Monday, June 30, 2008

St. Pete Times The Buzz Political Blog: A six-figure penalty in elections case

A six-figure penalty in elections case

In one of the biggest fines ever levied by the Florida Elections Commission, long-time Democratic fund-raiser Jeff Ryan has agreed to pay $209,000 to settle a case in which the FEC found that a committee he once headed committed 203 violations of the elections code by accepting donations above the $500 limit, plus six additional violations.

The charges stem from Ryan's involvement with Florida House Victory in 2004 and 2005, when former Rep. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale was House minority leader. The investigation, prompted by a Miami Herald news account, found the committee routinely accepted donations in excess of the limit which applied to House Victory because it was created to support candidates, not issues.

The first installment of $100,000 was paid last month and the remaining $109,000 is due by June 30. As monstrous as the fine is, it could have been much worse, because the law allows a maximum fine equivalent to triple the amount of the violations. "The potential penalties were probably in excess of $1.5-million," said Ryan's lawyer, Mark Herron. He said it wasn't worth the risk of taking the case through a trial -- and the likelihood of much bigger fines.

January 11, 2008 in Democrats, Florida House, Fundraising, Pinellas | Pe

HEROES AND ZEROES: Our Seventh District Representative John Mica (R) Has a Zero Rating from the Disabled American Veterans

U.S. Rep. JOHN MICA Has a ZERO Rating by the Disabled American Veterans -- No Wonder He Had Hardly Anything to Say at Saturday's Groundbreaking (see below)

Work set to begin on $32 million VA nursing home

Work set to begin on $32 million VA nursing home

Facility named for Medal of Honor winner

Publication Date: 06/30/08

Cheers, tears and scores of veterans, dignitaries and flags marked the joyous groundbreaking Saturday morning for the $32 million Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans' Nursing Home on State Road 16.

Lassen, a Navy helicopter pilot, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1969 for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" during action in North Vietnam.

The official citation said Lassen attached to Helicopter Support Squadron 7 tried multiple times to rescue two downed American pilots at night in a steeply wooded area and under intense enemy fire. Lassen lit flares several times to guide the pilots to his aircraft, but the flares burned out before the men could be rescued.

While hovering, the helicopter hit a tree and descended, but he righted it.

"When flare illumination was again lost, Lt. Lassen, fully aware of the dangers of revealing his position to the enemy, turned on his landing lights and completed the landing," the citation said.

The pilots made it aboard, and Lassen successfully evaded anti-aircraft fire and landed safely aboard the U.S.S. Jouett, a destroyer.

He had five minutes of fuel left in his gas tank.

Lassen retired in 1982 and died in 1994.

With about 150 to 200 attendees at the ceremony, Retired Rear Admiral Leroy Collins Jr. of Tallahassee, director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, recognized the many members of Lassen's family who still lived in the area. Three men attending had served with him.

Collins said his department runs five other veteran nursing homes and one assisted living facility.

"But we're very proud that this one will be the first nursing home in Florida that will be certified as a green building by the U.S. Green Building Convention, and it will be the first one named after a Navy veteran," Collins said.

The 16-acre site, about a half-mile east of Pacetti Road, is still wooded, but a bare patch had been bulldozed for a large canvas tent and parking.

Despite the spartan setting, attendance included U.S. Rep. John Mica, who was instrumental in getting $22 million in federal money for the home.

"This project wouldn't be possible without Adm. Collins' leadership," Mica said in his brief remarks, thanking all the veterans attending for their sacrifices.

Also attending were Florida House legislators Bill Proctor of District 20 and Aaron Bean of District 12; St. Johns County commissioners Ben Rich and Ron Sanchez; County Administrator Michael Wanchick; St. Johns County Veteran Service Officer Joe McDermott; state Veterans' Affairs staffers Earl Danielle, Rene Day and Jim Brody and Steve Murray; Rick Matthews of Northrop Grumman Corp., which sponsored the reception; and St. Johns County staffers Mary Ann Blount and Damon Douglas, who assembled the complex application for submission to the state.

Rich said the Department of Veterans Affairs had told him St. Johns County's application was "the best proposal the VA had ever seen from any county" in Florida.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Friday, June 27, 2008

Williamsburg, Virginia Mayor Jeanne Zeidler, Who Headed Jamestown Celebration, Would Support a St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore, etc.

Williamsburg Virginia Mayor Jeanne Zeidler, after St. Augustine's kickoff to our 450th anniversary Wednesday night, was asked if she would recommend St. Augustine support a proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Highway as part of our celebration.

She said yes, definitely!

There was no mention of the St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Highway during the kickoff, even though the park is supported by Mrs. Maurine Boles, mother of St. Augustine Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR., who told her to keep quiet about the park after she said she supports it.

Our other-directed Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. is perhaps too busy raising campaign contributions from rich guys to care about any ole park. With a primary to pick the next Mayor on August 26th -- pitting BOLES against William Lennon and Roger Jolley -- BOLES would rather talk about glib generalities than

MAYOR JOSEPH LEROY BOLES said he "plagizrized" a quote used to begin and end the evening. Yep, MAYOR BOLES He did steal one of my favorite quotes to begin and end his shindig, a quote I've parapharsed in front of City Commission (with attribution). Here's the correct quote, from architect Daniel Burnham, who designed Union Station in Washington, D.C.:

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1864-1912)

Birthday will cost millions

Birthday will cost millions
Mayor: City can exceed Jamestown's $42M program in 450th celebration
June 26, 2008 ; Updated: 11:53 PM on Thursday, June 26, 2008

It will take millions to have St. Augustine's 450th birthday compare to Virginia's Jamestown 400th anniversary celebration, its executive director told City Commissioners Wednesday.

Jeanne Zeidler, Jamestown's 400th anniversary executive director, met with St. Augustine City Commissioners to detail how Jamestown's event was successful. For starters, Jamestown had a $42 million budget over 12 years as well as $100 million in infrastructure improvements, Zeidler said.

"None of it will be easy because you have to convince people that this is worth investing in," she said.

But St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles, who has been talking with Zeidler for the last two years, said he's "not afraid at all" of trying to find millions for St. Augustine's birthday.

"We still have plenty of time," he said. "(Zeidler) said the real work doesn't begin until two to three years out because it's hard to get people involved this far (from the celebration)."

"I think we can not only duplicate the Jamestown effort, we can exceed it."

Zeidler was part of panel that kicked off planning Wednesday for St. Augustine's birthday event in 2015.

Jamestown, settled in 1607, was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

Zeidler toured downtown St. Augustine and said that it is "rich with history and architecture and it's wonderfully compact," meaning it's great for visitors because the historic landmarks are close together.

She said Jamestown received most of its funding from the state of Virginia and 13 sponsors, such as Verizon. The state provided funding various ways, including levying a fee on license plate renewals.

It wasn't easy getting big-name sponsors like Verizon, which gave $2.4 million, Zeidler said. Part of the pitch was giving the company a two-page ad in TIME magazine. Jamestown was one of the magazine's cover stories in 2007.

Boles said he realizes that St. Augustine can't count on state funding for the next couple of years, but he is expecting to see federal funding. There is a national commission that is already being put together for St. Augustine, he said.

Jamestown also had a staff under a five-year contract hired just for the anniversary. And during the three-day celebration there 3,000 volunteer shifts.

"It was huge," Zeidler said. "It was years in the making."

St. Augustine commissioners were impressed.

"There are so many facets in something that large," said Commissioner Don Crichlow. "You did a great job."

Reader Comments
+ 1 Rating
Posted by: TheAug at Jun 26, 2008 at 08:18:28 PM

It makes you wonder, with today's economic climate, if little St. Augustine will be able to afford all that it takes to compete in this market.

Posted by: hurley1105 at Jun 27, 2008 at 10:00:01 AM

It is amazing how our elected govt. officials even consider an option to have a multi-million dollar event with today's economic status. In stead, how about using the money for more property tax breaks, or use it for other means that gives back to the economy.

You can comment by logging in.

Money for Jamestown celebration

Money for Jamestown celebration

Publication Date: 06/26/08

* Budget was $42 million

* Spent $100 million in infrastructure improvements

* The event had $1.2 billion impact on region

Jamestown 400th anniversary sponsors included:

* Verizon, which gave $2.4 million

* National Education Association and NASA, which created school lesson plans about Jamestown

Attracting sponsors

* Had in-depth financial analysis to show businesses the Jamestown celebration was worth investing in


* Produced a Jamestown DVD, had it syndicated to several states

* Aired a Web cast about Jamestown seen in 14 foreign countries

* Gained visits from the Queen of England and President George W. Bush

* Newspapers across the country ran Jamestown stories in

* Garnered cover stories in Time magazine and National Geographic

* Published several books, pamphlets and magazines about Jamestown leading up to the event

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© The St. Augustine Record


Please read the bold emphasis in the testimony below. What were they thinkin'?

Not only did Senator Martinez' bill exclude Native Americans from the "celebration," they ran afoul of the appointments clause and proposed a commission that might be unconstitutional!

Thanks to career NPS professionals for fine testimony!

We know that Senator Martinez is a homophobe from his nasty primary campaign anti-Gay attacks on Bill McCollum (now Florida's Attorney General). Writing a bill about St. Augustine without acknowledging either Native American or Gay contributions is, at best, facetious. St. Augustine's founder, Florida's first Attorney General, ordered the murder of a Gay man in 1566. The history of St. Augustine must be "honest," as UF Professor Michael Gannon said at a kickoff event for the 450th here Wednesday.

Senator Martinez' bill must be amended or it is unacceptable.

We need a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Highway, not a boondoggle.

What do you reckon?



JUNE 17, 2008

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2359, a bill to establish the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission, and for other purposes. The Department has no objection to the concept of an Advisory Commission but we would like to work with the Committee to address a few suggested amendments and concerns with this bill as noted in the testimony.

St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest European city in the United States. The area was first visited by Ponce de Leon in 1513, but it was Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who on September 8, 1565, established the first settlement. This came 21 years before the English settlement at Roanoke Island in Virginia Colony, and 42 years before the successful settlements of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Jamestown, Virginia. In 1586, St. Augustine was attacked and burned by Sir Francis Drake. In 1668, it was plundered by pirates and most of the inhabitants were killed. In 1702 and 1740, it was unsuccessfully attacked by British forces from their new colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia. The most serious of these came in the latter year, when James Oglethorpe of Georgia allied himself with the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe and conducted the Siege of St. Augustine during the War of Jenkin's Ear. Although initially repulsed at St. Augustine, the forces under Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish counter-attack at the Battle of Bloody Marsh on St. Simons Island, one of the Sea Islands of Georgia.

The British ultimately gained control of St. Augustine in 1763 and it remained loyal to Britain during the Revolutionary war. It was briefly returned to the Spanish in 1784 because of a provision of the Treaty of Paris. The Spanish who had left during British control came back and tried to return the city to its former appearance but were thwarted by the decline of Spanish fortunes everywhere.

The Spanish sold Florida to the United States of America in 1821. St. Augustine prospered during the Seminole war of the 1830s due to its military involvement in the war. The city eventually developed good road systems and the population grew. In 1883, oil tycoon and Florida railroad pioneer Henry Flagler visited the city. He was so impressed that he invested in St. Augustine's restoration and development of the city as a winter resort. Flagler contributed some of the city’s grandest architecture, such as the Alcazar hotel (now the Lightner Museum), and the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College). Today, the heart of St. Augustine retains the distinctive plan of a 16th century Spanish Colonial walled town, much of which has been preserved or restored. The numerous remaining colonial buildings in the historic district present an impressive array of architecture from 1703 to 1898.

The National Park Service preserves, maintains, and interprets the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, an imposing star-shaped citadel that dominates the landscape in the center of the historic area of St. Augustine. The Service also preserves the related coquina watchtower known as Fort Matanzas National Monument near the Matanzas Inlet approximately 14 miles south of the Castillo. The State of Florida, the city of St. Augustine, and the University of Florida collectively own and operate additional significant resources related to the history of St. Augustine.

S. 2359 and an identical bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4258, would establish a 16-member commission to include one employee of the National Park Service having experience relevant to the historic resources relating to the city of St. Augustine and its commemoration, the Mayor of St. Augustine or the Mayor’s designee, one employee of the State University System of Florida, and five nonresidents of the State of Florida who have an interest in, support for, and expertise appropriate to the commemoration. The commission members would be appointed by the Secretary of the Interior based, in part, on recommendations of the St. Augustine City Commission, the Governor of Florida, and the Congress.

The duties of the Commission would include:
1) the planning, development, and execution of programs and activities appropriate to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida;
(2) the general facilitation of St. Augustine commemoration-related activities throughout the United States;
(3) the encouragement of civic, patriotic, historical, educational, religious, economic, and other organizations throughout the United States to organize and participate in anniversary activities to expand understanding and appreciation of the significance of the founding and continuing history of St. Augustine;
(4) coordination and facilitation of scholarly research on, publication about, and interpretation of, St. Augustine for the education of the public; and
(5) the assurance that the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine provides a lasting legacy and long-term public benefit for the United States by assisting in the development of appropriate programs and facilities to accommodate those programs.

The Department does have four suggested amendments for S. 2359.

First, we suggest that Section 2(b)(4) (Purpose) be revised to include a specific reference to the experiences of Native Americans as follows: “(4) assist in ensuring that the St. Augustine 450th anniversary observances are inclusive and appropriately recognize the experiences of all peoples in St. Augustine's history, including indigenous peoples who inhabited the area prior to the Spanish arrival and certain western tribes who were incarcerated at the Castillo (then known as Fort Marion) during America’s westward expansion in the late 19th century”.

Second, we recommend amending section 6 to include two additional members, after the Secretary receives recommendations from the leadership of the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes of Florida.

Third, we are concerned that the designation of some specific members of the commission may not be in conformance with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. We would like to work with the committee to revise the language to address this concern.

Fourth, we recommend that the duties of the Commission be limited to serving in an advisory capacity and leaving the execution of programs and activities to Federal agencies under existing authorities.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or any members of the Subcommittee may have.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


From whom? From the people, natch.
For whom? For the thugs who hired Karen Stern and Bruce Maguire, that's who.
Investors in nations with a high growth rate sent surplus cash here, buying lawyers and politicians, with St. Johns County approving 147 of 149 rezonings proposed in 2003.
Mark Miner wants to return to the status quo ante.
He's being other-directed by Karen Stern, who now works for Waste Management.
CSX Audit Committee is expected to investigate his hiring and payroll status.
CSX' Annual Stockholders meeting may see some questions from shareholder gadflies about Miner and whether CSX has a Sarbanes-Oxley and Hobbs Act problem hiring a young man without a college degree for the express purpose of runing against reformers.
What do you reckon?

Fish Island developer gets options

Fish Island developer gets options

City Commission trying to block threatened suit

Publication Date: 06/24/08

St. Augustine City Commissioners agreed Monday to give the Fish Island developer four options in hopes he will drastically change his originally proposed massive dock.

The developer, Jim Young of Jacksonville, now has until mid-July to either change his project or go through with his threat of suing the city for $9 million, said City Attorney Ron Brown.

The potential lawsuit would be filed under the Bert Harris Act, a property rights protection law, which requires that both the city and the developer first show they attempted to find a compromise before a lawsuit is filed.

The commission worried that even if the developer does change his project, it won't be "significant" enough. They were reluctant to work with the developer without knowing what or if he was willing to redo his project.

Neither Young nor his attorney, Richard Maguire of Rogers Towers, attended the City Commission meeting Monday.

Commissioner Errol Jones said it seemed the city was giving Young "wide-open parameters, and we will back here debating it again."

"It seems we're standing here and seeing who is going to blink first," Jones said. "We really don't want to give them anything, but we're just trying to abide by the law."

Commissioner Don Crichlow said the options the city is giving to the developer are "nebulous." Commissioner Susan Burk agreed.

"What if we say, 'Reduce your number of boat slips,' and they eliminate one and say, 'OK, we did what you asked,'" said Burk. "The offer isn't specific."

Burk requested the phrase "significant decrease in boat slips" be added to the recommended options to Young.

In April, the city's Planning and Zoning Board met with Maguire and recommended four changes the developer could make to the proposed dock in the Matanzas River.

The options were reducing the number of slips, adding more public use and access, moving the dock closer to State Road 312 to reduce the environmental impact and having the city buy the land from the developer.

That last option would call for state funding.

The board then met with Maguire again in May, expecting to hear a response from the developer. But Planning and Zoning Board Member Bill Leary told the commission Monday that wasn't what happened. He said there was nothing offered from the developer, and, "It was clear he was not in good faith trying to work with us."

But Brown said, by law under the Bert Harris Act, the developer was not required to respond to the city's recommendations.

The original proposed dock was more than 1,200 feet long and 10 feet wide. It would have been part of an upscale development on Anastasia Island south of the State Road 312's Mickler O'Connell Bridge of S.R. 312).

Fish Island Development gave the city notice on Jan. 17 that it would file a lawsuit, and the city had 180 days to either settle with the developer or look at other ways the developer can use the property.

Court documents say the developer claims the city's denial of the project will cause $2.7 million in loss of value to the property and another $6.2 million in value loss of future marina sales, totaling $8.9 million.

The city will send the four recommendations to the developer today.

"Procedurally we're complying with the bare minimum," said Mayor Joe Boles. "We'll see if we get sued or not."

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© The St. Augustine Record

Monday, June 23, 2008

CSX Transportation Annual Shareholders' Meeting in New Orleans

CSX Transportation to hold annual meeting in New Orleans June 25th.

CSX Transportation, a Jacksonville, Fla. company that has rail and intermodal operations in New Orleans, will hold its annual shareholders meeting in New Orleans next month.

The company stages its annual meeting in cities throughout the 23 states in which it operates as a way of showcasing its facilities.

The CSX meeting will take place at 10 a.m. June 25 at the company's Gentilly facility at 7801 Almonaster Blvd. The Almonaster site was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina's flood waters but has since been rebuilt.

CSX Transportation is a subsidiary of CSX Corp.

Posted by The Times-Picayune May 30, 2008 11:18AM

When You Put Two KNOWN REPUBLICAN Oilmen in the White House, What Do You Expect But Exploitation by Big Oil?


Hosted by: Bill Pacetti, Jerod Meeks, Keith Burney, Mike McQuaig, Tim Masters, Melvin McQuaig, Jim Solano, B. J. Burney, Stanton Mills, Edison Burney, John Roundtree, Emory King

Catered ABy Jerry Stalvey Catering

Friday, June 20, 2008

CSX Corporation Facing Watergate-Style Influence Scandal?

WATERGATE involved large corporations corrupting our government.
CSX Corporation is facing questions about its hiring a 25-year old high school graduate to run its diversity and veterans employment office. The kid is running against Ben Rich for St. Johns County Commission. Is he full-time? Is CSX subsidizing him to retaliate against Ben Rich? Are violations of campaign finance, securities and criminal laws being committed? Is this another WATERGATE?


IF CSX hired 25-year old Mark Miner to do a man job as director of diversity and veterans hiring without first earning a college degree, it is well-nigh unprecedented among the Fortune 500. Intern yes, but office director no. Something smells.

If CSX pays Mark Miner to run against reformer Ben Rich for St. Johns County Commission, there's another name for it -- possible illegal in-kind campaign contributions and possible criminal violations of ICO, Hobbs Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

IF CSX returns my calls and comments on this outrage, I'd be very surprised. Its Shareholder Relations phone-answerer was positively goofy, even unfriendly, switching me to a general answering robot.

IF CSX stockholders ask this question at the June 25th Shareholder's meeting, amidst hot litigation, I'd be pleased to help -- call me at 904-471-9699 or 904-471-7023, or fax me at 904-471-9918.

Ed Slavin


EPA Fined City of St. Augustine for Late 2002 Sludge Report in 2005

EPA Website Reports St. Augustine Sewage Effluent Exceeds Permit for Cyanide, Fecal Coliform, Chlorine and Phenolic Compounds

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Musician, artist and accountant Roger Jolley, who garnered 37% of the vote in 2000, is running for Mayor against incumbent JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. and former Commissioner WILLIAM LENNON. The information was on the Election Supervisor's website this afternoon.

Roger Jolley opposes government misconduct, including the suppression of First Amendment rights by the City of St. Augustine by the likes of City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS and City Commissioners. Jolley believes that St. Augustine City Hall is run in violation of federal and state criminal laws -- hence the prison garb he wore to speak to artists and entertainers illegally ousted from St. George Street. For more information, rent J.D. Pleasant's documentary, "St. George Street Saga" at Loose Screws.

A talented pro se litigant, Roger Jolley poses a real threat to the ancien regime in the August 26, 2008 primary -- if he comes in second or first, he can force a runoff on November 4th.

It looks like there will be three candidates in several Commission races, including Mayor, making the August 26th primary a meaningful day for St. Augustinians.

Sheriff Apologizes For Tacky T-Shirts Mocking Anti-War Protesters

Dear Sheriff Shoar:
Thank you!
With kindest regards,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: David Shoar
Sent: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 2:47 pm
Subject: RE: Offensive T-Shirts Distributed By St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar


You are absolutely right. Someone gave me a few of these shirts and when I first read the saying I chuckled. I was speaking to a group of veterans so I brought the shirts along to show the veterans, I guess I fell into the trap that many elected officials do by trying to “pander” to the audience. The shirt should have read, “Hate War, Love our Warriors”. As a veteran who served in a combat zone, I love and support our troops even though I strongly disagree with our policy in the Middle East. I guess we should remember that things viewed from our personal perspective that we think are amusing may not be amusing to others from their perspective, thanks for reinforcing that concept for me. Please accept my apology. I am certain you won’t judge my character or career based on this one issue. Take care and thanks for all that you do, David.

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 3:38 PM
To: David Shoar
Cc:;; Commissioner Jim Bryant; Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson; Commissioner Ron Sanchez; Commissioner Ben Rich; Commissioner Tom Manuel
Subject: Offensive T-Shirts Distributed By St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar

Dear Sheriff Shoar:
1. Were any public funds used to purchase the t-shirts reported in FOLIO (If You Don't Stand Behind Our Troops, Then Stand in Front of Them)?
2. How much was spent? What purpose was served?
3. Why? Who suggested it?
4. Who was the vendor? Was there competitive bidding?
5. How many shirts were ordered?
6. Do you understand these t-shirts offend reasonable, peaceable people, and appear to invite violence?
7. Do you intend to apologize?
8. Is it "Christian" to display such shirts? Was Jesus a warmonger? Does your Bible say, "though shalt not kill?"
9. Would you attend an event marking Independence Day with incineration of the Declaration of Independence and (in effigy) John Adams and John Hancock -- as British loyalists did here in 1776?
10. Have you read John Dean's book, "Conservatives Without Conscience?" If not, will you please do so?
Thank you.
With kindest regards,
Ed Slavin

St. Augustine, Florida's Corrupt City Hall Faces Challengers

Whether for City Commission, County Commission, State Representative or Congress, the crooks in St. Augustine and St. Johns County face stiff challenges in this year's elections. Those who thought it cute to put solid waste in our Old City Reservoir -- and then ship it back to Lincolnville -- are facing the voters. So are those responsible for longstanding illegal sewage pollution.
Boss William Marcy Tweed must be burning up with envy that WILLIAM B. HARRIS has remained on the job since April 13, 1998, without a performance appraisal, while intimidating City employees and citizens alike, with protective cover from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C.
This is our town and our time -- we've had enough authoritarian social dominators ruining our environment and violating human rights.
It's morning in St. Augustine.


Romano tries for City Seat 2

Publication Date: 06/19/08

Lincolnville resident Peter Romano has announced he's running for the St. Augustine City Commission, competing against an attorney and the city's Parking and Traffic committee president.

Romano, 61. hopes to win Seat 2, a four-year position.

He retired to St. Augustine in 2000 and has been the president of the Lincolnville Neighborhood Association for four years. Before retirement, he worked in finance, among other professions.

He is vying for the seat against Leanna Freeman, 37, an attorney and former city Planning and Zoning Board chairwoman, and Dan Sullivan, 66, a retiree and head of the St. Augustine Parking and Traffic Committee.

Romano said on Tuesday that he is focusing on three things in his campaign: put the residents first, define a long-term comprehensive plan for St. Augustine and create more transparency at City Hall.

"People are suspicious of the city, and the more forthright they are the better it would be," Romano said.

In 2006 he competed against then-Mayor George Gardner for City Commission Seat 3 and then-City Commissioner Joe Boles for mayor. He lost both races.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Democrat seeks District 20 seat

Democrat seeks District 20 seat

Budget, school woes fuel District 20 race

Publication Date: 06/19/08

Palm Coast businessman Doug Courtney, a Democrat, wants to win the District 20 House seat now occupied by state Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, who is running for a second term in November.

Courtney said this week that he's met and likes Proctor.

Courtney's father, a high school principal, would be proud of his son's 25 years in education.

Courtney graduated with an MBA from Xavier University and now owns two companies in Florida, both connected to information technology.

But don't get him started on the severe Republican cuts to Florida's education funding.

"I've been in education a long time. I ran because I didn't like the direction this state is going," he said. "Funding for schools is down $6 billion. Our school system, which worked well for 220 years, is being starved to death by the Republicans."

Part of that he blames on an explosion in state spending.

"In 1998, the state budget was $35 billion. In 2008, it's $77 billion," he said.

Florida's education priorities also are skewed, he said. The K-12 budget rose only 3 percent over the last five years.

"In 2004, for every $1 spent on universities, $10 was spent on K-12. But now, for every university dollar, K-12 gets only $4. The ratios have really shrunk," he said. "In the past five years, the state increased K-12 spending $200 million. But colleges and universities got $1.5 billion." During that period, the state approved the founding of two more universities, one a medical school, he said.

"What good is it to add two new universities when we can't get our kids out of high school?" Courtney said, adding that St. Augustine schools were hit with a $9.3 million loss of state funding while Flagler College lost $500,000.

"I'm not saying (Proctor) did anything wrong," he said. "But he's in the majority party and still can't get anything done to get this resolved."

Courtney said he'd fund physical, teacher and technical training, oppose vouchers as draining money from public schools, rebuild charter schools and work to have the 10-year-old FCAT abolished because it costs $72 million a year and accomplishes nothing.

He supports proposals by Democratic legislators to address Florida's insurance crisis.

Democratic legislators want smaller, independent home insurance carriers that would cover the millions of customers flocking to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Co.

"We can't rely on Citizens for everything," he said. "The Republican majority seems to be in favor of large companies. They're wiping out the small businessman. The nation runs on small businesses."

He said St. Augustine and other coastal North Florida communities could benefit from smaller insurance companies.

"We don't have to be tied to the Miami Beach area. The state seems to be run by the South Florida Legislature. We have to stand up for our own issues," he said, adding that education is his No. 1 issue.

"The majority of students we have to educate are not in universities; they're K-12," he said. "Florida has not improved (its national ranking) in 10 years. We're still 49th or 50th. We can easily call (our education system) a failure."

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© The St. Augustine Record

Rare loggerhead sighting at Vilano Beach

Photos by Barbara Reber

Rare loggerhead sighting at Vilano Beach

Record Intern
Publication Date: 06/19/08

At a sunrise Wednesday, three sea turtle patrollers spotted something that most people will never see: a loggerhead sea turtle laid her eggs on the beach and returned to the ocean.

They got to see it because this turtle was on Vilano Beach as the sun was coming up. Turtles usually lay their eggs in the dark of night.

"It was just so moving, it was almost a religious experience," said Barbara Reber, one of the sea turtle patrollers. "These guys, they're prehistoric animals, and seeing one up close is a miracle."

The patrollers walked up to the turtle as she was covering her nest early Wednesday morning.

They followed her tracks and saw that before they had gotten there she crawled up onto a sand dune.

"Apparently she didn't like that real estate," said Reber.

The turtle made her way back down the side of the dune, where she found a spot, stopped and laid her eggs.

"She was so tired," Reber said. "She worked so hard."

The three looked on as the mother made her way back to the ocean.

"They just drop those eggs and then say, 'See ya,'" Reber said.

Nobody else was on the beach when this mother was nesting except the three. In the five years Reber has been a patroller, this is the second time she has seen a turtle. Sea turtles nest on the beaches from May 1 to Oct. 31.

Volunteers patrol St. Johns County beaches every day during the nesting season. They walk the beach at 6 a.m. to make sure the eggs stay safe, and they document how many nests there are.

The Vilano Beach Sea Turtle Patrol watches 2.6 miles of beach from the Reef Restaurant to the Porpoise Point jetties. The volunteers have documented 17 loggerhead nests so far this season.

Green and leatherback sea turtles also occasionally nest on the St. Johns County beaches, but mostly the nests are those of loggerhead sea turtles.

Florida is one of two places in the world where loggerhead sea turtles nest. The other is Oman on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, said Catherine Eastman, the Vilano Beach permit holder and volunteer coordinator.

June and July are the biggest months for nesting. Last year there were approximately 30 nests made during this time with 90 to 135 eggs in each.

There will probably be about the same this year, but there have been more false crawls on Vilano Beach than usual, Eastman said.

A false crawl is when a mother turtle comes onto the beach as if she were going to lay eggs, but then she retreats to the ocean without laying them.

There's no single reason why this is happening, but Eastman said one possibility is beach erosion.

"Erosion leaves them with nothing high and dry to nest on," she said.

The way to keep turtles returning is to maintain clean beaches, Eastman said.

"Keeping our beaches a place you'd want to visit will keep the turtles coming back," she said. "If we're not careful, we won't have these things."

Sea Turtle Facts:

* How many eggs are in each nest: 90-135

* How long until the eggs hatch: 40-70 days

* When the sea turtle nesting season is: May 1 to Oct. 31

* What people can do to help the turtles: Pick up trash and don't touch the nests or turtles

* What beach homeowners can do to help: Turn off lights at night. Baby sea turtles crawl toward the light when they hatch. This should lead them to the ocean, but city lights can lead them the wrong way, Eastman said.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Suppose State Rep. WILLIAM L. PROCTOR Held A Town Meeting in St. Augustine Beach, and Hardly Anyone Attended?

Could it be that Reprobate WILLIAM L. PROCTOR has worn out his welcome?
This misanthrope is the meanest man in St. Augustine.
He's bigoted and egotistical. He is no scholar. He is no gentleman. He is Chancellor of a "college" without tenure or academic freedom.
Last night, wily, weary, weirdo WILLIAM L. PROCTOR held a town meeting attended by only a handful of people. No one likes PROCTOR very much -- he truly is the meanest man in St. Augustine. Who needs PROCTOR?
Certainly not Flagler College -- if it wants a law school, it needs to give him a gold watch and tell him to "get thee hence" (theatrical term PROCTOR wouldn't know about -- in 40 years, he never attended a Flagler College play, even though it has a world class theatre department).
Color PROCTOR a leader without followers -- who needs a State Rep. who hates everyone?

Commisioner Errol Jones Knowingly Disgraces Himself In Office, Appears to Be Drunk At Lincolnville Neighborhood Assn Meeting Last Night

Controversial St. Augustine City Commissioner ERROL JONES arrived late, banged on the door and then proceeded to lecture Lincolnville Neighborhood Association members last night at the Willie Gallimore Center. Jones said City Chief Operations Officer John Regan "works for me" and proceeded to lecture the group about underground utilities, parking on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., and everything else, refusing to obey Chairman Peter Romano, who hadn't recognized him.
This is the latest in a series of intoxicated and hamhanded appearances by JONES, who faces a tough battle for re-election against Judith Seraphin.
JONES is the Commissioner who made the motion to send contaminated solid waste dumped in our Old City Reservoir back to the historic African-American community of Lincolnville. Community activists and FDEP stopped JONES' plan.
Color Jones conceited and stuck on himself, and yelling at everyone last night.
What a lugubrious goober.

Will Feds and Florida Prosecute St., Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS For Illegal Sewage Pollution? Or Will This Case Be Fixed, Too?

Caught red-handed dumping sewage into our Matanzas Bay and River, what will happen to our Nation's Oldest City's City Hall bureaucrats, who also thought they'd get away wiht dumping solid waste into our Old City Reservoir?

Will this case be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney?

Or covered up by FDEP?

I still believe in a place called Hope -- we're cleaning up this town.

Expect democracy. Demand answers.

Sewage Pollution Threatens Public Health -- Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC Issues: Water
Sewage Pollution Threatens Public Health
Aging sewer systems and rollbacks of environmental law are
compounding the problem.
[En Español]
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that every year, in each county across the nation, the amount of untreated sewage that enters the environment is enough to fill both the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden. And Swimming in Sewage, a February 2004 report by NRDC and the Environmental Integrity Project, shows that sewage overflows -- some legal, some not -- are creating an environmental and public health crisis:
• In Hamilton County, Ohio, a single sewer discharges 75 million gallons of untreated sewage into Mill Creek each year, including during summer months when children swim in the river.
• In Indianapolis, more than 1 billion gallons of untreated sewage are discharged into the environment each year because treatment plants cannot handle the flow during wet weather.
• In Michigan, 2,000 homes sustained sewer-related damage in 1999 and 2000.
• In Washington, D.C., a half-inch of rain can make sewers overflow into the Anacostia River, which runs through the heart of the city.
Untreated sewage carries a dangerous cargo of infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxic chemicals. When it ends up in our recreational and drinking water, in groundwater and in the basements of our homes, it takes a severe toll on human health and the environment:
• Each year, 1.8 million to 3.5 million illnesses are caused by swimming in water contaminated by sewage overflows, and an additional 500,000 from drinking contaminated water.
• U.S. medical costs associated with eating sewage-contaminated shellfish range from $2.5 million to $22 million each year.
• In the reefs off the Florida Keys, 70 percent of elkhorn corals have been wiped out by white pox disease, which is caused by human intestinal bacteria.
Raw sewage is supposed to be carried to wastewater treatment plants for processing. Yet our sewage collection systems -- 200 years old in places -- are plagued by broken, leaking or overloaded pipes that allow untreated sewage to be released directly into the environment on a routine basis.
Sewer overflows often occur during wet weather, when rainwater seeps into cracked and corroded pipes, overwhelming the system and forcing raw sewage out onto the streets and into streams and basements. Older systems in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes are actually designed to carry both sewage and stormwater runoff. During heavy rains, their combined output automatically bypasses treatment plants and ends up in waterways. These combined sewer overflows dump an estimated 1.3 trillion gallons of raw sewage into communities every year.
The problem is worsening as the U.S. population grows, storms become more severe (a consequence of global warming) and our government fails to address our sewer systems' shortfalls. The Bush administration's proposed budget cuts and policy changes will further exacerbate sewage pollution. One such policy change will allow sewer operators to release "blended" or partially treated sewage into waterways when it rains -- a backward move, instead of the steps that are needed toward controlling raw sewage discharges.
But the situation doesn't have to spiral out of control. Better data on sewage overflows and waterborne illnesses can help stop or control disease outbreaks. The United States needs massive improvements in the integrity and capacity of its sewage systems, and the government should establish a trust fund for clean water, much like the ones that already exist for highways and airports. Above all, the Bush administration should enforce the Clean Water Act and protect public health and the environment, rather than continue its sweeping campaign to weaken environmental standards.
Related NRDC Pages
Swimming in Sewage
last revised 12.9.04

Rep. Mica's Scheme For Offshore Oil Drilling Off Florida's Coasts -- "We Shall Fight Them on the Beachs"

As SIR WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL said, "we shall fight them on the beaches."