Friday, August 07, 2015

Vapid No-Bid Lease Article in St. Augustine Record: Even New Reporters Trained to Show Fawning Obeisance for Government Corruption? Pitiful

Beach approves 5-year lease for civic association
Posted: August 6, 2015 - 11:15pm
Posted: August 6, 2015 - 11:15pm

The St. Augustine Beach commission voted Monday, August 3, 2015 to grant the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association a five-year lease on this building on the south side of Pier Park in their city.   PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM
The St. Augustine Beach commission voted Monday, August 3, 2015 to grant the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association a five-year lease on this building on the south side of Pier Park in their city. 
After almost three hours of deliberation by the St. Augustine Beach commission Monday night, the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association was granted a five-year lease on the former police garage on the south side of Pier Park.
But the decision did not come quickly or without opposition, and the commission heard a number of public comments on the issue.
Those in opposition of the renewal said the lease didn’t allow for other nonprofit groups to rent the space.
“You’re taking an asset that belongs to the taxpayers of the community and giving it to an organization without considering the possibility of anyone else using it,” said beach resident Robert Kahler. “It’s not competitive; give everyone a shot.”
But those in favor said the civic association’s involvement in the community makes the beach a better place to live.
“It’s the people of St. Augustine Beach that (sic) make this community the best in the world, and the civic association is the hub of the wheel that publicizes the beach to the world,” said resident Phil King.
Eventually, the commission voted 3-1 for the renewal of the lease.
St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels recused herself from the vote for “consistency’s sake,” saying she recused herself from the vote in July, and was compelled to do it again.
Samuels’ husband is on the civic association board and she once served as secretary.
The $1-per-year lease agreement was on the consent agenda in July, but it was met with what Samuels described as a “shocking level of contention.”
During that meeting, Commissioner Undine George said the records of the civic association should be inspected and the space be open to bids from all nonprofit groups.
The public also voiced concerns, saying they were restricted to “free speech zones” during events hosted by the civic association.
The civic association is in charge of putting on events like the Wednesday Market, Music by the Sea Concert Series, Taste of the Beach and Surf Illumination.
The free speech zones, which were designated by signs, were an effort by the county to ensure sufficient space for those who want to assemble and demonstrate. The signs were taken down after unanimous vote by the county commission Tuesday.
At the end of the July debate, commissioners voted to extend the lease for six months while the commission examined the terms of the lease.
But the lease was brought before the commission again at the request of Commissioner Gary Snodgrass.
“The civic association needs to move forward with budget plans and made the necessary changes,” he said.
He also said the civic association should have the five-year lease because the two requests made by the commission on the subject during the July meeting were completed.
“We asked the civic association to make repairs to the building to comply with the lease agreement and we gave the city attorney opportunity to draft the agreement,” Snodgrass said. “Those have been achieved.”
George was the only dissenting vote Monday night.
During the discussion, she voiced a number of concerns regarding the lease.
One was that the lease did not address the financial reporting of charitable funds, which is required by state statutes.
“I have not seen where those statutes are being adhered to, and we’re here to ensure that we do not fall under scrutiny for doing business as usual,” she said.
The hours of debate was (sic) an investment for the community, said Vice Mayor Rich O’Brien.
“The important thing is the quality of life the civic association contributes to us every week, every month and every year,” he said. “TripAdvisor voted us the No. 9 best beach, but they weren’t talking about just the sand and water; they were talking about the people itself.”
The commission and the civic association have a history of disagreement.
“I thought the six months would give us some breathing room. We need to stop arguments with civic association because it does good work,” said Commissioner Margaret England. “Every time [discussion about the lease] comes up, there’s animosity.”
Bill Jones, president of the civic association, agreed.
When addressing the commission, he showed a petition signed by people who wanted to see the lease renewed.
The petition had 746 signatures.
“This keeps coming up, and it’s time to get by this,” he said. “If you want to dislike me fine, but don’t put the community and its good image at risk because of your personal feelings toward me.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr.Jones, you are the President of the Sabca.
Your Bad acts mirror the board and members values.
Please...for the good of our beach...Resign