Robert Kahler, 89, a 30-year St. Augustine Beach resident and civic activist, died this morning after a short illness. Bob was an outspoken advocate for better government and opponent of corruption.
A retired purchasing agent and sales executive from Long Island, he was a likable curmudgeon who cared for his community, He moved here some 30 year ago with the love of his life, his beloved wife Emily, a coal miner's daughter, who died in 2006.
Mr. Kahler was a lifelong conservative Republican, who preached the value of a dollar. He would passionately support candidates who shared his values.
He was particularly outspoken about self-serving actions by devious disgraced St. Augustine Beach Mayor RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN.
Last year, O'BRIEN retaliated against Mr. Kahler for First Amendment protected activity by asking that Mr. Kahler be escorted from the room. No escort was need, but upon leaving the room, Mr. Kahler responded to the mendacious mean-spirited martinet, "Go to hell!"
Bob was also an environmentalist. Mr. Kahler is perhaps most noted for working with my late friend Robin Nadeau and other senior activists on environmental issues, including their heroic but unsuccessful efforts to try to preserve the Cooksey's Campground as a park.
In 2002, St. Augustine Beach Commissioners corruptly voted to annex into the itty-bitty city the beautiful Old Florida Cooksey's property, with its lakes and oaks and magnolias.
Entrenched longtime St. Augustine Beach Mayor EMMETT JOHN PACETTI and and his Commission colleagues rubber-stamped its ugly "development," allowing the beautiful trees to be destroyed for an ugly "mixed use" development called "SeaGrove." Tacitus said, "They created a desert and they called it peace." Here, they destroyed paradise and called it "SeaGrove."
Typical of ugly "developments" pushed by the ROGERS TOWERS corporate law firm and its late disgraced partner, GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE, a/k/a "The Prince of Darkness."
Result: more people, more traffic and declining quality of life.
Imbued with bad karma, "SeaGrove" is the place where convicted fraudfeasor LYDIA CLADEK had a fancy headquarters where she conducted her $100 million fraud in a scheme selling phony investments in high-priced interest rates, ripping off low-income consumers and rich people at the same time.
(Formerly a "pillar" of our community, LYDIA CLADEK is federal inmate 53820-018, release date 09/21/2037, who resides in the Coleman Federal Prison with Boston mobster WHITEY BULGER and disgraced corrupt former Florida Congresswoman CORINNE BROWN (federal inmate No. 67315-018, release date 06/06/2022), who stole $800,000 from a scholarship charity).
"SeaGrove" is the place where one of GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE's most oppressive obnoxious obsequious understudies, dodgy developer mouthpiece DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT and his St. Johns Law Group have their office, actually getting a County Commission subsidy for it -- Corporate Welfare.
"Sea Grove" is now home to a St. Johns County Branch Library and U.S. Post office -- yes, both our county and federal government are in on it, empowering crooked developers in St. Johns County.
After the Cooksey's battle, Mr. Kahler and his friends fought back and triumphed. In 2002, they organized and defeated four of five City Commissioners in an epic election, whose details have apparently been deleted from the websites of both the St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union.
Mr. Kahler and his allies helped defeat longtime SAB Mayor-Realtor EMMETT PACETTI, et al. and three other members of the ancien regime. They elected four (4) new Commissioners: Grace Guido, Frank Charles, Edward George and Michael Longstreet.
The people of St. Augustine Beach in their righteous wrath, ousted PACETTI and his wrecking crew. Their grass roots campaign featured yard signs with simple clip art, showing a bulldozer destroying a tree, with a red circle and a slash sign.
In an e-mail today, former St. Augustine Beach Mayor Sherman Gary Snodgrass wrote, "I am saddened by the loss of this good man. Bob Kahler had strong opinions about almost everything and had the courage to express them. He had passion and wanted to make our city a better community. Though he frequently referred to me as the worst mayor in the city's history that was okay he was just trying to stir the pot a bit. We had a very pleasant conversation a few weeks ago and agreed to meet over breakfast soon. I shall miss Bob, barbs and all. Rest in peace, old friend."
We need a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore to preserve and protect our history, nature and culture here in St. Johns and Flagler Counties. When we get it, there need to be some trail shelters named for Robin Nadeau and Bob Kahler.
What do you reckon?
Here's the Record article from last year: