Monday, November 23, 2015

Rep. Matt Gaetz proposes unconstitutional delegation to trade group to appoint TDC members

Some TDC bed taxes fund would be diverted to sheriffs and Tallahassee, and 2/3 of TDC members would be chosen by a trade association under legislation proposed by State of Florida House of Representatives Finance Committee. How gauche and louche.Rep. Matt Gaetz, a graduate of the law school at the College of William & Mary, should review the non-delegation doctrine, which prohibits delegation to industry groups of government functions: he proposes taking away the County's power to pick Tourist Development Council (TDC) members and handing it over to a trade group, which would pick six of nine members of local TDCs. A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935). He also proposes giving bed tax money to sheriffs, and taking away tens of millions of dollars of bed tax money and sending it to Tallahassee.

Rep. Matt Gaetz crafting plan to boost Visit Florida, restrict tourism councils
By MATT DIXON 5:13 a.m. | Nov. 23, 2015 1 follow this reporter
TALLAHASSEE — The House of Representative’s tax committee is preparing to consider a plan that would rewrite how the state divides the money it generates from the 100 million tourists who visit Florida’s beaches and theme parks each year.

It would redirect the flow of tourist development taxes, which are collected in most counties on hotel and condo rentals. The money is used by counties to fund regional tourism promotion.

Under a proposal being crafted by Rep Matt Gaetz, chairman of the House finance and tax committee, 20 percent of the money raised from tourist development taxes would become an annual revenue stream for Visit Florida, a nonprofit that serves as the state’s public-private tourism marketing arm. It would give the organization an estimated $80 million dedicated revenue stream.

Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, said he wants to provide a dedicated revenue stream to Visit Florida because tourism is a vital component of the state's overall economy.

Visit Florida is a so-called direct support organization of the Department of Economic Opportunity, which is Gov. Rick Scott’s top jobs agency. Direct support organizations are nonprofits established to carry out specific public tasks, in this case publicizing state tourism.

Some members of the tax committee raised questions about the proposal, which is in its infancy. There was support for funding Visit Florida, but concern about using the tourist development tax as the dedicated revenue stream.

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican, said she though the tourist tax system is working efficiently.

“If it is not broke, I don’t necessarily know if we need to fix it,” she said during last Thursday's committee meeting. “I do think that funding Visit Florida is very important.”

Under current law, the organization has to lobby the Legislature each year for funding because it does not have a dedicated source of revenue. Last year, as the House and Senate fought over the budget, lawmakers who oversaw the state’s economic development budget grew concerned Visit Florida funding would get caught in the cross-fire.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where Visit Florida could become a budget casualty,” Gaetz said during Thursday's meeting.

Members asked about a draft version of Gaetz's plan, which has not yet been filed as formal legislation.

Another concern came from state Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican whose Central Florida seat is in a three-county area heavily reliant on tourism, including Disney, one of the biggest players in state government. He said the region pumps out a large share of state tourism taxes, so he wants to make sure that, as part of any changes, the region would not lose revenue.

“I would be interested in working on a fairness concept since it seems an overwhelming burden … would come from that three-county area,” he said.

Gaetz said that because Orlando's theme parks are such an attraction, tourism marketing from anywhere in the state will bring more people to Broeduer’s region.

“There is an algorithm somewhere at Universal or Disney showing that the brand of Florida has become so synonymous with the attractions in Central Florida,” Gaetz said. “It’s a win win.”

Along with sending tourism dollars to Visit Florida, Gaetz's proposal would also require that 40 percent of local tourism tax dollars be spent on marketing local tourism. He said some local tourism development councils, which are set up to oversee the spending of tourism dollars, are using just one-third of their budgets on marketing, a big part of their mission.

The proposal also includes language requested by Larry Ashley, the sheriff of Gaetz’s home county of Okaloosa. It would allow counties the option to divert 10 percent of local tourism tax dollars to law enforcement, which under current law is not allowed.

Gaetz said the money would be used to bolster police forces in towns that see a large influx of tourists.

“In the little town of Destin, there are about 50,000 people, but 4 or 5 million people stay there each year,” Gaetz said of the beachside town in his district.

The Florida Sheriffs Association has not yet taken a position on the bill.

“Normally, I would just say yes we support this bill, but our legislative committee has not reviewed this proposal,” Matt Dunagan, the association's deputy executive director, wrote in an email. “We will take a look in two weeks when we meet again."

He said “this is an issue for Sheriff Ashley,” who did not return requests for comment.

Gaetz said he has called the organization, but admitted during the committee hearing that he might need a cooling off period before starting talks with group about his plan. The association had high profile opposition this week to separate gun bills Gaetz is sponsoring.

“This was not the best week in my relationship with the Florida Sheriffs Association,” he joked, getting laughter from the entire committee room. “So maybe next week will be better.”

His proposal also tightens controls on local tourist development councils, which are created by county commissions that levy the tourist tax to coordinate local marketing efforts. Under those changes, contracts would have to be signed with people or organizations that receive tourism tax dollars for projects, and tourism industry groups like the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association could sue local councils if money is misused. Current law does not have provisions allowing industry groups to legally go after local councils.

Okaloosa Tourism Development Council officials were caught misusing funds in 2012, including the former director who died of an apparent drug overdose after being accused of misusing $747,000 from the BP oil spill.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, a tourism industry trade group, would also be given authority to appoint six of the nine board members that oversee local tourism councils. The remaining members will be elected officials selected by the county commission, which picks all board members under current law.

TDC Job Posting Questionable Requirements, Excludes Qualified Applicants?

St. Johns County TDC Executive Director Glenn Hastings' successor is an important hiring decision. There needs to be more diversity. The ad needs to be rewritten so as to avoid violating EEO law. Was the description written too narrowly? Reckon?

1. Who wrote this dumb 'ole job ad -- where is the justification that these are bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) under our civil rights laws?  

2. Waiting on a response to my Requests No. 2015-427.  It seems that unaccountable St. Johns County Administrator MICHAEL WANCHICK and his henchmen are in need of consciousness-raising and may have written this job description for the next Tourist Development Council Director around some friend or relative whom they want to hire, perhaps from Texas, and favoring people certified by a trade group.  

3. Sexual orientation is still not a protected class in St. Johns County government in 2015: GLBT tourists, stay in either St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, and avoid other locations, like Ponte Vedra and World Golf Village, whose government officials don't believe we deserve legal protections.  

4. Applicants are required to have drivers' licenses, excluding blind people and other persons with disabilities.  Why is this a BFOQ?  Virtually every government and private sector in St. Johns County uses this exclusionary requirement.  Enough.

5. There is an illegal requirement/preference for Certified Domestic Marketing Executive (CDME) certification, which only some 200-300 people have obtained (from a trade group).  Here's a photo of 2015 CDME "graduates" -- they do not appear to be all that diverse (but neither is WANCHICK's tatterdemalion ME-Publican St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners' upper management, in a place Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called "the most lawless" in America!):


St. Johns County seeks a Tourism and Cultural Events Director to be responsible for directing the county?s (sic) tourism and cultural events functions. Identifies and researches issues relevant to the County?s (sic) tourism industry?s (sic) economic health, sustainability, and community impacts; provides related reports to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) and makes programmatic, funding and other recommendations to the TDC and Board of County Commissioners. Recommends policies which balance the development and promotion of tourism as a community interest and support encouraging private-sector investment in the tourism industry in order to sustain tourism?s(sic) economic benefits to the community. Establishes the overall direction of TDC programs including those initiatives accomplished through independent contracting agencies. Establishes benchmarks to monitor progress toward achievement of well-defined objectives and goals. Seeks a balance between the residential and business communities recognizing basic concepts of cultural and heritage leisure and group tourism and the importance of authentic destination experiences based upon the community. Makes recommendations to the TDC regarding new program development and/or changes to existing programs based on analysis of data collected. Serves as the chief advocate for tourism development with the Board of County Commissioners, legislative leaders, municipal governments and the general public. Applies practices of good governance in programmatic decision-making and implementation used in the development of tourism. Completes evaluations of TDC funded programs including identifying consequences of any TDC actions and tourism impacts. Evaluates effectiveness and contract compliance of TDC third-party development and marketing agencies. In collaboration with the County Finance Office, establishes a program for oversight and the approval of vendor payments for all expenses paid for with the Local Option Tourist Development (LOTD) Funds. Act as chief spokesperson with local media on behalf of the TDC and any programs funded with LOTD Funds. Staff (sic) the executive office of the TDC as necessary to fulfill the assigned responsibilities. Maintains a full-time presence on the job with ability to work evenings, holidays and weekends as needed. Performs other duties as assigned. Thorough understanding of Cultural/Creative/Heritage tourism principles and practices. Must have knowledge of economic development principles and practices. Must have understanding of research fundamentals including data collection and interpretation. Must have understanding of destination marketing methods. Must have advanced knowledge of strategic planning principals including demand generation through heritage, cultural or sport festival and event development. Must have knowledge of government and corporate accounting and auditing principals. Must have understanding of environmental psychology as it relates to the quality of visitor experience. Must have understanding of in-destination mobility, historic preservation and zoning issues. Must have knowledge of computers and job related software programs. Must be skilled in the analysis of problems and the development and implementation of solutions. Skilled in preparation of clear and precise administrative reports. Skilled in oral and written communication. Must have knowledge and level of competency commonly associated with completion of a baccalaureate degree in a course of study related to the occupational field. Masters degree in related field preferred. Must have sufficient experience to understand the diverse objectives and functions of the subunits in the department in order to direct and coordinate work within the department, usually interpreted to require five or more years of related experience. Must be certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation preferred. Must possess and maintain a valid Florida driver?s (sic) license and any other endorsements necessary to legally operate vehicles used while assigned to this position. Must possess good interpersonal and communication skills. Must be able to comprehend, speak and write the English language. Must be able to operate a computer and job related technologies. St. Johns County is a drug free workplace and an equal opportunity employer. All employment actions are taken without regard to race, religion, national origin, color, sex, marital status, age, disability, or genetics.
Pay Grade: 25
Pay Range: $78,754.07
Deadline: Posted Until Filled

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Rendezvous With Destiny, A Date That Will Live In Infamy, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You….

FDR said Americans have a "rendezvous with destiny." On October 31, 1963, I played JFK (complete with plastic mass-produced mask). Only 22 days later, he was murdered in Dallas, a "date [that] will live in infamy," paraphrasing FDR.
I was six; that was 52 years ago today.
JFK's brother, RFK was murdered when I was eleven.
I went to work for their brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, at age 17.5, as a Georgetown freshman, the day before my first class.
JFK asked at his Inauguration, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."
Now, 52 years later, I'm still asking that question, and other questions.
"Be not afraid," as Saint Pope John Paul II said as his first on the balcony upon becoming Pope, quoting scripture. See my Thanksgiving column in the Record and Historic City News.

Guest Column: Thankful at Thanksgiving


Guest Column: Thankful at Thanksgiving

Ed Slavin
St Augustine, FL
Thankful at Thanksgiving, we look back into the past.
450 years ago, in 1565, St. Augustine’s diverse, polyglot Spanish colonial residents had already enjoyed America’s first Thanksgiving; feted by the Timucuan residents of Seloy village long before Plymouth was founded.  As University of Florida’s Dr. Michael Gannon writes, “St. Augustine was already up for urban renewal”.
We’re thankful that our 450th anniversary celebration helped spread greater understanding, and promoted healing.  Our Spanish, English, French, Native American, African-American, Menorcan, Greek, Italian, Jewish, Gay, Civil War and Civil Rights histories must be told better, with National Park Service interpretation.  We will be thankful when Congress enacts the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore first proposed by Mayor Walter Fraser in 1939.
Some 238 years ago, in 1777, about 700 surviving Menorcan settlers of the British New Smyrna colony “voted with their feet”, walking the 60-miles north to St. Augustine.  We’re thankful for their courage and persistence in keeping their history, culture and cuisine alive.
Some 150 years ago, in 1865, freed African-American slaves were establishing Lincolnville (Little Africa), the first community established by freed slaves.  We’re thankful for the African-Americans here and looking forward to their full integration into our economy and political life.
Nearly 100 years ago, in 1916, Congress created the National Park Service.  Our 400 national parks have been called “America’s Best Idea” and we are thankful for the National Park Service presence in our community.  We look forward to expanding, protecting what we love for your grandchildren and their grandchildren, and protecting our communities, wetlands, beaches, forests, and you from climate change calamity.
Some 51 years ago, in 1964, St. Augustine residents and visitors helped expose the truth of Jim Crow segregation, not resting until President Lyndon Johnson broke a U.S. Senate filibuster and won adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a model for laws passed around the nation and the globe, expanded to cover new protected classes, including Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people, as well as employee “whistleblowers,” or “ethical resisters.
We’re thankful for all who have stood up for truth, justice and equality.  Many like Dr. Robert S. Hayling, D.D.S., the St. Augustine Four, the St. Augustine Movement, Dr. Franklin Kameny, and U.S. Reps. Don Edwards and Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., are not yet household words, but may be when NPS co-sponsors a National Civil Rights Museum here.
We’re thankful that civil rights laws inexorably led to the Supreme Court’s landmark Gay marriage decision in June 2015. I am thankful I can now legally marry.  
We’re thankful for all the whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, starting with A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Pentagon cost analyst who testified truthfully about C-5A airplane cost overruns, leading to his landmark Supreme Court victory after Richard Nixon fired him for not being a “team player,” management argot for someone considered too honest. As African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Let America be America again.”
A year ago, in 2014, we elected Mayor Nancy Shaver.  Yes, we did!  We’re thankful for her triumph over mendacity and mediocrity.  We’re thankful for her listening to people and neighborhoods, and for her wit, energy and spirit.  We need more can-do government officials.
We’ll be thankful next year, when elections bring us more reformers, including candidates for City and County Commissioners, Sheriff, State’s Attorney. Congress and U.S. Senate. JFK said, “Sometimes party labels demand too much.” This is not about elephants or donkeys or shibboleths: we must crush corruption.
As Rev. John Winthrop preached on board the Mayflower in 1630, let’s be a “shining city on a hill”.

Ed Slavin Thanksgiving column, St. Augustine Record: Thankful for the past, hopeful for the future

Guest Column - Ed Slavin: Thankful for the past, hopeful for the future
Posted: November 22, 2015 - 12:07am
St. Augustine

In 1565, St. Augustine’s diverse, polyglot Spanish colonial residents had already enjoyed America’s first Thanksgiving, feted by the Temucuan residents of Seloy village, and long before Plymouth was founded (when UF’s Dr. Michael Gannon writes that St. Augustine was “already up for urban renewal”).

We’re thankful that our 450th anniversary celebration helped spread greater understanding, and promoted healing. Our Spanish, English, French, Native American, African-American, Menorcan, Greek, Italian, Jewish, gay, Civil War and civil rights histories must be told better, with National Park Service interpretation. We will be thankful when Congress enacts the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, first proposed by Mayor Walter Fraser in 1939.

Some 238 years ago, in 1777, 700 surviving Menorcan settlers of the British New Smyrna colony “voted with their feet,” walking 60 miles to St. Augustine. We’re thankful for their courage and persistence in keeping their history, culture and cuisine alive.

Some 150 years ago, in 1865, freed African-American slaves were establishing Lincolnville (Little Africa), the first community established by freed slaves. We’re thankful for the African-Americans here and looking forward to their full integration into our economy and political life.

Nearly 100 years ago, in 1916, Congress created the National Park Service. We’re thankful for some 400 National Parks (“America’s Best Idea”), and for the National Park Service presence in our community: which we look forward to expanding, protecting what we love for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and protecting our communities, wetlands, beaches, forests and you from climate change calamity.

Some 51 years ago, in 1964, St. Augustine residents and visitors helped expose the truth of Jim Crow segregation, not resting until President Lyndon Johnson broke a U.S. Senate filibuster and won adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was a model for laws passed around the nation and the globe, expanded to cover new protected classes including Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people, as well as employee “whistleblowers,” or “ethical resisters.”

We’re thankful for all who have stood up for truth, justice and equality.

Many, like Dr. Robert S. Hayling, the St. Augustine Four, the St. Augustine Movement, Dr. Franklin Kameny and U.S. Reps. Don Edwards and Fr. Robert Drinan are not yet household words, but may be when NPS co-sponsors a National Civil Rights Museum here.

We’re thankful that civil rights laws inexorably led to the Supreme Court’s landmark Gay marriage decision in June 2015.

I am thankful I can now legally marry. We’re thankful for all the whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, starting with A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Pentagon cost analyst who testified truthfully about C-5A airplane cost overruns, leading to his landmark Supreme Court victory after Richard Nixon fired him for not being a “team player,” management argot for someone considered too honest. As African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Let America be America again.”

A year ago, in 2014, we elected Mayor Nancy Shaver. Yes, we did! We’re thankful for her triumph over mendacity and mediocrity. We’re thankful for her listening to people and neighborhoods, and for her wit, energy and spirit. We need more can-do government officials.

We’ll be thankful next year, when elections bring us more reformers, including candidates for city and county commissioners, sheriff, state’s attorney, congress and U.S. Senate.

JFK said, “sometimes party labels demand too much.” This is not about elephants or donkeys or shibboleths: we must crush corruption.

As Rev. John Winthrop preached on board the Mayflower in 1630, let’s be a “shining city on a hill.”

Debra Maynard running for Sheriff, St. Johns County

Debra Maynard to run for St. Johns County sheriff in 2016
Posted: November 21, 2015 - 8:06pm | Updated: November 22, 2015 - 7:11am


When St. Johns County’s Republicans vote in the primary for sheriff next year, they will be offered a choice on the ballot.

Debra Maynard, 55, is the only candidate so far to officially announce her intention to run for sheriff, according to the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections website.

During a recent interview with The Record, Sheriff David Shoar confirmed he will seek a fourth term. As of Thursday, his candidacy for next year’s election was not yet official.

Maynard, who moved to St. Johns County in 1988, has a background in health, criminal justice and counseling. She attended the St. Johns County Civilian Law Enforcement Academy, which she says inspired her career in law enforcement. She was hired by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in 2007, where she worked for five years as a patrol deputy and as the crisis intervention coordinator.

Maynard no longer works for the Sheriff’s Office, but maintains her law enforcement certification. She now works as an office and project manager.

Like Shoar, Maynard is a Republican, but her views on two “hot-button” issues — the death of Michelle O’Connell and use of body cameras — oppose those of Shoar.

O’Connell died in September 2010 in St. Johns County, where her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, was a sheriff’s deputy. The gun used was Banks’ department-issued handgun.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office led the initial investigation that was eventually ruled a suicide, but members of her family say she wouldn’t have killed herself and blame Banks for her death. Two recent investigations by state attorney’s offices outside the 7th Judicial District have not found sufficient evidence to bring any charges against Banks. He is still employed with the Sheriff’s Office.

Maynard was one of the many deputies who responded to the shooting.

She later served as a source for extensive investigative pieces produced by The New York Times and PBS Frontline that were critical of how the Sheriff’s Office handled the case.

In an email to The Record this week, Maynard declined to talk further about the O’Connell case, citing “active litigation.”

But a community Facebook page called “Justice for Michelle O’Connell” voices the group’s support for her candidacy, and asks followers to donate to Maynard’s campaign.

Maynard also supports a Florida House bill that would make it mandatory for police officers to wear body cameras on their uniform.

“There has got to be some form of accountability and body cams are protection for both the officer and civilian involved in an altercation,” she said.

Her website continues, “I agree there are flaws that need to be worked out as far as how to store the video and policy to be written as to when and where the camera is to be turned on.”

So far, Maynard’s campaign has raised more than $5,000, according to the Supervisor of Elections website.

Maynard told The Record this week she doesn’t take her decision to run for sheriff lightly.

“I fought it for quite a while,” she said. “I conferred with family and friends, and I felt it was time I said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to my own doubts.”

Maynard concedes running against a fellow Republican who has been unopposed in his last two elections will be challenging. But that is only one obstacle she has to overcome, she said.

“I am not a politician by a long shot, and there will be some doubters that will say I cannot handle the job,” she said.

If elected, Maynard hopes to bring “change, accountability and transparency” to the Sheriff’s Office.

“We need to bring back respect for the men and women that wear the badge,” she said. “They place their lives on the line each day and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Deputy visibility and compensation are two items Maynard hopes to address, if elected.

“Manpower is a top priority; we need more patrol deputies and a visible presence in the local communities,” she said. “[And] the person that will take the bullet is the person that needs the compensation.”

She also supports efforts to benefit those suffering from mental health or domestic violence, both outside and within the law enforcement community. She also hopes to bring the crisis intervention team back up to standard.

A member of Good News Church, Maynard credits her faith with helping her get through difficult times in her life.

“I knew within myself, the challenges (of running for sheriff) would be an uphill battle, but I also believe that with God, anything is possible,” she said. “I am a woman that feels I can bring positive change to this county.”


pattyoconnell 11/21/15 - 10:20 pm 00Great Days for St Johns Co FL
Because Debra Maynard will bring change in how people view Law Enforcement in St. Johns County FL. She is well known as the deputy who wouldnt look the other way...when asked to by previous boss ..that takes courage...

Morris1 11/22/15 - 12:04 am 00Who opposes body cameras?
That's an awfully scary thought... They're an honest cop's best friend, a dishonest liar's worst enemy. They have a tempering effect on abusive and boorish behavior, it seriously diminishes the ability of liars to lie, be it bad cops or losers accusing honest cops of things they didn't do.

Do we not have them here in SJC? Because that's a scary thought, considering how much funding our Sheriffs Office gets. Will be interesting to hear what Sheriff Shoar (who I otherwise support) has to say on that issue.

pattyoconnell 11/22/15 - 06:19 am 00Strange How SJSO EMPLOYEES 2010 were handed bonus checks
After Michelle O'Connell was murdered in ST JOhns Co FL, all employees of SJSO received bonus checks.
Maybe Shoar will hand out somemore PICK ME FOR SHERIFF MONEY?

pattyoconnell 11/22/15 - 06:22 am 00sheriffs bonus money
Sheriff Shoar made you come into his office and put the check in your hand and looked you in the eye...hmmm
Makes you wonder...

City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber

Letter: City needs to stop the bullyin of Uber Mafia
City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber
Posted: November 21, 2015 - 10:23pm

By Steven Ciccantelli
St. Augustine Record
City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber

Editor: There has been much in the news about bullying and that is good. These tactics are destructive, and have a lasting damage on their victims. Hopefully the age of the bully will be short-lived. However some of these strong-arm individuals employ similar tactics in the business world and today I would like to single out the tyrants that control Uber.

Uber is a taxi service that uses technology to circumvent the laws and policies cities have to regulate the transportation industry. They are also bullies. Ride-sharing companies provide taxi services and use smoke and mirrors to obscure this reality. This criminal enterprise offers no financial advantage to any city in which these thugs operate. In fact the opposite is true.

St. Augustine is one city that these Uber mafioso would like control. The drivers are unregulated, have no business license and lack the commercial insurance this great city requires to operate any type of service involving the transportation of people, let alone have a hack license required for all vehicle for hire drivers.

Abraxi Taxi will not be browbeat and I implore other cab companies and all taxi drivers to stand up to these oppressors. We invite the mayor and our distinguished city commissioners to join in this quest. The codes for livery service are written in stone. It just takes an aggressive stance to enforce the laws already in place and exterminate the maggots who are sullying our workplace.

We need the city to stop criminal activity and put an end to this ruffian reign immediately.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


The Godfather, Part II 
(Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista presented with solid-gold telephone by corporate co-felons)
(In 2002, Florida Governor JEB BUSH named Batista's grandson, RAOUL G, CANTERO, III, then 41, to our Florida Supreme Court; CANTERO is now in private practice with WHITE & CASE, an international corporate law firm, whose website reports that he is representing clients that include "QBE Insurance Co., Odebrecht USA, Wells Fargo Bank, The Florida Senate, Honeywell International, Philip Morris USA, Mastec, Inc., Florida Power & Light Co. and the Village of Palmetto Bay" and that he "was the sole dissenter in Cardegna vs. Buckeye Check Cashing, where the majority held that a borrowers' claim that an underlying contract was void was required to be resolved by a court, not the arbitrators. The United States Supreme Court later reversed the Florida Supreme Court, adopting Raoul's position."


DARON.DEAN@STAUGUSTINE.COM Gov. Rick Scott speaks to members of the media before his luncheon with The Florida Council of 100 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club on Friday morning, November 20, 2015.

Florida Council of 100 says quiet year is time for assessing, becoming more diverse
Gov. Scott talks with group - formed more than 50 years ago to advi[s]e state's governors - about his budget plan
Posted: November 20, 2015 - 9:20pm | Updated: November 21, 2015 - 12:08am

Following in the tradition of his predecessors, Gov. Rick Scott rarely misses a meeting of The Florida Council of 100.

As Scott entered the room at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on Friday to make a keynote address at the group’s semi-annual gathering, onlookers in the lobby could see business executives from across the state applauding and maneuvering to shake the governor’s hand.

Once at the podium, Scott gave a speech about job creation and diversifying the state’s economy. He asked members of the council to back the budget proposal he will unveil in Jacksonville on Monday and perhaps help convince the Legislature to do the same.

At least, that is what reporters were told happened. “The mood was good, the message was strong and the reception was positive,” Jacksonville businessman Steve Halverson told the Times-Union afterward.

The council doesn’t allow visitors or media inside its meetings. Sometimes the council’s work is made public — like in November 2014, when it sent a letter to the Board of Education with recommendations on how to implement new computer-based standardized testing — but the group hasn’t done anything like that in a year.

Board Chairwoman Rhea Law, who leads the Florida headquarters of national law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, said the council doesn’t speak publicly about an issue until it reaches consensus internally.

“We have a lot of things that are in the queue as a matter of fact,” Law said. “I suspect you will finally see some work product after that.”

Leaders of this nonpartisan, nonprofit organization say the recent silence is partially by design.

Halverson, who completed a turn as the council chairman, said the organization has focused on redefining its mission and strategic planning, so the results aren’t easy to see when outside looking in.

“We thought that we were getting drawn a bit too much into just the issue of the day and we weren’t being as aligned around big, tough strategic issues — and not too many at a time,” Halverson, the president and CEO of The Haskell Company said. “We were getting a little bit reactive.”

The council was formed in 1961 as the brainchild of Gov. Farris Bryant, who wanted state business leaders to advise him on policy. It is a private organization and boasts of some of the state’s top executives, such as Publix Vice Chairman Barney Barnett, Florida Blue chief executive officer and Chairman Patrick Geraghty, Jacksonville developer Peter Rummell and Ed Burr, president and CEO of GreenPointe Holdings in Jacksonville.

The council has a small staff — president and CEO Susan Pareigis, who headed the state’s workforce development agency under Gov. Jeb Bush, works out of its Tampa headquarters. Bills are paid using proceeds from sizable dues levied on members, although the council won’t say how much.

Council members volunteer and generally lean conservative, but their main goal is to provide governors with input on issues ranging from education to the environment, regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat is in office.

Going beyond governor

Although a relationship with the governor is important to the council, that isn’t the only focus, Law said.

“We go beyond the governor,” she said, “because, as is true with any public policy initiative, you have to have a broader group that you are interacting with.”

Bush leaned heavily on the group to research topics and back up his policy initiatives, particularly in education; Gov. Charlie Crist rarely consulted the group. Gov. Rick Scott lands somewhere in between, attending council meetings but not viewing the group as essential to carrying out his agenda.

“Gov. (Jeb) Bush used us most vigorously,” Halverson said. “Man he worked us to death, and I say that in a good way.”

Scott said he decided to discuss his spending priorities at the council meeting because he wants support from wherever he can get it.

“I travel around the state and talk to different groups,” he said. “I like them to be active in the political process and let their House and Senate members know the importance of this for job creation.”

The council has voiced support for a provision in Scott’s forthcoming budget proposal to set aside $250 million in new funding for economic development incentives. Individual members have submitted statements backing various initiatives and proposals during Scott’s tenure.

There were rumors for a time that the council had fallen out of favor with the governor’s office after controversy surrounding its meeting in May 2014.

The council had invited former Gov. Charlie Crist to speak at the meeting, but withdrew the invitation after Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s chief of staff at the time, objected. Hollingsworth declined to be interviewed for this story.

Scott was gearing up his re-election campaign then and knew Crist would run against him. The two were initially scheduled to address the council on the same day. Council members later decided that in order to keep the event focused on business and not politics that Crist should be taken off the program.

“We just made it look like it was a campaign event by having the two of them scheduled right next to each other, and I didn’t know that,” Halverson said. “And it just didn’t seem fair that we would create a de facto campaign event without telling them about it.”

Halverson said the governor’s office was cordial about the whole incident, denying rumors the situation created long-term damage to council relations with Scott. Scott’s office said his attendance at Friday’s meeting is proof there are no hard feelings.

Crist used the whole dustup to his advantage. As a former governor, he has automatic membership in the council and still showed up at the meeting. Crist held a news conference that day to criticize the organization for caving to Scott’s demands.

Diversity issue surfaces

After the May 2014 meeting, African-American Democrats not only accused the council of 100 of showing favoritism to Republican Scott, but pivoted to the broader issue of diversity. That line of criticism — that the council as a whole did not reflect the people of Florida — was valid, Halverson later said.

“Who you pick as members has a lot to do with what you do and how effective you are,” he said.

State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, is among those who criticized the group last year.

At the time, former Darden Restaurants CEO Clarence Otis had retired and stepped away from the council, leaving it without any blacks on the board.

Bullard said he had been concerned about the council’s lack of racial diversity before the dustup with Crist gave him the opportunity to speak out. He has grown curious about how the organization was so powerful it seemed to automatically get a seat at the table to discuss education issues, when other advocacy groups remained on the sidelines.

“I knew the basics as far as who sat on this Council of 100, but in looking at it again in 2014, it was like this speaks to the organization as a whole when you don’t have people of color in any way, shape or form represented in decision-making positions within the organization,” Bullard said.

Since then, the council extended membership to 18 people and seven, were either a minority or female, Law said.

The council declined to provide the Times-Union with the names of its members; there are about 120. But among the 32 people listed on the website as members of the board of directors, six are women including one African-American female. A handful of board members have last names indicating Hispanic heritage, and at least one, Rasesh Thakkar of Central Florida, is Indian-American.

One challenge the group identified is the lack of diversity overall in the top management of Florida businesses, which limits the pool of potential members.

“That’s a much larger social issue, and it’s not one you snap your fingers and correct,” Halverson said. “But it starts with being intentional about creating opportunities for participation i

Margo Pope and Ann Heyman Back at St. Augustine Record

Glad to read their writing once again.

Rain dates required for Nights of Lights, Other Events

Tonight is Nights of Lights, when our small town gathers to watch some two million lights lit for the holidays.
According to Flagler College Radio, WFCF 88.5 (Radio with a Reason), at 3:35 PM, it is "raining cats and dogs" and is likely to continue to do so.
Underpaid City workers spent weeks (even working on Veterans Day) putting up the lights, as did private business owners.
Overpaid City Hall poohbahs did not care enough to schedule a rain date.
Think of the persons with disabilities who do not go out in storms.
Think of all the disappointed families who will miss this event because City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. and "his" staff, including prejudiced Assistant City Manager TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD, dour City Public Affairs Director PAUL WILLIAMSON and sour Events Director WANDA BRAY don't have enough sense to plan for rain.
Pray for them all.
Our inept St. Augustine City Hall administration schedules events without rain dates.
Is it because their core competency is incompetence?
For years, I have implored them to consider rain dates.
These are "bears of little brain," in Winnie the Pooh's words: they are immune to suggestions and hostile to First Amendment protected activity.
Let the rain date disasters bring justice and reforms.
We look forward to the 2016 elections.  
We're looking forward to more competent commissioners, like reform Mayor Nancy Shaver.
Enough gooberishness.

Guns-recoil-forward lawyer blasts NY Times, reporter Walt Bogdanich on Michelle O'Connell Case: JEREMY BANKS' Mouthpiece Shows His Inner Angst With Letter to Governor RICK SCOTT (IN HAEC VERBA)

Counsel for Deputies JEREMY BANKS and SCOTT O'CONNELL: Who's Paying the Piper?

Do guns recoil forward? Do Florida Sheriffs and State's Attorneys coverup crimes by the well-connected?

Former Assistant State's Attorney ROBERT LESTER McLEOD, II, a/k/a "MAC," wrote Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT on September 2, 2015 about a New York Times article on the Michelle O'Connell case. The letter attacks The New York Times, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Walt Bogdanich and veteran Florida civil rights lawyer William Sheppard. Contacted by telephone November 21, 2015, reporter Bogdanich stated that he has no respect for the opinions of someone who believes that "guns recoil forward." A message was left for attorney Sheppard and attorney McLEOD.

McLEOD states in his September 2, 2015 letter to Governor SCOTT:

Dear Governor Scott:
I read with interest the recent New York Times article by Walt Bogdanich about Eighth Circuit State's Attorney William Cervone concerning his findings and resolution in the investigation he was assigned by you regarding FDLE agent, Rusty Ray Rodgers.

As you may be aware (sic), Mr. Bogdanich himself has become part (sic) of the story as he has taken a strident (sic) and unsupported (sic) position on the facts, (or rather, his fictionalized (sic) version of the facts), in order to create (sic) a story for The New York Times. One need only reference the first paragraph of the recent article to confirm (sic) how far (sic) astray (sic) Mr. Bogdanich has wandered (sic). Agent Rodgers was not "drawn into" anything as reported. He was asked to investigate the death of Michelle O'Connell by St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, and thereupon engaged in egregious and unprofessional conduct, including false representations to State Attorneys, Medical Examiners and a Judge.

Three separate State Attorneys have determined and confirmed Agent Rodger's (sic) misconduct (sic) and Federal and State Court lawsuits are pending to address these issues on behalf of its (sic) victims (sic), Deputies Jeremy Banks and Scott O'Connell.

Moreover, Mr. Bogdanich's initial representations that Michelle O'Connell was "in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend… when she was killed with the officer's service weapon" are contrary (sic) to the discovered and credible evidence. That said, Mr. Bogdanich and The New York Times are story writers and the truth (sic) was apparently not a compelling story. Three (sic) State Attorneys, four (sic) Medical Examiners and about every law enforcement officer investiging the issue, except Rusty Rodgers, have concluded (sic) the death of this young woman was a suicide. Although tragic enough, to worse this by implying unlawful behavior with false (sic) information and perjured (sic) statements only combines (sic) the tragedy. Such is journalism with Mr. Bogdanich and The New York Times.

Rusty Rodger's (sic) attorney apparently now complains State Attorney Cervone has made "unsupported and false allegations of bias and unethical conduct" concerning his client, Rodgers. I am unsure why Mr. Sheppard is not similarly upset with the State Attorneys in the Fifth, Seventh (sic) and Ninth Circuit who have come to similar (sic) conclusions. Moreover, to claim Mr. Cervone has made "unsuppored and false allegations" is unquestionably, the (vicarious)(sic) pot calling the kettle black.

Mr. Bogdanich goes on in his article to point to "The Times" investigation of the death. A rookie prosecutor looking at the actual evidence in this case cold conclude The New York Times "conclusion" is nonsense (sic). And it wasn't rookie prosecutors that (sic) made these findings but rather, nearly 100 years of combined experience of veteran Florida prosecutors. Thankfully for the falsely (sic) accused in this state, editorially slanted (sic) newspapers and sensationalist (sic) reporters are not given the responsibility attendant to professional investigators.

One should also consider the complainant, William Sheppard is a veteran criminal defense lawyer who has been skillfully representing drug traffickers, child sexual abusers, and murderers for well over 40 years. Perhaps in his defense (sic), his perspective in this instance may be somewhat influenced by representing someone who has not engaged in the most heinous of criminal offenses and may explain his expressed indignation with Mr. Cervone's findings. It is not often he has he chance to represents someone who avoids charges and hence, in comparison, Rusty Rudgers must seem ripe to support with such vigor.

Notwithstanding, reference to the reports and evidence developed by State Attorneys King, Ashton and Cervone make clear (sic) the protests by Mr. Sheppard are baseless; but again, they are great copy for the New York Times' dwindling (sic) readership.


Robert L. McCleod II, B.C.S.

Ed's notes:
1. B.C.S. presumably stands for "Board Certified Specialist, although it could stand for Bull Crap Strategist.
2. Who is paying MAC McCLEOD to represent Deputies JEREMY BANKS and SCOTT O'CONNELL in federal court actions?
3. Who would trust or hire MAC McLEOD a lawyer who:
A. refused to comment to The New York Times,
B. refused to comment to PBS Frontline,
D. refused to comment to this blog,
D. does not claim to have written a retraction letter,
E. disgraced himself on the set of Dr. Phil,
F. believes that guns recoil forward,
G. attacks a fellow criminal defense lawyer ad hominem for the identity of his clients,
H. bullies, emotes, can't spell, can't write, can't think and can only ululate,
I. wrote a 580 word letter to the Governor in response to a 892 word article claiming calumnies, without sending a copy to The New York Times.

4. This is one prevaricating, predictable, malicious, malfeasant attorney who:
A. Helped pressure the City of St. Augustine to criminalize art and music on St. George Street on behalf of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce (a/k/a "Chamberpot," the local affiliate of a national organization that has lobbied against all reform legislation since the 1930s);
B. Prevaricated on his website about being a Baptist deacon;
C. Prevaricated on his website about professional organization membership.

5. The form for Florida Bar complaints is here:$FILE/Inquiry%20Complaint%20Form.pdf

Here's a link to The New York Times article about which McLEOD caterwauls and cavils:

Here are links to Mayor Nancy Shaver's letter, written after Mr. Bogdanich's article (before she was Mayor), and to the wealth of journalistic evidence on the Michelle O'Connell shooting:


See now-Mayor Nancy Shaver's December 2013 letter:     The world is watching us. See, e.g.:

The New York Times, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night" by Walt Bogdanich & Glenn Silber (November 24, 2013):
PBS/Frontline,   "A Death in St. Augustine (November 26, 2013):   NBC News Dateline  , "Two Shots Fired" (April 18, 2014):  
Folio Weekly: Jeff Billman, "Somebody's lying -- An activist accuses the St. Augustine Record of bowing 
to pressure from Jeremy Banks' attorney. The paper accuses her of spreading misinformation" (September 17, 2014),,10912  
Dr. Phil, "The Mystery of Michelle O'Connell" (November 3, 2014):  
Folio Weekly, "Murder, He Wrote," by Susan Cooper Eastman (November 19, 2014),  
Folio Weekly, "The Proxy War," by Derek Kinner (March 4, 2015):  
New York Times, "Agent Cleared Over 2010 Florida Shooting Inquiry, but Lawyer Lashes Out," by Walt Bogdanich (August 27, 2015)

WJXT-4, "Deputy opens up on Michelle O’Connell shooting death,"

Photo credit: The New York Times   

Image result for michelle o'connell

Image result for michelle o'connell

Jax police nab HRO bomb-threatening homophobe: So glad we don't live in Jacksonville, Florida

No charter review ever, in St. Augustine

There has never been a charter review in St. Augustine, Dr. ROBERT E. LEE, DPA, revealed to Commissioners at the November 19, 2015.  City Attorney ISABELLE LOPEZ agreed, and is aware of no charter review commission ever being appointed.  Wonder why? While the charter has been amended, it was not synoptic: it responded to a crisis or one-percenter demand.
The City of St. Augustine Beach has a Charter Review Commission every ten years.
Most recently, it recommended permanent limits on building heights.
A City of St. Augustine Charter amendment could do the same.
We could also require an Inspector General, Ombuds, and other reforms.
Commissioners barely discussed this finding -- were they too busy trying to find aid and comfort from ROBERT E. LEE, a/k/a "BAGHDAD BOB," looking for love in all the wrong places, or looking for ammo to use against reform Mayor Nancy E. Shaver?
What do you reckon?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Watch City Commission Training Travesty Tape: A Waste of Time and Money, as FGCU Professor Dr. ROBERT E. LEE, DPA Patronizes Our City Commissioners for Pay

Play the tape.
Two things may be seen on the November 19, 2015 City Commission 8 AM meeting tape.

First there's discussion of May Street traffic solution. Good action.
Then there's an inept, overpriced two hour "training" held at the behest of the City Manager, JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E., and his running dog, our ethically challenged CYA C.P.A. Commissioner, oleaginous ODD TODD NEVILLE (R-Proctorville).
The training was done by a Confederate, dull Dr. ROBERT E. LEE (if that's his real name).
Dr. ROBERT E. LEE, DPA is an Assistant Professor at FGCU and Executive Director of Center for Florida Local Government Excellence (sic), who works for the Florida League of Cities, providing training for Florida government agencies.   
ROBERT E. LEE, this slow-talking former City Manager explained the structure of Florida and federal governments as if it were a high school civics class.  He explained the forms of government.  I kid you not. His point was that St. Augustine has a strong City Manager form of government. 
Dr. ROBERT E. LEE advised Commissioners to read the Florida Constitution as a soporific or sleeping pill and showed utter contempt for Sunshine and Open Record laws, and for public participation, saying several times as his mendacious mantra that "you have less rights than the average citizen" or later, "general citizens."  
Oh, really?  
Is there martyrdom involved?  
What an absurd construct.
"General citizens" do not have government lawyers and insurance companies to defend their illegal actions, or "sovereign immunity" or "absolute immunity" or "qualified immunity" from their tortious behavior.
He suggested that Commissioners "compliment in public and counsel in private," suggesting that they not criticize anyone in government in public.
ROBERT E. LEE, called "BOB" by Commissioner TODD NEVILLE, was prepared to answer questions that NEVILLE appeared to be reading.  His answers did not always please NEVILLE.
Commissioner TODD NEVILLE copped to discussions with other Commissioners outside meetings, saying he and Commissioner LEANNA S.A. FREEMAN (R-LEN WEEKS CONSTRUCTION) "joke about" how she "snapped at" him about "the technicality of how I made my emotion, I mean my emotion." In caffeine veritas.
Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE (R-KAREN TAYLOR LAND PLANNER) lamented the loss of "sharing meals -- deeply meaningful and symbolic" where the Commissioners communed together, sometimes during dinner breaks keeping citizens waiting while Commissioners talked and yucked it up, mocking us as they ate sometimes unhealthy food at our expense, waiting like European monarchs.  
No, she meant "shambolic."
(Two different reporters, from Folio Weekly and The St. Augustine Record, have witnessed these breaks under prior Commissons, and witnessed Sunshine violations.  When the dinner breaks were routine, the public was never told it was a dinner break and never told how long the break would last, in meetings that begin at 5 and end late at night. Cruel, these ornery Commissioners, lamenting for the days of Mayor JOE BOLES).
"I feel very strongly that's disrespectful to the public" -- having a meal in the middle of the Commission meeting -- Mayor Shaver said.  
Mayor Shaver pointedly noted that some of her fellow Commissioners have refused to respond to her by saying "hello," or "goodnight."  Petty, this "Gang of Four," and now outed for it.
Mayor Shaver said she disagreed with Commissioners' public push for unanimous 5-0 votes and was immediately interrupted mid-sentence by Commissioners SIKES-KLINE and FREEMAN.
City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. actually lamented that there are no more Sunshine-violating "bond trips" to New York City, as under the man he has called his "mentor," serial polluter WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS, his "predecessor." 
Those wasteful "business trips" were illegal, just like the proposed "business trip" to Spain that We, the People and Holland & Knight halted in 2010.
ODD TODD NEVILLE whined about receiving a "press release from the office of the Governor Rick Scott" about how the Mayor of St. Augustine endorsed proposed Enterprise Florida reforms in a media interview, falsely claiming it "implies the city."
LEE agreed with Mayor Shaver, who responded to a cavil from REGAN by saying, "But I did communicate with you."
Mayor Shaver said she had done the same on climate change and would continue to do so.
REGAN praised his "buffer," TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD, who offends so many people.
REGAN did a Floridian slip, referring to "my staff, uh, not my staff, the City staff." REGAN admitted that he and Assistant City Manager TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD have a "symbiotic relationship," and that for any "sensitive thing" Commissioners can talk to the notably insensitive BURCHFIELD.
REGAN forbade Commissioners to talk with anyone else, an illegal, unconstitutional gag order in violation of the First Amendment.
REGAN oddly said he had seen other ">city managers crash and burn" because they are control freaks;"I'm not a controller," REGAN said.
At one point LEE said Commissioners should "not be calling a dozen times a day." No, "we text message," NEVILLE said.
Referring to his secretary, REGAN stated" Lucy [Fountain] is an air traffic controller ... very good at response to constituent concerns…" (That's not how Judith Seraphin felt about e-mail concerning exposed rebar on a bench on the Bayfront said to be under FDOT jurisdiction -- "there's nothing we can do." (I helped solve the problem with one phone call to FDOT; City Hall has a can't-do style that offends).
LEE ended with a few more bromides,including a mangled version of Theodore Roosvelt's Sorbonne "Man in the Arena quote."
Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE gushed, "I live by that."
Earlier, LEE suggested picking their teeth or other distractions to avoid reacting to criticism, as he did, apparently considering all criticism ever laid at him or Commissioners to be unjustified, with a tone of voice suggestive of authoritarian disdain for dissent.
LEE said, "you are not going to be among the poor and timid souls in this life"
SIKES-KLINE said "this job has been a character builder." As to the obviousness of the training, she said, "a lot of it I did know," referring to what she termed the "reptilian part of our brains …. we have to train ourselves to be patient.
This "Team Player" session was for the birds.

A waste of time and money.
"Training" is for dogs!
"Team Players" are for athletic teams.
Trite tropes are for supercilious City Managers and their silly minions.
Still waiting for our documents to be sent by City Hall by e-mail, as is customary.
Where are they?
It's our money.
I asked on November 19: "Was this a no-bid contract? Why? How much was spent? Who recommended and selected the contractor? Please send documents. Thank you."
We're still waiting.
We're still waiting for ODD TODD to apologize for spending City time and resources on bogus libel lawsuit in violation of state law and our U.S. Constitution.
It's our money.
You might wish to opine on whether we need a recall petition on ODD TODD NEVILLE.
Meanwhile, gather round, and laugh at the dull training by ROBERT E. LEE and ask yourselves why ODD TODD thought Commissioners needed such training so urgent-LEE?
Did ODD TODD figure that Dr. ROBERT E. LEE would be his MINI-ME?

I have requested documents from FGCU and LEE under the Florida Open Records law on LEE.

Image result for baghdad bob

If anyone had asked me, I woul

If asked, I would have recommended against hiring this hick hack, ROBERT E. LEE, who wasted $9500 of City of St. Augustine Beach funds on a bogus study of city services, never talking to any non-government employee -- not one citizen of St. Augustine Beach was interviewed.  I was cheered at St. Augustine Beach last year when I pointed that out, as dozens of people were made to wait for LEE's dumb 'ole presentation.  This presentation was wisely made at 9 AM at a Special meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission.  Here's what I wrote last year about this humbug, ROBERT E. LEE, a/k/a "BAGHDAD BOB" of the FLori-DUH League of Cities"

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Confederacy of Dunces -- St. Augustine Beach Wasted $9500 on A Worthless Study of Government Services

ROBERT E. LEE, DPA of Naples, Florida was guilty of droning on and boring residents in the St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting room -- delayed in exercising their right to public comment for an hour -- an academic and former City Manager was paid $9500 for a worthless study of city services.
ROBERT E. LEE talked to city employees, but not one single resident.
ROBERT E. LEE is a schnorer.
ROBERT E. LEE is a phony.
Schnorer ROBERT E. LEE's presentation was a snorer.
ROBERT E. LEE's one good recommendation -- a forensic audit because the City has only one employee handling its finances, a breach of fiduciary duty -- fell on deaf ears, and he soft-pedaled it by saying that the City's regular auditor could do it, when the standard of care is for a forensic audit to be done by an auditor outside the City's regular auditing and chain of command!
ROBERT E. LEE did not talk about the City's high EMR rating, its resulting high workers' compensation bills and lack of a safety culture compared to other governments (including St. Johns County, which has safety awards).
ROBERT E. LEE did not talk about the City's for no-bid contracts and Sunshine and Open Records violations.
The academic did not talk about the City's never auditing Florida Power & Light and other franchise taxpayers.
The academic did not talk about the City's EEO policies -- zero African-Americans out of 50 employees.
The no-bid ROBERT E. LEE contract was rightly opposed by citizen Robert Kahler before it was issued, at the request of Commissioner Sherman Gary Snodgrass.
LEE is principal in Local Government Advisors, Inc., apparently operating out of his residence.
LEE's baby talking report could have been written by a graduate student (and probably was).
The LEE report, obviously a block and copy snow job, was so patronizingly presented that people were angry.
I was the only citizen who addressed the ROBERT E. LEE report.
I spoke against it, and told Commissioners they wasted their money on another no-bid contract.
There was loud applause from the St. Augustine Beach residents in the audience.
Never again should contracts be let for just under the threshold for competitive bidding ($10,000).
In fact, the threshold needs to be returned to $5000, which it was until quietly changed in 2004.
Never again should local governments waste money on worthless studies by academics and on no-bid contracts.
Our local governments need never again give a contract to ROBERT E. LEE, or act like a Confederacy of Dunces.
It's our money.
ROBERT E. LEE's report: