Monday, November 30, 2015

HARB Must File Financial Disclosures: Historic Architectural Review Board Evading Disclosures For 51 Years

As expected when I raised the issue last year, the Florida Ethics Commission has ruled that members of St. Augustine's Historic Architectural Review Board must file financial disclosure statements.
Every single City official ducked and covered when I raised the issue last year.
RONALD WAYNE BROWN, our then-City Attorney, asked his understudy to seek "some protection" from the State Ethics Commission, which issues no oral opinions.
Finally, on request of HARB, our current City Attorney, Isabelle Lopez, requested a written opinion, which agrees with me -- disclosure is required.
HARB members must now file financial disclosures.
Will some of the more deeply conflicted members working for developers (like PAUL M. WEAVER, III) resign in protest?
Will disclosures be required nunc pro tunc of former members (like ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS) who often represented clients before HARB? Will complaints be filed against WEEKS and cronies?
The Ethics Commission decision states as follows:
CEO 15-10—October 28, 2015
To: Isabelle Lopez, City Attorney (St. Augustine)
A member of a particular historic architectural review board that possesses certain powers and functions is a “local officer” subject to the financial disclosure requirements of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. Referenced are CEOs 11-1, 85-64, 81-16.1
Is a member of an historic architectural review board a “local officer” required to file financial disclosure, pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
You ask whether a member of the City’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) is a “local officer” required to file financial disclosure. Further, you relate that HARB members currently are not listed by the applicable local financial disclosure coordinator as persons who are subject to the financial disclosure requirements.
According to the City’s Municipal Code, Sections 28-81 to 28-91, and the Architectural Guidelines for Historic Preservation, prepared in 2011 by the City’s Planning and Building Division, HARB has five members who are appointed by the City Commission, to three-year terms. HARB is not the designated local planning agency pursuant to Section 163.3174, Florida Statutes, and does not have control over land use or the interior of buildings, but regulates the exterior architectural elements of buildings and sites.
The Code of Ethics provision relevant to your inquiry is Section 112.3145(1)(a)2.d, Florida Statutes,2 which defines “local officer” to mean:
2. Any appointed member of any of the following boards, councils, commissions, authorities, or other bodies of any county, municipality, school district, independent special district, or other political subdivision of the state:
d. A planning or zoning board, board of adjustment, board of appeals, community redevelopment agency board, or other board having the power to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning within the political subdivision, except for citizen advisory committees, technical coordinating committees, and such other groups who only have the power to make recommendations to planning or zoning boards;
Section 112.3145(1)(a)2.d requires financial disclosure (CE Form 1) for members of boards that have power to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning, but exempts members of collegial bodies that merely advise certain other boards.
The answer to your inquiry depends on whether HARB has the power to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning within the City, or whether it is a body with only the power to make recommendations to planning or zoning boards. The Commission has long looked to the powers and duties of a board to determine if its members were “local officers” subject to financial disclosure. For example, members of a task force with authority to review zoning, landscaping, and sign codes were not “local officers” within the meaning of the statute, because the advisory body had no authority over permitting or planning. CEO 86-3. Similarly, panels that included technical experts studying well fields, and citizens studying beach erosion, were deemed advisory boards, because members had the power to collect data and make policy recommendations to decision makers, but did not exercise authority over land use, zoning or natural resources. CEO 85-64, CEO 81-16.
After a change in the law,3 the Commission opined that persons serving on an advisory committee, which made land use and zoning recommendations to a city community redevelopment agency, were no longer required to file financial disclosure. CEO 00-19. Similarly, persons serving on community panels assembled to advise a county on its land use plan, which could only be adopted or modified by the county commission, were not “local officers” for the purposes of financial disclosure. CEO 01-11.
Notwithstanding that HARB is not the City’s designated local planning agency, it nevertheless has the power to develop its own rules and procedures, and exerts considerable authority within the City’s historic districts, where City requirements impact the style of architecture, the materials used, and the appearance of buildings and signs. According to the City’s municipal code and architectural guidelines, HARB advises governmental agencies and property owners; designates historic landmarks; reviews applications for building permits on property abutting or immediately facing historic districts; and recommends stop work orders when projects do not comply with historic preservation guidelines. In addition to these advisory duties, the municipal code grants HARB the following powers:
No building permit may be issued within Historic Preservation Zoning Districts unless HARB issues a Certificate of Appropriateness, indicating that the plans meet architectural requirements. Section 28-87(1), City Municipal Code.
No demolition or relocation permit may be issued for structures within Historic Preservation Zoning Districts and National Register Districts, or for structures that have been designated an historic landmark anywhere in the city, or for structures that are 50 years or older and listed on the Florida Master Site File maintained by the State of Florida Division of Historic Resources, unless HARB issues a Certificate of Demolition or Relocation. Section 28-87(3), City Municipal Code.
No newspaper vending machine, or similar machine designed to dispense advertising materials, may be installed unless HARB issues a Certificate of Appropriateness. Section 28-87(11), City Municipal Code.
If HARB merely issued technical advice or policy papers about historic preservation goals, its board members would be exempt from financial disclosure obligations, unless the City imposed the filing obligation by local ordinance. However, HARB is an entity that holds public meetings in which applications from property owners are reviewed during a public hearing. HARB is not a mere advisory board, because its members vote to approve, deny, or table applications, and its decisions become final and binding unless they are appealed to the City Commission.
Although HARB is not the designated local planning agency responsible for the City’s comprehensive plan, HARB exercises authority over property owners, who cannot obtain permits to erect new structures in historic zones, or materially change the appearance of historic structures, or demolish or move such buildings, without a Certificate of Appropriateness. The Community Planning Act [Section 163.3164(16), Florida Statutes], which requires comprehensive plans in all cities and counties, defines “development permit” as any building permit, zoning permit, subdivision approval, rezoning, certification, special exception, variance, or any other official action of local government permitting the development of land. In the City, land within Historic Preservation Zoning Districts cannot be developed unless HARB grants a Certificate of Appropriateness. This authority makes it possible for HARB to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning within the City. Therefore, we find that members of HARB are “local officers” as defined in Section 112.3145(1)(a)2.d, Florida Statutes, and subject to financial disclosure.
Your question is answered accordingly.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on October 25, 2015, and RENDERED this 25th day of October, 2015.
Stanley M. Weston, Chair
[1]Prior opinions of the Commission on Ethics may be obtained from its website (
[2]The City has not enacted any ordinances or resolutions to impose financial disclosure on local governing boards, beyond what is required by Florida law, as permitted in Section 112.3145(1)(a)(f), Florida Statutes.
[3]Chapter 2000-243, Laws of Florida, amended Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, effective January 1, 2001, specifically removing citizen advisory committees from a list of “local officers” required to file financial disclosure, unless the appointing authority imposes the obligation on advisory committee members by adopting a regulation to that effect.

Making History: Mayor Requests Ethics Opinion -- First City or County Elected Official to Request One Since 1974

The Florida Ethics Commission has been issuing ethics opinion since 1974.  Mayor Nancy Shaver is the first elected city or county official in our county to ever request one. *  Please note the comments from the Anonymice, apparently a hairdresser married to ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS (who hates Mayor Shaver's haircut) and a man married to one of our current Commissioners, a former Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) member: neither ever filed financial disclosures as a Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) member, or was required to, despite my many inquiries.  Florida Ethics Commission Opinion SEO 15-10 now requires such disclosures.
Thanks to Mayor Nancy Shaver, we now have a precedent.
Again, Mayor Nancy Shaver is the first elected city or county official in St. Johns County* to request a state Ethics Commission opinion. That says a lot about her; it says a lot about St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County.
Our public officials have, up until recently, had low expectations of themselves, perhaps based on low self-esteem and demands of the 1%.
As my late whistleblower client, Bud Varnadore, once said, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we "have nowhere to go but up."
*Then-Port & Waterway Commissioner, Pierre Thompson in 1974 requested one on whether it was a conflict of interest to sell performance bonds to his colleagues on that independent special taxing district: indeed, it was. But no City of St. Augustine, City of St. Augustine Beach or St. Johns County elected official has ever requested an Ethics Commission).
The Record's article on Mayor Shaver's ethics opinion request follows (followed by comments, the first of which is apparently from a hairdresser married to ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS, who confesses she is petty (indeed she is, as evidenced by her attack on me last year after LEN WEEKS destroyed a 211-year old Spanish colonial building, acting without permits, and fined only $3600 for this tort, crime and sin).Florida ethics commission to give opinion on mayor's relationship with news site
Posted: November 28, 2015 - 11:57pm | Updated: November 29, 2015 - 8:34am

The Florida Commission on Ethics plans to discuss St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver’s ties with Historic City Companies.
The commission is expected to discuss the issue on Dec. 11, and they could decide to adopt a formal opinion.
The issue is whether Shaver is considered a business associate of Historic City Companies, based on the company managing the mayor’s personal website,, and whether that would have prevented her from voting on an issue that ultimately did not come before the City Commission, according to documents filed with the ethics commission. Historic City Companies operates Historic City News, according to backup materials.
“I am looking forward to the review planned in December, as I expect it to confirm that I receive no financial benefit from the hosting service provider for my website; in fact, I pay for the services I receive just as I do for copying services from Office Depot,” Shaver said in a prepared statement. “I requested the review myself. Transparency is what I stand for, and this seemed a good way to clear up any questions.”
At the hearing, the Florida Commission on Ethics will vote on whether to adopt a draft opinion as a formal opinion, or whether they want a revised or rewritten opinion, said Kerrie Stillman, spokeswoman for the Florida Commission on Ethics. If all facts are presented, an official can rely on a formal opinion when moving forward.
In September, City Attorney Isabelle Lopez emailed questions to the ethics commission on behalf of Shaver, seeking an informal opinion. The questions focused on whether Shaver would have been prohibited from voting on whether to pursue litigation against Historic City News and its editor, Michael Gold.
Commissioner Todd Neville sought to pursue a defamation lawsuit based on a Historic City News article. Neville dropped the issue at a later commission meeting, and the Commission did not take a vote on the matter.
Lopez also asked the ethics commission in the September email for an opinion on behalf of Shaver about whether posting of Historic City News articles on would constitute a business associate relationship — if traffic is generated that brings advertising revenue for the site — that would prohibit her from voting on the suit.
The proposed opinion that the commission will discuss says that, “For purposes of the voting conflicts law, a mayor/commissioner is not a ‘business associate’ of a person or entity performing the service of hosting and managing the mayor/commissioner’s personal website.”
Also, the proposed opinion says Florida law would not prohibit the mayor from voting, and that posting news articles on the mayor’s website would not constitute a business enterprise.
Historic City Companies provides space on a server and maintenance of Shaver’s personal website on a month-to-month basis, according to the proposed opinion. The business provides “web hosting, domain registration, website design and development, content management, and social media updates ... hard disk space, the use of hardware and software, and backup and security services.”
Shaver uses her own money to pay for the services, according to the documents.

astralweeks 11/29/15 - 07:34 am 93Groupies
I read Historic City News and it does seem like they're Shaver groupies. And, to be petty, every picture they post of her has me wondering why someone doesn't advise her to change her hair stylist.

Just Asking Y 11/30/15 - 04:15 pm 11What took so long
People I know stopped reading Historic News a while ago because of Michael Gold’s obvious bias; he has lost any credibility he may have had. At the very least, this should bring into question anything the site reports and certainly explains the extreme slant always in the mayor’s favor, even bordering on misreporting. It also explains how Historic New gets his ‘scoops’. For someone who is so big on transparency one must wonder why Shaver waited so long before mentioning this. Perhaps because the public has been talking about it for a while and she figured she better mention it. Now, she can say that she raised the question, rather than explaining why she didn’t say something a year ago!

Firstcoaster 11/30/15 - 05:58 pm 10The Mayor
has her own website/domain, with email. Are those emails made available on request, as required by law?

Tricky, thinly-researched pro-developer article in Sunday's St. Augustine Record

Stuart Korfhage reminds me of the late Memphis basketball coach Dana Kirk, who appeared to throw basketball games and bet against his own team. When will Stuart cover development with independence and integrity?

Not one environmental or land use law professor was consulted in drafting this article, and it shows!
'A tricky balancing act:' Examining the pace of development in St. Johns County
St. Augustine Record, November 29, 2015
Only in her mid-20s, Alanna Elliott speaks for a lot of county residents when she says the place where she grew up is quickly disappearing before her eyes.
“This is a beautiful town, but it won’t be much longer with all this development,” said Elliott, who was born at Flagler Hospital and lives in the World Golf Village area. “I’m only 26 years old and I have been disgusted with the development for the last decade.”
And what she’ll likely see in the next 10 years will be just as disconcerting.
Already the 11th fastest-growing county in the entire country according to the latest information available from the U.S. Census Bureau (based on estimates from 2013 to 2014), St. Johns County is still bursting with new or resurrected developments.
Meanwhile, many established developments are nowhere near capacity. The St. Johns County office of Growth Management reports that there are almost 70,000 homes approved to be built in the county, though construction has yet to start. That’s today.
Yet, there is a steady stream of new applicants lined up and ready to ask to build even more.
“I don’t understand why the county begs for money for schools and lets people (continue to move) in,” Elliott said. “Natural habitat for animals is destroyed so thousands of people can move in? Makes me want to relocate somewhere less desirable.”
The county’s main issue
While St. Johns County continues to be desirable for outsiders, there is little question those who have been here for a while are growing weary of the influx.
It’s obvious at zoning meetings, county commissioners meetings and just ordinary discourse among those who have some history of residency in the county.
A quick scan of reader comments on local websites like or other news sites reporting on new developments will confirm the sentiment. Those moving into the county seem to love the move. Those already here are wondering if there is anything to slow down the move-ins.
“Yes, I do think there is too much residential development in St. Johns County,” county resident Brenda Csencsits said in an email to The Record. “This will never be passed by our county commissioners, but I would vote for not approving any new developments, except for low-cost housing and business/professional. Allow time for developments already approved to build out.”
However, Florida law leans heavily in favor of the rights of property owners. County commissioners along with others in the administration and on other governing boards have often made public statements about how they can’t simply deny a development because there are already so many.
County commissioner Rachael Bennett said she understands the emotional response from residents who might not like a new development where there was previously vacant land or silviculture.
But that doesn’t mean that land can’t — or shouldn’t — be developed. Property rights must be respected, she said.
“We are so constricted by (state) law,” Bennett said of the commissioners, who must approve new developments in the county. “(People) think if we don’t like something, I can vote against it, but I can’t.”
Bennett, who represents District 5 and just completed a term as the board chair, explained that what the county government can do and is doing is managing the growth. That means demanding the protection of wetlands, charging impact fees and collecting funds for “proportionate fair share” for infrastructure like roads and fire stations.
Bennett agrees there has been a lot of growth, but she also points out the quality of that growth. Many of the new residential neighborhoods are master-planned communities with houses that go for at least $250,000, most of them even more.
She said there is a great deal of scrutiny for every project by county planning staff.
“That by itself discourages bad development,” Bennett said. “They (developers) understand the cost of doing business in St. Johns County is expensive.
“We don’t have to relax our regulations in any way.”
It isn’t just the commissioners who find rapid development growth to be an uncomfortable — and possibly misunderstood — subject.
Dick Williams is chair of the Planning and Zoning Agency in the county, a volunteer board that makes recommendations to county commissioners on development projects. At a June 18 meeting, Williams expressed his frustration at the perception the county just gives developers whatever they want and that boards can arbitrarily choose to deny a development because they think there are too many.
“What I want to make sure you understand, though, because I hear this often — and recently a lot — is: ‘How in the heck can you people continue to approve developments when there’s no gosh darn schools available, the roads are full of cars and yet you keep approving and approving?’” Williams said. “The answer partially is we are not, by state law, allowed to turn down an application for rezoning based on lack of school capacity, based on lack of road capacity provided a developer who is requesting a zone change agrees to proportionate fair share, meaning some way they’re going to pay some money to improve roadways, traffic signals. Or basically the school board negotiates with the developer.
“‘Why in the heck would you say yes?’ The answer is I can’t say no based on that alone if they agree to pay into proportionate fair share.”
Is no an option?
Although it might seem otherwise, not all developments — even those proposed by reputable companies — gain approval.
But it can be quite a fight. A recent example is King’s Grant, a proposed development that includes 999 homes and commercial space near the Interstate 95-State Road 206 interchange.
The development was twice rejected by the county Planning and Zoning Agency and eventually denied approval by county commissioners by a vote of 3-2.
Yet the issue didn't end there, as the developer has filed a civil lawsuit challenging the legality of the commissioners’ decision.
So even when a development is rejected, it might not really be done. The county has vowed to fight the lawsuit, but the eventual outcome is hard to predict.
That hasn't stopped some people from fighting against certain developments, despite the difficulties.
Certain development proposals bring out area residents who speak against projects, and sometimes entire homeowners associations mobilize against a proposal.
And sometimes, local attorney Jane West is hired to prevent, slow or ask for changes to a local development.
It’s often a David vs. Goliath scenario, and she’s not Goliath. But she isn't powerless. She is still working against the King's Grand project that has been labeled as “urban sprawl” by some PZA members.
Her practice, Jane West Law, specializes in land use law. Her clients are those who oppose certain developments, many of them much smaller than King's Grant.
West said too many people — often those in local government — see huge developments as inevitable. She argues that not every development, regardless of its quality, is good for the community as a whole.
“It’s always a tricky balancing act,” she said of property rights issues. “But there’s a misconception that you are entitled to the best, most valuable use of that land.
“It is not our responsibility to make the developers rich.”
Sustainable growth
Suzanne Konchan, director of growth management for St. Johns County, said she knows the number of approved homes sounds amazingly high when looked at by itself.
However, she says, an approved home and a built, sold home are two very different things. She pointed out that the number of building permits for single-family homes in the last three years has averaged about 2,700 per year.
At the height of the housing boom, the numbers were higher. In 2005, for example, there were about 4,500 permits for single-family detached, attached and modular homes.
“I don’t think that (the current growth) represents a particularly high growth rate,” she said, comparing the current rate to the boom a decade ago.
She also pointed out that a huge portion of that growth is limited to Nocatee, a master-planned community near Ponte Vedra Beach. Nocatee is approved for more than 12,000 homes and is on pace to sell about 1,000 per year.
No matter how many homes are allowed to be built, developers will only put up as many as they think they can sell.
“We’re a market-driven society,” Bennett said. “No one can afford to build houses no one’s going to buy.”
County resident Art Lancaster, vice president of Eastland Partners, the company that developed Bartram Park starting 15 years ago, said large projects rarely reach complete build-out.
The Batram Park development, which is in St. Johns and Duval counties, was approved for about 9,800 homes but will likely top out at about 6,000, Lancaster said.
“You typically never hit that benchmark,” he said.
But he thinks people will continue to pour into St. Johns County as long as there are jobs available, whether here or in Jacksonville. And he said it’s about more than just the advantage of top-rated schools. He said the master-planned communities available here, especially in the north and northwest, have proven very popular.
“Quality of lifestyle is just as important,” he said. “I think everybody is very aware of that. You’re trying to provide a product that people want. Part of the reason they want to be in St. Johns County is because of what developers are offering.
“You look at it statewide, and Florida is not going to stop growing.”


HappyKitty 11/29/15 - 06:49 am 121Boohoohoo Bennett, If you
Boohoohoo Bennett, If you can't seem to get your job done, which is to manage WISELY the growth and quality of life in St. Johns county, step down and let someone else do it.

Firstcoaster 11/29/15 - 07:58 am 121Bennett
is the lead cheerleader for the construction trades based in Duval County. Look at her financial statements here:

reader4paper 11/29/15 - 08:02 am 121“proportionate fair share”
"That means demanding the protection of wetlands, charging impact fees and collecting funds for “proportionate fair share” for infrastructure like roads and fire stations."
Then why are we having to pay for new schools?
New development should pay for ALL the infrastructure needs. Stop penalizing those of us that have already built the schools for the last 30 years of "manageable growth".

sponger2 11/29/15 - 08:25 am 112Bennett is a pathological liar...
The only thing she is trying to balance is how to keep the ball rolling while shaking off her responsibility for it like a wet mongrel. The very "Puppet" of the development community, she once boasted that she would get the economy growing "rooftop to rooftop". Bought and paid for (her installation as commissioner) by the development and real estate interests of surrounding counties or even out of state powers, she is the very antithesis of the citizens she is supposed to represent. If one of the cement trucks delivering material ran her down on the way to one of her "approved developments" it would be the equivalent of poetic justice.
The only commissioner that has fought development in the last twenty years was Ben Rich of district three. Like him or hate him, he ran on, and backed up our principles regarding development and although gruff to the establishment, we knew which side he was on...and it wasn't theirs.

Bufbills 11/29/15 - 10:05 am 09Look at Ponce Inlet
The arrogant town board of Ponce Inlet in Volusia County ignored the law and a developer has won a $30 million lawsuit against the town. Who will pay for that? The taxpayers. Because the town board was arrogant and did not follow the law. Thank goodness the St. Johns County commissioners are not putting their residents in that position.

AlphaOneAlpha 11/29/15 - 03:42 pm 90A tricky balancing act re development in St. Johns County
After reading this article and the quotes from folks serving in our government, it's pretty clear that things will remain business as usual as they plan to do nothing more nor anything differently.
This is completely unacceptable. I, for one, do not buy into this dodge. First, let's not forget that the big developers and builders (predominately from Jax) are the ones who most contribute to the re-election campaigns of some of our sitting county commissioners. While legal, this is a complete conflict of interest.
Two past commissioners, who supported the building approvals in the early and mid 2000's that created the current 70k backlog of homes were bounced out of office because of that same conflict of interest and same lack of action and concern.
At the very least the building fees need to be doubled or tripled in order to fund the infrastructure impacts.
It's time to get involved and be heard. Your "representatives" are not representing the best interests of the St. Johns County people on this subject and plan to do nothing new nor different on with respect to this situation.

Morris1 11/29/15 - 06:35 pm 60What does the case law say?
Florida has the Bert Harris Act, which does next to nothing for a small owner-builder who wound up getting hung with a wetlands parcel (its just not cost effective to pursue takings compensation on a four or five figure lot), but does empower developers of PUDs/DRO's with all sorts of "recourse" and positions to fight, since in their case, millions or tens of millions are on the line.
I am not versed enough on cutting-edge case law on this particular issue to express an opinion, but I would really love to hear the opinion of someone who is. Does our various property rights protection mechanisms go too far, in empowering commercial developers to reshape communities with radical land usage alterations while offering no practical protection to the individual? If so, we need updated legislation, desperately.
Regardless, we just agreed to tax ourselves to perpetuate this mess, with 'funding the children' being the predictable leading edge of the spear and all the financially illiterate types- who rather comically demonstrated they don't understand how 'budgets' work- insisting we had no other choice.
We're living in the St Johns County we deserve. We didn't fight hard enough to stop this.

martystaug 11/30/15 - 08:11 am 40Ponce Inlet lost a lawsuit
Just because another town lost a lawsuit to a developer, is that supposed to scare St. Johns county into rolling over for developers? Seems like the point of this article is to excuse the zoning board and commissioners for not protecting all of the existing landowners who follow and live with current zoning codes and restrictions. But along comes a developer who buys a big chunk of open rural land and all the neighbors' rights be damned. If there is a state law that demands the approval of any zoning change request, I'd like to see it. Zoning law was enacted to protect the environment and existing neighbors from the impact of just such developments as these.

sponger2 11/30/15 - 09:11 am 40That's right Marty
Zoning laws exist just for that reason. I'm all for property rights, as I am a property owner. I am not for land use change at the drop of a hat and a couple bucks being spread around followed by a threat from some shyster. That can and will be dealt with. Morris has made a point recently that I would like to address as I have had direct impact from the subject matter.
If you own land that you want to put your house on (the one you would live in) or an additional small structure for an elderly parent on your property, you should not be subject to the same fees and revenue draining BS as if you were building 999 homes and doing squat for infrastructure. The two are different animals. This would need to be addressed if God forbid any of these spineless jellyfish ever grew a pair and put forth a building moratorium. Something that should have been attached to the "poor Marvin won't learn his letters campaign" if we don't pony up an extra cent on ever dollar (post tax) you spend. And it is closer to a full cent if you read how the tax will be collected, with rounding up and such. That being said, we should go full tilt, because as the article states, they are still handing out building permits like Halloween candy, thereby making the school problem worse, and the tax hasn't even kicked in yet.

Morris1 11/30/15 - 11:42 am 10If I'm not mistaken...
... the hang-up seems to be the Bert Harris Act.
Whenever you pass a law like that, you wind up giving 'both sides something to argue about', to be settled by a judge, at great expense to both parties. Since we don't have loser-pays litigation in this country, the net result is developers who have a financial interest in the millions of dollars that result in a successful 'land rights' challenge are much more willing to fight than municipalities, whose interests are defending something non-financial in nature (for example, the quality of life of neighbors surrounding a re-purposed silvaculture tract)
The intent of the Bert Harris Act was to stop the bloodbath of regulatory takings that were occurring after wetlands regulations got ramped up in the 80's and 90's, people who bought land that was suddenly (and retroactively) rendered useless, or useful but only with a huge added cost. That was not fair. In Bert Harris, theoretically, these people should have compensation recourse. The problem is, unless you're an awfully talented lay-attorney who is capable of navigating that process on your own, the cost to do so are much higher than what you can expect to be compensated (for parcels of a certain value), and that's assuming you win.
The game changes when it's a 8,000 acre DRI, though. In that situation, the mechanisms of Harris are *very much* worth fighting over since it might mean the difference between a pine tree farm and a shiny, new development where that developer makes tens of millions of dollars... and counties? Eh, why fight it? They'll probably just lose anyway, they'll have to spend a ton of money defending it, they run the risk of incurring damages. Its a lot easier to just write it all off to 'progress', and hey! Lets not overlook all the jobs it will create! (sarcasm).
If we can clarify the law and amend it so there is a safety valve for municipalities to deny large developments, we could stop the bleeding. We will never be able to undo the ones that were approved, but we can hopefully slow down the "St Johns County: 1,000,000 Residents" cliff's-edge to outside a couple more generations.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Term-limited SAB Mayor to Be Replaced 12/7

St. Augustine Beach Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS

Who Is Susan WILES? Cheap-shot Lobbyist, Managed RICK SCOTT's Campaign, Trump FL Manager, Attacks PVB Opponents of PVB Preserve in Record Letter

Our Team.
Susan "Susie" Wiles, Managing Partner, BALLARD PARTNERS, Jacksonville Office

Susan 'Susie' Wiles
With a professional history based in government relations, communications and public affairs, Susie Wiles has more than two decades of political insight. As a public affairs/media relations professional, Susie brings this expertise to Ballard Partners' client portfolio. Her record of success has been recognized nationally, receiving numerous awards in the fields of organizational leadership and communications in Florida.
Susie was Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's first national campaign manager and worked to recruit the team and develop early-stage processes before a departure after six months. In 2010, Susie served as campaign manager for Florida Governor Rick Scott's successful election. Her national political experience includes service for President Ronald Reagan, former Congressman Jack F. Kemp and includes a senior role at the Department of Labor. Susie also previously served as co-chairman of the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign in Duval County and as a Transition Team member for former Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
Susie's political and communications experience is also well-rooted in Jacksonville and throughout North Florida. Susie served in senior level positions in the administrations of the two most recent mayors of Jacksonville. In the office of former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, Susie served as Chief of Staff and later as Communications Chief for Mayor John Peyton until August 2008.
With a history in managing a variety of complex campaigns and initiatives, Susie's private practice experience has led her to work with many of Florida's most important corporations. Susie previously represented clients in the areas of environmental permitting, education, insurance, grassroots activism, water services and railroads.
Throughout her extensive career, Susie has maintained her dedication to Jacksonville and the State of Florida, serving on a number of local and statewide organizations such as the Jacksonville Women's Network, the Jacksonville Journey Oversight Commission, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Preservation North Florida, FreshMinistries, the Mission House and is a past board member of St. Johns Forever.

Cheap-shot Lobbyist Attacks PVB Preserve Critics -- "Angry" and "Offended" -- Without Identifying Herself as A Lobbyist and Scott-Trump Campaign Manager

Letter: Unfair attacks on PVB Preserve
St. Augustine Record
Posted: November 24, 2015 - 8:46pm | Updated: November 24, 2015 - 11:30pm
By Susan Wiles
Unfair attacks aimed at PVB Preserve
Editor: As a resident of the community closest to the planned Ponte Vedra Beach Preserve community, I am angered at the systematic misinformation campaign being waged by a few wealthy oceanfront residents who want to block the construction of this new neighborhood.
I am well-acquainted with the project developer, GreenPointe Communities and its owner Ed Burr, as I serve on philanthropic boards with him and know them to be quality developers of great communities in North Florida. I am fully informed about his plans for Ponte Vedra Beach Preserve.
St. Johns County staff at all levels — in fact, every regulatory agency that has reviewed the plans — has recommended approval and the neighborhood will be developed in an environmentally sensitive manner resulting in a high quality, single-family community with homes that are compatible and complementary to the surrounding area.
It offends me, as a longtime Ponte Vedra resident, that misinformation has been perpetuated over the past weeks and months, and this misinformation has been represented as the truth. It is not the truth, and it may well have been designed to mislead. I fear that many of my neighbors have been duped.
On Dec. 1, St. Johns County Commissioners will consider an appeal to the variance for this property. I encourage our elected officials to learn the facts, review the process and approve this variance with no further delay.

Ponte Vedra Beach

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Rockettes and St. Augustine Sister Cities: Both All White

Happy Thanksgiving.  At the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on NBC, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes danced.  They were all-white.  So is LEN WEEKS' St. Augustine Sister Cities group.  They both are in probable violation of civil rights laws.  How utterly lacking in sensitivity and diversity.
For the record, there was more diversity in the band from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas than the Rockettes.
For the record, there is City government support for the St. Augustine Sister Cities Association, making for state action allowing for a Fourteenth Amendment lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985, with attorney fees available under 42 U.S.C. 1988.
Will our City take affirmative action to desegregate its alter ego, the St. Augustine Sister Cities Assn.?
Or will we been required to ask a federal judge to take action?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rep. Matt Gaetz proposes unconstitutional delegation to trade group to appoint TDC members

Some TDC bed taxes fund would be diverted to sheriffs and Tallahassee, and 2/3 of TDC members would be chosen by a trade association under legislation proposed by State of Florida House of Representatives Finance Committee. How gauche and louche.Rep. Matt Gaetz, a graduate of the law school at the College of William & Mary, should review the non-delegation doctrine, which prohibits delegation to industry groups of government functions: he proposes taking away the County's power to pick Tourist Development Council (TDC) members and handing it over to a trade group, which would pick six of nine members of local TDCs. A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935). He also proposes giving bed tax money to sheriffs, and taking away tens of millions of dollars of bed tax money and sending it to Tallahassee.
Rep. Matt Gaetz crafting plan to boost Visit Florida, restrict tourism councils
By MATT DIXON 5:13 a.m. | Nov. 23, 2015 1 follow this reporter
TALLAHASSEE — The House of Representative’s tax committee is preparing to consider a plan that would rewrite how the state divides the money it generates from the 100 million tourists who visit Florida’s beaches and theme parks each year.
It would redirect the flow of tourist development taxes, which are collected in most counties on hotel and condo rentals. The money is used by counties to fund regional tourism promotion.
Under a proposal being crafted by Rep Matt Gaetz, chairman of the House finance and tax committee, 20 percent of the money raised from tourist development taxes would become an annual revenue stream for Visit Florida, a nonprofit that serves as the state’s public-private tourism marketing arm. It would give the organization an estimated $80 million dedicated revenue stream.
Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, said he wants to provide a dedicated revenue stream to Visit Florida because tourism is a vital component of the state's overall economy.
Visit Florida is a so-called direct support organization of the Department of Economic Opportunity, which is Gov. Rick Scott’s top jobs agency. Direct support organizations are nonprofits established to carry out specific public tasks, in this case publicizing state tourism.
Some members of the tax committee raised questions about the proposal, which is in its infancy. There was support for funding Visit Florida, but concern about using the tourist development tax as the dedicated revenue stream.
State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican, said she though the tourist tax system is working efficiently.
“If it is not broke, I don’t necessarily know if we need to fix it,” she said during last Thursday's committee meeting. “I do think that funding Visit Florida is very important.”
Under current law, the organization has to lobby the Legislature each year for funding because it does not have a dedicated source of revenue. Last year, as the House and Senate fought over the budget, lawmakers who oversaw the state’s economic development budget grew concerned Visit Florida funding would get caught in the cross-fire.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where Visit Florida could become a budget casualty,” Gaetz said during Thursday's meeting.
Members asked about a draft version of Gaetz's plan, which has not yet been filed as formal legislation.
Another concern came from state Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican whose Central Florida seat is in a three-county area heavily reliant on tourism, including Disney, one of the biggest players in state government. He said the region pumps out a large share of state tourism taxes, so he wants to make sure that, as part of any changes, the region would not lose revenue.
“I would be interested in working on a fairness concept since it seems an overwhelming burden … would come from that three-county area,” he said.
Gaetz said that because Orlando's theme parks are such an attraction, tourism marketing from anywhere in the state will bring more people to Broeduer’s region.
“There is an algorithm somewhere at Universal or Disney showing that the brand of Florida has become so synonymous with the attractions in Central Florida,” Gaetz said. “It’s a win win.”
Along with sending tourism dollars to Visit Florida, Gaetz's proposal would also require that 40 percent of local tourism tax dollars be spent on marketing local tourism. He said some local tourism development councils, which are set up to oversee the spending of tourism dollars, are using just one-third of their budgets on marketing, a big part of their mission.
The proposal also includes language requested by Larry Ashley, the sheriff of Gaetz’s home county of Okaloosa. It would allow counties the option to divert 10 percent of local tourism tax dollars to law enforcement, which under current law is not allowed.
Gaetz said the money would be used to bolster police forces in towns that see a large influx of tourists.
“In the little town of Destin, there are about 50,000 people, but 4 or 5 million people stay there each year,” Gaetz said of the beachside town in his district.
The Florida Sheriffs Association has not yet taken a position on the bill.
“Normally, I would just say yes we support this bill, but our legislative committee has not reviewed this proposal,” Matt Dunagan, the association's deputy executive director, wrote in an email. “We will take a look in two weeks when we meet again."
He said “this is an issue for Sheriff Ashley,” who did not return requests for comment.
Gaetz said he has called the organization, but admitted during the committee hearing that he might need a cooling off period before starting talks with group about his plan. The association had high profile opposition this week to separate gun bills Gaetz is sponsoring.
“This was not the best week in my relationship with the Florida Sheriffs Association,” he joked, getting laughter from the entire committee room. “So maybe next week will be better.”
His proposal also tightens controls on local tourist development councils, which are created by county commissions that levy the tourist tax to coordinate local marketing efforts. Under those changes, contracts would have to be signed with people or organizations that receive tourism tax dollars for projects, and tourism industry groups like the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association could sue local councils if money is misused. Current law does not have provisions allowing industry groups to legally go after local councils.
Okaloosa Tourism Development Council officials were caught misusing funds in 2012, including the former director who died of an apparent drug overdose after being accused of misusing $747,000 from the BP oil spill.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, a tourism industry trade group, would also be given authority to appoint six of the nine board members that oversee local tourism councils. The remaining members will be elected officials selected by the county commission, which picks all board members under current law.

TDC Job Posting Questionable Requirements, Excludes Qualified Applicants?

St. Johns County TDC Executive Director Glenn Hastings' successor is an important hiring decision. There needs to be more diversity. The ad needs to be rewritten so as to avoid violating EEO law. Was the description written too narrowly? Reckon?

1. Who wrote this dumb 'ole job ad -- where is the justification that these are bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) under our civil rights laws?  

2. Waiting on a response to my Requests No. 2015-427.  It seems that unaccountable St. Johns County Administrator MICHAEL WANCHICK and his henchmen are in need of consciousness-raising and may have written this job description for the next Tourist Development Council Director around some friend or relative whom they want to hire, perhaps from Texas, and favoring people certified by a trade group.  

3. Sexual orientation is still not a protected class in St. Johns County government in 2015: GLBT tourists, stay in either St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, and avoid other locations, like Ponte Vedra and World Golf Village, whose government officials don't believe we deserve legal protections.  

4. Applicants are required to have drivers' licenses, excluding blind people and other persons with disabilities.  Why is this a BFOQ?  Virtually every government and private sector in St. Johns County uses this exclusionary requirement.  Enough.

5. There is an illegal requirement/preference for Certified Domestic Marketing Executive (CDME) certification, which only some 200-300 people have obtained (from a trade group).  Here's a photo of 2015 CDME "graduates" -- they do not appear to be all that diverse (but neither is WANCHICK's tatterdemalion ME-Publican St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners' upper management, in a place Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called "the most lawless" in America!):


St. Johns County seeks a Tourism and Cultural Events Director to be responsible for directing the county?s (sic) tourism and cultural events functions. Identifies and researches issues relevant to the County?s (sic) tourism industry?s (sic) economic health, sustainability, and community impacts; provides related reports to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) and makes programmatic, funding and other recommendations to the TDC and Board of County Commissioners. Recommends policies which balance the development and promotion of tourism as a community interest and support encouraging private-sector investment in the tourism industry in order to sustain tourism?s(sic) economic benefits to the community. Establishes the overall direction of TDC programs including those initiatives accomplished through independent contracting agencies. Establishes benchmarks to monitor progress toward achievement of well-defined objectives and goals. Seeks a balance between the residential and business communities recognizing basic concepts of cultural and heritage leisure and group tourism and the importance of authentic destination experiences based upon the community. Makes recommendations to the TDC regarding new program development and/or changes to existing programs based on analysis of data collected. Serves as the chief advocate for tourism development with the Board of County Commissioners, legislative leaders, municipal governments and the general public. Applies practices of good governance in programmatic decision-making and implementation used in the development of tourism. Completes evaluations of TDC funded programs including identifying consequences of any TDC actions and tourism impacts. Evaluates effectiveness and contract compliance of TDC third-party development and marketing agencies. In collaboration with the County Finance Office, establishes a program for oversight and the approval of vendor payments for all expenses paid for with the Local Option Tourist Development (LOTD) Funds. Act as chief spokesperson with local media on behalf of the TDC and any programs funded with LOTD Funds. Staff (sic) the executive office of the TDC as necessary to fulfill the assigned responsibilities. Maintains a full-time presence on the job with ability to work evenings, holidays and weekends as needed. Performs other duties as assigned. Thorough understanding of Cultural/Creative/Heritage tourism principles and practices. Must have knowledge of economic development principles and practices. Must have understanding of research fundamentals including data collection and interpretation. Must have understanding of destination marketing methods. Must have advanced knowledge of strategic planning principals including demand generation through heritage, cultural or sport festival and event development. Must have knowledge of government and corporate accounting and auditing principals. Must have understanding of environmental psychology as it relates to the quality of visitor experience. Must have understanding of in-destination mobility, historic preservation and zoning issues. Must have knowledge of computers and job related software programs. Must be skilled in the analysis of problems and the development and implementation of solutions. Skilled in preparation of clear and precise administrative reports. Skilled in oral and written communication. Must have knowledge and level of competency commonly associated with completion of a baccalaureate degree in a course of study related to the occupational field. Masters degree in related field preferred. Must have sufficient experience to understand the diverse objectives and functions of the subunits in the department in order to direct and coordinate work within the department, usually interpreted to require five or more years of related experience. Must be certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation preferred. Must possess and maintain a valid Florida driver?s (sic) license and any other endorsements necessary to legally operate vehicles used while assigned to this position. Must possess good interpersonal and communication skills. Must be able to comprehend, speak and write the English language. Must be able to operate a computer and job related technologies. St. Johns County is a drug free workplace and an equal opportunity employer. All employment actions are taken without regard to race, religion, national origin, color, sex, marital status, age, disability, or genetics.
Pay Grade: 25
Pay Range: $78,754.07
Deadline: Posted Until Filled

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Rendezvous With Destiny, A Date That Will Live In Infamy, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You….

FDR said Americans have a "rendezvous with destiny." On October 31, 1963, I played JFK (complete with plastic mass-produced mask). Only 22 days later, he was murdered in Dallas, a "date [that] will live in infamy," paraphrasing FDR.
I was six; that was 52 years ago today.
JFK's brother, RFK was murdered when I was eleven.
I went to work for their brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, at age 17.5, as a Georgetown freshman, the day before my first class.
JFK asked at his Inauguration, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."
Now, 52 years later, I'm still asking that question, and other questions.
"Be not afraid," as Saint Pope John Paul II said as his first on the balcony upon becoming Pope, quoting scripture. See my Thanksgiving column in the Record and Historic City News.

Guest Column: Thankful at Thanksgiving


Guest Column: Thankful at Thanksgiving

Ed Slavin
St Augustine, FL
Thankful at Thanksgiving, we look back into the past.
450 years ago, in 1565, St. Augustine’s diverse, polyglot Spanish colonial residents had already enjoyed America’s first Thanksgiving; feted by the Timucuan residents of Seloy village long before Plymouth was founded.  As University of Florida’s Dr. Michael Gannon writes, “St. Augustine was already up for urban renewal”.
We’re thankful that our 450th anniversary celebration helped spread greater understanding, and promoted healing.  Our Spanish, English, French, Native American, African-American, Menorcan, Greek, Italian, Jewish, Gay, Civil War and Civil Rights histories must be told better, with National Park Service interpretation.  We will be thankful when Congress enacts the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore first proposed by Mayor Walter Fraser in 1939.
Some 238 years ago, in 1777, about 700 surviving Menorcan settlers of the British New Smyrna colony “voted with their feet”, walking the 60-miles north to St. Augustine.  We’re thankful for their courage and persistence in keeping their history, culture and cuisine alive.
Some 150 years ago, in 1865, freed African-American slaves were establishing Lincolnville (Little Africa), the first community established by freed slaves.  We’re thankful for the African-Americans here and looking forward to their full integration into our economy and political life.
Nearly 100 years ago, in 1916, Congress created the National Park Service.  Our 400 national parks have been called “America’s Best Idea” and we are thankful for the National Park Service presence in our community.  We look forward to expanding, protecting what we love for your grandchildren and their grandchildren, and protecting our communities, wetlands, beaches, forests, and you from climate change calamity.
Some 51 years ago, in 1964, St. Augustine residents and visitors helped expose the truth of Jim Crow segregation, not resting until President Lyndon Johnson broke a U.S. Senate filibuster and won adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a model for laws passed around the nation and the globe, expanded to cover new protected classes, including Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people, as well as employee “whistleblowers,” or “ethical resisters.
We’re thankful for all who have stood up for truth, justice and equality.  Many like Dr. Robert S. Hayling, D.D.S., the St. Augustine Four, the St. Augustine Movement, Dr. Franklin Kameny, and U.S. Reps. Don Edwards and Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., are not yet household words, but may be when NPS co-sponsors a National Civil Rights Museum here.
We’re thankful that civil rights laws inexorably led to the Supreme Court’s landmark Gay marriage decision in June 2015. I am thankful I can now legally marry.  
We’re thankful for all the whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, starting with A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Pentagon cost analyst who testified truthfully about C-5A airplane cost overruns, leading to his landmark Supreme Court victory after Richard Nixon fired him for not being a “team player,” management argot for someone considered too honest. As African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Let America be America again.”
A year ago, in 2014, we elected Mayor Nancy Shaver.  Yes, we did!  We’re thankful for her triumph over mendacity and mediocrity.  We’re thankful for her listening to people and neighborhoods, and for her wit, energy and spirit.  We need more can-do government officials.
We’ll be thankful next year, when elections bring us more reformers, including candidates for City and County Commissioners, Sheriff, State’s Attorney. Congress and U.S. Senate. JFK said, “Sometimes party labels demand too much.” This is not about elephants or donkeys or shibboleths: we must crush corruption.
As Rev. John Winthrop preached on board the Mayflower in 1630, let’s be a “shining city on a hill”.

Ed Slavin Thanksgiving column, St. Augustine Record: Thankful for the past, hopeful for the future

Guest Column - Ed Slavin: Thankful for the past, hopeful for the future
Posted: November 22, 2015 - 12:07am
St. Augustine

In 1565, St. Augustine’s diverse, polyglot Spanish colonial residents had already enjoyed America’s first Thanksgiving, feted by the Temucuan residents of Seloy village, and long before Plymouth was founded (when UF’s Dr. Michael Gannon writes that St. Augustine was “already up for urban renewal”).

We’re thankful that our 450th anniversary celebration helped spread greater understanding, and promoted healing. Our Spanish, English, French, Native American, African-American, Menorcan, Greek, Italian, Jewish, gay, Civil War and civil rights histories must be told better, with National Park Service interpretation. We will be thankful when Congress enacts the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, first proposed by Mayor Walter Fraser in 1939.

Some 238 years ago, in 1777, 700 surviving Menorcan settlers of the British New Smyrna colony “voted with their feet,” walking 60 miles to St. Augustine. We’re thankful for their courage and persistence in keeping their history, culture and cuisine alive.

Some 150 years ago, in 1865, freed African-American slaves were establishing Lincolnville (Little Africa), the first community established by freed slaves. We’re thankful for the African-Americans here and looking forward to their full integration into our economy and political life.

Nearly 100 years ago, in 1916, Congress created the National Park Service. We’re thankful for some 400 National Parks (“America’s Best Idea”), and for the National Park Service presence in our community: which we look forward to expanding, protecting what we love for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and protecting our communities, wetlands, beaches, forests and you from climate change calamity.

Some 51 years ago, in 1964, St. Augustine residents and visitors helped expose the truth of Jim Crow segregation, not resting until President Lyndon Johnson broke a U.S. Senate filibuster and won adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was a model for laws passed around the nation and the globe, expanded to cover new protected classes including Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people, as well as employee “whistleblowers,” or “ethical resisters.”

We’re thankful for all who have stood up for truth, justice and equality.

Many, like Dr. Robert S. Hayling, the St. Augustine Four, the St. Augustine Movement, Dr. Franklin Kameny and U.S. Reps. Don Edwards and Fr. Robert Drinan are not yet household words, but may be when NPS co-sponsors a National Civil Rights Museum here.

We’re thankful that civil rights laws inexorably led to the Supreme Court’s landmark Gay marriage decision in June 2015.

I am thankful I can now legally marry. We’re thankful for all the whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, starting with A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Pentagon cost analyst who testified truthfully about C-5A airplane cost overruns, leading to his landmark Supreme Court victory after Richard Nixon fired him for not being a “team player,” management argot for someone considered too honest. As African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Let America be America again.”

A year ago, in 2014, we elected Mayor Nancy Shaver. Yes, we did! We’re thankful for her triumph over mendacity and mediocrity. We’re thankful for her listening to people and neighborhoods, and for her wit, energy and spirit. We need more can-do government officials.

We’ll be thankful next year, when elections bring us more reformers, including candidates for city and county commissioners, sheriff, state’s attorney, congress and U.S. Senate.

JFK said, “sometimes party labels demand too much.” This is not about elephants or donkeys or shibboleths: we must crush corruption.

As Rev. John Winthrop preached on board the Mayflower in 1630, let’s be a “shining city on a hill.”

Debra Maynard running for Sheriff, St. Johns County

Debra Maynard to run for St. Johns County sheriff in 2016
Posted: November 21, 2015 - 8:06pm | Updated: November 22, 2015 - 7:11am


When St. Johns County’s Republicans vote in the primary for sheriff next year, they will be offered a choice on the ballot.

Debra Maynard, 55, is the only candidate so far to officially announce her intention to run for sheriff, according to the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections website.

During a recent interview with The Record, Sheriff David Shoar confirmed he will seek a fourth term. As of Thursday, his candidacy for next year’s election was not yet official.

Maynard, who moved to St. Johns County in 1988, has a background in health, criminal justice and counseling. She attended the St. Johns County Civilian Law Enforcement Academy, which she says inspired her career in law enforcement. She was hired by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in 2007, where she worked for five years as a patrol deputy and as the crisis intervention coordinator.

Maynard no longer works for the Sheriff’s Office, but maintains her law enforcement certification. She now works as an office and project manager.

Like Shoar, Maynard is a Republican, but her views on two “hot-button” issues — the death of Michelle O’Connell and use of body cameras — oppose those of Shoar.

O’Connell died in September 2010 in St. Johns County, where her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, was a sheriff’s deputy. The gun used was Banks’ department-issued handgun.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office led the initial investigation that was eventually ruled a suicide, but members of her family say she wouldn’t have killed herself and blame Banks for her death. Two recent investigations by state attorney’s offices outside the 7th Judicial District have not found sufficient evidence to bring any charges against Banks. He is still employed with the Sheriff’s Office.

Maynard was one of the many deputies who responded to the shooting.

She later served as a source for extensive investigative pieces produced by The New York Times and PBS Frontline that were critical of how the Sheriff’s Office handled the case.

In an email to The Record this week, Maynard declined to talk further about the O’Connell case, citing “active litigation.”

But a community Facebook page called “Justice for Michelle O’Connell” voices the group’s support for her candidacy, and asks followers to donate to Maynard’s campaign.

Maynard also supports a Florida House bill that would make it mandatory for police officers to wear body cameras on their uniform.

“There has got to be some form of accountability and body cams are protection for both the officer and civilian involved in an altercation,” she said.

Her website continues, “I agree there are flaws that need to be worked out as far as how to store the video and policy to be written as to when and where the camera is to be turned on.”

So far, Maynard’s campaign has raised more than $5,000, according to the Supervisor of Elections website.

Maynard told The Record this week she doesn’t take her decision to run for sheriff lightly.

“I fought it for quite a while,” she said. “I conferred with family and friends, and I felt it was time I said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to my own doubts.”

Maynard concedes running against a fellow Republican who has been unopposed in his last two elections will be challenging. But that is only one obstacle she has to overcome, she said.

“I am not a politician by a long shot, and there will be some doubters that will say I cannot handle the job,” she said.

If elected, Maynard hopes to bring “change, accountability and transparency” to the Sheriff’s Office.

“We need to bring back respect for the men and women that wear the badge,” she said. “They place their lives on the line each day and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Deputy visibility and compensation are two items Maynard hopes to address, if elected.

“Manpower is a top priority; we need more patrol deputies and a visible presence in the local communities,” she said. “[And] the person that will take the bullet is the person that needs the compensation.”

She also supports efforts to benefit those suffering from mental health or domestic violence, both outside and within the law enforcement community. She also hopes to bring the crisis intervention team back up to standard.

A member of Good News Church, Maynard credits her faith with helping her get through difficult times in her life.

“I knew within myself, the challenges (of running for sheriff) would be an uphill battle, but I also believe that with God, anything is possible,” she said. “I am a woman that feels I can bring positive change to this county.”


pattyoconnell 11/21/15 - 10:20 pm 00Great Days for St Johns Co FL
Because Debra Maynard will bring change in how people view Law Enforcement in St. Johns County FL. She is well known as the deputy who wouldnt look the other way...when asked to by previous boss ..that takes courage...

Morris1 11/22/15 - 12:04 am 00Who opposes body cameras?
That's an awfully scary thought... They're an honest cop's best friend, a dishonest liar's worst enemy. They have a tempering effect on abusive and boorish behavior, it seriously diminishes the ability of liars to lie, be it bad cops or losers accusing honest cops of things they didn't do.

Do we not have them here in SJC? Because that's a scary thought, considering how much funding our Sheriffs Office gets. Will be interesting to hear what Sheriff Shoar (who I otherwise support) has to say on that issue.

pattyoconnell 11/22/15 - 06:19 am 00Strange How SJSO EMPLOYEES 2010 were handed bonus checks
After Michelle O'Connell was murdered in ST JOhns Co FL, all employees of SJSO received bonus checks.
Maybe Shoar will hand out somemore PICK ME FOR SHERIFF MONEY?

pattyoconnell 11/22/15 - 06:22 am 00sheriffs bonus money
Sheriff Shoar made you come into his office and put the check in your hand and looked you in the eye...hmmm
Makes you wonder...

City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber

Letter: City needs to stop the bullyin of Uber Mafia
City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber
Posted: November 21, 2015 - 10:23pm

By Steven Ciccantelli
St. Augustine Record
City needs to stop bullying tactics of Uber

Editor: There has been much in the news about bullying and that is good. These tactics are destructive, and have a lasting damage on their victims. Hopefully the age of the bully will be short-lived. However some of these strong-arm individuals employ similar tactics in the business world and today I would like to single out the tyrants that control Uber.

Uber is a taxi service that uses technology to circumvent the laws and policies cities have to regulate the transportation industry. They are also bullies. Ride-sharing companies provide taxi services and use smoke and mirrors to obscure this reality. This criminal enterprise offers no financial advantage to any city in which these thugs operate. In fact the opposite is true.

St. Augustine is one city that these Uber mafioso would like control. The drivers are unregulated, have no business license and lack the commercial insurance this great city requires to operate any type of service involving the transportation of people, let alone have a hack license required for all vehicle for hire drivers.

Abraxi Taxi will not be browbeat and I implore other cab companies and all taxi drivers to stand up to these oppressors. We invite the mayor and our distinguished city commissioners to join in this quest. The codes for livery service are written in stone. It just takes an aggressive stance to enforce the laws already in place and exterminate the maggots who are sullying our workplace.

We need the city to stop criminal activity and put an end to this ruffian reign immediately.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


The Godfather, Part II 
(Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista presented with solid-gold telephone by corporate co-felons)
(In 2002, Florida Governor JEB BUSH named Batista's grandson, RAOUL G, CANTERO, III, then 41, to our Florida Supreme Court; CANTERO is now in private practice with WHITE & CASE, an international corporate law firm, whose website reports that he is representing clients that include "QBE Insurance Co., Odebrecht USA, Wells Fargo Bank, The Florida Senate, Honeywell International, Philip Morris USA, Mastec, Inc., Florida Power & Light Co. and the Village of Palmetto Bay" and that he "was the sole dissenter in Cardegna vs. Buckeye Check Cashing, where the majority held that a borrowers' claim that an underlying contract was void was required to be resolved by a court, not the arbitrators. The United States Supreme Court later reversed the Florida Supreme Court, adopting Raoul's position."

CANTERO was counsel for the Florida State Senate in its massive resistance to compliance with Article III, Section 20 of our Florida Constitution, which ends Congressional gerrymandering.


DARON.DEAN@STAUGUSTINE.COM Gov. Rick Scott speaks to members of the media before his luncheon with The Florida Council of 100 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club on Friday morning, November 20, 2015.

Florida Council of 100 says quiet year is time for assessing, becoming more diverse
Gov. Scott talks with group - formed more than 50 years ago to advi[s]e state's governors - about his budget plan
Posted: November 20, 2015 - 9:20pm | Updated: November 21, 2015 - 12:08am

Following in the tradition of his predecessors, Gov. Rick Scott rarely misses a meeting of The Florida Council of 100.

As Scott entered the room at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on Friday to make a keynote address at the group’s semi-annual gathering, onlookers in the lobby could see business executives from across the state applauding and maneuvering to shake the governor’s hand.

Once at the podium, Scott gave a speech about job creation and diversifying the state’s economy. He asked members of the council to back the budget proposal he will unveil in Jacksonville on Monday and perhaps help convince the Legislature to do the same.

At least, that is what reporters were told happened. “The mood was good, the message was strong and the reception was positive,” Jacksonville businessman Steve Halverson told the Times-Union afterward.

The council doesn’t allow visitors or media inside its meetings. Sometimes the council’s work is made public — like in November 2014, when it sent a letter to the Board of Education with recommendations on how to implement new computer-based standardized testing — but the group hasn’t done anything like that in a year.

Board Chairwoman Rhea Law, who leads the Florida headquarters of national law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, said the council doesn’t speak publicly about an issue until it reaches consensus internally.

“We have a lot of things that are in the queue as a matter of fact,” Law said. “I suspect you will finally see some work product after that.”

Leaders of this nonpartisan, nonprofit organization say the recent silence is partially by design.

Halverson, who completed a turn as the council chairman, said the organization has focused on redefining its mission and strategic planning, so the results aren’t easy to see when outside looking in.

“We thought that we were getting drawn a bit too much into just the issue of the day and we weren’t being as aligned around big, tough strategic issues — and not too many at a time,” Halverson, the president and CEO of The Haskell Company said. “We were getting a little bit reactive.”

The council was formed in 1961 as the brainchild of Gov. Farris Bryant, who wanted state business leaders to advise him on policy. It is a private organization and boasts of some of the state’s top executives, such as Publix Vice Chairman Barney Barnett, Florida Blue chief executive officer and Chairman Patrick Geraghty, Jacksonville developer Peter Rummell and Ed Burr, president and CEO of GreenPointe Holdings in Jacksonville.

The council has a small staff — president and CEO Susan Pareigis, who headed the state’s workforce development agency under Gov. Jeb Bush, works out of its Tampa headquarters. Bills are paid using proceeds from sizable dues levied on members, although the council won’t say how much.

Council members volunteer and generally lean conservative, but their main goal is to provide governors with input on issues ranging from education to the environment, regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat is in office.

Going beyond governor

Although a relationship with the governor is important to the council, that isn’t the only focus, Law said.

“We go beyond the governor,” she said, “because, as is true with any public policy initiative, you have to have a broader group that you are interacting with.”

Bush leaned heavily on the group to research topics and back up his policy initiatives, particularly in education; Gov. Charlie Crist rarely consulted the group. Gov. Rick Scott lands somewhere in between, attending council meetings but not viewing the group as essential to carrying out his agenda.

“Gov. (Jeb) Bush used us most vigorously,” Halverson said. “Man he worked us to death, and I say that in a good way.”

Scott said he decided to discuss his spending priorities at the council meeting because he wants support from wherever he can get it.

“I travel around the state and talk to different groups,” he said. “I like them to be active in the political process and let their House and Senate members know the importance of this for job creation.”

The council has voiced support for a provision in Scott’s forthcoming budget proposal to set aside $250 million in new funding for economic development incentives. Individual members have submitted statements backing various initiatives and proposals during Scott’s tenure.

There were rumors for a time that the council had fallen out of favor with the governor’s office after controversy surrounding its meeting in May 2014.

The council had invited former Gov. Charlie Crist to speak at the meeting, but withdrew the invitation after Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s chief of staff at the time, objected. Hollingsworth declined to be interviewed for this story.

Scott was gearing up his re-election campaign then and knew Crist would run against him. The two were initially scheduled to address the council on the same day. Council members later decided that in order to keep the event focused on business and not politics that Crist should be taken off the program.

“We just made it look like it was a campaign event by having the two of them scheduled right next to each other, and I didn’t know that,” Halverson said. “And it just didn’t seem fair that we would create a de facto campaign event without telling them about it.”

Halverson said the governor’s office was cordial about the whole incident, denying rumors the situation created long-term damage to council relations with Scott. Scott’s office said his attendance at Friday’s meeting is proof there are no hard feelings.

Crist used the whole dustup to his advantage. As a former governor, he has automatic membership in the council and still showed up at the meeting. Crist held a news conference that day to criticize the organization for caving to Scott’s demands.

Diversity issue surfaces

After the May 2014 meeting, African-American Democrats not only accused the council of 100 of showing favoritism to Republican Scott, but pivoted to the broader issue of diversity. That line of criticism — that the council as a whole did not reflect the people of Florida — was valid, Halverson later said.

“Who you pick as members has a lot to do with what you do and how effective you are,” he said.

State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, is among those who criticized the group last year.

At the time, former Darden Restaurants CEO Clarence Otis had retired and stepped away from the council, leaving it without any blacks on the board.

Bullard said he had been concerned about the council’s lack of racial diversity before the dustup with Crist gave him the opportunity to speak out. He has grown curious about how the organization was so powerful it seemed to automatically get a seat at the table to discuss education issues, when other advocacy groups remained on the sidelines.

“I knew the basics as far as who sat on this Council of 100, but in looking at it again in 2014, it was like this speaks to the organization as a whole when you don’t have people of color in any way, shape or form represented in decision-making positions within the organization,” Bullard said.

Since then, the council extended membership to 18 people and seven, were either a minority or female, Law said.

The council declined to provide the Times-Union with the names of its members; there are about 120. But among the 32 people listed on the website as members of the board of directors, six are women including one African-American female. A handful of board members have last names indicating Hispanic heritage, and at least one, Rasesh Thakkar of Central Florida, is Indian-American.

One challenge the group identified is the lack of diversity overall in the top management of Florida businesses, which limits the pool of potential members.

“That’s a much larger social issue, and it’s not one you snap your fingers and correct,” Halverson said. “But it starts with being intentional about creating opportunities for participation i

Margo Pope and Ann Heyman Back at St. Augustine Record

Glad to read their writing once again.

Rain dates required for Nights of Lights, Other Events

Tonight is Nights of Lights, when our small town gathers to watch some two million lights lit for the holidays.
According to Flagler College Radio, WFCF 88.5 (Radio with a Reason), at 3:35 PM, it is "raining cats and dogs" and is likely to continue to do so.
Underpaid City workers spent weeks (even working on Veterans Day) putting up the lights, as did private business owners.
Overpaid City Hall poohbahs did not care enough to schedule a rain date.
Think of the persons with disabilities who do not go out in storms.
Think of all the disappointed families who will miss this event because City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. and "his" staff, including prejudiced Assistant City Manager TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD, dour City Public Affairs Director PAUL WILLIAMSON and sour Events Director WANDA BRAY don't have enough sense to plan for rain.
Pray for them all.
Our inept St. Augustine City Hall administration schedules events without rain dates.
Is it because their core competency is incompetence?
For years, I have implored them to consider rain dates.
These are "bears of little brain," in Winnie the Pooh's words: they are immune to suggestions and hostile to First Amendment protected activity.
Let the rain date disasters bring justice and reforms.
We look forward to the 2016 elections.  
We're looking forward to more competent commissioners, like reform Mayor Nancy Shaver.
Enough gooberishness.

Guns-recoil-forward lawyer blasts NY Times, reporter Walt Bogdanich on Michelle O'Connell Case: JEREMY BANKS' Mouthpiece Shows His Inner Angst With Letter to Governor RICK SCOTT (IN HAEC VERBA)

Update: Bill Sheppard called Wednesday, November 25 and shared my incredulity.  People are asking: did a lawyer write this letter?  Did SHOAR?  Did BANKS?  What kind of a criminal defense lawyer takes potshots at the best civil rights attorney in Northeast Florida for doing criminal defense work?  ROBERT LESTER McLEOD II, a/k/a "MAC." Reckon MAC is one louche lugubrious goober?

Counsel for Deputies JEREMY BANKS and SCOTT O'CONNELL: Who's Paying the Piper?

Do guns recoil forward? Do Florida Sheriffs and State's Attorneys coverup crimes by the well-connected?

Former Assistant State's Attorney ROBERT LESTER McLEOD, II, a/k/a "MAC," wrote Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT on September 2, 2015 about a New York Times article on the Michelle O'Connell case. The letter attacks The New York Times, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Walt Bogdanich and veteran Florida civil rights lawyer William Sheppard. Contacted by telephone November 21, 2015, reporter Bogdanich stated that he has no respect for the opinions of someone who believes that "guns recoil forward." A message was left for attorney Sheppard and attorney McLEOD.

McLEOD states in his September 2, 2015 letter to Governor SCOTT:

Dear Governor Scott:
I read with interest the recent New York Times article by Walt Bogdanich about Eighth Circuit State's Attorney William Cervone concerning his findings and resolution in the investigation he was assigned by you regarding FDLE agent, Rusty Ray Rodgers.

As you may be aware (sic), Mr. Bogdanich himself has become part (sic) of the story as he has taken a strident (sic) and unsupported (sic) position on the facts, (or rather, his fictionalized (sic) version of the facts), in order to create (sic) a story for The New York Times. One need only reference the first paragraph of the recent article to confirm (sic) how far (sic) astray (sic) Mr. Bogdanich has wandered (sic). Agent Rodgers was not "drawn into" anything as reported. He was asked to investigate the death of Michelle O'Connell by St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, and thereupon engaged in egregious and unprofessional conduct, including false representations to State Attorneys, Medical Examiners and a Judge.

Three separate State Attorneys have determined and confirmed Agent Rodger's (sic) misconduct (sic) and Federal and State Court lawsuits are pending to address these issues on behalf of its (sic) victims (sic), Deputies Jeremy Banks and Scott O'Connell.

Moreover, Mr. Bogdanich's initial representations that Michelle O'Connell was "in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend… when she was killed with the officer's service weapon" are contrary (sic) to the discovered and credible evidence. That said, Mr. Bogdanich and The New York Times are story writers and the truth (sic) was apparently not a compelling story. Three (sic) State Attorneys, four (sic) Medical Examiners and about every law enforcement officer investiging the issue, except Rusty Rodgers, have concluded (sic) the death of this young woman was a suicide. Although tragic enough, to worse this by implying unlawful behavior with false (sic) information and perjured (sic) statements only combines (sic) the tragedy. Such is journalism with Mr. Bogdanich and The New York Times.

Rusty Rodger's (sic) attorney apparently now complains State Attorney Cervone has made "unsupported and false allegations of bias and unethical conduct" concerning his client, Rodgers. I am unsure why Mr. Sheppard is not similarly upset with the State Attorneys in the Fifth, Seventh (sic) and Ninth Circuit who have come to similar (sic) conclusions. Moreover, to claim Mr. Cervone has made "unsuppored and false allegations" is unquestionably, the (vicarious)(sic) pot calling the kettle black.

Mr. Bogdanich goes on in his article to point to "The Times" investigation of the death. A rookie prosecutor looking at the actual evidence in this case cold conclude The New York Times "conclusion" is nonsense (sic). And it wasn't rookie prosecutors that (sic) made these findings but rather, nearly 100 years of combined experience of veteran Florida prosecutors. Thankfully for the falsely (sic) accused in this state, editorially slanted (sic) newspapers and sensationalist (sic) reporters are not given the responsibility attendant to professional investigators.

One should also consider the complainant, William Sheppard is a veteran criminal defense lawyer who has been skillfully representing drug traffickers, child sexual abusers, and murderers for well over 40 years. Perhaps in his defense (sic), his perspective in this instance may be somewhat influenced by representing someone who has not engaged in the most heinous of criminal offenses and may explain his expressed indignation with Mr. Cervone's findings. It is not often he has he chance to represents someone who avoids charges and hence, in comparison, Rusty Rudgers must seem ripe to support with such vigor.

Notwithstanding, reference to the reports and evidence developed by State Attorneys King, Ashton and Cervone make clear (sic) the protests by Mr. Sheppard are baseless; but again, they are great copy for the New York Times' dwindling (sic) readership.


Robert L. McCleod II, B.C.S.

Ed's notes:
1. B.C.S. presumably stands for "Board Certified Specialist, although it could stand for Bull Crap Strategist.
2. Who is paying MAC McCLEOD to represent Deputies JEREMY BANKS and SCOTT O'CONNELL in federal court actions?
3. Who would trust or hire MAC McLEOD a lawyer who:
A. refused to comment to The New York Times,
B. refused to comment to PBS Frontline,
D. refused to comment to this blog,
D. does not claim to have written a retraction letter,
E. disgraced himself on the set of Dr. Phil,
F. believes that guns recoil forward,
G. attacks a fellow criminal defense lawyer ad hominem for the identity of his clients,
H. bullies, emotes, can't spell, can't write, can't think and can only ululate,
I. wrote a 580 word letter to the Governor in response to a 892 word article claiming calumnies, without sending a copy to The New York Times.

4. This is one prevaricating, predictable, malicious, malfeasant attorney who:
A. Helped pressure the City of St. Augustine to criminalize art and music on St. George Street on behalf of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce (a/k/a "Chamberpot," the local affiliate of a national organization that has lobbied against all reform legislation since the 1930s);
B. Prevaricated on his website about being a Baptist deacon;
C. Prevaricated on his website about professional organization membership.

5. The form for Florida Bar complaints is here:$FILE/Inquiry%20Complaint%20Form.pdf

Here's a link to The New York Times article about which McLEOD caterwauls and cavils:

Here are links to Mayor Nancy Shaver's letter, written after Mr. Bogdanich's article (before she was Mayor), and to the wealth of journalistic evidence on the Michelle O'Connell shooting:


See now-Mayor Nancy Shaver's December 2013 letter:     The world is watching us. See, e.g.:

The New York Times, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night" by Walt Bogdanich & Glenn Silber (November 24, 2013):
PBS/Frontline,   "A Death in St. Augustine (November 26, 2013):   NBC News Dateline  , "Two Shots Fired" (April 18, 2014):  
Folio Weekly: Jeff Billman, "Somebody's lying -- An activist accuses the St. Augustine Record of bowing 
to pressure from Jeremy Banks' attorney. The paper accuses her of spreading misinformation" (September 17, 2014),,10912  
Dr. Phil, "The Mystery of Michelle O'Connell" (November 3, 2014):  
Folio Weekly, "Murder, He Wrote," by Susan Cooper Eastman (November 19, 2014),  
Folio Weekly, "The Proxy War," by Derek Kinner (March 4, 2015):  
New York Times, "Agent Cleared Over 2010 Florida Shooting Inquiry, but Lawyer Lashes Out," by Walt Bogdanich (August 27, 2015)

WJXT-4, "Deputy opens up on Michelle O’Connell shooting death,"

Photo credit: The New York Times   

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Image result for michelle o'connell