Friday, December 30, 2011
ST AUGUSTINE UNDERGROUND: Our History is A National treasure -- Time for a St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and & Civil Rights Museum
St. Augustine’s History is A National treasure -- The time has come to bring out the big guns and protect our nationally important local heritage with the
creation of The St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Coastal Parkway.
By Ed Slavin
A famous journalism professor said
that “if you’re going to tell a
story about a bear, bring on the
Here’s how to protect St. Johns
County’s bears – and other endangered
and threatened species – while growing
our economy and making life better for
your grandchildren (and their grandchildren).
2011 is critical to reviving our local
economy, creating jobs and preserving
our city’s and our county’s environment
How do we revive our depressed local
tourist economy? How do we get “out
of the ditch,” which Wall Street and
local speculators created?
By persuading Congress to enact a
St. Augustine National Historical Park,
Seashore and Coastal Parkway.
Let’s donate 13 large tracts: the
Florida Department of Environmental
Protection’s Guana Tolomato Matanzas
National Estuarine Research Reserve,
Anastasia State Park, Faver-Dykes
State Park and Fort Mosé State Park;
Florida Department of Agriculture’s
Deep Creek State Forest and Watson
Island State Forest; St. Johns County
beaches and the Nocatee Preserve; and
St. Johns River Water Management
District ‘s Twelve Mile Swamp, Deep
Creek, Matanzas Marsh, Moses Creek
and Stokes Landing preserves.
Let’s donate them to the federal government
for the St. Augustine National
Historical Park and Seashore. These
vast tracts of government-owned land
are suitable for a National Park and
Seashore – more than 120,000 acres.
In Woodie Guthrie’s words, “This land
is our land” already – it is our county
beaches, state parks and forests and
water management district land. Combined
with the Castillo de San Marcos
and Fort Matanzas, this land will make
one glorious National Park and Seashore,
making us all proud and properly
celebrating St. Augustine’s 450th
birthday (2015) and Spanish Florida’s
Donating the land can save more than
$33 million over 10 years for state and
local governments; revive our economy;
create better-paying jobs with real
futures; protect our historic and environmental
heritage; teach our children
about history, beauty and nature; better
preserve our beaches; protect homes
from erosion; raise our property values;
and protect wildlife.
Let’s put people to work and draw
environmental and historic tourists,
who National Trust for Historic Preservation
and other studies say spend
more and visit longer, putting more
proverbial “heads in beds.” How? By
empowering our National Park Service
– America’s favorite federal agency. Ken
Burns’ PBS documentary rightly called
our National Parks “America’s Best
Idea.” We need one here.
Let’s teach history and nature to
future generations with a National Civil
Rights museum here in St. Augustine
and by celebrating all our history
-- 11,000 years of indigenous Native
American, African-American, Spanish,
Minorcan, French, English, Civil War,
Roman Catholic, Greek, Jewish, Protestant,
nautical, military, Flagler-era and
Civil Rights history.
Let’s preserve our endangered and
threatened species -- including right
whales (only 350 left, reportedly the
most endangered whales on the planet)
-- as well as turtles, bears, bald eagles,
manatees, beach mice and butterflies.
This Park and Seashore will rival Cape
Cod National Seashore, the Everglades,
Philadelphia and other tourist “hot
spots,” giving teachers and parents
tools to teach children lessons that will
keep them coming back for life.
Our state’s economy has suffered so
much since the Deepwater Horizon
disaster. We look to British Petroleum
to pay for it all as part of its economic
and environmental remediation to the
State of Florida.
The first step is for our governor and
legislature to agree to donate this land
to the federal government for one “public
park or pleasuring ground for the
benefit and enjoyment of the people,”
as Congress said in 1872 in creating
Yellowstone National Park.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
1. Will this park legislation violate
private property rights? No. The draft
legislation provides for donations of
government lands and donations or
sales from willing sellers. Condemnation
lawsuits are authorized only to
“preserve [historic buildings and land]
2. How would the park affect local
businesses, tourist attractions and
churches? Very positively. Historic and
environmental tourists spend more and
stay longer, studies show. This will create
more good-paying jobs, in the Park
Service, kayaking, tour-guide
companies, restaurants, hotels
and guest houses. There’s
a list of tourist attractions
and places of worship in the
legislation that the National
Park Service could assist with
historic interpretation. It
includes churches where Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev.
Andrew Young spoke, working with
local residents to create our 1964 Civil
3. Will this legislation take over the
government of the City of St. Augustine?
No. But St. Augustine can donate
a few parks to the cause. Our city needs
help and cannot handle the 450th celebration
alone. A greater National Park
Service presence here will help better
guide and orient millions of visitors.
The Park will help make our city a
better place – just ask the residents of
Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras.
4. What positive changes will creation
of a St. Augustine National Park and
A. Increase property values and local
tax collections. Property values
increase near National Parks and Seashores.
Bed tax and sales tax receipts
B. Grow our economy. Our local
economy is stagnant. The National
Park Service will help get us out of the
C. Reduce spending by our state, local
and water management district government
– savings of $33 million over ten
D. Increase the quality of tourism
marketing -- greatly simplified by combining
all this land into one National
E. Improve the quality of historic and
environmental interpretation, preservation
and protection. Right now, tourists
learn very little about our African-
American and Civil Rights history, for
example, or the heroic history of the
Minorcans and other immigrants to our
shores, or the endangered species that
make this area a paradise. The National
Park Service is experienced at protecting
nature and interpreting history
while stimulating tourism. A National
Civil Rights museum here in St. Augustine
will attract more school groups
and minority tourists – Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. is known world-wide
and his legacy here will attract tourists.
5. How will this affect historic reenactors?
Good jobs await them at the
National Park Service.
6. Is this legislation family-friendly?
Yes. Residents and tourists will thank
you for creating a wholesome place to
take children where they learn about
history and our environment, with a
classroom that is as big as all outdoors,
embracing 11,000 years of human history
on these shores.
7. How will this affect beach driving?
The legislation does not address
it, either way. Elsewhere, as in Cape
Cod, residents are licensed to drive on
National Park Service beaches after
proper training and can take tourists on
8. Is there a potential downside?
One. Proper transportation planning
is required to avoid congestion. The
draft bill requires a plan for “cost-effective,
environmentally-friendly means of
transporting visitors and residents to
and through the park’s locations, using
trolley cars resembling those in use in
St. Augustine, Florida, in 1928, with
the goal of reducing hydrocarbon consumption,
traffic congestion, air pollution
and damage to historic structures.”
9. When was the National Park idea
first proposed? Some 70 years ago,
before World War II.
10. What are we waiting for? You tell
Will you please help us celebrate
11,000 years of history and protect
what deserves protecting forever inviolate?
Will you please share your suggestions
about how to improve the first
draft of the legislation? Let us work together
to accomplish something we can
all be proud of for future generations
yet unborn who will say, “thank you.”
Please see www.staugustgreen.com
St. Augustine activist Ed Slavin
(B.S.F.S., Georgetown University, J.D.
Memphis State University) first proposed
the St. Augustine National Park and
Seashore Nov. 13, 2006.
St. Augustine must have a national historical park, seashore and scenic coastal highway -- see www.staugustgreen.com
Guest Column: St. Augustine should have a national historical park
Publication Date: 03/26/07
Real estate speculators (some foreign-funded) continue to destroy our local wildlife, habitat, nature and history. Roads are clogged. Noise abounds. Our way of life is being destroyed. Unfeeling, uncaring Philistines are turning St. Johns County into an uglier, unreasonable facsimile of South Florida. Unjust county government stewards allowed an asphalt plant near homes. Another plant reportedly emits 50 tons/year of volatile organic compounds into residents' and workers' lungs and brains.
Speculators are even trying to build homes on top of unremediated septic tanks/fields, while vacationing boaters pollute our Bay front with untreated sewage (the only boat-pumpout-station is at Conch House Marina). Our Bay front (which lacks a harbormaster) had an oil spill Jan. 15. Developers demand to build docks over city-owned State Road 312 area marshes for boat-owners' pleasure. Enough.
Let's invite environmental tourism by preserving an "emerald necklace of parks," including the city-owned marsh.
Ask Congress to hold hearings to map our "St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore" (SANHPNS), using 1928-style trolleycars to save gasoline, uniting the Castillo and Fort Matanzas National Monuments, "slave market park," downtown streets, Government House, Red House Bluff indigenous village (next to historical society), marshes, forests, National Cemetery, GTM NERR, Anastasia State Park, Fort Mose and other city, county, state and St. Johns River Water Management District lands.
Let's cancel future shock/schlock/sprawl/ugliness/skyscrapers and eliminate temptations to abuse/neglect/misuse state parks and historic buildings for golf courses and rote, rube commercialism.
In December, State Sen. Jim King suggested Florida donate "deed and title" of state buildings to our city. I suggested that we deed them to the National Park Service (NPS), with St. George Street visitor center in restored buildings, saving millions (as in the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park).
St. Augustine needs a national civil rights and indigenous history museum, celebrating local residents and national leaders, whose courage helped win passage of 1964's Civil Rights Act. Why not put the museum in the old Woolworth's building, restored to its former glory, with wood floors, lunch-counter and exhibits on the civil rights struggles that changed history (well- documented in Jeremy Dean's documentary, "Dare Not Walk Alone"), with "footsoldiers monument" across the street ?
Why not (finally) implement the 2003 National Trust for Historic Preservation and Flagler College study on how to protect our history? Let's tax tourists more to fund historic preservation, as in Charleston/elsewhere.
Let's preserve/protect the quality of our lives and visitors' experience (and property values) by preserving forever what speculators haven't destroyed (yet).
Let's adopt a three-year moratorium on growth, while we work to adopt truly comprehensive plans worthy of the name.
Colonial National Historical Park (NHP), Philadelphia's Independence NHP and NHPs in Boston, New Bedford, Valley Forge, San Francisco and Saratoga.
There's a Martin Luther King historical site in Atlanta, NHPs for "Rosie the Riveter" (California) and the "War in the Pacific" (Guam), and new parks slated for ten Japanese internment camps.
Florida hosts Everglades, Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks and Canaveral National Seashore. Let's add St. Augustine to the list.
From sea to shining sea, America's coastal areas enjoy national parks. Where's ours?
Let's make parts of State Road A1A a National Parkway and hiking/biking trail, like the Colonial National Historical Parkway and the Baltimore Washington, George Washington, Rock Creek and John D. Rockefeller (Wyoming) Parkways and the Appalachian Trial and C&O Canal.
Let's add St. Augustine to the list of our nation's most beloved national parks, joining Zion, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Florida's 500th and St. Augustine's 450th anniversaries are only six and eight years away (2013 and 2015). Enacting a national park and seashore will forever preserve the treasures that we love. It will halt the sprawl we hate, increase tourism and reduce local taxes, paying speculators to stop.
Mayor Joe Boles' mother graciously thanked me for speaking out on these issues after the Jan. 22 City Commission meeting -- issues that Mrs. Boles has been outspoken about for "30 years." Let's honor/heed Mrs. Boles' wisdom -- and those who proposed a national park before World War II. Let's save St. Augustine and our environment forever.
Ed Slavin lives in St. Augustine.
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© The St. Augustine Record
Top Ten Reasons Why Some Florida Energumen Oppose More National Parks and Seashores
10. Right whales don’t vote.
9. Florida beaches are for condos.
8. National parks are for Socialists.
7. Who needs good jobs at good wages?
6. Someone told me some fishermen might not like it.
5. This is one world government!
4. It definitely won’t be segregated.
3. National Parks are for Communists.
2. Adolf Hitler would support national parks
1. Outdoors? What’s that? Let’s pave it over.
This is not as funny as it sounds – for a good time, go to the St. Johns County website and listen to the “debate” from two local Tea Party factions:
Funding Public Parks Could Save Lives
Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/29/funding-parks-could-save-lives/#ixzz1i4KQ5BMG
This has been a bad year for state and local parks. If you’ve come across park gates that are chained shut or playgrounds that are rusting, as we have, then you know this firsthand. Budget crises have forced states to not only drastically cut park funding but consider unprecedented closures as well. The impact, as Deena Loyola, the communications coordinator for Utah’s Parks and Recreation Department, said earlier this year, is that parks (and the public) suffer because of “reduced hours, facilities that are less clean and fewer law enforcement rangers.” California, with over 60 of its 278 state parks on the chopping block for 2012, is scrambling for private philanthropy to keep as many open as possible. This neglect runs contrary to public opinion, which consistently supports parks, even in a time of shrinking budgets, because they are good for the economy, animal habitats, family bonding, community building and the growing problems of childhood obesity and nature deficit disorder — a term coined by Richard Louv, who argues that children are spending less time outdoors because of parental safety fears and the presence of TV and other electronic screens.
But recent research suggests that parks aren’t just good for our well-being, they may even be a matter of life and death. In a December 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives article, Amy Schulz and her colleagues suggested that parks might be a protective factor in cardiovascular disease risk; an absence of safe parks may be part of why poverty leads to poorer health outcomes. Amy Auchincloss and her colleagues reported in a 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine piece that residential areas which support physical activity, by having things like ample park space, were associated with a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes. With links like this sprouting up at increasing rates, researchers have even started to examine which specific park components offer the biggest health bang. In the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, for example, Ariane Rung and her colleagues found that basketball courts and playgrounds offered the highest rate of energy expenditure.
Considering the state of our economy, we all know that sacrifices have to be made. The government’s supercommittee didn’t save the day, so automatic trigger cuts are lurking, not to mention that many bills are held up because of the uncertainty over deficits. Most of the concern over funding, though, is focused on health care and defense because both of these areas save lives. But what if lives are at stake because our park system is so poorly funded? Shouldn’t we prioritize the distribution of money to recreation and open space accordingly?
As advocates for children and families, one stalled bill that concerns us is S1265, which would mandate full funding for The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It would be the most significant park legislation since the formation of the fund in 1965. This fund was designed to be a commitment to protect our natural and recreational areas without taxpayer dollars. The idea is to use $900 million a year of the fees paid by energy companies who drill offshore to support land and water resources — like lakes, parks and natural areas — onshore. Unfortunately, according to the LWCF Coalition, much of the available money has been diverted to other uses nearly every year since Congress created the fund with bipartisan support. As a result of that diversion and other cutbacks, the National Park Service (NPS) estimates that the unmet need for outdoor recreation space is $27 billion, and the NPS is facing a new 9% cut.
Meanwhile, a report on the infrastructure of the U.S. by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave public parks and recreation a grade of C- in 2009, the year of their most recent report. Unfortunately, as 2011 comes to a close, the situation has yet to improve. It’s time to get involved, go to parks and vote for funding them as if your life depended on it. Because it just might.
Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/29/funding-parks-could-save-lives/#ixzz1i4KIrSqS
Local Tea Party Opponents of St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore Mentioned "AGENDA 21" In Their Screechy Rants
How Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories May Pose a Genuine Threat to Humanity
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on December 25, 2011, Printed on December 30, 2011
The paranoia infecting a broad swath of the American right-wing can be comical at times -- think about Orly Taitz and her fellow Birthers. But we laugh at our own peril, because what Richard Hofstadter famously characterized as "the paranoid style in American politics" poses a serious threat to our future: the right's snowballing conspiracy theories could ultimately lead to disaster.
Consider what's happening in Virginia's Middle Peninsula on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, among the areas in the U.S. most vulnerable to climate change. Earlier this month, Darryl Fears, reporting for the Washington Post, offered a glimpse into the madness that city planners have faced in recent months as a local Tea Party group, convinced that a nefarious plot by scientists and city officials is afoot, have disrupted their work trying to mitigate the potential impacts of rising sea levels.
"The uprising," wrote Fears, "began at a February meeting about starting a business park for farming oysters in Mathews County." He continued:
The program to help restore the Chesapeake Bay oyster population was slated for land owned by the county, but it was shouted down as a useless federal program that would expand the national debt. The proposal was tabled.
As the opposition grew over the summer, confrontations became so heated that some planners posted uniformed police officers at meetings and others hired consultants to help calm audiences and manage the indoor environment, several planners said.
In James City County, speakers were shouted away from a podium. In Page County, angry farmers forced commissioners to stop a meeting. In Gloucester County, planners sat stone-faced as activists took turns reading portions of the 500-page Agenda 21 text, delaying a meeting for more than an hour.
"Agenda 21" is one of a number of silly but dangerous conspiracy theories sweeping through the fever swamps of the right. Although admittedly sinister-sounding, Agenda 21 is just a blueprint for sustainable development, especially in emerging economies. It outlines how wealthier countries can contribute to smarter growth through technology transfers and public education. It stresses the importance of fighting deforestation and conserving bio-diversity -- all things that normal people would consider wise.
The important thing to understand about Agenda 21 is that there is absolutely nothing binding or compelling member countries to implement any part of it. It's not a treaty -- it is entirely voluntary and certainly doesn't have any connection to local governments. Yet for the right, with its long John Birch Society undercurrent of paranoia about international institutions, Agenda 21 represents some kind of dark UN conspiracy to impose socialism on the "free world."
That craziness lies at the heart of Michele Bachmann's quixotic war on energy-efficient lightbulbs. Tim Murphy reported, "The Minnesota congresswoman is part of a movement that considers 'sustainability' an existential threat to the United States, one with far-reaching consequences for education, transportation, and family values."
Last year, during the Denver mayoral race, Tea Party candidate Dan Maes argued that a local bike-sharing program, a popular initiative among city residents, was a "very well-disguised" part of a plan by then-Denver mayor (and now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper for "converting Denver into a United Nations community." Alex Jones constantly hawks the conspiracy. Glenn Beck warned it would lead to "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth." And in September, Newt Gingrich, hoping to burnish his wingnutty creds, told a group of Orlando Tea Partiers that, if elected, his first order of business would be "to cease all federal funding of any kind of activity that relates to United Nations Agenda 21." (Currently, no federal funding of any kind is used for implementing Agenda 21.)
It's causing uprisings like that seen in Virginia at ordinarily dull city planning board meetings across the country. As Stephanie Mencimer reported for Mother Jones, "Agenda 21 paranoia has swept the Tea Party scene, driving activists around the country to delve into the minutiae of local governance... they're descending on planning meetings and transit debates, wielding PowerPoints about Agenda 21, and generally freaking out low-level bureaucrats with accusations about their roles in a supposed international conspiracy."
Agenda 21 is inextricably linked to the most dangerous conspiracy theory going: that 97 percent of the world's climate scientists are lying when they say human activities are contributing to global climate change. This, too, is supposedly in service of the goal of destroying capitalism, which means one has to believe that climatologists around the world are not only all very political -- enough to conspire to deceive the entire world -- but they also all share the same largely discredited ideology.
Back in Virginia, the Coastal Zone Management program is struggling to "help prepare for the predicted effects of climate change, especially sea-level rise on Virginia's coastal resources." The area is uniquely imperiled; in June, Darryl Fears, a science correspondent, reported that Hampton Roads is especially vulnerable because several rivers run through it on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. He continued:
Unfortunately, this crowded, low-lying area also has long-term geological issues to deal with. Thirty-five million years ago, a meteor landed relatively close by and created the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater. Hampton Roads is also home to a downward-pressing glacial formation created during the Ice Age. Scientists theorize that these ancient occurrences are causing the land to sink -- and together account for about one-third of the sea-level change.
Fears notes that "the water has risen so much that Naval Station Norfolk is replacing 14 piers at $60 million each to keep ship-repair facilities high and dry," but "this geology is lost in local meetings, where distrust of the local and federal governments is at center stage."
And their harassment is having the desired effect of "freaking out low-level bureaucrats" trying to prepare the area for the changes to come, preparations that have absolutely nothing to do with the United Nations, Agenda 21 or "socialism." According to Fears, Shereen Hughes, a former planning commissioner, is "worried that some officials are giving ground to fearmongers. The uprising against smart growth 'is ridiculous' and 'a conspiracy theory,' she said. But it's effective."
Planners aren't saying this is wrong, Hughes said, because "most are afraid they won't have a job if they're too vocal about this issue." Tea Party members have political allies who "might stand up" against planners who complain, Hughes said.
In his excellent book, Collapse, scientist Jared Diamond looked at a number of societies that had seen their physical climates change. He tried to determine what made some cultures die out while others persevered. According to Diamond, it wasn't the severity of the change, or its speed that was the determining factor. One important variable was the foresight of those societies' leaders -- their ability to properly diagnose the problem and adapt, to come up with proactive solutions to the problems they faced.
Diamond, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said, "one always has to ask about people's cultural response. Why is it that people failed to perceive the problems developing around them, or if they perceived them, why did they fail to solve the problems that would eventually do them in? Why did some peoples perceive and recognize their problems and others not?" Diamond explained:
A theme that emerges...is insulation of the decision-making elite from the consequences of their actions. That is to say, in societies where the elites do not suffer from the consequences of their decisions, but can insulate themselves, the elite are more likely to pursue their short-term interests, even though that may be bad for the long-term interests of the society, including the children of the elite themselves.
Today, oil and gas corporations are still funding a bunch of crank climate change deniers in order to avoid regulations that might slow their "short-term interests" in extracting as much wealth as they can from traditional hydrocarbons. And here we have Tea Partiers -- a "movement" nurtured by business-friendly Republican operatives and backed by the Koch brothers' dirty energy money -- being whipped into a frenzy by the likes of Glenn Beck and shouting down local planners trying to do something about rising water levels. They're freaking out about energy-efficient lightbulbs and bike-sharing programs, the very sorts of things we need in order to stave off disaster.
So the next time you hear a wingnut spewing feverish nonsense about "climategate" or the "globalist agenda," remember that this is not just fodder for late-night TV monologues, but the kind of stuff that has in the past brought societies faced with changing environments to their ultimate end.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/153554/
Will the KKK design new uniforms to complement their members’ girlish figures? (See question 20, below).
St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida Office Pool 2012
This Office Pool is written with tongue-in-cheek. It is also written with a tip-of-the-hat, admiration and my sincere appreciation to NY Times' late columnist William Safire (the English language expert and sesquipedalian former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew speechwriter, who coined such Nixonian bon mots as one of my favorites, "nattering nabobs of negativism").
The venerable William Safire wrote -- and I read -- his New Year's "Office Pools" for 34 years.
Safire last wrote an Office Pool just before New Year’s in 2009 – he died in September 2009.
So here's my 2012 Office Pool for St. Augustine and St. Johns County. As Mr. Safire said in a prior year, "You've got to play to win." Here goes:
1. City Commissioner Errol Jones will:
a. Be convicted of one or more crimes;
b. Run for office again;
c. Not run again;
d. Write his memoirs and name names;
e. Go to work for polluters or developers as a lobbyist;
e. Be asked to (and refuse to) take a Blood Alcohol Test during a City Commission meeting;
f. Write a silly song extolling the virtues of CHESTER STOKES, ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD, clear-cutting and tree-killing;
g. None of the above;
h. All of the above.
2. Former St. Johns County Commissioner Jim Bryant will:
a. Be indicted;
b. Run for office again;
c. Write his memoirs and name names;
d. Go to work for clear-cutting developers, like other former Commissioners;
e. Fall asleep at County Commission meetings as a spectator rather than as a commissioner;
f. Write a haiku poem extolling the virtues of clear-cutting and tree-killing;
i. None of the above;
j. All of the above.
3. St. Augustine City Commissioners will find a new spirit of friendliness and openness as they:
a. Welcome Gay residents and tourists by banning anti-Gay discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and education;
b. Welcome artists and entertainers back to St. George Street and the Plaza;
c. Support legislation to create a new national park, the "St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore."
d. All of the above;
e. None of the above.
4. Foreign-funded, tree-killing, clear-cutting developers will:
a. Be indicted;
b. Be shown to have corrupted County and City officials;
c. Still be hated by everyone in St. Augustine and St. Johns County;
d. Try to redeem themselves in public opinion by donating/selling their ill-gotten land for the St. Augustine National Park and National Seashore.
e. Elect another Florida State Legislature;
f. Elect a new President of the United States.
5. Federal and state law enforcement agents will conduct surprise raids on:
a. Present and former Town of Hastings officials and local developers responsible for 2005 annexations of pesticide-contaminated farmland that speculators planned to build housing;
b. Local officials responsible for zoning decisions;
c. Local developers;
d. Local hate groups;
e. Local restaurants and hotels employing workers at subminimum wages, some undocumented illegal immigrants;
f. Other organizational targets;
g. All of the above;
h. None of the above.
6. Florida Governor Richard Scott will:
a. Support a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore;
b. Renounce Islamophobic bigotry advanced by his 2010 TV commercials;
c. Wage war on government corruption.
7. The first belly-up local "development" to result in criminal charges will be:
a. CHESTER STOKES' evisceration of the arsenic-contaminated Ponce de Leon Golf Links;
b. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD's effort to turn a 3000-4000 year old indigenous American Indian village next to St. Augustine High School into condos and a stripmall;
c. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD's effort to turn Conch House Marina into condominiums (a project called "one sweet monkey" by the since-defrauded Ponce family, which sold the Conch House to GRAUBARD);
d. Sebastian Inner Harbor;
e. Nocatee (a knockoff of the DeSoto County town with an Indian name that already bears Florida zip code 34268), rubber-stamp approved by compliant St. Johns County Commissioners for the Davis family and the PARC group under the discredited days of the St. Johns County Commission's ancien regime under Jim Bryant (a puppet among puppets, not unlike the late Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen, Huey Long's puppet, of whom it was said that a leaf once blew in Allen's window and he signed it);
f. None of the above.
8. St. Augustine City Commissioners will admit publicly that prior City Commissioners erred when they:
a. Banned all but government flags from the Bridge of Lions;
b. Voted 3-2 (Commissioners Burk and Gardner dissenting) for "brownfield" tax credit subsidies for CHESTER STOKES' Ponce de Leon Golf Course;
c. Banned artists and entertainers from St. George Street and the Plaza;
d. Thought they made a mistake once but found out they were wrong.
9. The St. Augustine and St. Johns County Airport Authority will:
a. Take federal funds for something useful;
b. Hire a new manager based on a national search;
c. Charge rich guys to land their airplanes;
d. Condemn (steal) more homeowners' land for rich guys' airplanes;
e. Make Northrop Grumman pay more for its use of the airport;
f. Insist on using a new name not approved by the legislature – Northeast Florida Airport – showing (once again) its inane approach to branding and marketing;
g. Issue self-serving press statements and insult anyone who questions its “authority.”
10. Developer lawyer George McClure will:
a. Legally change his name to "Snidely Whiplash," inspired by his uncanny resemblance to the character in "Dudley Do-right";
b. Legally change his name to the "Prince of Darkness," inspired by his secret admiration of the James Mason character in Paul Newman's movie, "The Verdict";
c. Represent environmentalist-citizens fighting tree-cutting developers (albeit in a county far, far away, with a paper bag over his head);
d. Appear before local governmental bodies without wearing a silk tie, in recognition of the fact that his law firm now bears his own name (instead of Rogers Towers);
e. Take less than 15 minutes to make his case for done-deal zoning favors (saying he now believes it's only fair that his clients should have no more than 3 minutes to which development opponents are limited);
f. Sue government officials for civil rights violations for disapproving a developer's project.
11. Flagler College will:
a. Announce its plans to annex the entire City of St. Augustine and take it off the tax rolls;
b. Hire faculty members without respect to their political views;
c. Recognize faculty rights to academic freedom;
d. Ban the use of the "N" word in all Flagler College classes, including those that are attended by St. Augustine and County police officers, instituting a diversity policy and sensitivity training;
e. Raise faculty salaries to levels competitive with UF and FSU;
f. Grant eligibility for tenure to Flagler College faculty members (something that professors at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York have but which Dr. William L. Proctor disdains for “his” faculty members, who typically get only one-year or two-year teaching contracts, contributing to a spirit of fear and reprisal on the Flagler College campus;
g. Announce plans to seek American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation for a new law school;
h. All of the above.
12. The first civil rights lawsuit brought against a local government agency or corporation in St. Johns County during 2012 will be:
a. By EEOC, an employment discrimination lawsuit against St. Johns County School Board;
b. By the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, against racially segregated nursing homes receiving government funds;
c. By HUD Office of Civil Rights for blatantly racially-segregated real estate offices and advertisements showing only white homeowners;
d. By persons with disabilities, filing a civil rights lawsuit against City of St. Augustine and the State of Florida, for failing to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act with proper disability access (city streets and parking);
e. By civil rights groups, filing a civil rights lawsuit against State of Florida, University of Florida and the City of St. Augustine, for leasing St. George Street properties to businesses that include discriminatory employers that refuse to employ African-Americans, see Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715 (1961);
13. The first successful environmental crime prosecution (or guilty pleas) in 2012 will be:
a. BP, Transocean and Halliburton for the Deepwater Horizon explosion, eleven worker deaths and resulting, Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster;
b. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD for wetland-filling;
c. For covering up developers' willful destruction of wetlands, officials of the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP, a/k/a “Don’t Expect Protection” in the words of the late Native American environmental activist David Thundershield Queen)
d. A nonagenarian peace activist for allegedly spitting on the sidewalk;
e. An insouciant, inconsiderate tourist for dumping an ashtray full of cigarette butts from his gas-guzzling SUV onto the floor of the City's White Elephant Parking Garage;
f. An overweight, sweaty, tourist for taking his shirt off in front of the Castillo and causing visual and air pollution.
14. Worst local government scandal:
a. Developer influence from the Courthouse to Tallahassee to the White House;
b. School Board for its since-rescinded vote to dilute minority voting strength in District 2;
c. Low voter turnout and apathy;
d. Lack of adequate local daily newspaper space given to serious investigative coverage of government/politics;
e. Lackadaisical television news coverage of local St. Johns County news;
f. "Just us folks" for empowering all of the above and letting ourselves be taken advantage of decade after decade, deal after deal, election after election;
g. All of the above.
15. Best new invention:
a. iPhone app to help us to follow government actions;
b. Better ways to get young people to register and vote in large numbers;
c. Creative ways to make BP and other one-percenters pay for their crimes;
d. Ways to persuade polluters stop dead in their tracks before they do it again;
e. All of the above.
16. Controversial Flagler College Chancellor and soon-to-be-ex State Representative William L. Proctor (R-20th) will:
a. Wear a Speedo® bathing suit in the William L. Proctor Library, violating the rules;
b. Fail to persuade his Florida Legislature colleagues to enact legislation giving his “special” friend’s educational institution eminent domain and exemptions from City of St. Augustine zoning (Florida School for the Deaf and Blind)(Are some things are just too stinky, even for Florida legislators?);
c. Retire as Flagler College Chancellor, resulting in a spontaneous three-day celebration;
d. Publish his long-anticipated memoirs;
e. Endorse Michelle Bachman or Rick Santorum for President in the Florida Republican Primary;
f. All of the above.
17. Buskers (street artists and musicians) will be respected and no longer arrested for painting and playing music by our City of St. Augustine, effective:
a. January 30, 2012
b. March 30, 2012
c. June 30, 2012
d. October 30, 2012
18. The St. Johns River Water Management District will:
a. Fire more ethical environmental scientists for doing their jobs too well;
b. Fail to inform laid-off SJRWMD employees of their right to file environmental whistleblower cases;
c. Be merged into a large organization;
d. Cause another environmental disaster (its Lake Apopka Bird Kill Scandal, which resulted in a federal environmental crimes investigation and Grand Jury investigation over SJRWMD’s inundating thousands of acres of pesticide-contaminated land, killing more than 1000 endangered birds who died horrible painful deaths);
e. Show arrogance on Open Records and Sunshine laws, emboldened by the Fifth District Court of Appeals’ recent finding of no Sunshine violation (refusing to let Stetson Kennedy speak in opposition to plans to export our St. Johns River water to Orlando);
f. All of the above.
19. The Whetstone-Maguire family will:
a. Continue to look down their distended nostrils at the rest of the world, acting like the very self-righteous Republican lords of all they survey, regarding the government of our City of St. Augustine as a mere “adjunct to its affairs,” in FDR’s words about “malefactors of great wealth” during the 1930s;
b. Lose its overbearing demand to build an enormous dock across city-owned bayfront and bottomlands (on which it has reportedly never paid taxes);
c. Run at least one of its family members (Bruce Maguire or spouse Virginia Whetstone) for public office, losing yet again;
d. Wake up on New Year’s Day with a new attitude, treating their fellow citizens with warmth and respect, like Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol;
e. Sell its real estate interests to foreign investors, moving to Tibet or the Grand Caymans;
f. None of the above.
20. The Ku Klux Klan will:
a. Continue to support Republican and Tea Party candidates;
b. Design new uniforms to complement their members’ girlish figures (see photo illustration, below);
c. Denounce political corruption in Florida and call for indictments;
d. Reveal the long-suspected truth about President Warren Gamaliel Harding’s KKK membership and ethnic heritage;
e. None of the above.
21. The Ku Klux Klan, local hate websites, the Republican Party, and the two warring St. Augustine Tea Party factions will:
a. Merge and hold a hate-in;
d. Publicly announce a slate of candidates for County Commissioners;
e. Never elect another St. Augustine City Commissioner;
f. Embrace non-violence and Christian charity.
g. None of the above.
22. The Florida National Guard will:
a. Not have a single service member die in Iraq this year;
b. Find ways of saving money in its budget;
c. Comply with EEO laws;
d. Hold a bake sale to raise money;
e. Never seek Pentagon approval for a wasteful “flyover” by Stealth aircraft for a General’s retirement ceremony, ever again.
f. None of the above.
23. Two feuding St. Augustine Beach City Commissioners will:
a. Reconcile and figure a way to work for the betterment of their beach community;
b. Sue each other;
c. Spread Lashon hora about each other;
d. Mud wrestle after a Commission meeting;
e. Continue to feud for personal reasons;
f. None of the above.
24. The St. Augustine Record will:
a. Be purchased by the New York Times;
b. Be sold by Morris Communications to a non-profit group for a song;
c. Be merged with the Florida Times-Union;
d. Not endorse Barack Obama’s re-election;
e. Continue to muddle along, with indifferent funding and lax leadership by the Morris family, as it continues to lose readers and lose respect in our community, failing to cover the real news, with declining budgets and staffing;
f. None of the above.
25. The St. Johns River will:
a. Be privatized on orders of the Koch Brothers (owners of dioxin-emitting Georgia-Pacific plant in Palatka), implementing St. Augustine Tea Party’s ukase that our river is “private property”;
b. Continue to suffer from algal blooms and water pollution, without prosecution by EPA or DEP (“Don’t expect protection”);
c. Overflow its banks in a torrential storm, inundating the residences of people who built homes too close to its edge;
d. Be the subject of public outrage, as the Koch Brothers’ pollution pipeline scheme for Georgia-Pacific’s Palatka toilet paper plant becomes notorious from the courthouse to the White House, and fodder for late night TV comics;
e. None of the above.
My predictions (for whatever they're worth): 1(a,c); 2(a); 3 (d); 4(a,b,c,d); 5(c,d); 6(a,b,c); 7(f); 8 (c); 9(f,g); 10(c,f); 11(g); 12(d); 13(a); 14(g); 15(b,c,d); 16(b); 17(c); 18(a,b,d,e); 19(a,b); 20(a); 21(c,e); 22(a,e); 23(a); 24(d,e); 25(b,d). What do you reckon?
Happy New Year!
Will the KKK design new uniforms to complement their members’ girlish figures? (See question 20, above).
FBI San Juan December 30, 2011
Special Agent Harry Rodriguez (787) 759-1550
SAN JUAN, PR—FBI Special Agent Daniel Knapp, assigned to the San Juan Field Office, accidentally drowned on December 29, 2011, at Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach) in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, while rescuing a young adult swimmer.
Special Agent Knapp was approached for assistance by friends of the struggling swimmer and without hesitation swam out to assist. Special Agent Knapp reached the struggling swimmer and was able to provide assistance. The swimmer was rescued by the Police of Puerto Rico-Maritime Unit; however, it appears Special Agent Knapp was overcome by the severe nautical weather conditions.
“Special Agent Knapp exemplified each of the ideals of the FBI, as well as possessing those traits which define a genuine wonderful person. He died a hero, saving another life. We will miss him greatly,” said Joseph S. Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “The FBI family mourns alongside Agent Knapp’s family. We ask the media and the public to respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”
Special Agent Knapp was 43 years old and served the FBI for six years. He entered on duty with the FBI in April 2005 and, upon completing new agent training, was assigned to the FBI San Juan Field Office. Special Agent Knapp was a recipient of the 2011 FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Criminal Investigation and the 2011 Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement. He is survived by his parents and four brothers.
It's generally a bad idea to say something can't or won't be done, especially in the realm of science and technology. The following are quotations that have failed to stand up to the test of time:
- "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
- "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, 1949
- "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." -- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.
- "But what...is it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
- "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
- "640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Attributed to Bill Gates, 1981, but believed to be an urban legend.
- "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western Union internal memo, 1876.
- "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.
- "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
- "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." -- Lee DeForest, inventor.
- "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible." -- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
- "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" -- H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
- "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." -- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With the Wind."
- "A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
- "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
- "Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.
- "So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" -- Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.
- "If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." -- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.
- "It will be years -- not in my time -- before a woman will become Prime Minister." -- Margaret Thatcher, 1974.
- "I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone." -- Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1869.
- "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market." -- Business Week, August 2, 1968.
- "That Professor Goddard with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." -- 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work. The remark was retracted in the July 17, 1969 issue.
- "You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." -- Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.
- "Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality." -- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.
- "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." -- Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
- "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." -- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
- "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." -- Albert Einstein, 1932.
- "The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
- "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
- "There will never be a bigger plane built." -- A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.
- "Everything that can be invented has been invented." -- Attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899, but known to be an urban legend.
- "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
- "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." -- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.
St. Petersburg Times: State Attorney General Pamela Bondi Blasts $11,000 Bil for Records to State Senator on Pension Investments
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi calls nearly $11,000 bill for public records 'indefensible'
Attorney General Pam Bondi criticizes Ash Williams' $10,750 records request invoice.
TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday at a meeting of the Florida Cabinet that it was "indefensible" for state Sen. Mike Fasano to receive a nearly $11,000 invoice after he requested records regarding Florida pension fund investments.
But the agency that calculated the estimate tried to defend it, anyway.
"The cost here, frankly, I think is way too much of the focus," Ash Williams, director of the State Board of Administration, told Bondi.
Williams told Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Cabinet, including Bondi, the request was unique because it was initially made by the St. Petersburg Times.
That request, related to a $125 million investment, was declined. Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who has been in the Legislature since 1994, then asked for the records on behalf of the Times. Because of his standing as a lawmaker, Fasano can view state documents shielded from the public.
But Williams said he still had confidentiality concerns.
"We have to have an absolute assurance that the law will be followed by anyone to whom we make available documents," Williams told the Cabinet. "Anyone. Including members of the Legislature."
Fasano said he was disappointed the SBA trustees - Scott, Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater - did not order Williams to release the records. An SBA spokesman said the trustees knew about the invoice before Williams sent it.
"The $10,000 invoice that he wants me to pay is a perfect example of how he circumvents doing what he should be doing, which is being transparent and being open to a state senator and the people he represents," Fasano said of Williams.
Fasano said Williams "continues to change his story as to why he cannot divulge this information."
"First he tells me it's going to cost $10,000 to cull all this information that should be at his fingertips," Fasano said. "Today he talks about confidentiality."
Of Williams' suggestion that he would show lawmakers the documents if they signed confidentiality orders, Fasano said he would oppose that.
"That would be ridiculous,'' Fasano said, adding that all of the information should be made public. "I have a responsibility to disclose anything.''
Other members of the Legislature have their own questions about transparency at the SBA.
Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, said he had trouble getting answers about a New York City real estate deal in which the SBA lost $266 million.
"There's been enough bad investments made and enough taxpayers' money lost it seems that whenever the Legislature wants to take a deeper look, we get the bucket of cold water thrown at us," Kreegel said. "Repeatedly, shady-appearing deals have lost hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money through what they term alternative investments."
Kreegel said he's discussing legislation with Fasano to prevent this type of nontransparency.
Fasano also has asked Senate President Mike Haridopolos to subpoena the SBA records he is seeking. Haridopolos is reviewing the request, his spokeswoman said.
At issue is the SBA's decision to invest up to $125 million of public pension money in a hedge fund called Starboard Value and Opportunity, a spinoff of Ramius LLC. Williams signed off on the investment in early 2010 after exchanging e-mails with Ramius' president, Thomas Strauss. Strauss was a client at Fir Tree Partners, a hedge fund where Williams was a managing director before taking over the SBA in October 2008.
Williams said the firm was under consideration when he arrived at the SBA and won the deal on merit. But Fasano asked for documentation to show how the decision was made.
In front of the Cabinet on Tuesday, Williams said the SBA has worked to put many documents on its website. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was the first to ask directly about Fasano's request.
Putnam questioned what harm would come from releasing the documents to the public. Williams said a breach of confidentiality could "create liability and could result in economic loss, potentially material economic loss to our beneficiaries."
Atwater suggested letting Fasano inspect the records inside an SBA meeting room.
But Bondi was the most forceful, saying Williams should have detailed what could cost his agency five figures instead of giving Fasano an invoice for $10,750.13 and 380 hours.
"I've lost sleep over this bill. It's indefensible the way it's written," Bondi said. "I can't comprehend how it is going to take 7½ weeks for one employee to review these documents."
Williams said he hoped to work with Republican leaders in the House and Senate over the issue.
"It would be my hope that we could address this issue with no cost and no delay," Williams said.
Michael C. Bender can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelCBender.