Thursday, December 11, 2014
Disorganized 450th: My Letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission
Dear Secretary Jewell:
StAugustGreen was delighted to provide our written testimony (attached) in support of your nomination as Secretary of the Interior last year.
Our City of St. Augustine's 450th birthday year begins in only 20 days. Local and federal efforts to prepare for it are disorganized, at best, partly the result of a lack of any Congressional appropriations for the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission, appointed by Secretary Salazar.
On April 14, 2011, Secretary Salazar appointed very qualified members to the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission, partly in response to StAugustGreen's July 15, 2009 letter to the Secretary, opposing proposed Federal Advisory Committee Act violations, which were sought by our then-Mayor and City Manager of St. Augustine, who requested appointment of "affluent and influential" members. StAugustGreen urgently requested what FACA requires -- a "fairly balanced" advisory committee -- which Secretary Salazar then appointed. It includes qualified experts on civil rights, national parks and Florida history, including former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, former Senator Bob Graham and is chaired by an ardent National Parks supporter, Jay Kislak.
As we stated in our Senate written testimony on your nomination to be Secretary of the Interior, StAugustGreen looks forward to enactment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act (see second attachment, "St. Augustine History Is A National Treasure," and our website, www.staugustgreen.com).
StAugustGreen has five easy requests today:
1. Please expedite the appointment of our new reform Mayor of St. Augustine, Nancy E. Shaver, to the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission.
2. Please ignore any requests to retain ex-Mayor Joseph Lester Boles, Jr. on the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission. Retaining the ex-mayor would be counterproductive and would not promote healing. In fact, it might be disruptive, in light of his past actions in profiting from government service, including $2-3 million in profits from a 35-year no-bid City of St. Augustine commercial lease of 81 St. George Street at 1/5 to 1/10 of market rates (Florida Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets). http://folioweekly.com/THE-BLOGGER-THE-LEASE-AND-THE-ST-AUGUSTINE-MAYORS-RACE,10719
3. Please appoint a Native American to the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission; that seat still remains vacant after more than 3.5 years.
4. Please direct the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission to comply with Federal Advisory Committee Act Sunshine requirements and stop holding meetings out of the Sunshine, which it has done based on the Solicitor's erroneous legal advice that it was an "operating committee." It is not "operating" anything.
5. Please ask the Federal St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission for its wisdom and guidance on the draft proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore legislation. http://www.staugustgreen.com/draft-legislation.html
America's newest National Park and Seashore for our Nation's Oldest City is a suitable legacy for our 450th anniversary. Who among us would disagree?
Please ask your staff to call me for further discussion.
With kindest regards, I am,
St. Augustine, Florida 32085