I have asked Mayor Shaver and City Commissioners to reform Board member selection procedures, on an urgent basis.
Note: Mr. CRONK had a GC license, but it expired five years ago.
Sent: Sun, Oct 11, 2015 12:10 pm
Subject: Re: Request No. 391: Reforms for Selecting HARB and PZB Board Members: Please Place on 10/12, 10/26 and 11/9 Agendas of St. Augustine City Commission
Dear Mayor Shaver and Commissioners, et al.:
1. Mr. Joseph Cronk called me at 10:51 AM today, and he asked me to re-emphasize to you that he did have a GC license at one time (it expired five years ago), and that he stated that he did not intend to mislead anyone. Mr. Cronk again stated that he is resigning from HARB, but that he would resubmit an application IF our HARB process is reformed. Mr. Cronk strongly agrees with me on the urgent need for reforming our HARB selection and decision-making process.
2. Specifically, Mr. Cronk and I discussed an enlarged board (perhaps nine HARB members) and the requirement of a HARB supermajority of 80% for demolitions.
3. Let me also suggest that our Board reform ordinance require that no HARB or PZB Chair or Vice Chair ever again represent applicants -- it is unseemly for the Chair or Vice Chair of a Board to represent applicants before their own Board. Messrs. LEN WEEKS and PAUL WEAVER, in particular, have abused their service as HARB officers to make money, appearing before their HARB colleagues on demolitions of our historic buildings. This musical-chairs decisionmaker-lobbyist demolition-derby procedure by HARB Chairs and Vice Chairs uniquely stinks, in a way that makes St. Augustine look corrupt -- very corrupt. As the United Supreme Court held in United States v. Mississippi Valley Generating Company (the "Dixon-Yates" case), 364 U.S. 520 (1960) all conflict of interest laws are based upon Matthew ("A person cannot serve two masters"), particularly when one is that person's own personal profit. You can discuss whether or not individual board members should ever be permitted to represent applicants (and why), but any future representation of any applicants by HARB Chairs and Vice Chairs should be forbidden as a matter of wisdom, experience, decency, common sense and simple fairness. Who among us can possible ehave any confidence in an historic demolition decision made after a presentation for an applicant represented by the Board's Chair or Vice Chair? It looks like too much like "case-fixing" and it violates basic administrative law principles requiring independent decision-makers.
4. I request that our City Commission kindly require that all HARB and PZB members file detailed financial disclosures, including client lists. City Attorneys RONALD WAYNE BROWN and ISABELLE LOPEZ have inaccurately claimed, 2014-2015, that there is no legal requirement for any HARB financial disclosure, while oddly refusing my request for a written opinion from the Florida Ethics Commission, whose General Counsel has assured me that there is no such thing as a non-written or verbal opinion. Our City government is very weak on conflict of interest regulation, and it shows in bad decisions, again and again. Enough. There is no principled reason why HARB members (but not PZB members) are treated as exempt from disclosure requirements, whether under F.S. 112.3145(2)(d) or local ordinance
5. Finally, I suggest that in the future HARB should include recognized expert members from beyond our area, people who will never represent applicants, including academic and National Park Service experts.
6. Such reforms would eliminate the possibility of more embarrassments (e.g,, 2-1 Carpenter's House demolition vote, with 40% of HARB members working for the applicant, DAVID BARTON CORNEAL, who bullied and pressured his way into approval of the Carpenter's House demolition and of his DOW PUD/CORDOVA INN).
7. Please call me to discuss the urgent need for reforms of HARB and PZB. The whole world is watching.
Thank you for all that you do.
Sent: Sun, Oct 11, 2015 10:37 am
Subject: Request No. 391: Reforms for Selecting City Board Members: Please Place on 10/12, 10/26 and 11/9 Agendas of St. Augustine City Commission
Dear Mayor Shaver, Vice Mayor Horvath and Commissioners Freeman, Sikes-Kline and Neville, et al:
1. HARB member JOSEPH STEPHEN CRONK is resigning: he called me shortly before 11 PM on October 9th and he advised me that his resignation will take effect before the next HARB meeting (October 15th). Mr. CRONK stated that HARB will thus lack a quorum to do any business this month because two (2) other members plan to be absent. Please see my 10/9 e-mail to Mr. CRONK on his lack of a current Certified General Contractor's license (as was asserted in his application).
2. Please send me your thoughts and our staff's proposals for reforming HARB, PZB and other City Board selection processes instanter, including:
A. Requiring sworn notarized applications (as for other City positions),
B. Checking and verifying curriculum vitae and facts asserted on applications,
C. Assuring that all qualified applicants are presented to Commissioners, and
D. Requiring that no staffer's or other influential person's judgment is ever again allowed to exclude City residents from consideration.
3. Will you please place "Reforms for Selecting City Board Members" as the first substantive item on the agenda for our October 12, 2015 meeting and kindly advertise and schedule it for a first and second public hearing on an amendatory ordinance at our regular meetings on October 26, 2015 and November 9, 2015?
4. As Thomas Jefferson said, "a public office is a public trust."
5. Staff's mishandling of the application of Ms. Melinda Rakoncay and sequelae are a stench in the nostrils of our Nation's Oldest City.
6. Mayor Shaver, will you please ask City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. et al. to testify under oath about their actions on HARB selections and appointments?
7. Thank you all for your urgent, prompt, personal attention to these matters.
Please call me to discuss.
Sent: Fri, Oct 9, 2015 8:06 pm
Subject: HARB member JOSEPH STEPHEN CRONK's "NULL AND VOID" General Contractor's license CGC060146 expired in 2010 -- Request No. 2015-339
Dear Mr. Cronk, et al.:
1. You stated that your answers to every single one of questions on the HARB application were "true to the best of your knowledge." You stated in response to item 9 on the City's HARB application (on November 21, 2014, updated June 29, 2015) that you were a "CERTIFIED GENERAL CONTRACTOR." (Your block-printed capital letters.) You stated on a later page that this license was "NON-ACTIVE." See http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/your_government/documents/CCagendabkup3-07.27.15_000.pdf
2. In fact, your Florida General Contractor's license CGC060146 expired more than five (5) years ago and is "NULL AND VOID." (See below). There is no such category as "NON-ACTIVE" listed on the DBPR webpage.
3. It appears you misled our St. Augustine Commissioners that you were a "CERTIFIED GENERAL CONTRACTOR." Your Response to question 9. This was a material breach of your "AGREEMENT" in item 12 to give truthful answers, and this false statement resulted in your appointment to HARB by our City Commissioners.
4. Will you please consider resigning as St. Augustine HARB member before the October 15, 2015 meeting due to:
A. your misleading statement that you are a "CERTIFIED GENERAL CONTRACTOR" when your license expired more than five (5) years ago?
B. your lack of any current license in any of the fields covered by the HARB ordinance?
C. your lack of City residency and the lack of any City Commission vote that you were "uniquely qualified?" City Code 28-83.
D. the appearance of impropriety in your illegal, ultra vires appointment (City staff wrongly disqualified a qualified resident applicant, Melinda Rakoncay)?;
E. your seemingly "selling your wares" as a HARB member at your first opportunity to represent a client before HARB -- a project you told me that you have been working on for 1.5 years?
F. your gross insensitivity to questions and criticism demonstrated in your angry, hostile telephone call to me at 4:52 PM? http://cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com/2015/10/harbs-joseph-cronk-please-resign.html
5. If DBPR's website information is inaccurate re: the status of CGC060146, please advise me and provide me with documentation by 10 AM tomorrow, 10/10/15. (Request No. 2015-339).
6. Otherwise, your material false misstatement in response to HARB application item 9 that you are a "CERTIFIED GENERAL CONTRACTOR" was made in violation of and material breach of your "AGREEMENT" in response to question 12 that all of your answers were "true to the best of your knowledge."
7. Hence, your false statement in response to question 9 subjects you to removal for cause.
8. It may also violate one or more Florida or federal criminal laws.
9. I shall empirically assume that DBPR data about your long-expired license CGC060146 is correct if you do not call or write me by 10 AM, tomorrow October 10, 2015. (see below).
Name: CRONK, JOSEPH STEPHEN (Primary Name)
CRONK DUCH & MILLER INC (DBA Name)
Main Address: 9822 TAPESTRY PARK CIRCLE
JACKSONVILLE Florida 32246
LicenseLocation: 9822 TAPESTRY PARK CIRCLE
JACKSONVILLE FL 32246
License Type: Certified General Contractor
Rank: Cert General
License Number: CGC060146
Status: Null and Void
Licensure Date: 10/07/1998
Special Qualifications Qualification Effective
Construction Business 02/20/2004
Sent: Fri, Oct 9, 2015 4:38 pm
Subject: Request No. 2015-388: JOSEPH CRONK Ethics issue -- Membership on St. Augustine HARB; Date of hiring for Santa Maria restaurant work
Dear Mr. Cronk, et al.:
1. Do I understand correctly that:
A. you are a nonresident of St. Augustine; and
B. one of your first official acts as a new St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) member was to recuse yourself (you are asking your new colleagues permission to demolish a 100+ year old building, the Santa Maria Restaurant)?
2. On what date were you first approached or hired to work on the Santa Maria restaurant project? Please provide documents.
3. What ethics training (if any) has the City of St. Augustine provided you? Please provide documents.
4. Will you please consider resigning as St. Augustine HARB member due to:
A. the appearance of impropriety in your illegal, ultra vires appointment (City staff wrongly disqualified a qualified city applicant, Melinda Rakoncay); and
B. your seemingly "selling your wares" as a HARB member at your first opportunity?
With kindest regards, I am,