Shake-Up In Pro-School Bond Campaign: Campaign Manager Replaced With Obama Re-Election Vet





With just days before absentee ballots are distributed, the campaign manager of the pro-school bond political committee has been replaced by a veteran of the Obama re-election.

Former campaign head Melanie Brennen told that she resigned “due to a lack of resources.”

The sources say Brennen was allowed to resign rather than be fired because the pro-bond campaign was stalled.

Brennen will be replaced by Ashley Walker, the state director of Barack Obama’s Florida campaign in 2012. More recently, Walker helped manage the successful August primary campaigns of County Commissioner Barbara Sharief and Stacey Schulman for circuit judge.


pitbull and ashley walker

Ashley Walker with Miami rap music superstar Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez) at a school during the 2012 Obama Campaign.


“I’m excited to be helping out in this important cause that is vital for our community,” Walker said.

Sources who are knowledgeable about the campaign said the shake up in the bond campaign was planned by Sheela VanHouse, Superintendent Robert Runcie’s right-hand gal.

VanHouse is a former member of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration who now is Runcie’s government liaison.

Brennen and VanHouse didn’t see eye-to-eye, according to sources.

A veteran of dozens of referendums and campaigns, Brennen was brought from California by the Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools to sell voters on approving $800 million in new school bonds.

The California consultant quickly found that the committee was ill prepared, had little understanding of how to run the campaign and had problems raising money, sources say.

The committee raised only $30,000 as of September 19.

“They came to me for money, but I don’t believe in the bonds and I told them that,” said one member of the construction industry who has done business with the School Board.

At least one large fundraiser planned for September was cancelled.

To quickly put some money behind the pro-bond forces, Walker has brought in a Miami-Dade fund raiser who has a history of raising large sums of money.

A source says that his his first week of work, fundraiser Brian Goldmeier has been successful in getting enough cash to begin planning a media campaign.

Goldmeier and Walker need to act fast. They need enough money now to begin mailing ads to voters who requested absentee ballots. More than half of the voters will cast absentee ballots or vote early.

The absentee ballots are due to be distributed starting October 7 and early voting starts on October 20.

33 Responses to “Shake-Up In Pro-School Bond Campaign: Campaign Manager Replaced With Obama Re-Election Vet”

  1. Is it legal says:

    Shelia can’t be directly involved in the campaign from her position at the School Board, isn’t that illegal?

    Between northeast and this, it is time for the Broward County School Board to come under the jurisdiction of the OIG

  2. chacha says:

    My take on it? Bonds fail vote.

  3. Enjoy this for a few more years before the shine wears off says:

    Hey it’s Ashley Walker, I am hired to put a good name on your campaign, but I really don’t have any more skills than any of the other hacks in Broward County.

  4. Kevin Hill says:

    I would be absolutely shocked if the pro-bond campaign wins.

    I’d even be surprised if it gets 45%+ of the vote, despite Ashley Walker’s general excellence at her job.


  5. Lol says:

    lets ask Ashley and goldmyer how they did in the sink for congress race last spring…

    Sharif and Shulman…she had triple the money of her opponents whose campaigns were run by Barry Harris and dale holiness.

    To be fair, if she can turn the bond around she is worthy of the high praise…I bet she will be gone when they still can’t raise any money or get any endorsements.

  6. Alice McGill says:

    There is way too much snake oil (political committees and lobbyists) in the equation being used to present this bond boondoggle to the voters. I predict it will fail. The organizations on the receiving end of the money to complete the projects paid for with bond money are showing much too much interest. One can see them salivating. Not pretty!

  7. The Guess Who says:

    Congresswoman Alex Sink and Sheriff Louie Granteed will also be supporting this effort now that their excellent campaign manager is in charge.

  8. Hyacinthe says:

    Sounds like the Titanic is sinking, so they’ve just named a new captain. We’ll see how it goes.

  9. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    At what school were they in the 2012 campaign? A school allowed partisan campaigning? I’m shocked, shocked to hear that.

    They’re all corrupt and deserve to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

    Someone like Chaz needs to file a complaint with any entity that will listen, not easy in this state. Ms. Sheila can’t do what she’s been doing behind the scenes while working for the district.

  10. TCB says:

    Ms. Walker should watch her back. Mitch Ceasar is not a friend.

  11. Moochers says:

    What promises are being made to raise money for this referendum?

  12. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    The BCSB has a program known as Residents on Campus (ROC). Out of the 144 properties, 32 have an individual (usually first repsonders) living on a tax-free piece of propert and are provided free utilities. For this benefit, the ROCs are supposed to answer after-hours campus alarms.

    ROC, around for quite some time and written about by Buddy, myself, and others, is a highly non-transparent nepotistic program overseen by SUI’s 2nd in command, Major Robert Dinkel. Dinkel also lives on a campus at a N. Broward County elementary school.

    For the past year, I’ve been raising awareness and asking for records, data that would let me understand how many calls are sounded, and how often a ROC responds.

    After nearly a four-month delay, and at a cost of about $75, I was told “we don’t keep those records.”

    That is a lie.

    I categorically guarantee the School Board knows how many calls and the response, and because I filed an SAO criminal complaint against Dinkel (alleging unjust enrichment), they’re not willing to throw one of the own under the bus.

    Dinkel leaves town on the weekends… Nearly every weekend I am told… And he’s never once (I opine) answered an alarm bell.

    So why then would we, the taxpayer, provide him with free anything?

    I said that, so I can say this.

    Good luck Charlotte filing complaints against the School Board … they will deny, lie, and deceive.

  13. Following the law says:

    It is time for someone to get the OIG to have jurisdiction over the school board.

  14. Rico Petrocelli says:

    If this was such a “good thing for Broward Residents” you wouldn’t have to SELL it. Everyone would know it was the right thing to do. Bringing in Republicans to get other Republicans “On Board” tells me there is a problem to begin with.

    And now, another paid person to convince us this is so good for us?

    There are not enough lobbyist for sale to have me vote for this.

    Count my Vote…….NO

    Rico Petrocelli
    Former Councilman
    City of Plantation

  15. Frayed Knot says:

    It’s a shame they put it up this year. The CSC reauthorization is good and needs to pass. The bonds need to fail. Hopefully voters won’t be confused.

  16. Juliet Hibbs says:

    TCB….Not many have anyone’s back in this game.

  17. Runcie clueless says:

    Buddy ask around Runcie could have had this on the March ballot but he didn’t want to pay the 250k for it. Dumb. If everything was organized and well funded this would have passed in March with ease.

  18. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Unfortunately Chaz, you’re spot on. The ROC extravaganza was just one of the examples of what they are still, in spite of the “New and Improved” version they’re trying to sell.

    But good luck to you getting the SAO to follow through on it.

  19. Norm Price says:

    Rico you are totally correct another person who I hope is not bragging that she helped this president get elected and his Chicago ally Runcie. I am so unhappy with what is going on and all the lies being told to us. It has gotten pathetic and even with what is going on with ISIS Obama has the gall to speak at the U.N. and actually brings up the shooting death of the black male who busted the eye socket and other injuries to the police officer and gee the news does not say he was 6’4 and 295 pounds and yet the white police officer was a raciest. I am proud to say I was a police officer in Broward for 17 years and under the circumstances would have been forced to do the same and I assure you I am definitely not a raciest

  20. old news here says:

    It’s unfortunate that Nick Sakhnofsky was not elected to the school board because he also has tried to bring this issue up and to no avail. If any of the other school board members are reading this, or generally listening, you might want to ask around about this. I’d start with your superintendent!

  21. miles says:


    You may not be a racist, but you’re off topic, poorly educated and misinformed regarding the Ferguson cop being injured. Had he been injured as you describe, he would not have been at the scene of the murder four hours later. He would have been at the hospital, receiving medical treatment.

  22. Norm Price says:

    Miles what newspaper or tv station did you listen to? No one said that the police officer was not beaten up and severe damage to his face including MSNBC which is a joke of a tv station. and on the subject what about Saturday night where a Ferguson police officer was shot and 3 hours later another Ferguson police officer was shot at and yet only Fox reported it since the 2 different police officers were white and the shooter was black so where’s Obama and Sharpton playing the race game>

  23. taxed enuf already says:

    @Frayed Knot
    not to worry as savvy voters tired of being had by sham non-profits and the debacle of the sbbc will vote NO on both school bonds and csc infinitum funding

  24. Rico Petrocelli says:

    Buddy, last night at Pembroke Pines there was a workshop in reference to an RFQ for energy, from what I hear their charter school can get roof replacement for a minimal amount of money! Some sort of Special Financing.

    Angelo, if you’re out there please comment on this, maybe you could save us that 800 million dollars that they want to tax us. Discuss.

    Rico Petrocelli

  25. @rico says:

    That is because the traditional public school have a completely different set of codes they must adhere to than charter schools do. It is called SREF. it insures that school buildings can double as a hurricane shelter and increased the cost of building 6x what the private sector can do. Thanks state legislature!

  26. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @25 – People seriously need those hurricane shelters when bad weather comes. Their lives depend on it. Are you suggesting that the state legislature should lift the hurricane shelter requirement? If so, then you are truly a selfish scumbag.

  27. @26 says:

    I am suggesting that you can’t complain, as Rico did, that charter schools can do things at a lower cost when you are clearly not comparing the cost of the same roof.

  28. Rico Petrocelli says:

    @26,Mine was not a complaint, it was just an observation, asking Angelo for more information,he was there, that’s,all.

    Rico Petrocelli

  29. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    As you know, the City of Pembroke Pines does not receive any local capital tax dollars from the Broward County School Board. The School board have used (misused) their discretion under existing law to categorically exclude public charter schools from getting any of the same capital dollars we all pay for public education.

    In my view, it is very bad, indeed discriminatory public policy to begrudge some public school parents, who pay the same taxes as anybody else, from having their own tax dollars come back to their child’s public charter school. There is no good or well articulated reason, it all seems to be left to the arbitrary and capricious choice of school boards.

    I see it as an abuse of authority to hurt charters versus a traditional district public school. It stabs at the notion of parent choice which is the law in Florida. I have been unafraid to state that view very clearly and remain so. There’s no good reason other than to hurt charters.

    I have argued for clear criteria to be created by the school board so that they can distinguish between those charters that would, for good cause, as in the case of Pines Charter schools, be eligible to receive capital funding. They have to date refused to entertain that policy, but I have not lost hope that they may do so in the future. The current slate of board members is very different, and hopefully that will continue, than that last bunch we had in office.

    All that said, under any circumstance, the City of Pembroke Pines constantly looks for responsible ways to spend public dollars wisely. That’s just how we do business. When it comes to capital improvements at our charter schools, the pressure is obviously heightened because of the school board’s discriminatory policies.

    Some months ago, a few vendors came to meet with staff at City Hall saying they knew ways to help the city lower our energy costs. We were very eager to hear what they had to say. They inspected our schools and concluded that improvements to systems would be needed to generate the savings.

    They were willing to finance and install those capital improvements at no additional cost to taxpayers. Rather, would pay to them a percentage of the cost of the savings generated over a term that ran equal to the life of the improvements. So, in the case of a roof that had a 15 year useful life, we would pay that set amount for 15 years.

    After reviewing the prospect, staff came to the City Commission asking permission to issue a public solicitation to give all companies willing to provide that service an opportunity to submit a responsible and competitive proposal.

    Several proposed, and the staff committee reviewing them selected Consolidated Edison Energy Solutions Division as the best vendor.

    This past Wednesday, Con Ed came to a city commission workshop and said they believe our roofs and some other systems are shot causing us to pay more for energy than we should.

    While the Pines Charter Schools are relatively new, the roofs which have a 15 year useful life have gone beyond that timeframe and need replacement.

    Additionally, the air conditioning units need to be replaced. They too have served beyond their useful life. New equipment available today cools air better at a fraction of the cost of our old units, which were state of the art when first installed.

    While our roofs are shot, Con Ed believes they are in proper shape to take on a special rubberized coating. This is new product which which is applied thickly and evenly to improve the insulation value and actually restore an older roof. The system protects against heat and leaks and comes with a new 15 year guarantee.

    The roof system they propose to install for us meets all code and SREF standards.

    They further propose to change out all our air conditioning units to new, energy efficient models. They will also be looking at our lighting and changing out to LED systems which bulbs last longer and cost less to provide equal lighting value.

    There is a state program in Florida that authorizes them to give us a cost and that cost is set in stone at their risk. Not the city’s.

    They are at risk to deliver the systems at that price they said and recoup costs within the savings window set in the contract. No changes.

    The city would pay them a portion of the savings to cover the cost and the improvements provided would be owned by the city outright.

    Con Ed and staff are working together. Bottom line, this would all occur at no risk or added cost to taxpayers. A contract will come back for our review soon.

    We had a workshop with the School Board some weeks ago to discuss their bond program and other capital funding issues. Our city manager told them about the program and the school board staff said they were aware of it.

    Whether they plan to use it or not is a question you’d need to ask them.

    In Pembroke Pines, we’re both interested and hopeful. We have to be. Because they begrudge us capital funds. Hope this answers your question.


  30. Rico Petrocelli says:

    Angelo, thanks for clearing that up for all of us…

    Rico Petrocelli

  31. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Angelo, does the entirety of each & every Pembroke Pines charter school building meet all SREF standards? It’s very easy to put a hurricane-safe part onto a flimsy building that would kill lots of people in the event of an actual hurricane…

  32. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Sun-Sentinel endorses Runcie’s bond


    Who cares?

    They hardly cover the school system. Then after an hour-long interview with Runcie, they are telling us how to vote.

    Again, who cares?

  33. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Sun-Sentinel’s coverage of Broward schools:


    I looked at that Sun-Sentinel page. It is designed to fool readers into thinking they really cover the business of schools.

    With the exception of the charter school story focusing on smaller, ill-financed charters, there is not one enterprise story. Enterprise stories are defined as ones not generated by news releases, but developed through sources and documents.

    If you remove the stories about colleges and Palm Beach County, there are few stories over months about the governance of the Broward School system. Why the largest (but fast dwindling) media outlet in Broward should cover the School Board and staff like a blanket is obvious. It is the biggest hunk of our tax money and a government which touches thousands of children and their families. I know from both School Board members, school staff and school activists, that the Sun-Sentinel doesn’t even cover many of the School Board meetings.

    But the coverage in the Sun-Sentinel is too often like the story you can find prominently displayed through your link: “Feds Hold Broward Chess Program in Check.” Four paragraphs on how the federal government import rules were delaying the delivery of chess boards.

    The handful of stories that they managed to do since August — shameful in a community facing the biggest bond issue in school history — are cheerleading pieces for the schools. You know why? Because those are easy stories to do. They are handed to a reporter by the staff.

    Also, because too many reporters at the Sun-Sentinel today don’t have the personalities and guts to displease anyone in the School HQ Building. I had reporters working for me over the years who were afraid to write anything that would offend their sources. You know what I called them? Bad reporters.

    I wish the Sun-Sentinel was better. This community deserves a full-time watchdog keeping an eye on the school system. Sadly, the Sun-Sentinel’s education coverage for years has been exactly what I wrote: Regrettably lacking substance and depth. If it was up to its former standards, the Sun-Sentinel wouldn’t be scooped repeatedly by Red Broward, Chaz Stevens, and, yes,