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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Haridopolos calls for DMS secretary to resign over 'Taj Mahal' audit



Senate president-designate Mike Haridopolos is calling on Linda South, head of the state agency that oversees the construction of state buildings, to resign in the wake of an audit that says South lost control of a new courthouse under construction for the 1st District Court of Appeal.

"I have serious concerns that you have violated the trust placed upon you as Secretary of the Department of Management Services," Haridopolos wrote Thursday in a letter to South.
Haridopolos said the audit, completed at the request of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink earlier this week, provides details of "runaway spending for extravagant items that have no place in a government building."

South’s "irresponsible oversight" has "clearly wasted millions of taxpayer dollars," Haridopolos wrote. He also urged South to allow the state’s news media to tour the building so everyone can see how unwisely taxpayer money has been spent.

South refused to comment, but her boss, Gov. Charlie Crist, says any lawmaker who makes such a suggestion should "look in the mirror first."

DMS Communications Director Linda McDonald said in a statement: "Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South serves at the pleasure of Governor Crist, not the Florida Senate. She delivers solid business practices and real-life business acumen to the Department of Management Services.

"The department’s work on the First District Court of Appeal Courthouse construction project is consistent with Florida law, including open and competitive bidding, and the project is within the budget the Florida Legislature appropriated.''
Lucy Morgan, Times senior correspondent

[Last modified: Thursday, October 14, 2010 4:38pm]


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