BY BUDDY NEVINS
There is no Broward government figure that has been around longer than Ed Marko.
He has been Broward School Board’s general counsel since Lyndon Johnson was president 41 years.
The era of Marko may finally be over.
Marko’s current contract states he will leave at the end of this year, after the school system finds another general counsel. He would probably remain as general counsel emeritus.
The opening of one of the biggest government legal jobs in South Florida will cause a Bar brawl, as lawyers jockey for the job.
With firms are laying off good lawyers in the recession, expect plenty of applicants.
Marko earns over $210,000, supervises at least four other attorneys and has the power to hand out millions in legal work.
The job essentially needs a government legal administrator. The next general counsel can hire folks with experience in education law.
Marko is said to be lobbying for one of his assistants, Marylin Batista, to take over. The School Board may consider hiring a firm think Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol instead of a single lawyer.
It is hard to over estimate how much Broward schools’ history Marko is part of.
He shepherded the schools through integration.
Marko saw the system double in size from a just over 100,000 students to well over 200,000, causing an explosion in school construction. He prepared the legal documents for over 200 new or rebuilt schools.
He helped the school system deal with federal and state mandates, which dramatically changed the way special education and disabled students were treated. He helped draft policies when drug problems exploded inside the schools.
He has been around long enough to remember when a boy’s long hair was a legal issue. He stayed to see Board argue over whether kids should be allowed to wear Daisy Dukes or carry cell phones to class.
The Marko family included two brothers who were legal successes. They started practicing just as the population in Broward began to boom.
The Marko’s came to Florida as so many others from New York when their father retired. In 1957, father Paul Marko Jr. left the automotive business in Brooklyn and moved the family to Miami Beach.
Marko’s parents spent time at the LaGorce Country Club and All Souls Episcopal Church on Pine Tree Drive, according to the Miami Herald. The brothers Ed and Paul, III attended local schools.
Paul Marko III, graduated from the University of Miami law school in 1957. Ed Marko followed him, graduating from UM law in 1962.
Paul Marko III was appointed by Gov. Claude Kirk to the Broward bench in 1970 and he served until 1995.
Ed Marko started at the Broward County School Board in 1968, according to newspaper articles.
As young lawyers, the Marko brothers quickly reached the top rungs of the Broward Bar.
Then in 1984, tragedy.
The Marko’s mother, Elnore Malease Marko, was murdered. According to The Miami Herald, the brothers found their mother’s body in her Miami Beach home.
It’s been a long journey for Ed Marko. And although there is a contract, Marko has shown signs he wants to hang on a bit longer.
He sent a memo to the Board this week saying since they haven’t begun the process to replace him, he would be willing to stay until the end of 2011.
Marko is in his mid-70s and says he is in good health.
The old man still has significant support on the Board. Members may agree to cancel their earlier contract and hold on to him for two more years.
But lawyers, smelling blood and money, may put pressure on the Board to live up to their signed deal.
It will all be discussed next month.