Saturday, July 29, 2017

Commissioner: St. Augustine residents have tourism ‘fatigue’ (SAR)

Good article on fatigue from tourists and fatigue from First Amendment violations. Enough.

Former City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS text message 7/9/2017 to Comm'r Rox Horvath

Posted July 25, 2017 12:02 am
Commissioner: St. Augustine residents have tourism ‘fatigue’

While St. Augustine’s visitor and convention bureau is looking to draw more tourists during the city’s slower season, the city’s commissioners said residents are looking for relief.

“I feel like you’re not going to stop … until we’re just jam packed 12 months out of the year,” Commissioner Leanna Freeman said to Richard Goldman, president of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Goldman came to the City Commission’s Monday meeting to talk about a $210,000 advertising campaign by the VCB, an effort dedicated to drawing more people to the city from Aug. 13 to Sept. 30. The media campaign launched Monday.

Marketed as “Easy Season” in St. Augustine, the bed-tax-funded campaign touts the season as a less-crowded and less-expensive St. Augustine with some special events, such as the celebration of the city’s founding.

The plan is to build more tourism during the season over years, bolstering revenue in a time when hotel occupancy rates slump and businesses tend to struggle, Goldman said.

While those slow times can be a battle for businesses, Freeman said residents tolerate the busy times to get to the slow season. Also the city is still trying to catch up on mobility costs, and drawing more tourists at that time would also coincide with the return of Flagler College students, she said.

“I can’t say that this is very exciting for me,” Freeman said.

“I think what Commissioner Freeman is trying to convey is what we hear from our constituency, which is fatigue, fatigue, fatigue, fatigue,” Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline added.

Sikes-Kline said she’d like to see more product development and less advertising from bed tax dollars. Tourism may be settling down since the city’s 450th anniversary in 2015, but she doesn’t think residents will be upset.

“They might be actually a little relieved,” she said.

Vice Mayor Todd Neville suggested finding ways to help the city pay for the mobility impacts of more tourism from the ad campaign, similar to charging an event for its impact on the city.

Mayor Nancy Shaver said the city’s mobility program will open the door for a mobility fee. Also, funding for shuttles could be possible from St. Johns County Tourist Development Council dollars, she said.

Goldman said businesses contribute through property taxes, but he also said he would look into the possibility of more partnerships.

Sikes-Kline also raised concerns about ads associated with the campaign that focus on alcohol. One ad in Goldman’s presentation featured two glasses of wine and the phrase “Drink in the history.”

“The vision is to embrace a cocktail culture, not a New Orleans … binging,” Goldman said.

In other business

• Most commissioners supported more evenly increasing the city’s fire assessment fee rates over the next few fiscal years, and having a smaller increase in the next fiscal year than had been planned. Meredith Breidenstein, budget director, plans to bring a measure back to the commission with new options and a chance for public comment.

• Police Chief Barry Fox, and Freeman, supported waiting to see what St. Johns County and the Sheriff’s Office decide before making a decision on whether to start a civil citation program for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

• Shaver had two people escorted out of the commission chambers because they spoke from the audience after she asked for order.

During a discussion about city projects, talking could be heard from the back of the room. When Shaver asked for order, west city resident B.J. Kalaidi told her she should tell the city employees to be quiet.

After Shaver hit the gavel in response to the comment, both Kalaidi and local resident Ed Slavin responded from the audience about asking the employees to quiet down.

“I’m going to ask that Mr. Slavin and Ms. Kalaidi leave the room,” Shaver said.

Slavin called the action unconstitutional.

“You can’t stop the truth,” Kalaidi yelled from the back.

Kalaidi spoke toward city employees on her way out: “And you are rude, rude rude.”

After the meeting, Kalaidi stood outside of the commission chambers as people left, holding up a paper that read, “Rude.”


Will Duer · New York University
What happened to all the comments? More censorship?

Tom Reynolds · Public relations at Self-Employed
No Will, it is a privately owned newspaper/online news company. And this is WAY BETTER WILL, I APPLAUD and THANK the St Augustine Record for this VERY GOOD WAY of COMMENTING !

Edward Adelbert Slavin · Bete noir at Community Activist
Will, might be deletion of comments that are not from Facebook verified accounts, under wise new policy preventing anonymice and spam.

Tom Reynolds · Public relations at Self-Employed
Well tourism ‘fatigue’........... OK..... I like it !

“I feel like you’re not going to stop … until we’re just jam packed 12 months out of the year,” Commissioner Leanna Freeman said to Richard Goldman, VCB Pres.....

WOW .......I think some of the Old City Commissioners are STARTING TO LISTEN to the Residents. Or ............................. is this some kind of trick ?

Reminds me of that old question, Can Old Dogs learn NEW TRICKS ?

trick, a cunning or skillful act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone....See more
Like · Reply · 1 · 26 July 2017 12:45 · Edited

Dennis Glavin · Corporate Sales at GLE Associates
Wow...$210,000 ad campaign regarding a couple months of supposed "down time"? Yikes!

Will Duer · New York University
The puppet masters conrol....

Tami Lynn Hallo Boshart · Saint Augustine, Florida
Let's start taking care of the people who live here and not worry about more tourist

Edward Adelbert Slavin · Bete noir at Community Activist
A. VERY Good comments about "tourism fatigure," but aren't they from the same four City Commissioners who rotely approve zoning changes for developers?

I hope that these four Commissioners have had an epiphany.

I hope that they have seen the light. I hope that they start asking tough questions and start demanding answers, like Mayor Nancy Shaver always does. It's their job. It's what our Nation's Founders intended in our democratic republic.

I supported Commissioners' unanimous concerns in my opening public comments at Tuesday afternoon's Visitor and Convention Bureau meeting. St. Augustine Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline raised those very same concerns with VCB members, tactfully but persistently. THANK YOU.

Commissioner NSK engaged in a very nice colloquy between the Commissioner and VCB founder and Board member, Ms. Virginia Whetsone, about public drunkennness and rowdy noisome noisiness late at night. This includes intoxicated members of wedding parties disturbing other hotel guests at her properties.

Bottom line: we residents have rights.

Residents have a right to the peaceful quiet enjoyment of "Our Village" (as County Commission Vice Chairman Henry Dean calls the City of St. Augustine Beach). This is not the French Quarter of New Orleans. Every night is not Mardi Gras.

Ideas have consequences. As discussed at VCB, perhaps St. Augustine City Commission should now consider changing the bar closing hour from 2 AM to 1 AM. It was originally changed for the Superbowl, as I recall, and now our small town is stuck with it. Do we want to be a family-oriented place, or do we want to be known for excessive drinking and nighttime carousing?

B. On another note: In ejecting us, Her Honor seemed exhausted by a lengthy agenda, with eleven items where the public was NOT allowed to comment, depriving Commissioners of citizens' experience, wisdom and counsel.

Mayor Shaver said then and there, "I'm sorry." And when I said it was "unconstitutional," she said, "It might be." Watch the video.

Immediately -- on the spot -- after the meeting ended, I forgave our beloved reform Mayor Nancy Shaver for ejecting Ms. Kalaidi and me.

Mayor Nancy Shaver later told a local online publication that the ejection was "regrettable."

I accepted her apology.

In fact, Her Honor and I joked about it, in a conversation with one of our City directors, shortly after the meeting ended. Forgiveness is like a muscle -- if you do not exercise it, it atrophies.

As the article above establishes, I was simply defending the honor of respected local government watchdog Ms. B.J. Kalaidi.

Ms. Kalaidi's reasoned, documented, often-expressed concerns about frequent disruptions are spot on. Too many disruptions by loud, boisterous, conversations between some of the ten highly-paid directors at the back of the room.

Ms. Kalaidi's concerns must be heard and heeded.

Ms. Kalaidi's valid point is that directors must be held to the same "disruption" and "decorum" standards as everyone else.

No exceptions.

No man is above the law.

Our right to criticize government is guaranteed by the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

As courageous, heroic United States Senator John McCain eloquently said on the Senate Floor on Monday, "Let's trust each other. Let's restore regular order."

It's our town and our time.

Let no one think they can distract us from reform at City Hall.

"Let's trust each other. Let's restore regular order."
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