Monday, June 06, 2011

St. Augustine Record: E-mails reveal 450th power struggle before lawyer Don Wallis resigned as Chair

Emails reveal 450th struggle
By JENNIFER EDWARDS
Created 06/05/2011 - 12:09am
Summary:


Documents over the past few weeks show that First America Foundation Inc. leaders knew they had to change leadership or dissolve.

In a series of emails in May between Don Wallis, then chairman of First America Foundation, and FAF's board of directors, he detailed the organization's struggles and challenges -- among them a lack of momentum, strong criticism from some city officials, his own health problems.

"We have got to get going," he writes, comparing the organization to a "newborn foal," and saying it is "clumsily struggling to gain its footing (think: newborn foal) for nearly nine months."

The emails were obtained by The St. Augustine Record from the City of St. Augustine under Florida's Public Record Law. The emails had been given to several city officials by unknown sources.

Wallis resigned his post as chair on Friday after the board declined to hire an executive director and a fundraiser as he requested. He said he intends to remain as a board member. Right now, Jamie Alvarez is the only paid staffer. Alvarez stepped down in May as acting executive director.

Another executive board member, Leslee Keys, also resigned her post as secretary on Friday.

Wallis and Alvarez detail concerns

Wallis addressed FAF concerns and other issues in the e-mails, also saying that health problems sapped his leadership ability until recently, and said he's recovered the vigor to move forward.

"About five months ago, I lapsed into a profound, chronic fatigue," Wallis wrote. "I am happy to report that, even now, I am continuing down the path of steadily improving health."

Alvarez wrote in an email sent by Wallis that while her role as the acting executive director "has been a worthwhile learning experience and is the opportunity of a lifetime, I recognize that it just isn't the best fit for the foundation."

Alvarez wrote that "without the resources and proper staff support in place, this effort is just that: an effort," and "There are several ways for me to be involved and to help grow this effort, and leading it alone, without the resources, is just not it."

Wallis wrote in the May 4 email that "We have concluded that First America Foundation Inc., needs to change the way in which it is led, the way in which it is managed, the way in which it operates, and the way in which its human resources are identified, recruited, enlisted or empowered."

Later, he wrote that the foundation's "follow-up and implementation effort ... has been insufficiently emphatic, assertive, strong and quick ... our effort has yet to produce any results ..."

Enthusiasm builds then dampens

But Wallis had other things on his mind regarding FAF within weeks before he resigned as FAF chair. In that same May 4 email, he said he did not want to step down. "Notice that I make no mention of changing who is doing the leading, the managing, the operating, or the empowering. In fact, neither Jamie nor I is suggesting that either of us should give up her job (in Jamie's case) or cease to chair this board of directors (in my case). On the contrary, Jamie and I are enthusiastically undertaking to lead all of the change that is described in the balance of this memorandum. And then same."

But, he wrote, they were both willing to allow their jobs to be sacrificed for the good of the organization and of the commemoration effort that is its mission. "If it will help for either or both of our jobs to be a casualty of the change, that is needed, we'll willingly and genuinely allow that to happen" if anyone wanted to replace either or both of them.

Noting that the effort so far had not met expectations for "deliverables" of event planning, "I intend to change all of that just as soon as possible," he wrote. He said that with new members, he would then be "articulating to each of you and them the very clear and unambiguous expectations that our organization will have, from now on." He promised more communication.

In a May 9 email, he said the position of executive director would not be posted but that all board members could contribute names but that there would tight control over the process by a four-member selection committee.

By May 12, another email detailed a subject that he said "is critical to the organization moving forward. I want to speak to you here about it in no uncertain terms."

"No one -- absolutely no one -- other than corporate board officers, our employees and anyone else (usually a board member) who is explicitly and specifically authorized (usually in writing) has any authority or any right whatsoever to communicate (orally or in writing) or to act on behalf of our organization about anything whatsoever. (within in our organization is an entirely different matter). I hope that statement sounds absolute. I mean for it to. There are no exceptions other than the ones that I mentioned."

Continuing this emphasis, he warned, "If it should ever come to my attention that any member of our board of directors has violated this policy, I will see to it that our organization officially and, to the fullest extent necessary, publicly repudiates, disavows, corrects, or rescinds the violating communication or action. Should that corporate response cause unavoidable collateral damage in the form of embarrassment to the director who violated the policy, so be it."

Further, he said it was his intention that FAF, Inc., would become "well run." "There certainly are many dimensions of that goal. And this particular policy is among the most important of them."

City rumblings begin

Later when the city scheduled a City Commission workshop to discuss the future of the city's relationship with FAF, Wallis sent an email on May 22 to make board members aware of the latest development in the city-FAF relationship. "I want to make you very aware of the latest -- and, IMHO, most important development in our heretofore clumsy, awkward, ineffectual and dysfunctional -- but ever evolving - relationship ..." He said City Manager John Regan said some commissioners were beginning to question FAF's contract and perhaps dissolving it.

Regarding the city workshop, Regan specifically asked that FAF not be represented. Again Wallis said they were strongly encouraged not to attend. And if they felt they could not stay away, he reminded them of "your complete lack of business authority to communicate on behalf of FAF, Inc." He said that if a board member was in the room and got called on, the board member would be on his/her own. "And if, in the aftermath, there appears to be no alternative way to repair whatever damage you may have done, you will be 'hung out to dry.'"

Friday, Wallis stepped down as chairman in a disagreement with some of the board because he wanted to hire an executive director and a fundraiser. The board did not want to go in that direction.

More changes ahead

Christine Chapman, vice chair, said Saturday evening that the organization's first order of business will be to hire an experienced fundraiser whom the executive committee had identified.

She said that finding a new chair and secretary were equally important, but was unsure whether the organization would hire an executive director. Alvarez stepped down in May. She remains with FAF as its only employee.

Chapman also said she was aware of the need for the foundation to move quickly.

"Honestly, last night was a surprise, there's no doubt," Chapman said. "We're excited and we're very committed and motivated to stay the course. We know we must generate revenue and we must progress rapidly with plans and details of those plans. We need the community's support and help in the way of volunteering and implementation ..."

FAF was formed last summer with $275,000 from the City of St. Augustine and the mission of organizing and funding four major events -- the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution in 2012; the 500th anniversary of the founding of Florida in 2013; the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 2014 and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 2015.

But since then, the organization has failed to raise money on its own for the events and has been criticized for secrecy and lack of visible progress.

The only other donation the foundation has received was $25,000 from Skanska, the Bridge of Lions Rehabilitation Project contractor -- and that was suggested to Skanska by city officials.
jennifer.edwards@staugustine.com

Comments (15)
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Comments do not reflect the views of The St. Augustine Record or StAugustine.com. Comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
rancov
The Organization Is Fatally Doomed
By rancov | 06/05/11 - 01:08 am

At the admission of Ron Brown, the organization was established to bypass Florida Open Records law, all on a ruse. The manner in which they attempted to obscure the workings of the organization have brought distrust and derision.

The reputations of a great many community leaders are on the line. To continue the ruse in order to violate the Florida Constitution and law only risks bringing disrepute on people of great stature who have committed their reputations to try and bring success to the events surrounding the 450th.

Only a complete cleaning out and a complete break from Joe Boles and the City can save this organization. The time to come clean is now.

Randy Covington
St. Augustine

Login or register to post comments

yathink
CAN YOU SAY " WOW " ???? OR " BIPOLAR " ????
By yathink | 06/05/11 - 06:53 am

WALLIS SEEMS TO ADMIT HIS LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN LESS THAN STELLAR,,, then he goes on about remaining as boss... if this requires so much volunteerism,, then why $ 275,000.00 of taxpayer money ???? and how much of the loot is left ???? i feel it is time for an independent investigation,, by an accredited bookkeeping firm.... and i hope to god they can provide receipts for every penny spent to date... by their own admission they have done nothing for over 9 months ,,, except attempt to keep nothing a secret !!!! this is another example of gross incompetence by our elected officials down at city hall.... they created this egotistical organization,,,, NOW,,, it is long past time to dissolve this egocentric organization,,, and get the show on the road !!!

Login or register to post comments

Moontan
They are trying to eat a soup sandwich.
By Moontan | 06/05/11 - 07:49 am

Reorganize now! Account for all expenditures, if records were kept, and move on with the program. These problems were predictable and avoidable. Get the politicians out of the equation and a great deal can be accomplished. The $275,000 could have been much better spent rehabilitating the old Charles F. Hamblen home in which the downtown American Legion bar is located. That beautiful old piece of St Augustine architecture is crumbling away due to neglect and misuse. The home was left to the working men of St Augustine but through the poor administration of Mr Hamblen's estate it wound up being used as a gin mill, the last thing in the world that Mr. Hamblen would have wanted for his beautiful old home.

Login or register to post comments

cptnbuzz
Sunshine...
By cptnbuzz | 06/05/11 - 08:09 am

I said it before and I'll say it again, the fact that the management here are control freaks, and wont let anyone speak publicly about what is going on shows you how corrupt these people are. The city needs to investigate every aspect of this organization. They should shut it down and start over. 450th planning and control should be transparent and those in charge held accountable.

"In God We Trust"

Login or register to post comments

MannyA
Kudos to Jennifer!
By MannyA | 06/05/11 - 08:27 am

This is what the Record has needed; strong, investigative reporting!

Jennifer Edwards was not afraid to step on any toes and reported the facts as they are.

"THANK YOU!" Jennifer for shedding some sunshine on this. Keep up the good work!

Login or register to post comments

martinpryor
Doomed!
By martinpryor | 06/05/11 - 08:27 am

Not only is this pathetic organization doomed, as stated by rancov, but the city is doomed to remain as it is. This beautiful city "sold out" many years ago. It is, and will continue to be the "Mecca" of cheap, tawdry, and tacky tourism. With T-shirt shops on St. George Street, " paranormal" hearse tours, and garrish orange and green trolleys (Old Town Trolley) and red tour trains (Ripley's) pandering to sweaty tourons, what more can we expect? Perhaps Paula Deen will grace us with a Food Trough, just like the one in Savannah, in order to feed the bums in the Plaza.

Login or register to post comments

Ajmarcil
Hire Ryan Detra
By Ajmarcil | 06/05/11 - 10:00 am

That guy could pull it together. Get the bubba egos out of the mix. However, I'm also proposing the Alternative 450th. A larger, looser party that also commemorates the decimation of indigenous peoples by the Spanish colonization...and includes big-ass music festival that invites rock, classical, hip-hop, folk, American Indian, Spanish....Stay tuned, more to come...

Those who can convince you of absurdities can make you commit atrocities. - Voltaire

Login or register to post comments

Maureen Ortagus
Is that a Carpetbagger Crew
By Maureen Ortagus | 06/05/11 - 11:32 am

Dettra will never happen.

He lost way too much money at the County.

Out of the frying pan into the fire.

Detta is up with another Wallis Sunshine fiasco, the St. Johns Cultural Council.

Login or register to post comments

EFEX
This is one big mess
By EFEX | 06/05/11 - 02:42 pm

Is there anyone involved with the First America Foundation that knows how to run an organization? First, they spend the last nine months not accomplishing anything or even putting a plan together to accomplish anything. Second, it sounds like the founding member and former chair, Don Wallis, is blaming the board for its inaction, “he wrote that the foundation's "follow-up and implementation effort ... has been insufficiently emphatic, assertive, strong and quick ... our effort has yet to produce any results ..."” but thinks he and the paid director should stay to lead because he wants to step up and make it a well run organization (shouldn’t it have been that from the start?). Now the there is no leader, paid or otherwise and they are asking the public for their support and and time to volunteer? To do what? Trust them and be ready for action when they might finally come up with a plan?

If anyone knew what they were doing, no matter how bad things are internally, they would have announced the new Chair, the new Secretary and some new information about how things would proceed when they announced any changes. Even if they needed to delay the step down notice of Don Wallis, Leslie Keys, and Jamie Alvarez until they could quickly regroup. Instead, it looks like they had a closed door session and some people got mad and quit or were removed, and now nobody knows what will happen next. The Vice Chair does not even want to move up to chair. Nine months in and there is no succession plan? It doesn’t look or sound like they are very united. I would have expected some sort of official statement or press release if they were. Instead, the organization points to this very unflattering article from their twitter and face book pages. At least they knew enough to acknowledge they better start raising private funds if the want to remain a private foundation, but even then the plan is more than vague.

What a mess. The City better ask for not only the rest of the money back but also what’s been spent.

Login or register to post comments

peanut
return money
By peanut | 06/05/11 - 02:46 pm

Money could better be used for small events. But forget this organization. One of the best articles Record has ever done. About time Record quit shilling for the powers that be. Next article should be on Reconnecting the Fort to Downtown, another boondoggle.

Login or register to post comments

bornandraisedhere
Part of the e-mail was omitted
By bornandraisedhere | 06/05/11 - 08:01 pm

Yes, Don everyone who loves St. Augustine wants their "Place in the Sun". I'll give my time for free. Get some rest. Somewhere else.

Login or register to post comments

Lisha
Why didn't they publish the
By Lisha | 06/05/11 - 10:02 pm

Why didn't they publish the emails?

Login or register to post comments

rancov
Dettra is not interested.
By rancov | 06/07/11 - 12:45 am

they do not have the endlessly deep pockets of the taxpayer monies he can waste playing rock promoter. He has been trying to get a job here since leaving the county to "pursue other opportunities".

Dettra is a spoiled petulant problem child and the county knew if from the beginning and did nothing. Go read the investigations by Fraud Waste and Abuse.

Login or register to post comments

MadamX
Lack of Leadership and lack of a Plan
By MadamX | 06/07/11 - 11:05 am

Obviously there is no one affiliated with this group that has leadership or planning skills. And no Event Planner with any talent on fund raising and project management.

I have planned many events, first and foremost you start with By Laws for operating the organization. What the projects are, manpower needed and budget

Then you go from there hiring talented people qualified to do the job.
and not friends and relatives of St. Augustine's wannabe elitist.

Login or register to post comments

EFEX
The Next Mess
By EFEX | 06/07/11 - 11:41 am

That’s why this group is about to make another huge mistake. A professional fund raiser needs something to “sell.” Contributing Businesses and entities will want to know what they are contributing to and who is in the leadership roll. The “Trust me it will be great because everyone on the board cares about St. Augustine” plan is not sufficient to raise the kind of money it will take to pull off successful events over the next three years. The kind of contributors they need will want to know how their money will be used and what exposure and acknowledgment they will get in return. Without specifics, the professional fundraisers will be limited in success no matter how good they are. By the time a plan and leadership is in place, this group should be ready to start fundraising about 2014. Don’t forget that the big money contributors will want to know what the past track record of the organization has been. The fund raiser will also require what is left of the public money to do the job. That is probably why they cannot hire an Executive Director.

So then, for an expensive professional fundraiser to be successful this organization will need:


Strong leadership at the staff level and especially at the Board level. - Strike 1

A solid plan that outlines how the money will be used, the projected results of the activities and plan, and the benefits and exposure to the contributor clearly defined. Don’t forget about community backing. - Strike 2

A past track record that reflects commitment and success. - Strike 3

These are just the basics. This organization is out!

Maybe if the City adjusts the contract to let this organization plan the 453rd, they will be well positioned to lead the effort.

Login or register to post comments

West Wing: Matt Santos on the definition of a Liberal


Click on the green link above. Smug simian swells like Ann Coulter use the word "liberal" as if it were a swear word. On an FBI tape, controversial former St. Johns County Commission Chairman JAMES EDWARD BRYANT called me a "liberal" (among other labels).

Labels are for jars. But liberals made this country great -- abolishing slavery, giving votes to women and African-Americans and protecting workers, senior citizens and our environment. Liberals wear misguided right-wingers' scorn "as a badge of honor."


That includes:
1. MORRIS PUBLISHING and the St. Augustine WReckord, and their efforts to chill my free speech rights in the federal bankruptcy case where we asked to be heard about the Wreckord’s wretched lack of investigative news coverage. Morris is demanding that I pay its legal fees. I wear Morris’ scorn as a badge of honor.
2. Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, his political hatchetman and henchman MICHAEL GOLD, and their abusive hate websites and abuse of police powers and data to chill, coerce and intimidate First Amendment protected activity.
3. The FIRST AMERICA FOUNDATION and its continuing violations of Article I, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution (adopted by vote of 83% of Florida voters, or 3.8 million voters in 1992). It is indefensible that $275,000 was handed over to FAF by our City Commission, with the intent of avoiding Sunshine and Open Records laws. As I wrote in the St. Augustine Record without rebuttal:

Published on StAugustine.com (http://staugustine.com)
Home > Opinions > Guest column: First America Foundation isn't operating in the 'Sunshine'
________________________________________
Guest column: First America Foundation isn't operating in the 'Sunshine'
By ED SLAVIN
Created 01/30/2011 - 1:00am
St. Augustine
A private foundation has taken over from the city the function of planning St. Augustine's 450th anniversary celebration, 2012-2015. The City Commission agreed and gave First America Foundation a $275,000 no-bid contract.
Our City Hall still mistrusts "we, the people."
Article I, section 24 of Florida's Constitution guarantees our right to open meetings and open records -- it was adopted in 1992 by vote of 83 percent of Florida voters (3,883,617 votes). Majority rules.
Our European forebears suffered under the yoke of secrecy and autocracy, exemplified by Cardinal Richelieu, who said, "Secrecy is the first essential in affairs of the State." In contrast, James Madison wrote that a "popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
Florida is our nation's leader on open government laws. Florida's strong open government laws inspired then-Senator Lawton Chiles to persuade Congress to adopt the federal Government-in-the-Sunshine law.
Our Florida Constitution and laws require openness. The 450th anniversary of our Nation's Oldest City must no longer be run as a "covert operation." President Kennedy said to the American Newspaper Publishers Association in 1961: "The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it."
Lord Acton explained not only that "all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," but he also said that "Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity." As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "secrecy is for losers."
It is my opinion that FAF's secrecy interferes with our City's vital mission -- meaningfully celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Spanish Florida (2013), 450th anniversary of St. Augustine (2015), 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (2014) and the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution (2012).
We deserve an open, accountable process with public participation. That's what we were promised before the City of St. Augustine changed its plans and created this secret corporation on a "rush" basis, as the incorporation papers filed in Tallahassee reveal. The City's strategic vision for the 450th originally called for 40 committees of local volunteers. FAF inexplicably dropped the committees and is seeking corporate "partners."
No federal agencies or self-respecting corporate donors will want to fund an inscrutable, unaccountable foundation that breaks the law. St. Augustine does not need a secretive foundation that shows contempt for the will of 3.8 million Florida voters. As Ronald Reagan spoke at the Berlin Wall: City Commissioners, "tear down this wall."
The facts are irrefragable. FAF, in my opinion, is a city agency under Sunshine and Open Records laws. Our City of St. Augustine must compel FAF to open its meetings, books and records to the public. Our City must take swift action to end FAF's secrecy and to vindicate our rights. As Justice Louis Brandeis said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
*
Ed Slavin earned a B.S. in foreign service at Georgetown University and a J.D. from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis).

St. Augustine WRecKord, Supposed Family Newspaper, Runs Obscene Ann Coulter Columns

Click the green link above, where Ann Coulter makes sexually explicit references to the putative comparative size of Rep. Weiner’s male organ. Apparently, Ann Coulter reckons herself an expert on male genitalia, to where she regales her readers about it at the breakfast table.
How gauche.
How crude.
How rude.
What a low blow.
How typically Ann Coulter.
Her columns are often vulgar, sex-obsessed, and accusing Democrats (e.g., of being sex fiends or treating all women like hotel maids).
Her columns are trashy.
Rather than running columns by local talent – like Peter Guinta – the WRecKord wastes space (and money) paying the likes of Ann Coulter.
The Record will soon collect an extra 99 cents per week, to pay for such trite tropes as are emitted by Ann Coulter, whose right wing nutter is on the ropes.
Coulter’s no William F. Buckley, Jr.
Coulter calls “liberals” names.
She’s not creative.
She’s disdainful.
She uses shame and ridicule to attack political opponents.
She cares not about equality and justice – she’s an unvarnished hater.
She’s smug.
She’s mean.
She’s Joe McCarthy in drag – an overeducated, overprivileged hater, who brags about her dad (a union busting attorney) and engages in sensationalism.
Coulter’s slutty and a little bit nutty (in the words of David Brock, a now-repentant, reformed right-winger once used to refer to Anita Hill).
As political columnist for “Out in the City,” I once challenged Ann Coulter to a public debate after she called Senator John Edwards a “F----t” in 2007. Never heard back from her.
Her homophobia, racism and inane rantings remind me of some of our local hate websites here in St. Augustine. I reckon they suffer from the same psychopathy.
I hereby challenge Morris Publishing’s owners to a public debate on journalistic standards.
Ed’s note: That’s not a “pubic debate.” In 1995, on the WRecKord’s 100th anniversary, it carried a stunning page-one headline “100 years of pubic service.” Jay Leno had fun with that one!

Friday, June 03, 2011

USDOJ Press Release: Former Federal Official Pleads Guilty to Bribery

Former Public Official Pleads Guilty to Accepting a Bribe
U.S. Attorney’s Office June 02, 2011

Western District of New York (716) 843-5700

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that James H. Wood, 44, of Delevan, New York, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in his official duties before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was a former field office supervisor for the Buffalo, New York office of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In that capacity, Wood took money in exchange for delaying a compliance review/safety audit of a trucking company.

“This crime had the potential to compromise our government’s transportation regulatory system as it relates to the safety of our nation’s highways,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This office—along with our law enforcement partners—stand ready to thoroughly investigate and prosecute any attempt to affect the integrity of either our nation’s governmental agencies or the well being of its citizens.”

The plea is the result of an investigation by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Kollmar, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Investigation Division, under the direction of Ned E. Schwartz, Special Agent in Charge.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 19, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Skretny.

USDOJ Press Release: Former Mayor Charged With Bribery and Making False Statements

Former Mayor and City Magistrate Charged with Bribery and Making False Statements
U.S. Attorney’s Office June 03, 2011

Middle District of Florida (904) 301-6300

ORLANDO, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces the filing of a felony information charging Ronald Clifton (41, South Daytona) with bribery and making false statements. At the time of the charged offenses, Clifton was the mayor and a councilman of the City of South Daytona. Also announced today is the filing of a separate felony information charging Jerome Mitchell (42, Port Orange) with bribery. At the time of the charged offense, Mitchell, who is an attorney, was a City of South Daytona Special Magistrate. If convicted on all counts, Clifton faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison, and Mitchell faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, on May 14, 2009, a company named 3131 South Ridgewood, LLC purchased the River Club Condominiums, a condominium complex located at 3131 South Ridgewood Avenue, South Daytona, Florida. Before the purchase of the River Club Condominiums by 3131 South Ridgewood, LLC, the prior owners of the property incurred code enforcement violations resulting in the City of South Daytona placing $241,000 in code enforcement liens on the property. In addition, the prior owners of the River Club Condominiums incurred $500,000 in Volusia County tax liens on the property. When 3131 South Ridgewood, LLC purchased River Club Condominiums, the property remained encumbered by the city and county liens.

On May 21, 2010, Clifton, then the mayor of the City of South Daytona, attended a dinner with, among other persons, the owners of 3131 South Ridgewood, LLC and a purported representative of investors interested in buying the River Club Condominiums. At that meeting, the parties discussed the problem of the outstanding city and county liens on the property, and the fact that the liens made the property less desirable to potential buyers.

A few days later, on May 26, 2010, Clifton met with the purported investors’ representative and discussed how to get the City of South Daytona code enforcement liens reduced on the River Club Condominiums. At the conclusion of the meeting, Clifton suggested that the City of South Daytona Special Magistrate for Code Enforcement, Mitchell, would reduce the city liens to a minor amount, in exchange for a cash bribe.

On June 1, 2010, the investors’ representative met Clifton and Mitchell at a restaurant in Port Orange, Florida and provided an envelope to the mayor and an envelope to the special magistrate; each envelope contained $5,000 in cash. At this and other meetings, the parties discussed the potential of further payments in relation to the River Club Condominiums, as well as additional payments to Clifton, in exchange for his help in reducing the Volusia County tax liens.

On July 8, 2010, at a City of South Daytona code enforcement hearing presided over by Mitchell, in his role as Special Magistrate, Mitchell reduced the code enforcement liens on the River Club Condominiums from $241,000 to $12,500. The actions by Mitchell were not scheduled on the meeting’s agenda and the reduction was to an amount previously discussed by the investors’ representative, Mitchell, and Clifton.

On August 26, 2010, at Clifton’s residence, the investors’ representative met with him to discuss how he could assist in reducing the outstanding Volusia County tax liens on the River Club Condominiums. Clifton agreed to speak with county officials concerning the tax liens, and in exchange the investors’ representative provided him with $2,500 in cash.

On October 1, 2010, special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interviewed Clifton at his private offices in Volusia County. During the interview, Clifton discussed the actions of Mitchell in reducing the city code enforcement liens on the River Club Condominiums, but falsely denied that he knew a bribe had been paid to Mitchell in relation to the River Club Condominiums. During further questioning by FBI agents, Clifton also falsely denied any knowledge of any city employee, including himself, having ever received a cash payment in relation to the River Club Condominiums, having any prior knowledge that Mitchell was going to address the liens on the River Club Condominiums at the city code enforcement hearing on July 8, 2010, and ever receiving a cash payment in relation to the property at 3131 South Ridgewood Avenue.

An information is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick and Carlos A. Perez.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

USDOJ Press Release: Attorney General Settles Lawsuit Against Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff on Access to Records in Civil Rights Investigation

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Justice Department Settles Lawsuit with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
Settlement Comes After the Sheriff’s Office Provided Information Sought in Title VI Investigation

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it has entered in to a court-enforceable agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio resolving a longstanding dispute over access to information related to the department’s Title VI investigation of the sheriff’s office. The settlement comes after MCSO allowed officials from the Justice Department to conduct more than 220 interviews and review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Prior to the litigation, MCSO refused to cooperate in full with the investigation.



On Sept. 2, 2010, the department filed a lawsuit after exhausting all cooperative measures to gain access to MCSO’s documents and facilities, as part of the department’s investigation of alleged discrimination in MCSO’s police practices and jail operations. Since March 2009, the department attempted to secure voluntary compliance with the department’s investigation and did not receive full compliance until the lawsuit was filed.



MCSO has now cooperated with the investigation by permitting the department to interview Sheriff Arpaio, command staff, deputies, detention officers and first line supervisors, as well as jail inmates. MCSO has also allowed tours of its facilities and has responded to each of the department’s original document requests. Under the terms of the agreement, MCSO will continue to provide the department with access to sources of information that the department determines are pertinent to its Title VI investigation.



“After numerous requests for access to information, the department was forced to resort to litigation to compel the sheriff’s office to provide us with full access to facilities, staff and documents, as required by federal law,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that since the filing of our lawsuit, the sheriff’s office has reversed course and provided the department with information we have been seeking. Today’s settlement shows that the Department of Justice is ready to take action against any recipient of federal funds that fails to cooperate with a civil rights investigation.”



“This is a positive development after delay upon delay by the Sheriff’s Office,” said Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. “We are working aggressively to review the facts and complete this investigation.”



Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs on the ground of race, color or national origin. Recipients of federal funds, such as MCSO, are obligated to provide the department with access to information and facilities pertinent to an investigation under Title VI. The department’s investigation of MCSO involves alleged violations of the prohibition on national origin discrimination in Title VI; the pattern or practice provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968; and the pattern or practice provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.



The department’s investigation remains open and ongoing. For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt .

President Bill Clinton's Ten Points of Advice for Graduates

10 in 10:Our Advice for Graduates

Every spring, President Clinton speaks to thousands of graduating seniors in commencement ceremonies across the country, providing advice to graduates on how to pursue their dreams while also working together to combat the challenges facing our independent world. Whether you graduated yesterday or a decade ago, whether you’re in the middle of a career or just starting out, we hope our advice inspires you to build a stronger tomorrow — and that you share this inspiration with others.

No matter what you do next, find ways to appreciate, celebrate, and enhance the impact of our diversity. Remember that our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences.

Take time to help others, in your own community or on another continent. You’ll help build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries.

Engage respectfully with those you disagree with, and know that healthy debate can lead to positive changes. Remember that no matter what side of the argument you fall on, we’re all in this future together.

You’re going to be affected by things that happen to you beyond your borders, whether you like it or not. So try to work to build up the positives and reduce the negative forces of our interdependence.

Never forget your teachers and what they’ve done to make your life better and stronger. Even if you don’t become a teacher yourself, remember their example, and try always to teach others and give the gift of learning.

Become an informed citizen. Engage with both local and global issues, and vote for leaders who you think are making a difference. Our world is filled with inequalities and instabilities, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t work together to change it.

When you’re just starting out, you may not be making much money or be exactly where you expected, but there’s always something you can do to give back. And doing good will guarantee you a rewarding future.

Always try, and if you fail, try harder. Life’s largest disappointments are not rooted in failures or mistakes, but in the absence of passionate commitment and effort.

Waste not a moment. Live your dreams. But find some way to empower other people to live theirs, too.

Strive to achieve happiness every day, not just at the end of a journey.

City of St. Augustine Giving Bad Impressions to Visitors and Significant Encouragement to Hate Websites?

Go to the City of St. Augustine website.
Click on Visitors. Read the all-too-brief, relatively dull account of our exciting history. What a pity!
Click on A Special Place, where it states: “You will also find information helpful in planning your visit at”:
Old City.com There is nothing there but crass, low-rent commercialism for the less classy of the two tour trains, for a cut-rate motel, and (drum roll) one more click on News takes you to the Historic City News website, locus of MICHAEL GOLD's hatred, with a Tea Party ad with a snake one inch from the face of every single person in town who wants to make a difference, including Mayor Joseph Boles, City Manager John Regan and County Administrator Michael Wanchik. Is MICHAEL GOLD's crummy website being linked to Visitors on our City's website tarnishing our City’s brand in the eyes of international and domestic visitors? Is this is an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act? What do you reckon?
The St. Augustine Record This site has an excellent section on parks and tourism. Why not a direct link to the parks part of the website?
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beach Visitors and Convention Bureau Great website. Classy layout, good information, great photos. Why isn’t this website first?
St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce This website makes the ethnocentric statement, "It's easy to see why people have been settling here for nearly 500 years." People have been living here for more than 11,000 years, but I guess the Chamber doesn't think much about indigenous Native American Indians. The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce website has nothing on tourism worth reading. The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce is part of a national lobbyist-driven right-wing business organization that lobbies against environmental and worker protection laws. Why is it even listed?
Why are these four websites the only websites listed?
Who decided in which order to list them?
Why not list our state parks, state forests, the National Park Service, Flagler College, and other points of interest? Why not list www.staugustgreen.com?

By clicking on the first link at CHARLES NUSBAUM's OldCity.com, you will find yourself on the
Old City.com com website, where a constantly changing banners says “Local News,” which leads you ineluctably to a hate website, Historic City News, whose controversial operator publishes racist, sexist, homophobic, libelous, defamatory opinions on Historic City News, www.plazabum.com and www.shamefulpeople.com --- MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN."

Enough. We need to welcome visitors, not offend them and insult their intelligence.

IN HAEC VERBA: FIRST AMERICA FOUNDATION HEAD DON WALLIS DUCKS QUESTIONS ABOUT FINANCE -- IT'S OUR MONEY!


Don Wallis, right, speaks to St. Augustine City Commission August 9, 2011 at 8:23 PM,
as St. Augustine Record reporter Peter Guinta and audience look skeptically


Dear Mr. Regan:
The estimable Mr. Wallis has not yet responded to my E-mails (below).
"Why does baloney reject the grinder?" (In the immoral words of William F. Buckley,Jr. I request that you ask the City Commission to please cancel his no-bid FAF contract and get our money back, through litigation if necessary.
Sincerely,
Ed Slavin


-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin@aol.com
To: dwallis@ubulaw.com
Sent: Tue, May 31, 2011 12:35 pm
Subject: Fwd: Sunshine and Open Records law request

Dear Mr. Wallis:
I wrote you four days ago. May I please have the courtesy of a response?
Sincerely,
Ed Slavin




-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin@aol.com
To: dwallis@ubulaw.com
Sent: Fri, May 27, 2011 4:06 pm
Subject: Sunshine and Open Records law request

Dear Mr. Wallis:
Will you please send me a copy of your correspondence to City Commissioners and the Board, along with a listing of every check/disbursement by FAF and a copy of any correspondence regarding 501(c)(3) status?
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Ed Slavin
www.cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com
829-3877



Wednesday, June 01, 2011

USDOJ Press Release: Testimony of Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, to House Subcommittee Today

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division Speaks Before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution
Washington, D.C. ~ Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good morning, Chairman Franks, Ranking Member Nadler, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Conyers, and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today about the critical work being done by the Civil Rights Division.

When I last had the honor to appear before you, just months after being sworn in as Assistant Attorney General, I spoke about our efforts to restore and transform the Civil Rights Division. I promised to ensure aggressive, evenhanded and independent enforcement of all of the laws within our jurisdiction.

In the year and a half since, we have invested a great amount of energy into these efforts – and I am happy to report that we’ve had great success. The work produced in recent weeks alone illustrates the wide range of our efforts and is typical of the Division’s work. The following describes some of work in recent weeks.

A jury in New York found three men guilty of charges related to a scheme to compel undocumented Latin American women to come to the United States with promises of jobs as waitresses in two bars, and then forcing the women to engage in commercial sex acts. Human trafficking of this nature robs individuals of their freedom and their dignity, and we cannot allow it to happen in a nation that prides itself on liberty. In 2009, our Criminal Section filed a record number of human trafficking cases, and then topped their own record in 2010, charging 99 defendants in 52 cases.

We recently won the first conviction at trial of a defendant charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 – a law that has provided us with critical new tools to prosecute hate crimes. The conviction followed a guilty plea by a co-defendant two days prior. The defendants threatened five Hispanic men who had pulled into a gas station parking lot, and then pursued the victims in a truck. When the defendants caught up to the victims, they continued to threaten and hurl racial epithets at the victims, and then rammed into the victims’ car repeatedly, causing it to cross the opposite lane of traffic, go off the road, crash into a tree and ignite. All five victims were injured, including one victim who sustained life-threatening injuries.

We announced multi-million dollar settlements with Bank of America/Countrywide and Saxon Mortgage Services to resolve allegations that they wrongfully foreclosed upon active duty members of the armed forces without first obtaining court orders, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. By way of illustration, during our investigation we encountered a case involving a servicemember who was severely injured by an IED while serving in Iraq, breaking his back and causing traumatic brain injury. The servicer foreclosed on him, despite receiving notice on multiple occasions that he was serving in Iraq. He returned to the United States in a wheelchair with the prognosis that he would never walk again. He spent two years in recovery, re-learning how to walk and eventually run; however, he still suffers from the impact of the traumatic brain injury.

We cannot allow the members of our military – who have made great personal sacrifices on our behalf – to attempt to transition to civilian life only to find their credit ruined and their homes in danger.

Combined, the two settlements provide more than $22 million in monetary relief for at least 178 victims. To truly make these servicemembers whole, Bank of America/Countrywide and Saxon, have also agreed to repair negative credit reports and not pursue any remaining amounts owed under the mortgages. The men and women who protect and defend our nation deserve to know that we have their backs at home, and these settlements are part of a broader effort in the Division to protect the rights of members of our armed forces. These efforts have included ramped up efforts to protect servicemembers’ civilian employment rights, as well as an unprecedented effort to enforce UOCAVA and the MOVE Act and protect the voting rights of servicemembers.

We have ramped up fair lending enforcement, and we recently announced a settlement with Citizens Bank, in Michigan, to resolve allegations that the bank discriminated against African Americans by failing to serve the credit needs of African American neighborhoods in and around Detroit – a classic case of redlining that deprives neighborhoods of the investment needed to thrive. We cannot claim to offer true equal opportunity if we are depriving entire neighborhoods of access to credit. The case was the product of our new fair lending unit – which has around 60 open matters and last year secured the largest ever fair lending settlement.

Yesterday, we announced a settlement agreement under the ADA with Wells Fargo that will ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities to Wells Fargo’s services nationwide, including nearly 10,000 retail banking, brokerage and mortgage stores, over 12,000 ATMs, and its telephone and website services. The agreement resolves numerous complaints filed by individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities who allege that Wells Fargo would not do business with them over the phone using a telecommunications relay service. Wells Fargo will pay up to $16 million to compensate individuals harmed by violations, making it the largest monetary agreement ever reached under Title III of the ADA.

Last week, we charged a Wisconsin man with a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that, while loading his handgun, the defendant discharged a bullet through the door of his hotel room into the room across the hall. Police responded and he was arrested for reckless endangerment. Evidence uncovered thus far indicates that the defendant traveled to Madison with his gun in an attempt to kill doctors to stop them from performing reproductive health services.

We traveled to Newark, New Jersey, to launch a civil pattern or practice investigation into the Newark Police Department to examine allegations of, among other things, use of excessive force and discriminatory policing. We will investigate whether systemic violations of the constitution or federal law by officers of the NPD have occurred and, if so, we will work with the city, the police department and the community to develop a plan for reform. We also continue to work with the New Orleans Police Department to develop a comprehensive blueprint for reform that will reduce crime, ensure respect for the Constitution, and restore public confidence in the NOPD.

We settled a case against the Owatonna School District in Minnesota for failing to take steps to combat persistent peer harassment against Somali-American students. The students said they were taunted, made fun of for their culture and told to “go back to Africa.” Our investigation came after complaints were filed with the Division and the Department of Education after a fight broke out involving nearly a dozen high school students. The settlement ensures that, going forward, the school district will respond promptly when students are harassed because their race, color or national origin.

And today, sentencing is scheduled for two former police officers from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, who were convicted of charges related to the cover up of a hate-fueled beating death of a Latino man that occurred in that town.

Every day in the Civil Rights Division presents me, my staff, and our outstanding team of dedicated career attorneys and professionals a new opportunity to protect and defend the rights of individuals who might not be able to assert those rights on their own. We are proud to carry the torch of the great civil rights pioneers who fought for laws that would ensure equal opportunity and equal justice – and we honor their legacy by enforcing those laws aggressively and evenhandedly.

I thank you for the opportunity to tell you about our work, and I look forward to answering your questions.

Google ad revenue supporting St. Augustine hate website cyberbully MICHAEL GOLD, in violation of Google ad policies?


Google(R) policies plainly forbid ads being placed on pages that promote hate. Google states:

Sites with Google ads may not include or link to:

    Pornography, adult or mature content
  • Violent content
  • Content related to racial intolerance or advocacy against any individual, group or organisation
  • Excessive profanity
  • Hacking/cracking content
  • Gambling or casino-related content
  • Illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content
  • Sales of beer or hard alcohol
  • Sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products
  • Sales of prescription drugs
  • Sales of weapons or ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns)
  • Sales of products that are replicas or imitations of designer or other goods
  • Sales or distribution of coursework or student essays
  • Content regarding programs which compensate users for clicking ads or offers, performing searches, surfing websites or reading emails
  • Any other content that is illegal, promotes illegal activity or infringes on the legal rights of others
Is Google monitoring MICHAEL GOLD, who previously urged his Plazabum hate website viewers to click on ads to put money in his pocket? Is Google supporting hate? Do Google stockholders and directors know about it yet?

USDOJ Press Rlease: Lawman Indicted for Abusing His Position and Lying to Federal Agents

Former DeKalb Police Officer Indicted for Abusing His Position and Lying to Federal Agents

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 31, 2011
  • Northern District of Georgia (404) 581-6000

ATLANTA—DONALD BRISTOL, 41, of Lilburn, Georgia, was arraigned late today on federal charges of aiding others to possess and conceal a stolen vehicle, failing to report a federal felony, unlawfully accessing government computer systems, and making false statements. BRISTOL made the appearance late this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield III.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Our citizens are entitled to police officers who will obey the laws that they have sworn to enforce. Not only did this officer violate the law, but his criminal conduct betrayed the trust of the people of DeKalb County and its police department.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, said, “It is an inescapable truth that law enforcement officers who choose to abdicate their sworn oaths of office add to the already immense challenges that the remaining law enforcement community must face. While it is understandable that these types of cases add to some erosion of public trust, it should be noted that the vast majority of the law enforcement community takes their sworn oaths very seriously as well as such deviations from that oath as we’ve seen here.”

“The alleged criminal actions of this former officer tarnishes the DeKalb County Police badge, it erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and undermines the continued efforts of the men and women who honorably serve the residents of DeKalb County,” said DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien.

Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “This case is a reminder that officers are held to a higher standard and are not above the law. This officer is not representative of the honest, hard working men and women in law enforcement who do not violate their oaths, but faithfully serve the public daily.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Starting in April 2010, BRISTOL used his position as a DeKalb County police officer to help two separately charged defendants to hide the fact that they possessed a stolen car. In addition, BRISTOL misused his access to a sensitive law enforcement database to provide his associates with information about criminal histories and outstanding arrest warrants. Finally, BRISTOL made numerous false statements to federal agents.

BRISTOL was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 25, 2011. The indictment charges BRISTOL with aiding others to possess and hide a stolen vehicle, with failing to report and attempting to conceal a federal crime, with unlawfully accessing governmental information, and with lying to federal agents. The most serious of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the DeKalb County Police Department, and special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis is prosecuting the case.

For further information, please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.

Associated Press: DreamWorks Plans Martin Luther King Biopic

DreamWorks Studios plans to tell the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s story on the big screen in a film to be co-produced by Steven Spielberg, the studio announced Tuesday.

Officials are touting the project as the first theatrical motion picture authorized by The King Estate, using closely held intellectual property — including copyrighted speeches and other works — as the basis for the film.

King Estate Chairman and chief executive officer Dexter King was quoted in a press release announcing the deal.

"We hope that this will be the definitive film on his life and legacy," Dexter King said.

Dexter King's siblings, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, were not involved in negotiating the deal. They did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday from The Associated Press.

The siblings have been involved in several disputes regarding their parents' intellectual property in the past year. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III have accused their brother of tarnishing their parents' legacy with his business decisions, and say he has been operating The King Estate for years without their input.

DreamWorks spokeswoman Kristin Stark declined to say how much the deal is worth. It is not clear when the movie might be made. Stark said she did not believe the siblings' legal differences would affect the project.

"What we have gained access to is the life rights, which is not what they are fighting about," Stark said.

Although several movies about King's life have been televised, the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner has only been on the silver screen once. The documentary, "King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis," was shown once in theaters on March 24, 1970, and featured commentary from Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Ruby Dee, among others.

Film and television producer Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones, who has handled intellectual property issues for the estate for several years, are also listed as producers on the project.

Another beautiful day in a beautiful place; another predictable, dull story in the St. Augustine Record


St. Augustine Record Buidling, now largely vacant -- paper is now printed in Jacksonville and the giant Goss presses have been removed!




Richard O. Watson, a noted local trial judge, died yesterday. However, the St. Augustine WRecKord’s front-page article this morning is utterly boring.
Ordinarily when a noted judge dies, the New York Times obituary will discuss some of his/her significant cases, showing how the judge changed history or helped people. Not the WRecKord. Not one mention of any case where Judge Watson might have made a difference, or made new law, or showed courage in making a ruling that might have offended the rich and powerful.
The WRecKord said Judge Watson had a great sense of humor, but none of his stories are quoted. That would be like saying Lincoln had a great sense of humor, but neglecting to retell a single one of his stories. What utter shallowness.
The WRecKord article by Associate Editor Richard Prior quoted one source, now a judge, as indicating that Judge Watson may have had a mean streak, but the details are lacking.
Instead of using his journalistic knowledge and skills to write an interesting article about Judge Watson, Associate Editor Richard Prior produced a puff piece, hagiography without facts.
I never met Judge Richard O. Watson. After reading Richard Prior’s obituary, I have not learned anything more about him. After decades of reading good, well-researched obituaries in the New York Times, one often feels empathy, like one met the subject, learning how they made a difference in life. Times obituaries about famous judges, politicians, civil rights heroes, inventors or entrepreneurs leave one informed.
Dozens of years of journalism experience has not empowered Richard Prior to write a decent obituary on a respected local judge, when he had all day yesterday to do so. Why?
The WRecKord is a third-rate newspaper with underpaid staff and bad morale.
Is Richard Prior a hack or a journalist? I reckon that Richard Prior’s smirky call to me about MORRIS PUBLISHING’s SLAPP suit against me showed Prior for what he was – an authoritarian bore! Luckily, I was riding in a car with a former Baltimore Sun editor at the time, and she got to hear the "interview," such as it was.
Like the local hate website operator’s supercilious HISTORIC CITY NEWS, the WRecKord is in the habit of publishing press releases and not investigating anything. Birds of a feather, they flock together --- mediocrities practicing mendacity. Writing their nowhere “news” for nobody .
In 1982, the New York Times missed a golden opportunity to purchase the St. Augustine Record and the Florida Times-Union for only $200 million. Instead, MORRIS bought it.
We’re stuck with boring, shallow surface reporting to this day.

MICHAEL GOLD IS A CYBERBULLY WHO ABUSED DMCA TO TAKE DOWN ST. AUGUSTINE UNDERGROUND WEBSITE IN RETALIATION FOR INVESTIGATION


At this moment, if you go to the St. Augustine Underground website, there is a chilling reminder of the power of bullies on the Internet. It says :
Oops!!!

This site is currently unavailable.

If you are the owner of this site, please contact us at 1-480-505-8855 at your earliest convenience.








The St. Augustine Underground performed an excellent, Pulitzer Prize worthy public service in exposing MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” and his patron, SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a “DAVID HOAR.”
In retaliation for First Amendment protected activity regarding hate websites , controversial St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR’s illegal actions embroiled the United States Marshals to arrest me based upon a non-existent “warrant” from Tennessee.
In response to the Pulitzer Prize worthy story, putative “journalist” MICHAEL GOLD violated readers’ right to read the news. Attacking a critical news story in the St. Augustine Underground, GOLD/TOBIN abused a federal law (the Digitical Millennia Copyright Act or DMCA) to take down the entire website of the St. Augustine Underground (owned by Milwaukee Journal).
How amusingly, errantly arrogant --- It seems that GOLD thinks a photograph on the website, from his hate website, is his intellectual property. The photograph is of me, taken and posted on GOLD’s hate website, HISTORIC CITY NEWS, without my permission, at the City’s event for the dedication of Riberia Street construction.
MICHAEL GOLD and HISTORIC CITY NEWS previously abused DMCA to force removal of a photo showing State’s Attorney R.J. LARIZZA laughing with fellow RANDY BRUNSON at the Rod & Gun Club.
GOLD has the text of the First Amendment at the bottom of every page.
What hypocrisy – which is of course what MICHAEL GOLD specializes in:
+ Raised more than $250,000 for SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR in 2004, paid thousands of dollars through his ACCISE CORPORATION for campaign work (while SHOAR demurely claims GOLD was an unemployed volunteer).
+ Claims to dislike government waste, but raked in more than $700,000 in no-bid uniform contracts from the St. Augustine Police Department and St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department, including purchases of sweaters and pith helmets. As Gary Hart once said, “You won’t get government off your backs until you get your hands out of its pockets.”
+ Operates racist, sexist, homophobic hate websites (Shamefulpeople and plazabum) attacking persons who speak at public meetings and file Open Records requests.
+ Uses hate websites to encourage violence, kidnapping, blacklisting, libel and defamation.
+ Media and Communications Chair for St. Johns County Republican Party.
+ Recipient of small subsidy from advertisements from Google®, in violation of Google® principles (don’t be evil”) and Terms of Service.
GOLD is a bully, a self-aggrandizing narcissist who may be the only one in town who thinks he’s a journalist.
Yes, in his own words, MICHAEL GOLD has good cause to fear the “wolf of insignificance” at his “door.”
That’s why he bays at the moon!



Back by popular demand, here's the "Dress You Up" parody song for GOLD and SHOAR:










Uniform salesman, private investigator, bagman and hate site operator MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN" and SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID HOAR"

Duet for Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and his Campaign Manager and St. Johns County Uniform Supplier MICHAEL GOLD (proprietor of hate websites and Historic City Media, in honor of some $700,000 in no-bid SJCSO and SAPD contracts for uniforms for JR UNIFORM COMPANY, 2001-2009 (including Cardigan sweaters and Pith helmets). Sung to Madonna’s “DRESS YOU UP” Label: Sire, Warner Bros. Records

GOLD You've got cops,
and I’ve got threads to sell you
uniforms with embroidery so fine (oh yeah)
cut a check made out to me and my business
and don’t go shopping
for something better priced (woo).

SHERIFF Gonna dress you up, you’re my cops
pull over, pull over,
gonna dress’m up, they're my cops
pull over you’re guilty.

GOLD Seven hundred thousand reasons why I love you
no other bids will keep you as my boo,
I’ll campaign for you as my Sheriff
and there’s no telling what we both can do (ahh).

SHERIFF Gonna dress you up, you’re my cops,
pull over, pull over,
gonna dress’m up, they’re my cops,
pull over, you’re guilty,
gonna dress you up, you’re my cops,
on my watch,
pull over you’re guilty, pull over you’re guilty
on my watch
pull over, pull over,
from Duval down to Flagler.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission Meets Here July 18, 2011

The Department of the Interior and the City of St. Augustine issued announcements today that the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission will meet on Flagler College's campus commencing July 18, 2011. The Commission will be asked to endorse a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway, National Civil Rights Museum and National Indigenous Native American Indian Cultural Center. See www.staugustgreen.com

St. Augustine Underground Reports on False Arrest by Feds at Behest of St. Johns County Sheriff, in Retaliation for Concerns About Hate Websites

The June issue of the St. Augustine Underground has exposed MICHAEL GOLD’s hate websites, including the related recent false arrest of a local “activist” who dared criticize Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and hold him accountable for his promises about asking GOLD to “knock it off” – e.g., GOLD’s libel of people speaking at public comment during public meetings – libel on Republican apparatchik and bagman’s MICHAEL GOLD’s hate websites.

The Milwaukee Journal’s new venture is giving the St. Augustine Record some needed competition. In its June issue, the St. Augustine Underground reports that everything it and other local news media were told by the Sheriff’s Department about the Tennessee Supreme Court was false, including the false account of a phantom Tennessee Supreme Court justice planning to hold a “hearing” on my “extradition” about a non-existent “warrant.”

The Underground reports about how SHERIFF SHOAR misused the power of the Justice Department -- United States Marshals showed up and arrested the activist (that would be me) at the behest of the St. Johns County Sheriff, DAVID SHOAR. There was no warrant.

The article ends, “to be continued…..”

Will the WRecKord recant its libel and print the truth? Will we be hearing from MORRIS PUBLISHING’s insurance adjuster? Will Sheriff SHOAR apologize? Will MICHAEL GOLD recant from his hate websites and stop trying to pretend he is a journalist?

What do y’all reckon?