const., specifically prohibited the State Board from making or enforcing any rule or regulation that would interfere with a bond holders rights, as such rights are recognized when a bond holder legitimately is the holder of a constitutionally-backed bond (but would not protect a hapless bond holder who had acted without performing due diligence to look into whether it was the State that had lawfully issued the bond or an inferior, duplicitous agency acting in a fraudulent manner to use a money laundering scheme or other scheme to partake of the fruits of a crime).

According to what has been reviewed in the Florida Constitution, it is possible that the bonds had not been issued that would pledge the full faith & credit of the State. It is possible that the bondholders possess nothing more than a mere sheet of worthless paper. There can be a more studied review of the Florida Constitution. However, I believe that the same conclusion would be found. Please feds investigate this matter. And start arresting those responsible, so that they can be made to make payments to those innocent persons who have invested in the scheme and make amends to society (by serving an appropriate prison sentence).

Christy
Christy

Notter needs to handover his pension to help Broward kids recover the debt he created.

Guest
Guest

Thank You, Pulp for detailing the "Rest of the Story" Excellent work!

Listener
Listener

Good PeoplePlease don't let the privatization mirage seduce you. That was tried with disastrous results in Dade. They're still looking for the money and records. The answer is to get the right people in the right place. Privatization has it's place and some of it can be applied here but the more you privatize, the more you loose control. Get a top educator to run that side of the show and a businessman/woman to run the business. If you think a private corporation gives a rat's ... about your children, then we truly deserve what we get. The right people are already there. We just have to utilize them properly, stay out of their way and GET RID of the staff members who are truly dead wood.Once the profit motive starts running how and where schools are built/maintained you're in trouble. Trust me.

The answer here is to retain the experienced, proven, dedicated staff, (yes-I believe there are plenty), and let them do their job, something they've been precluded from for a long time.

anonymous
anonymous

Disband the school board. Cut government in half. Two easy ways to save taxpayers some big money. And if it is required that you need the services of a lawyer to get through the court system, determine their fees by what the plaintiff or defendant make in an hour, not some ridiculous three figure hourly extortion rate.

Sam
Sam

If his salary was $300,000 a year (more than the VP of the USA) how much is his pension? If anything there should be criminal investigations of all these folks jumping off the sinking ship to determine if their involvment should stip them of their tax payor funded pension.

parkland man
parkland man

1200 more shitbirds out of work out of that bunch lets see how many go to jail.bull ya lol

Christy
Christy

"Tony consults widely to public and independent schools, districts, and foundations around the country and internationally and served as Senior Advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for eight years. Tony has worked for more than thirty-five years in the field of school improvement, and he is a frequent keynote speaker and widely published author on education and society. Prior to assuming his current position at Harvard, Tony was a high school teacher for twelve years; a school principal; a university professor in teacher education; co-founder and first executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility; project director for the Public Agenda Foundation in New York; and President and CEO of the Institute for Responsive Education. He earned his a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Doctorate in Education at Harvard University."

Christy
Christy

It's a wonderful day in Broward County. Notter is out. We have a wonderful opportunityto reinvent the school board, backed by the grand Jury. I encourage Broward teachers Union and our community to consult with Tony Wagner to help bring about the new leadersand new structure the Broward District is now facing. He is an outsider who helps districts in our current state.

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~cl...

tony_wagner@harvard.eduTony Wagner has served as Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group (CLG) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since its inception in 2000. An initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CLG is a “R & D” center that helps teams to be effective change leaders in schools and districts. He also was on the faculty of the Executive Leadership Program for Educators, a joint initiative of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Business School, and Kennedy School of Government.

parkland man
parkland man

The once mighty Plantation law firm of "foreclosure king" David J. Stern will cease its home repossession operations March 31 amid an investigation into whether it filed fraudulent paperwork in court cases.

DJSP Enterprises, the publicly traded firm that handles Stern's back-office paperwork, filed a disclosure notice Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission notifying investors its main source of revenue from Stern's firm would dry up by month's end.

The law firm's apparent demise would bring to an end one of the most meteoric trajectories in South Florida legal history. Stern's practice swiftly became the leading Florida processor of paperwork generated by the state's mortgage crisis, generating tens of millions of dollars for its owner in the process.

DJSP will continue to operate, according to a company spokesman, and Stern's firm is struggling to withdraw from 100,000 foreclosure cases across the state.

The Stern firm and DJSP once had more than 1,200 employees at their offices on South Pine Island Road, before the Florida Attorney General's Office announced in August that it was investigating the way the two businesses handled foreclosure paperwork. Stern's law firm handled tens of thousands of foreclosure cases around the state — about 20 percent of all repossessions in Florida.

Steve-O
Steve-O

Was actually hoping for a Budd Dwyer moment.

parkland man
parkland man

An old man was critically ill. Feeling that death was near, he called his lawyer. “I want to become a lawyer. How much is it or the express degree you told me about?” “It’s $50,000,” the lawyer said. “But why? You ll be dead soon, why do you want to become a lawyer?” “That’s my business! Get me the course!” Four days later, the old man got his law degree. His lawyer was at his bedside, making sure his bill would be paid. Suddenly the old man was racked with fits of coughing and it was clear that this would be the end. Still curious, the lawyer leaned over and said, “please, before it’s too late, tell me why you wanted to to get a law degree so badly before you died?” In a faint whisper, as he breathed his last, the old man said, “One less lawyer . . .”

anonymous
anonymous

Is Neil Sterling on anyone's radar screen as far as potential charges?

JOEYPAD1
JOEYPAD1

one down and few more to go..gottlieb and then the others

DeadNormAbromowitz
DeadNormAbromowitz

Hello everybody, it's me dead Norm! Any way, kudos to you Bob for shinning the spotlight on these folks. Normally I am very tongue in cheek and looooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeee to poke these folk's in the eye, but the truth of the matter is this: we allowed this to happen. We allowed people with no talent, leadership and integrity take leadership roles in the community. I mean, really,a non educator like the supervisor of transportation services becomes a school board member????? Bev Gallagher, most likely dumb as a box of rocks, is an elected official? Ben Williams,, what can I say....check out his son's colorful past with BSO and some of the allegations made there, Kraft? Once a campion of children, now another arrested politico. Ritter,Jenne,Gardnier,Libermann,Wasserman-Rubin,Egg-head, and so on. I am sure I missed a few but you get the idea. I am sadden that the state attorney ALLOWED this to happen. I am not sure tha had it not been for the feds embarrassing him with making an arrest, that it would not have been business as usual.We have become a very,very angry county. The postings in your blog have not had the humorous tone to them, most are well written and insightful. We have become fed up. We have become so skeptical of our elected officials, I would trust them to tell me the time if they had a box of clocks. Just look at the news, dictatorships have been crumpling worldwide, not so much with weapons but with the social networking. Feet will be held to the fire, the bagel crowd is dying off and no longer are the safe havens for politicos that could buy a vote by acting like some one's granddaughter, with a wink and a giggle. No, it ain't fun living here anymore, I don't trust them, I don't like them and we need to continue to hold feet to the fire, ask the burning questions and not stop until we take our community back. Pulp, don't think for one minute that you did not have much to do with all of this, you and all the posters. What, the Feds, State Attorney,Cops and the subjects or the articles don't rush to see what was written about them?????? Damn, they are reading what the prospective jury thinks. Ya know, Dead Norm's dad use to tell me, " hey idiot, change the fuckin channel, but every now and then he would give me advise, he once told me " Norm, don't ever eat a shit-sandwich", which I replied " why?" Well, " you stupid fuck, it's a shit sandwich, what are you an idiot????? But then he said, the minute you start, you get used to the taste and people will fed it to you all the time if they think you'll eat it", Ahhhhh Shakespeare he ain't, but the man was right! Keep up the fight!, Norm..... PS you should see what Satan got Liz Taylor doing, it's a hoot!

Totally Blonde
Totally Blonde

Nothing is every going to change no matter who comes in until the lobbyists are behind bars. Why are they not being pursued?

anonymous
anonymous

Pulp, Karnack, Scorekeeper: GOOD WORK!!

anonymous
anonymous

This whole debacle just shows you how eff-ing hard it is to get these corrupt people OUT once they get elected. We, as taxpayers, have to be more diligent before electing anyone. Once people like Notter, Murray, Gottlieb get in, they're like cockroaches and it's tough to exterminate them. You'd think they would leave on their own, but no. Let's just keep attacking them legally until they disappear, because you can't embarrass or intimidate them.

Fly on the Wall
Fly on the Wall

What makes anyone believe that privatization is honest and ethical? Look at PBS&J doing the inspections in the Building Department. Their inspectors did not have the appropriate licenses, failed inspections were not reinspected, scheduled inspections were not performed yet they were paid over $700,000 plus secretarial services included in the contract. Yet, the Board chose to look the other way and give the Building Official 90 days to correct these after the outside vendor had been paid. Do you think an outside vendor wants to lose their multi-million dollar contract. Instead of influencing their employees, they withhold the contract if the subcontractor does not look the other way on inspections. With all this education, we cannot find employees who can do ethical, honest work? No more vetting by the Superintendent - an honest Human Resources department that can do the proper vetting and background checks. Making honesty, ethics and all of the other characteristic requirements shown on that big red apple of the School Board of Broward County would be nice. There is very little construction going on at this time, so decrease the personnel and staff in Facilities and Construction Management and the Building Department. Get rid of those provisional inspectors, unless they can pass the licensing exam in 30 days. The premise of the "bumping" into other departments was that those who were "bumping" were just as qualified as those in the department they were being transferred. . After all, when the job description for inspectors was changed in December 2004 from certified licensed inspectors to provisional (no testing required for 3-5 years), these provisional inspectors were paid the same salaries as the certified inspectors. The Union never addressed the original licensing requirements compared to the changed and reduced the salaries of the provisional inspectors. Why would anyone want to hire less competent inspectors that need 3-5 years to learn how to do inspections and take and pass an exam for which they supposedly have the experience and qualifications when they were transferred or hired? Rather than decreasing the requirements, why didn't the District try to improve the quality of their employees. This decision was under Notter and Carter's watch. If you don't know, you can't cite a failed inspection.

Guest
Guest

PRIVATIZE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT! Government fucks everything up anyway. Time to remove the kid's future from under the corrupt hnds of Government!

Laid off PM
Laid off PM

"Listener" you are an idiot and obviously a school board functionary trying to keep your job. Fire all the current administrators and hire back the one's that were laid off last year. Because last year the people that were laid off were the PRODUCERS and only the dead wood was kept because of seniority union contract rules. What we need here in Florida is another Wisconsin union bashing. Rick Scott, our nutcase governer, will hopefully do the right thing and dismantle the school systems just like he did with the hospitals when he was running an HMO.

Patti Lynn
Patti Lynn

Let's send him Pulp's columns. Hell love the challenge!!!

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

And to quote Patti Lynne, "and if not, why not?".

Poopsie
Poopsie

Jen jen should go to jail jail !

anonymous
anonymous

Gottlieb has got to go. Embarrassing her in front of taxpayers hasn't made her leave. Embarrassing her in front of her husband and children hasn't made her go away. Some of these people are so self-centered and so immoral, they don't even have the ability to feel remorse and guilt. You just have to drive them out by any means possible.

Guest
Guest

Very well said...Dead Norm!

Listener
Listener

Let's not forget we just elected Rick Scott. Fabulous decision.

Listener
Listener

Actually your post is a bit annoying however you are one of the few who hit the nail on the head. "... we allowed this to happen." Right on the money. When the people lead, the leaders will follow.

anonymous
anonymous

I agree. There wouldn't be as much crime if they weren't lobbyists. Disband them.

Score Keeper
Score Keeper

Thank you for your appreciation of people who perform their civic duty. I think many, many more of the Pulp Nation deserve equal credit. Some bring knowledge, some bring raw data, some bring interest in the community and some provide the needed outrage. See, everyone has a job to do in keeping the electeds and their appointeds honest.

I would like to give you a little bit of background material to understand the real reason that Notter and the carry-over board members are complicit; not that you don't already see that.

During the classroom addition boom, Marty, Stephanie, Beverly, Robin, Maureen, Phyllis, Dr. Bob, Ben and Eleanor were in their place and calling the shots. Garretson was the master of bringing forward "staff" recommendations. Well, at least that is what the agenda items and the meeting minutes show. What was really going on was far more sinister and clever by design. Staff (Garretson and Herman) were being visited on a daily, if not weekly basis by Sterling and Padula for instructions on what would be the next priority.

Marty and Stephanie had a clique of their own and were the primary benefactors of all of those misplaced classroom additions. Poor Marty, Stephanie used him pretty hard for a long time. He must understand exactly what Notter is going through right now, only second to Marko and Parks. Marty likes to divert the public's attention to the notion that staff created this "fraud" and that is not only disingenuous...it is an outright lie. He was involved in reaping the rewards of the political capital bought by offering support for the Sterling gang. He thinks he can re-write history by attacking Hammerhead and providing a hack's analysis of Hammerhead's comments. Problem: the only people listening are the people who want to hear his spin...as they often pay for his services (providing a diversion from the truth).

Don't think for a moment that Kraft, Gallagher and Getz are not singing loudly about everything...EVERYTHING! Also, don't think that it is a coincedence that Dinnen is trying harder than "W" Bush to rewrite the history books. She has an appreciation for history but did not wish to become a villainous character in the history of Ft. Lauderdale or Broward County.

Robin and Jen got wise early, but not early enough to have left their DNA at the scene of the crime. Robin did it with the playgrounds and then got cold feet. Jen did it with the Montesorri school and still has her appointees, activists and friends of judges doing her bidding. She cannot escape the laser precision of a forensic review. Has anybody noticed that is what is going on. While Notter and the board (and their accomplices) are busy doing a lot of "reacting" while the powerful forces of the law are performing a forensic review of their DNA, documentation and other communication records.

What is funny is that they think that the only people who provided testimony to the grand jury was their "inept" staff. Meanwhile, one can only imagine how many activists, vendors, contractors and other political insiders have contributed to the facts gathered leading to the scathing grand jury report.

Notter did not want to leave. He had to in an ironic twist, he became the sacrifice that he was used to selecting. The shoe is on the other foot and it is only the beginning of the embarassment and the shame that the school board will suffer. Prediction: Dinnen will exit in a cloud of shame that will make Notter's look tame.

Karnack was right and has led me to look in many areas outside my typical landscape. I thank him for that. I hope that these comment boards have led others to think outside the box. I can only tell you that being cheated hurts. Hurting brings awareness. Awareness brings outrage. Outrage brings activism. Activism brings change and this place needs change. I believe that the trail of tears will follow Notter to the Cruise Ship port and many of his henchpersons will be left with few choices.

Remember what happens when the colonial conquerers leave their empires...the natives get restless. That is not good...unless the natives organize to sustain peace, prosperity and integrity. Healing and buzzwords like, accountability and checks and balances ring hollow unless they come from those who are pure of heart. Public service is a duty and a privilege...not a career. Those who get that will surely be the only gateway to a successful future for the school board. That is a tall order. I think the Pulp Nation could spawn enough of those that real change could be realized. Just remember, politics is only a temporary call of duty...not a career. Hang around dogs long enough and you begin to growl when someone approaches your food. That is not a public servant...that is an animal. I have had enough of these animals.

Another Voice/Listener
Another Voice/Listener

Fly-Please see my reply to Laid Off PM above.

Laid Off PMPlease see the 4/3/11 front page of the Sun Sentinel about the salaries of top executives at the privatized DCF being almost twice as much as what the state was paying for the same service. Who among us sees improvement in DCF since privatization? Perhaps Ray Charles, but not me.

That's the reality of privatization.

Listener
Listener

You're getting closer Fly.

Listener
Listener

And the hands of corporations for profit are cleaner? Would you wan a fat cat in a suit somewhere in Arizona deciding what safety infrastructure to install @ your kid's school. Deciding what facility your kid is supposed to learn in? Business and greed along w/incompetent oversight is was got the whole country into this mess.

Jblast
Jblast

Banks will do a better job huh?

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

Ummmm Didn't you read the article... They are privatizing the school board to the tune of billions of dollars (Pirtle and Vista/Coventry).

Rich LaBelle
Rich LaBelle

I agree, we should privatize and fuck everyone else! I don't really either way as long as I make money and screw families on my poole trust, I am happy

Another Voice
Another Voice

Laid Off PMPlease see the 4/3/11 front page of the Sun Sentinel about the salaries of top executives at the privatized DCF being almost twice as much as what the state was paying for the same service. Who among us sees improvement in DCF since privatization? Perhaps Ray Charles, but not me.

That's the reality of privatization.

Listener
Listener

Laid Off PM- I'm sorry about wat happened to you. There were a # of irregularities in that lay off starting with why the PM III's were not included in the PM job family. The union contract language is quite clear to me.

The fact of the matter is that despite the nonsense, overbuilding, corruption and all the other factors that occured, school construction is funded mainly from ad velorum revenues and state grants, (for lack of a better word). Both those sources of revenue simply dried up substantially and the construction had to slow. When the construction slowed, the economic need for PM's no longer existed. That was similar to any economic endeavor. Layoffs had to occur. What is debatable is the method used which I thought and still think was lousy.

Now the debate rages over privatization which is simply not the way to go. Schools won't be built faster, safer or cheaper. Privatization would only make things more obscure and more expensive. I still believe the answer is to retain your competent staff, pay them a fair wage, establish the goals, evaluate them periodically based on merit and STAY THE HELL OUT OF THEIR WAY. AND GET RID OF THE DEAD WOOD. Had that type of system been in use, you would probably still have your job.

I wish you the best of luck going forward.

Laid off by BCSB
Laid off by BCSB

I was laid off too and I certainly agree with your assessment. The cronies were kept, protected by that B.S. "job category" excuse so relatives could stay while those who did their jobs well, or too well, were let go. This was done while the union played footsie in private with the Board, Notter, and Notter's "deputies" while pretending to discredit them in public. I wouldn't have believed it, but I went to BTU headquarters and saw it with my own eyes.I say they also fire the Area Supes, and cut all of the expensive, useless vendor contracts that waste millions, especially all of the shady deals with BSO.

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

Tea Bagger alert. The dead give away is that they usually begin their debate with an insult and then go downhill from that point.

anonymous
anonymous

slight correction. she embarrassed herself, Pulp just reported it as he should. Of the power people in town, sometimes it seems the only person doing justice to his job is Bob Norman. No arrests today, I guess, but a resignation. Both actions bring some hope to this corrupt town. Keep the pressure on Pulp.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

(Per your 4:42 comment)

Got you. Good points.

I don't know if "the contract model works" per se, but it *can* work. Guess the bottom line is how it is being managed and who is doing the managing ... if the goals are "pure" and the criteria objective and productive.

Thanks for clarifying DF3.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Ummm ...There is a huge and cavernous gap between "proposing" and "are".

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

The point I am making is that the board as it is currently running serves to enrich a few private citizens. Hence privitized already. Just see who the new "private" contracts go to.

The city of Weston which has a surplus of cash and looks beautiful contracts out its services, not soley to private industry but mostly. The contract model works....

It is the corrupt board that decides the contract so the fix is in. The issue is not contracting out services, the board already does that. It is to whom they contract and why.... That's the scary part

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