Dinnen’s Group Took Money From Sterling


When School Board member Maureen Dinnen needed money to lobby for more dollars for education, she turned to a man who whose clients could benefit from more school spending:

Lobbyist Neil Sterling.

Newspaper reports say Sterling is under federal investigation and I have no idea if the feds are looking into this deal.

But it was the Sterling Research Group that coughed up $5,000 for Dinnen.

It was the only contribution for Dinnen’s political committee –Floridians For Quality Education. She was the chairwoman.

Floridians For Quality Education was formed in August 2008 to “advocate for better funding for public schools.

Dinnen closed the political committee at the end of 2008 and the group became a non-profit corporation which she incorporated in February.

Sterling’s $5,000 was turned over to a West Palm Beach political consultant Cornerstone Strategy & Communication that is helping run the non-profit.

Sterling, the lobbyist with the largest contingent of clients at the School Board, is now under investigation as part of a federal probe into government corruption.

His clients include construction contractors and subcontractors who could profit from the increases in school spending that Dinnen’s group was advocating.

The Floridians For Quality Education had a special place at the table in the School Board headquarters.

Despite long standing rules against the public speaking at School Board workshop meetings, Dinnen was allowed to promote the political committee’s agenda at the November 12, 2008 meeting.

And the organization appears to be mentioned in a September 24 memo from School Board Attorney Ed Marko to Superintendent Jim Notter.

The memo states that school employees contacted by the FBI or “any other law enforcement agency in the probe may get legal representation from the taxpayer-paid School Board lawyers.

The memo has a notation that it is part of a file in the attorney’s office for “Floridians For The Quality of Education.”

The wording is almost the same as the name of Dinnen’s group.

Marko did not return call to his office to explain the notation.

But does the  reference to Florida For The Quality of Education mean that taxpayers are paying for the Dinnen group’s legal representation? Does the organization even need a lawyer?

Dinnen did not return a call to her School Board office.

I’ve long believed Dinnen is perhaps the most out-of-touch School Board member.  That’s saying a lot when one is writing about the Broward County School Board.

Dinnen’s answer for every ill of the schools is to squeeze more dollars out of taxpayers.

Her bleating for more and more money has not abated one bit in this recession. She formed Floridians For Quality Education after the recession hit and people were already hurting.

I don’t know where she thinks the money is coming from when Florida is one of the leaders in the nation in home foreclosures and unemployment.

What state service would Dinnen cut to funnel more money into Broward’s school headquarters?  Medicaid? The Highway Patrol? Children’s Services?

Maybe if the school system wasn’t notorious for wasting money, taxpayers would be more sympathetic.

I can just mention one multi-million dollar boondoggle that I covered the purchase of swampland unsuitable for school construction in Southwest Ranches. There are so many more examples!

Yes, Dinnen is out of touch.

She’s out of touch with the public, who are sick of pouring dollar after dollar into the school system to pay for waste.

She’s out of touch with parents, who see their complaints, concerns and needs being arrogantly dismissed by School Board members.

But she’s not out of touch with lobbyists.  Because when she wanted to spout her tax-and-spend dribble, she found a lobbyist with a big checkbook to pay for her forum.

Neil Sterling.



14 Responses to “Dinnen’s Group Took Money From Sterling”

  1. floridian says:

    Spiders get caught in their own web.

  2. dan says:

    More to investigate. Maureen’s travel budget. Maureen’s relationship with the unions and how they “suggest” her votes. Much of her mail from parents goes unanswered. Her interference into the affairs of schools in her district. Her free lunches with lobbyists including Sterling.

  3. The truth says:

    This the same woman who traveled to Washington recently to collect a prize for the Broward schools. It cost the taxpayers thousands.You are right, Buddy. She is out of touch.

  4. Pat says:

    Looks like another school board member that needs a CRIMINAL lawyer. They are dropping like flys.

  5. Karnack and Score Keeper says:

    Dinnen is unstable. Dinnen is unable. Dinnen is simply a tool for the special interests who want more money to flow into all things unnecessary for the District. She was able to show what looked like a grass roots campaign from afar. But up close it was clear that there was too much “giving” from areas of the state that were not feasible. For example, why would anyone from the middle or the top of the state care to contribute to her campaign? They would’ve had nothing to gain. Yet look at her first campaign records and it looks as though there were many questionable contributions. Maybe fraudulent…but I cannot say that with conviction. All I can do is ask, would you give $25 for a candidate in Jefferson County right now???

  6. Fort Lauderdale Joe says:

    She was a former president of the teachers union. Now she is negotiating contracts with the teachers union. Talk about a situation guaranteed to screw the taxpayer.

  7. T. R. says:

    I was there when Dinnen was a horror as the teachers union president. She was largely responsible for Bill McBride losing the governor’s race. She spent millions on the purchase of a new union building in Tallahassee. She never saw a union dues she couldn’t find a way to waste.

  8. Lies... says:

    They all spin a web. Someone should look at Pete Tingom’s relationship with Dinnen and Till. They not only donated to his campaign and supported him, but he ran on a platform of ‘his boys were cub scouts.’ He never told anyone that he is the Executive Director of ESMAB (Educational Support and Management Association of Broward) a not for profit which represents school board employees and their dues are automatically taken out of their paychecks. The website says they give out scholarships, etc. Where’s that proof, Buddy, and why wasn’t that relationship disclosed? They’re all slippery.

  9. told you says:

    Buddy-you are very right about Maureen Dinnen. This is another reason why Stern is a fool to have accepted money from Maureen and her lobbyists friends.

    Do you understand now BS?

  10. Lies Says says:

    It is interesting what Lies says about Dinnen and Pete Tingrom because I have never seen any evidence that she is interested at all in Plantation schools. She represents Plantation. She ignores the Plantation schools and pays no attention to the programs in our schools. So if she is allied with Tingrom, it is not doing anything for us.

    FROM BUDDY: A bit of explanation: Tingrom is a Plantation city commissioner.

  11. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Clear the dais at the KCW building and start all over again.

  12. nottinamazesme says:

    I second the motion for Beth The Bounty Hunter.
    Dinnen and her other pals also voted repeatedly to put total wastes at the downtown posts as directors and ass’t directors. I wonder if when a candidate wants those positions they have to pay for them and the votes?? Hmmmm. Something else for the FBI to look into…
    Also we need to take into consideration that folks who run for the Board don’t give an owl’s hoot about kids. They’re there to come out in the papers and get rich with every opportunity available, then use their popularity to jump to bigger and better things. It’s an opportunistic’s game. What a shame! And all because kids don’t vote. That’s the bottom line.
    When this type of folk comes across honest, hard-working people, they take it as a weakness and a sign of sheer stupidity. They mock them and step all over them and create a barricade around them so they won’t rise. It’s such a dog-eat-dog world out there sometimes.
    I am glad, though, that perhaps, just maybe, things may change. That’s my deepest wish and desire.

  13. Angry Taxpayer! says:

    Are you telling me that my tax dollars are being used to defend corrupt school board members????

    If this is the case, Notter and Marko should be ousted along with all the corrupt Board members.
    Isn’t there even one person on that board, someone with enough guts to stand up and say enough is enough???

    Let’s see if one of our Broward State Reps or Senators will have the guts to step up to the plate. Which democrat will have the courage to create legislation and oversight to finally put a stop to this thievery?

    They obviously cannot monitor themselves.

  14. Milton says:

    Yes “Angry Taxpayer.” You are right. That memo makes it clear that taxpayers are funding the legal representation to defend those accused of wrongdoing at the school system. This includes the head of construction and all the others who facilitated Gallagher’s bribe by letting her tell them how to vote on projects.
    It would be nice if the Legislature did something, but they won’t. Historically, they don’t have the guts. Isn’t that right Nan Rich, Eleanor Sobel, Evan Jenne?