St. Augustine City Hall's Alcazar Room was full of archaeologists, volunteers, historians, activists, federal, state and local government employees, current and former politicians and other residents Monday, February 12, 2018.
Our friend Carl Halbirt received the City's highest honor, the La Florida award. Carl has performed over 800 archaeological digs in 27 years at the City's first City Archaeologist.
Government scientists often face pressures from their employers and business men.
When I was a lawyer, I "rode circuit" protecting the rights of ethical resisters (employee whistleblowers), I found this across this land, from sea to shining sea, from California's San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program to Washington, D.C
I believe that history may record the fact that Carl Halbirt's work was sometimes threatened, but not stopped, by short-sightedness, by hick hacks (like ex-Mayor JOE BOLES, who did not attend), by cabined budgets and by cranky City burghers.
Case in point: in 2005-2006, corrupt City Planning and Building Director MARK ALAN KNIGHT (later fired for reasons never shared with us) kept secret from City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt the incomplete ESI report on Red House Bluff, a 3000-4000 Native American monument along Lewis Speedway, just north of St. Augustine High School.
I believe that history may record that there were tensions and pressures upon Carl, flowing from developers, builders and City officials, among them cognitive misers 'who know not that they know not that they know not," as my friend and former client, retired Special Agent Robert E. Tyndall might say.
"Nonetheless, [Carl] persisted." (To paraphrase Senator Mitch McConnell about Senator Elizabeth Warren.)
Under the City's pioneering archaeological ordinance, Carl performed archaeological digs before developers and construction crews. Working with dedicated volunteers, Carl worked for more than a quarter of a century, 1990-2017; together they have made a tremendous difference in the understanding of the history of Our Nation's Oldest Cities.
Their discoveries have been documented in scholarly publications and may be seen in the St. Augustine Art Association and in museums.
In their honor, I believe that we need to adopt an ethical employee whistleblower protection ordinance.
From the City of St. Augustine's Facebook page:
Carl Halbirt became the 19th recipient of the City of St. Augustine's highest and most prestigious award, the Order of La Florida on Monday, February 12. Halbirt, who retired in September 2017 after 27 years as the city archaeologist, received the award from members of the City Commission before a standing room only audience in City Hall’s The Alcazar Room. In addition to the city’s presentation, representatives of U. S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson presented Halbirt with letters recognizing his years of service and his contributions to the historical knowledge gained through his work.