New Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie thinks he needs a Pubic Information Officer. The position could pay up to $148,000 a year. To put into perspective, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz (D-I SEE NOTHING!) was elected alongside Jimmy Carter (D-1976 version of Obama) and he barely makes $150K a year.
WPLG/Local 10 published a list of the applicants for the new position. One name singled out was Stephen Gaskill.
“One name is Stephen Gaskill, a political consultant whose claim to fame is serving as communications director for the 2010 Alex Sink gubernatorial campaign. He’s also worked on the 2004 John Kerry presidential bid.”
But wait, this is Broward County! Mr. Gaskill’s resume is much larger than a few failed political campaigns. Back in 2006, The News Times named Gaskill as its “Best Flack”:
If there were more people like Stephen Gaskill, maybe the Democratic Party wouldn’t be in such an ugly mess. That’s because Gaskill is a smooth media man and political operative who knows the game and how to play it well. A spokesman for Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich during the Clinton administration, Gaskill moved from the Beltway to sunny Fort Lauderdale in 2001 for a change of pace. He dreamed of a slower life as a consultant. No more political rat races. But in 2004, the Dems started calling. Gaskill agreed to become the communications director for former Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork’s well-funded campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw. Gaskill gave a professional appearance to Stork’s laughable candidacy. It wasn’t his fault that Stork flaked out and dropped out of the race 100 yards from the finish line, leaving the Democrats scrambling for a replacement candidate. Besides, after Stork’s flameout, Gaskill landed a cherry gig with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, handling media relations for the candidates’ families. It’s possible that a Kerry-Edwards victory in 2004 would have sent Gaskill back to Washington, but fortunately for South Florida, he remains here. Today, Gaskill serves as the communications director for the Fort Lauderdale-based Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus.
Now come on you say, of course a Democrat will get this new post…there’s even more to the Stephen Gaskill story. Mr. Gaskill was Ken Keechl’s “flack” in 2006:
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephen Gaskill
Thursday, August 24, 2006 954/524-0492
KEN KEECHL PICKS UP KEY ENDORSEMENTS IN RACE
FOR BROWARD COMMISSION DISTRICT 4
Victory Fund, Planned Parenthood Support Democrat Keechl“
Still, this de rigueur, (i.e “customary” for the folks in Southwest Ranches) in sunny Broward. Don’t worry, Mr.Gaskill’s ties to Broward’s rogues gallery does not end there…
Back in 2008, Brittany Wallman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote about the big bucks disgraced Fort Laudedale Vice Mayor Cindi Hutchinson paid Mr. Gaskill:
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson may have dropped from the mayor’s race, but her consultants won, anyway. Even though Hutchinson didn’t stay in the race long enough to even qualify (qualifying is in January; elections in February and March), her consultants made thousands of dollars off of her short-lived mayoral bid. According to her campaign forms, Hutchinson paid: * $26,000 to Stephen Gaskill for consulting; * $4,900 to J.D. Camp for consulting; * $5,500 to Milman Research & Consulting LLC for data research. Grand total for consulting in a race that was not to be: $36,400.
Mr. Gaskill may be a fine “flack”, maybe even the best. And by no means, do we wish to imply that Gaskill has done anything improper. He has not.
Besides, this really isn’t about Gaskill at all; Fifty-eight people also applied for the position.
This is about the continuing mindset at the School Board of Broward County and the K.C. Wright building. The issue with Broward Schools isn’t a public relations problem. The Board and Mr. Runcie don’t need to “master their message’. They don’t need to put a smiling face on all the problems.
The culture at the Board needs to change. The culture at K.C Wright needs to change. The culture in the District needs to change.
The intimidation of whistleblowers needs to stop.
Board members need to find some cojones and stop relying on staff. You are ELECTED OFFICIALS! Stop listening to your aides about what you can and cannot do. If an HR flack says it can’t be done because the District will get sued, say fine and go give Bob Norman a call. Get the story out. People want honesty. They’re tired of corruption.
People are tired of the Unions working hand in hand with Democrats to screw over underpaid teachers. People are tired of hearing about lack of paper and toilet paper in schools when Board members submit mileage reports for reimbursement.
People are tired of surly area superintendents running private businesses out of their district offices.
They’re tired of the District funneling money and contracts to people serving on District boards, committees, charities and foundations.
People are tired of seeing the same nasty, snarky activists serving on the same committees year after year after year.
Mr. Runcie, keep listening to the moms and dads and grandparents and teachers. Forget the intimidating town halls filled with principals and assistant principals. Walk the pick up lines. Go to the sporting events. They will tell you about the real problems. The apathy. The time-clock punchers. The bureaucracy that makes needy kids suffer.
Too many School District insiders think we’re “too stupid” to understand. They laugh at our ignorance over not understanding District budgetary machinations. They are wrong. We get it. The people of Broward aren’t that dumb. Hell, these are the same insiders that gave us Stephanie Kraft and Bev Gallagher.
Broward county doesn’t need more “flacks”. We don’t need more spin. A PR expert cannot change the problems. Only leadership can turn things around. The Board hired you, not for your PR skills, but because you are a leader. Broward wants to hear your voice deliver the good news along with bad. The parents, teachers and students have been let down for years; They are dying for leadership at K.C. Wright.
They need a leader, not more bullshit artists.