Friday, October 29, 2010


We have a real opportunity in our upcoming election to do -- locally -- what the people and (some) of the politicians around the country have been talking about -- getting some new blood in our political process so we can start doing things differently and, begin seeing some real progress out of the mess we've gotten into.

In the Gianoulis/Thrasher Florida Senate District 8 race, we are presented with a real choice. On the one hand, we have a regular, good-ole-boy politician, John Thrasher, who believes he can do whatever he wants and the "common person" be damned. The perfect example was his high-handed attempt to push through Senate Bill 6 (a slap in the face to all educators) without consulting any of the concerned parties beforehand. St. Johns County, in his district, is the number one school district in the entire state, yet Thrasher never considered speaking with its superintendent, Dr. Joseph Joyner, before proposing his Senate bill. Joyner should have been one of the first people someone from our district would have consulted before proposing such a bill, because he not only leads the best district in the state, he was also Florida Superintendent of the Year in 2008 and president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents in 2007.

This is not just bad for people in education, this is horrible for all of us who would like our elected representatives to actually represent us -- meaning consult us, hear what we have to say, and take our views and concerns into consideration before proposing bills or voting on legislation. I would urge voters to check out the below site, which I found when I googled the 2009 District 8 race to fill Jim King's seat.

Deborah Gianoulis, on the other hand, really is a fresh voice with a fresh way of thinking.

I have been following her career for years when she was a TV anchor and was aware of her support for education and Character Counts! while I was a high school teacher and then Director of Staff Development in the St. Johns County School District.

Although I do not know her personally, I have heard her speak in public and truly believe that she will listen to us and pay attention to our views and concerns, reflecting on the wishes of the people (instead of her own desires and needs) before proposing or voting on legislation which affects us all.

I urge you to vote for Deborah Gianoulis to give Florida a fresh start to begin getting our elected representatives to actually start representing us again.


Guest column: Amendment 4 gives citizens land use control

Posted: October 18, 2010 - 12:02am

There are thousands of approved unbuilt commercial and residential sites.

It will be many years before even a small dent is made in this supply.

Yet the developers keep coming and asking for more supported with phony figures of need. This behavior is what has gotten us into the current mess of not having sufficient infrastructure to support current needs, much less what has already been approved but not yet built.

The naysayers scream that jobs will be lost. When? In 50 years?

They say politics will be introduced into the approval process. Do they mean the "sunshine laws?" We have politics now.

They say projects will be delayed and approval put in the hands of "know nothings" otherwise known as citizens.

For the past eight years the politicians in Tallahassee, who were put in office with developer money, have chipped away at the growth management laws and gutted most of them. In fact Rick Scott, who wants to be governor, states he wants to do away with the Department of Community Affairs and scrap all growth management rules and many other regulations. It's called "build baby build." It's a government of the developer, by the developer and for the developer.

They have also placed developers, large landowners, and the like on the boards of the Water Management Districts. These people were supposed to over see the water supply.

They did this by approving every development that came along. Now, they tell us we are running out of water. Stop watering your lawns, they say so we can build more houses.

Question: Can the citizens do better? You bet. They can't do worse.

Some of our own commissioners have said, "Trust us." Come on. I don't think so. The current conditions on the ground, "your track record," sucks.

Just look at the money behind the "No" vote. It's developers, real estate interests, builders, chamber of commerce, lawyers and financial backers. Notice it is not the citizens.

Amendment 4 says to the county and the commissioners, you can continue to review and approve changes to the comprehensive plan. But, then we the citizens get to take a look and say, "yes or no." Sounds good to me.

Vote "Yes" for Amendment 4.

Take control before you are left with nothing to control as well as no drinking water.


Mary F. Kohnke is a former St. Johns County Commissioner and commission chair. She is an environmentalist.


Letter: Vote yes on Amendment 4

Posted: October 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Editor: First let's say right from the git go I believe in representative government but when those representatives don't represent you and instead are used by the developers, maybe it's time we said,

"Hey. Wait a minute we don't need more development. I think it is ironic in the editorial itself says in so many words we are over developed -- 300,000 unbuilt homes statewide -- 60,000 in St Johns County. The editorial says, "If we leave it up to the citizens developers will think twice about coming here to build."

Hallelujah what a revelation. Yes. It will mean a loss of jobs for contractors and laborers and I sincerely feel sorry for them. But there are other people out of work also and I feel sorry for them, too. My position is this is, this is a wake-up call for our representatives: Do your job so we don't have to do it for you, then in four years if you earn our trust we can amend Amendment 4 with my blessing.

So I'm voting yes on Amendment 4.

Palmer Short

St. Augustine


Letter: Courtney says he's best candidate for Dist. 20

Posted: October 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Editor: In endorsing my opponent, The Record brushed away all nuance in my statement to its editors that I oppose teacher tenure. I do, if tenure is unqualified. I support tenure with clear rules that encourage our best teachers and spur all teachers to do their best. Apparently my opponent does not.

In his vote for Senate Bill 6, Rep. Bill Proctor voted twice for performance, or merit pay as it is commonly known, for teachers regardless whether or not they were teaching in difficult situations. He voted against, and did not offer any amendments to, Senate Bill 6 to make such a distinction. Painting his votes with more palatable terms does not hide the damage that could have been done to our education system by these votes.

Multiple studies have shown that money is not a primary motivator for people or teachers. I agree. Many factors motivate teachers, including security, environment, job advancement and love of the job. Most teachers just love to teach and we should give them the support and tools to do what they love.

It is hard to remove teachers due to tenure as it should be. Tenure is teacher protection from arbitrary and impulsive personnel changes used to advance personal agendas. But tenure should not provide teachers lifetime employment. I, like everyone, including teachers, would oppose tenure that provides irrevocable lifetime employment.

Proctor's tenure in the state House has resulted in stabilization: Nothing is moving. We remain the district with the highest unemployment in the state. We need jobs, business and ideas. This is no time for standing still.

We need proactive leadership that will move this district forward. Many of us can no longer wait. We need new state House leadership.

I believe I offer such leadership.

Doug Courtney

Palm Coast

Democratic Candidate, District 20, State Representative


Amendment 4: Vote yes

Posted: October 24, 2010 - 12:06am

The Record's Oct. 17 editorial against Amendment 4 again stresses the potential loss of jobs and unexpected consequences if it passes but cites no specifics or "proof" beyond speculation to back up the claim.

Where are the jobs from all the growth we've already experienced and the "attention" our politicians say they're paying to add jobs? Job growth is promised by virtually all politicians in every election cycle, but where are the jobs? Political lip service doesn't create jobs.

The Record claims the costs and potential delay of votes could be potentially costly to hold elections on comprehensive land use changes but the fact is; not having Amendment 4 is costly for voters/taxpayers who pay for growth with higher taxes while developers rake in enormous profits. Taxpayers always pay for the roads, schools, sewer, water infrastructure etc. Growth never pays for itself.

The media and the special interests always bring up the fact we have a representative form of government, and "if our elected officials don't get the decisions right we can vote them out at the next election." Unfortunately, however, much economic harm and environmental damage can be done in the two years between elections. This is a huge concern for voters of St. Johns County and Florida.

Voting bad politicians out of office sounds good but, in practice, rarely happens because developer/special interest money tends to keep them in office. The dilemma we often have is in choosing between the "lesser of two evils" such as what's occurring in Florida's gubernatorial race.

The development industry and other "special interests" invest in getting politicians elected because they want results ie, approval of the projects they bring before the County Commission or other local government agency.

If it were that easy to get a government that truly represents the will of the people, Amendment 4 wouldn't be necessary and it wouldn't be on the ballot. Our representatives typically have not served the best interests of the people.

Another local newspaper suggests that comprehensive plan land use changes be approved or rejected by super majority vote of the local government. In St. Johns County this means four of five commissioners would be needed to approve or reject a specific development request.

What happens if only four commissioners vote that day? Would this mean all four would be required to approve or reject a proposed land use change, or would only three be the super majority? What happens if one of the five commissioners is forced to recuse himself/herself from the vote? What happens if only three show up on the day of the vote?

In Florida, we have the most corrupt government system of all 50 states (based on a 2008 Justice Department report) with more than 824 government officials convicted and imprisoned (in a 10-year period) for corrupt activities.

This is an indictment of local government processes to which we're subjected in our county and throughout Florida.

The people of Florida have endured this "representative" form of government for too long, and now is the time to do something about it -- vote for Amendment 4.

We deserve a seat at the table. It's our tax money on the table and the future of our state is at stake.


Al Abbatiello is a 12-year resident of St. Johns County. In 2008 he was a candidate for St. Johns County Commission. He has been active in this community since moving here from St. Louis. He served on the Julington Creek Plantation Community Development District, is an appointed member of the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Citizens Advisory Committee, and chairman of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway


Guest column: Amendments 5 & 6: Vote yes

Posted: October 24, 2010 - 12:06am

Proposed Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida Constitution will give voters a chance to reclaim some of the powers they have relinquished to politicians. They are based on the principle that voters should pick politicians -- not the other way around.

David Winston, the consultant who drew the districts in Florida's last redistricting, says, "I can have more of an impact on an election than a campaign, a candidate, and voters." By voting "yes" on Amendments 5 and 6, we're demonstrating that we've had enough of partisan political gerrymandering. Gerrymandering means to divide a territory into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts, while concentrating the voting strength of the opposition in as few districts as possible. The opponents to the establishment of fair districts are primarily whichever political party is in power and many incumbent politicians. Only three incumbents have been defeated in 420 elections for state legislative seats since 2004. By allowing incumbent politicians to establish political districts to virtually assure their re-elections, we are giving them the sense that they are all powerful.

When they know that their re-election is a certainty, they aren't beholden to voters or the wider public interest. Instead, they are primarily influenced by special interests and corporate lobbyists. The constitution requires that after the census count is taken, state legislatures redraw the boundaries of congressional districts. On the national level, some states may lose a seat or two, and other states may gain seats. For example, in 2012 Florida will likely grow from 25 to 26 congressional seats.

The important thing to keep in mind is currently the redistricting process occurs behind closed doors with no public input. Political strategists on both sides know whichever party controls the state House and Senate and the governorship will be able to maximize their party's representation in Congress.

Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, says, "If you were to fight these seats out cycle by cycle every two years in competitive congressional races, you would probably have to spend more than $200 million in federal money, which is harder to raise versus the $18 million in non-federal money that we're going to spend to try to win the state seats to draw those districts in this election year."

To his big donors, Gillespie says, "Money spent on state races is the gift that keeps on giving" until another census in 2020. Amendments 5 and 6 do the following: Prohibit apportionment plans from favoring any party or incumbent, allow for equal opportunity for racial or language minorities, require political districts to be contiguous (land must be physically touching), unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, districts must be as equal in population as feasible, and, where feasible, they make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

These amendments will require a 60 percent approval vote in the November election. If passed, these amendments will add guidelines for legislators to follow and transparency to the apportionment process that will allow us to observe our legislators' actions. They will instill political competition giving voters an opportunity to demand more responsible behavior of elected officials. Presently we see incumbents cling to their seats for decades and assume leadership positions through their seniority. The result is a polarized body of politicians that is unable or unwilling to solve our nation's vexing problems.

Meanwhile those with seniority are the leaders in spending taxpayer monies for earmarks directed to their financial supporters. Amendments 5 and 6 won't resolve all the problems associated with a broken political system, but they are a giant step in the right direction.


Bill McCormick is the current Democratic state executive committeeman for St. Johns County. He has lived in St. Augustine since 2005. He spent 14 years at the University of Florida as professor and department chair in the College of Pharmacy. He was the founder and chairman of a national management consulting firm and was co-owner of a sporting goods store in Gainesville.


One sunny morning, a newly born baby rhinoceros and his mother were walking through the bush in search of the morning meal, when they happened upon a makeup mirror that had been left at a campsite by a careless eco-tourist. The baby rhino looked down curiously at the mirror and blinked his moist eyes.

"Is that me, mama?" he squeaked.

"Yep" replied his mother, wincing as one of several ox peckers tore a blood engorged tick from her leathery hide. The ox pecker needed breakfast, too.

The baby looked up innocently at his mother, gazed over her cracking cover obtained from the mornings mud wallow and asked, "Why am I so ugly?"

The mother looked at her baby lovingly and exhaled a sigh from deep within her soul. She, too, looked in the mirror, surprised at the depth of the scars inflicted by predators when she was but a youngster. There she stood, seemingly in a trance, at a loss for words.

To you and I, the answer seems simple and obvious, but the importance of this story is not in the answer but the question. The baby rhino asked the question because he was inexperienced, na

Let me give you some facts. As a former St. Johns County Commissioner, I know these things to be true.

1. The developers, their attorneys and those who stand to make money from mega-development will stop at nothing to control your elected commissioners regarding land use matters. I sat for two years on a commission totally controlled by these special interests. The last vestige of that system is Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, the pick of the Issues Group (Executive Director, Sid Perry, wife of the former sheriff) over other interviewed candidates such as Jack Boyd, who was rejected by the developer membership when he refused to sell you out.

2. Without reform to the system of changes in land use designation, it will be a matter of time before your commission once again falls under the control of the development special interests.

3. If we continue down the present road, you will become a mirror image of counties like Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Duval (the murder capital of Florida). The historical facts clearly show what the influence peddling of the development industry leaves in its corrupting wake.

4. If you do nothing to change the course of history, you, too, will suffer under future crushing tax burdens to prop up failing schools, build water desalinization plants, expand grid-locked highways into bigger grid-locked highways, close beaches, and expand jails, courts and government bureaucratic services.

You now have a frame of reference. You are no longer uninformed, na


Ben Rich is a former chairman of the St. Johns County Commission. He served on the County Commission from District 3 from 2004 to 2008.

President William Jefferson Clinton Put It Best

"Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small."

Republican sign-stealers (or KKK sign-stealers) have contempt for democracy.

These Republicans have no shame.

They should fear video surveillance and federal criminal indictments.

They should fear having their plug-ugly mugs on YouTube.

Jay Bliss for Port and Waterway Commissioner

Letter: Blow cannot equally serve port and FIND district

Posted: October 28, 2010 - 12:03am

Editor: On any commission, a majority makes the decisions. The measures Bill Leary, in a guest column on Monday, would crown Carl Blow (incumbent commissioner) with were advanced not just by Blow, and were passed unanimously on their merits.

My strong support for funding the Regatta of Lights is a board effort. I will continue to advocate for the improvement of Port St. Augustine. Importantly in times ahead, we must have rules that will enhance our long-standing port image, not label St. Augustine as exclusive and anti-boating.

The challenge was made when Blow got himself appointed also to the FIND (Florida Inland Navigational District) Commission in 2009 and chose also to retain his seat with Port.

That move sealed Port Commissioners from consulting full time with their St. Johns FIND Commissioner regarding port business. Sunshine Laws prohibit that outside of the public meeting room. Taxpayers and progress get shortchanged when lines of communication get funneled into three hours of a public meeting per month. I seek reform: I opened Port Commission Seat 3 for a new commissioner and am running against Blow.

On our FIND funding feasibility of a marine barge terminal at the airport (The Record, Oct 21): At our last port meeting FIND/Port Commissioner Blow made no mention of the proposed terminal, which is in the port district. The news took me by surprise. I look forward to meaningful discussion on that proposal, with your Port Commission examining not just economic merits but environmental effects. Especially fuel transfers in the Guana Tolomato Reserve domain are questionable.

Between now and Nov. 16 your Port Commissioners are Sunshined against talking with their FIND/Port Commissioner. Is barge traffic part of the complexion of St. Augustine?

Blow serves the port well, as do all your Port Commissioners. We just don't need the silence and conflicts inherent with one person holding two commissionerships so closely connected.

Jay Bliss

ASA, USCG Lic. Capt.

St.Augustine Port Commissioner

St. Augustine Record: Letter: Supports Gianoulis for Senate 8

Posted: October 29, 2010 - 12:01am
By Byron Wilkinson

Editor: This election is important to the people of Florida, especially the folks in St. Augustine and St. Johns County. As a resident, I assumed I was in Florida Senate District 8. I looked forward to voting for Deborah Gianoulis since she announced her candidacy against Sen. John Thrasher.

Surprisingly, when I received my sample ballot in the mail, there was no Senate District 8 to be found. I was concerned, so I looked up the official state website with the map of Senate District 8 ( District 8 runs north from Fernandina Beach down to Daytona Beach Shores to the south. The district is basically between I-95 and the Atlantic Ocean except when it comes to St. Johns County and St. Augustine. Here it juts in around West Augustine and continues to outline Lincolnville, looking similar to the boot of Italy. Because of this, West Augustine and Lincolnville are excluded from Senate District 8 and are a part of Senate District 1, which runs west of I-95 in central St. Johns County.

Gerrymandering is a mild term for what this intrusion into the district implies. It is a sad throw back to the bitter elements of derision which dictated a way of life that did not give equal rights or equal opportunities to all the citizens of our community. This is a very unpleasant view of our past and one that shook me to my very core. I voted early, but was unable to vote for Gianoulis, who I believe, will bring competent change and be a breath of fresh air for our community and state.

Byron Wilkinson

St. Augustine

Republican sign-stealing shows lack of respect for electoral process

Letter: Sign stealing shows no respect for election process

Posted: October 29, 2010 - 12:01am

Editor: Last year, the Democratic Party Headquarters of St. Johns County was unfortunately victimized by the theft of a large ground-level sign denoting the location of their office on King Street.

Once again similar tactics are being used in an on-going organized campaign to affect the outcome of duly designated candidates. Outraged citizens, myself included, are reporting the destruction, theft and even "coverup" of signs denoting Democratic candidates from governor to local commissioners.

Two days ago, I placed a sign for Alex Sink and one for Undine Pawlowski on my property facing A1A Beach Boulevard. The Sink sign was gone the next day. The Pawlowski sign was smashed but still usable.

Previously, the first Pawlowski sign I put up was also removed overnight. I replaced all signs immediately and also appeared before the beach City Commission to address the sign harassment issue.

I must now report similar actions point to a systematic attempt to remove a variety of Democratic candidates' signs throughout our community. A friend and fellow political activist reported that the magnetic sign on her car supporting Doug Courtney was stolen last


A caller also reported to the Dems headquarters that all the party's candidates signs had been removed from the Southeast Branch Library voting location and along much of U.S. 1 South, and noted that even at the Supervisor of Elections polling location, vandals had effectively covered-up all Dems signs by placing a Scott sign right up against every Sink one.

Yes, we know sign stealing and other misdeeds at election time are not new and may never go away. But how can we ever hope to establish and maintain a proper regard for the rights of individuals to run for public office and support the democratic principles of our country if we allow this to go unchecked and unnoticed?

All community residents need to take a stand and get fellow citizens to commit to watch and report such actions by spoilers of the democratic process. Let them know that you're alert and watching what they're doing, don't approve, and will report them to the proper authorities.

Dee Lovell

St. Augustine Beach

Dee Lovell is a member of the St. Johns County Democratic Committee.

USDOJ: Airline Executives Indicted for Antitrust Violations (Price-fixing)

U.S. Department of Justice Seal and Letterhead
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON — A Miami grand jury returned an indictment today against two executives of Cargolux Airlines International S.A., a Luxembourg-based corporation, for participating in a conspiracy to fix and coordinate certain surcharges on air cargo shipments to and from the United States, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, returned today in U.S. District Court in Miami, charges Ulrich Ogiermann, president and CEO of Cargolux, and Robert Van de Weg, senior vice president of sales and marketing of Cargolux, with conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition byfixing and coordinating certain surcharges, including security and fuel surcharges, charged to customers located in the United States and elsewhere for air cargo shipments including to and from the United States. According to the indictment, Ogiermann is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as October 2001 until at least February 2006. Van de Weg is charged with participating in the conspiracy from at least as early as December 2003 until at least February 2006, said the department.

Air cargo carriers transport a variety of cargo shipments, such as heavy equipment, perishable commodities and consumer goods, on scheduled international flights.

According to the indictment, Ogiermann, Van de Weg and co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by communicating and agreeing to fix and coordinate certain surcharges to be imposed on cargo shipments to and from the United States, and agreeing not to pay commissions on those surcharges. As part of the conspiracy, Ogiermann, Van de Weg and their co-conspirators monitored the surcharge agreements and accepted payments at collusive and noncompetitive rates.

Ogiermann and Van de Weg are charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

A total of 18 airlines and 14 executives, including Ogiermann and Van de Weg, have been charged in the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry. To date, more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and four executives have been sentenced to serve prison time. Charges are pending against 10 executives, including Ogiermann and Van de Weg.

Today's charge is the result of a joint investigation into the air transportation industry being conducted by the Antitrust Division's National Criminal Enforcement Section and the Atlanta Field Office, the FBI's Atlanta Field Office, the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General. Anyone with information concerning price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct in the air transportation industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division's National Criminal Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694 or visit, or call the FBI's Atlanta Field Office at 404-679-9000.

# # #

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

American Bar Assn Journal:

U.S. Supreme Court

Law Prof: Entire Supreme Court Should Decide Recusal Due to Activist Wife

Posted Oct 28, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Northwestern University law professor notes that Justice Clarence Thomas may find himself in a controversial position when the health-care reform issue reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, most likely in 2012.

Thomas’ wife, Virginia Thomas, is a leading opponent of health care reform legislation that passed this spring, law professor Steven Lubet notes in a Chicago Tribune opinion column. A memo briefly posted at the Liberty Central website founded by Virginia Thomas called the law unconstitutional, and it had Virginia Thomas’ signature. The memo was later taken down; the group’s chief operating officer explained that Virginia Thomas had neither seen nor signed the memo, and it should not have been posted.

Even so, Virginia Thomas’ well-known opposition to the legislation will raise recusal questions for her husband. Lubet notes that the decision whether to recuse may be made by Justice Thomas alone, but the professor questions whether that’s a good idea.

The issue of Thomas’ recusal will bring “vociferous demands that he step aside—countered by equally strenuous arguments that he remain in the case,” Lubet writes. “Partisan emotions will run high, with charges of bias and hypocrisy flying in both directions. In that fraught atmosphere, public confidence would be best served if the entire Supreme Court were to make the decision on Thomas' disqualification. It would be irresponsible to leave recusal completely to the discretion of the one man most likely to be swayed by competing considerations of duty and affection.”

WHO IS MICHAEL GOLD (a continuing saga about the racist, sexist, misogynist homophobe running for City Commission in St. Augustine)


The company was initially founded by Annette F. Gold of Fenton, Michigan on February 24, 1997 as “Merchants Choice Card Services, Inc.” “Merchants Choice Card Services, Inc.” was registered at 10151 Deerwood Park Blvd , Building 200, Suite 250, Jacksonville, Florida in 1997.

“Merchants Choice Card Services, Inc.” reported its main place of business was 166 SR N AIA Highway in Ponte Vedra in 1998.

“Merchants Choice Card Services, Inc.” changed its name to “Accise Corporation” in March 2003, reporting its address was 1199 South Third Street, PO Box 49192, Jacksonville, Beach, Florida 32240-9192.

In 2004, MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a MICHAEL TOBIN was campaign manager and raised some $250,000 for St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR f/k/a DAVID HOAR. 2004, “Accise Corporation” of 24 Cathedral Place (no suite number given) was paid by SHOAR’s campaign “professional fees” in excess of $7000 from DAVID SHOAR’s Sheriff campaign as follows:
$ 2408.56 11/2/2004
$ 3011.04 10/29/04
$ 500.00 9/28/04
$ 1100.00 10/5/04

Then, two years later, the little-known company formerly known as “Merchants Choice Card Services, Inc.” and later known as “Accise Corporation” on July 1, 2006 changed its name yet again, this time to Underwriters Bureau Inc.,” now with Michael Gold as sole director, initially listing 152 St. George Street as its address. That’s the site of H.W. Davis, Inc., a department store owned by GOLD’s in-laws.
GOLD’s “Underwriters’ Bureau, Inc.” is currently operating at 2775 U.S. 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida.

“Underwriter’s Bureau, Inc.” solicits business on the web from lawyers, insurance companies and other deep pockets.

GOLD is involved in publishing two secretive local hate websites in St. Augustine, and, where GOLD posts under numerous NICs racist, sexist, misognynist, homophobic, anti-environmental, anti-reform and anti-progressive hate postings, in possible violation of cyberstalking and libel laws.

Several local public officials, including St. Augustine City Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE, are known to post under NICS on these websites, which give significant encouragement and support to the people who deposited 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir (and other possible environmental crimes being ignored by Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and other local law enforcement officials)
GOLD’s “Underwriter’s Bureau, Inc.” has a website that makes possibly false and misleading claims in interstate commerce, including the assertion that it “Over the past 10 years, the field agents and investigators at Underwriters Bureau have been accumulating the analytical experience and education that are essential to support the requirements of our clients.” The website states “In February, 1997 the company was first organized by a group of Jacksonville field agents who performed on-site credit card inspections for Horizon Capital Bank.”

The website asserts that “For nearly 10 years, Underwriters Bureau has been committed to helping Florida's top financial, legal, and insurance firms to operate more securely based on better informed decisions derived from independently documented facts.”

The website, states that it is hosted by “Historic City Media,” with a link to “”

So who are MICHAEL GOLD's clients? To be continued.....

USDOJ: Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez Speaks of USDOJ Protecting GLBT Rights

The Civil Rights Division and LGBT rights

October 15th, 2010 Posted by Tracy Russo

Under the leadership of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, and with the strong support of Attorney General Eric Holder, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has worked to reinvigorate its more traditional enforcement responsibilities and transform itself to meet the civil rights challenges of the 21st century.

Among these challenges is the struggle to achieve equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

This week, Assistant Attorney General Perez joined the Mayor of Cleveland, Frank Jackson, and U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, to celebrate LGBT Heritage in Cleveland. During remarks delivered at the celebration and awards ceremony held in the City Hall Rotunda, Assistant Attorney General Perez said:

“From our nation’s founding, individuals have fought for their rights, facing dozens of defeats for each victory. Progress has so often been painfully incremental. But each victory, however small, was motivation enough to keep moving. And so it has gone with the fight for LGBT equal rights. For decades now you have stood up to challenge discrimination, misconception and sometimes hatred. And hard-fought victories have been won. But the people in this room know that we have not yet reached our goal.”

The Civil Rights Division is committed to advancing the rights of LGBT individuals, and to using its existing authorities in support of LGBT rights.

Nearly a year ago, the Division received significant new authority to protect LGBT civil rights with the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which provides nationwide protection to LGBT individuals from physical attacks based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Significantly, the long overdue law was the first time the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” appeared in federal law to protect civil rights of LGBT individuals. The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously enforcing the Shepard-Byrd law, along with our already existing authorities to forcefully respond to hate-motivated violence, and already has a number of open investigations under the new law.

Unfortunately, hate crimes are a symptom of the climate of intolerance towards LGBT individuals that has had a particularly devastating impact on the lives of LGBT youth, as evidenced by the six recent suicides by LGBT teens. Each of these teens was a victim of bullying, underscoring the challenge we face in ensuring that our schools provide a safe and tolerant environment for all students.

The Civil Rights Division has used its existing legal authority to hold a school district accountable for the ongoing harassment of a gay teen who failed to conform to gender stereotypes, and the Justice Department is working with the Department of Education and other agencies on the development of a national anti-bullying strategy.

For more information, read Assistant Attorney General Perez’s full remarks from the Cleveland LGBT Heritage Celebration:

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez at the Cleveland LGBT Heritage Celebration

October 12, 2010

Cleveland, OH

Thank you, Jan.

In our nation, the phrase “Civil Rights” evokes powerful emotion, conjuring up iconoic visions of the 1960s, of Dr. King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, of students at lunch counters and university doors.

Sometimes forgotten when we talk about civil rights are the other movements, the other suppressed groups that have had to claw their way out from under the weight of immoral laws and misguided social mores. Women spent decades fighting for the right to vote, facing ridicule, and sometimes imprisonment, before the 19th amendment passed in 1920. Individuals with disabilities faced every day the indignities of not being able to enter public buildings or get on a public bus, they were barred from attending schools and getting jobs. Until, that is, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

From our nation’s founding, individuals have fought for their rights, facing dozens of defeats for each victory. Progress has so often been painfully incremental. But each victory, however small, was motivation enough to keep moving.

And so it has gone with the fight for LGBT equal rights. For decades now you have stood up to challenge discrimination, misconception and sometimes hatred. And hard-fought victories have been won. But the people in this room know that we have not yet reached our goal.

Which is, of course, why I’m here with you this evening. What, you must be wondering, are we doing about it?

For starters, of course, there is the new hate crimes law. Last year President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. To say this act was long in the making would be an understatement. In fact, it was 12 years ago today that Matthew Shepard died from the wounds he suffered when he was brutally attacked by two hateful individuals five days earlier.

I was involved in the effort to secure this landmark legislation since the late 90s when I worked with the late Senator Ted Kennedy on this effort.

The responsibility to enforce the new Shepard-Byrd law belongs principally to the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, and we are working closely with the FBI’s Civil Rights Unit and U.S. Attorney’s offices throughout the nation to inform federal, state and local law enforcement about the law’s new provisions. We have held training conferences in numerous cities. Today, in fact, colleagues from the Civil Rights Division, are in Iowa for a training there, which was planned in close coordination with the U.S. Attorney and FBI in Iowa. We have sponsored these conferences with the support and participation of Matthew's parents and the Laramie Police Chief, Dave O'Malley. We’ve also been held training conferences in Atlanta, Omaha, New York, Boston, Little Rock, and Indianapolis, to name a few. I can tell you that you have a dedicated U.S. Attorney here in Steve Dettelbach, and he is committed to aggressive civil rights enforcement.

Already we have opened more than 50 investigations nationwide under the new law. We’re holding trainings throughout the country to engage law enforcement and community leaders about the law, and to ensure that first responders are prepared to effectively investigate hate crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. We hope that you will work with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to alert them when incidents occur and to help them better enforce the law.

No sooner had ink dried on this landmark law that Department faced a constitutional challenge to the law, which we successfully fought.

The law is remarkable not only because of the new protections it provides, but because it marks the first time that the words, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” appear in the U.S. Code to protect civil rights.

I am confident that it won’t be the last. Passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) remains a Division priority. My first testimony delivered on the Hill after my confirmation last year was in support of ENDA in the Senate. That LGBT individuals are not currently protected against discrimination in the workplace is perhaps one of the most gaping holes in our nation’s civil rights laws. We remain committed to seeing ENDA’s passage.

Meanwhile, we are using our existing authority to combat discrimination where we can.

Earlier this year, we sought to intervene in the case of an openly gay teenager from Mohawk County, New York. For two and a half years, the student was a victim of severe and pervasive student-on-student harassment because he failed to conform to gender stereotypes. From 2007 until 2009, the harassment escalated from derogatory name-calling to physical threats and violence. The student’s grades suffered. He had multiple absences because he did not feel safe at school, and he dropped one of his favorite courses to avoid one of his harassers.

The School District had knowledge of the harassment, and the complaint alleged that the school district was deliberately indifferent in its failure to take action – neither fully investigating the allegations, nor following its anti-harassment policies and procedures. The failure to address and prevent this kind of bullying from occurring violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits violations of students’ constitutional right to be free of harassment in school. But it also reinforces intolerant and hateful behavior by allowing it to go unpunished.

During a trip to Seattle earlier this year I had the opportunity to observe an anti-bullying program at a Middle School. The program is considered a model, and it is exactly the kind of curriculum needed to help students gain understanding about diversity and tolerance. While I was there, I had the chance to meet with the three brave students at the school who have formed a gay-straight alliance. That middle school students even feel comfortable enough to participate in such groups I think reflects remarkable progress – as Senator Franken said when I testified before his committee on ENDA last year, for his kids’ generation, being gay is about as interesting as being left-handed.

Unfortunately, the Seattle middle school more lately is looking like more of an exception than the rule, in light of the tragic series of suicides by gay teens who were bullied in school. We are actively monitoring and investigating these and other cases involving bullying and harassment of LGBT and other students, and we are working with our federal partners at the Department of Education, HHS and other agencies in the development of a national anti-bullying strategy. You can find more information on the federal government’s efforts by going to, a new website created following the National Bullying Summit that was held this summer in Washington.

Meanwhile, we also recently settled a case involving an HIV-positive 2-year old boy. The boy’s father was undergoing cancer treatment in Mobile, Alabama, and so the family had planned a month-long vacation at the nearby Wales West RV Resort. But when the management of the family-themed RV park found out the boy is HIV-positive, they banned the family from using the common areas of the resort, including the swimming pool and showers. The family cut their vacation short. We reached a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The RV Park paid a civil penalty and adopted measures to ensure that patrons and their families are not discriminated against on the basis of disability.

I am well aware that none of these efforts are a silver bullet for LGBT civil rights. The nation’s promise of equal opportunity, equal justice and equal rights has not yet been fulfilled for LGBT individuals and their families.

But the Civil Rights Division does not shy away from great challenges. Since the Division was created in 1957, we have often been a lonely voice in the federal government working to advance policies that expand civil rights.

At one of the very first events I attended after my confirmation last year I heard the President speak about LGBT rights. And I was heartened because I believe that with his remarks, he gave us a great deal of latitude to work within the administration to advance the cause of LGBT rights.

And there is an extensive amount of activity going on within the Administration to advance LGBT rights going well beyond the big ticket items we hear about regularly. While they aren't a substitute for those big ticket items, they are still extremely important to the lives of LGBT individuals.

Whether it is domestic partner benefits as permitted by law, hospital visitation rights, Family and Medical Leave Act ability for the same-sex partners who aren't a child's legal parent, grants to study the needs of LGBT Seniors, these steps can mean a great deal to the LGBT individuals who benefit from them.

Yesterday was national coming out day. With each of our efforts to advance and protect LGBT rights, to make individuals feel safe and accepted in their communities, we are hopefully making it easier for them to come out to their families, their friends, their colleagues and their neighbors.

And we will not only use all of the tools in our arsenal to do so, but we will continue to fight to put more tools at our disposal. Thank you.


Florida Association of Realtors fiddles (with money) while their members burn

We turn now to one of the more obscene gestures made by the Florida business community during its desperate and all-encompassing fight against Hometown Democracy and the people's right to vote on development issues that could cost them higher property taxes.

Consider this: At a time when many individual Realtors are suffering in a horribly overbuilt Florida housing market and downturned economy, their parent organization, the Florida Association of Realtors, has used its "Advocacy Fund" (fueled in part by a $10 per member advocacy surcharge on their annual dues) to contribute $4.25 million to oppose Amendment 4.

This makes the Realtors association's Advocacy Fund the largest single contributor to the anti-Amendment 4 campaign at a time when things are so bad for Florida Realtors that they even got a $16 million settlement from the BP Gulf oil spill. (And Realtors looking to be fully compensated from that settlement shouldn't hold their breath. Realtors association lobbyist John Sebree said in reports published Aug. 24, 2010, that the BP money "might not go terribly far.")

At a time when the Realtors association should be financially helping its members, it is wasting more than $4 million to attempt to preserve the very system of growth that put its members out of work in the first place! The very system that depressed housing values (and therefore commissions when/if homes are sold in this market).

And the $4.25 million from the Realtors' Advocacy Fund isn't all the Realtor money that has found its way to oppose Florida Hometown Democracy. State Division of Elections records show that the Florida Realtors Association gave another $25,910; the Realtors Political Issues Committee-FLA gave $5,500; and the Florida Gulfcoast Comm. Association of Realtors PAC gave $250.

Just how over the top is the Florida Association of Realtors in its largesse to the No on 4 crowd? Consider that the next biggest contribution given to the No on 4 political action committee is $567,000 from Pulte Homes Corp. (Pulte got is own bail-out, by the way, an $800 million tax break from the federal government, according to Builder magazine in Feb. 2010, tucked neatly in a 2009 unemployment compensation bill.)

Yes on 4's website address is

Pd. Pol. Adv. By FloridaHometownDemocracy, Inc. PAC, P.O. Box 636, New Smyrna Beach, FL.