Jousting with Rodstrom

Published On: Oct 01 2012 11:17:46 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 01 2012 11:21:32 PM EDT
rodstrom-john

Watch the video and agree with Broward Mayor John Rodstrom on this issue or not, give him respect for having the fortitude to defend his position in public.

It's about Rodstrom's controversial proposal to put elected officials back on selection committees that decide which companies get public contracts. The practice was viewed as corruptive because elected officials receive campaign contributions directly from those companies and perhaps more importantly their lobbyists. It was widely viewed as legalized payola.

Taking politicians off the committees was a cornerstone of voter-mandated ethics perform that Rodstrom himself voted for in 2010. But he says it is keeping commissioners from doing their jobs and knowing what is really going on in the county.

The Broward School Board had all kinds of problems with their selection committees, a process called Q-SEC. It banned the practice as well. Rodstrom is term-limited from office this year after 20 years on the commission and ten years in city politics before that (in Sunrise and Fort Lauderdale). Here's some back and forth that didn't make it into the vid:

NORMAN: Did you talk to talk to any lobbyists about this decision?

RODSTROM: I’ve talked to them about it for a long time ... [but] I’m independent and I don’t go calling lobbyists to ask for their permission. ... A real friend isn’t going to ask you do something that’s inappropriate.

NORMAN: But isn’t the fact that some of your best friends are lobbyists, doesn’t that say something?

RODSTROM: First of all I don’t think you can have a best friend that’s a lobbyist. By it’s very nature the minute I’m out of office in a month they won’t be calling me again.

NORMAN: George Platt, you vacation with him at times, you golf with, you’re saying that has no influence on you?

RODSTROM: I’ve voted against George for him as much as against him

NORMAN: This is your legacy …

RODSTROM: But Bob you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because there are a few bad apples, you can’t change the process. Prosecute them, throw them in jail, demand that they behave, but you can’t shirk your responsibility, You need to be part of the process and you need to know what you’re procuring and the day you don’t you have big problems. ... To couch this in the veil of ethics reform is a bunch of baloney. It’s getting away from the real truth of the matter that politicians are elected to do a tough job and if they don’t do it and they’re unethical then put their butts in jail."