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Senate Prez-to-be demands resignation of DMS secretary

by Dara Kam | October 14th, 2010

Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South should quit her job because she signed off on runaway spending on an appellate courthouse dubbed the “Taj Mahal,” Senate President-designate and government penny-pincher Mike Haridopolos is demanding.

South approved a no-bid contract for the $48 million 1st District Court of Appeal courthouse in Tallahassee even though the rent from the building won’t be enough to pay its debt service, an audit by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink found this week.

“Because of your irresponsible oversight, which has clearly wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, I call on you to submit your immediate resignation as Secretary of the Department of Management Services. You have failed to provide proper leadership and the abdication of your responsibilities has further weakened the public’s trust that their elected and appointed leaders will use their money wisely,” Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, wrote to South in a letter today.

Sink’s audit found that the appellate judges “bullied” South into building the opulent courthouse that wound up costing $11 million more than it should have.

Luxurious extras such as imported African mahogany and $350,000 worth of art work drove the cost of the courthouse up to $48.8 million, or $425 per square foot compared to the $250 per square foot for a new state building across the street from the courthouse.

The courthouse is costing the state $425 per square foot compared to $250 for a new Department of Revenue building in the same part of town, Sink said.

Her audit also found that two of the judges took trips to Michigan to look at that state’s Supreme Court building on which the new courthouse is modeled. Florida taxpayers picked up the tab for one of the trips but a subsequent visit was paid for by the courthouse contractor, Sink said.

Based on Sink’s request, Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has ordered an investigation into the courthouse. Sink also asked Gov. Charlie Crist, South’s boss, to investigate the matter.

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3 Responses to “Senate Prez-to-be demands resignation of DMS secretary”

  1. Get rid of them ALL Says:

    Get rid of all them, no bid on $48MILLION contract is outrageous) Mike H!

    Haridopolos will be a better monitor of these no bids.

    Too bad Sink awarded no bid contracts to her former employer Bank of America

  2. unreal Says:

    Ha what a great story. First off the expensive tastes are probably the result of some self absorbed architect trying to win ‘Architect of the Year’.
    Couple that with the entire commercial arena where general contractors force subcontractors to bid very low in this environment and then mismanage the job scrimping on every dollar and you have massive overruns.
    The rise in materials over the last few years has been high and probably has increased since the bid. The woodwork material is not the most expensive they could have used, but the no bid contract is just another example of corrupt politics in Florida.
    More than one head should role for this debacle.

  3. VoteFlorida Says:

    This would make a great story, except hacksaw Haridopolis was in on all of this. You cant tell me as a leading Repub in the Senate, this didnt cross his desk during budget negotiations. Now to request someone else resignation is a complete shame. They all should just resigned and lets start from scratch.

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