Commission Wants To Use Budget Crisis To Expand Own Power


The Broward County Commission is not letting a financial crisis go to waste.

Some commissioners seem intent on using their $129 million deficit as a way to expand their power and influence.


The latest idea — outlined in the Sun-Sentinel by writer Scott Wyman here would have county take over policing the port, airport and courthouse. 

The idea should be labeled for what is –a way to strike out at Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Lamberti committed the sin of not allowing the commissioners to tell him how much to cut his budget.

This latest idea to attack Lamberti makes no sense.  It would result in duplication of effort and a lack of coordination in a disaster or terrorist attack.

For instance, would commissioners create their own bomb squad, SWAT team and crime laboratory?

The answer is yes if they are allowed to get away with it. 

The county commission’s one achievement in the past decade is to grow.

The only commissioner quoted in Wyman’s article is Ilene Lieberman. No surprise.

As Lauderhill’s mayor in the mid-1990s, Lieberman had a spat with the then-Sheriff Ron Cochran and took Lauderhill out of Broward Sheriff’s Office protection.  The city created its own police force.

Shortly after Lauderhill started its own police force, The Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm recounted how the force was a bumbling mess.  He wrote:

“The question hanging over Ilene’s Raiders, after these first ignominious months, is: Why?

Lieberman engineered the city’s break with the BSO, which had provided police protection for 13 years, but her reasons seemed more about politics than economics.

Lieberman , angry with Sheriff Ron Cochran , never offered any convincing evidence that a separate police department would save Lauderhill money.

Lieberman pursued a political feud until it evolved into a law enforcement embarrassment.

In Lauderhill , that’s one charge that’s sure to stick.

So do you really want to take Lieberman’s word about anything having to do with law enforcement?

What Lieberman and the others don’t want voters to know is the dirty little secret of the county commission: They really have little to do. 

They are a glorified parks and library board.

Maybe that’s why they can afford to take almost half the year off. 

The big issues:  Bungled.

The airport runway expansion has been talked about for two decades without a resolution.

 An expansion of the courthouse also has been talked about for two decades.  They waited so long their fallback is to now cobble a new building onto the old. 

A new government center. Dead, after years of discussions.

An expansion of mass transit.  I covered their discussions about this in the 1980s! A succession of commissioners sat on their hands until the current economic problems.  Now they are cutting what bus service they have. 

Affordable housing.  Money spent on studies.  Nothing ever done.

Such an admirable record of achievement!

With a record like that, commissioners should be rewarded by giving them more responsibilities like taking over much of law enforcement?

That’s why I believe this idea to take over the cops at the port and airport is ridiculous. 

And why I think little of Commissioner Sue Gunzburger’s suggestion that the county study taking over the jail system. Although I believe Gunzburger is not on a power trip, but sincerely want to find ways to save money.

Don’t get me wrong. Commissioners are not a unified block.

Lobbyists for jail privatization are sniffing around the commission, but Commissioners Kristin Jacobs and Gunzburger both wisely vowed to vote against it.  Jail privatization, which often uses underpaid, ill-trained  employees, has a disastrous history around the country .

Commissioners John Rodstrom has largely been on the right side of most big issues. 

Commissioner Ken Keechl says the county should operate more like a business and that commissioners must cut their own budget, along with the sheriff.

Some of the others are using the budget crisis to play power games.  Shame on them.

9 Responses to “Commission Wants To Use Budget Crisis To Expand Own Power”

  1. Then Why? says:

    Then Why do they keep getting elected? Not only to their current posts but they ROSE up through the ranks to where they are now. I just keep reading month after month, year after year about their escapades of personal and governmental corruption married to bad leadership and wonder Why???

  2. Democrat says:

    This is all caused by apathy on the part of the voters.

  3. Roger That says:

    The four commissioners you mentioned are the honest ones. They try to do what is the best for the people and the county. Jacobs, in particular, is always out front on the environment.

  4. Floridan says:

    The real issue is why we cling to the archaic practice of having an elected sheriff.

    Given that over the course of Broward County’s history more sheriffs have been removed from office for improper or illegal acts than have retired with a clean slate is reason enough to jettison the office.

  5. Floridan says:

    “Commissioner Ken Keechl says the county should operate more like a business . . .”

    What a inane statement. Which one? AIG? GM? Krispy Kreme? Perhaps Circuit City?

    The truth is that government is not a business; it neither operates on the same principals nor has the same goals.

    Now if Keechl simply meant that government shouldn’t be profligate, then I’d go along with him on that.

    FROM BUDDY: You are right, “Floridian.” Politicians saying that government should operate like a business is a cliches I must have heard 1,000 times, especially during the editorial board meetings at the Sun-Sentinel with candidates. What it does say is that Keechl is not anti-business.

    And I believe he means what you say in your last sentence.

  6. Resident says:

    I lived in Lauderhill when BSO left. My feelings are that the actual reasons Lauderhill left BSO was that it provided lousy service, and was contributing to the decline of the city.

    The Strong Mayor had no control over the police and being Lieberman was the Mayor, it reflected directly on her. She didn’t have the power to direct a solution with BSO.

    However, to sell it, it had to be sold as a cost savings, with better service. The mistake was that the start up costs were underestimated and the personnel hired weren’t qualified. It took years to fix it once Lieberman left.

  7. Suzy Q says:

    Buddy you hit the nail on the head, they have little to do and are just a glorified parks and library board and with many of the parks and libraries closing due to budget cuts, that doesn’t say much. What no one seems to focus on is their over-inflated salaries, over 90k per year, plus perks and multiple assistants, for what? Also, unlike other elected officials, the county commissioners apparently control their own salaries, so the public doesn’t even have any input on this. Why doesn’t anyone talk about that?

  8. noncompliant says:

    I agree with everything you have written, until I got to the last paragraph about Keechl. He has said he will not raise taxes, but has voted against EVERY tax cutting measure. Heck, he approved a five year contract on a library that’s slated to be closed in his district. He voted in favor of across the board pay increases for union employees. On the other side of his mouth he says he’s willing to fire hundreds of employees. He approved hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for his mug to stay on television during meetings. AND he voted against a meeting to educate the commission on ETHICS. Buddy you’re right on about most things, but wake up and smell the fraud.

  9. Geller vs. Gunzburger: A New Issue : says:

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