But Tuesday we have one of the most glorious opportunities ever provided a voter. We, YOU and I, the taxpayers that got Screwed big time, can vote those who think they will enjoy this luxury, out! Sending a message to every Florida politician you will not do this to us again!
First lets look at what they are getting:
With budgets slashed, courts across Florida have laid off staff, quit buying law books and curtailed building maintenance. Programs like drug courts, which have helped thousands of people stay out of trouble, have been limited. Mice run rampant in a Tampa courthouse, while in West Palm Beach judges struggle to get courtroom temperatures below 90 degrees because of a malfunctioning air-conditioning system. Meantime, in Tallahassee, the 1st District Court of Appeal is building $48 million behemoth of a courthouse that some call a "Taj Mahal.''(note: we have heard by sources that cost over runs will significantly inflate that figure).And what will be available to these esteemed law making thieves:
Each judge will get a 60-inch LCD flat screen television in chambers (trimmed in mahogany), a private bathroom (featuring granite countertops) and a kitchen (complete with microwave and refrigerator). The building will include a fitness room equipped with exercise machines and a mirrored wall.
When complete, this courthouse will be 112,000 square feet and will house only 120 people.
Most state buildings cost about $250 a square foot; the courthouse is costing more than $425 a square foot. Judges wanted a building that would "make an impact on the public,'' (our comment: oh yes it has made an impact, in our damn wallets) with a rotunda and columns across the front. A faux finish is being applied to the columns in the rotunda to make them look like the marbled columns that are seen in many European museums.
So how could such an affront to the tax paying citizen get funded?
Like many things that gain life in Tallahassee, the courthouse grew out of a last-minute amendment on the last day of a legislative session. The funding for the courthouse was buried in the middle of a 142-page transportation bill, approved the last day of the 2007 session.Which of course we the people must take some responsibility by allowing our legislators to pass legislation without reading the legislation they are passing!
Since they didn't read the bill they didn't have to ask, "why is a court house in a transportation bill!
The state had never floated a bond issue to build a courthouse, but Sen. Victor Crist of Tampa attached the amendment that allowed the court to float a $33.5 million bond issue. Several legislators say they were not aware the courthouse amendment was in the transportation bill when they voted on it.
Former Rep. Lorrane Ausley of Tallahassee voted against the bill, but she says she did not know about the amendment that was added to build the courthouse in her hometown. "It was safer to vote no on things like that given the lack of transparency on stuff like this,'' Ausley said last week. "I do recall that the judges worked the halls pretty hard. I don't think the Legislature ever intended something like this.''Which gives us pause to ask, how much happens the legislators do not intend due to their failure to do their jobs?
The court began looking at a new building in 2006 after rejecting the possibility of expanding its existing, rent-free building in downtown Tallahassee. Lawmakers say two 1st District judges, Chief Judge Paul Hawkes and Judge Brad Thomas, lobbied furiously for the new building. The two spent so much time walking the halls of the Legislature that some lawmakers wondered when they had time to be judges.
Staff in the agency responsible for the construction spent the weekend drafting a response to the audit. Agency Director Linda South says she will not resign as requested by the incoming Senate President. Indeed, South says the blame lies at the feet of legislative leaders, who raided an injured workers trust fund to give the court the money it wanted.”
One of those leaders was then House Speaker Marco Rubio, who, according to an email between judges, was part of a highly successful meeting in 2008 that increased funding for the court.
More shocking than the bond issue was the news that the new courthouse will cost the state courts an additional $1.7 million a year in rent to be paid to DMS, the state agency that owns the new building. The old building was rent-free to the court. In addition to that rent, the courts will have to continue paying $287,000 a year in rent for offices housing the court system's administrative staff, which would have been free but for the deal.If this is not on of the worst boondoggles perpetrated on the tax payers of any state we hate to see one that could top it. Unlike a Bridge to Nowhere that serves nobody, this building serves those who have elevated themselves beyond elite. This was calculated actions by those who profess to serve the state of Florida to SCREW the citizens of the state of Florida.
Some state judges bitterly resent having to find $2 million in a budget already strained to the breaking point. "We lost a rent-free building that now belongs to FSU and we are stuck with $1.7 million a year in rent,'' Hillsborough Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. said. "And now some legislators are saying we don't need money because we've got this Taj Mahal.''
Some longtime lawyers in Tallahassee have suggested the state needs to recall former Gov. Claude Kirk, who left office in 1971. Faced with the construction of a fancy new Capitol building, Kirk suggested the state was building "princely and ponderous palaces for political potentates.''
Now we could go in mass, tear the building down, tar and feather the judges and run them out of town on a rail. In fact I like that Idea. However thats the old days. This is a more civilized era where your only defense against crooks is your vote.
The ballot should read something like:
Shall Judge_________ of the first district court of appeals be retained in office.
You will have seven opportunities to say, not only NO, but Hell NO!!!!
Please pass this on to every Florida voter you know.
Sources here and here. We can only be free from tyrants when we stand up to their tyranny!Add to Technorati Favorites