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A Small Victory …

But you take what is offered.

Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg Times continues her coverage of the Taj Mahal courthouse

TALLAHASSEE — Chief Judge Paul M. Hawkes resigned Friday from the top job at the 1st District Court of Appeal, just a few weeks before moving into a new courthouse critics have dubbed the “Taj Mahal” and “Taj MaHawkes.”

Hawkes, 53, who did not resign from the court, would not discuss his reason for resigning as chief judge before his term was up June 30, 2011.

Hawkes offered his resignation at an emergency conference with his fellow judges Friday morning. In a one-sentence letter later in the day, court clerk Jon Wheeler notified the Supreme Court and other district court of appeal judges of the election of Judge Robert T. Benton II to replace Hawkes.

Hawkes says the building, nearing completion about six miles east of the Capitol, is dignified and appropriate for a courthouse. He contends state legislators contributed to the escalated costs by requiring that the court build an environmentally friendly structure.

He [Hawkes] also has been in a dispute with the Supreme Court over the use of some of the space in the new building. [Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T.] Canady is exploring using some of the new courthouse to house administrative employees who work for the entire court system and are now housed in rental quarters at a cost of about $287,000 a year.

He’s still a judge, but he did lose the top spot. He is a classic bureaucratic empire builder with an unlimited sense of entitlement. He is also a classic deficit hawk – the little people need to tighten their belts so he can have mahogany paneling and granite counter tops. The crack about “environmentally friendly” is typical because he doesn’t care what the utility bill is, and he certainly doesn’t want to share space with anyone’s “peasants” but his own.


1 cookie jill { 11.22.10 at 11:36 pm }

We here in Santa Barbara happen to love our “elaborate” courthouse, which leans naturally on the environmentally friendly side.


But it has been around since 1929.

2 Bryan { 11.23.10 at 12:05 am }

Jill, they are putting nearly of forest of mahogany [with the accent on “hog”] in the stupid building, and they are an appeals court. They don’t have trials, they have hearings with a few judges and some attorneys. They need an office building with some conference rooms, not a temple. The only people who will see the inside are the judges and their staff, as most of the work is reading written briefs and writing opinions.

I might go along with good wall paper, but a bathroom and kitchenette for every judge is wretched excess. If they want these kinds of perqs they should have learned to coach football or gone into divorce law.

Hmmm… 1929, must have been completed just before the bottom fell out, because it is too early for the WPA.

3 Steve Bates { 11.23.10 at 12:16 am }

Heh. Houston’s so-called “Taj Mahal,” the HISD main administration building until 2006 and subsequently sold and demolished, was a boondoggle if ever there was one. On top of that, if you were confined to a wheelchair (as I was for a while), it was very difficult to negotiate. It was a visually attractive building, but all things considered… good riddance.

4 cookie jill { 11.23.10 at 12:31 am }

The original courthouse was flattened by the earthquake of 1925 and promptly rebuilt, finally finished right before the bottom went out of the market.

Yeah…truly emphasis on the HOG in the case of the TajCourt. I love how the greedy (when caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar) always seem to blame environmentalists…or unions.

5 Bryan { 11.23.10 at 9:21 pm }

I get really annoyed with the places that have ramps, Steve, except they are too narrow for a wheelchair to fit, and the same for doors inside doctor’s offices. If I build a house, not very likely at this point, I would make it wheelchair accessible because it is easier to get around in even if you aren’t in a wheelchair.

Oh, yes, Jill, it is never their fault. It was so unreasonable of the state legislature to require the building to meet the current building codes regarding efficiency and energy use.