Wednesday, July 19, 2017

St. Augustine Beach, Flori-DUH Mayor RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN Forgets Embassy Suites Topping-Off Event, Where He Was a Speaker Listed on the Program.

Illegal campaign literature for which Mayor RICH O'BRIEN paid $200 fine.

St. Augustine Record's page one PR-driven article (below) by Stuart Korfhage omits the fact that St. Augustine Beach Mayor RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN, listed on the program for the event, never showed up and did not respond to repeated telephone calls from EMBASSY SUITES reminding him of his schedule speech.  The Mayor's job is largely ceremonial.  O'BRIEN does not go to public events.  He is a sneaky, snooty snob who married rich and thinks he's Republican Lord of All He Surveys. This twice-fined "Mayor" has repeatedly embarrassed St. Augustine Beach.  Resign!

Here's my unanswered request to soon-to-be-ex-"Mayor" O'BRIEN:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>

Sent: Tue, Jul 18, 2017 11:47 AM
Subject: Request No. 2017-342: Embassy Suites Topping Off Ceremony; Mayor Richard O'Brien's Discourtesy; Resignation Letter

Dear Mayor O'Brien:
1. Did you know that you missed the new Embassy Suites' Topping-Off Ceremony this morning, where you were listed as a speaker on the program?   Commissioner Maggie Kostka was the only St. Augustine Beach CIty Commissioner to attend the ceremony, though all were invited.  
2. Embassy Suites' efforts to reach you by telephone this morning were apparently unavailing. Where are you today?  Are you planning to apologize?
3. Please provide your calendar, e-mails and telephone records re: the invitation and your failing to attend.
4. Please provide a list of public events that you did attend as Mayor, 2016-2017.
5. Are an embarrassment to the City of St. Augustine Beach, or what?
6. You've been fined $25,200 during 2017 for election law violations ($200) and zoning violations ($25,000).
7. You abuse your public office to chill, coerce and intimidate protected activity, as in the Reynolds "stalking" injunction, where Judge Howard O. McGillin found your civil lawsuit was lacking in any merit, violating Mr. Reynolds First Amendment rights.  You never apologized.
8. You interrupt public meeting speakers and you often show disdain and disrespect for our FIrst Amendment rights.
9.  You are so self-absorbed that you even fail to keep your public appointments to speak to groups as the Mayor of St. Augustine Beach.  Pitiful.
10.  Why don't you just resign?  If you do so, please send me a copy of your resignation letter. 
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

Video: Embassy Suites celebrates its progress on St. Augustine Beach hotel

While it’s still just a skeleton, the beachfront Embassy Suites at A1A Beach Boulevard is far enough along to see its great potential in one of the most scenic spots in the entire county.
The leaders of the hotel project, which is right next to the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier, were at the property Tuesday morning for the “topping off” ceremony. It was an opportunity to showcase the progress of the construction at a time when there was enough work done to give visitors a vision of what it’s going to be.
Speaking on what will be the floor of a meeting/ballroom looking out onto the ocean, St. Augustine Beach Embassy Suites general manager Justin Nels is clear about what he thinks the hotel will become once it opens in the first quarter of 2018.
“This will be the nicest Embassy Suites in America,” Nels said. “I think people have been trying over the years to build something like this.
“I think the owners had the foresight to say hey there was a hotel here before let’s buy that land and build this beautiful resort. When you look up and down the coast, there’s nothing like this.”
Indeed, there is no beachfront hotel south of the Ponte Vedra Beach area that will be able to match the scale of the new hotel, which will contain 175 rooms and have 7,500 square feet of indoor meeting space as well as 10,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space.
Right in the heart of St. Augustine Beach, the Embassy Suites will replace the old Beachfront Hotel, which suffered from flooding damage and neglect. It was very poorly rated by travelers at the end of its lifespan and was demolished in 2014. The hotel started as a Sheraton Inn in 1974.
Replacing that unpopular hotel was not without some controversy, though. Some residents were upset that the St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning Board approved the hotel with a height of 53 feet, above the general guideline of a 35-foot height limit in the city.
Building officials argued that because the building must be elevated for flood insurance purposes, the starting point for measuring the 35 feet should be set at the first floor of habitable space rather than the ground.
But Diego Ardid, president of Key International, the company that bought the property, said he’s heard mostly positive comments from the community.
“I think it’s going to good for everybody,” he said. “I think it’s going to be an amenity that the city can enjoy.”
Ardid also expects it to be extremely successful for his company. He’s been part of deals like the $350 million acquisition of the Eden Roc Miami Beach, and the company has also developed smaller hotels in places like Gainesville and New Smyrna Beach.
But the opportunity to build a new beachfront hotel in a market that has nothing like what the new Embassy Suites will be was a “no brainer” decision for Ardid.
“Every time we come up here, we felt like it was lacking a great resort on the beach,” he said. “We had the opportunity that this property came up for sale and we didn’t think twice. We said, ‘Wow, what an opportunity.’ We moved on this and we couldn’t be happier to be here.
“A property of this scale in Florida, toes in the sand, is almost impossible to find.”
The hotel will also be a boon for the Embassy Suites brand, said Alan Roberts, the vice president and global head of Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Roberts said the St. Augustine Beach property will be one of just five beachfront resorts in the brand’s portfolio of 234 current hotels.
“You have to have these sexy resort beachfront places for people to want to (visit) to give your hotel brand the diversity that guests expect and want,” he said. “I’m thrilled to see where this hotel is. You don’t get locations like where this is every day.”
Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the St. Johns County visitors and convention bureau, said having an upscale hotel like the Embassy Suites will help the area draw more affluent visitors.
He added that visitors here tend to come from households with incomes of $100,000 or more, and 65 percent of them have a college degree. With that level of income and education, those visitors tend to be discerning and are looking for the kind of classy hotel experience the new Embassy Suites is expected to offer.
“As our visitors have become increasingly sophisticated, their expectations for unique experiences delivered dependably and with quality have risen accordingly,” Goldman said.
(edited)7 hours ago
Tom Reynolds
“You have to have these sexy resort beachfront places for people to want to (visit) to give your hotel brand the diversity that guests expect and want,” he said. “

SAY WHAT ? ...........  "sexy resort" ....... NO DUDE, this ain't Miami ! 

 This is a FAMILY and SENIORS Beach area., not a Party Swingers Beach ! 

“As our visitors have become increasingly sophisticated, their expectations for unique experiences delivered dependably and with quality have risen accordingly,” Goldman said.

Goldman is OUT of TOUCH with REALITY and REAL Visitors. The Folks who visit .are just normal everyday people. They come here because it is affordable, filled with history, and "WE" have CLEAN Beaches. St Augustine Beach and St Augustine is a fun FAMILY, SENIORS, and Average Folks Vacation place. ! 

Vice President and global head of Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Alan Roberts says "sexy resort" and Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the St. Johns County visitors and convention bureau says "affluent visitors".. 

WOW ......... may their Visions NEVER COME TRUE ! 

I like the People and the way it is now !  

4 hours ago
Vince Gunter
I hope this eye sore burns to the ground.
3 hours ago
Pete Weiland
This is the best addition to St. Augustine Beach in decades! The addition of an upscale hotel at the beach is exactly what was needed! The last thing St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach needs is more seniors!  And as far as it being an eyesore, it is light years ahead of the junk pile formerly on that property. Best of luck!
This comment has been deleted
(edited)2 hours ago
Pete Weiland
Hardly the truth at all. A good mix of youth, middle-aged and retirees is what makes an area vibrant and diversified, not more of one or the other. I have no problem with seniors at all. I have many good friends that are seniors and I would say the same to their face. I'm just saying that we don't need 'more' of them. I don't want St. Augustine to become The Villages, nor do I think people would want it to become a Daytona Beach of the 80's and 90's. Backbone? Pillars? That sir is insulting to every hard-working young and middle-aged person in this town that WORKS and lives here, pays their taxes, raises a family, etc. Seniors do no more for the vibrancy of this area as any other group. 
5 minutes ago
Bill Gilchrist
A hotel/resort of this style and quality adds to the viability of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach as a destination. It's a great addition to the hotel market and will add jobs, revenue, and stature to the community. 

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