Sunday, May 15, 2016


Our beloved St. Augustine, Florida has come a ways from the days of "Jim Crow" segregation, when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. termed St. Augustine "the most lawless city in America." But official oppression still persists here. 

On April 11, 2005, I spoke for the first time to the St. Augustine City Commission, talking about civil rights concerns (illegal annexations/Fifteenth Amendment). Then-City Manager William B. Harriss barked at me after the meeting, saying “I could have you arrested for disorderly conduct!”   

Harriss is now working for Sheriff David Shoar and "non-profit" SJSO Four Star Association.

Sheriff Shoar is under criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- a datum previously reported by this blog, and by Ancient City Weekly (but not the coverup artists at the reliably rebarbative Republican St. Augustine Record, which is a lousy louche lickspittle for the rich and powerful and which is always regurgitating corporate and government handouts).

Since April, 2005, there have been dozens of victories, including cleanup of the landfill the city dumped in a lake, state fines, Rainbow flags on the Bridge of Lions, election of Mayor Nancy Shaver, protection of Fish Island, halting numerous inappropriate developer projects and creation of the Dr. Robert S. Hayling Freedom Park.

Now, let us permanently end the lawless culture of fear, smear, retaliation, secrecy and corporation-coddling:

o St. Augustine is still following Draconian Harriss-era rules limiting public comment. local governments are still hassling people on Open Records requests.  Public comment must be heard on every single agenda item as at St. Augustine Beach, St. Johns County, Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County (AMCD). 

o Government employees deserve strong whistleblower protections (as at AMCD).

o Citizens must not be arrested for peaceful picketing, "plein air" painting or playing music.

o Federal courts have repeatedly ruled the City of St. Augustine is violating the First Amendment in its treatment of our artists.  Mayor Nancy Shaver has said "our streets are not lively," but four Commissioners would not budge. Result:  yet another First Amendment ruling against our City, this time by U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis.  As attorney Tom Cushman wrote in the Record, "Enough."

o St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar ignores and disdains Open Records requests.  So do some other government offices.   The city and county create inflated facetious cost estimates and have poor communication skills. Responses from the St. Augustine "Public records custodian" are unadorned by anyone's real name. This lawbreaking must stop.   Now.   

o Sheriff David Shoar retaliates against First Amendment protected activity, including complaints against FDLE's 2009 Special Agent of the Year Rusty Rodgers for dogged investigation of the September 2, 2010 shooting of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Banks, which Shoar called a  "suicide."  Shoar unsuccessfully tried to have Rodgers prosecuted.  Shoar unsuccessfully tried to have Rodgers fired/prosecuted.  Rodgers is now reinstated, but blacklisted from working St. Johns County.  Why? Shoar is still obsessing on meaningless minutiae -- flyspecking nitpicking of Rodgers. Why?  Shoar has for three years retaliated against Rodgers.  Shoar seethes because the truth was reported by The New York Times, PBS Frontline, Dateline-NBC, Folio Weekly, Dr. Phil.   

o Shoar 's deputies arrested/jailed video-journalist Jeffrey Gray for peaceful picketing outside his son's school, with a sign bearing the words "First Amendment Is Not A Crime." All charges were dismissed by State's Attorney on April 25, 2016, but the wretched Republican Record has not gotten around to reporting that fact; wonder why?

Enough Nixonian dirty tricks and rebarbative lawman politics.  

Enough retaliation, secrecy, mendacity, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery. 

What's next?  We are a "Compassionate City." 

Speak out.  Attend meetings. Ask questions.  Demand answers.  Request documents. Expect democracy. Support/encourage honest, compassionate people to become our next Sheriff, , City and County Commissioners and state legislators.  Say "enough" to corruption.  Foil the devious developer-driven demolition derby of our historic community.

Let's all say "enough" to ugliness.  Preserve and protect this magical place -- for your grandchildren's grandchildren. Let's enact the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore (, first proposed in 1939 by Mayor Walter Fraser and Senator Claude Pepper.


Ed Slavin has lived in St. Augustine since 1999.  He was Editor of the Appalachian Observer, Clinton, Tennessee weekly newspaper, which exposed the world's largest mercury pollution event (Union Carbide Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant) and corruption by Anderson County Sheriff Dennis O. Trotter (twice "Tennessee Sheriff of the Year"), who was sentenced to four years in federal prison, and who (along with three co-felon individuals and a corporation) paid an out-of-court settlement to Slavin for fomenting a meritless libel lawsuit against Slavin, served on the morning of his first law school exam in Memphis (Torts).

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