Throw School Board Incumbents Out!!!


If I was Maureen Dinnen, Ben Williams and Robin Bartleman, I would be thinking about Plan B for my career.

Their lives on the School Board appear to be over.

The most devastating Grand Jury report I can ever remember was released this week calling for the abolition of the School Board for “incompetence and “corruption”.

Jurors handed any candidate wishing to run against Dinnen, Williams and Bartleman next year an almost-certain victory.

I say “almost because even in the wake of this report, a lot can change in 18 months.  I never underestimate the survival abilities of the system’s corrupt overlords.

Dinnen already has two unannounced candidates sniffing around her Fort Lauderdale-based seat. Two challengers could split the anti-School Board vote and make it easier for Dinnen to survive.

Amazingly, the tone-deaf Dinnen has already told supporters she is running for re-election.

This election coming up is a no-brainer for any challenger.  The report is ready-made for devastating campaign ads against these incumbents.

Just read two excerpts:

“The gross mismanagement and apparent ineptitude of so many individuals at so many levels is so overwhelming that we cannot imagine any level of incompetence that would explain what we have seen. Therefore we are reluctantly compelled to conclude that at least some of this behavior can best be explained by corruption of our officials by contractors, vendors and their lobbyists.

“Moreover, many of the problems we identified in our inquiry are longstanding and have been pointed out by at least two previous Grand Juries. But for the Constitutional mandate that requires an elected School Board for each District, our first and foremost recommendation would have been to abolish the Broward County School Board altogether.

Jurors appared to single out actions by members Jennifer Gottlieb and Bob Parks without mentioning them.  Gottlieb just got re-elected and Parks retired.  Both are untouchable at the polls for now.

The damage done by Board members is incalculable.  Its the students and teachers who suffer, while the fat cats count their dollars.  The Grand Jury has given legislators one more reason to cut money to Broward schools.

The report is already circulating in Tallahassee.

The School Board should dismiss its thousands of dollars worth of lobbyists.  After this report, Broward is dead meat in the Legislature.

The report echoes what I have been saying for years, long before I left the Sun-Sentinel.  I haven’t been alone.

Bob Norman and his New Times colleagues have been constant critics of the Board’s shady practices. The Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Mayo and the paper’s investigative team have exposed much wrongdoing in the system. Broward Cleansweep and former Board member Marty Rubinstein’s blogs have chipped away at the misspending and ineptitude.

Activists like Charlotte Greenbarg, Mary Fertig and others have been pointing out what’s wrong with the system for years.

Sadly in many cases, the voters haven’t been listening.  Members have been re-elected again and again.

Sometimes this is because the challengers were clueless jokes. Sometimes it is because good candidates were overwhelmed by the money members could muster from their lobbyist and business friends.

Guilty also are the newspaper editorial boards, which have endorsed incumbents despite stories in their own publications exposing shortcomings.

It’s time to end this embarrassment.

It’s time for State Attorney Mike Satz to follow up on the allegations in the Grand Jury report and see if he can make a case.  One section states that members secretly traded votes, surely a violation of the Sunshine Law.

It’s time to throw out Superintendent Jim Notter and his gold-plated management team.  Either they were deaf, dumb and blind or part of the incompetence. Either way, they should go.

It’s time for the Legislature to find a way to split up the unwieldy Broward School Board into two or three more manageable districts.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a bill splitting up the district when she was in the Legislature.  It always seemed to fail, but she was right.

Most of all, it’s time to get one good challenger for every Board member facing re-election in 2012.  Throw Dinnen, Williams and Bartleman out!


The report is lengthy and has many recommendations, including changing the number of Board members to five instead of nine.  Also recommended is forbidding Board members from accepting contributions from vendors or Board lobbyists.

Please read the report.  The Sun-Sentinel story on the Grand Jury is here. Pay special attention to the actual PDF document, which you can download as part of the paper’s coverage.

31 Responses to “Throw School Board Incumbents Out!!!”

  1. Parent says:

    What about the BTU? They endorsed these incumbents until they started voting against their salary demands. The union did nothing about what was going on around them.

  2. Git R Done says:

    To Parent:
    The BTU thought it would be good if all the Board members were teachers and then they would get raises every year, that was their thinking! LOL.
    Oh, it was so wrong and they’re so stupid for assuming that as well.
    They need to investigate the Union and she what’s happening there. They’re corrupt as well.

  3. Local Lawyer says:

    I heard Ben Williams is retiring. Bartleman and Dinnen are almost definitely seeking re-election. Everyone is afraid to challenge Bartleman because of her DWS connection.

  4. Death Frog 3 says:

    Any School Board member prior to the 2010 election should be replaced. The report itself is a paper tiger.

    Also the SB should no longer to business with the companies that contributed to this mess. Cummings, Pirtle, Moss have their fingerprints all over this. They received the lion’s share of the 2 billion minus the bribes um I mean campaign contributions to the board members.

  5. Candidate says:

    One of the unannounced will be announcing very soon.

  6. BrowardVoter says:

    To Parent: As the report says “…this behavior can best be explained by corruption of our officials by contractors, vendors and their lobbyists.” Add “interest groups” to the list and there you have the BTU led by Pat S. and his minions who contribute $$$ and endorsements to these corrupt politicians.

  7. tiny bubbles says:

    Bartleman isn’t bad and his being tarred with the same brush as the evil Dennen.
    Local Lawyer: What is DWS connections?

  8. Warren Meddoff says:

    Bravo Buddy!!!! Journalism at its best. I hope that you carry your investigation and column forward to cover who these corrupt individuals (oarticularly Maureen Dinnen) support and continue to connect the dots.

  9. Hammerhead says:

    The report lays it out for all to see. There are several indications in the report that likely if not certain criminal activities have occurred. One thing is for sure, this is not a simple matter of sloppy book-keeping or simple violations of policies. These are enumerated acts which were and are intentional. Now Notter has the balls to come out and say the school board has already begun work on the items, based on the self appointed ethics trio and their recommendations. That pre determined mess is more of the mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance and notfeasance, at least. More likely there is evidence of conspiracy to commit such acts and execute plans to rob the school board coffers. When the corrupt and inept board hires a consultant like Dr. Mathis to do their own job, or puts together an ethics trio (and most lately a General Counsel replacement screening panel) then it is just another “fix”. We have all seen it for years and now the grand jury report gives us the confirmation of what is happening behind the curtain. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

    Notter needs to set his EGO aside for a moment and really listen to what the grand jury has said about him. It is not a personal attack as some will try to argue, but it is a look in the mirror that the superintendent and board refuse even acknowledge. Why would Notter put 37 years into public education and then dig his heals in when it has been exposed that none of it is for the “children”?

    Notter says they take the grand jury report “seriously”. Gee thanks for taking it seriously. Why is his first comment that he is “staying put”? He is taking nothing seriously. When the Feds and Satz’s newly revitalized group start to dismantle the business community that Notter truly works for, Notter will be forced to think twice, but by then it will be accompanied by a greater level of shame and loss for the students and parents than now. Resign Notter. Take your minions with you. The amount of DROP money and additional salaries that Notter has facilitated for his friends is staggering. All the so called indispensable re-hires and yet so much evidence of ineptness and cronyism. Resign complicit board members if you really have the best interest of the children at heart. This will only cause you to split your current effort to help in providing education for the “children” into even smaller fractions while you do your respective damage control. RESIGN!!! All of you and you know who you are. We trusted you until now…if only a little bit.

  10. Kevin says:

    Robin Bartleman is a person with integrity… probably the only one up there. And I agree that with her friendship with Debbie, she could raise an ungodly amount of money should she face a serious challenge next year.

    Bartleman is NOT the problem.

  11. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Hammerhead you hit the nail right on the hammerhead, I take it you have been an employee in the system, watching but not being able to do anything about it. Thank god I am retired but I could also write a book. I totally agree about Notter’s cronies getting their DROP money and then waiting 30 days to return to a fat-cat salary….Do you think Atlantic Voc or McFatter will have to close down if the re-hires leave. One of my most pet peeves is bringing anybody back to rehir after retiring….There are plenty of educated younger people that can take the reigns of any job and maybe even do a better job because they are FRESH. Replace the rehires with qualified people and reduce top salaries by 2% and they might not have to lay anyone off.

  12. Hammerhead says:

    I just heard that the BTU is calling for Notter to resign. Is there some kind of plan to have all of the members line up as public speakers on Tuesday to each have their 3 minutes to express their opinions and vent? It only stands to reason that some kind of action would be staged/organized, I mean isn’t that what unions do. They’ve wanted Notter’s head for so long, I guess it is time to see if they put their money where their mouth is.

    I found the story at

  13. Hammerhead says:

    Sorry, should’ve included the link. Any BTU updates would be appreciated if anyone knows.

    Yes, any updates sent to me from the BTU will be published here in full.

    The above report is interesting, but it cites no source at all.

  14. Git R Done says:

    The BTU-Useless need to be investigated. They’re so corrupt…
    You need to see how much money they took from the School District in 2005, not funny…Santeramo wasn’t looking out for the teachers, only himself. FACT…

  15. FactCheck says:

    After reading the posts on here, I was curious and did a simple Google search. I found BTU has a grand jury report web page at including a statement and a bunch of news articles. The BTU did not endorse or support any incumbent School Board candidates in the last general election. Whether “posters” here like the union or not, it seems they should at least know the facts.

  16. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    Buddy, I agree with you on the school board, but not on splitting up Borward COunty into three districts. All of my friends up North are angry because those areas have seperate districts for each town with an incredible multipier effect on overhead staff, sky high salaries, pensions and benefits for administrative honchos. They would rather have far less staff and larger districts to get rid of 1/4 million dollar heads of the district per TOWN!

    When I moved down here 20 years ago, the schools were far worse. For the problems we find now, my kids have had a pretty good education and I have met excellent staff in the various schools they have attended.

    I met you for the first time at the Coconut Creek Library next to BCC when there was a vote on a sales tax for schools. At that moment, the busses from Wynmoor rolle dup with old folks who pretty much opposed spending a nickle on children as they whined about starving to death by not beiong able to afford non taxable food and meds if the sales tax was raised.

    Multiply the current excess by three if you want seperate Borward districts.

  17. Hammerhead says:

    Buddy, here’s a link that I found out there that ties to the earlier post about the BTU calling for Notter’s ouster. It doesn’t seem to be quite as straight forward as I would have expected, but seems to be the (or at least a) source for the story. See the link.

    FROM BUDDY: Thanks.

  18. ontheequator says:

    Those who point a finger at someone else forget that there are three fingers pointing back at them!

  19. Kevin Tynan says:

    Buddy – You have been a critic of a Board that is easy to criticize. I am sure the report had no surprises for you – it had none for me. I found the report to be too general and in need of real specifics. These specific issues (with names of the players) need to be made public and dealt with appropriately.

    I read with some interest the discussion in the report (and here) about breaking up the school district. My problem with this is that more politicians are never the answer. I have no problem with reducing the size of the school board as there really is no reason for 9 members other than the fact that this was the response to single member districts when they were created. The added bonus is the savings of salaries, etc. While I am uncertain how you would divide the district, I am certain the litigation over the division by special interest groups would go on for years.

    Lastly, the real problem at the school board has been and will continue to be the culture of the school board (as is noted in the report). Until there is systemic change in the culture, we will continue to get the same results. Adoption of an ethics code (which seems to be stalled) would be a step in the right direction.

    PS – The BTU did endorse one incumbent – Phyllis Hope.

  20. the Real Truth says:

    5 members are all you really need…7 at the most. 9 is a disaster. The best thing the district could do is to get rid of the School Board member offices and staff. With no office and/or staff, it would make it much harder for them to meddle in the day to day affairs. Also, put an end to the endless workshops. The Board should focus like a laser on the budget and policy. If staff can’t be trusted to make sound recommendations for the board to debate and vote up or down, then there is a problem with staff and they need to be replaced.

  21. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I was not at all taken back. with this one in prison to the other one indicted(Kraft) is is no shocker that the Grand Jury reported on this. I would love to see a comment from Board Member Dineen I think if she spins this correctly could work in her favor. Don’t forget she is only one vote on the board. I also don’t think the little one there is the proplem either(bartleman). I agreewith the notion that the Super be elected not picked by the Board. I also Buddy would like a comment from Mr.Notter since they now(board) will all blame him(watch).

  22. BTU Problem says:

    The Broward teachers union needs an overhaul. Teachers struggled with layoffs and pennies in pay raises, while Santaramo drank and partied with Board members and lobbyists all the time. He sat and said nothing when millions were wasted. Santaramo has to go along with his flunkies.

  23. without fail says:

    “I would love to see a comment from Board Member Dineen I think if she spins this correctly could work in her favor”

    Hmmmm, Maureen Dinnen is close friends and has had help in the past from, (PAUSE) Judy Stern. Now Walsh comes out in favor of Dinnen.

    So does Judy pay these days by the blog post or the word? Lunch at Mango’s where she gives you little drops of gossip to sprinkle in your blog posts.

    Nothing shows Judy’s fall from grace as having to use Robert Walsh as her blog spokesman.

  24. More Districts Is Wrong says:

    More Districts is not the answer. That will cost more and fails to promote uniform education. States like New Jersey show that too many school districts is a big problem. The goal should be to keep one district per county and run it well. The report suggests electing a superintendent. This is good advice. Every large organization needs a CEO. Single point of accountability to voters is a strong first step on improving the business and education sides of the district. A school board can be appointed by PTA’s to perform oversight and report back to parents. They can and should also advise the superintendent. But no school board should make executive decisions. Executive management of large organizations by committee does not work well anywhere.

    The bill to split large county school districts actually passed the House in 1998.
    Numerous studies have shown that the ideal size for the delivery of government services is much smaller than Broward’s school district. If bigger is better, why not absorb all the cities in to five of six big ones — Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise/Plantation, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale? Or why not just one big county government? Only one administrator, one police force, one fire department with much less overhead. Actually, does anybody believe big government has less administration than small ones?
    The reason is that people want government to be more responsive and smaller government is more responsive and accountable.
    When the House passed the measure to divide up big county school districts, the Broward Board members said it was a message to them to be more responsive to parents and taxpayers in the future. they called it a wake-up call. Then they turned over and went back to sleep.

  25. The Seer says:

    I predict Dinnen will face the music when she is questioned about construction in her district. There is a lobbyist who knows her too well and a school where the construction work was questioned.

  26. Local Lawyer says:

    @tiny bubbles

    The assumption has always been that DWS would raise big money for Robin if she ran into a big challenge. Allegedly, they are good friends.

  27. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    To ‘without Fail” first of al no one repeat no one tells me or dictates to me what to write or who to write about. Secoundly I do not get paid by anyone. I am a voice for the “average Joe(who by the way do vote_).

  28. FactCheck says:

    Kevin Tynan: While you are a person deserving of real respect as a thoughtful and well-reasoned leader, I am sorry to say your statement about Phyllis Hope is not factual. The BTU endorsed Phyllis Hope in the primary, but did not endorse her in the general election as stated earlier. The BTU did not endorse any incumbent candidates in the general election. Again, I think you are a very admirable person and wish you very well.

  29. one more thing says:

    Just another example of how clueless the BCSB can be is the press conference yesterday. The SB members should have been talking about changing the policy of the system and Mr Notter should have been in the back nodding … he is their employee.

  30. Spin is In says:

    To say that BTUseless did not endorse any candidate in the general election is a stretch. They attempted to endorse Tynan but he refused the endorsement because of potential conflict. After his refusal, my guess is that BTU did not offer endorsements to any other candidates to save further embarrassment.

  31. Former Insider says:

    BTU is in the pockets of the BCSB administration. They all could have won Oscars for their acting last year when those of us without connections were laid off in violation of the BTU contract and District written policy. No, BTU did not endorse any of the incumbents in the School Board elections, however, they sent letters to the members who lost their jobs, offering to pay them to shill for the people they wanted to get elected to the Board. Remember, Pat Santeramo, Bernie Schultz, and the other BTU leaders are all former District hacks who collect their fat paychecks from the District. BTU did NOTHING for us. Not a damn thing to fight for our jobs. How many people did BTU layoff from their Tamarac headquarters last June?