Friday, February 29, 2008

Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. Is No Democrat -- He's Supporting Rep. Wm. Proctor for Re-Election

In 2006, Peter Romano was stigmatized for being a Republican. I supported Peter Romano for Mayor -- the first Republican I've supported since I voted for Clifford Case for N.J. Senator. Peter was defeated by JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. a registered Democrat, in a nonpartisan race.

JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. supported Republican William Proctor for State Rep. in his election. He supports Proctor now.

It's time to defeat BOLES and elect a City Mayor and Commission as warm and compassionate and as progressive and idealistic as the people living in our City.

Clarification -- so is there a contract or not? George McClure refused to provide one when I asked him at SA Commission meeting last year!

Clarification (of apparently erroneous story in yesterday's Record)

Publication Date: 02/29/08

Wallace Devlin in an e-mail to The St. Augustine Record on Thursday said a partnership between his Jacksonville-based The Devlin Group Inc. and Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital Corp. has not been signed. A story about the partnership appeared in Thursday's Record. Gatehouse announced the agreement on its Web site ( and Devlin had sent the Record a copy of a story from Hotel & Motel Management Week in Review on Wednesday. He did not immediately respond for confirmation of the information.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Luxury hotel coming

Luxury hotel coming

Publication Date: 02/28/08

A luxury hotel on the San Sebastian River should be a reality by the fall of 2010, say project developers.

Jacksonville-based The Devlin Group Inc. and Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital Corp. have announced an agreement to co-develop The Westin St. Augustine Hotel & Residences.

The Devlin Group has been working on the project for several years and recently announced that Westin Hotel would anchor its San Sebastian Harbor Resort project. Gatewood is the upscale hotel company that Devlin has been negotiating with to bring the project to St. Augustine.

Westin Hotels & Resorts is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. That's one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world.

Wallace Devlin, CEO of The Devlin Group, has described Westin as a "perfect fit" for his San Sebastian Harbor Resort project.

"This will be the first Starwood product in Northeast Florida," said Marty Collins, president and CEO of Gatehouse. "St. Augustine is a popular destination that draws more than six million visitors annually, providing a built-in market that we hope to elevate with this resort."

The project will include a 225-room luxury, full-service hotel on the 11-acre San Sebastian Harbor Development site off King Street.

Included in the hotel will be 20,000 square feet of meeting space as well as retail space, signature restaurant and bar, spa, fitness center, two heated swimming pools and a poolside caf.

A lounge and bar will be adjacent to the 65-slip marina with boardwalk promenade, Collins said.

Also included in the development will be at least 50 branded three-bedroom homes that will be known as The Residences at The Westin St. Augustine.

Gatehouse is a real estate investment and advisory services firm that specializes in brand hospitality-centered, mixed use developments.

Founded in 1995, they use partners to design, build and operate their properties that include W San Diego, W Silicon Valley, W Dallas - Victory Hotel and Residences, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego, Westin Hotel and Residences and an aloft Hotel in Arlington, Texas and the Palomar Hotel and Residences in Milwaukee.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Moorings plan raises questions

moorings plan raises questions

Publication Date: 02/29/08

Residents and boaters aired concerns Thursday about the city's proposed Harbor Management Plan, with many questioning the need and cost of the planned 227 moorings.

"With a cost of $500,000 just to install the moorings, how do you anticipate paying for that year in, year out," asked Jay Bliss, a boater and member of the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District, who believes the city should have fewer moorings.

Jim Piggott, city director of general services, said the city would pay for the mooring fields through grants and revenue.

The Harbor Management Plan would put 227 moorings in St. Augustine Waterways. The mooring fields would be located north and south of the Bridge of Lions and in Salt Run.

The Thursday meeting was the city's fourth on the plan, this time with a panel of local experts to answer the public's questions.

Panelists included representatives from the Camachee Cove Yacht Club, who also managed mooring fields in New Hampshire, the St. Augustine Police Department and the city attorney.

Boater Maurice Levor also said the moorings are not needed. He said, if the city is trying to get rid of derelict boats that don't properly dispose of waste and lack registration, then staff should enforce regulations already in place.

"Why do we need to spend millions of dollars on mooring fields?" Levor asked. "It seems you guys are trying to make money and increase density."

Steve Fricke, with the St. Augustine Police Department, said addressing derelict boats is a tricky issue, but the city has one of the most successful programs in the state. In the last three years, the Police Department has removed 39 vessels, Fricke said.

If a boat is abandoned and has no registration but is still floating, he added, then it is technically still sea worthy, and therefore not derelict.

Some asked why officers couldn't tow boats for not being registered.

"We don't tow cars that don't have registration," he said. "That's a regulatory infraction."

Guy Van Doren, also a boater, wanted to know if all vessels will have to use the mooring fields or will they be allowed to anchor if they are only in the city for 72 hours.

Piggott said that Florida law states, if there are mooring fields in an area, boaters must use them.

The city owns the bottomlands of St. Augustine's waterways. Richard Ornstein asked if that allows the city to prohibit derelict boaters from anchoring, especially in Salt Run.

Salt Run residents have said they do not want a mooring field in their area.

City Attorney Ron Brown said federal laws governing waterways trump city regulations.

"Boaters have a right to navigation," Brown said. "We own the land, but not the water."

City staff will use the public's comment to sharpen the proposed Harbor plan. Piggott hopes to take the plan to the City Commission in roughly three months for approval.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Two years ago today, on February 27, 2006:
1. Criminal investigators from the EPA Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection arrived at the site of the City of St. Augustine's Old City Reservoir and were lied to by city officials, represented by AKERMAN SENTERFITT partner WILLIAM L. PENCE. No one has been prosecuted (yet).

2. We began asking questions about our Nation's Oldest City;s illegal dumping.

Two years later, the City of St. Augustine is still stonewalling the two intervenors and seven petitioners in our challenge to the Consent Order that would allow solid waste to be brought back to the historically African-American community of Lincolnville. St. Augustine and FDEP officials actually wrote a Florida Administrative Law Judge that they should deny us our right to know to "preserve judicial resources." Their demand for secrecy is still pending.

Two years later, our sister City of Aviles, Spain (birthplace of our City's founder) boycotted the annual Pedro Menendez de Aviles Noche de Gala masked ball held on Saturday night. Yes, thanks to the Internet, "the whole world is watrching."

Two years later, the State indicates it has no plans for the 500th anniversary, as reported by ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER's recent newsletter.

Two years later, Governor Charles Crist has declined to come here for a bill-signing -- this is a sign of awareness of St. Augustine's corruption on the part of our reform Governor and his brilliant, hard-working Chief of Staff Patricia Gleason (long an advocate for Sunshine and Open Records with the State AG's office).

Two years later, the citizens of the City of St. Augustine in their righteous wrath -- and everyone in Northeast Florida -- is aware of the scandal thanks to Anne Schindler's cover story in the January 24, 2008 Folio Weekly.

Two years later, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS is still on the job, awaiting a sinecure from Sheriff David Shoar.

Later this year, elections may produce a revolution -- four out of five City Commissioners may be replaced.

This is a beautiful city that deserves a government as warm, compassionate and idealistic as the people who live here. As Jimmy Carter said, "I see no reason why bigshot crooks should go free and the poor ones go to jail."

"It takes a village" to unify everyone into an effective reform movement.

A new broom sweeps clean.

"It takes a village" to root out environmental wrongdoing and cleanup our City.
Keep disclosing wrongdoing -- after dumping solid waste in our Old City Reservoir, our Nation's Oldest City has nowhere to go but up!

To the people of the city of St. Augustine, we salute you! Happy anniversary -- as a result of City officials' environmental crimes (and getting caught), our Nation's Oldest City will never be the same again!

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

The same state legislature slashed all employee rights to safe workplaces, but empowered double-dippers --

---- how indescribably "galling," to use the St. Petersburg Times' editorial's word (see below).

St. Pete Times: Put a stop to costly retirement abuses

Put a stop to costly retirement abuses
A Times Editorial
Published February 26, 2008


In a time of economic strain, double dipping has become one of the fastest-growing parts of the Florida government budget, and lawmakers have only themselves to blame. The 8,000 employees who draw both a paycheck and a retirement check are just using the tricks that lawmakers gave them.

Those tricks need to be taken away.

As Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan reported, the way some prominent politicians and public officials are pocketing money through these games is worse than double dipping. They get three scoops and never have to leave the ice cream parlor.

Collier County Judge Eugene Turner didn't even tell his colleagues he was taking a month off in order to qualify for "retirement" pay. The result is that he collects $7,700 a month in retirement and $145,080 in annual salary for precisely the same job he was performing all along.

Miami-Dade Community College president Eduardo J. Padron is an example of the triple dip. He entered the Deferred Retirement Option Program that awarded him $893,286 in lump sum benefits upon his retirement in 2006. But he didn't retire, and he now receives $14,631 a month in retirement pay and $328,860 in annual salary. And he kept the $893,286.

Pinellas Property Appraiser Jim Smith is in a class by himself when it comes to greed and gall. He entered the DROP program when voters overwhelmingly adopted term limits. After a judge threw out the limits, Smith reneged on his contract to retire. But he got the bonanza anyway: $423,157 in lump sum retirement benefits, $6,681 a month and $148,335 in salary. His real retirement will come none too soon.

This is, in a word, outrageous. And it is growing ever more costly. In the past five years, the number of double dippers has more than doubled. One reason is a loophole written into pension law in 2001through an amendment added to a bill in the final night of the session.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-Port Richey, who was a House member at the time, told Morgan he didn't realize the amendment would let so many employees game the system. "This is absolutely not what the Legislature intended," he said. "It's so sad when you have elected officials who want to take advantage of this."

It may be sad, but not surprising. The Legislature has meddled with pension formulas for years, usually to please their police and firefighter constituencies with added benefits that are then paid by cities and counties. Sometimes, lawmakers are even more crass, as was the case in 2001, in trying to feather their own pension beds.

These eye-popping numbers are certain to catch the attention of taxpayers, and Gov. Charlie Crist deserves commendation for pressing a reluctant bureaucracy to release them. Lawmakers would do well to examine not only the 2001 amendment but the entire set of retirement and pension assumptions. The DROP program itself, even without its abuse, has led to a steady drain of talent in schools and law enforcement agencies.

The people who work for Florida government deserve fair pay and a dignified retirement, but not at the same time.

© 2007 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

Double Dippers on Parade (see below)

Double Dippers Include a Few in St. Johns County

Double Dippers Include a Few in St. Johns County

The double-dipping revealed by the St. Pete Times story (below) is continued on its blog, where at least two St. Johns County double-dippers are named. They are
School Board member WILLIAM MIGNON and Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County Commissioner BARBARA BOSANKO. More names are expected to be revealed in future issues of the St. Petersburg Times.

Here’s what the Times’ blog has for the two elected officials from here:

Mignon, William P.
Agency Name: St Johns Co School Board
o Salary in 06-07: $19,837.68
o Monthly retirement payment: $4,437.52
o "Retired" in: 7/1/1998
o Total retirement benefit collected: $253,058.79

Bosanko, Barbara H.
Agency Name: Anastasia Mosquito Control Dist
o Salary in 06-07: $9,985.00
o Monthly retirement payment: $1,490.26
o "Retired" in: 9/1/2001
o Total retirement benefit collected: $91,470.22

St. Petersburg Times: State retiree loophole costs Florida $300M a year

State retiree loophole costs Florida $300M a year
Rule lets employees "retire" with pensions and still get salaries.
By Lucy Morgan, Times Senior Correspondent
Published February 23, 2008


TALLAHASSEE -- A growing number of elected officials are quietly taking advantage of a loophole carved into the state retirement law a few years ago that allows double dipping -- collecting a state pension while still getting a regular paycheck from taxpayers.

The cost of pensions for "retirees" who have returned to the payroll was around $300-million last year, according to the Florida Retirement System.

Records indicate that 211 elected officials in Florida -- including legislators, judges, sheriffs, circuit clerks, school board members and county commissioners -- have taken advantage of the benefit. Thirty-one signed up in the past six months.

Another 203 senior management employees and more than 7,763 regular state employees are collecting retirement benefits and full-time paychecks.

Collier County Judge Eugene C. Turner, first elected in 1983, won re-election in May 2006. He resigned effective Nov. 30 and returned to the bench Jan. 1, without any public announcement. He didn't even tell Collier Circuit Clerk Dwight Brock, who continued to assign him cases.

It was only last week, after a reporter's inquiries, that Brock discovered that Turner had retired for a month. "This was the best-kept secret in Collier County," Brock said.

Turner collects retirement benefits of $7,700 a month on top of his annual salary of $145,080.

Turner says he saved the state money by taking a month off, investing his own retirement money and accepting a retirement benefit that will not increase. He said he made sure other judges handled his cases the month he was gone.

Why didn't he inform the court clerk that he was going to be retired that month? Said Turner: "I didn't tell the school board or the tax collector either."

* * *

The loophole was created, as are so many in Tallahassee, on the last night of a legislative session, when few people notice what gets into bills flying through legislative hallways.

In 2001, lawmakers quietly amended a retirement bill, allowing elected officials to receive retirement benefits as well as regular pay while remaining in the same job. Sponsors said they were trying to help a few lawmakers who had been on school district payrolls before they won election to the Legislature.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-Port Richey, at the time a House member handling the retirement bill, said he did not realize that a fellow member's last-minute amendment would help so many people collect so much money.

"This is absolutely not what the Legislature intended," he said this week. "It's so sad when you have elected officials who want to take advantage of this."

Fasano said the law should be changed so public officials get either a salary or a pension, but not both. "They are taking advantages of some glitches in the law, and they know they are."

Most state employees getting a salary and a pension are enrolled in the state's Deferred Retirement Option Program, called DROP. It was created in 1998 to encourage retirement of highly paid, senior employees to make room for advances among younger, lower-paid employees.

To enter, employees who reach retirement age or 30 years of employment agree to retire within five years. When they leave the program they usually collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in deferred compensation.

With a supervisor's permission, nonelected employees must remain off the payroll for 30 days before they return to work. They also forfeit retirement benefits for a year.

* * *

Among the double dippers, the top moneymaker is Miami Dade Community College president Eduardo J. Padron.

On May 31, 2006, he terminated his participation in DROP, collected $893,286 in lump sum benefits and began receiving $14,631 a month in retirement pay. He still collects his annual salary of $328,860.

A spokesman for Padron said the president was asked to return to the job when he told board members he was retiring. Said communications director Juan Mendieta, "The process is perfectly legal and acceptable."

Former House Clerk John Phelps retired in 2005, took a month off and returned briefly to his old job at the request of House Speaker Allan Bense. Now he gets $5,728 a month retirement and a $138,138 salary as curator of the Historic Capitol.

Longtime Pasco Circuit Clerk Jed Pittman gets $6,242 a month retirement on top of his $136,576 salary. "It was there, and I wasn't ready to totally retire," he said. "So I took advantage of it. It's been a godsend to me."

Pasco County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand collects a monthly retirement check of $2,778, plus an annual salary of $78,895. She collected $143,196 in deferred compensation when she "retired" in 2005.

Hildebrand said she has explored ways to return some of her salary but hasn't found a way to give it back without having to pay income tax on the money.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Ray E. Ulmer Jr. said he signed up for the program on the advice of state court officials when he had 30 years in the state retirement system. He wasn't ready to retire but thought "it would be foolish from a business standpoint not to do it."

Ulmer gets $10,408 a month in retirement in addition to his annual salary of $143,684. He also got $127,335 in deferred compensation. "I hope they don't take it back," Ulmer joked. "I have developed a certain standard of living."

Pinellas Property Appraiser Jim Smith said he entered the DROP program when he thought he was about to be term-limited out of office and thought he had been lucky to get the additional money. Smith gets retirement pay of $6,681 a month and a salary of $148,335. He took home $423,157 in deferred compensation in 2006.

Some officials collecting two paychecks retired from one government job before being elected to another. Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, retired as Citrus County sheriff in 1996 and started drawing a $7,516-a-month pension before he was elected to the Legislature in 2002.

Five other senators and 10 House members all get state pensions based on longtime government employment plus annual salaries of $31,000 for work as part-time lawmakers.

Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats says he had enrolled in a state retirement program before he ran for sheriff in 2003. Now, on top of his annual salary of $158,931, he collects $8,958 in retirement pay that is based on more than 30 years as a deputy. As he retired he collected $382,256 in deferred compensation.

Twenty-two sitting judges are double dipping, including Supreme Court Justice Harry Anstead. He collected $426,852 in deferred compensation, gets $7,596 a month retirement plus his $161,083 annual salary.

Anstead was chief judge when he collected retirement benefits in 2004. He decided to remain on the court after lawmakers tried to force him off the bench so Gov. Jeb Bush could appoint his replacement. Now he's scheduled to retire in January 2009.

The retirement payments are among the best-kept secrets in state government. When the St. Petersburg Times asked for a list of elected officials and senior management officers who are double dipping, the Department of Management Services said retiree lists are exempt from the public records law.

Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the list released. "These people aren't retired," said his public records "czarina," Pat Gleason. "They are formerly retired persons, and the statute was not designed to protect them, in my opinion."

Some information remains secret. When officials choose an investment plan instead of a pension and deferred compensation, the law exempts all information from the public record. That left the Times unable to identify the benefits received by about 45 of the state's double dippers.

Shown the newspaper's findings, Senate President Ken Pruitt was livid. He said those who have abused the retirement program may well have "killed the goose that laid the golden egg."

With budget shortfalls facing lawmakers, this is a perfect time to look at reforming the system, he said. "I wonder how many good professionals never got the opportunity for these positions because the people who had been there pushed them aside. This is totally unfair."

Lucy Morgan can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

© 2007 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

Letter: St. Johns River's future depends on community

Letter: St. Johns River's future depends on community

Don Beattie
Publication Date: 02/27/08

Editor: If you are concerned about the future of the St. Johns River, here are a few facts you should know. A River Summit was held at World Golf Village on Jan. 25. Your elected representatives serving on the Regional Planning Council and other important people (decision makers?) were invited to attend. The large u-shaped head table had seats for 54. When the meeting started, 20 minutes late, only 16 of the seats were filled. One by St. Johns County Commissioner Tom Manuel and another by John Delaney, former Jacksonville mayor and long-time champion of the river. One hour after the meeting started, half the seats were still empty.

The 144 seats for the public were all filled, in fact it was standing-room-only along the walls. The public was there on time although there would be no opportunity to ask questions directly. (You could fill out a card and a few were selected for answers.)

Presentations were not very illuminating. The St. Johns River Water Management District is studying the impact of almost certain water withdrawal. Not exactly the objective of former Mayor Delaney who continues to propose that the river be restored to the condition in which it was found 200 years ago.

Many years ago I attended Brooklyn Dodgers baseball games. Fans and the media used an affectionate term when they referred to the team.

They were called "dem bums" whether they were good or bad players.

So what does the River Summit tell us? Not very many elected officials cared enough to be present. For the voters of the seven counties represented at the summit there is a recourse. Come November you can vote "dem bums," (in this case not a term of affection) who do not represent your interests, out of office. A very simple procedure.

Don Beattie

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© The St. Augustine Record

As the Song Says, "Another One Bites the Dust"

Great bumper sticke: "Leaving Florida? Take A Developer With You." We don't need any more tacky, ugly, tree-killing, wetland-killing "developments" around here. We need a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal HIghway to preserve our history, beauty and way of life.

Congratulations to St. Johns County Commission Chair Tom Manuel for persisting on Mariposa! See below.

Mariposa plans 'go silently'

Mariposa plans 'go silently'

Publication Date: 02/27/08

The massive Mariposa development project on the St. Johns-Putnam county line apparently has fallen through, say county officials.

"It appears that (Ascot Development) is withdrawing its application, and then the Board of County Commissioners in Putnam County will rescind the comprehensive plan amendments. The land will stay what it currently is, and it will stay that in the future," St. Johns County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Manuel said Tuesday.

An e-mail was sent Tuesday afternoon to area officials from Frank E. Matthews with the Tallahassee law firm of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A., who said he was sending notice on behalf of Ascot that they would be "withdrawing from the pending matter."

That "pending matter" apparently refers to a scheduled administrative hearing with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which raised a number of issues about the project and comprehensive plan amendments made by Putnam County for the 2,025-acre development of regional impact.

An individual at Ascot Development's Boca Raton office referred questions to Ascot spokeswoman Joey Kelly. She did not immediately return the call. The project is no longer listed on their Web site.

The "nutshell translation" said Interlachen attorney Michael Woodward is "they're going to throw in the towel."

Woodward represents a landowner next to the property and the Putnam County Environmental Council, which filed as interveners along with DCA after it raised numerous questions about the project.

Others filing as interveners include Hastings, the Florida Wildlife Federation and St. Johns County.

Mariposa was to put in more than 3,200 new homes as well as 153,000 square feet of commercial and business space on property off Cracker Swamp Road. It was located in Putnam, but officials said the impact would be heavily felt in Hastings and St. Johns County.

Matthews also said in his e-mail that Putnam County would be "filing a notice of its intent to repeal the comprehensive land amendment which is the basis of the DCA petition."

Putnam County Administrator Rick Leary couldn't confirm or deny any of the plans, saying he had not seen the memo, which was sent to the county attorney. The commission was in session all day.

"A hearing was supposedly coming up for mid-March. I guess there was some evaluation as to how everybody was going to proceed from this point forward to the hearing," Leary said.

"We had done comprehensive plan amendments that would have enabled the project to move forward," Leary said. "I think it's the developers' decision to make whether they want to proceed with it or not."

Jerry Cameron, assistant St. Johns County manager, said the county's legal department had received Matthews' e-mail.

"From the tone of this, it looks like that's pretty much it unless the developer decides to try again," Cameron said.

"This really just verifies what we have suspected for a long time. It was my understanding this application would go silently into the night," Manuel said.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Writing in Irrelevance and Voting Against Lincolnville, GARDNER's newsletter bloviates against National Park, Seashore designation

IN HAEC VERBA from 2/22 newsletter by ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER, the anti-Gay bigot who voted against the Rainbow flags in 2005 and who no longer fools anyone into thinking he is progressive (he took campaign contributions from speculator ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD):

Rocky shoals for National Seashore Park – Castillo de San Marcos Superintendent Gordie Wilson offered some comment on a proposal to designate the St. Augustine region a National Seashore Park, shifting management and maintenance of a broad area of historic resources to the National Park Service (NPS).

Said Wilson, “Any such designation would have to take place through the legislative branch (Congress). We (NPS) execute the laws they pass, e.g. manage areas they establish for us. In 1939, bills were introduced (HR 7068, S 2731) to establish the St. Augustine National Historical Park, but the bills died. The NPS is struggling with maintaining our structures and assets as they are now, and establishing and enlarging the area is a tough sell in Congress.”

One priority, yet to be funded, is a Castillo Orientation Center on the Mary Peck house site in our Colonial Spanish Quarter. The center was adopted last year as part of NPS long-range plans for the Castillo.

GARDNER and WILSON, like Rep. JOHN MICA, lack imagination. These dull Republicans can't rely upon Congressional inaction in 1939 to argue against preservation today. Let them lead, follow, or get out of the way!!

St. Augustine Conservation Zones Are Based On 13-Year Old "Out of Date" Data -- Who's Protecting Wetlands?

The February 25, 2008 E-mail from Teresa Monson of St. Johns River Water Mgt Dist (bel0w) was not shared with City Commissioners by the City Clerk, City Manager and City Attorney of St. Augustine. Citizens were forbidden to talk, while the speculator's lawyher spun cobwebs of new evidence that ensnared two of the Commissioners.
It is disturbing enough that our Nation's Oldest City's conservation zones are based on old data.
Yet when I handed the E-mail to City Clerk KAREN ROGERFS, overbearing City Attorney RONALD BROWN and out-of-control City Mis-manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS would noi suffer ROGERS or anyone else to hand this E-mail to the five Commissioners. Earlier efforts to raise the concern about the basis of the conservation zones with one of the PZB members were unavailing.
The E-mail was not meant for them to read and hold onto -- as Cordell Hull said, "gentlemen do not read each other's mail. ROGERS, BROWN and HARRISS owe Commissioners (Iand me) an apology.
Our City makes decisions based on unsound science or no science at all.
Its officials thought it cute to

What we have here3 is a failure to communicate.
Here is the E-mail that the only three officials hired directly by City Commission refused to share with Commissioners before they discussed and voted upon the two million cubic foot boat warehouse in Lincolnville.


As you noted, the “City of St. Augustine Conservation Overlay Zones” map is not a District map. It states that the District was the source of data. Our GIS staff believe this map to be based on 1994 data. If so, it's very out of date.

Staff say it is not immediately obvious what dataset this is, but it is not a currently active layer, nor is it one we update. The District has never had a layer called “conservation zones.”

Regardless, the District only produce these kind of datasets as planning tools. They are never intended to replace site-specific determinations. Also, what is accurate at a general (Districtwide) scale may not always be accurate at this fine a scale.

I hope this helps answer your question.


Teresa H. Monson

Senior Communications Specialist

St. Johns River Water Management District

Jacksonville Service Center

7775 Baymeadows Way, Suite 102

Jacksonville, FL 32256

(904) 730-6258 (office)

(904) 545-5064 (cell)

Lincolnville wins another victory, even with illegal gag order from City of St. Augusitne

Last night, dozens of American citizens were forbidden to speak out while ROGERS TOWERS lawyer Ellen Averyh Smith appealed for Maryland and Berumadan investors from the PZB's rejection of a 2 million cubic foot boat warehouse, 49 feet high, more than twice as tall as the Berlin Wall. The City's attorney, RONALD BROWN, did not defend the PZB's decision, leading to a bizarre appeal process in which only one side was represented. As a Congresswoman once said, "jusice may be bound but she is not gagged."

Commissioners voted 3-2 to ujphold their PZB. Showing a negative profile in courage were Vice Mayor and Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW and ex-Mayhor GEORGE GARDNER. Actually voting against a speculator's unwise project were Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BLOES, JR., ex-Vice-Mayor SUSAN BURK and Commissioner ERROL JONES.

But for the presence of Lincolnville activists, City Commissioners would have done what they've usually done in these parts in the last ten years -- shill for developers.

Last night's victory, in which the January 2, 2008 PZB decision was upheld -- even in the face of an illegal gag order and aberrant pro-specualtor attitudes -- speaks volumes. The people are revolting! We're winning, too!

The whole city is up in arms at our lazy, unaccountable, reckless, feckless city govenrment. See letter below by Ms. Merrick.

Letter: Reform and renew St. Augustine gov't

Letter: Reform and renew St. Augustine gov't

Publication Date: 02/26/08

Editor: A letter on Feb. 15, "City fails Lincolnville residents again," is an accurate appraisal of St. Augustine city government. It is truly an "overpaid, unimaginative" group of officials; a "hassle-you city government unfit to lead in the 21st century."

The writer was referring to the blight, as well as the illegal dumping of waste in the minority neighborhoods of St. Augustine.

I am a resident of West Augustine and a street artist experiencing the persecution by our illustrious mayor and commissioners. I bought a little house on West King Street, in 2003. As an artist, I was attracted to this historically beautiful city. I first lived here in 1996 and 1997 and had sketched portraits on St. George Street. I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, drawing them and their adorable children.

Everyone I have ever met, local or otherwise, thinks that the outdoor artists are a delightful aspect of the St. Augustine scene. In fact, the public is shocked that we are not embraced by city officials as a tourist attraction.

After the city government banned the artists from St. George Street, we were allowed to set up in the Plaza, if we paid weekly permit fees. When one artist challenged the city officials with constitutional law protecting artists via free speech, all the permit fees were refunded to us.

Now there is a new ordinance banning artists from the Plaza, and that same outspoken artist has been thrown in jail twice for defying the ban.

To require the St. Augustine police to hassle the street artists is an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money, which is wasted badly enough already.

It's time to clean house at City Hall.

Kate Merrick

St. Augustine

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Letter: Credit card interest rates are out of line

Letter: Credit card interest rates are out of line

Publication Date: 02/26/08

Editor: I have thought about these issues for quite some time. I think it's despicable what the credit card companies are getting away with in interest rates, and our government is allowing it.

Talk about "Loan Sharking." That's exactly what it's like.

I think the government should start regulating things again. It was much better when they did.

Maureen Almeida


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City denies marina's plan to construct buildings

City denies marina's plan to construct buildings

By Kati Bexley
Publication Date: 02/26/08

St. Augustine City Commissioners turned down an appeal Monday by a company that wanted to build three large structures on Riberia Street in Lincolnville, but the developer could instead construct a building the size of a football field.

"I'm a little concerned about what happens when we walk away from here," said City Commissioner Errol Jones after the board's unanimous vote.

Oasis Marina, owned by Charlie Spires of Beta Two of Alachua LLC, at 256 Riberia St., wanted to build three 35-foot high buildings that would contain about 300 dry boat slips. The building would have been within 100 feet of the San Sebastian River, which is a conservation zone.

In January, the Planning and Zoning Board denied the application. And on Monday, the City Commission upheld that decision.

However, the company's property is zoned for Industrial Warehouse use, and Oasis could now construct one building the size of a football field that is farther away from the water, and the firm won't need the city's permission.

"So, the threat just got a little more real," said Mayor Joe Boles when the company's attorney showed plans to construct the massive building.

Planning and Zoning denied the project because of concerns that the massive buildings would block the vista and harm wetlands.

Ellen Avery-Smith, Oasis Marina's attorney, said the Board based its decision on neighbors' testimony, who are not experts and could be challenged in the courtroom.

A resident in the City Hall audience yelled out, "It's called a community!"

The commission did not take public comment, but simply reviewed the PZB's decision. But residents filled City Hall to listen to the discussion.

All of the commissioners were against the developer building a single, large structure, but they said it is beyond their control.

"I don't like either options, really," said Commissioner Don Crichlow. "I don't know how to stop it."

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Hotel plan gets initial OK

Hotel plan gets initial OK

Publication Date: 02/26/08

The St. Augustine City Commission gave initial approval Monday to a hotel whose construction would demolish seven homes along King and Oveido streets.

Commissioner Susan Burk was the only dissenting vote. The other commissioners moved the project to second reading so they could hold a public hearing on it.

The project will go before the board again on April 14.

The commission spent little time on the issue and no one spoke at the meeting about the project.

Donna Wendler is asking the City Commisson for a Planned Unit Development to build an 80-room hotel along Oveido and King streets. The Planning and Zoning Board has denied her request. And the Historic Architecture Review Board also denied her application to demolish seven homes to make way for the hotel.

At the meeting in April, the commission will likely also consider Wendler's appeal of the Architecture Review Board's demolition denial, Mark Knight, city planning and building department director, has said.

Many residents who own homes on Oveido and King Street, as well as others in the nearby Flagler Model Land Company neighborhood, have objected to the hotel, saying it would ruin their community's charm and clog their streets.

Wendler has said she has to demolish the homes because of economic hardship. She can no longer afford the rising costs of insurance and property taxes of the old homes. And it would take an enormous amount of money to renovate the homes, Wendler has said. She believes building a hotel would not only help her, but also revitalize King Street and bring in money for the city.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Letter: City should reject tall buildings in Lincolnville

Letter: City should reject tall buildings in Lincolnville

Anthony Seraphin
St. Augustine
Publication Date: 02/25/08

Editor: Maryland developers/speculators trying to buy the Oasis Marina on Riberia Street are back again before the City Commissioners tonight, demanding to inflict 49-foot high, two-million cubic foot steel buildings for boat storage on Riberia Street.

These monstrosities will block our views, breezes and sun for two blocks in past Twine Street. If speculators get their way, Riberia Street will become intensely crowded with boats towed to and from Oasis Marina.

It's bad enough that there are no sidewalks. Children play in Lincolnville's streets because there are no playgrounds.

Lincolnville's flooding is not remedied by our city. It's horrible that any responsible government would let them ruin an ethnically diverse, historic neighborhood by building a two-million cubic foot warehouse in a coastal conservation zone and a flood zone, a place where the city's soils map officially says that it is "Pellicer silty clay loam, frequently flooded" (soil number 109024). Our city must obey the laws applicable to all of us, including the Comprehensive Plan, and reject this indecent proposal.

Otherwise, this industrial project would keep Lincolnville blighted forever. Speculators would not dare try it behind Flagler College or on Davis Shores. The city has abused Lincolnville for more than one hundred years, Yet our taxes are the same as other neighborhoods that receive greater services.

Will our city commissioners stand up for us? They can stop this Berlin Wall, "Lincolnville Wall" from destroying our neighborhood. Once built, it's too late!! Please spread the word and come out.

Voice your outrage at the City Commission meeting tonight, 5 p.m., City Hall, Lightner Museum, Alcazar Room, 75 King St., First Floor.

Riberia Street must be rezoned immediately from Industrial to Business/ Residential. We must stop industrial development in our neighborhood. Stop this outrage now.

Anthony Seraphin

St. Augustine

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Transcript of February 13, 2008 conference call with Administrative Law Judge on St. Augusinte's Illegal Dumping in West Augustine, Lincolnville




3 Case No. 08-0213


5 Plaintiffs,

6 vs.

8 Defendants,

9 _______________________________________



12 ****************************************************************

13 DATE TAKEN: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

14 PLACE TAKEN: 24 Cathedral Place
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
TIME: 2:00 - 2:55 P.m.



21 *********************************************************





2 On behalf of the Plaintiffs:


9 On behalf of the CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE:

13 SUITE 1200





21 - - -






1 P R O C E E D I N G S

2 - - -

3 THE COURT: This is Johnston calling into the

4 conference. Could I ask, first of all, who is on

5 the line on behalf of DEP?

6 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, this is Karen Bishop

7 representing the Department.

8 MS. SERAPHIN: Hello.

9 THE COURT: Okay.

10 This is -- someone just called in. I am

11 taking roll call right now. So just hold on for a

12 second.

13 MS. SERAPHIN: Okay.

14 THE COURT: Karen Bishop on behalf of DEP.

15 What about for the City of St. Augustine?

16 MR. PENCE: Your Honor, this is Bill Pence

17 and Ed Cole from Akerman, Senterfitt and Ron

18 Brown, City Attorney.

19 THE COURT: And are the Seraphins on the

20 line?

21 MS. SERAPHIN: Judith Seraphin is. Hello.

22 THE COURT: Okay. Are you expecting your

23 husband also on the line?

24 MS. SERAPHIN: No. My husband -- we are a

25 disaster company. And right now -- we are in


1 Arkansas, because the tornado took down the roof

2 of one of the hospitals, one of the few hospitals

3 here in the Ozark Mountain area where we are

4 working, and right now it's an emergency crew. So

5 he is working on that job.

6 THE COURT: Okay.

7 MS. SERAPHIN: So you won't hear from both of

8 us, just from me.

9 THE COURT: Okay.

10 Is there anybody else on the line?

11 MS. BEXLEY: I am Kati Bexley, from the

12 St. Augustine Record, newspaper in St. Augustine.

13 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Hello. This is Debra

14 Valenti-Epstein. I'm one of the intervenors.

15 THE COURT: Okay.

16 MR. HAGARTY: And, Your Honor, I'm John

17 Hagarty. I am another one of the intervenors.

18 THE COURT: Okay.

19 MR. SLAVIN: And, Your Honor, this is Ed

20 Slavin with Dwight Hines, two of the Petitioners,

21 and were are here in St. Augustine with the court

22 reporter.

23 THE COURT: Okay. Who else did you say was

24 there?

25 MR. SLAVIN: Dr. Dwight Hines and a court


1 reporter.

2 THE COURT: Okay. All right. Anybody else?

3 Okay. Well, I thought I was hoping that this

4 would be the best way to get the case started in

5 light of everything that has been filed already in

6 the case and also for purposes of scheduling the

7 hearing.

8 I note that the -- well, first of all, let me

9 say this. It is my understanding of what's

10 happened and it's not that clear to me, because

11 the file is lengthy and confusing already, but I

12 understand that what has happened in this case is

13 that a petition was filed by, among other people,

14 the Seraphins and Mr. Slavin and I think maybe

15 Dr. Hines may have been involved in that petition

16 as well. And DEP considered that and apparently

17 made a ruling that said that that only the

18 Seraphins had standing and dismissed as to the

19 others with leave to amend by January 15th.

20 I have recently seen some amended pleadings

21 on behalf of, I believe, Mr. Slavin and also

22 Dr. Hines and maybe someone else. But my

23 understanding would be that those pleadings would

24 be filed with DEP, not with DOAH, that the only

25 thing that's been referred to me is the Seraphins'


1 petition.

2 Does anybody have a different understanding

3 of that?

4 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, that would be the

5 Department's intention in sending it over it only

6 applied to the Seraphins.

7 THE COURT: So what I am saying as to

8 Mr. Slavin and Mr. Hines, your amended filings, if

9 they are not too late, should be taken up with DEP

10 directly, not with me and DOAH at this point in

11 time.

12 All right. Now there was -- there were --

13 there was a petition to intervene that was filed

14 by Debra Valenti-Epstein and Mr. Hagarty, who are

15 on the line.

16 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct.

17 THE COURT: And so I will ask at this point

18 is there any objection to those petitions -- that

19 petition to intervene by them?

20 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, this is Karen Bishop

21 from the Department. I do object to the petition

22 and that it does not comply with the rule. It

23 does not state how the intervenors environmental

24 interests are affected by the consent order. And

25 it doesn't state any specific grounds on which you


1 can make that determination.

2 THE COURT: All right. What I am going to do

3 is give you an opportunity to make a filing to

4 that affect, but in the meantime I will grant

5 their right to participate in this hearing subject

6 to my ruling on whatever it is that you file.

7 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Thank you, Your Honor.

8 MR. HAGARTY: Your Honor, thank you from John

9 Hagarty. I may respectfully suggest, and I

10 believe that our petition to intervene states that

11 we live one block closer to Riberia Street than

12 the Seraphins.

13 THE COURT: Right.

14 MR. HAGARTY: And as a matter of right if the

15 Department's position is that the Seraphins have

16 standing we certainly have standing because we

17 live closer to the effective lane of travel of the

18 dump trucks.

19 THE COURT: Okay. Yes, I did notice that.

20 MR. HAGARTY: But we would be happy to

21 further amend our petition to state it more

22 specifically, but I do think the petition in and

23 of itself is self-explanatory and if the

24 Department has no objection to the standing of the

25 Seraphins, I do not see how in good faith they


1 could have objection to our petition to intervene.

2 THE COURT: I understand that. And they may

3 not file -- they may or may not actually file

4 something. But it would be -- so you are not

5 required to do anything right at this point in

6 time, only in response to if they file something

7 to dismiss your petition.

8 MR. HAGARTY: Thank you, Your Honor.


10 THE COURT: Now, I just want to make sure --

11 or there has been a lot of things filed and a lot

12 of issues raised and there has been a motion, I

13 believe, to strike some of those issues that have

14 been raised or to dismiss the petition because of

15 the way it was filed, the way it was written and

16 some of the issues that are included in it. I

17 just want to make sure I have an understanding of

18 what -- hold on just a minute. I am going to

19 press the button to silence, do not disturb button

20 on my phone.

21 Okay. To continue, as I understand, this

22 involves a DEP consent order. And if I am

23 understanding correctly, and please correct me if

24 I am wrong about any of this, there is an old

25 landfill somewhere near St. Augustine, which I


1 have been told is, I have read, is near a place

2 called Lincolnville or West Augustine or something

3 words descriptions like that. It's on Riberia

4 Street.

5 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Your Honor, this is

6 Debra Valenti-Epstein. If I may, there are two

7 sites spoken of, one is the original landfill on

8 Riberia, Lincolnville and the other is West

9 St. Augustine, which is near the Old City

10 Reservoir is located. So there is two --

11 THE COURT: Is that Holmes Boulevard?

12 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct, Your

13 Honor.

14 THE COURT: That's west?

15 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct, Your

16 Honor. There is two locations because the stuff

17 was brought from one site to the other. That's

18 why there is two sites.

19 THE COURT: That's the Old --

20 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Right. From Riberia

21 Street to Holmes Boulevard, which is West

22 St. Augustine.

23 THE COURT: All right. Now the reason

24 materials was being transferred from Riberia to

25 Holmes is because there was the City had requested


1 and obtained a permit to create a wetland

2 mitigation site at that location; is that correct?

3 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: I think we are all in

4 agreement on that, Your Honor.

5 THE COURT: And then what happened was that

6 some of the material that was being taken out of

7 that site in order to create that wetland

8 mitigation project was winding up at the Holmes

9 Boulevard site in the Old City Reservoir.

10 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct. Along

11 with materials from other locations. Again, Debra

12 Valenti-Epstein. There was one location which

13 trash was being brought to Holmes Boulevard. One

14 of the sources was Riberia Street.

15 THE COURT: All right. That I wasn't aware

16 of three other sources.

17 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Yeah. Yard trash, lime

18 sludge and street sweeping from other locations

19 also.

20 THE COURT: Okay. Are all of those materials

21 violations or was it just the transfer from

22 Riberia?

23 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: All of them were done

24 without any permit for dumping in West

25 St. Augustine, Your Honor.


1 THE COURT: Okay. And incidentally this

2 mitigation site permit, was that -- was that for

3 mitigation for another project of the City of

4 St. Augustine that was subject to DEP or some kind

5 of permitting, or was that just to create a

6 wetland that wasn't there before?

7 MR. PENCE: Your Honor, if I might, this is

8 Bill Pence. The City of St. Augustine is the

9 owner of a piece of property that is located

10 further north on Riberia Street. It was the site

11 of the Old St. Augustine Gasification Plant. The

12 City bought this property in the late 1980's for

13 the purpose of community redevelopment to try to

14 take an old industrial site and renovate the

15 neighborhood.

16 And it was discovered after they acquired

17 title to the property that there was contamination

18 on the property associated with the Old

19 Manufacturer Gas Plant. The City's plan for that

20 property was to develop it into a marina and a

21 mixed commercial, retail, residential project as

22 the new western gateway into the City of

23 St. Augustine.

24 In connection with the marina development on

25 that project, the City in the early 1990's applied


1 for a dredge and fill permit for the marina. The

2 dredge and fill permit for the marina had a

3 mitigation component of it. And the City owned

4 property on the southern tip of Riberia Street,

5 which is truly the southern end of the peninsula

6 of the main downtown area of St. Augustine. The

7 City's Waste Water Treatment Plant is located on

8 that southern tip. And this property was

9 immediately adjacent to the Waste Water Treatment

10 Plant.

11 The City identified a portion of that

12 property for the mitigation site, which is now in

13 these pleadings as the Riberia Street property.

14 Permit was issued by the DEP and the Corp of

15 Engineers for the construction of a mitigation

16 area along the shoreline of that property. And so

17 the mitigation work that was done on the Riberia

18 Street property was, in fact, done pursuant to a

19 permit issued by DEP and the Water Management and

20 the Corp of Engineers.

21 THE COURT: Where did the landfill come in

22 then?

23 MR. PENCE: Well, the mitigation area

24 included a portion of a former dump site. That

25 part of St. Augustine is a peninsula that over a


1 period of time was filled in. And it was used by

2 the local resident folks in that part of the City

3 as an area for dumping municipal waste. All of

4 that activity took place up to around the mid

5 '60's before landfills were permitted. And it is

6 now known within the regulatory community, these

7 sites are now former dump sites, they weren't

8 regulated landfills, and so they are unregulated,

9 at this point in time unregulated areas. There

10 are parks rules and guidance documents now that

11 provide that if you want to engage in any -- in

12 any development activities on these old dump

13 sites, that certain procedures are to be followed

14 and you have to consult with the Department before

15 disturbing materials on those old dump sites.

16 And the basic -- you know, to give you a

17 little factual background of what got us to the

18 consent order in this case. When the City started

19 the project, the mitigation project, they started

20 excavating an area that was set aside in the

21 permit for the mitigation. And they were

22 encountering debris and brick and tires and paper

23 and plastic and steel, but mostly soil, but there

24 was some solid waste materials that were

25 encountered as well. And the City was staging


1 this material initially at Riberia Street. They

2 screened the material and pulled out what they

3 thought was material that should go to a landfill,

4 the steel and the tires and the paper and the

5 plastic.

6 And then when they started running out of

7 space for staging the material on Riberia Street,

8 they hauled the material to an 80 acre parcel that

9 is owned by the City of St. Augustine that's

10 located in West Augustine in the area of West

11 St. Augustine, it is actually outside of the City

12 limits. And this 80 acre parcel is a piece of

13 industrial property that the City was using as a

14 staging area for C & D debris.

15 This area that is referred to by some of the

16 petitioners as the Old City Reservoir was, in

17 fact, a borrow pit that was mined for coquina.

18 The City had a permit from the Water Management

19 District to mine the borrow pit for coquina that

20 was used for roadway purposes within the City of

21 St. Augustine. And there were portions of the 80

22 acre track that the City also was bringing lime

23 sludge from its Water Treatment Plant and staging

24 that lime soil, lime sludge there, street

25 sweepings were brought to the property in another


1 area, and then the City was staging on one spot of

2 the property yard clearing debris when trees were

3 cut down and things like that, and they were

4 staged there until they had a big enough pile to

5 haul them off.

6 When complaints were -- when a complaint was

7 filed by Mr. Slavin with DEP and the EPA that

8 prompted an investigation. The investigation

9 resulted in determinations by DEP that there were

10 some civil violations associated with the

11 placement of the material that came from Riberia

12 Street on to the Holmes Boulevard property and

13 ultimately placed in the borrow pit.

14 MR. HAGARTY: As well as others, just so it's

15 clear, as well as other violations with the other

16 three materials that were --

17 MR. PENCE: I just hadn't gotten to those.

18 MR. HAGARTY: Okay.

19 MR. PENCE: I was doing them piecemeal.

20 MR. HAGARTY: Very good. Thank you very

21 much.

22 MR. PENCE: The alleged violations were that

23 there was solid waste that was brought from

24 Riberia Street and placed into the borrow pit.

25 The other alleged violations were that the staging


1 area for the yard trash was done without a permit.

2 That permit just requires giving notice. We did

3 give notice after the enforcement action was

4 filed.

5 The City was told they couldn't stage C and D

6 debris on the site even for a short period of

7 time, that was being staged for less than two

8 weeks.

9 And the City was told that the placement of

10 lime sludge on the property and yard trash was a

11 violation of solid waste requirement. So the City

12 has removed yard trash.

13 But part of the comprehensive settlement of

14 those activities is the City's and DEP's

15 evidentiary consent order. The consent order

16 initially imposed some civil penalties for some of

17 the alleged violations and then required the City

18 to remove the material that was placed in the

19 borrow pit and return it to Riberia Street and

20 place it within the footprint of the existing

21 landfill.

22 The consent order also requires them to

23 recontour it and reimplement certain storm water

24 management issues. It requires some additional

25 sampling to be performed on the Holmes Boulevard


1 site. And it requires a ground water monitoring

2 plan to be implemented on the Riberia Street site

3 after the material is returned.

4 THE COURT: What material is that, the C and

5 D material?

6 MR. PENCE: It's the material that was

7 removed from Riberia Street in the first place and

8 placed in the borrow pit.

9 THE COURT: What about the lime sludge and

10 yard trash?

11 MR. PENCE: The lime sludge and the yard

12 trash have already been removed. Your Honor,

13 actually the yard trash we have a permit now from

14 the Department to use that site for yard trash.

15 THE COURT: Is the lime sludge part of what's

16 going back to Riberia or not?

17 MR. PENCE: No. No.

18 THE COURT: Okay.

19 MR. PENCE: The lime sludge is being

20 beneficially reused today with DEP's approval.

21 THE COURT: All right.

22 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Your Honor, if I may,

23 this is Debra Valenti-Epstein. Part of our

24 problem -- part of our problem with this issue is

25 DEP never had independent verification of these


1 materials were deposited separately, kept separate

2 and they weren't all being brought back to Riberia

3 Street. The DEP has not independently verified

4 any of that information.

5 MR. PENCE: I think, Your Honor, all though

6 that's not an issue for the consent order, but

7 before we could execute the consent order the

8 Department was, in fact, satisfied that that was

9 done.

10 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: We were --

11 THE COURT: Let me say this. This really

12 leads up to -- thank you. I appreciate the

13 explanation. It was roughly what I understood

14 with some additions and corrections and better

15 said than I would have tried to say it.

16 But that leads me to the point of -- it does

17 confirm my understanding that what this case is is

18 a challenge to the consent order. And based on my

19 understanding from what I have done -- I have been

20 involved with in the past, and also in reading

21 some of the -- going back and reading some of the

22 DEP final orders in this situation, it is my

23 understanding that the issue before me in this

24 proceeding is whether DEP abused its enforcement

25 discretion in agreeing to the terms of the consent


1 order. That's what's in front of me --

2 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct.

3 THE COURT: -- in this case. So if your

4 concern is that they are not really doing what the

5 consent order says they should do, that would be

6 yet another enforcement proceeding, not part of

7 this challenge.

8 And it also leads me to, without going into

9 detail, because I can't do -- I'm not in a

10 position to do that right now, but a lot of what's

11 been put in the petition that was filed probably

12 is outside of the scope of this proceeding,

13 because it's limited, as I say, to whether DEP

14 entering into this consent order abused its -- its

15 enforcement discretion. That's what the case is

16 going to be about.

17 So probably I will enter some kind of an

18 order that will describe that -- some of the

19 issues that are raised in the petition would not

20 be considered in this seating. And it may be that

21 I would be going along with the suggestion by

22 whoever filed it, I think maybe possibly DEP and

23 the City, that it would be a good idea to file an

24 amended petition, which is more narrowly focused

25 and is in more compliance with our rules of filing


1 petitions.

2 Incidentally, in that regard, I don't -- have

3 the Seraphins received a copy of the information

4 booklet that DOAH puts out on representing

5 yourself in front of DOAH?

6 MS. SERAPHIN: No, we have not, Your Honor.

7 THE COURT: You have not. Okay. And there

8 is -- probably -- do you have internet access?

9 MS. SERAPHIN: I can.

10 THE COURT: Maybe not at the moment.

11 MS. HASKIN: At some point of the mountains I

12 can get to in my car I can pick up internet

13 access. It's pretty rural up here.

14 THE COURT: Okay. DOAH has a website and on

15 the website you can find the DOAH Rules of

16 Procedure and also some information on how you

17 represent yourself in front of DOAH.

18 MS. SERAPHIN: Yes, I do, Your Honor.

19 THE COURT: It also gives information about

20 options of being represented by an attorney or

21 qualified representative if you are interested in

22 that.

23 MS. SERAPHIN: Thank you.

24 THE COURT: So that -- reference that, you

25 know, before you file your amended petition.



2 THE COURT: The other -- okay. The next --

3 you can add to this after I get finished, but the

4 next thing that I think is at issue then is the

5 discovery that's apparently been filed and then

6 there has been motions for protective order in

7 part because I hadn't ruled on the motions to

8 dismiss, etc..

9 Having heard what I have had to say about the

10 scope of the proceedings, is there -- is there

11 still opposition at this point in time to the

12 discovery -- the responding to the discovery

13 that's been requested?

14 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, this is Karen Bishop

15 from the Department. I mean, the issue that I

16 have was that, first of all, many of the issues

17 relate to issues that are outside of the scope of

18 proceeding and also that there are -- they exceed

19 the number allowed by the Rules of Civil

20 Procedure. That was the basis of my objection and

21 still is the basis for my objection.

22 THE COURT: Okay.

23 MR. PENCE: Your Honor, the City would join

24 in those objections and having expressed some more

25 objections.


1 I might also point out a matter that may moot

2 this issue for you at this point in time, bring

3 you up to speed with where the City and the

4 Department are with respect to the consent order

5 that's at issue here.

6 The City and the Department attended a public

7 meeting several weeks ago, which was a follow-up

8 to an earlier public meeting that was held in

9 December on the issue of the consent order. And

10 as a result of those public meetings, the City and

11 DEP have engaged in discussions on other options

12 that may be available with respect to the

13 management of this material rather than returning

14 it to Riberia Street.

15 As a result of those discussions, the City

16 and the Department have reached a tentative

17 agreement that the material can be removed and

18 taken to the Nassau County Landfill as daily

19 cover. And we are in the process right now of

20 working out the specifics of that option,

21 including revising the removal and relocation plan

22 that was approved by the Department in the

23 original consent order.

24 We contemplate that all of this will be

25 completed within the next 60 days. And that the


1 net result of all of that will be for the

2 Department to withdraw -- the Department and the

3 City to agree on the withdrawal of the consent

4 order, which is the subject matter of this

5 proceeding, and the entry of a separate consent

6 order that would provide for the removal of the

7 material from Holmes Boulevard and taking it to

8 the Nassau County Landfill.

9 And based upon our efforts to complete those

10 negotiations and our good faith belief that at

11 this time that we will be able to accomplish that

12 within the next 60 days, the City and the

13 Department jointly request a stay of these

14 proceedings, permit us to affect that amended

15 remedy.

16 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Your Honor, this is

17 Debra Valenti-Epstein. I just have one brief

18 comment, if I may, Your Honor. There is no motion

19 before Your Honor for this type of request.

20 If what Mr. Pence is suggesting is that they

21 intend to abandon consent order and enter a new

22 one, that's also not before this court at this

23 time. This is unsworn testimony negotiations

24 which Petitioners, again, have been excluded.

25 THE COURT: Well, it's an ore tenus motion, I


1 believe. I guess you may want to follow up with a

2 written motion, Mr. Pence. But I did just want to

3 ask what your response to it is. It seems to me

4 like if it goes forward it would resolve your --

5 go a long way at least resolving the issue.

6 MS. SERAPHIN: Your Honor, may I speak to

7 this issue, sir.

8 THE COURT: Go ahead.

9 MS. SERAPHIN: This is Judith Seraphin. I

10 heard loud and clear what you said. And I wanted

11 to make two comments.

12 One, the public meetings that were held were

13 held by the neighborhood because the neighborhood

14 is so upset over this. The City did not -- the

15 City did attend both meetings. DEP did attend the

16 second meeting officially. But these meetings

17 were forced by the neighborhood, they weren't

18 offered by the City. The only reason the City is

19 even speaking to us now is because the City

20 realized that they are in a very awkward position.

21 THE COURT: Okay.

22 MS. SERAPHIN: We asked at the end of the

23 second meeting to be involved in all meetings

24 between DEP and the City and that has not

25 happened. The City and the DEP have continued


1 having their own meetings without informing the

2 neighbors who are directly involved. And we would

3 have had one representative there, possibly two,

4 but we were never even told about the meetings.

5 And this is way the neighborhood tends to be

6 treated.

7 The other thing I want you to also realize is

8 I heard Mr. Pence talk about the scope of the

9 trash at Riberia Street. And he mentioned that

10 it's long been a dump yard and it's used by the

11 local residents. But he did forgot one very

12 important thing, yes, it has been used by the

13 local residents, but it's also been used by the

14 commercial boat building yard and many other

15 marine based businesses that are located on

16 Riberia.

17 So this dump yard, this area has a long

18 history of items being put in by heavily polluting

19 boat yards. The worry in the neighborhood is we

20 don't know what's in there. And we want to find

21 out what's in there. What's in, first of all, the

22 material that went to Holmes Boulevard and the

23 material that remains in Riberia Street. And by

24 excluding the neighborhood and any representatives

25 out of any conversations from DEP and the City, it


1 just intensifies some of the paranoia.

2 MR. HAGARTY: Your Honor, if I might, John

3 Hagarty. That segue has been to and back to

4 Mr. Pence's oral motion today that, and apparently

5 I did not hear Ms. Bishop say anything to the

6 contrary, that the DEP and the City are in

7 negotiations to withdraw the existing consent

8 order. And I have a couple of comments regarding

9 that.

10 I do think Your Honor's thought is

11 well-taken, if that's the City's position and

12 DEP's position it should be formalized in a motion

13 so that we can all see it in writing.

14 And, secondly, that would trigger prevailing

15 party fees. And I suggest to every one here that

16 in the event that that is the City's position and

17 DEP's position, that essentially puts the

18 petitioner and/or petitioners in a position of

19 prevailing parties and we would in turn be filing

20 requests with the court for other parties fees.

21 And, thirdly, my last point is this, at this

22 point this is simply a bureau suggestion, and at

23 the same time a request for a stay of all

24 discovery. Unless and until the court has before

25 it a formal motion requesting that the consent


1 decree be withdrawn, we would ask the court to at

2 least defer any ruling on a stay of discovery and

3 as suggested to the court to perhaps if that is

4 the City's position and DEP's position, that they

5 file a formal motion to withdraw the consent

6 agreement within 10 days so that this litigation

7 doesn't become unduly stalled or delayed.

8 MR. PENCE: Your Honor, if I may, please,

9 this is Bill Pence. And I am sure Mr. Hagarty and

10 Ms. Valenti-Epstein, who I believe both are

11 lawyers, understand Rule 28-106.204 paren 1,

12 expressly provides for motions to be made before

13 the administrative hearing officer. We haven't

14 formalized this motion yet. If you think that it

15 needs to be formalized we can. But you have both

16 parties before you that are joining in the motion

17 and we are both prepared to represent to you that

18 we in good faith, that we will resolve this

19 dispute in a manner that at least be between the

20 Department and the City will result in the

21 withdrawal of the consent order, which is the

22 subject matter of these proceedings.

23 THE COURT: Why don't we do this, there is no

24 reason why you can't make the motion orally as you

25 have. However, the others may not be, you know,


1 prepared instantaneously to respond to it.

2 However, in this case it does bear on something

3 else that is before me, you know, today and, that

4 is, scheduling a final hearing or whether to

5 schedule a final hearing.

6 And what I would propose, if what Mr. Hagarty

7 is requesting is that it be put in writing, why

8 don't you all just -- why don't you do that and

9 also put in the motion to stay the proceedings,

10 that you've discussed it with the other parties,

11 the Seraphins and Ms. Valenti-Epstein and

12 Mr. Hagarty, and state what their position is and

13 at that point I'll -- it will either be something

14 that they would agree to or I would rule on it in

15 due course after I receive the motion.

16 Meantime -- and, as I say, it makes -- it

17 makes sense to me if that's the direction that

18 it's heading in that all parties would agree to

19 it.

20 MS. SERAPHIN: Your Honor, if I might add.

21 THE COURT: I would also say in terms of

22 scheduling a hearing, there has been a request for

23 a hearing to be scheduled March 10th. That's not

24 going to happen. It's not available on my

25 calendar. So I know there is not going to be any


1 hearing scheduled actually before, based on my

2 calendar, probably before the week of April 28.

3 So do you want at this point to go forward

4 with scheduling a final hearing or do you want to

5 wait and see how the motion that Mr. Pence is

6 making falls out?

7 MR. HAGARTY: Just as a matter -- this is

8 John Hagarty, again. As a matter or orderly

9 administration, Your Honor, I might respectfully

10 request why don't we schedule a final hearing now,

11 that is always added benefit for all the parties

12 to turn their full attention to this matter.

13 THE COURT: Okay. How lengthy of a hearing

14 do you think it will be?

15 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, it's the

16 Department's position that we would not need more

17 than two days.

18 MR. PENCE: The City concurs with that, Your

19 Honor.

20 THE COURT: Total or just for your two?

21 MS. BISHOP: Total.

22 MR. PENCE: Total.

23 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Your Honor, this is

24 Debra Valenti-Epstein. Depending on discovery

25 we've been unable to get from the City and from


1 DEP this could take longer. We haven't yet

2 received discovery we've requested.

3 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, if I may, this goes

4 back to the issue of what is at DOAH and what is

5 before DOAH. And what is before DOAH is whether

6 the consent order is reasonable. And the

7 particular allegations the Seraphins have raised

8 is that the trucks taking the waste back to

9 Riberia Street are effecting their environmental

10 interest. That's the only thing that's before the

11 court.

12 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: That's correct, Your

13 Honor. This is Debra Valenti-Epstein. There is

14 one item for the other consent agreement that is

15 relevant here. DEP has never conducted any

16 independent testing of the toxicity of the

17 material removed from the Riberia Street Landfill,

18 nor have they done any independent testing of

19 toxicity of these materials intended to return to

20 Riberia Street, and that's part of the discovery

21 request.

22 DEP is relying entirely on the lab that's

23 picked by the City and by Mr. Pence.

24 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, if I may, there is

25 no legal requirement that the Department do its


1 own testing.

2 THE COURT: Well --

3 MR. PENCE: I am assuming that, Your Honor,

4 DEP did do its testing and the petitioners are

5 aware of that.

6 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Your Honor, DEP said at

7 the January 10th public meeting they did not do

8 testing. And that the only testing that was done

9 was a few split samples given to them by the lab

10 that Mr. Pence choose and was part of the criminal

11 investigation by DEP and the DEP person that

12 entered into the consent agreement did not have

13 access to those results and those findings.

14 MR. PENCE: Those results --

15 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: And did not do its

16 independent testing.

17 MR. PENCE: The results from the criminal

18 investigation were recently circulated to the

19 parties made available by FDEP.

20 But, in any event, Your Honor, getting back

21 to the issue of the motion for the stay and the

22 basis for this. I just wanted to point out also,

23 so that you understood, this is not something that

24 we sprang upon the parties today. I personally

25 spoke with Mr. Seraphin on Friday as soon as it


1 became apparent that the City and the State were

2 working towards a program where we thought we

3 could get this accomplished within 60 days. I had

4 a very lengthy telephone conversation with

5 Mr. Seraphin on Friday.

6 MS. SERAPHIN: He is not on the line right

7 now.

8 MR. PENCE: I had a very lengthy conversation

9 with Mr. Seraphin on Friday and explained to him

10 that we would be seeking a stay. His response to

11 me was, well, why wouldn't I agree to that stay,

12 because you are doing exactly what I want you to

13 do. I don't want the material brought became to

14 Riberia Street.

15 MR. HAGARTY: If I might respond, Your Honor,

16 John Hagarty. At this point I would like to

17 respond to Mr. Pence.

18 THE COURT: Okay. When he finishes then you

19 can respond.

20 MR. HAGARTY: Oh, I thought he finished. I

21 am sorry.

22 MR. PENCE: After Mr. Seraphin made that

23 comment I explained to him that I thought there

24 were other people that were participating in his

25 decision making process that may agree, or may not


1 agree. And he said --

2 MR. HAGARTY: And that would be his wife.

3 MR. PENCE: Mr. Hagarty, I haven't

4 interrupted you one time.

5 MR. HAGARTY: Right.

6 MR. PENCE: I would appreciate you providing

7 me the simple courtesy at this hearing.

8 MR. HAGARTY: I certainly will.

9 MR. PENCE: In any event, Your Honor, we left

10 the telephone conversation on Friday with

11 Mr. Seraphin advising me that he was -- would be

12 flying home on Sunday and he would discuss it with

13 his wife and call me back on Monday.

14 I suggested to him also during my telephone

15 conversation on Friday that if it was convenient

16 for he and his wife, that we would have a

17 conference room available for this call today,

18 that they could come down and sit down and talk to

19 the City before the call, we could answer any

20 other questions they might have on the status of

21 our negotiations. I advised him that before

22 the -- before any amended consent order would be

23 signed, that the Department and the City had

24 agreed there would be a public meeting and we

25 would solicit input from the public to this


1 alternate remedy. And he then indicated that he

2 would call me back Monday. Of course the tornados

3 then hit and he was understandably called to

4 Arkansas through his business. And I didn't hear

5 from him on Monday.

6 I tried calling on Tuesday and I did speak

7 with Mrs. Seraphin. And I advised her, again, of

8 what we were doing with respect to this stay. She

9 indicated to me that she would oppose it.

10 I invited her to come and sit down with the

11 City before this conference call today and then

12 she advised me that they were in Arkansas, and

13 they wouldn't be able to. So I then suggested

14 that we would just deal with it before the ALJ

15 today.

16 MR. HAGARTY: And if I may, Bill, again, if

17 everybody is proceeding in good faith, as I had

18 previously suggested, if it's the decision of the

19 City and of the DEP that they wish to withdraw the

20 consent decree, there are additional parties here,

21 myself and Debra Valenti-Epstein, assuming that

22 our motion to intervene will be granted, and I

23 cannot see how they will not at this point, that's

24 not a suggestion Your Honor you will not, but in

25 any event let's put it in a form of a motion filed


1 within ten days and we allow all the parties to

2 proceed then in good faith. I would suggest to

3 Your Honor that there is no need to enter a stay

4 at this point of discovery, simply let the motion

5 of the City and DEP that wish to withdraw the

6 consent decree, allow the parties to sit down and

7 reason together on developing a new consent

8 decree.

9 MS. BISHOP: Your Honor, if I may, this is

10 Karen Bishop from the Department. The procedure

11 in which we normally go about this is that we

12 don't withdraw the consent order until we have

13 reached an agreement on the amended. So I just

14 want to make it clear that's how we would proceed

15 in the case. We would could not withdraw the

16 consent order before we have another one.

17 THE COURT: Right. I understand that.

18 MR. PENCE: And the objection to the motion

19 to stay, Your Honor, would be to permit the

20 parties to save the cost of legal fees that would

21 otherwise be spent responding to discovery

22 requests or allow supplemental motions,

23 challenging various discovery requests if at the

24 end of the 60 days there is no need for this

25 proceeding at all.


1 THE COURT: This is what would I invite. I

2 am going to go ahead and stay it temporarily, just

3 to give the time for ya'll to get together to

4 discuss further what the plan is and perhaps you

5 all come to an agreement, and also to allow within

6 10 days for the -- for you to then file a written

7 filing, Mr. Pence, that would include the parties

8 agreement, if there is an agreement. If there is

9 not agreement, I will consider any objections to

10 the motion for a 60 day stay and rule on that. So

11 I not going to schedule a final hearing at this

12 time. Okay.

13 MR. PENCE: Thank you, Your Honor.

14 THE COURT: Is there anything else for today

15 then?

16 MR. HAGARTY: Your Honor, if you would, we

17 are at -- this is John Hagarty. At this point we

18 are proposed intervenors. If the Department truly

19 has an objection to our status, I would like them

20 to accelerate their filing so we can -- because

21 Debra Valenti-Epstein and myself would like to be

22 a part of the process.

23 THE COURT: Well, I will put this in writing,

24 but that was the point of my order earlier that

25 you are parties subject to my ruling on anything


1 that might be filed.

2 MR. HAGARTY: All right.

3 MS. VALENTI-EPSTEIN: Thank you, Your Honor.

4 THE COURT: I will put that in writing.

5 MR. HAGARTY: Thank you, sir.

6 THE COURT: You are welcome.

7 So I am hopeful that that's all we need to

8 deal with today and that in the next 10 days

9 things will become clearer. And then perhaps

10 there be nothing else for me to deal with in this

11 case. All right.

12 MS. BISHOP: Thank you, Your Honor.

13 MR. PENCE: Thank you.

14 MR. HAGARTY: Thank you, Your Honor.

15 THE COURT: I thank you all.

16 MR. SLAVIN: Thank you, Judge.


18 (Thereupon, at 2:55 p.m. the telephonic

19 hearing was concluded.)








1 C E R T I F I C A T E


3 The State of Florida, )
County of St. Johns. )

I, Laura Dwyer Pierle, Court Reporter, do
6 hereby certify that I was authorized to and did report
the above hearing in stenotype; and that the foregoing
7 pages numbered from 1 to 37, inclusive, are a true and
correct transcription of my stenotype notes taken
8 during said hearing.

I further certify that I am not attorney or
10 counsel of any of the parties, nor am I a relative or
employee of any attorney or counsel of party connected
11 with the action, nor am I financially interested in the

13 The foregoing certification of this
transcript does not apply to any reproduction of the
14 same by any means unless under the direct control
and/or direction of the certifying reporter.

16 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my
hand this 18th day of February, 2008.




Laura Dwyer Pierle, Notary
22 Public, in and for the State
of Florida at large.
23 My Commission Expires
24 My Commission #CC