Friday, August 28, 2009

USDOJ Press Release: Former Department of Defense Contractor Sentenced for Participation in Scheme to Steal Fuel from U.S. Army in Iraq

or Immediate Release
August 25, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia
Contact: (703) 299-3700

Former Department of Defense Contractor Sentenced for Participation in Scheme to Steal Fuel from U.S. Army in Iraq

WASHINGTON—Lee William Dubois, a former Department of Defense (DoD) contractor, was sentenced today to three years in prison for his participation in a scheme to steal fuel worth approximately $39.6 million from the U.S. Army in Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente.

Dubois, 32, of Lexington, S.C., was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District of Virginia. Dubois had pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with theft of government property on Oct. 7, 2008. In connection with his plea, Dubois testified at the trial of his co-conspirator, Robert Jeffery, who was convicted by a jury on Aug. 11, 2009. Dubois also repaid to the U.S. government $450,000 that represented the illicit proceeds of the scheme.

In his plea, Dubois admitted that between July 2007 and May 2008, he and his co-conspirators, purportedly representing DoD contractors in Iraq, used fraudulently-obtained documents to enter the Victory Bulk Fuel Point (VBFP) in Camp Liberty, Iraq, and presented false fuel authorization forms to steal aviation and diesel fuel from the VBFP for subsequent sale on the black market. According to plea documents, the United States owns and operates the VBFP in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The VBFP supplies aviation and diesel fuel to both military units and U.S. government contractors operating in and around the VBFP. To retrieve and transport the stolen fuel from the VBFP, Dubois admitted he and his co-conspirators employed approximately 10 individuals to serve as drivers and escorts of the trucks containing the stolen fuel. These individuals were able to enter the VBFP illegally by using government-issued common access cards.

Dubois admitted he obtained the cards by falsely representing to the U.S. Army that the drivers and escorts were employees of a DoD contractor, when, in fact, they were not employed by any government contractors. In addition, Dubois admitted he went to the VBFP and presented false documents authorizing his co-conspirators to draw fuel. Dubois also admitted that for two months during the scheme, he served as the lead escort for the stolen fuel. According to information contained in the plea documents, during the course of the scheme, Dubois and his co-conspirators stole approximately 10 million gallons of fuel worth approximately $39.6 million. Dubois received at least $450,000 in personal profits from the subsequent sale of the fuel on the black market.

In related cases, Robert Jeffery was convicted on Aug. 11, 2009, after a two-day jury trial, of one count of conspiracy and one count of theft of government property for his role in the fuel theft. Robert Young and Michel Jamil each pleaded guilty to participating in the same scheme. The evidence at trial showed that Jeffery served as an escort for the fuel trucks and retrieved hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from the VBFP. Sentencing for Jeffery is scheduled for December 11, 2009.

Young, 56, a former captain in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty on July 24, 2009. In his guilty plea, Young admitted that between October 2007 and May 2008, he and his co-conspirators used fraudulently-obtained documents to enter the VBFP and presented false fuel authorization forms to steal aviation and diesel fuel from the VBFP for subsequent sale on the black market. As a result of the scheme, Young received approximately $1 million in personal profits. Sentencing for Young is scheduled for Oct. 30, 2009.

Jamil, 59, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2009, with his role in the scheme. Jamil admitted that in March 2007, he and two of his co-conspirators arranged for the creation of a false Memorandum for Record (MFR) authorizing individuals to draw fuel from VBFP, purportedly on behalf of a company serving as a contractor to the U.S. government. Jamil admitted that he and his co-conspirators used this false MFR and others to steal large quantities of fuel from the U.S. Army for subsequent sale on the Iraqi black market. As a result of the scheme, Jamil admitted he received between $75,000 and $87,500 in profits. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2009.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Linick, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Andrew Gentin and Brigham Cannon. The investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Washington Field Office of the FBI, and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

DOJ Press Release: Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith, Missouri State Representative Mark Brown, and Nicholas Adams Plead Guilty to Federal Obstruction

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For Immediate Release
August 25, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Missouri
Contact: (314) 539-7719

Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith, Missouri State Representative Mark Brown, and Nicholas Adams Plead Guilty to Federal Obstruction Charges

ST. LOUIS, MO—Smith, Brown, and Adams all have pleaded guilty to federal obstruction charges involving their conspiracy and attempt to obstruct a Federal Election Commission proceeding from July 2004 through December 2007, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today. In addition, Smith and Adams pled guilty to federal obstruction charges involving their conspiracy and attempt to obstruct a Federal Grand Jury proceeding from June 1, 2009 through July 15, 2009.

During August 2004, a primary election was held to nominate candidates for the 3rd District of Missouri United States Congressional seat vacated by Richard Gephardt. Along with eight others, Russ Carnahan and Jeff Smith were Democratic candidates in that primary. Russ Carnahan won that primary election, with Jeff Smith placing second in the balloting among Democratic candidates. Russ Carnahan went on to win the general election for United States Congress during November 2004.

Jeff Smith’s campaign committee during the 2004 primary election was known as “Friends of Jeff Smith”. Steve Brown was a close and personal friend of Jeff Smith. During 2004 Brown, on leave as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri, served as campaign manager for Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon during his successful campaign for Missouri Attorney General. Steve Brown also provided substantial support, advice, and assistance to Jeff Smith and the Friends of Jeff Smith committee during Smith’s 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination for United States Congress.

According to the documents filed with the court at the time of the pleas, during July 2004, an individual, referred to as “John Doe,” approached individual members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee, including the committee’s Treasurer, Nicholas Adams, the committee’s Communications/Press Director, Artie Harris and the committee’s Campaign Manager, Clay Haynes, and offered to assist Smith’s campaign by producing and distributing negative campaign advertisements aimed at Russ Carnahan. John Doe was affiliated with an organization known as Voters for Truth.

Smith and members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee discussed and agreed with John Doe’s plan to produce and distribute the negative campaign advertisements aimed at Russ Carnahan. Steve Brown was introduced to John Doe by members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee, and at Smith’s request, Brown agreed to solicit funds from Smith’s donors for John Doe and Voters for Truth, for the production and distribution of the negative campaign advertisements. Steve Brown did, in fact, solicit and obtain substantial funds for John Doe and Voters for Truth from several of Smith’s donors, and he also provided John Doe with $5,000 cash of his own personal funds.

Members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee, including Nick Adams, Artie Harris, and Clay Haynes, personally met with and spoke on the telephone with John Doe on several occasions in order to discuss the negative campaign advertisements aimed at Russ Carnahan. With the knowledge and agreement of Smith, they provided John Doe with information to be used in the advertisements and mailing address lists for their distribution.

Using the funds provided by Brown, and the information provided by Adams, Artie Harris, and Clay Haynes, John Doe and Voters for Truth contracted with a direct mail company in Cleveland, Ohio for the production and mail distribution of a postcard containing negative information about Russ Carnahan, sometimes referred to as the “Miss More Work” mailing. On July 23, 2004, approximately 25,000 of the negative advertisement postcards were mailed to Missouri’s 3rd District resident voters. The postcards did not accurately identify the individuals or organizations involved in their production and distribution, and did not make any mention of Voters for Truth, John Doe, Jeff Smith, or the Friends of Jeff Smith committee.

Thereafter, the Russ Carnahan for Congress committee, acting upon information it had obtained, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the Friends of Jeff Smith committee had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and Commission regulations relative to the printing and distribution of the negative advertisement postcards. The Federal Election Commission opened an investigation.

On September 8, 2004, Jeff Smith submitted a false sworn affidavit to the Federal Election Commission, falsely representing he had no knowledge of who was responsible for the postcard, nor who paid for the mailing.

During November 2006, John Doe received a subpoena to testify before the Federal Election Commission. John Doe’s testimony was scheduled for November 16, 2006. On November 14, 2006, with Jeff Smith’s knowledge, Steve Brown met with John Doe at a health and social club in St. Louis in an effort to convince John Doe not to testify about Brown and Smith’s knowledge and involvement in the anti-Carnahan postcards. Shortly after that meeting, Brown and Smith discussed their ongoing concerns that John Doe was going to disclose their conduct to the Federal Election Commission, and agreed they should offer John Doe the opportunity to work on Smith’s political committee if John Doe kept them out of the Federal Election Commission investigation. Steve Brown had a second meeting with John Doe where they discussed the possibility of John Doe getting future work from Brown and Smith if he kept them out of the FEC investigation. Two days later, Doe appeared before the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., and gave sworn testimony concerning the allegations raised by the Carnahan committee. Consistent with his discussions with Brown, John Doe made numerous false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and failed to identify Brown, any members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee, Adams, or Jeff Smith as being involved in the funding, production, and/or distribution of the anti Carnahan postcards. John Doe falsely testified that he had been retained by an anonymous individual who provided John Doe with the print copy, artwork, and mailing addresses for the anti Carnahan postcard, and that he was paid in cash by this anonymous individual for his work in producing and distributing the postcards. John Doe falsely testified that Voters for Truth was not his organization, that he had simply been retained by Voters for Truth to do polling work, and that Voters for Truth was not involved in the anti- Carnahan postcards.

Following John Doe’s testimony before the FEC, Brown, Smith and Adams had numerous telephone conversations amongst themselves and with other members of the Friends of Jeff Smith Committee, including Artie Harris, about what they should say if interviewed by the Federal Election Commission. During these conversations it was agreed that everyone would deny involvement in the production, funding, and distribution of the anti Carnahan postcards, and deny knowledge of John Doe’s conduct in that regard.

On March 1, 2007, Artie Harris was interviewed by the Federal Election Commission and falsely denied his involvement. Harris told the Federal Election Commission that both he and Adams were leery of John Doe’s true agenda. Harris acknowledged that he had provided John Doe with a copy of some publicly available information the campaign had already compiled on Russ Carnahan, but that he did not recall any further conversations with John Doe. Shortly following his interview by the Federal Election Commission, Artie Harris died. On March 15, 2007, Nick Adams was interviewed by the Federal Election Commission and also falsely denied any involvement in the production, funding, and distribution of those postcards.

On December 10, 2007, the General Counsel for the Federal Election Commission issued its final report recommending that the investigation into the Carnahan committee allegations concerning the 2004 postcards be closed, and that no action be taken against the Friends of Jeff Smith committee or any individuals. The report noted that John Doe’s testimony had been vague, contradictory and lacking in credibility. The report noted that Jeff Smith and members of the Friends of Jeff Smith committee, including Adams and Artie Harris, denied any firsthand knowledge of Voters for Truth or involvement in the distribution of the postcard, and went on to state that the circumstances suggest that John Doe paid for the postcards with his own personal funds and created Voters for Truth to conceal his involvement on the negative attack on Carnahan.

Following the issuance of the December 10, 2007 final report, Bown and Smith met to review and discuss the report’s findings, and agreed that they “got lucky” that the Federal Election Commission had not been able to uncover their involvement in the anti-Carnahan postcards.

Additionally, as admitted to by Smith and Adams relative to Count II of the Information; during January 2009, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI, acting upon newly discovered information, opened a federal criminal investigation into the original allegations raised by the Carnahan Campaign Committee and investigated by the FEC, as well as to determine whether any individuals had attempted to obstruct that Federal Election Commission proceeding. As charged in the Information, the object of the conspiracy was to obstruct a Federal Grand Jury proceeding by preventing the flow of information to federal law enforcement authorities through false statements and false representations.

On June 1, 2009, Jeff Smith and Steve Brown had a telephone conversation to discuss the possibility that John Doe was cooperating with federal law enforcement and providing federal law enforcement with information regarding the 2004 postcard mailing and subsequent investigation by the FEC. Smith discussed how they should respond if interviewed by federal law enforcement. Regarding the postcard, Smith acknowledged that Nick Adams and Artie Harris, both officials of his 2004 U.S. Congressional campaign committee, had handled the coordination between his committee and John Doe. Smith further discussed what potential evidence John Doe might have against him, and what he could say about it to federal law enforcement. During the telephone conversation, Smith also acknowledged that he knew Brown and some of his donors had given John Doe money to produce the anti-Carnahan postcard. Smith urged Brown how to respond if interviewed by law enforcement.

On June 17, 2009, Smith, Adams and Brown met at Smith’s residence to further discuss the possibility that John Doe was cooperating with federal law enforcement. During the meeting Smith acknowledged that he knew that Adams and Artie Harris were working with John Doe on the postcard, and that Clay Haynes had given John Doe the campaign committee’s mailing address list. Adams again acknowledged that he had lied to the FEC during March 2007 when asked about John Doe. Smith told them that John Doe would not be believed by federal law enforcement, saying that “Doe against the three of us is not even a contest.”

On June 30, 2009, Smith was interviewed by FBI Agents. During the interview, Smith made numerous false statements and false representations. The same day Adams was also interviewed and made numerous false statements and false representations as well. After the FBI interviews that morning Smith, Adams, and Brown met to discuss the interviews, and to discuss what Brown should say if he were to be interviewed by the FBI. Smith and Adams urged Brown to tell the FBI that Artie Harris, deceased, was the only one who had any contact with John Doe.

Finally, in order to conceal their future discussions from the FBI, and in furtherance of the conspiracy, Smith and Adams agreed to purchase and communicate only through “pay as you go” cellular telephones.

“The fact that Senator Jeff Smith, Rep. Steve Brown and Nicholas Adams all pled guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice is further evidence that the FBI has zero tolerance for public corruption,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “Politicians are supposed to serve the people who elected them, not their own self-interests. What Senator Smith, Rep. Brown and Adams did is nothing more than old fashioned corruption.”

Jeff Smith, 35, St. Louis City, and Nicholas Adams, 29, University City, MO, pleaded guilty to two felony counts fo conspiracy to obstruct justice. Mark Steven Brown, 42, Clayton, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. All three defendants appeared before United States District Judge Carol E. Jackson, in federal District Court, in St. Louis.

Each count of conspiracy to obstruct justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Sentencings have been set for November 10, 2009.

Reap commended the work on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

DOJ Press Release: Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo Convicted of Attempted Extortion and Bribery

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For Immediate Release
August 27, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York
Contact: (315) 448-0672

Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo Convicted of Attempted Extortion and Bribery

WASHINGTON—Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo was convicted today by a federal jury in Albany, N.Y., of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge John F. Pikus of the FBI’s Albany office announced.

Spargo, 66, was convicted following a three-day jury trial. Evidenced introduced at trial showed that on Nov. 13, 2003, Spargo solicited a $10,000 payment from an attorney with cases pending before him in Ulster County, while Spargo was serving as a state supreme court justice. The trial evidence showed that when the attorney declined to pay the money, Spargo increased the pressure by a second solicitation communicated through an associate. According to evidence presented at trial, on Dec. 19, 2003, Spargo directly told the attorney in a telephone conversation that he and another judge close to him had been assigned to handle cases in Ulster County, including the attorney’s personal divorce case. According to the evidence at trial, the attorney felt that if he did not pay the money, both the cases handled by his law firm and his personal divorce proceeding would be in jeopardy.

“It is a sad day indeed when a judge breaks the laws that he is sworn to enforce,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section will continue in its singular mission to hold accountable wayward public officials who violate the law and the trust that has been placed in them.”

“Judges are supposed to serve the people who elected them, not their own self-interests. What Mr. Spargo did is nothing more than old fashioned extortion,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Pikus.

The maximum statutory penalty for the charge of soliciting a bribe is 10 years in prison and the maximum penalty for the charge of attempted extortion is 20 years. Spargo also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count on which he was convicted.

This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Richard C. Pilger and Trial Attorney M. Kendall Day of the Public Integrity Section, which is headed by Chief William M. Welch II. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Albany Division.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Washington Blade: Govt apologizes to Dr. Franklin Kameny for wrongful firing for being Gay

Gov't apologizes to Kameny

More than 50 years after firing Frank Kameny from his job for being gay, the federal government today officially apologized.

John Berry, the gay director of the Office of Personnel Management, presented Kameny with an official letter of apology along with the department’s most prestigious award, the Theodore Roosevelt Award.

“In what we know today was a shameful action, the United States Civil Service Commission in 1957 upheld your dismissal from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation,” the letter states. “… And by virtue of the authority vested in me as Director of the Office Of Personnel Management, it is my duty and great pleasure to inform you that I am adding my support … for the repudiation of the reasoning of the 1957 finding by the United States Civil Service Commission to dismiss you from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation. Please accept our apology for the consequences of the previous policy of the United States government.”

“Apology accepted,” Kameny replied.

The full text of the letter follows below.

Dear Dr. Kameny: In what we know today was a shameful action, the United States Civil Service Commission in 1957 upheld your dismissal from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation. In one letter to you, an agency official wrote that the Government “does not hire homosexuals and will not permit their employment...” He went on to say that “the homosexual is automatically a security risk” and that he “frequently becomes a disruptive personnel factor within any organization.”

With the fervent passion of a true patriot, you did not resign yourself to your fate or quietly endure this wrong. With courage and strength, you fought back. And so today, I am writing to advise you that this policy, which was at odds with the bedrock principles underlying the merit-based civil service, has been repudiated by the United States Government, due in large part to your determination and life’s work, and to the thousands of Americans whose advocacy your words have inspired.

Thus, the civil service laws, rules and regulations now provide that it is illegal to discriminate against federal employees or applicants based on matters not related to their ability to perform their jobs, including their sexual orientation. Furthermore, I am happy to inform you that the Memorandum signed by President Obama on June 17, 2009 directs the Office of Personnel Management—the successor to the CSC--to issue guidance to all executive departments and agencies regarding their obligations to comply with these laws, rules, and regulations.

And by virtue of the authority vested in me as Director of the Office Of Personnel Management, it is my duty and great pleasure to inform you that I am adding my support, along with that of many other past Directors, for the repudiation of the reasoning of the 1957 finding by the United States Civil Service Commission to dismiss you from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation. Please accept our apology for the consequences of the previous policy of the United States government, and please accept the gratitude and appreciation of the United States Office of Personnel Management for the work you have done to fight discrimination and protect the merit-based civil service system.

Sincerely yours,

John Berry, Director

Folio Wekly's Anne Schinder re: Renaming Part of SR9A for RONALD WILSON REAGAN

A press release from the state Department of Transportation that it will dedicate a portion of State Road 9A as “Ronald W. Reagan Memorial Highway” tomorrow morning makes me long for the days when such a ceremony would be greeted with indignation and outrage. Those days actually existed, right?

Anyway, writer David Corn summed it up best in his 1998 piece written shortly before Washington National Airport in D.C. was renamed in honor of the Gipper. For those of you who didn’t catch it then, it’s still essential reading:

66 Things to Think About when Flying Into Reagan National Airport

The firing of the air-traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for FBI lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public-housing cutbacks, red-baiting the nuclear-freeze movement, James Watt.

Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, “homeless by choice,” Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, “constructive engagement” with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy’s astrologer. Drug tests, lie-detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig “in charge,” silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, “mistakes were made.”

Michael Deaver’s conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger’s conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger’s five-count indictment, Ed Meese (”You don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime”), Donald Regan (women don’t “understand throw weights”), education cuts, massacres in El Salvador.

“The bombing begins in five minutes,” $640 Pentagon toilet seats, African-American judicial appointees (1.9 percent), Reader’s Digest, CIA-sponsored car bombing in Lebanon (more than eighty civilians killed), 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran/Contra.

“Facts are stupid things,” three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, SDI, Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.

– Posted by Anne Schindler


He's campaigning against health care reform (see below), speaking to the Volusia County Manufacturers Association, the local bastion of a national group of thugs (the National Association of Manufacturers)(NAM), a group that opposed the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society and every single decent piece of legislation ever adopted to protect working people and our environment.

It's time for JOHN LUIGI MICA to go.

Where NAM is concerned, I have a long memory -- my dad was blacklisted by the Pennsylvania Association of Manufacturers for being a union organizer. He had to change his name.

DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL: Mica continues campaign against health care reform plan

August 27, 2009

Mica continues campaign against health care reform plan
Senior Business Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- U.S. Rep. John Mica continued his campaign against a proposal to reform health care, telling a group of business people and government officials he objects to the creation of more bureaucracy.

Speaking to more than 100 gathered at Daytona Beach International Airport for the monthly dinner of the Volusia Manufacturers Association, the Winter Park Republican said the congressional bill would hurt small business and cut some Medicare programs.

The House bill "probably would solve some problems" with U.S. health care, but is set up so private insurance plans "cannot compete," Mica said. And the bill would extend coverage to illegal immigrants.

"Nobody could be more for health care reform," Mica said. "But I will not support any benefits to anyone here illegally. That would serve as a magnet to attract more trying to enter the country illegally."

The Obama administration has been refuting Republicans' claims, such as Mica's.

Christina Romer, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said it is a myth health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. On the White House Web site, she said reform will ease the burdens on small businesses and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

Robert Kocher of the National Economic Council said reform would not be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, he says on the Web site, reform would simply eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies.

About insuring illegal immigrant, President Barack Obama was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday saying, "This has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress, and none of the proposals coming out of the White House, propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants -- none of them. That has never been on the table."

The dinner was one of several stops Mica is making throughout the seventh congressional district this month. The district includes parts of Volusia and Flagler counties.

His solution to soaring health-care costs and lack of access to care and insurance is to "address liability" through tort reform and reduce Medicare fraud.

High premiums for liability insurance drive up doctors' costs and their fees, he said. "There are many ways to make things better, cheaper and more efficient, and we should do that."

"This country has faced some incredibly tough times and has pulled through," Mica said. "But Congress can't solve all the problems."

Editorial: Don't stop with Aviles Street

Publication Date: 08/27/09

The Aviles Street makeover makes sense.

Shade trees, flower pots, Spanish flags, cafe-style seating and elimination of on-street parking are proposed to give Aviles Street more of an Old World, pedestrian-friendly feel.

As it is, the street's bricks are uneven, cars sneak up on unwitting walkers, parked cars make the street look narrower than it is, and there's nothing that says, "Come on down." Certainly there's no curbside feel.

The shops, art studios and restaurants are unique on Aviles Street, under the arch south of the Plaza de la Constitucion. But if visitors aren't drawn to the street by inviting scenery, they likely won't venture there to browse, shop, eat or just stroll.

The city's Historic Architectural Review Board, the arbiter of the city's architectural heritage in the downtown preservation districts, likes the concept but reserves the right to review the details of the final plan. The city commission will be asked next month to authorize an estimated $100,000 for the project, which is expected to be ready by February.

Aviles Street, considered the city's oldest street, as it is on the original 1573 town plan, is the right place to develop a new strategy for the city's quaint side streets. Why not let it be the role model for other side streets? On some streets the plan will have to adjusted, but the theme would be the same.

We wonder what would happen to Charlotte Street if the city took the same approach, removing on-street parking on that gateway north from downtown to the Castillo de San Marcos. While it gets slightly more walking traffic than Aviles, we can only imagine what a makeover there would do.

We could go on and on, but we'll just say the timing could not be better. The city's 2013-2015 celebration of its 450th birthday is less than four years away.

Officials talk of improving the infrastructure to benefit the visitor experience. We think they have found the starting point on Aviles Street.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Physicians, heal thyselves

Some local millionaire Republican doctors heaped scorn on efforts to reform health care. See below.

These angry millionaires are engaging in "health scare," not health scare.

Health scare is the same odious practice that led one local doctor to threaten publicly to move out of state if caps on medical malpractice damages were not set.

Physicians, heal thyselves.

Wikipedia reports:

Physician, heal thyself is a proverb found in Luke 4:23

"And He said to them, "No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'"

The usual interpretation of this passage is, during the Rejection of Jesus, Jesus expected to hear natives of his hometown of Nazareth use this phrase to criticize him.[1]

The moral of the proverb is counsel to attend to one's own defects, rather than criticizing defects in others.[2]

Local docs unmoved over Obama outreach == 'They don't care about patients,' one physician said of administration

Local docs unmoved over Obama outreach == 'They don't care about patients,' one physician said of administration

Publication Date: 08/27/09

If the reaction of a dozen Flagler Hospital physicians to a health reform conference call among the White House and about 1,900 physicians throughout the country is a trend, President Barack Obama has a tough sell among many wearing long white coats.

"This was an advertisement for the Obama campaign," Dr. Warren Kluger said after the conference call, as his wife rushed to turn down the speakerphone's volume while a White House official was making final comments. "They don't care about patients. This was an outrage. And anybody who sees it any other way has permanent brain damage."

The call, broadcast Tuesday night in a Flagler Hospital meeting room, included a handful of questions from doctors, answered mostly by moderator Dr. Kavita Patel, director of policy for the Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration.

Many of the local physicians attending the conference call said before it started that they opposed what they knew of the proposed congressional health reform plan, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

After the call was over, they remained unmoved.

Kluger, a vascular thoracic surgeon in Florida for 35 years, began practicing medicine in his native Canada. He is convinced that despite repeated denials, the Obama administration is determined to model America's health care system after Canada's, which he said is one of the world's worst.

"They want socialized medicine," Kluger said of the administration. "I've had individuals in my family who have lived in Canada, who are dead, who could have been treated for a few dollars -- could have been treated in the worst hospital in the United States by a third-year medical student and be alive today."

The conference call cannot be quoted directly because the Office of Public Engagement said Wednesday that the call was "off the record," although it appeared to break no new ground from positions already outlined by the White House. The reaction of the physicians, however, was on the record.

Many of the St. Augustine physicians lost interest in the call a little more than halfway through, when Patel reiterated Obama's stated position against placing caps on medical malpractice judgments. That drew jeers from her audience as doctors began to talk among themselves, drowning out dialogue on the call.

"You heard the laughter when she {Patel} talked about his position on malpractice reform," said Dr. Douglas Dew, chairman of the Flagler Medical Executive Committee.

Before the call, Dew said he hoped to hear more specifics about the health plan.

"I didn't get any of that," Dew said after it was over.

Dew said he thinks something needs to be done to cover a group of uninsured people in a "gap" -- mostly those 10 years or fewer short of Medicare eligibility.

"That is a gap we need to fill," Dew said. "But it should be done under the existing plan."

Because of what he said are uninformed statements from Obama about unnecessary tonsillectomies and overblown estimates of surgery costs, Dew said he does not trust the president to lead on health reform.

"When you have somebody so misinformed about tonsillectomies and amputation {reimbursements}, how can you trust what he says is true?," Dew asked.

General practitioner Dr. Barry Dobies said he thinks the number of uninsured Americans -- often stated as more than 40 million -- is misleading because it includes illegal aliens and those who choose not to purchase insurance. Dobies said he supports the effort to eliminate insurance companies denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, echoing colleagues who said they do not want insurance companies dictating patient treatment.

"There's no question we have the best health care in the world, and our patients will agree," Dobies said. "And people have access to it -- even people who can't afford it, or don't have insurance or the ability to pay."

Click here to return to story:

© The St. Augustine Record

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy -- An Appreciation By Ed Slavin

(sent to

I am stunned at the loss of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, my first boss, for whom I worked as a volunteer and paid intern as a freshman and sophomore at Georgetown University from 1974-76.

This morning’s announcement hit me like a ton of bricks, but I did not actually cry until my friend Jamin Rubenstein told me by phone that they were talking about Senator Kennedy and “the bag” on National Public Radio. That’s when I lost it and started crying.

“The bag” in Senator Kennedy’s office was kept by his secretary, Angelique, who had to replace it every couple of months. “The bag” was a battered briefcase that any staff member (even me on a few occasions) could insert reading material, which Senator Kennedy would read by the next business day.

Unlike some other Senators, Ted Kennedy read and read and read --- he was a moot court champion in law school and he was quick on his feet on the Senate Floor and in Committee.

Working for “the liberal lion of the Senate” as my first boss (I was eventually promoted to be paid $53/week for two days a week) was one of the defining moments of my life. I started working for EMK the day before my first class at Georgetown, inspired by Ralph Nader’s speech in Gaston Hall, urging us to be involved in public service.

Senator Kennedy’s work ethic was shared by all who worked for him. I remember the pride I felt in working for him, whether it was working in the mailroom, running errands, helping out the caseworkers and press staff or helping the late, great Mary Murtagh with Massachusetts legislation.
In those fun days in the mid 1970s -- pre-fax, pre-Internet, pre-E-mail days --- the quickest means of transmitting information around Capitol Hill (and Washington, D.C.) was often to send an intern.

The EMK staff soon started calling me “Fast Eddie,” knowing that if they needed something picked up or delivered swiftly, I would do it in a DC minute. Ironically, I was not the best physical specimen – I had survived rheumatic fever and had arthritis, but walking a couple of miles around Capitol Hill for EMK’s staff each Tuesday and Thursday was great therapy.

When Mary Murtagh asked me to help EMK and her to end world whaling, I found it easy to get people to talk to me. “This is Ed Slavin in Senator Kennedy’s office” got your calls returned in a DC minute. We learned that 2/3 of all the whales killed in the world were sperm whales, killed only for the oil in their heads (which makes their meat inedible). We learned there was an exact substitute for the oil in the head of the sperm whale -- jojoba, an oil seed plant that grows in the desert in the Southwest. We encouraged USDA to help Indian tribes and farmers to grow it, although Mary was initially skeptical, joking about “Ed’s ho-ho beans.”

I picked up the telephone and called a Vice President of Archer-Daniels-Midlland and asked if he would buy jojoba. He said there was no market for it. I told him that if he bought it, they’d create a market. I just did a Google® search for jojoba – there were about 2,650,000 entries. By the way, the number of whales killed in the world has plummeted from some 30,000 a year to less than 1000 per year. That was partly due to the 1986 Moratorium and thanks in no small part to Senator Kennedy’s concerns about whaling, as expressed by Mary Murtagh, who empowered a 19-year old , who still had braces on his teeth (that would be me) to help find a cure for pelagic whaling. Jojoba helps employ poor Indians and according to Wikipedia, “Because sperm whales are endangered, plantations of jojoba have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas, predominantly in Argentina, Australia, Israel, Mexico, Palestinian Authority, Peru, and the United States. It is currently the Sonoran Desert's second most economically valuable native plant (overshadowed only by the Washingtonia palms used in horticulture). “

Working for Senator Kennedy and his top-notch staff taught me that politics is not only fun and full of laughter, but that politics is “the art of the possible” and that, in playwright Tony Kushner’s words, in "Angels in America," “only in politics does the miraculous occur.”

The legacy of Ted Kennedy, the best Senator ever, was best expressed by JFK, who said, “here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”

My heart goes out to the entire Kennedy family as I work through the tears.

Ed Slavin, CIO
Global Wrap LLC
218 Riberia Street, Suite B
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
904-829-5817 (fax)


Forty-seven years ago, Ted Kennedy was elected to the Senate to take the seat that had once been held by his brother, then-president John Kennedy. At the time, he was largely regarded as an undeserved novice -- the benefactor of a family name, a Harvard failure who had coasted on privilege.

Among the nine members of the freshmen Senate class in 1962, the youngest Kennedy brother -- just 30 years old at the time -- was not pegged to leave an indelible legacy. But, over time, he stood out among his peers. Nearly five decades later, another member of that class declared definitively that Kennedy had become "the greatest Senator of the 20th Century."

In an interview with the Huffington Post, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern expressed his deep sorrow with the news of Kennedy's passing from brain cancer on Tuesday evening. But the South Dakota Democrat also celebrated Kennedy for how he remembers him: Congress' most diligent worker, a master of the policy minutia, and a source of personal and political strength for his party and family.

"He and I both came to the Senate the same year as part of the class of '62. And I sat side-by-side with him for several years in the Senate and we remained close friends over the years," McGovern recalled. "He was probably as hard a working person as I knew at the Senate. He got to the office early and worked late. He definitely was a senator's senator. I never thought that either John or Robert Kennedy's first love was the Senate. They were thinking first about the executive branch. But Ted, throughout his long career, was wedded to the Senate. And I think, over time, he became the greatest Senator of the 20th Century."

Below is a transcript of the brief phone interview with McGovern conducted on Wednesday morning, hours after news broke of Kennedy's death.

What was Kennedy like as a Senator, both when you worked with him and after you left public office?

Ted was always polite and respectful towards other members of the Senate, whether they were Democrats or Republicans. He always had a certain reverence to other members of the Senate. I never heard him throw cheap shots at an opposing Senator, even one quite critical of him. And that quality gained him other friends in the Senate.

One trait that I remember about Ted, when he had a loss in his family, he was the first one who called. He was faithful to that practice.

When he initially ran for Senate he was dogged by criticism that he was being elected solely because of his name. How did that affect him once he took office?

There was no question that his name helped gain him a seat in the Senate. That Kennedy name is political magic. Here he was with a brother in the White House and a Senator in New York. So obviously his name had an effect. But, in fact, I think Ted earned that seat. He ran a strenuous campaign. He conducted himself well. And once he got to the Senate he equipped himself with one of the strongest staff in the body. He always had superb people working for him.

I was told once that his father had urged all of his sons when they hired somebody to look for somebody who was smarter than they were. And I think Ted took that advice. He always had superb people working for him and he rather quickly became a respected Senator.

His career was marked by political triumphs as well as personal tragedies, none more so than the loss of his two brothers. Did he become a different person and political because of these trials?

It was a sobering experience for Ted. He was always an enthusiastic person but definitely he showed the sorrow of the loss of his two brothers. I think in effect it was a maturing experience for him. He became involved seriously in important pieces in legislation. I can't think of another senator who had a critical hand in so much important legislation as was the case with Ted.

Talk a bit, if you could, about his efforts to achieve comprehensive health care reform, including the near miss that happened during negotiations with Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.

Ted's passion about everything else in the Senate was to get a comprehensive national health care bill. He became an expert on the subject. He had his staff doing research on it around the clock. Nobody in the Senate could match the commitment that Ted gave to finding a way for comprehensive health care. I think if the Senate wanted to enact a genuine tribute to his career they would pass a good health care bill.

When Kennedy ran for the Democratic nomination for president against Jimmy Carter in 1980, what were your thoughts as a fellow Democrat and former presidential candidate?

I knew it was an uphill effort. It is very difficult to dislodge an incumbent president of your own party. And he learned that. But I think he came out of that effort with his prestige enhanced.

How has Congress changed since both you and Kennedy took office in 1962? Do you see the same willingness for Democrats and Republicans to work together in a mode that came to personify Kennedy's career.

There is still some bipartisanship in the Senate. Senator Kennedy always worked very closely, for example, with Senator [Orrin] Hatch, the Republican senator of Utah. But I'd like to see more of that... I think there needs to be of that kind of reaching across the aisle

Edward M. Kennedy, RIP

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy at 1980 Democratic National Convention

Orlando Sentinel: Sansom case shows how deep Tallahassee cesspool is

Sansom case shows how deep Tallahassee cesspool is
Scott Maxwell
August 26, 2009

The best thing about the continuing fall of former House Speaker Ray Sansom is that it's revealing Tallahassee's true nature.

I used to think our state capital was a cesspool.

But now I'm beginning to think that a cesspool would look like DeLeon Springs compared to the mess of special-interest-funded pay-for-play that envelops our state capital.

Sansom, you may remember, lost his speakership after it was revealed that he'd funneled money to a community college — which then rewarded him with a six-figure job.

But it turns out: That was just the tip of the cessberg.

We've since learned that Sansom racked up more than $170,000 worth of charges on the Republican Party of Florida credit card — on everything from $1,900 at Best Buy to $975 in tuxedo rentals. (Consumer tip No. 1: Once you've shelled out nearly a grand for rentals, maybe it's time to consider buying the monkey suit.)

So who paid the bills? Well, in part, it was donors who wanted things from Sansom and his political pals — guys such as developer Jay Odom, who prosecutors say really wanted taxpayers to help pay for a multimillion-dollar airplane hangar up in the Panhandle.

Odom gave more than $270,000 to RPOF at the same time RPOF was paying for Sansom to live the high life.

At the end of the day, Sansom got clothes, trips and meals.

Prosecutors say his buddy got what he wanted.

And the taxpayers got hosed.

What's really scary, though, is that Sansom wasn't the only elected official with a card.

In fact, a joint investigation by the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times, which uncovered the Sansom story, revealed that other legislators and GOP officials racked up $3.6 million worth of credit-card charges. But the party won't reveal complete details.

The whole thing stinks. And not just to Democrats. It's also an insult to the rank-and-file Republicans who cut $25 and $50 checks, thinking they were supporting the party of fiscal restraint.

Keep in mind: Some of Sansom's extravagant spending came right as he was preaching his gospel of belt-tightening to Florida families.

While they were cutting services and hiking fees, Sansom was hosting a $597 dinner at Tallahassee's University Club. (Consumer tip No. 2: Hosting a dinner at home not only saves money; it tells your guests you care.)

The credit cards, however, are simply part of Tallahassee's culture of incest between politicians and special interests who consummate their relationships with campaign checks, gourmet meals and transcontinental vacations.

It is one big orgy of excess.

Many of us have long suspected that special interests actually sponsor the bad legislation.

It's just that we now know they sponsored Ray Sansom's Kenneth Cole wardrobe as well.

It's certainly true that our current Republican leaders didn't invent this system.

Political reciprocity pre-dates the New Testament. It thrives in Washington among both parties. And it not only thrived when Democrats ran the state in the pre-Jeb days; it helped lead to their downfall.

But modern-day Florida Republicans have helped turn the practice into an art, thanks to the use of party credit cards and go-between bank accounts. (State Dems say they don't give cards out to elected officials.)

The result: Speaker Sansom spending $9,000 at a florist in Fort Walton Beach. (Consumer tip No. 3: Carnations can really light up a room for half the cost of a rose.)

Perhaps just as stomach-turning as the spending has been the feigned outrage.

Gov. Charlie Crist, for example, called Sansom's expenses "unbelievable" and "an embarrassment."

Either Charlie has no shame, or he's still jet-lagged from last year's $430,000 European vacation. You remember that "trade mission," right?

So we have the guy who racked up a $1,300 mini-bar bill expressing disgust about another guy who spent $839 at Starbucks. (Consumer confession No. 1: I, too, overpay for Starbucks.)

And then there's RPOF leader Jim Greer, who responded to this scandal by yanking back all of the RPOF credit cards — and even staged a one-man production Sham-a-lot when he dramatically cut his own credit card in half for the media last weekend.

The performance was supposed to be Greer's response to this disturbing news about Sansom's spending.

Except for one little detail: It wasn't news to Greer. At least it shouldn't have been. He's the guy who pays the bills and collects the cash. The only thing he's responding to is the fact that the public finally learned about this special-interest-subsidized excess.

This whole mess could've been avoided the way most political messes could — if politicians would simply act like the "public servants" they profess to be.

Do your job.

Serve the people.

And save the trip-taking, shopping sprees and favors for your own time and dime.

That's not a partisan issue. It's just common sense.

Scott Maxwell can be reached at or 407-420-6141.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

City passes higher fire fee

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 12:44 am by Shaun Ryan


The St. Augustine City Commission’s unanimous vote Monday to raise the city’s fire assessment was unpopular, but even anti-tax residents seemed to grudgingly understand that it was necessary to prevent higher property taxes.
Chief Administrative Officer Tim Burchfield said the raise from 4 cents per square foot to 6 cents would provide St. Augustine Fire Department with an additional $325,000.
Total fire fees collected now will be $1 million, a third of the fire budget of $3.2 million.
“We looked at other areas to spread the cost out,” Burchfield said. “The fire fee would allow us to not raise ad valorem as much.”
Property taxes will also go up, but declining home and business values mean that the city will collect $1.6 million less for 2010.
Fee opponent Barbara Binegar said, “Our paychecks don’t go up. Our taxes do. If it gets any higher, we’re going to lose our home. We can’t afford more taxes.”
The fire fee is levied on all city properties — except Florida National Guard headquarters and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Fee opponent Dan Holiday, a businessman and native St. Augustinian, said, “This is no time to be raising taxes for any reason. Tighten your belt.”
A fire fee supporter, Chris Fulmer, said the extra $20 per year per home is “one meal at McDonald’s for a family of four.”
She related a story about how her neighbor fell and firefighters were there quickly to help.
Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said that for the past three years, the city has given no raises or bonuses, as well as cut the budget.
“A day does not go by that I don’t hear a request from a resident to maintain or increase the level of service,” she said.
Mayor Joe Boles said, “I don’t like (raising fees) either. But fair is fair. We’re spreading the cost of fire protection over more people instead of just taxpayers. Churches pay it, Flagler College pays it. They are tax exempt. Fairness is all we’re trying to do.”
Commissioner Don Crichlow said the alternative is to reduce the level of service, which will increase fire insurance rates.
“I’m not in favor of reducing the quality of our service of our fire department,” he said.
He made a motion to approve and the measure passed 5-0.

Commissioner ERROL JONES Asked By Visual Artists to Recuse Himsellf From Voting on Artist Suppression Ordinances At September 14th Public Hearing

St. Augustine City Commissioner Errol Jones
Photo credit: Greg Travous

Last night, artist Greg Travous asked Commissioner ERROL JONES a/k/a ERRONEOUS JONES to recuse himself from voting on the artist suppression ordinances on the grounds of JONES'pronounced personal animus toward artists, citing particular instances of alleged official misconduct involving cursing out artists in the presence of tourists. Without any legal advice and without any Commissioner asking him about the facts, ERROL JONES refused to recuse himself, saying, "you're a liar. Ha Ha Ha."

Based upon what Greg Travous said, it appears that Republican City Commissioner ERROL JONES must recuse himself or face a lawsuit.

Here is Greg Travous' blog entry from

St. Augustine City Commissioner Errol Jones

Jones, who likes to present himself as a leader from the 60's civil rights movement here in St. Augustine regularly comes down to the Paza de la Constitucion. He is usually in a particular state that propels him to start arguments and throw his 135 pounds around while flashing his gold plated commissioner badge and wearing his custom made polo shirts with "The Commish' emblazoned on the breast (very cute). Unfortunately he has no compunction against agressive confrontation angrily using the 'F' word and being loud with Mom, Dad and the kids walking past. At yesterday's city commission meeting, Errol showed only a slight example of his temper when he said on camera to Suvo, the artist "YOU'RE A LIAR! HA HA HA" Rarely have we ever seen Suvo speechless.

Ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER's City-funded PR Propaganda Newsletter on City Tax Increases

Deeply insensitive, St. Augustine City Commissioners hold budget "workshops" during the day, when people are working, where no questions can be asked by citizens. How rude. Then when they hold budget hearings, they're not televised.

Ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER,who is becoming more than ever a lapdog and a lickpsittle for the rich and powerful, wrote his odd, taxpayer-funded newsletter mocking those who did not attend the workshops, and claiming only six people spoke out against tax increases. In the immortal private words of Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) regardnig John Erlichman's testimony during the Watergate hearings, "what a liar."

Twelve people spoke against the fire tax increase and five spoke against the electricity tax increase. Here's pertinent excerpts from GARDNER's half-truths, just for laughs:

City Commission in tax and vending crosshairs
Increases pass, vending advances to public hearing
A half dozen residents spoke against proposed fee increases before our City Commission Monday night -six times the number who attended last week's commission budget workshop, where the needs were explained.
And more than twice that number spoke for and against a proposed new ordinance regulating vending in our Plaza de la Constitución, as the two hot button issues dominated Monday's City Commission meeting.
In the end, the city's fire assessment fee was raised from two to four cents on both property taxed and non-taxed buildings, the electric utility tax rate was changed from ten percent of the first $100 on electric bills and one percent thereafter to a flat eight percent, and commissioners advanced to public hearing and final action at its September 14 meeting three ordinances regulating vending in public areas.

Commission hears pain of fee increases
"I could lose my home," "No time to be raising taxes," "Stop piling on the burdens," echoed through the Alcazar Room.
"There was one resident at our workshop meeting," Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline responded at one point. "We went through the budget line by line. No one's (city employees) getting raises, but they're still providing the same level of service (sic)."
Commissioner Don Crichlow noted that both the fire assessment and utility increases "best spread the burden" of balancing a budget already trimmed more than $3 million from two years ago. Both increases apply to the estimated 36 percent of properties in the city that are non-taxed as well as taxed properties.


Photo credit: J.D. Pleasant

For nine months, the Street Tree Advisory Committee (STAC) did not meet was that City Manager WILIAM B. HARRISS, who stacked it with City Staff, did not want it to meet.

Last night, HARRISS did not want to speak on the issue, deferring to his heyboy JOHN REGAN, to do so. HARRISS says the proposal "undermines my jurisdiction" and that "I'm a little emotional" on a day when several speakers called for HARRISS' firing.

As revealed by STAC members at a prior city COmmission meeting, City Planning and Zoning Director MARK KNIGHT once threatened to cancel STAC in retaliation for First Amendment protected activity.

After a presentation by STAC and a song and dance by HARRISS' heyboy, JOHN REGAN, Commissioners refused to make STAC an advsory committee to the Commission, but only to the City Manager's office, depriving it of Sunshine Law protection.

Presumably writing sitting at home with his nose in the air, in his loungeware and fuzzy bunny slippers, ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER wrote a slanted story for his taxpayer funded City newsletter today, ignoring the facts. Here's the $13,000/year City propagandist GEORGE GARDNER's Pollyanna version:

Tree committee gains greater role
Four citizen members of our city's Street Tree Advisory Committee (STAC) successfully made their case Monday for greater recognition, more frequent meetings, and less city staff on the board.
Gina Burrell, Sally Ann Freeman, Robin Nadeau, and Chuck Lippi pleaded with commissioners to make STAC a commission - rather than a staff - advisory committee, create a landscape beautification subcommittee, and develop a five-year beautification plan for the city's entrance corridors.
"We just don't meet," Lippi, a certified arborist, told commissioners, noting the committee's last meeting was nine months ago.
City Chief Operations Officer John Regan responded, "Protecting our tree canopy is a core value of our community. But they're not going to be able to work effectively as a Sunshine committee (if appointed by the commission). The Aviles Street beautification plan recently announced is working because merchants and residents are able to meet individually at any time, without formal notice. We hope this will be a model for other neighborhoods to work on beautification projects."
Regan said he'll schedule a meeting of a revised STAC board for next week.
The Street Tree Advisory Committee was created as part of the Tree City USA program, appointed by Planning and Building Director Mark Knight. In recent years, citizen members have been more active in strengthening the city's tree code, while more staff members were added. Today there are five citizen and five staff members.


The WRecoKrd got it wrong again this morning -- that latest repressive Plaza de la Constitucion ordinance was passed on first reading only and not final passage.

There was no public hearing. A call to the City Clerk's office this morning confirmed that the ordinance has not been adopted.

It is malfeasance to mislead the public about governmental affairs --- DEREK MAY, PETER GUINTA AND PETER ELLIS, please take note.

Pitiful. Perhaps they should send PETER GUINTA back to journalism school for retreading.

The false story and false headline giving the impression it is a done deal discourages public participation and attendance at the actual public hearing on the issue.

City vendor ordinance passes

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 12:43 am by Shaun Ryan


The St. Augustine City Commission unanimously passed a controversial new ordinance creating a lottery limiting vending and artistic expression on the Plaza de la Constitucion to only 12 people per month.
Commissioner Don Crichlow made the motion to approve.
“We’ve got to do it this way. We don’t have a choice,” he said.
For months, the city has been hamstrung by a federal judge’s ruling, which forced the city to delete its ordinance restricting sales on the Plaza.
This replacement ordinance takes effect Oct. 1 and will require anyone wanting to sell on the Plaza to apply to the city, pay $75 and wait to be selected by a lottery system for a month-long permit for one of 12 spaces at the Slave Market.
If not selected, applicants get their money back.
But both vendors and artists protested the provisions of the new ordinance.
Vendors want more room and don’t think customers will go to the market. Artists say that the new rules limit free expression.
Elena Hecht told the commission that if an artist doesn’t win a slot at the Slave Market that month, that means their freedom of expression is gone for that time.
“You’ve clouded the issue,” she said. “Vendors and artists are separate issues.”
Richard Trevlyn, a city resident, said the Plaza is not a retail space.
“It should be without vendors or the bums,” he said. “It has centuries of history and beauty. It’s a little jewel. It’s not about retail, it’s about the use of the park.”
St. George Street merchant Kimberly Boza said the Plaza “looks terrible” and she wanted the city to protect the Plaza and the city merchants from the vendors.
Vendor Alisha Carter of Hastings said she sold sunglasses on the Plaza, which are now a banned article for the Market spaces.
“This has stopped a lot of my income,” she said. “My booth is nice and clean. I’m not hurting the businesses on St. George Street. I don’t compete with them.”
St. George Street merchant Carrie White said the Plaza is a “flea-market debacle and farmer’s market” and that no business in the city is allowed to operate without liability insurance.
“I want you to order (those businesses on the Plaza) to cease and desist operation until the legality and safety of St. Augustine citizens is assured.”
Vice Mayor Errol Jones said right after the vote, “There’s just not a simple answer. Every time we work it out, we hit a glitch.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

EPA Press Release: EPA Orders Village of Port Chester, N.Y. to Fix the Way it Handles Stormwater; Comply with Clean Water Act

EPA Orders Village of Port Chester, N.Y. to Fix the Way it Handles Stormwater; Comply with Clean Water Act

Contacts: John Senn, EPA, (212) 637-3667,

(New York, N.Y. – Aug. 24, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the village of Port Chester, N.Y. to improve the way it handles run-off from rainwater and correct violations of the federal Clean Water Act after EPA sampling revealed high levels of two types of bacteria in village stormwater. Stormwater, which is from rainfall or melting snow, can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants from surfaces before it flows into a waterbody. Port Chester discharges stormwater into the Byram River, which empties into Long Island Sound.

“Improper management of stormwater can have serious environmental consequences for our harbors, rivers, lakes and streams,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “Long Island Sound is already a stressed waterbody, and run-off is one of the bigger culprits, so it’s important that EPA remains vigilant in holding accountable anyone who doesn’t handle their stormwater properly.”

In June 2008 and April 2009, EPA sampled stormwater at several locations around Port Chester and both times found levels of the bacteria fecal and total coliform that exceeded New York’s state water quality standards. Both bacteria can lead to health problems in people and many aquatic species. Port Chester’s failure to control discharges of the polluted stormwater violated requirements of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, a program under the federal Clean Water Act that regulates stormwater discharges associated with sewer systems. Port Chester also failed to fully implement its stormwater management plan, which New York State requires of municipalities that discharge stormwater.

Under EPA’s order, Port Chester must prepare, implement and enforce a stormwater management program to identify and correct improper sources of bacteria discharges by Dec. 31, 2009. Port Chester must also monitor stormwater discharges for six months after the plan has been established to ensure bacteria discharge problems have corrected, and report its finding to EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

For more about EPA’s municipal stormwater permitting program visit: For more on the Long Island Sound Study, a partnership of federal, state and local government agencies, private organizations, and educational institutions working together to restore and protect Long Island Sound, visit



Folio Weekly: Backpage Editorial by Faye Armitage -- "SAVING ST. AUGUSTINE"

Backpage Editorial
Faye Armitage
Saving St. Augustine
St. Augustine’s small-town Spanish Colonial charm is in
danger of being ruined by schlock. We love St. Augustine
and must preserve the beauty of endangered Matanzas Inlet
sunsets, Anastasia Island beach mice, nesting leatherback
turtles, soaring families of bald eagles and frolicking schools
of manatees and whales. Florida’s First Coast deserves a first
class National Park for the 500th anniversary of Spanish
Florida (in 2013) and 450th anniversary of St. Augustine
(in 2015).
The late U.S. Speaker of the House
Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill and Edward
Boland of Massachusetts made history in
1958, courageously working to protect
Cape Cod’s charm forever. Boland returned
in 1958 from a trip to Cape Hatteras
National Seashore. Within a fortnight, the
two Massachusetts Democrats introduced
the Cape Cod National Seashore Act
(backed by John F. Kennedy only after he
became president).
Commercial interests thought that a
national seashore would be bad for business.
They were wrong. Today we scoff at
the quaint story of O’Neill and Boland
being hung in effigy and booed in the Cape
Cod towns of Wellfleet and Truro, where
citizens, in their annual town meetings,
voted against the bill.
Even JFK, the Pulitzer Prize-winning
author of “Profiles in Courage,” feared local
commercial interests in Massachusetts
when it came to proposing a national
seashore. JFK later came aboard as president,
to consider the National Seashore the
best thing he ever did for Massachusetts.
Today’s visitors to Cape Cod come from
around the world to partake of its charm,
marshes, woodlands, beaches and towns
that were saved thanks to the vision of
Congressmen O’Neill and Boland.
A St. Augustine National Park was first
proposed before World War II. The idea is
five years older than President Harry S Truman’s
national health insurance proposal.
And as with national health care, Congress
too often resembles a herd of turtles trying
to write a symphony. It’s somewhat understandable
that our two busy U.S. Senators
(and Representative John Luigi Mica)
haven’t introduced a National Historical
Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway.
Legislation moves glacially, except in emergencies.
We have one now.
Our local economy is in a state of emergency.
Businesses are dying. We’re ready for
Congress to stimulate our economy and
preserve our way of life by enacting a St.
Augustine National Historical Park,
Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act,
supported by a diverse group of citizens,
from octogenarian environmental activist
Robin Nadeau to former Republican
County Commission Chairperson John
Sundeman to St. Augustine Democratic
Club Chairperson Jeanne Moeller, among a
growing group of people concerned about
the declining quality of the tourist experience
in St. Johns County.
A National Historical Park would preserve
and protect St. Augustine’s historic
downtown with the dignity and experience
of the National Park Service, just as parts of
Boston, New Bedford, Philadelphia and
other historic cities are preserved. It would
step into the breach left by the Florida legislature,
Secretary of State, University of
Florida and city of St. Augustine, all of
whom have been unable to repair crumbling
buildings and historic monuments. A
national historical park would preserve
downtown streets and reduce congestion,
improving the tourist experience and making
it one that longer-staying (and biggerspending)
historic and environmental
tourists will enjoy.
A national historic park managed by the
National Park Service would portray history
and nature accurately, as done in Virginia’s
Colonial Williamsburg and the
Colonial National Historical Parkway.
There could also be a National Civil Rights
and Indigenous History Museum, aimed at
telling the region’s story of 11,000 years of
human history, honoring Native Americans,
African-Americans and the Civil
Rights movement here, which helped win
adoption of national antidiscrimination
laws in 1964. The struggles on St. Augustine’s
streets and beaches, including the
arrest of Massachusetts Governor Endicott
Peabody’s mother and Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., need to be retold and told well.
soldiers monument in St. Augustine’s Plaza
de la Constitucion, paying tribute to Civil
Rights Era activists whose efforts helped
break the Senate logjam and enact basic
nondiscrimination laws.
A national seashore and coastal parkway
designation would protect the coast from
uglification, as at other national seashores.
We have 61 miles of coast here, and the
transfer from county to federal jurisdiction
would save local tax monies and make environmental
protection a priority on beaches
where turtles land to give birth, and where
beach mice and other critters scamper.
In September, watch Ken Burns’ PBS
documentary “Our National Parks: America’s
Best Idea.” Think of how uplifting it
will be to be able to drive from Ponte Vedra
to Marineland as a tourist or resident,
secure in the knowledge that the beaches
will survive and not be turned into some
unreasonable facsimile of Miami.
Think of the economic efficiency and
environmental benefits of entrusting city
and county parks, seashore water management
district land and at least five state
parks (including Anastasia and Guana-
Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine
Reserve) to one world-class organization
(the National Park Service) to protect, preserve
and interpret, rather than allowing
the land to be ripped apart by greed.
Think of the good jobs that will encourage
young people to stay here, working as
National Park Service employees and contractors.
Think of historic interpreters and
environmental tour guides who are
rewarded with a federal showcase, inviting
the world to a world-class destination.
Let’s enlist Congress and the president
to help us tell our region’s rich history —
including the story of the Indians, African-
American slaves and Minorcan and Greek
indentured servants (who escaped to St.
Augustine from New Smyrna Beach, “voting
with their feet” against slavery by contract.
Indentured servitude was outlawed
along with regular slavery with the 13th
Amendment in 1865.
Think of how our tourist economy will
be stimulated and jobs created and preserved
by preserving the stunning vistas
that draw people here, not uglifying them
with massive high-rises, suburban sprawl
and unsafe homes built in wetlands.
Think of how fourth-graders now and
in the future, from all over Florida, will be
rewarded for their studies of Florida history
by helping preserve “the real Florida” — St.
Augustine and St. Johns County — forever.
It is up to us to learn from the young
and to protect Northeast Florida for families,
flora, fauna and the future. Visit for more information
and let your neighbors and national and
local leaders know what you think. 

Faye Armitage lives in Fruit Cove. In 2008,
she ran against nine-term Congressional
incumbent John Mica, receiving nearly 150,000 votes.

A National Historical Park would preserve and protect
St. Augustine’s historic downtown with the dignity
and experience of the National Park Service, just as
parts of Boston, New Bedford, Philadelphia and
other historic cities are preserved.

FLORIDA-TIMES UNION: Loggerhead nests on Florida beaches keep dwindling -- Despite efforts to save them, researchers say the future looks bleak.

* By Steve Patterson
* Story updated at 11:34 AM on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009

Loggerhead sea turtles whose nests line Florida and Georgia beaches each summer could face "quasi-extinction" despite efforts to protect nesting grounds, federal scientists have concluded.

The warning this month to the National Marine Fisheries Service comes as monitoring groups around Florida report an apparent drop in loggerhead nesting this year. The grim news has been compounded by a realization there is probably not a single, easy-to-spot problem wholly responsible for the pattern.

The findings have drawn a dire response from activists.

"This isn't just a problem. This is really a crisis," said Dave Allison, senior campaign director at Oceana, a group that wants more turtle protections.

"We're talking about a trend line that leads to extinction."

Because sea turtles have long lives, an extinction that takes three generations might play out over 100 years. The federal government considers loggerheads a threatened species, one level below endangered.

But scientists said the risk is evident today.

Based on factors such as the survival rates of turtle hatchlings and the number of nests seen over time, researchers assembled by the fisheries service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forecast circumstances that could push loggerheads into a long downward spiral of shrinking numbers.

The researchers found a "high likelihood of quasi-extinction" in a lot of scenarios for loggerheads along America's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Worldwide, there were only a couple of places where the turtles' numbers weren't immediately worrisome.

Warning signs have accumulated for some time in Florida, said Anne Meylan, a scientist at Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She was not part of the federal review team.

Loggerhead nesting fell by more than half between 1998 and 2007 at a core group of heavily monitored Florida beaches, the commission found. Counts rebounded briskly last year, but Meylan said preliminary reports from most of those beaches suggest things are worse this summer.

That pattern has been seen locally, too.

"They're slower this year," said Mary Duffy, president of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch. The 89 nests recorded in Nassau County - all loggerheads - are about 10 percent off last year's pace, she said, and volunteers have had to move an unusual number of nests to keep the tides from covering them.

What's really puzzling, Meylan said, is that other turtles - greens and leatherbacks - are nesting more on the same beaches where loggerheads are vanishing.

Explaining that imbalance "takes us away from the nesting beaches" to look for problems at sea, Meylan said.

"Certainly there is [beach] habitat decline, but that can't explain what we're seeing."

Commercial fishing, dwindling food sources and ocean pollution were suggested as possible factors in research that Meylan and others published this year in a science journal, Ecological Applications.

Those problems don't affect all turtles equally, Allison said. He said loggerheads are more vulnerable to being fatally snagged on long-line fishing hooks, for example, sometimes simply drowning because they can't reach the surface to breathe. Loggerheads nesting in Florida travel from many places, including Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas, facing obstacles that are different from place to place. Allison said many turtles on the East Coast travel long routes that cross through a series of hazards.

"They're facing a barrage, if you will. It starts in Atlantic Canada. First they face the pelagic long lines. Then they're confronted by the gill nets, then the trawls and the scallopers," Allison said. "It's a real gauntlet that these turtles run."

Because loggerheads don't reach mating age until decades after they're born, researchers have said falling nesting numbers could be the echoes of damage inflicted on turtle populations long before.

"Some of the things we're seeing today on the nesting beaches are probably the result of things that happened ... decades ago," Meylan said.

"If you take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and you suffered a big hit when you were 16, no one knows it until you hit the nesting beach.",

(904) 359-4263
Turtle Nests in St. Johns County

Special to The Record
Publication Date: 08/22/09

Nests in St. Johns County

North Beaches

Loggerheads 179

Greens 5

Leatherbacks 16

Total 200

Anastasia Island

Loggerheads 46

Greens 2

Leatherbacks 6

Total 54

Matanzas Inlet South

Loggerheads 8

Greens 1

Leatherbacks 1

Total 10

Total 264

Reported Successful Nest Hatchings as of Friday: Total 94

Fast Facts:

* Loggerheads are the most common nesting sea turtle in St. Johns County. They prefer to nest between the wrack line, which indicates the high tide mark, and the base of the dune.

* Each female loggerhead makes an average of four nests separated by two week intervals over the course of the nesting season that's up to 400 eggs.

* Loggerheads are distinguished by their strong jaws, which they use to make meals of crabs and mollusks.

For information, go to

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© The St. Augustine Record

Great idea for improving Aviles Street, but.....

See below.

Why is it for every good idea FRED HALBACK has, we have to endure three screwups?
Remember that $22 million White Elephant Parking Garage? Fish Island? The latest is the skate park without a berm, the cost of which should be paid by HALBACK's firm (or his insurance), for deviating from the City's instructions to cut noise by using a berm..

Aviles Street makeover proposed -- City's oldest street to get more flowers, outdoor eating

Aviles Street makeover proposed -- City's oldest street to get more flowers, outdoor eating

Publication Date: 08/22/09

The worn, rutted brick road and the quaint shops and restaurants along St. Augustine's Aviles Street contain their own special history and magic, so this week city officials said they want to do a light makeover there to "return Aviles Street to a lively atmosphere."

At the city's request, the Historic Architecture Review Board granted the project a certificate of appropriateness. The next step is to present the plan to the City Commission.

That part of Aviles Street under consideration runs south from King Street to Cadiz Street and includes Artillery Lane.

Halback Design Group Inc. of St. Augustine is working pro bono on the streetscape. Fred Halback, who owns Halback Design Group, is HARB chairman but recused himself from discussions of this plan.

"It would be great if we minimized the potholes and leveled the street out," he said. "We'd get the carriages and tourist trains back. I don't think crumbling infrastructure is quaint or historic. If you have an old house, you fix it."

Project Manager Jeremy Marquis, a landscape architect and Halback associate, told the HARB members that Aviles Street is the oldest street in the Oldest City, and perhaps the oldest in the nation.

A 28-page booklet by the Halback Group explains: "The purpose of the project is to reinforce Aviles Street as a retail destination by increasing access and visibility with low-cost, "design on a dime" techniques."

Marquis estimated the makeover would cost about $100,000.

"On-street parking there is not a sacred cow that can't be eliminated," Marquis said. "Merchants on Aviles Street said that only 10 percent or less of their customers use those spaces."

"There are multiple ways we can make this feel like a safer environment," Marquis said.

Walking on Aviles Street seems dangerous because cars often quietly come up behind pedestrians. "The impact of lighting alone will be huge," he said.

The city does not currently allow outdoor seating for restaurants, but Marquis hopes the City Commission might revisit the issued. The city could "retain a lot of control" with licensing, mandating a site plan and approving the furniture and tables.

Dana Ste. Claire, chairman of the city's 450th Commission and new director of the Heritage Tourism Department, said his goal is to "create destination awareness. This particular street has tremendous potential. Aviles Street was on the 1573 town plan, established by royal decree."

Susan Parker, an historian and executive director of the St. Augustine Historical Society, said Aviles Street contains five of the oldest structures in St. Augustine plus the Society's Research Library, built in the 1780s.

Thomas J. Stack, a city resident supporting the plan, said the city should remove all parking meters on Aviles Street. "This town put parking meters on every postage-stamp (property) possible," Stack said. "We have meter pollution."

Officials said the project would take four to five weeks to complete and be done by February 2010.

HARB member Paul Weaver suggested that the city move quickly.

"Since we began (considering) this project in May, two businesses have already come and gone," Weaver said.

Actions to revitalize Aviles Street include:

* Removing all telephone poles and on-street parking.

* Replacing modern street lamps with building lights.

* Allowing cafe seating on the west side of the street.

* Planting several trees for shade.

* Restoring the removed arch on Artillery Lane.

* Setting out flower pots and historic Spanish flags for color.

* Repainting the welcoming arch on King Street.

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© The St. Augustine Record

Hostile Hospital Administrator Shows Ignorance On Health Care, Disrespects President Obama


There's a wailin' and gnashin' of teeth by corporativists as health care reforms are center stage at last -- 64 years after President Truman first proposed national health care. Apparently someone wrote something insipid and signed the name of the local hospital administrator (see below):

Publication Date: 08/24/09

Editor: President Barack Obama routinely assures us that if you like your current health plan you can keep it under his reform program. He also repeatedly tells us that if we like our doctors we can keep them, too.

The House bill, if passed in its present form, dictates the benefit package an insurance plan must offer to be qualified as acceptable insurance. In addition, the legislation dictates the percentage of the premium cost that an employer must cover for their employees. All existing plans are grandfathered for five years, but no new enrollment may take place if these conditions are not met.

In addition, the legislation cuts Medicare payments to physicians and establishes rates of payment for the public plan. No doctor is obligated to accept patients in these plans if they don't find these payment rates tolerable.

So, under Obama's plan, if you have a health insurance policy that you like and it does not meet the government's requirements, you can't keep it after five years. If, you are in one of the plans with pay rates set by the government and your physicians will not accept them, you won't be able to keep your doctors either.

Regretfully, I can only logically conclude one of three things. The president has no idea what is in his own proposal; the president doesn't understand his own proposal; or the president thinks you would not like the truth.

Joseph Gordy

St. Augustine

Editor's note: Joe Gordy is president of Flagler Hospital.

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The WRecKord Was Wrong to Print Government Handout on TDC, Discouraging Public Participation -- Self-Serving Snobbery, Yellow Journalism

The WRecKord was wrong to print a government handout, which in its print version used the word "unqualified" several times before the names of citizens who filed their applications to be on the TDC.

The handout came from either the TDC or the County Attorney.

The WRecKord did not bother checking with anyone listed -- it sought no comments.

The WReckord missed obvious qualifications on the applications.

The WReckord did not print a retraction/correction.

Remember Richard Jewell -- falsely accused of being the Olympic bomber, based on government leaks?

The WReckord may as well change its name to the "Unwelcome Wagon" -- discouraging public participation in our government, while printing meaningless drivel.

34 seek tourism council appointments -- All but two of those kicked off want reappointment

Publication Date: 08/22/09

Thirty-four persons have submitted their names to fill nine vacancies on St. Johns County's Tourist Development Council's board of directors.

The County Commission will consider the applications during a special meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

County commissioners voted Aug. 11 to "sunset" the TDC board, ending their terms of service.

Of the nine council members, three represent the city commissions of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach and the County Commission.

At least three, but no more than four, members have to be involved in the tourist industry and collect the bed tax.

At least two, but no more than three, members have to show a demonstrated interest in tourism but don't have to collect the bed tax.

One seat is designated for the County Commission chair.

The current members of the Council, whose positions were "sunseted," serve until Tuesday, when their replacements are named.

They current membeers are Cyndi Stevenson, chairwoman of the County Commission; Joseph Boles, mayor of St. Augustine; Richard O'Brien, St. Augustine Beach City commissioner; Fred E. Cozby, owner/operator; John E. "Jack" Peter, tourism-related representative; Jason Fort, owner/operator; Frank D. Usina, owner/operator; and Christopher Way, tourism-related representative.

All of the members who were "sunseted" are seeking reappointment, except for Way, who owns Barnicle Bill's restaurants, and Fort.

Applications, resumes and backup information were examined by the staff in the County Attorney's Office, said County spokeswoman Karen Pan.

The staff determined that seven of the 34 applicants did not meet the statutory requirements to serve on the board, she said.

Those who disagree with that decision and want to provide additional information are encouraged to attend the Tuesday meeting and address the commission, said Pan.

Following are the designated seats and the applicants' names:

One seat designated for an elected municipal official from the most populous municipality.

(One applicant)

Joe Boles, mayor of St. Augustine.

One seat designated for an elected municipal official.

(Two applicants)

* Rich O'Brien, St. Augustine Beach commissioner.

* Andrea Samuels, St. Augustine Beach commissioner.

At least three but no more than four seats designated for hotel/motel/accommodation owner/operators.

(Five applicants)

* Fred E. Cozby, director of lodging, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

* Frank D. Usina, owner, North Beach Camp Resort.

* John B. Yanni, owner/operator of Rodeway Inn, U.S. 1.

* Jeffrey Mayers, Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa.

* Conrad Matt, owner/manager of Pirate Haus Inn and Hostel.

At least two but no more than three seats designated for persons involved in tourist industry and have demonstrated an interest in tourist development.

(13 applicants)

* Rick Ambrose, Rick Ambrose Productions/Mojo Man Music Entertainment.

* Edwin O. Swift IV, director of operations, Historic Tours of America (St. Augustine and Savannah).

* James Bullock, tour guide.

* Gerald Eubanks, tour guide, retired education.

* Elaine Fraser, general manager, Oldest Wooden School House & Old School Gifts.

* Bill Hughes, general manager, TPC Sawgrass.

* Danny Johns, farmer (Blue Sky Farms), agro-tourist guide.

* Howard E. Lewis, tour guide.

* Philip McDaniel, director, St. Johns Cultural Council.

* Christine MacLeod McMillian, owner, Opus 39 Restaurant, The Tasting Room.

* John E. "Jack" Peter, PGA Tour, COO, World Golf Hall of Fame, World Golf Village.

* Robert Samuels, tour guide (Ancient City Tours).

* Albert Syeles, independent musician, founder of Romanza! - A Cultural Festival.

Appears to be unqualified for appointment to the TDC according to submitted application.

(At one time involved in tourist industry or an elected official, but not currently.)

(Five applicants)

* Donald Dickhens, hotel/resort manager (Hawaii/Florida).

* George C. Fetherston, general manager, Sawgrass Country Club (retired).

* George Gardner, former mayor/commissioner, St. Augustine.

* LeeAnn S. Kendall, advertising consultant for The St. Augustine Record, creator of the Restaurant Times for St. Augustine.

* Judith Seraphin, former bed and breakfast owner in Philadelphia, CEO of Global Wrap.

Application does not demonstrate current involvement in tourist industry.

(Six applicants)

Scott M. Bartosch, retired, VP Sales, The Wiremold Co.

Carolyn Francis, Realtor.

William C. Mayer, self-employed CPA.

Mark Middlebrook, owner of Middlebrook Co., Wetland Consulting Services.

Jamin Douglas Rubenstein, attorney-volunteer attorney for the arts.

William R. Buzzi, director of research and development for Carr Specialty Baits.

Apparently unqualified for appointment to TDC.

(Two applicants)

Steven C. Cupolo, owner/broker, Premier Properties Realty Group.

Jessica Ward, general manager of Cruisers Grill.

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