Sheriff to Commission: Why Don't You Run the Jail?

Al Lamberti says he will close a jail if the county doesn't back down on budget demands

Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti is done playing games with the Broward County Commission.

The no nonsense law man told the Commission on Wednesday that if they don't back down from their budget demands, he is willing to close a jail and if that didn't work, he'd hand commissioners the keys and tel it to run it themselves.

"They can't ride the horse both ways. They can't tell me on one hand to cut $60 million out of our budget and at the same time impose a unfunded mandate of $10 million on our budget," Lamberti said of the commission's decision to give raises to county jailers.

Lamberti looked like he was walking into the OK Corral when he stepped into the commission chambers. He sent his top brass into the room first, then came in behind them, armed with his usual bottle of water. The only thing missing was some Clint Eastwood theme music.

Lamberti took a swig and launched a low key, but intense attack on the Broward County Commission. His biggest gripe was the 3-percent raise the commission approved because he has no money for the salary hike. 

Then Lamberti came with the threats.

If the county doesn't compromise on budget demands, he would close the jail located in Pompano Beach and lay off 78 employees. If that didn't work, he'd appeal the budget to the Florida Cabinet.

And if that didn't scare commissioners straight, Lamberti threatened to relinquish control of the jail and give the inmates back to the County Commission.

The Sheriff even added a little conspiracy theory to the mix.

"I can only assume that the decision yesterday was a political payback for me winning the election at the same time all the county commissioners endorsed my opponent."

The Broward Sheriff's Office budget has been an on going saga for sometime and Lamberti has wrestled with  potential lay-offs and budget cuts.

The Sheriff was able to get his street officers a 3-percent raise, but the detention deputies complained to commissioners, "why not us?"

Lamberti simply says: "The Union has lost sight of the fact of why they are here: to serve the public not serve themselves."

The Commission, minus one member because of charges of corruption, will take up the budget again next week.

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