Abolish The Ethically Challenged County Commission!


Far down at the bottom of the ballot is a question that illustrates the pathetic inability of the ethically-challenged Broward County Commission to get anything done. 

Question 8.  If approved, it would create an ethics board to write rules which would police the county commission.

It is six years too late.

In November 2002, voters passed a referendum that ordered commissioners to write their own rules “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

It’s no surprise commissioners stalled.  On the nine-member commission, the ethics of at least five have been questioned in the media:

*Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion paid a fine to the state after he lobbied for a waste firm that had business before the county. 

*Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin paid a fine to the state after she proded the county to buy land that benefited her husband.

*Commissioner Sue Gunzburger’s husband sold thousands of dollars of plastic benches to the county.

*Commissioner Ilene Lieberman lobbied for an affordable housing firm that had business at the county.

*Commissioner Stacy Ritter’s husband was accused of lobbying the county while his wife was a commissioner.

With a record like that, it is no wonder that the commission arrogantly refused to obey the wishes of voters.

The county’s charter commission this year finally said the wait was too long.  They placed the measure on the current ballot which creates a commission to write ethics laws.

The problem?  Commissioners name nine of the 11 members on the ethics group.   The Broward League of Cities names the other two.

The failure of commissioners to police themselves is just one more issue they can’t resolve:

*The airport expansion remains stalled after decades.

*The courthouse has been falling apart for years while county commissioners fiddled and stalled.  Now we are in an economic downturn and there is no money.

*Commissioners were giving lip service to a workable mass transit system when I covered them in the early 1980s.  Twenty five years later,  nothing.

Oh, but commissioners finally have an answer for mass transit. They are asking voters to hand off responsibility for mass transit to another new task force. That’s Question 1.

And they have an answer for affordable housing, another issue they have been unable to deal with in any meaningful way.  Create an affordable housing board.  That’s Question 4.

It appears the answer to the commission’s inaction is to create more bureaucracy.  Just what we need. Spend more government money!

If commissioners can’t get important things done, can’t even agree to police themselves, what do we need them for?

I’ve got an idea. Let’s put a measure on a future ballot abolishing the commission.


7 Responses to “Abolish The Ethically Challenged County Commission!”

  1. broward voter says:

    Gunzburger ethically challenged? he didn’t sell the benches. he invented the product that created them.

    FROM BUDDY: Sorry, you’re wrong “Broward Voter.” Below is the beginning of just one of many stories about the relationship:

    Source: MEG JAMES, Herald Staff Writer
    When Broward sheriff’s deputies ordered benches and picnic tables for the new county jail, they were steered to BTW Industries, a company owned by the spouse of a Broward County commissioner. Upon delivery, a few of the tables had crooked legs or bolts protruding precariously, deputies said. They wanted replacements. What they got was a lecture on Broward politics from the company’s general manager, Bob Lehrman, who thought the furniture was fine.
    “The owner of the company is a county commissioner, and I will go to him,” Lehrman said, according to a May 13 memo written by Sgt. Lynne Jaffe.
    Actually, the owner is Gerald Gunzburger, the husband of County Commissioner Suzanne Gunzburger….

    Published on February 14, 1999, Page 2B, Miami Herald, The (FL)

  2. c.c. ryder says:

    Only five ethically challenged commissioners? You underestimate their corruption. This county would be a million times better without any of the nine crooks.

  3. broward voter says:

    I stand corrected Buddy. 🙂

  4. Sam Fields says:

    When it comes to the sale of recycled plastic products I have a bit of inside info and, Buddy, you got it wrong. There was nothing unethical.

    Until the emergence of companies like BTW we either needlessly filled up dumps with plastic that lasted forever or burned it and put noxious fumes into the environment.

    BTW collected post consumer plastic, melted it and reformed it into various sizes of lumber for benches, boardwalks etc.
    Instead of having poisonous pressure treated lumber that lasted 10 years we could have environmentally sound, virtually maintainence free plastic that would last at least fifty years.

    Nothwithstanding the fact that I hated lobbying and have been rightfully described as the world’s worst lobbyist I went to the company and asked to be their lobbyist. I truly believed that this was the most wonderful win/win concept. I even came up with the name BTW which stood for “Better Than Wood” I agreed to a paycheck that was close to minimum wage.

    Sue Gunzberger was not yet on the commission. We got the county to accept the concept of life cycle in the bid process so that a more expensive fifty year product could compete with a cheaper ten year product.

    After Sue joined the commission a project for building a boardwalk came up. It was a low bid contract. The commssion had no discretion. Nevertheless we sought and obtained approval from the ethics office. Sue even recused herself from voting.

    BTW used Broward garbage and still had a local factory. We submitted the lowest bid. I am proud to say that the boardwalk will outlive all of us.

    It is regretful that this concept has never taken off.

    Unfortuantely we live in a world where government and corporations know the price of everthing and the value of nothing.

    Sorry Buddy, there was nothing improper. Sometimes where their is smoke their is fire. Sometimes there is only a smoke machine.

  5. buddy nevins says:


    Sorry, I disagree.
    Better Than Wood should have stopped doing business with the county when Sue Gunzburger got elected. They continued to get new work. It gave the appearance of inside dealing.
    By the way, The Miami Herald also thought the arrangement looked hinky as you can read above.

  6. Touche says:

    By the way, Buddy, the Sun-Sentinel also thought you were ethically challenged as a journalist, which is why they removed you from covering politics. See New Times’ coverage if you’ve already forgotten the stories.

    From Buddy: Which one of the county commissioners are you?

  7. Future Elected Official says:

    Mr. Fields:

    Why do you think it never took off?

    As somebody who is still idealistic I learn from burrowing into the details of past things sought but not achieved.

    Your thoughts would greatly enhance my ability to implement win-win processes should ever I attain elected office.