Tuesday, March 20, 2018


LYING LOUCHE County Attorney just lied to County Commissioners.

Why it matters: I raised the issue of a growth moratorium again this morning, March 20, 2018, to St. Johns County Commission, speaking on agenda item 4, after Commissioner and Congressional candidate James K. Johns raised the issue about drainage.

COUNTY ATTORNEY PATRICK FRANCIS McCORMACK said, "it would be difficult if not impossible." He  lied.  Not one of our all-white, all-male, all-Republican County Commissioners questioned him about it.

I support Catherine Hawkinson Gueverra, Democrat, for COunty Commission seat 4, currently encumbered by JOHN H. "JAY" MORRIS, former EVP of RPM INTERNATIONAL.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Stop Apologizing for Being Elite by Susan Jacoby (NY Times)

Thomas Jefferson believed in an "aristocracy of virtue and talent."  So do I.

I was the first person in my family to graduate college.  In high school, I was teased as a nerd.  At Georgetown, I was teased as an "elitist."   (Of course, by going to work for Senator Ted Kennedy as an intern the day before my first class, I stood out from my peers, many of them privileged fresh-babies from well-to-do families).

Under Herr Trump -- the no longer "Teflon Don," -- there's just a Cabinet full of mendacious mediocre putrid Philistine millionaires and billionaires.

Provocative article from The New York Times:


CreditKiersten Essenpreis 

A framed eighth-grade diploma, dated June 19, 1913, hangs on the wall opposite my computer. It belonged to my grandmother, Minnie Rothenhoefer, one of eight children in a German immigrant family, who was forced to quit school at age 14 after her alcoholic father abandoned his family. Her first job was picking onions and her greatest regret — she lived to age 99 — was that she never attended high school. “But there’s no excuse for ignorance when you can go right down to the public library,” she often said.
Gran has been in my thoughts even more than usual this year, because I know that she would have scoffed at one of the unanticipated consequences of the Trump presidency. I am referring to the endless self-flagellation among well-educated liberals — “the elites,” in pejorative parlance — about their failure to “get” the concerns of white working-class voters. Gran never expected anyone to “get” her. She was determined to educate herself for what she considered the privilege of citizenship.
Our current political discourse is corrupted by two equally flawed narratives about the relationship between social class and politics. The first is a fable accepted by many intellectuals, who have found themselves guilty because just enough white working-class voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin handed Mr. Trump his Electoral College win in 2016. Many fear that this year’s midterm elections will once again result in a rejection of “elitism” by the same voters.
In a second, equally flawed narrative — adopted by a segment of both blue-collar workers and intellectuals — the American working class is so victimized that almost none of its members are capable of accepting the responsibility of civic self-education.
These narratives sometimes collide within families. On a trip to Detroit last spring, I met a professor of political science who seemed to believe that “elitist” obtuseness had lost Michigan for the Democrats. He told me that he felt responsible because his aunt and uncle — postal workers in suburban Macomb County — had voted Republican for the first time in their lives, mainly because they believed Mr. Trump’s false campaign assertion about New Jersey Muslims cheering the Sept. 11 attacks. He had been unable to convince them otherwise.
Why should he feel guilty, I asked, if his relatives had chosen to ignore extensive evidence that the cheering never occurred? “I guess because I feel I ought to speak their language and I don’t,” he replied.
I have frequently heard the phrase about not speaking “their” language from academics, journalists and political strategists. Here is a fact, not an alternative fact: Blue-collar workers speak English.
Too many intellectuals have internalized a stereotype, emanating from both the far left and the far right, of fuzzy-headed elitism — as if willed ignorance and intellectual laziness did not cut across social classes. And some in the working class are just as animated by a stereotype of “elites” as people who look down on everyone without a doctorate. Self-denigration among the best educated is particularly harmful because it reinforces this belief.
The day after the 2016 election, Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, wrote in Harvard Business Review that one of many things the “elites” don’t understand about the working class is that the latter “resents professionals but admires the rich.”
The author meant to criticize “elitists,” but her generalization presents a distorted view of the working class. Some working-class Americans resent some professionals — say, lawyers for slumlords or doctors who won’t treat Medicaid and Medicare patients. But there are surely just as many with an outsize respect for professionals — especially if the professional happens to be their own doctor or their child’s favorite teacher.
The energy expended by many “elitists” on constructing tortuous apologies for their advantages would be better invested in sharing the fruits of those advantages.
While some studies have indicated that people cling even more strongly to their deepest beliefs when challenged by contradictory evidence, it is also true that human beings frequently do change their minds — about everything from sexual behavior to marijuana to gun laws — if they are treated respectfully by those presenting the evidence.
One of the greatest compliments I have ever received came from a Latino student at Youngstown State University, in an Ohio city often cited as an example of Rust Belt decay. This American-born son of immigrants was working three jobs to pay his tuition. He said that he had taken my remarks about the importance of liberal arts seriously, even though he had previously considered such knowledge irrelevant to his goal of becoming a math teacher.


Students demonstrated at Hunter College in 2015 in support of tuition-free public universities.CreditCem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images 

When I asked why my comments had persuaded him to reconsider, he replied that he was pleased when I began my talk with the words “ladies and gentlemen.” He added, “When I’m teaching, I’m going to open all of my classes with ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ It’ll tell the kids what’s expected of them.”
There is an aspirational hunger in many young people that highly educated Americans can help satisfy — but only by being themselves instead of pretending to be “ordinary folks.”
The American dream has never been about denigrating education but about seeing that the next generation has greater access to learning. Who is in a better position to help Americans who want that chance than those who already benefited from the generous side of the dream? The “elites” should take practical steps to persuade others not by hectoring them but by working to better the quality of life for all.
First, intellectuals must speak up, not down, to everyone. Americans remember public addresses like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech precisely because he spoke in elevated English. You won’t find him referring to “folks” anywhere in that speech.
Second, educators must help turn students into educated voters. Too many schools fail to provide students with tools of logic that would enable them to assess the quality of information they absorb from every screen. All schools, for example, should have a curriculum that teaches children how to evaluate online information. Most recently, we have seen the results of this type of education in the forceful, logical responses of student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Finally, those who have profited from the best schooling our society has to offer must fight to make college more affordable for others. The working-class students I have met — unlike Republicans in a much-cited 2017 Pew poll — know that college has a positive, not a negative, effect on their future. They base their actions on reality rather than ideology, and the reality is that the pay gap between the college-educated and all other Americans is at a historic high.
As I write, I am looking at my grandmother’s diploma. She left it to me in her will as evidence of a life in which I never saw her alone without a book or newspaper in hand. That is positive elitism — embodying the pursuit of excellence rather than money or credentials — for which no one need apologize and to which anyone can aspire.

No VIP tent; PZB Chair Jane West misses another workshop meeting with St. Augustine Beach Commission

St. Augustine Beach City Planning and Zoning Board Chair JANE WEST is absent without explanation from yet another meeting of the St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning Board and the St. Augustine City Commission.

There's no VIP tent.  Is that why?

Putative environmental attorney JANE WEST, PZB Chair, is most noted for being the only member of a St. Augustine Beach board to be present at the December 31, 2017 Beach Blast VIP Tent.  She was there as the spouse of an FPL manager.

When St. Augustine Beach rushed to renew FPL's franchise for 30 years last year, without competing proposals, this fact was never shared with the people or Commissioners.

Wonder why?

Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians (NY TIMES)

Did  the Trumpster-tricksters at Cambridge Analytica use the same weapons and technique of bribery and entrapment that St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and the late corrupt ROGERS TOWERS partner GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE used against St. Johns County Commission Chair THOMAS G. MANUEL using gullible gooberish FBI agents as bullets in developers' guns?

Has FBI has ignored serious crimes by SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR," and allegedly told SHOAR and a local journalist that SHOAR  was not under investigation, in violation of FBI procedures?

Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians

MARCH 19, 2018
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Mr. Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe.

“We have a long history of working behind the scenes,” Mr. Nix said.

The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter from Channel 4 News in Britain, and the encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The results of Channel 4’s work were broadcast in Britain on Monday, days after reports in The New York Times and The Observer of London that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual American voters.

The weekend’s reports about the data misuse have prompted calls from lawmakers in Britain and the United States for renewed scrutiny of Facebook, and at least two American state prosecutors have said they are looking into the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica.

Now, the Channel 4 broadcast appears likely to cast an even harsher spotlight on the company, which was founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor who put has put at least $15 million into Cambridge Analytica.

The firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques, which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, underpinned its work for the Trump campaign in 2016, though many have questioned their effectiveness.

Less noticed has been the work that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, has done outside the United States. The operations of the two companies were set up with a convoluted corporate structure and are deeply intertwined.

Mr. Nix, for instance, holds dual appointments at the two companies. Cambridge Analytica is registered in Delaware and almost wholly owned by the Mercer family, but it is effectively a shell — it holds intellectual property rights to its so-called psychographic modeling tools, yet its clients are served by the staff at London-based SCL and overseen by Mr. Nix, who is a British citizen.

SCL Elections has clients around the world, and it has experimented with data-driven microtargeting techniques in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules are lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL have been happy to provide government-held data, according to former employees.

[ALSO READHow Cambridge Analytica Harvested Facebook Data, Triggering a New Outcry]

But in the footage broadcast by Channel 4, Mr. Nix offered services that go far beyond data harvesting. The Times did not work with Channel 4 on its report about Cambridge Analytica.

“Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company,” he told the Channel 4 reporter, who was not identified. “We can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists. There’s so many options we can look at.”

The Channel 4 reporter posed as a “fixer” for a wealthy Sri Lankan family that wanted to help politicians they favored. In a series of meetings at London hotels between November and January, all of which were secretly filmed, Mr. Nix and other executives boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients.

The information that is uncovered through such clandestine work is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive, in an encounter in December 2015 at the Berkeley hotel in London.

“Then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again, over time, to watch it take shape,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’ Because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is, ‘Who’s put that out?’”

The most damning footage, though, was of Mr. Nix’s suggestion that the company could entrap political rivals through seduction or bribery.

At a meeting in January, also at the Berkeley hotel, Mr. Nix was direct about the techniques SCL could use to aid a client.

“I mean, deep digging is interesting,” he said. “But you know equally effective can be just to go and speak to the incumbents and to offer them a deal that’s too good to be true, and make sure that that’s video-recorded, you know. These sorts of tactics are very effective, instantly having video evidence of corruption, putting it on the internet, these sorts of things.”

Mr. Nix then suggested they could have someone pose as a wealthy developer. “They will offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance,” he said. “We’ll have the whole thing recorded on cameras.”

Or, Mr. Nix said, they could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house — we have lots of history of things.”

The reporter asked what kind of girls, and Mr. Nix said they could find some Ukrainian women. “I’m just saying, we could bring some Ukrainians in on holiday with us you know,” Mr. Nix replied. “You know what I’m saying.”

“They are very beautiful,” he said. “I find that works very well.”

To be sure, though, Mr. Nix said that he was speaking only in hypotheticals. “Please don’t pay too much attention to what I’m saying because I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what, what has been done,” he said.

For Mr. Nix, the footage comes at an already perilous moment. Earlier this month, he told a parliamentary inquiry into fake news and Russian interference in Britain’s referendum to exit the European Union that Cambridge Analytica never used or possessed Facebook data.

But following the reports in The Times and Observer on Saturday, Damian Collins, the Conservative lawmaker leading the inquiry, said he planned to call Mr. Nix back to testify.

“It seems clear that he has deliberately misled the committee and Parliament,” Mr. Collins said in a statement this weekend.

Elizabeth Denham, the British information commissioner, told Channel 4 News that on March 7 she asked for access to Cambridge Analytica, setting a deadline of 6 p.m. Monday. Ms. Denham said she did not accept the response as satisfactory and so would be applying in court on Tuesday for a warrant.

“We need to look at the databases, we need to look at the servers and understand how the data was processed,” she said.

In a statement, Facebook said that it had “hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica.”

But Mr. Collins, who is chairman of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said he was concerned that Facebook might gain access to data before the information commissioner did.

“What are they doing?” Mr. Collins asked on Channel 4 News. “Are they going in to physically recover data, to disturb the files? This investigation should be for the authorities.”

Mr. Collins said that the former Cambridge Analytica employee who came forward to disclose his company’s actions, Christopher Wylie, would be giving evidence to his committee. He said he wanted Mark Zuckerberg, or another senior executive from Facebook, to do the same.

Preserving and protecting St. Augustine Beach

Here's my vision for St. Augustine Beach (SAB) -- preserving and protecting:

  1. "Our [beach] village," as County Commission Chair Henry Dean calls it.  Voters amended SAB Charter to establish a permanent 35-foot building height limit (already violated by new hotel).
  2. Our beaches -- we must end dune destruction, e.g., by then Mayor/Commissioner Richard O'Brien, and Dr. James Grimes. (whose consultant condemned "monstrous obnoxious dune").  Neither was prosecuted. (Florida DEP apparently stands for "Don't Expect Proection").  Support a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore,  proposed in 1939 by St. Augustine Mayor Walter Fraser, Congressman Joseph Hendricks and Senators Claude Pepper and Charles Andrews. http://www.staugustgreen.com/draft-legislation.html
  3. Free speech -- end official oppression at meetings.
  4. Diversity -- desegregate all-white SAB City Hall.  St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, Inc. (SABCA) EVP Robert Samuels angrily opposes a small Civil Rights Museum honoring 1964 wade-ins. 
  5. Employee rights -- we helped reverse unconstitutional move by then-Mayor Andrea Samuels and Commissioner O'Brien to fire all seventeen police officers in retaliation for reporting  alleged misconduct by former police chief.  (Thanks to then-Commissioner Gary Snodgrass for changing his vote, saving SABPD from hostile takeover by Sheriff David Shoar).
  6. St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier (Pier Park) -- County Administrator Michael David Wanchick refuses to discuss replacing deteriorating Pier.   Lacking sufficient parking, new Embassy Suites owner-developers covet adjoining Pier Park, meeting secretly with successive Mayors (O'Brien and Samuels), City Manager Max Royle and County Administrator Michael Wanchick.  NO documents exist.  Really? There's been NO comment from the 650-lawyer, 24-office Akerman LLP law firm, or its hotel-owner clients (the Ardids/Key International).  
  7. Transparency -- SAB demands fat fees for our records, while illegally abusing private e-mails. Royle gave FPL personal e-mail addresses of City Commissioners to facilitate secret communications before FPL's 30-year franchise renewal. 
  8. Authenticity -- "Small is beautiful," economist E.F. Schumacher wrote. SAB must remain an authentic, small, cool, hip, low-rise, surfer-friendly, environmentally-conscious, affordable beach-town.  Not another Boca Raton.
  9. Peace and quiet -- let's end noisome Pier carnivals (like Beach Blast).   Why not a family-friendly First Night with fireworks (but no alcohol sales) on New Year's Eve? Let's end blatant Beach Blast's "VIP Tent," where SABCA, FPL, Advanced Disposal (among other vendors, franchisees and lessees) paid thousands of dollars to quaff New Year's champagne with SAB Mayor Undine George, Vice Mayor Margaret England, Commissioner Donald Samora and City Attorney James Patrick Wilson.  An appearance of impropriety?  You tell me.
  10. Governmental integrity -- we need a County Ombuds, independent Inspector General and a national search to pick a new SAB City Manager.  
So who among us would disagree?   

SABCA's self-serving "leaders," that's who. They oppose National Seashore protection and SAB Civil Rights Museum; demand  government subsidies; buy influence with contributions; back developers; retaliate against free speech; block legally-required ADA disabled-parking spaces; and support O'Brien-McMansions.  Enough flummery, dupery, nincompoopery from SABCA -- SAB's small-town Tammany Hall. 

Leaders are listening.  St. Johns County Commissioners unanimously rejected SABCA's indignant demands to:
  • cabin free speech into a very small space in front of Pier Park bathrooms.  
  • maintain SABCA's scandalous, lucrative,18-year, no-bid, below-market-rate Wednesday Market contract.  
Good news: by popular demand, your County government will soon be issuing a Request for Proposals for an authentic Pier Park Farmer's Market, one run by people who will accept SNAP/EBT cards and will pay fair-market rent (like splendid new Saturday Amphitheater contractor).   

Character counts.  

Whenever citizens ask questions, SABCA attacks them with a vengeance.  Be not afraid, fellow citizens. 

In Dan Quayle's immortal words, "I wear [SABCA's] scorn as a badge of honor."  And as FDR said in 1936 of corporate oligarchs, "I welcome their hatred."    

 It's Springtime.  Ask questions, demand answers, and expect democracy.

Left to right: SABCA President WILLIAM JONES, Commissioner ANDREA SAMUELS, et ux, SABCA VP ROBERT SAMUELS, tedious tendentious serial First Amendment violators.

The City of St. Augustine Beach needs another adult in the room: Rosetta Bailey, candidate for City Commissioner

Adult in the room

Lincoln's Birthday, February 12, 2018, St. Augustine Beach, Florida:  Commissioners illegally decided four issues without public comment. Commissioners ejected two citizens for protesting the injustice of slashing public comment time on agenda items.  

Three Commissioners voted to stifle criticism. Three successive mayors have violated citizens' public comment rights.   Sad. 

When Commissioners make a decision, they must allow the public to speak.  

On Lincoln's Birthday, Commissioners refused public comment before making decisions about: strategic planning, Pier Park, Wednesday Farmer's Market and sexual harassment (directing the City Attorney to write a policy for him to investigate harassment complaints involving the City Manager or Police Chief, instead of outsiders).   Never again!

We need access to government documents and answers to our questions.  What was discussed when touring our Pier Park by two successive St. Augustine Beach Mayors (Andrea Samuels and Richard O'Brien) and City Manager Max Royle, County Administrator Michael Wanchick and the Miami-based owners of the new Embassy Suites Hotel?  No documents. No answers.  Radio silence. Why? When Gary Snodgrass was Mayor, he sought staff answers to questions at City Commission meetings. Follow that precedent, please.  Respect citizens' rights.

We have a Right to Know about Pier Park, sexual harassment, retaliation, mismanagement, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.  

Secretive St. Augustine Beach is no "circus," as the Record editorial suggested in 2016, and I do not aspire to be its "ringmaster."  We need an "adult in the room."  

Preserve and protect our democratic republic, for which 1.2 million Americans died.  

When our Constitutional Convention ended, a Philadelphia woman asked Ben Franklin, what kind of government?  Franklin replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."  RFK said that if our Bill of Rights were written in the style of St. Paul, it would have said, "But the most important of these is speech."  Let's restore free speech rights.  

Rosetta Bailey, candidate for City Commissioner

Threatened Buc-ees' 120 pump "gas station" exposes maladroit St. Johns County land use planning laws

St. Johns County Commission must consider eminent domain to stop 120 gasoline pump project. We need a growth moratorium until we can review our land use code, which was written by developers. Here's a shallow page-one 681 word article by dupey developer fanboy STUART KORFHAGE of The St. Augustine Record, emitting the developer mantra that "there's nothing we can do." As Jim Hightower would say, "They're stealing the alternatives, folks!"

I'm supporting Catherine Hawkinson Guevaarra, Democrat, for County Commission, seat 4. Election is November 6, 2018. Vote like your life depends upon it, because it does.

1. Crummy land use planning by "business-friendly" St. Johns County political machine, which receives campaign funds from land-raping, wetland-destroying, tree-burning "developers -- whom former County Commission Chair Ben Rich Sr. called "worse than any carpetbagger."
2. No legal limit to size of "gas station?" Really?
3. Who wrote these loony laws? Ninnies? Developers? George Morris McClure? Rogers Towers? NEFRC? ETM? What watchdog group examined them at the time? We have no Ombuds, no Inspector General, and no organized group that scrutinizes the actions of local governments, which spend over one billion dollars a year. Why? It's our money.
4. Controversial St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, "The Issues Group," SYD PERRY, wife of former Sheriff NEIL PERRY, bear much responsibility.
5. We the People and this newspaper did little to question their one-party Republican misrule.
6. WGV residents must be heard and heeded. Their concerns must be respected, not neglected.
7. County Commission must consider eminent domain to acquire land before Buc-ees devastates the land and peaceful quiet enjoyment of WGV.
8. Do at least three (3) current County Commissioners have courage on Buc-ees? Pray for them to overturn dictates of County Administrator MICHEL DAVID WANCHICK, County Attorney PATRICK FRANCIS McCORMACK. It's time for GateHouse and Record to investigate and expose the sequelae of corrupt one-party Republican misrule and its climate of fear and retaliation that permits such "developments" -- like allowing an asphalt plant in residential neighborhood on SR-207 without county knowing anything about its toxic effects.
9. I'm voting for Catherine Hawkinson Guevarra, Democrat, for County Commission seat 4 on November 6, 2018.
10. It's time for a change.

Buc-ee’s project anticipated to move forward despite residents’ concerns

By Stuart Korfhage
Posted at 6:50 AM
Updated at 6:50 AM
St. Augustine Record

For a project that isn’t scheduled for a public hearing or even seen a commercial construction plan filed, the proposed Buc-ee’s gas station at the International Golf Parkway-Interstate 95 interchange is certainly taking up a lot of meeting time.

As is becoming the norm at St. Johns County government meetings, much of the non-agenda items public comment period at Thursday’s Planning and Zoning Agency meeting was taken up by opponents of the 120-pump gas station.

Ever since World Golf Village residents started to find out about the pre-application filed in September 2017, they’ve been adamant in their opposition to the idea.

Yet it probably won’t matter. The zoning for the land does allow for gas stations.

As long as the developers don’t ask for variances, the project will not be subject to review by the County Commission or any other county board. The project would be reviewed by staff if a building permit application is filed.

As of Thursday, assistant county attorney Paulo Soria said Buc-ee’s has not asked for a variance.

“Right now it is reviewed at a staff level, and it may be approved administratively if they meet all of the requirements of the PUD, land development code and Comprehensive Plan,” Soria said. “It will only go to this agency (the PZA) if the development seeks a waiver or a variance of any of the requirements. And right now, there has not been a submitted request for a variance.”

Although a building permit application has not been filed yet, Buc-ee’s general counsel Jeff Nadolo said in an email to The Record Friday that the company is still high on the area.

“We still are planning a new store in St. Johns County at International Golf Parkway,” Nadolo said. “We do not have a start date yet.”

While public officials have not offered much commentary on the project that would include a 52,600-square-foot convenience store along with the gas pumps, PZA member Brad Nelson did offer his view of the project.

He said the size of the project does present some issues, but he said that doesn’t make a Buc-ee’s incompatible with the area.

“Personally, I think we’d be better off with one very large gas station as opposed to five or six on each sector of the interchange that would be even more difficult to manage the traffic,” Nelson said at Thursday’s meeting.

Residents on the World Golf Village neighborhoods don’t seem to think that way.

Led by several residents of Pinehurst Pointe Drive on Thursday, about 30 minutes of the PZA meeting ended up being dedicated to Buc-ee’s as people elected to use the public comment period dedicated to non-agenda items. The same thing has been happening at County Commission meetings for months.

The themes are generally the same: that Buc-ee’s is an eyesore, that it’s too large for an area with development already in place, that it’s going to cause safety problems, that it’s going to add even more congestion to an interchange already choked with traffic.

James Povone was one of several Pinehurst Pointe Drive residents asking PZA members for help in stopping the project.

“I need you to take a real serious look at this and see what you can do to present anything that will help save our community from this disaster that’s about to happen,” he said Thursday. “If it’s going to happen, we’d like to stop it if there’s a possibility.”

Added Georgiann Ellis: “The reason I moved there was clearly for all of the green space around the golf courses and around the neighborhood and the lakes around our neighborhood. It’s a very lovely area.

“It’s already at 97 percent capacity and we’re increasing traffic all the more. There’s a lot of concern about personal safety.”

Nelson explained that there wasn’t much the PZA board could do “as long as they are following the rules that are in place.” But the board did ask county staff to provide an update for the concerned citizens.

Planner Shannon Acevedo explained that the project is not quite ready for a final review.

“We have done a pre-application with the applicant as well as reviewed and approved an incremental master development plan (submitted in November 2017) which shows the general layout of the Buc-ee’s, and that’s an administrative process,” she said.

“At this point, we have not received construction plans, although I can tell you is as part of the pre-application review one of the comments from our transportation and concurrency department was to request traffic impact and traffic trip generation data from the applicant as staff realizes this is at a scale that’s a little different than a regular gas station.”


Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
1. Crummy land use planning by "business-friendly" St. Johns County political machine, which receives campaign funds from land-raping, wetland-destroying, tree-burning "developers -- whom former County Commission Chair Ben Rich Sr. called "worse than any carpetbagger."
2. No legal limit to size of "gas station?" Really?
3. Who wrote these loony laws? Ninnies? Developers? George Morris McClure? Rogers Towers? NEFRC? ETM? What watchdog group examined them at the time? We have no Ombuds, no Inspector General, and no organized group that scrutinizes the actions of local governments, which spend over one billion dollars a year. Why? It's our money.
4. Controversial St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, "The Issues Group," SYD PERRY, wife of former Sheriff NEIL PERRY, bear much responsibility.
5. We the People and this newspaper did little to question their one-party Republican misrule.
6. WGV residents must be heard and heeded. Their concerns must be respected, not neglected.
7. County Commission must consider eminent domain to acquire land before Buc-ees devastates the land and peaceful quiet enjoyment of WGV.
8. Do at least three (3) current County Commissioners have courage on Buc-ees? Pray for them to overturn dictates of County Administrator MICHEL DAVID WANCHICK, County Attorney PATRICK FRANCIS McCORMACK. It's time for GateHouse and Record to investigate and expose the sequelae of corrupt one-party Republican misrule and its climate of fear and retaliation that permits such "developments" -- like allowing an asphalt plant in residential neighborhood on SR-207 without county knowing anything about its toxic effects.
9. I'm voting for Catherine Hawkinson Guevarra, Democrat, for County Commission seat 4 on November 6, 2018.
10. It's time for a change.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

SHERIFF HOAR's CHUTZPA: Hosting conference on old or cold cases, after 7 years, six months and 15 days of Michelle O'Connell case coverup

St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR is a legend in his own mind. SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994, just hosted a conference of lawmen on "old" or "cold' cases here at the scene of the crime, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.  Despicable.  here's the haughty hagiography on our hoary Sheriff, straight from the horse's behind, printed in the St. Augustine Record, whose editors and reporters know better:

St. Johns County cold case gets fresh look from state commission

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association’s cold case advisory commission, addresses law enforcement and other officials gathered for a meeting of the group held at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. [PETER WILLOTT/THE RECORD]

By Jared Keever
Posted Mar 17, 2018 at 2:01 AM
Updated Mar 17, 2018 at 6:14 AM
St. Augustine Record

A St. Johns County cold case is one of three cases getting a closer look by a team of experts from around the state.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell called it a “multidisciplinary team” during her opening remarks at a meeting of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Cold Case Advisory Commission Friday morning in the squad room at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

She is chair of the commission, made up of medical examiners, representatives from various state attorney’s offices, investigators and other experts, that meets quarterly to review unsolved homicide cases. Later in the day Friday they planned to do just that with the case of Richard Jeffery Jackson, who was found stabbed to death in a St. Augustine Beach hotel room in 1982.

The group was also planning to look at the St. Lucie County death of Pamela Cantaline and the death of Thomas Wall who was shot to death in Putnam County in 2015.

“We don’t even like to call them cold cases,” St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said as he got things started in the morning. “We like ‘old case’ ... We always like to at least reach out, even if it’s once a year, and touch them in some way.”

It’s important work, Darnell said, calling the growing number of cold cases in the state and across the country a “silent epidemic.”

“The reason our commission was formed by the Florida Sheriff’s Association back in about 2015 was because the numbers of unresolved murders and missing persons had been significantly increasing,” she said.

“It is estimated that there are 80,000 or more ... in the nation of missing persons with foul play suspected,” she added. “Most of them are likely murder victims. There are an additional 10,000 individuals who have been recovered but they have not been identified and therefore not claimed by their families.”

One reason many homicides go unsolved today, she said, is because so many of them are what she called “stranger homicides.”

Literature provided by the commission says that clearance rates in homicide cases decreased from 91 percent in 1965 to 63 percent in 2007.

“While numerous theories related to what caused this change exist, in the early [1960s] most homicide cases involved individuals who knew one another,” the pamphlet says. By the mid 90s though, 53 percent “of all murders were between strangers making them more difficult to solve.”

But with fresh eyes from all around the state looking at the three cases being reviewed on Friday, authorities are hopeful they can catch a break. Part of that can come from consulting with experts and reexamining old evidence that advances in technology, like DNA analysis, can make more meaningful.

That’s the hope of St. Johns County Sheriff Office Lt. Bobby Dean who just recently took another look at the Jackson case with Sgt. Jeremy Russell.

While waiting for the commission meeting to get under way on Friday, he spoke a little about the St. Augustine Beach case that started shortly after a maid found the 27-year-old Jackson dead in a hotel room on the beach.

“It went cold for several years until 2011” when another detective took a look at it, he explained.

“He did a ton of work on it because we had a cold case grant at the time,” Dean said.

In recent months, he and Russell have been trying to learn as much as they can about Jackson and looking at what evidence they have that they “might be able to retest and a get a better result,” he said. “Or reevaluate fingerprints, things like that.”

The group discussion was closed to the media, but Darnell’s public information officer, Sgt. Brett Rhodenizer, said that investigators, as they presented their cases would be asked to discuss as much as they can about the death, the initial investigation and the evidence and witnesses they have.

“We want as much discussion and as much disclosure as possible,” he said.

That’s the best way to be sure that even the smallest details get examined by the experts, one of whom might notice a small connection that moves the case forward.

“Whatever that thread is we can pull,” Rhodenizer said. “We pull it until we solve the case.”

For more about the Jackson case and the detectives’ work, check back with The Record in the coming days.

Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
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1. Imagine, if you will, the chutzpa of St. Johns County SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994. Hosting a meeting on "old cases," or "cold cases," when he's been covering for Sheriff's Deputy JEREMY BANKS since September 2, 2010? "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."-- Duke Francois de La Rochefoucauld.
2. Not only have Sheriff SHOAR and his henchmen covered up a homicide for 2753 days -- 7 years, 6 months, 15 days -- he tried to get FDLE Special Agent Rusty Ray Rodgers criminally prosecuted and fired. When will our "Justice" (sic) Dept, our FBI and the long arm of federal law come for Sheriff DAVID SHOAR? http://www.pbs.org/video/frontline-death-st-augustine/  http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/two-gunshots/index.html  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/us/michelle-oconnell-jeremy-banks.html
3. We ALL know the facts: they're irrefragable
4. Yet only ONE of 40 St. Johns County elected officials has DARED to speak out. Thanks to Mayor Nancy Shaver, who speaks the truth to power, as she did in her 2013 Letter to the Editor:  http://www.staugustine.com/opinions/2013-12-18/letter-something-alexis-stocking
5. Sheriff SHOAR's response was to drop a "money bomb" on her and try to defeat her in 2016. It didn't work. People love her.
6. I support re-election of Mayor Nancy Shaver
7. I support FBI and federal grand jury investigations of Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, Deputy JEREMY BANKS, State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, et al. Now.
8. Enough corruption. Enough coverups. Enough inequality.
9. We need MORE ethical officials like Nancy Shaver, willing to look the Devil in the eye, and say, "NO MORE CORRUPTION IN OUR TOWN."
10. We need ethical candidates, for EVERY single elected office in St. Johns County in 2018 and 2020.
Joan Noonan
  • Joan Noonan
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Justice for Michelle O’Connell.
  • 11 hours ago
Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
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Justice for Michelle O'Connell.