Sent: Mon, Sep 28, 2015 10:16 am
Subject: Tonight's budget meetings: "A budget is a moral document."
Dear Mayors Shaver and Samuels and Commissioners:
A. Tonight, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach have both rescheduled final budget meetings for the same time, just after 5 PM tonight. Why? This schedule conflict prevents people from speaking in both cities on our budgets for our governments. Likewise, your prior September 10, 2015 budget meetings were both set for the same evening, ab initio. As the Eighth Circuit said in United States v. City of Black Jack, 467 F.2d 1208, 1211 (8th Cir. 1974), the law looks at "effects and not intent because clever people may easily hide their motivations." Simultaneous meetings: please don 't do it. again.
B. My late mentor, Stetson Kennedy's widow, Sandra Parks former City Commissioner says, "A budget is a moral document." Joseph R. Biden, Sr., father of the Vice President, told him, "Show me your budget, and I will tell you what your priorities are." During the wars in Indochina, our United States Congress cut off funding for an illegal war in Cambodia in 1971, and for all wars in Indochina in 1973. The wars in Indochina ended. Our troops came home. Our federal budget became a moral document, thanks to Senators John Sherman Cooper (R-Kentucky) and Frank Church (D-Idaho), George McGovern (D-S.D.)(our late former neighbor), et al. and the "Cooper-Church Amendment."
C. Inspired by the Cooper-Church Amendment, I hereby respectfully propose that both local cities enact the following as budget riders:
1. No more foreign trips at taxpayer expense.
2. No more government contracts without competitive bidding.
3. No more hiring of "temporary" workers for jobs without benefits.
4. Living wage of $15/hour for all city, city contractor and city franchisee employees.
5. Full forensic/compliance audits of all contracts and franchises, including FPL, tour trains and 450th contracts.
6. Disclosure of all contracts and disbursements/checks on website. Full transparency.
7. Equal pay for equal work -- end endemic hiring and pay discrimination against women and minorities.
8. Evaluations for all employees, especially City Attorney and City Manager.
9. Full financial disclosures for all board members, including HARB. No exceptions.
10. No evasions or delays or fee grabbing on our Open Records requests.
11. No First Amendment violations or illegal surveillance
12. Full disclosure of LLC "beneficial ownership" as condition precedent for any zoning or planning permit or PUD.
13. Local ethics Commission to enforce strong local ethics and disclosure requirements.
14. Whistleblower protection ordinance, Inspector General and Ombudsman to protect the people.
15. No more illegal out-of-town Commission meetings, e.g., with St. Johns County Commission at remote airport location.
What's next? How many more Commissioners will we elect before our budgets will become "moral documents?"
How many Commissioners ever pay attention during public comment? (Please respond to this e-mail if you do and tell me what you've learned from it.)
Thank you for all that you do, Mayors, Vice Mayors and Commissioners.
With kindest regards, I am,