Wednesday, July 01, 2015

City Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson "Interviews" His Own Subordinate, Wanda Bray on Flagler College Radio

Once again, the City's unimaginative, dull, estimable, energumen Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson is "interviewing" his satellite, Wanda Bray, about the Independence Day festivities, on the WFCF-FM (Flagler College Radio, 88.5) "Radio with a reason," which is unadorned by any news programs, but gives some 25 hours per year to the City of St. Augustine for Williamson to pretend to "interview" City managers and his own subordinate. Pitiful.

From the Slate automatic Antonin Scalia insult generator:

Scalia's burn for Ed Slavin is...
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Paul Morigi / Getty Images
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images
“One would think that Ed Slavin's vision is freedom-destroying jiggery pokery. This wolf comes as a wolf.”
New Burn
Share Burn
Tweet Burn
Email Burn

Ed on Gays and the Supreme Court, interviewed by Derek Hankerson for

Sheriff SHOAR Loses "Left and Right Arms" in Wake of Investigations of Michelle O'Connell Shooting, Corruption in St. Johns County Sheriff's Office

This morning's St. Augustine Record contains a veritable puff piece by a young, inexperienced reporter, containing a record number of "Freudian slips" (or "Floridian slips") from the corrupt Sheriff of St. Johns County, DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID BERNARD HOAR." Chief of Law Enforcement ARTHUR MAY (the late corrupt Sheriff NEAL PERRY's son-in-law) and UnderSheriff JOEL BOLANTE have retired. You know its going to be hagiography when the page one photo is taken by a photographer who is either kneeling or lying at their feet, to make them look extra tall!

Like Richard Milhous Nixon upon the departure of H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, later sentenced to federal prison for Watergate crimes, Sheriff SHOAR engages in hagiography. The Special Prosecutor investigating the O'Connell case and federal and state grand juries will speak later. Here's the Record's story, in haec verba, with my emphases and Ed-itorial comments:

Retiring UnderSheriff JOEL BOLANTE and retiring Chief of Law Enforcement ARTHUR MAY
(Ed Slavin's note: Notice that Sheriff SHOAR is not in photo. Wonder why?)

Two St. Johns County Sheriff's Office leaders retire
Posted: June 30, 2015 - 8:51pm


Two recently retired St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office leaders agree the most rewarding part of being in law enforcement is knowing they made a difference in people’s lives.

“There’s no amount of money in the world that can replace the feeling you get when you know you just saved someone’s life or helped them change their life around,” said Undersheriff Joel Bolante.

It is a sentiment Director of Law Enforcement Art May echoes.

“It can’t get any better than knowing you took that guy who was beating a girl to jail and that girl is going to be okay. Or knowing you just arrested that homicide suspect or child molester,” he said. “There’s so many of those instances that it’s unbelievable.”

Bolante and May, both 54, retired this summer after almost 70 years of combined experience in law enforcement.

“I’m losing my left and right arm; they’ll be hard to replace,” said Sheriff David Shoar. “Both have been instrumental in the success of the Sheriff’s Office.”

While both men left at the same time, they took different paths to their last positions in law enforcement.

Getting started: Bolante

Bolante says he was inspired to lead a life dedicated to public service by his father, who served in the Navy for 30 years.

“I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps, but it was hard growing up because we moved from one end of the country to another,” he said. “Every time we’d move, it was in the middle of the school year, and I can’t say I have any life-long friends because of that.”

Law enforcement allowed him to continue his father’s legacy of public service, but in a more stable environment, he said.

At 18, Bolante became a corrections officer at the Florida State Prison.

“Back then, it was the dead-end prison, so most people I dealt with were lifers or were sentenced to death,” he said. “I was exposed to violence at a young age, and I had to grow up quickly. I saw, felt, touched and smelled things the average person just reads about.”

One of the prisoners Bolante dealt with was serial killer Ted Bundy.

“He was very respectful, very cordial, very intelligent and very articulate,” Bolante said. “If it weren’t for the bars separating us, I could see myself sitting and having a beer with him. He seemed like a nice guy, but that was what made him a successful serial killer.”

Bolante served at the Florida State Prison for almost four years before going to work for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

From undercover to undersheriff

Bolante joined the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy in 1984. Over the course of nearly 35 years there, he helped develop the Sheriff’s Office’s first vice and narcotic unit and served as director of operations .

The vice and narcotic unit was developed to combat the rising prevalence of cocaine in St. Johns County streets, he said.

“We were smacked in the face with this new drug we didn’t expect or hear of, and it was the worst thing we had ever seen,” he said. “We never thought our small city would ever experience big-city crime.”

St. Johns County became a pipeline for cocaine, May said.

“We had to develop a program to lay down rules because there were no rules,” he said.

As a result, the Sheriff’s Office created a task force to target crack cocaine. The program was one of the first of its kind in Florida, Bolante said.

About every four months, the Sheriff’s Office conducted major sweeps, arresting 30 to 40 people at a time, he said.

“Our streets were so rampant with drug dealers, that they literally were lined up on streets and fighting for business,” Bolante added.

Early in his career with the vice and narcotic unit, Bolante said he hated everything about the drug trade. But while he was working undercover, one event changed the way he thought about people addicted to drugs.

One night, a woman came up to him and tried to trade her 18-month-old baby for cocaine, he said.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “I realized how powerful that stuff is if a mother is willing to break the bond between her and her child for $5 rocks of cocaine.”

Bolante spent almost 10 years with the vice and narcotic unit — now called the organized crime unit — before becoming the director of operations.

As director of operations, Bolante was in charge of all the law enforcement operations for the Sheriff’s Office. That included overseeing all uniform patrol, communications, school resources, SWAT Team, special operations and others.

He had about 50 percent of the agency under his command, he said.

“I went from being undercover and one of the most covert unit in the agency to the most visible,” he said.

In 2004, Shoar promoted him to undersheriff.

“He is a talented, bright star,” Shoar said. “He is a true intellectual and is dedicated to his profession.”

As undersheriff, Bolante was second in command and assisted Shoar in the day-to-day operations of the agency. He also served as acting sheriff when Shoar was out of town.

Ed Slavin notes: No mention of whether SHOAR was out of town or where he was on September 2-3, 2010 when the coverup of the shooting of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Deputy Sheriff JEREMY BANKS began.

Getting started: May

For May, what started out as a summer job as a dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Office turned into a 35-year career.

Ed Slavin notes: No mention of the identity of MAY's father-in-law, the late corrupt Sheriff NEAL PERRY, allegedly forced to retire due to corruption, or the deal SHOAR made to promote MAY in exchange for PERRY's support in the 2004 election.

Originally from Pierson, May said he had never thought about a job in law enforcement.

“At 5-years-old, I was in the Orange Groves, and wanted to be a farmer. I was involved in Futures Farmers of America and 4-H Clubs,” he said.

But his life took a slight turn when his mother moved the family to Crescent Beach when he was about 15.

“I didn’t have a clue where the farms were, so I got involved in the Officer Explorer Program,” he said. “They happened to be having a summer work youth program, so I started working as a dispatcher in the communications center.”

May worked the midnight shift that summer, but when school started, he found himself “having withdrawals.” It wasn’t long before he was back at the Casa Monica in the communications office.

He was still too young to drive, so a deputy would have to take him home at the end of his shift, he said.

Aspiring farmer to successful director

Two days after May turned 18, he joined the police academy.

“I couldn’t even buy my own bullets,” he said. “Back in those days, you could buy beer at 18, but not bullets.”

May worked at the jail while he was going through the police academy. But after six months, Sheriff Dudley Garrett sent him to patrol Hastings, kickstarting his carer as a deputy.

“He called me into his office, and I thought I was in trouble,” May said. “Next thing I know, he throws a set of keys to me and tells me I’m working Hastings.”

He served as a deputy for about four years before becoming a property crime and homicide detective.

May was a successful property crime detective in a position that rarely produced results, Bolante said.

“If you have a stack of 30 cases, you’re lucky if you solve 3 percent of them,” he said. “But Art was pretty effective in crimes that are difficult to solve. He was always coming into the department with radios and stereos; it seemed like he was solving something every day.”

May credits that success with dedicating himself to the people he served.

“I always geared my job to the people before anything else,” he said.

An example was when a family known in the drug scene reported a theft in their house and, within a week, May was able to recover everything.

“The deputies took it lightly, but I decided I wanted to work the case,” he said. “They trust me, and to this day, they are some of my best informants.”

May’s dedication to the people is also recognized by Shoar.

“So much about him is service to the people,” he said.

May became sergeant in 1985 and was promoted to director of law enforcement in 2010.

As director, May oversaw law enforcement, communications, organized crime investigations, public service announcements, bailiffs, SWAT teams and school resources.

“It’s a big job,” he said.

Bolante added: “The marked cars responding to calls you see are the most visible part of the Sheriff’s Office, but that only is a small percentage of what we do and what we represent. It is the part of the agency that is the most visible and gets the most TV shows.”

Leaving behind a legacy

As former leaders of the Sheriff’s Office, May and Bolante said their most important job was developing the next generation of Sheriff’s Office leaders.

“I leave this place knowing we have people behind us who will carry on the same legacy, and that’s through mentorship and teaching,” May said. “Every day is leadership by example.”

Bolante agrees.

“I measure my success, not by the number by the number of people I took to jail or by the rank I achieve or the money I make. I measure my success by those who succeeded in this profession who I know I had some influence on.”

But apart from that, Bolante’s legacy is simple.

“I want people to look at me as a good person,” he said. “More than anything else, more than a good cop, more than an educator, that I’m looked at as a good person.”

Ed Slavin's note: That may be why BOLANTE retired -- not approving of SHOAR's corruption, works and pomps.

With their retirement, Shoar said it’s time for the changing of the guards at the Sheriff’s Office.

“I grew up with these guys, so it’s like everyone is graduating high school, and I’m still in high school. I truly love both of those guys, and I’m dearly going to miss them,” he said. “The new generation faces tremendous challenges, but I know they’re ready for it.”

It’s time for that next generation to shine, May said. But he said one hard part about leaving is adjusting to a new way of life.

“You get used to getting up, coming and going, and making decisions. Now all of a sudden one day, you’re not,” he said. “I joke to people, saying they’ll find me at Lowes just to be busy and stay around people.”

Bolante said he’s using his retirement to make up for lost time with his family.

“I’ve had success in my career. It came hard and fast, but I missed raising my three kids because of that,” he said. “So I’m making up for that with my grandchildren. I have two granddaughters who remind me what life is really about.”

Comments (2) Add comment
Gatortom64 07/01/15 - 07:51 am 00Thank you for your service
I hope your retirement is as successful as your careers were.

Peter Swanson 07/01/15 - 10:40 am 00Shame
It's a shame that their careers ended at an institution that has revealed itself to be so corrupt, as shown by the national news coverage of the Michelle O'Connell case. Had they spoken out against Sherriff Shoar's shoddy handling of the case, they could have retired with honor instead of odor.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

COVERUP ENDING SOON? 4 years, 9 months, 26 days (1760 days) Since Michelle O'Connell Was Shot to Death in the Home of Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Banks

4 years, 9 months, 26 days -- that's a long time for a family to be without a Grand Jury investigation, for a daughter to be without her mom and a mother to be without her daughter and her siblings to be without a sister. Both the FBI Corruption Task Force and a State Special Prosecutor are investigating Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, the O'Connell case, and sequelae.

Pray for Justice for Michelle O'Connell. Work for justice every day over your life. For as JFK said, "Here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own."

The lawyer for Michelle O'Connell's family, Benjamin Crump, has arranged for an independent autopsy.
Good news -- no longer will justice be delayed or denied by junk science.
No longer will the case be stymied by obstructionism by our $225,000/year Medical Examiner, PREDRAG BULIC.
Michelle O'Connell was shot to death with Deputy JEREMY BANKS' service pistol in BANKS' residence 1721 days ago, on September 2, 2010.
The St. Augustine Record, our local newspaper, and our local law enforcement failed to perform their "watchdog" functions.
The case was never taken to a Grand Jury.
Evidence was not preserved and destroyed -- spoliation.
The O'Connell case was badly botched by inept incurious investigations by St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, Assistant ROBERT KEITH MATHIS and another State's Attorney BRADLEY KING, with enough defects to make this an international scandal.
But thanks to the persistence of the O'Connell family, the majesty of the First Amendment -- and the will and skill of editor Anne Schindler, Folio Weekly, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich, The New York Times, investigative producer Glenn Silber, PBS Frontline, Dateline NBC, First Coast News, Dr. Phil, investigator Clu Wright, reporter Susan Cooper Eastman and O'Connell family attorney Ben Crump, the case remains alive.
Michelle O'Connell died 1760 days ago tonight.
Florida Governor Richard Lynn Scott responded to some 180,000 petitions last October by appointing Special Prosecutor Jeffrey L. Ashton, the well-respected Orlando State's Attorney.
Our Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating.
Special Prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton's criminal investigators have interviewed more than one dozen new witnesses.
In 112 days, St. Augustine will commemorate our Nation's Oldest European-founded City's 450th anniversary of founding by Pedro Menendez de Aviles on September 8, 1565.
Let justice be done though the heavens fall. (Fiat justitia ruat caelum.)
Let justice flow like a mighty river, in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., quoting the prophet Amos.
Keep asking questions.
Demand answers.
Become involved.
It's our town and our time and we're defeating corruption.
No more coverups.
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085

The New York Times, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night" by Walt Bogdanich & Glenn Silber (November 24, 2013):
PBS/Frontline, "A Death in St. Augustine (November 26, 2013): NBC News Dateline, "Two Shots Fired" (April 18, 2014):
Folio Weekly: Jeff Billman, "Somebody's lying -- An activist accuses the St. Augustine Record of bowing 
to pressure from Jeremy Banks' attorney. The paper accuses her of spreading misinformation" (September 17, 2014),,10912
Dr. Phil, "The Mystery of Michelle O'Connell" (November 3, 2014):
Folio Weekly, "Murder, He Wrote," by Susan Cooper Eastman (November 19, 2014),
Folio Weekly, "The Proxy War," by Derek Kinner (March 4, 2015):

Photo credit: The New York Times

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Vision for St. Augustine and St. Johns County: Stop The Cancer of Metastatic Growth and Ugliness. Now. Raise Impact Fees.

Raise Impact Fees on Developers, Not Our Taxes

Letter: Put the cost of growth where it belongs
Put the cost of growth where it belongs
Posted: June 27, 2015 - 9:45pm

By Paul J. Ryan Esq.
St. Augustine Record
Put the cost of growth where it belongs

Editor: While the recent proposed sales tax is applied to all residents and visitors and raises some $24 million a year, it appears to be a totally inequitable method of raising money for capital improvement projects, such as new schools and fire stations for use by new residents.

These projects should be covered by impact fees assessed against each new home or apartment constructed. The sales tax increase is an easy fix, but it protects the developers and real estate interests, as the impact fees are only levied against the new residents who have created the need for new schools and fire stations.

A review of available records finds that the amount raised by impact fees was $4.5 million last year, which should have been sufficient over a period of several years to fund new schools and fire stations. However, out of that $4.5 million, we managed to spend $3 million on debt servicing, leaving us woefully short of our funding requirement.

The average new home in our county pays almost $12,000 in impact fees presently. And, since they are creating the need for these capital expenditures, these fees should be adjusted upward. The average California new home is assessed impact fees in excess of $28,000 — thus paying their own way.

There is no reasonable excuse for spending most impact fee money on debt service. Since the concept of growing our way out of deficit spending works only when the real estate annual taxes are high enough to cover both operational costs and capital improvements has been preempted by the Florida’s cap on such taxes, the only equitable action is a dramatic increase in impact fees, which would slow growth and demand for new schools and fire stations, while placing the cost burden on those creating the problem.

This approach would tend to gore the developers’ oxen by adding to the cost of a new home. So it will most likely not happen, due to the developers’ influence on the county commission.

Letter: Ditto!
Posted: June 27, 2015 - 9:45pm
By Chas Delony
St. Augustine Record


Editor: We all live in a market-driven economy. Until we raise the cost of growth (aka, impact Fees) to the point where our county achieves equilibrium (such as Flagler), we are not charging enough.

We are not near that point! Call me about a sales tax Increase when we are.

Friday, June 26, 2015

RAINBOW NATION: Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

In dissent on Gay marriage, SCOTUS Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr. asks, "Just who do we think we are?" Here is my response.

Letter: Florida needs a new remembrance of healing in Washington, D.C. -- Florida needs a statue of healing

Letter: Florida needs an new rembrance of healing in Washington, D.C.
Florida needs a statue of healing
Posted: June 25, 2015 - 6:12pm
St. Augustine Record
Florida needs a statue of healing

Editor: On Christmas Day, 1951, nearly 54 years ago, KKK murdered two NAACP organizers, Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Harriette Moore by bomb under their bedroom in Mims, Florida. It was Harriette’s birthday. The Moores worked for equal pay for African-American teachers, registered 100,000 Florida African-Americans to vote, and exposed Sheriff-involved murders. From 1943 until his death, Harry Moore investigated every single lynching in the State of Florida. The Moores are profiled in a PBS documentary, “Freedom Never Dies.”

My mentor, Stetson Kennedy’s, last wish — expressed to his wife, Sandra Parks — was that Stetson’s friends, the Moores, be remembered and honored.

Our state of Florida Legislature urgently needs to put a statue of Harry and Harriette Moore in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., withdrawing the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, who murdered black Union Army prisoners of war during the Civil War. Each state gets two statues: none are of African-Americans (although Rosa Parks is represented by joint Congressional resolution). Four states changed their statues (California, Kansas, Michigan and Arizona added statues of Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Barry Goldwater).

The Joint Committee on the Library of Congress has jurisdiction. We’d need a waiver for two people on one statue (North Dakota already has Sakakawea with her baby on her back).

Thus, America would honor the Moores, who were indefatigable in defense of Florida civil rights.

The cost of removing and relocating the General Edmund Kirby Smith statue and replacing it with a suitable statue of Harry and Harriette T. Moore could exceed $100,000.

That’s “an easy burden.” It will promote healing. It’s up to us.

St. Augustine


I'm reading yet another beautiful, landmark decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy joined by four justices, once again vindicating GLBT equality. We've come a long way -- 24 years ago, I was honored to be invited to write the first article on Gay marriage for an American Bar Association publication (Human Rights, 1991), after we brought, litigated and settled the pioneering Duane Rinde v. Woodward & Lothrop Gay domestic partnership equal benefits case (1989-90)(equal discount benefits for employees at 30 department stores in six states and Washington, D.C.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inept Consultant ROBERT JAMES ORI, President of Public Resources Management Group Inc., Shows Contempt for Commercial Water Conservation, Lifeline Utility Rates

(Naples News)

President of Public Resources Management Group, Inc.

City of St. Augustine residential water rates are subsidizing large commercial users. This is unconstitutional.

There has never been a water rate study. This is evidence of intent to discriminate against residential users, as the City was long run by business people who are large water consumers.

The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses are being violated.

Residents have been waiting for some 20 months for some good news.

While the Bible says, "Joy cometh in the morning," it did not come this morning -- an unqualified no-bid consultant is proposing that the City not solve the problem, not adopt lifeline rates, not comply with Open Records, not present alternatives, and do things his way. We'll just see about that, ROBERT JAMES ORI.

Mayor Nancy Shaver and Commissioners peppered him with questions and sent the vacuous varmint back to the drawing board.

Watch the tape of the pompous, arrogant, sonorous presentation of bond consultant Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group, Inc. to City Commission this morning, continued from June 8, 2015, when he also talked a starving dog off a meat wagon.

The City's first-ever water rate study is contaminated by:
1. No competitive bidding -- a task added to an existing contract with bond consultant Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group, Inc.;
2. No discussion of the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause;
3. Dismissive treatment of lifeline utility rates for low-income and elder residents;
4. Dismissive treatment of the need to raise rates and encourage conservation on currently-subsidized commercial users like FLAGLER COLLEGE and FLAGLER HOSPITAL, current accounting clients of Commissioner TODD NEVILLE, whose partner JASON BREIDENSTEIN is the spouse of MEREDITH BREIDENSTEIN, the only C.P.A. working for our City of St. Augustine (and other commercial users, including hotels, motels, restaurants and bars, whose rates need to reflect the value of the water to their business and encourage conservation).
5. Lack of an economist or environmental expert;
6. Lack of alternatives for Commissioners to consider;
7. Lack of data for Comissioners to consider;
8. A hierarchical, authoritarian approach -- Boulwareism -- from Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group Inc.;
9. Scheduling the key discussion on rate increases or decreases at an inconvenient time (8 AM this morning);
10. Deletion/destruction of alternative approaches, with rude consultant Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group Inc. saying "I didn't keep those because I wasn't going to offer them to you.

After my public comments:
A. Bond consultant ROBERT ORI of Public Resources Management Group Inc. said he didn't have to comply with F.S. 119 because those were "work papers." (He is a C.P.A.) I told him he was mistaken. He said to "sue me." Public Works Director Martha Graham, ever-snooty and ever-hostile to public participation, warned Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group Inc., "Don't engage him." SAPD Commander Barry Fox swooped to the rescue to chill, coerce and restrain protected activity;

B. City Manager John Regan ordered Robert Ori of Public Resources Management Group Inc. to include several lifeline rates plans in his next iteration, along with answers to the many other questions asked but not answered by the ineffectual, no-bid contractor.

C. I filed my Open Records requests numbered 2015-194 through 2015-218 with ORI and PRMG and the City, seeking to establish how little research he did before proposing an inept redesign -- this is not a water rate study, but a ukase!

D. I began to learn just how little work ORI did -- not talking to any affected customers (at least not poor ones).

E. I started to research ORI's overpriced and shoddy work, criticized in places where he was refused extra money for more work (including the City Council of the City of Marco Island, Florida, on November 10, 2014.

F. I began to wonder how grifters come to engraft themselves upon Florida cities, and am wondering what must go on at Florida League of Cities Conventions (memo to self: need to get an undercover operation going with the FBI or PBS Frontline). :)

Visioning Report "Unacceptable in Its Current Format" -- City Withholding Payment

City Manager John Regan told Commissioners at this morning's strategic planning meeting that the ANALYTICA, INC. drafted "visioning" report is "unacceptable" in its current format (11 pages, shallow, few words, graphics, with grammar errors), and that the City is "withholding payment."
Good decision!
Thank you.
To other questionable consultants, like ROBERT JAMES ORI OF PUBLIC RESOURCES MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC., let us quote Clint Eastwood, "Go ahead, make my day!"

Artists' federal court lawsuit covered by St. Augustine Record Seven (7) Days After Filing and Reporting on This Blog (Pitiful!)

(Article fails to mention that art and music are crimes across a large swath of our Nation's Oldest City -- need more depth!)

Artists file suit against St. Augustine
Posted: June 25, 2015 - 12:12am
Four artists recently filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Augustine, challenging the constitutionality of vending regulations and reviving a contentious issue that has been battled in courtrooms in recent years.

St. Augustine artists Bruce Bates, Elena Hecht, Kate Merrick and Helena Sala are listed as plaintiffs in the complaint against the city, and they are seeking monetary damages as well as an order to cease enforcement of certain provisions of city code related to creating and selling art in public spaces.

And for the complainants, it’s not their first time challenging city rules in court.

The complaint was filed last week in federal district court in Jacksonville. As of Wednesday afternoon, the suit had not been served to the city, said City Attorney Isabelle Lopez. City commissioners declined to comment on the case, and city attorneys declined to weigh in on its merits.

Bates, who has a house and studio in St. Augustine, referred questions to his attorney.

Several attorneys are representing Bates and the other artists, including Tom Cushman, who has been involved in similar cases in recent years.

“They keep chipping away at the artists’ rights,” Cushman said of the city. “It’s hard to tell anymore where they’re allowed and where they’re not.”

According to the complaint, the court “struck down” in 2000 a version of a city ordinance that had content-based restrictions for vendors. In 2009, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against city rules that kept visual artists from displaying and selling work in the Plaza de la Constitucion, according to a previous story in The Record. Bates, Hecht and Merrick were part of that effort.

According to city codes, restrictions on street performers and street vendors are in place because congestion and clutter create safety risks.

The latest challenge to the rules says more restrictions have been added that are unconstitutional.

The complaint states that “the city of St. Augustine has repeatedly attempted to implement ordinances restricting the use of its public high-traffic tourist locations in relation to street performers and street artists. Since the 2009 injunction granted by this court, the city has incrementally cut back on the First Amendment rights of plaintiffs by implementing a series of new ordinances which extend the ban on the creation of art and the vending of art from a limited four block area of St. George Street, to include four additional streets, and two public parks within the city’s downtown area.”

Street performers and vendors are not allowed on the main portion of St. George Street and parts of other streets including Hypolita Street, but they have limited access elsewhere.

A current ordinance requires mobile vendors to apply for a license and pay $75 per month, as well as carry liability insurance and wear a badge. The hours of operation are restricted to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which the complaint says is “burdensome because after 6 p.m. is when street artists make the most sales, as customers do not want to carry a piece of artwork with them all day.”

Violators of the ordinance can be penalized or fined.

Restrictions are also in place for spaces outside the Visitor Information Center. The market in the Plaza de la Constitucion is available via a lottery system and a $75 monthly permit fee, among other requirements. Permits are required for those who want to sell art from a parking space, sidewalk or using a cart or wagon. Mobile vendor’s licenses and peddlers permits are required for certain uses and carry costs and restrictions.

The complaint says the ordinances and their enforcement have had a “chilling effect” on the artists’ expression in the city.

Among the concerns in the lawsuit

■ Vending ordinances have restricted use of public meeting spaces throughout the city by prohibiting taking compensation for “their speech” without getting and paying for permission from the city.

■ The mobile vendors ordinance and peddlers ordinance “are permitting schemes which constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint. Specifically, while the ordinance seemingly provide(s) a time limitation for issuing a permit, the time limit is illusory, as the ordinance fail(s) to address an applicant’s right to begin operating the business in the event the city manager or city director of financial services fails to timely act on an application.”

■ The permitting process for the peddling ordinance “imposes unreasonable and overbroad restrictions on who may obtain a peddler’s permit.”

■ “The ordinances, which restrict art vending between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. reach too far and are not narrowly tailored to meet the stated purposes.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Honoring Harry and Harriette Moore in U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall (and Removing Statue of Controversial Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith)

On December 25, 1951, nearly 54 years ago, KKK murdered two NAACP organizers, Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Harriette Moore on Christmas Day (her birthday) by bomb under their bedroom in Mims, Florida. The Moores worked for equal pay for African-American teachers, registered 100,000 African-Americans to vote, and exposed Sheriff-involved murders of African-Amercans. From 1943 until his death, Harry Moore investigated every single lynching in the State of Florida. The Moores are profiled in a PBS documentary, "Freedom Never Dies."

My mentor Stetson Kennedy's last wish -- expressed to his wife, Sandra Parks -- was that Stetson's friends, the Moores, be remembered and honored.

Here's what we need to do: Our State of Florida Legislature urgently needs to put a statue of Harry and Harriette Moore in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., withdrawing the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, who murdered black Union Army prisoners of war during the Civil War. Each state gets two statues: none are of African-Americans (although Rosa Parks is represented by joint Congressional resolution). Four states changed their statues (California, Kansas, Michigan and Arizona added statues of Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Barry Goldwater).

The Joint Committee on the Library of Congress has jurisdiction and its procedures are here: We'd need a waiver for two people on one statue (North Dakota already has Sakajawa with her baby on her back).

Thus, America would honor the Moores, who were indefatigable in defense of Florida civil rights. Cost of removing and relocating the General Edmund Kirby Smith statue and replacing it with a suitable statue of Harry and Harriette T. Moore could exceed $100,000. That's "an easy burden." It will promote healing. It's up to us.

Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Good for Governor Scott

Looks like Governor Scott got a good list of pork barrel "earmarks" together and vetoed them all. Three were local (see  below).  I am reminded of the late Alabama "Kissin' Jim" Fulsom, who a bit inelegantly but accurately said, "Ain't nothin' louder than the sound of a hog bein' pulled off a tit."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Governor Scott Vetoes $ 3 Million for St. Augustine` Among $461.4 million In Pet Projects

Amount / /Purpose /Line Item Number
$2,000,000 /Flagler College, Ponce de Leon Hall restoration /(3092A)
$ 500,000 /St. Augustine properties, University of Florida /(3092A)
$ 500,000 /Historic St. Augustine Educational material, UF /(3118)


Inept City Mismanagement, Nonexistent Strategic Plan, More JOHN REGAN Unkept Promises


At the June 22, 2015 City Commission meeting (last night), City Comptroller MARK LITZINGER (R-Flagler College) gave a fast-talking and insipid presentation about a putative strategic plan. Watch the tape at
All five City Commissioners were rolling their eyes, looking at the ceiling and asking questions.
Commissioner Todd Neville noted that questions asked and tasks assigned on March 11, 2015 were untouched.
Mayor Nancy Shaver agreed. As usual, City staff showed their assets -- fast-talking double talk with buzz words.
On Thursday, June 25, there will be a special daytime meeting devoted to strategic planning. In August, Commissioners will evaluate City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E.
Will REGAN and his band of WILLIAM HARRISS hired cronies survive?
Will they answer questions?
Will they keep promises?
Will they stop lawbreaking?
Stay tuned.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fog of Favoritism: Entitled DAVID BARTON CORNEAL and Mouthpiece Sit At Staff Tables Beneath Portrait of City Founding Homocidal, Homophobic Murder, PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES

Here's a corporate lawyer (right), ELLEN AVERY-SMITH, ROGERS-TOWERS partner, next to a developer (DAVID BARTON CORNEAL, left), invited to sit in staff-only seats by DAVID BIRCHIM, Planning and Building Director. Before I snapped the photo DAVID BIRCHIM scrammed: the trio were conspiring against the public interest, suitably seated to the right of and beneath a full-length portrait of St. Augustine founder PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES (on wall at far left), author of first anti-Gay hate crime murder in North American history (1566). CORNEAL is the recipient of $15,000 archaeological excavation fee waiver on May 7, 2014 and is demanding to transform into unwanted hotel in HP-1 historic district the DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES (restoration funded by $2 million in State of Florida funds, donated to DAYTONA MUEUM OF ARTS AND SCIENCES by Gay philanthropist Kenneth Worcester Dow), after hiring Historic Architectural Review Board Vice Chair PAUL M. WEAVER, III and HARB member JEREMY MARQUIS, fired ex-City Planning and Building Director MARK ALAN KNIGHT and ex-Vice Mayor DONALD W. CRICHLOW, with WEAVER testifying before HARB to secure a demolition permit for historic CARPENTER'S HOUSE, a contributing structure to the City's National Register of Historic Places application, by vote of 2-1 (WEAVER and MARQUIS recusing themselves and not replaced by anyone else), with CORNEAL destroying the CARPENTER's HOUSE without even waiting for appeal time to expire, despite written warnings by City Attorney Isabelle Lopez not to do so, under penalty of the weak code enforcement laws.

I promptly reported the fact that CORNEAL and AVERY-SMITH were sitting in staff-only seats to City Manage JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E.

REGAN  did nothing.  REGAN said nothing. REGAN said on or about November 17, 2014 that he was "thrilled" that CORNEAL bought the DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES.

Thankfully, our Assistant City Attorney Denise May has a moral compass, responded immediately, and asked the pair to leave their cushy catbird seat perches in the staff-only seats at one of five staff tables (wasting space in the back of the room and often limiting public access and attendance).

Planning and Building Director DAVID BIRCHIM told Commissioners that it was "his fault," and that he invited CORNEAL and AVERY-SMITH to sit within him. BIRCHIM argued CORNEAL's position on multiple issues on several first readings of zoning ordinances, including one involving 108 Bridge Street and another involving special events venues.

DAVID BIRCHIM oddly compared development to a "river" that cannot be dammed or stopped. BIRCHIM lacks perspective: he works for We, the People, not Temple Destroyers who illegally cut down trees and tear down buildings (like ex-Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, Jr., who destroyed DON PEDRO FORNELLS HOUSE on September 25, 2014, fined only $3600 due to City Hall ineptitude).

MARK KNIGHT's longtime understudy, DAVID BIRCHIM, apparently does not give a damn about ethics or public participation, having falsely stated that there was no list of Planned Unit Developments (PUDS)(there are some 70 in our City, and earlier this month, Ms. B.J. Kalanadi got me the document after months of pettifoggery by City employees and PZB Chair SUE AGRESTA, married to former organized crime defense lawyer LOUIS AGRESTA).

Watching steatopygous strident supercilious bully-developer DAViD BARTON CORNEAL bounced from his cushy chair to the cheap seats: priceless.

Footnote: Commissioners voted June 8, 2015 by 4-1 vote I lacked standing to challenge the demolition of CARPENTERS' HOUSE.  I asked for reconsideration and have not heard any denial or rebuttal of the facts.

No Dow PUD

"No Dow PUD" signs springing up all over St. Augustine in opposition to HP-1 hotel/Planned Unit Development at former Dow Museum of Historic Homes

Wow! They're sprouting like mushrooms. Check out this album of "No Dow PUD" signs on St George ST.
Maybe St George was also the patron saint of residential neighborhoods? Who knew? 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pope Francis' Prayer For St. Augustine, Florida and Our Frail Planet Earth (Paragraph 246 of Pope Francis' June 18, 2015 Encyclical, "Laudato Si")

A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

"FLIPPER" -- DAVID BARTON CORNEAL Song Parody on Purchase of Dow Museum of Historic Homes to Inflict Hotel on HP-1

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, 
No-one you see, is smarter than he, 
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of blunder, 
Flying high-over, above the law! 

Everyone loathes the king of HP-1, 
Ever so cruel and brutal is he, 
Tricks he did when museums disappear, 
And how he laughs when destruction's near! 

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, 
No-one you see, is faster than he, 
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of blunder, 
Flying high-over, above the law! 


Todd Neville Running for Mayor? Bring It ON! -- CYA CPA Blocked Audit Efforts -- Numerous Conflicts of Interest?

Reliable informants tell me that Odd Commissioner TODD NEVILLE (R-Proctorville) told City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. that NEVILLE -- lead partner in NEVILLE, BREIDENSTEIN & WAINIO certified public accounting firm -- is running for Mayor against incumbent Nancy Shaver. The election is November 8, 2016 -- 506 days from now, or more than one (1) year and four (4) months.  No timely response to a text message to NEVILLE's cellular telephone.

Thus, Odd TODD NEVILLE would be obligated to resign-to-run under Florida law, with his resignation effective December 1, 2016.
This would likely open up the remainder of his two year term for a special election on November 8, 2016.
Hesto presto, mutatis mutandis, next year, St. Augustine residents may get to vote for four (4) out of five (5) Commissioners -- the current terms of Mayor Nancy Shaver, Vice Mayor Roxanne Horvath and Commissioner Leanna Freeman expire on December 1, 2016.
Nervous NEVILLE is most noted for: 
a. His close associations with SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR and the St. Johns County political machine and his being campaign treasurer and fundraising for former State Representative WILLIAM PROCTOR (a/k/a "Meanest Man in St. Augustine, Florida"), who remains Flagler College Chancellor and was $250,000/year Acting FSU Athletic Director while holding the other two jobs,
b. His being NEVILLE, BREIDENSTEIN & WAINIO CPA partner with Justin Breidenstein, married to the City of St. Augustine's only CPA (Meredith Breidenstein), 

c. His choice of his wedding officiant (controversial then-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, Jr., who is no clergymen and no friend of either government transparency or public participation),
d. His abusive manner in opposing my legal standing right to challenge the destruction of Carpenter's House by DAVID BARTON CORNEAL as part of the controversial effort to inflict a hotel in HP-1 (NEVILLE called me a "gadfly");  in response to text inquiries, NEVILLE does not deny weekly lunches with CORNEAL's son.
e. His abusive, aggressive, defensive, hostile, abrasive manner in opposing an audit of City 450th contracts sought by Mayor Nancy Shaver as a result of no-bid irregularities;
f. His abusive manner in interrupting any time any woman is speaking, particularly fellow Commissioners Leanna Freeman, Nancy-Sikes Kline, Vice Mayor Roxanne Horvath and Mayor Shaver,
 being the CPA firm for Flagler Hospital, Flagler College and other powerful institutions with dubious ethics in our town, and
h. His lavish 2014 campaign spending on message consultants, oleaginous mass mailings and computer software.
If Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline also runs for Mayor, that means we could get to elect five Commissioners next year.

Thus, in a Presidential Election Year, with very high turnout, reformers could be elected to a majority of Commission seats, overturning centuries of chicanery, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, waste, fraud, abuse, racism, sexism, misogyny, no-bid contracts and worse in local government -- at the same time as we elect a new Sheriff.

We, the People, could cast out the "Gang of Four" and Sheriff DAVID SHOAR on the same day! (Unless the FBI investigation results in a federal grand jury indicting NEVILE's friend, Sheriff SHOAR, first and there is a vacancy created by the Governor appointing an interim Sheriff).
Thank you, Odd TODD NEVILLE!
As JFK said, "A rising tide lifts all boats."
Bring it ON!

New Motto For St. Johns County Govt:

"Drowned in a Murky Pool of Politics" --- Mewling Record Editorial Cries For Thee, PRISCILLA BENNETT, DAVID SHOAR, MICHAEL WANCHICK, JERRY CAMERON AND DARRELL LOCKLEAR

Sunday St Augustine Record ukase, annotated:

Politcs (sic) doomed tax hike in St. Johns County, not the people
Posted: June 20, 2015 - 4:02pm

When the sales tax vote came down Tuesday, no one was more chagrined or disappointed than our own editorial board.

ED ASKS: Who is that? Only two names left on your masthead?

It’s hard to argue in any meaningful way that, whether you supported or opposed the tax hike, the most equitable and democratic way to decide it was a vote of the people. But what’s lost in this argument, and much more to the point, is that the vast majority of residents did not fit into the highly polarized (and very vocal) fringes — “for” and “against.” A lot of thoughtful people were waiting to form an opinion based on facts. And the truth is, they were in short supply on both sides.

Early on, The Record questioned the commissioners’ collective backbone in failing to bring the referendum plea to the public long before it did. County Administrator Mike Wanchick had been telling his tale of the revenue wall the county was speeding toward for more than three years.

So the problem was not a surprise to any sitting commissioner, and should never have become the “emergency” we were warned of when the effort cropped up after the November election cycle was done.

From there the tax hike effort backslid, and we have editorialized about it on a couple of occasions.

All of the sitting commissioners had run on “no new taxes” platforms
and some clearly stated that the county would grow its way out of any deficits. Two of the commissioners stated from the start that they stood against any kind of tax increase. One was waffling as the vote neared, one was a strong proponent for the sales tax and one was leaning against. It was a mixed signal, leaving some residents wondering why, if the commissioners were stacking up against it, they should support it.

The private funding of the survey followed. It was widely presumed to be a sales tax “push” and, we believe, the results showed that to be the case. It was, at the least, a distraction.


Wanchick continued taking his talk on the road. The county had spelled out its arguments for the added revenue. But the newspaper was waiting for the details of how the pie would be sliced. That information was vague, incomplete and very late in the game in terms of the second reading of the referendum.

As the editorial board met weekly over the past couple of months, the inevitable (sic) question came up: “What should we do with it?” And the answer was always he same: We didn’t have substantive information on which to make an assessment. It was money first, spending later. The cart was, by this time, in front of the horse.

Then Jeb Smith announced that he’d vote down the referendum. That changed commission dynamics.

Then Commissioner Bill McClure brought the school board into the picture. That changed the revenue.

That changed everything. And, from where we sit, the tax hike issue was, by that time, officially a moving target. No one could follow its arc, or estimate where the thing was going to land.

What’s happened in the past with county or school sales tax hike efforts — and what we were fairly sure would happen again — was that the referendum would be postponed and then be approved in July. The county would then have several months to get its projections out and projects prioritized. And The Record would take the time to break it down, leading up to a November election.


Informed electorates make informed decisions. The quick exit Tuesday night took that away. And there’s not much to say beyond that. It should have run its course, and been voted up or down, not drowned in a murky pool of politics, which it clearly was — from within the commission and without.


The way it happened, we’re (sic) not sure that it will even be a lesson learned. Reason took a breather at the meeting Tuesday night, and that’s just a shame.

ED SAYS: WE, THE PEOPLE, WON ANOTHER ONE, THE FIRST MAJOR PUBLIC INTEREST VICTORY AT THE SJC BCC IN RECENT YEARS -- The chauvinistic Developers, Owners and Controllers and Push-Poll Manipulators are Mad as Hell -- Are they going to hold their breath, move, or secede?