The "political ego of the week" award goes to Sandra B. Mortham, Florida's Republican secretary of state, who finds unique ways of getting her name in the newspapers.

Mortham, of course, was dumped as Jeb Bush's running mate after various scandals, among them spending state-related money for expensive gifts, including cuff links emblazoned with the Florida seal -- and Mortham's name.

Following the Richard Nixon school of Republican ethics, Mortham, after several investigations uncovered influence-peddling and misspent taxpayer money in her office, proclaimed herself "overjoyed" because prosecutors found no criminal wrongdoing. With this "I am not a crook" record, Mortham is running for reelection and obviously needs all the help she can get.

Still, eagle-eyed New Times reader Jeff Conschafter, being from Chicago, where everything carries the mayor's name, spotted Mortham "using public support of the arts for political gain."

Specifically, name-dropping next to Beethoven.
In newspaper ads for this summer's "Beethoven by the Beach Festival" in Fort Lauderdale, Conschafter notes, the list of sponsors includes the Broward County Commission and various other local agencies, but then comes: "Florida Department of State, Sandra B. Mortham, Secretary of State."

Snarls Conschafter, "It's government money, but Mortham managed to work her name in as a sponsor. It's nasty."

Continuing this week's political honors, the "Dan Quayle scholar" award goes to the intellectuals in the victorious campaign of Hollywood Commissioner John Coleman.

In March, Coleman's losing mayoral campaign was marked by the taunting of Mayor Mara Giulianti with the premature singing of "Ding-Dong, the Witch Is Dead."

Last week, however, Coleman chose inspirational leadership. At his Election Night headquarters, a senior-citizen supporter was seen high-fiving a wall poster on which, in Magic Marker, was written a version of the oh-so-profound quotation: "On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of committed souls who at the first sign of victory... rested."

Unfortunately Coleman's philosophers actually scrawled, "On the planes of hesitation," no doubt referring to a late-departing flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Now for political manipulation, Palm Beach County-style: At a recent meeting of the West Palm Beach City Commission, downtown businesswoman Jackie Robinson, waiting to lend support to another business owner, observed commissioners beginning to grumble as the hours dragged by.

Sensing opportunity she hurried out for a McDonald's run and soon returned, respectfully placing before commissioners sodas and a bucket of chocolate-chip cookies, which they munched happily as an attorney droned on about airport expansion.

"It always works," Robinson beamed. "You have to give them something."
Life in Palm Beach County is so much nicer. What's accomplished there with cookies, down in Broward usually takes $500 campaign contributions.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbroward.com.

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