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Why vote for anyone who allows Florida's 'Taj Mahal'?

It's almost October, and the public is still waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to do something about that $48 million "Taj Mahal" courthouse that an appeals court in Tallahassee sneaked through for itself.

Hello, Supremes?

Paging the Supremes …

Aren't you folks the boss of the entire court system under Article V of the Constitution?

Is this your idea of building "respect" for the judiciary? Dirty, last-minute, secret budget tricks? Sneaking money from the taxpayers for your court system's benefit?

Hello, Chief Justice Charles T. Canady? Is this peachy keen by you?

Four of the Supreme Court's justices are on the ballot for another term in November. Should the people of Florida re-elect a Supreme Court that condones this dirty dealing?

It's almost October.

Has our governor, Charlie Crist, done anything yet about that $48 million Taj Mahal courthouse for the 1st District Court of Appeal?

Hello? Governor? Is this fine by you? Do you think you should be elected a U.S. senator after letting something like this happen?

Aren't you the boss of the state government? Aren't you the boss of the Department of Management Services, which has a hand in this? (Hint: yes.)

Hello? Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink? Don't you write all the checks? Do you think you should be governor of Florida if you won't stop it?

Hello? Senate President Jeff Atwater? Didn't your Legislature do this courthouse deal? Do you really think you should be elected as the state's chief financial officer?

Make the judges of the 1st District Court of Appeal move.

Make them move. Kick them out. Do not let them take occupancy of this building. Give it to someone else.

It is a classic Tallahassee theft. It is one more last-minute trick sneaked through the Legislature with everybody denying responsibility.

Victor Crist, a state senator from Tampa, now wants to be a Hillsborough County commissioner. He pulled the trigger on the deal. But hey, he was just following orders.

Ken Pruitt was president of the Senate at the time. He don't know nothin' about no courthouses.

Maybe it was Marco Rubio, then speaker of the state House, now running for U.S. Senate against the governor.

Rubio says, who, me?

The Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen jeers that there's so much memory loss over the Taj Mahal, Tallahassee apparently needs a massive dose of gingko.

Fortunately, as the Chinese say, the palest ink is better than the strongest memory.

Which is why taxpayers should be interested in the list of "heroes" to "thank" that was circulated among the appeals judges after they sneaked this money out of the Legislature.

As my colleague Lucy Morgan reported the other day, the "heroes" list includes seven House members, five senators, three lobbyists, six Senate and 10 House staffers, and the then-president of Florida State University. (FSU gets the court's old building, which is another interesting angle.)

Top of the heroes list: Marco Rubio.

To get a fancy building by sneakery, are the courts of Florida willing to do this much damage to their reputation?

Are they willing to forfeit their moral high ground the next time the Legislature schemes to undermine the judiciary, or the next time they want more money?

Make them move.

Why vote for anyone who allows Florida's 'Taj Mahal'? 09/27/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 27, 2010 7:20pm]
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