I will keep that door open as long as they remain that way.
That said, I’ve been going over the grand jury report with a fine toothed comb and discovering a number of items that the jury actually got right.
Only nobody noticed because those parts of the report simply don’t fit with the expectation of a self serving, meddling, out of control School Board.
In fact, the jury included senior and middle management in the statements about malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance, only those words fell on eyes that could only see the words “school board,” and nothing else.
Those parts critical of management are also decidedly anti-union.
A conspiracy to keep those parts suppressed and out of the media light?
Maybe. But then maybe just public fascination with “corrupt” public officials no matter what the whole story may be.
As readers know, I’ve been a staunch defender of the Board in general and will continue to be.
But some of what I’ve been reading from the jury that hasn’t been reported coincides with other articles I’ve written and proposed as some of the causes of the ills within the system.
I will be posting a copy of the grand jury report in the next week or so complete with my own notations on where the jury failed and where it was right.
And those things that jury did get right lead to the frightening conclusion that things within the system won’t change and can’t change for quite a while.
From my conversation with Score Keeper:
The “big picture” is a lot larger than anybody knows or cares to know.
Was there hanky panky going on with Board members? With one in jail, there’s no question, and it was something I began to suspect as I was leaving.
But to put it bluntly, two of the biggest boondoggles occurred on her watch (and in her district.)
The swamp land and the purchase of West Broward’s property.
Mike Garretson, Tom Coates and Ed Marko were all involved, and Coates along with Marko pushed the sale of West Broward property despite the fact that the contract called for a $53,000 per year payment essentially forever despite protests from the realtors.
Hell, (it went forward) despite my own protests about staff changing student population numbers three times after being caught in the first lie.
The fact that the other Board members did not pick up on it even during the live debates with staff, doesn’t make them complicit, it makes them characteristically uncaring or inattentive to real issues.
Board members never got involved in debates they couldn’t understand. Hence nobody else picked up on my raging debate with Garretson at Coral Springs Middle over the swamp land.
I was accused of being arrogant and condescending on that one.
What did the media pick up on? “Just because it’s squishy, doesn’t mean you can’t build on it.”
What else was said during that “discussion?” Garretson admitted he knew it was a boondoggle and that the subcontractor he hired to test the quality of the property couldn’t even get the testing equipment on the land because it was so poor.
The Board didn’t pick up on it, neither did the media. But that’s exactly the comment that sparked my over the top debate in the first place.
Not one of the other Board members picked up my on the dais debate with Garretson over the costs per classroom charged by three of the six builders that “HE” chose for the 600 classroom additions at the beginning of the process.
Yes, it was Garretson that chose the six initial “no-bid” contractors to build those first set of additions.
The low priced ones were Pirtle, Padula and Cummings. The other three were about $50,000 per classroom higher, and Garretson defended those prices through twisted logic as though his life depended on it.
I was armed with figures he either couldn’t or wasn’t prepared to fight (in public) and he simply closed his books and gave up.
Yet not one of the other members picked up on any of this. Neither did the media.
Figure it out… Open debate on the dais, Garretson challenging me on costs with my direct answers and knowledge of what the real costs were. And exactly nobody, but nobody cared to pick up on it.
You might blame the Board, but I blame the media for letting it pass right over their heads. And ultimately Mike Satz, too.
I hate to say it quite this way, but the jury had it right when they said that Board members were singularly unqualified in management, and that truth is written all over my four years on the Board.
Neither the Board nor the Superintendent did anything about the HRMS debacle of 2002. I did.
Neither he Board nor the Superintendent did anything about the emergency operations project funded eight years earlier with zero action or accountability.
I did. And because of it, everybody in the district got paid right after hurricane Wilma. District operations went on as normal rather than the uncoordinated mess that would otherwise have occurred.
And, by the way, that’s how I know that Garretson lied about not having power to enter proper purchase orders for AshBritt. He wasn’t at Hortt as he claimed, he was working from the fully powered, fully operational ETS building on Oakland Park Blvd.
Exactly how do I know? I was there.
The truth is; when it came to such debates, (technology, operations, etc.,) the Board members simply couldn’t handle it.
The irises in their eyes narrowed down to pin pricks and their attention wandered.
It explains very nicely why Board did nothing about things like the HRMS debacle despite the pounding of the press.
It also explains why the Board members followed staff recommendations to purchase the swamp land. They were led like sheep to the slaughter by Garretson, Coates and Till along with outsiders like Richard Rubin and others.
No offense to any other Board member, but all they really could handle was their own minutiae (how I spent my week impressing people in my district) in their Board reports with some real debate here or there when it came to matters of policy.
When it came to real nuts and bolts, Board members usually deferred to staff despite discussion on the dais.
Score Keeper and the grand jury say that Board members were all complicit in feeding projects to their friends, I say that for the most part, they were incapable of being that scheming.
Well at least all but one or two. And that’s especially why the Board needs a staff that’s trustworthy, not corrupt.
As for the “new” Board, I had hopes for Dave Thomas and telling Carter that he would hold him directly accountable was a good move. But he’s gone, so we’ll just have to wait.
Nora Rupert is asking the right questions, and so is Patti Good. Laurie Levinson appears to be on the right track, but not as vocal as the other two.
We’ll see. The next move is up to the Governor. Expect it by Labor Day