BY BUDDY NEVINS
The Broward School Board needs Barney Schlesinger today more than ever.
Barney — just “Barney to everybody — died in 2009 at 95. He was the gadfly who spoke at more than 600 School Board meetings over two decades.
His theme was consistent: The system’s incompetent management and its exorbitant, wasteful spending.
Barney blasted Board members and their staff as “lying wimps, “public thieves and “big double dippers. He would point at the top administrators who wasted every Tuesday sitting in the meeting, calling them “millionaires’ row.
“We need instruction, not construction, he would chide them.
Barney cared so much about education he took the bus from Hallandale Beach to downtown Fort Lauderdale to attend the meetings.
School Board members and staff never listened to Barney. They would walk out of the room or bury themselves in their laptops when he spoke.
He was brushed off as a crank, an eccentric, a busy body interfering in their business.
They should have listened. Barney was right.
The Crystal Palace is full of overpaid incompetents.
The chief incompetent for many years was former Superintendent Frank Till.
Till was mostly missing from blistering Grand Jury report on the Broward School Board. Some would argue that he was most responsible for the misspending and missteps.
He was in charge when much of the criticized construction was being planned and executed. Till’s name is all over the construction documents examined by the Grand Jury.
Still, he got a pass.
Since Till left in 2006, little has been done to change. It is largely the same managers in place.
I agree with former School Board member Stephanie Kraft’s comment in the Sun-Sentinel yesterday and reprinted in The New Times. She wrote that much of the problem is the entrenched bureaucrats, who hunker down behind their desks in the Crystal Palace and never leave.
However, why didn’t Kraft and her colleagues demand change?
There are four new Board members –Pat Good, Dave Thomas, Nora Rupert and Laurie Rich Levinson. Although some inadvisedly appeared at a news conference sitting behind Superintendent Jim Notter yesterday, they are not satisfied with the status quo.
The four new members already helped get rid of attorney Ed Marko. Marko should only be the first of many to be shown the door.
If the new members need a little help, they should get themselves a Ouija Board. Then they should channel the spirit of ol’ Barney. Barney never needed a Grand Jury to tell him what was wrong with the school system.