Thursday, April 14, 2011



St. Johns County is allegedly one of the most corrupt counties in Florida. Believe it.
But like Chicago, New York, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia (and some Third World Countries), some local folks are durn proud of that status – we’re the most corrupt.
St. Augustine and St. Johns County are like Chicago “writ small,” albeit with definite panache – where else in the world did a segregationist sheriff (L.O. Davis) own whorehouses and ship the prostitutes to a physician to be examined every week in a county school bus?
That’s one that didn’t make it into Judge John Noonan’s excellent book on bribery, Bribes: The Intellectual History of A Moral Idea” (1984).
Despite St. Johns County’s legendary political corruption and chicanery, today I must confess: I am “shocked, shocked” that there’s something fishy going on between SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a “DAVID HOAR” and developer Lawyer GEORGE McCLURE. The transcript of a June 11, 2008 telephone call at 9:35 PM between DAVID SHOAR and McCLURE McCLURE was filed by former County Commission Chairman TOM MANUEL’s lawyer on December 16, 2009, documenting the participants talking about what they demurely called “the beginning of the damn thing.”
The words on the tape are disgusting. It’s not unlike looking at the gang of maggots on top of an overflowing restaurant garbage can in Miami in the middle of August. Disgusting.
I have few illusions, having started work for a U.S. Senator at the age of 17.5. I worked for three liberal Democratic Senators (Kennedy, Hart and Sasser) and saw the best of democracy – honest public officials representing their constituents. I’ve also seen perfidy and venality from sea to shining sea, particularly when I represented whistleblowers.
I’ve been reading secretly-taped transcripts of dishonest politicians since 1973, when the first of the Watergate tapes were released.
When I was sixteen, I was glued to the TV watching the Watergate hearings from the first gavel banged by Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. (D-NC). After high school, I went to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. hoping to see both an impeachment trial and a criminal trial of RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON. (Presiudent GERALD R. FORD pardoned President RICHARD NIXON, and when the dorm maid told me, I punched the wall of my dorm room – that hurt, because the wall was real plaster, not wallboard).
Then there was ABSCAM, where Senator HARRISON A. WILLIAMS, JR. (D_N.J.) and a clutch of Congressmen were snared by the FBI, whose impersonation of an Arab sheik led U.S. REP. OZZIE MYERS (D-Pa) to say “money talks and bullshit walks,” one of the most memorable lines in American political bribery.
Then there was Anderson County, Tennessee Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER, twice Tennessee Sheriff of the Year: TROTTER was taped in a drug conspiracy by his Chief Deputy during the time I was Appalachian Observer Editor. (More than a dozen honest Anderson County deputies followed my suggestion of talking to the FBI and U.S. Attorney). SHERIFF DENNIS O TROTTER said I was “the most dangerous reporter” he “ever met.” TROTTER took $10,633.50 in bribes from bail bondsmen (and more from drug dealers, selling 20,000 synthetic heroin tablets and other evidence out of the evidence locker. I reported SHERIFF TROTTER’s bail bonding and other abuses and asked questions no other reporter had ever asked in a county with an entrenched political machine and reputation for corruption. I published news articles that reported TROTTER was “in cahoots” with bail bondsmen who got an 87% monopoly on the bail bonding business while having one of their employees (a convicted felon) employed by the Sheriff and illegally soliciting bail bonding business. TROTTER had me sued for libel – served with a million dollar libel lawsuit on the morning of my first law school exam (Torts) on December 10, 1983. In 1984, SHERIFF TROTTER and his bail bonding co-felon buddies pled guilty to federal crimes. The denouement: In my lawsuit against TROTTER and the bondsmen, they ended up paying me for filing baseless civil litigation against me (the phony libel lawsuit).
There have been many public corruption cases since then.
Then there was St. Johns County Commission Chair THOMAS G. MANUEL, who pled guilty to bribery earlier this year.
But is there more to the MANUEL case than just another bribery case?
Was MANUEL the object of an effort by developers and St. Johns County’s “kingmaker” (SHERIFF SHOAR) to ensnare MANUEL in bribery charges to return the county to the good-ole-days when backslappin’ good-ole-boys with bad grammar and bad taste violated Sunshine laws and gave developers everything they wanted, letting them kill trees by the forest-full, fill wetlands and attempt to turn St. Johns County into an unreasonable facsimile of South Florida?
Now there’s ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a “DAVID HOAR” and developer GEORGE McCLURE talking like Masters of the Universe, on tape. Read the entire transcript (below).
Upon reading the transcript, do you get the impression that these are two very dangerous men?
Or are they just spoiled brats used to getting their way (and having their way with the law) to service developers?
Are these two men self-aggrandizing narcissists? Why are they gleefully celebrating the arrest of their political enemy, TOM MANUEL, who voted against developers and listened to “neighbors”? It is quite obvious that SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR hates democracy (he ran with developer support, allegedly promising to bust activists). It is equally obvious that GEORGE MCCLURE hates democracy. Satraps like SHOAR and McCLURE simply hate it when developers’ projects are disapproved because Commissioners actually talk to (and listen to) pesky neighbors, as if the job of an elected public official was not to represent the people instead of the powerful. SHOAR thinks that Commissioners shouldn’t meet with neighbors concerned about development projects. SHOAR and McCLURE talk about the good-ole-days when good-ole-boys on County Commission didn’t treat the Commissioner’s job as a full-time job, letting developers and other “professionals” run the county.
GEORGE MCCLURE: And, you know -- I was just going to say, you know, I'm ready to go back to where county commissioners make 10 grand a year
GEORGE MCCLURE: And they keep their own jobs –
GEORGE MCCLURE: And they show up every two weeks for about four hours and provide some guidance on what goes on.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: That is exactly what -- that's exactly what needs to happen. And, quite frankly, these commissioners should not be meeting with people that have issues coming before them. I think that they should have staff to do that.
GEORGE MCCLURE: Yep. You know, I've been willing to do that and they've been saying, you know, you don't give up talking to commissioners. My only fear in that whole process is that there are commissioners who will only talk to the people who oppose a project, you know.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: Right. That's true, too.
GEORGE MCCLURE: The neighbors call up and, you know, I'm going to go visit my neighbors -- and if we could all trust them to say, you
know what, I'm going to wait until the hearing and hear it, and, I'm sorry, don't talk to me about that, that's on my calendar, and if you have something to say to me, please show up at the hearing on
February 16th and I'll be happy to hear what you have to say, but, you know, we need to do this in a public proceeding.
GEORGE MCCLURE: But they won't do that. They'll go, oh, yeah, you're right, and, yeah, I'm on your side.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: And, you know, it's just -- you're exactly right, and we need to go back to the days where they're not camped out at that office all day long --
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: Getting in everybody's business.
GEORGE MCCLURE: I told you, the next guy – you know, when they ran on the platform that I'll be your full-time county commissioner, that's a good enough reason for me to vote against them.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: That's exactly right.
GEORGE MCCLURE: If you got a guy like Michael Wanchick who is a -- is a really competent professional, you know what, set policy and
let him do his job.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: Abso- -- hey, the board of directors at Microsoft aren't at -- aren't at -- they're not at headquarters every day.
GEORGE MCCLURE: Yeah. They don't show up to the guy and say, oh, okay, can you tell me why you're not doing this.
GEORGE MCCLURE: Or why are you in the company car at home.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR: Right. Exactly. That's exactly right.

In ranting rodomontade, Republican Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and lawyer GEORGE McCLURE talk about wanting to conceal their role in getting MANUEL arrested. They show consciousness of guilt, even remarking about how dumb MANUEL was not to have a “bagman.” For those of you who were not raised in New York or New Jersey (or do not groove on investigating corruption), the word “bagman” is a term of art in the underworld (and political headquarters).
A “bagman” is someone who collects or carries money to politicians. For SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, the bagman’s name is MICHAEL GOLD (photo below), who runs two KKK-style hate websites and raised $250,000 for SHOAR in 2004. Misogynist MICHAEL GOLD is a very busy fellow who is also uniform salesman and private investigator.
Like drunken, oafish, pig-ignorant fratboys, SHOAR and McCLURE are on the FBI tape crudely laughing at TOM MANUEL, calling him a “waste of a heart.” (MANUEL had a heart transplant).
Like Snidely Whiplash on powerful stimulants, McCLURE shows his true colors as a man with no heart at all. (In 2005, the very first time I encountered GEORGE McCLURE, he had a raft of papers from Tennessee, asking in front of Mayor George Gardner, demanding to know “Is this you?” (To which I replied, “why, do you want to kiss me?” and “where’s your bagman?” McCLURE ran away.
On the FBI tape, McCLURE and SHOAR actually talk about how “ethical” GEORGE McCLURE and KAREN STERN are (STERN is a Waste Management lobbyist, former County Commissioner, who spent $25.10 per vote to lose in the Republican primary in 2006).
That’s a hoot. Anyone who thinks these two developer mouthpieces is “ethical” hasn’t read Aristotle’s Ethics (or anyone else’s) in a bear’s age. What KAREN STERN knows about ethics would gag a maggot, but that didn’t keep her from running MARK MINER’s campaign for County Commissioner, and even signaling MARK MINER from her seat during the debate at the County Commission meeting room last year.
On the FBI tape, SHOAR and McCLURE mock MARGO POPE and the “silly-ass St. Augustine Record.”
As much poltroonish propaganda-publicity-puffery as the St. Augustine Record and POPE have given these two power-trippin’ developer-driven Republicans, you’d think they’d be more respectful. Next time, maybe SHOAR and MCLCURE will call it something else – how about “The Developers’ Best Friend in the News Biz.” Or SHOAR’s and McCLURE’s PR firm?
On the FBI tape, SHOAR and McCLURE talk about controlling COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR MICHAEL WANCHIK They talk about how they want WANCHIK to tell Commissioners he’s running the county not them. So much for a coup d’etat by an elected constitutional officer, one who has no idea of what Justice Louis Brandeis meant he warned against “men of zeal”: "The Greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 at 479 (1928)(Brandeis, J., dissenting).
On the FBI tape, SHOAR and McCLURE mock “one-issue” community activists and others, including the Hamiltons, Cathy Brown and Phil McDaniel.
SHOAR and McCLURE joke about SHOAR being a “kingmaker.”
SHOAR and McCLURE joke about then-Commissioner Ben Rich being “crazy.”
Concerning grass roots democracy and the right of citizens to be heard in opposition to developers and their crooked lawyers, they can only moan and groan.
SHOAR and McCLURE evidently think they “hung the moon.”
The tape-recorded phone call started at 9:35 PM and it could be that both men have been drinking.
SHERIFF SHOAR talks about lobbyist PAUL McCORMICK being “dirty” – “McCormack's dirty. I mean, that's who I wanted to see go down with him.”
That’s interesting news because the lobbying firm of MICA & McCORMICK is a partnership between U.S. Rep. JOHN LUIGI MICA’s daughter, D’ANNE MICA, and PAUL McCORMICK and they have represented developers in St Johns County. Are more federal indictments to be expected against PAUL McCORMICK? Is SHERIFF SHOAR right, is McCORMICK “dirty?” If that is the case, is JOHN LUIGI MICA or his daughter, D’ANNE MICA, involved in corruption?
There was an odd editorial during DEREK MAY’ suzerainty as publisher of the St. Augustine Record, stating that GEORGE McCLURE is a “whistleblower.” Don’t believe it for a second. I represented whistleblowers across the land. I don’t believe for a second that GEORGE McCLURE is a whistleblower – he’s a sleazy opportunist. Read the transcript below.
Decide for yourself. Is McCLURE the man who helped set up MANUEL so that MANUEL would lose his job (and developers would gain a vote)? When PHIL MAY was appointed, there was a long list of developers and others who recommended MAY, and Governor CHARLES CRIST appointed him on their say-so.
For interesting insights into how government really works, attend the January 28, 2010 sentencing of THOMAS MANUEL at the Federal Courthouse in Jacksonville, (Room 10D, Tenth Floor, 300 North Hogan Street, Jacksonville, Florida at 2PM). Listen to the tapes played in open court. You decide. Will THOMAS MANUEL withdraw his guilty plea? Will THOMAS MANUEL file a civil rights conspiracy lawsuit against SHOAR and MCCLURE and the St. Johns County Republican Party? Will the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility investigate the prosecution of THOMAS MANUEL (as they did the prosecution of ex-Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, a crook, but one whose rights were violated)?
WARNING: The next time you hear SHERIFF SHOAR f/k/a talk about being a putative “Christian” (with his “Marketplace” pushing employers to preach to workers in the workplace): Beware. People who keep reminding you how “Christian” they are might have one hand in the till. Remember that the KKK often personified itself as “Christian,” even as it engaged in murder.
Remember how SHERIFF SHOAR laughed with McCLURE about MANUEL being a “waste of a heart.” (See below).
Remember how you felt when you read those words today.
Remember the contempt that SHOAR had for Commissioners as “five princes, you know, walking around the county building.”
Is SHERIFF SHOAR one of the most Machiaveillian law enforcement officer ever to be caught on an FBI surveillance tape?
Is SHERIFF SHOAR the real political boss of St. Johns County, or is he still taking orders from His Immenseness, our St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS? (HARRISS is said to have a deal worked out with SHOAR where, when HARRISS retires from the City of St. Augustine, he become “business manager” for SHOAR, whom he hired and promoted as St. Augustine Police Chief.
In the FBI transcript, controversial developer lawyer GEORGE McCLURE is as cynical as we ever imagined him to be – no surprise there.
McCLURE would like County Commission to go back to being part-timers, while developers like his clients reportedly got some 146 of 151 rezonings approved during 2003.
For all the good and decent working people who worked hard to elect SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, are you disappointed? Are you hurt? Are you disgusted? Do you feel betrayed?
For all the people who had no choice about who to elect as Sheriff in 2008 because no one had the guts to run, do you feel used?
For the St. Johns County Democrats who don’t have the coins of gumption to make the Sheriff’s race competitive, is this time for action? How about recruiting and nominating Ben Rich for Sheriff in 2012?
Please ask yourself if the DAVID SHOAR in the transcript is the same man you thought you elected? Or has power gone to DAVID SHOAR’s head?
When the history of our county is written, will the names “SHOAR and McCLURE” be infamous? Will they “live in infamy” along with the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, and FDR’s formulation about “Martin, Barton & Fish” (obstructionist Republicans in Congress)?
Is SHERIFF SHOAR being other-directed by the likes of controversial developer lawyer GEORGE McCCLURE and ex-Sheriff NEAL PERRY and his developer lobbyist wife, SIDNEY PERRY?
Also, notice the date on the conversation: June 11, 2008, 44 years to the day since Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in St. Augustine for attempting to dine at the segregated restaurant at Monson Motor Lodge. The next day, Dr. King wrote Rabbi Israel Dressner that St. Augustine was the “most lawless” city in America. Is it still true? What do you reckon?
And considering what SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR has done, is “most lawless” still a true statement? Would it be fair to say that, compared to DAVID SHOAR, Niccolo Machiavelli was a piker?
If GEORGE McCLURE and SHERIFF SHOAR violated federl criminal law by setting up THOMAS MANUEL because he was the developers’ political enemy, they must be prosecuted. For as Jimmy Carter said, “I see no reason why big shot crooks should go free, and the poor ones go to jail.”

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