School Board Tries To Hide Meeting Run By New $50,000 Consultant


The Broward School Board has some good ideas about changing the way they do business, but they are off to a bad start.

They planned for the changes at what the Miami Herald called two “under-the-radar meetings. 

Maybe they didn’t want the public to know they paid a California consultant up to $50,000 to run the meetings and some in the future.

I couldn’t find the meetings listed on their websites. It was not on their calendar, where every other move they make as a group is usually listed.

Herald writer Patricia Mazzei said the meetings were advertised in the Neighbors Section of The Herald. What about the majority of Broward residents who don’t read the newspapers or who don’t happen to see the ad?

According Mazzei’s interesting story in the Herald, the board members said,“..they cannot be as forthright in their team-building discussions when the media or the public is present.


I call the Board’s attention to Article 1, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution:

“All meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government or of any collegial public body of a county, municipality, school district, or special district, at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public and meetings of the legislature shall be open and noticed as provided in Article III, Section 4(e), except with respect to meetings exempted pursuant to this section or specifically closed by this Constitution.

There is no exemption for “team-building discussions!

Mazzei said the School Board agreed to pay $50,000 for a California consultant to conduct their “team building discussion and other meetings.

That is absolutely outrageous!

The School Board is laying off teachers and cutting budgets. Then they spend $50,000 so they can get along together.

I guess the Board believes we should feel good about the consultant, Bill Mathis, who is described as a management psychologist. Last year he got $100,000.

How out of touch can nine people be?

Granted, some of the Board members need a psychologist. Not a “management” psychologist.  Just a straight up mental health psychologist. But they should pay for that on their own.

That said, the changes that Mazzei outlines in her story sound good.

The Board is going to move around the agendas, scheduling routine presentations and proclamations later in the day. Important issues will be heard first.

Members are promising for the first time to broadcast workshops, where much of the business is done. Member Phyllis Hope foolishly objected to more openness.

Hope is quoted as saying, “We feel very comfortable that we’re not being recorded. I think we have enough media scrutiny.

She’s dead wrong. The School Board has misspending so much our money (The latest: A $50,000 California “team building consultant! ) that it needs more scrutiny, not less.

More scrutiny from the public. More from the media. And unfortunately, more from the FBI.

The School Board, with the exception of Hope, seems to be making moves towards more openness. Unfortunately, the Board made the decisions during an “under-the-radar meeting.

That leads me to wonder whether they are really want more transparency. Or just the appearance of more transparency?.

26 Responses to “School Board Tries To Hide Meeting Run By New $50,000 Consultant”

  1. nothing new says:

    the school board is full of the same politicians that are running south florida– they say they want transparency and often run their campaigns on the platform, yet they can’t wait to be out of the public eye to ‘really’ talk. too bad the apathetic voters continue to elect and reelect the status quo.

  2. Git R Done says:

    Neither, they think they already know what they’re doing.
    Besides, spending more money for information they are able to use, is not a priority to them.
    This is just another way for the SBBC to be able to get things (they want done) without the publics knowledge

  3. joker says:

    this Board is so screwed, they all all voted OUT

  4. Weston parent of two says:

    We don’t want a team that pulls together like a bunch of horses. We want some politicians who speak their own mind and gets things done despite opposition of Notter, like building a new high school in Weston. Fulfill your promises!!!
    $50,000 could have saved a teacher’s job.

  5. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Happy New Year Buddy and Friends:

    It’s been a while since I checked in with you all. On this subject, I’m on record requesting that we reform Sunshine Law provisions that prohibit just about any speech between members of local government boards.

    I am not alone among elected officials in saying that much greater harm is done to the public than good resulting from this highly unorthodox policy, that flies in the face of traditional American democratic policial experience.

    Of course school board members cannot be as forthright in their team-building discussions with colleagues when the media or the public is present. Why would that surprise anyone? How could it be otherwise?

    We sometimes forget that elected officials are people, just like us. We shop at Publix and pump our own gas, we hold jobs and pay bills, we drive our kids to the movies and take out the garbage just like everybody else. But we can’t live like anybody else, and that’s OK in certain ways. We’re supposed to be an example and I’m OK with that. But don’t tell me I can’t say what’s on my mind to anybody I want because that robs me of being a full American.

    Whenever a non-elected person has an issue with a colleage at the office, they get to pull that person aside and have it out with them in a professional and positive way. This is a good and healthy thing. Hopefully, they walk away with with a new understanding, a fresh start, a corrected misimpression. They get to clear the air with someone.

    We in local elected office are denied that ability by law.

    I can’t pull my Mayor aside and ask him “how do you think we as a city should best approach this problem?” I cannot pull one of my colleagues aside and ask them “what is your impression of this new law” unless I do it in public.

    And then, the response that I get, because we are on TV and on the record, is going to be different, assuming I get any response, than what I might hear if we had the opportunity to speak as honorable people representing a community in need. You and I are cheated as a result.

    State Representatives and Senators hold such conversations all the time. They are expected to have those discussions. Members of Congress also, both in the House and Senate. They couldn’t do their jobs without those conversations.

    Not us at the local level in Florida.

    We are denied that ability.

    It makes no sense, it is wrong, it is highly unusual, and after decades of seeing that system work, we are NOT a best practice for how local government should operate. And so there should be no arrogance about maintaining a law, just because it exists, that has no track record for success.

    Barring conversation is not the answer. Better government is the answer.

    The fact is people occasionally need to talk things through, as adults, between colleagues, sometimes off the record. There’s a long, very well understood need for that in the American political tradition. There’s nothing new about it. It’s how we as a nation and state operate. We have operated that way successfully for centuries. Almost all American cities and counties work that way.

    Not so in Florida.

    Any wonder we have so many problems?

    Government work is hard under the best of circumstances. Try doing it with both hands tied behind your back.

    So, of course there’s going to be dysfunction when people can’t talk to one another. Not speaking is definitionally a form of human dysfunctin.

    The loser here is the resident, the community, the student, the voter. Ultimately, that’s who loses.

    Meetings under hot lights transmitted on TV, were commentary is confined within Roberts Rule of Order, is just not always the best forum for elected human beings to make the best decisions for the communities they serve. Sorry if you’ve not heard that before. But it’s true.

    It is an assinine provision to an otherwise great law (Sunshine Law) and that’s why that one provision needs to be reformed.

    So, yes. If there is no greater desire to change the rules, then I would say at least give local boards at least one or two team building opportunities a year where they can communicate with each other plainly. You as the general public will get better government that way.

    I’ve put my reputation on the line being honest and straight forward about this subject. This viewpoint comes after years of studying and operating under this rule. I say without the slightest hesitation: it is in the best interest of Florida to reform this law, keeping the best of our Sunshine Law traditions, while eliminating the failures that stand in the way of us getting better local government.

    I’ve never been more sure about any position I’ve taken on a subject than this one. If you want better local government, if you want to enhance public trust, the place to start is by reforming the Sunshine Law and allowing local officials to speak to one another.

    Best wishes,


    Good to hear from you, Angelo.

    You always have an interesting, well-thought out point of view which causes readers to think.

    This time, however, I think you are wrong.

    The Board made decisions about the way they will conduct their business in the future. They weren’t just in some feel good session where they all joined hands and sang Kumbaya.

    The Sunshine Law was passed after generations of inside dealing by commissioners, who made decisions about our money in private and rubber stamped them in public. The public had no idea how the decisions were made or why they were made.

    Yes, the Legislature is excluded. They do such a good job with their private decision-making? Is there anybody happy with the job that the Legislature does other than the special-interest crowd who seems to get everything it wants in Tallahassee’s clubby atmosphere?

    I’m for total transparency. I believe government officials owe it to the public because they are spending our money.

    Even with the Sunshine Law, the School Board is riddled with corruption in construction contracts and widespread misspending. Giving them a chance to discuss their deals in private is not a step forward.

    I don’t know about Pembroke Pines, which I never really covered. But the Sunshine Law is ignored to a certain extent in almost every government I ever covered.

    I have sat at charity dinners with government officials who openly discuss issues coming up on their agendas among themselves and with me.

    At the county, I have seen commissioners visit one another in their offices and talk about issues coming up on the agendas. Commissioners whisper to each other on the dais. I have heard them trading votes– “if you vote for this, I’ll vote for that” — when they thought the microphones were turned off.

    What about the dinners the Cooper City commission held in a restaurant before the formal meetings? Does anybody believe they didn’t talk business?

    The School Board members already talk among themselves while clostered behind three sets of receptionists at the School Board HQ. I’ve heard them. In addition, I have seen e-mails between members informing each other how they will vote and the reasons they are backing certain positions — a digital violation of the Sunshine Law.

    Maybe the law can be fined tuned. But by tightening it, not carving out loopholes.

  6. Right Wing Reactionary says:

    Two questions:

    Does Joker even know which School Board district he lives in? (Don’t cheat by looking it up.)

    When was the last time Joker voted?

    For such a “screwed” School Board, Bartleman and Gallagher sailed to victory and nobody even bothered to challenge Dinnen or Williams.

    The blog’s all talk and no action.

  7. Karnack and Scorekeeper says:


    This is one more lesson to help you understand the real mission and methodology of the school board.

    First, what they say publicly is generally for the benefit of the historical public record and has very little to do with what they really have planned. For example, the were stating that they were complying with class size reduction requirements while they were building classrooms in areas of the county based on political decisions and benefitting their campaign contributors. The historical record reflects a less sinister storyline. But we really know the truth…don’t we.

    Secondly, they use the most recently departed administrator as the poster child for all that was wrong in the recent past. For example, Garretson will be the scapegoat for all of the ills of the current scandal rocking the district. Problem is that he is responsible, but would never have been able to do it without the consent and direction of the board and their necessary votes of approval.

    Finally, look at the words and actions of…say Maureen Dinnen. She could be discussing an issue from the dais and begin to spit venom at her target if the discussion began to go away from the predetermined outcome. That is an example of how they send both messages and threats to staff in order to control management. But it is important to remember that the job of the board is to set policy and it is the superintendent’s job to implement and enforce the policy.

    When is the last time that the board worked more on policy and balancing student population with the empty seats? Or how about discussing realistic ways to balance a tough budget for an overly-bloated staff…across the board?

    COO, Deputy Superintendents, Area Superintendents, Area Directors, Managers, Supervisors, Foremen, Clerks, Cronies and Family Members are all soaking the budget with very high salaries, many of which should be eliminated or decreased. After all, with a loss of 35,000 students, shouldn’t there be a trim in administrators and other associated staff. That is what happens in the real world, but when taxes pay the bills nobody has to feel the reality of required contraction of staff (and their salaries).

    Just sayin’…

  8. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    You make valid points. My response was more generally aimed at the issue of Sunshine Law and not so much to my friends at the school board.

    But let’s talk about some of the items you mentioned.

    You say Sunshine was passed following years of commissioners making deals in private and no public discussion in public. That is a problem that all of America deals with. It is by no means unique to Florida. The way to deal with that is by increasing disclosure requirements, having memoranda to support legislative intent of laws and so forth. Telling people they can’t speak to one another is not the way to avoid it.

    Yes, in Pembroke Pines, we actually do take the Sunshine Law seriously. I can’t speak to what they do elsewhere, but in Pines it is not welcomed to discuss business with your colleagues, at least that’s how it has been during my time in office. Without question, we would be a better city without that silly prohibition.

    By the way, I am also a believer in transparency. That’s best done through disclosure of conversations had, not through prohibition of conversation. If the rule was disclosure, I’d have no problem with it. But to tell me that I can’t speak to another individual about public matters is insane no matter what the trumped up reason might be. And it cheats people out of better government.

    “If you vote for this I’ll vote for that” has been part of politics since the Greeks invented democracy. It goes on in Congress, it goes on in Tallahassee. It’s called politics and nobody should know that better than you.

    You think it doesn’t happen here? Sure it does, only the lobbyists get to cut the deals instead of the politicians themselves. Some don’t like that idea, and that’s an understandable comment. In a weird way however, we should be thankful for any level of coordination going on under these untenable circumstances. It’s insane trying to do this job well with your mouth shut.

    Vote trading is how we got the Voter’s Rights Act, the Equal Protection Act, Sufferage for Women, Civil Rights, I could go on and on. The history of America happened on the basis of trading votes. That may sound ugly to some but it is a fact. Nobody knows that better than you. It’s not something I’m defending, it’s just a fact that exists.

    Trading votes is one of the oldest political tools in toolbox of democracy, Buddy. It has always been that way. Every office holder decides what and when a trade is warranted. This is why there is so much double talk among federal and state legislators. They know that unless they trade, they get nothing. Ethics in politics is about knowing what to trade and what not to trade for — like personal gain — which is never appropriate.

    With proper disclosure laws, and we begin using an Inspector General system, long overdue in our community, there is nothing to fear from politicians speaking to one another. In the end, we will do better as a result.

    Let me prove it to you.

    Ten years ago, when I was a department head at the county, the major issues were airport expansion, convention center hotel, and affordable housing. Those three are still on the top of the agenda a decade later. Tell me that some additonal discussion among the decision makers might not have made a difference? Think of the billions lost in revenue and jobs as a result?

    Let the commissioners go out to dinner with each other, why should that be a concern? So long as they are not stealing from anyone, so long as the conversation helps both to better represent their residents, why should that be a problem?

    Two Members of Congress have dinner, what are they talking about? How to make America better. Two Florida Senators get together for a drink. What are they talking about? How to make Florida better. Two city commissioners go out to dinner, what do they talk about? How much time they will serve for violating the Sunshine Law. It’s not right.

    No other state insists on what we do at the local level. If the same rules applied to Congress or the State Government, we’d be in chaos, not to mention becoming the laughing stock of the world. This notion that we can’t trust our elected officials, of all things, is just very silly. Floridians need to stop thinking so narrowly about this and allow best practices nationally to creep into our area. We would be better off for the effort.


    FROM BUDDY: …And you make good points.

    On another subject: “My friend from the School Board…?” Isn’t Pembroke Pines in court with them over unfair funding of charter schools or was that settled?
    Although parents love charter schools, the School Board has done everything it can to thwart them.

  9. Donna Quixote says:

    I read Angelo Castillo’s op ed in the Sun Sentinel late last year. This is a rehash, but still shouldn’t get legs. OPEN GOVERNMENT. Transparency. Why can’t an opinion be asked in a public meeting? Most municipal elected officials confer
    “privately” with a City Manager …who may advise the official that the opinion being offered is not in the best interest of the city, the official, the building department, etc.
    For Mr. Castillo to point to the Florida legislature as a body that does NOT work in the Sunshine, and consider that an asset is laughable
    Look at some of the legislation that has been passed, look at the devastating effect those acts have had upon South Florida. Perhaps a little transparency might have mitigated some of the more drastic measures.

  10. Political hack says:

    Commissioner Castillo has made some very valid points.

    Sorry if you disagree Buddy, but the media has become a bloodthirsty group bent on revealing any perception or possible perception of wrongdoing on the part of anyone who holds public office. The harbor a get ’em attitude these days like I have never seen in all my years.

    You all crow about how we should have better elected officials, throw the bums out, etc., but you fail to acknowledge that this hostile climate for elected officials completely discourages good people from seeking public office.

    I’m just sayin’.

  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I am very much for transparency and open govenment — as much as the next person. But I am without question much more concerned about residents getting good government. You can absolutely ask questions at open meetings under what I am suggesting.

    Conferring with a city manager is not even close to the same as conferring with a colleague. People who think that staff in government don’t have an ax to grind in terms of how things are done are fooling themselves. To make decisions in government, you have to sift through the many inevitably present special interests. Staff absolutely have their own viewpoints on things that protect their stake in the game.

    It is a fool in public office that relies exclusively on the viewpoints of staff to make decisions. You have to go outside of city halls in order to get perspective that adds value to what you know, what information you are spoon fed by staff, and how things should be handled and decided. The wise official learns that early rather than later.

    The purpose of conferring with anyone is to understand that person’s viewpoint, so that you are better informed how to vote. Intentionally limiting who an elected official can talk to limits that person’s ability to understand different viewpoints. That leads to the making of worse decisions, not better ones.

    I wrote previously — if the Sunshine Law prohibition on speaking to colleagues was in place during the Continental Congress, we’d still be singing God Save the Queen. If it had applied to Congress during World War II, we’d likely be exchanging these thoughts in German.

    Public trust is a two way street. I am all for enhancing ethics rules and laws. I am all for greater accountability. But I also think that the officials we elect to office should be trusted, indeed encouraged, to speak to anyone they wish without some silly law saying that they cannot be trusted to speak to their colleagues in a nation so strongly dedicated to protecting the right of free speech.

    It is an embarrassment of a law and it should be reformed.

    Whether that happens or not is up to the public, they will decide if the issue has “legs.” I’m satisfied that I had the nerve to stand up and say it when others wouldn’t. And to say it proudly without reservation.

    If we want to reform local government in Florida for the better, we waste time in that effort without reforming this one provision of an otherwise excellent Sunshine Law.



  12. look at the facts says:

    Look at the facts Angelo…Not all public servants are politicians, and not all politicians are public servants, nor are they honest and not all want to do the right thing for We The People. Sad fact, especially when The People vote for a name, or for whoever they are told to vote for, or who is the most popular, not the person best suited for the job, or best suited to make the proper business decision on behalf of the reisdents or busienss owners. I agree with Buddy. It wasn’t the fact that the Cooper City Commissioners held dinner meetings, it was the fact that they DRANK before those meetings, some were really shitfaced (I saw the videos), one was eventually arrested and he disrespected the entire city and the police, now he is the Chair of their P&Z Board, and they did it on my dime. Then they had the nerve to lie about it and attempted to persecute and malign those who were against it. Sad but true. You and a few others in municipal government may be honest, but the rest are certainly not. I agree, that if you are in politics, you are supposed to be a leader and be forthright, and honest, not a crook. I’d like nothing more than to see Bev Gallagher and her chumps go away for a long time.

  13. Good Governance is the Goal says:

    Commissioner and Buddy and others raise good points, which would be interesting if there was ANY mechanism for sunshine law amendment. Are there any viable proposals, understanding that even the act of sponsoring (or speaking out) will be reflexively attacked by many as an indicia that the proponent wants to drag government back behind the curtains again?

    There is no question the abuses of the past and the strong view of the electorate that they should be “in on” the conversations led to the current law and application. I think we must all concede that, leaving aside those who wish to abuse the office, closed door arguments over positions are healthy. We have seen misbehavior on the dais and yet there is no manner in which the elected officials can construct a truce without one side or the other grandstanding to the press. And, sometimes, we all have dumb ideas — in an effort to solve a complex problem in our work environments (whether you are a plumber or contractor or lawyer or journalist) we talk through ideas and make suggestions and some are embarassingly stupid. Some of those initial dumb suggestions generate, however, solutions through other means. But, when a public official even thinks about opening her/his mouth in a meeting to make a suggestion, they risk the ire of the press and blogs. I am no apologist for serial stupidity in city government and there is no question there are people elected who can not function outside that environment successfully — but we do have to recognize the value judgment we are making by mandating a paradigm (albeit meant to prevent the cancerous vile governance behavior which led to the law) which prevents thoughtful debate and argument in closed doors. Of course, now at least, we can show the serial stupidity or ineptitude of some elected officials through this law, but at what cost.

    It has always struck me as a oddity that we think it so vile that local municipal officials should talk about issues but we do not even care about the Federal elected officials identical conduct. The only thing I could think of to distinguish the situation is how we as an electorate think so little of and trust even less those who sit on our Community Boards and local government.

    Commissioner Castillo, your views are well thought out and intelligent and, without knowing you but recognizing the intellect you portray, if we had government officials as thoughtful and ethical as you appear to be, then perhaps there would be no need to mandate such laws to guide behavior. Unfortunately, we have seen even with laws, some can not guide their conduct efectively — and others, say their conduct is legal (but sometimes it is just “wrong”) and others fight ethics reform.

    FROM BUDDY: One way to amendment anything is a constitutional amendment. The Republican Legislature at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce and the state’s media made it harder to pass an amendment.

  14. Phyllis must go says:

    Seriously, she doesn’t get it. Her campaign contributors list is a who’s who list of contractors in the district, she goes out on a FBI yacht for jumbo crab legs and drinks (what? thinking they want to spend the holidays with her or talk about ole’ (or new) times), thinks she is outing another elected official who was on the boat as some sort of defense (only to learn that the official was FBI cooperator) and she files her gift report only after the press breaks it. She even defends her decision to go on the FBI boat saying there is nothing wrong with it.

    Now, she has the audacity to think she can be trusted outside the light of the “sunshine”. She just doesnt get it.

    Chaz, where are you on your efforts going after her? How can you pass up on such a “softball” attack?

  15. I Agree says:

    Phyllis Hope is a disgrace who must be defeated. She has done little for her district or the school system in general. She was part of the investigation into Beverly Gallagher, going on the boat with the FBI to eat and drink for free. She is clueless.

  16. Good Governance says:

    Buddy: Leaving aside for the moment the procedural methods to amendment, are there any thoughtful suggestions out there which balance the need to preserve transparency (so as to prevent abuses of the past) and yet permit the type of dialogue Commissioner Castillo believes would be healthy? Or, are the views of Commissioner Castillo, with no disrepect intended, simply the musings of one lone voice in the howling wind? Easy to identify the imperfection of the system, harder to make recommendations which have a chance of gaining momentum.

  17. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Look, all of you have valid points.

    My impression of how this has to be fixed is not by doing a constitutional amendment although that would certainly be the most difficult way. Quite simply, the Legislature has the ability to define what a “meeting” is differently and this is by no means an attempt on my part to offer you legal trickery.

    Quite simply, they have the ability to define a “meeting” under the law, let’s say, as an officially noticed gathering at which where the majority of members are present, called for the purpose of doing official business. The do not have to say that any encounter between officials on the same board constitutes a “meeting.”

    But there is a larger statement to be made as to why.

    Look, I’ve been in government now over 25 years most of it in a senior executive capacity. I’ve served three NYC mayors, two governors, have been part of two federal administrations, as well as a county department head. My place in this world is secure. I don’t need to be a public official to feed my family or my ego. I do it because I can, because I love it, and because I know how. So take this for what it’s worth.

    The vast majority of people I’ve encountered in government were and are honest. It is absolutely not true that government abounds with scoundrels, crooks and cheats looking to rip off the average taxpayer. You will find many more of those types in the private sector (where there’s money to be made) than in government (where being a crook just takes too much effort).

    Yet, it has always been the case that some are in public life for that purpose. We are focused on it now because the system is working. We are finding those that broke the rules and prosecuting them. But let that fact not create you all into cynics. Government can work, it wants to work, and the vast numbers involved want it to work well. That’s just true.

    As to those whose motives are not aligned with good government, as to those that are crooks, I say catch them and punish them. But do not let your understandable zeal to do that cause you to create harmful rules, in the hope of catching a handful of bad seeds, that instead interfere with the vast majority of honest people in public life from providing you with good government. Don’t insist on getting worse for yourself and your community in government just to catch a handful of people that are going to get caught eventually anyway.

    That is the classic example of cutting off your nose to spite your face (however that saying goes). There are much smarter ways to deal with the problem.

    If we had real Inspectors General, like other large states have, constantly doing undercover stings to root out corruption, and if we had proper disclosure requirements and stronger documentation requirements to show the public how and why decisions in government are made, there should be no difficulty allowing your local officials to confer with each other for the honorable purpose of making better decisions on your behalf. It really is that simple. And the outcome of that trade would be better government for us all, of that I am completely certain.

    What I am not for is supporting a structure where we elect leaders and then not trust them to do the job. That’s a nowhere philosophy.

    Best wishes as you consider this change.


    FROM BUDDY: I agree! Angelo, you have something here.

    An inspector general with real power. Transparency which requires officials to report their meetings and penalties for violations. A stronger public records law “to show the public how and why decisions in government are made.”

    All this in return for relaxing the Sunshine Law to define a meeting as “an officially noticed gathering at which where the majority of members are present, called for the purpose of doing official business.” Any encounter between officials on the same board do not automatically constitute a meeting, as you wrote.

    No system is perfect, but this may work. But only with real penalties to catch wrongdoers.

  18. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I’m glad you agree, what I am proposing is how leading local governments operate nationally. They have the best practice in this area, not us. We are behind the eight ball when it comes to ensuring integrity in government.

    We should learn from that experience and apply those lessons here. Broward needs an independent, engaged, properly funded Inspector General operation, actively rooting out crime — not just responding to complaints. THAT is the way to keep things honest here. That one operation should take care of all our local government needs, all cities, the county, the school board, the water districts, all of them. And all should pay a tiny tax each to fund it. The taxpayers (voters) can establish such a responsibility and they should.

    If you did that, at long last, there would be no need for such outrageous and unusual things as demanding silence between officials. How utterly silly and embarrassing a way to resolve what other local governments nationwide have already been doing with so much greater effectiveness.

    I have been saying this for over ten years now. This is the time to reform government for the better. There is no better way to start than what I am proposing.


  19. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Buddy,

    I’m glad you agree, what I am proposing is how leading local governments operate nationally. They have the best practice in this area, not us. We are behind the eight ball when it comes to ensuring integrity in government.

    We should learn from that experience and apply those lessons here. Broward needs an independent, engaged, properly funded Inspector General operation, actively rooting out crime — not just responding to complaints. THAT is the way to keep things honest here. That one operation should take care of all our local government needs, all cities, the county, the school board, the water districts, all of them. And all should pay a tiny tax each to fund it. The taxpayers (voters) can establish such a responsibility and they should.

    If you did that, at long last, there would be no need for such outrageous and unusual things as demanding silence between officials. How utterly silly and embarrassing a way to resolve what other local governments nationwide have already been doing with so much greater effectiveness.

    I have been saying this for over ten years now. This is the time to reform government for the better. There is no better way to start than what I am proposing.


  20. Chaz Stevens says:

    Leave Phyllis alone.

    She’s studying for her college trig test and having barely managed “angles” and with “triangles” coming up, well… Lordy be…

    Think I am kidding? Check out her CV.

    A stellar fucking student this one is.

  21. Simple Man says:

    It seems to me like Mr. Castillo wants to do a little horsetrading on city issues. He wants to be able to privately discuss what he is willing to give up to get what he wants. Mr. Castillo also thinks that this will lead to better governance. I think that Mr. Castillo wants to legitimize established practices. I think that Mr. Castillo should come up with ideas that are good enough to discuss in public or get out of public service and not hold a public office. I understand that Mr. Castillo cannot rely solely on staff for info, but he is mistaken if he thinks that we we should trust politicians meeting in private more than we trust staff. Staff that is beholden to commissioners are the ones that we should not rely on. Mr. Castillo can vote no on anything that staff comes up with if he doesn’t like it. I for one am tired of politicians who claim to support transparency but work against it. I do not buy Mr. Castillo’s reasons about private discussions being in the public interest. If the ideas are so good, he should not be afraid to speak in public.

  22. The real reason says:

    Mr. Castillo’s wife works for Judy Stern, one of the county’s most repulsive lobbyists.
    Could that be the reason he wants to relax the sunshine law?

  23. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    To Simple Man:

    If you think that officials not talking to one another is a model for excellence in democracy, then you should recommend that this rule be established in Tallahassee and Washington DC. Right? I mean, let’s make them better too.

    And if suggesting that gives you even the slightest hesitation (as it should) well that’s just your brain signaling that you need rethink your position.

    Friend, you don’t make government better by forcing people to act dysfunctionally. You make it worse that way. I am sorry if saying this hurts your feelings. But that dog simply doesn’t hunt, it never has, and it never can, and most people in the US shake their heads when we tell them about it. They’re right. It is a very strange rule.

    There are many better ways to establish transparency in government and deal with the public trust problem than enforcing silence between elected officials. I’ve offered some to my new convert, Buddy Nevins, and to get him signed up on anything you have to work pretty hard.

    Second, I can respect your having a different view from mine. That’s fine. But nobody can say I’m afraid to speak what’s on my mind. Writing these responses proves that, and as to any remaining doubt, come down to any Pembroke Pines Commission meeting. You’ll see. Very little is left unsaid by me.

    To Real Reason:

    Here’s a response to your Judy Stern comment.

    Judy Stern is a very smart, super savvy and highly respected political consultant. As a professional in her field, she has earned a statewide and national reputation. She is highly sought after. Even in a difficult economic market, Judy probably still turns down more clients than she accepts. She’s always been very picky about who she works for.

    Locally, some like her and some don’t. Judy will tell you she couldn’t care less what people think. Her only focus is on doing what she does. And she does that 21 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, except for the three hours sleep she begrudges herself every night. She is tireless at what she does.

    Judy and I first met over ten years ago when I was a department head at the county. She has been respected as a top lobbyist here for over 25 years. Judy does no business in Pembroke Pines, but we do chat on occasion about public policy issues. Sometimes we agree, sometimes not, but she always has very insightful things to say.

    I have not discussed my views on the Sunshine Law with Judy but my strong guess is that Judy is not an advocate for relaxing the Sunshine Laws. Now that’s just a guess, you’d really have to ask her, but that’s my final answer and I’m sticking to it!!

    More to the point, please be assured that what you hear from me comes from me and I alone am accountable for those views. My wife is also a very experienced, savvy and smart political operative. She and I don’t always agree but, to be sure, her choice of part time employer does not play into my public policy views. Imagined appearances to the contrary shouldn’t fool anybody into playing a losing bet.

    Warmest Regards,


  24. Simple Man says:

    I don’t think that people around the country are familiar with the culture of corruption that we have in Florida, particularly South Florida. If they were, they would be shaking their heads at your ill timed push to put aside the Sunshine Law. I don’t have the slightest hesitation at all about putting the similar requirements on all legislators. I would rather see issues debated and decided on their merits rather than the disingenuous politicized process that we now have. There is no reason other than self serving politics for one issue like healthcare, for example to be tied to grain subsidies or some other such nonsense. Politics is killing governance. Your desire to legalize secret talks with other commissioners to make your job easier is a symptom of dysfunctional, and the fact that you disagree with me does not hurt my feelings at all. I don’t take it personally when a politician acts in their own self interest in the same way that I would not take it personally if a snake bit me, it is what they do. Do you think that we would make worse laws if our legislators were compelled to publicly take a a position on an issue and debate it openly?

    Judy is well respected by some, but it is certainly not universal respect. Outside of the arena of political insiders I would say the more applicable description of the regard that folks have for Judy is contempt. She is sought after by those with political ambitions, but that is hardly proof that she has high standards for ethical behavior. And yes she has a reputation, but it is certainly not all good. Do you think she has high ethical standards?

    Please try to provide a short statement that would explain how allowing more secret discussions would increase transparency. I would like to see that.

  25. Say It Aint So, Angelo says:

    I can’t believe that our commissioner Angelo Castillo is so supportive of a woman who is nothing more than a leach on the public system.
    Judy Stern has been involved in more dirty elections than anybody else.
    She violates the lobbying law that exists in the county commission by failing to register and failing to accurately sign in. She consistantly writes that her cllient is “self.” If you don’t believe me, look at the sign up sheets. I work in the building and have seen them.
    She is hated HATED by many candidates she once campaigned for because they wouldn’t vote for her clients.
    I remember that hired a detective to smear a Davie mayor she was once close to because he refused to vote her way.
    Angelo said it all. She works seven days a week and has no life beyond lobbying. She has no life, no friends and no boyfriend.
    She also is a prime example of what should be cleaned up in this county — lobbyists working as campaign managers and then lobbying the same people they helped elect. The papers said that the school ethics group wants to outlaw this practice.
    Stern is bottom feeding slime and the prime example of what’s wrong with politics in Broward. I can’t believe Angelo has such bad judgement.

  26. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Several Misimpressions:

    1. I never once said “push the Sunshine Law aside.” Most provisions in there are great and we need to keep them. The only provision I object to is prohibiting local officals from speaking to one another. I object to it because it is assinine. I’ve explained why.

    What you do with that viewpoint is up to you.

    My job as a public official is to look out for your interests — to consider solutions to problems and to report them to you honestly. My job is to be candid with you about the issues affecting our community and challenge you to make quality decisions.

    That’s my end of the bargain and I think that I live up to that.

    Your job is listen, if you choose. To think about what you’ve heard, to decide whether you agree or disagree, or to propose better means to meet our common objectives. That’s your end of the bargain. This is how our system is supposed to work.

    2. Allow me to again underscore, for those that don’t know me, that my public policy thoughts are mine alone and only I am accoutable for them. I made my bones in life and government years ago. I have no need to carry anyone else’s water and I don’t. You can always count on that from me.

    3. I admire that we all seem to share the same goal — to promote better government. But saying we share a goal is not the same as working to achieve it. I want for us to achieve the goal because we deserve it and we owe that to our kids as well. There’s serious work to be done and our community needs the right answers.

    Warm regards,