The contrast couldn't be more stark between the light-hearted, even at times inane, postings on Sheriff Al Lamberti's Facebook page and the wild-eyed mug shot of the man shown above.
But that man, William Lewis, was Lamberti's close aide and paid campaign worker who helped him with that Facebook page. Lewis, a busy Republican political consultant with a small radio show, was hit with a domestic violence charge after his wife claim he choked her during an argument. She also told deputies she was afraid to contact authorities because her husband had so many friends in law enforcement. Lewis, who fled after the incident, is also accused of blocking his wife's 911 call by stealing her cell phone.
The arrest led to a revelation in court that Lewis was already a convicted felon. His wife also told deputies that he had sprayed Lysol all over her in a fight in the past and hit her with can, requiring her to receive stitches.
Lamberti's campaign has fired Lewis, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
NO CONFIDENCE IN RUNCIE?
Imagine a pro football coach on a losing streak. The public is openly deriding his decisions and questioning his competency. Then, after another bungling loss, the coach comes up with a new excuse iin the post-game news conference.
"We're losing because the players are sabotaging me," the coach says. "Did you see that dropped ball in the fourth quarter? They don't like my tough style of leadership so they're undermining the team on Sundays. It's the players, not me."
That coach would become a national laughingstock and almost surely be fired before the week was out. Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie won't meet that fate, but that's essentially what he did this week when -- during a school transportation mess the likes of which this district has never seen -- he claimed that it was caused by bus drivers "sabotaging" him and the district.
Runcie and the management team he imported from Chicago have given all kinds of excuses for the mess that has affected thousands of parents so far. A software problem. A bus driver shortage. Communication problems. He initially claimed it was a small problem that would be cleared up quickly. He's held truncated news conferences where he won't answer the tough questions. Even yesterday he made the bizarre statement that the bus system was working "relatively well." But the truth is that the entire department, under the thumb of Runcie's hand-picked new transportation director Chester Tindall, is in complete disarray, with numerous children still not getting picked up on time or not at all.
Then came Runcie's "sabotage conspiracy theory," as Board Member Nora Rupert calls it. A stunning shirking of responsibility that hasn't been backed up and doesn't seem to hold up under scrutiny. Runcie claims there's a lot of nepotism and absenteeism in the department. What else is new? Everyone has known that for years, but kids got to school. He throws out one example of alleged sabotage: That a bus driver dropped off kids seven miles from their destination. Disturbing anecdote. If it happened fire the driver and go on to the next problem. Don't paint hundreds of bus drivers as villains in this.
But that's what Runcie did. And 30 or 40 bus drivers came to the school board workshop yesterday to defend their honor. But it's Runcie who was left on the defensive. He called one of his half-baked news conferences for 11:45 a.m., while he and the board were meeting. Then the bus drivers heard about it and were waiting by the microphones. Runcie didn't come out. Finally, well after noon, the bus drivers had to leave for their afternoon routes. Then Runcie showed up late and was spared having to face down a crowd of people he'd just eviscerated in the media.
Then it was time for the board members to get their turn at Runcie. Rupert took the lead, telling Runcie that he needed to stop with the excuses and fix the problem. Runcie said the problem was really a lack of communication and transparency in the transportation department. Board Member Donna Korn told Runcie that he needed to worry communication in his own administration, because the board wasn't getting information from him. The board members, understand, are still getting emails and phone calls every day from upset parents.
Board Member Patti Good may have summed it up best: "I don't think good leaders are sabotaged," she said.