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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Florida the rules are different here Chapter XLVI

Knucklehead Lee County School Superintendent James Browder is back in the news. A company was building a school in Cape Coral without having the proper bonds in place before starting work. This is a violation of Florida state law and left the Lee County School board potentially liable.

The biggest joke is how Browder says the audit report confirms that his administration works above board. What a joke, he broke the law. This man is as incompetent as he is idiotic. Isn't it sad a man like James Browder is in charge of a school district? I feel sorry for the residents of Lee County with school age children.

As I say you have to be a glutton for punishment to be a resident of Florida.

Linked to- Basil's Blog, Bright & Early, Outside the Beltway,

The Lee County School District violated a state law when it allowed a contractor to begin building a school before obtaining the required bonds, according to the school board's auditor.

But contractor Modtech Holdings Inc. stalled in obtaining bonds, despite the district's "due diligence" in requesting the bonds several months before the construction of Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary in Cape Coral began in May 2005, auditor Julie Nieminski said in a report issued Monday.

The audit was a response to a critical report school board member Robert Chilmonik issued in June, in which he said the district was rife with management errors, shady deals with vendors and a lack of discretion with taxpayer money.

Superintendent James Browder said Nieminski's audit confirms that his administration operates above-board and does use taxpayer money correctly.

"There was nothing in there I didn't anticipate," he said. "I'm very pleased with essentially what it discloses. It says there was no wrongdoing anywhere."

Chilmonik disagreed. He said the audit confirms what he has been saying all along.

"Number one, it's the staff's responsibility to ensure the contractors are bonded properly, and they didn't," he said. "Number two, they never notified us as board members that this happened. We were never told as a board that we were at risk."

Nieminski found that the district and individual school board members could have been at risk of liability for the weeks during which Modtech had not obtained payment and performance bonds. Modtech did not obtain its bonds until June 27, 2005, several weeks after it began building the school. The bonds were backdated to Dec. 10, 2004.

"In this particular situation, that risk did not materialize because the amount of payments to Modtech withheld was always more than the potential claims from the subcontractors," Nieminski wrote.

She added that the district has since changed its policy. Now, Lee will not allow a contractor to begin building a school until it provides the bonds and insurance certificate.

Jim Goulden, general manager at Modtech's regional office in Plant City, said he could not comment on the bonding issue because he was not with Modtech between December 2004 and May 2005.

"All I can say is that the project was properly bonded," he said.

Browder and several board members conceded this was an "oversight" and will not happen again.

"There was a snafu in regard to the bond, but look at all the other things in regard to how we were diligent," Browder said. "No operations money was being used inappropriately. This shouldn't be about whether there's a 'gotcha!' or not."

Board Chairman Steven Teuber said that, good intentions or not, breaking a state law is unacceptable.

"The fact is we did have a statutory violation," Teuber said. "I'm sure that will be reflected in reviews of Dr. Browder and his applicable staff. But it's one transgression. I'm not going to do something to throw the baby out with the bath water."

Board member Jane Kuckel said errors are inevitable given Lee's ambitious construction program, which is trying to keep up with the rapid growth of the district's student population.

"I firmly believe there was no intent to violate a policy," Kuckel said. "It was an oversight, but we can't allow that to happen again."

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