Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Speak Out Against County Sex Discrimination Tuesday, 5/2: All-White, All-Male, All-Republican PZA Reverses Self on Karen Zander Appointment

St. Johns County, Florida Board of County Commissioners meeting at 9 AM on Tuesday, May 2, 2016 at 500 Sebastian View (County Administration Building a/k/a "Taj Mahal"). Come speak out against invidiously corrupt and discriminatory treatment of Ms. Karen Zander by the BCC and PZA -- she was recommended for a seat on PZA until Brad Nelson decided he wanted "his" seat back. PZA members appear to have violated Sunshine law, as evidenced by video and e-mails from PZA Chair, et al. to Commissioner JOHN H. " "JAY" MORRIS. The all-white, all-male, all-Republican PZA was for diversity until MORRIS said he would "do anything" to get Brad Nelson back on the board. Anything apparently includes crimes, torts and sins against democracy -- what noisome nastiness.

St. Johns County commissioners to revisit PZA appointments after delayed vote
Posted: April 27, 2016 - 8:11pm | Updated: April 28, 2016 - 12:07am

St. Johns County commissioners on Tuesday will consider several applications for appointment to vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Agency and Tourist Development Council.

Particularly contentious is a PZA seat recommended to return to former member and chair Brad Nelson, who resigned from the board in October so he could file to run for St. Johns County property appraiser.

Withdrawing in February, he cited a lack of interest in asking people for money and time away from his commercial real estate appraisal business.

Soon after abandoning his campaign, Nelson threw his hat into the ring for his own PZA seat back. The problem: Applications were due to the county in November.

Meanwhile, the PZA had already recommended St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning Board member Karen Zander for the open position in January. Further complicating matters, Nelson and Zander both missed what the county said was a Nov. 25 deadline.

Zander’s application made it to the PZA for consideration after it came to the county on Nov. 30. Nelson’s application didn’t arrive until Feb. 12, four days before the County Commission was scheduled to vote.

In a Feb. 14 email to commissioners, PZA chair Dick Williams said he and fellow PZA members would “fully support” Nelson’s return as a senior member of the board.

That message was followed up the next day by several emails from PZA members to commissioners in support of Nelson’s reappointment.

At the Feb. 16 County Commission meeting, county attorney Patrick McCormack told commissioners they had three options: suspend the board’s rule regarding application deadlines and consider all candidates, forego suspending the rule and consider only candidates who turned their applications in on time, or direct a re-application period.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to postpone the vote to fill the vacancies and re-advertise, with Commissioner Bill McClure voting alone in dissent.

McClure said his fellow commissioners were politicizing the appointment process in delaying the vote. Although voicing support for Nelson, he said he disagreed as a matter of process and that there were plenty of other qualified applicants who submitted on time to consider.

Commissioner Jay Morris said it made sense to give Nelson, an experienced former member, the chance to rejoin the board even though he had missed the application deadline.

“You can call it politicking or anything you want,” Morris said. “I go by the quality and the expertise. Someone who has done the job, knows the job and has done an excellent performance in that job.”

Five qualifying applications came in on time, along with two requests for reappointment of board members Jeff Martin and Jon Woodard.

While the county said the position was advertised to close on Nov. 25, Zander said a county official she spoke with in advance of filing her application told her the deadline was Nov. 30 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Never in any correspondence with staff or county legal counsel nor in county’s own PZA board materials or deliberations was there any indication that my application was submitted late ... because my application was not submitted late,” she wrote in a letter to commissioners after the Feb. 16 vote.

A county spokeswoman said because the county accepts applications for boards like the PZA year-round, Zander wasn’t given any sort of immediate notification that she missed the deadline earlier in the process. Zander said no one mentioned any issue with her application until the Feb. 16 meeting.

She said in her letter she talked to Nelson as late in the process as Feb. 9, shortly after he dropped out of the property appraiser race, and that Nelson repeatedly said he was not interested in reappointment.

McClure said at the Feb. 16 meeting it was apparent something changed.

He said he received two phone calls from Nelson regarding the PZA vacancy: one in which he asked McClure to consider voting for Zander and another encouraging more diversity, particularly in terms of gender, on the board.

On Wednesday, Nelson said he had initially decided against seeking reappointment and that he felt bad for encouraging Zander to apply only to turn around and change his mind.

He said having served for nearly 10 years on the PZA, and with Williams’ term coming to a close at the end of the year, he feared a gap in board experience could be looming.

“I’m not in any way demeaning the other agency members, because they’re all very good, but they haven’t served as long as either of us have,” Nelson said. “I think there’s some value in that. There’s always value in getting a new perspective as well, but there’s value in having someone who’s done it quite a bit.”

Williams said at the April 21 PZA meeting that, due to the planned absence of board member Archie Wainright, filling the vacancies Tuesday in time for the board’s Thursday meeting would be critical “as kind of insurance.”

Commissioners on Tuesday will also consider two appointments to the TDC. One of the seats is required to be a city of St. Augustine Beach representative and the other is required to be an owner/operator of a tourist accommodation subject to bed tax.

Beach Commissioner Andrea Samuels has been recommended for a four-year term expiring April 1, 2020. Samuels is in an election year, but currently running unopposed.

Todd Hickey, general manager at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, has been recommended for a partial term set to expire Feb. 4.

Firstcoaster 04/27/16 - 10:21 pm 10It's a club
Good ol' boys club. You folks may want to write this down: When you quit, you quit, period, no do-overs.

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