Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sadie Carter Dies at 100

Longtime St. Augustine resident Sadid Carter died April 12 at the age of 100.
She was a native of New Yor who retired here, like so many.
An African-American who marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sadie Carter was a lifelong Democrat, whose first proud vote was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Sadie Carter was among eighteen of us local residents represented pro bono by the law firm of HOLLAND & KNIGHT in 2010 -- together, we halted the First America Foundationand ended its Sunshine and Open Records violat9ons, and we stopped four City Commissioners' planned junket/"business trip" to Spain, another Sunshine violation averted.
We had fun doing it, too.
Last year I attended a Thansgiving luncheon with Sadie Carter at the First Coast Technical College, helping her put on her shoes and socks in her Anastasia Island home. We all enjoyed Sadie's company, her humor, her laugh and her cheerfulness.
Once upon a time, Sadie Carter adored St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, at least until she learned of his notorious coverup of the Michelle O'Connell case, reported in The New Yor
k Times.
Sadie Carter and I campaigned together for Faye Armitage, our 2008 Democratic Congressional nominee, waving signs with Faye on Primary Election Day.
Sadie Carter observantly pointed to cars approaching an intercoastal waterway bridge, repeatedly saying, "One in a car. One in a car. One in a car."
Finally, I told her she was driving me crazy, and stigmatzing the lone drivers, but we all got her point that day.
We all should get her point today.
There is too little public transportation, too little carpooling here.
In Sadie Carter's honor, we must do better, we can do better and we will do better and we will start this movement today!

Walt Bogdanich Does It Again

For a good read, check out today's New York Times.
You will be outraged.
A Florida State University football player, Heisman trophy winner JAMEIS WINSTON appears to have been allowed to escape uncharged from an alleged rape.
The Tallahassee Police Department makes St. Johns County Sheriff's Department look like Seal Team Six.
Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) told the victim to think long and hard before charging an FSU football player with rape and took no DNA from the alleged assailant.
Corrupt Tallahassee police nad prosecutors showed their sexism, misogyny, misfeasance, malfeasane and nonfeasance.
Color them crooked.
Three-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich wrote the article.
Mr. Bogdanich also wrote the awesome investigation of the September 2, 2010 Michelle O'Connell shooting, which exposed the misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance of St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and State's Attorneys RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA and BRADLEY KING, and Medical Examiner PREDRAG BULIC.
A young mother shot dead with a deputy's gun in rural St. Johns County.
A young woman raped in Tallahassee.
Two inept police departments.
Two violated women.
Ruined lives.
Too much sexism and too much misogyny in Florida law enforcement.
Too much incompetence.
Too much sloth.
Too much stupidity.
Too much arrogance.
Too much criminality.
It's time for a change.
We need more women police chiefs.
We need more women sheriffs.
We need two federal grand juries to investigate the St. Johns County Sheriff and States Attorney's office and the Tallahassee Police and State's Attorney.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Justice for the alleged Tallahassee rape victim.
We need more New York Times reporters "parachuting in," in peripatetic Record editor Kathy Nelson's immortal words, investigating wrongdoers when Florida's maladroit local yokel "Chain Gang Journalism" chain newspapers (like GANNETT's Tallahassee Democrat and MORRIS' St. Augustine Record) don't, won't or can't do so.
What do you reckon?


Two years ago, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind illegally paid lawyer SIDNEY FRANKLYN. ANSBACHER to lobby the Florida legislature for eminent domain legislation that would have destroyed St. Augustine's historic Nelmar Terrace and Fullerwood neighborhoods.
We, the People, defeated SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER, handing a Pyrric victory to ANSBACHER and longtime FSDB Chairman WILLIAM L. PROCTOR, a/k/a "MASSA PROCTOR," our then-Representative and Flagler College's Chancellor. The legislature provided that no eminent domain power could ever be used against Fullerwood and Nelmar Terrace, and that no eminent domain could be used in St. Augustine for ten years. Finis.

Monday night, St. Augustine Commissioners heard for the first time that it was illegal under Florida law to build anything on top of a landfill, ending SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER's client's dream of building a Children's Museum and a profit-making acquarium at the suth end of Riberia stret, on the site of the longtime illegal dump operate by the City of St. Augustine in an African-American nighborhood.

That land must become a park.

Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration Inspector General must initiate a civil, criminal or administrative investigation of lawyer SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER's clients, who stated on the Internet that they were "donating" the land for the St. Augustine Aquarium, which they did not own and never owned. SHAWN and KATHY HIESTER own St. Augustine Aquarium LLC and Marine Consevation Partners, which had engaged a local law firm and local architect in pursuit of a project that U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) attorney Linda George told me yesterday could never be approved.
First, neither SBA nor its Certified Development Companies (CDCs) nor amy banks will ever lend money for projects on top of landfills.
Second, neither SBA nor its CDCs lend moeny for Planned Unit Developments, which the HEISTERs, the Aquarium and the Children's Museum had planned to present to the City Commission in May.
Did they almost get away with a fraud on the public and a fraud on the SBA and banks?
Credit is due to Lincolnville activists, who once again have won.

Discredit is due SHAWN HEISTER, who had no detectible experience with running aquariums, puffed his putative "partners," sought to buy city land and represented that he already owned it on the Internet, SHAWN HEISTER previously convinced the City of Pembroke Pines to outsource some 200 government jobs to his profit-making corporation, winning a no-bid contract in a secret "shade meeting," an apparent Sunshine violation because neither labor negotiations nor litigation was involved. The offices of the City of Pembroke Pines is closed on all Fridays. How odd that much-touted outsourcing of government jobs to the private sector would have such deletrious effects on service.

Discredit is due to our City Attorney, RONALD WAYNE BROWN, who once again has shown himself mediocre, at best, failing to point these things out. BROWN is the former law partner of GEOFFREY DOBSON in DOBSON & BROWN, which long represented both local governments and developers, a walking conflict of interest. Citizens defeated DOBSON & BROWN when they told our mosquito control commission that a $1.8 million no-bid helicopter purchase was "sole source." The helicopter was not "sole source," nor was it needed, and the contract was cancelled, with full refund. RONALD WAYNE BROWN did not return two telephone messages yesterday.

BROWN is a likable guy, reminiscent of Professor Harold Hill in "The Music Man." BROWN rides a motorcycle in his spare time, and he served and contributed to the St. Augstuine Beach's Charter Review Committee, which recommended a permanent 35 foot height limit on buildings. BROWN knows government law.

But color BROWN colorless, and AWOL in this case -- both BROWN and Assistant City Attorney ISABELLE LOPEZ should have uncovered the law and facts and then advised and protected the city, BEFORE a Letter of Intent was signed on his letterhead. This was truly Amateur Hour.
Next time, we expect better legal work and better vetting work!
Too often, our American governments -- including our Nation's Oldest City -- are victimized by crooks and schnooks, oligopolists, ogres, tree-killing, wetland-filling "developers," Bib Business, and avaricious vendors.
Let's get tough on Corporate Crime in the Suites, please!
From this day forward.

SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is both a corporate shark and legal scholar, with numerous publications and Bar activities. He earned an LL.M. in 1985 from the University of Arkansas, and righty brags of his extensive environmental and land use planning law experience on his Upchurch, Bailey & Upchurch website.
Having written environmental lending standards for Florida banks, SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER -- of all people -- should have known that the landfill PUD project was what Lincolnville activists called a "non-starter."
Yet SYDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER billed the HIESTERs and their investors for environmental and land use planning advice that left egg on the face of his law firm, his clients, the city of St. Augustine, two City Attorneys, two financial institutions that considered the loan -- while leaving once again the impression that local land use lawyers are crooks and that local officials are babes in the woods who need better protection against schnooks and con artists. In Florida, one does not need a license to call oneself a "developer."
Peripatetic perseverting perspiring Falstaffian lawyer SIDNEY F. ANSBACHER told Commissioners that he was once a State of Florida environmental attorney. Wearing no tie and no jacket, only an orange shirt, ANSBACHER said he once wore a white Afro and weighed 150 pounds as a government attorney (or so he told Commissioners last month), noting that he no longer has very much hair and weighs twice as much. It's all about SID, you see -- his opinions, his experience, his expertise -- we are supposed to do what he says. What a waste of a good education.

Whenever SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER comes before a government agency from now on, the board members should consider the fact that he is a recidivist -- ANSBACHER prevaricates for a living. ANSBACHER engaged in illegal lobbying that would have destroyed two neighborhoods (Nelmar Terrace and Fullerwood), and ANSBACHER engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices that might have destroyed a third (Lincolnville).

Local environmental and land use planning lawyers like SIDNEY F. ANSBACHER, JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE, DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT and the late GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE are a stench in the nostrils of Our Nation's Oldest City.
They seldom appear before local boards and commissions without representing dodgy developers with greed-centered plans that are contrary to the public interest.
They misrepresent facts and law.
They talk down to our elected officials. They have contempt for democracy.
They get angry when their sins find them out.
Foiing them is fun.
"We band of brothers" and sisters here in St. Augustine have perfected the technology for foiling such flummery, dupery and nincompoopery. Our leaders listen to us.
We are not threatened by their works and pomps, their testa-lying experts, their technological turkeys or the termagants who enable them (like the histrionic SBA CDC Vice President in Jacksonville who lied to me and threatened me yesterday, claiming it was "harassment" to send her E-mails about her putative loan client's flummery). She mocked me as pathetic for asking questions about a project she heard was "dead." She threatened to report me to "the police" for harassment, e.g., First Amendment protected activity in questioning an SBA CDC. She proceeded to ask who I was, and I told her, identifying the title of this blog. She said, "That's nothin'"
Maybe so.
Her name is KRISTEN TACKETT, and she is Vice President of FLORIDA FIRST CAPITAL FINANCE CORPORATION (FFCF), an SBA CDC. SBA has her name and number, and knows of her threats and flummery.
The threats from TACKETT are bizarre.
Deja vu all over again?
Eighteen days ago, I spoke with SHAWN HEISTER, back on March 27, 2014, about his Aquarium project, after he read my FOIA request to SBA and called me out of the blue.
"Who are you?," HIESTER loudly demanded.
"Who are you?," indeed. I told him.
We talked for some 90 minutes.
HIESTER's wannabee lenders, including TACKETT, have not yet answered any questions. Did HEISTER get money from banks based on prevarications? We don't know yet. SBA is processing my FOIA requests.
Is HIESTER threatening to sue the City of St. Augustine?
We don't know yet.
HIESTER lawyer SIDNEY F. ANSBACHER has not returned a telephone message.
SHAWN HIESTER was angry Monday night.
He may be impliedly threatening a lawsuit.
If he sues, our Nation's Oldest City will countersue, and win sanctions for frivolous civil litigation.
Meanwhile, SBA OIG may investigate HIESTER's scheming. TACKETT is sure to be interviewed. So is ANSBACHER. So are other local professionals, who should have known better than to plan two buildings on top of a landfill
In response to HIESTER and TACKETT, Who are we?
We are We the People of St. Augustine.
It is our town and our time.
We are being heard and heeded.
No longer do dodgy "developers" like ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD, WALLACE DEVLIN or SHAWN HIESTER get their way automatically.
No longer do cackling corporate crooks get their way here.
This is the City of St. Augustine -- it is not Palatka.
Yes, "the Bohemians have won," to quote the late hick hack St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM POMAR.
Yes, our leaders listened, again.
Yes, we can.
How cool is that?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bridge of Lions Obstructionists

Mayor Joseph Boles got a snotty answer from a Coast Guard Captain to his concerns about bridge0opening. The City of St. Augustine needs o petition for a rulemaking under hte Administrative Procedure Act, asking USCG and Homeland Security to reduce the frequency of bridge openings, which is in the U.S. Code. We also need to ask FDOT to ban 18-wheelers from our Bridge of Lions.
Two petitions for rulemaking, one federal, one state.
Problem solved.
This will save fuel, carbon emissions and aggravation. Boat owners, whether commercial or pleasure, can wait.
Footnote: One CHARLES MATHIS wrote in today;s St. Augustine Record an unscientific dissenting view, wishing that the bridge were wider and blaming "merchants."
He is wrong. A wider bridge would have destroyed our town.
Thank God for the Save our Bridge group and its able leaders.

Here is Clara Waldhari's rebuttal from the Record:

Clara Waldhari 04/14/14 - 09:33 am 00Confusion still abounds
This letter writer, Charles Mathis, writes that we deserve the traffic congestion we get because the Bridge of Lion was saved from destruction.
He further pens "[e]very other city on the east coast" that faced this problem chose to replace their obsolete bridges.
THAT is The Point!
WE are NOT "every other city on the east coast." We are St. Augustine. We have heritage, we have historic structures. We are UNIQUE.
To wantonly demolish that which makes us unique is insane.
The bridge is an enormous part of our cultural landscape and our identity. To lose it would have been tragic.
There are prices to pay for living in an ancient city

Judge Mathis: in the words RFK once wrote to segregationist U.S. Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi, "repent now, there's still time!"

Justice for Michelle O'Connell. NOW.

St. Augustine and St. Johns County are lucky to have people with integrity like the O'Connell family.
Please read Patty O'Connell's St. Augustine Record column, below.
The O'Connell family will not quit until there is justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Neither will we.
People of goodwill join with them in urging our U.S. Attorney General to commence a federal grand jury investigation.
The O'Connells and the rest of us in Our Town are not scared of bullies.
They are standing up to elected bullies ;ike Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, rebarbative reprobrates who are an embarassment to our community in the eyes of the entire world. Their noisome nastiness must end. NOW.
Their not-so-subtle corruption of our government is indefensible, and must be ended at once. NOW.
"Let justice be done though the heavens fall" is an ancient equitable maxim.
We will not be satisfied until "justice rolls on like a river, righteousness like a mighty stream." (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963 "I have a dream speech," quoting the prophet Amos 5:24)
Let every voice be heard in urging a federal grand jury investigation of the corruption in St. Johns County, starting with our estimable Sheriff and State's Attorney.

Sunday St. Augustine Record Column: "My daughter, Michelle, is gone: Justice for her should not die, too"

Posted: April 13, 2014 - 12:05am
St. Augustine
My daughter, Michelle O’Connell, was found shot dead Sept. 2, 2010, in her deputy-boyfriend’s home. He told his co-workers she did this. Deputy Jeremy Banks’ co-workers failed to investigate. They only took his side. No investigation was possible for Michelle. The public needs to know that no one in the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department or State Attorney’s Office ever asked our family what happened. Why?

No one from The St. Augustine Record has ever interviewed us, even after the New York Times and PBS/Frontline stories in November of 2013. Why?

Sheriff Shoar admitted to major mistakes, but claimed to The Record, in a story Dec. 12, 2013, that he “got it right.” How?

The sheriff investigated his deputy, a conflict of interest. “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). The FDLE should have been called immediately. Our family told the Sheriff’s Office that Michelle told us and her friends that she was a victim of domestic violence. The sheriff did not investigate. The sheriff and the prosecutors rushed to conclude (the shooting) was a suicide — without evidence. The sheriff’s national accreditation must be reviewed by the Council on Law Enforcement Accreditation this week and be suspended, revoked or placed on probation.

Jeremy Banks was allowed to read the investigation before his formal interview, and treated like a brother, not a suspect. Why? Two respected crime scene experts determined it was a homicide, and three determined it was not suicide, but no charges were filed. Why?

Deputies did not canvass the neighborhood. Why?

The cut and bruise on Michelle’s eyelid was the result of violence, yet we were told that a gun discharged forward (not backward), that Michelle used her non-dominant left hand to grasp the gun upside down, with no hand injury, and that the shell casings ejected on the wrong side — all physical impossibilities. Why?

Two witnesses heard an argument, a scream and a shot, another scream a second shot. Sheriff Shoar knowingly lied to the Justice Department about them, and the deputy claimed there were no raised voices.

One medical examiner thrice changed his mind; another barely looked at the file. Lt. Bradley callously said my Michelle busted every tooth in her head. He wouldn’t let me see any photos. I held firm; this made him angry. He showed some photos to me but not all. Why?

After claiming it was a suicide, Sheriff Shoar would not look me in the eye, and he wouldn’t look Michelle’s daughter Alexis in the eye either. Why?

Sheriff Shoar bragged about paying for Michelle’s funeral. Why?

The only person currently under investigation is FDLE Agent Rusty R. Rogers, who suspected sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Banks in Michelle’s death. Why?

Michelle asked to go to the Holocaust Museum when she was 15 years old. She asked how could people not speak out against great evil. Michelle’s long-time day-care boss had just promoted her to full time, with full benefits. Michelle also cared for Alzheimer’s patients. Michelle loved life. She loved her daughter. Everyone knows she did not commit suicide.

Michelle’s heroes were John and Robert Kennedy. RFK said, “It is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is too much to dissent from.”

There must be an FBI and federal grand jury investigation of Michelle’s death and possible civil rights violations, cover ups, collusion and other crimes by local law enforcement. “We shall know the truth, and the truth will make ye free” (John 8:32).

I am grateful for the public support for this. CNN and NBC are also preparing stories.

Our family is thinking about a “Michelle O’Connell House,” a safe place for victims of the national epidemic of officer-involved domestic violence.

Comments (2)2848 POINTS View Profile

Clara Waldhari 04/13/14 - 09:35 am 73THANK YOU, PATTY O'CONNELL,

for coming forth to represent your daughter Michelle. I am so very sorry for her death. My prayers are with you, Alexis, and your family.

I cannot account for the obvious malfunctions of David Shoar's department nor his willingness to play such a role in this cover-up. Both enabling it and continuing it. The blue line has gone too far.

Rest assured, you have the support of many of us who believe Michelle's death was a homicide. Not a suicide.

This coming week's NBC Dateline look at Michelle's death and all that surrounded it will once again bring her case into national view, as well as the ineptitude and use of diversionary tactics by Sheriff David Shoar..

There are those of us who believe your daughter was the victim, not Jeremy Banks. We hope the truth prevails. That a federal grand jury will convene and look at ALL the evidence without the bias of local LE.

We mourn Michelle's tragic loss.


[Posted at 7:38 a.m. Edited to fix typos.[

Clara Waldhari 04/13/14 - 07:15 am 63Note to Jim Sutton, Editorial Pg Editor

Dear Jim,
The column by Patty O'Connell was placed at the bottom of the op-ed page.

This particular column deserved to be placed on the ed page, directly under the political cartoon.

Robert Reich's column should have joined Kathleen Parker's on the op-ed page.

That is the very least the O'Connell family deserved. Michelle, too.

Such placement also would have made the entire ed page LOCAL.

Thank you.
Clara Waldhari

Friday, April 11, 2014

The whole world is watching St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID BERNARD HOAR"

The American Bar Association Journal has joined the Eleventh Circuit, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tne New York Times, PBS Frontline in exposing St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID BERNARD HOAR."

See below.

Soon the Cable News Network (CNN), Headline News Network (HLN) and NBC Dateline will weigh in.

The whole world is watching.

Sheriff SHOAR has brought shame on our community.

Sheriff SHOAR has violated civil and constitutional rights.

Sjeroff SHOAR has violated the reasonable expectations of privacy.

Sheriff SHOAR has violated the reasonable expectations of probity.

Sheriff SHOAR is lacking in all credibility -- a criminaloid personality, in the words of scholar Edwin Alvord Ross (1907).

Should Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR resign?

Should he be removed from office by Governor RICHARD SCOTT?

Should he be indicted by a federal grand jury?

You tell me.

What do you reckon?

American Bar Association Journal: 11th Circuit nixes immunity for sheriff’s officers who recorded attorney-client conversation

Constitutional Law
11th Circuit nixes immunity for sheriff’s officers who recorded attorney-client conversation
Posted Apr 11, 2014 5:50 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

Upholding an earlier summary judgment ruling by a trial judge, a federal appeals court has held that two Florida law enforcement officers who secretly watched and recorded an attorney-client meeting violated the Fourth Amendment and can be held liable in a federal civil rights suit.

Rejecting a qualified immunity argument, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held Tuesday that the St. John's County sheriff's officers can be sued personally because their conduct violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, among other constitutional prohibitions, Courthouse News reports.

The civil rights suit by attorney Anne Marie Gennusa and her then-client, Joel Studivant, also alleged violation of the Federal Wiretap Act.

At issue in the case is a June 2009 meeting in a room in the sheriff's office. Initially, a sheriff's detective interviewed Studivant about a possible misdemeanor violation of a domestic violence injunction. When the detective left the room, Gennusa and Studivant discussed the case, eventually agreeing that he would not complete a sworn written statement he had originally agreed to prepare.

Unbeknownst to the two, a hidden camera was recording their meeting, and sheriff's officers were monitoring it. Studivant was not under arrest, there was no search warrant, no signs warned of possible surveillance and the two had not been told their conversation could be recorded, the appeals court explains in its written opinion (PDF)

When a detective came back into the room and demanded the draft statement, the two refused to provide it. The detective then grabbed it, as instructed by a supervisor, allegedly breaking Gennusa's fingernail while doing so.

While the appeals court suggested that an exigent circumstances exception might conceivably have applied to the seizure of the draft statement under other circumstances, the sheriff's officers failed to meet their burden of proving it, the opinion states.

"The monitoring and recording of the privileged attorney-client conversations between Mr. Studivant and Ms. Gennusa, without notice and without a warrant, violated their clearly established Fourth Amendment rights," the 11th Circuit concluded. "So too, on this record, did the warrantless seizure of Mr. Studivant’s written statement from Ms. Gennusa."

B. McLeod
Apr 11, 2014 7:12 AM CDT
Officers making spur-of-the-moment, uncounseled decisions, versus a suspect represented by counsel, making a counseled decision.
There is a lesson here.
Apr 11, 2014 9:23 AM CDT
Is the lesson that unlike the other thousand times a day this exact thing happens, someone proved it this time?
Walter Fricke
Apr 11, 2014 2:51 PM CDT
I’ve known some police officers who were simply brilliant. Smarter than me, anyway.
And I have known some who were dumb as posts. The good ones in this category compensated just fine. Others, whether a bit down on the IQ scale or not, did not and ended up doing things like these officers.
Without reading the opinion I am sure it is well founded, and wasn’t hard for the judges: how could any police officer not be aware of the attorney-client privilege at a minimum, and know that this kind of secret spying just wouldn’t fly. Cops don’t have to like lawyers, but they have to respect their role.
Ed Slavin
Apr 11, 2014 8:38 PM CDT
This same St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department has a sordid history of lawbreaking, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance. It includes a maladroit, conflicted, incurious investigation of the September 2, 2010 death of a deputy’s girlfriend in the deputy’s house with the deputy’s gun—a case from which Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR should have recused himself ab initio. That case is well-documented by The New York Times and PBS Frontline:
Ed Slavin
Apr 11, 2014 8:38 PM CDT
This same St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department has a sordid history of lawbreaking, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasonce. It includes a maladroit, conflicted, incurious investigation of the September 2, 2010 death of a deputy’s girlfriend in the deputy’s house with the deputy’s gun—a case from which Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR should have recused himself ab initio. That case is well-documented by The New York Times and PBS Frontline:
Ed Slavin
Apr 11, 2014 8:38 PM CDT
This same St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department has a sordid history of lawbreaking, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance. It includes a maladroit, conflicted, incurious investigation of the September 2, 2010 death of a deputy’s girlfriend in the deputy’s house with the deputy’s gun—a case from which Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR should have recused himself ab initio. That case is well-documented by The New York Times and PBS Frontline:
Apr 11, 2014 8:41 PM CDT
This incident took place in my county, St. Johns, Florida. It is a small county with approximately 250 sworn officers. The citizens here live in fear of a Sheriff’s Department that is out of control. The symptoms of it’s sickness have been many over the past ten years, including a suspected homicide by an officer that was determined by Deputies to be a suicide (2010 query New York Times article 2014 or Frontline PBS television show 2014 under “Sheriff Shoar”), racially motivated beat-downs in the black community (the Fourth Street incident- $250,000 settlement paid by the Sheriff), allegations of obstruction of Justice by the Sheriff in U.S. v. Tom Manual (query The St. Augustine Record, “Sheriff Shoar”), and the list goes on. This latest debacle is just one more symptom of incompetent management failing to safeguare the citizens of this county. That a law enforcement agency would not only tolerate blatent constitutional abuse, but encourage it, undermines the liberty of all of us and is a stain of disgrace to the millions that have fallen in an attempt to preserve our freedoms. Today we are forced to once again hang our heads in shame in St. Johns County, recognizing that decisions such as this one condem our Sheriff’s Department, its management staff, their abusive illegal tactics and their continued efforts to control my neighbors, a cowering public at best, through illegal procedure, abuseful policy, fear, intimidation and bullying.

April 11, 2005

Nine years ago tonight, on April 11, 2005, I spoke for the very first time to the St. Augustine City Commission. I spoke three times. I pointed out an illegal annexation and a pervasive practice of violations of the Fifteenth Amendment to our United States Constitution -- diluting Afrcan-American voting strength from some 25% to 12% since 1964.
It was the first time I had ever attended a St. Augustine government meeting since moving here in 1999.
It was the first time I had attended a local government meeting anywhere in some 21 years.
(I once covered such meetings regularly, in East Tennessee, before law school.)

The “Unwelcome Wagon” was very much in evidence that night.

In fact, immediately after the meeting, St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM BRUCE. HARRISS approached me, did not introduce himself, did not shake my hand, and said, “I could have you arrested for disorderly conduct!” (Ms. Sue Neely corroborated what HARRIS said; she signed an affidavit)

The words hang in my ears, nine years later: “I could have you arrested for disorderly conduct!” Now that's an icebreaker, as William F. Buckley, Jr. once said (about the first words Ayn Rand ever spoke to him).

WILLIAM BRUCE HARRISS a/k/a “WILL HARASS” did not like me very much. HARRISS never did shake my hand.

HARRIS is gone now, replaced by new, enlightened management in the City (while HARRISS has been sitting since mid-2010 at the right hand of rightist Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, giving the High Sheriff of St. Johns County emetic, execrable, extralegal advice that has embarrassed our community in the eyes of the entire world). See below.

WILLIAM HARRISS a/k/a “HARASS” did not deter my protected activity. His words have inspired me, and other activists to organize. Since 2005, activists have been winning victory after victory, to paraphrase the words of the “war prayer” of General George S. Patton, Jr., “crushing the wickedness and oppression of our enemies, bringing God's justice to the world.” In the past nine years, democracy has been on the march. Citizen activists in St. Augustine have won a few victories:
1.Cleanup of city's illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste in the Old City Reservoir by consent decree.
2.Cleanup of city's former contaminated landfill at the end of Riberia Street by consent decree.
3.Cleanup of city's sewage dumping in saltwater marsh at south end of Lincolnville by consent decree.
4.Proper paving of Riberia Street for the first time in St. Augustine history.
5.Shutdown and prosecution of M&M Market at 102 Bridge Street (regional crack cocaine market).
6.Protection of neighborhoods from tree-killing, wetland-destroying orgies by greedy, oleagnous, oligopolistic ogres like ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD.
7.Two civil rights monuments in our Slave Market Square.
8.The city's "Journey" African-American history VIC exhibit.
9.Rainbow flags on Bridge of Lion, by federal court order, vindicating GLBT rights under the First Amendment and Equal Protection.
10.Protection of visual artists, by federal court order, vindicating First Amendment rights
11.Adding "sexual orientation" as protected class in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach Fair Housing ordinances.
12.Employment nondiscrimination ordinance for both government and private employment in St. Augustine Beach.
13.Equal pension benefits for survivors of Gay and Lesbian St. Augustine retired employees.
14.Defeat of ugly 1930-style spec building next to St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica.
15.Protection of historic homes from FSDB eminent domain pushed by histrionic Rep. WILLIAM L. PROCTOR.
16.Rejecting 7-Eleven and twelve gasoline pumps at May and San Marco.
17.Cancellation of $1.8 million no-bid mosquito control helicopter by Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County.
18.Ending rampant Sunshine and Open Records violations by local governments.
19.Cancellation of illegal $25,000 Sunshine violating "business" trip by four Commissioners to Spain.
20.Ending illegal First America Foundation (covert operation given $275,000 of city funds to run 450th celebration), winning refund of most of money.
21.Defeating proposed County Charter (twice), that would have been almost impossible to amend, while leaving out equal rights for GLBT people, omitted an Ombuds and Inspector General, allowed takeover of local governments and would not be a charter of freedom for limited government but a ticket to permanent one-party rule.
22.Halting retaliatory efforts to fire St. Augustine Beach policemen and delegate law enforcement to Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR.
23.Resolutions opposing offshore oil drilling by St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach.
24.Resolutions opposing offshore sonar exploration by St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County.
25.Exposure of Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR's mendacity, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance by New York Times and PBS Frontline.
26.Initiation of a diverse St. Augustine "visioning" committee in the Sunshine.
27.Designation of St. Augustine as a “Compassionate City,” first in Florida and twentieth in the world.
28.Encouraging diversity, equality and human rights.
29. Successful federal criminal prosecution of THOMPSON BROTHERS REALTY for hte October 10, 2001 cutting down of a bald eagle nest tree by speculator-developer PIERRE THOMPSON, grandson of the founder of the St. AUGuSTINE RECORD.
30. Encouraging governmen officials to do the right thing. Before I ever even attended my first St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting, one of the Commissioners reportedly said during a meeting, "It's a good thing Ed Slavin's not here."
We, the People, are everywhere! Empowered and powerful, our leaders are listening.
As the estimable late St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM POMAR once reportedly said, “the Bohemians have won.”

In John Winthrop's words, we are building a “shining city on a hill.”

We look forward to sharing our Nation's Oldest City with Pope Francis next year, as we show off St. Augustine's natural beauty and history to the world.

There's more to do to preserve and protect what matters – the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. See

Here in St. Augustine, Florida, we stand up for our rights, and we take care of our own.

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

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Justice for Michelle O'Connell -- NBC News Dateline Program Airs on April 18, 2014 (Passover and Good Friday evening)

God forgive Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR.
Sheriff SHOAR ran as a reformer.
He looks like a crook.
Sheriff SHOAR wears religion on his sleeve, holding prayer meetings at work.
He needs to pray for forgiveness.
His crimes, torts and sins have found him out.
Today, he was just found (again) to have violated two citizens' Fourth Amendment righs, after mocking their lawsuit as "frivolous."
SHOAR's appeal was frivolous -- there was not even a damage award, and he wasted money appealing from a declaratory judgment about our Fourth Amendment and Wiretap Act rights.
SHOAR's detectives illegally taped attorney-client meetings.
The one trial and three appeals judges who found he violated civil rights include three Republican appointees (of Presidents Reagan and both Bushes).
Wiretapping attorneys and clients at SJCSO was allegedly long-term policy.
The coverup of the Michelle O'Connell case will soon be featured on two more tv networks -- CNN and NBC.
On Friday, April 18th (Good Friday and Passover), Sheriff Shoar will again be examined by investigative reporters with a gimlet eye.
He already flunked the laugh test when he refused to go on-camera for PBS/Frontline and refused to be interviewed by the New York Times.
The whole world is watching.

St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County Commissioners Oppose Sonar Oil Exploration

The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners and St. Augustine Beach City Commission have both gone on record opposing dangerous sonar oil exploration, which killed 100 whales off Madagasgar last year.
Oil companies own the U.S. Department of the Interior.the technology is dangerous and should be halted.
The vote at SAB last night was unanimous, at the request of realtor Pat Hamilton, who reminded them that our tourist economy will be ruined if offshore oil drilling is allowed here, where 350 endangered North Atlantic right whales have their babies every winter (this is their winter calving grounds).
Only a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore will firmly draw a "line in the sand" against offshore oil drilling, as Environmental Impact Statements will have to say "sensitive areas -- yes -- St. Augustine Naional Historial Park and National Seashore."

St, Augustine Beach Opposes Water Grab by Orlando

St. Augustine Beach Commissioners voted last night to oppose St. Johns River Water Management District Plans to allow an extravagant withdrawal of water from our river for wasteful urban water users in Orlando. Conservation will be emphasized in a letter to be sent to SJRWMD.

St. Augustine Beach Violates Purchasing Policy

St. Augustine Beach City Commissioners voted unanimously last night to violte their city purchasing policy, which requires competitive bidding. They did so at the behest of Police Chief obert Harddwick, who wants a new $125,000, five year telephone system to replace the archaic NEC system.
Ineptly, Commissioners expressed concerns about public safety.
Nothing about lawbreaking.
How quaint.
The phone system has been decrepit forever.
There was no urgency, only empty rhetoric.
No sealed competitive bids were sought.
Only "quotes."
St. Augustine Beach has no Purchasing Agent.
St. Augustine Beach has a City Manager who falls asleep in meetings.
St. Augustine Beach has a police chief who got the gig on recommendation of Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, tortfeasors who badly botched the investigation of the shooting death of Michelle O'Connell. Chief Hardwick was the chief investigator fot the State's Attorney and was involved in the O'Connell case.
The no-bid WINDSTREAM telephone deal proposed by Chief Hardwick is illegal.
It is unseemly.
An illegal no-bid contract will be presented to Commissioners at their meeting next month.
The illegal contract may only be for three years instead of five.
That does not resolve the violation of the city purchasing policy, which requires bids on all contracts of $10,000 and above.
The illegal no-bid contract will be presented by City Attorney Douglas Nelson Burnett, son of the former Commanding General of the Florida National Guard, whose law firm (and attorney James George Whitehose) also represents a clutch of ethically-impaired developers, including one that wants to stick a 7-Eleven at the intersection of May and San Marco in our historic St. Augustine downtown.
City of St. Augustine Police Chief Hardwick, St. Augustine Beach City Manager Max Royle, St. Augustine Beach City Attorney Douglas Nelson Burnett, St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels, Vice Mayor Richard O'Brien, Commissioners Brud Helhoski, Undine Pawlowski and Sherman Gary Snodgrass --
you all have delusions of adequacy.
Does your conscience bother you?
Just say "no" to illegal, no-bid contracts.
No more.
Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.
Enough waste, fraud and abuse.
Enough misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.
Bids means bids, not quotes.

Lifeguard Fundraiser Lacked Permits

A recent fundraiser for charity by St. Johns County lifeguards had no permits, St. Augustine Beach Police Chief Robert Hardwick revealed last night. They had and moved bear kegs to several outdoor locations. No charges were brought, he told City of St. Augustine Beach Commissioners at their monthly meeting last night.

Sheriff's Office Loses Appeal -- Called Civil Rights Case By Attorney Gennusa "Most Frivolous" He'd Ever Seen

The St. Johns County Sheriff's office violated Fourth Amendment rights of an attorney and her client by listening in to their private conversations in an interview room and stealing a document from the attorney's hands.
So ruled the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in a decision posted earlier today.
At issue were our Federal Wiretap Act and our Fourth Amendment.
The case was brught by attorney Anne Marie Gennusa and her client, Joel Sutrdivant, who were both represented by Jacksonville attorney William Sheppard, Bruan DeMaggio, Matthew Kachergus and Elizabeth Louis White.
When an attorney and a client are speaking in an interview room and the client is not charged with the crime, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy: listening in is a violation of the Fourth Anendment, a civil rights violation. When an attorney is holding a statement and a deputy grabs it out of her hand, that's a civil rights violation, too.
So ruled United States District Court Judge Timothy Corrigan in 2012.
So ruled the United States Court of Appeals today in Atlanta.
The only surprising thing about today's ruling is that our St. Johns County Sheriff, DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and lawyers JOHN JOLLY and MATTHEW CLINE bothered to appeal on behalf of THOMAS MARMO and BRIAN CANOVA.
The trial court awarded no money damages, only injunctive relief and attorney fees.
This appeal was a waste of the public fisc.
Sheriff SHOAR is ethically impaired.
Sheriff SHOAR had termed this the "most frivolous lawsuit" he'd "ever seen."
Sheriff SHOAR had stated, "It is cases like these that cause members of the public to be very critica of the effetivness of our civil justice system in America."
No Sheriff SHOAR, it is crooked cranky Sheriffs like you.
And all your works and pomps.
And all your camp followers.
And all your scared deputies, who do evil to keep their jobs.
It is also the current and former members of your Department, who long posted hate speech on the St. Augustine Record, its Talk of the Town website, and on MICHAEL GOLD's and
What a lugubrious goober. SHOAR knows not that he knows not that he knows not, and he's been elected thrice, twice without opposition, because our somnolent, somnambulistic St. Johns County Democratic Party, not unlike our St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, is reminiscent of Jimmy Breslin's "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight."
This same Sheriff refused to recuse himself on November 2-3, 2010, when Deputy Jeremy Banks' girlfriend, Michelle O'Connell, was found shot to death with his service pistol. Supervising an investigation that was a stench in the nostrils of the Nation, Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR pronounced it a "suicide."
SHOAR is a criminal, and his credibility is in shreds.
The trial curt decision was written by U.S. Distridt Judge Timothy Corrigan, appointed by Presideent G.W. Bush in 2002.
The appeals decision was written by Senior Judge Joel F. Dubina of Alabama, who was appointed a District Judge by President Reagan and an Appeals Judge by President G.H.W.Bush.
The appeals decision was joinned in by:
Senior Judge Emmett Ripley Cox, appointed by President Reagan and is a native of Cottonwood, Alabama; and
Judge Adalberto Jordan, a former federal prosecutor, former U.S. District Judge in Miami and was appointed by President Obama in 2012; he was born in Cuba and clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
A federal grand jury needs to investigate Shoar's civil rights violations.
The whole world is watching.
CNN and NBC News Dateline are next.

Monday, April 07, 2014

IN HAEC VERBA: My April 1, 2014 E-mail letter re: Civility at St Augustine Beach City Commission meetings

No response to date -- they must all agree!

April 1, 2014
Subject: Civil procedure at City Commission meetings in St. Augustine Beach

Dear Mayor Samuels, Vice Mayor O'Brien, Commissioners Pawlowski, Snodgrass and Helhoski and Mr. Royle:
Here are ten (10) modest suggestions for improving civility at all future St. Augustine Beach City Commission meetings.
1. Answer all citizen questions, as was the practice under Mayor Snodgrass for two (2) years, through city staff, at conclusion of public comment, before any other business.
2. Never interrupt citizen speakers again.
3. Hold all your questions until a speaker is finished.
4. Respect equal rights. "Three minutes" should apply equally to all public speakers, including corporate lobbyists, corporate real estate speculators/developers, and corporate salesmen, including lobbyists and salesmen seeking illegal, no-bid sweetheart government contacts. Otherwise, kindly abolish or modify your putative "three minute" rule, which appears to have fallen into desuetude by default (e.g., ATS, Windstream and other corporate speakers).
5. Don't roll yours eyes, glare, sneer, slouch in your chair, look at the ceiling, look away, look at your PDA or otherwise show disrespect for any speaker, or for each other.
6. Don't interrupt each other, or show disrespect, or act like either public speakers or your colleagues are bothersome pests.
7. Don't add important items to the agenda after it is posted on the SAB website. Do timely share all pertinent documents with the public.
8. Don't hold or delay important matters until late in the evening.
9. Do treat all citizens and each other with dignity, respect and consideration (i.e., please don't screech at each other, and please, don't ever fall asleep again, Mr. Royle, as you have written in your monthly newspaper columns that you frequently do during City Commission meetings).
10. Do not, when citizens' three minutes expire, ever again bark "time's up!" That impolite custom, in both our county BCC and SAB meetings, makes our government leaders look small, gauche and louche. A polite, sincere and appreciative "thank you" is both desired and required.
Citizens must not be treated as "outsiders."
Do you all agree?
May we have your thoughts, please?
Please call to discuss.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Ed Slavin

Saturday, March 29, 2014

St. Augustine Record Letter: "'Oh thank heaven" for no 7-Eleven )March 29, 2014)

By Ed Slavin
St. Augustine

St. Augustine's history and way of life were preserved and protected Monday, March 24, when City Commissioners rejected an appeal by a dodgy developer to stick a 7-Eleven at the heavily congested May Street and San Marco Avenue intersection.

In the words of 7-Eleven's own registered trademark, “Oh thank heaven!” ® History has been preserved, as well as safety and our small town values and way of life. History has been made.

City Planning Director Mark Knight, HARB and Commission have now thrice upheld our Entry Corridor Guidelines over attacks by Wallace Devlin, whose counsel inaccurately told HARB there were “no sidewalks” in front of the property, which the speculator promised to turn into retail stores to replace those bulldozed on that promise. Devlin is the failed developer of the bankrupt Sebastian Inner Harbor Project, which still stands flat, after years of unkept, unsworn promises to build a Westin Hotel.

7-Eleven is a publicly-held, government-regulated Japanese multinational corporation. Write, call and tell the Japanese and U.S. governments to tell 7-Eleven to drop this inanity. Does Japan want its “contribution” to our 450th commemoration to be twelve gasoline pumps and destruction of our historic downtown? Please contact:

Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-328-2187 (fax)

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy
U.S. Embassy in Japan
Unit 9800 Box 300
APO AP 96303-0300
011-81-3-3505-1862 (fax)

Shirley & Wallace Devlin, Sr.
First City Development LLC
7518 Albert Tillinghhast Drive
Sarasota, Florida 34240

James George Whitehouse
Douglas Nelson Burnett
St. Johns Law Group
509 Anastasia Blvd.
St. Augustine, Florida 32080

St. Augustine residents are united in preserving our history, nature and beauty. Environmental and historic preservation and heritage and eco-tourism are our future – not ugly buildings and sprawl. . For more, please see

Friday, March 28, 2014

Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., U.S.N., U.S. Senate, R.I.P.

Admiral Jeremiah Denton died today.
Admiral Jeremiah Denton was a Vietnam war hero.
After his bomber was shot down, Admiral Denton was incarcerated by North Vietnam for seven years and seven months.
He was tortured.
He was starved.
He survived.
He told the truth on national television, under the noses of his sadistic North Vietnamese torturer-captors.
On May 17, 1966, Admiral Denton used Morse Code to spell out the word "Torture" before television cameras when he was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese.
Admiral Denton devised a system of coughs, sneezes and sniffs to communicate with his fellow incarcerated Amercan Prisoners of War (POWs).
Since POWs suffered chronic illness in drafty and vermin-ridden cells, the North Vietnamese never caught on that coughs, sneezes and sniffs were their way of communicating with one another.
Admiral Denton was the most senior POW, and the first off the plane in 1973. He wrote When Hell Was in Session, later made into a TV movie starring Hal Holbrook.
Confined in cells as small as a refrigerator, Admiral Denton survived. He would have despaired had he known his incarceration would last seven years and seven months, but he said: "It was one minute at a time, one hour, one week, one year and so on. If you look at it like that, anybody can do anything."
Later, Admiral Denton was elected to the United States Senate from Alabama as a Republican, the first one elected from Alabama in 112 years.
Senator Jeremiah Denton worked to enact abstinence-education legislation, working with Senator Ted Kennedy, my first boss, intending to prevent teen pregnancies.
In December, 2005, I had the honor of interviewing the retired Admiral and former Senator Admiral Denton for Out in the City, the GLBTQ newspaper then published in Jacksonville, Florida.
What a wonderful man he was -- I was honored to interview him.
I telephoned Admiral Denton while writing an investigative cover story about bigoted anti-Gay policy that was adopted by Clay County School Board in 1992.
The article was called "Farenheit 4.51: Clay County's Culture War" (January 2006).
The offensive anti-Gay Clay COunty, Florida School Board policy stated, and still states today, in haec verba: "Any instruction on homosexuality shall occur only in conjunction with instruction on sexually transmitted diseases."
The policy is word-for-word identical to one adopted in a Washington State school board. It is similar to those adopted in other redneck and peckerwood jurisdictions where intolerance rules, and the First Amendment Establishment Clause is violated, and Article VI, cl. 3 of the U.S. Constitution is disobeyed ("no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.")
The policy, Clay County School Board Policy 4.51(C)(3)(c), would even prohibit a teacher from saying anything supportive to a Gay student contemplating suicide.
Since suicide rates among Gay and Lesbian teenagers are thrice that of heterosexual teenagers, the effect of the Clay County School Board policy is cruel, sadistic and ultimately anti-life as well as anti-Gay.
The policy was adopted at the behest of bigoted extremists in Clay County, who attempted to blame abstinence education policies for their backwoods backward Nuremberg Law.
Admiral Denton, the former U.S. Senator who sponsored abstinence education, told me that they were lying. Abstinence education was about preventing pregnancy, not about marginalizing Gays and Lesbians.
As a former Navy Admiral, former U.S. Senator and devout Roman Catholic, Jeremiah Denton was outraged. He quickly told me that Clay County School Board members were clearly lying to me.
The legislative history of the abstinence-education bill had nothing to do with homosexuality. It was about preventing teen pregnancy.
Thus, I had the story of the School Board's mendacious savagery from the abstinence-education law sponsor's own voice: Clay County School Board members were lying (just like the School Board members in Pennsylvania who adopted "Intelligent Design" based on theocracy).
There was some awkwardness on my part. I wasn't sure whether to call him "Admiral" or "Senator," or both. Jeremiah Denton quickly solved that problem.
"Just call me Jerry," Admiral/Senator Jeremiah Denton said to me after just a few minutes.
We stayed in touch, and he asked for, and I offered, a few modest suggstions on how to pass federal legislation to make it easier for shipping companies to export food aid to the hungry worldwide, giving them tax relief.
President Ronald Reagan was right -- Jeremiah Denton was "a true treasure."
Admiral Denton was a true patriot, who helped me expose the bigotry of Clay County School Board members against GLBTQ students.
He reminds me of what former St. Augustine City Commissioner William Leary said in response to the Ku Klux Klan on December 10, 2012, in adopting Fair Housing ordinance amendment banning "sexual orientation" discrimination. Commissioner Leary said, "I was elected to make secular decisions."
A deeply religious man, Admiral Denton respected separation of Church and State.
We shall miss him, and others like him who served in Congress and spoke their minds, and served in Vietnam, "when Hell was in session."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pope Francis' possible itinerary in St. Augustine, Florida for September 2015

Reliable sources inform me that Pope Francis' likely itinerary in St. Augustine in September 2015 might include:
1. Land at airport (likely Jacksonville, but St. Augustine Airport is 7000 feet long and could also land the Pope's 747).
2. Papal helicopter to Bayfront parking lot at St. Francis Barracks (home of Florida National Guard and former a Franciscan montastery).
3. Papal motorcade along our Bayfront, Avenida Menendez and San Marco Avenue to the site of First Roman Catholic Mass in U.S. (September 8, 1565).
4. Papal procession through our City Gates with holy relic of St. Francis (finger bone).
5. Papal visit to Cathdral Basilica of St. Augustine.
6. Papal visit to St. Francis House (small homeless shelter).
And, quite possibly, we hope:
7. Dedication of statute of St. Francis on privately owned land on or near our beach, perhaps next to a bird sanctuary, near our future St. Augustine National Historical Park and Natoinal Seashore.
8. Outdoor Mass for as many as one million people at a site combining County Fairgrounds, St. Ambrose Catholic Church grounds and adjoining 100 acre sod farm, made possible by logistical genius of St. Augustine City Comptroller Mark Litzigner and City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E., proven beyond peradventure during Mumford & Sons concert in September 2013 -- with assistance of other goernment agencies, including Sheriff David Shoar and Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County Commissioner Jeanne Moeller (making the Mass site mosquito-proof).
We can do this, St. Augustine!

Leonard Pitts, Jr. Advice to Pope Francis on How to Promote Healing

Last night, columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. spoke at Flagler College. I asked him how Pope Francis might promote healing when he visits here in St. Augustine next year.
Mr. Pitts said he loves the pope and his talking about poverty and condemning bigotry.
Mr. Pitts replied Pope Francis could promote healing by talking about race and condemning renascent racism.
Mr. Pitts said that if Pope Francis did that, he'd "become a Catholic!"

Ending Blight

Commercial property owners who have left empty sign structures on their properties for decades will now have to tear them down. City Commission voted unanimously to give them six months to remove them, seek an extension for good cause, or be fined $250/day.
Enough ugliness from insouciant property owners. We need to spiff up St. Augustine for the 450th, and make it shine before Pope Francis arrives. Yes we can!

Equal Pension Benefits Victory Unmentioned by Chain Gang Journalists

Two days ago, the City of St. Augustine enacted on second reading an ordinance providing for equal survivor's pension benefits for partners of Gay and Lesbian city employees. The vote was again unanimous.
Credit goes to Commissioner Donald Crichlow, who said, "it's the right thing to do." As the Pope would say, "Who am I to judge?"
Credit goes to City Manager John Regan, Assistant City Manager Timothy Burchfiled, the General Pension Board, Vice Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline, Commissioners Leanna Freeman
It would be nice if we had a local newspaper that would report such news about progress on GLBTQ rights and employee rights, instead of an emetic diet of dull news automobile wrecks, and Reichwing PR pap, and crime in Jacksonville.
We are transforming our town before our eyes, but the recently transplanted Louisana native publisher and South Carolina editor of the St. Augustine WRecKord are otherwise occupied, with their noses in the air, too busy errantly firing older workers in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Unadorned by irony, one talented reporter was fired during Sunshine Week in retalation for First Amendment protected activity, pressured by County officials.
As Abbie Hoffman said, apparently quoting A.J. Liebling (see comment below), evidently "freedom of the press is for those who own one."
What do you reckon?

Victory Over 7-Eleven

I am inspired by the 2-2 victory Monday night over 7-ELEVEN before the St. Augustine City Commission, affirming hte February HARB 4-0 decision.
The air in the City Commission was warm, and in FDR's words at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in 1944 (a rally my mother attended): "I felt the crowd, and it warmed me."
Upon re-entering the room after the recess, I said, "It's warm in here," to which 7-ELEVEN lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE sad, "hot air."
WHITEHOUSE should know. See below for account of HARB hearing, rejecting 7-ELEVEN's plan to destroy our historic downtown with twelve gas pumps at its busiest intersection, rated an F by FDOT.
(more later).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Another possible OIDV shooting, more delays by RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, Florida 7th Circuit State's Attorney? No charging decision in Flagler County shooting case for 642 days. Why?

Jimmy Breslin once wrote a book about a New York organized crime family, called The Gang That Coulnldn't Shoot Straight.

The political machine in St. Johns County and Northeast Florida is in the national spotlight -- New York Times, PBS Frontline, CNN, NBC Dateline -- a slow-moving, slow-thinking anaconda "caught in the headlights" (no deer here).

Our political machine is being watched worldwide. Why? Due to its loutish lawmen's mendacious mishandling of the September 2, 2010 shooting of Ms. Michelle O'Connell, the girlfriend of St. Johns County Sheriff's Deputy JEREMY BANKS. That investigation was botched by St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, State's Attorney BRADLEY KING, and Medical Examiner PREDRAG BULIC.

Now we learn that yet another law enforcement officer's criminal investigation may have been botched by RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, State's Attorney for the 7th Judicial District.

On July 20, 2012, 642 days ago -- more than 20 months ago -- Ms. Kathy McDonald, wife of Flagler Beach police officer Robert McDonald, was found shot in the temple.

She survived.

She is blind for life.

She lives in a Daytona Beach rehabilitation center.

Her husband has moved to East Tennessee.

Yesterday's Daytona Beach News-Journal (March 23, 2014) reported on the case, under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

This is yet another case from which RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA did not recuse himself, despite the fact that the officer in quo is one whose cases his office prosecutes. LARIZZA recused himself from the Michelle O'Connell case only after months of fiddling.

State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA needs to hire a criminal defense lawyer. NOW.

RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA must answer for his desuetude of law enforcement. NOW.

RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA famously ducked and refused to answer questions from The New York Times and PBS Frontline.

RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA must now answer questions -- or invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination -- before a Federal Grand Jury under questioning by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and Criminal Division. So must Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, State's Attorney KING and PREDRAG BULIC -- for their mishandling of the Michelle O'Connell case.

RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA also needs to answer for his delays in the McDonald case -- a slow speed chase for 642 days -- 20 months?

Failure to charge the husband with the shooting when the wife told the Daytona Beach newspaper that she was shot while doing laundry? Why?

Taking his word for it that it was an attempted suicide? Why?

The Daytona Beach newspaper interviewed the victim, Ms. MdDonald who said she was shot while doing laundry. Why was she not allowed to testify before a grand jury?

Her husband, Robert McDonald, now lives in Tennessee, having been paid while on leave and is now retired. The Daytona Beach newspaper reports he was fired from another police department and involved in alleged prior domestic violence cases elsewhere, and quotes a former spouse about his pulling a knife on her.

Michelle O'Connell is dead. Kathy McDonald is blind for life, lying in a nursing home in Daytona Beach. RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA thinks he and officers are above the law.

It strongly appears that our dodgy -- and apparently ineffectual, incompetent and perhaps sexist and misogynistic -- State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA delays and delays and delays when a police officer may be involved in domestic violence.

A former law enforcement officer, LARIZZA was elected with law enforcement support.

RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA's office won't prosecute official government misconduct cases.
I asked for a list last year of any such cases it ever brought: none were provided.

Is RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA's office truly "the gang that couldn't shoot straight," ignoring the sacred American legal motto carved in marble on the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.: "Equal Justice Under Law?"

Our one-party political machine here in Northeast Florida does not respect human rights. It works for developers -- "Temple Destroyers" who have clear-cut trees and destroyed wetlands in the name of greed.

In 2008, RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA and members of his law office performed at St. Augustine High School in "St Johns Got Talent," a benefit performance. They dressed in police uniforms, as they lyp-synced to the song, "Bad to the Bone." At the conclusion of the song, LARIZZA jumped from the stage, winning the contest, but breaking his leg. RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA was elected State's Attorney later that year, and was re-elected in 2012.

Our "Bad to the Bone" St. Johns County and regional political machine reflexively covers up crimes. St. Johns County was long considered the most corrupt county in Florida, under political bosses and caudillos like Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS.

Our "Bad to the Bone" political machine has no heart and no soul --it worships money, power and greed -- it is a stench in the nostrils of the Nation.

Alexander Hamilton wrote: "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parcmens or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity himself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."

Will there be justice for Michelle O'Connell?

Will there be justice for Kathy McDonald?

Will there be justice, and a Ddepartment of Justice investigation?

Will U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder immpanel a federal grand jury?

The whole world is watching.

What do you reckon?

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Congratulations, J.C. Costeira, St. Augustine's New Fire Chief

Yesterday, March 20th, was the first day of Spring. On March 20th, our new St. Augustine Fire Chief, Mr. J.C. Costeira was sworn in to office.
A longtime safety and health and union acivist with International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Losal Union No. 2282, Mr. Costeira was promoted to be Fire Chief by City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E.
Our Nation's Oldest City, under new management since 2010, now respects First Amendment and labor union protected actvity instad of insulting it.
Free democratic trade unions are now active participants here, just as theywere when there was a "Union Labor" arch over Cathedral Place about one century ago.
Elsewhere in St. Johns County, unions and union activists are persecuted and propagandized against. A prime offender is St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, which has actually wasted members' money and advertised on the Internet its anti-union animus and anti-worker Weltanschauung in seeking members and recruiting new businesses.
I hope that under Mr. Costeira's leadership, the St. Augustine Fire Department will become a great example of labor and management working together cooperatively for the benefit of all.
No more hare-brained schemes of moving the firehouse on Anastasia Island to please Pierre Thompson, whose property is located there. Kindly keep our firehouse where it is, near the residences and businesses on the Island.
I hope SAFD will support for a policy recommendation that the St. Augusitne City Commission agree to adhere by all OSHA standards, including Section 11(c).
Background: When JOHN EDWARD BUSH a/k/a "JEB BUSH" was Governor, Florida joined the ranks of some 24 states where government employees have no legal rights to safe workplaces.
BUSH pushed what Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis would have called "the race to the bottom."
Under BUSH, Florida OSHA was abolished, federal OSHA took over, and Florida's lethargic lackadaiscal lackey legislature stopped caring about government employees. Florida thus stopped protecting state, county, city and special taxing district employees' rights to job safety and healthy workplaces.
St. Augustine must take a stand -- we take care of our own workers. It starts now.
What do you reckon?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ben Rich Said It Best: Developers "Worse Than Any Carpetbaggers"

Ben Rich, our former County Commission Chairman, said it best: the developers who clear-cut our trees and destroy our wetlands here in St. Johns County are "worse than any carpet-bagger."
March 4, 2014, is a date that will live in history.
By 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) sad that the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower law protects all private sector whistleblowers who report concerns about fraud involving publicly-held companies, including lawyers and accountants. Jackie Hosang Lawson and Jonathan Zang v. FMR LLC d/b/a Fidelity Investments, Supreme Court Case No. 12-3, --- U.S. --- (March 4, 2014).
University of Washington Law Professor Eric Schnapper argued the case and won a total victory.
The Supreme Court likes whistleblowers. It usually rules for them. Disclosure of wrongdoing is favored under the law.
Corporate oligarchs are all worried about where the next whistleblower case will be filed, and against whom, and for what. Perhaps it might involve some of the publicly-held companies that may have been deluding investors with plans to build some 70,000 homes in St. Johns County, which compliant, obedient St. Johns County Commissioners voted to allow under the ancien regime.
Paying bribes and making false entries in books and accounts is covered by Sarbanes-Oxley, too.
So if anyone from Toll Brothers (TOL), KB Home (KBH), Ryland (RYL), DR Horton (DRH), Pulte (PLH), Lennar (LEN) or other tree-killing, clear-cutting, uglifying cheesy home builders are involved in possible wrongdoing in St. Johns County, let the fraudfeasors beware ("caveat vendor"). Let their accountants and lawyers blow the whistle on their misdeeds.
As it says in the Book of Isaiah, "You shall know the truth, and it will set you free."

Four Other-Directed Developer-Funded Political Bullies Try to Bully Two Reporters, One Commissioner and One Candidate

See below.
Tree-killing, wetland-destroying developers are "Temple Destroyers" out to destroy St. Augustine's and St. Johns County and their toadies can't stand the idea of candidates they don't own and control.
RACHAEL BENNETT thinks it is a breach of "protocol" to encourage people to participate in the political process. She posted a lying comment on the St. Augustine Record's website.
County Commission Chairman JOHN H. "JAY" MORRIS, JR., Commissioner CINDI STEVENSON, Commissioner RONALD LEE SANCHEZ and Commissioner RACHAEL BENNETT -- four (4) out of five (5) County Commissioners tried March 18-20, 2014 sought to intimidate two (2) reporters, two (2) news outlets, one (1) Commissioner and one (1) candidate (Peter Guinta, Michael Gold, St. Augustine Record, Historic City News, William McClure and Daniel Abel).
The intimidation is partly on videotape. More is on the Record's website. More is in documents and telephone calls.
The FBI might wish to subpoena the tape and investigate possible criminal civil rights violations under color of law. 18 U.S.C. 241.
See below.

IN HAEC VERBA: County Comissioner RACHAEL BENNETT, a/k/a "PRISCILLA BENNETT" Chills Free Speech Rights With Post on St. Augustine Record Threatening Morgan Stanley Employee Daniel Abel, Historic City News Owner Michael Gold, Commissioner William McClure and St. Augustine Record Reporter Peter Guinta

Rachael Bennett 03/19/14 - 08:51 am 44
Setting the Record straight

The article contains several errors, and a misrepresentation (sic) of statement (sic). The article incorrectly (sic) states (twice) that Commissioner Morris was told that Michael Gold recruited Dan Abel to run, when in fact Commissioner Morris was very clear that he was told that Commissioner Bill McClure recruited Abel.
Commissioner Morris also said that Michael Gold runs a media service, not a video service (as stated in the article).
It should have been clear to the reporter that my concern was not public access to secured areas, but the fact that the members of the public were neither escorted nor supervised while in that secured area. The edited quote is a misrepresentation of my concern.

It is a shame that Mr. Abel has been caught in this controversy. I know nothing of his character and will not jump to a conclusion. I know that he works for a company that is sensitive to the potentially polemic nature of a political campaign, and would not want his career to suffer. McClure did no one a favor by ignoring protocol and acting irresponsibly.

Let's be clear: Access to the building by the public is encouraged. The proclamations, the art show openings, the 4H and IFAS displays, etc. invite and celebrate the presence of the general public in the building.
Consider, though... There are secured areas for a reason. Nearly every location has them. For instance, the business office and storeroom area in a store are 'secure areas'. In any organization or any situation, access by the public to a secured or otherwise restricted area is controlled for a reason. Common sense should make it clear that purposely allowing unescorted presence by the public in a secured area is contrary to protocol.
My point was that it did not matter who the players were, what mattered and still matters is that members of the public should be escorted (or supervised, in the case of an intern, for example) when in a secured area. Not a politically motivated concept. Not rocket science. Just common sense.

Message to the Record: Please be careful to 1) get facts straight, and 2)make sure that quotes convey the entire idea expressed. It makes a difference.

Record Runs Incorrect Correction After Political Pressure From Rebarbative Republicans

Republican County Commissioner RACHEL BENNETT a/k/a "PRISCILLA BENNETT" posted on the the St. Augustine Record, falsely claiming hat BOCC Chairman JOHN H. "JAY" MORRIS, JR. did not state that Historic City News Owner MICHAEL GOLD recruited Danel Abel to run for County Commission.
View the videotape, agenda item 9 on the County Commission website.
In response, Record Editor KATHY NELSON materially altered Peter Guinta's accurate news story, posting a "correction" that made the article inaccurate.
Earlier today, I called Mr. Guinta, Ms. Nelson and Record Publisher Delinda Fogel to point out the fact that the Record has posted a "corretion" that makes Mr. Guinta's article inaccurate.
I am still waiting for a response.
To recap:
First St. Johns County Commission Chairman MORRIS made threatening remarks about First Amendment protected activity by Commissioner William McClure and MICHAEL GOLD, the owner of an online viewspaper, HISTORIC CITY NEWS.
Then the Record truthfully reported the news, in a front page news story.
Now the Record's Editor has hacked its own website, posting a correction in response to political pressure -- a correction that is inaccurate.
Talk about shameful!

Frog Spring

Today is the first day of Spring, and if you will listen at night, there are more frogs than there were here before Jeanne Moeller was elected to the board of the Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County in 2006. That's because under her leadership, organophosphate spraying for mosquito control has been reduced by some 80%, with natural pesticides taking their place for larviciding --Bti bacteria and Gambusia fish that kill and eat larvae, respectively.
How cool is that?
The reforms and exposures taking place in our area are reminiscent of Dubcek's "Prague Spring" in the former Czeckoslovakia.
You may call it "Frog Spring." (Groan).
Yes we can!

We shall overcome -- and we have!

In St. Johns County and St. Augustine, which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once called the "most lawless" city in America, we shall overcome, and we have overcome:
1. Environmental racism
2. Secrecy
3. Homophobia
4. Corruption
5. Environmental depredations
6. First Amendment violations
7. Sunshine violations
8. Open Records violations
9. Purchasing violations
10.Waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery (as best exemplified by the no-bid mosquito control helicopter purchase which Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR's staff spent "hundreds of hours" aiding and abetting, 2005-2007.
We halted the helicopter purchase and got a refund.
Riberia Street got repaved -- all of it.
A federal judge ordered Rainbow flags to fly on our Bridge of Lions.
Federal judges have remedied First Amendment violations directed against street artists and musicians.
A planned Sunshine violation junket by four Commissioners to Spain was halted.
The Sunshine violating First America Foundation was ended.
Pro bono lawyers, federal and state court judges, elected officials, activists and average residents have combined their talents in many ways to make this a very special place indeed.
On this first day of Spring, we celebrate democracy diversity and know that, as JFK said, "Here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own."
Work tirelessly for a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
Work to empower Pope Francis to visit here next year.
Don't rest until there is Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
What do you reckon?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Justice for Michelle O'Connell

Some 105 days ago The New York Times reported on the Michelle O'Connell story.
There must be a federal grand jury and an inqust, and a thorough investigation of the St. Joyhns County Sheriff, DAVID BERNARD SHOAR.
In the words of the ancient equitable maxim, "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.

Kremlinology 101 -- Has Michelle O'Connell Case Shattered St. Johns County Political Machine?

At Georgetown University's Foreign Service School, they taught us political analysis, of the sort that was once called "Kremlinology."
Looking at what the late Georgy Khoshroevich Shakhnazarov called "the correlation of forces in the world," the all-Republican Political Machine that has run St. Johns County is in disarray.
Four (4) Republican St. Johns County Commissioners yesterday brutally and publicly attacked the fifth Republican Commissioner, who often disagrees and asks questions. They also attacked the publisher of an online viewspaper, and a candidate for County Commission.
Republicans attacking Repubicans. How cool is that!
They've obviously violated President Ronald Wilson Reagan's Eleventh Commandment ("Don't speak ill of another Republican").
Perhaps the answer is in two words: Michelle O'Connell.
Due to the coverup of the September 2, 2010 shooting of a deputy's girlfriend, the corrupt St. Johns Cuonty political machine presided over by Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and developers appears to be in disarray.
In fact, it appears that it is crumbling.
It's about time.
It's time for Glasnost and Perestroika here in St. Johns County.
Is this Democracy on the march? It happened here in St. Augustine three years ago, on April 26, 2010, when John Patrick Regan, P.E. was unanimously selected City Manager by St. Augustine City Commissioners.
After the 5-0 vote, I said to Mr. Regan, "I want you to be Gorbachev."
Indeed, Mr. Regan has outdone Mikhail Gorbachev in reforming a dysfunctional organization -- St. Augustine City Hall.
The former City Manager, WILLIAM BRUCE HARRISS, would not recognize the place.
That'sa good thing.
Let that same democratizing reform spirit now take over our County Administration Building (Taj Mahal) and our estimable Board of County Commissioners.
Due to the outrageous misconduct -- in the Michelle O'Connell shooting investigation -- of the St. Johns County political machine boss, Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID BERNARD HOAR," there will be accountability.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
The late Boston Mayor and Congressman James Michael Curley was popular, despite being a criminal, and was even re-electe while serving time in prison. Curley's regime crumbed, however, when voters learned he spent $20 on trashcans, an outrageous sum in the 1950s.
Likewise, St. Johns County voters have now seen through the corruption of the SHOAR political machine with the O'Connell case, 2010-2014, and the $1.8 million no-bid helicopter Sheriff SHOAR got the Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County to buy in 2006. SHOAR later wrote a letter threatening Mosquito Control with a county takeover after some remarks were quoted out of context in the newspaper, noting hundreds of hours had been spent in Sheriff's office staff time in assisting Mosquito Control with the abortive helicopter purchase.
We band of brothers (and sisters) -- diverse environmental and good government activists -- got the illegal contract canceled in 2007, winning full refund of the $81,000 deposit from Textron's Bell Helicopter subsidiary.
This is our town, and our time.
Hick hacks, poltroonish pachyderms and egotistical elephantine elected officials with edifice complexes, Beware!
Yes we can!
With CNN's Anderson Cooper, HLN's Nancy Grace and NBC Dateline's Dennis Murphy to soon join The New York Times and PBS Frontline in publishing the truth about the Michelle O'Connell case, our St. Johns County political machine's legendary corruption will be viewed widely.
No County Commissioner has said a word about the O'Connell case. The St. Augustine Record curiously has never asked Michelle O'Connell's family for any comment.
Wonder why?
Is it still in love with Sheriff SHOAR?
Is it incapable of writing balanced articles where the SHOAR-MORRIS political machine is involved?
With four (4) TV networks joining the world's greatest newspaper in investigating Sheriff SHOAR f/k/a HOAR, will the Record finally get the message?
Is the Record a newspaper, or a viewspaper?
Are its editors menschs, or mice?
Are its reporters inquisitive investigators or merely stenographers and amenuenses?
The Record's publisher and owners need spinal implants.
The Record can start by insisting that SHOAR answer questions that former Editor Peter Ellis was unable to get SHOAR to answer about the case of convicted bribe-taker THOMAS G. MANUEL, whom SHOAR got investigated in an undercover FBI investigation after MANUEL asked questions about SHOAR's budget. There has never been a detailed budget justification for the Sheriff in the past ten years, the County Attorney's office reports.
The whole world is watching.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Democracy and openness in our county, in our time.
What do you reckon?


It is Sunshine Week in Florida.
In 2011, St. Johns County Commission Chairman JOHN H. “JAY” MORRIS, JR. let the cat out of the bag – he publicly ridiculed Florida's Sunshine laws in an article printed in the Ponte Vedra Recorder.
Morris reportedly said the best way to conduct business was in secret. When Rick Mansfield wrote the Record about it, Morris insulted the messenger, while inviting him "for a cup of coffee." The invitation appears to have been facetious.
Morris' anti-Sunshine views are contrary to the genius of a free people.
Enacted in 1992 with 3.8 million votes, Article I, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution, with 83% of the vote, our Sunshine and Open Records laws are the best in the Nation, better in many respects than even the federal Freedom of Information Act. Just ask former officials whose peculations and misconduct were exposed by journalists and citizens invoking our Sunshine and Open Records laws.

Under Chairman JAY MORRIS' secretive corporate leadership style, many St. Johns County board and committee meetings are being held away from the County's live streaming video and Government TV (GTV) cable TV channel, some in other buildings (not the Taj Mahal).
The County Administration Building Auditorium often sits vacant, while commissioners and board members meet in tiny rooms, where no one can view them on GTV.
A petition for rulemaking to open all meetings to TV coverage has been pending since February, without response by St. Johns County.

Corporate critters' control of St. Johns County government has consequences.

Born January 12, 1942, MORRIS worked for 22 years (circa 1977-1999) for RPM International, stating in his campaign that he led the Ohio-based multinational corporation from a $50 million corporation to a four billion dollar multinational holding corporation, which now has some 11,000 employees worldwide, selling industrial coatings for industry, roofing and consumer needs for coating products in some 150 countries, with employees and manufacturing plants in some 23 countries. RPM is the tenth largest company of its kind in the world.

RPM and its subsidiaries were frequent civil court defendants in asbestos and other toxic tort cases brought by workers and others alleging bodily injuries and property damages allegedly caused by toxic RPM products, includng negligent failure to warn and other negligent and reckless torts, fraud, breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation, among other allegations.

RPM and its subsidiaries were named by EPA as potentially responsible parties for cleanup of toxic waste at Superfund sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). RPM agreed to pay for cleanup sites at multiple locations as a result of administrative and federal court litigation, involving pollution by companies making such products that included well-known household names such as Rust-o-leum.

JOHN H. "JAY" MORRIS, like so many American millionaires, retired to Ponte Vedra, Florida, first registering to vote there on January 3, 2001. He and his wife since 1959 had owned a home there in Ponte Vedra since 1978.

Last year, MORRIS' former company, RPM International paid out $60,058,963 – more than sixty million dollars – in settling a False Claims Act qui tam lawsuit brought by a former TREMCO subsidiary vice president.

The fraud case against RPM International was filed under seal and settled more than three years later, with monies distributed to both the whistleblower and to the U.S. Government (represented by the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice), with funds also going to the State of Florida, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and the City of Chicago intervened.

The lawsuit against MORRIS' longtime company was filed under the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Abraham Lincoln law,” which was initially enacted during the Civil War to remedy the legendary corruption under Secretary of War Simon Cameron, when the Union Army was swindled by sellers of “shoddy” blankets that fell apart (hence the name “shoddy"), horses that were lame, guns that misfired, and uniforms that fell apart in the rain. (Cameron was so corrupt Lincoln sent him way, to be our Ambassador to Russia). The Lincoln law was revived by Congress in the 1980s (having been weakened before the outbreak of World War II, as a sop to corporations that wanted to become arms merchants, including anti-Semite Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company).

The qui tam False Claims Act action against MORRIS' former company of 22 years was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, by former TREMCO Vice President Gregory Rudolph. Mr. Rudoph alleged that TREMCO and RPM defrauded the federal, state and local governments – including the Veterans Administration hospitals, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, nine states and the City of Chicago – by selling overpriced and shoddy roofing coatings.

Among the victims of leaky roofs in Florida were the University of Florida's Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Okaloosa County Schools, Sarasota County and the City of Pinellas Park.

Approved government contractors on a General Services Administration “schedule” are required to sell at the lowest price offered other purchasers.

In fact, RPM's TREMCO subsidiary granted deep discounts to the private sector -- 30-40% -- while offering GSA and other government customers only a 13.3% discount. Taxpayers were ripped off by MORRIS' former company.

The 69 page qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit was filed July 15, 2010 and settled on or about August 27, 2013.

What's next? Several large national plaintiff's class action law firms are circling RPM, presently preparing lawsuits against RPM and TREMCO for fraud (and possibly a shareholder's derivative action for breach of fiduciary duty).

MORRIS may be interviewed or deposed in the litigation. There may also be civil, criminal and administrative investigations, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, to examine whether RPM made materially false and misleading statements to potential investors.

There were no depositions taken of MORRIS during the False Claims Act case investigation, but MORRISS will likely be required to testify under oath by others allegedly defrauded with overpriced and shoddy roofing materials.

MORRIS noted in his County Commission District 4 campaign in 2010 that he was a member of the RPM International Board of Directors and its Executive Vice President, with suzerainty over all of RPM's coating business worldwide. MORRIS was also a Director of Fifth Third Bank, owner of at least 5% of RPM's stock according to disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

St. Johns County Commission Chairman JOHN H. “JAY” MORRIS, JR. makes bragging frequent reference to his “business experience” – you can't watch a meeting in which he doesn't brag on it at least once (even meetings concerned with tourism). He sounds like a broken record (for those of us who remember the days before Compact Disks and the Internets).

Did County Commission Chairman JAY MORRIS' “business experience” consist in pertinent part of marketing overpriced, shoddy roofing coatings and installations to governments and businesses?

I sent Chairman MORRIS the pertinent documents in PDF last week. He has time to study them. If you would like to read them, I can E-mail to you. (

Chairman MORRIS ducked my calls and did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, including one expressed to County Attorney Patrick McCormack (whose office says the County and County Commission Chairman have no records on the RPM case, even though I sent MORRIS PDFs).

Chairman MORRIS did not even invite me "for a cup of coffee."
Wonder why?
What does he have to hide?
No comments were provided by either the Justice Department or the whistleblower's Washington, D.C. attorney, Mark Hanna, who cited a nondisclosure agreement, respectfully declining to provide answers or details. A Justice Department attorney hung up the telephone after curtly referring me to the Office of Public Affairs. A detailed message left with OPA was not responded to within the past week. RPM's PR department did not respond to a March 20 telephone message about MORRIS and the False Claims Act case.

But when I asked whistleblower Gregory Rudolph if MORRIS knew about the pricing practices before MORRIS left the company, he said, “What do you think?” I responded, “I think he probably knew." Mr. Rudolph did not deny it.

Mr. Rudolph's Boston lawyers at MurphyAnderson said in an August 2013 press release on “PR Newswire” that: “If Greg Rudolph had not courageously reported to the Government, it would never have known – and never recovered the $61 million. His brave efforts saved taxpayers millions of dollars, Rudolph's actions demonstrate that contractors must play by the rules when selling to the Government.”

Yesterday morning, March 18, 2014, at the Commission meeting, Chairman JAY MORRIS expressed umbrage that someone would run against him and be welcomed into the County Commission offices without an armed guard. "I do take it personal, Bill, when you recruit someone to run against me," MORRIS said to Commissioner McClure. "To bring him into the office right next door to my office" with MICHAEL GOLD, "Yeah, I do take that personal."

Has St. Johns County Commission Chairman MORRIS' corporate Weltanschauung had a corrosive effect on our democracy?

Read the page one story in the March 19, 2014 St. Augustine Record about County Administration Building (Taj Mahal) “security” concerns. From the hostility publicly directed by Chairman MORRIS and his colleagues yesterday at Commissioner William McClure -- in whose office Historic City News owner MICHAEL GOLD interviewed him.

Watch the tape.

There were some 27 minutes of perseverating by pusillanimous pachyderms. Poohbahs' putative “security” concerns expressed by Chairman MORRIS, Commissioner CINDY STEVENSON, RONALD SANCHEZ, and RACHEL BENNETT may be overblown – Commissioners may be more concerned that MICHAEL GOLD might report news, e.g., that he might observe what's going on in possible Sunshine violations by Commissioners.

Go to the County Commission website and view the tape -- agenda item number 9. Does this look like conscious parallelism to you? Was there an agreement before the meeting to go after dissenters who dared to disagree with MORRIS and encourage an opposition candidate? Does this not resemble something from Russia or Venezuela?

The five Commissioners' five offices are directly adjacent to one another, facilitating easy Sunshine violations beyond public view (if Commissioners were so inclined). Former County Commissioners have told me how easy it is to hear conversations in adjacent offices, and that if a Commissioner speaks loudly enough with his or her door open, other Commissioners may hear them.

Commissioner CINDY STEVENSON stated at yesterday's meeting that was so alarmed by the presence of GOLD and candidate Daniel Abel that she locked her door, saying it was the first time in ten years that she has ever locked her door. Doth the Commissioner protest too much?
GOLD often talks to her.
She does not appear to be afraid of GOLD.
STEVENSON said that County Commission service is "team play," implying that McCLURE was not a team player. Interesting dialectic -- Richard Nixon said on the White House tapes that Pentagon cost analyst A. Ernest Fitzgerald was "not a team player," ordering his firing. When I was trying whistleblower cases, I learned that case law frequently found that "not a team player" (and other expressions was equippolent of a confession.

Likewise, Commission Chairman MORRIS alleged that MICHAEL GOLD was the one who persuaded Mr. Abel to run against MORRIS. This shows that the animus expressed to GOLD in a public forum was retaliation for First Amendment protected activity. GOLD has a right to support candidates, to ask questions, and to criticize MORRIS.

MORRIS and three out of four fellow Commissioners singling out GOLD for abuse is a throwback to the era of County Commissioner JAMES EDWARD BRYANT, who ran the County with an iron fist, working hand-in-hand with developers.

I have often disagreed with MICHAEL GOLD, but I will today defend his First Amendment right to cover the news. It sounds like Commissioners' attack on GOLD and Commissioner Willi8am McClure is a tempest in a thimble, an effort to chill, coerce and repress First Amendment protected activity.
The Record article and Commission diatribe seems calculated to hold GOLD up to obloquy and ridicule.
Coupled with Commission Chairman JAY MORRIS' announced, open and notorious longime hostility to Sunshine laws, and the County's foot dragging on Open Records requests (even those from The New York Times), it seems that MORRIS' main agenda is to inflict more years of one-party Republican rule, RPM-style, complete with misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance, waste, fraud and abuse, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery (as evidenced by the ADA-violating ATM machines at the County-run St. Augustine Amphitheater, illegally installed without a contract or bid or lease, from which the County is still profiting illegally with every $3 illegal ATM fee). Having possibly participated in a False Claims scheme involving RPM International, it is little wonder that MORRIS has remained silent about the ATMs for more than a year after I first reported the illegality.

St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, for whom MICHAEL GOLD has flakked (and raised money for in 2004), is listed as a fundraiser for MORRIS, who has raised more than $53,000.

Thus, it strongly appears that Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a “DAVID HOAR” and MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” are now backing separate candidates in the all-important District 4 County Commissioner's race. Wonder why?

GOLD often disapproves of corruption. Perhaps he sees through Sheriff SHOAR now, as a result of the Michelle O'Connell shooting case.

Perhaps GOLD and Abel will now blow the whistle on JAY MORRIS' possible involvement in government contract fraud at RPH International, and on MORRIS' rubbberstamping of SHOAR's budget.
When I asked the St. Johns County Administrator recently for the detailed budget justification of SHOAR's Sheriff budget for the last ten years, I got the response that there was none.
That's no way to run a government, or a business (or to run a government like a business, JAY MORRIS' tired trite trope).

MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS' St. Augustine Record so frequently publishes MORRIS' columns that one wonders if he is a relative. He is thin-skinned. He writes hostile columns whenever anyone criticizes him or the political machine of which he is a part. In 2011, MORRIS actually wrote a column that denied ever being a "liberal," as if that were a bad thing. MORRIS needs to be cross-examined by journalists and citizens about his business ethics at RPM. We need to investigate him with a gimlet eye.

So the next time County Commission Chairman JOHN H. “JAY” MORRIS brags about his business experience and opines that government should be “run like a business,” ask MORRIS, “like which business” What about the more than $60 million False Claims Act case settled last year against RPM INTERNATIONAL and TREMCO?

Nearly 20% of the settlement went to the U.S. Government, with the rest split with the whistleblower (who earned nearly $10 million), and with the affected states, including the State of Florida.

Keep asking questions.

It's our money.

What do you reckon?
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Entire contents of blog © Copyright 2006-2014 Ed Slavin, All Rights Reserved