Sunday, March 04, 2018

My USDOJ ADA complaint re: City of St. Augustine, Florida, et. al. refusal to provide accessible restrooms for five million annual visitors: IN HAEC VERBA

Just filed ADA complaint with USDOJ re: City of St. Augustine's failure and refusal to provide adequate, 24/7 restrooms for our five million visitors.   While the itty-bitty-City alleges a public health crisis caused by public urination/defecation by panhandlers, our City and two corrupted ex-Mayors helped cause the problem by failing to provide 24/7 access to City-owned restrooms at 81 St. George Street, where LEN WEEKS and JOE BOLES enjoy no-bid, below-market rate lease of lucrative commercial property subleased to Florida Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets.  Filed similar complaint against University of Florida, requesting appointment of a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

City refused to allow public comment at February 26, 2018 hearing in response to "evidence" and "testimony" advanced by $25k hired gun MICHAEL KAHN, hired to write panhandler ordinance because City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ is maladroit and ineffectual.

My lawyer, Jack Spence, sent a letter to City warning it was illegal to deny public comment.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1800:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Read full text of ADA complaint here:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin
To: John.Gore ; Rebecca.Bond
Sent: Sun, Mar 4, 2018 3:11 pm
Subject: USDOJ ADA complaint re: City of St. Augustine, Florida, et. al. refusal to provide accessible restrooms for five million annual visitors

Dear General Gore and Director Bond:
USDOJ software for filing online ADA complaints is not working correctly today, so I am e-mailing this complaint to you directly:

1. Each year, some five million people visit St. Augustine, Florida, our Nation's Oldest City.  Our Respondent City government refuses and fails to provide accessible restrooms, violating ADA & the Rehabilitation Act.
2.City-owned restrooms at 81 St. George Street are leased/operated by Respondent ex-Mayors CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR.  (WEEKS) and JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR.  (BOLES).  
3. Since 1989, Respondents WEEKS and BOLES have enjoyed the benefits of  a controversial no-bid,below-market rate lease of this City property to provide and maintain those restrooms, subject to their running two businesses (Florida Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets)(subleased from BOLES and WEEKS). See Susan Cooper Eastman, "The Blogger, the Lease and the St. Augustine Mayor's Race," Folio Weekly Magazine (August 20, 2014)@ 2,,10719?page=2&;
4. 81 St. George Street restrooms close at 9 PM; they are not ADA compliant.
5. City says disabled people can use our City Marina restrooms, 111 Avenida Menendez-- also not ADA compliant--poorly lit, difficult to reach in wheelchairs or by automobile. 
6. City Marina is not a reasonable alternative--6/10 of a mile away from 81 St. George Street, too distant from the historic district, no signs point the way.  The Respondent City's marina suggestion is, at best, facetious.
7. Respondent City's ADA coordinator, TODD GRANT refused to return my two telephone messages on ADA, 3/1 & 3/2.
8. GRANT declined to join me on a 6/10 mile walk 3/3.
9. Testimony at February 26, 2018 City Commission hearing on proposed panhandling ordinance established a public health problem exists, allegedly caused by public urination/defecation by homeless people.
10. On March 2, 2018, City ADA Coordinator GRANT responded icily to my February 28, 2018 inquiry re: 24/7 restroom access, stating inter alia:
"Mr. Slavin:
 I am unsure (sic) as to what you are requesting.  The property at 81 St. George Street has a lease with the City.  In that lease there is no language indicating that the bathrooms have to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The City does provide this (sic) at the marina bathrooms. If there is specific language in the ADA that requires a public restroom to be open 24/7 I have not been able to find it. 
 Todd Grant, P.G.
City of St. Augustine
Public Works Deputy Director
PO Box 210
St. Augustine, FL 32085
904-209-4271 (direct)
904-825-1040 (main office)
904-315-8499 (cell)
11. Our unresponsive Respondent City lacks a welcoming spirit to ADA concerns and persons with disabilities. Respondent City of St. Augustine's city government lacks empathy for disabled people and victims of civil rights violations. It has a long, sordid history of violating civil rights laws--including SAPD officers tackling an African-American man into quadriplegia ($3.5 million settlement), repeatedly violating First Amendment rights of street artists and musicians, and halting distribution of a newspaper ($23,500 jury verdict).
12. Our City was successfully sued under ADA for failing to provide adequate curb cuts and disabled parking.  Robert Jones & Merrill Paul Roland v. City of St. Augustine.
13. In 2011, Folio Weekly documented our City's continuing refusal and failure to provide adequate ADA parking spaces.
14. Our City refuses to ticket persons illegally parking in disabled parking spaces, despite mandatory "shall" language in F.S. 316.1955, requiring both $250 ticket AND towing.
15. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1964 that St. Augustine was "the most lawless City in America." 
16. Our City is hell-bent on enacting an unconstitutional, distance-based, panhandling ordinance March 26, 2018, partly premised on public urination/defecation being a health "crisis," while the Respondent City, Respondents WEEKS and BOLES created that "crisis" by refusing to open our public restrooms 24/7, in violation of ADA.  
17. Our City receives federal funds (FEMA and HUD); USDOJ has jurisdiction.
18. Please initiate an investigation and programmatic audit of City's ADA noncompliance and commence a suspension and debarment investigation.
19. Please send USDOJ investigator(s) to attend our March 26, 2018 City Commission hearing (5 PM) on  proposed panhandling ordinance, No. 2018-6  
20. Kindly take sworn testimony from all five City Commissioners, City staff, City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ, outside panhandler ordinance, counsel MICHAEL KAHN, Respondents WEEKS and BOLES, tourism industry experts, and ADA violation victims.   
21. Please expedite your investigation to protect ADA rights of five million annual visitors, and our local residents. 
22. On March 3, 2018, I filed a parallel complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against the University of Florida, which closes its St. George Street public restrooms at 4:30 PM.  In that complaint, I invoked OCR's jurisdiction under both ADA and age discrimination law, requesting appointment of an FMCS mediator. 
23. Will the City of St. Augustine kindly agree to meet with an FMCS mediator on this complaint?

Thank you.

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

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