Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE HILL Congress Blog: Access Fund Support for Nomination of Sallly Jewell to Be Next Secretary of the Interior


Sally Jewell is right for Interior job

By Brady Robinson, executive director, Access Fund - 02/28/13 05:00 PM ET
In many ways, running the Interior Department means you must intimately know the culture, landscapes, and industries of the American West. Being able to credibly wear cowboy boots or lobby for oil companies was once a job requirement for Interior secretary, now a backpack and climbing shoes are also suitable credentials. Next month the U.S. Senate will vote on Sally Jewell’s nomination as Interior secretary. Jewell brings extensive experience as CEO of Recreation Equipment Incorporation (REI), where under her leadership REI grew to 127 stores in 31 states with sales exceeding $1.8 billion annually.

Outdoor recreation experience is increasingly important for managing the millions of public land acres that support world-class recreational activities while also serving as economic assets for communities across the country. American needs an Interior Secretary that prioritizes the protection and enhancement of the recreation assets while also presiding over the record level of energy projects across the West.

Economies across the country that rely on public lands recreation are not only increasing in volume and number, but have outperformed most other communities that lack this sector. The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year supporting 6.1 million direct jobs, three times the number of jobs in oil and gas. Sally Jewell’s nomination as Interior secretary acknowledges the importance of outdoor recreation as an economic driver for communities across the United States. Jewell’s professional experience has prepared her to oversee energy production on federal lands as well.

Sally’s detractors try to make her out as an extremist who steered REI to be an agent of her radical environmental agenda. But before heading to REI, Sally worked as an engineer, in the banking industry, and for Mobil Oil in Oklahoma’s oil fields. At REI Sally not only worked to protect the places that make outdoor recreation possible, thereby advancing REI’s business interests, she also created jobs and supported a growing economic sector in the process.

Jewell’s experience in the oil and gas industry, as well as REI, means she has an acute understanding of the balance that must be struck on public lands. If confirmed as Interior secretary, Jewell would be one of the few to actually share the passions of the majority of people who use the 500 million acres of public land under that department’s control. We believe she is up to the task.

Robinson is the Executive Director of the Access Fund. The Fund is a national advocacy organization that keeps U.S. Climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access Fund supports and represents over 2.3 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock, ice, mountaineering, and bouldering. He can be reached at

Read more:
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

“BELIEVE IT OR NOT,” Hate Site Operator Objects to Buying Life-Saving DefibillatorTechnology

MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN,” the erroneous non- resident Republican apparatchik and cranky hate website operator, is ululating again. This time he has yet another spurious complaint on "Historic City News" about our City of St. Augustine's 450th anniversary commemoration planning. This time, the apparatchik complains because our City is seeking a $5000 grant to place three automatic exterior defibrillators (AEDs) in the City Hall/Lightner Museum Building, the Municipal Marina and the Public Works building on West King Street

The apparatchik writes it is a “strange” legacy project. Not at all. It is this objection is stranger than fiction – it belongs in the local RIPLEY's “BELIEVE IT OR NOT!” MUSEUM. As William F. Buckley, Jr. once said, “The devil with the complaint.”

Increased tourism for the 500th Anniversary of Spanish Florida (2013), 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (2014) and 450th Anniversary of St. Augustine (2015) will mean a need for prompt remedies if someone is having a heart attack. As St. Augustine Fire Deparment (SAFD) Chief Michael Arnold explained, a delay as little as ten minutes in defibrillator can result in death. Some 300,000 people die of cardiac arrest annually. The lives that are saved are valuable, and one could even be GOLD's own – the AED will be used on a non-discriminatory basis, for anyone with a heart attack (even cognitive misers who can't stand progress, including AED purchases as “legacy projects”).

The City is right to buy the AEDs. The City is right to seek grant funds for the AEDs. The City is right to consider the AED purchase a 450th “legacy project.”

The erroneous apparatchik is wrong again – he wonders whether the AED technology will still be working in fifty years – that's not the point of a “legacy project.” What puerile sophistry..

Footnote: GOLD chauvinistically defended controversial former City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, Under HARRISS (and his nephew, who worked on grants), our City missed a deadline to apply for a $1,000,000 grant to fix the Lightner/City Hall roof. HARRISS avoided seeking grants, because he rightly feared increased scrutiny by Inspectors General if the City too federal funds. Such hopelessly provincial mismanagement is gone. It takes a village.

Back then, the apparatchik in quo used every “fear and smear” method at his disposal to insult those of us who resisted the works and pomps of HARRISS, a/k/a “WILL HARASSS,” who targetted First Amendment protected activity and ran the City for the benefit of his cronies. HARRISS retired.

Now, good and decent people are no longer afraid of crooks, kooks, cognitive misers, schnooks, KKK members and hick hacks from the Tea Party or the 0.1%. We defeated the bully HARRIS.

Good and decent people are working to make our City accountable, honest and honorable It is a joy to behold. We've protected GLBT people under Fair Housing and we're working to make our City more sustainable and economical, ending Environmental Racism, fixing Riberia Street (all of it) and restoring public confidence in self-government. Yes we can!.

Yes, after a four year propaganda campaign, the apparatchik in quo succeeded in defeating the second African-American County Commissioner in St. Johns County history (J. Kenneth Bryan), using racist “fear and smear” techniques. They succeeded, because in thewords of former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich (to Folio Weekly), St. Johns County is one of the “last bastions of the Ku Klux Klan.” This, too, shall pass.

Yet I don't reckon the apparatchik will ever succeed in tarbrushing est civil servants like Mike Arnold, Dana Ste. Claire and John Regan for doing their jobs.

The great thing about the 450th: “the whole world is watching,” as well as our City, State and Nation.
There is much to be proud of in St. Augustine, and we're now sharng t with the world.

Why do the heathen rage?  

Hate site operator MICHAEL GOLD reminds me of a honky-tonk medley of the supercilious rantings of Emily Litela (Saturday Night Live character played by Gilda Radner), Floyd R. Turbo (Johnny Carson) and the late Alabama Governor George C. Wallace.  What do you reckon?  

Forgive him.
When people read a “critic” who insulted Rev. Andrew Young and insulted those of us working for Environmental Justice (e.g., halting illegal dumping), they will understand: we have overcome.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IF GANNETT wanted to buy the St. Augustine Record and Jacksonville Times Union ....


IF GANNETT wanted to buy the St. Augustine Record and Jacksonville Times Union from MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS, Federal Communications Cross-Ownership Rules would apply.  This is because GANNETT owns two TV stations (NBC and ABC affiliates in Jacksonville, d/b/a "FIRST COAST NEWS").  In order to approve the purchase, FCC would apparently have to find either the newspaper or TV properties in quo were "failing."  See FCC excerpts (below the questions).
POP QUIZ (after reviewing FCC requirements, below the questions):
1. Do you see evidence to support or oppose a finding that the two newspapers are "failing?"
2. Do you agree with the naysayers who say that "print is dead," or trite memes and tropes to that effect?
3. How do the naysayers deal with the fact that Warren Buffett is buying newspapers?

4. Have they (naysayers) considered the Orange County Register, whose print operation apparently  thrives by giving the people what they want -- NEWS!?  Not fluff, but journalists doing what journalists are supposed to do -- holding institutions accountable, as the Founders intended in our First Amendment?
5. Can you imagine democracy in a world without newspapers?  I can't.
6. Do you think increased market concentration by GANNETT (acquiring the Record and T-U) would necessarily hurt the cause of news-gathering?
7. Would you change your answer to question 6, if, hypothetically speaking, GANNETT's FIRST COAST NEWS' Anne Schindler (for 21 years the superb Editor of Folio Weekly), were to have suzerainty over the St. Augustine Record and Jacksonville Times-Union)?   Can you imagine Anne Schindler empowering a  staff boldly reporting on St. Johns County with the resources of GANNETT?  How cool would that be?   
Two full disclosures:
(A) I was a critic of GANNETT's FIRST COAST NEWS ab initio, fearing the joint operation of one TV news operation by NBC and ABC affiliates, allowed during the tatterdemalion administration of President George W. Bush and FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell (General Colin Powell's son, appointed to the job by Presidents Clinton and Bush); I filed a complaint with FCC about FCN's lousy news coverage (including breaking in on ABC and NBC evening entertainment programs to report an "airplane crash" at the airport in Brunswick, Georgia (the "crash" turned out to be a drill, giving a whole new sense to the John McCain mantra of "drill, baby, drill")!  
(B)  I have been a fan of Anne Schindler's years as Editor at Folio Weekly -- I have personal knowledge and saw first-hand how well Anne Schindler covered corruption and pollution in Northeast Florida, including here in St. Augustine and St. Johns county, helping make this a much better place!  
8. IF YOU WERE AN FCC Commissioner for a day, would you be open to a GANNETT legal argument that would, in effect, adopt an "Anne Schindler rule?"  I reckon I would consider it carefully, weighing the factors in FCC regulations (see below).
9. Would you change your answer to question 6 if you knew that Faux FOX News owner Rupert Murdoch is also buying newspapers, and is potentially interested in buying the LA Times and Chicago Tribune (see LA Times article, below)?  How scary is that? 

10. What do you reckon?  (Quo vobis videtor?)

To inform debate, here is an excerpt from an FCC summary on Cross-Ownership Rules applicable to the Jacksonville and St. Augustine TV market:
  • For markets smaller than the top 20 DMAs, the Commission adopted a presumption that it is inconsistent with the public interest for an entity to own newspaper/broadcast combinations and emphasized that it therefore is unlikely to approve such transactions. The Commission will reverse the negative presumption in two limited circumstances: when the proposed combination involves a failed or failing station or newspaper, or when the combination results in a new source of a significant amount of local news in a market. The Commission will require any applicant attempting to overcome the negative presumption to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the merged entity will increase the diversity of independent news outlets and increase competition among independent news sources in the relevant market.
  • No matter which presumption applies, the Commission’s analysis of the following four factors will inform its review of a proposed combination: (1) the extent to which cross-ownership will serve to increase the amount of local news disseminated through the affected media outlets in the combination; (2) whether each affected media outlet in the combination will exercise its own independent news judgment; (3) the level of concentration in the DMA; and (4) the financial condition of the newspaper or broadcast station, and if the newspaper or broadcast station is in financial distress, the owner’s commitment to invest significantly in newsroom operations.

    Ed's NOTE: A controversial effort to re-write FCC Cross-Ownership rules has been delayed pending studies of effects upon minority ownership of common corporate ownership of broadcast and newspaper outlets. The rules might be relaxed concerning the top 20 media markets (Jacksonville is only about the 48th or 50th).

Los Angeles Times: LA Times, Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Co. Newspapers May Be For Sale -- Investment Bankers Hired -- Rupert Murdoch Is Potential Buyer


Tribune Co. hires investment bankers to explore sale of newspaper uni

Los Angheles Times building
The Los Angeles Times offices. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Tribune Co. has hired investment bankers to advise the media company on the sale of its newspaper publishing unit, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The company has retained JPMorgan Chase & Co. to oversee a potential sale of the division that includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, according to the person. Evercore Partners, a boutique investment bank, reportedly also has been hired.
There has been widespread speculation that Tribune would attempt to unload the newspaper business to focus on its more promising television operations. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is among the possible bidders for the newspaper assets.
The hiring of investment bankers to explore a sale and analyze bids from suitors does not necessarily mean that the assets would be sold.
A Tribune spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment.
Tribune emerged from its four-year bankruptcy at the end of 2012 and appointed broadcasting veteran Peter Liguori as chief executive in January.
The hiring of the investment bankers was first reported by CNBC.

Is GANNETT Buying the St. Augustine Record? Record Says No, Local Republican Hate Site Operator Reports It Anyway

Local hate site operator and St. Augustine and Johns County Republican PR director Michael Gold (“Historic City News”) reports that Gannett is ”interested in” buying the St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union. .    

Michael Gold, who advocates a boycott of the Record, does not name any source for his February 26, 2013 assertion, which is headlined "St. Augustine Record May Be Sold Soon."  

St. Augustine Record Publisher Ron Davidson responded at 1:38 PM today to my E-mail question two minutes earlier, stating “It is not accurate and I know of no discussions or negotiations. Thanks for asking.” 

Efforts to obtain any kind of comment from GANNETT have been unavailing for more than four hours.

As found by the 2011 investigation by St. Augustine Underground (published by the Milwaukee Journal),, Michael Gold mainly prints political, government and PR propaganda  handouts, calling them news.  

However, Michael Gold was recently right in stating that St. Augustine City Commissioners were inclined to vote for the return of Donald Crichlow to City Commission, to replace the resigned Commissioner William L. Leary.  Crichlow got the vote, 4-0, on February 11, 2013, so I would not dismiss Gold's GANNETT story as entirely unlikely or impossible.  However, as of 2:18 PM, it remained unconfirmed, and denied in writing by the Record's Publisher. (UPDATE: As of 10:38 PM, it still remains unconfirmed).

Morris Communications and GANNETT have done business before, in 2004 trading some of Morris' Tennessee newspapers for some of GANNETT's Georgia newspapers (the way children trade baseball cards).

What do you reckon?  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Senator Ron Wyden's Website Biography: New Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Has Jurisdiction Over Offshore Oil, Nuclear Weapons Cleanup, and St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act of 2013 Proposal,

Meet Ron Wyden

senronwydenWhether he’s taking on powerful interests, listening to constituents at one of his famous town hall meetings or standing up for Oregonians on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Ron Wyden is an effective leader on the issues that matter most.  As the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel recently put it: "He's best described as a wonk, a workhorse, a doer.”

Commitment to Open Government and Bipartisanship

Oregonians know Ron as a senator who listens.  Always citing the need to “throw open the doors of government for Oregonians,” he holds an open-to-all town hall meeting in each of Oregon’s 36 counties each year.  Thus far he has held more than 600 meetings.  Wyden’s dedication to hearing all sides of an issue and looking for common sense, non-partisan solutions has won him trust on both sides of the aisle and put him at the heart of nearly every debate.   In 2011, the Almanac of American Politics described Wyden as having “displayed a genius for coming up with sensible-sounding ideas no one else had thought of and making the counter-intuitive political alliances that prove helpful in passing bills.”  The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote: “The country has problems.  And Ron Wyden has comprehensive, bipartisan proposals for fixing them.”

Wyden believes the nation’s biggest challenges can only be solved by what he calls “principled bipartisanship,” solutions that allow all parties to stay true to their respective principles and celebrate agreements.  Following that approach has helped him author more than 150 bipartisan bills and assemble unprecedented bipartisan coalitions on issues such as health care, infrastructure and tax reform.
When principles are at stake, however, Wyden has never shied from standing alone, even when it means taking on powerful interest groups or his own party.  His lone stand against the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and its predecessor, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act (COICA), put a spotlight on the problematic legislation being fast tracked through Congress and served as a rallying point for the historic Internet protests that ultimately toppled the bills.  He stood alone on the floor of the Senate to block right wing efforts to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity law; a law that Oregon voters have passed twice. He went head-to-head with the E.P.A. to reduce cancer-causing benzene in gasoline sold in Oregon, and key elements of Wyden’s Kinship Care Act were included as part of major reforms improving the nation’s foster care system. Wyden’s provisions recognized and strengthened support for kinship care, the full-time care and protection of children by relatives.
His relentless defiance of the national security community’s abuse of secrecy forced the declassification of the CIA Inspector General’s 9/11 report, shut down the controversial Total Information Awareness program and put a spotlight on both the Bush and Obama Administration’s reliance on “secret law.”  To protect hard-working folks in the intelligence community and ensure informed public debate on national security issues, Wyden successfully fought to have controversial anti-leaks provisions removed from the latest intelligence authorization bill.

Wyden has taken the lead on policies that are helping to grow the economy in areas like improved infrastructure through his Build America Bonds program, micro and nano-technology, e-commerce, and through incentives for cleaner sources of energy.
He has won countless awards for his pioneering role in establishing a free and open Internet, is known for his commitment to an open government, having authored the “Stand By Your Ad” law and the resolution ending Senate Secret Holds, and he has been routinely recognized as one of the Senate’s foremost health policy thinkers.

Commitment to Oregon Values & Priorities

In Oregon, Wyden has authored laws extending permanent Wilderness protections to more than 400,000 acres including Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon’s Bull Run Watershed, Badlands, Spring Basin, Copper Salmon and Soda Mountain.  Since 2000, the Wyden-authored Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, commonly known as the “county payments” law, has helped provide a stable source of revenue for historically timber-dependent communities and Wyden’s Combat Illegal Logging Act has helped protect Oregon’s hardwood industries from the import of illegally harvested timber products.
Wyden serves on the Committees on Finance, Budget, Aging, Intelligence, and Energy and Natural Resources.  He is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chairs the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.

Wyden began college at the University of California-Santa Barbara where he won a basketball scholarship and played in Division I competition for two seasons before transferring to Stanford University where he completed his Bachelors degree with distinction.  He earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974, after which he taught gerontology and co-founded the Oregon chapter of the Grey Panthers, an advocacy group for the elderly.  He also served as the director of Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly from 1977 to 1979 and was a member of the Oregon State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators during that same period. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 until his election to the U.S. Senate.

Senator Wyden’s home is in Portland; he is married to Nancy Wyden, whom he wed in September 2005. He has five children: Adam, Lilly, Ava, William and Scarlett.

Tri-City (Washington) Herald: Oregon's Senior U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, New Chair of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Supports Manhattan District National Historical Park Legislation

Wyden backs Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Published: February 20, 2013 
senator ron wyden oregon hanford b reactor vit vitrification pla
B Reactor Tour Manager Russ Fabre, left, leads Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on a tour of the plant on Tuesday before Wyden pledged to help make B Reactor a National Historic Park. David Huizenga, senior adviser for DOE's Office of Environmental Management, is at the right.
Kai-Huei Yau — Tri-City Herald
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pledged support for a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that includes Hanford's B Reactor in his new role as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Re-sources Committee.
The committee has oversight of the National Park Service, making it key to B Reactor's future.
"There is an old saying that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it," Wyden said after touring the historic reactor Tuesday.
He'll be working with Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has House oversight of the park service, and also Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., he said.
Legislation was introduced last year, but failed to pass before the end of the congressional session.
"The last Congress was the first in decades to not pass legislation to protect our special places," Wyden said. "I'm going to work very closely with Chairman Hastings to change that."
While there are concerns among some in Congress about creating a new national park while the nation struggles to keep up those it already has, Wyden said there may be new ways to attract money for national parks.
He stopped short of endorsing legislation introduced last year in Congress, saying he would have his staff conduct due diligence.
B Reactor was built in 11 months during World War II, when the world's supply of plutonium was about 500 micrograms, enough material to form the head of a single pin.
It was the world's first production-scale reactor, producing plutonium for the world's first nuclear explosion and then the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping to end World War II.
The reactor today looks much like it did during WWII, and 10,000 people toured it last year during the limited days DOE tours were available. Those visitors contributed almost $2 million to the Tri-City-area economy, according to figures cited by DOE to the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Visitors could increase 10- or 15-fold in the first year a national park is created, the park service has told DOE.
And visitors also could have a better experience at the reactor.
"The park service would bring its unparalleled ability for storytelling," Colleen French, the DOE government affairs program manager, told Wyden.
The proposed legislation considered last year also would allow donations to be collected to spend on preserving Manhattan Project history, including other Hanford sites, French said. That could include what remains of the early farming communities where residents were forced to leave to make way for the secret nuclear reservation during the war.
As the debate about creating a new national park goes forward, there will be people who say it is a bad idea, Wyden said.
"My own view is that history isn't always ideal and that science can be liberated," he said. "And that what we learn over the years is that it is important to look deep into the well of history to get a clearer understanding of what lies ahead."
Wyden's father, historian Peter Wyden, wrote the book Day One, an account of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and its consequences.
Hanford, along with other Manhattan Project sites in Tennessee and New Mexico, "needs to be preserved so future generations understand what went on here," the senator said.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533;; Twitter: @HanfordNews

Read more here:

Saturday, February 23, 2013


                     United States Senator RAFAEL EDWARD CRUZ (R/TeaPartier-Texas)
It is a dirty bird that dirties its own nest.

I pity Freshman U.S. Representative RONALD DION DESANTIS a/k/a RON DESANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra, Fl 6th)(born 1978, Jacksonville, Florida) and freshman U.S. Senator RAFAEL EDWARD CRUZ a/k/a TED CRUZ (R-Texas)(born 1970, Calgary, Alberta, Canada).  Both are ingrates, attacking their alma mater.

Both DESANTIS and CRUZ are openly and notoriously red-baiting their law school alma mater, Harvard Law School (HLS), using HLS as a punchline for acerbic red-baiting remarks..

How ungracious, untruthful and uncouth.  Were they plants?  Did they go there with the express purpose of embarrassing HLS?  What fools and tools these weird whippersnappers are proving to be.

Both DESANTIS and CRUZ  went to the Ivy League knowing it was liberal -- intelligent, well-informed professors usually are -- it is a fact of life.

Congressman RONALD DION DESANTIS graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School.  DESANTIS was a military and corporate lawyer, representing corporations for HOLLAND & KNIGHT.  DESANTIS'  wife is a TV broadcaster for GANNETT, monopolistic news media empire, operator of FIRST COAST NEWS in Jacksonville, combining ABC and NBC affiliates in possible violation of antitrust laws; this duopoly was allowed to exist by dint of Bush II era FCC desuetude of law enforcement. 

Senator RAFAEL EDWARD CRUZ  graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.  CRUZ was Harvard Law Review Editor. Then CRUZ clerked for an appellate judge, then for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, then helped Bush steal Florida during the 2000 Florida recounts, was rewarded with appointments to work for Bush at the FTC Office of Policy & Planning (planning regulatory desuetude, perhaps?), then at the Department of Justice, then was Texas's Solicitor General, and and then worked for the corporate law firm of MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS, heading its Supreme Court and appellate practice since 2008, defending the ruling classes and their corporate fiefdoms.  Senator TED CRUZ's wife is an investment banker with GOLDMAN SACHS and formerly worked in the Bush White House for Condoleeza Rice.  For USA Today to call CRUZ "anti-establishment" is, at best, facetious.

Rose Kennedy's favorite Bible verse was, "To whom much is given, much is expected. The public record is devoid of any evidence that either CRUZ or DESANTIS --  two educated men -- ever did anything to help anyone else.  They are corporate tools -- corporate consiglieres elected to public office at a young age by Big Money.  These red-baiters are  acting today like spoiled brats. Both appeal to yahoos, bigots, Tea Partiers and KKK members by attacking their own alma mater with errant falsehoods. 

What a waste of a good education, in both the case of DESANTIS and CRUZ!

Both CRUZ and DESANTIS  lack social skills, empathy and common sense -- legal idiot savants.

The pitiful sight of freshman Rep. RONALD DION DESANTIS in Palm Coast February 19th, responding to the parents of a murdered seven year old from Newtown CT, was utterly without empathy -- "I'm sorry for what happened to you," as if someone stubbed their toes or gave them a C in First Year Civil Procedure. How shallow and callow.

Then, DESANTIS and CRUZ red-bait Harvard Law School, of which they were once proud to be a part.

It is a dirty bird that dirties its own nest.

I graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, which I knew to be a conservative school when I applied there.  I was and am proud to be a part of GU, even thought I am a lifelong liberal Democrat.  I learned a lot there -- and on Capitol Hill.  I especially learned from professors with whom I disagreed.

It is called "diversity," and "academic freedom" -- two things for which the Tea Party termagants CRUZ and DESANTIS have no respect.  CRUZ and DESANTIS prefer worshipful, gullible Tea Party acolytes, bears of little brain, who provide them with fawning obeisance, as at DESANTIS' Nuremberg-style rally at the Tea Party in Palm Coast on February 19th (held the same day of the month and same time and same place as regular Flagler County Tea Party meetings -- that was no "Town Hall" meeting, it was a Tea Party meeting).

Some of my most lasting memories of academia at Georgetown include conservative icons like World War II Polish Underground diplomat Jan Karski, who blew the whistle on Nazi concentration camps to FDR and Churchill and Frankfurter, et al; economist Lev Dobriansky, later Ambassador to Bermuda; and political theoretician Jose Sorzano, later Deputy UN Ambassador under Professor Jeanne Kirkpatrick, under President Ronald Reagan.  I respected their intellects, and they encouraged dissent.  I never once heard them, or anyone else teaching at Georgetown, engage in low-class red-baiting of liberals, which would have been seen as unseemly, unscholarly and undiplomatic.

Indeed, Professor Dobriansky, et al.  went to great lengths to explain the important differences between democratic socialism (e.g., Israel, Sweden, etc.) and Communism (USSR, Soviet bloc, Cuba, China).

That's called nuance, something the unsophisticated, anti-intellectual lugubrious goobers in the Koch Brothers-funded Tea Party would not recognize.

You won't see, read or hear me bad-mouthing Georgetown University.  When I disagreed with it, I used persuasion to win the day, not insults.  (With the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Georgetown University, we  encouraged GU to settle a Gay rights case, after two pro bono corporate law firms won the case in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, rejecting Edward Bennett Williams' demand to seek certiorari from the Supreme Court, which would have doomed Georgetown's reputation forever).

You won't see me bad-mouthing my law school alma mater (Memphis State, which now is called the University of Memphis).  I am grateful for what I learned in both those institutions, and to the people who taught me.

Reading TED CRUZ red-bait HLS -- and hearing RON DESANTIS do the same in Palm Coast -- makes me question their ethics and rationality: this borders dangerously on sociopathic sophistry -- or what Lincoln might have called "idolatry that practices human sacrifice."  CRUZ actually said in August 2012 that Republicans too often were "making hateful attacks but then compromising on basic principle."  He proclaimed that "President Reagan stood for conservative principles in a way that brought people together." This is the same energumen who now red-baits HLS and former Nebraska Senator Charles Hagel.

This is all about character -- CRUZ and DESANTIS are political chameleons, hypocrites and carping harpies -- all too willing to brown-nose Harvard Law Professors to grub good grades and get good jobs with Corporate America.

Then after graduation, mutatis mutandis, they stab their alma mater in the back to get votes from fascists.  There, I said it -- CRUZ and DESANTIS are lying about their alma mater to euchre support from the lying, crying Koch Brothers, who founded the Tea Party, and whose father founded the John Birch Society.

Gentle readers, do not believe a word that DESANTIS and CRUZ say -- they're for sale. They are  loudmouth phonies, selling myths to the unhinged.   It is a dirty bird that dirties its own nest -- this makes two of them -- TED CRUZ and RON DESANTIS -- they bear watchin'.

To CRUZ and DESANTIS, let me use the words one of the judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals said to Georgetown's lawyer (Vince Fuller) in our Gay rights case: "TRY TOLERANCE."

Friday, February 22, 2013


Rep. DESANTIS is investigating federal agencies that give most of their fat bonsuses to employees working in Washington, D.C.   He told his Flagler County "Town Hall" meeting about it February 19, 2013.  Great!

Long a favored perk of federal agencies, agency heads, subagency heads and their cronies divvy up huge "performance" bonuses, typically as much as $60,000, rewarding what?  Being a crony of an agency head in Washington, D.C.  Many of the worst managers in government have gotten bonuses.   For decades, our civil service system has favored sloth and rewarded incompetent managers who retaliate against whistleblowers.

Rep. DESANTIS is right to raise this bonus issue.   My mentor, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Department of Labor, called this bonus scandal to my attention in the 1980s:  it transcends presidential administrations and political parties.   The simply palpitating truth of the matter is that Cabinet officers use them to reward top appointees, rather than able scientists, FBI or CIA agents.  At some agencies,  the statistical probabability of anyone outside Washington, D.C. ever getting a bonus approaches zero.  This waste is bad for morale.

Go for it, Rep. DESANTIS -- keep on investigating the bureaucracy's flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.  One of my heroes, the late Iowa U.S. Republican Rep. H.R. Gross, made his mark by challenging government waste, fraud and abuse.  If that's what Rep. DESANTIS is about, I concur.

In Palm Coast, Rep. Rep. DESANTIS skewered the U.S. Department of Energy a/k/a "Denier of Everything." Rep. DESANTIS and I agree: I've watched DOE since it was created in 1977. Over the years, I exposed its environmental crimes and represented its victims: it is irrefragable that DOE is as crooked as a barrel full of snakes -- our DOE nuclear weapons complex is a national scandal deserving of full Congressional oversight hearings. 

U.S. Rep. RONALD DION DESANTIS in Palm Coast "Town Hall" Meeting

U.S. Rep. RONALD DION DESANTIS held a "Town Hall" meeting in Palm Coast February 19th, mostly peopled by local Republicans and Tea Party members, who distributed ephemera, including huge bumper stickers for, bearing American flags and the logo: "Take Back AMERICA!!!"  (Amateur capitalization in hokey original).
In fact, Rep. DESANTIS' putative Town Hall meeting was a phony -- by strange karmic coincidence, it was held in the precise location and precise day of the month as the regular monthly meeting of the Flagler County Tea Party, to wit, the third Tuesday of the month, at 6:30, in the Flagler Palm Coast High School Cafeteria -- it was a Tea Party event, masquerading as a "Town Hall" meeting,  See   , and three daily newspapers did not report that fact.
Thus, as a gathering of Tea Partiers, many of the colorful questions were from Right Field, including the man who asked whether President Barack Obama is "a Socialist or a Communist?"
Rep. DESANTIS had no answer for the lady who asked what he was going to do about Flagler County's eroding beaches, which require federal beach renourishment funds to keep tourism stoked -- no beaches, no tourists, and the beach is terribly close to A1A all up and down Flagler County.  DESANTIS would do well to study the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore legislation,, as a vehicle for environmental and economic sustainability for our 6th Congressional District. 
Rep. DESANTIS was also asked about the Newtown, CT school shootings, by two former DeLand residents who have personal knowledge.  Mark and Jackie Barden are the parents of the late Daniel Barden, a seven-year old murdered in his Sandy Hook Elementary School classroom by a gun-toting madman.
Rep. DESANTIS had earlier answered questions from gun-loving goobers, including one who asserted he could no longer buy enough ammunition, speculating that the "federal government is buying up all the ammunition."
None of Rep. DESANTIS' answers went against the Tea Party line.
Then the Bardens spoke, and the crowd got quiet -- you could hear a pin drop.
The crowd, described in one account as sometimes engaged in rude heckling, listened as DESANTIS said "I'm sorry for what happened to you."   DESANTIS did say he would support background checks and means of preventing criminals and insane people from obtaining guns.
However, here are three things that Rep. RON DESANTIS didn't do: 
1.  Show empathy and kindness, the way Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Bill Nelson could or would -- DESANTIS seemed curiously disengaged compared to the interest he showed in sequestration and other Tea Party apparatchik talking points -- he said he was "sorry" for what happened, and mused about the mind of Adam Lanza.
2.  Approach the Bardens, the grieving parents of a murdered seven year old.  Like a statue, DESANTIS stayed stiffly, primly, preppily, pompously at the front of the high school cafeteria, as if he were the principal being questioned by radical students.   In terms of body language, DESANTIS did not move closer to the Bardens, despite having modern wireless microphone technology -- I observed no hugs, no embrace, no milk of human kindness.  Rep. DESANTIS acted more like a robot, not unlike President Bush (or the other President Bush) would do.
3.  Show maturity, never once admitting that his prior assumptions about guns are errant nonsense: his views on guns, like everything else, are shared ideological perversions of the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers that he has swallowed hook, line and sinker.
Rep. DESANTIS' "Tea Party" gathering was changed for the better by the Bardens, and I thanked them for speaking out.   Before they left, the Bardens distributed a few wrist bracelets in honor of their son, with the bracelets poignantly asking in their son's name, "What Would Daniel Do?", with a Facebook page urging people to treat each other more kindly.  Rep. DESANTIS got a bracelet.  I spoke with the Bardens, and I know that in the end, their concerns about guns will be heard and heeded, with or without a Rep. RON DESANTIS re-elected to the 114th Congress.
Rep. DESANTIS is intelligent, well-educated, disdains earmarks, refuses perks and says he dislikes corruption.  That's all good.
DESANTIS quotes James Madison and the Federalist Papers (even though he doesn't really understand them) James Madison in Federalist 10 says that regulating factions is the most important thing a legislator can do, referring to the economic elites whom The Tea Party in Congress worships and takes handouts from -- the Tea Party and the Republicans don't believe in regulating anything, except they are against Gay marriage -- as Josh said on the West Wing, they want to "shrink government just small enough to fit in your bedroom."). 
Rep. DESANTIS is the darling of the most corrupt, venal and narcissistic political party in American history.  The Republican Party and its Tea Party faction are bankrupt of ideas, so they can only foment hatred.  Some 22% of the American people identify with the Republican Party.  Hatred is bringing down the erstwhile party of Lincoln.
RONALD DION DESANTIS, at 35, is a Yale and Harvard educated trained military and corporate lawyer, is blessed -- he had "the right stuff" to get elected, but is he capable of governing? 
DESANTIS showed seeming insouciance toward the parents of a child murder victim --  in the midst of a room full of unhinged Tea Party madness and seediness.
DESANTIS is still wet behind the ears, like a male Yale Bulldogs baseball team version of a "Stepford Wife" on Steroids. On election night, not unlike Robert Redford's character in "The Candidate," one can imagine DESANTIS' shock, asking someone "What do we do now, Marvin?"
The day after the Palm Coast "Town Hall" meeting, Rep. DESANTIS held a "surprise" speech here in St. Augustine February 20th -- at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast.  The Chamber of Commerce is most noted as the local affiliate of the national cartelist business lobby that has lobbied for the Fortune 500 against the New Deal, Fair Deal and every piece of consumer, worker, environmental, safety and health protection ever proposed in Congress.  DESANTIS would fit right in atthe local Chamber of Commerce, whose members don't realize they and millions of other Chamber of Commerce members are nothing more than shills for the 1% and the Fortune 500, who take their money and laugh at them behind their backs.
We need a Congressman for the rest of us -- a Congressman who visits regular people, not just the Tea Party and the Chamber of Commerce.  What do you reckon?
Two news accounts of  Rep. DESANTIS' Tea Party dominated "Town Hall" meeting:
Daytona Beach News Journal:
Jacksonville Times-Union and St. Augustine Record:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Rep. DeSantis, Claiming to “Reject” Federal Pension Benefit, Misleads and Exaggerates

| January 29, 2013
Ron DeSantis, the freshman congressman representing Flagler County, makes impressive but shaky claims as ably as a veteran politician. (© FlaglerLive)
Ron DeSantis, the freshman congressman representing Flagler County, makes impressive but shaky claims as ably as a veteran politician. (© FlaglerLive)
On Monday, newly-elected U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican who represents all of Flagler County, announced that he was “rejecting the taxpayer-subsidized benefits offered to Members of Congress by turning down his congressional pension and federal health insurance benefits.” The announcement was made through a press release at DeSantis’s website, under a big headline announcing the rejection, and was blasted to media outlets, dozens of which ran the item almost word for word.
DeSantis’s announcement left the impression that the congressman was rejecting outright participation in the system. He did not qualify the rejection. The announcement was misleading, and was based on exaggerations and half-truths.
DeSantis never cited key facts in his announcement: first, that it would be illegal for him to bail out of the Federal Employee Retirement System, the defined benefit plan that covers millions of civilian employees of the federal government. (DeSantis is a lawyer by training.) Second, that he would not be vested—in order to eventually be eligible to tap into the benefit—for five years, which means he’d have to be reelected at least twice before having any benefits to swear off. Third, at age 34, DeSantis is at least 23 years away from drawing any kind of retirement benefit, assuming he manages to be reelected at least four times. If he doesn’t, he wouldn’t be eligible for any retirement pay from the federal retirement system until he is 62, in September 2040. If he chooses at that time to turn down the benefit—which he will be eligible for, regardless of his news-release claims—it might then be more significant news.
Members of Congress could, until 2004, elect not to participate in the federal retirement system. But for any member of Congress elected in 2004 or later, participation in the federal retirement system is mandatory, because the system relies on participants’ contributions to be viable: when individuals bail, the system is less sound for remaining participants. DeSantis doesn’t have a choice but to be part of it.
DeSantis wants to end members of Congress’ eligibility to participate in the system, and he says he’ll file a bill to do just that. The bill is not likely to gain much support, though it would be—as was his announcement on Monday—an effective way to gain positive press and a bit of attention without risking any political capital.
When contacted for clarification, Amy Graham, DeSantis’s communications director, said DeSantis is, in fact, participating in FRES. But that when the time comes to draw down the pension (assuming that time does come), he won’t do it. “He would be eligible to receive that pension,” Graham said. “He won’t accept those funds.”
A typical congressman has a staff of about 16 to 18, with a personnel allowance of $831,000 (as of 2007). All those employees fall under the federal retirement system, and in the aggregate cost taxpayers—to the extent that they do cost taxpayers—far more than the congressmen they serve, especially if staffers outlast politicians (as many do, shuttling from office to office). DeSantis is not proposing to end their retirement pensions.
Meanwhile, DeSantis is paying 1.3 percent of his annual salary of $174,000 (or $2,262 a year) into the retirement system, as required. (Congressmen pay more than other civil service employees, who are required to pay (0.8 percent).
But the freshman congressman also exaggerated claims about how much in retirement pay retired congressmen stand to make. “The National Journal,” DeSantis’s news release stated, “recently reported that Members of Congress are entitled to a pension program that costs roughly $28 million annually and which enables some lawmakers to pull down six-figure pensions on an annual basis.” (The National Journal article could not be immediately located.)
The $28 million figure is accurate, but still, on its own, misleading. It combines the cost of the older, costlier retirement system and the cost of the current, far cheaper retirement system.
Lawmakers who do pull down six figures are few either way. The Congressional Research Service calculated in November that the 215 members of Congress who have retired under the current Federal Employee Retirement System receive an average annual pension of $39,576. Few, if any, members of Congress retiring under FERS would manage to pull down a six-figure pension for the coming years, because that system, which went into effect in 1987, was created by Congress to reflect private-sector retirement benefits, and replace its predecessor—the more costly Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Under that older system, the average annual annuity for the 280 members of Congress was $70,620.
As members of Congress who were part of the Civil Service Retirement System die off, the total annual cost will continue to decline. The average age of those members was 78, as opposed to 70 for those retired and retiring under the current system.
DeSantis was also evasive in the crucial matter of who is paying for those annuities. “I do not believe that elected officials should be provided pensions at taxpayer expense,” he says in his release. But taxpayers are footing only a fraction of the cost of either retired congressmen’s pensions or of that of retired federal employees. Under the older, costlier plan, members of Congress contributed 8 percent of their pay to the retirement system, while the government contributed another 8 percent. Under the new plan, the federal government contributes 18.3 percent (and 16.7 percent to congressional employees). The funds are invested, by law, in Treasuries, and the system is considered sound in perpetuity.
(In Florida, public employees pay 3 percent, the state pays from 4 to 10.7 percent, depending on the employee’s classification. For example, the state contributes 4 percent to a teacher’s retirement, 13.8 percent to a firefighter’s or a cop’s, and 9 percent to an elected official other than a judge, who gets almost 11 percent.)
The congressman in his news release also said he would turn down health benefits offered members of Congress. There is no law against that. The Jacksonville Times Union reports that DeSantis is covered by the health benefits of his wife, who is covered by First Coast News in Jacksonville. His top priority as a congressman, he says, is to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act—better known as Obamacare—which would enable close to 50 million uninsured Americans to get affordable health insurance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rev. Andrew Young, 1964: "We change history through finding the one thing that can capture the imagination of the world. History moves in leaps and bounds."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (EXCERPT): "We are citizens ... this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations...."

"We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans the same way they look out for one another, every single day, usually without fanfare, all across this country. We should follow their example.
"We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, her thoughts were not with how her own home was faring – they were with the twenty precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.
"We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read “I Voted.”
"We should follow the example of a police officer named Brian Murphy. When a gunman opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Brian was the first to arrive, he did not consider his own safety. He fought back until help arrived, and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of the Americans worshiping inside – even as he lay bleeding from twelve bullet wounds.
"When asked how he did that, Brian said, “That’s just the way we’re made.”
"That’s just the way we’re made.
"We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title:
"We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.
"Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Former St. Augustine Mayor GEORGE GARDNER is both right and wrong on the 450th.

He is right that there is a need for greater public participation, as always, in our City.
He is wrong in assigning blame to his – and WILLIAM B. HARRISS's – successors as Mayor and City Manager of our Nation's Oldest City, St. Augustine, commenter on the Recored's website, “sour grapes.”

Full disclosure: I proudly voted for former Mayor GEORGE GARDNER when he ran for Mayor the first time, providing one of the ten votes in his original margin of victory. His service was disappointing, on many levels. But on February 14, 2012, I saw a different side, as I shared a van with GARDNER and some sixteen other city residents, including our city Manager John Regan: I was impressed with GARDNER's poise in testifying to the Senate K-12 Education Committee: he contributed to our community's efforts, which successfully winning permanent exemptions from Florida School for the Dear and Blind eminent domain legislation exempting the historic Fullerwood and Nelmar Terrace neighborhoods forever, and exempting the rest of the City of St. Augustine for ten years.

Ex-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER is a third-generation politician. He can be interesting to watch. “Like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, he both shines and stinks” (in the words of John Randolph of Roanoke).

This morning, GEORGE GARDNER shamelessly blasted St. Augustine's 450th anniversary commemoration in quotations in an article published in the St. Augustine Record, asserting there was a lack of community participation. There could always be more, but, “What chutzpa!” That dog won't hunt. Since the Sunshine violating First America Foundation was abolished, our entire community, and all of its many groups, are participating in the 450th – it is organic and a joy to watch it unfold.

GEORGE GARDNER conflated the 450th with the Spanish Quarter Village, when former City History Director William Adams said our City's “business model has failed.” GARDNER then inaccurately accused the City of “divest[ing]” itself of the City's historic properties, which are now being administered by the University of Florida after enactment of state legislation the City supported, in a contract with former Philadelphia 76ers owner Pat Croce and his Colonial Quarter LLC. GARDNER was Mayor when the UF arrangement was first proposed. The City and UF are now partners in preserving St. Augustine historic properties, instead of allowing them to fall apart. Our City was involved in writing the RFQ and in picking Croce's company.

GEORGE GARDNER “doth protest too much.”

GEORGE GARDNER's 450th critique would be taken much more seriously if he stuck to facts, and if he had more often practiced as Mayor what he now preaches.

On the one hand, Mayor GARDNER empowered neighborhood associations. He deserves credit.

But the “real” GEORGE GARDNER intensely disliked public participation, as when he, DONALD CRICHLOW and ERROL JONES all voted May 23, 2005 against flying Rainbow flags on our Bridge of Lions, violating the First Amendment and resulting in a Federal Court Order two weeks later (on June 7, 2005) that Rainbow flags fly on our Bridge in honor of Gay Pride, based on St. Augustine's 11,000 years of GLBT history (including the 1566 murder of a Gay French interpreter of the Guale Indian language, whom Pedro Menendez de Aviles called “a Sodomite and a Lutheran” – his brother-in-law wrote it down). Only Commissioner Joe Boles, now Mayor, voted in favor of GLBT free speech rights twice (Susan Burk supported it once, but was out of town the second time).  GARDNER twice voted for bigotry, costing our City and the National League of Cities insurance pool tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

First as Mayor and then as a Commissioner, GEORGE GARDNER was overtly hostile to public participation on Environmental Justice concerns, 2006-2008 when a group of us repeatedly raised concerns about illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir – he called it “clean fill” on February 24, 2006, but as EPA regulator John Marler told me at the time , “there are no bedsprings (or toilets) in clean fill.” Every fortnight, when environmentalists spoke of the environmental crime by then-City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRIS, Mayor GARDNER bristled, insulting us, once even asking me, “Do you have lint in your pocket?” (That's apparently an ancient idiom from New England).

Then-Mayor GEORGE GARDNER used his valedictory speech as Mayor on November 13, 2006 to attack me personally, resulting in the St. Augustine Record's November 19, 2006 editorial defending my honor against Hizzoner. See November 19, 2006 Record editorial, here.  Thus, GARDNER reminds me of Ann Richards' 1988 remarks about George H.W. Bush: "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!"

GEORGE GARDNER never kept his campaign promise to do something about former City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (e.g., make a motion to fire him). So HARRISS took advantage of GARDNER's human flaws to first co-opt and then control GARDNER.

It took community activists to expose HARRISS's flummery, dupery and nincompoopery, resulting in coverage by Folio Weekly and the St. Augustine Record and HARRISS' “retirement” in 2010, the same year that GARDNER “retired” as commissioner.

GEORGE GARDNER's existential unhappiness is not rooted in the 450th. GARDNER feels badly that he did not do a better job as our Mayor, and that he disappointed so many of us by not keeping his campaign promises. We don't need ten word answers, Mr. GARDNER. We need ideas. We need solutions.

GEORGE GARDNER, a former GANNETT journalist, is a good writer. His newsletter, while sometimes inaccurate and skewed, is often more informative than the St. Augustine Record (although he omitted coverage of our Fair Housing ordinance victory for GLBT rights December 10, 2012).

GEORGE GARDNER should use his considerable talents to help, instead of acting like a cognitive miser from Left Field. GARDNER, author of “St. Augustine Bedtime Stories,” should write his own memoirs, and tell all about former City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, the ancien regime, and its dictatorial ways.

That would be quite a gift to future generations, perhaps rivaling Lincoln Steffens.

What do you reckon?

PALM BEACH POST: Local St. Johns County Democratic Leader Used As Shill on DNC Anti-Rubio Conference Call

Florida Politics blog - POST ON POLITICS
by George Bennett | February 11th, 2013 The Democratic National Committee organized a conference call today to give a preemptive ripping to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio before Rubio delivers the GOP response to President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., were joined on the call by a woman named Annette Capella, billed in an advance press release as a “Medicare recipient from Florida” and introduced by Van Hollen as “one of Sen. Rubio’s own constituents.”
Said Capella: “I’m a senior citizen living in St. John’s (sic) County, Florida. Like many Americans, I will sit down in my living room and watch President Obama’s State of the Union speech and Sen. Rubio’s response with great interest. And like many Americans, I want politicians, including my own Sen. Rubio, to stop the partisan bickering and start working toward common goals.”
Using sophisticated journalism techniques (, the Politics column noticed an Annette Capella listed as St. John’s County Democratic chairwoman and asked if the Capella on the call was the same person.
“I stepped down as chair. I’m now state committeewoman,” Capella answered.
A DNC press release afterward described Capella as “a Medicare recipient from Florida and former Chair of the St. Johns County Democratic Party.”


The excellent banner headline lead story in this morning's St. Augustine Record by Stuart Korfhage exposes the dishonesty of WYNDHAM HOTEL GROUP's HOWARD JOHNSON franchisee here in St. Augustine, to wit, TRIPAL SHAH and MOHINI HOSPITALITY LLC, 137 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, Florida 32084,,

The franchisee is in apparent blatant breach of its year-old contract to provide rooms for a wedding for Lisa Dolyak and Trey Gillette.

The dishonest hotelier is dishonoring the Dolyak/Gillette wedding party's confirmed, faxed, signed, contractual commitments, backed with their credit card imprints -- dishonoring $60/night reservations for 20 wedding guests -- to make $250/night for the same rooms taken by concertgoers for the Mumford & Sons' "Gentlemen of the Road" concerts. This is fraud and a stench in the nostril of our Nation's Oldest City.

MOHINI HOSPITALITY LLC, the local franchisee, canceled its reservations for the Dolyak/Gillette wedding; then General Manager TRIPAL SHAH made reservations for a block of rooms at a Days' Inn five miles away.

Dolyak/Gillette wedding participants wanted an in-town, local feel and planned to walk or take the trolleys.

That is what they contracted for and that is what they shall have – such dishonesty by local lodgings is an embarrassment to every St. Augustine resident.

Three conclusions:
1.Our Nation's Oldest City, St. Augustine, Florida, must preserve and protect our growing global reputation as a prime tourist spot – we must begin regulating and inspecting motels here, preventing further visitor exploitation.
2.WYNDHAM HOTELS, HOWARD JOHNSON and MOHINI HOSPITALITY LLC must honor the Dolyak/Gillette wedding party's reservations or else face possible breach of contract litigation – no doubt, several local pro bono lawyers will volunteer after reading today's article to pick up the phone and help this couple.
3.WYNDHAM HOTELS, HOWARD JOHNSON and MOHINI HOSPITALITY LLC will have the chance to answer to the City Commission February 25th. I plan to request that Commissioners direct that an ordinance be drafted, based upon the bad experiences of the Dolyak/Gillette wedding party, et al.

What do you reckon?

St Augustine Record Letter by Rabbi Merrill Shapiro Skewers U.S. Rep. RONALID DION DESANTIS on Voting Against Most Hurricane Sandy Assistanc

Inconsistencies in DeSantis' voting record puzzling

Posted: February 16, 2013 - 9:19pm
Letter: Inconsistencies in DeSantis’ voting record puzzling
Editor: Is it not a great mystery? Why would U.S. Rep Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, vote “No” to house those made homeless by Hurricane Sandy, vote “No” to feed those left hungry by Hurricane Sandy, vote “No” to clothe those left naked by Hurricane Sandy and then vote “Yes” on HR 592, a bill that authorizes the expenditure of your federal tax dollars and mine to rebuild houses of worship damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy? Is this some kind of statement that he opposes the Bill of Rights statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion?”
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro
Palm Coast

Saturday, February 16, 2013

H.R. 273: Our Freshman U.S. Representative Passes Bill Through House -- What's Next? St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act of 2013?

Freshman U.S. Representative RONALD DION DESANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra) was sworn in last month and passed his first piece of legislation through the House this month -- H.R. 273, freezing federal employee pay. Bashing federal employees is always popular with Republicans, but few freshman Congressman can point to passing a bill in their first month on the job -- that is almost unprecedented! Kudos to Rep. DESANTIS for making a splash among the freshman class of the 113th Congress. Way to go! The bill is likely to die in the Senate, and was opposed by veteran Virginia Republican Frank Wolf. A newly-appointed member of the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, Rep. DESANTIS is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, spending more than $1.1 million to get elected. His pandering to the Koch Brothers and bigoted Tea Party hick hacks is notable, as is his full-throated advocacy for Corporate America. DESANTIS was formerly an associate with Holland & Knight, known in Florida as a liberal Democratic corporate law firm: his firm biography stated: "Ron DeSantis practices in the area of general commercial litigation, representing large companies and financial institutions in complex commercial disputes." DESANTIS still does, I reckon, in the House "represent[] large companies and financial institutions" -- he is the Man's Congressman. Rose Kennedy's favorite Bible verse was from Luke: "To whom much is given, much is expected." We expect that Rep. RONALD DION DESANTIS will do something for this District -- use his considerable skills and intellect to introduce and enact the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act of 2013. It will preserve and protect our nature and history, with current state parks and forests and water management district lands transferred to federal jurisdiction as one of our National Parks -- "America's Best Idea," as Wallace Stegner called it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Few Words From Our Koch Brothers Sponsored Freshman U.S. Rep. RONALD DION DESANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra): Published 2/12/13 Washington Times Column Saying President Obama Needs to Show "Humility" in State of the Union Address, Calling Obama Supporters "Low-Information Voters," Claiming They and "Character Assassination" of Mitt Romney Won Obama Re-Election!

RONALD DION DESANTIS (2012; Photo credit: Flagler Live: Freshman Republican U.S. Representative, RONALD DION DESANTIS (R-Ponte Vedra), is the darling of the Koch Brothers, The Tea Party, Faux FOX News and the money-losing, Moonie-owned Washington Times. On February 12, 2013, Rep. DeSantis published a screechy column in the Washington Times, a right-wing rag founded by the Rev. Moon, demanding that President Obama sound "humble" in his State of the Union Address. DeSantis insulted the 53% of the American people who voted for President Obama, stating that his "re-election was built not on championing his first term achievements, but on spending millions of dollars assassinating the character of his Republican opponent and perfecting a campaign effort that maximized turnout among low-information voters. Mr. Obama won in spite of his first term agenda, not because of it." READ MORE DRIVEL HERE: What "character assassination?" Obama's campaign defined Romney's lack of character. "Low-information voters," indeed. What do you say about racists who watch FOX NEWS? What a slur -- he means poor people and minorities. They know more about suffering and the economy than this guy. RONALD DION DESANTIS sounds like an elitist Ivy League energumen -- pouting at progress. Rep. DESANTIS sounds like a fungible Republican reprobate, shedding more heat than light. Rep. DESANTIS is a snooty graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. At age 35, what has DESANTIS accomplished in life? Whom has DESANTIS helped, besides the Koch Brothers and their ilk? At age 35, what has RONALD DION DESANTIS ever done in terms of pro bono legal work? He was a corporate and military attorney. Does DESANTIS sound like a rapid-rabid-response robot paid for by the Koch Brothers? What would James Madison say? Is DESANTIS all about slogans, or public service? What do you reckon? Rep. DESANTIS, at age 35, should act his age and not his shoe size. Rep. DESANTIS must follow his own "advice" and cultivate a lot more "humility." Rep. DESANTIS must appreciate that he is the Congressman from Florida's Sixth Congressional District, not the Congressman from the people who agree with him. SOURCE:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


In 1970, Senator Roman Hruska (R-Neb.), defended G. Harold Carswell, Nixon's ill-fated nominee for the Supreme Court.  Hruska said mediocre people had a right to representation by confirming Carswell, whom he conceded would be a mediocre Supreme Court justice.
From Wikipedia:
"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos."[1]

ON CITY COMMISSIONERS RUSHING TO PICK DONALD CRICHLOW FOR VACANCY: State Attorney General Opinion on Need to Notify Public of Controversial Agenda Items in Advance

Picking a new City Commissioner was not on last night's agenda.  The vacancy was not even expected to exist until February 18, the date Commissioner WILLIAM LEARY had announced earlier this month.
But then outgoing Commissioner WILLIAM LEARY offered to make things easier for his colleagues by resigning seven days early, enabling his colleagues to pick a successor last night, when the matter was not even on the agenda. 
LEARY's colleagues appreciated the favor. 
Earlier, St. Augustine Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr. expressed to desire vote in DONALD CRICHLOW before -- and without -- public comment.  "I've been lobbied enough," he said  All four of his colleagues refused to go along with Boles.
Then, after LEARY resigned and after public comment, the other three remaining commissioners joined Boles in the coronation of  controversial ex-Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW, a man who has shown marked racial insensitivity and anti-Gay outbursts, while mocking those of us who stopped an illegal four-commissioner trip to Spain as "enemies of the city." 
Richard Milhous Nixon's ghost is back. See below.  
Our Florida Sunshine law does not expressly forbid what Commissioners did last night -- duking in DONALD CRICHLOW when the vote was not on the agenda.  Commissioners can add items to agendas.  It happens all the time.
However, the State Attorney General has opined that "In the spirit of the Sunshine law, the city commission should be sensitive to the community's concerns that it be allowed advance notice, and therefore, meaningful participation on controversial issues coming before the commission." AGO 03-53.  Full text here
Watch to see if CRICHLOW still lobbies PZB and HARB for his architectural clients, and brings clients to the City Commissioners' office to impress them. 
During CRICHLOW's prior Commission service (2002-2008), PZB and HARB meeting minutes actually refer to "Commisioner CRICHLOW" -- this is a blatant conflict of interest, corrupt and unseemly, although not prohibited by Florida's weak ethics laws, according to Florida's incurious Ethics Commission, which never asked CRICHLOW for a copy of his contracts in quo.
How intimidating to PZB and HARB members to have a City Commissioner -- member of the Board that hears appeals from PZB and HARB -- show up and represent architectural clients.

St. Augustine Record: Shock and Disbelief From Unexpected Unanimous Coronation Vote for DONALD CRICHLOW to City Commission

Crichlow to replace outgoing Leary

Former city commissioner chosen unanimously to fill seat until 2014

Posted: February 11, 2013 - 10:34pm

Donald Crichlow
Donald Crichlow
Former city commissioner chosen unanimously to fill seat until 2014
The St. Augustine City Commission spent half an hour Monday night presenting departing City Commissioner Bill Leary with two special souvenirs, leading several standing ovations, and listening as Leary thanked former colleagues, all department heads and city staff.
Then the commission spent five minutes deciding his replacement.
They unanimously appointed former Commissioner Don Crichlow, an architect who served on the commission from 2002 to 2010, to fill Leary’s seat until 2014.
No other candidates were considered, or even mentioned.
After the vote, a recess was announced and many in the audience streamed outside to express shock and dismay at the decision that appeared to lack any consideration of the dozen other candidates who had submitted their names to City Manager John Regan in good faith.
“They could have at least talked about some of the others,” one woman said.
That sentiment was echoed by Judith Seraphin of Lincolnville, who after the meeting said: “By not having a discussion on the other candidates, they did a disservice (to the city). It looked very planned. I expected this meeting to be hot and heavy.”
The Rev. Ron Rauls had earlier said candidate Deltra Long was “qualified and has been extremely interested in this community all her life.”
Seraphin had also touted Long as someone who is “well-known for her work on the board of directors for Habitat For Humanity and Betty Griffin House, the large percentage of votes she received in the past election, her law degree and her work on the Planning and Zoning Board for years, many as chairwoman.”
Long ran for Commissioner Errol Jones’ vacant seat in 2012 but was beaten by architect Roxanne Horvath.
Seraphin said: “I’m not asking (the commission) to support Deltra Long because she’s an African-American. I’m asking you to support her because she’s the right person in the right place at the right time.”
The decision might have been put off until Feb. 25 if Leary had not made a surprise announcement: He was willing to resign immediately rather than wait until Feb. 18. This way, he explained, there’d be an empty seat for the board to fill.
“I want to make it easy for you to act,” Leary said. “I’m grateful that so many highly qualified people expressed interest in the vacancy. It’s a difficult choice, and I’m glad I don’t have to make it.”
After the board and audience gave Leary his kudos, he and his wife left.
At that point, Vice Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline immediately limited the number candidates who were eligible for appointment by saying she only wanted candidates with experience but didn’t want to appoint someone who would become an incumbent in 2014, when that seat becomes open.
“I want someone who will not run,” she said.
That left Crichlow, former Mayor Len Weeks and former Commissioner Bill Lennon as the only candidates who met those qualifications.
Weeks and Lennon are late-comers on the list.
But Mayor Joe Boles said the board wasn’t bound to any list and that there was “no defined procedure” on choosing a new commissioner. “It’s really up to the commission.”
He agreed with Sikes-Kline on the “must-not-run” limitation and actually limited it further by saying he wanted someone with “no learning curve, someone who will not run and someone who did not lose an election.”
Sikes-Kline “liked Crichlow because I don’t think he has an agenda. He’s solid as a rock.”
Commissioner Leanna Freeman remained silent.
Horvath said Crichlow is “fair and thorough. I think it should be the public to decide who is will (serve) in 2014.”
People shook their heads in disbelief after the vote.