Friday, November 20, 2015

Lauren Book collected over $100,000 from her own charity, funded by taxpayer money

Consider this-- Lauren's Kids raked in $1.5 MILLION last year, and nearly 10% alone went to Lauren Book alone. And yet the politicians who voted for the funding don't even know where the money is going? Hint-- check Lauren's bank account.

Nonprofit gets outsized state $$ to fight sex abuse
Dan Sweeney
June 26, 2015

There's a stereotype of pedophiles – creepy strangers lurking at the edge of city parks, cooling their heels in public bathrooms. Lying in wait.

But 90 percent of child sexual abuse comes at the hands of someone whom the child knows, and 95 percent of it is preventable through education, according to Broward County's rape crisis and child advocacy center. That's where the nonprofit organization Lauren's Kids is trying to make a change, by teaching PreK through third graders to recognize signs of danger so they can tell someone.

"The biggest challenge is battling the stigma of child sexual abuse – it's an issue that thrives in darkness, silence and secrecy," said Lauren Book, who founded the Aventura-based charity in 2007. Book, the daughter of prominent lobbyist Ron Book, was sexually abused by a nanny for six years beginning at age 11.

The state this year is giving Lauren's Kids $3.8 million – almost twice as much as any other group in its budget category, which includes organizations such as the YMCA and the Girl Scouts. It is the second year in row it received that much.

Book said Lauren's Kids' $3.8 million is "a direct result of a growing recognition by the Florida Legislature of the pervasive and costly problem that is child sexual abuse and a strengthening commitment to end it in Florida."

Tax records show Book's organization had $438,357 in total revenue in 2010 – that number tripled the next year. By 2013, Lauren's Kids took in $1,810,495, buoyed by $1.5 million in state funds. At the same time, Book's salary as CEO of the organization went from $67,596 to $103,540.

The next year, state funding for the group went up to $3.8 million for the first time. No other organization in that budget category has seen such a meteoric rise.

Local lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which are responsible for setting funding levels, were mystified.

"I've not quite understood why there's been such exponential growth in Lauren's Kids as a budget item," said state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. "We understand that the organization's doing the work providing counseling and other programs for young adults that have been victimized. But we do need to know where those dollars are being spent. … I've made the inquiry and have not really received an answer that's substantive."

Lauren Book's father, Ron Book, is the president of Lauren's Kids – she is the CEO and she acknowledges her lobbyist dad certainly doesn't hurt her organization's bottom line.

But she maintains state funding couldn't be going to a better purpose.

She points to a 2012 study by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence that found a pilot program of Lauren's Kids' curriculum resulted in a 77 percent increase of children's knowledge regarding sexual abuse awareness.

Book said her organization had identified an unaddressed problem – preventative education rather than simply going after perpetrators of crimes.

With the Lauren's Kids educational tools expanding to more grades – fourth and fifth grade are in development and should be available for the 2015-2016 school year – Book's next role may be in the very legislature that has bestowed more than $9 million on her organization in the last three years.

Last September, Book opened a political action committee, Leadership for Broward, which is a fundraising first step when running for office. More than $570,000 has been contributed to the PAC since then. The biggest donations include $100,000 from the Miami Dolphins, $25,000 from Vitas Hospice Care, and $25,000 from the GEO Group private prison company – all clients of Ron Book., 954-356-4605 or Twitter @Daniel_Sweeney

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ron Book tries to get a Ft Lauderdale street named after Lauren and fails. Good.

The level of arrogance Book family just won't stop. Not content with an entire neighborhood named after them (seeing as how they created that neighborhood, that is understandable), the Books want a major street named after Lauren. Thankfully, it failed. Interestingly, a number of Floridians opposed this measure and is upset the proposal was not up to vote.

The scariest thing is the FloriDUH Senate approved the measure but it died in the House.

Lauderdale won't consider a Lauren Book Boulevard
Larry Barszewski
Sun Sentinel
Street-naming for lobbyist's daughter will have to wait. Bill fails to clear state Legislature.

— There won't be any Lauren Book Boulevard in the city just yet.

City commissioners were to consider a resolution Tuesday night supporting the state Legislature's decision to name a stretch of Federal Highway in honor of Book, a state Senate candidate and the daughter of lobbyist Ron Book.

But the item was pulled from the commission's agenda because of one unnoticed problem: The bill that included the honorary naming apparently didn't pass the Legislature this year after all.

A review of the Florida Senate's web site shows the bill cleared the Senate but was not taken up in the House of Representatives.

People in the city had not been aware of the proposed designation, which would have covered Federal Highway between Sunrise and Broward boulevards. If approved, it would have allowed commemorative signs to be placed in the street's medians at Sunrise Boulevard and near Broward Boulevard.

"We don't need ceremonial names for lobbyist relatives, especially those who are still living and running for current political office," Victoria Park resident Larry Wallenstein said in a written message to commissioners.

Ron Book sought the naming from legislators as a way of honoring his daughter's work through Lauren's Kids, an organization she created that educates adults and children about sexual abuse. Lauren Book herself endured six years of sexual abuse by a nanny. or 954-356-4556

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Some of the comments under this article:

Pass a law that anyone who was ever a lobbyist, married to a lobbyist, born to a lobbyist, in any kind of relationship with a lobbyist or in any way related to a lobbyist be forever banned from having a public building, public park, public road, sidewalk or lane named for them now and forever. If I've missed anything, please add it to the list.

Someone else please start the list for developers and politicians.

How about we stop altogether these egomaniac politicians and lobbyists that want their name on everything. What a joke that we're supposed to "honor" them for making a gravy train living off of the taxpayer's back.

Book as in Crook

A father wants the city to name a street for his daughter? Really?? This is really sick.

Here is an earlier article, with comments:

Lauren Book, state senate candidate, getting her own street
Larry Barszewski
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What gift can a lobbyist dad get for his daughter? How about a street-naming by state legislators?

Lauren Book may be running for state senate in Hollywood, but she could soon have her own boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

State legislators this year approved naming the stretch of Federal Highway from Broward Boulevard to Sunrise Boulevard for her because of her work with Lauren's Kids, which educates adults and children about sexual abuse. Book herself survived six years of sexual abuse by a nanny.

While Book isn't from the city and her district wouldn't include the roadway, the stretch is part of her annual statewide Walk in My Shoes awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee.

Lauren F. Book Boulevard would be an honorary designation, with signs erected with her name on them in the U.S. 1 median at Sunrise Boulevard for southbound traffic and at Northeast Second Street for northbound traffic.

They won't be campaign signs. They'll be a gift from dad.

Book's father, lobbyist Ron Book, sought the designation as a surprise for his daughter, who he said has "really become a symbol for what victims can become" in moving forward with their lives.

"It's about how she works to empower people," he said.

Ron Book said the road is close to the Nancy J. Cotterman Center for sexual assault treatment where his daughter received counseling and care. He said he started seeking the designation during last year's legislative session, before his daughter became a candidate for political office.

Before signs can be erected, Fort Lauderdale commissioners must pass a resolution supporting the naming. The resolution is on their Tuesday agenda.

The city's street-naming policy says honorees should be deceased, but that policy involves a street being dual-named and not for an honorary designation. The state has no requirement on who can be given an honorary designation, Ron Book said. or 954-356-4556

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Mickey Dumberly
How much hubris is the local lobbying community filled with if they now think they can gift naming rights on Federal Highway between Broward Blvd and Sunrise Blvd to their 30 year old daughter. The biggest insult to Fort Lauderdale residents is that this lobbyist Ron Book is a paid lobbyist of the city of Fort Lauderdale, being paid to lobby Tallahassee for things we want, not things he wants for his daughter and her now political career. I will be sending a New Times article about Ron Book and daughter from February that details their history and accomplishments in the public sector. The crazy thing is the article explored the idea that Lauren and her father were attempting to parlay this career as a professional victim into a political career. Guess what, they were right. Lauren is now running for a State Senate seat. Hopefully Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler can see all the negative publicity and attention this egregious act of a rogue lobbyist will have during a public discussion and will just pull the shameful item from the agenda. I plan to be seguing from the dais into why Fort Lauderdale is paying someone with Ron Book’s white collar criminal history detailed in the New Times article to lobby Tallahassee for this city. Maybe “Jack” figures no one without a little dirt on them can be trusted up in Tallahassee, maybe he’s right, “Jack” would know.

With Deep Ties to Politicians, Private Prisons Have Exploded As Profit Centers

This article does not specifically mention the Book family, but the Books have taken lots of money from the GEO Group and even parties with the CEO. The GEO Group and Florida has a long history of corruption and scandal.

FRI, 6/12/2015 - BY MARY TURCK

Last month the state of Washington contracted with the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., to move up to 1,000 inmates from the state’s overcrowded prisons to its correctional facility in Michigan, thousands of miles from their homes and families. This makes family visits and connection with the community harder, though studies show that inmates who receive more visits are less likely to re-offend after release.

Prisoners can’t vote in the United States and as a result they don’t have much sway over public policy decisions. But private, for-profit prison companies do, their voices amplified by big campaign contributions and millions spent on lobbying. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, some of the candidates’ ties to the prison-industrial complex raise a lot of questions.

For example, the GEO Group has contributed heavily to campaigns of Florida senator and Republican contender Marco Rubio. And Republican candidate Jeb Bush’s support of for-profit prisons goes back to the 1990s, when he oversaw prison privatization as Florida governor.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is calling for criminal justice reform, which would reduce profits for private prisons and reduce mass incarceration. The election offers voters a choice between candidates who support the current system that allows corporations to profit from the misery of the inmates and those committed to fundamental reform, which includes changing inflexible sentencing laws and ending the for-profit prison system.

Washington’s contract with the GEO Group is part of the boom in for-profit prisons, whose inmate population increased by 1,600 percent from 1980 to 2009. The privatization of prisons and prison services accelerated during former President Bill Clinton’s administration based on promises of cost savings and better treatment for inmates. For-profit prisons have delivered on neither.

Government-run prisons frequently fail in rehabilitation, in providing medical care and in protecting prisoners from abuse. But private prisons do worse. Poorly paid and inadequately trained guards make for-profit prisons dangerous for staff and prisoners alike. In a 2001 study, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) reported a higher incidence of assaults on prisoners by guards at private prisons than in state and federal prisons.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel or unusual punishment of inmates. Increasingly, private prisons fail to meet even that minimal standard. One egregious example is the Bureau of Prisons’ contracts that require 10 percent of private prison beds to be set aside for solitary confinement. Because private prisons profit from keeping all beds full, this results in overuse and abuse of solitary confinement. This includes instances where immigrant mothers were punished with solitary confinement for protesting deplorable conditions at detention centers.

Other instances of cruel and inhuman punishment come from abusive guards, lacking training and supervision. A 2010 video from Idaho’s infamous “gladiator school” private prison shows guards watching one prisoner beat another unconscious and making no effort to intervene. In fact, reports show that the prison’s officials use “inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates.” A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union on private prisons details horrifying cases of abuse, including instances where cells for juveniles that smelled of urine and feces, insect infestations, racial segregation, punishment for speaking Spanish and refusal of medical and mental health treatment.

Beyond turning prisons over to private companies, governments also contract out health care or food services or telephones or banking services in public prisons. Video conferencing visitation, now set up in many prisons, often comes at a high cost to families and prisoners. Privately run probation and parole services spark concerns about “profitmaking through collection of fees and fines from the offender, with little or no attention paid to an individual’s underlying issues such as substance use or unemployment,” according to a 2012 NCCD report.

The abuse and exploitation of prisoners doesn’t end there. U.S. prisoners often work for pennies making goods for profit. The Ella Baker Center, a non-profit organization working for racial and economic justice, characterizes prison labor as the new slave labor. In 2013 37 states contracted with private, for-profit companies for prison labor. Companies ranging from Starbucks to Victoria's Secret and Microsoft carry products made with prison labor.

Politicians have favored private prisons because they’re supposed to save taxpayer money. But they haven’t: Private prisons’ relatively cheaper operating cost has not translated into lower costs to taxpayers. For-profit prisons typically house less-serious offenders, who are less costly to maintain. Private prison employees receive less training, lower pay and benefits. Yet, the contract cost to state and federal government remains about the same as the per-prisoner cost of publicly operated prisons.

Private prisons do, however, generate corporate profits. A 2012 NCCD study found that private prisons remain highly profitable and growing, despite their failure to deliver on promises of cost savings and improved conditions for inmates. For example, CCA and the GEO Group, two of the corporations that dominate the private prison industry, post combined annual revenue of more than $3.3 billion.

CCA’s 2014 annual report warned shareholders that “relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices” or changes in drug or immigration laws could adversely affect their profits. Unsurprisingly, the prison profiteers spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and on supporting the campaigns of “tough-on-crime” candidates. Harsh sentencing laws fill prison beds, generating profit for corporations. The most vulnerable people — young, poor, immigrants and people of color — make up a disproportionate number of those prisoners. Ultimately, profit is the worst possible motive for running prisons, or for making laws that govern crime and punishment.

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