Saturday, December 09, 2017

Les Whitten, a/k/a Leslie Hunter Whitten Jr., R.I.P

One of my heroes, investigative reporter Les Whitten, has died. I was inspired, circa age 13, when I saw les Whitten's boss, Jack Anderson, speak at Camden County College in Blackwood, N.J., where my mom worked. Here's The New York Times obituary:

Les Whitten, Muckraking Columnist and Novelist, Dies at 89
DEC. 7, 2017
The New York Times

Les Whitten, who shared a byline with Jack Anderson on a nationally syndicated newspaper column that mercilessly exposed Washington’s foibles and frauds and who once even spied on J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the F.B.I., died on Saturday in Adelphi, Md. He was 89.

The cause was sepsis, his son Les Whitten III said.

Mr. Whitten, who also wrote nearly a dozen political thrillers and horror and science fiction novels, figured in a major First Amendment controversy in 1973. He and two American Indian activists were arrested that January as they loaded cartons of stolen government documents into his Chevrolet Vega hatchback a mile from the White House.

F.B.I. agents “came swarming out of neighboring cars and doorways like ants from a rotten log,” he recalled in Mark Feldstein’s “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture” (2010).

The agents confiscated his pen and pad and accused him of a felony punishable by 10 years in prison, saying he illegally possessed official papers seized when protesters occupied a Washington office building a few months before over the government’s stewardship of Indian affairs.

Journalists expressed concern that the arrest — based merely on having the documents, not on stealing them — would send a chill through the ranks of investigative reporters.

“All of us on my staff are ready to join Les Whitten in jail, if we must, before we will stop digging out and reporting the news,” Anderson, who died in 2005, declared. He had already contrived an inspired defense, though.

Claiming that he planned to write a complimentary profile of Rogers Morton, the secretary of the interior, Anderson reminded Morton that unlike mainstream reporters he subsisted on exclusive reporting. He charmed Morton into handing him confidential files that reflected well on his record overseeing Native American affairs. The idea was to catch a government official leaking the same sorts of confidential documents that Mr. Whitten was accused of possessing.

Armed with photocopies, Anderson told Mr. Whitten, “If this ever comes to trial, we’re going to have a heck of a witness for your defense.”

Mr. Whitten recalled in 2005 in The Huffington Post: “My case carried a 10-year prison term. I don’t know how many years Morton’s carried.”

Mr. Whitten insisted that he had the documents only because he was helping a source return them to the government. Two weeks after his arrest, a federal grand jury declined to bring charges.

Anderson had hired Mr. Whitten, who had worked for The Washington Post and the Hearst newspaper chain, in 1969, just four months after inheriting the “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column from Drew Pearson.

Anderson admired Mr. Whitten’s tenacity and his knowledge of how power worked in Washington.

“Les Whitten is the best reporter in town,” he told an interviewer from The Boston Globe in 1972. “Would you put that down?”

Leslie Hunter Whitten Jr. was born on Feb. 21, 1928, in Jacksonville, Fla. His father was an engineer and executive of Graybar, the electrical supply company. His mother, the former Linnora Harvey, was a Latin teacher.

After growing up in Washington, he enrolled in a civil engineering program at Lehigh University, but dropped out after three semesters, served in the Army, and settled in Paris to become a poet. He returned to Lehigh, switched his major to English and journalism, and graduated in 1950.

Mr. Whitten was the self-described “Episcopalian wine-loving atheist” to Anderson’s teetotaling Mormon, a “fellow egotist” who became more eager to topple a corrupt politician as a journalist than to build from the ground up as an engineer.

In 1951 he married the former Phyllis Webber, who died in January. In addition to their son Leslie III, he is survived by their two other sons, Daniel and Andrew; a daughter from a previous relationship, Deborah Engle; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Whitten was a reporter for Radio Free Europe, International News Service, United Press International, The Post and Hearst before Anderson hired him. They worked together full time until 1978. The success of “Conflict of Interest” (1976), Mr. Whitten’s novel about a crusading reporter, led him to shift to a part-time role with the column.

Tom Buckley, reviewing that novel in The New York Times Book Review, described Mr. Whitten as “Jack Anderson’s senior ferret” who “brought many scandals to light in the nation’s capital.” As for the book itself, Mr. Buckley wrote that it was “more interesting as a manual of journalistic procedure than it is as a work of creative imagination.”

Mr. Whitten’s earlier books included “The Alchemist” (1973), a tale that mixed Washington politics with Satanism and the occult. Martin Levin, writing about that novel in The Times Book Review, called Mr. Whitten “an elegant stylist with a flair for both language and action.”

Mr. Whitten’s other novels included “Moon of the Wolf” (1967), which was adapted into a 1972 television horror movie starring David Janssen; and “Moses: The Lost Book of the Bible” (1999). He also wrote “F. Lee Bailey” (1971), a biography of the defense lawyer.

Mr. Whitten was making a hefty — at least for journalism — $22,000 a year in 1972 (about $130,000 in today’s dollars) as Anderson’s chief assistant. That was more than Anderson was paying his other acolytes, among them Brit Hume, later a Fox anchorman. (The others rarely received bylines to boot.) But the money, Mr. Whitten suggested, was less than he might have earned as a full-time novelist.

Still, not every novelist could search for a scoop by going through a government official’s garbage or staking out Hoover while looking into his private life and liaisons with his chief deputy and close associate, Clyde Tolson. The columns that resulted from those investigations prompted Hoover to denounce Anderson and his ilk as “lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures.”

Mr. Whitten told Life magazine in 1972, “This job gives me a chance to do what I wanted to do all my newspaper life — knock the bleeding crap out of the people who are corrupting the country, and there are plenty of them.”

Despite his swagger, he acknowledged his limitations.

“We only catch chips of the truth,” Mr. Whitten said. “But I don’t think that’s frustrating: To get the whole truth, you’ve got to be God.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 8, 2017, on Page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Les Whitten, 89, Columnist; Exposed Washington’s Frauds. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

St. Augustine Record Columnist Margo C. Pope: Saving the pier, a goal for all?

We can get a nice new pier by pledging bed tax revenue to repay bonds. Yes, we can!

County Administrator Michael Wanchick won't discuss it publicly. 

I've been pointing this out since mid-2016.

Posted December 9, 2017 06:40 am
By Margo C. Pope Correspondent

POPE’S VIEW: Saving the pier, a goal for all?

I hadn’t spent much time in recent years on the St. Johns County Ocean and Beach Fishing Pier at St. Augustine Beach. But, I made a trip there shortly after seeing this headline in the St. Augustine Record on Oct. 6: “‘CRUMBLING CROWN JEWEL’: County plans to let pier die; city of St. Augustine Beach to look for ways to save it.”

A pier walk used to be a frequent Sunday afternoon diversion and then a stop at a beach restaurant. Then the times between those walks got longer and longer. Our Sunday afternoons fell victim to work on the house or, on the job. For four months after Hurricane Matthew, when we were living at Crescent Beach, I’d pass Pier Park but was always rushing somewhere else. We’d walk part of Crescent Beach instead.

The talk of the future of the pier, etc., between St. Johns County and St. Augustine Beach governments, and the costs of operation and management, is the reality today. The beach is a popular place for tourists and locals but even their property taxes and the tourist-development-tax, otherwise known as the bed tax, don’t cover what all county government requires. Piers don’t last forever. A replacement is $10 million or more. I don’t envy the two governments involved.

The center of St. Augustine Beach’s public space is the Pier. Where else can you look out to the horizon, breathe the healthy salt air, watch the churning Atlantic, see surfers, surf fishing people, beach walkers with and without dog, and others like yourself, just sightseeing?

My family’s outings back in the day were beach driven. Then, the Fourth of July was “officially” celebrated all day long at the center of the community, the pier and its parking lot.

It was a big day for my family and many of our friends who were city folks. My Dad would pack the beach gear – blankets, folding chairs, each balls and rafts, ice chest filled with sodas, and a separate cooler filled with food burrowed in more ice so they would not spoil.

Jammed packed in our big Oldsmobile convertible, we would head from downtown, top down, singing whatever songs my parents thought of. World War II was still fresh in their lives, Daddy in the Air Force, and Mama having been in the South Pacific with the American Red Cross during the war. We knew all the Armed Services songs. If my Grandmother and Grandfather Cox from Connecticut were visiting, there would be more patriotic songs from their first war, World War I, he in the Army overseas and she, a Yeomanette, stateside.

We sometimes shared beach days with the Slater family who lived at the Beach year round. My brother and I thought it was pretty cool to have the beach as your playground. When we got together, all the kids would head to the pier and “stroll” the pier. It always surprised me that fishermen-and-women would catch anything considering the ocean was 12-14 feet below, a long way down for the fishing line to connect with a fish. Some fisher-people would have buckets they would attach to another line to “catch” the fish as it got closer to journey’s end.

As a teenager, my husband recalls catching a lot of whiting and an occasional drum that “hung around” the pilings, too. His parents always took Sunday drives to the beach and walked the pier, too.

It’s hard now to think the pier in past tense.

It’s easy enough to say, “Save the Pier.” But, we are not County Administrator Michael Wanchick, Beach City Manager Max Royle, County Commission Chair Henry Dean and Beach Mayor Rich O’Brien trying to work out a possible solution for their boards to consider. A public-private partnership may be a way. There will be giving and taking, of course, but if this wonderful place gets to keep being wonderful, isn’t that what we want?

Margo C. Pope was associated with The St. Augustine Record for 24 of her 42 years with Morris Publishing Group. She retired in 2012 as The Record’s editorial page editor.

SAB Commissioners Skeptical on $20,000 MORE For Conflicted ENGLAND THIMS & MILLER on Land Development Regulations (LDRs)

Is Northeast Florida Regional Council CEO BRIAN TEEPLE in breach of contract for work for the City of St. Augustine Beach?

Was it a conflict of interest for NEFRC to turn around and hire giant developer engineering firm ENGLAND, THIMS & MILLR for work on the Land Development regulations?

St. Augustine Beach City Attorney James Patrick Wilson didn't mince words.

 At the December 6, 2017 St. Augustine Bach CityCommission meeting, he said that work done on the City's land development regulations since 2014 by consultants was thus far a failure.

"I found the documents to be somewhat incomplete and full of mistakes and errors. It would take a lot of massaging to do it," Mr. Wilson said.

Commissioners were disinclined to give any more money to the Northeast Florida Regional Council, a government agency, and the developer engineering firm of ENGLAND, THIMS and MILLER.

"They were paid well to be here," Jim Wilson said.

And ETM delivered inferior work produt.

Commissioner Maggie Kostka quoted from the original contract. NEFRC and ETM have not yet done the required work and skipped City Commission meetings.

There is more work to be done. See tape here: (1:52:00 to 2:05:00)

NEFRC and ETM claim they've complied with the contract, City Attorney Wilson said.

"They were well paid to be here. I don't know how they accounted for their hours.... I'm not a big fan of consultants... whose work sits o book shelves."

"We can do this. I know we can," said Commissioner Margaret England.

Watchdog Tom Reynolds said, "These people are trying to jack us $20,000. I don't want to negotiate with them. I want to send the a letter.... Thank God Commissioner Kostka got elected. You don't miss a trick.... One of the best rookie years" of any public officials he's ever seen. Mr. Reynolds then suggested that PRISCILLA "RACHAEL" BENNETT be involved. "She knows it," he said of the disgraced developer puppet. Brian Teeple "owes us money," and he was "never impressed" with Linday Haga.

I agreed with Mr. Reynolds and said that Commissioner Kostka is "wiser than a tree of owls." It's a "breach of contract," I said. It's a "breach of contract," I said.

Never again should a government sign a jury trial waiver, as former City Attorney DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT did with NEFRC and ETM.

ETM's website says: "ETM has an extensive history of providing professional services for all traditional land development sectors, including commercial, retail, industrial and residential as well as non-traditional sectors such as lifestyle centers and dense mixed-use urban redevelopment."

ETM works for every single tree-killing wetland destroying carpetbagging developer in Florida."

SAB paid $42,000 for a "pig in a polk, errors and omissions and flabby thinking," I said.

"Your public comment procedures stink on ice," I told Mayor O'BRIEN. I suggested "actual law professors, people wnho don't have a got in the race," to vet the LDRs. "The best experts are cheap or free."

Delays have allowed Mayor RICHARD O'BRIEN to build his two McMansions on F Street while the LDRs are in limbo.

Newly-appointed Commissioner Don Samora asked for a "timeframe" to be presented at the January 6, 2017 9 AM meeting.

Federal Judge Halts Destruction of Miami Rockland Forest, Home to 20 Endangered Species, Halting Bulldozers Like This One

Thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity for halting a billion dollar Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center and 900 apartment "development" threatening the survival of twenty
(20) endangered species in a Miami rockland forest.  The 50 acre tract was formerly owned by the University of Miami, which received the former federal land to preserve, only to sell the land (and its soul, if any) to developers.

The same day the lawsuit was filed, Miami-based United States District Judge Ursula Mancusi Urgano found that plaintiffs have a high probability of prevailing on the merits.  She temporarily halted the project, orderingTemporary Restraining Order.

She halted the bulldozers, instanter.   Three cheers for the independence of article III federal courts.


On January 15, 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity presented the Earth2Trump Roadshow at our St. Augustine Amphitheater -- the only stop in Florida -- for a pre-inauguration road show protest.

Good work!

United States District Court Judge Ursula Mancusi Urgano

Center for Biological Diversity Florida Director Jaclyn Lopez

Judge orders emergency halt to clearing of rare Miami forest targeted for Walmart BY JENNY STALETOVICH
DECEMBER 08, 2017 03:22 PM
UPDATED DECEMBER 08, 2017 08:42 PM

Miami Pine Rockland Coalition founder Al Sunshine photographed a bulldozer on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, clearing trees and brush on pine rockland targeted for a shopping mall and 900 apartments. Courtesy Al Sunshine

Read more here:
On Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, a judge ordered a developer to stop work on pine rockland where he plans to build a shopping center and apartments that would destroy about half of the globally imperiled forest.
Earlier this week, the Fish and Wildlife Service signed off on a habitat conservation plan that cleared the way for Palm Beach County developer Peter Cummings to start work on the controversial project he unveiled in 2014. A day later, bulldozers began downing trees and plowing brush.
In approving the conservation plan, wildlife managers said the menagerie of plants and animals, some of which can be found only in pine rockland, have a better chance at surviving because the land had become overgrown and choked by invasive plants after the University of Miami, which was given the land by the U.S. government, failed to maintain it before selling it to Cummings for $22 million.
“You’ve minimized and mitigated impacts to the species and taking is not going to reduce survivability in wild,” Ashleigh Blackford, the supervisor of planning and resource conservation for the Service’s Florida field office, said earlier this week.
But in their lawsuit filed Friday morning, environmentalists said the plan failed in a number of ways, starting with surveys of the disappearing species the plan is intended to protect.
CRC site plan
The habitat conservation plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets aside two smaller preserves on the property, just over 20 acres each, connected by a ‘wildlife corridor.’
Ram Realty

Read more here:

Read more here:
Those surveys were either incomplete or nonexistent, according to the lawsuit against the Service, the U.S. Department of Interior, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. No survey was done for tiger beetles, which were first discovered in the pineland in the 1930s, vanished and were rediscovered in 2007. Only part of the forest was checked for bonneted bats, a species so rare and elusive that only a handful of roosts have been documented in South Florida. And plants were used as a proxy to search for Bartram’s hairstreak butterflies, the suit claims.
The lawsuit also argued that alternative site plans provided to federal wildlife managers failed to consider county protections already in place, and that the developer inflated the potential restoration on the preserves to paint a rosier picture than would likely occur.
The Fish and Wildlife Service also allowed Cummings’ environmental consultants to develop their own formula for calculating the amount of damage that might occur. The untested method, the lawsuit said, had not been peer-reviewed and could set a precedent for use on other projects. About 3,000 people submitted comments on the plan, most opposing it.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ken Warren said the agency had received a copy of the judge’s ruling Friday.
“Our staff put a lot of good work into this project,” he said in an email. “Now it becomes a matter for the court.”
WPP09 WalMart News rk
Environmentalist Al Sunshine shows a photo he took on his cellphone of a bulldozer clearing land Friday on a pine rockland where a developer wants to build a Walmart-anchored shopping center and 900 apartments.
Roberto Koltun
In an emailed statement, a spokesman said Cummings’ company, Ram Realty Services, spent seven years studying the site and putting together a “comprehensive” strategy. The plan also brings another 51 acres UM owns nearby under management, he said, although it should be noted that land is already under a conservation easement requiring it to be maintained.
Land clearing that started this week, the statement said, was aimed at removing invasive plants and directed by “the appropriate regulatory agencies.” After receiving the court order Friday afternoon, work was stopped, but the company plans to fight to overturn the decision, the statement said.
“We view today’s court filing as a willful attempt to delay the restoration of this degraded site and prevent the development of a much needed addition to the local community,” the statement said, adding that the public was allowed to comment throughout the lengthy process. “It’s unfortunate that certain organizations choose to focus their efforts in the Courts rather than in the restoration and improvement of the abandoned blight that has existed on this site for years, but we respect their rights to do so and will respond appropriately as needed.”
In addition to the federal case, neighbors have filed a lawsuit in state court arguing that they were not adequately notified about the project because it provided a “layman’s description” that failed to mention the shopping center or apartments.

Endangered Pine Rockland

Frank Ridgley, head of conservation and research at Zoo Miami, talks about the endangered pine rockland
Video and pictures by Peter Andrew Bosch and Jenny Staletovich/Miami Herald

Read more here:

Judge stops US from allowing destruction of Miami forest
The Associated Press
DECEMBER 08, 2017 04:38 PM
UPDATED DECEMBER 08, 2017 04:39 PM

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that would have allowed the destruction of a rare forest near Miami to build a shopping center and apartments.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro issued an order Friday stopping the clearing of about 50 acres of pine rockland forest that is home to about 20 endangered species, including the Miami tiger beetle.

She said the lawsuit filed Friday by the Center for Biological Diversity against the service will likely succeed, so she stopped bulldozers that had begun tearing down trees this week shortly after the wildlife service approved the development.

The group's Florida director, Jaclyn Lopez, told The Miami Herald , "We are elated."

The Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Read more here:

Two Florida Republicans Hatch Plans to Legalize Illegal Online Sports Gambling (SB 374 & HB 223)

Two leaders of Florida Republican legislators seek to legalize multibillion dollar illegal gambling schemes by DraftKings  and Fan Duel.  Watch these two other-directed as they attempt to justify immoral corporate oligarchs and their unethical marketing, addicting young people to online gambling.

While the Attorney General of New York State has shut them down, Flori-DUH legislators want to legalize them., despite investigative reporting by The New York Times and PBS Frontline.

State Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa)

State Rep. JASON BRODEUR (R-Sanford)

Two Florida Republican legislators seek to legalize multibillion dollar illegal gambling schemes by DraftKings  and Fan Duel.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halted two multi-billion dollar online gambling schemes for lawbreaking, banning DraftKings and FanDuel from taking daily fantasy sports bets from New York residents. The order was the result of  The New York Times investigation headed by Assistant Editor for Investigative Reporting Walt Bogdanich. 

Here's NSOF's article:

Bill would clarify fantasy sports not subject to Florida gambling laws
News Service of Florida News Service of Florida
4:58 p.m Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Despite concerns raised by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, a Senate committee Thursday approved a bill that would make clear fantasy sports contests are not a type of illegal gambling.

Lawmakers in recent years have repeatedly considered such bills after questions were raised in Florida and other states about the legality of online fantasy-sports games.

In fantasy sports, participants typically select teams of actual athletes, with the teams winning or losing based on the athletes’ statistical performances. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Thursday voted 8-1 to back a measure (SB 374), filed by Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, that would seek to establish that the games are legal and are not subject to state gambling regulation.

“We’ve got 3 million Floridians that love playing these games, and they are looking to us to let them know that they are not engaging in some sort of criminal activity,” Young said.

The Seminole Tribe, however, sent a letter Tuesday to the Legislature expressing concerns about whether the proposal could violate a gambling agreement between the tribe and the state.

The agreement involves the tribe making payments to the state and receiving what is known as “exclusivity” in being able to offer certain types of games at its casinos.

In the letter, the tribe said it thinks the proposed fantasy-sports legislation would violate the exclusivity in the gambling agreement.

Young, however, disputed the tribe’s contentions before the Regulated Industries Committee approved the bill. Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, has filed a similar bill (HB 223), though it has not been heard in House committees.

The bills are filed for the 2018 legislative session, which starts Jan. 9.


In September, Dr. JAMES GRIMES, M.D. et ux destroyed a dune after Hurricane Irma, a possible environmental crime investigated by the police and environmental regulators.  On December 6, DR. GRIMES asked City of St. Augustine Beach Commissioners to join in his demand for a retroactive permit.

The City Commissioners said NO WAY.

On December 6, 2017, he was turned down by St. Augustine Beach City Commissioners, led by Mayor-elect UNDINE PAWLOWSKI GEORGE, who said "I have zero appetite" for supporting an after-the-fact permit for a "free walkway," while reducing the dune height by another four feet, with "no science," just a one page document, no agreement by neighbors (or "buy-in") for an alley walkover only 150 feet from the next walkover, and no consultation with the County Engineer. "We don't need to stab them in the back," she said.

Mayor-elect GEORGE and Vice Mayor-elect MARGARET ENGLAND noted there were "no plans." Commissioners Margaret England, Maggie Kostka and Donald Samora agreed there was "no application" and "nothing to vote on."

"Sir, our number one priority is beach renourishment," Mayor-elect GEORGE said.  Nothing should be done that would risk U.S. Army Corps of Engineers support for renourishment for GRIMES' view.

Bruce Wright said, "leave the dunes alone," noting that "you're not even supposed to walk on them," while condemning GRIMES' "backhoe activity."

Ann Palmquist took offense at PARTEL's condemning "nature's creation" as "monstrous" and to GRIMES having "no remorse."

GRIMES then spoke to his alleged environmental crimes -- the 2 Twelfth Lane controversy -- demurely claiming there was "a lack of clarity about aha happened," saying "I wasn't there."  Leon's Tractor Service, "good-ole-boys" did the work, but GRIMES was not present.   GRIMES claims "there was no intent."  GRIMES claimed the SABPD and FDEP said, "Hmm.  Okay."

That bizarre claim is flatly contradicted by SABPD and FDEP paperwork. What a liar.

GRIMES never returned my telephone calls after the SABPD and FDEP investigated.  Coward?

Watch video here starting at 57:00 to  1:51:45.

I wanted to sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Thanks to St. Augustine Beach City Commissioners for their decisiveness, roundly rejecting the invitation of dastardly dune-destroying Dr. JAMES GRIMES, rejecting his demand to join with him in his application for a retroactive permit. GRIMES' crimes against nature have "zero" support here.

Flagler Hospital Chief of Medicine Dr. JAMES GRIMES, M.D. was unsworn, unapologetic, uncaring and uncandid.  So was GRIMES' consultant.

DR. GRIMES' oleaginous Coastal Consultants mouthpiece, former FDEP employee, KEVIN PARTEL, bragged of FDEP agreeing to the permit verbally (without evidence), as he actually attacked the dune as a "monstrous obnoxious dune," saying "there was no beach there" until 1988.  PARTEL said he and GRIMES wanted to provide the City with an unneeded "walkover" on a small lane where none is needed "out of the kindness of our hearts."  I coughed (or laughed).

Only dune-destroying Mayor RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN wanted to help Dr. GRIMES, but PARTEL admitted that O'BRIEN is a client of PARTEL.  I told O'BRIEN he would have to recuse himself.  F.S. 112.313.

KEVIN PARTEL (rhymes with "cartel') publicly bragged to O'BRIEN that he'd been working "at your house for years."

PARTEL previously spoke to City Commissioners in 2015, called in by then-Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS (R-Key International), to speak about storm-proofing and the too-tall Embassy Suites Hotel.  Rather than call FDEP for a speaker, SAMUELS called PARTEL.  Why?

Note to DR. GRIMES:  The "monstrous obnoxious dune" was created by nature.  It shelters wildlife, it is legally protected and it protects homes and businesses from flooding in hurricanes and Nor'easters.

DR. GRIMES' alleged environmental crime, like Mayor O'BRIEN's alleged environmental crime, was "monstrous and obnoxious."

DR. GRIMES and KEVIN PARTEL, his pompous consultant deserve to be rejected by FDEP.  FDEP needs to investigate PARTEL's bragging about he "pushes through permits" at FDEP and USACE, claiming he spoke in Tallahassee with Tony McNeal of FDEP, overstating his case by implying inside influence and implying his expected approval -- yet wheedling for nearly an hour in an attempt to make the City a "co-applicant."

You can reach Coastal Construction Control Line Program Administrator Tony McNeal, P.E. at 850-245-7665 (direct dial)(Florida P.E. license no. 48886, state employee since 11/05/1984, annual salary $75,976.56).

I compared DR. GRIMES to the kid who kills his parents and throws himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan -- this shameless sawbones radiates chutzpa.  GRIMES said he was not present when the backhoe did its damage.

GRIMES' wife was apparently there when the damage was done, based on FDEP and news reports).   GRIMES was having a knee replacement (out of town -- wonder why?  What does he know.)

PZB Chair Jane West, an environmental attorney, was nowhere to be seen, having attended City Commission meetings two nights in a row on a bag ban, but taking a walk on the dune destruction.


Read my prior coverage on GRIMES' environmental crimes on this blog:

September 29, 2017 (PHYSICIAN, HEAL THIS DUNE:  Bulldozer Damaged Dune, Homeowner Gets FDEP Ultimatum -- Flagler Hospital Medical Staff President, JAMES MICHAEL GRIMES, M.D.)

I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump. He tells far more lies, and far more cruel ones, than ordinary people do. (Dr. Bella DePaulo, WaPo)

This ethically-impaired bully and his local dotard toadies and enablers (like Sheriff DAVID SHOAR) need to be ousted from office.

President Trump has made more than 1,318 false or misleading statements

Bella DePaulo is a social scientist who has published extensively on the psychology of lying. Her most recent book is "Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone."
I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.
He tells far more lies, and far more cruel ones, than ordinary people do.

By Bella DePaulo December 8 at 6:00 AM
The Washington Post
I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s.

In research beginning in the mid-1990s, when I was a professor at the University of Virginia, my colleagues and I asked 77 college students and 70 people from the nearby community to keep diaries of all the lies they told every day for a week. They handed them in to us with no names attached. We calculated participants’ rates of lying and categorized each lie as either self-serving (told to advantage the liar or protect the liar from embarrassment, blame or other undesired outcomes) or kind (told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else).

At The Washington Post, the Fact Checker feature been tracking every false and misleading claim and flip-flop made by President Trump this year. The inclusion of misleading statements and flip-flops is consistent with the definition of lying my colleagues and I gave to our participants: “A lie occurs any time you intentionally try to mislead someone.” In the case of Trump’s claims, though, it is possible to ascertain only whether they were false or misleading, and not what the president’s intentions were. (And while the subjects of my research self-reported how often they lied, Trump’s falsehoods were tallied by The Post.)

I categorized the most recent 400 lies that The Post had documented through mid-November in the same way my colleagues and I had categorized the lies of the participants in our study.

The college students in our research told an average of two lies a day, and the community members told one. more recent of the lies 1,000 U. S. adults told in the previous 24 hours found that people told an average of 1.65 lies per day; the authors noted that 60 percent of the participants said they told no lies at all, while the top 5 percent of liars told nearly half of all the falsehoods in the study.

In Trump’s first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post’s tally. That’s about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Trump’s false statements — the ones he makes publicly — so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher.

That rate has been accelerating. Starting in early October, The Post’s tracking showed that Trump told a remarkable nine lies a day, outpacing even the biggest liars in our research.

But the flood of deceit isn’t the most surprising finding about Trump.

Both the college students and the community members in our study served their own interests with their lies more often than other people’s interests. They told lies to try to advantage themselves in the workplace, the marketplace, their personal relationships and just about every other domain of everyday life. For example, a salesperson told a customer that the jeans she was trying on were not too tight, so she could make the sale. The participants also lied to protect themselves psychologically: One college student told a classmate that he wasn’t worried about his grades, so the classmate wouldn’t think him stupid.

Less often, the participants lied in kind ways, to help other people get what they wanted, look or feel better, or to spare them from embarrassment or blame. For example, a son told his mother he didn’t mind taking her shopping, and a woman took sides with a friend who was divorcing, even though she thought her friend was at fault, too.

About half the lies the participants told were self-serving (46 percent for the college students, 57 percent for the community members), compared with about a quarter that were kind (26 percent for the students, 24 percent for the community members). Other lies did not fit either category; they included, for instance, lies told to entertain or to keep conversations running smoothly.

One category of lies was so small that when we reported the results, we just tucked them into a footnote. Those were cruel lies, told to hurt or disparage others. For example, one person told a co-worker that the boss wanted to see him when he really didn’t, “so he’d look like a fool.” Just 0.8 percent of the lies told by the college students and 2.4 percent of the lies told by the community members were mean-spirited.

My colleagues and I found it easy to code each of our participants’ lies into just one category. This was not the case for Trump. Close to a quarter of his false statements (24 percent) served several purposes simultaneously.

Nearly two-thirds of Trump’s lies (65 percent) were self-serving. Examples included: “They’re  big tax cuts —— the biggest cuts in the history of our country, actually” and, about the people who came to see him on a presidential visit to  Vietnam  last month: “They were really lined up in the streets by the tens of thousands.”

Slightly less than 10 percent of Trump’s lies were kind ones, told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else. An example was his statement on Twitter that “it is a ‘miracle’ how fast the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to find the demented shooter and stop him from even more killing!” In the broadest sense, it is possible to interpret every lie as ultimately self-serving, but I tried to stick to how statements appeared on the surface.

Trump told 6.6 times as many self-serving lies as kind ones. That’s a much higher ratio than we found for our study participants, who told about double the number of self-centered lies compared with kind ones.

The most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants’, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging. For example, he proclaimed that John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey, all career intelligence or law enforcement officials, were  “political hacks.” He said that “the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close.” Talking about green card applicants, he  insisted that other “countries, they don’t put their finest in the lottery system. They put people probably in many cases that they don’t want.” And he claimed that  “Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor of Virginia, is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities.”

The Trump lies that could not be coded into just one category were typically told both to belittle others and enhance himself. For example: “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for reelection in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement).”

The sheer frequency of Trump’s lies appears to be having an effect, and it may not be the one he is going for. A Politico/Morning Consult poll from late October  showed that only 35 percent  of voters believed that Trump was honest, while 51 percent said he was not honest. (The others said they didn’t know or had no opinion.) Results of a Quinnipiac University poll from November were similar: Thirty-seven percent of voters thought Trump was honest, compared with 58 percent who thought he was not. 
For fewer than 40 percent of American voters to see the president as honest is truly remarkable. Most humans, most of the time, believe other people. That’s our default setting. Usually, we need a reason to disbelieve.

Research on the detection of deception consistently documents this “truth bias.” In the typical study, participants observe people making statements and are asked to indicate, each time, whether they think the person is lying or telling the truth. Measuring whether people believe others should be difficult to do accurately, because simply asking the question disrupts the tendency to assume that other people are telling the truth. It gives participants a reason to wonder. And yet, in our statistical summary of more than 200 studies, Charles F. Bond Jr. and I found that participants still believed other people more often than they should have — 58 percent of the time in studies in which only half of the statements were truthful. People are biased toward believing others, even in studies in which they are told explicitly that only half of the statements they will be judging are truths.

By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own — we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.

For black women, #MeToo came centuries too late (Colbert King, WaPo)

Share this eloquent slave testimony with those who need their conscience (and consciousness) raised. Florida is damn lucky that Stetson Kennedy led the WPA's efforts here, interviewing slaves in the 1930s, the biggest trove of slave interviews in the Nation. Dr. Peggy Bulger's painstaking Ph.D. thesis is now available in paperback, documenting the work of my late friend and mentor, Wm. Stetson Kennedy.

Slave shackles on display at New Sardis Baptist Church in Memphis. Mike Brown/Asscoaited (sic) Press

By Colbert I. King Opinion writer December 8 at 7:28 PM
The reckoning with men who use their power to take what they want from women, as signified by Time magazine’s choosing the #MeToo movement — “The Silence Breakers” — as the 2017 Person of the Year, has been momentous.

But it comes centuries late for America’s original victims of grotesque sexual exploitation: black women, who suffered horribly, in forced silence, back in the day when it was considered quite all right for white folks to own people of a darker hue.

Memories of that repugnant era can be found in interviews of former slaves compiled in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration Slaves Narrative Project. That legacy of pain and suffering remains with us today.

“Plenty of the colored women have children by the white men. She know better than to not do what he say. . . . Then they take them very same children what have they own blood and make slaves out of them. If the Missus find out she raise revolution. But she hardly find out. The white men not going to tell and the nigger women were always afraid to. So they jes go on hopin’ that thing[s] won’t be that way always.”

— W.L. Bost, enslaved in North Carolina, interviewed 1937.

“There was a doctor in the neighborhood who bought a girl and installed her on the place for his own use, his wife hearing it severely beat her. . . . I have had many opportunities, a chance to watch white men and women in my long career, colored women have many hard battles to fight to protect themselves from assault by employers, white male servants or by white men, many times not being able to protect [themselves], in fear of losing their positions.”

— Richard Macks, enslaved in Maryland, interviewed 1937.

“In them times white men went with colored gals and women bold[ly]. Any time they saw one and wanted her, she had to go with him, and his wife didn’t say nothin’ ’bout it. . . . Now sometimes, if you was a real pretty young gal, somebody would buy you without knowin’ anythin’ ’bout you, just for yourself. Before my old marster died, he had a pretty gal he was goin’ with and he wouldn’t let her work nowhere but in the house, and his wife nor nobody else didn’t say nothin’ ’bout it; they knowed better. She had three chillun for him and when he died his brother come and got the gal and the chillun.”

— Unnamed former slave, enslaved in Georgia, interviewed circa 1937.

“I was regarded as fair-looking for one of my race, and for four years a white man . . . had base designs upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is fraught with pain. Suffice it to say that he persecuted me for four years, and I — I — became a mother. The child of which he was the father was the only child that I ever brought into the world. If my poor boy ever suffered any humiliating pangs on account of birth, he could not blame his mother, for God knows that she did not wish to give him life. He must blame the edicts of that society which deemed it no crime to undermine the virtue of girls in my then position.”

— Elizabeth Keckley, author of the autobiography “Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House,” 1868.

“Mother said there were cases where these young girls loved someone else and would have to receive the attentions of men of the master’s choice . . . . The masters called themselves Christians, went to church worship regularly and yet allowed this condition to exist.”

— Hilliard Yellerday, enslaved in North Carolina, interviewed circa 1937.

Many of the light-skinned blacks of my generation and in generations before are descendants of Southern rural plantations. They and their children are living reminders of a time without safeguards or boundaries, and when black women had no choice — and white men faced no consequences.

This is the period that Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama, is nostalgic for. “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another,” he said.

How different is it today? My Post colleague Karen Attiah noted this in an interview with NPR about the #MeToo movement:

“What ties all of this together, regardless of income, regardless of status, regardless of color, really, is about the abuse of power.” Women of color already have harder barriers in those professional circles, she said. “I think we absolutely do need to pay more attention to their stories, and part of that will be for us to start listening and to start taking women of color seriously.” And that, Lord knows, will be an American First.

Davenport, FL Mayor Faces Suspension, for Felony Forging and Using Dead Woman's Disabled Parking Placard

This arrest brings to mind the lackadaisical attitude of local law enforcement in St. Johns County, who repeatedly ignore violations of disabled parking laws (including alleged serial  violations by dodgy St. Johns County Sheriff's Civil Process Supervisor WILLIAM JONES, President of the controversial St. Augustine Beach Civic Association).  Kudos to the Polk County Sheriff for this righteous bust.

Ex-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. did not even sink this low (but he would use an official city business sign in the front window of his car to avoid parking regulations while he was on non-city business).

From THE LAKELAND LEDGER, GateHouse Media (A unionized Newspaper Guild paper)
Davenport commissioners want governor to suspend Mayor Darlene Bradley following arrest
By Suzie Schottelkotte
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at 5:37 PM
Updated Dec 8, 2017 at 8:22 AM

DAVENPORT — Commissioners in Davenport voted unanimously Thursday to ask Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Mayor Darlene Bradley following her arrest Tuesday on allegations she fraudulently used the handicapped placards of dead people to park in a handicapped space at City Hall.
Her lawyer, Rafael Echemendia of Lakeland, asserted in a statement read during the special meeting that the felony arrest was politically motivated.
“Unfortunately, when my client ran for office, she upset the political apple cart,” he wrote, “and this case is being handled in a manner that it would not normally be handled but for the politics involved,” he wrote.
“It is my understanding that Mayor Bradley was of the erroneous belief that the placards were associated with her husband’s visual disability, and did not have any information that the placards belonged to someone other than her husband,” Echemendia said. “This should have been a civil citation or a misdemeanor at best, but powerful interests are taking full advantage of a decision my client made due to her legitimate concerns for her safety.”
According to Bradley’s arrest affidavit, state records show neither she nor her husband, John Lepley, has been issued a disabled placard or handicapped license plate in Florida.
At Thursday’s meeting, City Attorney Andrew Hand told commissioner they didn’t have the authority to suspend Bradley, but could seek her resignation. Commissioners said they were concerned about the finality of that.
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PCSO arrests Davenport mayor, says she was using dead people’s handicapped placards
December 6, 2017
An apology to the citizens of Davenport
“Once she resigns, that’s final,” Commissioner Tom Fellows said. “I think, in all reality, we would be better off to ask the governor to intervene and suspend her.”
If she’s exonerated, he said, she can be reinstated to her post.
Commissioner Barbara Pierson agreed, saying it would give Bradley the opportunity to address her legal issues while allowing the city to continue to function.
If Scott suspends her, the commission would appoint an interim mayor to fill the vacancy, according to the city’s charter.
She would be removed from office only if she’s convicted of a felony, the charter states.
Bradley, was first elected mayor in 2013 and re-elected in 2015 and in April. She’s registered as a Republican, but elections for the Davenport City Commission are non-partisan. The community in northeast Polk County totals about 2,900 residents.
She was arrested after Polk County sheriff’s deputies reviewed video surveillance of her car parking in a handicapped space at City Hall. The video showed her lifting a large, wheeled briefcase from her trunk before walking into the building.
Deputies discovered the parking placard displayed in Bradley’s car had been issued to a woman who died in 2012, and the expiration date on the placard had been altered to reflect a 2018 expiration date, according to the arrest report.
Further investigation revealed Bradley had additional placards, including one issued to someone who had died in 2015, the arrest affidavit states.
Bradley, 60, is charged with using a deceased person’s identification and possessing an altered or counterfeit decal on a handicapped placard, both of which carry a prison term up to five years if she’s convicted.
She was booked into the Polk County Jail on Tuesday and released after posting $2,250 bail.
In response to Echemendia’s comments regarding the decision to charge Bradley with a felony, Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday he would expect her lawyer to defend her.
“She needs a good lawyer because she’s committed a felony. She has a handicapped placard with a falsified decal that she used to park directly in front of City Hall,” he said. “She will have her day in court to explain why she’s in possession of three handicapped placards from deceased people.”
He said he couldn’t speak to the politics in Davenport because he’s not familiar with it.
Late Thursday, Echemendia expanded on Bradley’s explanation for her actions in a four-page letter to the citizens of Davenport. He detailed how Bradley was carjacked in 2012 in Orlando and used the spare key in her pocket to narrowly escape her captors. Through Echemendia, Bradley touted her accomplishments as mayor and lauded Judd for his efforts to keep the county safe. The letter also stated Bradley recognized that parking in a handicapped space carries a $250 fine and “assumed that improper parking meant just what it said, and a $250 fine was the ultimate penalty and well worth paying if it saved a life.”
After Thursday’s meeting, Pierson said she was saddened by the incident, and she found it difficult to support seeking Bradley’s suspension.
“The moment we took the vote, it was hard for me because I feel her heart is for the city,” she said. “She has been doing wonderful things for the city, and I’m saddened for her tenure to be tainted by this, but I don’t believe there are political motivations behind it. I just think coming back from something like this is very difficult.”
Deborah Burress, a former Davenport commissioner, also supported Bradley’s suspension, telling commissioners Thursday it was making the city a laughingstock.
“This is very embarassing for Davenport,” she said after the meeting. “If she’s suspended, she won’t be in the limelight, creating more attention for the city.”
Vice Mayor Rob Robinson said he’s disappointed this incident has diminished the good things Bradley has done for Davenport.
“She’s a very dedicated public official,” he said. “We didn’t always agree, but that doesn’t do away with all that she has done for the city.”
He, too, said he doesn’t think the incident was politically motivated.
“I hope not, anyway,” he said. “I’ve made more people mad than her.”

Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at suzie.schottelkotte@ or 863-533-9070. Follow her on Twitter @southpolkscene.