Friday, September 27, 2013

Restoring Trust in Government, Restoring Winter Wonderland

County Administrator Michael Wanchick has a lot of explaining to do.

Having just won a $21,000 raise to which he was contractually entitled (without putting it on the agenda before the day of the meeting) and having won approval of a legislative agenda (without putting it on the agenda on the meeting), he's abolished the popular Winter Wonderland (without putting it on the agenda, ever).

That's right. County Commissioners did not vote to close Winter Wonderland.
Wanchick made the decision.

That's the same way Wanchick closed the Galimore Center Pool -- by calling controversial then City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS and asking him if it was okay. HARRIS and WANCHICK never cheked with anyone. City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E., and CIty Commissioners reopened a revivived Galimore Center Pool earlier this year, with support from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make it free of admission prices.

Government is supposed to work for us. The stated reason for closing Winter WOnderland is that county employees are tired of working at Christmas. We're tired of government employees with backward-bending labor supply curves.

St. Johns County needs to hire seasonal and temporary employees and keep Winter Winterland going, a suggestion I made earlier this week and which Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson has written is "logical and rational." That's how our Mosquito Control Commission does it, hiring seasonal and temporary workers during summers.

County Administrator Michael Wanchick needs to learn from our City of St. Augustine and City Manager Regan. Wanchick needs to learn about customer service, listening to your customers and constituents, and stop making bad decisions in secrecy.

For while our City of St. Augustine has miraculously ahieved great things in the last three years under Mr. Regan, our County Government's recrudescence of flummery, dupery, and hick hackery embarasses every single one of our 200,000 St. Johns County residents. Sunshine violations, Open Records violations and ugliness to citizens have been all too frequent at the County level, particularly involving the Tourist Development Council and the controversial St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc., recipient of millions of dollars of no-bid governmental largesse every single year.

It's our money.

It is up to us. It is up to us -- it is our time, our place and our government. St. Johns County residents, keep asking questions. Demand answers. We're all in this together.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playing Scrooge, St. Johns County Amphitheater Abruptly Ends Six-Year Run of "Winter Wonterland," Free Family Friendly Entertainment Including Ice Skating, Ice Slide and Artificial Snow

Were St. Johns County Commmissioners even asked to approve this debacle?
I have requested documentation.
Our County and its Amphitheater management is behaving like Ebenezeer Scrooge.
The only reason given in today's St. Augustine Record newspaper was that county employees being "tired" of working long hours during the holidays. At least they were told the truth. For that, we thank them.
But so much for our St. Johns County government's willigness to deliver services and attract tourists.
Ice skating earned fees; the rest was free, and people loved it.
Children and adults who never saw real snow looked forward to it.
Those who have seen real snow and missed it looked forward to it.
County Scrooges abolished it without listening to their customers -- you and me.
What economists call a backward-bending labor supply curve should not be the answer. Poor planning on the County Administrator's part should not negate a popular community amenity. What galling governmental gooberishness.
Kindly use some creativity, County Administrator Michael Wanchick.
Go advertise for and hire temporary and seasonal workers, like the Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County does during the summer.
Then your workers won't be "tired."
Then you won't waste money on overtime.
Then you can restore Winter Wonderland.
Start listening to your customers, the way the City of St. Augustine does.
Restore Winter Wonderland.
Stop being authoritarian apparatchiks with an attitude.
No more lame excuses for bad government decisions.
We're "tired" of dumb government decisions, from St. Johns County to the Capial.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Prejudiced City of Jacksonville, Florida Advertises It's "On Fire"

An Google (R) banner ad on the New York Times website caugh my eye yesterday: t was for the dull city of Jacksonville, Florida's downtown, which the ad improbably proclaimed is "on fire" and is Jacksonville's "ORIGINAL HOT SPOT." I kid you not.

So much for irony.

Jacksonville barely survived a huge fire in May 3, 1901 which started in Spanish moss used to fill mattresses at a matterss factory. The conflagration then spread quickly from wood building to wood building, destroying a total of 140 city blocks, burning 2368 buildings, and leaving 10,000 people homeless. Jacksonville was under martial law. The 1901 Jacksonville fire was the largest and most destructive fire in the history of the Southeastern United States.

So much for overpad advertising geniuses with yellow ties and cufflinks, and their legendary lack of appreciation for history.

Speaking of which, St. Johns County has squandered tens of millions of dollars on its no-bid contractor, the St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc., which spends money on dull ads in Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens, while eschewing ads to reach out to Youth, African-American, Hispanic and Youth tourism markets, and only surveying the top 50% of income earners each year.

VCB has no Antitrust and Civil RIghts compliance policies, and it shows.

It's our money.

That contract must be re-bid.

TDC needs to spend more money on PR and free media. The last time the New York Times travel section ran an article devoted to St. Augustine was September 5, 2003.

The next TDC contractor needs to do better. We need to emphsize our Nation's Oldest City's diversity and tolerance. I called and asked for a list of Gay-friendly lodgings in St. Augustine and St. Johns County several days ago -- no response. Our Cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach have enacted Fair Housing ordinances, forbidding discrimnation on the basis of sexual orientation and other factors.

Our TDC must embrace diversity, encouraging Youth, African-American, Hispanic and GLBT tourism, instead of hiding our light under a bushel basket. That woudl include an ad campaign poking fun at Jacksonville, whose prejudiced pachyderm City Council voted last year NOT to protect GLBT people from discrimination, a stench in the nostrils of our Nation and the State of Florida.

How about "St. Augustine Celebrates Diversity While Jacksonville Incinerates the Bill of Rights?"

What do you reckon?

Meanwhile, I'm not encouraging anyone to spend any money in Jacksonville, a prejudiced place where TaliBaptists control City Hall.

Ambassador Andrew Young Speaks at Flagler College

Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young was in St. Augustine again. Ambassador Young spoke to public fora twuce at Flagler College this week, sharing his vision of non-violence, which he proved with the whole world watching, during peaceful protests against Jim Crow segregation here in St. Augustine during 1964.

As Dr. King's top aide, Young was savagely beaen here in June 1964 leadeing demonstrators into our Slave Market Square. Andrew Young surveved and overcame bigotry. He was elected Congressman, appointed by President Jimmy Carter as our United Nations Ambassador and was then elected Mayor of Atlanta. He is one of my heroes, honored since 2011 with one of two civil rights monuments in our Slave Market Square.

Andrew Young has donated his video archives and papers to Flagler College, which has done an oustanding job in educating students about Civil Rights and preseving our history.

Footnote: It now appears that Flagler College is evolving into a place that respects academic freedom - it is a joy to behold.

We shall overcome!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Check out Flagler College's brand new online St. Augustine Civil Rights Library

Let the healing continue!
Great job by Flagler College, President Bill Abare, Professors Michael Butler, Casey Welch, C.B. Hackworth, and Flagler College students, starting with Andrew Young's oral history collection and adding materials from archives all across America.
Tonight's reception was in the Flagler College Dining Hall (formerly Hotel Ponce de Leon, a once-segregated place where African-American high school students were arrested by Sheriff L.O. Davis.
During the program, I was moved to tears by the personal journey of two white Southern students, especially Brittany, whose local family once bragged about beating and nearly killing Dr. Robert S. Hayling, DDS. Brittany has now told her family that Dr. Hayling and Rev. Young are two of her biggest heroes!
As President Harry S Truman said, "The only thing new under the sun is the history you don't know."
The work continues, the dream survives and we shall overcome!
Thank you, Flagler College.

GOVERNOR RICHARD SCOTT GOOFS, Gives "Citizen" Rep. on Florida Criminal Justice Standards Commission to Former City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS

Messrs. Charles Jones, David Frisby, Howard Elliott, J. Scott Purdy, Patrick Halperin and Ms. Pauline Robinson all in good faith applied for the job of the one citizen member of the Florida Criminal Justice Standards Commission (CJSTC), out of nineteen (19) members.

Instead, Governor Richard Scott may have inadvertently given the one (1) citizen representative spot to an ineligible appointee, controversial former City of St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS (whose three references were Commissioners Donald Crichlow, Mayor Joseph Boles, Jr., and City Attorney Ronald Wayne Brown).

WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS stated in his applicatio that he has been a reserve Sheriff Deputy for 24 years and Florida Secretary of State records show that HARRISS is Chairman of the "St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Four Star Association, Inc.," working with and for SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR.

City of St. Augustine records show that HARRISS receives more than $109,000/year in retirement from the City of St. Augustine. WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS now works for Sheriff David Shoar, whom HARRISS mentored and help get elected Sheriff in 2004, helping raise $250,000.

Now both WILLIAM HARRISS and Sheriff DAVID SHOAR both serve on CJSTC -- both are from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office -- the same employing agency. Thus, it strongly appears that WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS may be ineligible for the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission "citizen" position to which Governor Richard Scott appointed him. Why? Under two (2) separate subsections of Florida law, CJSCTC membership is prohbited. There can be only one person per employing agency (except the state prison system) F.S. 943.11(1)(b), and the "citizen" member cannot be a law enforcement officer eligible for appointment as such, F.S. 943.11(1)(a).

I have reported the facts to the Governor's Appointments Office and await comment.

What do you reckon?

Update, September 20, 2013: no response from the Governor's Appointments Office.

Meanwhile, a ululating FDLE lawyer, PHIL LINDLEY, has hung up the telephone on me three (3) times, while the "Anonymice" at FDLE send unsigned letters demanding $300 (or $4500) to search for records between CJSTC (or all of FDLE) since August 2, 2013. LINDLEY is the nastiest, most lugubrious goober I've ever dealt with in government on an Open Records or FOIA request in 39 years (other than WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS himself, who threatened to have me arrested for "disorderly conduct" when I first spoke to St. Augustine City Commissioners April 11, 2005, asking that they stop violating the Fifteenth Amendment by annexing white residential areas, but not annexing the historically African-American areas of West Augustine located outside city limits.

HARRISS' influence still extends to Tallahassee, which we knew during 2006, when he avoided and evaded indictment and trial for illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir.

HARRISS and LINDLEY are two of a kind: We wear their scorn as a badge of honor.

St. Johns County Commission Violates Sunshine Laws Without Adequate Public Notice

St. Johns County Commission Chairman Jay Morris and Commissioners Cindi Stevenson, Ronad Sanchez and Priscilla (Rachael) Bennett showed contempt and disrespect for Sunshine and Open Records on September 17, 2013 (yesterday) by amending their agenda only yesterday morning, sneakily voting without public notice under Sunshine and Open Records laws to approve:
(a) a Legislative Agenda that includes advocacy for more Open Records Act exemptions, and
(b) a $21, 000 raise to the County Administrator, Michael Wanchick.
This is an outrage.
Only one member of the public, Ms. B.J. Kalaidi, was present to see it.
Kudos to Ms. Kalaidi for attending meeting and raising concerns.
County Commissioners "bear watchin'."
Enough secrecy, snarkiness and sneakiness.
Our St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners must treat the law and the people with dignity, respect and consideration.
We hired Mr. Wancick to end St. Johns County corruption, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.
Seveal years ago, in the wake of illegal campaign promises to fire Wanchick, then-Commissioners voted Mr. Wanchick a $500,000 golden parachute in the event he is fired without cause -- what Commissioner Sanchez admits is a "poison pill."
In exchange for his raise (to which he was contractually entitled and which he had rejected for years during non-union countyemployee furloughs and pay freezes), why not end the "poison pill," which could no longer be legal under current Florida law, which limits severance pay?
Why not let the public discuss that option?
Why silence the people by Stealth?
The worst "poison" here is BCC's poisoning of the waters of democracy -- the notion that under one-party rule, Commissioners can stick anything on the agenda the morning of a meeting and pass it without public comment.
What lugubrious gooberisness. What errant nonsense. This is contrary to the genius of a free people.
Commissioners: kindly vote to reconsider your actions at your next meeting, giving any interested citizens the chance to comment on the Legislative Agenda and Mr. Wanchick's evaluation and raise, treating us like grownups in a democracy (instead of the children of a tyrannical, patronizing, paternalistic dictator).
You may fear the Tea Partiers and want to silence them.
You may not want the public debating new Open Records exemptions.
But we have a right to speak -- all of us -- not just the one citizen who attended BCC's meeting the afternoon of September 17, 2013.
We shall overcome.

Successful Mumford & Sons Festival Weekend Shows the Way to Our Future

The happiest crowd I've ever seen.
Well managed public transportation. Bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly streets. P
eople flying in from all across America and overseas, to listen to great folk music and groove on our Nation's Oldest City.
Young, cool, hip diverse people who've already re-booked rooms for future visits.
Travel habits formed for a lifetime.
In addition to the paid concert at Francis Field, three free stages, including one at City Hall (Lightner Museum), beautifully lit.
Kudos to City and County staff and elected officials for proving that government can work for the people.
Lesson: We can and will do it again, St. Augustine.
The Future: More diversity and culture, more music festivals, an American Reunion honoring Civil Rights pioneers and Native American history, visits by President Obama and Pope Francis for our 450th, and enactment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, protecting our history and nature forever.
Yes we can!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Welcome Mumford & Sons, Thank City Leaders, Forgive the Few Misguided Philistines

The day has arrived -- the two day Mumford & Sons music festival begins today.
Welcome, folk musicians and fans!

Thank our City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E. and other City leaders for helping re-brand our City as a cool place to be proud of, with history and beauty and nature, full of creativity and energy, daring to be great.

After this Mumford weekend, our City will hopefully no longer deserving the sobriquet of the "most lawless" City in America (as Dr. King rightly called it in his June 11, 1964 letter to Rabbis, which resulted in the largest mass arrest of rabbis in U.S. history, and the desegregation of St. Augustine and the rest of the United States).

Forgive the "Anonymice" and Philistines, including the hate posters and the St. Augustine Record's new Publisher, "people of the lie" who think hate is fun and profitable. See below.

IN HAEC VERBA: Letter to St. Augustine Record Publisher DELINDA FOGEL re: Re: Anonymous Death Threat and Incitement to Violence Against St. Augustine City Officials in 7/24 post on

Dear Ms. Fogel:
1. Please identify the anonymous one-time poster (MSM2147), who at 6 AM on July 24, 2013 posted the following unprotected death threat on your on your St. Augsutine Record website:
"The people say, "You Are ALL FIRED".
How stupid can you get and live another second.
The indidviduals who even considered having Mumford and Sons come to St. Augustine without having a plan in place should all be taken out and shot in the plaza in the center of St. Augustine for all to see who the stupid individuals who are running our city."
2. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss journalistic standards (and lack thereof) at the Record.
3. Today's St. Augustine Record carries an article about a victim of cyberbyllying -- a Lakeland girl who committed suicide. the Record has been aiding and abetting cyber-bullying for years. You must stop it, now.
4. Please enforce your Posting Rules, from this day forward.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am
Ed Slavin
Clean Up St. Augustine
PO Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Thursday, September 12, 2013

IN HAEC VERBA: ST. JOHNS VISITOR AND CONVENTION BUREAU, INC. HAS ADMITTED ITS ACTIONS BY SILENCE -- September 16, 2013 St. Johns County Tourist Development Council Meeting Will Discuss Rebidding of Contract, Civil Rights, Diversity and Antitrust Concerns -- IT'S OUR MONEY!

Dear Messrs. Hastings, McCormack and Wanchick:
1. Please supply tomorrow morning a PDF of a single security camera photo of the nongovernmental TDC members and staff talking with one another, standing up, behind the dais before the last TDC meeting began.
2. Please respond to my May 22, 2013 concerns about breach of contract, diversity, antitrust concerns and the expiration of the VCB contract and rebidding of the contract.
3. Please place these matters on the TDC agenda for the September 16, 2013 meeting.
4. Please see below -- my May 22, 2013 letter is now an adoptive admission and admission by silence..
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
To: pmccormack ; mwanchick ; ghastings
Sent: Wed, May 22, 2013 3:48 pm
Subject: Possible VCB breach of contract; diversity and antitrust concerns; contract expiration later this year; competitive bidding requirements

Dear Messrs McCormack, Wanchick and Hastings:

Please investigate whether VCB is in material breach of its contract with SJCBCC by:

1. Discussing pricing in meetings, in violation of possible antitrust laws. On May 7, 2013, at the SJC WGV Convention Center, MMGY Vice Chairman Peter Yesawich, Ph.D. urged VCB members to raise their prices. MMGY advises some 200 tourism enterprises in some ten countries. This advice to raise prices is, at best, unseemly. Dr. Yesawich's advice may expose VCB and SJC to antitrust liability concerns; moreover, it is wrong for government money to disbursed to a contractor (MMGY) whose Vice Chairman urges competitors to raise their prices. From this day forward, VCB and its contractor must obey antitrust laws. Competition is our economy's fundamental policy -- we don't need government-sponsored administered pricing (or price-fixing and monopolistic practices).

2. Violating the spirit and letter of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach Fair Housing laws re: sexual orientation and gender identity, e.g. by not advertising our non-discrimination policies and by not projecting a Gay-friendly image consistent with our cities' values, as declared unanimously by elected officials. Sadyly, VCB has a history of anti-Gay actions, as when its call center told a Gay man from Austin, Texas to go elsewhere for his vacation.

3. Violating federal Civil Rights laws and the Fair Housing Act by using nearly all-white figures in its marketing brochures, entirely leaving out Indians, with only a few happy African-American slaves and few Hispanics, during this, the 500th anniversary of Spanish Florida. There are some 199 images of white people, no Native Americans, four Hispanics and eleven African-Americans (mostly slaves) in the VCB's latest travel brochure on our area. Please review pertinent civil rights case law and advise VCB of its legal, moral and ethical duties.

4. Pointedly refusing to advertise in Miami, apparently based upon MMGY's prejudices. This is a poor reflection on our County's commitment to diversity. In targetting tourists to recruit, MMGY staffer Cindy Muretta refused to say why in public, but she earlier said that marketing is a question of "who you want to invite to your party." We don't need those decisions contaminated by secrecy and bigotry -- it makes us look bad.

5. Targeting only the richest 50% of Americans, when we average 40% vacancy rates in local lodging. We are all God's children, and we don't need MMGY to tell us to "redline" tourists who are not high-income.

6. Ignoring African-American, Native American, Hispanic, GLBT and youth markets, based on shallow research and superficial assumptions by MMGY, the longtime consultant.

7. Contracting with MMGY, the largest international travel consulting firm, which has potential conflicts of interest, including giving advice to Disney. Please obtain a complete MMGY client list and perform suitable conflicts checks. Please see that future contracts have full competitive bidding and transparency, and no conflicts of interest.

8. Not focusing advertising on our City's 450th commemoration heritage tourism goals, e.g., increasng African-American and Hispanic tourism, especially from Miami. Instead of advertising in Miami, money is being spent recruiting tourists from The Villages, Savannah and Augusta.

9. Wasting bed tax money on dubious, high-priced consulting contracts, e.g., MMGY. How much money has MMGY ever received over the years, including commissions?

10. Not complying promptly with legal and contractual requirements to respond to public record requests -- my May 20, 2013 request to VCB for copies of VCB's Antitrust and Civil Rights compliance policies have not yet yielded one (1) VCB document -- not even a cogent or coherent answer as to whether VCB even has any compliance policies. Does it?

This multi-milllion dollar government contractor operation needs to have its consciousness raised, and quickly. Our 450th and 500th commemorations are in progress, and VCB is not advertising in Miami due to some horribly bad advice from MMGY -- whatever basis MMGY has to give such advice must be shared with the public now. Our City leaders were not aware that VCB was not advertising in Miami -- this shows a level of secrecy that requires an agonizing reappraisal of the nature, structure and performance of VCB and whether it should have another contract (and whether MMGY should have another contract).

I look forward to talking and meeting with you, and with the BCC and two City Commissions on these issues in contemplation of whether VCB's and MMGY's contracts should be renewed later this year, and if so, under what terms to protect the public interest, especially in diversity, civil rights and antitrust compliance. See my blog post at

Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084


Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, formerly a KGB agent, eschews American exceptionalsim, writing in yesterday's New York Times Op-Ed page that we're all created equal.
Funny he should mention that -- in 1776, Americans were the first ones in history who ever bothered to write that down.
While we all have our faults, I'd hate to think that many of us would take seriously the cant emitted by the descendant of the Russia Okhrana, the Czarist Secret Police (founded 1565, the same year as St. Augustine).
America is exceptional -- our ancestors emigrated from eery country in the world, seeking to make a better place and a better life.
ON the other hand, Russia is the source of many of those immigrantws, many forced out in anti-Semitic pogroms, apparently including at least one of my Polish ancestors (in 1888).
While the Czars and Stalin killed tens of millions, we were preserving, protecting and defending human rights, including the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, including Supreme Court decisions like Chambers v. Florida (1940) and West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).
While Russia was perfecting the gulag, we were perfecting the civil rights lawsuit, with Thurgood Marshall going from a young NAACP lawyer escaping from Houston, Texas in a car trunk to a Supreme Court Justice laying down the law of the land.
What minority group in Russia can claim such a record?
Certainly not GLBT people, whom Putin and neo-Nazis and their allies in Russia have legislated against in 2013.
Again, America is not perfect, but we are exceptional, as demonstrated by the progress in our own town of St. Augustine. In 1566, the first anti-Gay hate crime in North American history was committed here. In 2005, a federal court ordered rainbow flags to fly here in honor of Gay Pride. In 2012 and 2013, our itty bitty cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach passed GLBT rights protections.
Try doing that in dictator Putin's Russia -- you would go to jail for flying the Rainbow flag, or for advocating the extipration of anti-Gay discrimination.

ST. AUGUSTINE EXCEPTIONALISM -- Another Beautiful Day in A Beautiful Place, And We Are Winning

It's another day in a beatiful place.
The frogs, lightning bugs, butterflies and wildlife are coming back, after years of being dosed with organophosphates -- our Mosquito Control Commission listened.
Musicians will be playing all over St. Augustine for the Mumford & Sons festival tomorrow and Saturday -- at three free stages as well as at Francis Field. After years of busting musicians, artists and entertainers, none have been arrested since the death of Greg Travous.
After years of First Amendment violations and federal court victories, our City is treating citizens with respect.
The story of why Mumford & Sons chose St. Augustine was in Sunday's Record. hey liked our covering GLBT people in the Fair Housing ordinance.
It takes a village.
Last August, my friend Amy telephoned on her way to work, chagrined at Jacksonville's City Council voting AGAINST GLBT equality.
"We'll take care of it," I told her.
Our Mayor and City Commissioners, City Manager and City Attorney took care of it, with Commissioners voting to adopt a Fair Housing ordinance on the spot in late August (unanimously), then again on first and second readings (unanimously), rejecting the taunts of the Ku Klux Klan and the tormented, soulless Anonymice on hate sites (including the Record's own Anonymice posters).
The ordinance passed on December 10, 2012. The next day, City Manager John Regan told a Mumford & Sons conference call about the ordinance, saying how proud he was.
They grooved on it, realizing this is not the "most lawless" City in America any longer.
Sure, it has its faults. But St. Augustine (like St. Augustine Beach) has reached out to endorse GLBT equality -- St. Augustine Beach voed unanimously to enact both Fair Housing and Equal Employment ordinances.
Years before them, our Sheriff, David Shoar, and before him, our Mosquito Control Commission, adopted unanimous nondiscrimination policies for their own employees.
Years ago, our City illegally annexted white residential areas, decreasing minoriy voting strength, violating the Fifteenth Amendment -- we stopped it in 2005.
Years ago, our City treated GLBT people disdainfully, violating the First Amendment, resulting in United States District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. ordering Rainbow flags to fly on our Bridge of Lions from June 8-13, 2005.
Years ago, African-American areas were denied equal services, violating the Fourteenth Amendment. Today, Riberia Street is fixed for the first time in history ($10 million project, in one piece instead of over ten years). Today, plans are afoot to provide sewer service for West Augustine, which will help bring new small businesses, home construction and a branch campus from Florida Memorial University (formerly Florida Normal, whose professors and students were run out of town for protesting segregation here).
Years ago, our City dumped its solid and sewage waste illegally in African-American areas, including 40,000 yards dumped in our Old City Reservoir. Today, the sewage pipes are fixed and the solid waste in West Augustine and Lincolnville has been cleaned up, and plans are being discussed for an aquarium and children's museum a the south end of Riberia Street.
Here in our Nation's Oldest City, "we take care of our own."
As Dr. King and other ministers have said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
With your help, justice prevails.
With your help, justice will continue to prevail -- the Tourist Development Council and the St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc. must obey the law, and they will, including our Antitrust and Civil Rights laws. We will teach them manners. We will teach them to treat GLBT, Youth, Jewish, Hispanic and African-American tourists with respect, showcasing our history (instead of pandering to rich white male golfes and promiscuously violing Sunshine laws at the drop of a hat). We will teach them to stop discussing price-fixing in meetings.
With your help, we will teach the University of Florida, its historic properties and their lessees to stop wasting money with no-bid leases without security deposits, and to stop race and sex discrimination in hiring and promoting employees.
Don't be discouraged by a few remaining official oppressors at the county level, or with their Anonymice rudeness.
Don't indulge the nattering nabobs of negativism.
Many appear to be cognitive misers who have never had a happy day in their lives, especially now that equality rules our town.
Many of these same crabbed, crabby, bitter people had nothing nice to say when we were working to clean up our City government.
Some are people who always reflexively supported the ancien regime, heaping scorn, aspersions (if not asparagus) on those of us insisting our City comply with our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Color them KKK, closet KKK, or just plain wrong.
With your help, we are winning.
The KKK will never again elect another City Commissioner.
Don't stop thinking about tomorrow.
What do y'all reckon?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Governor Appoints Harriss; Is Appointment Illegal?

Effective August 2, 2013, for four years, controversial former St Augustine City Manager William B. Harriss became the only citizen appointee on the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. But Harriss works for the St Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar. Harriss' appointment may thus be illegal.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Long Arm of The Law Reaches Out From Chile to NYC to Deltona, Florida

In Jacksonville on Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against the alleged murderer of a Chilean folk singer. The suit is brought on behalf of a 1973 Chilean murder victim's estate, his widow and and his two surviving adult offspring against a former Chilean military officer trained at the School of the Americas in Panama.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed on September 4, 2013 against a Deltona man. The Chilean immigrant allegedly murdered Victor Jara, a folk musician, song writer, university professor and progressive activist who supported Chilean President Salvador Allende and helped to get him elected with his songs about inequality.

Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nunez (Barrientos), the defendant, now living in Deltona, Florida, is graphically and in detail described in the complaint as torturing and killing Chilean folk musician Victor Jara after the September 11, 1973 coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet's coup plotters killed some 3000 Chileans.

Barrientos is subject of a pending extradition request by Chile, and is charged with muurdering Victor Jara. The Orlando Sentinel says it was unable to reach him for comment.

United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville Division) is assigned to the case, Jara v. Barrientos, which asks for a Jury Trial.

It was Judge Howard who found in 2009 that the City of St. Augustine violated the First Amendment in its unconstitutional mistreatment of visual artists, resulting in an out-of-court settlement and payment of attorney fees. Before John Regan became City Manager, our City of St. Augustine arresed hundreds of artists and entertainers over the years in violation of the First Amendment, and has repeatedly been fund to have acted illegally.

The lawsuit was filed by the Jacksonville law firm of Smith, Hulsey & Busey, the international law firm of Chadbourne & Park LLP and the Center for Accountability and Justice on behalf of Victor Jara's estate, widow and surviving adult offspring.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Welcoming Mumford & Sons (and Diversity)

Exciting times.
Mumford & Sons is coming September 13-14, with a concert downtown at Francis Field.
St. Augustine has made a lot of progress since WILLIAM B. HARRISS left as City Manager.
Our Fair Housing ordinance covers GLBT people, unlike bigoted Jacksonville.
Our City now promotes civil rights instead of violating them.
Our City no longer arrests artists, musicians and entertainers.
Our City honors Environmental Justice, instead of polluting communities of color.
Our City promotes diversity, while our County remains in torpor.
Our City has done more with Mumford & Sons concert to promote Diversity and the Youth tourism market than our County has ever done with our bed tax money.
Meanwhile, nattering nabobs of negativism (Whetstone-Maguire and their mostly "Anonymice" toadies) take pitiful potshots. Be not afraid. These are the same mossbacks whose lawbreaking St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc. (VCB) shows contempt for Youth, GLBT, African-American and Hispanic tourism, wasting money on ads in Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens, and refusing to embrace and support new "attractions," such as the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
Thanks to the vision of our City leaders, we're on the world stage now, and we need to be more image conscious.
Let's end Sunshine and Open Records violations.
Assure transparency.
Report lawbreaking by government officials.
Stamp out corruption, wherever it may appear.
End government abuses of power, by any government entity or agency.
Embrace our diversity and reach out to African-American, Hispanic, Youth and GLBT tourism markets.
Work to establish the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
Work tirelessly to make St. Augustine a beter place.
Yes we can!

September 5, 2003

Ten years ago today, George Bush was President.
Jeb Bush was Governor of Florida.
George Gardner was Mayor of St. Augustine.
We were in a hot war in Iraq.
And ten years ago today was the last time the New York Times Travel Section ran an article dedicated to St. Augustine.
Ten years.
Those cynical contractors who spend our 4% tourist bed tax dollars are more interested in advertising -- receiving commissions along the way -- than they are in public relations and promoting legitimate news media coverage by the gold standard in the travel business -- The New York Times Travel Section.
Ten years.
Some 3,652 days since the New York Times Travel Section dedicated an article to St. Augustine.
That's a long time.
What are we paying for with our bed taxes?
What are we getting?
All-white brochures that leave our Native-American, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Menorcan, Greek, Civil War, Civil Rights and African-American heritage.
Non-diverse brochures put to shame by World Golf Village, which has more African-Americans in its tourist literature than does the Tourist Development Council's tedious, tatterdemalion, tepid contractor, the St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc.
Politicians and staff who "know not that they know not that they know not."
Meanwhile, our St. Johns County Tourist Development Council and its clubby contractor, the St Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc. have spent tens of millions of dollars on "touurist development," wasting our bed tax money.
On what exactly?
Inflated salaries?
Advertising in Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens?
Meanwhile, with one two-day concert, our City of St. Augustine has done more to effect friend-raising than $30 million in TDC/VCB waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, secrecy, sloth and silliness.
The Mumford & Sons Concert promises to build our "brand" among young, cool hip people. Environmental and historic tourists spend twice as much and stay twice as long as the credulous Reader's Digest readers preferred by Virginia Whetstone's Visitor and Convention Bureau.
The VCB contract must be rebid.
The VCB must records must be open to public inspection.
VCB must cease and desist from racism and homophobia.
TDC must adverise our strengths.
TDC's contractor (whoever it is) must never again discuss pricing in its meetings again.
TDC must focus like a laser beam on the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
It's our time, our town and our bed tax money -- spend it wisely or not at all.
What do you reckon?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Spanish Bakery Returns, But UF Needs Lessons in Competitive Bidding, Antitrust and Civil Rights Compliance, Teamwork, Fiduciary Duty and Friend-raising -- Five Year Sweetheart Lease Agreement With Virginia Whetstone's New "Spanish Bakery LLC," With No Security Deposit!

The University of FLorida inked a five year no-bid lease with Virginia Whetsone to take over the Spanish Bakery, 42 1/2 St. George Street, which had closed. She's hiring the original baker.

Good news on the one hand, for those of us who love our Spanish Bakery on St. George Street.

Bad news for UF's ethics and effectiveness as manager of state historic properties.

There was no Invitation to Bid. No Request for Qualifications. There was no Invitation to Negotiate. No transparency at all. Zilch. Nada. Nunca. Why?

The sweetheart lease contract involves no security deposit. Why?

The sweetheart lease was signed secretly for "Spanish Bakery LLC" by Virginia Whetstone on August 9, 2013 (witnessed by Bruce Maguire) and sgned secretly by Ed Poppell, Secretary/Treasurer of "UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc." on August 13, 2013.

Monthly rent (including sales tax) begins at $3,235.12 and escalates to $3,501.18 during the fifth year.

Bad news for government openness, competitive bidding, teamwork and friend-raising.

UF signed the lease without vetting Whetstone with our City Manager. The Whetstones are litigious cognitive misers most noted for suing the City, consumer groups and others in frivolous lawsuits.

Many of us won't eat the Whetstone-Maguires chocolate (or ice cream) because they've been such pestilential purveyors of noxious notions -- wanting to rid St. Augustine of street musicians and artists, opposing improvements that help African-Americans, demanding government favors every time they deign to attend a City Commission meeting, showing their true colors as dodgy developer doormats (as when Bruce Maguire served on St. Johns County Commission).

UF was dead wrong to sign a sweetheart contract with Whetstone without vetting it with our City Manager and without competitive bidding.

We don't cotton to no-bid contracts around here, Mr. Poppell.

We don't like government agencies inking no-bid contracts, Mr. Poppell.

We don't approve of governments that breach their fiduciary duty.

We expect better from UF.

Rose Kennedy's favorite Bible verse was, "To whom much is given, much is expected." We expect UF to be a good neighbor, and not team up with Robber Baron rich guys.

The City must re-examine its relationship with UF hesto presto, and demand answers.

Why no antitrust analysis? Why no civil rights analysis? Why not open bidding up to others? Why no transparency before the fact?

In the 1906 words of scholar Edwin Alvord Ross about "criminaloids," UF was "in a hurry and not particular about the means

UF must assure compliance with antitrust and civil rights laws by its lessess, as required by Supreme Court precedent, or it could be sued for civil rights violations.

What is UF doing to require compliance with civil rights and antitrust laws by its lessees?

The State Auditor needs to ask these questions, and more, pendente lite.

Memo to the mossback Whetstones, you better not discriminate against anyone in your stores. St. Augustine is on the world stage now. The whole world is watching.

In the words of the Tom Hanks character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan": "Earn this."