BY BUDDY NEVINS
There is one word for the Broward County Commission in its dance over the budget with Sheriff Al Lamberti:
They criticize Lamberti for giving his employees a pay raise.
Yet the commission gave their employees a 3 percent raise and promised them another 3 percent next year?
They demand Lamberti cut his budget.
Yet, the cost of running commissioners’ own office in the proposed 2010 budget goes to $3.4 from $3.3 million.
That’s the wrong direction, folks!
I believe there is an end game for these commissioners privatization of the jails.
Commissioners appear to do very littleunless there is something in it for their lobbyist friends.
Boy, is there something in it for lobbyists in privatization!
The county’s jail budget is $233 million. So it wouldn’t be hard to cut out a million or two for lobbying fees once a private company took over.
The county commission currently has a contract with the sheriff to run the jails. They could easily give that contract to a private company.
It would be a slap at Lamberti. The nine commissioners are Democrats and are openly hostile to Lamberti. Many last year backed Lamberti’s opponent, Scott Israel.
Most of all, privatization would be a bonus for their lobbyist friends.
At least two lobbyists have registered for companies that do jail/corrections privatization:
Grant Smith is representing Judicial Corrections Services, a firm that specializes in privatizing probation.
Smith is the son of former U. S. Rep. Larry Smith, who remains a Democratic icon in some circles of Broward. The younger Smith works at the influential law firm run by Scott Rothstein, who helped elected Lamberti.
What better way do commissioners have to tap into Rothstein’s millions in campaign contributions than to throw his firm a bone?
Corrections Corporation of America is represented by Sam Poole III, who works at Berger Singerman. Mitchell Berger is a long-time major Democratic fund raiser.
Connecting the dots yet?
Could privatization save taxpayers money?
The history of privatization is that companies come in with an initial low bid. Then the cost to taxpayers slowly creeps up over the years.
I’m not saying privatization is about to happen.
But the ground work is being laid. Lobbyists have begin talking up privatization and everything at the Broward Governmental Center starts with lobbyists.