Sheriff Ups The Ante In Jail Fight

al lamberti


Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true.

That’s the warning Sheriff Al Lamberti today had for the county commissioners intent on taking over the Broward jails.

Commissioners are within their rights to take over the jails.  They own them.

Lamberti has a contract with the county commission to operate them, as do most of the sheriff’s in Florida.

The sheriff told me he always has the option of handing the jails over to commissioners if they push him too hard.

He appears sick of the commissioners’ machinations. Sick of their backbiting. Sick of their threats.

So Lamberti threw the gaunlet down.

There is no laws requiring him to bid on the jails when his contract expires.  Or he could ask to end the contract.

“When my contract is up, they just might get what they asked for, Lamberti said.

The sheriff’s know that running the jails comes with a whole load of agida.

Lamberti lives daily with the potential of escapes.  Hundreds of inmates are driven through downtown Fort Lauderdale every week.

The sheriff has to handle the health of 5,000 inmates.  Many are frail.  Many are sickly and many are HIV positive.

A federal judge is always breathing down Lamberti’s neck, making sure he lives up to an agreement governing levels of jail staffing and services.

Do commissioners know what they are getting into?

That’s the question the sheriff had for me when we talked at today’s meeting of the Non-Group.  That’s the informal political luncheon put together by former state Rep. Ken Gottlieb and held every week at Laura’s restaurant in Hollywood.

Wednesday’s lunch with 34 activists is part of a grass roots campaign Lamberti has launched.  He wants more support in his budget battle against the commission.

Commissioners are demanding Lamberti cut his budget by $52 million.

Lamberti said he was negotiating with the commission staff.  He is willing to compromise.

“I have drawn no line in the sand,” he said.

But commissioners are hypocrites. While pressing the sheriff to cut his budget, they voted to spend $100,000 to study taking over the jails.

The takeover study is the idea of Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, who is locked in a tough re-election battle against former Sen. Steve Geller. Now that the idea has been fermenting awhile, it is starting to smell purely political.

Sources inside the sheriff’s department and the Government Center say the idea is being pushed by a union upset with Lamberti. And by insiders connected to Lamberti’s defeated 2008 opponent Scott Israel.

One persistent rumor has commissioners taking the jail system away from Lamberti and putting Israel in charge.

Then Israel would bring in a private company to help manage the $230 million-plus jail system.  Of course, lobbyists would get a big payoff for representing this private corrections company.

What do detention deputies and other employees get in the deal?  Sold out by their union leaders.

What do commissioners get? New sources of campaign contributions from happy lobbyists and corrections companies.

You might find it hard to believe that the commissioners would be this politically arrogant.

Believe it.

After all, this is the ethically-challenged Broward County commission. 

(An exception must be made here for Commissioner Kristin Jacobs.  She voted against the jail study.)

I’ve got a suggestion for the commissioners.  When they throw Lamberti out and draw up the contract for new managers, make two copies.

One for their files. One for the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

Because I can guarantee if this seamy deal comes to pass, the U. S. Attorney will be interested.

5 Responses to “Sheriff Ups The Ante In Jail Fight”

  1. Git R Done says:

    OMG, this cannot happen.
    The County Commissioners know nothing about handling the jail system, why would they try and do that, it’s insane.
    Meanwhile, how come the County Commission and/or the Sheriff’s Department hasn’t looked into what the higher Government is doing to CURE the HIV?
    Our Higher Government is doing it and it’s working. How come no one knows about this?
    It is happening this present day in Washington, D.C.
    Someone needs to look into this for sure.
    What a bunch of fruit cakes here in Broward County, Yikes…..

  2. Your Blind Spot Continues says:

    Buddy, my friend, your blind spot for Al Lamberti is growing larger than life.

    First, the easy part. There is no cure for HIV Get R Done. And lots of counties run jails effectively without their chief law enforcement official’s involvement, in fact most jails nationwide are run that way so there is no basis to suggest that the County can’t run jails, or all of BSO for that matter.

    Second, it is by no means hypocracy to spend $100,000 to study how to better manage a multi-million dollar jail system. That’s smart business.

    Third, Sue Gunzburger could plaster a picture of herself with Charlie Manson all over her commission district and still beat Steve Geller 3:1 on election day. In fact, Geller’s biggest worry is not Sue Gunzburger. It’s the FBI taking away in shackles as part of this Mutual Benefits meltdown.

    Last, Al Lamberti needs to cut his budget just like every other unit of government is forced to do while still doing his job or doing it better. Yes, Buddy. It can be done, they are plenty fat over there. And if this Sheriff can’t do it then he should resign so we can get somebody in there that can.

    Stop making excuses for this guy.

  3. LEO says:

    Sheriff Lamberti has put BSO back on track and now the county commissioners want to stop him.
    Politics has no place in law enforcement. The jails became a controversy now just because Lamberti won’t knuckle under to those commissioners. They never asked to take over Ken Jenne’s jails or Ron Cochran’s jails. Lamberti is different. He’s a Republican and not part of their corrupt Democratic machine.

  4. predman says:

    I see that Judy Stern is trying to use her influence at the County Commission to either undermine Lamberti or score a nice deal for Scott Israel, whose campaign she managed. Expect to see bailbondsmen – specifically W. David Collins, the owner of Universal Bonds and A1 Magic Bonding – make out big here. Collins is a twice convicted felon and put up the majority of the money in Israel’s ECO.

  5. BSO Needs an Enima says:

    BSO can absolutely trim down by $50 million and still deliver a quality public safety effort. There is no doubt about that whatsoever.