Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Saving St. Augustine, Florida

Here's an intriguing St. Augustine Record column from 2014, the year that we elected heroic Mayor Nancy Shaver, published shortly before she announced her candidacy:

Saving St. Augustine, Florida

Guest column: The Bohemians have won
St. Augustine Record
Posted: May 3, 2014 - 12:01am
St. Augustine
Nine years ago, on April 11, 2005, I spoke for the very first time to the St. Augustine City Commission, talking about civil rights concerns. Then-City Manager William B. Harriss spoke to me after the meeting, saying “I could have you arrested for disorderly conduct!”
Mr. Harriss is gone, replaced by new, enlightened management, John Regan. But Mr. Harriss’ words inspired activists to organize.
There have been a few victories:
1. Cleanup of city’s illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste in the Old City Reservoir by consent decree.
2. Cleanup of city’s former contaminated landfill at the end of Riberia Street, by consent decree.
3. Cleanup of city’s sewage dumping in saltwater marsh at south end of Lincolnville, by consent decree.
4. Proper paving of Riberia Street for the first time in St. Augustine history.
5. Shutdown/prosecution of M&M Market at 102 Bridge Street (regional crack cocaine market).
6. Protection of neighborhoods from tree-killing, wetland-destroying developers.
7. Two civil rights monuments in our Slave Market Square.
8. The city’s “Journey” African-American history VIC exhibit.
9. Rainbow flags on Bridge of Lions, by federal court order, vindicating the First Amendment and Equal Protection.
10. Protection of visual artists, by federal court order, vindicating First Amendment rights.
11. Adding “sexual orientation” as protected class in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach Fair Housing ordinances.
12. Employment nondiscrimination ordinance for both government and private employment in St. Augustine Beach.
13. Equal pension benefits for survivors of gay and lesbian St. Augustine retired employees.
14. Disapproval of inappropriate building across from St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica.
15. Protection of two historic neighborhoods from FSDB eminent domain.
16. Rejecting 7-Eleven’s 12 gasoline pumps at May Street and San Marco.
17. Cancellation of $1.8 million no-bid mosquito control helicopter. Winning deposit refund.
18. Ending rampant sunshine and open records violations by local governments.
19. Cancellation of illegal $25,000 sunshine-violating “business” trip by four city commissioners to Spain.
20. Ending First America Foundation (given $275,000 of city funds to run 450th celebration), winning refund of most of money.
21. Defeating proposed county charter twice.
22. Halting efforts to fire St. Augustine Beach policemen and delegate law enforcement to Sheriff David Shoar.
23. Resolutions opposing offshore oil drilling by St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach.
24. Resolutions opposing offshore sonar exploration by St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County.
25. Reporting of Sheriff David Shoar’s mishandling of Michelle O’Connell shooting case by New York Times and PBS Frontline.
26. Initiation of a diverse St. Augustine “visioning” committee in the sunshine.
27. Designation of St. Augustine as a “Compassionate City,” first in Florida and 20th in the world.
28. Encouraging diversity, equality and human rights.
29. Successful federal criminal prosecution of developer for cutting down of a bald eagle nest tree.
30. Encouraging our government officials to listen and to do the right thing.
We, the people, are everywhere! Our leaders are listening, as we “force the Spring.” As the late St. Augustine City Manager, Joe Pomar, once reportedly said, “the Bohemians have won.” Here in St. Augustine, we stand up for equal rights. We take care of our own. In John Winthrop’s words, we are building a “shining city on a hill.”
During our 450th next year, we look forward to sharing St. Augustine’s history and natural beauty with Pope Francis and other visitors from around the world.
Let’s preserve and protect what we love by enacting the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore (

More here from the next year:

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