Taxpayers paid $152,000 for a single copy of a book
Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Scott Maxwell
Published March 4, 2011
Poor Mike Haridopolos.
Our very own state Senate president is becoming a national joke.
Everyone from Fox News to the Washington Post is now scrutinizing the Merritt Island Republican who desperately wants to be Florida's next U.S. Senator.
Why? Because the secret is now out that this same guy who constantly rails against government spending has been sucking up government money himself — specifically, more than $150,000 from Florida taxpayers to write a book that was so lame his college never actually published it.
The Sentinel actually stumbled on to this strange deal that Haridopolos struck with Brevard Community College years ago. The purpose, Haridopolos said at the time, was to "take away some of the mystery of politics."
So what kind of sophisticated insights did Haridopolos offer to aspiring politicians in his government-subsidized tome?
"A cell phone will be essential."
Ah, well, that does remove some of the mystery. Otherwise, I bet many candidates would simply stand outside on street corners, screaming and hoping their voice would carry all across their district.
Another insightful gem was Haridopolos' suggestion that candidates get a computer "with an internet connection" so that you could set up a web site.
Slow down, senator! What's this website thing of which you speak?
"A website," the book continued, "is a direct means of communication between the candidate and the voter in an emerging media …"
Well, heck, that little nugget was probably worth $25,000 in taxpayer bucks all by itself.
Here's another suggestion from the senator: "At a minimum, a candidate must know his own position on all the important issues."
So, let me get this straight: This book is targeted for people who think they want to run for office — but aren't aware that they should actually have positions on issues before doing so?
Come on, senator. Do you really think a politician would adopt a firm position on something like high-speed rail when it's popular and then do a complete flip-flop when it's not? Oh, wait …
Admittedly, Haridopolos did offer some more sophisticated thoughts — including how lucky politicians are that members of the public are blissfully inactive in the political process:
"The candidates who are not strong public speakers can find comfort in the fact that very few people attend public forums …"
Also the joys of the electorate's short-term memory: "Unless the story involves real scandal, most people merely glance at it and, in time, forget it."
In other words: Even those of you who are ticked off about this story will probably forget about it before you vote next time.
Haridopolos actually finished his book back in 2007. But it wasn't until this week that the Associated Press learned that Brevard Community College hadn't even delivered on its promise to publish it.
Instead, there is only one copy of the manuscript … one that can't be checked out.
As one of my colleagues noted, that means Haridopolos made more money, per book, than J.K. Rowling made for Harry Potter … 61,000 times more, in fact.
On Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Times point-blank asked Haridopolos whether taxpayers got $152,000 worth of value from his book.
The senate president's response: "I don't know. How much are you worth?"
Apparently Haridopolos has another chapter in him: "Grade School Responses for Serious Questions."
("When stumped, think like a 4th-grader. Particularly good lines include 'I know you are but what am I?' and most anything from the 'Your Mama' arsenal.")
The entire story makes a joke of Haridopolos' alleged commitment to fiscal conservatism — as well as his call for others to suck it up and make sacrifices.
Not looking much better is the school. In fact, one of the funnier parts of the AP story featured the BCC president fumbling to explain why the school had never published the book, going on to say that the school was "attempting to put it online."
Attempting? It should take an intern a single day to scan the book and put it online.
And hey, if that's too difficult or confusing, I know just the book that could help you. It takes all the mystery out of things like computers and web sites.