Outgoing School Board’s Last Minute Big Contract With Attorney


A $266,654 contract to give longtime School Board attorney Ed Marko an extra year’s employment is being rammed through a week before the new School Board takes office.

The contract appointing Marko “general counsel emeritus” is due to be voted on at next Tuesday’s meeting, the last meeting of the outgoing School Board.

The new Board will be sworn in a week later, on Nov. 16.

The Board has chosen a replacement for Marko as general counsel, but new legal head James Stokes is a former California police officer and a city attorney in Palm Bay, Florida.  He has no real experience with education law.

“It makes you wonder why they hired somebody without the relevant experience,” said one education activist. 

Marko and the Board are negotiating a new salary for Stokes, who is expected to get $180,000 to $216,000.

The deal was always that Marko would stay on for a year to teach the next general counsel the ropes.  Stokes has to learn how to run the five-lawyer School Board legal department and become acquainted with the fine points of the often-arcane education law.

“He’s supposed to be a mentor to the new guy. I would certainly like that job, said incoming Board member Nora Rupert. “That’s a lot of money.”

Rupert complained that the deal was being “rushed before she could take office along with three other new members elected to the nine-member Board this year. 

At least one other new member is complaining about the timing of the Marko contract, Rupert said.

There is no doubt that Marko, who has been working at the School Board since 1968, has a lot he can teach the new attorney.  His help is needed, but why push it at the last minute?

Will the school system ever learn that perception is everything?  Shoving this through in the final moments of the old Board makes the deal look shady.

The incoming Board members will surely understand that Marko’s experience and knowledge is needed, at least a little while longer.

This rushed vote not the way to start a relationship with the new members. Put some trust in their judgment.  The voters did.

 Here is next week’s agenda item:

H-1. Employment Agreement for General Counsel Emeritus Edward J. Marko      (C) 

Approve the Employment Agreement for General Counsel Emeritus Edward J. Marko

The First Amendment to Employment Agreement for General Counsel, dated November 10, 2009, between The School Board of Broward County, Florida and Edward J. Marko provides that:

    Upon expiration of this Employment Agreement, MARKO will transition into an  emeritus position.  The role, salary, duties, and responsibilities of this position will be  further developed by THE SCHOOL BOARD and MARKO prior to August 31, 2011.

On September 21, 2010, The School Board approved the role, duties, and responsibilities at its first reading of the Job Description and Minimum Qualifications for the General Counsel Emeritus Position.  The final reading of the Job Description  is scheduled for the November 9, 2010 School Board meeting as CC-4.

The Legal Services Committee met on September 7, 2010 and after discussion, unanimously recommended the approval of the attached Employment Agreement for the General Counsel Emeritus for a term commencing January 1, 2011 and ending December 31, 2011.

The financial impact to the district, including benefits is $266,654.  The source of funds is the General Fund unappropriated fund balance. 

31 Responses to “Outgoing School Board’s Last Minute Big Contract With Attorney”

  1. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Clapping! I was wondering that myself last night why this was on the agenda. Maybe some one the Board will defer the item until the new Board members are seated.

  2. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    If I am one of the new school board members, I call for a vote of confidence on old Jimmy Notter at the first meeting. How much disrespect can an administrator show his new bosses, by putting through the contract of the long time school board mummy,..oops, i mean attorney, who by the way, answers directly to the school board members. What a railroad deal! And if the new school board attorney doesn’t have the experience to step in immediately from day one, he should never have been hired to begin with…and by the way, why was he hired at all, just before his 4 (out of 9) new bosses, weren’t even sworn in yet. what the fuck was the big, out of control rush….hmmmmmmmmm….what’s up between Notter and Marko, anyway,,,why is old Jimmy boy hiring the new attorney before the new 4 members are sitting and why is Mr. M(ummy)arko being given his sweetheart deal before the new 4 members are sitting?

    Ms. Rupert and the brand new 3, you are being insulted from the get go…don’t take it, we need all of you to clean up the mess Notter has continued from his predecessors, the horrible culture (HEY, LET’S BUILD THE NEW WESTON HIGH SCHOOL IN THE EVERGLADES SO RONNIE BERGERON CAN MAKE LOOOOOOOOOTS OF MONEY AND FUCK THE ENVIRONMENT AND KID’S SAFETY, WE SURE DID COME AWFUL CLOSE TO THAT DEBACLE)….

    Ms. Good, Ms. Rupert, Hands of Stone (Manos de Piedras!) Thomas, and Ms. Levinson, take a stand against this emeritus gift, and seriously, look at the background of the new attorney and if you don’t feel he is up to grade, terminate his deal and move on. does he answer to you or Notter? Answer, he answers to you, but Notter, with his concocted selection committee of the old guard, got him in before you could weigh in, at an alarmingly accelerated pace, which should make you ask Why, Jimmy boy? Don’t accept the status quo, REDEFINE IT! MAKE US BELIEVE WE HIRED YOU BECAUSE YOU WOULD BRING THE CHANGE WE NEED SO DESPARATELY!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is typical of the shifty underhanded school administration to try and sneak this through with the Board they know they can control. Notter is probably worried that he can’t control the new members.

  4. OUTRAGEOUS says:

    This is simply outrageous, outrageous, outrageous, outrageous, burn the building down level outrageous!

  5. S only says:

    Is this a joke? OMG!

  6. ScubaDiver says:

    This is why the old board lost their jobs to begin with. Shady deals, too much loyalty to Notter, and spending OUR money on Marko – who should have been fired long ago – and a trainee who should have never been hired.
    New Board – you have your work cut out for you. Plenty of money for their favorites and none for kids.

    Fire Notter and his minions on Nov 17

  7. watcher says:

    The above comments are pretty short-sighted…Marko’s real failings over the past few years was that he was being out-lawyered by some younger and aggressive super-lawyers in contract negotiations with outside vendors….this new guy better be smart and tough…keeping Marko’s knowlegde in the mix is smart and a big advantage to this new attorney

  8. Tony Montana says:

    The new Board needs to clean house. This move is outrageous. How can Murray and Gottlieb agree to this without waiting for the opinions of the new members?

  9. Resident says:

    If they follow Roberts Rules of Order, I wonder if they ever heard of a “Reconsideration.”

  10. watcher says:

    the problem is you people assign the worst motives to everyone…Marko is not a crook ..he’s past his prime…a recent big bruhaha I recall is the interpretation of a construction contract. Marko didnt see the rub and the contractor got away with more than he should…cleaver criminals dont leave that kind of evidence

  11. Hammerhead says:

    Marko should be making no more than half of what he was making before to be a “mentor” to the new guy. He shouldn’t even get that opportunity. If the new guy does not have the tools to do the job without the assistance of “old bones” then he shouldn’t get the job…period. This is nothing more than a gift for an old friend who will help to “explain” the files to the newcomer…that is, if he even successfully negotiates a contract. Remember, if he does not complete negotiations, Marko will always hang around a little longer.

  12. watcher says:

    good thought..perhaps the new guy gets the staff and setup…that has value unless you trust the school staff to set up the office…haha thud

  13. outraged citizen says:

    We say we have no money but we can double up on our lead lawyers. Let’s see $266,000 plus office and staff, that’s an awful lot of money to be a helper bee. It could pay for approx. 23 or more unique aides, which is something that the children need. But who cares what’s good for the children when we can have double dipping and cronyism. Remember we have no money because Tallahassee won’t give it to us. I wonder why?

  14. Michael Mayo says:

    Nice job, Buddy.

    Here’s my take:


  15. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Granted Ed Marko knows school law, he has been asked to speak all of this great country. However, he does have staff that know their stuff. wonder why they didn’t get the job or maybe they didn’t want it????? A recall for a vote of confidence for Notter is the first step of the new Board.

  16. Nicholas Steffens says:

    I can’t believe I agree with Jucevic.

  17. Broward Cleansweep says:

    Always ask who is for it and who is against it. If Jusevic is against it can one assume Kraft is against it too?

  18. Hammerhead says:

    So why wouldn’t Phyllis Hope yank this item? She was just ousted and should not be happy to see Marko get 8x what she would have been paid if she wasn’t ousted. Could it be that she needs Marko to opine that she should get her old job back with the district now that she is no longer a board member? Just a thought that I was thinking that they might be thinking.

    What on earth would make Notter want to push this through? Could it be that he wants to ensure the smooth transition to the post of Principal without any legal hassles? That was negotiated into his contract. Maybe Marko would be there to help Notter in any future event in return for bringing this “gift” to the school board alter.

    The arrogance exhibited in this deal is very hard to understand to the outsider, but as Buddy knows it is par for the course. Sadly, we are seeing one of two things, more inside dealings intended to rip off the taxpayers while the custodians of the money facilitate bogus deals, or more interestingly is the concept of an undercover sting being documented to seal any remaining convictions regarding official misconduct on the part of the current “survivors”.

    Either way, the tax payers’ interest is so far from the decision making process that it is very frightening. I can only hope that those with pure and true motives will do the right thing before another penny is wasted.

    By the way, the timing is interesting when contrasted with the civil suit Buddy wrote about. I wonder if there is any quid pro quo involved in this tsunami of questionable activity following the tsunami of political change?

  19. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    I have been suggesting that Marko needed to go for several years now. I was opposed to a year’s contract extension, and I am opposed to giving him a year’s time to transition the legal office. There is no reason for the District to spend that kind of money when a year’s time isn’t necessary to effect a transition.

    The Board had a process to hire a new attorney. The process was followed and they are negoiations with the new attorney. Three months would be more that sufficient to make a smooth transition.

  20. Corey Whiner says:

    @Cleansweep – irrelevant is a word that seems to allude you. Say Hi to your roommate but speak loudly since the aged are hard of hearing.

  21. Marko must go says:

    They should defer the item about Marko but they have to go forward with the contract for his replacement. Otherwise, if they start over again, Marko will once again be in place for another year!!

    Marko should not be given a cush job but could always be hired as a consultant if he is needed.

  22. Lpeerman33063 says:

    In your opinion why do you think the board put this on the agenda before the new members are sworn in? I’m curious because it appears to me to give the appearance of something inappropriate. Let’s not blame Notter because no matter what anyone says Notter works for the board and the board works for us so the chair can or could have stopped this from even being put on the agenda. My guess is that it is being presented as a sense of urgency or he could find somewhere else to work type thing. Actually the correct thing would have been to hire someone for him to train during his last year instead of after he is done seems like a win win situation for someone.

  23. Dan Reynolds says:

    And did you notice the outgoing County Commission is about to vote on a multi-million dollar contract with wackenhut (yes the same company embroiled in an over billing scandal with the PORT of Miami) to provide security at Port everglades.

  24. School Board Attorney’s Big Contract Cancelled : BrowardBeat.com says:

    […] November 5, 2010Dan Reynolds on Outgoing School Board’s Last Minute Big Contract With Attorney […]

  25. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Le, two words, Bob Parks. Just my opinion.

  26. Union Corruption says:

    The only thing Dan Reynolds cares about is making sure his union members keep getting raises to do less work no matter what that does to taxpayers. The AFL/CIO endorsement only goes to candidates that basically agree to do whatever he wants.

    Talk about culture of corruption.
    Where else do you find so blatant a quid pro quo than unions endorsing local politicians.

    County and city ethics rules should ban accepting any endorsements from unions under contract with those governments. Period. Laws should be changed so that unions cannot endorse candidates same as other non-profits. End this arm twisting and labor corruption.

    Labor negotiations need to be approached by officials who are unbiased and fair. End union corruption and bring back honesty.

  27. FactSayer says:

    I am one of those BTU people who were laid off in June by these corrupt, incompetent scoundrels and not called back. We all had excellent evaluations and many years more seniority than other co-workers who were kept on but were laid off anyway by these criminals. I would like to ask the superintendent how it is that his office denied my request to bump into a job that I exceeded the requirements for when he just hired some six-figure attorney who has no experience in education and needs a $267K baby-sitter? To hell with Jen-Jen, I’m calling an attorney!

  28. Hammerhead says:


    I have already asked out here that the incoming board members look at all HR moves, Policy decisions and procurement issues. There have been many very bad and very questionable moves made over the last year or so.

    Qualified people have lost their jobs and livelihoods to cronies and family members with less seniority. Policies have been made to give the impression that broken things are fixed (think blue ribbon commission). Purchases have been made that defy logic. Supplies are purchased at prices that you or I could get off the street. That is not buying power, that is bad management. If the money is going to a friend or family member it could be criminal.

    I have asked out here that the incoming board members look into the HR files to see the qualifications of high level staff. It is critical that the cronies and family members are identified and dealt with. That is a pig too big for taxpayers to feed. Remember the old saying: Pigs get fat and Hogs get slaughtered.

    This blog is viewed by all the players and that group includes the incoming board members. If they don’t take a critical look and deal with these issues accordingly and fairly, then they will face the unrelenting scrutiny of an engaged and educated public with a voice as loud as the world wide web. This ain’t no temporary situation.

    It is up to them, but I agree with you. If you have more seniority and skills to bump per contract, you should not have been bumped out so that the small group of project manager 3s could be spared and paid hush money. That is not fair or in agreement with contract language, that is a gift (think Marko) for those who went along with so many of the agenda items that are only now really starting to make sense to the public.

    HR department…please turn your head and cough. It is time for a complete physical. I hope you have your “ducks in a row”.

  29. FactSayer says:

    @ Hammerhead,
    I have official school board documents, union correspondence, reference letters, emails from HR, and copies of the minutes from the Board meeting where some Board members questioned the layoff procedures and wanted to hold the approval vote on the layoffs because they were inundated with calls from employees who claimed they were let go in violation of their union contracts ( I believe it was the June 2 meeting) and wanted time to adequately review the process. Unfortunately, Notter and Diaz insisted that it couldn’t wait and rushed the vote through. Thank you for looking into this, though. Things are tough and finding another job in education is not easy right now. Many of us are good hard workers who put our hearts into our jobs. We had more seniority than our co-workers, but we just didn’t have the political connections they did which is why they were spared. Thanks again.

  30. Hold on a minute ! says:

    The CC-4 agenda item, approving the creation of the “emeritus” position, needs to be canned before Tuesday.

    The creation of that new “emeritus” position in CC-4 is necessary for them to keep Marko on the payroll.

  31. Decision on Marko Set After Thanksgiving : BrowardBeat.com says:

    […] Marko’s contract expires at the end of the year.  The School Board administrators tried to sneak through a new $266,654 one-year contract for Marko before the newly-elected members were sworn in, but it was cancelled after Browardbeat.com revealed the move. […]