In secret, behind locked gates, our Nation's Oldest City dumped a landfill in a lake (Old City Reservoir), while emitting sewage in our rivers and salt marsh. Organized citizens exposed and defeated pollution, racism and cronyism. We elected a new Mayor. We're transforming our City -- advanced citizenship. Ask questions. Make disclosures. Demand answers. Be involved. Expect democracy. Report and expose corruption. Smile! Help enact a St. Augustine National Park and Seashore. We shall overcome!
Thursday, June 09, 2016
ANTITRUST COMPLAINT ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION
I've requested that the Justice Department Antitrust Division investigate the St. Johns County School Board and its contractors and vendors.
-----Original Message----- From: Ed Slavin Sent: Thu, Jun 9, 2016 11:53 am Subject: SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION ANTITRUST -- Only one bid received by St. Johns County Schools for Aberdeen K-8 Elementary School
Dear Principal Deputy Attorney General Hesse:
Please investigate St. Johns County (Florida) School Board purchasing practices and possible bidrigging and Hobbs Act violations:
1. Receipt of only one (1) bid, opened on May 17, 2016 for construction of a new Aberdeen K-8 Elementary School -- at 30% higher than anticipated -- by PERRY-McCALL CONSTRUCTION, which in 2015 formed a joint venture with ELKINS CONSTRUCTORS, another large construction contractor -- merits prompt preliminary civil, criminal and administrative investigation.
2. Attached are the School Board's 35-page list of prequalified contractors and subcontractors and the one page bid analysis, sans any antitrust analysis.
3. These are the only two (2) documents released to date by St. Johns County (Florida) School Board since my initial May 27, 2016 requests. The School Board attorney, without vote of the School Board, has refused my request for mediation by Florida Assistant Attorney General Patricia Gleason, the expert in Florida Open Records and Sunshine laws for decades.
4. For at least twenty (20) years, the corporate law firm of Upchurch, Bailey & Upchurch (UBU) has represented St. Johns County School Board.
5. No conflicts check has apparently ever been performed by UBU on its work for the School Board in twenty (20) years.
6. UBU has since 1926 -- for some ninety (90) years -- represented wealthy individuals and business owners, including construction contractors. The lines between government and private business is blurred in St. Augustine and St. Johns County. Please investigate: has UBU acted as the "controlling switchboard" for antitrust violators (in the words that Assistant Attorney General Thurmond Arnold once used to describe the American Petroleum Institute vis a vis the Big Oil oligopoly)?
7. UBU and the School Board have resisted several of my records requests since last month, emitting pejoratives and a verbal threat by School Board Chair Patrick Thomas Canan, Esquire to file a "restraining order" against me for asking questions.
8. Our unenlightened, all-white St. Johns County School Board has a history of illegal segregation and First Amendment violations. It recently filed a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against another citizen -- and had him arrested -- n retaliation for First Amendment protected activity. UBU actually filed that SLAPP lawsuit without a vote of the School Board, an ultra vires act it later may have remedied with a post hoc vote, weeks later.
9. Local agencies here have a dodgy record of Sunshine and Open Records law violations. This includes Assistant St. Augustine City Manager Timothy Burhcfield claiming "no documents" existed in response to Dr. Dwight Hines' requests related to the City dumping a landfill in a lake. It turned out there were 45 pounds of paper documents, plus computer records responsive to Dr. Hines' request. The City was defended in that case by UBU attorney Sidney Franklyn Ansbacher, Esquire.
10. On the very day I read about it in the local newspaper, I reported the one bid received for Aberdeen K-8 Elementary School to our State Attorney General on May 27, 2016, receiving a prompt return call from AAG Laura Daugherty.
11. However,our St. Johns County School Board has not made any reports of suspicious bid activities in its entire history, and has not done so in this case. Documents and answers have been withheld by UBU and the School Board, including UBU's client list.
12. Bidrigging, bribery and other crimes involving the Leon County (Florida) School Board are reportedly under investigation by FBI, DOJ and state prosecutors.
13. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once called St. Augustine "the most lawless city in America (June 11, 1964 letter to Rabbi Israel "Sy" Dressner).
14. Please direct the USDOJ Antitrust Division staff to work with FBI, our Florida Attorney General, et al. to investigate St. Johns County School Board and its contractors and vendors, commencing with the one (1) bid opened on May 17, 2016 for construction of the new Aberdeen K-8 Elementary School, 30% higher than expected, by PERRY-McCALL CONSTRUCTION.