Sunday, December 31, 2006

Comments on St. Augustine & St.. Johns County Office Pool 2007

Comments on the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Office Pool 2007 include assertions that it is "brilliant" (aw, shucks) and too long (I plead nolo contendere) and not as tough on Governor Charles Crist as it is on local malefactors of great wealth and their minions (a fair criticism).

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, for a good time, read the hagiongraphy emitted from national nad local newspapers and TV about the late President Gerald R. Ford.

We're grateful that former President Ford condemned Bush's war in Iraq posthumously and that he stood up for human rights, appointing John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court. Yet hearing his sycophantic 1973 Watergate tape kissing President Nixon's butt the day after Nixon accepted the resignation of Haldeman and Ehrlichman reminds us that Ford was a "team player," who pardoned Nixon, a criminal scoundrel.

The comparisons are obvious. President Gerald R. Ford made Reagan look intellectual, Bush I look scholarly and Bush II look honest by comparison. Ford's Republican Party was a "big tent," compared to today's national Republican party, full of hate for diversity.

President Ford had the perspicacity to debate Jimmy Carter and to hold frequent press conferences, both as President and Vice President.

By comparison, some local public officials in St. Augustine, Florida avoid debate and won't even answer questions (like the questions we've been seeking answers to since February 24 on the Nation's Oldest City dumping 20,000 cubic yards of contaminants in the Old City Reservoir.

It's one thing to be conservative (or liberal): it's another thing to take the point of view that "l'etat c'est moi." Our local oligarchs have much to learn from history, including the lessons of Watergate.

St. Augustine politics still hews to the Spanish colonial past in a City that brags on being founded by murderous colonists in 1565, the same year that Ivan the Terrible founded the KGB's forerunner.

St. Augustine will learn and grow in the New Year, as local progressives persist in uncovering misdeeds by misanthropes.

What do you reckon?

Friday, December 29, 2006

St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida Office Pool 2007

This Office Pool is written with tongue-in-cheek and a tip-of-the-hat, admiration and my sincere appreciation to NY Times' semi-retired columnist William Safire (sesquipedalian former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew speechwriter who coined such Nixonian bon mots as "nattering nabobs of negativism").
The venerable William Safire has been writing -- and I've been reading -- his New Year's "Office Polls" for 33 years. Mr. Safire published his 33rd Office Pool this morning.
So here's my 2007 Office Pool for St. Augustine and St. Johns County. As Mr. Safire said in a prior year, "You've got to play to win." Here goes:
1. St. Johns County Commissioner Jim Bryant will:
a. Be indicted;
b. Resign;
c. Be fired by Governor Charles Crist;
d. Go to work for clear-cutting developers, like other former Commissioners;
e. Fall asleep at County Commission meetings;
f. Try to make the County taxpayers pay for the lawyer he claimed he hired to "defend" himself against "slander," in a fit of pique at Ben Rich (now Commission Chair);
g. Write a haiku poem extolling the virtues of clear-cutting and tree-killing;
h. Leave Commission meetings early, pouting;
i. None of the above;
j. All of the above.

2. St. Augustine City Commissioners will find a new spirit of friendliness and openness as they:
a. Welcome Gay residents and tourists by banning anti-Gay discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and education;
b. Accept WILLIAM B. HARRISS' gracious, heart-felt resignation as City Manager, resulting in a spontaneous three-day street festival;
c. Welcome artists and entertainers back to St. George Street;
d. Admit to violating open records laws and Sunshine laws, apologizing;
e. Support legislation to create a new national park, the "St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore";
f. Apologize for St. Augustine's 1964 bigotry and Philistinism, including the police riots, judicial abuses, KKK dominance of local government, arrest of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the beating of Rev. Andrew Young while police watched (all of which resulted in enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as shown in Jeremy Dean's prize-winning documentary, "Dare Not Walk Alone";
g. Find new venues to violate Sunshine laws and thumb their nose at "just us folks," whether on a plane, in Spain, in NYC, in local business's backroom or at a Rolling Stones concert;
h. All of the above;
i. None of the above.

3. Tree-killing-clear-cutting developers will:
a. Be indicted;
b. Be shown to have corrupted County and City officials;
c. Be hated by everyone in St. Augustine and St. Johns County;
d. Try to redeem themselves in public opinion by donating/selling their ill-gotten land for the St. Augustine National Park and National Seashore.

4. Federal and state law enforcement agents will conduct surprise raids on:
a. Present and former Town of Hastings officials and local developers responsible for 2005 annexations;
b. Local officials responsible for zoning decisions;
c. Local developers;
d. Local hate groups;
e. Local restaurants and hotels employing workers at subminimum wages, some undocumented illegal immigrants;
f. Other organizational targets;
g. All of the above;
h. None of the above.

5. Archaeological find of the year 2007 will be:
a. Peer-reviewed scientific journal confirmation of the location of Pedro Menendez' first settlement (in and north of the Fountain of Youth Historical Park);
b. Actual interest by City officials in saving indigenous historical sites from overdevelopers;
c. Conflicts-of- interests discovered among people boisterously blocking and putting-down indigenous archaeological preservation efforts, including WILLETT ALBRIGHT BOYER, III (who went by "Freethinker" in obscene comments on the St. Augustine Record's "Talk of the Town" website);
d. More human bodies discovered and reported by St. Augustine city employees and construction worker, despite overdevelopers' desire to conceal them and the inconvenient truths of where they wish to erect more ugly buildings;
e. New-found courage by Florida Secretary of State's archaeological staff, empowered by Governor Crist to do their jobs without fear or favor;
f. City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS and his Planning and Zoning Director MARK KNIGHT are not now and never have been archaeologist and have no training or competence to supervise the City's Archaeology Department;
g. The PR flaks of the international corporate law firm once known as JONES, DAY, REAVIS, POGUE may be related to Neanderthals, as established by his St. Augustine coal-to-gas plant "victory lap" press release (below) and DNA tests;
h. All of the above.

6. Florida Governor Charles Crist will:
a. Support legislation endorsing Gay civil unions;
b. Fire local public officials convicted of Sunshine violations;
c. Wage war on government corruption.

7. St. Johns County Commissioners will hire a new County Administrator who:
a. Does not have four grandparents in local cemeteries;
b. Will lead and inspire confidence in governmental integrity;
c. Knows how to stop public corruption;
d. Has experience in investigations and putting handcuffs on criminals;
e. Will know who's been naughty and nice;
f. Will be selected through a valid, national search without fear or favor of local political bosses, based on competence.

8. St. Johns County Election Supervisor Penny Haliburton will:
a. Be sued for First Amendment violations for using churches for 2/3 of all of St. Johns County's polling places;
b. Be investigated for favoritism to incumbents;
c. Be investigated for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws;
d. Announce her retirement;
e. All of the above.

9. St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar will:
a. Announce formation of an Environmental Crimes unit;
b. Fire at least three law enforcement officers for misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, drunkenness and/or corruption;
c. Announce an end to anti-Gay policies (flaunted in the Organized Crime Unit threatening two women for planning to protest the March 15, 2005 anti-Gay hate rally at the World Golf Village Convention Center), becoming the first governmental unit in St. Johns County to announce it won't discriminate against Gay employees;
d. All of the above.

10. Three out of five St. Augustine City Commissioners will:
a. Shock everyone by standing up to developers, with or without spinal implant surgeries;
b. Vote to hold a public hearing on what ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER admits is "rampant corruption," changing procedures and adopting reforms;
c. Vote to place webcams at the Old City Reservoir so we can watch the "cleanup";
d. Vote to contest the FDEP fines for dumping in the Old City Reservoir of the contents of the old illegal city dump, saying dumping 30 million pounds of contaminants into a prime bass fishing spot was somehow "inadvertent," "de minimis" and or "de micromis";
e. Adopt transparency policies, placing all agenda item memos and proposals on the website;
f. Start meeting with voters, instead of ducking our E-mails and phone calls.
g. Announce they are not seeking re-election, joining in Commissioner GEORGE GARDNER's post-election Sherman-like statement;
h. Propose consolidation of the City and County governments;
i. All of the above.
j. None of the above.

11. The first local "development" to go belly-up amid talk of recession and disintermediation will be:
a. CHESTER STOKES' evisceration of the arsenic-contaminated Ponce de Leon Golf Links;
b. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD's effort to turn a 3000-4000 year old indigenous American Indian village next to St. Augustine High School into condos and a stripmall;
c. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD's effort to turn Conch House Marina into condominiums (a project called "one sweet monkey" by the family that sold the Conch House to GRAUBARD);
d. Sebastian Inner Harbor;
e. Nocatee (a knockoff of the DeSoto County town with an Indian name that already bears Florida zip code 34268), rubber-stamp approved by compliant St. Johns County Commissioners for the Davis family and the PARC group under the discredited days of the St. Johns County Commission's ancien regime under Jim Bryant (like the late Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen, Huey Long's puppet, of whom it was said that a leaf once blew in Allen's window and he signed it);
f. None of the above.

12. St. Augustine City Commissioners will admit that they erred when they:
a. Banned all but government flags from the Bridge of Lions;
b. Violated the Sunshine law to hire a new attorney and ban venders from the Slave Market Plaza at a December 22, 2006 meeting that was noticed only to cover low-income elderly tax relief, after they had promised the State's Attorney not to violate the Sunshine law any longer;
c. Voted 3-2 (Commissioners Burk and Gardner dissenting) for "brownfield" tax credit subsidies for CHESTER STOKES' Ponce de Leon Golf Course;
d. Thought they made a mistake once but found out they were wrong.

13. St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS will be publicly revealed to:
a. Be a known Republican;
b. Have interesting digital photographs of City Commissioners during NYC's 2005 "March madness" (more than $8100 Sunshine violating March 2005 NYC trip);
c. Have done secret favors for every single City Commissioner, including ordering up a tiny street, allowing one Commissioner to invest in a friend's business;
d. Have warned City Commissioners privately that it would be illegal and that they would get our Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City both caught and fined if our Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City dumped the contents of the old illegal city dump in the Old City Reservoir;
e. Have invoked the Fifth Amendment;
f. All of the above.

14. The "upscale" $70 million Sebastian Inner Harbor public-private partnership of hotel, condos and marina will earn nationwide headlines when it is revealed:
a. City Commissioners pressured City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS to speed the 4.1 acre wetland mitigation by dumping the old city dump contents in the Old City Reservoir;
b. The Atlanta Gas Light "cleanup" was incomplete and no records exist showing that the contaminated soil was disposed of properly because EPA did not supervise it properly;
c. Some city officials stand to profit from the project, directly or indirectly;
d. It falls behind schedule and loses investors;
e. It opens on time as scheduled, with buskers, musicians and entertainers taking their rightful place, surpassing Key West's legendary Mallory Square sunset celebrations nightly, re-establishing St. Augustine as a destination for artists, entertainers, musicians and buskers (and tourists who enjoy them).

15. Controversial State's Attorney John Tanner will:
a. Announce that he will not seek re-election, endorsing former Public Defender candidate Bennett Ford (his St. Johns County chief assistant) to take his place on the ballot as the candidate of the local political machine;
b. Travel on an airplane without trying to take his gun;
c. Prosecute the City of St. Augustine and its Commissioners for Sunshine violations;
d. Prosecute the City of St. Augustine and its Commissioners for open records violations;
e. Announce he is leaving Daytona, moving to Clay County and announcing his candidacy for Sate's Attorney against Harry Shorstein;
f. Answer press and public questions and return telephone calls.

16. The St. Augustine and St. Johns County Airport Authority will:
a. Take federal funds for something useful;
b. Hire a new manager based on a national search;
c. Finally allow scheduled airliners to land;
d. Charge rich guys to land their airplanes;
e. Condemn (steal) more homeowners' land for rich guys' airplanes;
f. Make Northrop Grumman pay more for its use of the airport;
g. Eliminate ad valorem property taxes for rich guys' airplanes;
h. Issue self-serving press statements and insult critics.

17. Developer lawyer George McClure will:
a. Legally change his name to "Snidely Whiplash," inspired by his uncanny resemblance to the character in "Dudley Do-right";
b. Legally change his name to the "Prince of Darkness," inspired by his secret admiration of the James Mason character in Paul Newman's movie, "The Verdict";
c. Represent environmentalist-citizens fighting tree-cutting developers (albeit in a county far, far away);
d. Appear before local governmental bodies without wearing a silk tie, in recognition of the fact that his law firm now bears his own name (instead of Rogers Towers);
e. Take less than 15 minutes to make his case for done-deal zoning favors (saying he now believes it's only fair that his clients should have no more than 3 minutes to which development opponents are limited);
f. Sue government officials for civil rights violations for disapproving a developer's project.

18. Flagler College will:
a. Announce its plans to annex the entire City of St. Augustine and take it off the tax rolls;
b. Hire faculty members without respect to their political views;
c. Recognize faculty rights to academic freedom;
d. Recognize Flagler College's unofficial Gay-friendly student group and announce a policy against discriminating against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) students and employees;
e. Ban the use of the "N" word in all Flagler College classes, including those that are attended by St. Augustine and County police officers, instituting a diversity policy and sensitivity training;
f. Raise faculty salaries to levels competitive with UF and FSU;
g. Grant eligibility for tenure to Flagler college faculty members;
h. Announce plans to seek American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation for a new law school;
i. Give up on plans to start an ABA-accredited law school when someone reads the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools and ponders that it might mean implementing items b,c,d,e,f&g;
j. All of the above.

19. The first civil rights lawsuit brought by a federal agency against a local government agency in St. Johns County during 2007 will be:
a. EEOC employment discrimination lawsuit against St. Johns County over hiring of the new County Attorney;
b. Justice Department suit against the City of St. Augustine for job discrimination (59 of 59 white police officers), hiring new City Attorney without notice to the public, and 55-year record of annexing white areas while refusing to annex West Augustine;
c. The Department of Health and Human Services for racially segregated nursing homes receiving government funds;
d. HUD for racially-segregated real estate offices and advertisements showing only white homeowners;
e. City of St. Augustine and State of Florida, for failing to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act with proper disability access to historic St. George Street properties;
f. City of St. Augustine, for leasing St. George Street properties to discriminator employers who refuse to employ African-Americans;
g. St. Johns County, for refusing to appoint Democrats to its committees, as former County Commissioner Mary Kohnke has charged;
h. Other.

20. The first successful environmental crime prosecution (or guilty plea) in St. Johns County in 2007 will be:
a. City of St. Augustine for illegal dumping of the contents of the old illegal city dump into the Old City Reservoir;
b. PIERRE THOMPSON for his admitted role in the October 2001 cutting-down of a bald eagle nest-tree (statute of limitations extended by agreement)(see below);
c. ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD for wetland-filling;
d. Florida Department of Environmental Protection for obstruction of justice in covering up City of St. Augustine's illegal dumping, delaying word of the proposed $47,248 in fines/penalties until exactly one week after the November 7, 2006 election;;
e. St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and FDEP for covering up developers' willful destruction of wetlands;
f. A nonagenarian peace activist for allegedly spitting on the sidewalk;
g. An insouciant Yankee tourist for dumping an ashtray full of cigarette butts from his SUV onto the floor of the City's White Elephant Parking Garage;
h. An overweight, sweaty, South Georgia tourist for taking his shirt off in front of the Castillo.

21. Worst local government scandal:
a. Extending City of St. Augustine water and sewer to developers miles away from City borders;
b. Outgoing Anastasia Mosquito Control Commissioners' "Christmas present" -- buying gold-plated, brand-new, six-seater, $1.8 million Bell Helicopter without "flyoff," competitive bidding or specifications;
c. City of St. Augustine for massive underused parking garage on site Fred Francis' will provided for baseball fields;
d. City of St. Augustine for converting old firehouse into utility bill-paying and tour guide test-taking building for over $500,000, in order to prevent future construction of any parking garage behind the Lightner Museum building at behest of influential architect;
e. FDEP and State's Attorney John Tanner for refusing to prosecute City of St. Augustine for illegal dumping of old city dump contents into Old City Reservoir;
f. Politically well-connected St. Augustine law firm and local governments for hiring it when it takes no notes when it investigates employee allegations of governmental misconduct, while representing both "developers" and virtually every single government entity in St. Johns County;
g. State of Florida and the Save our Bridge Committee for the high-priced $77 million reconstruction of Bridge of Lions and construction and demolition of a temporary bridge;
h. City of St. Augustine's globegirdling Sunshine violations junkets at your expense, unprosecuted by State's Attorney John Tanner and Florida Department of Law Enforcement;
i. Dilution of minority voting strength by constant annexation of City of St. Augustine (50 annexations in 55 years), refusal to annex West Augustine, 1998's conversion of County Commission apportionment to five elected at large (from seven by Districts), and at-large election of St. Augustine Commissioners (with no 15th Amendment and Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed by Justice Department Civil Rights Division yet).
j. Developer influence from City Hall to the Courthouse to Tallahassee to the White House;
k. School Board for even considering proposal by developers to lease schools;
l. Local governments for lack of competition in purchasing and de facto sole source procurement;
m. Low voter turnout;
n. Lack of adequate local daily newspaper space given to serious investigative coverage of government/politics, including items a-n, above;
o. Lackadaisical television news coverage of local St. Johns County news by the likes of the tatterdemalion, monopolistic "First Coast News" and local Jacksonville PBS affiliate's "Week in Review" program;
p. "Just us folks" for empowering all of the above and letting ourselves be taken advantage of decade after decade, deal after deal, election after election;
q. All of the above.

22. Biggest local land deal of the 21st century will be:
a. Proposed consolidation of City of St. Augustine and St. Johns County governments;
b. Proposed merger of the city governments of the City of St. Augustine and City of St. Augustine Beach;
c. Transfer of city-and state-owned properties and developers' undeveloped properties for the "St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore."

My predictions (for whatever they're worth): 1(b,d,f); 2(e,f); 3 (d); 4(h); 5(a); 6(a,b,c); 7(all); 8 (a,d); 9(a); 10(g); 11(c); 12(d); 13(a,d); 14(e); 15(a&b); 16(h); 17(d); 18(h); 19(h); 20(b); 21(q); 22(c). What do you reckon? Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Illegal, Unconstitutional Gag Orders tor St. Augustine, Florida City Employees?

Illegal, Unconstitutional Gag Orders tor St. Augustine, Florida City Employees?

Are St. Augustine, Florida city employees forbidden to attend, speak or ask questions at St. Augustine City Commission meetings?

Efforts to obtain comment from city officials were unavailing earlier today, but several sources confirmed that City employees have long been directed and expected to remain silent.
This alleged requirement violates the First Amendment and environmental whistleblower laws. In the context of EPA and FDEP investigations of our City's illegal pollution, it may constitute the felony of obstruction of justice.

City officials -- you have the right to remain silent, but we wish you wouldn't.

Do you deny that you are still telling City employees they can't attend Commission meetings?

Do you rely on the "City Manager" form of government?

In that same vein, is that why City Commissioners said nothing when they learned of City Planning and Zoning Director MARK KNIGHT's illegal orders to Street Tree Advisory Committee members that they had to vote as he wished or be fired and have the committee abolished (violating Tree City USA requirements)?

Expect democracy.

Expect free speech.

Expect our City to start obeying the rule of law.

Expect City charter amendments to give City employees and residents "a new birth of freedom," in Lincoln's immortal words.

City employees, feel free to blow the whistle on the likes of City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS. FBI, U.S. Attorney, the State's Attorney, FDEP and Governor-Elect Charles Crist (currently our State Attorney General) are waiting to hear from you. As it says in Isaiah, "the truth shall set you free."

City Commissioners, will you please issue a statement clarifying that City employees have the indefeasible right to speak, write or comment on any subject, including the right to attend District Board meetings? There seems to be some confusion on this issue, which can only contribute to future environmental fines and liability for the Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City.

Jones, Day, Reavis Pogue re: Potential LIability of Government Employeees for Pollution

14-page paper written for Pentagon in 1993, abstract here:

Accession Number : ADP008723

Title : Civil and Criminal Liability for Violation of Environmental Laws,


Personal Author(s) : McElveen, Junius C., Jr

Report Date : JAN 1993

Pagination or Media Count : 14

Abstract : Over the past several years, increasing public attention has been focused on environmental pollution at facilities owned or operated by the United States Government, with particular emphasis on hazards that pollution may present to human health and the environment. In response to the concerns which are being raised, federal officials and private citizens have investigated a variety of options they have available to ensure environmental laws are being enforced and to compensate those injured by the pollution. More and more, those options have included litigation. Criminal prosecutions have been instituted against government employees, and civil suits have been filed against the government, against those who contributed to the perceived problem and against those who are endeavoring to clean up the sites. Questions have been raised about whether, and to what extent, the government should indemnify its contractors or contractors should indemnify the government. Pending legislative initiatives may address some of these problems, but potential civil and criminal liability will probably be the order of the day for the foreseeable future



Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

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Whose "Naked Guesswork" on St. Augustine Toxic Pollution?

Read it for yourself -- the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving St. Augustine's coal-to-gas plant and pollution here from 1886 until the site was supposedly cleaned up.

Was roguish Jones, Day, Revavis Pogue right to brag that it hung the moon by depriving the world of a jury trial? See press release posted yesterday (below).

Read the Eleventh Circuit's decision for yourself.

Corporations and governments deeply mistrust juries, ignoring the wisdom of the Founders enshrinded in the Seventh Amendment right to civil jury trial.

Don't take my word for it -- as the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist said it best, America's Founders considered juries to be the "bulwark of democracy," protecting citizens from oppression by the powerful. Parklane Hosiery v. Shore, 439 U.S. 322 (1979)(Rehnquist, J., dissenting)

Today, the powerful deny jury trials with an oppressive twist. One wag said that it would have been "naked gusswork" to assume that there was pollution on in 1947, when an insurance policy was in effect that might have provided coverage. That wag was a United States District Judge -- he or his law clerk no doubt chuckled. If pollution was continuous, isn't it "naked guesswork" to take the issue from the jury as to whether pollution took place in 1947? Isn't it "naked guesswork" for Judge Harvey Schlesinger to suppose that he knows better than a jury?

Judge Harvey Schlesinger and his law clerk took the issue from a jury. They read a cold record (there was no trial, notwithstanding Jones, Day's confusion on that matter (see below).

They deprived the people of St. Augustine (and Atlanta Gas Light) of their Seventh Amendment right to jury trial, which Justice Rehnquist termed a "bulwark" of democracy against powerful interests --- including Century Indemnity of Philadelphia and the corporate descendants of United Gas Improvements and American Gas & Power.

Not a peep was heard from the press about the decision.

No one at City Hall said a word. Only Jones, Day, Reavis, Pogue let the proverbial "cat out of the bag" with its press release.

Thank you, Jones, Day for blowing the whistle on the decision you "won" for your corporate clients -- now we all know.

"Naked guesswork" is what our community of St. Augustine, Florida has endured for years on issues of pollution for decades.

Whether the City of St. Augustine City Hall denizens who took the entire contents of the old illegal city dump and deposited it into the Old City Reservoir ($47,248 fine proposal pending), the Anastasia Mosquito Control District that allegedly dumped DDT, malathion and used oil into our groundwater and aquifer at five different locations (including Anastasia State Park and locations at 500 Old Beach Road, Ponte Vedra, Hastings and Northwest St. Johns County, or other polluters in our midst, there's been a lot of "naked guesswork" going on.

Governments "guessed" that we would not learn and would not care about their carte blanche attitude toward pollution (theirs and corporations).

Corporations "guessed" that they would get away with it.

Prosecutors "guessed" no one cared about white collar crime.

Journalists "guessed" they could ignore pollution, wetland destruction and wildlife extinction.

Juries have not been empowered to hear and decide these issues, with prosecutors and defense lawyers keeping jurors from passing judgment.

Educators "guessed" they could ignore the inconvenient truths.

Politicians and their lawyers "guessed" they could coverup for wrongdoing.

306 days after questions were first asked about the illegal dumping by the City of St. Augustine, our questions remain unanswered.

The "naked guesswork" must stop. Answers are required.

Governments must govern themselves by the same laws they apply to corporations -- just as President Clinton said in his Earth Day speech in 1993.

Corporations must stop pollution and secrecy.

Prosecutors must prosecute polluters and wetland destroyers.

Journalists must investigate what is being done to this beautiful state, in teh spirit of the St. Petersburg Times, whose work on wetland destruction exosed the fact that over 106,000 acres of wetlands have been destroyed by overdevelopers since the government declared "no net loss of wetlands" as national policy.

Juries must deliberate, deciding civil and criminal cases about the pollution and wetland destruction that are turning Northeast Florida into a nightmarish version of Houston, Texas or South Florida -- all heat and concrete and no soul.

Educators must educate.

Politicians must answer questions. They must lead, follow or get out of the way.

Citizens must stay angry as they were when they voted for reform in 2006.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

RE: Anastasia Mosquito Control District (AMCD): 25 Proposals for Reform for Consideration By New AMCD Board of Directors

RE: Anastasia Mosquito Control District (AMCD):
25 Proposals for Reform for Consideration By New AMCD Board of Directors

Dear Dr. Xue:

Thank you again for inviting Ms. Robin E. Nadeau, Ms. Ann L Palmquist and me to the December 19 meeting that you requested with you and District staff. We appreciate your candid answers and the tour of the District Headquarters.

Also, thank you for your gracious invitation to teach and speak to District employees and to Florida mosquito control experts, which I have accepted.

Please relay my congratulations to three new Board members (Ms. Jeanne Moeller, Mr. John Sundeman and Ms. Linda Wampler).

Inspired by our candid discussions on December 19, would you please be so kind as to place the following 25 items on the agenda for the next Board meeting (January 11)? I request to make a 15 minute presentation on the need for these 25 items:

1. Workshops on reforming longstanding District policies, procedures and practices, including workshops on natural pesticides (e.g., minnows, frogs and bats); employee concerns; employee rights; employee compensation; workers' compensation; employee work for other governmental entities outside the busy season; aircraft and property acquisition policies; epidemiological and environmental impact studies; fish, wildlife, butterfly, firefly, dragonfly, frog and bee protection and restoration; and systematic review of every single AMCD policy, practice and procedure, with an eye toward assuring transparency, environmental protection, safety precautions, heeding employee and public concerns, openness, candor, accountability, fiscal frugality and meaningful public participation.

2. Cholinesterase monitoring and health assessment for all past and present employees.

3. Voluntary compliance with all OSHA standards and improved environmental safety and health compliance.

4. Appointment of an environmental, health and safety director to assure compliance with all applicable environmental, safety and health standards, with direct report to Board and the duty to assure that our environment, safety and health are protected. The District must heed Director Xue's safety leadership (in banning the wearing of shorts while spraying pesticides and banning employees from washing their pesticide-exposed uniforms at home). The District must learn, grow and foster and encourage a "safety culture" that will become permanent, one where employees don't r fear to ask questions or report problems. Our Anastasia Mosquito Control District must become a an example for other mosquito control districts and governmental entities.

5. Appointment of an Ombuds for employees and citizens, with direct report to Board, encouraging citizen and employee participation in formation and implementation of Board policies. AMCD must become worker-friendly, citizen-friendly and environmentally-friendly.

6. Employee Concerns Program and Employee Rights Policy to protect and cherish employee rights to raise concerns about environmental, safety, health, worker rights and other matters, to assure what our U.S. Supreme Court calls the "free flow of information." Oppressive tropes and phrases from large organizations (such as "chain of command" and "team player" and "troublemaker") must be banished. A culture of openness and candor must be created. Employee concerns must be respected and not neglected. Candor from employees will empower the Director and Board members to do their jobs better, fully complying with environmental, health, safety and other laws and principles. District employees must be encouraged to speak out and to raise concerns to assure environment, safety and health protection. The scientific method must be respected by allowing every voice to be heard, so people can express their concerns without fear or favor. Employees must receive training and encouragement on employee rights, including environmental whistleblower rights to raise environmental concerns to Board members, news media and regulatory agencies.

7. Diversity, EEO and Affirmative Action policy improvements to insure that women, African-Americans, persons with disabilities and other national, ethnic, religious and other minority and protected groups are fairly treated as applicants, employees and residents. Concerns of West Augustine residents must be acted upon regarding their community allegedly not receiving adequate mosquito spraying. Environmental justice concerns must be heeded.

8. Environmental impact studies on effects of pesticide applications on fish, wildlife, frogs, bees, butterflies, fireflies, dragonflies, groundwater and aquifer, 1948-date, obtaining the assistance of universities to study pesticide effects.

9. Environmental restoration to remedy past pollution by pesticides, to document and to publicize past spills, accidents and pesticide levels, and to clean them up; and to plant butterfly-, bee-, dragonfly-, firefly- and frog-friendly plants to remedy the effects of pesticide spraying.

10. Epidemiological studies re: everyone who has worked for District, to determine if District's actions have contributed to employee cancers and deaths and to St. Johns County infant mortality or cancer mortality.

11. Review of environmental laws and principles and ethical responsibilities of District regarding contaminated lands and spills and handling of pesticides.

12. Transparency policy -- live cable/low power TV/satellite TV coverage of AMCD meetings, workshops, symposia and colloquia, along with website posting of Material Safety Data Sheets, contracts, bid, budget and environmental information on AMCD website, along with all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Invitations for Bid (IFBs). The City of Orlando, St. Johns County and St. Johns River Water Management District are three good examples of how websites can be improved to inform citizens of government actions. Governor-elect Charles Crist has announced that, upon his inauguration, he will be establishing an Office of Government Openness, headed by Ms. Pat Gleason. Governor Crist and Ms. Gleason cano can help advise and encourage our AMCD's efforts in assuring open government.

13. Revision of EEO policies to require nondiscrimination on basis of employee exercise of First Amendment, workplace free speech (whistleblower) rights, sexual orientation, filing workers' compensation claim and prohibition of any form of discrimination or retaliation.

14. Reform of purchasing and personal services contracts procedures.

15. Reform of conflict of interest disclosures for auditors, attorneys and other contractors and improvement of policies regarding environmental, safety, health, transparency, anti-nepotism and competitive bidding requirements and principles.

16. Establishing performance standards and evaluations for the District's attorneys and auditors (including requiring that attorneys conducting investigations take notes and record interviews and that the District never again be a party to a contract where the same attorney represents the District as any lessor, vender, beneficiary, or other party-at-interest).

17. Rescission or sale of $1.8 million Bell Helicopter contract (with no competitive bidding, flyoff, scientific data or specifications).

18. Exploration of legal and equitable remedies re: $1.2 million land purchase without appraisal or environmental testing).

19. Reform of budgeting process to institute Zero-Based Budgeting.

20. A truly independent environmental and management audit to identify any and all waste, fraud, abuse, lack of competition in purchasing, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, pollution, toxic exposures and (upon receipt of the management.

21. Fairly balanced standing advisory committees of environmental scientists, citizens and environmentalists, inspired by the principles of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), to advise the Board on all policies, procedures and practices, 1948-date.

22. Upon receipt and reading of the truly independent management and environmental audit, public discussion and debate of whether to create an independent Inspector General.

23. District-wide policy review on a continuing and systematic basis, inspired by information from citizens, employees, the Employee Concerns Program, Ombuds, E,S&H Director, the truly independent management and environmental audit, fairly balanced advisory committees.

24. Policy statement that persons speaking before the Board must be treated with dignity, respect and consideration and that public, press and Director questions must be answered promptly at the same meeting unless actual statistical compilation is required, re-emphasizing that there are no arbitrary limits on time for speakers (as AMCD counsel Mr. Geoffrey Dobson informed me on December 14, 2006). .

25. Encouragement of public participation in Board decision-making and policymaking (including the adoption of proposed items 1-24 above), including realigning Board agendas to provide for public comments at both the beginning and end of the meeting.

Thank you.

Best wishes to you, all District employees, present and future Board members, counsel, auditor and others for an open, democratic, transparent, environmentally responsible and productive New Year.

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084
904-471-9918 (fax)

St. Augustine, Florida Eagle Nest Tree-Cutter PIERRE THOMPSON's Criminal Statute of Limitations Extended

St. Augustine, Florida Eagle Nest Tree-Cutter PIERRE THOMPSON's Criminal Statute of Limitations Extended

Millionaire St. Augustine real estate kingpin PIERRE THOMPSON, grandson of the founder of the St. Augustine Record newspaper, cut down an eagle nest tree in October 2001.

In 2005, I wrote an article for the Collective Press newspaper about the Fish & Wildlife Service's effort to prosecute.

U.S. Attorney's office refusing comment, hanging up the telephone when I asked if there were a coverup.
See Ed Slavin, "Bald Eagle Coverup? Four Years Later, No Decision on Prosecution," The Collective Press (October 2005),

On December 15, 2006, the U.S. Attorney's spokesman, Steve Cole, informed me that the five-year criminal statute of limitations was not a problem. The five year statute of limitations under three federal criminal laws apparently extended by consent of criminal defense counsel to PIERRE THOMPSON and the U.S. Attorney.

Will eagle nest tree-cutter PIERRE THOMPSON be indicted or pay a large fine for destroying the eagle nest tree?

Will other overdevelopers be investigated for their environmental crimes, including filling in wetlands?

That would be good news.

Expect envirnonmental crimes to be detected, deterred, prosecuted and punished.

If it requires a federal prosecution and investigation for our Nation's Oldest City's illegal dumping in the Old City Reservoir, let the FBI and EPA CID do their jobs and prosecute CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRISS and other City officials for their environmental crimes.

Like any good diplomats, let's not take no for an answer.

Our Nation's Oldest City is worth saving, preserving, protecting and defending from people who destroy our environment.

Day 305 -- Questions on City of St. Augustine's Illegal Dumping in Old City Reservoir Still Unanswered

305 days ago, I sent written questions to our City of St. Augustine, Florida about its illegal dumping. While our Florida DEP proposes a $47,248 in fines, it has not yet taken the case to a grand jury for prosecution of conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and other crimes involving what DEP calls "serious" pollution and "lack of good faith" in dumping 30 million pounds of contaminants from our old city dump into our Old City Reservoir.

On February 27, 2006, then-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER promised "answers" to my questions.

305 days after the first questions were asked, our Nation's Oldest City has not answered them.

Instead, Mayor GARDNER shows contempt for our democracy, contempt for our republican, contempt for environmental values, refusing to answer a single question asked by citizens about the pollution at public meetings.

Our City recently added to its contempt additional violations of Sunshine laws (see below).

Our Nation's Oldest City is a hangout for Scrooges, the sort of willful people who wince when asked questions about the people's business, whining and complaining.
A new broom sweeps clean.

Jones Day Corporate Law Firm Brags of Winning St. Augustine Pollution Case for CenterPoint Energy Over Coal-to-Gas Plant

The international corporate law firm formerly known as Jones, Day, Reavis, Pogue bragged three months ago about "winning" a federal pollution case involving the coal-to-gas plant in St. Augustine, Florida. This "victory" has apparently not yet been discussed at any City of St. Augustine city meeting, nor has the Jones, Day press release led to any local news coverage. Are you reading it here first?

St. Augustine, Florida's former manufactured gas plant (MGP) site -- like other such coal-to-gas sites around the country -- was a toxic site. It was supposedly cleaned up (was it and where were the contaminated soils really deposited -- EPA says it has no records and our City was told the cleanup would be cheaper because of lack of EPA supervision).

The supposedly cleaned up St. Augustine, Florida MGP site is now a construction site for the $70 million Sebastian Inland Harbor, locus of "upscale" condos, hotels and shopping.

Sebastian Inland Harbor construction (and sequelae) could not begin without 4.1 acres of artificial wetlands, whose botched construction under smug ST. AUGUSTINE CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRISS and EX-MAYOR GEORGE GARDNER led our Nation's Oldest City to take the entire contents of the old city dump and place it in the Old City Reservoir, leading to $47,248 in proposed fines for "serious" pollution and "lack of good faith," including lack of Army Corps of Engineers and St. Johns River Water Management District permits.

Jones, Day and CenterPoint Energy brag about how they "won" before Judge Harvey Schlesinger and a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Note how Jones, Jones, Day approaches environmental litigation -- not unlike P.T. Barnum, with none of the charm. Reliance on corporate "norms" to escape paying for corporate cleanup -- does it remind you of the book/film "A Civil Action?"

CenterPoint Energy's and Jones, Day's victory lap is reminiscent of the late New Orleans, Louisiana District Attorney Jim Garrison's bon mot -- "What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?" Check out Jones, Day's tacking, chest-thumping, nose-thumbing press release:

Eleventh Circuit Unanimously Affirms Summary Judgment for Jones Day in CERCLA Contribution Action
September 2006

The 11th Circuit recently decided that a variety of arrangements between a parent corporation represented by Jones Day and a former subsidiary with overlapping officers and directors were not enough to hold the parent directly responsible for the subsidiary's environmental cleanup liabilities. On September 6, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous opinion in Atlanta Gas Light Company v. UGI Utilities Inc., CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp. and Century Indemnity Company, __ F.3d __, (11th Cir., 2006), 2006 WL 254706 C.A. 11 (Fla), determining that CenterPoint, as a successor to American Gas & Power Company, was not liable as the operator of a former manufactured gas plant ("MGP") in St. Augustine Florida under the provisions of Section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA" or "Superfund"), 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a). The 11th Circuit affirmed a decision issued in March 2005 by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (J. Schlesinger). Atlanta Gas Light had sought contribution under CERCLA from CenterPoint, among others, alleging that it was the operator of the St. Augustine MGP facility at a time when its predecessor, American Gas & Power – an early-20th Century holding company with sponsorship obligations over 40 manufactured gas facilities throughout the United States –was the sole shareholder and parent corporation of the St. Augustine Gas and Electric Company which owned the facility. The 11th Circuit found that Atlanta Gas' allegations against CenterPoint were insufficient as a matter of law to find such liability.

The 11th Circuit opinion followed the reasoning set forth in United States v. Bestfoods, 524 U.S. 51 (1998), the seminal decision controlling a parent corporation's potential environmental liability under Superfund for contamination at a facility owned by a subsidiary. There, the Supreme Court confirmed that involvement by parent corporations in a subsidiary's affairs do not create Superfund liability if such involvement is consistent with the norms (sic) of such parent-subsidiary relationships. The Supreme Court held that to impose liability under § 107 of CERCLA upon a parent as a direct "operator" of a subsidiary's facility, a plaintiff must show the parent "manage[d], direct[ed], or conduct[ed] operations specifically related to pollution, that is, operations having to do with the leakage or disposal of hazardous waste, or decisions about compliance with environmental regulations." 66-67.

Jones Day successfully defended CenterPoint against Atlanta Gas Light's claims by pointing out that any involvement by CenterPoint's predecessor with its former subsidiary was consistent with those corporate norms and that Atlanta Gas had failed to provide evidence that CenterPoint's predecessor exercised day-to-day control over the St. Augustine MGP facility, much less any connection to the pollution at the site. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals "looking at the facts through the prism of corporate norms (sic) as required by Bestfoods" agreed. The 11th Circuit determined that evidence of 1) overlapping officers and directors between CenterPoint and St. Augustine was not inconsistent with corporate norms; 2) service contracts between CenterPoint and St. Augustine did not demonstrate the level of control required by Bestfoods; and 3) allegations regarding the allegiances of certain company employees were unsupported in the record. In the words of the Court, "[W]e agree with the district court and conclude that a reasonable jury could not find from this record that CenterPoint managed, directed or conducted operations from the St. Augustine facility specifically related to pollution, leakage, or disposal of hazardous waste." Opinion at p. 16.

The Jones Day team (sic) representing CenterPoint in the appeal (and in the trial)[sic] were Jack Grady, Emily Baker, and Ryan Reavis.

Ed's Note: With summary judgment granted, how could there possibly have been a "trial?" Jones, Day's press release brags that its lawyers got the case dismissed on summary judgment. Whomever wrote the press release did not care enough to get their facts straight -- a motion for summary judgment being granted eliminates the need for a trial. Either there was a trial, or motion for summary judgment was granted. Jones, Day, Reavis, Pogue evidently believes that its press release will be read by corporations needing defense lawyers, who let lugubrious goobers decide whom to hire who don't know the difference between a trial and a motion for summary judgment.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge Is Alive in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida -- Pray For Them to Repent Now

The spirit of Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and living in our Nation's Oldest City.

From harassing the homeless, victimizing vendors, failing to protect employees and residents and destroying history, archaeology and natural beauty, failing to remedy the "rampant corruption" our erstwhile Mayor candidly admits exists in City Hall, our local Scrooges have it all. See December 12 David Brian Wallace letter and December 16 Ed Slavin column, below, along with interviews and documentation on those government officials and destroyers whose misguided dangerous activities are driving visitors away.

Unlike Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge character, our local Scrooges have not yet had their consciousness raised by the spirits of Christmas past, Present and Future. May their sleep tonight be interrupted by visions of what they have done to our beautiful city and county. May tomorrow bring new hope for a new beginning, free of oppression and destruction and bigotry.

May the year 2007 bring Congressional action on a "St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore," and an end to the greed and devastation thatare destroying our town and county.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called St. Augustine the "most lawless city in America in 1964. May 2007 bring what Lincoln called "a new birth of freedom," and an end to the destruction of people and our environment here in this beautiful 441-year old Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City.

This is a place whose sophisticated people are rightly described by St. Augustine Record reporter Peter Guinta (in Editor and Publisher Magazine) as living ina "small but cosmopolitan town." As the 2006 elections showed, we're increasingly weary of being subjected to a government run for the benefit of Scrooges and misanthropes and wastrsls.

Pray for every single one of our local Scrooges (and scourges of our environment) to repent now.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year.

Read more below.

Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085

Investigators Probing 58 Years of Government Pesticide Pollution in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County, Florida

Investigators Probing 58 Years of Government Pesticide Pollution in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County, Florida

Environmental investigators are probing the Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County, which has allegedly unsafely cleaned pesticide tanks and allegedly dumpedpesticide poisons for 58 years without complying with federal and state environmental laws.

On Friday, December 22, 2006, investigators from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) visited at least three of five potentially contaminated sites, including the AMCD headquarters at 500 Old Beach Road in St. Augustine Beach; the Ponte Vedra station behind Rawlings Elementary School; and the station in Northwest St. Johns County. DEP must return to inspect Anastasia State Park and the AMCD station located in a former firehouse in the Town of Hastings;

For decades, pollution -- including used oil, DDT, Malathion and other pesticides -- were allegedly drained and allowed to flow into our groundwater and aquifers

Investigators are also probing alleged illegal dumping of entire tanks full of pesticides by some AMCD employees, who allegedly dumped instead of spraying DDT, Malathion and other pesticides.

In an interview on December 19, AMCD Director Dr. Rudy Xue said the no-competition purchase of a $1.8 million helicopter was a "Christmas present."

In the meeting requested by Dr. Xue, he told three environmentalists that Anastasia State Park was one of the locations where dumping took place. Dr. Xue repeated this information and was asked if the Park managers knew. Dr. Xue said that the Park was made aware of the dumping. Park Superintendent for sixteen years, Paul Crawford, said such was not the case -- ne never learned of the alleged illegal dumping until I spoke with him the morning of Wednesday, December 20th.

Dr. Xue admitted that FDEP was never informed of the alleged illegal dumping of pesticides and used oil into our environment.

Several years ago, an AMCD audit uncovered a $5000 check for remediation of a toxic release from several barrels. AMCD's then-director never informed the AMCD board of the spill. DEP was never informed of the spill.

Florida DEP records show DEP was never informed of any spills by AMCD at any time in its history.

Likewise, St. Johns River Water Management District records show that AMCD never obtained any permits for earth-moving, berms, dams or other earth-moving with AMCD equipment.

For 58 years, AMCD has operated in secrecy -- like many other Florida mosquito control districts -- almost entirely insouciant to environmental and worker protection law.

When Dr. Xue arrived several years ago, he was shocked that AMCD workers were spraying pesticides wearing shorts. Dr. Xue instructed them to wear long pants. AMCD Board Chair Barbara Bosanko told workers they could continue wearing shorts. (Chair Bosanko did not deny but claimed she could not recall the statement, at a board meeting).

Until Dr. Xue arrived, workers spraying pesticides laundered pesticide-contaminated clothing in their homes, where other family members' clothing (and local sewage systems) could be contaminated.

For 58 years, AMCD workers, spraying pesticides have never been tested for cholinesterase and are still not tested. Training of workers leaves much to be desired. Workers are still not provided with masks or respirators.

Possible adverse health effects of pesticide exposures poisonings include neurological damage.

Other than a CDC study (with no names retained), AMCD was unable to show any efforts to protect workers from the DDT Malathaion and other toxics to which employees have been exposed.

Efforts to interview AMCD Chair Barbara Bosanko were subject to massive resistance.

At 5:01 PM on December 21, I asked about cholinesterase testing; Chair Barbara Bosanko asked me to call her back at 9 AM the following morning.

When I called as requested, she was unfriendly. She placed me on a speaker telephone in her kitchen, with her daughter and husband (former St. Johns County Attorney Daniel Bosanko) listening. Former St. Johns County Attorney Daniel Bosanko raised his voice and hung up the telephone, acting out as if he were conducting the defense of a deposition. Asked at 9:15 on December 22 about cholinesterase testing, AMCD Chair Barbara Bosanko admitted, " " I don't believe that we have anything like that ... I don't know." AMCD Chair Barbara Bosanko's husband, former St. Johns County Attorney Daniel Bosanko, said to "bring it up at a board meeting." He was unfriendly, too and his suggestion was, at best, facetious.

In fact, despite promises by AMCD lawyer Geoffrey Dobson (that there were no time limits on speakers), AMCD Chair Barbara Bosanko attempted to inflict a three-minute time limit on speakers at the December 14, 2006 meeting. At that meeting, Chair Barbara Bosanko and Director Xue recently refused to answer questions, even from newly-elected board members, claiming they would be answered by "E-mail."

Regarding 58 years of alleged pesticide contamination, AMCD Chair Barbara Bosanko said, "I didn't realize that there was contamination." Contamination issues have been raised for years by citizens, including newly elected board members, speaking to AMCD, DEP and local print and electronic media (which have been at best indifferent to those concerns up until now).

AMCD Chair Bosanko said "you need to direct these questions" to Dr. Xue, adding that she had "no comment."

AMCD Chair Bosanko said "I have no idea" regarding dumping in Anastasia State Park.

Former County Attorney Dan Bosanko interrupted, saying "this is not an interrogation," complaining that "you're calling at us at our breakfast .... you ask a leading question that proposes something that there's no foundation for... you ask us (sic) to respond assuming it's true - are you claiming you're DEP?"

Daniel Bosanko's voice rose in octave and volume.

Then Barbara Bosanko was asked about a former employee who displayed neurological symptoms. Former County Attorney Daniel Bosanko then said, "have a nice day, Ed, okay," hanging up the telephone.

Then I called AMCD lawyer Geoffrey Dobson of Dobson & Brown (also the lawyer for developers, the Town of Hastings, St. Augustine Beach, the City of St. Augustine, St. Johns County, St. Johns County Tax Collector, St. Johns County Clerk of Court and other state, county, municipal and special taxing district offices)(see list of 22 organizations listed in Martindale-Hubbel Legal Directory in prior interview with Mr. Dobson, below).

Mr. Dobson was asked about cholinesterase monitoring for eemployees and said "that is not anything that would be" subject of legal advice unless he was "asked a question" by AMCD's Director or Commission. Mr. Dobson said "I don't ordinarliy involve myself in operation of the district."

Mr. Dobson claimed regarding contamination, "I don't recall anybody reporting that the sites were contaminated ... I'm not aware that they are contaminated." Mr. Dobson said he was "not aware of that the
District has not taken any action" regarding sale of sites, with or without disclosing contamination problems.

Mr. Dobson admitted not taking notes during a "lengthy investigation" at AMCD several years ago, asserting that the subject matter was more limited than that discussed in his letter, claiming that there was a "very lengthy investigation" but asserting the subject was alcohol use at a birthday party and that the investigation involved an "outside consultant to investigate."

Mr. Dobson admits, " generally I do not take notes... I do not take notes," while denying he ever said that he didn't take notes because he feared subpoenas and wanted to avoid his notes from being subpoened.

Mr. Dobson said on December 22 that "I was told yesterday that you made the contention that dumping," when in fact Director Xue had admitted the dumping in his December 19 meeting that he requuested with three environmentalists.

Mr. Dobson raised his voice in octave and volume, stating "I don't want to know from you what your hearsay conversation with Dr. Xue .... I am aware that two people can have different views of a conversation ... I'm not going to get in the middloe of disputes about what was said... you're putting words in his mouth ... if Dr. Xue tells me something, I will believe Dr. Xue," adding he was "not going to get in a swearing contest with" you.

Mr. Dobson then said, "I'm going to stop answering questions -- from you."

In a possible conflict of interest, Mr. Dobson's firm represented both sides of the lease between AMCD and the Town of Hastings. Asked about contamination, Mr. Dobson said "I don't know whether it was contaminated by the fire department ... that particular lease was proepared with full disclosure by Mr. Brown."

Mr. Dobson said, "if the questions of contamination arises, then we'll deal with that ... as far as this conversation is concerned, it's over, goodbye, Mr. Slavin."

Former Florida DOT General Counsel and AMCD lawyer Geoffrey Dobson then hung up the telephone.

Two defensive county government lawyers. Two telephone hangups before 10 AM. That's the way it was on December 22, 2006.

On January 11, 2007, AMCD will have three new board members and an election to choose the next Board Chair and Vice Chair.

At that time, it is likely that discussion will include the EPA/FDEP investigation of 58 years of abuse of pesticides, AMCD's disrespect for employee rights, AMCD's purchase of a $1.8 million helicopter without competitive bidding and AMCD's purchase of a $1.2 tract of land without an appraisal or environmental testing.

AMCD has never informed its employees of their rights under federal environmental whistleblower laws.

Asked on December 19 about environmental and environmental whistleblower laws, Dr. Xue said, there are "too many laws."

Having never complied with environmental and water management district requirements -- while purchasing a $1.8 million helicopter as a "Christmas present" -- are AMCD's 58 years of playing Scrooge to employees (and scourge to our environment) now ending?

Will AMCD be altered, or abolished?

Will AMCD become a protector of our environmental heritage?

Will AMCD be responsive to the will of the people?

Will AMCD cancel or sell the helicopter contract and rescind the land purchase?

Will AMCD promote natural pesticides (including mosquito-devouring fish, bats and dragonflies)?

Will AMCD remedy its damage to employees, residents and our environment (including dramatic declines in frogs, butterflies and other wildlife)?

Will AMCD reform itself and lead Florida's mosquito control districts to reform themselves?

Will AMCD be known as a place where citizens gave an independent taxing district a second chance to prove itself worthy of setting its own millage rate, growing into a just steward of our environment?

Or will AMCD be known as the avatar of Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring?"

You tell me.

Ed Slavin

Nation's Oldest City Violates Sunshine Law, Breaks Attorney's Promise to State's Attorney Tanner -- Time to Prosecute/Recall City Commissioners?

Nation's Oldest City Violates Sunshine Law, Breaks Attorney's Promise to State's Attorney Tanner -- Time to Prosecute/Recall City Commissioners for Misfeasance, Malfeasance?

Our City of St. Augustine has the same attitude as Soviets did to treaties -- the same attitude our American government had to treaties with American Indian tribes.

Our City of St. Augustine promised artists, entertainers, musicians and venders on St. George Street they would be welcomed in the Plaza de la Constitucion (the former Slave Market). Now, violating the Sunshine law, three days before Christmas, our City Commissioners have played Scrooge with peoples' rights (see article below), exposing themselves to potential litigation, criminal prosecution and ouster by the voters in a recall election.

In a November 20, 2006 letter, the office of State's Attorney John Tanner wrote that "During my conversations with Assistant City Attorney, Robin
Upchurch, she informed me that in the future, no meetings of the city
commission will be held unless there is at least a twenty-four hour
notice to the public. References: F.S. 286.011(1). Government in the
Sunshine Manuel (sic) (Volume 27), pages 35 & 36, (F.1.a.3)"

On December 22, 2006, St. Augustine City Commissioners held what was announced on December 11, 2006 to be a meeting strictly limited to one topic -- tax relief for low-income elderly. The one topic was verified at the December 11, 2006 City Commission meeting by all four Commissioners who were present and by the City Manager. The sole topic was re-verified in a December 21, 2006 telephone call to City Hall.

The meeting broke the notice provision of Florida Sunshine law, hiring a City Attorney and banning venders from the Slave Market Plaza (Plaza de la Constitucion).

Will City Commissioners now be indicted for violating the Sunshine law, as they took up two issues not on the agenda, without public notice -- banning vendors from the Slave Market Square and selecting a new City Attorney? See Peter Guinta's December 23, article (below).

Not only did City Commissioners play Scrooge with the lives, incomes and families of our historic Slave Market Square vendors, and break the promise they made in hustling vendors, artists and entertainers off St. George Street. They showed our City government's piratical lawbreaking nature is still alive, violating the Sunshine law on their Friday morning massacre of the public's right to know and right to notice and an opportunity to be heard.
As my friend, St. Augustine videographer J.D. Pleasant says it best, "they will say and do anything." Time to kick the moneychangers out of the temple and have an election to recall five Commissioners from City Hall in our Nation's Oldest City?

Will all five City Commissioners now be subject to recall under Florida law, for their misfeasance and malfeasance, including illegal dumping and recidivist violations of the Florida Sunshine law?

What do you reckon?

See letters and article below.

To: City Commissioners

As long time customers of Mr. David Queen we would hate to see this valuable
service to locals and tourists not be available in the plaza or elsewhere.
To eliminate this type of service in the commons would be a huge loss to the
community and tourist. David is one of the best message therapist in St.
Augustine. He truly has healing hands and we look forward to going down to
the plaza whenever possible for a message. We strongly feel that you should
reconsider any notion of passing an ordinance that would restrict message
therapists from being in the plaza.

Thank you,

Julie Parker
Gary Anderson

>From: "d_thundershield"
>2006 03:27:48
>Mayor Boles/Commissioners/Media:
>I have been doing professional, seated CHAIR MASSAGE in the downtown PLAZA
>with a plaza permit for over 4 years. I earlier worked for several years,
>on weekends, on the patio of the Historic River Street Inn in Savannah, Ga.
>I am licensed by the Florida State Board of Health (MA # 27247), and the
>National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB
>-- # 145339-00.) I'm in good standing with both Boards and have never had a
>complaint in all my years of practicing chair/table massage.
>More than a few city/county employees highly value my work and make a habit
>of dropping by the Plaza regularly. I offer convenient, affordable and
>accessible massage -- starting at just $5 (for 5 minutes), for the average
>visitors and locals who don't have the time and/or money -- often $120 for
>several minutes of hot stones and a (usually) mediocre 45 minute "rub down"
>-- at a fancy, Ponte Vedra- type Health Spa.) I specialize in soft tissue
>pain relief.
>Seated Chair Massage is non-threatening to all -- no clothes are removed as
>is usually the case in a private, table massage at an office, spa or in
>one's home.
>I have satisfied thousands of customers over the years, with my caring and
>professional FEEL GOOD CHAIR MASSAGE. Over 95% of tension-headaches gone in
>several minutes and pain relief for neck, back, shoulders, forearms and
>hands (carpel tunnel, tendonitis, etc.)
>Just ask around ... if you haven't been in my chair yet!
>I'm NOT a VENDOR (I perform a tax-free SERVICE licensed by the State and
>sell NO products.) My set-up space is small and compact.
>The Plaza was getting overcrowded with vendors (sunglass sellers and junk
>dealers, etc. -- NOT artists), making it more difficult for those of us who
>have proudly worked there for a number of years and create and sell artwork
>(however it's defined), or perform a professional craft/service.
>Artists, entertainers and several service-providers (myself included) were
>moved to the Plaza after the earlier city ban on this type of activity on
>St. George St.
>The excessive number of vendors was sometimes a problem in Plaza -- NOT the
>mere existence of a reasonable number of responsible vendors. Most cities
>have vendors in public spaces. Why not just limit the number of permits to
>I do think that artists/craftspeople/service providers should have
>preference over vendors in the Plaza.
>The downtown plaza -- is a perfect spot for chair massage since we don't
>have an airport to speak of (seated chair massage is usually offered in
>airport terminals). Hundreds of visitors regularly return for my services
>and many say the time spent in my massage chair was the most "rewarding
>experience" of their whole stay in St. Augustine.
>I dress nicely; always behave courteously and professionally; keep an
>immaculate workspace and have 20 years of experience at my work. My signage
>is professionally done.
>I hope and trust that I will be allowed to continue to -- serve, heal and
>de-stress -- both locals and guests in the Plaza on the weekends. I thought
>the $75 monthly Plaza permit fee was reasonable.
>The courtesy of a reply is requested and appreciated.
>Thank you,
>David T. Queen, BA, LMT, NCBTMB.
>"Best Hands in the South"
>Home -- 461-1147
>Cell -- 687-5959

City moves to ban vending in Plaza

City moves to ban vending in Plaza

Publication Date: 12/23/06

The Plaza de la Constitucion has served as a commercial space for more than 400 years, but St. Augustine city commissioners decided Friday that they want all commercial vendors out.

But many people selling goods there -- jewelry, sunglasses, posters, watches , knives and handbags -- said they were outraged that no one knew this was coming.

At a special meeting in City Hall Friday morning, Commissioner Susan Burk added this item just seconds before Mayor Joe Boles pounded the gavel to adjourn.

Burk said the Nights of Lights event was ruined by vendors and that they "totally destroy the (Plaza's) ambiance. It's become an ugly flea market," she said.

Other commissioners said they had also received complaints from city residents about the Plaza's appearance and the effect that the lower-priced vendors were having on St. George Street businesses.

On Burk's motion, the City Commission voted 5-0 to suspend issuance of all further vendor permits. That means a vendor can stay in the Plaza until his or her permit expires but none will be renewed. Most expire Dec. 31.

David Scandaliato, who sells wooden Christmas ornaments for his brother-in-law's shop in town, said he's been selling there for a year.

"Why, all of a sudden, are they doing this now?" he said. "The city is dancing to the merchants' tune."

The commission made clear that anyone expressing their First Amendment rights of free or artistic expression, such as painters, dancers, musicians or photographers, are not bound by a need for a permit.

Scandaliato was unfazed.

"Then the negotiation begins: What is art? Just how deep does that rabbit hole go?" he said.

Michael Arenas has been selling designer sunglasses there for four years.

"This is my bread and butter," he said. "I'm a taxpayer. For them just to cut us off is unfair. I have five months worth of inventory," he said, saying he just let his lease drop at a shop off Cordova Street. "A lot of people depend on this for a living. This is their job."

Reubin Carter of Hastings also sells sunglasses. He says tourists like to shop there.

"The same people come every year. They know us. This is a tourist attraction. The city doesn't realize that people love coming here. It will be a big loss for the city," he said.

Craftsman Maurice Vigue makes jewelry and said the moratorium is unfair.

"We work 16 hours a day," he said, adding that vendors pay for permits, the 6 percent sales tax and occupational licenses.

Javier Baron, a silversmith, said his work on the Plaza makes up a certain percentage of his income.

"This has been a market since the 1600s," he said.

When vendors buy a permit, they get no guarantee they'll get a choice space in the covered Market. It's first-come, first-served and the Market can hold only about 12 vendors.

George Skelton of Ocala, who sells watches, handbags and knives, said he'd decided to move to St. Augustine until this occurred.

"No shop on St. George Street sells watches at a reasonable price," he said. "I don't understand the logic of it. The snowbirds come down after the holidays and January through March is the main season for us. They could have at least given us a chance to make other arrangements."

Capri Porter has been selling natural foods for 20 years and has a kiosk at A1A Ale Works. She'd been at the Market for two weeks, selling spice dips and 'Mixes From Scratch,' natural baking mixes for things like sweet potato brownies and various breads.

"For any business person starting out, this is a prime way of getting your name out in the city," she said. "There should be more regulations, so it doesn't look like a flea market."

Another vendor, James Fasanello, who recently moved here from New York City, said this was just his second day there. He'd worked at the World Trade Center until the Sept. 11 disaster, he said.

"I'm not going to be that worried about it," he said. "(But) I've got a garage full of stuff."

He lowered all his prices and gave away items to children just to get rid of them.

Commissioner Errol Jones, who originally presented the idea to stop issuing more permits after Burk said she wanted to revoke the existing ones, said the entire commission realized that the Plaza was in "disarray" and that things had to change.

"The Plaza's in horrible shape," he said. "It's a matter of policing. This (moratorium on permits) will allow us to take a breath."

At the Nights of Lights opening event in November, vendors "were all over the place," Jones said.

For his first assignment, newly appointed City Attorney Ron Brown said he would look into the commission's options, such as withdrawing the existing vendor ordinance.

This will be addressed at the Jan. 8 City Commission meeting.

Vice Mayor Don Crichlow said that, on the one hand, "The majority of citizens of this town and the majority of tourists will say that (vendors on the Plaza) is truly a negative thing." On the other, he said, "We're going to get some flak from this."

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© The St. Augustine Record

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Prosecuting Environmental Crimes in Florida

Read the handbook.

Make it happen.

Like any good diplomats, don't take no for an answer.

This beautiful city and county (st. Augustine and St. Johns County) are worth preserving, protecting and defending.

Do it now.

Governor-Elect Crist Creates Office of Open Government, Nams Pat Gleason and JoAnn Carrin

December 12, 2006

Contact: Erin Isaac

Crist Establishes Office of Open Government

~ Appoints Director and Special Counsel for Open Government ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor-Elect Charlie Crist today announced the creation of the Office of Open Government within the Executive Office of the Governor. Crist announced two appointments: Pat Gleason, Director of Cabinet Affairs and Special Counsel for Open Government and JoAnn Carrin, Director of Open Government.

“Respecting the public trust that is bestowed upon all of us who serve the people of Florida is a top priority for me and for my administration,” said Governor-Elect Crist. “Pat and JoAnn have served well in their current positions and I am pleased they will continue to serve in these new capacities.”

The Office of Open Government will be charged with providing both the Executive Office of the Governor and each of Florida’s agencies with the guidance and tools to serve Florida with integrity and transparency. This office will have two main functions:

1. To assure full and expeditious compliance with the open government and public records laws of Florida.
2. To provide training to all government agencies on transparency and accountability.

“Governor-Elect Crist has an aggressive agenda to lead our state and it is my honor to serve in this dual role,” said Gleason.

“Governor-Elect Crist is committed to serving the people of Florida with honor and integrity,” said Carrin. “I look forward to leading this charge in his administration in keeping with those same high standards.”

Pat Gleason, Director of Cabinet Affairs and Special Counsel for Open Government: Ms. Gleason is the General Counsel and Chief Cabinet Aide in the Office of the Attorney General. She also served in the Office of the Attorney General as a prosecutor for the Ethics Commission and the Chief of Administrative Law. Ms. Gleason currently administers the open government mediation program. She graduated from Florida State University College of Law.

JoAnn Carrin, Director of Open Government: Ms. Carrin is the Director of Communications in the Office of the Attorney General. She served as the Director of Communications in the Office of the Commissioner of the Department of Education and as an Educational Policy Analyst in the Division of Human Resource Development. Ms. Carrin served in the Executive Office of the Governor as Deputy Appointments Coordinator and as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst on the Governor’s Council on Organized Crime. She graduated from Florida State University.

# # #

Monday, December 18, 2006

{New Orleans] City Council creates inspector general

City Council creates inspector general

By Bruce Eggler
Staff writer
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Eleven years after the idea was endorsed by voters, the New Orleans City Council voted 7-0 Thursday to create an inspector general’s office to seek out waste, fraud, corruption and inefficiency in the government of a city long fabled for easy morals and flexible ethics.

But the approval came only after an acrimonious debate that featured numerous accusations of racism from community activists and that left Councilwoman Shelley Midura, lead author of the measure, in tears, saying the debate’s heavy racial overtones were just what she had wanted to avoid.

Councilman Arnie Fielkow called approval of the ordinance “a great day for New Orleans.”

But Councilwomen Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who for months have been skeptical about the proposal, made a point of not saying a word throughout the debate, though they co-sponsored the final version of the ordinance and voted for it.

No one spoke in favor of waste and corruption during the debate. But Michael Cowan, a Loyola University educator who supported the proposal, summarized much of the opposition when he said people have asked him, “Why didn’t white folks do this when they had power (at City Hall)?”

Neither Cowan nor any other speaker ever really answered the question.
Former District Attorney Harry Connick said the inspector general’s office would encroach on the duties and responsibilities of the DA’s office and warned against creating an “unfettered” office.

In 1995, voters approved a sweeping revision of the City Charter that, among other changes, mandated creation of an Ethics Review Board and authorized an office of inspector general, but neither was ever implemented.

Midura, Fielkow and other new council members began talking about creating the two agencies as soon as they took office in June, and versions of the ordinance creating the inspector general’s office have been circulating for many weeks.

Even so, the ordinance was extensively rewritten Thursday with approval of a six-page amendment incorporating dozens of last-minute changes sought by Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration.

Among other things, the changes eliminated a plan to finance the office by imposing a 0.25 percent fee on all contracts awarded by the city or other local agencies worth $10,000 or more. Thus, a company getting a $1 million contract would have had to pay $2,500 to the inspector general’s office. The idea was borrowed from the inspector general’s office for Miami-Dade County, Fla., whose director testified twice before the council this year.

Instead, the local office will be financed from the city’s general fund.

Kenya Smith, Nagin’s executive assistant for intergovernmental relations, said after the vote that he expects Nagin to sign the revised ordinance. Although Nagin included no money for the inspector general’s office in the 2007 budget he submitted Wednesday to the council, Smith said he expects money for it will be added by the council. The office’s 2007 budget is expected to be about $200,000.

The final version of the ordinance says its purpose is “to establish a full-time program of investigation, internal audit and performance review to provide increased accountability and oversight of entities of city government or entities receiving funds through the city and to assist in improving agency operations and deterring and identifying fraud, abuse and illegal acts.”

The inspector general is to be appointed by the long-dormant Ethics Review Board, which Midura said she expects to be activated shortly. The charter provides that the mayor will appoint six of that board’s seven members from lists of three nominees each submitted by the presidents or chancellors of six local universities. The mayor will appoint the seventh member by himself, with all the appointments subject to approval by the council. Ethics board members may not hold any other government or political office.

The inspector general, to be chosen after a national search, must have at least five years of experience as a federal law enforcement officer, federal or state judge, senior-level auditor, inspector general or lawyer with expertise in investigating fraud, corruption and abuse of power. No one who has been an elected or appointed official in New Orleans or state government in the past two years is eligible.

The amendments approved Thursday reduced the amount of required experience from 10 years to five years and the minimum period outside city government from five years to two years. They also reduced the inspector general’s term from six years to four years.

The ordinance says the inspector general’s office will be “operationally independent” of the council, the Ethics Review Board and the mayor’s office, meaning they cannot prevent the office from “initiating, carrying out or completing any audit, investigation or review.”

However, the inspector general can be removed “for cause” by a two-thirds vote of the Ethics Review Board, and the entire office can be abolished by a two-thirds vote of the council.

The office is promised “access to all records, information, data, reports, plans, projections, matters, contracts, memoranda, correspondence and any other materials” of all city departments, including the council and the mayor’s office. And even though there is a question about the legality of this provision, it is authorized to subpoena witnesses and records and to require sworn testimony.

A five-member committee comprising representatives of the council, the mayor’s office, the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Ethics Review Board and the National Association of Inspectors General will meet once a year to review the office’s work.

In opening Thursday’s debate, Midura said the ordinance “has been more than an issue for me, it has been a cause.” She appealed for a “spirit of reconciliation” and racial cooperation instead of the “racialized whispers, innuendo (and) cynicism” that she said efforts to create the inspector general’s office have inspired.

Noting that New Orleans and Louisiana “have a bit of a tarnished reputation,” Fielkow said that having an ethics board and inspector general’s office will instill confidence in people deciding whether to stay in or return to New Orleans.

Councilwoman Stacy Head said the offices can save millions of dollars that should be used to provide vital services to people who need them most.

But activists such as Albert “Chui” Clark and Dyan French Cole attacked the proposal as an effort by white politicians to target black officials. They also used the occasion to denounce the condition of the city’s public schools and to praise Criminal District Judge Charles Elloie, who was suspended from his job recently by the Louisiana Supreme Court pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged judicial misconduct.

French Cole said Midura’s measure was “designed to destroy our people.”

The council’s only divided vote on the issue came on an amendment by Councilman James Carter to have the council, rather than the five-member advisory committee, do a three-month review of the new office’s “guidelines and procedures.”

Midura said that would compromise the office’s immunity from politics, but Carter said it would help allay the fears of those who think the office would “discriminate against certain people.”

His amendment passed 4-3, with Hedge-Morrell, Willard-Lewis and Oliver Thomas joining Carter and Fielkow and Head joining Midura.

Noting that the 4-3 vote exactly followed racial lines, with the four black members on one side and the three white members on the other, Midura broke into tears, saying the vote was “absolutely heartbreaking to me” because an issue she had hoped “would bring us together” instead had done the opposite and had caused people to accuse her of being a racist, a charge she denied.

As she struggled to compose herself, the council voted 7-0 to approve the ordinance with the long list of amendments sought by the administration.

Bruce Eggler can be reached at or (504) 826-3320.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Guest Column: 12 days of Christmas

Guest Column: 12 days of Christmas

St. Augustine
Publication Date: 12/16/06

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

One new national park, "St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore" (SANHPS), preserving an "emerald necklace of parks," with restored 1928 trolley car system and Civil Rights Foot soldiers monument, honoring 11,000 years of First Coast history. From the Castillo to Fort Matanzas to Red House Bluff to the Slave Market to city streets, wetlands and forests, lets preserve what needs preserving for our visitors and residents.

Two new Democratic Houses of Congress. Two new St. Johns Commissioners. Expect thorough reforms/investigations.

Three progressive-populist-reform candidates for St. Augustine mayor/commissioners.

FDR's Four Freedoms" (freedom of speech and to worship and from fear and want) advancing everywhere.

Five new laws protecting "just us folks," including a "Living Wage."

Six more global religious leaders championing human rights and solving Global Warming.

Seven new ways to defeat Pharisees' globalizing greed -- outsourcing, price gouging, union busting, deforestation, monopolization -- "the race to the bottom."

Eight ways of restoring free-market competition and ending costly, no-competition government contracting.

Nine single-member St. Augustine Commission districts, one-per-precinct (as in our past), empowering neighborhoods.

Ten gnarly solar/conservation energy technologies, saving our frail planet.

Eleven ways to persuade the world's peoples to stop killing for religion/politics/ money/tribalism. "Give peace a chance."

Twelve St. Augustine city charter amendments assuring transparency, while preserving our peaceful town and stopping influential tree-killer-clear- cutter-overdevelopers.

At November 13th's City Commission meeting, I first proposed "St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore. Then-Mayor George Gardner snapped that I ask too many questions (about the peoples' business, unanswered). Kudos to the St. Augustine Record for defending free speech. Frustrated, retaliatory Gardner never stood up to City Manager William B. Harriss, Philistine overdevelopers, Time-Warner-cable-TV, government contractors, or "rampant corruption" (his words), habitually breaking campaign promises. I wear Gardner's scorn as a badge of honor. My religious tradition teaches forgiveness; I forgive Gardner and cronies.

Let's fill Christmas stockings:

Gold stars to County Commission Chair Ben Rich and other progressives, fighting corruption, thinking globally, acting locally.

To City Commissioners and Harriss, 47,248 lumps of coal for FDEP's illegal dumping fine ($47,248).

Both stars/coal to FDEP (which hid its proposed $47,248 fines under bushel-baskets, concealing "serious" violations and "lack of good faith" findings until one week after elections). Let's prosecute environmental criminals.

To Anastasia Mosquito Control District, 1,793,243 lumps of coal for buying a gold-plated $1,793,243 helicopter (with $1,347 map pocket), with no competitive bidding, with Board Chair Bosanko and Director Xue refusing to answer even newly elected board members' questions.

Gold stars to the local church and the motel-owner's granddaughter for apologizing (in DNWA) [the prize winning documentary "Dare Not Walk Alone"]for 1964s wrongs, but lumps of coal to City officials who refuse to do so, while discriminating (not one of 59 SAPD officers is African-American), with unconstitutional racial gerrymandering (more than 50 City annexations in 55 years while refusing to annex West Augustine).

Let's erase Apartheid/bigotry.

To City Commissioners Susan Burk and Joseph Boles: gold stars for supporting free speech (Rainbow flags on Bridge of Lions).

A gold star to U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. for ordering the City to fly Rainbow flags.

Lumps of coal to Harriss for violating free speech on St. George Street and our Bridge.

Gold stars to the Record for exposing government wrongdoing.

To voters who "had enough": gold stars for defeating incumbents and electing reformers.

Gold stars to Arizonans for rejecting an anti-Gay marriage amendment, to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Governor-elect Charles Crist for opposing a similar amendment. In 1566, Florida's first Governor ordered murder of a Gay translator, termed "a Sodomite and a Lutheran." Today's Floridians respect diversity.

2007 promises more progress. "We the people" demand liberty, justice and equality.

Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge transformed and reformed himself from villain into benefactor in one night, after visits from Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Today's Scrooges need our prayers.

O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and the film "It's A Wonderful Life" teach that loving concern for others is the best Christmas gift -- the universal meaning of "the holidays" -- whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or New Year.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Friday, December 15, 2006

Draft Resolution for City and County Commissioners and Local Groups regarding St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of St. Augustine, Florida hereby recognizes that the National Park Service is uniquely qualified to preserve and protect our City's and our First Coast's history; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that our City hereby respectfully petitions our President and 110th Congress of the United States to enact the "St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore" (SANHPS) Act (SANHPSA), preserving history in a National Historical Park and National Seashore located in and around the Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City of our area's 11,000 year history of human settlements; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that our City hereby respectfully petitions for Congress to hold field hearings here in St. Augustine during the first session of the 110th Congress regarding the scope and details of SANHPS and SANHPSA, with emphasis on suitably:
1. Honoring the Nation's Oldest city's natural and human history, including our rich diversity and Native American, African-American, Spanish, Minorcan, English, Civil War, Reconnstruction, Flagler Era, Civil Rights, environmental, economic, social, religious, naval, military, agricultural, culinary, architectural histories; after
2. Understanding and planning for the current and prospective state of archaeological, historic and environmental protection, preservation and education, including recommendations of a recent panel of experts;
3. Adopting an integrated statutory approach to funding and operating SANHPSA parks, archaeology and history investigations and research, while
4. Restoring St. Augustine's historic 1928 trolley car system into an integrated public transportation system serving the VIC/Parking Garage, Downtown, Uptown, Lincolnville, West Augustine, Davis Shores/Anastasia Island, with possible future expansion to Vilano Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Crescent Beach,Marineland, Ponte Vedra, and Palatka, and
5. Creating an "emerald necklace of parks" operated by the National Park Service in and around our Nation's Oldest City, with boundaries to be determined.

(283 words)
ES draft

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Does Ebenezer Scrooge's Spirit Haunt the People of St. Augustine, Florida?

See David Brian Wallace's letter to the Editor of the St. Augustine, Record (below).

Haunted by Ghosts of Christmas Past: Read About St. Augustine's Own Ebeneeezer Scrooges

Letter: 'Tis the season to afflict the comfortable

David Brian Wallace
St. Augustine
Publication Date: 12/12/06

'Tis the season to afflict the comfortable

Editor: Wouldn't the unreformed Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge ("A Christmas Carol") be good company for local "characters" who:

1. Excoriate and insult the homeless, instead of working to provide housing and employment? "Are there no workhouses, no jails?" Christianity or "no room at the inn" meanness and insensitivity?

2. "Take paradise and put up a (ugly, massive, four-story, under used) parking lot" where Fred Francis' last will gave us ball fields?

3. Frame unjust laws, eject St. George Street artists, circumvent a federal court order to prevent future bridge Rainbow flags?

4. Try to rip-off the charter and home of the American Legion?

5. Bulldoze Cooksey's Campground, the Fleeman tract, and other natural beauty for land-raping and profiteering (as if we needed more unsold ugly housing and strip malls)?

6. Deny firemen promised pay raises (for more taxes), then claim firemen already got their raises?

7. Refuse to discuss a living wage law (after a Canadian billionaire took away tourism workers' hours, wages and benefits), saying "we have no oar in that water?"

8. Charge exorbitant rent to local small businesses, making them waste money on improvements, then ejecting them in favor of more ugly T-shirt shops?

9. Sue in the name of uninformed out-of-state "clients" asking to evict tenants buying a house, to punish them for criticizing a Realtor?

10. Mock concerned citizens who speak in public meetings to punish them for questioning errant officials?

11. Attack citizens reporting illegalities to federal and state authorities to chill free speech rights?

12. Dump 30 million pounds from the old dump into the Old City Reservoir (recommended fine over $46,000 for "serious" violations, "lack of good faith")?

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