Thursday, July 27, 2017

SHERIFF SHOAR, WM. HARRISS Committing Tax Law Flummery, Dupery and Nincompoopery?



(Wm. Harriss' July 9, 2017 text message to Commissioner Roxanne Horvath supporting KANTI PATEL's SAN MARCO HOTEL PUD).

Great apercu by Michael Gold in Historic City News about Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and WILLIAM HARRISS, who as St. Augustine City Manger hired SHOAR as Police Chief. HARRISS returned the favor, hiring HARRISS as an "independent contractor." Tax fraud? SHOAR is paid $1500 per month, cash, with no withholding. Illegal? HARRISS is "director of the sheriff’s infamous “Four Star Association”, and now a paid contractor who furnishes various unspecified 'consulting and strategic planning services.”

SHOAR and HARRISS might have to prove their case that HARRISS is not an employee in an IRS tax audit or in Tax Court, or in federal court.

The strange romance beween Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and WILLIAM HARRISS continues. Is HARRISS an employee or an "independent contractor?" Or is the St. Johns County Sheriff going to be required to pay withholding for the entire term of HARRISS' employment by SHOAR, 2010-2017? Is this a felony?

Tough sell under the IRS 20 factor test for whether someone is an "independent contractor":

IRS 20-Factor Test: Independent Contractor or Employee
Basic Question: Who Has Control Over the Work Being Done?
1. Instructions. Workers who are required to comply with others’ instructions about when, where, and how they are to work are ordinarily employees.
2. Training. Training workers indicates that employers exercise control over the means by which results are accomplished.
3. Integration. When the success or continuation of a business depends on the performance of certain services, the workers performing those services are subject to a certain amount of control by the owners of the businesses.
4. Services rendered personally. If services must be rendered personally, employers control both the means and the results of the work.
5. Hiring, supervising, and paying assistants. Control is exercised if employers hire, supervise, and pay assistants.
6. Continuing relationships. Continuing relationships between workers and employers indicate that employer employee relationships exist.
7. Set hours of work. The establishment of set hours of work by employers indicates control.
8. Full-time required. If workers must devote full time to employers’ businesses, employers have control over workers’ time. Independent contractors are free to work when and for whom they choose.
9. Doing work on employers’ premises. Control is indicated if the work is performed on employers’ premises.
10. Order or sequences set. Control is indicated if workers are not free to choose their own patterns of work but must perform services in the sequences set by the employers.
11. Oral or written reports. Control is indicated if workers must submit regular oral or written reports to employers.
12. Payment by hour, week, or month. This points to employer-employee relationships, provided that this method of payment is not just a convenient way of paying a lump sum agreed on as the cost of a job.  Independent contractors are usually paid by the job or on straight commission.
13. Payment of business and/or traveling expense. Employers paying workers’ expenses of this nature shows that employer-employee relationships usually exist.
14. Furnishing tools and materials. If employers furnish significant tools, materials, and other equipment, employer-employee relationships usually exist.
15. Significant investments. Workers are independent contractors if they invest in facilities that are not typically maintained by employees (such as an office rented at fair market value from an unrelated party). Employees depend on employers for such facilities.
16. Realization of profits or losses. Workers who can realize profits or losses (in addition to profits or losses ordinarily realized by employees) they are independent contractors. Workers who cannot are generally employees.
17. Working for more than one firm at a time. If workers perform services for a number of unrelated persons at the same time, they are usually independent contractors.
18. Making services available to the general public. Workers are usually independent contractors if they make their services available to the general public on a regular and consistent basis.
19. Right to discharge. The right of employers to discharge workers indicates that the workers are employees.
20. Right to terminate. Workers are employees if they have the right to end their relationships with their principals at any time without incurring liability.

PHOTO CREDIT: MAUREEN ORTAGUS (MICHAEL GOLD and SHERIFF SHOAR)


HISTORIC CITY NEWS
Sheriff milking the budget – let me count the ways
July 27, 2017 Government

Recently Historic City News purchased a report containing the payments and deposits through St Johns County Sheriff David B Shoar’s operating account. He’s asking for millions of your dollars to provide law enforcement services next year; so, we wanted to look at how he is spending the money he got last year.

We are still sifting through the check register (even though on June 7th, Records Supervisor, Sergeant Bonnie Jimmerson, told us “The St. Johns County Sheriff’s does not operate from a check register nor has it maintained a check register since the late 1980’s”) and we are pulling records as we spot items of public interest.

We’ll start with using agency funds to payoff friends and campaign supporters, and the first example is a glaring one.

In a formal announcement to the City Commission on April 26, 2010 William B Harriss resigned his position as St Augustine’s City Manager — the man that Shoar answered to from 1998 to 2004.

Harriss, who will turn 67-years-old in October, is a reserve deputy with the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Department, is listed on the tax return as a director of the sheriff’s infamous “Four Star Association”, and now a paid contractor who furnishes various unspecified “consulting and strategic planning services”.

Under his current contract, Harriss takes $18,000 a year from the general budget. Last year he only reported $13,100, according to his Form 1099-MISC. On the first day of each month, the sheriff pays Harriss $1,500.00; unsupported with a detailed voucher or invoice.

Harriss made the contract with Shoar as an individual. He does not hold a St Johns County Business License (Business Tax Receipt) to legally provide consulting services. He is not incorporated, nor has he filed a Fictitious Name Notice, establishing himself as a business entity.

However, Shoar is not withholding federal income tax, social security, or Medicare from Harriss’ check, and the IRS has ruled that it takes more than a “Services Contract” to establish an “independent contractor” relationship. He will probably be considered an “eligible worker”, subject to withholding, in an IRS audit of his paid relationship with our county sheriff.



From the Internal Revenue Service:

Most individuals you hire are considered “employees” by law. These include:
Temporary workers unless hired through a temporary services company that has the worker on its payroll
“Casual labor” and many “1099 workers”
Friends, relatives, and others receiving anything of monetary value in exchange for their work
Many independent contractors:

Independent contractors must meet specific requirements to be considered exempt from employment laws.
There are several laws defining independent contractors, each with different requirements.
You can’t assume someone who meets the independent contractor definition and is exempt from one set of employment laws is therefore exempt from other laws.
The burden is on you to prove someone who works for you is NOT an employee.



St. Augustine Beach leaders wonder when they will get a voice on Tourist Development Council (SAR)

TDC erred by not making the decision on July 25. The Chair "pulled" the item, though five people were ready to speak, including Vice Mayor Undine George and Mayor Richard Burtt O'Brien.

Posted July 27, 2017 03:14 am - Updated July 27, 2017 03:27 am
By STUART KORFHAGE stuart.korfhage@staugustine.com
St. Augustine Beach leaders wonder when they will get a voice on Tourist Development Council

The St. Johns County board that oversees the spending of the “bed tax” is currently without a member from one of the most popular areas with tourists. It’s an issue board leadership promises to correct soon.


The county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) is made up of nine members who guide the spending of the Local Option Tourist Development Tax that is paid by overnight guests.

Right now, there is a vacancy on the board that is traditionally filled by the mayor of St. Augustine Beach. However, that seat has not been filled since former Mayor Andrea Samuels left office.

Normally the next mayor, in this case Rich O’Brien, would be slotted in. But after some objections by members of the community, O’Brien was not recommended to fill the position at a meeting earlier this year. And the County Commission, which has to make the ultimate decision, also delayed the approval of O’Brien’s appointment.

Since there are no other TDC members from St. Augustine Beach, the city lacks a voice. O’Brien is left wondering what he has to do in order to rectify the problem.

He has served on the TDC before without incident.

O’Brien said he thought the appointment to the board was basically a rubber stamp and has been continuously puzzled by the lack of approval. The issue was supposed to be settled at Monday’s meeting, but it was delayed until August without explanation.

“As a city, we deserve representation on the Tourist Development Council,” O’Brien said. “It’s one of the largest generators of the bed tax and we’re not getting (represented). There needs to be action taken, and it should have been at this meeting.”

Beach Vice Mayor Undine George spoke at Monday’s meeting to volunteer to sit on the board until there is a decision on O’Brien’s status.

“Why are they denying St. Augustine Beach a representative? It just doesn’t make any sense,” George said. “We generate a huge amount of the bed tax here and we have unique concerns.

“We really want to get somebody on there so our voice can be heard.”

In an email to the Record, TDC board chair Jack Peter said he understands the concerns of the St. Augustine Beach officials and that the board is addressing the issue.

“As you may know, by statute, the TDC is required to have two elected officials on the board,” Peter said. “Mayor (Nancy) Shaver is one of those elected officials.

“While it is not a requirement to have an elected representative from St. Augustine Beach, we certainly believe there should be one. The TDC requested more time to consider Mayor O’Brien, and we expect to have this resolved by our next meeting in August.”

O’Brien, who is a hotel owner, does not have anything in his background to preclude his reappointment to the TDC.

He has faced a permitting issue with his own city building officials over a setback rule, and he did pay a $200 fine to clear up a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission over campaign literature used in the 2016 election.

TDC member and St. Johns County Commissioner Jay Morris didn’t directly speak about O’Brien but said it is a priority to get the board vacancy filled. He added that he was impressed with George’s speech at the TDC meeting and wants to reach a resolution.

“We want to get that seat filled. I think it will be filled next month,” Morris said. “I think everybody wants to get it filled.”

There have also been concerns that more than half of the TDC members are Ponte Vedra Beach residents.

However, there is no law that says the distribution of seats must be based on geography.

Morris said the overall qualifications are what matter.

“I think (the TDC) has got an excellent board,” Morris said. “If you’ve got the quality, it doesn’t matter where you live. Location doesn’t mean anything; quality does.”

Shaver said she would be the first to call out the board if she thought her city was being slighted by the other members. But she’s never had to do that, she pointed out.

“There’s no bias toward any particular part of the county, no bias toward any part of the tourist industry,” Shaver said.

Comments

Marty Miller
Since the only members of the TDC who must answer to citizens for their actions are the mayors, I hope they fill the vacancy soon. Hopefully their voices will represent residents of each city when it comes to tourist related activities.

Tom Reynolds · Public relations at Self-Employed
For the RECORD Marty, St Augustine Beach Mayor is only a Token One. The Mayor is NOT ELECTED by the Voting residents. Plus the token Mayor O'Brien will only look out for Hotel Owners. O'Brien has been the behind the scenes HOTEL OWNER FRONT MAN for YEARS around here. And O'Brien will only fight the raising of the BED TAX. The tourist need to PAY MORE as you know Marty, NOT THE RESIDENTS.

Tom Reynolds · Public relations at Self-Employed
Let us not blame the TDC Board. The St Augustine Beach Commission knew they were to send over a name of a SAB Commissioner. The SAB Commission was told by a Resident (me) in January, February, March, and April of this year they needed to take care of this TDC appointment. However, the non-elected by the residents Mayor O'Brien was not available because of HIS PERSONEL BUSY LIFE. So he held open the seat until HE became available. And of course the other SAB Commissioners did the " YES YOUR MAJESTY " to O'Brien (except for the new Commissioner). Why now the rest of the SAB Commission would wan...See more

Edward Adelbert Slavin · Bete noir at Community Activist
St. Augustine Beach Commissioners inexplicably delayed recommending a new appointment for months. Then TDC and St. Johns County Commission wisely and correctly refused to confirm Mayor Richard Burtt O'Brien over ethics concerns. Thank you, TDC and Commissioners. Thank you for listening to the irrefragable facts. Ethics matters.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

ANOTHER GREAT HCN EDITORIAL EXPOSES HYPOCRISY BY GANG OF FOUR ON TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

THANK YOU, MICHAEL GOLD for putting their statements in proper perspective. As Shakespeare would say, "the ladies doth protest too much." Thanks to Historic City News for speaking truth to power.



Editorial: Pandering commissioners reveal their hypocrisy
July 25, 2017 Editorials
Does anyone else find it odd that four St Augustine City Commissioners who just voted to overturn a planning and zoning board denial, then voted to overturn 40-year-old historic preservation zoning, in favor of more tourism development; are now “concerned” about an advertising campaign dedicated to drawing more tourists to the city?

Really? Is Todd Neville that stupid? Is Nancy Sikes-Kline that great an imbecile? Is Leanna Freeman that much of a moron? Is Roxanne Horvath that big an idiot?

From August 13th to September 30th, residents get a six-week break from the onslaught of vacationers who have decided to bless us with their travel dollars. Although brief, we need a few “mental health days” to recover from another year of tourism fatigue.

During last night’s St Augustine City Commission meeting, immortal tourism cheerleader Richard Goldman, president of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitor and Convention Bureau, announced a $210,000 advertising campaign by the VCB dedicated to drawing more people to town during the off-season.

You would have thought he was planning to unleash pestilence by the shocked looks on the faces of the four halfwit buffoons on either side of Mayor Shaver; two of whom come up for re-election next year.

Freeman said residents tolerate the busy times to get to the slow season. “I feel like you’re not going to stop … until we’re just jam packed 12 months out of the year.” Dunce.

Sikes-Kline said tourism may be “settling down” since the city’s 450th commemoration, but she doesn’t think residents are “upset”. Dolt.

Vice Mayor Todd Neville suggested charging VCB events for their impact on the city. Ignoramus.

Of course, Horvath, who has never had an intelligent contribution to any discussion at the table in almost five years, sat in her chair, scratching her head, like a deaf-mute. Fool.

In this editor’s view, their hypocrisy is only outdone by their cowardice. You see, it’s easy to shoot at a faceless boogieman like “tourism”. But, when tourism has a face, like developers Kanti Patel, or Farid Ashdi, or John Arbizzani, you must be brave — they shoot back!

CHICAGO TRIBUNE Editorial: McCain spoke eloquently. If only America listens. John McCain returns to the Senate

Eloquent speech by one of my heroes,  Arizona United States Senator John McCain, a war hero and heroic defender of making government work through statesmanship and bipartisanship in the United States Senate.  Watch the speech and read the Chicago Tribune editorial.  Gladstone called the Senate "the world's greatest deliberative body,"  but Senator McCain says that "tribal" partisanship is ruining it.  What do you reckon?



CHICAGO TRIBUNE 
July 26, 2017
Editorial: McCain spoke eloquently. If only America listens.
John McCain returns to the Senate

McCain, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, explained why he would not vote for the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Gruff and tough Sen. John McCain, 11 days removed from brain cancer surgery, returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday in time to turn a feckless Republican exercise in damage control into an inspiring moment of statesmanship in the service of American democratic ideals.

Boy, did this 80-year-old warrior of the Senate and naval hero get the tone and timing right. His appeal to colleagues in remarks from the Senate floor focused on the need to defy partisanship when elected officials have serious work to do. The American people will never get the government they need, and the country will never advance, he argued, if all politicians care about is stomping their rivals.

"Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio, television and internet," the Arizona Republican implored. "To hell with them. They don't want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order," he said, referring to the traditional, collegial approach to Senate business. "We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle."

Bravo! Such a shame, of course, that McCain's speech was riveting in part because he's a sick man. But politics is theater, and his wounded appearance, with a surgical scar above his left eye, added extraordinary gravity to what was already a day that cried out for someone to shout "Enough with politics as blood sport!"

McCain flew to Washington from Arizona to support a dodgy procedural vote on the also-dodgy future of Obamacare. After a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie, Senate Republicans now can open debate on a mess of a repeal-and-replace bill that Democrats won't touch and many Republicans don't like.

The GOP push to end Obamacare is a dreary, frustrating example of politics at the expense of reason and cooperation. The Senate vote was insensitive to the plight of millions of Americans who need access to health insurance yet have no idea what kind of bill Republicans have up their sleeve. GOP leaders won't say: Better to work behind closed doors to limit the political fallout.

McCain said he doesn't know if he'll ultimately support a health care bill. His point was that the Senate's approach to crafting repeal-and-replace reflects terribly on a deliberative body that should be able to take on tough legislation together. Instead, cooperation has fallen out of fashion, even on monumental legislation. President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act without any support from Republicans, and now Republicans would undo Obamacare without Democratic input.

Through history, McCain said, senators of different parties held contrasting views, yet they managed to work collaboratively. What's changed is today's emphasis on notching victories instead of delivering results.

"Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticized but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn't glamorous or exciting," he said. "It doesn't feel like a political triumph. But it's usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse, and quarrelsome and free as ours. Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem-solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves is a magnificent achievement."

We have no illusion that McCain's speech, however long it's remembered, will change America's political culture. But it should.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune


Text, supplied by Senator McCain's office:

"Mr. President:
"I've stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency.
"It is an honorific we're almost indifferent to, isn't it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority. 
"But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I'm sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate. 
"I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years. I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love. 
"I've known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest. 
"But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America's problems and to defend her from her adversaries. 
"That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world's greatest deliberative body. I'm not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today. 
"I'm sure it wasn't always deserved in previous eras either. But I'm sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions. 
"Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we'd all agree they haven't been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren't producing much for the American people. 
"Both sides have let this happen. Let's leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they'll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We've all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I've let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy. 
"Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn't glamorous or exciting. It doesn't feel like a political triumph. But it's usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours. 
"Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement. 
"Our system doesn't depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than 'winning.' Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to 'triumph.' 
"I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don't want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. 
"Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order. We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That's an approach that's been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. 
"We're getting nothing done. All we've really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven't found it yet, and I'm not sure we will. All we've managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn't very popular when we started trying to get rid of it. 
"I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It's a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state's governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it. 
"We've tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it's better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don't think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn't. 
"The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn't have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn't do the same with ours.
"Why don't we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let's return to regular order. 
"Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today. 
"What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We're not getting much done apart. I don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work. There's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people. 
"The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We've seen it before. I've seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying. 
"This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour. 
"We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President's subordinates. We are his equal! 
"As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours. And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves. 
"The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations. 
"We are the servants of a great nation, 'a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.' More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.
"America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren't afraid. We don't covet other people's land and wealth. We don't hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity. 
"What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us. 
"What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body. 
"It's a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I've had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn't deserved. 
"I'll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I'm proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 
"After that, I'm going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company. 
"Thank you, fellow senators. 
"Mr. President, I yield the floor."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Year in review: Erosion continues to make claims on Cape Cod (Cape Cod Times)




Year in review: Erosion continues to make claims on Cape Cod


Erosion claims another set of steps at Nauset Light Beach along the National Seashore. Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times
By Doug Fraser

Posted Jan 1, 2017 at 7:07 AM
Updated Jan 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM

The forces of nature are always at work on the Cape and Islands, scraping away at one spot and adding to another. Some years we all lose, as in the storm a few years ago that peeled a 20-foot thick slice off the perimeter of the Cape.

The past year saw no major erosion events like that. There was the occasional dramatic moment, like the cliff face just south of Coast Guard Beach in Truro that calved suddenly one day in May, depositing a 400-foot-wide by 12-feet tall mass of clay, sand and tangled vegetation onto the beach. But mostly, erosion in 2016 was a continuation of long-fought battles waged in hotspots like Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, Herring Cove in Provincetown and on the beaches of Brewster.

This spring, the Army Corps of Engineers released a report that concluded what many already knew: the jetties built in 1906 to protect the east end of the Cape Cod Canal were at least partially responsible for the erosion on Town Neck Beach. By blocking sand migrating along the shoreline that would have otherwise replenished what was lost to erosion, Town Neck Beach has been losing an average of 2 to 3 feet per year, until recent years where the average erosion rate doubled to 6½ feet per year.

After paying out $3.2 million for sand dredged from the canal to be deposited on Town Neck Beach, Sandwich officials are hoping that a second study will determine the extent of the damage caused by the jetties and result in more assistance from the Army Corps to fix or mitigate the problem.

The Cape Cod National Seashore also got pounded last year, but is looking to retreat in the face of what may become a worsening problem with sea rise and storm intensification because of global warming. The park’s Herring Cove Beach bathhouse in Provincetown, completed three years ago, was built so it could be picked up and moved inland as needed. The beach parking lots are scheduled to retreat also, to higher ground in 2018, with a $5.3 million relocation project. Following more damage from winter storms, the northern parking lot lost the use of half its 200 spaces for the summer season. And, in Eastham, Nauset Light Beach lost 10 feet of their bluff in a February storm after losing 18 feet in a storm the previous winter. In what has become an annual event, the storm also swept away the stairs with a replacement cost of over $130,000. This, even as the park planned to replace them with removable stairs, and to rebuild the beach bath house, which stands on the edge of the bluff, in an inland location.

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Deadly waters: 4 drownings mark 2016
January 1, 2017
Brewster beaches have also been taking a beating in recent years, and residents are worried about their loss of access as erosion claims beach parking spaces. After losing a couple of dozen space over the past couple of years, and the whole Paine’s Creek Beach parking lot a few years ago, Brewster used a combination of town and state land to add approximately 100 spaces at Crosby Landing.

In Truro, it was subtraction not addition, as selectmen discussed removing 25 percent to 30 percent of the Ballston Beach parking lot to allow a protective dune to move inland as erosion and storms assail the Pamet River valley.

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As Erosion Carves Cape Cod, Scientists Estimate Peninsula’s Staying Power (CapeCod.com)






As Erosion Carves Cape Cod, Scientists Estimate Peninsula’s Staying Power
August 27, 2015 


CCB MEDIA PHOTO

A large “knob” has grown from sand deposits at the tip of Sandy Neck, while further west down the coast, beaches in Sandwich have been starved of sand.

BARNSTABLE – Ever since the days the Pilgrims landed on these shores in 1620, the population has grown—first slowly, then quickly—and land use has spread throughout the peninsula, particularly along the coast.
At the same time, the sea around the peninsula has been shaping the land, cutting back in some areas and adding land in others. It is this process of steady erosion that has caused several Cape towns to take drastic action, for example, the town of Sandwich looking to spend millions on beach re-nourishment, and other towns, like Falmouth, to take a more measured approach, having a committee several years ago study erosion processes and draw up a 100-year plan for its coast.
The town of Sandwich along the Cape’s north shore is one example where the sharp carving of the coast has put homes and even the town center in jeopardy, leading officials to take  what one Sandwich Town Manager George “Bud” Dunham called “drastic measures’ in attempts to buttress the beach closest to the Cape Cod Canal.

At a meeting this spring in front of the state’s Coast Erosion Commission, Dunham called the erosion impact to his town “staggering.”
Beach nourishment projects are meant to, as Sandwich Selectman Patrick Ellis put it at a summer meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers, “put back what nature has taken away,” but, officials note, the millions being spent are in danger of being swept back out to sea in future storms.
At the same time, there has been change in the opposite direction further down the coast, for example at the tip of Sandy Neck, a barrier beach protecting Barnstable Harbor. Sand deposited from numerous storms over 200 years and the natural ebb and flow of the tides has added acres of dunes, putting the lighthouse, considerably west of the tip.
The light was originally built in 1826 at the eastern most extremity of the barrier beach at the opening of the harbor and it was moved 200 feet closer to the tip in 1931, according to a history by the group, Lighthouse Friends.
Land use on the entire peninsula of Cape Cod has played a major role in erosion, according to research compiled by the Woods Hole Research Center in collaboration with the Cape Cod Commission in the report, “Losing Cape Cod, Saving Cape Cod: Land Use and Climate Change Over Time.”
As far back as the 1700s, agricultural use of the land and culling the Cape’s forest for firewood resulted in severe deforestation, an effect that can still be seen in the wide treeless landscapes in early photographs of the Cape taken in the late 1800s.
“Extensive land-clearing in the 1700s led to a wood shortage and to degrading and eroding of the fertile soils by the 1800s,” the report noted.
Although these were just the early years of the Cape’s development, already colonists had to bring wood in by ship to deal with the shortage and, in a harbinger of things to come, the Cape’s estuaries and harbors were being filled in by sand loosened from erosion caused by clearing of trees and brush.
Farming remained the primary Cape industry in the 1800s but historians note the lack of stewardship that resulted in damage to the land, sapping it of nutrients.
By the late 1800s, the forest began to grow back but the Cape had been discovered as a seaside escape.
The canal dredging in 1915 and subsequent construction of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges meant increased access to the peninsula. In this “automobile age,” development started relatively slowly but picked up precipitously in the 1950s and 1970s-80s, in a period in which the Cape saw explosive population growth.
Between 1940 and 2003, according to statistics compiled by the Woods Hole Research Center, the Cape’s population grew 515 percent.
“In many ways, population growth on Cape Cod has mirrored the expansion of the interstate highway system,” according to the report, “Losing Cape Cod, Saving Cape Cod.”
State officials in Massachusetts have been mapping the commonwealth’s land cover since 1951. Maps showing land use patterns from 1951 to the present show the shrinking open space and spread of housing developments creeping every farther from town centers.
In 1951, well over half the Cape was forested, but today, the split in the Cape’s land use is frequently given in thirds, according to Association to Preserve Cape Cod Execuitive Director Ed Dewitt, with one-third being preserved as open space, one-third as residential development and one-third “up for grabs,” meaning it could go to conservation or development.
But as the Cape continues to grow, particularly along the coast, homes have been built more frequently in flood plains.
When emergency planning officials look at the Cape’s shoreline, they can pinpoint areas that are vulnerable to flood in heavy storms.
Sandwich from Town Neck Beach to the town’s center is just one of the town centers in danger from storm flooding.
The area near Barnstable Harbor, including Barnstable Village; Chatham Center; the shoreline at the head of Waquoit Bay in Falmouth; the Cape’s coastline as it heads through Brewster, Orleans and Eastham; the coasts of Hyannis and Yarmouth, particularly near Lewis Bay; Wellfleet Harbor and Provincetown are all included in maps showing where roads and flooding coincide and direct damage to homes and infrastructure will be greatest, according to the Woods Hole Research Center’s report.
According to the US Geological Survey, it is impossible to know whether the Cape is eroding at a faster pace than ever in its existence, but the changes over the past 80 years have been extensively studied.
The erosion rates figure given most commonly for oceanfront land in the Outer Cape towns from Eastham through Truro is three feet per year. When both Highland (Cape Cod) Light in Truro and Nauset Light in Eastham were moved back from the edge of their respective bluffs in the 1990s, the concern was that the present rates of erosion would undermine the cliffs within 10 years.
But, according to USGS, “short-term average rates of erosion can be very misleading because the locus of erosion will change over time and one part of the lower Cape may be undergoing rapid erosion while other parts may be stable for decades. In addition, in other places, the beach may become wider as sand is added to the beach face, causing the shoreline to move seaward.”
Between 1938 and 1974, according to USGS, average rates of erosion along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in Wellfleet and Truro where the dunes are as high as 50 feet tall “ranged from a high of about nine feet per year to a low of a few inches per year, and the average rates for Chatham’s barrier beach, North Beach, ranged from about 19 feet per year to three feet per year.
There is evidence that the sea level is rising much more quickly now than it has over the past 2,000 years. According to USGS, the sea level around Cape Cod rose only about six and a half feet over the past 2,000 years, for over the past 100 years, the level rose one foot.
“This much faster rate of sea-level rise would be expected to cause greater rates of erosion, and, if this increase in the rate of sea-level rise continues, it is logical to assume the rates of erosion will increase too,” according to USGS.
Nauset Inlet in Orleans and Eastham and changes in North Beach, the barrier beach off Chatham, have been documented for hundreds of years and the shoreline shift occurs with regularity, with each winter storm season bringing a new configuration of harbor openings.
The Cape’s sandy surface is the reason it is so vulnerable to the erosion processes of wind and surf.
The bad news is scientists estimate the Cape will continue to erode at a rapid rate. The good news is that it will likely not completely disappear for another thousand years.
USGS scientists have determined, “Cape and Islands will continue to erode because, with or without sea-level rise, the loose sand of the glacial Cape has no resistance to wave attack. Continued sea-level rise will accelerate the erosion and cause the demise of the Cape to occur sooner. However, it will take thousands of years before the Cape is reduced to shoals and low-lying islands and perhaps five or six thousand years be completely drowned by the sea.”

By LAURA M. RECKFORD, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

Erosion creating growing threat for Cape Cod towns (WCVB)

We need good science like this here in St. Augustine -- support the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore study. Now.





Erosion creating growing threat for Cape Cod towns

Scientists use drones to map shrinking dunes


WCVB Updated: 8:09 PM EST Feb 16, 2017

SANDWICH, Mass. —
A series of recent nor’easters has led to beach erosion and caused structural damage on Cape Cod.

According to the Cape Cod National Seashore, storm damage included “the loss of stairs at Marconi Beach, damage to the stairs at Nauset Light Beach in Eastham and substantial damage to the Herring Cove Beach north parking lot in Provincetown.”

Seashore officials suggested the erosion is accelerating.

They said staircases that used to require replacement every 4-5 years now must be rebuilt every year.

The Town of Sandwich said waves have eaten away 10-15 feet of the dune it installed, after even worse erosion two years ago.

David DeConto, Assistant Director of Natural Resources, said the erosion could pose a damage to the town’s center within 2-3 years.

“Eventually, what happens is the dune will disappear and then the downtown area will be subject to flooding all the time,” DeConto said.

DeConto said town officials believe a jetty that protects the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal is blocking ocean currents that used to rebuild the dunes naturally during the summer.

He said he expects an ongoing study will confirm the theory and help convince the federal government to pay millions of dollars for the dredging and relocation of 400,000 cubic yards of sand.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been tracking this winter’s beach erosion more closely than ever before.

They have been flying drones about 400 feet above the dune in Sandwich so they can map its shrinking profile.

“(The drone) can fly lower and slower and come right after a storm or right before a storm. So we can get a lot more detail, sort of on demand,” said Jon Budreski, of Airshark, a contract company hire to assist with the drone flights.

Chris Sherwood, of the U.S. Geological Survey, said the goal of the mapping is to create a model that can predict how much beach will be lost during a particular, perhaps down to the foot.

Officials would use such forecasts to warn beachfront homeowners when their property might be at risk.

“They do that now for tornadoes. They have an estimate of how much structural damage they might get. So this is kind of a similar thing for the ocean,” Sherwood said.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three-year old views Donald Trump and "Vladimir Poopy" (NYT)

Cool column by Tufts University Professor Annie Pfeifer:

"Help! My 3-Year-Old Is Obsessed With Trump"
By ANNIE PFEIFER
JULY 20, 2017
The New York Times





Credit Marie Assénat
My 3-year-old daughter is obsessed with Donald Trump.

This is a problem if 1) you live in New York City, 2) you are liberal, 3) your friends are liberal, 4) your daughter attends a liberal school and 5) your relatives are affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban.

Yassi, my daughter, attends the kind of school that made counseling available in the wake of the 2016 presidential elections. Parents stood together comforting one another on Nov. 9 in an act of collective mourning that I hadn’t seen since Sept. 11. This is probably exactly the type of school that the Trump voters were hating on with their epic middle finger raised to the elites of this country.

On that same morning, Yassi made few friends by screaming “Donald Trump!” at the top of her lungs in the crowded stairwell to her school. People whirled around to find the traitor. Red-faced and humiliated, I pulled her aside and said, “Shhhh, Yassi, we do not scream these things at school.” And so, an expletive was born, much more potent than any four-letter word.

“Annabel,” she would say, turning to her best friend, “I want to tell you a secret.” Annabel would dutifully move closer.

“Donald Trump!” Yassi would do her 3-year-old best to whisper, which, of course, turned out to be a poorly modulated stage whisper audible to anybody nearby.

“What’s your name, little girl?” kindly strangers would ask her in the checkout line of a grocery store, or at the playground.

“Donald Trump,” she would answer slyly, delighted by the explosion of giggles she elicited.

We had to leave a play date early because the kids — upon Yassi’s encouragement — kept calling one another “Donald Trump” until one little girl dissolved into tears. “Your daughter keeps talking about Donald Trump,” Yassi’s teacher reported, eyeing me suspiciously as if my morning news routine started (and ended) with Breitbart.

It all began during the campaign, when Mr. Trump seemed like little more than a joke and nobody thought he had a fighting chance. “Who do you want to win the election, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?” I would ask Yassi. “Donald Trump!” she would scream excitedly.

Who could blame her? He shared a first name with Donald Duck, and his last name rhymed with “jump,” her favorite activity. She was never able to pronounce Hillary Clinton, which evolved into “Hairy Clinton,” and then finally, “Mustache.” (I can’t pretend to follow a toddler’s logic, but it appears this was one more demographic with which Secretary Clinton failed to resonate.)

After the election, his name, like everything else, was no longer very funny. To me, Yassi’s obsession with Donald Trump represented the radical disjuncture between the brave new world we adults came to inhabit and the innocent world of a child, where even the names of autocratic despots are reduced to lyrical rhymes. Kids are sponges, and every conversation — public and private — was saturated with his name.

Yassi’s father is Iranian-Canadian and was affected by the first travel ban, which included permanent residents from the blacklisted countries. For several weeks, he was forced to cancel business trips overseas for fear of being denied re-entry to the United States. Even under the revised travel ban, Yassi’s Iranian-born grandparents would have had a hard time entering the country, in spite of their Canadian passports.

For Persian New Year, in March, Yassi’s grandparents gave her cherubic twin baby dolls, one dressed in blue overalls, the other in a light pink dress. Naturally, Yassi named them Donald Trump and Mustache. “You can’t name a baby doll ‘Donald Trump,’ ” I admonished her, trying not to laugh. Not that Mustache was much more becoming.

Of course, the best way to get a 3-year-old to continue doing something annoying is to try to stop her. So we bathed Donald Trump, dressed Donald Trump in his blue overalls and then gently put Donald Trump to bed next to his twin.

“Doesn’t Donald Trump look cozy in his new bed?” I asked her as baby Donald Trump snuggled under the covers of his little trundle bed.

“Mommy, Donald Trump is my best friend,” she replied.

With his blinking blue eyes and small tuft of blond hair, baby Donald Trump seemed more like a joke than a threat to the world order. As Sigmund Freud theorized, by turning something threatening into a game, we rob it of its power over us. In this way, play transforms a passive experience into an active one, allowing the child to gain mastery over a threat. Yassi was onto something.

Her childish irreverence for authority made me realize the way even liberals give Mr. Trump too much importance by parsing every tweet and speaking about him in hushed tones. It’s easy to feel powerless by the deluge of depressing headlines. But by subverting his authority even in subtle, silly ways, we loosen his herculean grasp on us.

One day, when Yassi’s father came home from work, she motioned to his ear. “Can I ask you something?” He obediently leaned down.

“Donald Trump,” she whispered triumphantly.

“O.K., Yassi, let’s try something else. Can you say Vladimir Putin?” He winked. “After all, that’s who’s really in charge here.”

“Vladimir Poopy?” she asked, and then began giggling hysterically.

Annie Pfeifer is an assistant professor in the department of international literary and cultural studies at Tufts University.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Abolishing EPA would create chaos, UF law professors say (Pensacola News Journal)



West Florida Freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL1/KOCH INDUSTRIES ) is an unjust steward, a misguided miscreant, one of four KOCH-funded rebarbative retromingent reprobates who want to abolish EPA. Like the John Birch Society postcards from morons in the 1970s, Gaetz is all talk and zero facts. Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery. Gaetz has already drawn a Democratic opponent for 2018 -- a retired Navy pilot, Phil Ehr, a/k/a "Mustang," a recovering Republican. Let the campaign begin, with great vigor!


Obliterating EPA would create chaos, experts say
Joseph Baucum, jbaucum@pnj.com
Published 6:08 p.m. CT Feb. 2, 2017 | Updated 6:14 p.m. CT Feb. 2, 2017

After soliciting endorsement from his colleagues earlier this week to eradicate the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has garnered support from a trio of congressmen in what he assures would translate to a smooth transition in oversight and regulations from the federal government to individual states.

But legal experts disagree with the Fort Walton Beach Republican, arguing that eliminating the agency would incite statutory chaos and devastating impacts to human health and the environment.

"When it was originally created, states and local communities didn’t have the technology or expertise to protect the environment," said Gaetz, who has targeted 2018 for when he hopes to see the agency disappear. "We’ve come a long way in the last 50 years. Time and again, I’ve seen constituents unknowingly subject themselves to the oppressive jurisdiction of the EPA by doing simple things."

Gaetz said Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) have agreed to co-sponsor a bill to the House Committee on Natural Resources to eliminate the agency. At that point, the committee's chairman, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), would decide if it would be put to a vote.

Many environmental protection laws create legal standing for states to enforce federally administrated regulations. Gaetz contended that without the EPA, authority for those laws would simply shift to states. But multiple professors at the University of Florida Levin College of Law contradicted him.

"A lot of states just don’t have resources available to them," said Mary Jane Angelo, professor and director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the university. "Wealthier states would have better protection for their citizens’ health than poorer states."

Angelo said the EPA administers most federal and environmental programs through what is termed cooperative federalism. As an example, she said under the Clean Water Act, most states have assumed responsibility for carrying out a portion of regulations such as issuing permits and ensuring compliance. States must meet minimum federal requirements. Certain flexibility exists for states to carry out the law in ways more sensible for them. If the government quashed the agency, Angelo argued "decisions would have to be made on hundreds of programs about what happens to them."

Alyson Flournoy, a law professor at the university and a member scholar at the liberal Center for Progressive Reform, said without federal regulations, states would enter into "a race to the bottom." She explained that as an incentive to attract industry, a portion of states would relax standards in a short-sighted economic strategy that would ultimately sacrifice public health and the environment.

Flournoy criticized Gaetz's effort as an attention-seeking move that ultimately betrays his constituents.

"It seems to be part of a wave from elected officials designed to capture headlines but not do good government," she said. "We don’t need less government or more government. We need good government."

Gaetz maintained states could capably regulate themselves if allowed. But in July, Florida's Environmental Regulation Commission approved new state standards that would escalate the acceptable levels of toxins in state rivers and streams for more than two dozen known carcinogens. The proposal required further approval by the EPA, but an agency spokeswoman said the state never sent it to the agency.

In an email to colleagues this week seeking support for his bill, Gaetz cited a report from the conservative American Action Forum, writing "it would take more than 94,200 employees working full-time to complete one year of EPA paperwork. With the average compliance officer being paid over $33 per hour, the costs of these regulations accumulate quickly."

But the report's evidence is questionable. Rick Harper, an economist and professor at the University of West Florida, said the report could be relying on other studies to reinforce its premise, but the report struck him as a "broad-brush opinion piece" and he would refrain from defining it as a study. He expects Gaetz's efforts to not result in the destruction of the EPA, but in the government lessening heavy-handed regulations and increasing incentives for companies to innovate and develop methods to curb pollution.

"What I expect to see come of it would be a move to more market- and price-oriented solutions to pollution and that the legislation would evolve from dismantling the EPA to requiring the EPA to reduce the burden of paperwork," Harper said.

"Without public protections, Florida will suffer" by Alyson Craig Flournoy and Mary Jane Angelo, UF Levin College of Law (Pensacola News Journal)


Alyson Flournoy


Mary Jane Angelo

Guest view: Without public protections, Florida will suffer
By Alyson Flournoy and Mary Jane Angelo Published 9:15 a.m. CT May 17, 2017 | Updated 9:31 a.m. CT May 17, 2017

Florida faces unique threats in an era of sea-level rise and a warming climate. Algae blooms, tropical disease outbreaks, stronger storms, and coastal flooding present us with challenges on a scale we have not seen previously.

Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Army Corps of Engineers are key partners to our state, helping us respond to each of these challenges. The massive Everglades restoration effort, which will help to protect south Florida's drinking water supply, is another federal-state partnership. We need federal agencies to be nimble and adaptive in responding to changes in the environment and the attendant threats to our health, safety, drinking water, and shorelines if they are to be effective partners.

Yet President Donald Trump and conservatives in Congress are working to roll back safeguards and throw numerous monkey wrenches into the administrative process. Their policies would move us away from progress and innovation, paralyzing our federal partners, wasting public resources, and putting people at risk in the process.

A case in point is the "2-for-1 deal" in Trump's late January executive order – requiring that federal agencies offer up two regulations for repeal every time they propose to adopt a new or updated rule. It is as simplistic and arbitrary as it is misguided.

The executive order ignores the massive benefits of regulation to consumers, workers, people who'd prefer to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat safe foods, while focusing solely and obsessively on the cost to the companies that produce unsafe products, consign employees to dangerous working conditions and pollute the environment. It is meat-axe-style policymaking that assumes every rule is bad and that repeal is, by definition, always good. (Would you like some Listeria with that rule repeal?) It's a sales pitch served up as policy.

Another thing Trump's ham-handed executive order – and all deregulatory propaganda – overlooks is that rules are extremely important for business as well as the public. Affected businesses participate actively in agency rulemaking and often support the final product because clear rules of the road provide the level and predictable playing field they need to make investments. Rules eliminate unfair advantages for industry players that take the low road, exposing their workers and the public to needless and unacceptable risks and harms. Standards help correct problems where markets fail, and ensure agencies enforce statutes fairly and consistently across an industry.

Despite all this, House and Senate Republicans are joining President Trump's assault on our safeguards, floating a raft of damaging legislation that would make it even harder for agencies to protect Floridians – and all Americans. These proposals, including the recently reintroduced Regulatory Accountability Act, present dubious opportunities for improvements in accountability and do so at the expense of other core principles of administrative law – efficiency and fairness.

Now more than ever, Florida needs our representatives in Congress to restrain rash political impulses to move quickly and without careful thought. Congress should recognize that President Trump's executive order has already created instability and uncertainty for the regulatory process and should decline to adopt additional hurdles that will further delay important protections.

Even ideas that may sound reasonable in the abstract – like requiring that benefits exceed costs for all regulations – have huge hidden costs and consequences. It's well known that health and safety get short shrift when we try to translate them to a dollar figure, as the bill being considered by Congress would require. At the same time, experience shows that the expected costs to industry are frequently overestimated. The end result is to undermine the health and safety mandates Congress wisely included in laws that have brought us cleaner air and water, better blowout preventers, safer workplaces and products, and more.

The enormous public outcry in the wake of President Trump's hasty and poorly thought-out executive orders should serve as an object lesson for Congress: haste makes waste. If Congress ignores this lesson and proceeds to shut down crucial public safeguards, including those designed to ward off the worst effects of a warming climate and restore the Everglades to health, Floridians will be in a world of hurt.

Alyson Flournoy and Mary Jane Angelo are professors at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and are Member Scholars at the Center for Progressive Reform.

"Man in the Kevlar® suit" -- Fake "Mayor" RICHARD BURTT O"BRIEN'S HAUGHTY HUBRIS IN ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, FLORIDA




Twice-fined lawbreaking recidivist reprobate St. Augustine Beach Mayor RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN describes himself as the "man in a Kevlar® suit.

He says all of the charges, questions and criticisms of him bounce off, "Ping! Ping! Ping!"

He's said so to his associates, including fellow Commissioners.  What an egomanical jerk.

Retromigent rebarbatative repulsive businessman-politician, sans ethics and creativity.

Republican Lord of All That He Surveys (1.7 square miles and some 7000 souls).

"Mayot" O"BRIEN has recently bailed, missed or come late for government business, including Commission and events, among them the July 19, 2017 public topping-off ceremony for Embassy Suites, where he was a scheduled speaker on the program but never appeared despite being repeatedly called the morning of the event.  O'BRIEN and the itty-bitty-shifty City government have not supplied pertinent records.

Fake "Mayor" O'BRIEN has delusions of adequacy.  He can't even attend community events. Snob? Slacker? Poor excuse for a public official?  Yes. Yes. Yes.  And?

Kevlar® suit?   "Ping! Ping! Ping!"?  O'BRIEN married into RINGHAVER money -- like marrying on third base and supposing that you hit a triple.

Sounds like President DONALD JOHN TRUMP a/k/a  "CHUMP" bragging about how he could shoot someone dead and get away with it.  What a revolting creature.  When bumptious businessmen get elected to office, without ethics or a moral compass, bad things happen, from the itty-bitty City of St. Augustine Beach to the White House.

PROGRESS IN ARTISTS' FIRST AMENDMENT LAWSUIT: Bates v. City of St. Augustine (Bates II) Mediation Resumes Wednesday, July 26, 2017



Mediator Terrence Edward Smith

Jacksonville lawyer-mediator-magistrate Terry Schmidt will preside Wednesday, July 26, 2017 as the mediator in the federal court case of Bruce Bates et al. v. City of St. Augustine (Bates II), the visual artists' First Amendment case.

The mediation is scheduled to last all day, in a neutral conference room in Jacksonville.

Our visual artists are sitting in the proverbial catbird seat and the City of St. Augustine knows it.

The artists are now empowered by the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, and progeny.  Those cases ban any government content-based restrictions on free speech, whether involving an Arizona church's signs or  Tampa homeless panhandlers' requests for money.   The latter case was decided in 2016 by a federal judge in Tampa, which is also part of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

So empowered, our four courageous St. Augustine visual artists will resume mediation with the City of St. Augustine.  Representing the artists are attorneys William Sheppard, Bryan DiMaggio and Thomas Elijah Cushman.  Representing the City is the MARKS GRAY law firm.

Mediator Terrence Edward Smith is as able a mediator as I have ever seen in 30 years.

Mr. Smith was the Special Magistrate who successfully mediated the 32 Grenada Street local historic landmark designation adopted by the City of St. Augustine in response to the misguided demolition demand by Louis John Arbizzani.

Result: one historic building saved: it will be moved one lot south and preserved and protected as a city historic landmark.  The City's power to designate local historic landmarks was vindicated, creating a precedent for other structures, like 18 St. George Street (subject of a HARB hearing to be held on August 17, 2017).

I attended the April 13, 2017 Special Magistrate dispute resolution session as one who spoke in support of the designation of this wonderful 1880 Victorian home as a City local historic landmark, before both HARB and City Commission.  Mr. Smith helped the parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
I call it the Holy Thursday agreement (after the Good Friday Agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland).  All were impressed with Mr. Smith's mediation skills.

Last year, mediator Terry Schmidt spent 3.5 hours with plaintiffs Bruce Kevin Bates, Elena Hecht, Kate Merrick and Helena Salas, the four visual artist plaintiffs, St. Augustine City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E., plaintiff attorneys William Sheppard, Bryan DiMaggio and Thomas Elijan Cushman and Assistant City Attorney Denise May, accompanied by two insurance defense lawyers from the MARKS GRAY law firm, hired by the Florida League Cities insurance scheme.

For 3.5 hours on Friday, September 23, 2016, federal court appointed mediator Terrence Edward Schmidt met with the City Manager of St. Augustine, four artist plaintiffs who have won yet another injunction against the City for violating their First and Fourteenth Amendment in their second lawsuit against the City of St. Augustine since 2009.

Mediator Terry Schmidt scheduled a second mediation session after the City of St. Augustine City Commissioners held several shade meetings to discuss legal issues outside the Sunshine -- a full court reporter transcript will be available after the litigation is resolved.  Transcripts will be available after the case is settled.

Mr. Schmidt was a young naval officer in charge of nuclear and other weapons, on the USS William M. Wood (DD 71 5).  He was Duke University Law Review Editor, co-wrote a 1974 scholarly Florida Law Review article with Duke classmate Kenneth W. Starr, worked for the Florida Bar in its successful effort to disbar F. Lee Bailey a/k/a "Flea" Bailey, and has since 2001 worked exclusively as a respected mediator, arbitrator and special master.


Mr. Schmidt was Lieutenant and Weapons Officer on the USS William M. Wood (DD 715)


In 1974, Mr. Schmidt published a scholarly article in the University of Florida's Law Review, co-authored with his fellow Duke University Law School classmate Kenneth W. Starr, later a United States Court of Appeals Judge, Solicitor General of the United States and Whitewater Prosecutor


Mr. Schmidt was one of three lawyers representing The Florida Bar in its successful effort to disbar F. LEE BAILEY

Mr. Schmidt's law firm biography states:

Mr. Schmidt received his B.A. degree from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 1967 and his law degree from Duke University Law School in 1973 where was an editor of the Duke Law Journal. He was an officer in the United States Navy from 1969 to 1972, serving as Lieutenant and Weapons Officer on the USS William M. Wood (DD 715) at the time of his discharge to return to law school. He joined the firm of Mahoney, Hadlow, Chambers & Adams (then the oldest firm in the State of Florida) in Jacksonville in 1973 and became a shareholder in that firm in 1978. On January 1, 1979, he left the Mahoney Hadlow firm to start the firm of Bledsoe, Gallagher, Mikals & Schmidt, the predecessor of the Firm. He has practiced continuously with the Firm since that date specializing in civil litigation. In 1997, he became a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court civil mediator and a Federal court certified mediator. In 1999, he qualified as an AAA arbitrator and mediator. Since 2001, his practice has been limited to providing alternative dispute resolution services as a mediator, statutory and AAA arbitrator, and special master.

EXPERIENCE: I have specialized in litigation since 1974. My practice included litigation in the areas of breach of contract, fraud, employment discrimination, mechanics liens and construction defects, real property, probate, state and federal antitrust and restraint of trade, securities fraud, maritime, bankruptcy, ERISA, CERCLA, RCRA, trademark and copyright, medical and legal malpractice, and personal injury, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. E.g., Jaffe v. Grant, 793 F.2d 1182 (11th Cir. 1986); Woodman v. U. S., 764 F.Supp 1455(M.D.Fla) rev=d 121 F.3d 1430(11th Cir. 1997); VKK Corp. v. National Football League. et al., 55 F.Supp 2d 196 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. v. Jones, 764 So.2d 677 (Fla. lst DCA 2000). I also served as special counsel to The Florida Bar in the F. Lee Bailey disbarment proceeding. The Florida Bar v. F. Lee Bailey, 803 So.2d 603 (Fla.) ce/f. den/ed 122 S.Ct. 1916 (2002).

REPRESENTATIVE CASES HANDLED AS MEDIATOR: I have mediated more than 4.000 cases in state and federal courts and for the American Arbitration Association over the past 19 years, including, among others, a breach of contract claim in the telecommunications industry involving a claim of more than $400 millions a commercial breach of contract and breach of warranty case involving claims of over $30 million; a first party bad faith insurance claim for over $25 million; a consolidated action involving multiple securities fraud and negligent supervision claims in excess of $20 millions a dispute between FDIC and a borrower and a subsequent dispute between the borrower and a third party involving real property valued in excess of $20 million; a dissenting stockholder’s rights dispute involving claims in excess of $15 million; a catastrophic burn case involving claims in excess of $10 million; a dispute between a sponsor and a cigarette manufacturer over a NASCAR promotion involving a claim in excess of $5 million; numerous condominium construction disputes involving claims in excess of $5 million; and numerous personal injury, employment discrimination, construction, and other commercial cases involving claims in excess of $l,000,000.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES HANDLED AS ARBITRATOR/SPECIAL MASTER: I have been a panel arbitrator in arbitrations involving breach of contract, construction disputes, a cable service agreement, and termination of an insurance agency in which awards were entered. I have also been the sole arbitrator in breach of contract, consumer fraud, employment, construction and Unfair Trade & Deceptive Trade Practices Act disputes in which awards were entered. Finally, I have served as special master and as statutory arbitrator appointed by the circuit court in commercial disputes .

MULTI-PARTY DISPUTE RESOLUTION EXPERIENCE: As an attorney representing a party to multi-party cases, I have been involved in numerous multi-party mediations or settlement conferences, including litigation involving antitrust and tort claims filed by a former National Football League team owner against the National Football League and others in which the claimed damages exceeded $450 million; an insurance insolvency case in which the claims exceeded $20 million; an ERISA class action against the trustees of profit sharing plan involving a claimed loss exceeding $10 millions a toxic tort case in which 43 families sued a major waste hauling company and the United States Government for personal injuries arising out of a contaminated landfill which was settled by one defendant for $8.5 million and was tried against the other defendants and construction litigation by a condominium association against the developer, architect, and contractor for damages exceeding $3.0 million. As a mediator, I have been involved in over 500 multi-party disputes involving all kinds of claims, including major construction cases.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION TRAINING: National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN) 8/2012 Advanced Mediation Training Retreats ADR Section of Dispute Resolution (JBA), Fifth Annual CME Seminar (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015); NADN Advanced Mediation Training Retreat 2011; Fourth Annual Institute on Advanced Mediation-Advocacy Skills Training: 2005; DRC 1 3th Annual conference for Mediators and Arbitrators: Framing Our Future, 2004; AAA Advanced Mediator Skills for Court-Based Settlement Program, 2003; ABA Section of Dispute Resolution: New Vistas in Dispute Resolution, 2002; ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Collaboration in the Capital: The Power of ADR Program, 2001; AAA Commercial Arbitrator ll – Advanced Case Management Issues Workshop, 2001; Florida Bar sponsored Private Judges, Mediation and Arbitration Seminar, 2000; AAA Commercial Arbitrator Training Workshop, 1999; Florida Bar CLE Course on Alternate Dispute Resolution, 1998; Florida Dispute Resolution Center, 40-Hr. Mediation training, 1995.

PROFESSIONAL LICENSES: Admitted to the Bar: Florida, 1973; Admitted to United States Supreme Court, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal, and United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: American Bar Association (Section on Dispute Resolution); Florida Bar Association (Section on Dispute Resolution); Jacksonville Bar Associations Florida Academy of Professional Mediators; National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals; Chester Bedell Inn of Courts The College of Master Advocates and Barristers.

AWARDS AND HONORS: Master, Chester Bedell Inn of Courts Senior Counsel, The College of Master Advocates and Barristers; listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2001 — present); listed in Florida’s Super Lawyers (2006 – present); listed in “Jacksonville’s Best Lawyers” by Jacksonville Magazine( 2001 – present); honored in 2002 with a Resolution by The Florida Bar for pro
bono service as Special Counsel to TFB in the F. Lee Bailey disbarment proceeding.

PUBLICATIONS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS: Speaker, Eighth Annual N.E. Florida CME Seminar for Mediators, “ls There Anyone Who is Not Subject to Cognitive Dissonance… Except Me?” (2015); Speaker, 2nd Annual N.E. Florida CME Seminar for Mediators “Local Issues Facing Mediators and the Ethical Implications” (2009); Panel Member on alternative dispute presentations to the Chester Bedell Inn of Court (2004) and Florida Coastal School of Law (2005); Panel member, Winning Without Trial: The Mediation Roundtables Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Seminar (2003); Speaker, “The Florida Bar v. F. Lee Bailey: A Cautionary Tale”, Raymond Ehrlich Trial Advocacy Seminar (2002); co-author with Kenneth W. Starr: Inspection Rights of Corporate Stockholders: Toward a More Effective Statutory Model”, 42 Florida Law Review 173 (1974).

ATTORNEYS
James A. Bledsoe, Jr.
Samuel S. Jacobson
Terrance E. Schmidt
Kenneth B. Wright
Stephanie A. Sussman
OFFICE LOCATION
501 Riverside Ave., Suite 903
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
Tel: (904)398-1818
Fax:(904)398-7073

jab@bledsoejacobson.com





























St. Augustine's anti-artist and anti-musician laws are blatantly unconstitutional and were so found by federal judges in 2009 and 2016.  They are an egregious example of what our City's patron saint, Saint Augustine himself, meant when he said, 
"An unjust law is no law at all."  
These local Nuremberg-style laws have resulted in hundreds of arrests, criminalizing art and music.  
St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver says, 
"Our streets are not lively."  
St. Augustine Beach Commissioner and former SAB Mayor Sherman Gary Snodgrass says these "lousy laws" must be repealed.  
They have had the intended effect of destroying the joy and quality of life on St. George Street, which PZB member Cathy Brown calls "one giant t-shirt shop." 

These "Jim Crow" laws  are the direct and proximate result of what happens when:
(1) mean, misguided men like JOE BOLES and LEN WEEKS get elected Mayor, 
(2) tyrants like WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS get hired as City "Manager," without a national search, 
(3) sadists like DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, former SAPD Chief, now Sheriff, get promoted and elected as a reward for violating our constitutional rights,
(4) uncouth, unkind, unethical, other-directed lawyers like RONALD WAYNE BROWN and 
ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ 
get hired as City Attorney without the position ever so much as being advertised in the Florida Bar Journal 
and 
(5) lousy landlords and louche lugubrious lapdog goobers in the Chamber of Commerce are allowed to dictate public policy.

It's time for those "lousy" and "unjust" laws to be repealed.
It's time for our streets to be "lively" once again.

Please pray for our City Manager, City Attorney and 
City Commissioners to end this unjust open season on artists in our Nation's Oldest City.

What do y'all reckon ?