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COLUMN

Happytown

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We should have seen this
coming. Well, actually we did, but we chose to cover our eyes and blissfully whistle along to our own imaginary theme song (like that one from television’s Bosom Buddies ) as we watched the ascension of our new favorite power couple, CannonHair. Florida Speaker of the House Dean Cannon was clearly the chiseled lead in this sitcom romp through policy and sloganeering, while Senate President Mike Haridopolos fopped and flopped like a lovable sidekick in the Buddy Lembeck or “Boner” Stabone mode. It was going to be perfect: all secret handshakes and pratfalls and prom date shenanigans. But then, as it is wont to do, ambition reared its ugly head.

Late last week, the hair-half of our Republican construct officially announced that he would be going up against cardboard astronaut and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the 2012 U.S. Senatorial sweepstakes, meaning that instead of spinning balls on his nose for the next couple of years for our enjoyment, he’ll be campaigning and trying to sound like an electable adult. Boo.

“I am proud to say I’m in the race but of course focused on the issues facing Florida as we face a very difficult budget right now,” Haridopolos faced FOX 35 News. Of course.

It got us to thinking about exactly what we know – beyond the obvious sidekick cuddle-
factor – about Mike Haridopolos. We only had to dig a couple days back before the “official” campaign announcement to get to a little bit of political hopscotch. Last week Haridopolos tried to be all tough-jawed on the high-speed rail project, saying that he would support it only if private enterprise picked up the remaining $280 million not being funded by the federal government. Huh. This, after the Senate president went to bat so heartily for the less appealing SunRail back in 2010. Some of his peers called that fishy.

Well, not as fishy as Haridopolos’ history. Last year our boy fell afoul of the state ethics commission for failing to properly fill out his public disclosure forms from 2005–2008, because he forgot he had a $400,000 investment property in Mt. Dora (also that he was making money on the side via a consulting firm). We checked Mr. Hair’s disclosures from 2006–2008 and can’t really make too much sense of them: two homes in 2006 with a combined value of $901,000, two homes in 2007 adding up to $825,000, two homes in 2008 adding up to $1.6 million. All of this on a $30,000-a-year government salary? Not exactly. Haridopolos also raised eyebrows for double-dipping on the state dime when he took a lecturing gig at the University of Florida in 2008; he was paid $75,000 for nine months of doing nothing. He wrote a “manuscript” for Brevard Community College for which he was paid $150,000 in public money; you can only find that book at the BCC library, though you probably wouldn’t want to. The guide to being an effective legislator says, “a cell phone will be essential,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. Brilliant!

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