Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Does Baloney Reject the Grinder? Questions Senator DAN GELBER Won't Answer and Has Not Answered Since Last Week!

In the immortal words of William F. Buckley, Jr., "why does baloney reject the grinder?" See below.

Dear Mr. Gelber:
Please respond to my questions. Also, could you please provide copies of some of the internal investigations that you have done for U.S. Sugar, other Fortune 500 companies and other organizations, and a list of companies for whom you have done such investigations?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 5:10 pm
Subject: Representation of BP and City of St. Augustine in Cases Involving Reckless or Intentional Pollution of Florida's Waters

Dear Mr. Gelber:
1. I met you last year at the St. Johns County DEC fundraiser at the St. Augustine Rod & Gun Club.
2. It has come to my attention that Akerman Senterfitt, a law firm in which you are a shareholder, now represents BP in pollution cases arising from the Gulf oil spill. Please comment.
3. Your law firm (William Pence) also defended our City of St. Augustine and billed hundreds of thousands of dollars after our City dumped 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old CIty Reservoir, a case in which Akerman Senterfitt proposed contaminated solid waste be brought back to the African-American community of Lincolnville for use as a park. Please comment.
4. Would you please comment on Akerman Senterfitt's representing polluters and recidivists?
5. Would your work for Akerman Senterfitt present disqualificaiton/recusal/conflicts issues if youweare elected?
[6.] Also, could you please send me a list of all of the clients of Akerman Senterfitt?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

When Polluters, Price-fixers, Union-busters and Bad Guys Need Lawyers, Who Do They Call in Florida?

Who do they hire? AKERMAN SENTERFITT, Florida's largest law firm. See below.

AKERMAN SENTERFITT represented our CIty of St. Augustine in its efforts to inflict pain on the people of Lincolnville, empowering racist City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS in his: (A) avoiding criminal and civil liability for putting 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir and (B) seeking to move that solid waste back to Linclnville. Both these environmental crimes involved African-American communities.

AKERMAN SENTERFITT, DAN GELBER's law firm represents more malefactors of great wealth than any other law firm in FLorida. With 500 lawyers, it represents the rich and powerful of Florida. Three AKERMAN SENTERFITT lawyers are State Senators (one is a State Representative)

DAN GELBER worked for AKERMAN SENTERFITT for at least twelve years (another blog said 25 years).

AKERMAN SENTERFITT lawyer DAN GELBER did internal investigations of corporations and traded on his Capitol Hill experience as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (1994-1998), chaired by homophobic Senator Sam Nunn.

That's the condescending AKERMAN SENTERFITT lawyer WILLIAM PENCE in the funny hat, attending a fancy-pants masqued ball several years ago (our City Attorney RONALD BROWN), gets his tickets for free. (PENCE has now moved to another firm).

AKERMAN SENTERFITT was involved in the continuing coverup of the City of St. Augustine's illegal dumping since 2006. He was present when false statements were mnade to the Florida DEP and U.S. EPA. He pursued the nefarious scheme to send solid waste back to the community of Lincolnville. He talked down to the people of West Augustine and Lincolnville at the Jsnuary 10, 2008 meeting. Now he's negotiated with FDEP, in secret, excluding community activists. He had the nerve (as did our City) to refuse to hold another meeting at the A.M.E. Church in Lincolnville, stiffing the request from the Lincolnville Neighborhood Association to hold Thursday's meeting there. As a result, one City Hall meeting was all-white (except for the city employee who tape-recorded the meeting).
That meeting was not televised or videotaped. Not one City Commmissioner attended the meeting, although Commissioner ERROL JONES was seen a few minutes later - was he watching from his office in City Hall, refusing to be associated with the scandal he helped create and continue?
JONES was repeatedly rude to persons asking questions about the illegal dumping.
Then, on November 13, 2007, it was JONES who made the motion to ship the waste back to Lincolnville, where he himself grew up. (Two Commissioners -- Ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER and ex-Vice-Mayor SUSAN BURK -- did not attend the November 13, 2007 meeting.
Only because seven citizen activists filed a petition with FDEP was tne notion of shipping illegally dumped solid waste back to Lincolnville rejected.
AKERMAN SENTERFITT lawyer WILLIAM PENCE (and GELBER) personally profited from this stupid, racist idea, which would have depressed Lincolnville property values.
City mouthpiece WILLIAM PENCE had the nerve to call the citizen petition "frivolous." The nerve of this malefactor of great wealth and his corporate law firm.
It is hardly "frivolous" to defend one's city and community from illegal dumping and Environnmental Racism.
PENCE is typical of corporate lawyers -- soulless, reckless and feckless, wasting our City's money, looking down his distended nostrils at lesser mortals. What a waste of a good education (which includes the London School of Economics).
The people won. WILLIAM PENCE, the City of St. Augustine and AKERMAN SENTERFITT lost.
The solid waste was not shipped back to Lincolnville.
It's been removed from the Old City Reservoir and put in a Class I landfill, which City officials brazenly said they would "never" tolerate.
The racist City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS and the racist city government -- the one Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the "most lawless city in America" -- aided and abetted by AKERMAN SENTERFITT refused to agree to public participation in negotiations, refusing to answer questions about what was dumped and why, keeping tatterdemalion City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS in office, and lying about everything (even falsely claiming to have changed procedures to prevent further environmental violations and claiming to have done a "root cause analysis" when none exists).
WILLIAM (PENCE and DAN GELBER) and AERFMAN SENTERFITT -- we see right through you. Your services, such as they were, cost our City hundreds of thousands of dollars and provide guidance about who we should support in the Democratic Primary for Attorney General.
Not DAN GELBER, whose oleaginous firm now represents BP.

What Is AKERMAN SENTERFITTt (DAN GELBER's corporate law firm)?

With 500 attorneys and consultants, Akerman Senterfitt is distinguished by its comprehensive Corporate, Real Estate, Construction, Government Relations, Labor & Employment, Litigation, and Intellectual Property practices. Providing services to local, regional, national and international clients, our team of legal advisors and consultants represent private and public companies, government entities, educational institutions and high net-worth individuals in over 40 different practice areas, and provide clients with not only sound legal advice, but innovative and effective business solutions.

Depth and Experience
With an entrepreneurial management style that rewards teamwork, Akerman Senterfitt attracts attorneys with top-flight credentials. In addition to many highly regarded attorneys from other law firms, we're proud that a fair share of former judges, prosecutors and government lawyers have decided to make Akerman Senterfitt their professional home when they enter private practice.

With high average years of experience and a low shareholder-to-associate ratio, we maintain close senior-level supervision of all matters and ensure that a case is handled in the most expeditious and positive manner possible.

Strategic Presence
We realize that in today's changing business climate, our clients are focusing their business strategies with a more global perspective. To help our clients maximize their business opportunities within the United States, Latin America and throughout the world, Akerman Senterfitt maintains offices in the nation's principal financial and political centers - New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles – in addition to our already strong foothold throughout Florida's largest business centers.

Beyond the Courtroom and the Boardroom
In today's business climate, we know it's important to represent a client's interests at all levels of government. That's why we have assembled a team of attorneys and consultants with experience in regulatory, legislative, administrative and appellate matters across a wide range of industries. We share with our clients the benefits of relationships these professionals have worked hard to develop.

Our knowledge of the political and community landscape doesn't stop at the office door. Our attorneys are active with political causes, community boards, public commissions, fundraising bodies and other organizations, and have been recognized throughout the nation for their strong contributions to civic and charitable causes.

From our firm's team-oriented philosophy to our emphasis on industry and community knowledge, Akerman Senterfitt and our attorneys strive to offer individualized legal services with a global perspective – maximizing the value we provide to our clients each day.
Office Locations
Las Olas Centre II, 350 E. Las Olas Blvd, #1600
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Bus: 954-463-2700
Fax: 954-463-2224 JACKSONVILLE, FL
50 North Laura Street, Suite 2500

Jacksonville, FL 32202
Bus: 904-798-3700
Fax: 904-798-3730

One Southeast Third Avenue, 28th Floor
Miami, FL 33131
Bus: 305-374-5600
Fax: 305-374-5095 ORLANDO, FL
420 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1200

Orlando, FL 32801
Bus: 407-423-4000
Fax: 407-843-6610

Highpoint Center, 12th Fl
106 East College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Bus: 850-224-9634
Fax: 850-222-0103

SunTrust Financial Centre
401 E. Jackson Street, Suite 1700
Tampa, FL 33602
Bus: 813-223-7333
Fax: 813-223-2837

222 Lakeview Avenue, Suite 400
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Bus: 561-653-5000
Fax: 561-659-6313

335 Madison Avenue, Suite 2600
New York, NY 10017
Bus: 212-880-3800
Fax: 212-880-8965

801 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 600
Washington, DC 20004
Bus: 202-393-6222
Fax: 202-393-5959

725 South Figueroa Street, 38th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Bus: 213-688-9500
Fax: 213-627-6342

222 West Washington Avenue, Suite 380
Madison, WI 53703
Bus: 608-257-5335
Fax: 608-257-2029

8100 Boone Boulevard, Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182
Bus: 703-790-8750
Fax: 703-448-1767


At midnight, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS retires Go on, git!

Photo credit: J.D. Pleasant (and a cast of thousands)

Americans hate tyrants.
Americans hate bullies,
Americans defeat tyrants and bullies all the time.
Americans stood up to King George III and the British throne. Americans had a revolution heard ‘round the world.
Americans defeated slavery.
Americans defeated segregation.
Americans defeated fascism.
Americans defeated Communism.
Americans ended the Cold War.
Americans defeated Saddam Hussein.
Americans are defeating terrorism and extremism.
And Americans defeated St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS.
It took five years.
It took a village.
It took every person in our City who cares to work together to defeat the tyrant HARRISS.
We defeated him in federal court on the Bridge of Lions Rainbow flags case.
We defeated HARRISS in federal court in multiple First Amendment cases.
We caught HARRISS dumping 40,000 cubic yards of contamined solid waste in our Old City Reservoir.
We taught HARRISS some manners.
We stopped HARRISS from bringing 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste back to Lincolnville.
We forced the City and State to put the 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste in a Class I landfill.
We defeated HARRISS and got the City of St. Augustine fined for environmental pollution. (HARRISS should pay such fines personally).
We exposed HARRISS’ dumping semi-treated sewage effluent in our saltwater marsh. The state fined the City.
We exposed HARRISS’ irresponsible refusal to act on sewage pollution, resulting in a massive 611,000 gallon sewage pollution of our Old City Reservoir.
We filed Environmental Justice complaints with EPA.
We defeated WILLIAM B. HARRISS, just as Americans defeated King George III, slavery, segregation, fascism and Communism.
Every good and decent person in St. Augustine, Florida is happy to see HARRISS go.
Tonight, let's sing "We shall overcome."

St. Augustine Record Shows Its Big Bias With Inane Article on Retirement of WILLIAM B. HARRISS (below)

The St. Augustine Record is soft on "crime in the suites," including Sunshine and Open Records violations that deprive readers of their Right to Know.

The St. Augustine Record has never been vigorously investigative about WILLIAM B. HARRISS, that other-directed dastardly dimwit, as lugubrious a goober as ever made a chair squeak.

So when the Record published a mash note (below) as a front-page article, one could only think that its reporters and editors share a common goal -- being frontmen for the developers and the developer-coddler politicians who would ruin our town.

My religious tradition teaches forgiveness -- but how do you forgive bad taste?

The article (below) is creepy -- one can't imagine any other newspaper in America performing tricks for such an undeserving public official.

St. Augustine Record; Harriss heads into retirement with warm wishes -- Friends, colleagues praise leaving city manager's service, big heart

Posted: June 30, 2010 - 12:08am


Today is the last of 9,416 working days for St. Augustine City Manager Bill Harriss, but he had few words for the 200 friends, colleagues, former mayors, city commissioners county officials and law officers who packed the Alcazar Room at his send-off ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

"While I appreciate that all of you are here, I've tried to keep the city's interests first," he said. "That's what's important."

That's it.

After 25 years working for the city, 12 as city manager, those who know him accepted Harriss' dislike of "fru-fru stuff," as he calls emotional moments.

He received many hearty cheers for his long, dedicated service, plus the Florida Distinguish Service Medal presented by Brig. Gen. Don Tyre of the Florida Army National Guard.

Mayor Joe Boles served as master of ceremonies of the "momentous occasion," and said the food was selected from menus and restaurants that Harriss liked and noted the many gifts Harriss had received.

He said, "Thank you, Bill Harriss, for 25 years of service to St. Augustine." With an impish smile, Boles told the audience, "I'm sure he'll have those thank-you notes out in a few days."

Vice Mayor Errol Jones said he had worked with Harriss for eight years.

"We're really different camps in some areas," Jones said. "But we acknowledge that and move on. I respect his forcefulness and strong will. For the people of St. Augustine, I say, 'Thank you.'"

Commissioner Don Crichlow, who decided not to run again, said Harriss helped every new commissioner learn how the city runs.

"He always says, 'It's your decision.' He knows how to handle commissioners. He took the city from junk bond status to the highest rating there is. We are in great (financial) shape. I don't feel like I'm losing a city manager. I feel like I'm gaining a friend and a golf partner."

Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said Harriss was like a big brother to her. "He has a huge heart," she said. "He can be gruff, blunt and not always tactful. But you always know where you stand with Bill."

One of the gifts to Harriss and his wife was a three-night stay in Asheville, N.C., a state they love.

St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar said Harriss had wanted to learn about police work since 1985, the year he came to work as the city's financial manager. Harriss also served as a reserve sheriff's deputy for years.

"Now that he's retired, I'll make sure he has a traffic post during the Easter and Christmas parades," Shoar joked.

Another gift was a round of golf at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass for him and three friends.

"I wouldn't have had the opportunities in my career if it wasn't for him," Shoar said. "He's one of those rare intellects who can not only design a bridge but also build it."

Shoar gave Harriss an award making him St. Johns County's first honorary sheriff.

Former Assistant City Manager Jack Cubbedge, now retired, worked under Harriss and presented him with a print of City Hall taken in 1890, made from a glass plate negative.

"We were not a one-horse town when Bill got here," he said. "You can actually see two horses (in the picture)."

Other gifts include a brick from the city's brick streets, an old radio that once was in Harriss' car, a city parking meter made into a piggy bank, a city park bench, and one of the 120 Spanish flags flown over the city on April 1, 2001, during the visit of King Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Harriss' daughter Jennifer, 35, said her father "always raised us to make our own decisions and that we pay the consequences for what you choose. He has a very big heart."

To her father, she said, "We're glad to have you back to ourselves. You're not retiring from us."

Harriss also received a Keeper of the Gate Award, a sculpture of the St. Augustine City Gates.

Incoming City Manager John Regan said the keeper of the gate protects the city where it is most vulnerable.

"Everything you have done has protected this city," he said. "I aspire to be the husband, father and son that you have shown us that you are. You have had a noble vision for 25 years."

St. Augustine Has Made Its Rivers Into Sewers -- When Will EPA and DEP Prosecute Wrongdoers Like City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS?

There's been sewage pollution in the Matanzas and San Sebastian River for centuries.

Our City of St. Augustine produced sewage pollution that is so bad that fishermen and swimmers avoid the San Sebastian River.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and local rich guys want part of the Matanzas River (South of the SR 312 Bridge) designated as a protected river. That's great, but they write off the area North of the SR 312 Bridge because of the City's fetid sewage pollution.

City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS should be arrested and jailed for what he has done to the environment. Celebrate his retirement -- we won.

Associated Press: Swimmers warned of sewage spill

MIAMI — Miami-area swimmers are being warned to stay out of Biscayne Bay after an estimated 20 million gallons of raw sewage spilled from a burst pipe.

The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department says sewage flowed from the burst pipe for about 12 hours, until it was capped Saturday morning.

Health officials issued a public advisory asking residents to avoid swimming and recreational activities in the bay areas from the Julia Tuttle Causeway to the Oleta River Park.

It’s not clear what caused the rupture. Water quality tests are under way.

Read more:

St. Augustine Applying for TIGER II Grant for Entry Corridor Work

At Monday's City Commission meeting, new City Manager John Regan discussed with Commissioners applying for a TIGER II grant worth several million dollars for entry corridor work that would spruice up St. Augustine in time for the 450th. Reprinted below is an EPA press release on TIGER II grants.

EPA Press Release: $75 Million in Funding Available--HUD-DOT Announce Community Challenge Grants and TIGER II Planning Grants

$75 Million in Funding Available--HUD-DOT Announce Community Challenge Grants and TIGER II Planning Grants
U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will join forces to award up to $75 million in funding — $35 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing and economic development.
The new program builds on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative new interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Partnership is designed to remove the traditional federal government silos that exist between departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.
TIGER II Planning Grants may be used to plan, prepare or design surface transportation projects that would be eligible for funding under the TIGER II Discretionary Grant program. These projects include highways, bridges, transit, railways, ports or bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
HUD’s Sustainable Communities funding will target urban and community planning projects that foster reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. Such efforts may include amending or replacing local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes either on a jurisdiction-wide basis or in a specific neighborhood or sector to promote mixed-use development, affordable housing and the re-use of older buildings for new purposes with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local level.
For more information:
If you are not already a member, the Office of Environmental Justice would like to invite you to join the EJ ListServ. The purpose of this information tool is to notify individuals about activities at EPA in the field of environmental justice. By subscribing to this list you will receive information on EPA's activities, programs, projects grants and about environmental justice activities at other agencies. Noteworthy news items, National meeting announcements, meeting summaries of NEJAC meetings, and new publication notices will also be distributed. Postings can only be made by the Office of Environmental Justice. To request an item to be posted, send your information to and indicate in the subject “Post to EPA-EJ ListServ”

To join the listserv go to:

St. Petersburg blog: Dan Gelber says he quit law firm “last Thursday” so why is resignation letter effective in “early July?”

I guess at some point every Democrat is going to have to make a decision about who to support for Attorney General. Dave Aronberg or Dan Gelber? ’Cause you can’t vote for both, as much as we’d all like to.

I haven’t fully made up my mind yet. I want to hear what Gelber has to say tomorrow night at Bella Brava. But in the meantime, what troubles me — and many other Democrats — is the controversy over Gelber’s resignation from his law firm, which BP hired to represent it in any claims issues stemming from the oil spill.

The latest development in this, sorry to say, continuing controversy is the timing of Gelber’s resignation.

Last night, Gelber told Creative Loafing‘s Mitch Perry:

“There’s no question about it, I quit last Thursday. It’s almost an absurd debate.”

Gelber said he heard in early June that Akerman Senterfitt was “jockeying” with BP on representing them, and then learned in early June that the firm had picked up that business. But he said after working with the firm for 25 years, there was no way he could quit overnight, and so he spent a few weeks preparing clients that he would have to leave, which he did last Thursday. “You don’t let clients know you’re leaving through the newspaper,” he said.

However, if you take a look at the actual resignation letter Gelber wrote, posted on the Palm Beach Post’s website, Gelber’s resignation isn’t effective until “early July.” Gelber writes:

Thanks for the opportunity to work with the lawyers of Akerman Senterfitt. As we discussed, I am resigning my “of counsel” affiliation in early July to give me time to adequately assure client transition issues and administrative matters are addressed.

This all seems like splitting hairs, but its Gelber, not Aronberg, who is trying to make an issue of when he actually resigned. The question still remains if Gelber resigned before or after Aronberg called for his resignation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Reid Report:: Gelber pushes back on Aronberg, BP law firm story

June 29, 2010 · Posted in Elections, News and Current Affairs, Political News, Politics

Gelber vs. Aronberg for attorney general: blue on blue crime is way before its time...

Dan Gelber is pushing back hard against his Democratic primary opponent, Dave Aronberg, over the Notorious B-P story. Gelber says Aronberg is pulling a political fast one, trying to take credit for getting Gelber to resign from the law firm, Akerman Senterfitt, after it became public that the firm will be representing BP.

Gelber told me that at the time Aronberg’s team reached out to the media, calling on him to resign, he had already done so (last Thursday), and that he had made the decision to leave the firm weeks earlier. He says Team Aronberg must have known he had left the firm, because his name had already been taken down from the firm’s website by the time Aronberg called on him to resign Monday evening. Gelber says he has made no secret of his intention to resign from the firm, since learning that it would be taking BP on as a client, but that he didn’t “hold a press conference about it” because he thought it best to inform the firm and his clients first. He pointed out that the firm has “500 lawyers” and that given his duties in the state Senate, he isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm, and that as an “of counsel” to Akerman, he is not a shareholder or associate, and never had any conflicts of interest.

“I think what Dave did was a pretty cheap shot, and pretty sophomoric,” Gelber told me. “Dave heard I had resigned and then called for me to resign. … I think he’s listening to his PR guys and not his better angels.” And he added: “It’s not just a political stunt, it’s really politicizing a tragedy for his own ambition. He knew I had already resigned, and now he’s trying to get some credit for it.”

I’m reaching out to Team Aronberg for their response, and to find out what Aronberg knew about Gelber’s plans, and when.

What’s problematic for Gelber is an interview he gave to the Daily Business Review on June 15 in which he called Akerman’s BP representation a “non-issue.” He explained to me that in that interview, he was specifically talking about anti-offshore drilling legislation he was championing with fellow Akerman “of counsel” (a fancy term for a lawyer with a non-day-to-day relationship with a law firm,) Sen. Alex Villalobos. The article, by Julie Kay, indicates the four Florida lawmakers who are “of counsel” to the firm (the others are State Sen. Joe Negron and State Rep. Joe Gibbons), took steps to “wall themselves off” from anything related to BP in May, in anticipation of calling for a summer special session on drilling. From the June 15 DBR piece:

Villalobos and Gelber both said they don’t think there is a conflict in their dual roles as attorneys with the law firm defending BP in court. Two other state legislators at the firm, state Sen. Joe Negron and state Rep. Joe Gibbons — are also of counsel at Akerman.

Villalobos, who chairs the Senate rules committee and sits on the policy and steering committee on energy, environment and land use, wrote to Akerman chairman Andrew Smulian on behalf of the firm’s four legislators on May 24.

He requested that the four be “walled off” and isolated from any “discussions, documents or activities of any kind between the firm and BP.”

He noted the legislators’ “of counsel” status at the firm means they have no ownership stake or access to the firm’s financial records and do not share in firm profits.

“By serving in the ‘of counsel’ relationship, the legislators who are associated with the firm are not involved in any manner with this client nor do we have access to files or information relating to the firm’s representation of BP,” the letter stated.

In an interview, Villalobos likened the situation to “a teacher voting on the education budget,” noting Akerman also represents the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

He wrote Smulian because “as the universe of what you are talking about shrinks, that’s where you have to be more careful. There aren’t that many companies involved in offshore drilling. BP is one of them.”

Gelber, a Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general, called any alleged conflict “a non-issue.” He has been one of the most vociferous voices against BP and offshore drilling.

“Akerman has over 400 lawyers and handles tens of thousands of cases,” he said. “I am of counsel to the firm and not a partner. I know nothing about the case, nor will I ever. I have publicly demanded that BP be held accountable for their gross negligence and for the pain they have inflicted on our state’s economy and environment, and will continue to do so aggressively.”

That letter, on which Gelber was cc’d, was sent to Akerman on behalf of the four “of counsel” state Senators on May 24th.

Reporter Julie Kay broke the story about Akerman being hired by BP on June 15th, though the St. Pete Times didn’t seem to pick up on the fact that BP had hired Akerman to represent it in civil litigation on June 20, nearly a month after the fact.

Gelber resigned from the firm on June 24, and his campaign manager, Christian Ulvert announced it publicly on June 28, (yesterday evening,) the same evening Aronberg called on him to resign. Gelber says that by then, his name had already been taken down from the firm’s website. But the reaction from the blogosphere and mediasphere was that Aronberg had scored one on Gelber. And Gelber, a favorite of the netroots for years and a fierce opponent of BP, is not amused.

Gelber’s point is that he was already taking steps to unwind himself from the firm, which would have been completed by July 1st. But because he only publicly walked after the BP contract went public, and announced it so abruptly after Aronberg went public with a resignation demand, he handed Aronberg an opportunity, cheap shot or not. I have no idea whether Aronberg actually knew about Gelber’s resignation plans (I’m efforting to find out,) but I do know that politicians who don’t take advantage of easy opportunities like this one generally lose elections. And this primary will likely be low turnout, with lots of voters under-voting by ticking the top of the ticket boxes (Senate and governor) only, so a few thousand votes could decide it. Also, neither candidate is spending money yet, so both will be relatively unknown to Democratic voters (both are also from South Florida, which doesn’t help in a state with 10 media markets, the largest which is Tampa.) If the Gelber-BP meme starts to stick, well … that’s the reason Gelber is pushing back so hard.

Refugees from BP's spill headed to FLorida

It looks like there are thousands of refugees headed to Florida from BP's oil spill.

Turtles. See below.

I have an inspiration.

What about shrimp boats?

St. Augustine was once a shrimp boat capital. There are few shrimp boats here.

We have the processing facilities (along Riberia Street).

We have the docks (the abandoned Sebastian Inner Harbor project site has new docks that are unused).

Florida enacted a constitutional amendment in 2008 encouraging working waterfronts/

Shrimpers could move here, with their families, pending cleanup.

Tourists could enjoy the working waterfront.

Family businesses and a way of life could be preserved.

Our economy would be boosted.

What do you reckon?

Press Register/ Wildlife officials to move thousands of sea turtle eggs to Florida's east coast

Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 5:00 AM
Ryan Dezember, Press-Register Ryan Dezember, Press-Register

Federal wildlife officials are moving ahead with a plan to move up to 50,000 eggs off oil-ravaged beaches to the eastern coast of Florida, a plan officials acknowledge has risks.
Federal wildlife officials plan to move tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs from oil-plagued beaches along the northern Gulf to Florida's east coast, where the reptiles would hatch in a controlled environment and be released into the Atlantic Ocean.

Made public over the weekend, the 10-page plan details the procedure for digging up as many as 50,000 ping-pong-ball-sized eggs from some 800 nests in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, packing them into sand-filled Styrofoam coolers and transporting them via plane to a Florida facility.

"This plan is painful to everyone," said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokeswoman Bonnie Strawser, who is stationed at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores. "We don't think it's a perfect plan, but it's better than losing 100 percent of them."

The plan's authors with the Fish & Wildlife Service make clear in a companion document that they are pursuing the unprecedented relocation with trepidation.

There are "definite, but unquantifiable risks" involved in handling the threatened and endangered species' eggs and "mortality beyond natural levels must be expected," but the current situation in the Gulf requires extraordinary and previously unthinkable measures, the Wildlife Service said.

"In developing this plan we realized early that our expectations for success must be rooted in the knowledge that doing nothing would most likely result in the loss of most, if not all, of this year's northern Gulf of Mexico hatchling cohort," government scientists wrote.

About 70 turtle nests are laid on Alabama's beaches each year between late spring and the end of September. As of Monday, 16 had been laid in Baldwin County along with one on Dauphin Island, said Mike Reynolds, director of the Share the Beach program, in which volunteers comb the beach each morning looking for the tell-tale tracks mothers make when they waddle up the beach to nest.

Discovering nests the morning after they're laid is crucial because the relocation plan calls for eggs to be excavated between the 51st and 53rd day of incubation. The length of time turtle eggs take to incubate varies depending on climate factors, but eggs generally hatch between 55 and 75 days after they are laid.

By allowing the eggs to stay in the sand as long as possible, scientists are hoping that the turtles will still develop what is known as their natal imprint that drives their instinct to return to the beaches from which they emerged to reproduce, Strawser said.

Some studies suggest that hatchlings acquire this sense of home while still in their eggs, Strawser said.

The Fish & Wildlife Service also noted in its plan that while turtles born on the northern Gulf and those from the Atlantic have minor genetic differences, currents have been known to carry Gulf turtles into the Atlantic.

Some scientists estimate that as few as 1 in 1,000 hatchlings survive to reproductive age 10 to 20 years after they hatch. Documents show that federal scientists ran their plan past numerous experts and several state agencies in recent weeks. And an opinion emerged that with such long odds already facing young sea turtles, it was less risky to move them to the Atlantic than to allow them to waddle into almost certain death facing them in the Gulf.

Even if a hatchling were to avoid oil at water's edge, the rafts of rough seaweed, or sargassum, that they float in and feed upon during their formative years are likely to be fouled by oil.

"Everyone agrees this has to be done," Reynolds said. "You can't let them go out there to get exposed to the oil."

© 2010 All rights reserved.

City must partner with UF and NPS for 450th and 500th

See below.

We need a St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore, not tacky tourist traps on St. George Street.

A strong presence by the University of FLorida and the National Park Service are needed.

UF and NPS can help us a achieve a National Park and Seashore that will preserve and protect our unique history, culture and environment, bring in higher-spending environmental and historic tourists, provide good jobs at good wages, and make for an internationally acclaimed celebration of Florida's 500th anniversary (2013), St. Augustine's 450th anniversary (2015), the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights act and demonstrations here (2014) and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (2016).

Yes we can!

St. Augustine Recod: City elects to partner with UF on properties -- UF negotiators come here next week

City elects to partner with UF on properties -- UF negotiators come here next week
Posted: June 29, 2010 - 12:02am

St. Augustine's City Commissioners decided by consensus Monday night to work toward a partnership with the University of Florida before the school legally takes possession of the city's 34 state-owned historic properties July 1.

Commissioners hope the relationship will work, but believe their connection with UF is tenuous.

Vice Mayor Errol Jones said, "I'm afraid they'll devour us. UF doesn't have a commitment to us. I think they have a commitment, but I don't know what it's to."

The city had little choice. The commission's only alternatives to partnership are:

1. Fight UF in court, where the city would eventually lose;

2. Request an injunction to stop UF from leasing the properties, which would only be temporary; or

2. Immediately walk away from the properties and risk the jobs of 53 city employees.

Incoming City Manager John Regan said UF may start spending its appropriation of $650,000 on July 1.

That money may be used to maintain historic buildings, maintain one building or hire staff.

The city wants to use some UF money and some of its own to transform the Spanish Quarter into a respected living heritage museum. Right now, the Quarter gets 60,000 visitors a year while the Castillo de San Marcos across the street gets 5 million.

"UF does not see the Spanish Quarter as we do," Regan said. "We want them to let us operate it."

Government House, he said, could become the "academic center" of St. Augustine, housing state history and preservation offices.

"Every great plaza is anchored by great buildings," he said.

Commissioners fear that if the school's appropriation is a one-time or part-time event, UF will be underfunded and perhaps be financially forced to close the Spanish Quarter. The $650,000 appropriation will be a recurring allocation, according to state Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine.

"We have to work out a transition plan," Regan said.

Next week, university negotiators are coming here.

Jones said, "There are a lot of simple, unanswered questions. I'd like to partner but I don't know who my partner is. It's like holding hands in the dark."

Commissioner Leanna Freeman said the city has a lot to offer the university and the other way around.

"But we don't share the same goals. I'm concerned. But we don't have any choice," she said.

Mayor Joe Boles said the city will "move on all fronts" to a new partnership.

But Regan said that city property in the Spanish Quarter is required for the new $10 million Visitor Orientation Center, purportedly to be paid for by the National Park Service and state of Florida.

"That (half acre of) land is a big bargaining chip. Without it the VSO won't get built. When I raise the issue, it drives (UF) crazy," he said.

Commissioner Don Crichlow, a UF graduate, said he's optimistic about the partnership.

"It's the unknown we fear. (But) I have every belief that my beloved alma mater is not going to shaft us," he said.


DAN GELBER claims not to be a shareholder in Akerman Senterfitt. Why?

Last week, we copied the DAN GELBER article from AKERMAN SENTERFITT's website, which says he says he is a shareholder. See below. Was AKERMAN SENTERFITT lying, or was he once a shareholder and then agreed to be of counsel?

DAN GELBER has still not answered questions about his law firm, which represented the CIty of St. Augustine in its efforts to cram 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste back into our Lincolnville community.

We remember AKERMAN SENTERFITT for its arrogance. It billed our City of St. Augustine hundreds of thousands of dollars to delay the day when its 40,000 cubic yards would be required to go to a Class I landfill.

The people won. AKERMAN SENTERFITT, which has three (3) state Senators and one state representative in its stable, has excessive power and influence.

GELBER's AKERMAN SENTERFITT profile states he is a shareholder in the Litigation and Policy practices. The Policy practice has no profile, but it sure sounds like lobbying to me.

What do you reckon?

SUNSHINE NEWS: Democratic Candidates in Close AG Race Unleash Attacks

With two months to go, Gelber and Aronberg finally take off the gloves
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 29, 2010 12:22 PM
Allison North Jones, Betty Castor, Dan Gelber, Dave Aronberg, Jim Davis, News, Pam Iorio, Politics

With less than two months to go until the primary, the two candidates locked in a tight battle for the Democratic attorney general nomination are finally starting to launch attacks on each other.

Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, and Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, are both seeking the nomination and have waged a civil contest up to this point. So far, the race has been close with neither candidate gaining a real edge over the other in terms of fund-raising or endorsements. Some organizations -- such as the Florida AFL-CIO -- have offered praise for both candidates and simply decided to back whoever emerges from the Democratic primary.

After months of treating the other candidate with kid gloves, things changed in the race Monday when Aronberg called for Gelber to resign from Akerman Senterfitt, the powerful law firm that BP hired to handle legal problems resulting from claims over the oil spill in the Gulf. Aronberg said that this posed a conflict of interest. Gelber’s campaign team revealed Monday night that their candidate had already done so -- resigning from the firm last Thursday.

Gelber fired back Tuesday in an e-mail to the media and to his supporters.

“I resigned from my law firm upon learning after the fact that they had signed up to represent BP in court,” wrote Gelber. “Although lawyers do not assume the virtues or defects of their clients, I have been the leading and harshest critic of BP and of offshore oil drilling for many years, and believed if I am to run for attorney general, I should not have any association with the company.”

Gelber ripped into Aronberg, accusing his rival of opportunism and exploiting the incident in the Gulf for political purposes.

“But unfortunately, last night my opponent in the primary, in what could only be considered a rank political stunt, decided to politicize the tragic oil spill, calling on me to resign even after I had already done so,” wrote Gelber. “Sadly, while I continue to offer real solutions to hold BP accountable and help victims impacted by the spill, my opponent is focused on scoring political points. The stakes in this race are too important for politics-as-usual and I really hoped this campaign, unlike so many others, would remain on the high road.”

Aronberg’s campaign team fired back at Gelber, saying he only resigned from the firm, two months after the oil spill began, after pressure mounted against him.

“The only rank political stunt here is Sen. Gelber resigning under political pressure,” said Allison North Jones, a spokeswoman for the Aronberg campaign. “Dave Aronberg called on Dan Gelber to do the right thing and he conveniently did.”

Trying to build momentum, Gelber hit the campaign trail hard this week with a stop in Tampa for a fund-raiser tonight being hosted by a number of prominent Democrats including 2006 gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and former Education Commissioner and 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Betty Castor. Gelber plans to campaign across Central and South Florida later in the week. Aronberg is also on the campaign trail the rest of the week, with appearances in Orlando and South Florida.

Reach Kevin Derby at, or at (850) 727-0859.

South Florida Business Journal:Gelber quits Akerman Senterfitt over spill

Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 2:03pm EDT

State Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, has quit his job with Akerman Senterfitt over the firm's decision to defend BP PLC against oil spill claims.

Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach

Gelber, who is running for Florida attorney general, apparently disclosed his resignation in an interview on Monday. He claims that he told Robert Zinn, the firm’s president, that he resigned on Thursday, June 24.

A few days later, his opponent in the statewide primary, Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, publicly called for Gelber’s resignation from the firm because of the BP connection.

Gelber’s response was to tell the St. Petersburg Times he already had resigned.

In a letter to constituents, Gelber described his resignation and criticized Aronberg.

“I resigned from my law firm upon learning after the fact that they had signed up to represent BP in court," he wrote. "Although lawyers do not assume the virtues or defects of their clients, I have been the leading and harshest critic of BP and of offshore oil drilling for many years, and believed if I am to run for attorney general, I should not have any association with the company.'

Gelber claims he had resisted advice that he announce the resignation with a press conference, only to face Aronberg’s attack.

“Unfortunately, last night, my opponent in the primary, in what could only be considered a rank political stunt, decided to politicize the tragic oil spill, calling on me to resign, even after I had already done so,” Gelber wrote in the letter.

Categories: Insurance, Legal Services

Times/Herald: AG candidate Dan Gelber quit law firm after it agreed to represent BP

By John Frank, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
In Print: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TALLAHASSEE — Democratic attorney general candidate Dan Gelber disclosed late Monday that he quit his law firm after it agreed to represent BP against oil spill disaster claims.

Gelber, a Miami Beach state senator and leading voice to ban oil drilling in Florida waters, said he resigned last week from Akerman Senterfitt, the state's largest law firm, but suggested he made his decision weeks earlier.

"I want Floridians to know I am only fighting for them," he said in an interview. "So I knew pretty quickly I would be leaving."

But Gelber didn't reveal his decision until after his Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. Dave Aronberg, called for his resignation Monday evening.

"As a candidate for attorney general, it is an inherent problem when your own law firm is on the other side of one of the most important pending lawsuits in Florida's history," Aronberg said in a prepared statement.

Gelber said he played no role in the firm's decision to represent BP and didn't know about it until days afterward. He is not a shareholder in the firm and works largely independently on an "of counsel" status, making $225,000 a year.

He initially suggested no conflict existed between his push for an offshore oil drilling ban and his firm's client, telling the Daily Business Review it was a "nonissue" in a story published June 15.

Aronberg's spokeswoman, Allison Jones, disputed that it took Gelber weeks to resign.

"If he did resign last week," she said, "it took 81,991,014 gallons, by conservative estimates, to gush into the gulf before he thought he might want to resign from the firm being paid to defend BP."

Gelber said he waited a couple of weeks to resign in order to inform clients and help transition them to new attorneys. He called Aronberg's statement a "political stunt."

"I sent in my resignation before he made this sophomoric move," he said. "Politicizing the oil spill in this way is pretty low."

[Last modified: Jun 28, 2010 10:51 PM]

Crowley Political Report:: DAN GELBER'S BP PROBLEM

Last night, state Sen. Dan Gelber was in West Palm Beach talking to local Democrats about his campaign for Florida Attorney General.

He tossed the usual red meat to the crowd warning that Florida has been "hijacked by right wing elements" and "right wing zealots."

Gelber said he should be attorney general because he has the "experience and the gumption to get the job done."

Apparently that experience and gumption failed him when his law firm - Akerman Senterfitt - took on BP as a client. Not bad for the firm - there are gazillions to be made - but not good politically.

At first, Gelber said he was sticking with the firm telling the Daily Business Review on June 15, that it was a "non-issue."

Gelber went on to explain: “Akerman has over 400 lawyers and handles tens of thousands of cases. I am of counsel to the firm and not a partner. I know nothing about the case, nor will I ever. I have publicly demanded that BP be held accountable for their gross negligence and for the pain they have inflicted on our state’s economy and environment, and will continue to do so aggressively.”

Yesterday, Gelber announced that he had resigned from the firm days ago. If true it is certainly odd that Gelber waited to tell the public until after his Democratic rival, David Aronberg, released a statement demanding that Gelber resign.

Crowley Political Report received this statement from Aronberg Monday evening:

"As a candidate for attorney general, it is an inherent problem when your own law firm is on other side of one of the most important pending lawsuits in Florida's history. . .You don't have to be a lawyer to know that you can't profit from the polluter and then represent those who have been injured by that same polluter."

Gelber told reporters Aronberg was pulling a "political stunt."

No question Aronberg intended to make Gelber squirm. But it is pretty clear after Gelber's "non-issue" statement to the Daily Business Review something like politics must have changed Gelber's mind.

Monday, June 28, 2010


The interestingly named Mica Oil Field (jointly owned and named by BP and Exxon) is about 15 miles northeast of the Deep Water Horizon explosion site, and at 4300 feet it is proof positive that deep is dangerous.

While Exxon and BP were laying the pipe that would connect the Mica rig to land, they discovered the ruins of a 19th Century shipwreck. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service, which reviews nearly 1,700 planned wells and pipelines every year for their potential effect on archaeological sites on the Outer Continental Shelf, reported that the 200 year old shipwreck (located just 30 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River) is in 2600 feet of water.

“Because the site had significant historic value, the Minerals Management Service formulated four options for the protection of the site: (1) Lifting and re-routing the pipeline around the wreck to prevent further damage to the site; (2) Constructing a sandbag bridge over the wreck; (3) Cutting and re-routing the pipeline around the wreck; (4) Leaving the pipeline in place, and conducting a limited data recovery program for an archaeological study of the site.”

As you can see, NOT DRILLING was not an option offered. Ultimately, they chose the cheapest, easiest but most damaging option – simple data collection. Why? Well, as the report clearly states, the depth of the wreck provided such, “engineering difficulties” that only, “feasible option” is data recovery. Meaning, we can’t get down that deep to excavate so let’s just take pictures.

Begging one question, if we can’t safely dig at 2600 feet…how can we drill at 4300 feet?

AFSCME Endorsement

Thank you to the 1.6 million members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for their endorsement! I will work hard to serve you in Congress with the same integrity and dedication that you bring to your careers in public service.


Democratic Candidate for Congress
Florida's 7th District


Heather is a Mom, Wife, Navy Veteran and CEO of a 501(c)3 non-profit that focuses on bringing education, workforce development and economic development together to help young people better themselves through education and personal responsibility.

DAN GELBER Stonewalls Concerns About Corporate Law Practice -- No Response to Five Questions

Dear Mr. Gelber:
1. I met you last year at the St. Johns County DEC fundraiser at the St. Augustine Rod & Gun Club.
2. It has come to my attention that Akerman Senterfitt, a law firm in which you are a shareholder, now represents BP in pollution cases arising from the Gulf oil spill. Please comment.
3. Your law firm (William Pence) also defended our City of St. Augustine and billed hundreds of thousands of dollars after our City dumped 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old CIty Reservoir, a case in which Akerman Senterfitt proposed contaminated solid waste be brought back to the African-American community of Lincolnville for use as a park. Please comment.
4. Would you please comment on Akerman Senterfitt's representing polluters and recidivists?
5. Would your work for Akerman Senterfitt present disqualificaiton/recusal/conflicts issues if youweare elected?
5. Also, could you please send me a list of all of the clients of Akerman Senterfitt?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084


Four try to distance themselves from Akerman

June 15, 2010 By: Julie Kay

State Sens. Alex Villalobos and Dan Gelber are taking the lead in calling for a special legislative session to ban offshore drilling in Florida waters.

Yet the two work for Akerman Senterfitt, the law firm that has been retained to handle BP’s oil spill defense work in Florida.

Villalobos and Gelber both said they don’t think there is a conflict in their dual roles as attorneys with the law firm defending BP in court. Two other state legislators at the firm, state Sen. Joe Negron and state Rep. Joe Gibbons — are also of counsel at Akerman.

Villalobos, who chairs the Senate rules committee and sits on the policy and steering committee on energy, environment and land use, wrote to Akerman chairman Andrew Smulian on behalf of the firm’s four legislators on May 24.

He requested that the four be “walled off” and isolated from any “discussions, documents or activities of any kind between the firm and BP.”

He noted the legislators’ “of counsel” status at the firm means they have no ownership stake or access to the firm’s financial records and do not share in firm profits.

“By serving in the ‘of counsel’ relationship, the legislators who are associated with the firm are not involved in any manner with this client nor do we have access to files or information relating to the firm’s representation of BP,” the letter stated.

Read the letter

In an interview, Villalobos likened the situation to “a teacher voting on the education budget,” noting Akerman also represents the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

He wrote Smulian because “as the universe of what you are talking about shrinks, that’s where you have to be more careful. There aren’t that many companies involved in offshore drilling. BP is one of them.”

Gelber, a Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general, called any alleged conflict “a non-issue.” He has been one of the most vociferous voices against BP and offshore drilling.

“Akerman has over 400 lawyers and handles tens of thousands of cases,” he said. “I am of counsel to the firm and not a partner. I know nothing about the case, nor will I ever. I have publicly demanded that BP be held accountable for their gross negligence and for the pain they have inflicted on our state’s economy and environment, and will continue to do so aggressively.”

But Bob Jarvis, who teaches legal ethics at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, said that not only is there a potential conflict for the four legislators but they may have to resign from Akerman.

“I don’t think there’s any question that right now you do not want to be associated with BP if you’re in the political arena,” he said. “It’s certainly something an opponent would try to use against you.

“Let’s face it,” Jarvis said, “right now BP is the punching bag and the devil. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have to resign from the firm.”

Akerman’s hiring by BP is an example of why it’s often better for lawmaker-lawyers to have their own firms, Jarvis said.

“This is always the problem when you look for a law firm and you have your own agenda,” he said. “They may clash. We’ll have to see how it plays out.”

A spokesman for Republican Lt. Gov. Jeffrey Kottkamp, who is challenging Gelber in the attorney general’s race, did not return calls for comment.

Julie Kay can be reached at (305) 347-6685.


The wicked evil corporate law firm that wanted to put 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste back in Lincolnville has four sitting members of the Florida legislature. Akerman Senterfitt has three State Senators (Dan Gelber, Alex Villalobos and Joe Negron) and one state representative (Joe Gibbons).

Big Oil and Big Money are over-represented in Tallahassee.


THE ARROGANCE OF POWER I: GENERALLY SPEAKING – MORRIS PUBLISHING’s shameless hagiography of retiring General (ignoring the cancellation of flyover)

Last week the St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union reported there was going to be a flyover by two F-15s and two F-22s Saturday, to commemorate the retirement party of General Douglas Burnett as Florida’s National Guard (FNG) Adjutant General.
A requests for information about the spending and approval of this waste was met with passive-aggressive response from FNG, whose minon said everyone was so busy planning the flyover party that no one could find the time until “next week” to respond.
It is now “next week” and there has still been no response.
But FNG cancelled the flyover.
FNG cancelled the flyover 4.5 hours after a complaint was filed with DOD’s Inspector General.
Then the St. Augustine Record and the Florida Times-Union did not share this information with their readers. Their news stories were full of hagiography about General Douglas Burnett, but did not report the cancellation of the flyover.
Both the St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union are owned by MORRIS PUBLISHING of Augusta, Georgia, whose owners announced that readers would notice “no change” as a result of the bankruptcy.
They got that one right – MORRIS’ newspapers are still mediocre. I should know – I pay to read them every day and I find them often shallow.
As then-FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt (a secret source long known as "Deep Throat") said to Bob Woodward in a scene in a parking garage in the movie, “All the President’s Men, “I hate shallowness.”
Cancellation of a flyover constituting waste, fraud and abuse is news. Failure to cover cancellation of a flyover constituting waste, fraud and abuse indicates that the St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union are badly in need of an ombudsperson, as at the New York Times and other quality newspapers.
Meanwhile, you can call it Chain Gang Journalism. Call it hopelessly provincial. Call it biased and prejudiced in favor of all things military by MORRIS PUBLISHING’s monopoly in Northeast Florida.
But the fact remains that when there’s waste in the National Guard, MORRIS PUBLISHING doesn’t think it’s news – they’d rather let you eat handouts from the Pentagon’s propaganda machine and its local poohbahs. To whom do they think they’re talkin?

Hal Holbrook as FBI Associate Director W. MARK FELT: "I hate shallowness"

Florida Times-Union: New general looks to continue Guard’s momentum

New general looks to continue Guard’s momentum
Source URL:

By Timothy J. Gibbons

Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. knew he wanted to fly jet fighters since he saw them in the skies over his childhood home on Jacksonville’s Northside.
Forty years after joining the Florida National Guard, Titshaw doesn’t sit in a cockpit much anymore, but the work he does now is just as satisfying.
“You reach a certain point where you feel it is a responsibility and an obligation to leverage everything you’ve learned for the benefit of this organization, this state and this nation,” Titshaw said as he readied to officially take over as the adjutant general of the Florida National Guard.
After relieving Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett in a ceremony at Camp Blanding on Saturday, the general will lead the 12,000-member Guard and advise the governor on military issues.
In pursuit of flight 40 years ago, Titshaw, then a student at Auburn University, planned on joining the regular Air Force. Then he got a call suggesting he join the Guard, where he was more likely to end up in a jet.
After flight training in Mississippi, the pilot spent the next 20 years flying with the fighter wing based at Jacksonville International Airport, eventually rising to command the group.
Tours at the Guard’s headquarters in St. Augustine followed as well as several years at the Pentagon.
“I understand the big picture now,” he said. “Often from a state perspective, you don’t understand the process. I know the players. I know them by name and by friendship.”
At the same time he was serving in Washington, Titshaw managed to keep his feet planted in Florida. His in-state experience includes serving as commander of the state’s Air National Guard and commander of the joint task force dealing with Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. In 2008 he left Washington for Florida to help the state deal with Hurricane Ike.
Having experience with unexpected disasters has already proven useful as the Guard is dealing with the oil spill off its western coast.
“We’re multitasking,” he said. “We’re trained to do that. We don’t get focused on one thing.”
His predecessor Burnett, the longest-serving Air Force officer in the country, was the first Air Guard member to serve as adjutant general, leading both the air and ground parts of the guard.
During his nine years as adjutant general, he oversaw the largest deployment of Florida soldiers since World War II as well as sending troops for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Being able to deploy so many soldiers and airmen required a cultural change to focus on training and readiness, Burnett said.
“Young soldiers and airmen want to do the job they are trained to do,” he said. “All we had to do as leadership was provide the resources, training and equipment.”
As the retiring general prepares to spend time with his wife and grandchildren, he said he looks back at his career most proud of the way his troops rose to meet those challenges thrown at them.
As well as dealing with two wars, 14 hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, Guard units have managed to rack up unprecedented ratings on national inspections, including the highest-ranked Army air unit in the country.
“What I’m really most proud of is changing the culture to an institutionalize culture of excellence,” said Burnett, who’s also from Jacksonville.,
(904) 710-4757

St. Augustine Record: Changing of the Guard -- Gen. Burnett retires, Gen. Titshaw takes over command


CAMP BLANDING -- Florida National Guard's adjutant general, Major Gen. Douglas Burnett, on Saturday ended his 47-year Air Guard career and turned command of his 12,000 soldiers and airmen over to the incoming adjutant general, Major General Emmett R. Titshaw Jr.

At the ceremony, Burnett handed the Guard colors to Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who then handed it to Titshaw to symbolize the transfer of command.

In his first remarks to the troops, Titshaw thanked Burnett for his "leadership, mentorship and friendship" and because Burnett had "built and maintained a culture of excellence" in the Guard.

"We take on a sacred obligation with our Guard family," Titshaw said.

The Guard planned months in advance for hurricane season, and Florida Guard troops -- having mobilized before every Florida hurricane and Katrina too -- are now professional at dealing with them, he said.

"Deep Horizon was a bit of a wild card," he said. "We have 90 Guardsmen deployed in that area now.

"When the governor says he needs more soldiers, we'll be there."

Titshaw, a Jacksonville native, enlisted and was commissioned in 1970, completed fighter pilot training in 1972 and was assigned to 159th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Jacksonville. He served many assignments with 125th Fighter Interceptor Group, later 125th Fighter Wing.

His late father, a U.S. Marine, fought at Iwo Jima.

Titshaw and his wife, Gretchen, live in St. Augustine.

Before the ceremony, he said, "Nowhere in my career did I envision that I'm standing here today. I always thought I'd fly fighters and eventually become a squadron commander."

The ceremony included one of the largest troop reviews held at Blanding in recent years, an estimated 500 soldiers and airmen representing at least two dozen units.

A Guard artillery unit gave Kottcamp a 19-gun salute. Judy Burnett received red roses; Gretchen Titshaw, yellow.

Burnett said, "Gov. Crist is in the Panhandle today, making sure he gives a message of hope, optimism and recovery."

Then the two generals -- with Brig. General Don Tyre, commander of the troops -- and Kottcamp inspected the massed soldiers and airmen.

Honored guests attending included St. Johns County commissioners Ron Sanchez, Mark Miner and Ray Quinn; state Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine; U.S. Rep. Jennifer Carroll (R-Jacksonville); retired Maj. Gen. Gregory O. Harrison, former adjutant general; adjutant generals from Kentucky, South Dakota and the Virgin Islands; Leroy Collins Jr., head of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs; and Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Burnett said 12,500 men and women serving with the Guard had been activated since Sept. 11, 2001, and 3,500 are currently on active duty in Southwest Asia. He said that being a Guard soldier or airman is not a job but "an issue of the heart."

A Jacksonville native, he enlisted into the Guard after high school and was commissioned in 1969, attending pilot training in Texas. He became a full-time alert pilot for 125th Fighter Group, flying F-102s and military transport aircraft.

Off duty, he flew commercial airliners for United and Pan American. He served 81 years as adjutant general.

"We hold our soldiers in the field to the highest standards, so leadership must hold themselves accountable to get the job done," he said. "We have achieved much. The nation's at war. We've got to get it right."

Titshaw echoed Burnett's pride.

"We have the best National Guard in the country, and that means in the world," he said.

THE ARROGANCE OF POWER II: FPL Arrogantly Refuses to Disclose Which Former Regulators Now Work for the Utility

FPL refuses to tell the state which former regulators work for the utility
> Posted by Julie Patel on June 23, 2010 01:30 PM
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Two major Florida utilities reported to the Public Service Commission this week which former PSC employees they have hired, how much they're paid and other information.

But Florida Power & Light, Progress Energy Florida and Gulf Power are fighting the PSC's request for the information.

Gulf Power said that the costs for hiring former PSC employees or firms that employ former PSC employs are minimal so they are not "material to either Gulf's earnings or its customers' rates." FPL and Progress said they don't have to provide the information because the commission's review of their rate hike requests are over.

Wade Litchfield, FPL's vice president and general counsel, wrote in a letter to the PSC that "retroactive ratemaking" – or setting customer rates based on actual expenses instead of forecasted expenses – is not allowed under state law.

PSC Executive Director Tim Devlin had requested the information in part because the costs associated with hiring former regulators could impact utilities' earnings, which in turn could impact customers' rates.

But consumer advocates have another concern with the practice: They say it can create an unfair playing field for utility customers by allowing utilities to buy insight into the state's oversight strategy and access to the former regulators' colleagues.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, proposed sweeping PSC reform legislation this year that would have barred PSC members and their aides from lobbying on behalf of regulated groups for four years after leaving the commission. But the bill failed due to disagreements with the House on key provisions.

Last year, the Sun Sentinel identified 18 former regulators and government officials that were hired as employees, consultants or lobbyists for FPL, and a couple of others joined the utility as consultants since then.

They are among a fairly small community of utility experts and were hired for their knowledge and experience, an FPL spokesman had said.

Litchfield wrote that the PSC's request "could unintentionally convey an impression of impropriety."

"Individuals engaged in the utility industry typically exercise their right to seek and even change employment, working for different employers today than when they began their careers," he wrote, adding the former regulators also work for the state Legislature or groups that represent utility customers that often oppose utility rate hikes. "We view this as a healthy aspect of this process. It helps build understanding among parties and constituents, creates relationships that often are essential in working through complicated and sometimes controversial issues."

Tampa Electric Co. and Florida Public Utilities Co. provided a list of the former PSC employees that either work for them or work for firms they've done business with since 2000 but they have asked the commission to keep the amount they paid the employees and firms confidential for competitive reasons.

There are 17 former PSC employees on the combined lists for Tampa Electric, FPUC and their affiliates.

They include five former commissioners: Lila Jaber, Susan Clark, Terry Deason, Braulio Baez and Jose "Joe" Garcia – whose terms ended within the past ten years. Garcia resigned from a post with the Obama administration this year to run for a U.S. Congress seat which represents part of Miami and other areas.

The utilities hired two as employees: Calvin Favors, who worked in the telecommunication and regulatory affairs for the PSC as recently as 2000, was hired as an FPUC employee in 2003. Wilbur J. Stiles, II, a chief aide for Clark who was hired by Tampa Electric in 2003, three years after he left the commission.

The utilities both have hired Akerman Senterfitt law firm, whose employees have included Jaber and Beth Keating, who left the PSC in 2005, Matthew Feil, who left in 1993, and JoAnn Chase, a former aide to Jaber who is back at the PSC.

Other former PSC employees who have worked at firms hired by FPUC include:

Norman Horton Messer, who was a PSC attorney until 1982, and has worked at Caparello & Self, which FPUC has hired since before 2000.

Joe McGlothlin, who works at the Office of Public Counsel – the state's advocate for utility customers – and has also worked at the PSC and at McWhirter Davidson, which often represents large utility customers opposing utility rate increases. FPUC hired the firm from 2004 to 2005.

Tampa Electric also hired firms that have employed former PSC employees.

Harold McLean, a former PSC General Counsel and head of the Office of Public Counsel, who has worked for the company since late 2008 and briefly worked for FPUC a few months earlier;

David Swafford, a former executive director of the PSC until 1993, who was a Tampa Electric consultant for 10 years until January;

Todd Bohrman, who worked at the PSC about nine years ago, and joined CSX Corporation, Inc., which the utility has hired since July 2008;

Jorge Chamizo, who was a chief aide for Baez , left the agency more than five years ago, and now works at Floridian Partners lobbying firm, which the company has hired since 2005; and

Wayne Makin, a former PSC regulatory compliance employee until about eight years ago, also consulted for Tampa Electric until last year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

NAKED CONFLICT OF INTEREST: St., Petersburg Times: Democratic primary candidate GELBER is shareholder in firm that represents BP on Florida pollution

Where does Dan Gelber work? Isn't it Akerman Senterfitt? Who is handling BP's defense? Isn't it Akerman?

I would hate to have an AG that was conflicted from bringing any lawsuits against BP because of a conflict.

Posted by: Destin needs help now! | June 22, 2010 at 07:27 PM

Florida Attorney General Candidate DAN GELBER works for law firm defending BP

See article from the ABA Journal, and entry from Akerman Senterfitt website, below.

GELBER's law firm also defended racist City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS' illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste into our Old City Reservoir. WILLIAM PENCE, an Akerman partner at the time, billed our City of St. Augustine hundreds of thousands of dollars for dubious legal worked aimed at bringing the contaminated solid waste back to Linconville. Akerman Senterfitt conned the State of Florida into backing the plan. It died under withering community opposition during 2008-2009.

Both West Augustine and Lincolnville are African-American communities.

AKerman Senterfitt defends polluters -- BP and the City of St. Augustine.

DAN GELBER would have a conflict of interest as State Attorney General in confronting the crimes of either BP or the City of St. Augustine.

American Bar Association Journal: Akerman Senterfitt Gets BP Work

Akerman Senterfitt Gets BP Work, Acquires Two Butzel Long Offices

Posted Jun 17, 2010 8:49 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

Akerman Senterfitt will be representing BP in Florida litigation over the Gulf oil spill, and it’s bulking up its lawyer roster.

Akerman is acquiring lawyers and employees from two offices of Detroit-based Butzel Long, Crain’s Detroit Business reports. Akerman has hired eight lawyers, five paralegals and eight support staff from Butzel’s offices in Boca Raton and Palm Beach, the story says.

Butzel now has about 190 lawyers, down from about 243 lawyers in early 2009.

Akerman’s Miami partner Jim Miller will head the team handling the Florida BP litigation, according to the Daily Business Review.

A former Akerman lawyer said the contract could be worth tens of millions of dollars to the law firm. “It will keep the firm afloat,” the anonymous lawyer told the publication.

Meanwhile Cameron International, manufacturer of the failed blowout preventer, has hired Greenberg Traurig, and Halliburton Energy Services, which pumped cement at the well, has hired Broad and Cassel, the Business Review says.

Akerman Senterfitt biography of shareholder DAN GELBER and profile of practices

Daniel S. Gelber
Of Counsel
One Southeast Third Avenue
25th Floor
Miami, FL 33131-1714


Daniel Gelber is a shareholder in the Litigation and Policy practices. His practice focuses on complex, civil, criminal, and quasi-criminal litigation. He has extensive civil and criminal trial experience in public corruption, civil rights, contracts, trademark, environmental, employment, and healthcare, and has conducted numerous internal investigations for clients. In addition to his trial court experience, Daniel has argued in the state and federal appellate courts in Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

Before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, Daniel served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, where he directed Senate investigations and studies into terrorism, cybersecurity, organized crime, and money laundering.

For nearly 10 years, Daniel served as a federal prosecutor in the Public Corruption Section of the Miami U.S. Attorney's office of the Civil Rights Section, and was ultimately appointed Senior Counselor for the U.S. Attorney.

The Best Lawyers in America 2008-2010, Listed in Florida for Criminal Defense: White-Collar

Florida House of Representatives, 2000-Present

United States Senate, Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, 1994-1996

United States Attorney's Office, Assistant U.S. Attorney, 1986-1994

The 2010 Best Lawyers Ranking Honors 100 Akerman Senterfitt Attorneys (Aug. 26, 2009)
Akerman Senterfitt has the largest litigation practice in Florida. This, coupled with the strength and depth of the firm's other areas of practice, gives our more than 100 litigators the complete complement of resources required to defend and prosecute cases. Our clients include some of Florida's most important public and private entities. In addition, we have many clients that are Fortune 500 companies and we get referrals from law firms nationwide.

Two former chief judges are now senior Shareholders in our litigation practice. Judge Edward Davis (former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida) is the Chair of our Litigation Practice. Judge Joseph Hatchett (former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and also a former Justice of Florida's Supreme Court) heads our substantial Federal and State Appellate Practice.

Foregoing other well-earned opportunities, these pre-eminent jurists joined Akerman because of our reputation not only in Florida, but nationally, and because of the standard of excellence the firm represents. Without doubt, their knowledge of the courts is an invaluable asset for our attorneys as we prepare for trial.

Services Available

The size of our litigation practice does not by itself explain why we have become one of the foremost litigation firms in Florida. Clients' cases are managed by Shareholders, they are not passed on to a series of associates. This client care philosophy means that we respond efficiently and effectively to client needs.

* Antitrust and Trade Regulation
* Appellate
* Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights
* Class Actions
* Commercial Litigation
* Construction Litigation
* Eminent Domain
* Labor and Employment Litigation
* Mediation and ADR
* Securities Litigation and Regulatory Proceedings
* White-Collar Crime

Ivey Properties, Inc., Florida Banker's Association , Wachovia Corporation, St. Paul Companies, Inc., PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Merrill Lynch Trust Company, SunTrust Bank - Miami, Terion, Inc. , Gencor Industries, Inc, Golden Gen Growers, Inc. , Dupont Center , Sheraton Twin Towers, Ford Motor Credit Company , Health Care Financial Partners, St. Anthony's Hospital, Inc., Apple Capitol Group, L.L.C. , The Vogue Shops, Inc., , Body Shops of America, Inc, National Merchandise, Inc., Planet Hollywood International, Inc., Sheraton Four Points Hotel, United States Sugar Corporation, City of Boca Raton, Iberia Airlines of Spain , Associated Grocers of Florida, ATICO International USA, Inc., Landry's Restaurants, Inc.

Matter Experience
Reported Cases

Mayor Joe Carollo, & Miami Association of Firefighters, Local 587 vs. City of Miami, et al., Circuit Court, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Case No. 99-23358 CA 32. , January 2, 2003
Donald H. Warshaw vs. City of Miami, Circuit Court, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Case No. 00-11244 CA 04, January 2, 2003
Hubbel v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., No. SC92532 & SC922848 (Fla. 2000) (Affirmed holding in 5th District that addressed attorney's fee awards in surety bond claims) , January 2, 2002
Ehlert v. Singer, 85 F. Supp. 2d 1269 (M.D. Fla. 1999), aff'd. and remanded, 245 F.3d 1313 (11th Cir. 2001)(Securities/Year 2000 disclosure issues). , January 2, 2001
WMS Construction, Inc. v. Palm Springs Miles Assoc., Ltd, 762 So. 2d 973 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (Reversed for client on construction conditional payment bond issue) , January 2, 2000
See more...
Representative Transactions

National Merchandise, Inc., et al., January 2, 2003

Group Presentations
Lecture, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, 2003, Pilots: Safely Navigating Treacherous Legal Waters , January 2, 2003
Lecture, Admiralty Law Committee Meeting, Arrest Pursuant to Rule D , January 2, 2003
"Florida Supreme Court Addresses the Issue of Automobile Diminished Value Coverage," 2002 Covered Events 27 (Defense Research Institute, Summer 2002) , July 1, 2002
Lecture, Uncharted Waters, The Legal Aspects concerning the Use of Portable Navigation Systems, Council of American Master Mariners, April 2002 , April 2, 2002
Construction Lien Law, (Hughes Supply, 1998) , January 2, 1998
See more...

Past Seminar Materials
"Litigation Issues", Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar-Elective Share: Integrating the New Law Into Your Practice (2001). , January 2, 2001

Languages spoken by Litigation Professionals
Spanish, French


Comprised of former federal prosecutors, senior enforcement lawyers at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and government lawyers, the Akerman team understands how the government builds and prosecutes a case.
Our team represents corporations, boards of directors, and individuals in all aspects of government investigations, regulatory enforcement matters, grand jury probes, internal investigations, and trials.
In the unfortunate instance where an indictment or regulatory complaint is unavoidable, our lawyers bring decades of experience trying criminal, civil, and other complex matters in both federal and state courts. With the rise in governmental investigations has come a corresponding increase in parallel civil litigation brought by private parties seeking to capitalize on the political and media-driven momentum. This poses unique challenges to clients who are attempting to address the sensitive government and regulatory inquiries, while simultaneously handling the often overlapping private civil matters.

Our team is led by the former Assistant United States Attorneys for the District of Columbia and the Southern District of Florida and includes former prosecutors, former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement counsel, the former Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Experience trying criminal and civil cases to judgment or verdict in federal and state courts throughout the United States
Extensive experience handling white collar and parallel proceedings involving the Department of Justice (DOJ), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD-DCIS), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard

Internal Corporate Investigations
Securities Fraud
Tax Fraud
Mail/Wire Fraud
Health Care Fraud & Abuse
Money Laundering & Bank Secrecy Act
Public Corruption
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
Environmental Crimes
Patriot Act & Sarbanes Oxley
Antitrust & Deceptive Trade Practices

"With… one of the largest litigation teams in Florida, this firm is renowned for its work in a wide array of litigation, including consumer class claims, lender liability issues, insurance-related disputes, real estate litigation e-discovery and litigation relating to financial institutions." (Chambers USA)
Chambers USA: Ranked as one of the leading Litigation law firms in Florida since 2003
Benchmark Litigation: Recommended as a leading Litigation law firm in Florida and Virginia
PLC Which Lawyer?: Recognized Dispute Resolution law firm in FL: Miami

Ralph Nader proposes reviving Congressional Office of Technology Assessment

June 10th, 2010

Posted by Ralph Nader at

When the Republican Gingrich devolution took over Congress in 1995, it stripped the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of all its funding and left it a shell with no experts to advise committees and members of Congress.

Whereupon Congress was plunged into a dark age regarding decisions about trillions of national security, offshore oil drilling, transportation, energy, health, computer, biotech, nanotechnology and many other executive branch programs in science and technology.

Confronted with partisan vested interests by federal departments and their corporate lobbies, Congress could not get objective, unbiased reports and testimony from the OTA. For a budget of $20 million a year, OTA ground out over 700 peer reviewed sound reports and many more Congressional testimonies by its staff between 1972 and 1995. Last year Congress had an overall budget for itself of $3.2 billion.

Representative Amo Houghton (R-NY) commented at the time of OTA’s demise that “we are cutting off one of the most important arms of Congress when we cut off unbiased knowledge about science and technology.”

Now, Rush Holt (D-NJ) backed by leading scientists and about 100 citizen, technical and academic groups, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to permit a modest restart of the OTA. As noted above, OTA was never abolished, just defunded.

Speaker Pelosi has been resisting, even though this tiny office can provide members of Congress with the technical assessments that could easily save billions of dollars a year. Apparently, she believes that the Republicans will accuse her of empire building, though the OTA is run by an evenly appointed Democratic-Republican Board of Congressional Overseers.

Without the OTA, commercially driven or otherwise wild claims are made for and against Congressionally funded programs.

The UCS ( gives many examples of where OTA saved huge amounts of taxpayer money and improved the health, safety and economic well-being of the American people as well. OTA reports, by responding to requests by members of Congress, analyzed what technologies worked or did not work.

After OTA was defunded, the UCS asserts, “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent three years pushing for a costly radiation detection system for smuggled nuclear material that did not work as promised, while neglecting to upgrade existing equipment that could have improved security.” Billions of dollars were wasted.

Were it operating today, OTA reports and testimony might question DHS’s installation of whole body back scatter x-ray airport security scanners. Scientific experts are urging independent testing for effectiveness and safety for exposed passengers (see

On other fronts, Congress is buckling to corporate lobbies and requiring taxpayer guarantees for nuclear power plants that are not nearly as cost effective as energy efficiency and renewables without the perils of atomic power and its unstored radioactive wastes.

The $9 billion a year missile defense project has been condemned as unworkable by the mainstream American Physical Society but the military corporations that receive these boondoggle contracts get it funded year after year.

The risks of nanotechnology, biotechnology and numerous medical devices continue to be unassessed, thereby allowing Congressional advocates to tout benefits and ignore costs.

Congress spends billions of dollars a year on technologies driven by commercial partisan interests, whether from government departments, corporate interests or campaign cash. Congress also ignores promising technologies. Decades of little or no solar energy research and development funding, and billions of dollars into atomic, coal and other fossil fuels, directly or indirectly through tax breaks, have cost Americans in their pocketbooks and in the air and water they breath and drink.

In 1985, OTA issued a report cautioning about the lack of preparedness and knowledge regarding potentially “catastrophic oil spills from offshore operations.” OTA could not follow up on this report, as the oil companies went into deeper seas, because it was silenced in 1995. Clearly, the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department—a sleazy, wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Oil—was not going to advise Congress truthfully.

Through its impartial assessment capability, OTA could have alerted Congress to defective body armor that unscrupulous companies sold to the Army.

Congress needs an independent, impartial, no-axe-to-grind technical adviser under its own roof and responsive to the unique and timely needs of members of Congress and Congressional committees. Imagine, for example, the computer procurement waste that could have been prevented.

Speaker Pelosi, don’t you want to make this overwhelming case for a revived OTA? Why are you silent when you should be outspoken on behalf of taxpayers and appropriate, safe technology? Be assured that having championed OTA since the days of Director John H. Gibbons many other groups and I will be working to secure your backing sooner rather than later.