Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forgive EPA Employees

When they view stripmining protesters as a "threat." See below.

When they refuse to enforce criminal laws against the City of St. Augustine.

When they harass whistleblowers.

Like Saul of Tarsus, they're capable of change. Forgive them but expect better.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: EPA Afraid of Mountain Justice Summer Protesters, Consides Them A "Threat"


Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared a "national alert to all EPA facilities" due to "demonstrations directed toward EPA offices by an activist group known as Mountain Justice Summer" protesting the agency's anemic posture on mountain top removal coal mining. The all-employee alert warns that these activists "should be considered a potential threat".

Actress Daryl Hannah was among the protestors, so the concern was understandable.

Unfortunately, a pattern of defensiveness may have already sunk in with the new leaders at EPA. Instead of inviting the protesters in to talk, the agency simply retreats to the bunker. Meanwhile, to tout its supposed transparency, EPA posts the most opaque calendars designed not to reveal what is going on. Here's a sample:
Senior Managers Schedules
* Senior Manager Schedules
* 06/29/2009: Lisa P. Jackson
Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Working Schedule for: 06/29/2009
TIME EVENT
12:15-12:25 PM Meeting with Administration Officials
EPA Headquarters
Closed Press
5:15-6:00 PM Meeting with Administration Officials
EPA Headquarters
Closed Press

Help PEER press for the change we need - but have yet to see.

Sincerely,


Jeff Ruch
Executive Director

P.S. Read a critique of the Waxman-Markey bill by EPA specialists who will be charged with enforcing it.

P.P.S. Big victory in the Chambers case: In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the claim of former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers that records exonerating her may have been illegally destroyed by Bush administration officials. The ruling also sets a precedent for using the Privacy Act to redress improper shredding of personnel files and other record. Take a look at the decision.

Forgive Government Employees When They Write Hate Speech About First Amendment Protected Activity on "Anonymice" Websites.


But be not afraid of them! Their bark is worse than their bite.

TORQUEMADA "TORTURED?": City of St. Augustine managers ' angst-ridden exhibition of hatred of Open Record requests posted on KKK-Style hate website


Inquisition water torture, circa 1556 (year after our City's founding)



WILLIAM B. HARRISS, ST. AUGUSTINE CITY MANAGER, chief violator of First Amendment rights in St. Augustine, Florida, he ordered dumping of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir and ir and coverup of sewage effluent dumped in saltwater marsh




Tomás de Torquemada, first Inquisitor General of Spain





Who but top-level apparatchiks would be so hateful about the Public's Right to Know as to obsess about a single Open Records website it on a KKK-style hate website, on New Years' Eve?


From www.shamefulpeople.com:

In a recent exchange between Slavin and the City which was published by Slavin on his own blog, Slavin reveals his obsession with torturing the processes of local government.

At the apparent instigation of Dwight Hines, Slavin finds a reference on a public Internet website that erroneously indicated a late filing of a quarterly report concerning the city waste water treatment plant.

Slavin contacts John Regan and Martha Campbell to find out why the report has not been filed with the Environmental Protection Agency …. but he is not content to stop there.

Before he receives a response or takes the time to gather the facts, he “shotguns” his initial request for an answer to several media outlets. From the e-mail that Slavin published, it appears that in addition to contacting Regan and Campbell for an answer, he “carbon copied” the following:

kati.bexley@staugustinerecord.com;
margo.pope@staugustine.com;
peter.ellis@staugustine.com;
peter.guinta@staugustinerecord.com;
judith@globalwrap.com;
1011@concentric.net;
stetsonkennedy@earthlink.net;
themail@folioweekly.com;
sceastman@folioweekly.com;
anne.schindler@folioweekly.com;
dhines@se.rr.com;
ladydi.01@comcast.net;
bryan4744@bellsouth.net;
EASlavin@aol.com

It turns out that the city had filed the report for the July-September quarter as required. After taking time to search the local records, the city located certified mail receipts signed by the agency showing receipt of the
reports.

The city took additional time to contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Compliance representative, Karen Girard, who concurred that the DMR’s are on file as required.

There was no need for alarm. The sky is not falling.

We have witnessed this shameful behavior by Slavin in the past. Wave the red flag! Alert the media! The city has done something wrong! Scoop! Only to find out later that there was absolutely nothing wrong except more time and taxpayer money wasted chasing one of Ed Slavin’s tall tales and hysterical allegations.

I find it interesting that Slavin has shameful Commissioner Ken Bryan on his e-mail distribution. Birds of a feather …..
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 at 5:53 PM and is filed under Ed Slavin, Ken Bryan . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


6 Responses to “Slavin tactics reveal shameful agenda”

*
BabbleOn Says:
January 1st, 2009 at 9:53 AM

The text of Slavin’s letters posted on his shameful site reveal a ‘reply to’ fax number (904-819-5817) belonging to Global Wrap, owned by Judith Seraphin. Is Global Wrap and Judith Seraphin to be held accountable for Slavin’s ill-intentioned damage?

As far as Ken Bryan being on the email list- no wonder there. Both Democrats, both deceptive, both self serving opportunists who offer nothing, in the end. Anywhere you find false allegations, Slavin and Ken Bryan will be there.
*
BabbleOn Says:
January 3rd, 2009 at 1:08 PM

I think Slavin may be unhappy about his appearance on ShamefulPeople.com. Could it be that it’s hit too close to home, and his paychecks at GlobalWrap? Or can he just dish out lies about others and not take the truth about himself? Is he really surprised that nobody wants to shake his hand or willfully speak to him?
Get used to it, Mr. Slavin. We see you for the deranged, unhinged, delusional, unbalanced, social outcast, decrepit, useless maligner, falsifier, perjurer, malicious self serving scurrilous rodent in our midst. Your slime will not cling to anyone except for those who pay you to act this way, and those who use you to serve themselves.
*
Taxed2Death Says:
January 5th, 2009 at 7:14 PM

Frankly, I don’t care if Ed Slavin is “happy” or “unhappy”.

I DO CARE about the money he makes our government waste responding to his ridiculous, self-serving snipe hunts.

THAT’S OUR GOD DAMNED TAX MONEY YOU ARE WASTING, JACKASS!
*
acereporter Says:
January 6th, 2009 at 6:13 AM

Slavin only has one obviously self-serving agenda — force government employees to waste time by taking time away from their official responsibilities just to play with him.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Slavin sent an e-mail to the city on 12/30/08 at 4:39 p.m. because, based on an e-mail he received from troublemaker Dwight Hines, he thought that he caught them filing a late report; .

The city researched Slavin’s question and John Regan responded, by e-mail, on 12/31/08 at 1:25 p.m. informing Slavin that they had located the documents showing that the three pertinent reports had each been filed when due.

Slavin, in his own inimitable way, can not be satisfied that he has just wasted a day of city administrators time on the phone and in e-mail just to find out that nothing was wrong — now he demands copies of the proof be faxed to him and copies of all the related documents.

AT THIS POINT, SLAVIN IS WAY OUTSIDE OF THE SCOPE OF ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS THAT IS PROVIDED IN FLORIDA LAW.

Under the law, Slavin has the right to go to the custodian of the records and inspect them, in person, at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice, without charge.

The city office is under no obligation to respond immediately to Slavin’s questions by producing copies of documents, either by e-mail or fax, without collecting a reasonable fee for that service. The City of St. Augustine offered to provide access to the records at City Hall - as required. The city is under NO OBLIGATION to be Ed Slavin’s personal secretarial service.

Regan’s e-mail response to Slavin was a courtesy offered to reassure him that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the city PRIMARILY because of the fact that Slavin had abusively copied in several media contacts implying that he had accomplished some earth-shattering discovery — which he hadn’t.

In Regan;s response, he says:

The City’s Public Records Policy provides that copies of public records are available for a statutory fee of $0.15 per page. The return receipts total three pages, and the associated documents total an additional 48 pages. At $0.15 per page, copying costs total $7.65. You may review the records or obtain copies at the Office of the City Manager, 75 King Street, Fourth Floor, St. Augustine.

Instead of paying the $7.65 for copies of the requested records, it is ONCE AGAIN clear that Slavin has no intention, or possibly no capacity, to pay the minimal fee required for their production.

Slavin did the same thing recently in requesting records from State Representative Bill Proctor’s office - records which were gathered at Slavin’s request — but for which Slavin refused to pay.

Slavin claims to make the Governor’s office provide copies of public records without charge but their is no evidence of that.

PAY THE $7.65 YOU FREELOADING BASTARD or quit wasting our government employee’s time.

Instead of paying the fees for the work he has ordered, this deadbeat elects to bully and ridicule the city SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WONT FAX COPIES of documents to him on demand for free.

Excerpts from Slavin’s published comments:

Rather Than Fax Copies of Three (3) Return Receipt Cards, City of St. Augustine Would Rather Fight Than Switch

Arrogance is as arrogance does — see the latest time-waster from City Attorney RONALD W. BROWN (below). Rather than fax the cards upon which the City relies to claim it sent information to EPA timely — rather than waive fees, as the Governor’s office routinely does — RON BROWN would rather show his (ample) behind.

Your running interference for the City on the simplest of requests –occasioned by EPA’s database reporting you in violation — is pettifoggery, plain and simple.

WILLIAM B. HARRISS’ officiousness and pettiness is again on display — having his minions waste their time by writing pointless letters instead of faxing the cards, which would have taken 30 seconds.

Pettifogging city of St. Augustine city attorney Ronald Brown would rather write ukaeses about illegal “policy” than fax return receipt cards.

SHAMEFUL! SHAMEFUL! SHAMEFUL!
*
Red Ruffansore Says:
January 7th, 2009 at 8:28 PM

“running interference for the City on the simplest of requests –occasioned by EPA’s database reporting you in violation — is pettifoggery, plain and simple.”

Dictionary.com defines ‘pettifog’:

1. to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.
2. to carry on a petty, shifty, or unethical law business.
3. to practice chicanery of any sort.

Someone needs to take a quick peek in the mirror.

At least that’s the way Old Red sees it.
*
JustWink Says:
January 15th, 2009 at 4:53 PM

“Goes around, comes around.”

“Turn about is fair play.”

Not quoting any of Ed Slavin’s illustrious sources, but they make the point.

It’s about time Slavin and his many equally as demented cohorts were singled out for the constant pettifoggery they have perpetrated–and continue to perpetrate–upon the City and its employees over the past few years.

Slavin’s blitzkreigs on the City Commission and City Administration are nightmares for taxpayers in this town of 14,000.

Waste staff time = waste money.

Picturing Slavin as Heath Ledger’s “The Joker” in “The Dark Knight,” I’d like to say to Slavin: STOP WASTING OUR TIME, MONEY AND RESOURCES.

Salacious and vituperative language is okay for Slavin to spew, but when someone dares call him out for continuing his attacks and lies there is always a high-pitched squeal of “My First Amendment rights!”

Shameful People needs to add Betty J. (a/k/a “BJ”) Kalaidy to its cast of disgruntled, misled, useless characters. And Dr. Dwight Hines.


(End of hateful rant by City of St. Augustine managers and their hangars-on)


Commentary: They named their website well -- these are "Shameful people" who put 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir.

Is aerial spraying of organophosphates on protected species and their nests a taking under federal criminal laws?

What do you reckon?

April 2009 environmental report on NC Turnpike states at – 31-32

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The bald eagle was adopted as a national symbol in 1782. During the next century and a half, the bald eagle was heavily hunted. This led Congress to pass the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940 to prevent the species from becoming extinct. In 1962, Congress adopted the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) to protect golden eagles, which also strengthened protection of bald eagles since they were often killed by
people mistaking them for golden eagles. The BGEPA prohibits the "take, possession, sale, or purchase" of the bald eagle as well as the "offer to sell, purchase, export or import" the bald eagle "at any time or in any manner (16 USC 668-668d)." (USFWS Web site: www.fws.gov/permits/mbpermits/ActSummaries.html).
The BGEPA defines the ‘‘take'' of an eagle to include a broad range of actions: ‘‘pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, or molest or disturb''; the broadest of these terms is ‘‘disturb.'' ‘‘Disturb'' has been defined by the USFWS in regulations (50 CFR 22.3) as: ‘‘to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available, (1) injury to an eagle, (2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or (3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior.''

Projects located in proximity to a bald eagle nest may have the potential to "disturb" the species and thus could result in an incidental take. The USFWS has proposed regulations that would provide a basis for authorizing incidental takes of bald eagles under the BGEPA (72 FR 31,141, June 7, 2007). That rulemaking has not yet been finalized. Since the bald eagle was declared recovered and removed from the

Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species in July 2007, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA)is the primary law protecting bald eagles. The bald eagle also continues to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA),

http://www.ncturnpike.org/pdf/06_DEISGaston_Ch6_NaturalEnv.pdf

Whetstone chocolate factory to build on King Street?

Whetstone chocolate factory returning



PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 06/30/09

A 10,080-square-foot Whetstone chocolate factory and retail store might soon sweeten up the former Cooper Tires property at 149 King St., according to zoning documents filed Monday with St. Augustine Planning and Building Department.

The applicant, Henry "Hank" Whetstone Jr., is asking for a "use by exception" to build a candy factory on that site.

The board meets at 2 p.m. July 7 in the Alcazar Room at City Hall.

Whetstone declined to be interviewed for this story, but the city's Planning Department recommended "that the Planning & Zoning Board can approve (that request)."

Mark Knight, director of planning and building, said he saw only one hurdle that this applicant must conquer -- meeting Federal Emergency Management Agency flood guidelines.

"Those must be addressed," Knight said. "A change in use from motor vehicles to a manufacturing plant means they will have to flood-proof the building."

The federal flood height is nine feet, but the building must be sealed to 10 feet, Knight said.

"The only problem is at the openings," he said.

With normal doors, drop-down plates can be installed to create a flood seal, he said. But the building also has four service bays that could be difficult to seal unless bricked over.

At one time, the property was owned by the Florida East Coast Railway. Now, it has 30 striped parking spaces.

City records indicate that India Pezzi of DeLand owns the $480,000 property, and $193,960 building. She did not return phone calls asking if she sold or leased the property to the Whetstones.

The family's business began in the kitchen of Esther and Henry Whetstone Sr., in the 1960s. In the 1970s, they moved the business to Cordova Street. It moved to a 10,000-square-foot facility on State Road 312 in 1984 but closed a few years ago to make room for their state-of-the-art office building, Whetstone Place.

The public believed for the past years that the old Hardees property at King Street and U.S. 1 was to be the future site of the Whetstones' new two-story factory. But that was not to be.

Knight said he'd heard those plans.

"But (the Whetstones) haven't included any reference to us about that (property) at this point," he said.

Knight said the old Cooper Tires garage had "passed its time" in that location and "this (new site) is much more conducive to tourists than their (Whetstone's) location (off S.R. 312)."

#

Use by exception

According to St. Augustine City Code, a "use by exception" means "a use that would not be appropriate generally through the zoning district, but which if controlled as to the number, area, location or relation to the neighborhood, would promote the public health, safety, morals, order, comfort, convenience, appearance, prosperity or general welfare."

Click here to return to story:
http://staugustine.com/stories/063009/news_1691977.shtml

© The St. Augustine Record

Developer-driven entourage abuses outstanding environmental attorney Ralf Brookes on KKK-style website


Cap worn by one of the Anonymice hate site posters in St. Augustine, Florida.

Ralf Brookes, a lawyer for Florida environmentalists and local governments, was personally attacked in late June on a KKK-type website closely associated with the City of St. Augustine and its tatterdemalion City Manager, WILLIAM B. HARRISS.

The KKK-style www.disgracefulpeople.com and www.plazabum.com websites' jejune attacks on attorney Ralf Brookes typify the genre of mean-spirited attacks by anonymous posters ("the Anonymice") -- attacks in the spirit of "The Control Game" (below) and the Republican hitman's textbook, "Damage Control." (below)

The Anonymice's snotty, snooty personal attacks on attorney Ralf Brookes and County Commissioner J. Kenneth Bryan are ultimately as boring predictable as the animus-ridden energumen who write them, practicing:
1. Guilt by association (card-carrying member of the Sierra Club).
2. Personal appearance.
3. He's not from around here.
4. He wasn't "invited" by the government to criticize it.

How trite. Sounds like the PR department of a tobacco company on autopilot. One of the most frequent posters on the Plazabum.comhate site is NANCY SIKES-KLINE a/k/a "bullg8rlady," who has since May 31, 2007 posted 528 times on Plazabum.com, some 1.47% of total or an average of 0.69 posts per day].

COMMISSIONER NANCY SIKES-KLINE's "Anonmymice" handle (bullg8rlady) is the same one that she used on the now-closed St. Augustine Record board, "Talk of the Town."

At the June 22, 2009 City Commission meeting, she made funny faces at Commissioner Leeanna Freeman, while stating that she (SIKES-KLINE a/k/a bullg8rlady) was "ready to vote": because she had "done [her] homework."

How? By listening to City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN, another Plazabummer, about the urgent need to settle the Fish Island lawsuit, benefiting BROWN's former client, PIERRE THOMPSON, grandson of the founder of the St. Augustine Record, whose real estate company pled guilty in federal court last year to molesting a bald eagle nest tree on October 8, 2001.

Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE is employed by land planner KAREN TAYLOR, who will say nearly anything for developers.

In 1776, British loyalists in St. Augustine burned the Declaration of Independence and (in effigy) John Hancock and John Adams. In their spirit today, local KKK-style hate site perpetrators attack any progressive voice.

They're not going to steal our joy today.

Why do these Anonymice hitmen rage?

Because again and again for years they've been defeated in court, exposed in administrative agencies, and proven to be the vacuous, vile, vicious vampires who would put solid waste in our Old City Reservoir and allow sewage effluent to contaminate our saltwater marsh, with a pipe missing hundreds of feet of metal uncorrected for years.

Because we've stood up to them when they perpetrate environmental racism, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, waste, fraud and abuse.

Because they are no longer avoiding questions about their subjecting a small town of only 13,000 people to a bloated city government satrapy with 350 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (only a few dozen of whom live here),

Because people are asking questions with persistence and panache about an incredibly bloated $50 million annual budget and a City Manager who thinks it is his job to run artists off our streets and otherwise violate the First Amendment every day in every way.

Why do the developers and their entourage rage? Why do the emit anonymous defamation, disinformation and baloney?




Because St. Augustine has the most progressive populations in America (according to a former County Commission Chair).

Because we're guiding and changing our local governments from the grass roots, with Commissioners increasingly enlightened about development decisions, to their everlasting credit.

From last year's 5-0 vote stopping the Fish Island schemers from taking our city-owned bottomlands, to this year's 4-0 vote rejecting the effort to inflict an ugly building across the street from the Cathedral, Government House and the Slave Market Square (Plaza de la Constituci├│n, our City Commissioners are increasing their scrutiny of our City Manager's works and pomps.

That's a good thing.

Let the spoiled brat foreign investors and developers and their entourages rage – they can't handle the truth.

Their control over civic life in Our Nation's Oldest City is ending.

The people are winning.

And we see right through the "Control Game" and their "Damage Control" and the vices of the "Anonymice."

Monday, June 29, 2009

CHAIN GANG's ALL HERE AT THE ST. AUGUSTINE ROD & GUN CLUB

Above is a recent photo by St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's bagman, MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a MICHAEL TOBIN, who raised some $250,000 for SHOAR, who allegedly won election in 2004 by promising to bash First Amendment protected activity of environmentalists, bragging on arrests of persons engaged in protected activity with a poster of a newspaper headline and photograph of an illegal arrest.

The revealing photo (above) was taken by MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a MICHAEL TOBIN at a gathering at the controversial ROD & GUN CLUB, shows what appears to be disappointing STATE'S ATTORNEY R.J. LARIZZA and disappointed office-seeker RANDY BRUNSON. BRUNSON escaped Election Commission charges prosecution despite his sweetheart HQ deal with KANTI PATEL,the hotelier.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, eh, MR. LARIZZA? Here you are consorting with cronies and alleged crooks, instead of investigating and prosecuting them. Sounds like a case of "the new boss is the same as the old boss, eh Mr. LARIZZA?

Et tu, R.J.? Say it ain't so, dude, and that you will really prosecute white collar crime and corruption, including Sunshine and Open Records violations.


R.J. LARIZZA, States' Attorney for the 7th Judicial District


Plazabum and Disgraceful People Anonymice" NIC PosterMICHAEL GOLD f/k/a MICHAEL TOBIN AND ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, f/k/a "DAVID HOAR"

Rabid City of St. Augustine Officials Reading Book By Consumer Group Hater ERIC DENZENHALL

Eric is co-founder, of one of the most aggressive groups of Industry advocates known as the pit bull of PR he'll destroy consumer groups to advance industry agenda, for a fee.

Eric Dezenhall co-founded the company that is now Dezenhall Resources, one of the nation’s leading crisis management firms, in 1987. His areas of focus include hard news media relations, crises, and marketplace defense. He manages clients in industries including food, consumer products, entertainment, law enforcement, health care, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals.

Eric has developed a model for how media-hyped attacks on businesses and public figures are “packaged” to include Villains, Victims and Vindicators that fit a pre-cast entertainment format. He frequently lectures in academic and business circles about modern-day witch hunts and the techniques employed to preempt and defuse disparaging media coverage. Eric Dezenhall regularly appears as a damage control expert in the international media, including network television and radio, NPR, CNN, Fox, CNBC, C-SPAN, MSNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Geraldo, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and The Washington Post. He is a contributing writer to Ethical Corporation magazine, and has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New Republic.

Eric Dezenhall is the author of Nail 'Em! Confronting High Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses, a widely cited new text in business, media and academic circles. Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong, will be released in 2007. He is also the author of five damage control novels, Money Wanders, Jackie Disaster, Shakedown Beach, Turnpike Flameout, and Spinning Dixie.

Eric also served on a televised panel discussion in the Senate Caucus Room with Judge Robert Bork and historian Gertrude Himmelfarb examining the role of spin control on the American legal system and culture.

Before forming Dezenhall Resources, Eric Dezenhall was an account executive at Porter Novelli, one of the nation’s largest communications firms (1984-1987). Prior to joining Porter Novelli, Eric served in the White House Office of Communications and Presidential Personnel (1982, 1983) during the Reagan Presidency. He was also on the staff of ICG, Inc., political consultants (1982).

Eric serves on the Board of Directors of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. A student of the American presidency, Eric collects books and political memorabilia, including campaign songs employed by Martin Van Buren’s opponents in the 1836 presidential election.

Eric Dezenhall was born in Camden, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where he studied political science and the news media.

Friday, June 26, 2009

CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE'S "CONTROL GAME" EXPOSED



JOHN REGAN, Assistant City Manager of the City of St. Augusdtine, with sewage "pipe" allowed to rot for years in Lincolnville, one of two environmental racism sites in the City of St. Augustine neglected for years in violation of the 14th Amendment.



The City of St. Augustine's control game is in full swing this Summer, with the deeply conflicted City Attorney, RONALD WAYNE BROWN, attempting to euchre us into settling with developers, including PIERRE THOMPSON, and allowing Fish Island to be destroyed.

City managers are busily reading a book called "Damage Control." It won't help.

This is the same tired old tactic that the Department of Energy and its nuclear weapons plant contractors used. See THE CONTROL GAME, below, with thanks to Paula Elofson and EIN.

What do you reckon?

Environmental Information Network: THE CONTROL GAME === PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT OR PUBLIC RELATIONS: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

THE CONTROL GAME

By E I N

PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT OR PUBLIC RELATIONS: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Originally Published 5/94, converted to HTML 7/97.

A REFERENCE GUIDE FOR RECOGNIZING POLITICAL/SOCIAL CONTROL TACTICS BY POWER BROKERS, LARGE CORPORATIONS, PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRMS, AND GOVERNMENT ENTITIES.

Environmental Information Network (EIN), Inc.TM
P.O. Box 280087, Lakewood, CO 80228-0087 -- pjelofson@aol.com
Paula Elofson-Gardine, Executive Director/Susan Hurst, Publications Director

Tactic 1 -- Make it impossible for people to be involved: These typical control tactics set things up so that it's difficult and inconvenient for interested parties such as the affected public to participate.

Examples:

* Meetings are scheduled at inappropriate locations or times; i.e., during regular working hours, highway rush hours, dinner times, or deliberately conflicting times with similar interest meetings. Strict meeting "guidelines" and use of question cards discourages real dialogue and keeps attendees under control.

Variations:

* Schedule lengthy one-way presentations that will not allow give and take exchange. This precludes the public (including the press) from asking questions or clarifications.
* Conveners may insist that all questions be held until the end, by which time people are tired, the meeting area must be vacated, and the press has had to leave to meet deadlines.
* Allow the public limited time, and a limited number of questions that must pertain to their predetermined set of allowable topics; while the conveners drag out their answers, essentially filibustering away the rest of the time for the meeting -- and coincidentally time for open discussion of issues and answers that many attendees showed up for.
* Staff may be trained to be nice, while having been trained to handle the public by using subtle harassment or baiting techniques, which also discourages public involvement.

These tactics are used to fulfill requirements for public outreach in order to legitimize the process. If attendance is sparse it will be blamed on public apathy, rather than a deliberate effort to exclude public participation. Reject this pretense for public involvement. Short circuit this tactic by standing up as a group and announcing an immediate press conference that will give the press the real story from the citizens outside of the meeting room or across the street from the building, then get up and leave as a group. If this is not immediately possible, let the conveners know that your group will hold its own meeting, protest, and/or press conference the next morning and will continue to inform the media of their non-cooperation on these issues.

Tactic 2 -- Divide and Conquer: This is a well-established tactic that effectively places similar interest groups at odds against each other, when they would otherwise be a formidable force for bureaucratic responsiveness and accountability. This tactic uses existing tensions and divisions between organizations. Name this tactic as soon as you recognize it to short circuit its effectiveness. Make sure that everyone understands what interests they share in common, and why it is in their best interest to continue to work together. A few favorite tactics are described below.

Examples:

* Divide a large issue into many small ones. This forces people and/or organizations to fight many small battles, dispersing their energies. Small groups working in isolation of each other may not be as effective as coordinating efforts to maximize through solid communication and networking.
* Provide enough resources to cover only part of the problem. This can include preparing only a few copies of handouts or important documents so that self-imposed constraints prevent them from being able to provide x, y, or z service -- while it is obvious that there is plenty of budgetary allowance for gratuities, amenities, or items that fulfill their bias or agenda.
* Appoint a committee using key members of the public -- including appointees with views similar to the convener, funder, or directing agency to maintain their control of the committee. Their involvement is then publicly highlighted -- whether or not they attend or participate. Their names will be used strategically (sometimes in absentia), or photos are used to imply consent, agreement, or consensus with the committee -- although they may object or disagree with the viewpoint or findings of the committee. Citizens (token) used in this manner may or may not be aware of their names or pictures being used to artificially lend credibility to the committee or findings in question. In some cases, they may be unaware that they are considered to be a member of the committee.
* Many separate tables are used in large banquet or meeting rooms to break a meeting up into small discussion groups. This effectively keeps valuable information that would otherwise be revealed in the general discussion from being heard by the larger group, which would have enhanced communal brainstorming and questioning of the process or problem at hand. These small group discussions may then be summarized and reported back to the larger group. Carefully placed shills or committee members may serve as group leaders to control group feedback. This suppresses any controversial discussions that don't fit the convener's agenda, and inhibits networking or brainstorming on the issue.
* Seating arranged in "audience fashion" delegates you to a passive role in these meetings. Short-circuit this by playing Musical Chairs. Insist that the tables and/or chairs be moved (circle or horseshoe shape) so that everyone can be an active participant with the conveners or presenters. Put yourselves at the same level and/or table with the power brokers so there is no distance to allow them to feel comfortably in control (no shield). Convert their agenda to your agenda.
* Public relations campaigns (blitzes) into the community will seek out homeowners associations, service groups, schools, and so on, to present biased, incomplete, or misleading information to sidestep opposition to mould and win over public opinion about key issues.

Variations:

* Conduct private (behind closed-door or impromptu) meetings with civic groups, government, or public officials (i.e. city council, county commissioners, etc.) of similar political or philosophical leanings -- without informing citizens or organizations with opposing viewpoints of these meetings.
* Wrong information regarding time and location is provided -- too late to be corrected (The scavenger hunt). This ensures that their message will be presented without all sides of an issue being recognized or openly discussed.

The Government in the Sunshine Act legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress to discourage clandestine or private meetings of government bodies or officials for the purposes of excluding general public or interested parties.

Tactic 3 -- Pack the Meeting: The power brokers will encourage employees to attend x, y, or z meeting. They may also establish telephone trees (which we should be doing) to get employees and supporters to pack a meeting to simulate public support for their position on an issue, and to set the tone of the meeting.

Variation:

* Comment or question cards are used in place of a communal microphone for participants to go to, so everyone can hear and participate in the discussion. Their supporters will stack the deck of comment cards with time wasters, and may continue filling out more cards throughout the meeting to defuse opposition discussion (see tactic 1 -- filibustering).

Short circuit this by meeting with your neighbors, colleagues, or constituents for a pre-meeting conference to discuss opposition tactics and strategy that are barriers to getting your views aired. Come up with your own list of strategy and critical points, then divide them up among yourselves. Go to the meeting prepared with fact sheets, questions, and comments that support your views. Brainstorm with your colleagues, refine the information, then pass it around the neighborhood, or the target audience for and after the meeting. Call the tactics as you see them occur in the meeting to defuse them. Insist on a fair airing of the issues, within everyone's hearing.

Tactic 4 -- Economic Blackmail: When dealing with politically heated issues, especially "company town" polluters, the first threat may be that massive layoffs will occur if they have to: change a process, stop polluting, fix safety problems, clean up contamination, and so on. This is a Red Herring scare tactic that should be immediately brought to everyone's attention.

* In 1988, the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility (RFP) was faced with changes that included decommissioning, the contractor threatened massive layoffs. Economic developers and chambers of commerce predicted local devastation. To the contrary, the cleanup has been a huge economical boost for subcontractors and RFP personnel, who have nearly doubled the numbers of employees that were needed for full production and chemical recovery of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads.
* Retraining and educational programs have blossomed at local colleges. The people to watch are the Developers and Chambers, who will attempt to create new projects, while "dumbing down the workforce" by bringing in minimum wage workers for cleanup jobs, lay off union people, and funnel profits to special interest chums. Stay united, call that tactic, and make them accountable.

No one likes to be picketed, boycotted, or pictured negatively in the press -- these citizen tactics are relatively easy to implement.

Tactic 5 -- Give the appearance of action without doing anything: When faced with an obvious need for change, bureaucrats may try to give the appearance of taking action without actually doing anything. These tactics may sound like this:

* "We have decided to appoint an advisory, special, sub-committee, or commission to study or handle the problem. We want (or need) members of our group to volunteer assistance because we do not have money for staff."
* "Your knowledge, input, or time is so valuable (and so on), we would like you to help us with x, y, or z to work out solutions" (but they will fail to assimilate your information, suggestions, or concerns).
* "We would like to help you by doing x, y, or z for you" -- but the reciprocal help never appears (carrot on the stick).
* "We plan to issue a policy or statement regarding that problem next week, month, year..., so that everyone will know what to do in the future..." Beware of bureaucrats stealing your uncompensated time to tie you up, keeping you out of circulation in the community. Volunteerism can be abused, becoming a time quicksand.

Don't accept inconsequential actions, excuses, and "donothingitis". Set a reasonable amount of time for genuine action, and then tell everyone that you expect action by that date. Think twice before joining "study committees or advisory groups" that are not policy-changing bodies that have no real power to do anything about the issue or problem in question, are funded and directed by your adversary, or by those that represent the other side of your issue. There may not be an accurate record of what has happened from the beginning, during, or at the end of these efforts. Refusal to allow the recording of meetings, or have an accurate paper trail to document important meetings and proceedings is a serious red flag of cover-ups and problems.

Tactic 6 -- Give them a Red Herring, or Get them to Chase the Wrong Bunny: This is an issue or information offered to belittle, patronize, or confound and derail your efforts. When a bureaucrat tries to change the subject from what you are concerned about to what they want you to focus on, they are using a "Bait and Switch" routine.

Examples:

* "I don't know what you're talking about; You don't know your facts; That issue is not important; Why are you interested in that issue?; You have not done enough research; You aren't an expert; Your issue is beside the point, irrational, emotional, or not practical; Why don't you check into, or work on x, y, or z, instead?"
* Engaging attendees in detailed explanations or debates that are intended to sidetrack the issue of concern, hoping that in the heat of debate, you will: Give up, get tired, go home, and forget the key issue.

Be aware of time wasters that will eat up meeting time, and are designed to wear you down. When confronted with this tactic, don't get side tracked. You don't have to be an expert to ask questions, ask for information, or to have legitimate concerns.

Write notes throughout the meeting -- this will help keep you on track. Stick to the issues you want to discuss, while making a special note to follow up, or address the other person's issue later, if they genuinely desire to do so.

Tactic 7 -- Refuse to give out information, or make it impossible to get it: Bureaucrats plan that this tactic will discourage you, so that you will give up and go away. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) format may have to be invoked to get cooperation. You must know what information you need, what agency to request it from, and what to look for. The "Key and Lock" buzzwords and descriptions must be included, or the very information you seek may be withheld from you.

Examples:

* Bureaucracies protecting damaging information may try to charge exorbitant fees for information to be searched, copied, and sent to you. Request fee waivers based upon public interest needs and public right-to-know laws.
* The requestor may be flooded with huge amounts of useless information that is out of order and out of date. This is called a data dump in legal circles. This is a common tactic used by legal rivals on cases to eat up valuable pre-trial discovery time. It takes a critical eye, speed reading, and some research or historical knowledge to be able to weed through the useless information to find what you want.

To deal with the system effectively, you need the facts. If you have the facts, the system has to deal with you more openly. Democracy depends on people having the information needed to allow meaningful input and interaction with the system. The refusal to give out information may sound like this:

* "We don't have that information; x, y, or z is not in today, and I'm not authorized to fulfill this request; We can only give out a summary (They decide what is meaningful, included, excluded, or redacted); Why do you think that's important?; Justify your interest, or legitimize your need; We don't think you need that information."

Recognize these tactical phrases meant to put you off the track of the information you need to level the playing field with your opponent, and don't accept lame excuses for non-performance or non-compliance.

STRATEGIES TO SHORT CIRCUIT THE CONTROL GAME

* AS SOON AS A TACTIC HAS BECOME APPARENT, LABEL IT: When you name that tactic publicly, it loses its power. You can counter these tactics with a minimum of wasted effort by keeping the lines of communication open with your colleagues and other similar interest organizations.
* BE OBSERVANT OF INTERACTIONS, TACTICS, AND WHO MAY BE CALLING THE SHOTS BEHIND THE SCENES: Recognize that although individuals make up the bureaucracy, they should not be the targets of your efforts. Evaluate where strategic counter-tactics would be the most effective. Good mottoes to keep in mind. Always go to the top, and the squeaky wheel gets fixed.
* DO NOT ALLOW BUREAUCRATIC FIGUREHEADS TO LABEL YOU as a troublemaker, or as someone with emotional or personal problems (i.e.: "Psychiatrically" linked to a site or set of issues, don't have a life because you volunteer a lot of your time, are a paid staffer or knowledgeable citizen, so your opinion doesn't count, or don't have "x" number of constituents behind you.) to legitimize side stepping serious issues and/or your concerns. Be alert to the evaluative patronizing concern look. This is contrived to give the appearance of questioning your mental or emotional stability to elicit a reaction. Keep cool and don't give them the reaction they want from you. Any person might become dedicated to seeking solutions, and become angry or frustrated over the distancing treatment bureaucracies and corporations use to keep the public at arm's length over difficult issues.
* MAKE YOUR ISSUE OR ADVERSARY AN OBJECT OF INTENSE STUDY: Never stop questioning your previous conclusions about them. Get all the information you can and keep getting it. Put this information to productive and meaningful use, then network it around.
* NEVER RELAX AFTER A VICTORY, and don't underestimate the power of determination.
* RENEW YOUR OWN OUTREACH REGULARLY by having current concerns and information prepared and ready to distribute at every opportunity. Use their meetings for opportunities to pass out your own targeted information. Use several people to see that all attendees end up with copies of your information. Ask local copiers or businesses to help duplicate materials.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

"Ignorance is compounded by the sins of omission." -- Dr. Edward A. Martell, Radiochemist

"Reports based on faulty foundations of inconsistent, missing, or biased data are meaningless, misleading, and worthless. To deliberately present bad data as if it were meaningful is scientifically invalid and immoral." -- Environmental Information Network (EIN), Inc.

EIN -- A think-tank involved in researching and analyzing hazardous waste and radiotoxic environmental information and issues in order to disseminate technical information for public education.

Environmental Information Network
P.O. Box 280087
Lakewood, CO 80228-0087
pjelofson@aol.com

Paula Elofson-Gardine, Executive Director
Susan Hurst, Publications Director

PLEASE NOTE: EIN is a 501(C)(3) non-profit public education and networking organization that accepts contributions. Permission is granted for copying or transfer of this publication, so long as contact information for EIN is kept intact. The EIN logo is a unique trademark that belongs exclusively to EIN. The EIN logo may not be copied or isolated from EIN publications for use by other organizations or individuals, without specific written permission from the trademark owner, Paula Elofson-Gardine.


This page coded by the ACTION Center. Direct any web-related inquiries to catalyst@actionpa.org.

What Book Are City of St. Augustine, Florida Officials Reading This Summer?



Is it because they have so much to explain to so many? Ask Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE, who allegedly ordered the book. It's our money.

It was Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE who so chauvinistically and flakily backed City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN's fishy efforts Monday night to jump into a settlement that would benefit PIERRE THOMPSON (BROWN's former client) and help destroy city-owned bottomonlands and destroy Fish Island, which belongs in the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Parkway.

Commissioners have a lot to coverup. They apparently spent $25 for a book they could have bought on Amazon.com for $5.00.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another beautiful day in a beautiful place

Bridge of Lions gains center span -- New concrete surface will be more effecient, offer cars better traction


A sailboat passes by the newly installed east span of the Bridge of Lions following a two-day channel closure Wednesday morning, June 24, 2009. More channel closures are scheduled for June 29 at 8 a.m. until July 1 at 8 a.m. and July 7 at 8 a.m. until July 9 at 8 a.m. The new bridge will have poured concrete spans instead of the former open grading system. According to Florida Department of Transportation's spokeswoman Laurie Sanderson, this will improve traction for motorists and is better for the environment. BY DARON DEAN, daron.dean@staugustine.com

Bridge of Lions gains center span --- New concrete surface will be more effecient, offer cars better traction

By EDEN TAYLOR
t.eden.taylor@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 06/25/09

The Bridge of Lions reached a new milestone early Wednesday morning when workers fitted the new east-side center span, a visible sign that completion of the bridge is nearing.

Unlike the old center span, the new center span will feature a more efficient and environmentally friendly concrete filling.

"The original Bridge of Lions used an open-steel grating," said Laurie Sanderson, Bridge of Lions information officer. "The rehabilitated Bridge of Lions will have a lightweight concrete, which will allow for better traction for cars."

While the original open-steel grating center span allowed motor oils and polluted water to leak into the inlet, the new center span will have a treatment system to collect and clean polluted liquids before they are released into the Matanzas River, Sanderson said.

To accommodate the installation of the west-side center span, officials will close the channel from July 7 to July 9 to all boat traffic.

The restoration process is on schedule, according to Sanderson. Workers this week are laying the red clay roofing on the octagonal towers, and they will place the remaining steel girders as construction progresses.

The bridge is scheduled to reopen later this year, probably in December, Sanderson said.

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Mosquito board: Spraying was safe -- Many question use of Dibrom

Mosquito board: Spraying was safe -- Many question use of Dibrom

By PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugusine.com
Publication Date: 06/25/09

After 20 inches of rain in late May, Anastasia Mosquito Control District used helicopters during the first two weeks of June to spray an adulticide called Dibrom over 100,000 acres of St. Johns County.

District officials said Wednesday that the organophosphate did the job well.

However, they were questioned by a handful of county residents concerned that the 470 gallons of the pesticide used would cause environmental and health problems -- that Dibrom in high doses can cause respiratory paralysis and death.

St. Augustine resident Robin Nadeau said she believed scientific reports citing Dibrom's safety had been corrupted by political interests.

"We heard from Monsanto about how safe Agent Orange was," she said. "Today, the residue of Agent Orange is wreaking a dreadful effect on people in Vietnam."

Faye Armitage of Fruit Cove said she, too, "didn't trust (the EPA's) findings. We need to be more careful about doing this."

But District Director Rui-de Xue said Dibrom was only used on "hot spots," places where landing counts and light traps indicated that the little bloodsuckers had concentrated there.

"(Dibrom) breaks down very quickly. In one day, it's gone," he said.

The district had tried another pesticide first, Anvil 10+10, which is less toxic. But it didn't work.

Board member Jeanne Moeller said Anvil "seems to work better in open fields but does not work in heavy vegetation. And it breaks down quickly in the heat.

"We have 631 square miles in St. Johns County, and there are 640 acres to the mile. We sprayed Dibrom on less than 3 percent of the county. I can live with that."

After the rains ended, the district fielded 1,845 service calls in 10 days, according to Base Station Supervisor Kay Gaines. Traps were catching 16 per minute.

"After the spraying, service requests dropped 60 percent the first week," she said.

Board member John Sundeman disagrees with the other board members and criticized the use of Dibrom and the need for the aerial program at all.

"We've had numerous rains over the past 50 years without aerial spraying," he said. "In all of 2008 we spent $202,000 on chemicals. In the two weeks of spraying, we spent $128,000. (Dibrom) is dangerous stuff."

Board member Ron Radford, a retired Air Force colonel, said that the city of Savannah "almost exclusively use aerial spraying and is getting away from ground spraying. We had the idea that Anvil would work, but it did not protect the people. Even Dibrom was having trouble in the Northwest. The helicopter flew lower and slower. Our first and foremost responsibility was protecting the people."

Activist Ed Slavin asked the board to consider holding a public hearing on the issue.

"Dibrom is banned in Europe. It's a neurotoxin," he said. "There are 74 pairs of nesting eagles in the county and any harm to them is a federal felony.

"It's important that we look at public health issues of our workers. This is the same stuff they used to kill people in Nazi concentration camps."

Board member Vivian Browning tried to give the discussion some perspective.

"They sprayed less than one-tenth of an ounce per acre," she said.


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Grand Ol' Bigots

Grand Ol' Bigots



Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Syndicated Columnist
Publication Date: 06/24/09

The modern GOP was created in 1965 with a stroke of Lyndon Johnson's pen.

If that is an exaggeration, it is not much of one. When Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, he made a prediction: In committing the unpardonable sin of guaranteeing the ballot to all citizens regardless of race, he said, he would cause his party to lose the South "for a generation."

And indeed Southern Democrats, who for a century had bombed schools, lynched innocents, perverted justice and terrorized millions in the name of intolerance, responded by leaving their ancestral party in droves. They formed the base of a new GOP, a reality acknowledged by Ronald Reagan when he opened his 1980 campaign at a segregationist fair in a town where three civil rights workers were infamously martyred, by declaring, "I believe in state's rights."

In embracing its new southern base, the Republican Party became the Repugnant Party on matters of race, a distinction it has done little to shed. So some of us were disappointed but not surprised last week when Sherri Goforth, an aide to Tennessee state Sen. Diane Black, came under fire for an e-mail she sent out. It depicted the 44 U.S. presidents, showing the first 43 in dignified, statesmanlike poses. By contrast, the 44th, the first African-American, is seen as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop. Goforth's explanation: the e-mail, which went to GOP staffers, was sent "to the wrong list of people."

You may wish to let that one marinate for a moment.

And please, don't bother reminding me of Democrat Robert Byrd's onetime membership in the Ku Klux Klan; I make no argument that the Democrats are untainted by bigotry. Rather, my argument is that the GOP is consumed by it, riddled with it, that it has shown, sown, shaped and been shaped by it, to an abhorrent degree.

You think that's unfair? Well, after Goforth's e-mail, after "Barack the Magic Negro," and John McCain's campaign worker blaming a fictional black man for a fictional mugging, and a party official in Texas renaming the executive mansion "the black house," and an official in Virginia claiming Obama's presidency would see free drugs and "mandatory black liberation theology," and a Republican activist in South Carolina calling an escaped ape one of Michelle Obama's "ancestors," it seems wholly fair to me. Indeed, overdue.

And keep in mind: all that is just from the last year or so. I could draw up a much longer list but space is limited and there is a final point to make.

Which is that, yes, I am cognizant of the danger of painting with too broad a brush and no, I am not saying membership in the GOP is synonymous with membership in the KKK. I know there are Republicans of racial enlightenment and common decency. Indeed, I am counting on it, counting on them to search conscience and demand their party find ways of winning elections that do not depend on lazy appeals to the basest emotions of the hateful and the unreconstructed.

Do it because it's the right thing. And do it because it is in the party's long-term interest.

As a 2008 Gallup poll indicates, black people are "more" religious than Republicans as a whole and just as conservative on some key moral issues. Yet only 5 percent identify with the party of religion and conservatism. The GOP's ongoing inability to win over such a natural constituency speaks volumes.

I keep waiting for somebody to do something about it. I mean, I can hear Republicans of racial enlightenment and common decency yelling at me from here. They want me to know there is nothing honorable, much less inherently Republican, in the hatred expressed by these weasels in elephant's clothes. In response, I would give them this advice:

Don't tell me. Tell them.

#

Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Readers may write to him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

Leonard Pitts will be chatting with readers every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT on www.MiamiHerald.com.

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Objects to tax dollars saving private property

Objects to tax dollars saving private property



Publication Date: 06/25/09

Editor: This is in regard to Monday's story, "Holding back the sea," about houses built on Old A1A.

I remember a story from my childhood of a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The winds blew and the sea rose and beat upon that house and it fell.

Today we have a different story. People build million-dollar houses on the sand. The winds blow and the sea rises and threaten those houses.

But, not once but three times, all the other taxpayers of St. Johns County pay many millions of dollars to protect those houses. And here is the irony, at least 90 percent of these taxpayers could not afford to even think of building a million-dollar house.

To make it even worse, the owner, who tries to protect his own property, is threatened with a citation.

I am not sure which is worse, that our leaders will take the money earned by the rich and give it to the non-working poor, or that they will take the money earned by the common person and give it to protect the property of the rich.

Wayne Curtis

St. Augustine


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Thank you, Governor Crist, I

Thank you, Governor Charles Crist, for vetoing St. Augustine's out-of-touch corporativist Republican State Representative WILLIAM L. PROCTOR's special interest bill, written at the behest of a constitutent, which benefit only State Farm Insurance Company, while threatening higher rates.

Thank you, Governor Crist.

Crist vetoes insurance bill -- Future of State Farm in Florida still unknown

Crist vetoes insurance bill -- Future of State Farm in Florida still unknown

By BILL KACZOR
Associated Press Writer
Publication Date: 06/25/09

TALLAHASSEE -- A much debated bill that would have deregulated rates on some residential property insurance policies fell victim Wednesday to Gov. Charlie Crist's veto pen.

The bill (HB 1171) would have let willing homeowners buy higher-priced, unregulated coverage for hurricanes, fires and other property hazards but only from highly capitalized national companies.

In his veto message, Crist wrote that the "Consumer Choice" bill, instead, would have given the choice to those big insurers.

"These select property insurance companies will be able to cherry-pick, or sell only to profitable policyholder risks, while at the same time offloading their undesirable policyholders that are higher risk to their competitors and Citizens Property Insurance Corp.," Crist wrote.

Citizens was created by the state to offer coverage to consumers who couldn't get it on the private market.

With private companies bailing out of coastal areas and increasing their rates, Citizens has grown to become Florida's largest property insurer, with more than 1 million policies.

The bill's advocates included State Farm Florida, the state's largest private property insurer, which called the legislation "a positive step for Florida residents who expect and deserve their insurer to be there following a major disaster."

The subsidiary of Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Insurance has announced plans to pull out of the state after Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty rejected a 47 percent rate increase. Company officials said without higher premiums they face the prospect of being unable to pay claims.

Crist has said Floridians will be "much better off without" State Farm.

The bill's supporters, including the business lobby Associated Industries of Florida, had hoped it would keep State Farm and other big companies from abandoning the Florida market.

"When they leave, they take their claims-paying capital with them," said Rep. Bill Proctor, a St. Augustine Republican who sponsored the bill. "I don't think the issue's dead."

He said he hoped legislative leaders will try to override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber. That's at least 27 votes in the Senate, which passed the bill 27-9 with four senators not voting. The House vote was a lopsided 105-13.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, was among those disappointed by the veto.

"Florida has demonstrated that over-regulating the insurance industry can actually make things worse for consumers -- not better," Cretul said in a statement. "It seems reasonable to give homeowners as many choices as possible."

The Florida Property & Casualty Association comprised of smaller, Florida-based insurers opposed the bill and in a statement echoed Crist's argument that big national companies would have an unfair advantage by offering regulated premiums in low-risk areas and unregulated rates in high-risk communities.

Proctor responded that no one knows if that would happen because unregulated premiums have never been tried before.

Crist also wrote that the bill would have disrupted efforts to make Florida's insurance market more competitive by spinning off Citizens policies to private companies, most of them relatively small and new to the state.

He wrote that if the highly capitalized national companies "are allowed to 'redline' areas of the state they do not wish to write, this will harm consumers and investors who have worked in good faith to create a competitive marketplace."

The governor added that the bill also would not have prevented companies from collecting unregulated premiums and then leaving the state with "hardworking families' earnings."

Supporters argued the bill would have given consumers the ability to get policies with better financial backing if they were willing to pay for it.

They also said attracting or keeping more robust insurers could reduce reliance on the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides backup coverage for insurers.

If the fund has insufficient resources to cover losses, the difference would be made up through assessments on nearly all types of property insurance, including auto.

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Proctor to seek veto override

Proctor to seek veto override


From Staff
Publication Date: 06/25/09

State Rep. Bill Proctor (R-St. Augustine), sponsor of the "consumer choice" insurance bill in the House, said he plans to refile the measure soon and hopes his fellow legislators will join him in overriding Gov. Charlie Crist's veto.

"I'm hoping the leadership (in the Legislature) will give careful consideration to an override," he said.

Crist's veto of House Bill 1171 leaves "no long-range plans for adequate coverage in Florida," said Proctor.

Returning from Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon, Proctor said he didn't have "any idea" if State Farm intended to go ahead with its threatened pull-out from the state.

"I'm hoping that they'll slow down their exit from the state, because I think this is going to put a lot of policyholders in a bad situation," he said.

State Sen. Michael S. Bennett (R-Bradenton) was the bill's sponsor in the Senate.

Proctor and Bennett said in an open letter Wednesday that they were "deeply disappointed" in Crist's decision.

The bill was supported by 85 percent of House and Senate members as well as 60 percent of Floridians, they said.

With the veto, Proctor and Bennett said, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarthy needs to explain how Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and 40 small insurers will provide "an adequate homeowners' insurance program in our hurricane-prone state."

"If some of the policies are picked up by the smaller companies, and they go bankrupt after a major storm, that becomes the responsibility of the state," Proctor said. "It will all have to be paid by assessments.

"The average person has no idea of the magnitude of the assessments we could all be liable for."


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Thank you, Governor Crist, II

Thank you, Governor Charles Crist, for vetoing two dumb 'ole exemptions to Florida's Open Records Law. Thanks also, to attorney Patricia Gleason, Crist's top aide, who has been working to protect Florida's "Right to Know" for more than 30 years. (On New Years' Day 2005, the day before Crist was inaugurated, Ms. Gleason was on the job in the Attorney General's office and I have the E-mail to prove it).

Crist vetoes public records exemptions

Crist vetoes public records exemptions



The Associated Press
Publication Date: 06/25/09

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday vetoed two bills that would have created new public record exemptions.

One measure (HB 7093) would have exempted "proprietary business information" obtained from a telecommunications or broadband company by the Department of Management Services.

Crist wrote in his veto message the term used was overly broad and suggested that lawmakers try again next year to craft language that protects business interests "while still respecting the state's strong public policy for open and transparent government."

The other bill (SB 166) would have exempted information that identified a donor or prospective donor to a publicly owned building or facility who wants to remain anonymous.

Crist noted a similar federal law includes reporting requirements that provide public oversight without compromising donor confidentiality. The Florida bill lacks that kind of mechanism, he wrote.

The governor signed a bill (HB 7051) making changes in a law that allows commercial entities, including the news media, to obtain access to Social Security numbers on file with state and local government agencies.

One change, taking effect Oct. 1, would permit access to entire Social Security numbers instead of just the last four digits. The numbers would only be provided to businesses to verify a person's identity.

Under the new law, they no longer will be allowed to obtain Social Security numbers simply to provide "a lawful product or service."

Crist also signed new laws allowing state universities to erect columbariums to hold the ashes of deceased alumni (SB 926) and require school children to pay the full cost of lost or missing textbooks (SB 1248).

Existing law requires reimbursements of 50 to 75 percent. Both of those laws are effective July 1.

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Manuel's health delays his trial -- Doctors say body rejecting transplant

Manuel's health delays his trial -- Doctors say body rejecting transplant

By PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 06/23/09

JACKSONVILLE -- U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard agreed Monday to move the bribery trial of former St. Johns County Commission Chairman Tom Manuel, 64, to the August trial schedule.

This would be the fourth time the trial date has been moved.

At a scheduled status conference Monday at the U.S. Courthouse in Jacksonville, Manuel's attorney, D. Gray Thomas of Sheppard, White, Thomas & Kachergus, Jacksonville, told Judge Howard that his client was having physical problems.

He said his client had required a heart transplant years ago "which predated this case," he said.

But now, Thomas said, "His body is rejecting the organ. The doctors are still trying to ascertain what it is, so they can deal with it."

Manuel, free on $50,000 bond, is accused of accepting two cash payments totaling $60,000 from confidential informants Bruce Robbins, a Jacksonville developer, and George McClure, a prominent St. Augustine land attorney.

An FBI investigation into his business affairs began in April 2007, four months after he was seated as a county commissioner, and ended after 14 months.

Manuel was arrested in Jacksonville Beach, leaving an upscale restaurant with a bag of money.

Since then, Manuel has vigorously declared his innocence and called the charges "a political hatchet job."

After his indictment Oct. 16, 2008, he was suspended from his commission seat by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Hackenberry Savell had no objection to this delay. But she noted that Manuel has had at least three previous continuances.

His first motion, filed in November 2008, was granted, moving the trial to December 2008.

A second motion, filed in early December, asked for a six-month continuance. That was denied. But another motion later that month succeeded in getting the case moved to the April 2009 schedule.

A third continuance request, filed in February 2009, was granted and moved the trial date to June.

"It's getting to the point that we're going to have to do something, one way or the other," Savell said.

Thomas' said his motion to continue the trial to August was based on his client's health and apparent lack of ability to assist in his own defense.

Judge Howard hinted that she may not grant any more lengthy trial continuances.

"I do believe now that we are at a point where we should fish or cut bait," she said.

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Planning amendment makes Fla. 2010 ballot -- City, county plans would then require local referendums

Planning amendment makes Fla. 2010 ballot -- City, county plans would then require local referendums

By BILL KACZOR
Associated Press Writer
Publication Date: 06/23/09

TALLAHASSEE -- A proposed Florida constitutional amendment that would give voters a say on how their communities grow, including such decisions as where shopping centers, homes and roads are built, will be on the 2010 ballot.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Monday declared that Florida Hometown Democracy had collected the required number of signatures. He designated it Amendment 4.

That culminated a four-year petition drive, which began after the Florida Supreme Court blocked an earlier version in 2005. The justices, though, cleared the way for getting on the 2010 ballot by striking down a law that would have let voters revoke their signatures on citizen initiative petitions.

"It's been a lot of sweat and tears," said Palm Beach lawyer Lesley Blackner, who co-founded Hometown Democracy with Tallahassee attorney Ross Burnaman. "It's been a crusade to get to this point."

If the proposal gets 60 percent approval at the polls, Hometown Democracy would require local referendums on changes to city and county comprehensive plans.

Business and development interests that opposed the petition drive will shift their focus to defeating the amendment at the polls. They say Hometown Democracy would slow growth and be a drag on Florida's already sagging economy.

Opponents also have included local government officials and the environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida, although it is planning to reconsider its position.

"The 'Vote on Everything' amendment could mean a permanent recession for Florida's economy," said Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson. "This amendment will hopelessly complicate the planning process."

Advocates argue that developers who get their way at every step of the process have dragged down Florida's economy through overbuilding and unchecked growth.

"They control the politics of Florida from the governor on down," Blackner said.

Opponents have used a variety of tactics, but the first setback came in the Supreme Court, which voted 4-3 in 2005 that the proposal's initial ballot summary was too emotional.

The high court, though, approved the current language and last week removed a final roadblock with a 4-2 ruling that the signature revocation law is unconstitutional.

A spokeswoman for Browning said he certified the amendment due to the high court's expedited decision. Any further delay and the petition would have begun losing signatures because they expire after four years.

Even without about 13,000 revoked signatures, the petition had enough -- 698,562 -- to meet a the requirement for 676,811 signatures.

Opponents also have begun their own petition drive for a competing amendment known as Smarter Growth with a provision saying it would prevail if voters approve both.

Smarter Growth would require referendums on planning changes only if 10 percent of registered voters sign a petition within 60 days -- and they'd be able to sign only at the supervisor of elections office.

Those are impossible requirements, Burnaman said.

"People are going to realize that it's a Trojan Horse," he said.

Floridians for Smarter Growth executive director Ryan Houck said the group hasn't yet decided whether to continue its petition campaign or just focus on opposing Hometown Democracy. It has obtained 443,510 signatures.

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Highway to become scenic drive -- Input sought for State Road 13 improvements

Highway to become scenic drive -- Input sought for State Road 13 improvements

By KATIE SANDERS
t.katie.sanders@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 06/24/09

Naturalist or not, you're invited.

The William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway Corridor Management Council will host a workshop today to collect public opinion on plans for beautifying the 17-mile stretch of State Road 13.

The highway curves along the northwest portion of the county, edging the St. Johns River and cutting through Orangedale, Switzerland and Julington Creek. The section stretches from the St. Johns-Duval county line south to the intersection of State Roads 13 and 16.

Management council members hope new signs and logos will serve as an informational tour of the area, enticing drivers to pull over their cars and become pedestrians-turned-explorers.

Back in January, the citizen-led council, St. Johns County and Glatting Jackson held a design workshop to solicit ideas from the public about the highway.

This follow-up design workshop allows the public to review the master plan, discuss logo and signage ideas and bring any new ideas to the table, said Albert Abbatiello, chairman of the Corridor Management Council.

The workshop consists of four sessions examining corridor architecture, Shands Pier developments, logo and signage design and plans for a newsletter and brochure.

Other areas up for discussion include improvements at Alpine Groves Park, Bartram Trails Library, Beluthahatchee Park and Trout Creek Park.

The William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway was designated as a Florida Scenic Highway in 2005. The highway received a National Scenic Byways grant of $600,000 in 2006 to complete its master plan.

The plan requires approval by the St. Johns County Commission, he said.

Once finalized -- hopefully by early October -- the council will begin to prioritize projects and then try to locate grants, said Debrah Miller, Florida Department of Transportation's District 2 scenic highway coordinator.

"The master plan is really just a big picture over a big time frame of what could be accomplished," she said.

Abbatiello estimates the council will be ready to go forward with some projects by mid-2010. The library is one of the priorities, he said.

The most ambitious project, he said, is the restoration of a community center near Alpine Groves Park, which would cost around $300,000 to $400,000.

Abbatiello said several projects should be completed by 2015 -- the year of St. Augustine's 450th birthday -- to allow international tourists to "tap into another experience" while in town.

"We would like to tie in all the things that we're doing as a scenic byway," he said.

Interest in the corridor project has been "spotty" for several years, he said, but has picked up with the influx of advertising associated with developing a master plan.

Sarah Bailey, a management council member, said ensuring safety for travelers on S.R. 13 is important, especially given recent fatal accidents on the road.

Glatting Jackson consultants have proposed adding several roundabouts as "traffic calming" measures, but more discussion is needed as they may not meet FDOT standards in certain areas, Abbatiello said.

Officials want the corridor to be accessible to visitors traveling by cars, bicycles, boats, horseback or on foot.

Another member of the council, Frank Baltes, said he hopes the bicycle lanes will be widened from about 3 feet to 6 feet to accommodate more cyclists and give them space from passing cars.

Councilman Don Beattie said interest in preserving the scenic highway started about 15 years ago, when fear of strip malls being developed along the road spurred several residents in the northwest region of St. Johns County to protect the region from commercial development.

"The whole point was to keep State Road 13 as close to original as we could," Beattie said.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Folio Weekly: Backpage Editorial by Faye Armitage -- "SAVING ST. AUGUSTINE"

Backpage Editorial
Faye Armitage
Saving St. Augustine
St. Augustine’s small-town Spanish Colonial charm is in
danger of being ruined by schlock. We love St. Augustine
and must preserve the beauty of endangered Matanzas Inlet
sunsets, Anastasia Island beach mice, nesting leatherback
turtles, soaring families of bald eagles and frolicking schools
of manatees and whales. Florida’s First Coast deserves a first
class National Park for the 500th anniversary of Spanish
Florida (in 2013) and 450th anniversary of St. Augustine
(in 2015).
The late U.S. Speaker of the House
Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill and Edward
Boland of Massachusetts made history in
1958, courageously working to protect
Cape Cod’s charm forever. Boland returned
in 1958 from a trip to Cape Hatteras
National Seashore. Within a fortnight, the
two Massachusetts Democrats introduced
the Cape Cod National Seashore Act
(backed by John F. Kennedy only after he
became president).
Commercial interests thought that a
national seashore would be bad for business.
They were wrong. Today we scoff at
the quaint story of O’Neill and Boland
being hung in effigy and booed in the Cape
Cod towns of Wellfleet and Truro, where
citizens, in their annual town meetings,
voted against the bill.
Even JFK, the Pulitzer Prize-winning
author of “Profiles in Courage,” feared local
commercial interests in Massachusetts
when it came to proposing a national
seashore. JFK later came aboard as president,
to consider the National Seashore the
best thing he ever did for Massachusetts.
Today’s visitors to Cape Cod come from
around the world to partake of its charm,
marshes, woodlands, beaches and towns
that were saved thanks to the vision of
Congressmen O’Neill and Boland.
A St. Augustine National Park was first
proposed before World War II. The idea is
five years older than President Harry S Truman’s
national health insurance proposal.
And as with national health care, Congress
too often resembles a herd of turtles trying
to write a symphony. It’s somewhat understandable
that our two busy U.S. Senators
(and Representative John Luigi Mica)
haven’t introduced a National Historical
Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway.
Legislation moves glacially, except in emergencies.
We have one now.
Our local economy is in a state of emergency.
Businesses are dying. We’re ready for
Congress to stimulate our economy and
preserve our way of life by enacting a St.
Augustine National Historical Park,
Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act,
supported by a diverse group of citizens,
from octogenarian environmental activist
Robin Nadeau to former Republican
County Commission Chairperson John
Sundeman to St. Augustine Democratic
Club Chairperson Jeanne Moeller, among a
growing group of people concerned about
the declining quality of the tourist experience
in St. Johns County.
A National Historical Park would preserve
and protect St. Augustine’s historic
downtown with the dignity and experience
of the National Park Service, just as parts of
Boston, New Bedford, Philadelphia and
other historic cities are preserved. It would
step into the breach left by the Florida legislature,
Secretary of State, University of
Florida and city of St. Augustine, all of
whom have been unable to repair crumbling
buildings and historic monuments. A
national historical park would preserve
downtown streets and reduce congestion,
improving the tourist experience and making
it one that longer-staying (and biggerspending)
historic and environmental
tourists will enjoy.
A national historic park managed by the
National Park Service would portray history
and nature accurately, as done in Virginia’s
Colonial Williamsburg and the
Colonial National Historical Parkway.
There could also be a National Civil Rights
and Indigenous History Museum, aimed at
telling the region’s story of 11,000 years of
human history, honoring Native Americans,
African-Americans and the Civil
Rights movement here, which helped win
adoption of national antidiscrimination
laws in 1964. The struggles on St. Augustine’s
streets and beaches, including the
arrest of Massachusetts Governor Endicott
Peabody’s mother and Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., need to be retold and told well.
soldiers monument in St. Augustine’s Plaza
de la Constitucion, paying tribute to Civil
Rights Era activists whose efforts helped
break the Senate logjam and enact basic
nondiscrimination laws.
A national seashore and coastal parkway
designation would protect the coast from
uglification, as at other national seashores.
We have 61 miles of coast here, and the
transfer from county to federal jurisdiction
would save local tax monies and make environmental
protection a priority on beaches
where turtles land to give birth, and where
beach mice and other critters scamper.
In September, watch Ken Burns’ PBS
documentary “Our National Parks: America’s
Best Idea.” Think of how uplifting it
will be to be able to drive from Ponte Vedra
to Marineland as a tourist or resident,
secure in the knowledge that the beaches
will survive and not be turned into some
unreasonable facsimile of Miami.
Think of the economic efficiency and
environmental benefits of entrusting city
and county parks, seashore water management
district land and at least five state
parks (including Anastasia and Guana-
Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine
Reserve) to one world-class organization
(the National Park Service) to protect, preserve
and interpret, rather than allowing
the land to be ripped apart by greed.
Think of the good jobs that will encourage
young people to stay here, working as
National Park Service employees and contractors.
Think of historic interpreters and
environmental tour guides who are
rewarded with a federal showcase, inviting
the world to a world-class destination.
Let’s enlist Congress and the president
to help us tell our region’s rich history —
including the story of the Indians, African-
American slaves and Minorcan and Greek
indentured servants (who escaped to St.
Augustine from New Smyrna Beach, “voting
with their feet” against slavery by contract.
Indentured servitude was outlawed
along with regular slavery with the 13th
Amendment in 1865.
Think of how our tourist economy will
be stimulated and jobs created and preserved
by preserving the stunning vistas
that draw people here, not uglifying them
with massive high-rises, suburban sprawl
and unsafe homes built in wetlands.
Think of how fourth-graders now and
in the future, from all over Florida, will be
rewarded for their studies of Florida history
by helping preserve “the real Florida” — St.
Augustine and St. Johns County — forever.
It is up to us to learn from the young
and to protect Northeast Florida for families,
flora, fauna and the future. Visit
staugustgreen.com for more information
and let your neighbors and national and
local leaders know what you think. 

Faye Armitage lives in Fruit Cove. In 2008,
she ran against nine-term Congressional
incumbent John Mica, receiving nearly 150,000 votes.



A National Historical Park would preserve and protect
St. Augustine’s historic downtown with the dignity
and experience of the National Park Service, just as
parts of Boston, New Bedford, Philadelphia and
other historic cities are preserved.

Dock decision delayed -- More info wanted on Fish Island case

Dock decision delayed -- More info wanted on Fish Island case

By MARCIA LANE
marcia.lane@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 06/23/09

St. Augustine City Commissioners want more information before deciding how to proceed in the Fish Island dock and marina case.

"I have some concerns. ... I want a little more time to investigate," Vice Mayor Errol Jones said at Monday's city commission meeting before making a motion to delay a vote on a settlement offer by Fish Island Development LLC.

The developer has filed a $9 million lawsuit against the city in an ongoing dispute regarding a dock and marina. The structures are part of an upscale development planned for Anastasia Island south of Mickler-O'Connell Bridge on State Road 312.

Jones quickly got a second for his motion from Commissioner Leanna Freeman. She earlier attempted to get fellow commissioners to go to a judge with the issue but that motion failed on a 2-3 vote.

All five commissioners agreed to hold off on a decision until they could hear a presentation at the next commission meeting from Lewis, Longman and Walker, the Tallahassee law firm that represented the city in a hearing before Circuit Judge Michael Traynor in 2008. Traynor ruled the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board's and the City Commission's denial of the dock was legally sufficient.

The city won that round, but officials are concerned what could happen in the $9 million lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed under the Bert J. Harris Act, a private property rights protection law which requires that both the city and the developer first show they attempted to find a compromise before a lawsuit is filed.

Under the act if a property owner can demonstrate that a governmental action "inordinately burdens" their property, they would be entitled to some form of compensation.

The decision to wait came after a lengthy presentation by City Attorney Ron Brown on the city's options regarding a settlement offer from the developers. He and attorneys for developer Jim Young of Jacksonville have been negotiating a deal for several months.

The developer agreed to go from a 10-foot-wide walkway and 100 slips to an 8-foot-wide walkway with 70 slips for residents and five for the public.

At one point Monday night most commissioners seemed to lean in the direction of settlement as Brown cited legal cases where municipalities lost cases filed by developers using the Bert J. Harris Act. He also set out the monetary consequences for the city if they lost. Brown pointed out there was no guarantee the city would be able to settle if they lost.

That was before attorney Ralf Brookes from Cape Coral spoke. Brookes was hired by a group of local opponents. He told commissioners on Monday he filed a motion to intervene on behalf of his clients. That gives them the right to be heard.

"You're skipping too many steps," Brookes told the commission as he offered counter arguments to many of Brown's points and cited additional cases.

Brookes warned them accepting the offer now could open up the city for future lawsuits from anyone who was ever denied a project approval "even if there is no evidence."

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Fish Island Developers Back on Tonight's City Commission Agenda -- Calling All of St. Augustine's Paul Reveres

Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 7:51 AM
Subject: FW: Fish Island Developers Back on Monday's City Commission Agenda





Dear Friends,

Last year concerned city residents joined with other concerned people to defeat Fish Island, LLC's application to build a 1,000 foot dock for 50 foot yachts over city-owned bottom lands. (See brief history below). We pooled our money and paid for expert witness, Paul Johnson from Tallahassee, and we also hired an attorney. And we won......we thought. Both the planning and Zoning board and the city commissioners denied the application and when the developers sued, Judge Traynor upheld the city's denial in court. (See the brief history of this case below).

But city residents and other interested parties need to get together again. The developers have sued the city under the Bert Harris Act which requires compensation for the "taking" of property rights. And the city attorney is urging commissioners to settle with developers because a loss would be quite expensive.

Mike and I are consulting Land Use Attorney Ralf Brookes for this first round on Monday night, June 22 at St. Augustine City Hall. PLEASE plan to attend the city commission meeting Monday, e-mail or call the commissioners whose numbers appear below.

Urge the commissioners NOT to settle this issue without public input or because of legal threats from developers. (It's OUR - the people's - property rights that are being violated - we own those bottom lands not developers).

Let's keep our Matanzas River clean and not knuckle under to developers!

Thank you! Becky and Mike Greenberg
3 St. Andrews Court
St. Augustine, FL 32084
829-9689
nolanbecky@hotmail.com






HISTORY, DETAIL AND LATEST STATUS

The Fish Island developer first applied for a permit to build a 100-slip dock for 50-foot yachts in the fall of 2006. The City’s Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) rejected the application and the City Commission returned the issue to the PZB for more public hearings.

In the spring of 2007, the PZB held hearings over two days and took testimony from five experts and dozens of citizens expressing concern about environmental harm and adverse impact to the public scenic vista as protected in the City's comprehensive plan.

The PZB also expressed concern over the size of the proposed dock, including the length and width of the boardwalk.

The PZB voted against the application 6-0.

On appeal the City Commission affirmed the PZB by a vote of 5-0.

The applicant filed suit alleging procedural violations and the decision of the City Commission was upheld by the court.

The applicant then filed a law suit under the Bert Harris Act alleging that the City must compensate him for the denial of their permit.

The City Commission directed its attorney to begin negotiations with the applicant.

Apparently the City Commission will vote on the results of that negotiation Monday evening.

From what we can gather, the concern of the city is that they may lose the Bert Harris lawsuit which exposes them to paying the applicant's attorneys fees and possible compensation of millions of dollars.

It is unclear what the proposed compromise consists of, but it is likely similar to the original application. (Possibly fewer slips, possibly closer to the bridge, possibly over slightly less marsh, possibly a shorter and/or narrower boardwalk (i.e., 8 instead of 10 feet wide).

There may be something different about the public area of the island development.

Issues include:

1. Is there anything in the compromise that addresses the environmental concerns expressed by four experts? How does it address impact to sawgrass, oyster beds, turbidity from props, possible impact to bridge itself?

2. How does the compromise lessen the impact on the scenic vista as addressed by dozens of citizens who, under state law, can give expert testimony on the subject of scenic vista?

3. What has really changed here to cause reversal of the prior unanimous votes if the concerns have not been adequately addressed?


PLEASE ATTEND THIS MONDAY'S MEETING ( June 22) AND CALL YOUR CITY COMMISSIONERS TO ASK THEM TO UPHOLD PREVIOUS PROTECTION OF THIS IMPORTANT AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AREA ON OUR CITY'S INTERCOASTAL WATERWAY. URGE THEM NOT TO GIVE INTO DEVELOPER'S THREAT OF A LAWSUIT. WE HAVE A STRONG LEGAL CASE AND SHOULD DEFEND IT IN THE COURTS, RATHER THEN GIVING IN TO DEVELOPER'S PRESSURE FOR A DEAL UNDER THE THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION.

Joseph L. Boles - Mayor/Commissioner
904.824.4278 or josephboles@comcast.net

Errol D. Jones - Vice-Mayor/Commissioner
jones2002@erroldjones.com or Call 904.825.1006

Leanna Freeman - Commissioner
cityfreeman@yahoo.com or 904.829.1960

Nancy Sikes-Kline - Commissioner
904.806.6203 or NancySikesKline@aol.com

Don Crichlow - Commissioner
crich@aug.com or 904.824.5785

Bill Harriss - City Manager
904.825.1006 or cosa@ci.st-augustine.fl.us