Gunzburger Suggests County Could Take Jails From Lamberti



Who will operate the jail is in play.

Taking the detention division away from Sheriff Al Lamberti will be discussed by the county commission in June. predicted the jail operation would be debated here.

County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger told that she will ask for a study to see if the county government could run the jails cheaper than the sheriff.

Gunzburger suspects that Lamberti pads the $233-plus million jail budget and uses the money in other areas. 

“If we’re looking to economize, maybe its time we look at whether we can save money this way, Gunzburger says. “We might be able to do it more efficiently.

Her idea is that the 1,700 jail employees would work for a county administrator she mentioned Pete Corwin who would be the chief of the detention system.

“I’m not interested in doing this unless we can save money, Gunzburger says.

Once this plan is floated, is it right to restrict the debate from discussing another way possibly to save money privatization?

Lobbyists will be pressing the commission to widen the debate. Don’t commissioners owe it to taxpayers to at least explore the cost savings?

Gunzburger vows to never vote for privatization.

Under Gunzburger’s plan, the sheriff would have nothing to do with the jail…except supply prisoners.  

Gunzburger says she has been contacted by some deputies who like the idea. 

Others may not like it that they no longer work for a law enforcement agency.

A question to answer in the debate: Would detention deputies still be able to transfer to the rest of Broward Sheriff’s Office? They theoretically can do that today, although it doesn’t happen often. Guest Columnist Sam Fields was part of the last look at privatization in 1993.  He represented the private prison firm — Corrections Corporation of America.

The late Sheriff Ron Cochran had just been elected and was facing opposition from within BSO and from some on the commission.

Fields, through his childhood friend and Commission strongman Scott Cowan, wanted Cochran to bid against private firms to operate the jail. The one with the cheapest bid would get the job.

Under pressure from commissioners, Cochran suddenly found $11.5 million waste he could cut. Then he dug in his heels and fiercely fought against any bidding process.

It was a very tough fight. It’s should be a reminder to Gunzburger and the commission how nasty politics can get when it involves law enforcement. 

Certain elements in the law enforcement community this has happened in Fort Lauderdale, too have a tendency to act out when they feel their generous (some would say overly generous) benefits are threatened. 

Fields remembers one hearing at the county commission:

“I was walking into the commission and these cops were jostling me.  These were supposed law enforcement officers and they were bumping into me in a threatening manner, Fields says. “I went up to Cochran to tell him and he just laughed at it.

In the end, commissioners couldn’t stand the heat.  All except Cowan voted against even accepting a bid from private jail companies.

Gunzburger’s plan is the first step to really examine the cost of the jails since then.

Short of budgetary tricks, operating the jail as a county bureaucracy is unlikely to save real money. 

Privatize firms realize savings by cancelling out-of-control pension costs and replacing them with 401Ks. Private firms water down the work rules that the county commissioners sign to placate their union supporters.  

Gunzburger is right.

In a budgetary crisis, every cost should be examined for potential savings. That includes their commission costs, too.  From the parks and libraries to their own staffs. 

Otherewise,  this look at the jail looks like retribution against a Republican sheriff by Democratic commissioners. Otherwise, it looks like an attempt to scapegoat Lamberti for high expenseswhen commissioners are unwilling to make meaningful cuts themselves.

Here is the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s story on Gunzburger’s proposal.


13 Responses to “Gunzburger Suggests County Could Take Jails From Lamberti”

  1. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    I have never met anyone so one-sided, anti-Lamberti as the day I met Gunzburger. Her animosity seemed to stem back to the campaign to make people more aware of child drownings in the area. Although Lamberti created a campaign after Gunzburger already had one going, his seemed to be more effective. She took offense, upset that Lamberti was stealing her glory, rather than realizing that the end result (making people more aware of the issue) was really what should have mattered.

    Gunzburger would be hard pressed to prove to me that this isn’t, as Buddy hinted at, retribution against a Republican sheriff by Democratic commissioners.

  2. Short History Lesson says:

    When residents needed the county commission to show leadership and deal firmly with this county’s fire rescue mess, their response was to send Broward Fire Rescue to BSO. They never really cared about the issue in the first place, so the safe political move was to let BSO worry about it.

    When families needed to expand our children’s programs, the commission refused to appropriate more dollars for kids. Instead we were forced to create a totally duplicative taxing bureaucracy in addition to the one the county has. The commission’s thinking? If people want to vote themselves higher taxes for kids, fine so long as they don’t blame the county commission. How’s that for leadership.

    This is the same group that can’t expand a runway at the airport despite 20 years of effort, or build a convention center hotel. They talk about affordable housing but have next to none. They blame BSO for overspending but give raises to their own staff in the midst of a financial collapse.

    Now we hear BSO’s jails are in trouble. It will take strong leadership to resolve the problems. Are we seriously to believe that the Broard County Commission is somehow the answer?

  3. Lamberti Knew says:

    Al Lamberti knew nothing would ever be the same once the county audit report came out showing that his city contracts had been illegally subsidized for years by county general tax dollars. He knew this meant the end to the BSO empire as we knew it. He knew there wouldn’t be one commissioner left willing to subsidize BSO any longer. He knew that without that concession the BSO budget can’t balance, that it would take very deep cuts, possibly one or two thousand jobs would need to roll, just to balance the budget.

    He knew all of this well before even running for Sheriff because he was already the Sheriff, and had also been at BSO for years. He knew the deal perfectly well. He absolutely knew that he wouldn’t have money to pay for the raises PBA demanded in return for their endorsement. But he promised it to them anyway just to get elected.

    Now his chickens have all come home to roost. This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. He is the Sheriff. He won the election, and now he’s got to balance his budget just like everybody else.

  4. come on... says:

    If the Commish gets detention then all it will mean is a new set of lobbiests who contribute to the County Commission will get dibs on contracts at the jail

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    Privitization has not worked ANYWHERE in the country at a county jail. BSO has one of the largest county jails in the country, people are crazy to think privitization could work here. I know LAWYERS will be salavating over suing the county for mistreatment of inmates. Get ready for the LAWSUITS Broward!

  6. Proud Democrat says:

    Lamberti didn’t “create” a public service campaign against drowning. All he did was duplicate the successful and long-standing School Board’s Swim Central program. The late Carole Andrews pioneered Swim Central years ago, long before Lamberti was Sheriff. Lamberti only did that anti-drowning thing to promote his own name and picture on glossy cards given to voters (but printed wiith tax dollars).

  7. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    You are simply repeating what I said, but then adding the anti-Lamberti twist. Perhaps Lamberti should have funneled his dollars into Swim Central (if he would have even been allowed to) in order to appease your ego, but the end result is that more people were made aware of the issue. That, in my opinion, is a justifiable end result.

  8. All Wrong says:

    Carole Andrews had nothing to do with creating Swim Central. it was Ilene Lieberman on behalf of the county, Diana Wasserman-Rubin at the school board, and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz at the State House that put that together.

  9. Curious says:

    Does Gunzberger have a personal animosity against the BSO resulting from her daughter’s short-lived employment there and quick temination? On the other hand, Wasserman-Rubin’s daughter has proved herself a valuable employee for the Sheriff. It is time to expose the core hatred among the commissioners for Lamberti; it goes a lot further tham Dems vs. Rep. Scott Israel lost: Get over it and think of the 1.8 million poeple here at home.

  10. Blue Man Scoop says:

    Jenne was the king of glossy cards at taxpayer expense. I remember friends having to slap his name and the sheriff’s logo on every emergency supply given out in 2004-2005. What’s worse?

  11. Blue Eyed Truth says:

    Little Ron gunzburger sat on a wall
    Little Ron gunsburger tried not to fall
    When Sue lost her reelection
    Ron lost his protection
    He ended up working in the Mall.

  12. Real Democrat says:

    I didn’t know that Steve Geller was a poet.

  13. The Truth About Geller says:

    It’s not that Steve Geller wants to be a county commissioner. He really doesn’t. He thinks local politics is beneath him. It’s that he feels he has no choice. Either he runs for the county or faces his political end. And he can’t give up the political gravy train just yet. The problem is he’s a legend in his own mind and not nearly as popular as he thinks. Worse, he’s trending downward.

    He’d be smarter waiting a few years to run for his old senate seat. People would understand that, and besides, Eleanor Sobel is a complete waste. Nice lady, but let’s get real she’s a joke.

    He will never beat Sue Gunzburger, never. In fact there is no county commission slot anywhere that Geller can win in Broward. None. The more he persists the more his reputation will suffer. More and more information about him will surface. There is a wealth of evidence that Geller is a bag man for developers and insurance companies, always was. He’s got that and much more under his fingernails.

    He’d be wise to take the smart way out before it gets worse for him. Most of his friends are already telling him this but he’s so full of himself that he refuses to listen to reason. In the end he’s his own worst enemy.