A Fort Lauderdale realtor claims to be the brains behind a controversial Broward School Boundary plan. In a mass email to Broward political leaders, Charles A. King claims he devised the plan to reassign Victoria Park children to Harbordale Elementary in Fort Lauderdale. King took exception with a REDBROWARD report detailing the team behind the proposal. On Friday, REDBROWARD revealed Catherine Maus, the Broward State Attorney who prosecuted Stephanie Kraft, was working on the plan with school board activist Mary Fertig, one of Stephanie Kraft’s closest allies.
King wrote, “This “brand new boundary proposal” as [REDBROWARD] calls it is my proposal, word for word exactly to a T from the previous year’s process which was not recommended by the I-zone Committee for one single solitary reason, the tunnel sidewalk being 42 inches instead of 48 in case some child in a wheel chair wanted two wheel themselves two miles to school.” REDBROWARD reported the Broward School Boundary Committee rejected Ana Corujo’s proposal to give 50 additional seats at Virginia Shuman Young Montessori to Victoria Park students. A month later, Leslie Brown, Chief Portfolio Services Officer for Broward County Public Schools, gave a convoluted story of how a new proposal to send Victoria Park students to Harbordale came before the board. Brown claimed Corujo had amended her 2014-15 Victoria Park/Virginia Shuman Young proposal, but the boundary committee was unable to vote on it due to a loss of quorum. Later, Brown would claim a boundary committee member came up with the proposal but lack of quorum prevented a vote on the matter.
Sources told REDBROWARD that Maus and Fertig held meetings regarding the new plan at the Fertig and Grambling law firm.
King continued his diatribe, “I don’t know if [REDBROWARD] is aware, but I’m a fairly prominent Victoria Park realtor myself…the ‘multiple sources’ of which [REDBROWARD] quotes are the Harbordale parents who were meeting with the Victoria Park side to dialog and try to achieve a compromise. Sounds sinister doesn’t it? Well it got a lot more sinister apparently when the Harbordale holdout side which is a fraction of the school and community south of the river didn’t get their way and decided maybe [REDBROWARD] could be their ticket to continuing the status quo which is not only hurting Victoria Park but Rio Vista and the currently “B” rated school itself as well.”
While there’s nothing sinister about citizens working on a boundary change, the idea that a public corruption prosecutor is working closely with a staunch ally of Stephanie and Mitch Kraft raises serious questions about conflicts of interest. As Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein told REDBROWARD, “While I have no idea if anyone did anything wrong it certainly doesn’t have the right feel or smell.” Somebody needs to ask Broward State Attorney Mike Satz how this feels and smells to him.
MILLIONAIRE’S EMAIL RANTS FREQUENTLY TARGET MINORITIES, POLICE AND POLITICOS
If King is the mastermind of this plan, it calls into serious question the judgment of Catherine Maus, Mary Fertig, and the Broward School Board Members supporting the plan. King’s emails frequently use racially charged language to attack minority schools and neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, police and even school board members.
In a September 30, 2012 email, King wrote, “Maybe if our public schools were made into attractive assets that deliver benefits like exclusive and economically balanced geographic districting to those that live near them instead of the borderless gulag of underclass institution with tiny token magnet programs imbedded in them that we have now.”
In a June 2013 email, King compared a school board member to a gangster. He wrote, ” Who does this School Board Member Patricia Good think she is with a statement like that, Tony Soprano?” In the same email, King explains his desire for boundary changes.
King wrote, “This massive boundary shift is necessary to remedy the situation that many like myself and others who live in Victoria Park who live in fairly expensive homes who find ourselves being told to send our children to a half enrolled ‘C’ rated, totally non-diverse elementary school in a dangerous blight area that is 97.6% one race, a race other than my own of course.”
In another September 2012 email, King wrote, “The solutions are pretty simple, school districts need to be constructed that are balanced economically so that they are not comprised of only kids receiving free and reduced price lunches.”
In August 2013, King fought the naming of Fort Lauderdale street in honor of black physician James “Doc” Sistrunk. “The name Sistrunk Boulevard makes people immediately start thinking of crime, drugs and prostitution,” King said in an interview with the Florida Bulldog.
In an October 2013 email, King attacked Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Bobby Dubose over the renaming of Sistrunk Boulevard. He wrote, “Commissioner DuBose came to our meeting in Flagler Village he told us that the re-naming of NE 6th Street had nothing to do with race and that it was all about economic development for blighted Sistrunk. At the Carter Park meeting he and all there said that re-naming NE 6th Street to Sistrunk Blvd was a civil rights issue. If the re-naming of a neighborhood street against the neighborhood resident’s voted on will can be considered a civil right issue, I ask you what isn’t a civil right at that point. If enough people want something whether they are legally entitled to it or not, do the city’s policies, procedures and laws go out the window to please this group who feel themselves separate and apart from the city’s rules?”
In an August 2013 rant about a police chase on Sistrunk Boulevard, King wrote, “maybe after a conviction we can disrupt the possibly subsidized or even public housing of these 3 alleged criminals and their families, sending them on their way across the fruited plain to ply the only skills they ever learned in our schools and community somewhere else.”
In a February 28, 2013 email King even referred to Broward School Superintendent Robert Runice as “an arrogant jerk” and “Mr. No Personality.”
In a July 2013 email King compared Walker Elementary to dog excrement. He wrote, “Looks like Walker Elementary the dog____ elementary school I am supposed to send my kids to as a resident of Victoria Park to be the #8th and #9th white students in the entire schools has just reverted to a ‘D’ rating from the ‘C’ rating it had last year. It had an ‘F’ rating in 2010. The only reason it didn’t get an ‘F’ this year was because they can only fall one letter grade per year. Why residents of Victoria Park are continuing to be given absolutely zero value in public schools for their very high property tax dollars I still don’t understand. If I were Victoria Park’s School Board representative Katie Leach I would certainly be actively trying to redistrict Victoria Park to a an elementary school worth attending. Last time I checked there was only one deranged Victoria Park parent actually sending their child out Sistrunk Blvd to Walker Elementary for the very worst totally non-diverse education high property taxes can buy in Broward County.”
BOUNDARY CHANGE WOULD HELP VALUE OF REALTOR’S PROPERTIES WORTH FIVE MILLION DOLLARS
State of Florida corporate records and Broward County Property Appraiser records show Charles A. King could benefit from this controversial school boundary change. King, his wife and his companies under the “CKF” banner own 12 properties valued at nearly $5 million dollars. Under the plan,these 12 properties, including King’s “fairly expensive” Victoria Park home, would be bounded to Harbordale Elementary school.
REALTOR COMPLAINED ABOUT BOUNDARY PROCESS HE NOW DEFENDS?!?
In April 2013, King detailed his attempts to get 50 additional seats for Victoria Park students at Virginia Shuman Young Montessori School. He wrote, “What’s going on with the gulag of inner city throwaway public school in Fort Lauderdale? The [Sun-Sentinel] article below tells you what Superintendent Runcie and his willing School Board are planning on doing. What it doesn’t tell you is what they should be doing instead. That is apparently my job as a 40 year old native Fort Lauderdaler who is a parent of two and owner of a whole lot of expensive real estate in some very bad school districts.”
King goes on to describe a process eerily similar to the current situation. He said, “I myself got up close and personal with this bunch during the most recent school boundaries change process, a long protracted sham process really designed to give the appearance of an open and fair process accessible to the public. Some I-zone committee was created with 28 votes from around the county. How they got chosen is anyone’s guess. We were told that this advisory board’s vote was merely advisory and non-binding and that the real decision as laid out in Florida law was for the Superintendent to pick proposals to put before the board at a public hearing for a vote. Well that is not what happened at all.”
King states less than half the committee showed up for the meeting delaying any action on the proposals. He said, “To my surprise my proposal was not even on the agenda to be discussed, and it wasn’t discussed by anyone by myself even though it is sorely need due to the 23 neighborhood kids turned away this year, the gaming of the enrollment system and the massive influx of residential units into the neighborhood preference area that runs into the thousands of new units in Flagler Village, Downtown, Victoria Park and Beverly Heights.”
He continued, “I showed up and asked Superintendent Runcie why HE CHOSE to turn my very sensible proposal down, especially considering that Victoria Park’s bounded elementary school is Walker Elementary, a dreadful school in the straight up ghetto that is of course ‘C’ and contains a population of 541 Black students, 7 White students, 4 Hispanic students and 2 Multi-Racial students. The only reform coming to this school besides the universally free breakfast, lunch and dinner is that the children from the ‘D’ rated Lauderdale Manors Elementary will be dumped into it.”
King even recounts questionable behavior from Leslie Brown. “You’ve also got to love the protestations of District shill Leslie Brown who says below “the district’s school-revamping plan is indeed a product of community input. In neighborhood meetings, Brown said, people repeatedly asked for expanded pre-school offerings, and the new schools provide exactly that. The public also wanted children to be more aware of college, Brown said, which helped lead to the Lauderhill Middle partnership with Broward College,” King wrote. “In my humble opinion I have never met a bigger phony and defender of the company line than her.”
KING REPEATEDLY PLAYS THE “RACE CARD” WITH OTHERS
REDBROWARD obtained nearly 100 emails where King repeatedly injects race into political issues in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. These emails are sent to newspaper reporters, television journalists, lobbyists, business leaders, school board members, law enforcement officials and politicians. King is never shy about calling others names or racists.
He’s already called Harbordale residents racists. In November 2013, King wrote, “Most of the racism I see is in the rental market and it is old people who live in Rio Vista and are probably great personal friends with Democrat pols [Fort Lauderdale Commisioner] Romney [Rogers] and [Fort Lauderdale Mayor] Jack [Seiler]. I think you know I’m right not too deep down.”
In a June 2013 email to Mayor Jack Seiler, King wrote, “Due to the tone of your righteous indignation which I have seen before I’m guessing this e-mail no longer needs to be private and surely deserves the world’s attention. I would instruct you to once again re-read this e-mail and tell me how I am the racist and not the race based politicians and opportunists like yourself playing with other people’s property values on the Commission. Like I said in the newspaper the last go round a year ago, Sistrunk Blvd is a crime stigmatized named across all of Broward County due to 50 year of neglect and we will not accept it as our new main street. You could have been a leader and picked a non-stigmatized name after working with the affected neighborhoods but that isn’t your style I guess. Don’t worry about defending me against whoever has been attacking me, they are probably pretty low people who I wouldn’t mind being enemies with. If you could take some time off from galloping around Coral Ridge County Club on you high horse, we are having a meeting tonight in Victoria Park if you would like to attend and explain why Bobby gets to dictate on a whim what our addresses will be.”
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF?
Insider games, loss of quorum and the same District employees playing similar games, yet Charles A. King calls the current situation a mere conspiracy theory cooked up by angry outsiders. Could those increased property values be clouding King’s judgment? Does King realize his dream of being rid of the “gulag” known as Walker Elementary is closer than it’s ever been thanks to the involvement of Catherine Maus and Mary Fertig?
No doubt King will answer these burning questions in another email diatribe.
But School Board leaders should answer some questions.
Superintendent Robert Runcie, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Patricia Good, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Donna Korn, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Laurie Rich Levinson, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Ann Murray, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Heather Pomper Brinkworth, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Robin Bartleman, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Nora Rupert, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Abby Freedman, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Mary Fertig, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Catherine Maus, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?
Why would you turn your back on the families at Walker Elementary and Harbordale Elementary to help the property values of Charles A. King?