Thursday, January 05, 2017

O’Brien and George back as mayor, vice mayor of St. Augustine Beach (SAR)

Posted January 4, 2017 06:33 am - Updated January 4, 2017 06:46 am
O’Brien and George back as mayor, vice mayor of St. Augustine Beach

Despite some push for change from St. Augustine Beach residents, commissioners chose Rich O’Brien to serve another term as mayor.

The vote on Tuesday was 3-2 for O’Brien, with the other two votes going to current Vice Mayor Undine George. Commissioners Margaret England and Gary Snodgrass voted for O’Brien, and O’Brien voted for himself.

Commissioners voted unanimously for George to serve again as vice mayor.

It was a scene similar to the previous election close to a year ago, when George lost the seat to O’Brien 3-2 after nominating herself amid public support. At the time, she was the only commissioner who hadn’t served as mayor.

Commissioners elect a mayor and vice mayor each year, according to City Charter. A mayor cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms.

The meeting also brought a new face to the commission: Maggie Kostka, who took the oath of office on Tuesday also showed support for George.

She defeated former mayor and commissioner Andrea Samuels for the seat in 2016.

Kostka nominated George for mayor, while England nominated O’Brien and cited oncoming challenges such as beach renourishment as a reason for keeping both O’Brien and George in their current roles.

“The face of our city should stay the same, I believe, for one more year,” England said.

Kostka said the City Charter doesn’t allow the mayor any greater weight on the Commission. Also, the city will always have the possibility of emergencies and ongoing issues, she said.

Kostka said the city needs someone familiar with laws and the Constitution, and someone “who has proven objectivity.” And Kostka indicated George has already acted as the face of the city at events in O’Brien’s absence.

During public comment, several people criticized O’Brien.

Some pointed to his attempt to get an injunction for protection against stalking against beach resident Tom Reynolds. A judge dismissed the case, citing the fact that many of O’Brien’s complaints focused on First Amendment protected activity.

Others supported O’Brien and his actions during Hurricane Matthew — he arranged a temporary sand berm at A Street to help prevent flooding.

People also supported George.

Ed George, Undine George’s husband, said she hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves for her work related to the hurricane, including keeping in “constant contact with the police chief” and responding to hundreds of people on Facebook, as well as keeping in contact with other city officials.

“And that’s what she does,” Ed George said.

Patricia Gill, beach resident and chair of the League of Women Voters in St. Johns County, said the mayor’s position was intended to rotate and should have gone to George at the last election – and she supported George for the post this year.

“I can’t imagine that O’Brien wouldn’t continue to work for the good of the city if he wasn’t mayor,” she said.

In other business

St. Johns County Commissioner Henry Dean, who was elected in 2016, spoke to commissioners about his support for seeking beach renourishment funding as well as working with the beach on improving roads and improving the relationship between St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County.

Snodgrass also said he’d like to see the relationship improve, including how St. Johns County keeps the city of St. Augustine Beach informed.

“It seems like we’re the last to know on things that might be happening,” Snodgrass said.

The meeting went late in the evening, including discussion about possible medical marijuana regulations.

Tom Reynolds 2 days ago
Another living up to the DUH moment in St Augustine Beach. To think that a person facing two felonies and a misdemeanor, plus a major Florida Election Commission complaint is the Mayor. Well over here we don't call it Dysfunction Junction because it is not. Margret England s reason was foolishness. Commissioner England is definitely out there in a world of her own. England made a statement last year saying the City Attorney has Attorney Client privilege. Yes Margret, we the residents are the Clients, wow Girl and your an Attorney ? Then comes Sherman Gary Snodgrass, Rich e Rich O'Brien s NUMBER ONE PUPPET ! Plus Snodgrass as many know is a Austrian Resident. Of course Sherman Snodgrass voted for his Puppet Master ! It really does not matter that much anyway. The Mayor position is just a token one. Plus it will be better headlines when Commissioner O'Brien gets arrested or indicted for the felonies and misdemeanor charges.

Last nights meeting was a good meeting and a lot came out of our 1.87 square miles City Commission meeting. I sure hope that the Commission will take up the hiring of a new Chief of Police. There is not a spec of a doubt that the incompetence of Chief Robert " Little Wobbie" Hardwitch and Lt. Commander James "Porker" Parker was brought to the Commission s attention. The City of St Augustine Beach residents deserve Law Enforcement Leader s with integrity. Not just cover up artist for the Criminal Conduct/unethical conduct of themselves, the Beach Civic Association, and of course Commissioner O'Brien s crimes.

The City of St Augustine Beach Commissioners have a lot of work to do. Right now the way majority of the City Residents are embarrassed of their City. The Bug Board (Anastasia Mosquito Property) property loss, if the SAB Commission does nothing, that will go down in City History as the BIGGEST ELECTED OFFICIAL FAILURE in the City History. It will be another case of St Johns County spitting in the face of St Augustine Beach and the City Commissioners being Cowards. I hope all of my fellow Residents in St Augustine Beach will PRAY FOR COURAGE AND SMARTS TO COME INTO THE MAJORITY OF CITY COMMISSIONERS. As it stands right now we only have two smart people on the Commission. Thank God for Commissioners Kostka and George, at least we have two smart normal thinking Elected Officials.

JAMES S ALEXANDER 21 hours ago
Mr Reynolds is a nut! Just read his long diatribe and I rest my case.

Tom Reynolds 14 hours ago
OK James, why don't you explain your opinion on Mr Reynolds. I am OK with someone disagreeing and your post. You do know James it is all 100 % correct and true ! OK BROTHER JAMES ?

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