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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Paul Hawkes, champion of Florida's palatial court, once preached frugality



hawkes_146084a.jpgFour times Paul M. Hawkes tried to become a judge, four times without success.

Voters rejected him the first time, and he dropped out of a second race. Twice he applied for gubernatorial appointments, twice he was rejected by the nominating committees that cull applicants and send the governor the finalists to pick from.

Success came on the fifth try, after then-Gov. Jeb Bush gained control of the nominating process. Bush picked Hawkes, a policy advisor in the Republican-controlled House, over five other nominees, including three judges. On his application Hawkes wrote: "A judge should be accountable to the public as a fiscal steward. A judge should not utilize practices that may be more convenient but would violate the stewardship responsibilities of the court.''

The "fiscal steward'' then set out to build what is now derided as the "Taj MaHawkes,'' a monument to profligate spending, with no taxpayer dollar spared, a courthouse outfitted with 20 miles of African mahogany, etched glass, and for each judge, a private kitchen and bathroom. (story here)

Photo: Paul Hawkes, left, and Brad Thomas, pose with Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, during a tour of courthouse construction last December. The judges have personalized hard hats.

[Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 2:44pm]


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