Article in today's St. Augustine Record (below) quotes Mayor O'Brien as saying he does not plan to leave the dais during discussion of an item for which he has a voting conflict -- conditional use permit for construction of two McMansions on F Street. I have asked him to leave the dais as part of our reasonable expectation of probity. A public office is a public trust, as Thomas Jefferson said it best.
Sent: Mon, Apr 4, 2016 3:01 pm
Subject: SAB Mayor O'Brien, please leave dais 4/4 on your two F Street homes conditional use permit appeal
Dear Mayor O'Brien:
1. You publicly admit that you have a voting conflict of interest under F.S. 112.3143 on the consideration of a conditional use permit for two F Street homes.
2. You are quoted as saying in the 4/4 St. Augustine Record article that you are not planning to leave the dais. Why? On what theory?
3. That is inconsistent with the best practices in the neighboring City of St. Augustine, to wit, leaving the dais and the room in cases of voting conflicts.
4. Thus, I strongly counsel and urge you to leave the dais and the room and allow the Vice Mayor of the City of St. Augustine Beach to preside during discussion of the conditional use permit that you are seeking, in your personal capacity, as an appeal from the March 22, 2016 PZB vote of 4-2 against your project.
5. It would embarrass the City of St. Augustine Beach and could constitute an appearance of impropriety for you to sit there on the dais while your conditional use permit is discussed.
6. We, the People do expect a higher standard of ethics from you, Mayor O'Brien. This is a profit-making proposal, brought up prematurely without having PZB minutes, streaming video or the administrative record in hand before the City Commission, meeting only thirteen (13) days after the 4-2 PZB denial of your project.
7. With this flawed and incomplete record on your flawed and incomplete application, please leave the dais (if not the room).
8. Your presiding or sitting at the Commission table during this debate would undermine public confidence in the ethics of SAB City Hall.
9. In the neighboring CIty of St. Augustine, City Commissioners recusing themselves always leave the dais and the room for the item in quo. That's the standard of care in our community. Anything less would breed disrespect for the City of St. Augustine Beach.
10. Leaving the room and the dais is what Mayor Nancy Shaver does (most recently when she filed a HUD Fair Housing complaint and left the room, leaving Vice Mayor Horvath to preside during discussion of a finding of legal sufficiency on a citizen's complaint on the very same issue).
11. Leaving the dais and the room is what Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline has done on indirect conflicts, de minimis at that.
12. Leaving the dais and the room avoids even the appliance of impropriety.
13. Since the City and you have not yet responded to Request No. 2016-131 (below), I must assume that you spoke before seeking any legal advice from anyone, and were a bit ahead of your skis on that one.
14. Americans have a reasonable expectation of probity from all elected officials. As Thomas Jefferson said, "A public office is a public trust."
15. As an exercise in caution and good judgment, please recuse yourself and at least leave the dais for the entirety of the discussion of the agenda item in quo.
16. Thank you in advance for leaving the dais during discussion of your proposed conditional use permit.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sent: Mon, Apr 4, 2016 2:52 am
Subject: Request No. 2016-131: Mayor recusing himself but still sitting at the dais 4/4 on two F Street homes conditional use permit -- Legal opinions from AG, CA, Ethics Commission (or anyone)?
Dear Mr. Royle, Mayor O'Brien and Vice Mayor George:
Please send, if any exist, legal opinions from AG, CA, Ethics Commission (or anyone) on the propriety of a mayor recusing himself but remaining seated at the dais during consideration of an item in which he is the appellant (two F Street homes conditional use permit), as Mayor O'Brien states he intends to do in the 4/4/16 St. Augustine Record.
If no such opinions exist, please request an opinion from the new City Attorney, James Patrick Wilson, Esq.
With kindest regards, I am,