A recent Broward Health board meeting took an unexpected turn—and led to the confiscation of an unusual device.
John deGroot, 78, a Florida resident and former journalist who was on the 1971 Pulitzer-winning team for coverage of the Kent State University shooting, disrupted the meeting with noises from a “novelty fart machine,” according to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. DeGroot has frequently criticized Broward Health, a taxpayer-funded public hospital system based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that paid almost $70 million in 2015 to settle allegations it illegally paid doctors for referrals.
His latest criticism was aimed at the system's dismal budget and policies. Credit-rating agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded Broward Health's bond rating this year because of the settlement and other losses. DeGroot repeatedly played the fart machine, prompting board members to halt the meeting.
“I thought it was the most dramatic way I could show my disrespect. I threw a pie at a guy a few months ago. … I couldn't carry that many pies. This was the best I could do,” deGroot told the New Times Broward Palm Beach newspaper. DeGroot threw the pie at a health planning council member who spoke critically of Broward Health's former CEO, Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, who was found dead in January after committing suicide.
Police came to the public meeting but did not arrest deGroot. Instead, they asked him to hand over the device, and he complied, according to media reports. But it's likely not the last time a Broward Health meeting will endure simulated outbursts of flatulence.
“For the record, I have obtained a new fart machine for the next regular meeting,” deGroot wrote on his blog.