Thursday, May 25, 2017

In Defense of Flagler College

FLAGLER COLLEGE graduate JAMES SUTTON slyly if eloquently defends Flagler College land monopoly and tax avoidance in an editorial (below). (FYI, JIM SUTTON is a Flagler College alumnus -- disclosure is required.)
Good points, yes.
Yes, FLAGLER COLLEGE has helped St. Augustine grow, but "growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell."
FLAGLER COLLEGE and Chancellor WILLIAM L. PROCTOR are not exactly benevolent dictators. PROCTOR is more like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas or the rebarbative reprobate Republican Lord of All He Surveys. "MASSA" PROCTOR publicly said circa 2004 when he ran for the legislative seat he encumbered for eight years -- that he only ran to keep a Democrat from getting the seat.
PROCTOR is the meanest man in St. Augustine by many accounts, and is a detriment to honest government and a liberal education. There's no protection for academic freedom at "his" college, as testified to by fired faculty and censored newspapers (it happened to SUTTON when he was a student editor, and it's still happening in this decade.
Devouring St. Augustine -- FLAGLER's guilty.
Killing trees without good reason -- FLAGLER's guilty.
Destroying historic homes without good reason -- it's guilty. (So is FSDB, run in tandem at times under PROCTOR & Co.).
Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery about FLAGLER COLLEGE.
Our City's residential character is a legitimate subject of public discussion, and we have a Right to Know.
City officials need to stop curtseying to Flagler College.
No more Planned Unit Developments (PUDS), which Cathy Brown says are a "sneaky way to get around zoning."
No more 12:15 AM votes on PUDs (like the "Tuna on Cuna," a 20,000 square foot building that  former Commission William Leary deeply regrets.
FLAGLER COLLEGE needs to put its cards on the table and be honest about its plans for our town. What about those two (2) comprehensive plans Flagler College keeps secret from everyone, including the town and gown committee?
What about the lack of academic freedom, lack of tenure, right-wing bias and excessive influence of Sheriff DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR," after whom an actual award is named at graduation?
What about the one-sided putative Public Administration program taught by government and corporate oligarchs, including County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK, County Attorney PATRICK FRANCIS McCCORMACK, former UnderSheriff JOEL BOLANTE and Sheriff's taddy JOSEPH SAVIAK, a serial prevaricator and arachnid apparatchik who once falsely accused Bill Nelson of anti-Semitism, who unsuccessfully libeled Mayor Nancy Shaver as part of the SHOAR mob's money bomb, fired by the Orange County Sheriff for writing on its letterhead letters threatening "civil and criminal liability," sent on OCSO letterhead to the Florida Supreme Court and Florida Board of Law Examiners after he flunked the Florida Bar.

Here'e JIM SUTTON's magnum opus in defense of his controversial alma mater:

Posted May 24, 2017 12:02 am - Updated May 24, 2017 10:40 am
Forests, trees and Flagler’s footprint

Newspapers can develop a bad habit of turning an adage upside down — as in not seeing the trees for the forest.

In other words, we can lose sight of the good things some do, simply because they do it so regularly or so well. It, in the “news mind,” ceases to be news because it is so prevalent. We tend to take it for granted.

Bobbie Stewart does a great job of sending out new releases for Flagler College. Lots of them.

Monday we read that the college had been recognized with two historic preservation awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation on May 19.

The college, a National Historic Landmark, received an Outstanding Achievement honor for Restoration and Rehabilitation. In addition, Dr. Leslee Keys was singled out for her 2015 book, “The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace.” That is, of course, the Ponce de Leon Hotel.

Recently, Flagler College embarked on a project to commemorate the 450th Anniversary of our city, completing a $4 million rehab on the historic structure.

But the truth is that rehab could begin at one corner of the property, sculpting her face to the days of celebrity, and by the time the effort made the full circle around, the “to do” list would be full again.

Historic restoration on this scale is truly a journey rather than a project.

If you weren’t around in the late 1960s, you’ll poorly imagine what downtown was like. If you were, you may have forgotten. St. Augustine had little to recommend itself to heritage tourism. We were better known for alligators, wax figures and freakish oddities, believe it or not, than culture or history. Some of the buildings that were historic were losing battles with time and decay.

The revitalization efforts begun by Flagler College in taking over the ghost hotel were a springboard for new efforts. Each fed on the other. Quality began to count.

No one can foretell the future, but we believe it’s fair to say that without the formidable wealth and pull the college put together in its trustees, the old hotel might be blight today. Look at the Florida Normal campus.

Without the energy created by the preservation efforts, would the Casa Monica have taken over the old courthouse or would it be another relic rather than a reminder of the city’s opulence?

Would any of the businesses on Grenada Street that counted on the college to get their starts be there now?

Would Lincolnville have begun its controversial march toward gentrification?

Would the city today have the tax base to do any more than lick its municipal wounds rather than celebrate its heritage?

Preservation doesn’t happen. It’s driven.

So, with apologies to the college for earlier transgressions — thanks.

We’ll never hear the end of those who believe the school is swallowing the town piece by piece. But we wonder quite out loud what downtown might be without its $40 million investment in those 20 historic properties that are, yes, off the tax rolls — but no, not weeping in decay, or faux pieces of a fake past that used make such good stories for the trailer train drivers whenever they got bored.

Bob Fliegel
"We’ll never hear the end of those who believe the school is swallowing the town piece by piece."

Nope, we won't. Many regard it an admirable position to take, the college an irresistible piƱata.

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