Sunday, September 30, 2007

What Is U.S. Rep. John Mica Doing WIth His Hand and Mouth in This Airport Dedication Photo? Thumbsucking, Nail-Biting or Ancient Obscene Gesture?

How The Good Guys Finally Won

Kudos to the Anastasia Mosquito Control Commissioners of St. Johns County for and publlicly renoucing and obtaining a full refuding for an illegal contract without competitive bidding for purchase of a $1.8 million helicopter. Democracy works> Expect democracy.

Like any good diplomat, one must not take no for an answer where government waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance are concerned. Americans never have and never will.

Unanimous 5-0 Vote to Cancel $1.8 Million Helicopter Contract Awarded Without Competitive Bidding

Board nixes chopper
Publication Date: 09/28/07
The Anastasia Mosquito Control District's board of directors on Thursday approved a motion to cancel their contract for a $1.8 million Bell helicopter. This move ended a long-standing and contentious issue that had often split the board. Chairwoman Barbara Bosanko said later, "The research convinced me to change my mind. I just couldn't see paying that much when there are other options available." Research by St. Johns County resident Don Girvan first discovered a line item in the contract that showed the district was paying $28,000 for the helicopter's paint job, which actually comes at no extra charge. The board then learned from its attorney, Doug Wycoff, that it may cancel the contract any time without penalty. Bosanko said board member Jeanne Moeller made the motion to cancel, which passed unanimously. She said the board formed a committee to look into other, less expensive options. Members of that committee include Bosanko, Girvan, Wycoff, Col. Ronnie Radford, one AMCD employee to be named later and one employee of a mosquito control district which has an aerial spraying program. In other action, Bosanko said that she will be speaking today with Assistant County Administrator Jerry Cameron about selling seven of the 25 acres that the district purchased for its new headquarters near Interstate 95 and County Road 208. "They want the property to build their Emergency Operations Center," Bosanko said. "Right now, I'm collecting information and will pass it on to the board next month." The district paid $50,000 an acre early last year, but adjacent property has been sold to a box company for $80,000 an acre, she said.
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© The St. Augustine Record

Mosquito board drops helicopter

Mosquito board drops helicopter

The Times-Union

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH - Calling it an embarrassing mistake, the Anastasia Mosquito Control Board axed a contract it had to buy a $1.8 million helicopter.

The chopper, which would have been used to spray the disease-carrying insects in St. Johns County, has been protracted controversy since December when an outgoing elected board voted to buy it.

Three of the sitting members had voted subsequently to keep it - until Thursday evening, when the vote to exterminate plans for the Bell Longranger was unanimous.

Chairman Barbara Bosanko, who had been a staunch supporter of the helicopter, said she was embarrassed that it took a taxpayer to find flaws in the contract.

That was Don Girvan, a St. Augustine resident and former helicopter pilot. He examined the contract for the aircraft and found the district was overpaying by more than $28,000 for the paint job.

(904) 359-4504

This story can be found on at

Control skeeters naturally

Control skeeters naturally

Pam Youngquist
St. Augustine
Publication Date: 07/10/05
Editor: Before purchasing robot helicopters, the Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County should consider the possibility of using a natural, non-toxic, yet very effective means of mosquito control. Not only are these helicopters expensive to purchase, but they also need upkeep and fuel added to the expense of the toxic spray. Over time, mosquitoes can mutate to become accustomed to the toxic spray, necessitating either a higher intensity of the toxins or the development of alternate materials.Spraying with toxins not only kills mosquitoes, but carries a heavy burden of collateral damage, killing beneficial insects such as bees and lady bugs.Spraying toxins over our wetlands -- nurseries for much of our seafood -- would make serious inroads into the production of our seafood. Birds and other wildlife would also be affected. And, our ground water is already stressed with the drainage of fertilizers and toxins from golf courses and our gardens; we do not need the peril of additional poisoning of our drinking water. The University of Florida has experimented over more than a decade with bats. They built a bat house on campus in 1991, and have found that a bevy of bats can consume thousands of mosquitoes overnight. In fact, the evening flights of the bats have become a spectator sport, attracting over 100 spectators of an evening.We have green spaces throughout St. Johns County that could be used to accommodate bat houses, so that these bats could do their valuable work throughout the county. Further information on bats and bat houses can be found at the Bat Conservation International Web Site: . University of Florida's bat expert, Ken Glover, can be reached at (352) 392-1904 or by e-mail
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© The St. Augustine Record

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The state high court rules that voters -- not just governing bodies -- must approve financing plans.

The state high court rules that voters -- not just governing bodies -- must approve financing plans.
Mark Schlueb, David Damron and Aaron Deslatte

Sentinel Staff Writers

September 7, 2007

A surprise Florida Supreme Court ruling could imperil funding for Orlando's downtown sports and arts venues, and potentially jeopardize billions of dollars in public-school funding across the state.

Attorneys and financial experts were scrambling to figure out how the court's ruling Thursday in an Escambia County case might affect the $1.1 billion plan for a new performing-arts center, Orlando Magic arena and upgraded Citrus Bowl. The plan, long sought by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, was just approved in July.

In a unanimous ruling, the high court said Thursday that any plan to use so-called "tax-increment financing" to pay for development projects would have to be approved by voters, instead of just a local governing board. The ruling stems from a fight in Escambia County, where the county wanted to use the financing option to widen a road along Perdido Key.

Such financing works by committing a portion of future property taxes to pay off bonds issued to widen roads, build sidewalks or make other public improvements. Two of the three downtown Orlando venues -- the performing-arts center and the Florida Citrus Bowl -- rely on about $150 million in tax-increment bonds backed by downtown property taxes.

"It could have some impact on how we finance the various venues," Deputy City Attorney Jody Litchford said. "We're going to look at the financing on [the performing-arts center] and the Citrus Bowl and see what this means."

'The next lightning storm'

The decision could also deliver a severe blow to school districts across Florida, officials said.

The Orange County school system, for instance, has about $1 billion of the type of debt addressed by the court and this year expects to borrow $131 million more. Many other growing districts use the same method.

"That's the next lightning storm on the horizon. It could significantly affect the way we build schools," Orange Schools Superintendent Ron Blocker said.

The Orange district uses the money primarily to build new schools, but the ruling could also affect a significant number of renovated schools that rely on property taxes, according to Rick Collins, the district's chief financial officer. Collins said it was too early to tell what the impact could be.

"But we're watching pretty closely what is going on there," he said.

The court's ruling, which overrides previous decisions, finds that "the Constitution requires that the people who are to pay the bill should be given an opportunity to approve the debt before it is incurred."

The court also makes clear it isn't invalidating the use of tax-increment financing or previous projects approved without public votes. It just means future tax-increment projects must be voted on first.

Still, "that's a bombshell," said veteran development lobbyist Wade Hopping, a former Supreme Court justice. "That will certainly cause some consternation."

Are venues affected?

While Orlando and Orange County leaders have approved the venues, they have not yet issued the bonds to pay for them, making it unclear whether the ruling would apply.

At the time of approval, commissioners rejected calls for a referendum. Three weeks ago, hotelier Harris Rosen launched a petition drive to try to get a venues question on a future ballot, with the hope that voters will overturn the politicians' decision.

Rosen's attorney, Ted Edwards, said the ruling signals the state's highest court looks favorably on referendums, though he would not say what impact it might have on his client's campaign.

Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer -- one of two commissioners to vote against the venues -- supports Rosen's petition drive. The court's position could put pressure on city leaders to allow city residents to have a say on the venue plan, he said.

"I would be very pleased to see it on the ballot," Brummer said.

But Orlando officials say that isn't likely.

The city could change its financing plan so that the $150 million in bonds would be backed by a different source of revenue, they said, though it's not clear what source that would be. The venues plan first draws on other funding sources, including sales tax and tourist tax. City officials said there's plenty of time to come up with a solution and no reason not to proceed.

Counties seek clarification

In the meantime, Escambia County and the Florida Association of Counties are expected to ask the Supreme Court for a rehearing to clarify the court's intent and to get answers to questions raised by the ruling. Given the number of public projects across the state that might be affected, the court could act swiftly to bring that clarity.

But until that happens, the court's ruling -- coupled with the Legislature's recent overhaul of the state's property-tax system -- will make financing for many community facilities more difficult, Orange Commissioner Teresa Jacobs said.

"The bond market," she said, "is going to be looking more skeptically at Florida."

Erika Hobbs of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.Mark Schlueb can be reached atmschlueb@orlandosentinel.comor 407-420-5417.David Damron can be reached or407-420-5311.Aaron Deslatte can be reached atadeslatte@orlandosentinel.comor 850-222-5564.

Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Convicted Ohio U.S. Rep. Bob Ney Gave Rep. John Mica $2500 Contribution

as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported last year. Birds of a feather flock together.

Rep. John Mica Brags of Flying to Tibet To Sell Boeing Airplanes to Communist China -- Is That Why We Elect Congresspeople? See His 9/23 Column, Below

Rep. John Mica Upset Over Insufficienty Cushy Chair

Roundtable Setup Left Some Republicans Feeling Like Squares

By Lois Romano
The Washington Post
Thursday, January 25, 2007; A23

In case you were wondering how the Republicans were adjusting to their new minority status, consider this painful story.

Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wanted to show members of his panel how bipartisanship and policymaking can work in tandem. So the chairman, along with ranking Republican John Mica (Fla.), organized a roundtable discussion for members last week. And to drive home the point, Oberstar invited back Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), the retired Republican chairman of the committee.

It seemed like a great idea until Mica arrived for the roundtable and discovered that he did not have one of the nice, cushy chairs at the head of the table that were occupied by Oberstar, Shuster and other speakers, including New York financier Felix Rohatyn.

According to sources, none of whom wanted to be anywhere near this story, Mica threw a fit and demanded to know from staff why he didn't have a special chair of his own next to Oberstar and the others.

But before staff could rectify the situation, and as startled members looked on, a furious Mica stormed out of the room and ordered the other Republican members to leave. Among the uncomfortable departees was Shuster's own son and successor, Rep. Bill Shuster.

A source close to Mica acknowledged last night that the congressman was "very upset" because he "wants to be sure members of the minority are treated with the respect."

But after hearing from Oberstar later, the source said, Mica knows the slight was unintentional, and there are no hard feelings.

Note to other Republicans: Bring your slights to us. We'll help you air them.

What Do Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Representative John Mica Have in Common?

On June 21, 2005, Rep. Mica Opposed Any Further Investigation of Abu Ghraib and Guantamo Prison Abuses

Rep. John Mica on Perjury and Obstruction of Justice and Accountability and Equality Before the Law

Rep. John Mica (R-FL) – "If you commit perjury or obstruct justice, you will be held accountable. If you are a member of Congress or president . . . you will be held accountable. Even if you . . . do a thousand good deeds, you will be held accountable." [Orlando Sentinel, 12/20/98]

Here's U.S. Rep. John Mica With St. Augustine Burghers, Cutting Ribbon for Massive $22 Million White Elephant Parking Garage -- Bondholders Watching

Monday, September 24, 2007

Adult zoning: Plan 3

Adult zoning: Plan 3

New proposal restricts adult entertainment to three areas in city

Publication Date: 09/24/07

In what could be a version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," the St. Augustine city staff believes it has found a plan for adult entertainment businesses that could be just right.

"The public said the first plan was clustered too much in one area. The second option dispersed the businesses throughout the city too much," said Mark Knight, city planning and building director. "So we combined the two. We picked three clusters of properties that are dispersed throughout the city. We think this will work."

The public blasted St. Augustine City Commissioners for the city's previously proposed designated areas for adult entertainment. Today, the commission will vote on what city staff said could be their last option.

The new ordinance allows adult businesses to locate in areas on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, South Dixie Highway and West King Street.

This oridinance includes the city's first proposed site on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Roughly 70 people spoke against this site at three different meetings.

And unlike the last proposal that put adult entertainment in numerous sites throughout the city, none of the new areas are directly next to residences.

Previously, the city did not have regulations for these businesses and they could have located in any commercial zoning. The City Commission says this ordinance will prevent that from happening.

Mayor Joe Boles said the newest plan could be a winner.

"I think the fewest number of parcels would be the most beneficial," he said. "I want to hear from the public and make sure they are comfortable with this. I don't want to rush something through."

Commissioner Errol Jones was vehemently against the first proposal of clustering adult entertainment in one area of the city because it was unfair. But he feels the latest proposal could work.

"It seems to be the least harmful and the fairest to our citizens," Jones said. "I think there is no solution that would satisfy everybody."

Knight said if this plan is voted down he's not sure what city staff will try next.

"We're running out of options," he said. "The commission is going to have to pick one."

Adult entertainment ordinance

Previously, St. Augustine did not have ordinances governing adult entertainment.

In an attempt to be proactive, the city passed two ordinances regulating the businessesÕ operations.

Now, a third ordinance is needed to designate where adult entertainment can be located in the city.

The new proposed plan would allow adult entertainment on parcels of land on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, West King Street and South Dixie Highway.

Adult entertainment would not be directly next to residences.

Within each site, there could only be one of each type of adult entertainment, such as one adult book store, one novelty store or one adult dance club.
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© The St. Augustine Record

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rep. John Mica Very Defensive About His Junket To Tibet and Support for Offshore Oil Drilling Off Florida's coast

Rep. John Mica's column (below) responds to my column of September 9th.

Mica doesn't deny voting against whistleblowers and doesn't talk about the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Highway proposal.

Even St. Johns County Republicans feel betrayed by Mica, the only Floridian in Congress who supports offshore oil drilling off Florida's seacoast.

Editorial: Outside help needed on mosquito control

Editorial: Outside help needed on mosquito control
Publication Date: 09/23/07
The Anastasia Mosquito Control District Board could possibly cancel its $1.9 million helicopter deal on Thursday. The Bell Helicopter company has told district officials it can get its deposit back and abandon the contract if it wishes to do so. A motion to cancel the controversial purchase is on the table. Finally some good news. Earlier this month District Commissioner John Sundeman's motion to cancel the contract was tabled until Thursday's budget meeting by Chairperson Emily Hummel. Revisiting the 2006 purchase by the previous board speaks volumes of a change in attitude and understanding of who pays the bills, the taxpayers. We encourage the board to keep mending those fences. None of us like to see the blood-sucking skeeters land on us. But we expect our tax dollars to be spent wisely after a careful prior review. We're not sure the previous board did enough research. Or did the board want one because other districts had them, too? The deal has caused some ugly jousts with the public at recent meetings. Have some board members forgotten they were elected by the people? We recommend that the board cancel the contract and get outside help deciding aerial spraying needs. That's been suggested before and rejected. The board needs outside help. St. Johns County has an abundance of CEOs, CFOs, and international and nationally recognized consultants in various fields. Surely some would share their expertise. We also suggest a medical doctor familiar with mosquito-borne illnesses and their treatments, and a university researcher on mosquitoes and mosquito control. We suggest the board consider also Don Girvan, a retired Army helicopter pilot. Ironically he was one of the people on whom the board called the cops in July. Girvan turned the other cheek though and secured a $28,710 credit from a Bell subsidiary due to an error in the chopper's paint job specs, by calling the company himself. The board rightfully acknowledged Girvan's efforts but why didn't the district staff catch that error in the first place? The board's number one goal is to kill mosquitoes and kill them cheaply. It may be that a helicopter is the best way to go or there may be cheaper ways to accomplish aerial spraying such as buying time on someone else's chopper. The board needs outside help to win the war against the skeeters.
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© The St. Augustine Record


See Rep. Mica's column below, responding to mine of September 9th (below)

Guest Column: Rep. Mica defends role in international relations, oil drilling

Guest Column: Rep. Mica defends role in international relations, oil drilling

Washington, D.C.
Publication Date: 09/23/07
A recent guest column in The St. Augustine Record was critical of a 2005 trip that I made several years ago to China and Tibet and several of my legislative positions. Let me respond by providing your readers with both the facts and my viewpoint.

As Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I was part of an official United States Delegation to China to promote American manufactured products including aircraft and aviation equipment. China is our largest market for those sales.

Prior to that visit, the Europeans had been taking a larger and larger share of that market.

Joining with other Congressional leaders, then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Small Business Chairman Donald Manzullo, our mission had two goals.

First, increasing U.S. exports and second, to urge BeijingÕs leaders to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear agenda. China accounts for our biggest trade deficit and we made it clear that was unacceptable. Aviation manufacturing has been our largest export goods employer and is vital to the American economy and our ability to compete in a global market.

During our mission, China bought 42 U.S. aircraft totaling nearly $5 billion in sales. Since our visit Boeing has regained a majority of market share and progress has been made with North Korea on nuclear disarmament Ñ both of which I am pleased to have played a small part. My meetings in South China and Tibet, which China now controls, focused on markets which Europeans have begun to capture. While as many people live there as the entire population of the U.S., America has only six foreign commercial officers to tackle that emerging market.

European competitors are providing training to civil aviation officials and airline professionals to capture those markets.

As a direct result of that visit and working with our U.S. Trade Development Administration and the private sector, we are making certain the U.S. will compete in those growing markets.

Another issue raised by the writer criticized my position on offshore drilling. Since my service in the Florida Legislature during the 1970s oil crisis, I have supported a sound and reasonable offshore drilling policy. In fact, with the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, I helped secure a 100-mile buffer for oil drilling off FloridaÕs coast.

However when Gov. Jeb Bush and others sought to increase that limit and change terms of drilling in Track 181 off FloridaÕs panhandle, I disagreed.

Today the technology exists to develop natural gas off our shores, out of the line of sight and without threat to the environment.

During the 1990s we urged utility companies that produce FloridaÕs power to convert to more eco-friendly natural gas and a billion dollar gas pipeline was constructed in the Gulf.

Consistently changing the terms for exploration and development makes the U.S. more dependent on foreign gas and oil. Most oil spills occur in transport, including Exxon Valdez.

Just look off St. Augustine shores and everyday you will see more ships within eyesight transporting more foreign oil and gas, increasing our risk and dependency. Our long term goal must be to abandon fossil fuels but we need a sound interim policy that does not bankrupt consumers or destroy our economy.

Finally, I will be glad to compare my record of service to St. Johns County, relating to transportation, veterans, seniors, and community projects, with any current or past elected official.

You can find additional information on my legislative record on my Web site at

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, represents FloridaÕs Seventh Congressional District, which includes St. Johns County.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Guest Column: Government reform requires public's help

Guest Column: Government reform requires public's help

St. Augustine
Publication Date: 09/09/07

"Politicians are like diapers -- they need frequent changing, and for the same reasons." -- Ronald Reagan

It's been 1 1/2 years since St. Augustine officials were caught red-handed, illegally dumping city dump contents -- including arsenic, sewage and bedsprings into Old City Reservoir. Our city officials haven't testified or answered our questions yet. Cleanup will be costly. Prosecute lawbreakers.

Restore Florida government workers' rights to occupational safety, erased in 2000.

Seventh District U.S. Rep. John Mica votes against whistleblowers and for offshore oil drilling, favoring big oil companies. Americans paid Mica's way to Tibet but Mica's indifferent to St. Johns County.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney are likewise cynical, uncandid -- investigate impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Zealously guard free speech: Repression's stalking Americans -- intimidation and retaliation for criticizing officials and corporate oligarchs. Dissenters are hounded, persecuted and blacklisted. Enough.

Government officials lack humility, refusing to correct mistakes -- huffy, angry and evasive. Citizens' seats have been removed from St. Augustine City Commission chambers while we're silenced in workshop meetings. Stop.

Florida's 442-year old tradition of autocratic government officials includes, in recent times, land-raping speculators represented by lawyers also representing governments -- threatening/intimidating citizens for exposing wetland-killing, tree-killing and crimes against nature.

Don't be bullied, even when they abuse police powers violating Sunshine laws. Always speak out. See 11/19/06 editorial & 3/13/05 Margo Pope column re: local citizen activists speaking out at meetings.

Speaking of retaliation, why do some satraps demand county takeover of Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County?

Democracy's breaking through, after 58 years. We elected AMCD Commissioners Jeanne Moeller and John Sundeman to stop squandering money on a $1.8 million jet helicopter unsuitable for mosquito control. It's our money. The ill-advised proposed county takeover of AMCD is only a diversionary tactic and attempt to suppress criticism of mismanagement. Support Moeller and Sundeman and 25 proposed AMCD reforms. Cut government waste everywhere.

We deserve answers/solutions/budget cuts, not more power concentrated in fewer hands, as under a badly-drafted county charter, which voters must examine carefully. Why support a defective charter in hopes of amending it several years later? Get it right now.

Why did St. Augustine abolish our "First Amendment forum" for local groups' flag-flying displays on our Bridge of Lions and bayfront? Why were seven bayfront flagpoles removed in 2005? Crabby, controlling, officials chill and punish free speech, whether by African-Americans, veterans, artists, entertainers or gays/lesbians. When our bridge is restored, our city's flag-flying forum must be restored with it -- whether honoring our troops, history, organizations or diversity.

Too many local "leaders" evade accountability -- serving foreign real estate speculators and themselves, but not local residents.

Preposterous projects must be halted, like speculators' destruction of a 3000-4000- year-old Indian village north of St. Augustine High School, which must become part of a national park, attracting "heritage tourists," empowering our recovering economy. Ask Congress to please support the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Highway. (3/26/07 guest column).

Our Constitution's "an invitation to struggle," scholar Edwin Corwin wrote. "Dissension" exposes corruption/chicanery and informs citizens. Dissent's a good thing.

As Robert F. Kennedy said, "it is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is much to dissent from."

America's founders loathed evil dictatorships/monarchies. We need more dissent, more investigative reporting/truth-telling, and more "checks and balances," not "blank checks" for flubdubs like fancy helicopters more suited to Donald Trump than skeeter-killing.

Our founders fought tyranny, writing our First Amendment. "Use it or lose it."

Journalists: kindly cover public meetings "gavel to gavel." Hold officials accountable, without fear or favor.

We need "transparency," with meetings, proposals, grants and contracts on government Web sites. Accept no excuses (like "not enough money") from wily wastrels who junket to Spain, Germany, Colombia and New York City.

America and our Nation's Oldest City are both worth saving. Democracy's on the march. Bossism's retreating. Defeat mediocrity. Expose corruption. It's our town, our time. Don't take "no" for an answer. Elect zealous, hardworking "just stewards." Save our liberties, our culture and our planet.

Help is on the way. Let freedom ring.

Ed Slavin is a frequent letter writer and speaker at local government meetings.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Sunday, September 09, 2007

11 NJ Officials Indicted for Taking Bribes

By Tony Kurdzuk/
The Star-Ledger
With a tear in his eye and surrounded by reporters, Passaic Mayor Samuel Rivera leaves the federal courthouse in Trenton after his first appearance on bribery charges this afternoon.
FBI agents this morning rounded up 11 New Jersey public officials on bribery charges related to roofing and insurance contracts following an 18-month operation that swept the state from south to north, authorities said.

The investigation probed nearly every layer of government, beginning with the Pleasantville school board in Atlantic County, and gradually widening to include state assemblymen, mayors and current and former councilmen from Passaic and Essex counties, according U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

"I thought I could no longer be surprised by a combination of brazenness, arrogance and stupidity, but the people elected in this state continue to defy description," Christie said at a late-afternoon news conference, warning other politicians: "We will continue to gather you in corrupt bunches and send you to jail."

Among those charged are Samuel Rivera, the mayor of Passaic; Assemblyman Mims Hackett, Jr., who is also the mayor of Orange; Assemblyman Rev. Alfred E. Steele, who was also a Passaic County undersheriff; and Keith Reid, the chief of staff to Newark City Council President Mildred Crump. All of them are Democrats.

The probe - dubbed "Operation Broken Boards" - also netted a current Passaic councilman, a former Passaic councilman and five current and former members of the Pleasantville Board of Education, authorities said.

At the news conference, Christie quoted statements made by the officials when they allegedly agreed to the bribes, recalling an encounter when Hackett was asked whether a payment of $5,000 and a promise of $25,000 more to come "works for you."

"Assemblyman Hackett said, 'Oh yeah, Oh yeah.' That definitely worked for him," Christie said.

The 11 officials are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for agreeing to steer public contracts to companies that offered insurance brokerage or roofing services to school districts and municipalities, according to criminal complaints unsealed with the arrests. The individual payments ranged from $1,500 to $17,500, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"They represent constituencies from one end of the state to another, from Pleasantville to Passaic," FBI Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun said at the news conference, adding that he was particularly troubled by school board members' involvement.

"That is indeed sad for the state of New Jersey," Dun said.

Christie and the FBI have made public corruption a top priority in recent years. The investigation leading to today's arrests began in mid-2006 as an inquiry into corruption in the Pleasantville School District.

The FBI set up an undercover insurance brokerage company that included undercover agents and two cooperating witnesses, one of whom had previously operated a roofing business, according to a statement released today by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The school board members allegedly took bribes from the cooperating witnesses, and the probe widened when school board members directed the cooperating witnesses to officials in north Jersey, authorities said. They, in turn, directed investigators to other public officials, authorities said.

The roofing company and insurance brokerage were not named in the complaint. But sources close to the investigation, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the case, identified them as Aetna Roofing of Trenton and Coastal Solutions LLC, of Egg Harbor Township. Aetna Roofing has been in business since 1968, according to its Web site. Its chairman is Bruce Begg.

Last summer, Coastal Solutions began operating out of the same address as Aetna and listed Begg as a registered agent, according to corporate records, but sources said it was actually the FBI front referred to in the complaint. Its Web site, which was taken down today, said the firm specialized in urban governments and Abbott school districts. The site promoted Coastal Solutions and two affiliates that handled development and finance. One of the affiliates' links featured a quote from Begg: "Coastal Development is all about relationships and trust. Their success is rooted in experience and integrity."

"I'm not going to have any comment on any of that," Begg said today when asked about his company's role in the investigation.

Trouble has long plagued the schools of Pleasantville, located about five miles west of downtown Atlantic City.

With 3,600 students, it is an Abbott District that has had 13 superintendents since 1997 -- seven of whom were on the job fewer than six months. In July, a state-appointed monitor began working with the district after years of financial and staffing turmoil. A recent investigation by an independent law firm accused past and present school board members of violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Today was the first day of school for the district, and although some parents were under the belief there would be an emergency school board meeting tonight, none was scheduled, Pleasantville Assistant Superintendent Gregory Allen said today. He declined to comment on the arrests.

Among those arrested today are School Board President James Pressley and board member Rafael Velez. The former board members include Jayson Adams, James McCormick and Maurice "Pete" Callaway, the brother of former Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway, who is currently in prison for taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent.

A 12th suspect, Louis Mister, was arrested and charged with accepting two $1,500 bribes on behalf of Callaway, authorities said.

The suspects from the Passaic City Council are Marcellus Jackson, a Democrat, and former councilman Jonathon Soto, a Republican who lost reelection in May. He teaches social studies at a middle school in Passaic and is a member of the city's redevelopment agency.

Following the early-morning arrests, Steele, a deputy assembly speaker since 2002, resigned his post as undersheriff as he was about to be suspended by Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The 12 defendents are charged with either conspiracy to extort corrupt payments or attempting to extort corrupt payments, offenses that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. They made their first court appearances in Trenton this afternoon, but did not enter any pleas. All of the defendants were led into the federal courtroom in handcuffs, while a few, including Steele, were in ankle shackles.

They were released on $200,000 unsecured bond, meaning they would forfeit that amount if they fail to keep future court appearances but were not required to put up any cash or property as collateral.

Anna Cominsky, the lawyer for Rivera, said, "Today is the first day of the case and everyone should remember Mayor Rivera is presumed innocent. Until we get more information we cannot comment." Lawyers for the other defendants also declined to comment.

The 12 are accused of accepting the following amounts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office:

James Pressley - $32,200
Jayson Adams - $15,000
Marcellus Jackson - $16,500
Rafael Velez - $14,000
Rev. Alfred E. Steele - $14,000
Maurice "Pete" Callaway - $13,000
Jonathon Soto - $12,500
Keith Reid - $10,000
Mims Hackett, Jr. - $5,000 as an "up-front" payment. Hackett allegedly agreed to accept another $25,000 once Orange approved an insurance brokerage contract.
Samuel Rivera - $5,000
James McCormick- $3,500

(c) 2007 Newark, NJ Star Ledger

Broward County Sheriff Jenne Resigns For Taking Payoffs from Goernment Contractors

Posted on Tue, Sep. 04, 2007
Broward sheriff Jenne resigns, to take plea in corruption probe
Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne resigned Tuesday after agreeing to plead guilty to federal tax evasion and mail fraud charges following an investigation that uncovered thousands of dollars in hidden payments and income never reported to the IRS.
Some of the money Jenne failed to list on his income tax forms allowed him to drive around in a sleek Mercedes-Benz convertible courtesy of his former law firm, according to court documents.

The plea deal, reached last Friday, came as Jenne faced possible grand jury indictment on more serious money-laundering and other charges after the two-year investigation. But the agreement also likely will land the longtime force in state Democratic politics in prison for up to two years under federal sentencing guidelines.

Under his agreement with prosecutors, Jenne will plead guilty to three counts of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said at a news conference in Miami.

"Ken Jenne has been a staple of South Florida government for decades. For many years, he served Broward County well," Acosta said. "But he stayed too long, and in the end, he lost sight of what it means to serve the public."

The total involved in the wrongdoing amounted to more than $80,000, including payments made from sheriff's office vendors to Jenne's secretaries, who arranged for the money to go to his personal accounts. Acosta noted that Jenne, a lawyer and veteran politician, could have commanded a salary in the millions in the private sector.

"I think what is particularly sad here is that the amounts of money were not great," Acosta said. "It's sad when you see a man who has served the public to fall this way."

Jenne was expected to surrender Wednesday at an initial appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, where he would probably be released on bail. Another hearing would likely be scheduled for Jenne to enter his guilty plea, to be followed in several weeks or months by sentencing.

Jenne, a former state senator, prosecutor and county commissioner, made his resignation official Tuesday morning in an e-mail to his employees and in a separate letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Today, I'm retiring from public service," Jenne wrote in the e-mail. "I need to turn my attention to myself and my family." He ended it this way: "Stand tall. Stand proud. Stay safe."

Jenne's attorney, David Bogenschutz, did not return two telephone calls seeking comment.

Jenne, 60, has served as sheriff of Florida's second-most populous county since his appointment in 1998 by Gov. Lawton Chiles to replace the late Ron Cochran. Jenne was re-elected in 2000 and 2004 to run an agency that has some 6,300 employees and an annual budget of nearly $700 million.

Crist, a Republican, moved quickly to name as acting sheriff Maj. Alfred Lamberti, a 29-year veteran of the sheriff's office who currently runs the agency's Patrol Services Bureau. Lamberti has previously served as interim police chief in both Hollywood and North Lauderdale and has spent 21 years in the Coast Guard Reserve.

In Tallahassee, Crist described Lamberti's appointment as temporary, telling reporters he will look for a permanent replacement to fill out the rest of Jenne's current term through 2008.

"This is a huge job," Crist said. "I mean, the sheriff of Broward County is a big deal, and I want to do what's right by the people of Broward County."

The resignation and guilty plea means that Jenne also would likely lose his license to practice law and would be barred from seeking public office in the future. It could also impact his state pension.

After news reports of Jenne's outside business activities, in April 2005 then-Gov. Jeb Bush ordered an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Miami U.S. attorney's office also launched a probe, calling numerous witnesses before a federal grand jury that has been meeting for months.

Among them was developer Philip Procacci, who owns a building that leases space to the sheriff's office and to a federal-state drug task force. Procacci loaned $20,000 to one of Jenne's secretaries, who in turn loaned it to Jenne to help the sheriff pay his income taxes in 2004, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Procacci's attorney, Edward O'Donnell Jr., said his client thought the money was for the secretary and that there was no link between the sheriff's office lease and the loan.

"He didn't do anything wrong at all," O'Donnell said. "The records are all there. None of this was done in a surreptitious manner."

Procacci also paid a contractor more than $8,000 to demolish a house Jenne owned in Lake Worth that had been cited for code violations in June 2001 - money Jenne never reported on his income tax returns. Nor did he report another $10,000 payment for consulting work he did in 2002 for one of Procacci's companies.

The documents show that Jenne provided off-duty sheriff's deputies as consultants to Lewis Nadel, who runs a company called Innovative Security Technology. One deputy helped the firm train police in Barbados and another did a security survey for a chain of duty-free-stores.

Nadel paid Jenne's secretaries a total of $5,500 for the consulting work, which the secretaries then deposited into Jenne's personal bank account, according to court documents.

In addition, Jenne failed to report on his federal tax returns about $40,000 he received from his former law firm in Fort Lauderdale to pay for and insure the Mercedes-Benz convertible from 2001 to 2004.

Procacci, Nadel and Jenne's two secretaries - Alicia Valois and Marian Yoka - are not charged with any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors confirmed that the plea agreement was ready in mid-August but was delayed following the fatal shooting of veteran sheriff's Sgt. Chris Reyka, a crime that remains unsolved and one that drew national attention to the agency and Jenne.

"I thought it highly inappropriate to incapacitate the head of BSO during that time," Acosta said.

As the investigation intensified, the sheriff's office turned to former Miami U.S. attorney Guy Lewis to represent the agency's interests. Lewis, now in private practice, confirmed the sheriff's office has paid his firm about $272,000 for its work in the Jenne probe and another issue involving questions about crime statistics reporting.

"We have done a lot of work long-term," Lewis said. "BSO has been fully cooperating. It has a tremendous disruptive effect on the agency."

Sheriff's records show another $107,000 in agency funds has been paid to other outside attorneys representing employees who were either questioned by investigators or testified before the grand jury.

Before becoming sheriff, Jenne was a state senator for nearly 20 years, serving as the Senate's Democratic leader from 1994 to 1998 and occasionally mentioned as a candidate for statewide or federal office. Jenne also served as a state prosecutor and county commissioner.


© 2007 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Time To Disclose St. Augustine Officials' Property Ownership To Inform Debate on Unwanted ST. AUGUSTINE RED LIGHT DISTRICTS

Time To Disclose St. Augustine Officials' Property Ownership
I've written St. Augustine officials today, asking that they disclose all interests in property by themselves, their families, their loved ones and their clients. It's important that they do so to restore public confidence and government and assure that the proposed St. Augustine Red Light District (which would be established by proposed St. Augustine City Ordinance 2007- 11) is discussed honestly and candidly, with all pertinent facts (including conflict of interest) disclosed on the City's website.
Our local officials are indifferent to tree- killing, wetland- destroying, foreign- funded speculators.
As Lincoln Steffens wrote in The Shame of the Cities, "the spirit of graft and lawlessness is the American spirit."
As Walter Lippman wrote, "an entirely objective view of political life would show that corruption is somewhat endemic."
Citizens are being intimidated while decisions are made on huge land deals without full disclosure.
"The primary goals of organized crime ... are the making of money and the maximization of profit. In order to achieve the greatest possible return, organized crime has found it expedient to invest some of its capital in government," reported a 1976 Presidential advisory committee.
Whatever the background or size of the corrupters, from Lockheed Martin to Bell Helicopter to numbers runners, government records show that the loyalties government officials have been purchased, whether they are bribed with illegal bribes (payoffs) or legal gifts (campaign contributions).
That's why we need transparency, full disclosure and campaign finance reform. Disclosure must be complete so we know the facts. As the late U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy said, "if we do not, on a national scale, attack organized criminals with weapons and techniques as effective as their own, they will destroy us."
As Donald R. Cressy wrote in Theft of a Nation, "Cosa Nostra functions as an illegal, inviable government.... Its political objective is a negative one: nullification of government."
In St. Augustine, a $15,000 tree-killing fine of ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD was forgiven by our St. Augustine City Commission, without allowing citizens to speak, breaking the rules and breaking their promises (see below).
Globe-girdling companies like EXXON MOBIL or small-town satraps (like speculator ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD) likewise want government to show them favoritism.
Their attitude is as Commodore Vanderbilt said, "let the public be damned."
The whole world is watching them as they seek to establish a Red Light District in the first City in North America were a Roman Catholic Mass was said (1565).

RED LIGHT DISTRICTS: Request for St. Augustine Commissioners to Disclose Property Interests By Themelves, Families, Loved Ones and Clients in our City

Dear Mayor Boles and Commissioners:
Will each of you please post on the City's website and send me a list of all property in which you, your families, your loved ones or your clients have any beneficial interest in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, including limited partnerships and stock ownership? Please sign, date and swear to the disclosures before a Notary.
This will empower the people to discuss the proposed adult entertainment districts for St. Augustine and decide whether or not any of you should recuse yourself from discussing particular locations where you, your families, loved ones or clients may have an interest.
As my political theory professor at Georgetown University, Jose Sorzano Ilater President Reagan's Deputy UN Ambassador under Jeanne Kirkpatrick) taught us, "ideas have consequences."
The idea that you would inflict an adult entertainment district in our Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City, blocks away from where the first Roman Catholic Mass was said, has consequences. The publci has a right to know all pertinent details.
Cui bono? (Who benefits?). How would the proposal affect you, your famlies, your loved ones and your clients? Please be complete and thorough in your disclousres.
As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, St. Augustine is the most lawless city in America. The people have a right to an honest, open, transparent government and to know about property interests by you, your families, your loved ones and your clients before there is any further voting or discussion of the proposed St. Augustine Red Light District.
I look forward to your complete, truthful, candid sworn disclosures under oath.
Thank you.
With kindest regards,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augusitne, FL 32085-3084
904-471-9918 (fax)

Physicians, Health Thyselves

Ms. Craven's letter, below, eloquently rebuts the Philistinism of Dr. Grimes, further below, who said neither the Constitution nor God treat health care as a right. Dr. Grimes is wrong and Ms. Craven is right. Our county physicians need to start talking with their colleagues on Cape Cod about the wonderful Cape Care proposal, which would provide single payor health insurance at the county level.

Letter: Health care determined by ability to pay

Letter: Health care determined by ability to pay

Sue Craven
St. Augustine
Publication Date: 09/04/07

Editor: I somewhat agree with what was said in an Aug. 30 letter about the health care system in the United States. Yes, in a sense, we are better off than most countries. But, in order to receive care after an injury or illness a person must have health insurance. A doctor will not look at a patient without a huge out-of -pocket expense.

My son had an accident involving a four-wheeler, tore his right rotator cuff and severed his tendon in his left hand which in turn left his hand useless. He is 24, works construction and has no health insurance. Since this accident, he has been unable to work and the doctors refuse to repair the injuries without a huge down payment.

In that since, we are just like the other countries. The governments of those countries deem if it is worth their time and money to treat a patient. If that patient is elderly or just not worth the effort, the government decides if they live the remainder of their lives on medication instead of fixing the problem.

If one does not have health insurance in the U.S., the doctors, not the government, decides if that person is worth their time and effort to treat.

We have found that doctors in St. Augustine would rather let a person suffer instead of trying to work with them concerning payment for their services.

If someone knows of an orthopedic surgeon in town who puts a patient before the almighty dollar let me know because we have been unsuccessful in having my son's injuries repaired.

The most the emergency room doctor here would do was wash the injured hand and give him a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers.

Sue Craven

St. Augustine

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© The St. Augustine Record

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Dear Mayor Boles:
1. I have filed a complaint and petition for rulemaking today with the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) regarding our City's providing putatively "free" water to 43 of 350 employees, who therefore have no incentive to conserve water. SJRWMD has already acknowledged receipt of the complaint and petition for rulemaking today, which you may view in its entirety at
2. Water is not a "free" good for anyone on this planet. Wateris a scare resource that the fundamental public policies of the State of Florida require be conserved.
I am unable to identify any other Florida jurisdiction that provides "free" water for employees. If SJRWMD responds affirmatively to the proposed rulemaking, there will be either a rule or an order foribidding the City from providing this sui generis employee benefit. In the interregnum, as my mother would say, will you kindly "drop the oyster and leave the wharf?" Kindly heed Ms. Kalaidi's excellent suggestion and drop the alleged "benefit," which is of no benefit to our City, our State or our society.
3. Your indecent and rude behavior in response to Ms. B.J. Kalaidi's and others' concerns at the first of two TRIM meetings was notable, as was your failure at that meeting to: (a) salute the flag, (b) say a prayer or (c) televise the meeting (sine qua nons of every other St. Augustine City Commission throughout the year.
4. Your belligerent behavoir at the untelevised meeting -- including inflicting illegal limitations on citizens' rights to ask questions and obtain answers at a TRIM hearing -- shows that you lack respect for democracy. I am ashamed of your actions.
5. When you said "NO!" to Ms. Kalaidi's request that our City stop paying water bills for 43 City employees, you earned the complaint and petition for rulemaking that I filed with SJRWMD earlier today. The least our City should do is weigh the costs and benefits, instead of acting, in FDR's words (quoting Dante) like a government "frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
6. Please provide television coverage for the next TRIM meeting on September 20th.
7. Please see that City staff provide answer to the 140 questions by close of business on Friday, September 20th, so we may post it on and discuss those answers when City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS testifies under oath at the September 20 TRIM budget hearing.
8. Please treat citizens with dignity, respect and consideration from this day forward.
9. Please respect citizens' rights to obtain answers to questions, under oath, including the 140 questions I provided you with on September 6th.
10. Please cease and desist from any future insulting behavior, e.g., your muttering mumbling "ad nausem" remark in response to my testimony at the hearing.
11. As President Thomas Jefferson said, "I have sworn upon the altar of Almighty God eternal hostility over every form of tyranny over the mind of [humankind]."
12. If you think that being mean to citizens makes you a bigger or better person, you are sadly mistaken. As President Thomas Jefferson Clinton said in his Second Inaugural Address, "Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small."
13. Please feel free to call me to discuss the budget and my 140 budget questions.
14. Please let me know if any of your legal clients is selling property that falls within any of the proposed St. Augustine adult business/entertainment district zones. If so, kindly recuse yourself from chairing any City Commission meetings or voting on the proposed adult business/entertainment zones.
15. Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters. I look forward to seeing you at Monday's City Commission meeting. Kindly remember, you work for us (and not the other way around).
Thank you again.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, FL 32085-3084
471-9918 (fax)



To the Chair and Board members of the St. Johns River Water Management District:
This is a request for investigation and rulemaking regarding water-wasting practices by the government of our City of St. Augustine, Florida.
Forty-three (43) lucky St. Augustine residents are provided with "free" water in unlimited quantities by our unenlightened government of the City of St. Augustine.
I request that the St. Johns Water Management District kindly investigate to determine if any SJRWMD permission or advice was ever requested or required. I further petition that SJRWMD adopt a permanent rule forbidding any water utility anywhere from providing any more "free" water for anyone, including employees.
The 43 lucky St. Augustine city employees, including top city managers, have no incentive to conserve water. Our uninformed, anti- environmental City Commissioners and Mayor, JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. have repeatedly been questioned about this bizarre employee benefit. Mayor BOLES refuses to discuss the benefit maturely, insultingly saying on September 6, 2007 at the TRIM budget hearing that he would not end the benefit, saying in a one-word response to Ms. B.J. Kalaidi, "No!" When I followed up on his one- word answer, Mayor BOLES explained condescendingly that the water is "free" and providing it to the 43 of 350 employees who live inside our City is simply a way of giving employee benefits without cost.
Of course, water is not a "free good."
SJRWD exists to conserve, protect and defend our water resources.
You will kindly recall that our Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City of St. Augustine dumped the contents of our old city dump into our Old City Reservoir, violating SJRWMD's specific orders not to dump and never providing information requested by SJRWMD before dumping without a permit. Our City Manager, WILLIAM B. HARRISS, ordered the dumping and is still employed by our City. HARRISS has no respect for our environment or environmental law. His arrogating "free" water to 43 of our City's 350 employees is but the latest in a long train of anti-environmental abuses under HARRISS' nine-year reign of error, terrorizing our the environment, including our City Commission's 4-1 vote on January 9, 2006, allowing condominiums and a strip mall to be built at Red House Bluff (site of a 3000-4000 year old indigenous village), granting approval to accused fraudfeasor land speculator ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD. GRAUBARD is the ex- boyfriend of St. Augustine City Commissioner SUSAN BURK, who voted for GRAUBARD's development and whom GRAUBARD kissed inside our City Commission meeting room during a recess at the June 11, 2007 City Commission meeting.
Our Nation's Oldest City's superciliously granting the "right" to "free" water to 43 of our City's 350 employees should be banned by SJRWMD.
From this day forward, no water utility in SJRWMD's jurisdiction should ever again be allowed to pretend that water is a "free" good by treating water as an employee benefit.
Please take immediate action and advise me so that I can advise the readers of www.cleanupcityofstau
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, FL 32085-3084
904-471-9918 (fax)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Challenge to Mayor Boles and Commissioners to Answer Questions, Open Debate and Vote on Every Budget Line Item on St. Augustine Budget

Dear Mayor Boles:
1. Will St. Augustine City Commissioners kindly vote on every single line item in our City Budget at the September 20th TRIM hearing, as our City has done in the past?.
2. Will you please allow citizens to speak and answer our questions without interruption, insult or condescension, from this day forward? Last night, your sputtering, muttering remark, "ad nauseam," immediately after I spoke, showed hostility to First Amendment protected activity. Where are your manners? When citizens ask for 1.5 years about illegal dumping of our old city dump into the Old City Reservoir, we deserve answers. The fact that cleanup is not in the budget -- and you refused to answer questions -- shows contempt for democracy. I admired your principled stand (twice) in May and June 2005 regarding the Rainbow Flags on the Bridge of Lions. I thought we shared an appreciation for the First Amendment. Was I mistaken in my respect for your respect for our Founding Fathers and the First Amendment?
3. Thomas Jefferson said that "a public office is a public trust" and he also said that "I have sworn upon the altar of Almighty God eternal hostility over every form of tyranny over the mind of [humankind]." Being mean to concerned citizens does not inspire trust and confidence in any government -- it never has and it never will.
4. I hereby challenge you to open public debate on the budget, to answer all questions in writing and in person, and to present city staff to answer questions under oath (including questions about the illegal dumping and the City's failure to include any funds for cleanup in the budget).
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, FL 32085-3084
471-9918 (fax)


St. Augustine City Clerk Karen Rogers is paid only $43,000 annually.
The City's other all- male department heads are paid two and three times as much.
At last night's budget hearing, I questioned City officials about the pay disparity, asking when our City would conduct an examination of possible discrimination and pay of women and African- Americans.
There was no response.
Commissioner SUSAN BURK was absent, apparently in South America, enjoying her "Sister Cities" trip to Cartagena, Colombia.
It's our money.
St. Augustine Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, Vice Mayor Donald CRICHLOW, and Commissioners
GEORGE GARDNER and ERROL JONES said not one word about possible pay disparities adversely affecting women and African- Americans.
In 1964, St. Augustine, Florida was the last place where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted by Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Dr. King said that St. Augustine was "the most lawless city in America."
Ms. Karen Rogers is one of three city officials hired directly by City Commissioners. She is the lowest paid of any of the three.
She also thinks that City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS is her supervisor, a contention not supported by the City Charter.
This is unacceptable, on both counts.
For the record, St. Augustine is not the only government in St. Johns County that appears to discriminate against women and minorities. The Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County (AMCD) has had a policy since 1992 that forbids payment of sick pay to women who are pregnant and giving birth. AMCD will reconsider this policy at its September 13, 2007 meeting at 4 PM, 500 Old Beach Road, St. Augustine Beach, Florida.


At last night's City of St. Augustine budget hearing, City Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS refused to answer questions about why the cost of cleaning up illegal dumping of the contents of the old illegal city dump into our Old City Reservoir are not included in the budget.
Former EPA Region 4 Regional Administrator John Henry Hankinson said last year that the coquina pit lake is an "open sore going right down into the aquifer and the groundwater."
For 1.5 years, our City has slowdanced with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), which my friend David Thundershield Queen says really stands for "Don't Expect Protection."
Under political pressure, DEP criminal investigators did not interview City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, our then- Mayor, or any of the Commissioners.
A consent decree was promised months ago.
It is still (supposedly) being worked on by DEP and our City's
Meanwhile, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS is still our City Manager, after trying to "save money" by ordering illegal dumping.
Wonder why?


At last night's City Commission budget meeting, controversial City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS refused to install security cameras in our City's $22 million White Elephant Parking Garage on the basis that no one has actually been "robbed, raped or murdered" there yet.
In January, a Flagler College student patiently sat through an entire City Commission meeting, telling of $900 of unuinsured, deductible, uncompensated damage to his car when parked in the garage, showing photos of the smashed windshield while the car was parked in the Garage. The student wore a three-piece suit and was very respectful, a perfect gentleman whose presentation was almost scholarly.
The student's urgent concerns -- about the possibility of female Flagler College students being raped in the Parking Garage -- have fallen upon uncaring ears.
Nine months later, a smirking, laughing, jovial City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS responded.
No gentleman and no scholar, WILLIAM B. HARRIS that no security cameras will be installed. HARRISS responded to my question at last night's budget hearing by claiming that the smashed car was the "only" crime that has ever taken place in the garage and that he would not install cameras until someone was robbed, raped or murdered.
Under "premises liability" concepts, our City of St. Augustine (and its bondholders) are already on notice of the lack of security cameras. It is negligent and a breach of the standard of care for a parking garage to be unadorned by security cameras. HARRISS' statements, smirking and laughing could subject our Nation's Oldest (European- founded) City to large jury verdicts in the event of criminal activity.
Flagler College rents some 550 parking spaces in the Garage, many unused. In the event of a crime injuring one of Flagler College's students, will Flagler College also be held liable? Do Flagler College administrators, professors, students and parents know that Flagler is contracting for spaces in a city parking lot that is not equipped with security cameras?
As we look forward to St. Augustine's 450th birthday (2015) and Florida's 500th birthday (2013), what kind of a "host" would refuse to install security cameras?
What kind of supine City Commission would listen to the City Manager's off-the-wall response and NOT take action or request a report on the cost of cameras?
The architect of St. Augustine's underutilized $22 million White Elephant Parking Garage told me earlier this year that the Garage was prewired for security cameras, expressing surprise that there were no cameras yet.
In a City run based on flimflam, flummery and dupery, corners get cut, starting with public safety and our environment (our City has dumped the contents of the old illegal city dump into the Old City Reservoir, see below).
Our TRIM hearing process is supposed to allow public questions, but few have yet been answered. We await answers to the 140 questions (below).
It's our money.
What do you reckon?


At the September 6, 2007 city budget hearing, St. Augustine, Florida Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. responded to one of my questions by pointedly refusing to visit the firehouse near his Anastasia Island home. Firemen there have reportedly experienced mold problems at the firehouse since at least 2000. Their concerns have fallen on uncaring ears. Their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) does not contain a safety and health provision.
In 2000, Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush signed legislation abolishing safety and health protection for all state, county, municipal and special taxing district workers. Florida is one of some 24 states that provide no occupational safety protections or inspection for government employees.
I have asked our City of St. Augustine and the Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County to voluntarily adopt OSHA standards.
I await their response.
In questioning the city about the fire budget last night, I raised concerns about the mold problem. BOLES said he would have "staff" look into it.
Unlike Mayor GEORGE GARDNER, JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, Jr. is not a hands-on Mayor. He has what labor economists would call a "backward-bending labor supply curve," which is to say that he doesn't work very hard.
BOLES said he was qualified to be Mayor of St. Augustine, our Nation's Oldest City, by his "sense of humor."
No one's laughing now, particularly after BOLES' materially false and misleading statements about St. Johns County refusing to help on the homelessness problem. As reporter Kati Bexley's story yesterday reveals (see below), St. Johns County was never even asked.
Like the Sun King of France, JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. isn't a very good public official. He likes to party and doesn't do his homework (like all but one of his colleagues). BOLES habitually rubberstamps City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS and tree- killing, wetland- destroying real estate speculators.
BOLES' arrogant refusal to visit a firehouse located close to his home demonstrates St. Augustine's government is, in FDR's words (quoting Dante) "frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
All it would take would be three well-informed Commissioners to set policy, starting with an ordinance requiring City workers be given the full range of OSHA protections -- including OSHA Act Section 11(c) rights to be free of retaliation -- rights that were cruelly taken away from them by Governor Jeb Bush and tatterdemalion Tallahassee Republicans in 2000, on a tear to transfer worker safety duties to USDOL OSHA, sublimely indifferent to the rights of state, county, municipal and special taxing district employees.
St. Augustine and other local jurisdictions must start protecting worker rights again, no matter what the peculiar mindset and ideology of Hizzoner.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

140 Questions on St. Augustine's City Budget and Millage Rate

Dear Mayor and Commissionsers:
My initial questions and comments are enclosed. Please place the answers to questions 1-140 (including subparts) on the City's website by close of business September 14, 2007 and kindly provide them to me by fax and E-mail by that time.

Our City's budget appears bloated. There is a potential to save 10-30% of it. Please start learning to save money by spending it wisely, from this day forward. Please institute full transparency, cost-cutting and empower employees to work smarter.

As you know, there is no time limit for a citizen's comments in a TRIM meetnig. You have all been invited to a party by the power boat show proprietors at a time that conflicts with the first TRIM hearing, an action at least one Commissioner said was offensive. Please stay and complete your duties to obtain answers to these questions, instead of rushing off to a private party to which the public has not been invited (in possible violation of the Sunshine law).

I look forward to having every one of my questions answered commencing September 6th and continuing on September 20th. We look forward to your candid answers and resourceful thoughtfulness about rerforming our City government.

I will have more questions after these questions are answered on the City's website, and by fax and E-mail.

Thank you.

With kindest regards, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, FL 32085-3084
904-471-9918 (fax)


To the Honorable Mayor and Commissioners of the City of St. Augustine:
I will have more questions after these questions are answered, in writing, on the City's website and by fax and E-mail. Meanwhile, here are my preliminary questions on the proposed budget and millage rate:
1. REQUEST FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY: These questions are asked because our City lacks transparency and does not provide the requisite information on its website, while charging $15 for a singularly uninformative book (but not charging profit-making news organizations). Will you please place the answers to all of the foregoing questions on the City's website by close of business on Friday, September 14, 2007 (Constitution Day) so that we may discuss at the September 20, 2007 budget meeting?

2. REQUEST FOR DETAILED DOCUMENTATION: Will you please provide more realistic revenue projections, discussions and alternative budget options, including meaningful budget justification and expenditure documentation, which is sorely lacking in the materials provided by the City at and after the August 22 workshop?

3. REQUEST FOR REALISTIC BUDGET CUTS AND PLANNING: Will you please agree to make realistic budget cuts instead of proposing what CITY MANAGER WILLIAM B. HARRISS called a list of "mostly facetious" budget cuts (like eliminating Independence Day fireworks?


a. Do the Commissioners agree that working city employees are underpaid and unappreciated, particularly policemen, firemen, women, African-Americans and persons with high school diplomas?

b. Will the Commissioners agree to support the Living Wage for city employees and employees of City contractors and City franchisees?

c. Will the City direct higher raises for fire, police and other employees who do the people's business -- most of the work in our City government.

d. Will you please include $10,000 in the budget for an economic study by a University of Florida economist on the need for a Living Wage for city, city contractor and city franchisee employees?

5. ST. AUGUSTINE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, SEASHORE AND SCENIC COASTAL HIGHWAY COULD SAVE CITY MILLIONS: What effort has the City staff made to consider the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Coastal Highway, which could save the City millions of dollars?

6. There is $2.337 million in the proposed budget for "Heritage Tourism." This is some 4% of the budget. It can be saved, in its entirety, by working to enact a national park bill in Congress, which will subsume under the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Coastal Highway. What efforts have been undertaken?

7. There is some $1,436,000 in the budget for Parks. That is 3% of the budget. Some of these Parks, like the Slave Market Square (Plaza de la Constitucion) could become part of the St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Highway. Will you kindly direct the staff to work to transfer history and some park functions to the National Park Service and support the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Highway?

8. Between Heritage Tourism and Parks, our City could save as much as 7% of the budget that could be saved by adopting national park legislation.. Will you work with Congress in assigning the National Park Service to the urgent task of preserving and protection the history and nature in and around the City of St. Augustine (while saving City funds at a time of legislatively-mandated budget cuts)?


a. Do you agree that proposing "facetious" budget cuts is irresponsible?

b. Who authorized Mr. HARRISS to come up with a list of cuts that included concerts and fireworks, but no cuts in the fact for the City Administration budgets?

c. Do you agree that is an unfair and deceptive practice for governments to release "trial baloons" of budget cuts that they don't truly intend to make (whether it is eliminating firehouses or school buses or health care for the neediest)?

d. Will you promise from this day forward to stop City Manager HARRISS from making any further "facetious" budget cuts?

10. INDEPENDENT BUDGET ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Will you agree to appoint an independent budget advisory committee to propose savings?

11. HOMELESSNESS: What funds are in this budget for increasing the number of bathrooms or otherwise dealing with the problem of homeless in St. Augustine?


a. How much money and how many full-time equivalent (FTE) staffers are devoted to obtaining federal and state grants?

b. Is it true that one in the past was the City Manager's nephew?

13. NEPOTISM: What policies exist on nepotism? Can they be strengthened?

14. ADMINISTRATION: There are a grand total of over $3,000,000 in "Administration" costs spread throughout City of St. Augustine departments.

a. Why are there so many managers for our small City's government?

b. Won't you discuss in this TRIM hearing trimming the fat and waste, laying off nonperforming managers?

c. What can we co about managers who are rude to citizens and don't earn their pay, starting with those who don't live in our City (like City Manager)?

15. STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS: Will the Commissioners please direct the Independent Budget Advisory Committee and staff to help citizens better identify expenditure patterns and budget cuts that can be made from management and waste?

16. CITY MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Will you agree to replace failing and unproductive managers?

17. Will you agree to a national search for the next City Manager, just as St. Johns County did for our new County Administrator?

18. Do you agree that' mismanagement must not continue to be rewarded after dumping the contents of our old city dump into our Old City Reservoir.

19. Is our City Manager "polling" our City Commissioners of their votes in advance of meetings, in violation of the Florida Sunshine law?

20. Does this would explain the City Manager's' refusal to cut 9% required by state law, assuming he already has 4 of 5 Commissioners in his back pocket (a supermajority).

21. CLEANUP OF OLD CITY RESERVOIR DUMPING: There is no money in the budget to pay for cleanup of the dumping of the old city dump into the Old City Reservoir.

a. This is an "unbudgeted item.' Why?

b. Please explain:

i. who will pay for the cleanup?

ii. how much it will really cost?

iii. why it has been delayed 1.5 years?

iv. Whether the total cost will exceed $1.2 million?

22. How much will it cost for the complete cleanup of the Old City Reservoir from materials illegally dumped there (30,000,000 pounds of contaminants including arsenic, sewage and bedsprings -- 20,000 cubic yards of pollution in a coquina pit lake that is an "open sore right down to the aquifer and groundwater," according to former EPA Region 4 Regional Administrator John Henry Hankinson, formerly with the St. Johns River Water Management Agency?

23. Didn't it encourage further waste and mismanagement in the City budget for our City to commend Mr. HARRISS on a job well done when he had illegally dumped into our Old City Reservoir?

24. The dumpnig took place 1.5 years ago. Why the long delay in cleanup?

25. Why isn't there a consent decree yet?

26. Why is this considered a "nonbudgeted item," as stated by Mr. John Regan, Chief Operations Officer?

27. Why did Mr. HARRISS believe he could get away with the illegal dumping?

28. Does Mr. HARRISS still believe that he made the correct decision?

a. If so, is that why he smirks every time the issue is raised?

b. Who authorized Mr. HARRISS to dump the contents of the old city dump into the Old City Reservoir and why?

29. Why did former City Attorney Mr. JAMES PATRICK WILSON leave City employment?

30. Why did then-Vice-Mayor SUSAN BURK move to accelerate Mr. WILSON's resignation, accepting it immediately at the October 13, 2006 Sunshine violation and proposing to pay him through January 31, 2007?

31. Why did the new City Attorney say that he learned about the caseload by talking to the City Clerk and Mr. Wilson's secretary, and never talked to Mr. WILSON?

32. What advice did Mr. WILSON give about the dumping and was it followed?

33. Do you maintain that insurance will cover intentional pollution?

a. Please provide documentation.

34. What funds can be reprogrammed before the budget is adopted to reduce our City's carbon footprint during the Fiscal Year?


a. How much do we spend on electricity each year?

b. What efforts have been made to investigate the possibility of a City municipal electric utility, cogeneration and waste heat utilization, or other alternatives to paying money to FPL, one of the worst electric utilities in the Nation?

c. Our City once had a municipal electric utility -- will you agree to explore this public power alternative, like 25% of Floridians (including those in Gainesville, Orlando, Jacksonville Clay County)?


a. What is the total annual expenditure for gasoline, diesel fuel, lubricants, pesticides and other petrochemicals?

b. What City employee is working on reducing such expenditures with an eye toward reducing our City's "carbon footprint" and impact on global warming?

c. Is there any City employee with duties for environmental protection and energy conservation?

d. There is $7000 for pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides. Why so much?

e. When will our City stop buying organophosphate pesticides and stop polluting our environment -- kindly follow the lead of Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County and Commissioner Jeanne Moeller.

f. Our AMCD no longer uses organophosphate pesticides. Will our City agree to stop using neurotoxins to kill insects and use only natural pesticides like pyrethrins and Bti?

37. LIFE CYCLE COSTING. Until our City has a policy in place on "life cycle costing" and energy-efficient technologies that save fuel, will you please cease and desist from spending any more of our money on vehicles and other capital equipment?

38. TWO NEW GARBAGE TRUCKS: There is $337,000 to replace two refuse trucks, which are only 5 and 7 years old.

a. Why is there no information on fuel consumption?

b. Why is there no justification for replacing trucks less than ten years old?

c. Will you agree to postpone this item until further research is provided, including the fuel consumption of present and prospective vehicles.

39. MORATORIUM ON CAPITAL EQUIPMENT PURCHASES UNTIL COOL CITIES PROGRAM AND LIFE CYCLE COSTING ARE INITIATED: Will you agree to postpone the purchase of the new garbage trucks, and any other fuel-consuming capital equipment, until such time as our City has instituted and life cycle costing by City ordinance?

40. CITY ATTORNEY: There is $353,000 for the City Attorney's office.

a. Why is there no detailed justification?

b. Does the City Attorney's office keep time records?

i. If not, why not?

ii. If so, what do those records show?

c. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Attorney's office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

d. It has been 1 1/2 years since our City Manager and Administration were caught red-handed dumping the contents of our old city dump into our Old City Reservoir. Why have the City Manager (and Commissioners, the Mayor and present and former City Attorney) still not been interviewed by DEP?

e. What are the environmental impacts of delaying the day of reckoning?

f. Is this considered an accomplishment?

g. Does the current City Attorney live in the City of St. Augustine?

h. If not, isn't he in violation of our City Charter, which requires all City officers (other than the City Manager) to reside in our City?

i. There is $300 for City Attorney tickets to Menendez masked ball. Why?

j. There is in the City Attorney's budget an amount for travel, at $3426/year. Why won't City Attorney RONALD BROWN: stay home and do your job: start protecting citizens and stop covering up for City officials for a change?

k. Mr. Brown, if on your $120,000 salary you still need citizens to pay for your Continuing Legal Education (CLE), why wouldn't you need St. Augustine residents to pay for your airfare, hotel and meals to get CLE you get locally or online?

l. Why does the City Attorney need to travel at all outside St. Johns County?

m. Will you please provide all documentation regarding the prior City Attorney being a scapegoat for the City Manager on the dumping of the contents of the old city dump into our Old City Reservoir?


a. What reports are required for City of St. Augustine employees on travel? No trip reports exist for such junket-flubdubs as the $8100 trip to NYC.

b. Federal employees are required to complete trip reports. Will you require the same from City employees, including yourselves, so that we can evaluate the costs and benefits of all travel?


a. In addition to the City Attorney's two tickets, how many other masked ball tickets are being paid for by City funds, at what cost and benefit?

b. Why would City Attorney RONALD BROWN or anyone else expect our City to buy them tickets to a fancy masked ball?

c. Is it true that several years ago, former Mayor LEN WEEKS said there were at least 125 complimentary tickets to the Menendez Ball?

d. Why does St. Augustine's putative aristocracy (and not particularly Thomas Jefferson's "aristocracy of virtue and talent, either") expect thousands of dollars in foreign and domestic travel, masked ball tickets, SUVs and glorified Politburo for incompetents who took the entire contents of the old illegal city dump and put them into our Old City Reservoir?


a. There are references in past City Commission minutes to former Mayor LEN WEEKS as being the City's "Ambassador." Was this facetious?

b. How much money was spent on bestowing this title of nobility?

c. What review has there been of possible violations of the Logan Act by use of this title?

44. CITY MANAGER: There is $616,000 for the City Manager's office, an increase over last year.

a. Why does City Manager demand an increase in his own office/s budget?

b. Why an increase when the four items the August 22, 2007 budget document gives as accomplishments are:

i. re-defining the city boundaries (e.g., to exclude this writer, the Clean Up City of St. Augustine blog author)?

ii. Work on the Visitor Information Center?

iii. Managing?

iv. Reorganizing)?

45. Will City Commissioners agree to provide WILLIAM B. HARRIS with a performance evaluation for the first time in his 9.5 years reign?

46. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Manager's office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

47. Please state what the City Manager did for the people of our the City of St. Augustine that would justify spending $616,000 (and change) on his office?

48. CAR ALLOWANCE FOR CITY MANAGER, $7800/YEAR. Will you agree to eliminate the allowances for the City Manager and others not required to drive a City vehicle? We're a small town. .

49. FREE UTILITIES FOR CITY MANAGERS: Will you agree to eliminate the free City utilities for top City employees who live in the City?

50. CITY COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE: There is $139,000 for the City Commissioners' office, an increase.

a. What is it that the City Commissioners do that requires that much money, when only one does his homework and the rest don't perform any meaningful oversight of City operations and are hostile to public participation.

b. If they don't do their homework, don't oversee the City Manager, why do they need an increase in their budget for work they're not doing?

51. CITY COMMISSIONER TRAVEL: There is $18,150/year for City Commissioner travel. City Commissioners: will you kindly stop the junkets and out-of-town Sunshine violations?

a. Will you agree to kindly "Knock if off?"

b. Will you agree to stay home and do your jobs, without fear or favor, to solve our City's problems, instead of junketing to Cartagena, Colombia; NYC; Spain; Germany and elsewhere? It's our money.

52. CITY COMMISSIONER UNIFORMS: There is $805/$525 for City Commissioner uniforms, including laundry.

a. Rather than rent uniforms, will you buy our City Commissioners one or two City logo shirts and be done with it?

b. Can't City Commissioners wash their own shirts?

c. Why can't our City Commissioners and City managers do the same?

53. CITY CLERK's OFFICE: There is $183,000 for the City Clerk's office, an increase.

a. Why should any funds be authorized for the City Clerk's office until the City Clerk acknowledges that she reports to the City Commission and not the City Manager, and that she has a duty of openness, candor and transparency, including providing documents by fax and E-mail and on the website, as her predecessor did?

b. Is the City Clerk in violation of its City Attorney's own illegally promulgated policy, which was never approved by City Commissioners?

c. Why are we paying for perks while expecting citizens to pay for copies of documents, and refusing to fax or E-mail documents?

d. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Clerk's office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

54. PUBLIC AFFAIRS. There is $552,000 for the Public Affairs Office.

a. Why is there no information justifying an office that has in the past provided wrong dates in signs for the Grand Illumination and given a wrong date to an Orlando high school band for an Easter concert in the Slave Market Square?

b. Why do we need this much money for PR?

c. How does this office serve average citizens?

d. What measures of performance exist (number of press calls, number of inquiries answered, number of visitors attracted)?

e. Why is there no performance data? There is no data.

f. Until our City has a policy in place on openness and candor and transparency, will you please cease and desist spending any more money on public relations?

g. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Public Affairs office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

55. ACCOUNTING: There is $234,000 for accounting, an increase.

a. Why should any more money be spent for accounting until City Commissioners require full public disclosures of all accounting information on the City's website?

b. Why did City Commissioners renew an audit contract without public debate, despite a request to do so?

c. Why was the auditor contract placed on the consent agenda despite my written request that it be discussed?

d. Why has the City had the same auditor for three decades?

e. What effort is there to comply with accounting standards that require changing auditors to avoid favoritism?

f. What reason exists for the accounting office's failure to reconcile promptly our City's books last year, as found in the recent audit?

56. PARKING: There is $437,000 for parking, an increase. There is no detailed justification for this amount:

a. When will our City come clean about the true cost of the White Elephant parking garage, its etiology and what we're going to do about it?

b. What regrets does our City Manager have about the size and location of the Parking Garage?

c. What options exist in suing the City's consultants for malpractice or negligence, as took place in the Spokane parking debacle (involving the same consultant)?

57. CUSTOMER SERVICE: There is $436,000 for "customer service," an increase.

a. Why should any funds should be authorized for customer service without standards being set by City Commission as ordinances, instead of policies being developed ex nihilo?

b. Do you agree that under Florida's law an Constitution, City Commissioners are the policymakers, not department heads?

58. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: There is $417,000 for Information Technology, an increase.

a. Why should any funds be authorized for Information Technology until our City's website provides ready access to meetings, spending, contracts, grants and proposed ordinances?

b. Why does our City spend $8000 for its website annually?

c. For that amount, why don't we have online access to meetings, spending, contracts, grants and proposed ordinances?

59. ADMINISTRATION: There is $254,000 for City General Services Administration, an increase.

a. What is the justification?

b. What is being done to increase transparency, openness and accountability?

60. PURCHASING: There is $308,000 for purchasing, a $199,000 decrease.

a. Why can't more budgets be decreased this much?

b. The full-color budget document states that blanket purchase orders have been "streamlined."

i. There were over 400 blanket purchase orders last year; how many are there now?

ii. Is this statement pregnant with the admission that the ancien regime allowed employees to buy anything, anytime that they desired and that this is another example of waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance that cries out for a new auditor (not the same one we've had for 30 years, recently renewed without discussion or debate despite my handing in a speaker card on August 27th)?

61. HUMAN RESOURCES: There is $335,000 for what "Human Resources," e.g., functions once more humanly called Personnel or Labor Relations.

a. Exactly what is the Human Resources office doing to protect City employee rights and inform employees of their rights to be free from sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation and discrimination?

b. When will there be an Ombuds to look out for and protect employees against sexual harassment and reprisals?

c. Please state the ten the largest projects the Human Resources office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

62. FLEET MANAGEMENT: There is $413,000 for Fleet Management, an increase.

a. Why are there so many St. Augustine City vehicles on the road all the time, doing no perceptible work, driving to and fro?

b. What can be done to increase accountability and planning?

c. Why can't we post records on fleet management on the website?

d. Why aren't we using technology such as Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) monitoring, which is the standard of care?

e. What don't we cut this item?

63. FACILITIES MANAGEMENT: There is $1,290,000 for Facilities Management, a decrease of some $410,000.

a. Why can't more City offices be cut this much?

64. RISK MANAGEMENT: There is $1,282,000 for Risk Management, an increase.

a. How is our City's history of torts and crimes, including slamming a man into quadriplegia outside Christopher's ($2.5 million out-of-court settlement, only $1 million of which was paid by City insurance) and dumping the entire contents of the old city dump into the Old City Reservoir affecting our ability to obtain insurance?

b. Would we get cheaper insurance if we discharged wrongdoers and re-wrote the City Manager's contract to deny him severance pay in the event he leaves under other than honorable conditions?

c. To what extent could we become self-insured?

d. What efforts have we made to reduce wrongdoing to reduce the cost of risk management?

e. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Risk Management office:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

f. Why is police training being decreased and how does that effect risk management?

65. PROPERTY SERVICES: There is $907,000 for Property Services, an increase.

66. How is this money divided and accounted for between projects?

67. Why isn't there specific timecard detail for employee work on City construction projects?

68. Doesn't this mean that every building and alteration cost provided Commissioners and auditors and bondholders for City work is potentially inaccurate?

69. Will you direct that the City staff assign specific accounting codes to be sworn to on worker time records?

70. FACILITY OPERATIONS: There is $709,000 for Facility Operations, a decrease. To what extent have further reductions been identified in future years based upon the institution of Life Cycle Costing, thereby resulting in lower Operation and Maintenance (O&M) and energy costs?

71. PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION: There is $187,000 for Public Works Administration, an increase.

a. Why are we increasing this item?

b. The position of Public Works Director is being advertised. How long has the position been vacant?

c. Willl you please provide all documentation regarding the prior Director of Public Works being a scapegoat for the City Manager on the dumping of the contents of the old city dump into our Old City Reservoir?

d. Please state the ten largest projects on which the City Public Works Department:

i. plans to spend its time in FY 2008; and

ii. spent its time in FY 2007.

72. PARKS: There is $1,436,000 for Parks, a decrease of $15,000.

a. Why are we reducing spending on parks?

b. How much of the park budget would be saved through enactment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Highway law?

c. When will our City consider the costs and benefits of the proposed national park in a workshop?

73. ENGINEERING: There is $570,000 for engineering, a reduction of $87,000.

a. How was the proposed savings achieved?

b. Why can't more departments be reduced by similar amounts?

74. STREETS: There is $1,239,000 for streets, a $270,000 decrease.

a. How was the decrease achieved?

b. What is planned for Riberia Street, and when?

c. Why has the street been permitted to deteriorate?

d. Is this another example of institutional racism in our City?

e. How can we reduce other budgets?

75. STREET LIGHTS: There is $220,000 for street lights, a reduction of $52,000.

a. How was this reduction achieved?

b. What can we learn from it for reducing expenditures in other departments?

76. PLANNING AND BUILDING ADMINISTRATION: There is $320,000 for Planning and Building Administration, a reduction of $47,000.

a. How was this reduction achieved?

b. Why can't other departments be reduced by similar amounts?

77. PLANNING: There is $235,000 for Planning, a decrease.

a. How was this achieved?

b. Is it in the public interest?

c. If so, why aren't other budgets being reduced by similar amounts?

78. BUILDING REGULATION: There is $313,000 for Building regulation, a decrease of $120,000.

a. How was this achieved, is it in the public interest and if so, why aren't other budgets being reduced by similar amounts?

b. Can there be further decreases?

79. ARCHAEOLOGY: There is $136,000 for Archaeology.

a. Why is the archaeology function still reporting to and susceptible of being bossed and bullied by the controversial City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS and Director of Planning and Zoning MARK KNIGHT, who have no qualifications as an archaeologists?

b. Why should an archaeologist report to an arachnid?

c. Why isn't this a separate office and part of a Department of Environment, Safety, Health and Archaeology (ESHA), reporting directly to the City Commissioners?

80. POLICE TRAINING: There is a decrease in the police training budget.

a. Why? This is supposedly justified by reference to fewer recruits, but the need for training is continual.

b. Should funds be restored?

81. POLICE ADMINISTRATION: There is $541,000 for Police Administration, a decrease.

a. Can this amount be reduced further?

b. Why are there so many managers and so few street patrolemen?

c. How many officers are ready to retire?

d. How many jobs will be lost by "attrition" or through "buyout packages?"

e. What would be the costs and benefits of consolidation of police services with the St. Johns County Sheriff?

f. What do St. Augustine police officers think about consolidation?

82. POLICE COMMUNICATIONS: There is $600,000 for Police Communications, an increase of $39,000.

a. Why so much money for communications for a small, compact city?

b. How is this divided between people and equipment?

c. What savings can be achieved through better contract decisions?

83. POLICE INVESTIGATIONS: There is $439,000 for Police Investigations.

a. How many full-time investigators do we have and need?

b. Is this payroll-padding?

c. What activities does this include?

d. What do they do all day?

e. Are they investigating our City Manager's dumping the contents of the old city dump into our Old City Reservoir?

f. What is being done to investigate wrongdoing by City employees?

g. What is being done to investigate white-collar crime?

h. What is being done to investigate white collar crime by foreign-funded land speculators and "developers," like those accused by the Ponce family of fraud in the purchase of Conch House Marina?

i. What role does the City Manager play in directing the actions of SAPD?

j. Is there a conflict of interest when SAPD investigations, or potential investigations, bear upon City management's possible malfeasance, waste, fraud and abuse?

k. Wouldn't a strong Mayor form of government eliminate the conflict of interest in the City Manager's supervision of the SAPD?

84. POLICE PATROL: There is $3,284,657 for Police Patrol, an increase of $111,000. There are 59 full-time equivalent police officers but only four officers on duty at any given time.

a. Why so few officers out working on the street, yet 59 on the payroll?

b. Will you consider cutting funds from the office of the City Manager, City Attorney, Public Affairs and other offices and add foot patrol officers?

c. How much of this item is spent on managers and supervisors?

d. How could money be used more effectively by community policing, including more bicycle and foot patrols, and less use of expensive gas-guzzling vehicles?

e. How much is spent for police overtime?

f. Why are six officers living in city limits allowed to take their vehicles home? Is this cost-effective?

g. What data exists?

h. Are those vehicles actually in better condition than others because those officers drive the same vehicles every day?

i. Would police vehicles last longer if more officers drove the same vehicles every day, even if in shift rotations?

85. POLICE RECORDS: There is $194,000 for Police Records, a $6000 increase.

a. Are free public records provided to profit-making news organizations but not to citizens?

b. Will you please provide all pertinent accounting records on fee waivers to profit- making news organizations?

c. What computer programs are used and could these records be handled more effectively?

d. What safeguards exist over access to the NCIC terminal to prevent its abuse for non-police purposes?

86. FLORIDA LAW ENFORCEMENT MANUAL: There is $2000 for Florida Law Enforcement Manual, 2007-2008.

a. Will you please provide all documentation for this expenditure and its efficacy, including more cost-effective alternatives?

b. How many copies of the manual are to be purchased and for whom?

c. I am unable to find any publisher on the Internet advertising this book, which is apparently written by a criminal defense lawyer and is said to be a book for police recruits.

d. Please provide a copy of any prior editions of the manual and all purchase orders for inspection. St. Johns River Community College (SJRCC) uses a book Gould's "Florida Crimes and Related Laws." which is sold for $40.64 plus tax (or $22.95 for an older edition).


a. Why is the Fire Department budget justifications for each accounting code so much better written than all of the others, with more supporting detail and backup information?

b. Could the Fire Department budget person help other city departments and agencies do their jobs better?

c. What would be the costs and benefits of consolidation of fire services with St. Johns County?

d. What do St. Augustine firemen think about consolidation?

88. FIRE ADMINISTRATION: There is $188,927 for Fire Administration, a reasonable number.

a. Why are the Administration of other city departments, with less important functions, so much larger?

89. FIRE PREVENTION: There is $112,281 for fire prevention, up some $10,000.

a. Is this enough?

90. FIREFIGHTING: There is $2,507,179 for firefighting, an increase of $300,000.

a. Are firemen finally getting the promised raises for which fire fees were raised several years ago?

b. Will our City agree to kindly follow OSHA standards for firefighters and all other departments?

c. There is an item in the fire budget for replacement of an item of stolen rented equipment.

i. Please provide details on why this is a budgeted item and not covered by insurance?

ii. Why would an item of stolen equipment be a budgeted item but the remediation of the Old City Reservoir is not a budgeted item?

iii. Was a police report filed on the theft?

iv. Has anyone been arrested/charged?

(1) If so, has restitution been sought?

91. UTILITY FUND ADMINISTRATION: There is $340,000 for Utility Fund Administration, a decrease of $89,000.

a. Why can't the Administration costs in other city departments be reduced by similar amounts?

b. Willl you please provide all documentation regarding the prior City Utilities Director being a scapegoat for the City Manager on the dumping of the contents of the old city dump into our Old City Reservoir?

92. WATER TREATMENT: There is $1,444,000 for Water Treatment, a decrease from $1,540,000.

a. Why can't more budgets be reduced by similar amounts?

93. METER MAINTENANCE: There is $424,000 for meter maintenance, a slight decrease.

a. Do we need workers driving pickup trucks to read meters, or would smaller vehicles suffice?

94. TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION: There is $1,511,000 for Transmission and Distribution, an increase. The reason for the increase is inadequately described on the shallow one-page budget justification.

95. WASTEWATER TREATMENT: There is $1,511,000 for Wastewater Treatment, an increase.

a. Please explain.

b. How many wash trucks does the City own?

c. What is the utilization rate?

d. What potential exists to share them with other jurisdictions?

96. PUMP STATIONS: There is $662,000 for Pump Stations, an increase.

a. Please explain.

97. STORMWATER TREATMENT: There is $605,000 for Stormwater Treatment, an increase from the previous figure of $477,000.

a. Please explain with particularity.

98. SOLID WASTE: There is $2,769,000 for Solid Waste, an increase from $2,556,000.

a. Do we really need twice-a-week trash collection?

b. Are we still contracting with labor leasing services for garbate pickup crews? If so, why?

c. How much "profit" are we making on recycling?

d. How can our recycling program be improved?

99. MUNICIPAL MARINA: There is $2,320,000 for the Municipal Marina.

a. Is this a core government function or one that could be leased/sold?

b. Have any studies been done?

c. Are local residents disfavored by the marina staff and patrol?

d. Are local boaters subjected to discrimination when they pull up to our marina?

e. Why is our City government to provide marina services for rich snowbirds while depriving African-Americans and Lincolnville and West Augustine citizens of basic City services?

f. If the marina is operated at a "profit," as stated in the budget workshop, what principled reason exists for our City to undercut private marina operators on price?

g. What justification exists for Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW's proposal, raised as a trial balloon at the budget meeting, to purchase ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD's CONCH HOUSE MARINA? Is this another City bailout of ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD and his cronies, whom the Ponce family has accused of fraud in purchase of CONCH HOUSE MARINA?

h. What documents exist to support CRICHLOW's proposal?

i. What studies have been done?

100. VISITOR SERVICES: There is $950,000 for Heritage Tourism Visitor Services:

a. Do you agree that this function would become a part of the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Highway?

b. Why hasn't the City conducted any workshops on the proposal. See November 13, 2006 City Commission presentation and March 26, 2007 St. Augustine Record column.

101. ADMINISTRATION: There is $1,387,000 for Heritage Tourism Administration.

a. Do you agree that this function would become a part of the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Highway?

b. When will the City conduct workshops on the proposal? See November 13, 2006 City Commission presentation and March 26, 2007 St. Augustine Record column.

102. PIRATE UNIFORMS: It has been suggested by a Key West mayoral candidate that Key West city employees (and the homeless) dress up as pirates to attract tourists.

a. Given St. Augustine's piratical history, do you plan to dress City employees, our Mayor and Commissioners as pirates?

b. If so, would you provide the uniforms or rent them?

103. NORTHEAST FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES EVENT: There is in the budget money for a poorly-described Northeast Florida League of Cities event, $4750.

a. Is this event fairly described as a "party" for city officials from the region?

b. Can this party be dispensed with next year and for all time?

104. VIDEOTAPES, COFFEE AND WATER FOR MEETINGS. There is $2500 for videotapes, coffee and water for Commission meetings.

a. Will Comcast Cable buy its own videotapes to cover our meetings?

b. What provisions cover this issue in our City's poorly-drafted 10-year franchise agreement, adopted without a promised public workshop last year?

c. Why can't St. Augustine City Commissioners drink tap water, instead of bottled water, which wastes money, petrochemicals and pollutes landfills for eternity?

105. MEDIAN STRIP MAINTENANCE: There is $314,000/year for maintaining median strips.

a. Will you direct medians be planted with native plants and minimal maintenance, thereby saving money, calming traffic and reducing potential liability by discouraging jaywalking?

106. OVERSTAFFING OF MANAGERS?: There are 350 full-time equivalent employees for a city of only 13,000.

a. Is it true that only 43 of 350 City employees live in our City?

b. If so, is this because our City has become unafordable and wages and salaries for hardworking City employees have not kept pace with housing costs?

c. Top City managers (except for the City Manager himself) are required by the City Charter to live in our City.

i. How many of them don't live in the city?

ii. Which ones don't live in the City?

iii. Is the law beihg enforced?

iv. If not, why not?

v. How much money could be saved by declaring vacant the office of City Attorney and other top jobs encumbered by nonresidents?

vi. How would the city defend against a quo warranto lawsuit for systemic violations of the City Charter?

vii. Would such a quo warranto lawsuit be paid for by insurance, or by the individual officeholders who are out of compliance?

107. SMALL EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT: There is $24,000 for small equipment replacement. No details are provided.

108. MARINA PHOTOS: There is $2100 for marina photos.

a. What is the justifiation?

109. CITY COOKOUT: There is $6500 for the City cookout.

a. Who attends?

b. Is there Sunshine notice?

c. Is it open to the public?

d. What is served?

e. Is it catered?

f. How much does it cost.

110. COPIES OF PUBLIC RECORDS -- ILLEGAL SUBSIDY TO PROFIT-MAKING PUBLICATIONS AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST OTHER NEWS MEDIA: How much money is received and projected as income from public records requests?

111. How much revenue was waived by giving free copies of documents to profit-making news outlets, speculator-developers and others?

112. How many times have free copies of documents are provided to profit-making newspapers?

113. Is the City staff in violation of its City Attorney's own illegally promulgated policy, which was never approved by City Commissioners?

114. Why are we paying for City Manager perks while expecting citizens to pay for copies of documents, and refusing to fax or E-mail documents?

115. Will you please list the total revenue for each department from records requests?

116. Why are free copies of city documents provided to profi-tmaking newspapers but not to bloggers, independent media, the Collective Press and others? Since our City has admittedly waived fees on documents provided to profit-making newspapers for years, what justification exists for ever charging activists and bloggers any fees ever again in the future?

117. How much money does our City spend on subsidizing profit-making organizations with free photocopies each year?

118. What accounting records reflect the number of copies?

119. Have any of the profit-making newspapers (and television stations) provided with free copies ever offered to pay? (e.g., for the expensive but uninformative document distributed at the August 22, 2007 budget workshop)?

120. Why did City Finance Director MARK LITZINGER demand to take back the copy provided to at the end of the August 22nd budget workshop?

121. Why did Mr. LITZINGER show favoritism by allowing, at the same meeting for the same document, a profit-making publication to keep its copy, which Mr. LITZINGER admitted he had provided for free?

122. Isn't this unlawful fee-grabbbing and price discrimination among news gatherers in violation of the First and Ninth Amendments to the United States Constitution?

123. Will our City of St. Augustine agree to extend equal fee waiver courtesies for all requests from this day forward?

124. If not, will the City of St. Augustine agree to Open Records arbitration by the State Attorney General's office pursuant to the Open Records Act? Has the City Attorney opined on this issue?

125. Were City Commissioners aware that after the August 22 budget workshop, City Finance Director MARK LITZINGER whined about me not returning his uninformative color budget brochure (provided free to a daily newspaper reporter) to the Chief of Police, demanding that www.cleanupcityofstaugustine pay for our copy of the budget document when LITZINGER provided the Record's copy for free? Do City Commissioners approve of this action?

126. For what purpose did CHEF LOREN LUEDERS start making a cellular telephone call in response to Mr. LITZINGER's please as I was uestioning Mr. LITZINGERr's discrimination?. Was this for the purpose of calling a police officer to harass me? Please provide his cellular telephone records for August 22nd.

127. BUDGET CUTS AND OTHER ACTIONS REQUIRED: Wouldn't it be fair to say that 10- 30% of the City of St. Augustine budget could be cut? What do you reckon?

128. INSPECTOR GENERAL -- Time to Eliminate Waste, Fraud, Abuse, Misfeasance, Malfeasance and Nonfeasance:

a. Will you please place on the ballot an amendment to our City Charter appoint an independent Inspector General and an Ombuds?

b. What other steps can we take to help identify waste, fraud, abuse and budget cuts, thereby saving money by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, mediocrity and nonfeasance?

c. Will you please act now to save our Nation's Oldest City and protect it from the piratical behavior of foreign-funded speculators ("developers")?

d. Will our City government kindly stop showing fawning obeisance to speculators appearing before the Commission?

e. Will Commissioners kindly require disclosure of all LLC owners in projects?

129. What assumptions about real estate prices were made in past budget decisions?

130. What University of Florida or other economist has ever guuided the City's revenue projections?

131. Why is our City contracting with the same accounting firm it has had for decades?

132. What effect does the mortgage market debacle and delays in building SEBASTIAN INNER HARBOR, MADEIRA, CONCH HOUSE MARINA and RED HOUSE BLUFF projects have upon the City's likely future income from ad valorum property taxes?

133. What effect would the default of any or all of those projects have upon future millage rates?

134. What economic assumptions were made in construction of the White Elephant Parking Garage?

135. What possible theories of liability might bondholders have in the event that it is shown that htere was fraud in the inducement or execution of the Parking Garage? Would the Jackson parking consultancy or our City be liable, or both?

136. Could our City evaluate the possibility of selling the parking garage?

137. What is the possibility that our City will be in severe financial problems owing to the mortage lending crisis and projected increased foreclosures?

138. What steps have been taken to minimize the impact on our City and its residents?

139. Will you please direct the person(s) preparing these answers to swear to them before a notary for inclusion in the record of the public hearing?

140. Will you agree that citizens have the right to call each sworn question-answerer to testify under oath before conclusion of the TRIM public hearings on St. Augustine's FY' 2008 budget and millsage rate in event of vague answers?


Our City's budget appears bloated. There is a potential to save 10-30% of it. Please start learning to save money by spending it wisely, from this day forward. Please institute full transparency, cost-cutting and empower employees to work smarter.

As you know, there is no time limit for a citizen's comments in a TRIM meetnig. You have all been invited to a party by the power boat show proprietors at a time that conflicts with the first TRIM hearing, an action at least one Commissioner said was offensive. Please stay and complete your duties to obtain answers to these questions, instead of rushing off to a private party to which the public has not been invited (in possible violation of the Sunshine law).

I look forward to having every one of my questions answered commencing September 6th and continuing on September 20th. We look forward to your candid answers and resourceful thoughtfulness about rerforming our City government.

I will have more questions after these questions are answered on the City's website, and by fax and E-mail.

Thank you.

With kindest regards, I am,

Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, FL 32085-3084
904-471-9918 (fax)