Monday, February 29, 2016

14 Years Later, How Corrupt Are Our Local Governments?

Letter: Writer upset by local government
Edward A. Slavin, Jr.
St. Augustine
Published Friday, March 15, 2002

Former St. Augustine Mayor Len Weeks recently spoke at length at a televised City Commission meeting, extolling the Feb. 23 Pedro Menendez birthday celebration.

All public festivities were rained out (with no rain date or alternate indoor site), but the city's private masked ball was a success, he said.

However, he said, city ball guests got wet because the city lacks a parking garage, requiring people wearing tuxedos, evening gowns and expensive shoes to endure wet raindrops - some had to walk three blocks, he exclaimed. This wet shoe and gown crisis demands a parking garage to protect from the raindrops, Mr. Weeks said. That's one myopic "vision."

Due to lack of rain date or alternate indoor sites, our visiting Tennessee friends saw that the emperor has no clothes (and no rain date or alternate site, either). We were embarrassed that our visitors saw only empty tents.

The Menendez birthday's one successful event was a 500-person ball held by the city, with only some 320 required to pay for their tickets, according to Mr. Weeks. Most locals (and many visitors) have been adversely affected by poor events planning. This is not the first time. In 2000, Grand Illumination posters had wrong dates. In 2001, a high school band was given the wrong date for the Easter Parade.

The key question on a parking garage is not whether to build one, but where?

Other historic cities (Annapolis, Savannah and Charleston) built parking garages to accommodate tourists. Here, the proposed design, location and ownership of the proposed downtown parking garage lacks vision and ignores local residents, who may have to sue the city.

Cable TV covers city and county meetings (though replayed too infrequently, with poor quality tapes): voters are watching local governments, sometimes earnest, sometimes comic. Some elected officials could do stints on Comedy Central - Commissioner Kohnke's asking apartment developers to evict "misbehaving" tenants summarily shows an antediluvian sense of government as running others' lives. Having seen her "run" County Commission meetings, her constituents should "run" someone else for her job.

Too often, authoritarian thinking converts democracy into a farce -- like the lack of a rain date or alternate site for the Menendez birthday, or "That Outrageous St. George Street Artist Oppression Ordinance" (TOSGSAOO), which would have (again) rerouted Menendez's birthday parade had the rain not halted it.

Flagler Hospital CEO Joe Gordy, former School Board chairman and chair of the Greater St. Augustine Vision stated (March 5 Record): "In the 10 years since we started, St. Augustine has become a different market for visitors. We are emphasizing its quaint atmosphere. If you had told me 10 years ago that the King of Spain would have come here, I would have told you, "when pigs fly."

St. George Street artist arrests and poor planning are narrow-minded, not "quaint."

Our governments must become more sensitive and democratic. Without a sea change in attitudes, "when pigs fly" is the answer to that perennial "vision" question, "When will our governments care about people like us?" Let's celebrate and strengthen our democracy.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

No Lightner Museum Parking Garage Desired/Required

Today's Record has yet another misguided column proposing another massive downtown parking garage, this one trying to revive the notion of one south of City Hall and the Lightner Museum.
Thanks for thinking, but it's unadorned by research, statistics or a business model: who's going to pay for another Taj Mahal and why?
No way.
I would invoke President Obama's foreign policy mantra to this proposal.
No way.
It would destroy a residential neighborhood.
St. Augustine voters wisely rejected the notion of a Lightner Parking Garage in the 2002 election, when we elected Mayor George Gardner and Commissioners Errol Jones and Donald Crichlow. Ex-Mayor Len Weeks once explained the need for a Lightner Parking Garage on the basis his "shoes got wet" before the Menendez Noche de Gala in 2002.
For good reasons, the electorate and Commissioners rejected the notion of a Lightner Garage.
As President Obama says on foreign affairs: "DON'T DO STUPID STUFF!"

Letter: Multi-level Lightner complex music to their ears
Posted: February 27, 2016 - 10:08pm | Updated: February 28, 2016 - 12:03am

St. Augustine
John Valdes’ valuable insights Feb. 14 into the increasing interest in multi-purpose, multi-level parking, encourages us to point out the value of exploring plans which, according to Martha Graham, were developed for a parking structure downtown where the City Hall/Lightner complex encompasses the parking area between M.L. King and Cordova streets.

As Valdes points out, tourists, residents and business owners find the present situation frustrating! Just as Francis Field is home to large events and recreation, downtown hosts many of the arts and entertainment venues, galleries, restaurants and museums. City Hall includes the Lightner Museum, which in turn attracts visitors to its shops, fine restaurant and turn-of the-century exhibits.

The St. Augustine Orchestra appreciates the ambiance of the Lightner when performing there. In fact, Martha Graham is not only the city’s director of public works, she also wears another hat: clarinetist with the orchestra. She is especially qualified to speak for the importance of downtown parking for City Hall and other employers. And wearing her orchestra concert night hat, she knows that Friday is a nightmare night for parking downtown.

I, too, am a member of the orchestra, and my husband is a retired engineer. His interests center around the parking issue; mine include the reasons people want to park. The north end of town has a proposed solution which seems to be elegant. Why not pursue a multi-use parking plan for downtown?

A detailed parking plan would offer jitney service between the proposed multi-level garage and the current one at Francis Field, with designated limited stops in between. Narrated tourist trolley service and carriages would be available as they are now at the Francis Field location or the bayfront. The jitney service could be available for a small extra fee, or could be included with garage fees. Street parking should be reserved for county residents with ParkNow cards, or residents with decals, which would be prominently displayed and renewed each year. Private parking currently managed by hotels, restaurants, churches and businesses would continue on an as-needed basis.

On Feb. 3, I sent an email regarding a collaboration between the orchestra and the Lightner/City Hall complex to our St. Augustine friends, Joanne (a flautist) and her husband Gene (an architect) outlining some thoughts concerning downtown spaces. This email, abbreviated below, followed an invitation from the local arts organization to get together and share our plans:

■ The city and other businesses need more parking. Residents need more parking. The public needs more parking, particularly for after-hours events.

■ The orchestra and other performing groups need more space for performers and audiences, with better lighting, sound systems and facilities. The Lightner needs more money and visitors. Lewis Auditorium accommodates large audiences, but is heavily booked by the college and the EMMA Concert Association. It is often too large for chamber concerts. The churches and schools have time restrictions and are not generally ideal performance venues. A medium-sized concert-entertainment center and an adjacent parking facility are a win-win.

■ Briefly, we propose that the Lightner and the city cooperate in adding a multi-story parking lot extending between the Lightner/City Hall complex and the Bridge Street facility at the other end. This parking space would culminate at the Lightner/City Hall end with a glassed-in gallery opening to both the second and first floors of the Lightner and the garage. The two-story gallery spaces would provide room for displays, ticketing, an elevator, etc.

Regarding improvements to the museum itself: On the second level, in the former pool area of the museum, there would be theater seats, as in small European theaters. Lighting and sound equipment would be installed. The first and third floors still need flex space, with movable, comfortable chairs and tables. These require storage space. The basement (the “dungeon”) needs to be redesigned. By rearranging the current basement and first floor space and incorporating the new glassed-in gallery, the audience gains restrooms downstairs, a ticketing booth, advertising, souvenir and refreshment space and pre-event shelter.

The architecture of the Lightner would not be compromised.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Glenn Tilley Questions Phony Veterans Charity; So Does Record

St. Augustine Record Letter: Real concern for veterans is free
Posted: February 27, 2016 - 10:07pm

Editor: There is an ongoing concern about the CEO of Wounded Warriors receiving $1,000 per day salary. I write this as a comparison to the groups that genuinely care about our veterans.

I am the commander and CEO of the largest Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Florida, with over 1,400 members and 400 Auxiliary members. My pay and the pay of all of my staff is zero. This is the same for all VFW Posts.

I am also a Life Member of the American Legion Post 194 and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 6. The pay for the staff of these organizations is the same — zero. We do what we do as volunteers because we love our veterans, their families, the active duty troops, our communities and our nation — and we do it proudly.

When time comes that you consider donating to a worthy organization dedicated to the betterment of our veterans care, I recommend you consider one of these groups. When you see them distributing poppies or forget-me-nots throughout the community, please remember that 100 percent of the donations received go to the care of the veterans and their families.

Glen Tilley
St. Augustine Beach
(904) 460-9345

Editorial: Local veterans take care of their own
Posted: February 27, 2016 - 10:06pm | Updated: February 28, 2016 - 7:59am

Letter: Real concern for veterans is free
If you look on the facing page, the lead letter is written by local vet and VFW Post 2391 (Yes, the one with the tank) Commander Glen Tilley. In it, he makes a very good point.

This editorial is not to diminish the work of the Wounded Warrior group. Certainly they do make a huge difference in the lives of some of the most grievously injured of our combat soldiers. But it is a different kind of organization than our local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion or Disabled American Veteran groups. It makes a lot of money, spends a lot of money in the process and directs its efforts at a deserved, but small slice of our veteran population — those injured in action. It gives aid only to post-9/11 military veterans.

By most accounts it directs 58 percent of its contributions to direct services and receives a “C” grade from most charity rating organizations. Its CEO makes $375,000 and it has 10 staff members making $150,000 or above. The latest tax document we found for the organization was 2012, when the contributions topped $225 million.

For better or worse, that’s a world apart from our local veteran service organizations. Together they serve all 22,000-plus veterans in the county — whether the action was in Korea or Syria. And a Purple Heart isn’t a prerequisite for their care.

Most of what the local groups do is behind the scenes. It’s the little things day in and day out that make a difference locally — actions we do not see. It may be supporting a Junior ROTC group, visiting a nursing home, honoring a local Eagle Scout, transporting vets to hospital appointments in Gainesville or visiting vets in VA facilities in order to “bring a spark or a smile” to an aging veteran’s day, Tilley said.

The one common denominator is that all three groups work 100 percent for free. The VFW bylaws, for instance, don’t even allow overhead to be paid for by contributions.

It is a true commitment on the parts of these local veteran organizations. It’s vets looking after vets. It’s taking care of your own, especially when they fall through the ever-widening cracks in federal commitment to these men and women. It is a helping hand. It is always here.

And in a very real sense, these veterans groups represent something very good in our country turning very bad. We phoned Tilley to talk about the VFW services, but at the end of the conversation his thoughts wandered a bit. He began talking about its most recognizable fundraising effort, the tiny Buddy Poppies, given out for free, or traded for a small contribution, and usually in front of a grocery store. The poppy symbolizes the flower made famous in the poem “Flanders Field” — a battlefield in Belgium where thousands of soldiers from many countries were killed and buried — and where the poppy plant took root on the acres of freshly dug graves.

The poppy fundraiser began in 1922. Disabled veterans were hired to make the small flowers to augment their incomes. It has grown since then.

Tilley said that not that long ago every American knew what the Buddy Poppy stood for. “Now I sit out there for three days, and I don’t think half the people know why we’re there.” He seemed mystified by that.

The veterans helping veterans in these local organizations seem do their work happily but, in a larger sense gratefully, if you can imagine.

If you’re looking for a place where a charitable contribution goes a very long way for a cause to which we all owe our way of life, consider our local veterans groups. They won’t ask you themselves.

Opinion Editor’s note: Inevitably when naming veteran-related organizations, you’ll leave one out. But other groups working in the area include AmVets, Fleet Reserve the Marine Corps League ... and others. Thank you all.

Firebombing of Commissioner: A Federal Crime?

Historic City News is reporting that (Commissioner and former Vice Mayor) Nancy Sikes-Kline's home was firebombed at or about 11 PM on Friday, February 2, 2016, with Commissioner Sikes-Kline, her husband Roger Kline, one of their sons and four friends (and a dog or dogs) in the home. This is apparently a terrorist act directed against one of our own, a popular City Commissioner who was elected in 2008, re-elected in 2010 and again in 2014. This would also appear to be a hate crime, directed against a local government official, in possible violation of multiple federal laws: the FBI and ATF should take the lead in investigating. Don't let the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) handle this without federal assistance.

Fire bomb thrown through window of city commissioner’s residence
Posted on February 27, 2016
At about 11:00 p.m. last night, the occupied residence of City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline was fire-bombed according to a report received by Historic City News today. Nancy and Roger Sikes-Kline, their son and four of his friends were inside the home.

Police are reporting that the incendiary device, a crude Molotov cocktail, was thrown through the son’s bedroom window, burning a hole in the window shade. The flaming Snapple bottle did not break on impact, thus the victims avoided serious, possibly life-threatening injury.

The boys were yelling “fire”, alerting the adults to what had just occurred. One of the occupants at 15 Miruela Avenue ran out of the home into the night, but told officers they were not able to see anyone.

Roger Sikes-Kline ran into the room and tried to put the fire out before St Augustine firefighters arrived at the scene. When he realized that he wasn’t able to extinguish the flame, he picked up the Snapple bottle and moved it to the kitchen.

The bottle shattered on the tile floor, spilling the accelerant, flaming up and setting a bag of dog food on fire. The homeowner grabbed a towel, absorbed the fuel, and threw the flaming towel outside the residence. According to reports, the device smelled of gasoline.

Firefighters responded with Ladder 47, Engine 42 and 43. None of the injuries at the scene required transportation of the occupants to the hospital.

Police are continuing their arson investigation; which includes analysis of physical evidence collected at the scene by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

February 27, 2005: Ten Years Ago Today, City Caught Dumping Landfill in Lake

On February 27, 2006, ten years ago today, two environmental lawmen with guns and badges -- an EPA Criminal Investigations Division (CID) investigator and a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) criminal investigator -- met me at the Old City Reservoir in West Augustine.

In response to my documented complaint to the National Response Center in Washington, D.C., the pair of investigators came to investigate a landfill dumped in a lake by City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS a/k/a "WILL HARASS." The rest, shall we say, is "history."

HARRISS retired in disgrace in 2010.

Then Assistant City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. told me on February 27, 2005 that "because of what you have done," it will be "a long process."  Ed's note: I never put a landfill in any lake.

No one was ever charged with a crime.  No one ever went to jail for their environmental crimes -- crimes against nature.  The City wanted to take the contaminated solid waste from one Environmental Justice community (West Augustine) and put it back in Lincolnville (another African American EJ community), put eleven feet of dirt on top and call it a "park."  We stopped them.

Our Nation's Oldest (and perhaps Oddest) City learned some manners, and was fined more than $31,000 for illegal solid waste dumping, 40,000 cubic yards worth, enough to fill 2000 truck loads.

The 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste dumped by our City of St. Augustine in the Old City Reservoir is now in a Class I landfill in Nassau County -- seven of us challenged the City's corrupt deal, enacted under Mayor JOE BOLES in an unusual morning meeting with public comment forbidden.

Those who mocked and insulted concerned citizens on illegal dumping, 2006-2008, are all "done gone with the wind" -- they no longer encumber seats on City Commission.

o Commissioner GEORGE GARDNER, Mayor in 2002-2006, was re-elected to Commission in 2006 and did not run for Commission again after his term expired.  He regrets not having more closely questioned City Manager WILLIAM HARRISS, a/k/a "WILL HARASS."

o Commissioner SUSAN BURK did not run for re-election in 2008, replaced by her erstwhile law partner, LEANNA A.S. FREEMAN, who is

o Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW did not run for re-election in 2010, replaced by WILLIAM LEARY, who resigned, with his place temporarily taken by CRICHLOW.

o Commissioner ERROL JONES disgraced himself with civil and criminal charges and was defeated for re-election in 2012, coming in fourth in the primary at 12%, replaced by Commissioner Roxanne Horvath.

o Mayor BOLES was defeated for re-election in 2014, his clown car antics in suppressing and mocking environmental concerns a key memory of voters who resented his corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, pollution, prejudice and no-bid contracts.

Folio Weekly editor Anne Schindler (now with First Coast News) called  an "environmental hero."

Citizen activists have achieved more than three dozen victories since 2005, and no longer fear City Hall or developer/Establishment disapproval.  We are everywhere at the City and County.

The south end of Lincolnville, where so much solid waste was dumped over 100 years (the Establishment's cynical plan was, as elsewhere, PIBBY --"Place in Blacks' Back Yards") is now set aside as an eleven acre park, thanks to Mayor Nancy Shaver, Blake Souder, Cash McVay, Judith Seraphin and the late Patricia Reilly.

It will be dedicated on Earth Day (April 22) as "Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park."

Citizen sousveillance/surveillance and monitoring of government activities here in co rrupt St. Augustine and St. Johns County is at an all-time high.

See my public comment on this issue at the February 22, 2016 City Commission meeting here.

And the FBI Corruption Task Force is investigating local corruption.

Comm'r SIKES-KLINE Resigns Unconstitutional "Dual Office"

St. Augustine City Commissioner NANCY SIKES KLINE has served in dual offices since at least December 2008, as a member of the St. Augustine City Commission since December 2008 and of the St. Johns County Cultural Review Board (CRRB), formerly the Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) since 2007.
Our City Attorney and County Attorney agreed with me, and Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE resigned at 9:53 AM on Wednsday, February 24, 2016, the morning after I requested it, ten hours and 59 minutes after my 10:54 PM February 23, 2015 e-mail.

My thank you letter to Commissioner SIKES-KLINE is below; so is an interesting article from Historic CIty News (next after this article).

Some questions:

Why did she she remain on the Board after being elected a City Commissioner?

Why did the County Attorney gave such bad legal advice in 2009?

Why does SIKES-KLINE affect not to have known she was reappointed by County Commissioners to the Board in 2013 when she listed the Cultural Resources Review Board membership as "Current" in her 2014 campaign biography, and her 2013 reappointment was prominently reported in Historic CIty News?

So she didn't:
A. Know she was a member of the CRRB?  
B. Know that our Florida Constitution states:
Article II, SECTION 5. Public officers.–
(a) No person holding any office of emolument under any foreign government, or civil office of emolument under the United States or any other state, shall hold any office of honor or of emolument under the government of this state. No person shall hold at the same time more than one office under the government of the state and the counties and municipalities therein, except that a notary public or military officer may hold another office, and any officer may be a member of a constitution revision commission, taxation and budget reform commission, constitutional convention, or statutory body having only advisory powers.

In the words of the late Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.), "That dog won't hunt."

Thanks to citizen B.J. Kalaidi for asking County Commissioners on February 16, 2016 for a list of all SJCCRRB members when Commissioners voted to require financial disclosures. (That move was ineluctably taken, in the wake of the Florida Ethics Commission opinion finding a similar board required financial disclosures (the St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board).  After 51 years of HARB's existence, I first requested that HARB members file such disclosures in 2014, in the wake of flummery from estimable City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN, who asked for "some protection" from his then-understudy, current maladroit City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ).

Oh, and finally thanks to citizen Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr., who just filed a Florida Ethics Commission complaint against Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE, as her service violated our Florida Constitution and may constitute a criminal misdemeanor.

Perhaps the liability issue is why NANCY SIKES-KLINE ungraciously prevaricated/lied thrice in her resignation letter, stating inter alia: "In order to clarify (sic) the status of any (sic) position on the St. Johns County Cultural Resource Review Board that I may be considered (sic) to hold, please consider this my formal written resignation, for the record, effective immediately."

How many violations of our federal and state constitutions and laws remain to be uncovered here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, "Home of the Whopper!?"

What do y'all reckon?

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin <>
To: nsikeskline <>Sent: Fri, Feb 26, 2016 1:21 pm
Subject: Thank you for resigning from SJC CRRB to comply with Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) prohibition on dual office-holding

Dear Commissioner Sikes-Kline:
1. Our County Attorney, Patrick McCormack, has called to inform me of your resignation from our St. Johns County Cultural Review Board: he is sending me your letter.
2. Thank you for your prompt resignation from SJC CRRB to comply with Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) prohibition on dual office-holding
3. Our Constitution worked (again); full compliance with our Florida Constitution Article II, Section 5(a) prohibition on dual office-holding has now been upheld.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am, 
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

From: Nancy Sikes-Kline [
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 9:53 AM
To: Rebecca Lavie
Cc: Isabelle Lopez
Subject: FW: Cultural Resources Review Board

February 24, 2016

To Whom It May Concern: 

In order to clarify (sic) the status of any (sic) position on the St. Johns County Cultural Resource Review Board that I may be considered (sic) to hold, please consider this my formal written resignation, for the record, effective immediately. 


Nancy Sikes-Kline
Commissioner, City of St. Augustine
Member, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization
(904) 806-6203

From: Isabelle Lopez
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 9:23 AM
To: Nancy Sikes-Kline
Subject: FW: Cultural Resources Review Board

From: Rebecca Lavie []
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 9:20 AM
To: Isabelle Lopez
Subject: RE: Cultural Resources Review Board

She was reappointed at the May 21, 2013 BCC meeting to a 4-year term scheduled to expire May 21, 2017. I agree that a formal resignation would be advisable in order to clarify her status.

Rebecca C. Lavie
Assistant County Attorney
500 San Sebastian View
St. Augustine, FL 32084
904.209.0805 (Office)
904.209.0806 (Fax)

Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

This communication may contain privileged and confidential information intended only for the addressee(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, distribution or duplication of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
From: Isabelle Lopez []
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 9:15 AM
To: Rebecca Lavie
Subject: Cultural Resources Review Board

After speaking with Com. Sikes-Kline, her recollection was that she was appointed by Com. Stevenson years ago before the duties of that committee changed. She does not recall, nor is she certain, that she was ever actually re-appointed. Can you confirm? If your records are unclear on whether she is actually still a member, I will suggest she formally resign to clarify her status; agreed?

Isabelle C. Lopez
City Attorney
City of St. Augustine


75 King St.
P.O. Box 210
St. Augustine, FL 32085
(904) 825-1052 (office)
(904) 825-1096 (facsimile)<>

Board Certified in City, County & Local Government Law Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator and Certified County & Circuit Civil Mediator Rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
To: nsikeskline
Sent: Fri, Feb 26, 2016 12:35 pm
Subject: Re: Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) Requires Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline's Resignation from SJC CRRB

Dear Commissioner Sikes-Kline:
1. I have left a message for Ms. Lavie of the County Attorney's office. Our Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) states:
SECTION 5. Public officers.–
(a) No person holding any office of emolument under any foreign government, or civil office of emolument under the United States or any other state, shall hold any office of honor or of emolument under the government of this state. No person shall hold at the same time more than one office under the government of the state and the counties and municipalities therein, except that a notary public or military officer may hold another office, and any officer may be a member of a constitution revision commission, taxation and budget reform commission, constitutional convention, or statutory body having only advisory powers.
2. So, why do you contend that you do not hold dual offices? Please explain your position and kindly send me your "clarifying" letter.
3. The St. Johns County Cultural Resources Review Board (CRRB) is under Florida law an "office," not an "advisory" committee -- the County Commission agrees and voted to require financial disclosures in light of the Florida Ethics Commission ruling on our St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB).
4. The 2009 statement by the County Attorney that the then-HRRB was only "advisory" was erroneous.
5. The County Attorney's opinion and County Commission's ruling in 2016 is that CRRB makes development decisions. Hence, it is an "office."
6. Will you please resign as a member of the St. Johns County Cultural Resources Review Board (HRRB)?
7. If you do not resign from SJC CRRB by close of business today, then will you please request Florida AG's and Ethics Commission opinions and explain to them the legal and factual basis of your opinion that you are not a dual office holder and are not in violation of Article II, Section 5(a)?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Sikes-Kline
To: easlavin
Cc: Isabelle Lopez
Sent: Fri, Feb 26, 2016 9:52 am
Subject: RE: Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) Requires Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline's Resignation from SJC HRRB

Yes, Ed, thank you for your patience as I am late getting back to you on this. The name of the board is now the "Cultural Resource Review Board".

I did submit a formal letter to clarify that I do not hold dual offices. You may wish to talk with Rebecca Lavie, Assistant County Attorney, if you wish more information.

Nancy Sikes-Kline
Commissioner, City of St. Augustine
Member, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization
(904) 806-6203

Please Note: Florida has a very broad Public Records Law. Unless specifically exempt by state law, written communications to city officials or staff regarding official city business are public records available to the public and media upon request. If your email communication is related to official government business, it may therefore be subject to public disclosure.

From: []
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:10 AM
To:; Nancy Sikes-Kline

Subject: Re: Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) Requires Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline's Resignation from SJC HRRB

Please respond. Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
To: nsikeskline
Sent: Tue, Feb 23, 2016 10:44 pm
Subject: Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) Requires Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline's Resignation from SJC HRRB
Dear Commissioner Sikes-Kline:
1. Will you please resign as a member of the St. Johns County Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB)?
2. Your service on both the City Commission and the HRRB apparently violations the dual office holding provision of Article II, Section 5(a) of our Florida Constitution?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

NANCY SIKES-KLINE Resigns "Dual Office" After "A Citizen" (a/k/a yours truly, Ed Slavin) Complained (HCN)

Sikes-Kline resigns to avoid dual-office conflict

275-NSK-RESIGNATIONIt only took St Augustine City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline 30-minutes to bang out her e-mail of resignation Wednesday morning when Assistant County Attorney Rebecca C. Lavie “refreshed her recollection” that she was in fact serving her second 4-year term on St Johns County’s Cultural Resources Review Board in contradiction to state law that prohibits individuals from holding seats on multiple decision making boards.
Sikes-Kline was tipped off to the potential violation after a citizen activist, who has been pushing for better vetting and financial disclosure from members of various appointed citizen boards, asked for her resignation.
Wednesday morning, February 24th, at 9:53 a.m., Sikes-Kline penned her resignation saying:
“In order to clarify the status of any position on the St. Johns County Cultural Resource Review Board that I may be considered to hold, please consider this my formal written resignation, for the record, effective immediately.”
City Attorney Isabelle Lopez told County Attorney Lavie, “She does not recall, nor is she certain, that she was ever actually re-appointed.” 
Really? We found that fishy when we discovered that the appointment was made less than three years ago. We received a response to our request this morning from the County Attorney’s office confirming that Sikes-Kline was reappointed at the May 21, 2013 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners to serve a 4-year term, scheduled to expire May 21, 2017.
Lopez told Lavie in an e-mail obtained by Historic City News that, “I will suggest she formally resign to clarify her status.” Lavie agreed, replying “A formal resignation would be advisable in order to clarify her status.”
Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(a) states:
Public officers: No person shall hold at the same time more than one office under the government of the state and the counties and municipalities therein, except that a notary public or military officer may hold another office, and any officer may be a member of a constitution revision commission, taxation and budget reform commission, constitutional convention, or statutory body having only advisory powers.


Freeman yearns for return to taxpayer-financed aristocracy

275-NOCHE-HORVATH-FREEMANWhen Historic City News readers think of “perks”, they think of rewards paid in private businesses to executives who have earned them by exceeding profits or some other measurable goal. In government, taxpayers expect that if perks for staff and elected officials exist at all, they are limited to de minimis conveniences like a parking space closer to the building, or a key to an executive restroom.
St Augustine residents made clear their resentment of taxpayer-financed junkets to Spain for elected officials, appointed board members, and favored insiders, in the last mayoral election. Likewise, thousands of taxpayer’s dollars squandered on $195 tickets to a private fundraiser for city employees, politicians and their spouses or dates, are seen as having more to do with self-indulgence than fiscal responsibility.
At yesterday’s belated celebration of Pedro Menendez’ birthday, one city commissioner, considering a third run for office, was quoted to say she has been approached by people wondering what happened to the Noche de Gala. “I think a lot of people are missing it,” she said.
A lot of WHAT people?
275-NOCHE-DE-GALA-VIPIt seems Commissioner Freeman, who was the beneficiary of two “free” tickets to the festivities, is of the opinion that such highbrow affairs somehow represent our city’s “cultural heritage”. Without fear of contradiction, we can safely say that, at least in St Augustine, Pedro Menendez never celebrated his birthday with such pomp and circumstance. Maybe she’s confusing the Gilded Age of Henry Flagler with the founding of our city some three centuries earlier.
It is not fair to criticize the extravagance of wealth — families like the Flaglers and the Rockefellers earned it, and they are free to do with it as they see fit. However, extravagance with other people’s money is wrong. To the extent that those “other people” are the taxpayers of the City of St Augustine, where the money was taken from the mandatory assessment of ad valorem taxes, it is unforgiveable.
Freeman probably misses the white-glove treatment she received under the Boles administration. After all, she was also the recipient of two trips to Malaga, Spain courtesy of your city government. And, another free junket to Aviles, Spain since she first took office.
Voters, the taxpaying citizens of St Augustine, have said, “enough”. If the politicians who want to be treated like royalty, elite lords and ladies of some imagined aristocracy, and pay for their indulgences with public money, we must remain vigilant to keep them from stealing the community’s checkbook.


In the words of the late Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia, "This wolf comes as a wolf."
Putting former St. Augustine City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN on the St. Johns Cultural Council board is not unlike putting Dracula in charge of the Blood Bank (or Klansman David Duke on the NAACP Board). Our City is in the midst of an epic court battle over criminalizing artistic expression in St. Augustine. BROWN must resign.

RONALD WAYNE BROWN, former St. Augustine City Attorney

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
To: awitt340
Sent: Sat, Feb 27, 2016 1:44 pm
Subject: Bates v. City of St. Augustine; Former City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN's resignation from St. Johns County Cultural Council Board

Dear Andy:
1. This is an urgent First Amendment issue that won't wait. As I requested yesterday, please send the PDF of United States District Court Judge Brian J. Davis's Order Granting Preliminary Injunction to the Board. When and where is the next St. Johns County Cultural Council board meeting?
2. Will you please place Bates v. City of St. Augustine (Bates II) on the Board agenda and kindly discuss filing of an amicus curiae brief in support of the artists?.
3. A. What are your thoughts about the appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest inherent in former City of St. Augustine City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN (2006-2014) serving on the Board?
B. Controversial St. Augustine City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN is a likely federal court trial witness in Bates II, and might well be called by the artists as an adverse witness in their case-in-chief under Federal Rule of Evidence 611c (direct examination as if on cross-examination).
C. "On what theory?" as Henry Kissinger might say, is RONALD WAYNE BROWN on the Cultural Council Board? If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know that someone put him there. How and why was BROWN appointed to the Board? Who put him there? Please provide all documents and information on the etiology of this decision.
D. Does RONALD WAYNE BROWN's service on the Board neuter, nullify and negate the Board's artist advocacy, chilling robust and uninhibited discussion of BROWN's artist-oppression legislation and prosecution?
E. Neither you nor RONALD WAYNE BROWN are in any position to presume to block or delay Cultural Council support for our City's artists or to pressure plaintiff artists to dismiss their lawsuit. Please cease and desist from uninformed unctuous ukase utterances such as your February 13, 2016 e-mail:
From: Andy []
Sent: Saturday, February 13, 2016 12:55 PM
To: Ron Brown
Subject: Re: Artists issues

Great thanks

What's the current court case. Plaintiff and defendant. And can I get the docs off the web.

Am thinking is the plaintiffs attorney doing it pro bono or hoping to get fees in a settlement

If we could get both parties to drop the suit maybe we could start fresh with some form of mutually agreed regulation

Keep st George street clear but allow some art on the plaza

That seems to be the sticking point from what I hear

(Emphasis added)

4. Having on our Cultural Council Board RONALD WAYNE BROWN -- one of the adversarial architects of the City's anti-artist criminal prosecutions, policies, practices and ordinances, 2006-2014 -- does not pass the "smell test" or the "laugh test." It is deeply offensive. Upon reflection is RONALD WAYNE BROWN serving on the Cultural Council Board not unlike inviting the co-author of the Nuremberg Laws to serve on the board of a Holocaust Museum? In the immortal words of Senator Dale Bumpers, "That dog won't hunt."
5. One way to cure the nasty nagging noisome RONALD WAYNE BROWN problem is BROWN's immediate resignation, which I hereby respectfully request today.
6. Otherwise, please expect to read, see and hear First Amendment protected activity until former City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN resigns.
7. Cultural Council Board members must all be advocates for artists, and not adversaries: this is the Cultural Council's purpose and function.
8. As estimable City Attorney of St. Augustine, RONALD WAYNE BROWN did not carry out City policy, he instigated it and proposed it, acting as a bully, bullet in the gun of City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS, Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR., ex-Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. -- hick hacks who criminalized art in our City and ran artists out of our Plaza de la Constitucion and St. George Street.
9. The simple palpitating truth of the matter is that artist tormenter and prosecutor RONALD WAYNE BROWN has no credibility.
10. It is time for RONALD WAYNE BROWN to go. Please call to discuss.
Thank you for all that you do.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: andy
To: easlavin
Cc: 'Barbara McNees' ; ron
Sent: Fri, Feb 26, 2016 5:09 pm
Subject: RE: Bates v. City of St. Augustine Order Granting Preliminary Injunction

1- Board has already been advised of the document
2- We are conducting a planning process where we are “listening” to the community on issues of interest in advancing the arts, since several artists have raised the Bates/COSA, we will include that in our findings. Next step is a survey of the community that will develop and list of community priorities. At that point, probably this summer following the tabulation of the surveys and a draft report, all the issues will be brought to the board
3- We don’t know enough yet to comment. We have in the past expressed interest in prtobidng the COSA with sample ordinances/policies from other cities
4- That’s board decision as to time
5- Not enough info (sic) to comment other than we believe in fostering an environment where artists of all disciplines can thrive.

Andrew Witt
Executive Director
St Johns Cultural Council
15 Old Mission Avenue
St Augustine, FL 32084

From: []
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2016 3:12 PM
Subject: Bates v. City of St. Augustine Order Granting Preliminary Injunction

Dear Andy:
1. Please distribute the enclosed February 24, 2016 federal court injunction to our Cultural Council Board.
2. Kindly place this issue on their next meeting agenda.
3. Please invite public comment on the legal, moral and ethical duties of our Cultural Council in the face of repeated, open, notorious and blatant violations by our City of St. Augustine of artist rights for 25 years -- criminalizing artistic expression in an arts colony.
4. I suggest that the Cultural Council file an amicus curiae brief with the United States District Court in support of the artists and provide supportive trial witnesses knowledgeable about the economic, social and cultural benefits of plein air painting.
5. Please call to discuss.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

RONALD WAYNE BROWN, former St. Augustine City Attorney

No Such Thing As a "Free" Gala, Any Longer!

Delighted that our City of St. Augustine is not subsidizing two galas any longer.
Economist-opinionator Milton Freeman famously said, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."
For 25 years, the City of St. Augustine put on galas, doling out "free" tickets to the favored few.
That's sick.
Those free gala tickets were a synecdoche for the waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, bigotry and no-bid contracts that made our City Hall a stench in the nostrils of our Nation.
The people said, "enough," electing Mayor Nancy Shaver in 2014.
The Florida League of Cities informed me in 2014 that no other Florida city put on galas.
St. Augustine had two!
Now we have none.
Viva, Mayor Nancy Shaver, for asking questions, obtaning answers, expecting democracy, and helping end these stunning examples of what Thorstein Veblein would call "invidious conspicuous consumption," pompous cotillions for the smug, wasting city staff time and money.
Piggy city managers, directors, commissioners and others guilty of living high on the hog at our expense: over the years, as St. Augustine Record reporter Sheldon Gardner documented in 2015, they received $195 free tickets for a money-losing "benefit" gala that ended up losing money, lacking financial controls and rigorous contractual provisions. No "benefit for anyone at all except for the usual cast of grifters who attach themselves to every government in the land, like maggots on top of a garbage can in Key West in August.

The Record article below quotes controversial Commissioner LEAANA FREEMAN (R-LEN WEEKS), who sheds bitter tears for the lack of a free gala to attend this year.

LEEANA A.S. FREEMAN is a lackey of ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS, who runs the all-white St. Augustine Sister Cities Association, Inc., receives continuing benefits as lessee of city commercial property at below-market rates, and worked without permits, destroying 211-year old 62A Spanish Street (Don Pedro Fornells House), fined only $3600, after which he was hugged by estimable City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ.

Lachrymose lackey LEANNA A.S. FREEMAN, hopefully soon-to-be-ex Commissioner, was a party girl at government expense, accepting free tickets. (Mayor Nancy Shaver always pays for her own tickets). Not enough money for an Inspector General, Ombuds, first floor welcome center or welcoming spirit at City Hall, but crocodile tears for ending the free galas.

So "the city" approached all-white Sister Cities Association President CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. a/k/a ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS, about recreating the controversial, corrupt, money-losing MENENDEZ NOCHE de GALA? As columnist Steven Cottrell asked about another proposed boondoggle, the attempted grand theft of our St. Augustine Post Office for use by Flagler College, "When did “the city” make that policy determination?"

Who is "the city?"

Officials unclear whether Menendez Noche de Gala in St. Augustine will return
Posted: February 26, 2016 - 10:49pm | Updated: February 27, 2016 - 7:08am

St. Augustine mayor Nancy Shaver speaks at a ceremony to commemorate the 497th birthday of the city's founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles in front of a statue of the Spanish explorer on Friday, February 26, 2016. PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM

While St. Augustine officials gathered Friday to mark the 497th birthday of St. Augustine’s founder, one part of the usual birthday festivities will be missing this weekend: The Menendez Noche de Gala.

The black-tie gala normally would have taken place this month in honor of the birthday of Pedro Menendez de Aviles. The city hosted the event each year before handing it over to the Casa Monica in 2011.

No one came forward this year to host the gala, which has been advertised as a benefit for historic preservation and the Lightner Museum. While some say they want the gala to continue, it’s not clear whether it will return.

Some who attended the wreath-laying on Friday near the Pedro Menendez statue in front of City Hall on King Street said they would like to see it come back, just not now.

Len Weeks, president of the St. Augustine Sister Cities Association, said the city approached the association about taking on the gala this year. The efforts that went into the 450th celebration were a factor in the organization saying not now.

“I think people were ready for a break,” Weeks said.

However, Weeks said he believes the event should return and the Sister Cities could be involved.

City Manager John Regan said the city should not be the producer of the event because of the effort and the associated costs.

The cost of producing the gala has ranged from $46,000 to about $72,000 in some years, according to a previous St. Augustine Record report. Tickets purchased by gala attendees ($195 each in 2015) and sponsorships helped offset costs.

While it was, in some years, billed as a benefit to historic preservation and the Lightner museum, the gala was not profitable most years, officials said previously. The city ran the event starting in the late 1990s.

In addition to the cost, producing the event takes a lot of time, Regan said. And now the city’s focus is on its strategic plan, which includes mobility improvements.

Regan said if the City Commission wants to pursue sponsoring the gala, he’ll make a plan for it. But he won’t recommend it.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said.

After Regan took over as city manager during the recession, city government was downsized and the department that produced the gala was dissolved, he said. That’s when the city turned production over to the Casa Monica, though the city still paid for government officials and other guests to attend. The city paid more than $3,300 for tickets for the 2015 gala.

Regan said someone could step forward to take over the gala. He said while it wasn’t a money maker, the gala raised awareness of historic sites and promoted independent preservation efforts.

Commissioner Leanna Freeman, who attended Friday’s wreath-laying event, said she believes the city should take a fresh look at what role it should play in cultural heritage. With all of the efforts put into the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine, the focus has since shifted away from cultural heritage, she said.

She brought up the city’s cultural focus during the budget process and plans to bring it up again, she said.

Freeman said she has been approached by people wondering what happened to the gala.

“I think a lot of people are missing it,” she said.

Archer 02/27/16 - 12:52 am 30What??!
I had heard Noche de Gala was cycled right out of existence, and that Commissioner Leanna Freeman will attempt to institute a new and exclusive gala event to occur at New Year's. Should she win the election.

Gee, if Carlie Seraphin were still around, maybe HE could raise funds for all costs and not take it from tax-payers who don't get to attend.

If something about "cultural heritage" can be found to correlate to a cost-prohibitive gala (except for the 1 percent, that is), then perhaps a heritage gala, affordable by all, would be possible.

beefeater 02/27/16 - 09:48 am 30All things considered,
not a lot of people attended the event, so how/why would "a lot of people" be missing it? It was (and would be) targeted to a small interest group, too "elite" for "a lot of people."

sponger2 02/27/16 - 10:36 am 30Good morning colleagues.
The Bottom line is; there is not enough money or influence to peddle at the affair, which has been the traditional reason for it's existence.

Don't let Flagler College steal our Post Office property: Steven Cottrell column

Flagler College taking over our Post Office?
Is someone out of their cotton-picking mind? That is, first of all, our Post Office. It is, second, prime commercial property. Flagler College is the proverbial camel with its nose under the tent, the proverbial dog in the manger, Republican Lord of All It Surveys, demanding to take over everything and run residents and businesses out of town, after killing trees and destroying homes, run by humorless conservatives who don't respect academic freedom and don't grant faculty members tenure.
As Steven Cottrel asks (below), "When did “the city” make that policy determination?"
History repeats itself: five years ago there were self-serving headlines about a "plan" for Flagler College to acquire the Post Office, with quotes from reprobate Flagler College Chancellor and State Representative WILLIAM L. PROCTOR, the meanest man in St. Augustine, and Mayor JOE BOLES, a/k/a "JOSEPH L. BOLES, JR.," quite possibly the crookedest man now living in St. Augustine.
Of course, I contacted government officials in Atlanta and determined that competitive bidding was required on both ends -- selling the Post Office property and acquiring a new property elsewhere. No hick hack corruption desired or required -- bilious BOLES and PROCTOR, foiled again.
So the Post Office stays where it needs to stay.
Our post office boxes and counter service need to stay there, inviolate, forever.
The rest of the operation -- mail sorting and vehicles -- can move.
And City Hall apparatchiks who are the fawning accomplices of Flagler College, a/k/a "Flagzilla," must appreciate that commercial development of the rest of the Post Office complex on both sides of MLK is more desirable than continued tax-exempt , status.
Let Flagler College expand outside the City borders, perhaps on West King Street, former home of Florida Memorial College, which rabid racists and local businessmen helped run out of town after 1964 Civil Rights victories here.

Public Occurrences: Who sets policy at city hall?
Posted: February 21, 2016 - 8:21pm | Updated: February 22, 2016 - 12:04am

Public Occurrences
How many times have you read news articles that include the phrase, “The city supports ... ” or, “The city has agreed to ... ” and wondered exactly what — or who — is “the city?”

Legislatively and policy-wise, it is the city commissioners. It’s their job to enact local legislation and set policies, and it’s staff’s job to enforce the legislation and carry out the policies.

It’s an unambiguous component of the chain of command protocol.

The top rung of the chain of command, of course, is you.

You express your opinion every two years at the ballot box, and sometimes at public meetings.

The process is pretty simple, but there are times when it appears the tail is wagging the dog.

A recent example of protocol lines seeming to cross occurred at the Feb. 8 City Commission meeting.

Included on the agenda was a public hearing to consider code changes that might affect future Flagler College dormitory locations. An important goal of the code changes was to help ensure a better buffer between residential neighborhoods and college expansion.

The new code language — adopted on a vote of 4-1 — could result in future Flagler dorms being built beyond walking distance of the campus — perhaps even outside the city limits.

Commissioner Todd Neville — who cast the lone dissenting vote — warned that if the college has to build future dorms outside the city, it will only add to St. Augustine’s current traffic and parking woes.

Maybe it’s better to have dorms within walking distance of the campus, with on-site parking, he suggested, then to have hundreds of additional vehicles coming and going daily when the college is in session.

His cautionary words have merit.

But that issue aside, what caught my attention was how city staff responded when Commissioner Leanna Freeman asked if future use of the post office property at King Street and Martin Luther King Avenue had been discussed at planning and zoning board meetings during the broader discussion of possible code changes aimed at lessening college expansion impacts on adjoining neighborhoods.

It’s inevitable that at some point the post office will move out of downtown, so I felt her question was germane to the commission’s general discussion.

Mayor Nancy Shaver correctly noted, however, that the purpose of the public hearing was to discuss pros and cons of the proposed code change, not pros and cons of projects that may or may not come to pass,

Maybe so, but I was surprised by staff’s response to Commissioner Freeman.

Freeman asked David Birchim, director of the Planning and Building Department, “Did you talk about the post office (at PZB hearings)?”

“I think that discussion was held by the visioning committee,” he answered, adding, “Given the fact that Flagler College, I believe, owns the little parking lot to the east of the post office on King Street, and because they own the dormitories south of the post office on Cedar Street ... (the P.O.) seems to be property that was suitable for college development.”


When did “the city” make that policy determination?

The mayor reminded her colleagues, “We’re talking about zoning, we’re not talking about a specific opportunity that may or may not come to fruition,”

True, but I was puzzled by the fact that no one at the commission table questioned staff’s assumption that Flagler College will eventually take ownership of the post office property.

In fact, Vice Mayor Roxanne Horvath reinforced staff’s comments when she said the post office is “the logical location for a dorm.”

Is that her personal opinion, or maybe a suggestion from the nonbinding visioning committee she recently chaired?

Since the commission has never, to my knowledge, taken a position of “no interest” in the property, why would staff or any commissioner assume that the post office will become part of Flagler College?

Maybe “the city” can develop its own plans and submit its own purchase bid once the property is on the market at some point down the road?

Hearing staff and at least one commissioner essentially concede the property to the college at a public meeting struck me as premature.

Maybe there’s a higher and better use for that parcel than razing the post office and building another college dorm?

Sure hope so.

Steve Cottrell can be contacted at

SkateG 02/22/16 - 01:56 pm 40Amen!
Given its size and location, the post office lot has great commercial potential. Mr. Cottrell is exactly correct, the city staff and Commission should not assume the lot will go to Flagler. It has tremendous commercial potential and could contribute property tax revenue to this revenue-challenged city. Just because it's not currently on the tax rolls, doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

On the expansion of Flagler in downtown CoSA, I don't agree with Mr. Cottrell or Mr. Neville. The college should start thinking differently and recognize that its future is west of US 1. Perhaps Mr. Neville can inspire students making the trip to downtown classrooms from dorms west of US 1 to use bikes?

If allowed, Flagler College will consume St Augustine the way Godzilla dealt with Tokyo.


Jason Hamilton 02/22/16 - 02:10 pm 21@Steve
Good article. Do you (or anyone) know who owns the property now? Is it the cities with a lease to the Postal Service? Also do you know how Flagler came to own the east parking lot of the post office? I always assumed it was part of the post office's property. I know the parking lot and structure west of the post office is owned by the Masonic Lodge (where St. Johns Printing is). Seems like buying one of the three homes on MLK ,between Cedar and King, would be a good investment because Pac-Man, I mean Flagler likely wants to gobble them up. Has anyone conducted a study that would illustrate exactly how Flagler Collage financially adds to the city? Understandably the students buy some things here, like food and drinks. Some students live off campus so they add by contributing through paying rent, and buying gas. I know the collage is not going anywhere, nor am I suggesting that it should. I just want to know what is the impact Flagler has in total vs. if all the incorporated properties were still on the tax roster with residents/businesses occupying them. In my life I have watched the school grow larger and larger. The bigger it has become the more power and influence it is wielding. Steve's article seems to prove this. It is the unelected 6th commissioner and they are setting policy with it in mind. I feel that they (city officials) consider Flagler's well being far more than they do for the tax paying electret. With the manifest destiny the collage exuding if they are not already a silent partner they soon will be.

Archer 02/22/16 - 06:29 pm 10Check out the Tax Rolls
for Flagler College.

sfc1942 02/22/16 - 06:54 pm 21Jason: Thanks –– appreciate

Thanks –– appreciate your input.

Based on a news article in The Record from 2010, the property used to be owned by Flagler College and they sold it to the USPS. Now, I guess, the college would like to get it back when it's available?

In 2010 there was discussion about moving the P.O. out to the Ponce de Leon shopping center and the college buying the King Street building for something in the neighborhood of $1.5-$1.8 million. Nothing came of it, but City Hall even then seemed resigned to Flagler taking back ownership of the parcel.

It’s the gateway to Lincolnville, and future use of the property deserves some community discussion. Maybe this column will help energize that discussion?

Thanks again for your comments.

Steve Cottrell

Archer 02/22/16 - 07:35 pm 20City isn't "resigned"
It is bought and paid for.

lopuser 02/23/16 - 12:40 pm 40Flagler Doesn't Need Another Dormitory
Flagler is currently planning a major new building project (already approved) on their property on Riberia St. This project will include a new dormitory, a three-story parking garage, and a third structure that will include a workout facility, food service and other amenities. The College has been saying for years that it doesn't have any plans to grow while it has continued to purchase additional property, build buildings and increase enrollment from a few hundred students to more than 2,500 presently. If Flagler has no plans to grow why do they need additional dormitories? The Commission made the absolute correct decision by not allowing any more dormitories in commercial or residential zones, without an "exception." The only way to control the unending growth of Flagler is to set tough zoning laws and enforcie them. Flagler will consume the entire City if the residents don't elect commissioners who care more about the City than they do about accommodating the needs or wishes of any other commercial or institutional interest?

Archer 02/23/16 - 03:13 pm 30@lopuser
Well said! The loop-holes are gargantuan... large enough to fit all of Flagler College through them.

FC has been given a golden ticket to consume downtown whole, and before even a tiny burp erupts, they're on to the next project.

Commissioner Neville fully supports Flagler College and all its development. Remember that in two years.

FC is one of the major reasons why we need professional oversight and members on the citizen boards, such as HARB and PZB.

If Flagler must grow, then do satellite locations out of downtown and in the county. We must not squander what is left of our heritage on this bully.

SAY NO AND MEAN NO. Elect ONLY those who will do the same.

Friday, February 26, 2016

DeSANTIS Brags on Casino Magnate Steve Wynn Support

Taking casino cash is one thing but bragging on it is another. Our dodgy, demagogic, do-nothing, nasty, partisan, snooty, unkind, uncouth, gauche, louche, Obama-hating other-directed U.S. Rep. RONALD DION DeSANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra Beach/Koch Brothers), a Harvard lawyer who uses Harvard as a punchline, is running for U.S. Senate. DeSANTIS brags on support from casino magnate Steven Wynn:

Beruff campaign attacks DeSantis, calling him a political insider
Michael AuslenMichael Auslen, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Friday, February 26, 2016 12:49pm
After the Ron DeSantis campaign went after the newest entry in the Senate race, Carlos Beruff, as a "Charlie Crist Republican" this week, Beruff is fighting back.
Friday morning, his campaign released emails showing that DeSantis tried to meet with Beruff in January, which the latter's campaign says was to ask for money from the millionaire Manatee County homebuilder. What's more, they released an email in which DeSantis claimed the support of casino-magnate Steve Wynn.
That's the problem, Beruff says. It proves DeSantis is a political "insider."
"While Congressman Ron DeSantis claims to be an outsider who hasn’t been changed by Washington, his actions speak louder than his words," campaign spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement.
But the DeSantis campaign insists that's not the case.
The emails released by Beruff refer to the meeting as a "courtesy visit," and it came in January, just as rumors were swirling about Beruff's candidacy.
“Ron DeSantis has never met or had a conversation with Charlie Crist Republican, Carlos Beruff," DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold said. "But if Mr. Beruff would like to change his mind and support our campaign to help us fight his brand of crony capitalism in Washington, we’d gladly take it."
DeSantis and Beruff are two of five Republicans running to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. The others are Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Congressman David Jolly and businessman Todd Wilcox.

6th District U.S. Rep. RONALD DION DeSANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra Beach/Koch Brothers)
(Flagler Live)