Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wasteful, Corrupt City of St. Augustine Has $1/2 Million Public Relations Budget, and Snotty Little Ex-Mayor Exocriating Critics for Pay!

What a prostitute! GARDNER wrote his newsletter while still a Commissioner, then got City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS to hire him back, for $1250/month, excoriating critics with a one-size fits all babytalking newsletter. How trite.

GARDNER conceded "rampant corruption in City Hall" during a 2006 debate with Peter Romano at the then-community center in the former Lighthouse Restaurant. It's now the clubhouse for the Yacht Club, one of many crooked deals in the Nation's Oldest City.

And no, ERROL JONES does not treat people with respect. He's mean. He's insulted people speaking about the illegal dumping and environmental racism in our City.
He's an Uncle Tom. We don't respect him. We don't respect his corruption and his being in bed with the ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARDs of the world. We don't respect his condescension.

I voted for GARDNER several times and he is one of the most disapppointing poliicians I've ever supported -- see 2006 blog posts for more details.

Here's one:

Friday, October 27, 2006
Mayor GEORGE GARDNER Concedes "Rampant Corruption," Loses Another Debate

St. Augustine MAYOR GEORGE GARDNER conceded that there was "rampant corruption" in City Hall last night in a public debate.

GARDNER lost his cool and lost yet another debate to Lincolnville community leader Peter Romano, who is running against GARDNER for Commissioner and JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. for Mayor.
BOLES did not attend the debate in his own neighborhood. Citizens were thus unable to ask him questions about the issues raised by senior citizens’ family members as on

Mayor GARDNER was caught in tergiversations.

Unlike Boles, at least GARDNER participated in the public debate before a combined meeting of three neighborhood associations (the Lighthouse and North and South Davis Shores neighborhoods). The debate was held at the Salt Run Community Center (formerly the city-owned Lighthouse Restaurant) on October 26th from 7-9 PM.

Mayor GEORGE GARDNER and the man he only refers to as "my opponent" (Lincolnville’s Peter Romano) participated in the debate, along with County Commission candidates Ken Bryan and Ron Sanchez.
Some 30 citizens watched in amazement as Mayor GARDNER repeatedly lost his cool.

Again and again, Mayor GARDNER was caught prevaricating.

One resident complained about the misuse of the increase in the fire fee for general revenues, instead of hire pay and more firemen. She told Mayor GARDNER that "your representative was rude and obnoxious" in negotiations with the firemen. An unapologetic GARDNER conceded they negotiations were "not friendly sessions."

After GARDNER was asked about the fire fee issue, GARDNER’s statements were rebutted by St. Augustine city fireman Pete Wiley, who outlined the city’s false statements and broken promises (and worse).
Fireman Pete Wiley (whom GARDNER rudely referred to as "one of my firemen") told how an increased fire fee has NOT resulted in increased fireman pay or increased fire protection, breaking promises.

Fireman Pete Wiley even offered to show his paystubs in response to GARDNER’s flummery. GARDNER did not rebut his rebuttal, looking down.

Fireman Pete Wiley cited statistics establishing the lack of adequate firemen to put out residential fires.

Fireman Pete Wiley said there were only 8 fireman on duty in the City last night, when national standards call for at least 15 to be on duty. Mr. Wiley recited specific fires where there were not enough firemen and poor communications between and among city and county fire departments.

Mr. Wiley alleged that our City’s current fire staffing levels violate national fire protection standards.

While Mayor GARDNER claimed that the fire fee was used to buy new fire equipment, Mr. Wiley stated that in fact that fire equipment is purchased with federal grants, not fire fee proceeds.

Folio Weekly newspaper has written about how our City’s fire fees have been used as general revenue.

It appeared to observers that Mayor GARDNER’s defensive claims were knocked into a cocked hat by city fireman Pete Wiley (whom GARDNER referred to as "one of my firemen, apparently using the possessive to refer to employees, in a manner reminiscent of Standard Oil co-founders John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler).

GARDNER was openly hostile to questions about government waste and abuse, turning red and self-righteously refusing to answer me about the city’s illegal dumping into the Old City Reservoir (about which GARDNER publicly promised "answers" on February 27), deferring any answers on white collar crimes and Sunshine violations -- what GARDNER conceded to be "rampant corruption" -- to the man whom he called "my opponent."

In response to GARDNER, Mayor and Commission candidate Peter Romano made the case for financial accountability in the City government, starting with increased auditing (just as a new corporate board member would insist upon accurate books).

Peter Romano supported making St. Augustine a world class tourist destination, increasing our quality of life with public transit (trolleys).

GARDNER claimed that the $22 million parking garage was "never intended to pay for itself." In fact, city officials, including the City’s Chief Operating Officer John Regan, have repeatedly used the benchmark of $100,000 per month in revenue being required to pay debt service.
GARDNER said that the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) would help fund the garage.

Peter Romano cited page 60 of the City’s financial audit and the limitations that keep city property taxes from being used to repay the bonds.

Peter Romano said that CRAs are limited to blighted areas and that the garage is not a "blighted area."

Peter Romano said our City could have obtained federal funds to pay 80% of the cost of the parking garage if only there had been a mass transit system (trolley cars) connected to it and that the city had once again lost an opportunity to provide federal grants to fund our city’s services to tourists.

GARDNER referred to the garage as being on the "periphery" of the city and said that the city would need more parking garages on the "periphery."

Actually, the parking garage is in the heart of the city and is only a few
blocks from the Castillo San Marco, St. George Street and other historic areas.

The massive parking garage now helps obliterate permanently lands that the late Fred Francis donated for baseball fields.
Candidates were asked by one resident to discuss where they saw the city in the year 2030.

Among city candidates, Lincolnville leader Peter Romano was the only city commissioner candidate who addressed the question, talking about long range planning and the process of building a walkable, liveable city. Peter Romano underlined the need to improve the quality of the City’s history by involving "philanthropists" (as in Colonial Williamsburg). Peter Romano has stated the need to broaden our City’s historic tourism focus to include African-American, indigenous (Native American) and Civil War history, not just Spanish and British colonial history. He has stated it was prejudiced for the City not to honor civil rights pioneers.

Asked about the city’s new problem of homelessness (see article below), Peter Romano discussed the need for employment and housing, citing the example of Portland, Oregon, which provides needed job training in pallet-making and other ways of restoring dignity and citizenship.

GARDNER was testy from the start. In his opening statement, he
asserted that "my opponent" was perpetrating a financial smokescreen," but never rebutted the 22% increase in the general fund or that 88% of it was funded by property taxes, an increase unlikely to be maintained in the current real estate market.

In his opening statement, GARDNER also claimed that neighborhood associations did not exist until he created them four years ago.

GARDNER actually referred to city fireman Pete Wiley as one of "my fireman."

Sadly, Mayor GARDNER demonstrated that it only took four years for a "reform" mayor to lose touch with his base and the reasons he was elected.

Eleven days before the election, our City of St. Augustine faces a choice between cleaning up City Hall or perpetuating what Mayor GARDNER readily conceded to be "rampant corruption."

While asserting that St. Johns County was no longer in the "clutches of developers," he did not justify his votes or actions over the past four years as Mayor of St. Augustine, Florida.

GARDNER claimed that PUDs let our City control what developers did
"down to the doorknobs," but could point to no instance in which developers did not obtain exactly what they wanted from the City Commission, CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRISS and CITY PLANNING AND ZONING DIRECTOR MARK KNIGHT.

posted by Ed Slavin @ 11:20 AM

Here's another one (and GARDNER's hands are still in your pockets!)

Monday, November 06, 2006


Body language experts say that people who habitually have their hands in their pockets have something to hide, are secretive or disrespectful or dejected or anxious (or perhaps thinking about money or sex).

Mayor, GEORGE GARDNER spent much of the time at the Lincolnville Festival with his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunched.

Third-generation scion of a political family that has won some 17 elections in 90 years, was GARDNER thinking about his missed opportunities to lead for four years and why voters who avidly supported him have now rejected him (see below). Perhaps GARDNER was rejecting his anti-Gay votes against Rainbow Flags on the Bridge of Lions (twice), voting to ban all but government flag-flying after the Federal Court ordered the flags to fly because of First Amendment violations.

Or perhaps GEORGE GARDNER was thinking about all of the money wasted by the City Hall he now admits suffers from "rampant corruption" (see below) under the regime of CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRIS. (See below).

One thing's for sure -- if voters defeat pollution and what GARDNER admits is "rampant corruption" and defeat corporate welfare advocate GEORGE GARDNER, he won't have GARDNER's hands in our pockets any longer.

With 400 blanket purchase orders, de facto sole source procurement, and rampant purchasing irregularities (including buying gasoline and diesel fuel based on oral telephone quotes every time a storage tank runs out), unbridled discretion of CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRISS to spend up to $500,000 on his say-so, wasting $22 million on an oversized Taj Mahal parking garage and over $500,000 utility bill-paying building for a little town of 13,000, our city government contractors have their hands in OUR pockets.

As former United States Senator Gary Warrent Hart (D-Colorado) perhaps said it best, "you won't get government off your back until you get your hands out of its pockets."

We sincerely hope that GARDNER's hands will no longer be in OUR pockets (or inappropriately touching the persons of city employees).

GARDNER deserves defeat on Tuesday, November 7 (just like defeated County Commissioners KAREN STERN and BRUCE whom City Commissioner JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. refers to as "KAREN " AND "BRUCE."

Peter Romano is the candidate to reform our Nation's Oldest City as Mayor and Commissioner.

See below.

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