By Sylvia Gurinsky
The Broward Teachers Union is now learning the bitter lesson United Teachers of Dade learned a few years ago: Don't mess with other people's money.
Actually, the lessons are being learned by the people at the top: Pat Tornillo of UTD, who funded a lavish lifestyle, went to jail in 2003. Pat Santeramo, president of BTU, may follow.
Santeramo is being investigated for the way he's spent union money, particularly on political campaigns. He's been temporarily suspended from his position and could - and should - be kicked out entirely next month.
The Miami Herald has reported on how BTU's democratic and oversight processes have broken down during Santeramo's tenure:
Unions are counted on to protect workers' rights, but their influence has been declining. Corruption and mismanagement in leadership ranks are among the reasons.
The Broward Teachers Union needs to completely clean house - not just Santeramo, but anyone connected to him who was also responsible for any misdeeds. The union's look at its practices should result in true reform - to change the flunking ethics grade of its leadership.