What was going on here?
It has been revealed that new Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos was paid $152,000 in taxpayer money to write a book on politics for Brevard Community College four years ago.
All 175 pages of the resulting tome, “Florida Legislative History and Processes,” were published exactly once. The only copy of the 175-page, double-spaced manuscript can only be found, and read, at the school. The book Haridopolos produced didn’t satisfy the original contract’s requirement for a publishable, textbook-quality look at the development of the Florida Legislature, state constitution, the governor’s office and judiciary from pre-statehood until present. But heck..what do you expect? He was only paid a lousy $152,000! What do you want, “Doctor Zhivago?”
Haridopolos, who lists his occupation as college professor, though he’s actually only a University of Florida lecturer, a lower rank than professor, and professional author—well THAT’s certainly accurate— is seeking the Republican U.S. Senate nomination next year. He refuses to answer inquiries about the cushy book deal. As for the college, it appears to be lying to beat the band.
“I thought that the book was a very fine piece of work as a primer in the political process,” current President Jim Drake said last week.
And worth every penny, right, Jim?
The strange 2003 arrangement negotiated by then-president Thomas Gamble with Haridopolos –even the college agrees that it was strange—stated that the state senator (Yes, he was a senator then, too) would receive $38,166.36 annually for four years to write the book instead of a regular teaching assignment. E-mails obtained by The Associated Press indicate administrators believed that having the new senator remain on staff, even if he wasn’t teaching regularly, could provide “intangible benefits” for the college.
Oh…intangible benefits. $152,000 worth of intangible benefits!
The book, quite evidently, is a joke. Orlando’s WFTV’s story notes that the “manuscript Haridopolos submitted in 2007 is basic politics and government, aimed toward an audience that wouldn’t have any idea of how government or campaigns work, to the point where he explains that the Legislature is made up of two branches, the House and Senate. Most of it should be basic knowledge for lawmakers or candidates — little research is apparent….It gives virtually no specific details of Haridopolos’ own experiences either as a candidate or a legislator.”
What was going on here? Was the school bribing the senator? Was there some favor involved? Was it extortion? Was the college president, Gamble, mad as a hatter? Nobody seems to know except Mike Haridopolos, who isn’t talking.
What we do know is this:
- This is the appearance of impropriety if I ever saw it.
- Gamble was irresponsible and unconscionably profligate with his community college’s money, which is taxpayer money.
- The school has an obligation to stop defending an outrageous deal and to demand its money back. All of it.
- Haridopolos has the integrity of a plywood home with termites. The least he was obligated to do for his outrageous fee was to give the school the best researched, most thorough book on politics he could write, and he had four years to do it. If he couldn’t do better than 175 double-spaced pages of boilerplate any freshman political science major could produce in a couple of weeks, then it was dishonest for him to make the agreement. He essentially stole the college’s money if it really was being paid to him to write a book. If the money was really for something else, then he’s a crook….and a lazy, arrogant con artist.
Whatever was going on with the book deal, it was unethical for the school to make it, unethical for Haridopolos to agree to it, and unethical, once he had agreed to it, not to make a good faith efforts to produce what was bargained for.
But what was going on with that deal???? It’s driving me crazy!