Friday, June 13, 2014

History lesson for St. Augustine, Florida Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR.

Photo credit: United States Senate Historical Society

In 1976, WILLIAM E. BROCK, III, Republican United States Senator from Tennessee and ardent defender of Richard Milhous Nixon, was defeated for re-election by a young Democratic lawyer named James Ralph Sasser from Nashville. BROCK was the wealthy grandson of another U.S. Senator and the wealthy heir to a candy manufacturing fortune, a/k/a, "The Candy Man from Lookout Mountain." Like St. Augustine Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and former Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR., BROCK had a sense of entitlement, as reflected in the button above.

Jim Sasser won, against all of the odds the same day Jimmy Carter was elected President. At ages 19 and 20, I was honored to work for Senator Sasser during 1977, commencing on the day he was sworn in as Senator. He was the third U.S. Senator that I worked for during undergraduate school. (I started with Senator Ted Kennedy for two years and then with Senator Gary Warren Hart).

Senator Jim Sasser's epic election over WILLIAM E. BROCK, III and BROCK's sense of rich-guy entitlement has lessons for us all. Hubris (the pride that goeth before a fall) is very much a part of the governing style in the City of St. Augustine, from two City Halls to the County Administration Building to the Sheriff's Department.

Senator Jim Sasser's electoral defeat of WILLIAM E. BROCK, III has lessons for us here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, where there has not been a contested Mayor's race since 2008 , and where there has not been a contested Sheriff's race since 2004.

Our incumbents, including Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, are almost regal in their hubris. They think they own their offices. They think we should all pay them tribute.

So St. Augustine Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and ex-Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS have a sweetheart lease contract with the City of St. Augustine where they pay $1331.21/month in rent for 2500 square feet of commercial space that includes the Florida Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets. Who else among us has such a sweet deal?

Observation: City of St. Augustine, Florida, Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and former Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. need to sit down with their accountants and lawyers and political consultants.

The privileged pair need to revise upward their expectations from their $1331.21/month lease for the Florida Cracker Cafe, and during the next 42 days prepare to propose a revision in their all-too-favorable lease terms with the City of St. Augustine.

Otherwise, don't be surprised to find citizens, including small businessmen, throughout they City of St. Augustine expressing similar sentiments, with similar buttons and bumper stickers, about their lease payments. They should not be surprised if people surround them with pitchforks, wanting answers. They might ask, "Why is my bar, restaurant or other retail and commercial rent higher than BOLES' and WEEKS?"

Who among us could disagree that $1331.21 is a sweet deal for the monthly rent for 81 St. George Street? Who among us doubts that this sweet deal exists because lawyer BOLES and contractor WEEKS are well-connected with the City of St. Augustine City government? As in George Orwell's Animal Farm, it seems that "some critters are more equal than others."

Don't be surprised if our City of St. Augustine Commissioners just refuse to talk about BOLES' and WEEKS' lease, as they did on Monday, June 9, 2014. Not a peep from these peeps. Wonder why?

Fear of BOLES? "Be not afraid." It's in the Bible at least 50 times, and it is the first sentence that Pope John Paul II said as Pope. He's now a Saint. "Be not afraid" of asking Messrs BOLES and WEEKS to discuss their lease payments.

They work for us. BOLES is Mayor. WEEKS is HARB Chair and a member of the City Visioning Committee (and served on the City of St. Augustine Beach Charter Review Committee 2013-14, alongside City of St. Augustine City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN, who also must be questioned about the self-serving lease terms).

People are already talking about the 81 St. George Street lease deal. They should talk about it.
It is a stench in the nostrils of our City.

Don't be surprised to wake up on August 27, 2014 or November 5, 2014 to find we have a new Mayor.

What do y'all reckon?

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