Friday, May 18, 2018

SABCA Alcohol Event CANCELLED By County Administrator

On May 15, 2018, County Administrator MICHAEL WANCHICK and County Attorney PATRICK McCORMACK rightly cancelled a St. Augustine Beach Civic Association alcohol fundraiser event set for that night at the pavilion at the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier Park.

There was NO permit for alcohol sales.

There was NO insurance for alcohol sales.

So then the beer distributor cancelled its beer and wine delivery.

Then the fete was ended by the St. Johns County Administrator.

Kudos to citizens Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. and Merrill Paul Roland for asking questions and demanding answers about SABCA's flummery, dupery and nincompoopery

Thanks to the County Attorney and County Administrator for doing their jobs, without fear of or favor.  What a difference a few years makes.

No thanks to stinky SABCA, which remains the developers' cat's paw, a secretive, de facto Political Action Committee, an habitual violator of free speech rights, a 501c4 that thinks it owns the Pier Park.  Those days are ending.

SABCA EVP ROBERT SAMUELS has publicly opposed a civil rights museum at our pier, while heckling progressives and lobbying Commissioners to support developers, particularly while his spouse, ANDREA SAMUELS was Mayor and Commissioner.  (ANDREA SAMUELS violated nepotism rules by voting to appoint her husband as an alternate member of the Planning and Zoning Board.). Ms. SAMUELS was defeated by reformer Maggie Kostka in 2016.  

See ANDREA SAMUELS' Top Ten List below:

Here's WILLIAM JONES in happier days, illegally wearing his Sheriff's credentials in violation of Sheriff's orders outside work, with St. Augustine Mayor NANCY SHAVER and then-Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS of St. Augustine Beach. It was JONES who procured the illegal arrest August 12, 2015 of former St. Augustine Beach Code Enforcement Board Chair WILLIAM ROSENSTOCK for "stalking" for raising concerns to elected officials about an alleged unlicensed unsanitary barbecue vendor at SABCA concert events, the last of which will be on September 13, 2017.

JONES has publicly attacked Mr. Rosenstock and other whistleblowers or "ethical resisters," whom he calls "elderly old white men" and "anti-Semites," and calling one a "disbarred lawyer" in retaliation for questioning and criticizing the Civic Association, a 501c4, for:
1. no-bid $1/year lease of city property,
2. no-bid lease of County Pier Park property for concerts and farmers markets (ending soon as a result of activist and county concerns),
3. failing to pay the County for electricity for ten years,
4. failing to pay for trash disposal until 2017 (and only a nominal fee),
5. violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including failure to provide enough bathrooms and blocking disabled parking spaces,
6. permitting unlicensed, unsanitary vendors at its farmers market and concerts,
7. financial flummery,
8. ripping up protest signs,
9. performing unlawful investigations of political enemies using Sheriff's computers to access state and federal data bases,
10. maintaining an enemies list, rejecting applications from St. Augustine Beach Vice Mayor Undine George and her husband, former Mayor Edward George, and
11. acting as a de facto political action committee supporting Sheriff Shoar and his developer-friendly allies, and
12. giving $500 campaign contribution to a successful 2015 off-year special election effort to raise sales taxes, when developers spent $189,000 campaigning to add a half-cent sales tax for school infrastructure, sparing developers $150,000,000 in impact fees and property taxes over 10 years (a return on investment of some 33,200%).

ANDREA SAMUELS was defeated for re-election in 2016 by Maggie Kostka. Here's the last "Top Ten" list I published on SAMUELS:

UPDATED: November 2, 2016

Dictatorial, mercurial, two-term City Commissioner ANDREA SAMUEL has showed her insensitivity, immaturity and meanness repeatedly.  She's callously indifferent to public concerns about signage, development, building height, mangrove tree preservation and the right of citizens to speak their mind without being intimidated by angry Commissioners (and her angry, mercurial spouse, ROBERT SAMUELS).


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

City of St. Augustine Beach COMMISSIONER, ex-Mayor, ANDREA SAMUELS

1.  Angry, dictatorial and insulting attitude toward citizens, colleagues and City staff, including interruptions, cutting remarks, eye-rolling, inappropriate laughter and discrimination, while favoring dodgy contractors, rejecting food trucks and sometimes actually telling concerned citizens, "THIS IS NOT A DIALOGUE!"  Her antics earned a November 2, 2016 St. Augustine Record endorsement for her challenging opponent, reformer Maggie Kostka.

2. Voted to hire and retain conflicted developer lawyer DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT as City Attorney.   SAMUELS and Commissioners voted to hire BURNETT in 2009 and repeatedly retained his services despite concerns that he could not represent developers and the City of St. Augustine.  BURNETT's St. JOHNS LAW GROUP law firm finally quit in 2015 and BURNETT was replaced in 2016 amid ethics and incompetent concerns -- including advertising his law firm on the City's website, and representing the Publix shopping center owner (whose logo was on his website), when that shopping center owner wanted to buy a 6.1 acre city park.  SAMUELS supported giving BURNETT a "plaque" to honor his "service." BURNETT:
1. Never disclosed his ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP client list. 
2. Never provided evidence of a "conflicts check" by ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP.
3. Advertised his ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP law firm on City of St. Augustine Beach website.
4. Advertised on his website that he represented shopping center owner that wanted to buy City-County park for less than we paid for it. 
5. Sent his ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP associates to meetings he did not attend, some who were not listed in engagement letter.
6. Gave conservative, pro-developer legal advice.
7. Represented 7-Eleven, a Japanese multinational corporation (through ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP associate JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE) in efforts to inflict twelve gasoline pumps at May & San Marco in the the historic City of St. Augustine, which would have endangered deaf and blind students at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and other residents, while adding to traffic problems at the failing intersection ("We, the People" defeated 7-Eleven, which sold the property to the City of St. Augustine for $1.4 million; the property will now be the locus of an elliptical roundabout to solve the traffic problem 7-Eleven would have exacerbated).
8. Quit as City Attorney just a few months after his ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP-SAB 2009 engagement contract was renewed in 2015, without readvertising the position.
9. Billed SAB taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars since 2009.
3. Nepotism, bigotry and bullying:  ANDREA SAMUELS violated state ethics laws by voting for appointment of her husband, ROBERT SAMUELS, as a junior alternate member of the Planning and Zoning Board -- a fact never reported by the St. Augustine Record, or anyone (reported on for the first time on this blog earlier this year).  While finding a violation, there was no penalty from the State Ethics Commission (her defense lawyer, MARK HERRON, is former Chair of the State Ethics Commission).  SAMUELS' only legal defense: incorrect legal advice from City Attorney DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT.
SAMUELS has used her husband to skirt Sunshine laws, apparently, with ROBERT SAMUELS meeting and talking with other Commissioners.  SAMUELS' husband is a bully who loudly and widely spread Lashon hara about UNDINE PAWLOWSKI being a "LESBIAN" when she first ran for office against ANDREA SAMUELS in 2008 and was legally married to a woman.  Then ROBERT SAMUELS spread Lashon hara about Commissioner UNDINE PAWLOWSKI GEORGE after she married former St. Augustine Beach Mayor Edward George.  The SAMUELS obsess on Vice Mayor PAWLOWSKI GEORGE and do not conceal their hatred.  This was demonstrated by the December 7, 2015 "cupcake" incident, involving then-Mayor SAMUELS' display of animus upon being given a birthday cupcake for Commissioner PAWLOWSKI-GEORGE's birthday by her father, Dr. Michel S. Pawlowski, D.Sci.
As a loudmouth spectator at City meetings, ROBERT SAMUELS acts like rebarbative retromgnent ridiculing Republican lord of all he surveys: ROBERT SAMUELS is abusive: he frequently heckles and insults citizens in public meetings, on-camera, once making devil horns behind Tree and Beautification board member Ann Palmquist after she spoke in public comment.  A  devious defender of the status quo and developers, ROBERT SAMUELS once slithered to the podium to call me an "outsider" and to say I "stink" because I opposed reducing developer (and SAMUELS' campaign contributor) Farid Ashdji's contractual commitment to pay some $560,000 for infrastructure (Commissioners ultimately agreed with me and rejected Ashdji's extralegal, illogic demand, but no one ever chastised ROBERT SAMUELS for his creating a hostile working environment).  Earlier this year, after citizens waited for 200 minutes before public comment before a joint meeting of the Commission, PZB and Tree Board, I spoke in favor of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, with ROBERT SAMUELS waving his arms at   me, saying there would "never" be a National Park and Seashore, and that he opposed a larger pier with a public-private partnership and a small civil rights museum.   On October 20, 2016, ROBERT SAMUELS assailed and assaulted Commissioner Undine Pawlowski George.

4. Too cozy with big developers:  As Mayor, in 2014, ANDREA SAMUELS toured Pier Park with DIEGO ARDID, South Florida developer from KEY INTERNATIONAL, City Manager MAX ROYLE and County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK, discussing possible trade of land for the former Holiday Inn property, without advance notice, videotape, news coverage or lawyer present.  No records exist.  ANDREA SAMUELS does not always tilt toward all developers, but it is a bad habit that offends people who love the small-town, low-rise working class St. Augustine Beach.  As proof of her coziness with developers, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR has endorsed her, as has Flagler College Public Administration Professor JOE SAVIAK.

5.  Irresolute, maladroit and ineffectual on enforcing City Charter's 35 foot building height limit.  Result: an "edifice complex," with City staff giving significant encouragement to hideous McMansions blotting out the sun and ocean views and Embassy Suites to erect too-tall building at north end of St. Augustine Beach.  The St. Augustine Record agrees, discussing this issue in its endorsement of Maggie Kostka -- ANDREA SAMUELS served on the Planning and Zoning Board and should have prevented this abortion of a skyscraper in our beloved low-rise St. Augustine Beach.

6.  Manipulates St. Augustine Beach Civic Association (SABCA) and some its members, running SABCA as a dictatorship, even rejecting membership applications who disagree with SAMUELS (former Mayor Edward George and Commissioner Undine George)  Sadly, SABCA functions as the SAMUELS' de facto political action committee.  SABCA contributed $500 and volunteer time to a questionable developer political effort -- only item on the ballot in an off-year election -- to increase sales taxes for school infrastructure: result, developers were relieved of $150,000,000 in taxes and impact fees for an investment of $189,000-- this amounts to a Return on Investment (ROI) of some 33,200%.  Meanwhile, SABCA is guilty of arrogantly demanding and and receiving no-bid $1/year leases and other unaudited, unexamined special favors, including exclusive use of City Commission meeting room for parties where alcohol is served (now banned): SABCA is the the only non-governmental organization (NGO) that is ever allowed to hold meetings in the St. Augustine Beach City Commission chambers (which were denied to the League of Women Voters as recently as 2014).
ANDREA SAMUELS as mayor in 2015 recused herself but continued to preside, allowing SABCA to use loud, obnoxious, offensive, boisterous, heckling supporters (led by husband ROBERT SAMUELS and SABCA President Sheriff's employee WILLIAM JONES), to demand and receive renewal of a $1/year, no-bid lease of City property.
The SAMUELS and JONES violate First Amendment rights of citizens.  See item 7B, below.
SABCA receives St. Johns County Tourist Development Council bed tax funds, although the business case has not been made, with the Farmer's Market supposedly paying for the Wednesday concerts (SAMUELS serves on the Tourist Development Council).
WILLIAM JONES has repeatedly received mere wrist-slaps from Sheriff DAVID SHOAR (one of SAMUELS' contributors) for conduct that would get other employees fired and prosecuted.
7.  Retaliates against First Amendment protected activity: 
A. By policemen and government employees, including 3-2 vote to fire all St. Augustine Beach Police officers because ten of them filed a complaint against then-Chief Robert Hedges, stating her overt intent to retaliate because of their complaints, with Commissioner ANDREA SAMUELS saying the Police Department had become "political."  We, the People persuaded Commissioners to reconsider, and seventeen jobs were saved -- Commissioner Sherman Gary Snodgrass, a former HR manager for Excelon, switched in time.  Ironically, in 2016, ANDREA SAMUELS publicly referred to "my 17 police officers," as if they were serfs, vassals or bullets in her gun.  How gauche and louche.

B. By citizens, including fomenting unjust, unconstitutional 2015 arrest of former Code Enforcement Chair William Rosenstock for "stalking" same day as his letter in St. Augustine Record thanking County Commissioners for ending cabined "First Amendment zones" in county parks (including Pier Park), with ANDREA SAMUELS later allegedly stating, "we got him."  All charges against Mr. Rosenstock were dismissed, but SAMUELS and SABPD never apologized.  SABPD Commander Parker testified that he was not aware of the First Amendment's petition clause.  Meanwhile, there was no prosecution of SABCA Vice President ROBERT SAMUELS when he body slammed a sign spinner, or or WILLIAM JONES when he tore Mr. Rosenstock's protest sign in two.

8.  Disdains environmental values and shoots from the hip, giving lots of lip:  SAMUELS and her husband swore a Democratic loyalty oath and said they were Democrats, becoming members of the St. Johns County Democratic Executive Committee In July 2009 and voting against the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore. They are now registered Republicans.  Both ANDREA and ROBERT SAMUELS have repeatedly, publicly attacked supporters of the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, attempting to halt public debate. Like an ignorant Archie Bunker in drag, Commissioner ANDREA SAMUELS has stated "I don't care how tall the building is, I just don't want to lose FEMA" and "there are no mangroves here" as an effort to foil protection for legally protected mangrove trees (indeed, there are mangroves as far north as South Ponte Vedra Beach).

9.  Accepted campaign contribution from developers while still serving on the Planning and Zoning Board in 2008 and took contribution in 2016 from Sheriff DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR," whose endorsement of ANDREA SAMUELS on official St. Johns County Sheriff's Office letterhead may violate the Hatch Act.

10.  Fails to perform adequate oversight of maladroit City Manager MAX ROYLE, one of the shared flaws of the ruling "bloc of three" (Mayor RICHARD O'BRIEN, Commissioner SHERMAN GARY SNODGRASS and ANDREA SAMUELS). During 2016, St. Augustine Beach has repeatedly scheduled meetings that conflict with meetings of the City of St. Augustine, and sometimes on short notice.  In September 2016, City Manager MAX ROYLE smirked at me and said, "You're the only one who complained."  Nothing has been done to correct ROYLE, who admittedly falls asleep in meetings, and fails to supervise the City staff adequately (ROYLE even wrote a newspaper column admitting he falls asleep in meetings).

CONCLUSION: Partisan, angry ANDREA SAMUELS has disgraced her public office.  Vote for Maggie Kostka, a 24-year resident and small business owner, who listens to people and throw SAMUELS out of office for her unAmerican activities.  Also elect Rosetta Bailey, whom the Record did not endorse in her race against entrenched fourteen-year incumbent RICH O'BRIEN, currently the Mayor of St. Augustine Beach.

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