Sunday, September 04, 2016
Corporations, developers won the August 30, 2016 Primary
Influential corporations demanding government favors mostly got their way, with little press scrutiny, in the August 30, 2016 St. Johns County Primary, where there was only a 24% turnout. Why?
Candidates spent millions of dollars on advertising, billboards, signs -- selling their wares to the highest bidder, including secretive limited liability corporations (LLCs), with undisclosed owners, including foreigners speculating in real estate.
Four "universal primaries" were illegally closed by five sham "write-in" candidates, cruelly disenfranchising non-Republicans, including African-Americans, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment and Article VI, section 5(b) of Florida's Constitution. Republicans create one-party fiefdoms in North Florida, while Democrats create one-party fiefdoms in South Florida. Both parties wink at our constitutions, subjecting millions to one-party rule.
No real "debates" were held, with journalists, political parties and our League of Women Voters neglecting their duties to inform citizens.
Little of substance was said by any candidates, eschewing substance for slogans (and lots of signs).
The Record refuses to name large contributors, contrary to its past investigative practice.
Campaign political coverage was inept, maladroit and shallow, with no investigative reporting on Sheriff Shoar et pals -- not what our Founders expected.
James Madison wrote: "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
Was this a coup d'etat by tree-killing, wetland-destroying developers, property owners and their tedious toadies?
It's a "farce or a tragedy," when compliant County Commissioners vote to allow 70,000 homes to be built without paying for infrastructure, one party controls our County government (the "property party"), and government violates our rights in secrecy.
Tragically, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar adamantly insists that our deputies "don't need to be watched," Sheriff Shoar self-righteously rejects body cameras, which actually protect both citizens and officers. Shoar was found liable for inflicting illegal surveillance on lawyers and clients, by four federal judges in two federal courts (three appointed by Republican presidents). Yet Sheriff Shoar opposes body cameras, based on putative "privacy" considerations.
Extravagantly spending $10.71 per vote, Shoar appealed to our prejudices, as in his incendiary July 8th "I'm mad" YouTube video, in the wake of murders of both policemen and civilians, unadorned by any hint of healing or kindness.
We need open "universal" primaries, police body cameras, an Inspector General, an Ombudsman, vigorous debates, "public access" television on St. Johns County Government TV, local ethics and lobbyist disclosure laws, more thorough reporting and a St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore. Now.
It's up to us.
In 1954, CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow, opposing demagogic Senator Joe McCarthy, eloquently concluded: "We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.' Good night, and good luck."
Frederick Burr Opper