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Profiles in mediocrity

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While recuperating from back surgery John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning book "Profiles in Courage," detailing the careers of politicians who took unpopular stands for the greater good. While recovering from holiday indigestion I thought I'd do the same about some of Central Florida's finest. Today we profile the Orange County Commission, who two weeks ago asked not what they could do for their county but what their county could slide under the table to them. In a 4-3 vote, the commission agreed to raise the county chairman's salary from $80,000 to $112,500 and the pay of other commissioners from $25,000 to $56,083. Even Disney doesn't raise its rates that fast. Commission members said the salaries were too low for the job. But the way they've decided to deal with the post-election payout is comical. Three of the four who voted for it will keep the money. One voted for the raise and then decided not to keep it. Two who voted against it probably will take it. At last report -- and they are ever changing -- Chairman Linda Chapin had decided to keep $21,000 of her $32,000 raise. The amount is based on inflation during her tenure. Although Chapin did not take an inflation bump for one year when other county workers did not get raises, she did factor in inflation for the two years before she took office, starting from the date when the position was created and the original salary set. She says she'll give the remainder to charity. Interestingly, by taking some money and giving some away, Chapin presumably gains some political capital while securing the tax deduction that she wouldn't have received had she refused the money outright. So, as we look toward to the new year, let's remember the poor person who will most suffer: the county's payroll person, who not only saw his commissioners take his tax money but now has to figure out how to pay them.

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