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Florida's 1st District Appeals Court gets "$48 million 'Taj Mahal"

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 01:14 AM
Original message
Florida's 1st District Appeals Court gets "$48 million 'Taj Mahal"
In spite of the economy and the public sector layoffs, there was no skimping done on this courthouse.


The 15 judges working in the new 1st District Court of Appeal building will have 60-inch LCD flat screen TVs and private kitchens and bathrooms. Lawmakers say Chief Judge Paul Hawkes and Judge Brad Thomas lobbied furiously for the building. Photo from Florida Department of Management Services

From the St. Pete Times:

While most state courts face harsh budget cuts, the 1st District Court of Appeal gets a $48 million 'Taj Mahal'

TALLAHASSEE

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 a courthouse that some call a "Taj Mahal.''

Scheduled to be completed in November, it's a $48 million behemoth in which 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).

How did it 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.


Services for the needy suffered, but they got their new courthouse.

Loranne Ausley is running for state Chief Financial officer, and she is speaking out on this.

Ausley not happy with new DCA building

With the new $48 million First District Court of Appeal courthouse looming behind her, its stately dome and towering columns gleaming, former state Rep. Loranne Ausley lashed out Tuesday at what she called a "perfect example of everything that's wrong and broken in Tallahassee."

A Tallahassee Democrat and candidate for chief financial officer, Ausley vowed to clean up an opaque contracting and appropriations process that she claims was behind the construction of the 112,000-square-foot "Taj Mahal" that is scheduled to open in four months in the Southwood development six miles from the Capitol.

"Now more than ever, Florida needs a chief financial officer who understands what the office of CFO is all about," Ausley said. "It's outrageous and it's embarrassing."

Ausley voted against a 142-page transportation appropriations bill on the last day of the 2007 legislative session that included authorization for a $33.5 million bond issue for the project. Ausley claims the language was slipped quietly into the bill at the last minute by supporters.


The Orlando Sentinel has a editorial coming out tomorrow.

Contempt of taxpayers

Congress cut a $26 billion check for state governments this week to prop up their Medicaid programs and prevent layoffs of teachers and other public employees. Democrats pushed through the measure over nearly unanimous GOP opposition.

A former Republican, Gov. Charlie Crist, was among those hailing this latest bailout for states. Florida is in line for $1.3 billion. "We need all the help we can get, especially in this economy," he said.

Yet even after years of supposedly drum-tight budgets, Mr. Crist and other state leaders have still found occasions to waste truckloads of taxpayer dollars.

Consider, if you can stand it, the palatial new headquarters for Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal, now nearing completion in Tallahassee. The $48 million courthouse is being built at a 70 percent higher cost per square foot than a typical state building. Featuring a dome and faux-marble columns, it is modeled after Michigan's Supreme Court building.

..."Critics have dubbed it the Taj Mahal, though we prefer the Leon County Commission chairman's likening of a presidential palace in a Third World dictatorship.



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Indianademocrat91 Donating Member (287 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 01:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Do they have cocktail waitresses..
going around to each I guess you would call them "offices" in order for the judges to get everything they need so they can perform their job properly? If not then these judges don't know how to throw a party at the tax payers expense.

On a serious note, does the U.S. Supreme Court have these nice of provisions, 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). I'm sure though Chief Justice Roberts can get his backdoor bedtime corporate buddies to give him a line since he's following their leadership to the dot.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Nothing would surprise me.
Not in this state at least.

:hi:
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mike r Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
3. Obscene is the word. All that for this Bushie chief judge:
Edited on Thu Aug-12-10 10:14 AM by mike r
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-13-10 10:42 PM
Response to Original message
4. Tampa Bay 10 News covers it. "Judges get palace at taxpayers' expense"
What's that costing you? Judges get palace at taxpayer expense


Image from WTSP 10, Tampa. The Judges were also able to get a dome placed on the building over the objections of the Department of Management Services. The judges say the dome was necessary so it could make an impression on the public. It is also making an impression on the public's wallet.

Tallahassee, Florida -- It is a $48 million, 112,000 square foot building, which will be the new home of the 1st district court of appeals in Tallahassee, and you're paying for it.

.."Loranne Ausley, who is running for Florida Chief Financial Officer, says the building is a symbol of everything that is wrong and broken in Tallahassee. Ausley says she can't believe the legislature snuck in the funding for the building, which is being called the "Taj Mahal of Tallahassee." It includes a dome, granite counter tops and a 60-inch LCD TV for each judge. Ausley says it is outrageous and embarrassing.

Hillsborough Chief Judge Manny Menendez is outraged as well. Menendez says it sends the wrong message to legislators when the court system says it needs more funding.

In moving into the building, the court gives up a rent free building at Florida State University and will now pay $1.7 million in rent each year and another $287,000 to rent space for the court house administrators.
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lib2DaBone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-14-10 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Court Costs, Fines, Cost of Prosecution, fiing fees...
Nothing but the best for the judges and politicians...
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-13-10 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
5. When I look at that pic, I can't help but think of justice.
Edited on Fri Aug-13-10 10:50 PM by Bozita
Pretty damned obvious, but just in case, :sarcasm:
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-13-10 11:04 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Looks like Hitler's grandiose city scheme...
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-13-10 11:03 PM
Response to Original message
6. Lot of money in that prison industrial complex.
Gotta keep those who send people to jail happy.
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theaocp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-14-10 07:35 AM
Response to Original message
9. Hey, they got theirs, where's yours?
...so to speak. I am appalled.
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