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Senators ticked at 'disrespectful' absence of Fair Districts pushers

Senators on the chamber's redistricting committee were more than a little peeved that no one representing the Fair Districts redistricting initiative bothered to show up -- as a Fair Districts rep vowed to do last month -- for the committee's meeting this morning.

The senators, Ds and Rs, threw out words like "appalling," disrespectful," "laughable" and "offensive."

Sen. John Thrasher went after former House Speaker and Fair Districts pusher Jon Mills, a UF law professor, for being absent.

"As a former House Speaker, he knows better than anyone how important redistricting is and the impact these changes can have," said Thrasher, also a former House Speaker. "For him to not be here or have a representative here, knowing the implications it will have, well, I just don't understand it. ...To me it is just appalling."

Committee chair Sen. Mike Haridopolos said he got a phone message from Fair Districts reps, saying they are "so intent on getting signatures," they did not have time to attend the meeting.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, wasn't buying it.

"You know, it isn't even 9 a.m. and I find it hard to believe Mills is actually sitting outside some busy mall somewhere gathering signatures," Storms said. "That is laughable...and offensive."

Added Sen. Andy Gardiner: "It shows just a total lack of follow through, and to soem extent, disrespect."