Fat Cats Seek Money For School Bond PAC






The fat cats behind the pro-school bond political committee are setting up fund raisers with invitations going to deep-pocketed  Fort Lauderdale business types, lobbyists and others who would benefit from more school construction.

Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools was formally established three weeks ago.  It is designed to entice voters into approving $800 million in new bonds for the School Board.

The good news for the silent majority against the bond?

The PAC is the creation of the Broward Workshop, a group of local business leaders.  The Workshop has a horrible political track record.

Workshop folks were behind two other efforts to raise taxes for schools and a third to raise taxes for a commuter rail system.

All three efforts of the Workshop to raise taxes failed.

The name Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools itself is misleading.  Dare I say, a lie.

The use of the word “Safe” first the name is designed to trick voters into believing that safety is a top priority.  Child safety sells, but it amounts to less than 20 cents of every dollar of the bond.

But that won’t stop the PAC from using police officers in pro-bond ads — although this $800 million won’t pay 10 cents  to put more cops in the schools.

The priority list is so squishy voters can’t really tell exactly what “safety” the bond money will provide.  Superintendent Robert Runcie said schools will get new, stronger entry ways and fences to keep out intruders, but some of the schools on the list already had those improvements.   So your guess is as good as mine.

PAC chairman is long-time Workshop member Alan Levy, a 70-Something downtown Fort Lauderdale agriculture tycoon. Levy is a long-time outspoken supporter of public education, probably the only one of this bunch.

Levy has a habit of backing the school administration. Levy was part of the failed effort to save former Superintendent Frank Till’s job, despite Till’s record of mismanagement and misspending. I don’t expect Levy to be anything but a cheerleader for Runcie.

Treasurer of this group is Ronald D. Finkelstein, an accountant for big businesses and another Workshop member. Finkelstein, who has an office on Las Olas Boulevard, kicked in $100 to start the PAC.

The group has hired Melanie Brenner, a California-based political consultant with dozens of campaigns under her belt. Brenner once handled publicity for the Kravitz Center in West Palm Beach. She ran a losing 1992 race for state Senate against Republican stalwart William “Doc” Myers of Hobe Sound.

Robert “Bob” DiLella, who has an interesting past in Broward, is also part of the PAC campaign team.

Delella worked for years with campaign consultant/lobbyist Judy Stern.  He was her go-to designer for mail advertising. He handled the campaign advertising for such Stern clients as County Commissioners Lois Wexler and Kristin Jacobs, Judge Andrew Seigel and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

During those years, Stern was a leading lobbyist at the School Board.

Stern and DiLella had a bitter split a few years ago.  DiLella now works a great deal with Michael Ahearn, another campaign consultant and occasional lobbyist.

The PAC will pack its fundraiser with the same ol’ crowd of lobbyists and business types, many of them Republicans, who stand to make some money if the bonds are passed.

It is interesting that some of these same people backed Republicans like Gov. Rick Scott who are behind the repeated spending cuts for schools in Tallahassee. I guess now that there is money to be made, they have changed their tune.



26 Responses to “Fat Cats Seek Money For School Bond PAC”

  1. No Stern says:

    The Judy Stern connection is a killer. If this wins, will she be back in the drivers seat at the School Board.

  2. Irony says:

    Until the workshop crowd figures out how to run a modern campaign, they are doomed to failure. Money is critical but there is so much more to it.

  3. mythbuster says:

    Everyone knows Stern has little or nothing to do with Seiler’s campaigns since he left the House. Seiler has run his own campaigns using Ahearn as an advisor and DiLella for mail.

    This is part of the reason for the speculation that Stern is behind a potential run for Mayor by Comm Terntalis or Comm Bruce Roberts. Remember Stern was involved with the campaigns of DuBose, Dean and directly ran the Bruce Roberts campaign last election. These are the same three that voted against Seiler on the gay marriage vote, leaving the Mayor open to some of the harshest criticism of his career.

    Losing the Gibbons race, Stern is down to one vote at the County Commission, Wexler.

    When she loses one city i.e. Miramar, Davie or the School Board she tries to move on to another governmental body. She lost the CC now she will try to move on to Fort Lauderdale.

    Stern knows win or lose Seiler’s need for her is done. If he goes to Tallahassee for a statewide run, she is useless.

    If you find this hard to believe, give Stern’s former best galpal Mayor Lori Mosley a call.

    Everyone knows with Stern, to her you are as good as your are useful. Seiler, like Mosley, Even Jenne, the Rodstroms, Angelo Castillo, Scott Israel, Mosley, and many many others, have learned this first hand.

  4. Psychic89 says:

    Looks like a love letter packed with taxpayer boodle for the local building industry and Lord knows what other business interests.

  5. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    1995 redux. What a bunch.

    I think the voters get it now and I’d be really, really surprised if it passes.

  6. Herman says:

    The district has been on a downhill slide since Runcie arrived. He put his Chicago man in charge of transportation, the buses couldn’t arrive on time. Nothing happened to him. IT is a mess and nothing works since the Chicago mob took over. Runcie’s front office has been on a hiring binge (22.5 percent pay increases), while classrooms and other offices suffer. School employees know that if this passes, we are stuck with Runcie and his Chicago mob forever which is just one reason why we won’t support this farce.

  7. Poor judy says:

    I heard Stern tried to give Runcie her resume at a Broward Days event awhile back. The references were mostly covered with whiteout except for Perry and Gibbons. Most likely Gibbons now has whiteout.

  8. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    I always despise people like mythbuster who blog with statements that I know from principals are lies. Commissioners bobby Dubose voted on the gsy redo based on personal thoughts n in the case of one if not both were still thinking about the issue on the day of the vote. As for stern plotting a trantalas race that’s not on the table if mythbuster had any knowledge he’d know the commissioner trantalis won in our district by something like 19 votes n in his race against Seiler less than 20%. Commissioner Bruce Roberts is hopefully a future mayor but I doubt wud run against Seiler as in 4 years Seiler will be running statewide. As soon as you see a fake name you know the posting will be garbage

  9. FTL Voter says:

    PACs are used for only to spin and lie. If the schools have to spin and lie, they can’t be trusted.

  10. LOL says:

    Sun-Sentinel, July 18, 2014:

    “Ronald Finkelstein, principal in charge at Morrison, Brown, Argiz and Farra, a public accounting firm in Fort Lauderdale, said some county employment could be lost if corporate tax rates are not lowered to be more competitive with other countries.”


  11. Lol says:

    Funny the real Count lives in Miami Beach not in Ftl.


    He claims you are wrong.

  12. Jacksonville joe says:

    I heard Gibbons was seen moving all of his worldly possessions from his Broward residence over the weekend. One suit from the cleaners, a campaign shirt, a shaving kit and a package of skittles.

  13. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    As the Broward co tax appraiser site indicates I purchase my home in ft Lauderdale in November 2012 after residing in ft Lauderdale since 2014 as a rental tenant. As I said lol n other liars hiding behind false names Mr begins shouldn’t be permitted to post their garbage with giving their real names

  14. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Correction, rental tenant since 2004.

  15. Coincidence says:

    It appears the Count and Robert Walsh have very similar writing styles.


    Not really.

  16. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    When they stop talking about you Judy than worry. Lets take some of these comments here. First of all #3 Mrs.Stern has worked on both Mayor Seiler’ campaigns(plural). Also you state she has lost all her contacts @ the county huh. Comm.Wexler is not chump change(nor is Marge). As far as this rift between Judy and Mike Ahearn, well it doesn’t help w. you and your sidekick Mr.Stone calling her daughter the “C” word. Who is this other sidekick that was @ Stone’s book deal this Miller guy (is he gay?). I say Judy we go out to Vegas. Oscar is causing chaos w. the wife as mayor. I say we hit it big @ the “tables”(I got it covered) and then buy Mike Ahearn A RAZOR…..

  17. Sam The Sham says:

    I think the Shitty Activist ghost writes for Count Chocula on occasion. Or maybe sometimes the Count just bends his elbow a bit before writing.

    Buddy knows or has access to my real name and won’t let too inflammatory stuff out on his blog. If everyone had to post their real name here, the blog “responses” would be about as exciting as dirt.

  18. Right on Robert says:

    I notice that Stern’s good friend Walsh doesn’t deny or object to the claim that Stern is plotting to run Dean for Mayor and orchestrated the gay marriage vote as a springboard for Dean’s mayoral run.

    Robert is no fool, he is friends with the Rodstroms’ he knows Judy screwing over old friends to survive is another day at the office.

  19. BailBond says:

    I work in a Broward School and just read the list of items and costs for my building should this bond pass. It is totally absurd.
    Ridiculous items, so overpriced it looks like the Defense Dept wrote it up. Inflated by millions, just in ONE school. The stuff on the list is mostly unnecessary and I think pure fabrication. They just intend to get the money and then flitter it away to favorite contractors, lobbyists and the pockets of SBBC Execs, their friends and numerous assorted piglets at the trough. There are definite needs, but this list reads like a rich kids’s Christmas list. All the while, we have students in classes of 40, teachers stretched to the max, and no textbooks. The new name for this is the S&S: Sham and Shame!
    Vote NO NO NO…. Let the lobbyists go cry in the corner and let the School Board go to Plan B which does NOT rape the taxpayers.

  20. PAC your bags RR... says:

    Are we surprised that the corrupt Chicago politician is trying to get the “safety” vote? Runcie thought he could convince his employees to pass his bond but the morale throughout the district is at an all time low. This may be the most corrupt senior staff this county has seen in years! At this point, the only PAC that gets my vote is the one that sends Robert Runcie PACKING!

  21. Serpent of BCPS says:

    “All three efforts of the Workshop to raise taxes failed.” Incompetence seems to be a pattern for Runcie and his regime. Runcie and his staff fail to tell the truth, fail to follow policy and fail to do what’s best for Broward County. The “Serpent” of Broward County Schools is desperate. His plan to sit back and let the Board take the fall for his shady dealings and his lying staff didn’t work. BCPS employees know the truth, the parents know the truth and the voters know the truth. Unfortunately for Mr. Runcie, the Board is in tact and the honeymoon is over.

  22. Becky Blackwood says:

    My only comment is there was no transportation issue this year that I was aware of. Last year yes and efforts were made to correct them. New buses were purchased with GPS, less expensive to run and will pay for themselves. Did I miss something? I believe in the facts not innuendos. Fact: the District does need to repair its schools to provide healthy environments for their students, teachers, employees and the public who visit there. What is your solution if the bond does not pass and what recommendations can you use your political power to stop the corruption. The process for the School Assessment Needs is a start – the costs is another issue and the outside vendor providing the costs may be the issue which should be addressed by Superintendent Runcie. As I said before, what is required BY LAW to be installed in schools is not the same as a residence or a commercial building because of the age and innocence of the students who spend their days their with just one teacher per classroom to supervise them.

  23. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Becky, we were lied to a couple of years ago and told all the schools had single points of entry, and when we tried to get the person to the Facilities Task Force meeting to explain why that wasn’t true, he refused to come.

    There’s no reason to think anything’s changed when the same people are in charge.

    What will happen if the bond fails? The district will have to do the critical projects by prioritizing not politically, but rationally and using data.

    It will also need to consolidate underutilized facilities, do more repurposing and possibly close some schools.

    The flawed process was exposed by Nathalie Lynch-Walsh, Chair of the Facilities Task Force. The district did not follow the pattern that the company used prior. The debacle of the list was exposed by Mary Fertig at a recent Workshop.

    It’s not rumor nor innuendo. It’s on tape and online for anyone to see.

  24. Becky Blackwood says:


    The single point of entry information was provided to the Needs Assessment staff by the head of Safety Jerry Graziose. Jerry has a budget of approximately $2 million dollars per year to address safety issues. Single point of entry projects are his baby. It is his program. Jerry has been a fixture at the District for years even before I was hired in 1996. Enough said.

    As to the Needs Assessment data, this is the first time this type of data has been assembled on each and every school in Broward County, to my knowledge. I did Needs Assessment when I first was hired as a project manager. The information was accumulated by the project managers by discussions with the principals at each school or their representative and then the process started anew again 5 years later. There was no accumulated historical computerized data left from the previous assessment In those assessments, there was no info regarding each schools’ maintenance deficiencies. There was no data from Safety for each school on safety deficiencies. There was no data for technology deficiencies at each school. Yes, there are errors in the present data drive Needs Assessments for each school; but when does the public want to accept a new concept which is available for their review on the District’s website – decide for themselves; ask questions at school and area meetings or at workshops about the data to achieve the best information possible.

    I was at 2 of the workshops and I also heard the data would be used to repurpose schools, consolidate underutilized facilities or close a “BUILDING”, not necessarily a school, if it is in poor condition or not being used. Not all of the data is in and won’t be until next month.

    As I said before, I have not fully committed to the bond yet; but I am watching the information being distributed and if all of the information provided proves to address yours and others issues, I will decide at that time. Bring your issues forward to the Needs Assessment staff as Mary has done. Now there is another investigation team going to each of the schools to verify the true status of Jerry’s information posted on line. Thank you Mary for bringing it forward. She has been a diligent and patient community activist. Let’s get the true and/or missing facts and put them on the table and see if they are responded to. If they don’t (Messier and Runcie), then it’s time for them to go. But we are the 6th largest school district in the U. S. and there will be errors. Nathalie has brought her issues to Runcie and Messier and they are listening but if they don’t do anything about the true issues, then you are right, we are committing the same problems over and over again.

    Again, it is my understanding the charter schools will be getting a significant sum of money for technology from this bond. Since they received all of the maintenance money from the state last year, I have a problem with charter schools crying foul. If they received all of the maintenance money, what do you think happened to Broward County Schools without State maintenance funds – improved or deteriorated?

    As to facts, keep writing bloggers about them. I can only hope Messier and Runcie are reading your facts about the county’s school buildings to eliminate those errors such as the single entry projects info provided by the department head who is responsible for those projects. Go on the Broward Schools website to get info on your area school, ask the questions if there is missing information. Be a part of the process and not a part of the problem.

  25. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Sam the sham. Sham means fake or fraud which I am not. As a published. I.e. I get paid to write in my field, history, I never have others right for me, and my views n knowledge are not hidden under phoney blog names but said in light st ft Lauderdale city meetings not illegal lobbying meets Randy Hilliard minion Ss you escape another criminal indictment or another loosing campaign like Michael gongoras

  26. Sam The Sham says:

    Count Chocula,

    It is great that you get paid for your writing, and all. I hope you take a little more care with your grammar, spelling and composition than you do here.

    Maybe I should get paid to write too! After all, I can string a few coherent sentences together once in a while. Count, after seeing some of your writing samples here, I would not boast that I never have others write for me. If I were you that is. Just saying.