Embarassed yet accountable State Rep. Frank Artiles (R, District 119 but he doesn't live there yet) finally called me back today and said he had no hard feelings.
"I know you were just doing your job and congratulations," Artiles said, but maybe a little sarcastically, not like everybody else.
While he will take full responsibility and pay the fine -- which could be up to about $14,000 -- Artiles repeated his story that he really did not know he was supposed to have moved from his Palmetto Bay home already. He said he was told he had six months because it was a redistricting year. "Because the boundaries could change," he said. That makes no sense for two reasons. One is that he voted less than a month ago to fine a fellow freshman legislator, Jacksonville's Reggie Fullwood (and we don't know if it's a coincidence he is a Democrat), after Fullwood failed to move into his district for 15 days. (Artiles told our new best friend Marc Caputo, of the Miami Herald's Tallahassee bureau, that he was voting with the chair without knowing what the vote was, which Ladra thinks is far worse than hiding your residency even). And the second is that I highly doubt boundaries will change within the six-month window that ends next month.
But Artiles seemed genuinely offended, even wounded.
"Again, I know you are doing your job, but what bothers me is that you say that I knew and I was trying to skate. But that's not me at all," Artiles said. "I pull no punches."
Neither does Ladra, I told him, and repeated that this was not a personal attack on him. Rather, I said, it was about the system and the fact that the law should be changed so that candidates for the title of "representative" are required to live in the district before they run for office there.
Then Artiles said the smartest thing I've heard from him so far in this whole mess: "I will run that bill in Tallahassee next year."
Are you serious? Really? Can I quote you?
"Yes," he said. And that's the second smartest thing he's said.