Friday, August 07, 2009

Senator Mel Martinez Resigns -- Why? Who Was He? What did he do to/for Florida? Will we miss him?


I want to be a little bit cautious what I write tonight about soon-to-be ex Republican United States Melquíades Rafael "Mel" Martínez (born October 23, 1946, as Melquíades Rafael Martínez Ruíz).
I believe in America.
I respect the United States Senate as an American institution.
I don’t want to pre-judge the reasons why a sitting U.S. Senator would resign in the midst of his only term.
In my youth, while an undergraduate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, I worked for three progressive Democratic Senators.
I cherish the United States Senate as an institution.
As Gladstone said, the Senate is “the greatest deliberative body in the world.”
I respect diversity too much to nitpick on a hard-working Cuban immigrant who came to these shores without his family, who suffered bigotry and discrimination and overcame them.
I respect plaintiff’s lawyers too much to nitpick on one of the few Republican plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate – they’re rare as hen’s teeth.
I respect the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department to prejudge what they may be working on.
But the facts are these:
1. Mel Martinez’ 2010 re-election campaign currently has more than $456,000 in cash on hand.
2. Mel Martinez was fined $99,000 last year for illegal campaign contributions by the Federal Election Commission in connection with his 2004 campaign.
3. Mel Mertinez took money from officials of PBS&J, a powerful and corrupt engineering company.
4. PBS&Jt gave money to its executives to give to some 100 Florida politicians, laundered through its Vice Presidents.
5. Two PBS&J CEOs have been convicted of federal crimes for their actions (embezzlement and bribery). Convicted PBS&J officials agreed to cooperate in other prosecutions.
6. Mel Martinez accepted campaign contributions from convicted Rep. Robert Ney (R-OHIO) and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
7. Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff raised more than $250,000 for Martinez’ campaign.
8. In his guilty plea, Ney admitted lobbying Martinez on Abramoff’s behalf.
9. In recent months, at least three Senate and House staffers have pled guilty to federal crimes involving influence-peddling on transportation legislation to benefit UNITED RENTALS.
10. The felonious Congressional staffers accepted trips to the World Series in exchange for writing legislation that would increase market share for UNITED RENTALS, the world’s largest equipment rental company.
11. The felonious Congressional staffers agreed to cooperate in testifying against others.
12. Mel Martinez is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which had jurisdiction over the legislation sought by UNITED RENTALS, Abramoff and his stable of lobbyists.
13. Former Senate staffer TREVOR BLACKANN pled guilty to accepting $4100 worth of 2003 World Series tickets, transportation, gift items and entertainment from UNITED RENTALS in exchange for sponsoring legislation:
a. Requiring government public works agencies to rent (not buy) equipment;
b. Encouraging government public works agencies to rent from larger companies with large amounts of liability insurance (like UNITED RENTALS);
c. Encouraging public agencies to use work zone safety systems (such as those provided by UNITED RENTALS).
14. The 2003 World Series was played between the New York Yankees and the wild-card Florida Marlins. (The underdog Marlins won the series, 4-2).
15. Mel Martinez was elected to the Senate in 2004 and took office in January 2005.
16. Mel Martinez was part of the Republican “culture of corruption” that controlled the House, the Senate and the White House, until 2006, when Republicans lost control of the House and Senate.
17. That culture of corruption was noteworthy for its effects on transportation legislation and regulations, where the American Trucking Association held sway.
18. Twice Bush tried to increase the hours of service for truck drivers, threatening incinerations and deaths on our highways.
19. Twice courts struck down his efforts to endanger the lives of truck drivers and others on our highways.
20. Mel Martinez was heavily supported by the list of Republican “usual suspects.”
21. Mel Martinez was former Chairman of the Republican National. Committee 2006-2007.
22. Mel Martinez was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Bush Administration.
23. Mel Martinez wanted to run for Governor, but the Karl Roves of the world convinced him to run for Senator.
24. Mel Mertinez was always a hothead and a homophobe – one who accused our Attorney General (and then Congressman) Bill McCollum of favoring the Gay agenda because he supported legislation against hate crimes – his ads called McCollum the “new darling of homosexual extremists,” when in fact McCollum was just another dull Republican who wanted higher office. (McCollum is now our Attorney General and wants to be Governor).
25. The St. Petersburg Times revoked its endorsement of Martinez and endorsed McCollum because of the hateful anti-Gay ads.
26. It has been reported that Martinez had at least two Gay men on his staff.
27. On August 31, 2004, Mel Martinez defeated Bill McCollum in the Republican Primary, by a vote of 46 to 31 percent.
28. On September 2, Mel Martinez spoke alongside President Bush at the Republican Convention, which attacked Gays and Lesbians (and Gay marriage) to re-elect President Bush, based on Gay-bashing.
29. Mel Martinez defeated Democrat Betty Castor for Senator by only 70,000 votes (1%), raising more than $12,000,000 to do so (and ending the campaign some $500,000 in debt).
30. Subsequent developments – Mel Martinez being fined for campaign violations – strongly suggest that Mel Martinez stole the 2004 election for United States Senator.
31. The 17th Amendment (1913) was created to let the people (not state legislators) decide who would represent their states in the United States Senate.
32. In the hands of Republican fundraisers and bigoted ads appealing to KKK-types, the 17th Amendment is being made a mockery – big-spending oligopolists are picking U.S. Senators, just as they did in the time of the great Trusts.
33. As Wikpedia reported (below), “Martínez originally reported that his $12-million campaign had about $115,000 in debt…the latest revision of that figure shows the original tally was off by about a half-million dollars: his campaign instead owed $685,000 in election expenses….His campaign has spent about $300,000 in accounting and attorney's fees since the 2004 election.[“
34. Wikipedia ports that “the organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which monitors political corruption, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in August 2006 that charged Martínez with having illegally accepted more than $60,000 from the Bacardi beverage company in the campaign. Bacardi violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations – CREW alleges – by soliciting contributions from a list of the corporation’s vendors for these campaigns, and by using corporate funds to pay for food and beverages at campaign events held in the company’s corporate headquarters on May 11, 2004…. On October, 28, 2008, Republican Sen. Mel Martínez agreed to pay $99,000 in fines for his campaign's failure to comply with federal election laws, including its acceptance of excess contributions, records show.”
35. Wikiedia reports that “Documents filed by the Federal Election Commission show the resolution of the long-running dispute with the former general chairman of the Republican National Committee stemming from his 2004 campaign. An FEC audit found Martínez's campaign accepted a total of $313,235 in contributions that exceeded limits from 186 donors. The fine was agreed to by the FEC on Sept. 10 and was posted a month later in its database.”
36. Mel Martinez votes the KKK line against rights of Gays in the workplace. He thinks your employer should be able to fire you (and your landlord should be able to evict you) based upon private relations that the United States Supreme Court says are not crimes.
37. Mel Martinez ran on an anti-Gay ticket for Lt. Governor.
38. Mel Martinez wants to amend the United States Constitution to keep Gays from getting married.
39. Mel Martinez was one of only three Senators present and voting on March 20, 2005 to pass an unconstitutional law regarding only one individual, Terry Schiavo, a woman who was in a vegetative state here in Florida.
40. Apparently at the behest of right-wingers (like convicted anti-choice racketeering terrorist RANDALL TERRY, who formerly lived here in St. Johns County), Mel Martinez voted an unconstitutional law for the purpose of winning votes. The only others present were Senators William Frist, M.D. (R-TN) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) – there was no record vote.
41. On April 6, 2005, Mel Martinez accepted the resignation of Republican staffer Brian Darling (discussed in this blog at the time). Why?
42. Only because Martinez ham-handedly handed Darling’s memo (which Martinez mistakenly handed to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, stating that the Schiavo case offered "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base and could be used against our Senior Florida Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson. Bill Nelson was re-elected as our Senior Senator on November 7, 2006 with 60 percent of the vote.
43. From November 2006 until October 2007, Martinez was Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
44. On August 7, 2009, Senator Mel Martinez said he was quitting to “spend more time with his family.”
45. That’s the same dodge ever disgraced politician has used for eons – it is a trite trope and a cliché. Anybody who says it deserves a better script writer – certainly better than the BRIAN DARLINGS and TREVOR BLACKANNS of the world.
46. Contrary to the pathways and folkways of the United States Senate, Martinez has used his elected office for improper purposes, including abusing the Schiavo case and an unseemly attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution in an attempt to appeal to KKK-type voters. Recently, former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich said St. Johns County is “one of the last bastions of the Ku Klux Klan,” as reported in Folio Weekly. Martinez was consistently in favor of the KKK’s anti-Gay agenda.
47. Mel Martinez is not fit to occupy the seat formerly held by Senator Bob Graham.
48. CBS News reported that “Martinez said today he would be joining the private sector but did not elaborate any further. ‘I have no specific plans for my future other than it's going to be in private life,’ he said. He added, however, that he would like to continue to be an active and constructive (sic) voice on public matters.”
49. Some members of the House of Representatives have quit to become lobbyists.
50. Martinez’ statement does not indicate he has any work lined up.
51. Some members of Congress (and even a Senator or two) have been convicted of crimes.
52. If Mel Martinez is indicted, he must have a fair trial – the fair trial he would deny Gay and Lesbian people before smearing our names with hatefulness and viciousness – the fair trial that Bill McCollum and Betty Castor did not get before Martinez smeared their good names and reputations with lies and calumnies.
53. Perhaps if Mel Martinez is not indicted, we should have a people’s trial in absentia before audiences of high school and college students, retirees and working people in the Plaza de la Constitucion (formerly Slave Market Square). Perhaps the charge should be “impersonating a United States Senator” or “Impersonating a human being.”
54. Good riddance, Mel Martinez – don’t let the doors of the United States Senate hit you in the behind on the way out – you will not be missed. You went from poverty to power. You showed the poverty of power every day in every way. You abused your power to help the enemies of the people. God forgive you.

October 19, 2007 Statement of President George W. Bush on Senator Mel Martinez

W WASHINGTON -- Mel Martinez has served his party with the same distinction he serves his country.

When Mel accepted the position as General Chairman of the Republican National Committee, his goal was to ensure our party had the structure and resources in place for all Republican candidates in the 2008 elections to be successful. He has more than fulfilled that mission.

As General Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mel has effectively communicated our party's commitment to addressing the issues most important to all Americans. His message of hope and opportunity has resonated throughout America and strengthened support for our agenda. Because of his leadership, more Americans understand the Republican Party's efforts to grow our economy, support our troops, strengthen our schools, and protect our country.

As his tenure at the RNC ends, Mel should be proud that he has represented the best of the Republican Party and its core values. I am grateful for his leadership at the RNC, his service in my Cabinet, and his continued service as a member of the United States Senate.

Mike Duncan has demonstrated that he is an effective Chairman who will help our party win in the next election. I have confidence in Mike's leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him.

CNN: Senator Mel Martinez Resigning Early

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, will announce that he is resigning his seat, three GOP sources tell CNN.

The sources said that Martinez will officially announce his intention to step down on Friday. The Florida Republican, first elected in 2004, announced in December of last year that he would retire in 2010.

Florida law states that Gov. Charlie Crist may temporarily appoint someone to the vacant seat until the next general election. As of Friday morning, it was unclear what Crist would do. Crist announced in May he would not seek another term as governor, and instead would run for Martinez's seat.

Martinez is the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate. He joined eight other Republicans Thursday in voting to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats currently hold a tenuous filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, with 60 votes. Martinez is one of six Republicans who have stated they would not seek re-election in 2010. But the Florida senator is the second Republican who has decided to leave before the curtain drops on the 111th Congress next fall.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, recently announced her intention to quit the Senate three years before her term expires in order to run for governor next year.

The five other Republicans who are retiring include: Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning and Ohio Sen. George Voinovich.

Two Democrats will not run in 2010, Illinois Sen. Roland Burris and Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman. Republicans must defend 19 seats next year, while Democrats must protect 18.

Full statement from Martinez:

Because you're a friend, I wanted you to know first about the decision I will announce today to step down from public office.

Twelve years ago I offered myself as a candidate for public office in Florida out of a deep sense of appreciation for what America and the people of Florida did for me as a young immigrant to this country.

In 1997, Kitty and I decided it was time to give back and we entered the public arena, first as Mayor of Orange County, then as a Member of the President's cabinet and now as a United States Senator. Through those experiences I have gained the greatest respect for the people of Florida and have enjoyed serving their interests.

When I began my term as Senator, I promised I wouldn't simply warm a seat; I promised to take on the difficult issues and work to make a difference. Keeping that promise has meant pressing for help and assistance for families struggling to keep their homes, their jobs, and their confidence that our country is safe.

And on that note, I am especially grateful to the men and women of our military and their families whom I have had the distinct honor of representing in Washington and I thank them for their service to our country.

As a US Senator, I have also had a platform to speak against the oppression of the Cuban regime and my hope for a better future for the people of Cuba. I will continue that lifelong passion in the next phase of my life.
I will always be grateful to the people of Florida for bestowing on me the singular honor of representing them in the United States Senate.

My priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country and at this stage in my life, and after nearly twelve years of public service in Florida and Washington, it's time I return to Florida and my family.

So today I am announcing my decision to step down from public office, effective on a successor taking office to fill out the remainder of my term.

I have enjoyed my time in the Senate and have the utmost respect for my colleagues and the institution. I especially thank Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for his guidance and insight.

I look forward to continuing to be an active and constructive voice on issues vital to Florida and our nation, and being an active member of Florida's Republican Party.

Lastly, Kitty and I would like to thank you for all your support. You have been helpful in countless ways. As I begin this new chapter in my life, I look forward to seeing more of you and your family.

(Updated 1 p.m.)

CBS News: Republican Sen. Mel Martinez announced his resignation today. He said he will leave office as soon as his replacement is named in order to

Republican Sen. Mel Martinez announced his resignation today. He said he will leave office as soon as his replacement is named in order to pursue a life in the private sector.

The senator had already announced he would not seek re-election next year.

"My priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country and at this stage in my life, and after nearly 12 years of public service in Florida and Washington, it's time I return to Florida and my family," Martinez said in a prepared statement he read at a press conference today.

Martinez said that he has no health problems or any other reasons that would force him out of office.

"There's no impending reason, it's only my desire to move on and get on with the rest of my life," he said.

Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who has announced he is running for the Senate seat in the next year's election, may appoint a replacement for the remainder of Martinez's term, according to Florida’s Senate vacancy laws. Crist could appoint himself but is not expected to, a Republican source told CBS News' Political Director Steve Chaggaris.

"I have a great deal of respect for my good friend Mel Martinez. I know this decision was a difficult one for him, but I think he is doing what he believes is right for him and his family," Crist said in a prepared statement. "We will immediately begin the process of selecting an appropriate replacement to serve the remainder of Sen. Martinez's term, and I look forward to making an announcement in the coming weeks."

At today's press conference, Martinez said he had spoken with Crist earlier about his potential resignation and that he expects the governor to choose his successor in a "transparent and good process." He did not, however, give any indication of whom that person might be.

"That is the governor's decision," Martinez said. "I trust him to do a good job on that."

Possible appointments include former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, former Crist chief of staff George Lemieux, and former Florida Attorney General and Secretary of State Jim Smith. It is expected Crist would appoint someone who will not run for the seat in 2010.

Martinez said today he would be joining the private sector but did not elaborate any further.

"I have no specific plans for my future other than it's going to be in private life," he said.

He added, however, that he would like to continue to be an active and constructive voice on public matters.

Wikipedia Excerpt: Senator Martinez Took Money From Convicted Congressman Bob Ney and Convicted Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL)

Returned $2,500 contribution he received from Bob Ney. He has so far refused to return a quarter million dollars raised at a fundraised co-chaired by Abramoff [40]

.

Orlando Sentinel: FEC fines Martinez $99,000 for breaking election law in 2004

FEC fines Martinez $99,000 for breaking election law in 2004
posted by Mark Matthews on Oct 28, 2008 1:26:15 PM
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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida has agreed to pay $99,000 in fines for breaking several federal election laws -- including accepting $313,000 in excessive contributions -- during his 2004 senate campaign, according to newly-released records.

The Federal Election Commission levied the sentence after finding the Republican senator took 186 contributions that exceeded the $2,000 legal giving limit in 2004 and also failed to properly report proceeds from 26 big donors and four joint fundraising committees.

“The 2004 campaign brought in a large amount of resources in a very short period of time and accounting mistakes were made,” said Ben Ginsberg, a partner at Patton Boggs, the firm representing Martinez.

As part of his penalty, Martinez will have to pay an additional $11,500 to the U.S. Treasury for excessive contributions that he could not refund to donors in what the FEC calls a “reasonable” amount of time.

Martinez, who narrowly beat Democrat Betty Castor to win the seat, has long blamed the problems on poor bookkeeping. On Tuesday, he released a statement that tried to find a silver lining in the FEC fine, which follows an investigation that has lasted years.

“I am delighted this matter is closed,” Martinez said. “On learning of the issue shortly after the campaign, I immediately took steps to correct the situation and the campaign committee has been in full compliance with FEC regulations.”

That cooperation may have saved Martinez from a heftier penalty. In an eight-page letter sent to his attorney, the FEC noted that his help while it tried to untangle his 2004 campaign, which raised more than $12 million.

“In considering the appropriate civil penalty in this matter, the Commission has found mitigating circumstances, including the (Martinez) Committee’s cooperation during the audit process,” wrote FEC officials.

Still, the penalty is a sharp rebuke for a politician who recently served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. And Democrats wasted no time in pouncing on the punishment.

“This is just a clear example that Mel Martinez is caught up in the Bush-style culture of corruption,” said Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.

Wikipedia Article on Resigning U.S. Senator Melquíades Rafael "Mel" Martínez (born October 23, 1946, as Melquíades Rafael Martínez Ruíz)

Mel Martinez
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Melquíades Rafael "Mel" Martínez (born October 23, 1946, as Melquíades Rafael Martínez Ruíz) is currently the junior United States Senator from Florida and served as Chairman of the Republican Party from November 2006 until October 19, 2007, the first Latino to serve as chairman of a major party. Previously, Martínez served as the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush. Martínez is a Cuban-American and Roman Catholic. He announced he was resigning as Chairman of the Republican National Committee on October 19, 2007. [1] He is an honorary initiate of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity through the Eta Rho Chapter at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Martínez resigned his cabinet post on December 12, 2003, to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Bob Graham. Martínez secured the Republican nomination and narrowly defeated the Democratic nominee, Betty Castor. His election made him the first Cuban-American to serve in the U.S. Senate. Furthermore, he and Ken Salazar (who is Mexican-American) [2] were the first Hispanic U.S. Senators since 1977. They were joined by a third, Bob Menéndez (who is also Cuban-American) in January 2006, until Salazar resigned from the senate on January 20th, 2009, to become Secretary of the Interior. On December 2, 2008, Martinez announced he will not be running for re-election to the Senate when his first term ends in 2010.

On August 7, 2009, CNN and the Orlando Sentinel reported that Martinez would be resigning from his Senate seat.[3] [4]
Contents
[hide]

* 1 Personal life
* 2 U.S. Senate election, 2004
o 2.1 Primary
o 2.2 General election
o 2.3 Campaign reporting violations
* 3 The Terri Schiavo Case
* 4 Staffing Controversies
* 5 Republican National Committee
* 6 Positions
* 7 Committee Assignments
* 8 Electoral History
* 9 Footnotes
* 10 External links

[edit] Personal life

Martínez was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, to Gladys V. Ruíz and Melquíades C. Martínez. [5] He came to the United States in 1962 as part of a Roman Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Peter Pan, which brought into the U.S. more than 14,000 children. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez a temporary home at two youth facilities. At the time Martínez was alone and spoke virtually no English. He subsequently lived with two foster families, and in 1966 was reunited with his family in Orlando.

Martínez received an Associate's degree from Orlando Junior College in 1967, a Bachelor's degree in International Affairs from Florida State University, and his Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law in 1973. He began his legal career working at the Orlando Personal Injury law firm Wooten Kimbrough, et. al. [6], where he became a partner and worked for more than a decade. During his 25 years of law practice in Orlando, he was involved in various civic organizations. He served as Vice-President of the Board of Catholic Charities of the Orlando Diocese.
Senator Mel Martínez chats with U.S. President George W. Bush in the Center Hall of the White House during celebration of the Cinco de Mayo. The official portrait of former First Lady Betty Ford can be seen on the wall.

In 1994, Martínez ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida. He teamed up with former Family Research Council President Ken Connor, the gubernatorial candidate. The Connor/Martínez ticket was defeated in the Republican primary, finishing fifth with 83,945 votes, or 9.31% of the vote.

Before becoming Secretary of HUD, Martínez served on the Governor's Growth Management Study Commission. He previously served as President of the Orlando Utilities Commission, on the board of directors of a community bank, and as Chairman of the Orlando Housing Authority.

Serving as co-chairman of George W. Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign in Florida, Martínez was a leading fundraiser. He was one of the 25 electors from Florida, who voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election.

Martínez and his wife Kitty have three children (Lauren Martínez Shea, John Martínez, and Andrew Martínez) and three grandchildren. He is the brother of Rafael E. Martínez. Mel Martínez lives in the Baldwin Park neighborhood of Orlando (as does Florida's other senator, Bill Nelson) and in Washington.

[edit] U.S. Senate election, 2004

In November 2004, Martinez was the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate election to replace retiring Democrat Bob Graham. Much of Martinez's support came from Washington: he was endorsed early by many prominent Republican groups, and publicly supported by key national Republican figures such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. His Cuban background and his popularity in the battleground Orlando, Florida, region both contributed to his appeal to the statewide GOP in Florida. But Internet magazine Salon reported that Martínez wanted to run for governor in 2006, though the GOP convinced him to run for Senate two years earlier instead.

[edit] Primary

Martínez's nomination by the Republican Party was far from certain. He was seriously challenged by former Congressman Bill McCollum. McCollum criticized Martinez's background as a plaintiff's attorney, and many Republicans initially feared that Martínez's nomination would destroy the GOP's ability to criticize Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards' background. Martínez was also said to be soft on tort reform, a major Republican issue in the 2004 race.

After a McCollum surge in the final weeks leading up to the primary, Martínez fought back in the last week of the race, putting out mass mailings and television ads that called McCollum "the new darling of homosexual extremists," pointing out that McCollum had sponsored hate crimes legislation while a member of the House of Representatives. Martínez pulled some of the more offensive ads from the air after a personal appeal from Governor Jeb Bush, but never disavowed them. The St. Petersburg Times took the extraordinary step of revoking its endorsement of Martínez in the Republican primary and endorsing McCollum. [7]

In the Republican primary on August 31, Martínez won a decisive victory over McCollum (45 to 31 percent). Shortly afterward, he spoke alongside President Bush at the 2004 Republican National Convention on September 2.

[edit] General election

Martínez defeated his Democratic opponent, Betty Castor, in a very close election that was preceded by numerous negative television ads from both campaigns. Martínez's margin of victory was small enough that a winner was not declared until Castor conceded the day after the election.

President Bush won in Florida by 52%-47% [8], but Martínez only won 49%-48% [9], with a margin of about 70,000 votes. Martinez did much worse than Bush in the Tampa area, such as in Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties, and in smaller counties such as Liberty and Lafayette. The only counties that Martínez won that Bush did not were Orange and Miami-Dade.

[edit] Campaign reporting violations

In August 2006, the Martínez campaign acknowledged that the 2004 campaign had been under review by the Federal Election Commission for more than a year. Following the 2004 election, Martínez originally reported that his $12-million campaign had about $115,000 in debt, according to FEC documents. But the latest revision of that figure shows the original tally was off by about a half-million dollars: his campaign instead owed $685,000 in election expenses.

The FEC has sent Martínez at least 20 letters asking to clarify his 2004 campaign reports. His campaign has spent about $300,000 in accounting and attorney's fees since the 2004 election.[10]

The organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which monitors political corruption, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in August 2006 that charged Martínez with having illegally accepted more than $60,000 from the Bacardi beverage company in the campaign. Bacardi violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations – CREW alleges – by soliciting contributions from a list of the corporation’s vendors for these campaigns, and by using corporate funds to pay for food and beverages at campaign events held in the company’s corporate headquarters on May 11, 2004. An amended complaint by CREW in October 2006 alleged similar behavior by Bacardi for Democratic Senator Bill Nelson's 2006 re-election campaign. [11] On October, 28, 2008, Republican Sen. Mel Martínez agreed to pay $99,000 in fines for his campaign's failure to comply with federal election laws, including its acceptance of excess contributions, records show.

Documents filed by the Federal Election Commission show the resolution of the long-running dispute with the former general chairman of the Republican National Committee stemming from his 2004 campaign.

An FEC audit found Martínez's campaign accepted a total of $313,235 in contributions that exceeded limits from 186 donors. The fine was agreed to by the FEC on Sept. 10 and was posted a month later in its database.

[edit] The Terri Schiavo Case
This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (February 2008)
(Find sources: Mel Martinez

– news

, books

, scholar

)

Despite an absence of a quorum, the Senate approved The Palm Sunday Compromise, formally known as the Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo (S. 686 CPS), in the early hours of March 20, 2005, to allow the case of Terri Schiavo to be moved into a federal court. The bill passed unanimously by voice vote and no formal record of the vote was made. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Mel Martínez (R-FL), the only Senators present, voted for the bill with the remaining 97 Senators not present.

The act was strongly criticized by many on both sides of the political divide for the following reasons.

* The law applied to only one individual. Comparisons were drawn with bills of attainder, which are specifically prohibited by the United States Constitution. While some saw this as a legally flawed analysis since bills of attainder take away individual rights rather than bestow them, the rights of Michael Schiavo, as Terri's guardian, to make decisions on her behalf were stripped away.

* The law was a violation of the separation of powers. Many argued that Congress had exceeded its powers by substituting its judgment for that of the courts and directing the courts on how to proceed. This argument was addressed by Judge Stanley Birch in a highly critical concurrence with the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, given on March 30, 2005.

* The law failed to create any substantive rights. The law enacted by Congress obliged the federal courts only to review the rulings of the Florida state courts to determine whether procedural due process had been afforded. However, there was no serious argument that the Florida courts had violated any constitutionally mandated procedural requirements. Nineteen different Florida state court judges, at various times, considered the requests on appeal in six state appellate courts.

As in the state courts, all of the Schindlers' federal petitions on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo and appeals were denied, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari – effectively ending the Schindler family legal options.

[edit] Staffing Controversies

On April 6, 2005, Martinez accepted the resignation of his legal counsel, Brian Darling [12], who was responsible for writing and circulating the Schiavo memo related to the Terry Schiavo case.

Martínez immediately denied all knowledge of Darling's involvement in the situation, noting that he himself had inadvertently passed a copy of the memo to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, believing that it was nothing more than an outline of the Republican proposal. Martínez asserted that the memo "was intended to be a working draft," stating that Darling "doesn't really know how I got it."

The Schiavo memo is the third incident in which Martinez accepted broad responsibility while laying blame upon a staffer for the underlying deed. During the Republican primary, a staffer was blamed for a passage in a campaign flyer painting his opponent Bill McCollum as a servant of the "radical homosexual lobby". Shortly thereafter another staffer was blamed for labeling federal agents involved in the Elián González affair as "armed thugs" [13].

In spite of Martínez's vocal objections to homosexual issues such as gay marriage, he employed two gay men in his 2004 Senate campaign [14]. One of them, Kirk Fordham, would become a figure in the Mark Foley scandal.

[edit] Republican National Committee

In November 2006, Martínez was named general chairman of the Republican Party for the 2007–2008 election cycle (Mike Duncan handled the day-to-day operations). Some felt the choice was made in part due to the dip in support for Republicans among Latino voters in the 2006 midterm elections. [15] Some conservatives objected to Martínez's selection, citing his positions on immigration and their general lack of enthusiasm for his performance as senator. Martínez stepped down from this position on October 19, 2007.

[edit] Positions

* Abortion: Rated 100% by National Right to Life Committee[16], which indicates a pro-life stance. Morally opposed to abortion even in case of rape or incest, he supports education to reduce abortions, and supports the promotion of alternatives such as adoption. His position on the legality of abortion is unclear, but he has indicated that he would not vote for prosecuting involved parties even in the event of a reversal of Roe v. Wade. In a debate moderated by Tim Russert, Martínez stated:

"The bottom line is I don't plan on prosecuting anyone. When I go to the United States Senate, I'm going to be confirming judges who will go to the courts, and the courts will deal with the issue. This is not up for a vote by the United States Senate." He added, "We're far from prosecuting people in this country over that issue" [17]

* Economy: Supports free trade generally; supports tax cuts; advocates lowering regulation of employers and reducing liability insurance burdens.
* Education: Supports No Child Left Behind Act; advocates more standardized testing; supports school voucher programs; supports English-only education.
* Immigration: In his 2004 campaign, Martínez said "Our immigration policy should first and foremost ensure the security of our great Nation and those individuals posing a terrorist threat should be prevented from entering our country. I strongly oppose amnesty for illegal aliens; our immigration laws should not reward lawlessness." and "I oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. I support a plan that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to citizenship. Immigration to this country must always be done through legal means" In a 2006 after election platform reversal, he helped craft the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 that would be referred to by much of his own party as "amnesty". (see [18] On June 28, 2007, he would later vote for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 – which he helped form with other Senate leaders – that would allow many illegal immigrants to become citizens. The bill was defeated through being denied cloture on the Senate floor.
* Environment: Supports funding state conservation preservation funding without raising taxes; supports opening up maximum amount of Forest Services federal land for hunting and shooting sports; supports "voluntary incentives" legislation to make it easier for private landowners to set aside land for hunting, shooting, and conservation purposes.
* Foreign policy
o Cuba Critical of Cuba's human rights record; supports tightening travel and strengthening the economic and trade blockade against Cuba; supports U.S. government funding of persons in Cuba who are opposed to current Cuban government; opposes foreign aid to countries that oppose U.S. policies; Advocates closure of Guantanamo Bay detainment camp Senator Martínez is also a member of the Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus
o Iraq: Supports the Bush Doctrine, but has asserted that the U.S. erred in hastily dismantling the Iraqi Army.
o Israel: Supports Israeli self-determination; supports close ties between U.S. and Israel
* Health care: Supports private Medicare and Social Security accounts for new workers; advocates more thorough investigations of Medicare fraud; supports reimportation of drugs from Canada.[17]
* Homeland security: Opposes base closures in Florida; advocates maintaining "the strongest military in the world." Even to the point of spending additional funds to keep Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates in service even after they have lost their air defense missile capabilities.[19]
* Religion: Supports free exercise of religion; opposes "removing all public displays of religious devotion" from society.
* Same-sex marriage and gay rights: Supports an amendment to the United States Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. In June 2006, he is quoted on the matter regarding not amending the Constitution, thus leaving each State to come up with its own laws, "It isn't good enough to say, 'Leave it up to the states.' ... If we leave it up to the states we will see the erosion of marriage that we've seen by activist courts, which we otherwise will not see if we protect the institution of marriage at the federal level". He opposes legislation that would protect employers from firing gays, and has declined to endorse anti hate crimes legislation.
* Welfare: Supports Republican-style welfare reforms encouraging personal responsibility; supports programs for job training and retraining.
* Public housing: Supports providing housing for peoples of a needy situation: physically, mentally, as well as financially. When secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Senator Martinez played a large part in the construction of housing and continues to do so as a junior senator.

On January 25, 2008, Martínez endorsed Sen. John McCain in the Florida Republican primary of the 2008 presidential election, citing McCain's understanding of national security and economic and foreign policy.[20] McCain subsequently won the primary.

[edit] Committee Assignments

* Committee on Armed Services
o Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
o Subcommittee on SeaPower (Ranking Member)
* Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
o Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
o Subcommittee on Financial Institutions
o Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment
* Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
o Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
o Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
o Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion (Ranking Member)
o Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard
* Special Committee on Aging

[edit] Electoral History
Florida U.S. Senate Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mel Martínez 3,672,864 49.5
Democratic Betty Castor 3,590,201 48.4

[edit] Footnotes

1. ^ Sen. Martínez quits as RNC chairman

from USA Today
2. ^ Fast facts: Explanation of Ken Salazar's ancestry

from Time Magazine
3. ^ http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/08/07/florida-senator-to-resign-seat/

4. ^ http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/orl-mel-martinez-resignation-letter-080709,0,5172927.story

5. ^ Melquíades C. Martínez Gladys V. Ruíz

6. ^ Official website

7. ^ McCollum for GOP

. Editorial by St. Petersburg Times, August 30, 2004.
8. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/elections/2004/fl/

9. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/elections/2004/fl/

10. ^ [1]

[dead link]
11. ^ CREW FILES AMENDED FEC COMPLAINT AGAINST BACARDI USA AND MARTINEZ FOR SENATE

12. ^ Author of Schiavo memo steps forward

13. ^ New gaffe, old Martínez defense

14. ^ Anti-gay Senate candidate has two gay advisers

15. ^ Republicans Poised to Tap Martínez to Shape Message in Advance of 2008 Race

16. ^ Mel Martinez on Abortion

17. ^ a b "Florida Senatorial Debate: Unedited Realtime Captioning

". Americaption, Inc.. October 18, 2004. http://tbo.com/election/101804debate.htm

.
18. ^ [2]

).
19. ^ Shipbuilding a national imperative

20. ^ John McCain for President (January 25, 2008). "Senator Mel Martínez Endorses John McCain For President

". Press release. http://johnmccain.com/Informing/News/PressReleases/00d54849-740d-4667-a186-0dd4a888cf66.htm

.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Filed Ethics Complaint Against Senator Mel Martinez

CREW files FEC complaint against Senator Martinez: “Basically, Mel Martinez broke the law in order to win an election."
Submitted by crew on 11 May 2007 - 11:26am. Mel Martinez

CREW filed an Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint today against Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) alleging multiple egregious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations.. The complaint and the accompanying materials can be found here.

The complaint is based primarily upon the Commission’s recent audit on April 17, 2007 of Martinez for Senate, which revealed that the campaign committee failed to comply with the most basic disclosure provisions of FECA and FEC regulations. During the course of the ten-month campaign, Martinez for Senate received no fewer than three written warnings from the Commission.

The FEC’s Audit Division found that Martinez for Senate violated several statues by failing to disclose occupation and/or employer information for an astonishing forty-six percent (46%) of the individuals who contributed to the campaign, and by failing to provide any contributor identification information at all for approximately $320,000 in contributions.

The Audit Division also found that Martinez for Senate accepted $313,325 in excessive contributions. Virtually all of those illegal funds were spent by Martinez for Senate in order to win the 2004 general election when, in fact, they should not have been available for use. Additionally, in the twenty days before the 2004 general election, Martinez for Senate received, but failed to disclose, $140,514 in contributions.

After filing the complaint, CREW's Melanie Sloan said:

The violations committed by Martinez for Senate are unprecedented in both size and scope. Basically, Mel Martinez broke the law in order to win an election. Now, years later, he is a sitting Senator and the chairman of the Republican National Committee. A failure by the FEC to severely sanction the Martinez for Senate campaign committee will demonstrate that violating the law pays.

MIAMI HERALD: PBS&J uses employees as 'straw' donors to political campaigns.

PBS&J insider alleges donation scheme

A former manager in the engineering firm PBS&J detailed an alleged company practice of using employees as 'straw' donors to political campaigns.

Oct. 02, 2006

By Dan Christensen and Patrick Danner
The Miami Herald
Copyright 2006

It was March 15, 2002, and a top man in Atlanta for the engineering firm PBS&J had a political headache.

A friend of Gov. Roy Barnes was clamoring for a contribution to the campaign of Sen. Max Cleland, a fellow Democrat from Georgia. To make things worse, a PBS&J rival for government contracts was hosting a Cleland fundraiser.

So, James Breland, a PBS&J senior vice president, faxed a note and a donation request form to headquarters in Miami. The fax -- The Miami Herald obtained a copy from the company's former accounting manager -- relayed the promise that a contribution "would not go unnoticed by Gov. Barnes.''

That same day, PBS&J approved a $2,000 contribution. But when the money was handed over at a luncheon later, it was in the name of not the company, but Breland.

The episode was part of a sweeping, decades long practice in which PBS&J used employees as ''straw'' donors to make thousands of illicit contributions to politicians across the country, according to the former accounting manager. Employees wrote the checks, and then the company reimbursed them.

The former manager, Maria A. Garcia of Hialeah, is one of three ex-employees who pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling $36 million. She made a deal with investigators in exchange for giving information.

Former Chief Financial Officer W. Scott DeLoach of Aventura also pleaded guilty Thursday in the theft and to using six employees and their relatives as ''straw'' donors in the 2004 campaign of Florida Sen. Mel Martinez.

CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

The alleged scheme was a way around campaign contribution limits and a law that prohibits corporate donations to candidates for federal office. A federal grand jury in Miami is now investigating.

Garcia said it was her job to oversee the reimbursements.

''They felt they had to give to get work,'' Garcia said. 'I'd hear them say, `We need to make sure we are in good standing with everybody.' ''

PBS&J acknowledges that some improper donations were made in the 1990s but denies any widespread system of illegal giving. Mark Schnapp, a lawyer for PBS&J, said the improper donations were "not of any significant magnitude.''

Schnapp also denied that the donations won government contracts for PBS&J, a national engineering and construction company with 3,900 employees and $530 million in revenue last year.

''There is absolutely no basis to believe that any political contribution would influence the award of any government contract,'' he said. "PBS&J is awarded contracts on its ability and nothing else.''

Schnapp would not address the Breland episode, citing the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office. Breland, now retired in South Carolina, did not return two phone calls to his home. Both Barnes and Cleland of Georgia lost their races.

The Breland contribution was just one of the complex illegal donations that were part of the way PBS&J did business, Garcia said.

The story, according to Garcia: She used different accounting tricks to make reimbursements look like legitimate bonuses or business expenses. There were forms for repayment requests. When the ''straw'' donors owed tax on their reimbursement, the company covered it by raising their paychecks.

''On one occasion, I got a list with 40 to 80 names on it and reimbursement amounts from $5,000 to $20,000,'' said Garcia, 43.

Another employee who pleaded guilty to the embezzlement, former Accounts Payable Manager Rosario Licata of Davie, was also involved, Garcia said. Among other things, she typed Breland's check.

Licata's attorney, Jay Moskowitz, said he could not confirm or deny anything.

FLORIDA RECIPIENTS

PBS&J was generous with its donations. Its political action committees and its executives and their relatives gave more than $500,000 to candidates in 14 states since 2003. Among the biggest recipients in Florida were Republican Sen. Mel Martinez ($10,600), Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson ($6,000) and the Republican Party ($47,000).

Managers and up -- not low-level employees -- were called on to give, Garcia said.

''They'd be solicited one on one,'' she said. 'They'd call the vice presidents in and tell them, `This is how much you need to give.' ''

Garcia started as a clerk in 1978 when the company was called Post Buckley Schuh & Jernigan, and worked under two chief financial officers.

A COMPANY OFFICER

The first, Richard Wickett, used the PBS&J subsidiary Seminole Development in the 1980s and early 1990s to write the reimbursement checks, according to Garcia. She said Wickett instructed her to create expense reports in case anybody had questions.

Wickett phoned employees to solicit contributions.

'But that was after he'd get a call and I'd hear him say, `I'll start on it right away,' '' Garcia said.

Garcia remembers Wickett as a formidable force who sometimes responded angrily to underlings' questions that he didn't like.

''You are questioning God!'' he once told her. ``You don't question God! You just do what He says!''

Wickett, a retired PBS&J chairman, could not be reached for comment. His Miami attorney, Neal Sonnett, said his client has done nothing wrong.

''I am aware from scuttlebutt that DeLoach and his cohorts are trying to accuse Mr. Wickett of complicity in some of their shenanigans [aside from] the embezzlement,'' Sonnett said. "But I'm not aware of any evidence that Richard Wickett did anything prosecutable.''

Sonnett also said he doubted that Wickett said what Garcia claimed. "It's a great quote, but that's not Richard Wickett.''

Under DeLoach, reimbursement money came from PBS&J directly, Garcia said.

DeLoach stated in court records that in 2004, a PBS&J executive told him the company supported Sen. Martinez. DeLoach wrote a check to the Martinez campaign and asked four employees to do the same. He then reimbursed the employees and two spouses for $11,000 that went to the senator's campaign. A lawyer for the company says DeLoach acted on his own to make a good impression on Martinez.

Garcia recalled another time in September 2004 when DeLoach came to her desk and ordered her to write a $5,000 check to Democracy Believers, the joint political action committee of brothers Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart, both South Florida congressmen.

'He said, `I have to come up with that amount now. Run home and get your checkbook,' '' Garcia said.

She did. Federal records show that Democracy Believers got $5,000 each on Sept. 17, 2004, from Garcia, Licata and DeLoach. PBS&J's federal PAC also gave $5,000 that month, for a total of $20,000.

CONGRESSMAN'S VOTE

The contributions came in the two weeks after Mario Díaz-Balart's favorable vote on a multimillion-dollar bill for hurricane cleanup work that PBS&J was later hired to oversee. A spokesman for the congressman said there was no connection between the money and the vote.

''We've never had any contact with PBS&J about any legislation,'' said the spokesman, Tom Bean. ''We had no idea they were putting in for a contract.'' Bean also said he didn't know why those large contributions were made to Democracy Believers. ``Maybe they want to see a free Cuba -- that's what that PAC is about.''

Ironically, the woman who said she spent years managing PBS&J's illegal reimbursements was never compensated for her $5,000 contribution to Democracy Believers.

''I was embarrassed to ask [DeLoach] for it,'' Garcia said. ``We were embezzling all this money.''

dchristensen@MiamiHerald.com

© 2006 The Miami Herald: www.miami.com

NY TIMES: Senator Martinez Resigns Early

August 7, 2009, 12:03 pm
Senator Martinez Resigns Early
By Bernie Becker
Susan Walsh/Associated Press Senator Mel Martinez is reportedly expected to announce his resignation on Friday afternoon.

Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, who had already announced he was not running for re-election in 2010, has decided to leave the Senate for good in the next few weeks, according to Senate Republican aides.

The Associated Press reports that in a letter to supporters, Mr. Martinez, 62, wrote that “my priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country, and at this stage in my life, and after nearly 12 years of public service in Florida and Washington, it’s time I return to Florida and my family.” The A.P. said that Mr. Martinez would formally announce his resignation in Florida on Friday afternoon.

Even though Mr. Martinez had said he would not seek a second term in the Senate, it was widely assumed that he would finish serving his current one through the 2010 elections.

Florida’s Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is among the high-profile candidates who have announced they will run for the seat. Under Florida law, Mr. Crist is responsible for selecting the interim senator who will replace Mr. Martinez. It’s widely expected that Mr. Crist will name a place-holder until the election.

Mr. Martinez was born in Cuba and was brought to Florida at a young age under the Operation Peter Pan program, a humanitarian effort in the early 1960s that placed him with foster families. He later was reunited with his family. More recently, he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the administration of former President George W. Bush, before resigning to run for the Senate in 2004. During part of his current Senate term, he also served as general chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Just this past week, he broke from the party leadership to vote in favor of Senate confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, and lauded the nomination to the nation’s highest court of a Latina-American.

MORE ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM BY "MOST LAWLESS CITY?" -- Tuesday, August 18, 1:30 PM Meeting at City Hall on Riberia Street Detours During Constructiion




Photo credits: Marie Hardage

Need to Meet In Lincolnville, at Night or on Weekend, To Assure Public Participation and Transparency

Letter to City of St. Augustine Chief Operations Officer JOHN REGAN

Dear John:
The City of St. Augustine has unilaterally set a meeting on Riberia Street at City Hall on a Tuesday morning (August 18) at 1:30 in the afternoon. This is an inconvenient time and place. May I please suggest that the City kindly reconsider this time and place?
Or in the alternative, will you be so kind as to hold a similar meeting on the deplorable condition of Riberia Street in Lincolnville (perhaps at a central location like the historic St. Paul’s AME Church, and that you do so at night or on a weekend so that working people can attend)?

This is necessary and proper because:
1. So often our City of St. Augustine demonstrates a lack of sensitivity and (many believe), Environmental Racism.
2.
3. That’s exactly what the City of St. Augustine did when it dumped 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir (West Augustine) and then wanted to move it back to Lincolnville. Two public meetings were held on this subject at St. Paul’s AME Church in 2008 and 2009. Those meetings in Lincolnville helped stop our City from its plan of sending contaminated solid waste back to Lincolnville – a plan that you and the City’s $500/hour environmental lawyer tried to foist off on our community. We stopped the City in its tracks, based upon the outpouring of public opposition heard at St. Paul’s Church in Lincolnville.
4. Meeting on Riberia Street detours only at City Hall has the effect of excluding many people.
5. Many people in Lincolnville still feel uncomfortable there due to the City’s heinous past (and present) in dealing with Lincolnville, with African-Americans and other people of color, and with low-income residents.
6. Our City remains very prejudiced in its hiring, pay, promotion and spending practices, leading to the filing of an Environmental Justice complaint with the EPA Office of Civil Rights on January 15, 2009 (observation of Dr. King’s birthday. The complaint was filed by local residents who invoked Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which was enacted by Congress and LBJ thanks in large part to the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers’ courage here in St. Augustine).
7. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to reform rabbis on June 12, 1964 from the St. Augustine Jail, stating in his letter that the City of St. Augustine was the “most lawless” city in America. Dr. King used the leverage of federal funds for the City’s 400th birthday to obtain needed changes. As we look to the 450th birthday, we’re seeing many of the same old tactics (“the Control Game”) emanating from City Hall, including “scheduling meetings in inappropriate times and places.” See http://www.actionpa.org/activism/controlgame.html
8. Our City spends money unequally, spending less in low-income and minority neighborhoods, while locating unpleasant or offensive installations there.
9. Riberia Street’s rutted, bumpy, often-undrewater washboard road surface is far worse than those in many Third World Nations. Visitors are constantly appalled at this real and demonstrative evidence of St. Augustine’s Apartheid government in the year 2009.
10. Riberia Street risks the lives of pedestrians, drivers and passengers, and subjects automobiles to heavy damages from ruts and huge ponds that form with the slightest.
11. Riberia Street is “unsafe at any speed” and is a stench in the nostrils of the Nation as we get ready to celebrate St. Augustine’s 450th birthday.
12. I travel that dangerous street every workday – I work on Riberia Street.
13. Riberia Street’s deplorable condition is a product of Apartheid, the continuing sequelae of Jim Crow segregation, and an enduring symptom of racism, which is a disease of the spirit and the mind. Riberia Street represents our Nation’s Oldest City’s habitual violation of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
14. Riberia Street work must be accelerated.
15. The process must be open and candid. Meetings must be held at night and on weekends.
16. Our City is given $50,000,000.00 by taxpayers every year.
17. Our very small City of 13,000 has a City government with 350 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff.
18. Rose Kennedy’s favorite Bible verse was “To whom much is given, much is expected.” We expect our City to become more sensitive to the needs of the people and to start holding meetings on community issues in the affected community, and at night or on a weekend.
19. The proposed meeting is at 1:30 PM on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of August. Exactly whose idea was that? This is an inconvenient time.
20. City Hall is an inconvenient place for many Lincolnville residents.
21. City Hall still has an aura of faux elitism and smugness, a throwback to the days of Jim Crow segregation, when a few wealthy individuals and elected officials dictated public policy in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.
22. These may be extremely “Inconvenient Truths,” but the City staff must learn and grow from experience. We have an African-American President and we expect City Hall to grow past what happened in St. Augustine in 1964. As President Bill Clinton said in his Second Inaugural, “Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small.”
23. Meetings on important issues must no longer be held only in the daytime and only at City Hall. We are a “City of neighborhoods.”
24. Asking Neighborhoods to come to City Hall with their hat in their hands is condescending.
25. Ever since Mayor Gardner was elected, our City Commission meets at 5 PM.
26. Meeting any earlier (your 1:30 PM meeting on Riberia Street) has the effect of excluding people and contributing to lack of trust in our governmental institutions.
27. Would you please be so kind as to contact Pastor Ron Rawls to see if the St. Paul’s AME Church might be available for a night or weekend meeting on Riberia Street?
28. Would you please call me by close of business today to discuss Riberia Street and the need to end forever “The Control Game” as practiced by our government of the City of St. Augustine? See http://www.actionpa.org/activism/controlgame.html
Thanking you and the City Manager in advance for your kind assistance, I am,
With kindest regards,
Sincerely yours.
Ed
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine
www.cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3085
829-3877
471-9918 (fax)

READ ABOUT "THE CONTROL GAME," PRACTICED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, DEVELOPERS & POLLUTERS

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.

Governor Should Appoint A LIibertarian, An Environmentalist A Democrat (Or Ben Rich) to Mark Miner's Seat During Iraq Tour

We'd like to see Governor CHARLES CRIST consider applicants on their merits, based upon life experience, rather than recommendations from Republicans.

Of course, ever since Florida's First American Colonial Governor (Andrew Jackson in 1819), Florida's been run on the spoils system. Jackson said if there was a job that a Democrat could not do, the job should be abolished.

We'd expect a cosmopolitan guy like Governor CRiST to do more than just rubber-stamp the Republican machine's recommendation.

Even if CRIST appoints another Republican, couldn't it be one who is not beholden to wetland-destroying, wildlife-killing, other-directed developers and their stable of policians? (Like KAREN STERN, the MAGUIRE BROTHERS, SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "DAViD HOAR" and the wrecking krew of louche developers and lobbyists like cheesy Snidely Whiplash lawyer GEORGE McCLURE). Why does the Republican Governor haver to appoint from KAREN STERN's pack of wolves -- destructive developers (whom former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich called "worse than any carpetbagger")?

How about Bill Hamilton (owner of Southern Horticulture) for temporary County Commissioner?

All sides respect him. He has integrity, knowledge of the environment and he's someone imbued with a brain and a spine and a sense of humor.

Bill Hamilton would be great, Governor CRIST. Future generations will thank you.

People will respect you more if you appoint someone based on merit, not affiliation with the scandal-plagued Republican Party of St. Johns County, Florida.

Editorial: Crist shouldn't leave Miner's seat vacant

St. Augustine
Publication Date: 08/07/09

St. Johns County Commissioner Mark Miner's call to active duty in January with the Florida National Guard in Operation Iraqi Freedom gives Gov. Charlie Crist another opportunity to shape the St. Johns County Commission, at least temporarily. It will be his second appointment in less than a year.

Crist needs to fill the position as soon as he is legally able to keep Miner's home District 3 represented and the commission at full strength while Miner is gone. Crist's first appointment was Phil Mays for District 4 last December who replaced suspended Commissioner Tom Manuel.

Miner notified Crist Monday of his one-year leave of absence. Although Crist isn't bound to replace a sitting commissioner on a leave of absence even for military duty, we encourage him to do so.

In his letter to Crist, Minor also recommends a temporary replacement, Ray Quinn, a retired Florida Guard sergeant major. "I feel he embodies every aspect of an outstanding public servant who is fully capable of occupying the office I hold for the short duration of my deployment," Miner said.

Miner said he offered his own recommendation in the same vein as Maj. Charles Van Zant Jr., a Clay County School Board member, did when he went on active duty to the desert. He recommended his dad hold his seat. Crist appointed Van Zant Sr. until the soldier's return.

Miner has given the governor enough advance notice of his leave to appoint a replacement. We appreciate Miner's planning ahead.

St. Johns County has too many issues for a four-member commission to operate effectively for 12 months. The potential for 2-2 votes is great and could render the commission ineffective. Ties spell automatic defeat.

Whether Crist follows Miner's recommendation or not we urge the governor to exercise his appointment option again.

Click here to return to story:
http://staugustine.com/stories/080709/opinions_1825092.shtml

© The St. Augustine Record

Two Plead Guilty to Offering to Bribe U.S. Army Contracting Official in Afghanistan

Two Individuals Plead Guilty to Offering to Bribe U.S. Army Contracting Official in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON—Two dual Afghan/U.S. citizens today pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to offer $1 million in bribes to a U.S. Army contracting official in Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Rohullah Farooqi Lodin, 48, from Irvine, Calif., and Hashmatullah Farooqi, 38, from New York City, pleaded guilty to one count of offering to bribe a public official before Judge Liam O'Grady in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The U.S. Army in Afghanistan is responsible for the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP), which enables U.S. Army commanders in Afghanistan to use U.S. monies to fund humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects, including road construction, in that country. According to court documents, in 2009, the U.S. Army solicited bids from contractors to design and build a road in Logar Province, Afghanistan (the Logar Road Contract). The U.S. Army received numerous bids on the Logar Road Contract, including $18 million bids each from National General Construction Company (NGCC) and Hamed Lais Group (Hamed Lais), both general contracting firms in Afghanistan that Lodin and Farooqi claimed to represent.

On at least four occasions in May 2009, Lodin and Farooqi admitted they met with an Army captain who was the public official responsible for managing the CERP in Logar Province. Lodin and Farooqi admitted they told the Army captain that they represented NGCC and Hamed Lais, and were interested in securing the Logar Road Contract. Lodin and Farooqi admitted they offered the Army captain $1 million in bribes if he agreed to assist in disqualifying lower bidders on the Logar Road Contract and influence the award of the contract to NGCC and Hamed Lais.

Lodin and Farooqi admitted they stated they had political connections, and that to facilitate the award of the Logar Road Contract to Hamed Lais and NGCC, they could arrange for the blacklisting of lower priced bidders currently ranked ahead of their bid. Lodin and Farooqi admitted they had numerous conversations with the Army captain and discussed the following options for paying him to influence the award of the Logar Road Contract: they stated they could wire the Army captain $1 million through Dubai or Bangkok to a bank account; they offered to pay the Army captain $500,000 out of the first payment under the contract and $500,000 at the conclusion of the contract; and they offered to pay the Army captain $200,000 of the $1 million in cash before the award of the contract.

The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or up to three times the value of the bribe, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2009.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve A. Linick, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section, and Fraud Section Trial Attorney James J. Graham. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division; the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Folio Weekly -- Backpage Editorial -- 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.