Thursday, October 31, 2013


Controversial St. Johns County Tourist Development Council Chairman WILLIAM HUGHES, Manager of the Players Championship Golf Course at Sawgrass (and TDC member Fred Cozby, Manager of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club) were both possibly reappointed to four year terms without any other candidates being considered.
I asked our County for all documents on the reappointment, and received only two E-mails and applications from these two men.
The response was unadorned by any evidence of "advertisement or solictation" of others to apply.
This may violate SJC BCC Rule 2.202C, which requires enough time for "advetisment and solitication of applications."
It may also violate putative TDC "policies" that are listed on TDC's website, stating that "members may serve only one four-year term" but "in the event the member is appointed chair, the member may serve up to six years."
That TDC website also suggests the etiology of the non-competitive reappointment (possibly illegal) of Messrs HUGHES and Cozby: it states that invitations are to be sent to "local tourism industry groups."
That's not exacty Sunshine public notice of a vacancy, is it?
We call that corporativism, and Chairman HUGHES' reappointment (and Mr. Cozby's) may not only violate BCC rules, it may be illegal and unconstitutional, in violation of the Delegation Doctrine.
That's the cozy way that business is done in St. Johns County.
What do you reckon?
I have written the County Attorney and County Administrator to clarify the situation.
To be continued.....

Accuracy of University of Florida "First Colony" Could Be Improved -- IN HAEC VERBA: Letter to UF President Bernard Machen re: Three (3) Inaccuracies in "First Colony" Exhibit

Dear President Machen:
Three things grabbed my attention at the "First Colony" exhibit the University of Florida has at Government House. It is a good exhibit, but it appears they're airbrushing history, contrary to the genius of a free people, the scholarly tradition of UF, and the promise of University of Florida Emeritus History Professor Dr. Michael Gannon that accuracy would be the mallmark of our 450th commemoration:
1. No mention of the first anti-Gay hate crime in North America -- the 1566 garroting murder of the French Gay translator of the Guale Indian language on orders of Floida's First Governor, Adelantado Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the Spanish Admiral who founded St. Augustine on Sepember 8, 1565, subject to a contract that gave him 2% of the proceeds. United States District Chief Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. ordered June 7, 2005 that the City of St. Augustine must fly Rainbow flags on our Bridge of Lions from June 8-13, 2005 in honor of Gay Pride, forbidding viewpoint discrimination (all others were allowed to fly their flags, including the Broward Yacht Company and Flagler College, which flew its flags 59 days during 2004-2005 with no tie to history, Judge Adams said, other than one old building). The Rainbow flags decision was grounded in the 11,000 year GLBT history, including the 1566 murder, which is res judicata without possibility of appeal, and which is established by Menendez' brother-in-law, who wrote it down (as in "kill him" because he is a "Sodomite and a Lutheran," reportedly the partner of the the Guale Indian cacique's son). Let's not leave out GLBT history in "First Colony," UF.
2. Wrong date: the display uses the date of September 7, 1565. Wrong. That was the date an advance team explored. The 800 settlers arrived, and the First Thanksgiving was here, on September 8, 1565, with America's first Hispanics, first Catholics, first Jews, first Africans having the First Thankgsgiving with Native Americans -- America's original Melting Pot right here in Rainbow City, USA. Let's get the dates right in "First Colony," UF.
3. Menorcans who walked here from New Smyrna in 1777 were slaves by contract, not mere "refugees." Calling the Menorcans refugees, "First Colony" does not clarify what they were fleeing. Our Menorcan neighbors' ancestors were escaping -- voting with their feet -- from oppressive British indentured servitude, or slavery by contract. Indentured servitude was abolished by our Constitution's Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, along with chattel slavery. Our City of St. Augustine makes this same "mistake" about the Menorcans down on St. George Street, where signage says Menorcans were "contract laborers." Let's get the facts about slavery right, UF -- the irony is that in 1965, the sons of former slaves threw bricks at the sons and daughters of former slaves, right here in St. Augustine. Let's promote healing by telling the facts -- the Menorcans were slaves ex contract -- slaves by contract.
Let's explain what "indentured servitude" was, and compare and contrast it with slavery in "First Colony," UF.

Dr. Michael Gannon is right -- we need our history here in St. Augustine to be accurate,
UF must make these corrections, and direct that it be done by tomorrow.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Applause for Gay Marriage at St. Augustine Ciy Commission Meeting

Monday night, there was a round of applause when I called on our St. Augusitne Ciy government to support the wedding business here by: (a) legalizing champaigne on horse and carriage rides; and (b) filing a "me too" amicus curiae brief in Federal Court in support of Gay marriage. The carriage champagne ordinance passed, 3-1. The Gay marriage amicus curiae brief issue remains to be determined.
Fourteen states and D.C. allow Gay marriages. Florida banned them by Constitutional amendment in 2006, persuaded we had to protect the sanctity of marriage.
St. Augustine is losing wedding business to fifteen (15) less bigoted places, but hopefully not for much longer.
Meanwhile, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach have both voted against sexual orientation discrimination in housing (and SAB has banned employment discrimination, while St. Johns County's Visitor and Convnention Bureau and Tourist Development Council can't even bring themselves to provide a response to a request for a GLBT friendly guide to accomodations here -- thereby probably violating the Fair Housing ordinances of two (2) cities -- St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach. Unlike the wedding business people who applauded me, shook my hand and thanked me Monday night, St. Johns County VCB and TDC evidently lack horse sense.
The TDC and VCB have not yet figured out that bigotry is unpopular and unprofitable.
As President Johnson said, "We SHALL overcome."

St. Johns County Still Needs an Ombuds and an Inspector General

St. Johns County badly needs an Ombuds and an Inspector General, to scrutinize the county government, includig the Sheriff's Department and other Constitutioanl officers. Other notoriously corrupt places, including Miami-Dade County (Florida), Wayne County (Detroit, Michigan) and New Orleans Parish (Louisiana) all have recently added. Inspectors General. Where's ours?
I proposed an Ombuds and Inspector General (among five pages of proposed strengthening amendments) in 2008 when the St. Johns County Commissioners were debating a County Charter.
Yes, I wrote five pages of proposed strengthening amendments to the Charter.
Then-Chairman Tom Manuel of the SJCBCC graciously gave me twelve minutes to speak to them, saying "you have extra time."
But none of these proposed amendments were even discussed Commissioners, not even the modest one to add "sexual orientation" to sec. 10.06, the non-discrimination provision (when Sheriff SHOAR rightly bans such discrimination in his department, see below). Thus, I am proud to have helped defeat that "starter Charter" -- twice -- in 2008 (they actually put it on the ballot twice, once in the Primary and once in the General Election.
That pitiful "starter Charter" for SJC would not have covered any of our five Constitutional officers, including the Sheriff. Everyone (including the Democratic Party) was afraid of the big bad wolves and their Republican Political Machine - mainly the Sheriff, but also including the Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections and Clerk of Courts.
A St. Johns County Charter would be highly desirable, if it one that will be a charter of limited government, protecting civil liberties and civil righs, in the spirit of James Madison (and not Boss William Marcy Tweed, Boss Hogg or Boss DAVID SHOAR).
Speaking of Boss Hogg, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's extravagant $180 million "wish list" would likely require an increase n the sales tax, the most regressive tax known (and heavily favored in Southern cornpone politics). Sheriff SHOAR and his "Edifice Complex" both "bear watchin'," as they say in East Tennessee. See below.

$180 million, easy come, easy go --- SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR's "Edifice Complex"

St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR (f/k/a DAVID HOAR) wants some $180,000,000.00 for "projects," this morning's St. Augustine Record repors, including more jail space, a new command center and a new communicatios center.
IF Sheriff Shoar were locking up white collar crminals, we'd be more appreciative of his suggestions. Instead, he employs them, including former St. Augustine Ciy Manager WILLIAM BRUCE HARRISS.

SHOAR called the $180 milion worth of prjoects a "wish list." Sounds like Fanstayland to me. Our County Commissioners and journalists need to examine Sheriff SHOAR's budget with a gimlet eye:
1. No-bid contracts for political cronies.
2. Take-home deputy cars.
3. $1000 per employee bonuses when other county employees were being furloughed.
4. Heavy spending on equipment.
5. Campaign fundraising from developers, for whom SHOAR carries water (listen to the SHOAR-McCLURE FBI tape.
6. Stiffing Open Records requesters and retaliating against them.
7. Relatives on the payroll -- blatant nepotism as a way of life. (DAVID SHOAR's brother-in-law, JAMES MULLIGAN) is SHOAR's press spokesperson/flak. Former Sheriff NEIL PERRY's name is not ony on the "St. Johns County Criminal Justice Complexx," but PERRY's son-in-law (ARTHUR MAY) is one of his SHOAR's apparatchiks.
Call it "The Family Inn" or "All in the Family."
8. Embarassing political deals including his abortive efforts in trying to take over the St. Augustine Beach Police Department in conjunction with SAB Commissioners who wanted to fire officers for reporting alleged misconduct by the Police Chief -- we helped halt the takeover in its tracks, preserving and defending law enforcement officers' First Amendment rights to raise concerns about the Police Chief).

St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR has an "Edifice Complex." $180 million? Let's see the justification (or will Sheriff SHOAR charge the public to read our own records?).
Postscript: A November 6, 2013 St. Augustine editorial asserts the Sheriff's intentions were somehow misunderstood, and that all county officials were asked to provide such capital project wish lists for our children and grandchildren's sake. Perhaps. But such should include less incarceration rather than more, right?

Thank you, Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Bill Nelson has co-cospnsored ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013. Thank you!
See below.

Monday, October 28, 2013

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson Needs To Support ENDA

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is up for a vote next week in the United States Senate Our U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of FLorida is one of only three (3) Democrats who do not yet support this bill, which has bipartisan support. The other two (2) Democrats who have not yet supported the bill are are from Arkansas and West Virginia.

St. Augustine Beach has adopted an employment non-discrimination ordinance, as have many other Florida jurisdictions. Both SAB and St. Augustine have adoped Fair Housing ordinances that protect GLBT people.

Florida Democrats, including most thinking GLBT people, zealously worked to re-elect Senator Nelson. Senator Nelson is now third in seniority on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he chairs the Select Committee on Aging.

Senator Nelson's support for ENDA will be appreciated.

How about that: my former employer, the United States Senate, is about to pass GLBT rights protection for American employees. I worked for three U.S. Senators as an undergraduate, during 1974-1977. GLBT Senate employees were closted then. It hurts to think about it. Our country has matured and grown so much since that time. This is no place for hate and bigotry.

Again, Senator Nelson's vote will be appreciated.

Postscript: Senator Nelson has now cosponsored ENDA.
Thank you, Senator Nelson.

Charles Joseph "Charlie" Crist, Jr.

Former Republican Governor Charles Crist (a/k/a "Sorry Charlie") presented himself to Democrats at this weekend's Democratic State Convention at a Disney resort, saying he's now a Democrat.
Charles Crist was the Republican Governor, who ran for U.S. Senate as a Repubican and lost. He then became an Independent and lost. He now seeks to be elected Governor as a Democrat.
He's constantly changing.
Got that "straight?"
It appears that "Sorry Charlie" Crist has no fixed principles other than getting elected to public office.
Several publications reported that Crist was or is a Gay man. That's a private matter. But then "Sorry Charlie" Crist campaigned for the 2006 state constitutional amendment that bans Gays and Lesbians from ever marrying, seeking to protect "the sanctity of marriage."
With fourteen states now legalizing Gay marriage (Hawaii will be next), GLBT's Constitutional rights are daily violated, while the tourist economy in the State of Florida daily misses out on all of the billion dollar Gay and Lesbian wedding business.
"Sorry Charlie" Crist is how sorry for his anti-Gay ctions, appealing to homophobes, KKK members, TaliBaptists and assorted right-wingnuts and bigots (whose Reichwing anti-Gay propagandists even mailed anti-Gay hate literature to a dead dog, a deceased canine from a Democratic household).
"Sorry Charlie" Crist persuaded his then-fellow Republicans in the Florida legislature to amend the "resign to run" law to exempt only federal elections. Yes, "Sorry Charlie" actually had state law changed in 2008 so that he could be John McCain's Presidential running mate. Crist didn't get the VP nomination, even after he changed state law (and married a woman) in a failed effort to get John McCain's eye for the Republican VP nomination. He did get a few news articles and magazine cover stories.
Naturally, mutatis mutandis, former-Republican, former-Independent, now-Democrat "Sorry Charlie" Crist is now backed by te "usual suspects" -- some gullible corporativist Establishment Democrats and wannabees, peope like Miami lawyer Daniel Saul Gelber (dodgy second generation prosecutor, former State Senator and former white collar criminal defense lawyer at Akerman Senterfitt corporate law firm, who refused to identify a singe one of his clients to me in 2010 when running for AG in the Democratic Primary against Dave Aronberg, now the Palm Beach County State's Attorney).
With advisers like oleaginous Daniel Saul Gelber, "Sorry Charlie" Crist is "about as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich with the crust off," as my mother would say -- his political persona is "Pander Bear."
We see right through "Sorry Charlie, don't we? Or, will we be "fooled again?"
Of course, controversial Governor Richard Scott ("Fifth Amendment Rick") is rightly, deeply unpopular.
Crist is ahead of him by ten percentage points in polls.
But Florida needs "Sorry Charlie" Crist as Governor "like a moose needs a hat rack."
Sorry, Charlie.
Nan Rich is a real Democrat. We like her.

Sheriff David Shoar Turns 52 Today

His apparatchik's faux news website, "Historic City News," reports that Sheriff Shoar turns 52 today. Happy birthday.
We appreciate our Sheriff's standing up for employee GLBT rights and his endorsing the St. Augustine Naional Historical Park and National Seashore, which he told me is a no-brainer for St. Johns Cuonty. As to GLBT rights, Sheriff Shoar told me two years ago that he had wanted to adopt a sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy as SAPD Chief, but that the City's outside employment lawyer advised him against it. He did it as Sheriff, without fanfare. Apparently no one asked him to adopt a non-discrimination policy at SJCSO: he did it because it was "the right thing to do." Kudos.
We don't appreciate: (a) the Sheriff's serial violation of our FLorida Open Records laws and his waste of public funds, (b) his hostility to scrutiny, refusing to answer St. Augustine Record Editor Peter Ellis' questions about his rash actions in prematurely revealing the FBI's arrest of County Commission Chair Thomas Manuel (c) his failed attempt to work with Mayor Gary Snodgrass and Commissioner Andrea Samuels to take over the St. Augustine Beach Police Deparment (in retaliation for ten officers' First Amendment protected activity), and (d) his cozy ways with large corporations, e.g., with tree-killing, wetland-destrying "developers," a coziness revealed on the FBI surveillance tape of him speaking with developer moutpiece GEORGE McCLURE.
Former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich said years ago that these foreign-funded "developers" are "worse than any carpetbagger." Their "crimes against nature" continue. Enough. We need law enforcement officials who will enforce the law without fear or favor of large corporations.
We hope that Sheriff Shoar matures and grows to respect Constitutional rights.

TDC and VCB Lawbreaking and Lack of Transparency, continued

The St. Johns County Tourist Development Council's lackadaiscal approach to Open Records is to stiff the public and document requesters. Case in point: a week ago, TDC hed a meeting, with 263 pages of backup material. It was never posted on the County's website, and my request for the information were ignored until long after the meeting. This morning, the documents were still not on the TDC website.
Last Monday's TDC meeting inexplicably started twenty minutes late. Now rude.
Call it the "Unwelcome Wagon." The "cognitive misers" who take millions of our bed tax money and squander it each year don't give a fig what "We, the People" think.
That's going to change soon. See more below.

Glenn Greenwald, Tom Wicker and JFK Are Correct, Advocacy Journalism is Honest Journalism

Tom Wicker, the late New York Times columnist and Associate Editor, wrote great books, including the novel, Facing the Lions, in which his Washington Bureau chief character said "anything anybody's got to sell you ain't worth buyin'." I once wrote a college paper calling this the best American political novel.
Today's New York Times carries a dialogue between journalist Glenn Greenwald and former Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in which Keller cops to his tepid response to NSA spying on Americans -- suppressing the story until after the 2004 Presidential election.
Tom Wicker's quote (above) resonates with meaning for the Bill Kellers of the world, politicians masquerading as journalists, smug smartypants who "don't know peaturkey about a durn thing." Keller gave the 2004 Presidential Election to Geroge W. Bush by suppressing the truth about NSA. That is unforgiveable.
Keller's rote incantations of "national security" are, like patriotism, "the last refuge of scoundrels." That's what it was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where Union Carbide and the U.S. Government kept secret the largest mercury pollution event in world history (until we requested declassification of pollution documents).
Thank God for the Glenn Greenwalds of the world -- the New York Times' heroic Tom Wicker rightly called them "advocacy journalists" -- reporters who have the right "adversarial" relationship with the rich and powerful, their corporations and their governmental toadies. In his book, On Press (1977), Wicker praised advocacy journalists for exposing the truth.
Pretenses to "objectivity" are just that -- pretenses, betraying a smarmy status quo bias and an unwillingness to look under rocks -- "let 'em eat handouts." We've seen that in St. Augustine, where I broke the story of the City of St. Augustine's illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir in two (2) tiny shoestring, now-defunct newspapers (The Collective Press and the Jacksonville-based GLBT montly Out in the City). Those two tiny publications broke the story of the City's illegal dumping, 2005-2006, but the St. Augustine Record didn't cover it for two (2) months after the State wrote the City and proposed a $46,000 fine. Activists showed up and asked questions on the record, at Commission meetings, on live cable TV, for multiple months, while Commissioners insulted me and praised then City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, expressing their full trust and confidence of the reactionary rogue. This was obstruction of justice, in the midst of a pending environmenal crimes investigation, even awarding him a plaque to chill, coerce and discourage City employees from blowing the whistle or talking to criminal investigators (and me)
"Fairness" and "accuracy" are both responsible reasonable expectations of probity, Tom Wicker said. But "objectivity" as between polluters and their victims, for example, is an absurd, obscene impossible construct -- a hierarchical authoritarian norm and no substitute for thought and shoe leather.
Bill Keller evidently lacks respect for both himself and his readers, and it shows in his smart-alecky putdowns of Glenn Greenwald today.
Bill Keller should hang his head in shame. He cost our country four more years of George W. Bush. Bill Keller will forever be known as the man who suppressed the news about NSA spying on Amricans -- news that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have rightly shared.
JFK once said the country would have been better off if the New York Times had not suppressed what it knew about the Bay of Pigs invasion. It would have saved lives and prevented a disaster. This blog began in 2006 with a quote from JFK about secrecy being "repugnant in a free and open society." Here's the whole speech:
The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association
President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York City, April 27, 1961

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.
You bear heavy responsibilities these days and an article I read some time ago reminded me of how particularly heavily the burdens of present day events bear upon your profession.
You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune under the sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London correspondent an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx.
We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and managing editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the "lousiest petty bourgeois cheating."
But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the cold war.
If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper man.
I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight "The President and the Press." Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded "The President Versus the Press." But those are not my sentiments tonight.
It is true, however, that when a well-known diplomat from another country demanded recently that our State Department repudiate certain newspaper attacks on his colleague it was unnecessary for us to reply that this Administration was not responsible for the press, for the press had already made it clear that it was not responsible for this Administration.
Nevertheless, my purpose here tonight is not to deliver the usual assault on the so-called one party press. On the contrary, in recent months I have rarely heard any complaints about political bias in the press except from a few Republicans. Nor is it my purpose tonight to discuss or defend the televising of Presidential press conferences. I think it is highly beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Americans regularly sit in on these conferences to observe, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and the courteous qualities displayed by your Washington correspondents.
Nor, finally, are these remarks intended to examine the proper degree of privacy which the press should allow to any President and his family.
If in the last few months your White House reporters and photographers have been attending church services with regularity, that has surely done them no harm.
On the other hand, I realize that your staff and wire service photographers may be complaining that they do not enjoy the same green privileges at the local golf courses that they once did.
It is true that my predecessor did not object as I do to pictures of one's golfing skill in action. But neither on the other hand did he ever bean a Secret Service man.
My topic tonight is a more sober one of concern to publishers as well as editors.
I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future--for reducing this threat or living with it--there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security--a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.
This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President--two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country's peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of "clear and present danger," the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public's need for national security.
Today no war has been declared--and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.
If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of "clear and present danger," then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.
It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions--by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.
Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security--and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.
For the facts of the matter are that this nation's foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation's covert preparations to counter the enemy's covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.
The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.
The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.
On many earlier occasions, I have said--and your newspapers have constantly said--that these are times that appeal to every citizen's sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.
I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.
Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: "Is it news?" All I suggest is that you add the question: "Is it in the interest of the national security?" And I hope that every group in America--unions and businessmen and public officials at every level-- will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests.
And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.
Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.
It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation--an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people--to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well--the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.
No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.
I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers--I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: "An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.
Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.
This means greater coverage and analysis of international news--for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security--and we intend to do it.
It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world's efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.
And so it is to the printing press--to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news--that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"An American Reunion" -- Promoting Healing in St. Augustine, Florida on 50h anniversary of 1964 Civil Rights Act

How about "An American Reunion" as the theme for next year's observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Let's invite civil rights movement veterans to come and enjoy St. Augustine -- without the KKK's bricks of hate, without Sheriff L.O. Davis' cattle prods nad pens, and Police Chief Virgil Stewart's police dogs.

Let's follow musician Roger Jolley's suggestions, and encourage churches to partner with churches (and other groups) to partner with others -- black churches partnering with white churches in fellowship, black clubs partnering with white clubs in dialogue.

Let's follow Roger Jolley's excellent suggestion and have monthly integrated marches around the Slave Market Square, honoring our elders who worked for Civil Rights.

Let's promote healing, starting with the Minorcan people. They were slaves, just like African-Americans. They were "indentured servants," a form of brutal contractual slavery that killed hundreds of their number before they walked seventy miles here from New Smyrna Beach in 1777, voting with their feet.

The Underground Railroad orginally ran south, to St. Augustine. It began here in 1687, when the Spanish gave freedom to any slave who would fight for Spain and join the Roman Catholic Church.

Under new management, our Ancient City of St. Augustine, Florida must focus like a laser beam on healing.

We are on the world stage now.

We have two (2) civil rights monuments on our Slave Market Square (WILLIAM B. HARRISS, a/k/a "WILL HARASS," our former City Manager wanted no civil rights monuments there).

We shall soon have a world class Civil Rights Museum, rivalling those in other cities.

Let's work tirelessly to achieve a St. Augustine Naional Historical Park and National Seashore, with civil rights one of its major components, including the only National Seashore with a civil rights component (wade-ins at segregated St. Augustine Beach and other local beaches). See

Ending the Heckler's Veto, I

The St. Augustine Record is restoring its reputation by eliminating the toxic, online comments by the Anonymice, frustrated KKK members and their ilk, spreading lies and hatred and Lashon hora.

The Record today has a column by Publisher Delinda Fogel, where she invites reader participation on an editorial board, and as subject matter experts. She reaffirms that anonymous comments are being abolished. Good news.

Meanwhile, a few of the Anonymice rant. I have enjoyed reading their rather revealing cant on the subject. It seems that no one (other than the late Maureen Ortagus and me) ever commented on the Record's websites using their real names. Women feared posting due to misogyny, but one of the Anonymice has admitted he won't post his sexist opinions any longer (women belong in the kitchen, he writes) because his wife would kill him.

One anonymous commenter posits that if names are posted, posters will be "retaliated agains, e.g., by "employers" for commenting. That's a possibility, in a town where one anonymous business owner, a "Talk of the Town" poster, very publicly posted s/he would fire his or her employees if they talked about forming a union. On the other hand, we need to invoke and update laws against discrimination to make sure that such retaliation is detected, deterred and remedied. As a Compassionate City, we need to how our disapproval of unenlightened employers who would retaliate against employees.

Sociologists write about such devious methods of social control -- I've seen it used with devastating effectiveness in nuclear weapons plant company towns, where workers are afraid to raise concerns. Sociologists write artcles and books about such terroristic tactics of the powerful to maintain their power. So did Stetson Kennedy. Here, the main aim and purpose of anonymous comments is to intimidate progressives and deter First Amendment protected activity. Calling it "free speech" is the "Theater of the Absurd," as the Record has grown to realize.

Quite a few of the anonymous commenters are threatening never to post again if they have to use their real names to post. The Record does not allow anonymouous or fake-name letters to the editor. Publishing anonymous comments attacking protected activity is intimidating, as when (for years) the KKK and its ilk used free bandwith to create a "free fire zone," like in Vietnam, abusing the Record's former Talk of the Town and other local websites, anonymously attacking environmentalists, the homeless, Hispanics, Roman Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, and GLBT people (ironically attacking the very people who founded St. Augustine on September 8, 1565 and had the first Thankgsgiving here).

For years, haters and special interests (including politicians, police and other government officials) used anonymous posts to chill, coerce and intimidate First Amendment protected activity, e.g., working for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights.

Their mean drivel was intended to divide and conquer and to drive away anyone who night ever speak in a public meeting or write a etter to teh editor. Some of their wickedly written thoughts admitted as much, stating that people spoke out on local issues without "being invited." Invited? The "invitation" is in our Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.

My father machine-gunned Nazis on two continents during Wor;d War II in order to help preserve, protect and defend those rights. No Anonymice will deter me from exercising those rights.

The Anonymice are kind of flattering, in a way, devoting so much energy to heckling those of us who speak our minds. They're insecure hick hacks.

We all wear their scorn as a badge of honor.

Their comments were as illiterate as they were insensitive. I remember once reading that in response to a serious public policy issue that I was "crazy, fat and stupid." For the record: I am not fat!

Our City of St. Augusine is, in Mayor Boles' words, "America's most diverse city and our first divers city." Here in Rainbow City USA, we are good people and there is no overwhelmig desire for anonymous hatred. I know of no one who supportst it.

I reckon that most of the Anonymice might not even live or work in St. Augustine, but live out in Klan Country. They might be writing from under a rock in some KKK Konklave or Klavern in another County, in Live Oak or Palatka or Hastings, Florida, or at some barbed-wire booby-trapped booby-hatch enclave in the Carolinas. Or maybe they are rejected cast members from "One Fell Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

The haters do not reflect our community values here in St. Augustine. They do not show true "Southern hospitality." They are the "Unwelcome Wagon," the People of the Lie, people who hate nearly everyone who is not a White Anglo-Saxon Protesting KKK member (like the two guys who picketed the Obama Inauguration celebration in our Slave Market Square in 2009 -- there were 1000 of us and two of them).

If biogts want to post on the Record's website, let them post under their real names, rather than hiding under an electronic Internet KKK hood of Anonymice anonymity.

The heckler's veto is deeply offensive. It ends soon. Having persisted here for decades, the heckler's veto threat to civility and democracy finally ends on November 3, 2013 at the St. Augustine Record. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Let the hyenas rage.

The heckler's veto is finally being elimnated.

Three cheers for the St. Augustine Record in seeing the light under its new Publisher, Delinda Fogel.

Ending the Heckler's Veto, II

I was very proud of our St. Augustine Commissioners thirteen days ago, for what they didn't say and do.
They didn't threaten Native-Americans and their supporters with arrest for criticizing Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez de Aviles and calling for the levelling of teh Castillo de San Marco.
They didn't have law enforcement people come to the front, standing around, intimidating them.
They didn't interrupt them.
They didn't insult them.
They listened attentively, even graciously.

This is a sea change from 2005 and 2006, and before, when then-Commissioners would interrupt speakers, insult speakers, not look us in the eye, and generally act like anti-literate energumen, unwilling to witness or permit anyone criticizing the maladministration of then City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a "WILL HARASS"). Whether Environmental Racism, illegal dumping, harassment of artists and entertainers on St. George Street, cronyism or Fifteenth Amendment violations, the prior Jim Crow style City Commissions never had a happy day -- they were always lashing out at opposing views, showing contempt for the First Amendment (and many of the others). One former Commissioner allegedly said in responsne to an environmental activist entering the room, "Do we have to listen to that bitch again?"

Yes, you do. Yes they do. This is America, and the Ku Klux Klan no longer bosses around our City Hall, our Commissioners, or our citizens.

There is a new day in St. Augustine, exemplified by "Be the Change that You Want to See in the World," the Ghandi quote City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E. has on display on his home (after I shared it with our Commissioners in 2011).

Leadership by example works.

We're still waiting for the St. Johns County Commission's hand-picked, corporate-domnated Tourist Development Council to show similar respect.

At its meeting last Monday, October 21, TDC Chairman WILLIAM HUGHES again showed his ignorance by interrupting me. WILLIAM HUGHES intentionally interrupts me when I speak to TDC, and has done so for months. WILLIAM HUGHES is the Manager of The Players Championship golf course at Sawgrass, where you may pay some $500 to play a round of golf.

TDC Chair WILLIAM HUGHES loves to intimidate TDC Executive Director Glenn Hastings, VCB Executive Director Richard Goldman, Cultural Council Executive Director Andrew Witt, and others whom HUGHES thinks are beneath him.

WILLIAM HUGHES'verbal abuse is pathological and illegal. Employees and citizens alike could sue him for civil rights violations. HUGHES' verbal abuse is only showing that WILLIAM HUGHES is a bully, a braggart and a cognitive miser -- he is the kind of lugubrious goober who "knows not that he knows not that he knows not," in the words of my friend Special Agent Robert E Tyndall (Retired).

TDC Chair WILLIAM HUGHES wants to silence antitrust and civil rights concerns, and is willing to use the presence of Sheriff's Deputies to do it (just like former Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County Chairman BARBARA BOSANKO, who threatned critics of the no-bid helicopter with arrest).

I have requested that St. Johns County Attorney Patrick McCormack instruct TDC Chariman WILIAM HUGHES about his legal duties under the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners' rules, and state law, not to interrupt speakers. If HUGHES persists, I shall call his civil rights violations to the attention of th3 BCC, and to his TPC golfing buddies and employers.

Thankfully, there should be a new TDC Chair in a few months, even though the all-white BCC reappoined HUGHES to a four-year term. Then we can reasonably expect that citizens and staff will be treated with dignity, respect and consideration.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Two fraudfeasors, one-party rule and lack of investigations of white collar crime and corrupion in St. Jons County

Jacksonville lawyer KELLY MATHIS was convicted last week of 103 counts of racketeering and gambling involving his role in a chain of "internet cafes" posing as a charity, ALLIED VETERANS OF THE WORLD, a $300 million scam which attracted low-income people to gamble in strip malls across the state. ALLIED VETERANS' headquarters was here in St. Johns County.
St. Augustine Beach Ponzi schemer LYDIA CLADEK was convicted last year over her LYDIA CLADEK, INC. scam, which defrauded investors of more than $100 million they ponied up to make money from low-income people who paid 29% interest rates to buy used vehicles. The scheme was headquartered in St. Augustine Beach, at the former location of Cooksey's Campground, a beautiful space that has been ruined by developers, and is now the locus of a Post Office, Library, shops, offices and homes.
What do LYDIA CLADEK and ALLIED VETERANS have in common?
Both were fraudulent schemes, both were headquartered in St. Johns County, both have been nailed by juries, and both ripped off poor people (although LYDIA CLADEK managed to rip off both poor people and relatively wealthy investors, some of their entire life savings).
What is it about St. Johns County that attracted the headquarters of two fraudfeasors?
Could it be our relatively docile federal, state and local law enforcement and local newspapers, none of which are noted for investigating white collar crime and corruption? Ever try reporting Sunshine and Open Records violations, or other violations, to any of them? Try it sometime, and tell me the results. Notice how Folio Weekly has gone downhill since Anne Schindler left as editor to work for First Coast News?
They all need spinal implants and continuing education.
It used to be that every big-shot conman wanted to start a business in Fort Lauderdale, or Miami. That led to the Southern District of Florida U.S. Attorney's office being beefed up (once ably led by my Memphis State University Law School classmate, Guy Alan Lewis, who helped prosecute Manuel Noriega, among others).
Now, South Florida having effective prosecutors, mutatis mutandis, the fraudfeasors are here. On our doorstep. Treating our people like doormats. Just ask the people who gambled in KELLY MATHIS' low-rent ALLIED VETERANS storefront casinos. Just ask the people who lost their life savings to LYDIA CLADEK.
Two big scams were based here, with nearly $500 million scammed.
Two big convictions, one in federal court and one in Seminole County.
Lots of poor people ripped off by one scam (the ALLLIED VETERANS case). Lots of life savings (and poor people) ripped off by the other one (LYDIA CLADEK case).
Nearly half a billion dollars ripped off before law enforcement ever investigated and prosecuted.
Organized Crime, Fraudfeasors and Tortfeasors in Paradise.
Right here, right here adjoining "Rainbow City USA," near our Nation's Oldest European-founded City, in the surrounding county.
Why is that? It's not just the relative zealousness, effectiveness and intelligence of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida, rivalling that in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Could it also be the sequelae of more than 150 years of one-party misrule? No democracy means no justice. No ballot choices means other people do the choosing for you.
Once upon a time, St. Johns County was run by a one-party Democratic machine, with corrupt venile racist KKK-annointed lawbreaking officials like Sheriff L.O. Davis, removed from office for corruption involving prostitution, moonshine and gambling by Florida Governor Claude Kirk, which was upheld by the Florida State Senate by vote of 44-2.
Today, St. Johns County is run by a one-party Repubican machine. Developers boss and bully our county.
What's the difference between one-party regimes? Is there any?
Is St. Johns County any less corrupt than it was under Sheriff L.O. Davis? Or have the crooks gotten educated and sophisticated?
Ever notice how there is not one Democratic county-wide elected officeholder elected in a partisan race? Not one? Not even a single "sacrificial lamb" Democratic candidate even filed to run for any of those partisan races last year. Not one.
Like Will Rogers, "I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
Our local Democratic Party is ineffectual. Its meetings are dull. Our Democratic Executive Committee's domineering, reflexive, somnolent, somnambulistic leadership does not lead. It turns off all the good people who volunteer, with our entrenched putative "leaders" treating them as school children to be lectured to, instead of paticipants in an organization of equals. The Democratic Party has long been bossed by "cognitive misers," unthinking knee-jerk people who should retire, people who "know not that they know not that they know not."
My late friend Larry Tucker was a journalist, lobbyist and photographer who knew Florida politics better than anyone. Larry Tucker told me about "marked districts," where the parties agree no to oppose each other.
Larry Tucker thought that our Congressional District and several local legislative districts were "marked," in that the Florida Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee never seriously invested or contested races here in SJC. Not in decades.
Is that also the case with one-party rule of our county?
Maybe if our anemic Democratic Party here in St. Johns County were not a shame and a sham -- and actually worthy of the name "Democratic," and actually ran Democratic candidates -- we'd win more often.
Just like with any lottery, "You gotta play to win."
Checking the Supervisor of Elections website, it looks like the total number of registered Democrats and Independents now roughly equals the number of registered Republicans.
Most folks nowadays are pretty disgusted with both political parties, as am I; both parties too often represent only the rich and powerful (Republicans much more than Democrats, of course).
This is not about donkeys and elephants.
It is about right and wrong, who lives and who dies, and whose paycheck and life savings get stolen by big-shot crooks. Sadly, LYDIA CLADEK and KELLY MATHIS are but the symptoms of a corrupt system and corrupt country.
Suppose they held local elections, and there were more worthy candidates to choose from? Not just one at a time, but several of them, perhaps even a group of them? Suppose these candidates were united by JFK's call to government service, motivated by concern for others? (Not self-aggrandizing narcissism and by the mantra of, "where's mine?") Suppose they were all independent-minded, intelligent and ethical? Suppose they each had a sense of humor and listened to people before they opined?
You could call it a "fusion ticket" as they used to call it in New York City during the days of Congressman and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, a regstered Republican whom nearly everyone supported because he cared about people.
Suppose those candidates all opposed white collar crme and corruption, and said so? Suppose they looked askance at foreign money that buys tree-killing, wetland-killing "developers," and all their works and pomps? Suppose they agreed with former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich, who said foreign-funded "developers" (who don't need a license except a business license) were "worse than any carpetbagger?
Suppose they told the big-shot crooks, "no thanks!"
Could or would they get elected? Or character assassinated by local hate websites, and ignored by the local newspaper?
Would you vote for them, like your life depended on it?
Is that a dream? Can we make it a reality?
What do you reckon? You tell me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rainbow City USA -- St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565 by Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, women and children. The first Thanksgiving was held here that day, with all these Spanish colonists joining with Native Americans. One big table. That's America.
Our Nation's Oldest European-founded City, we observe our 450th birthday in 2015.
St. Augustine is "our first diverse city and our most diverse city," says Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr. It is now a Compassionate City (20th in the world and first in Florida).
Diverse people have made this a better place from Day One. St. Augustine has survived hurricanes, pirate raids, British attacks, sieges and arson, dishonest developers, organized crime, criminal governmen officials, homophobia (North America's first recorded anti-Gay hate crime was on Governor's orders in 1566), racism, slavery, the Civil War and Jim Crow segregation.
St. Augustine saw America's first free black settlement in 1687, when the Spanish gave freedom to slaves who moved here from the Carolinas and Georgia, if they converted to Catholicism and defended the City. The Underground Railroad began here, running south to St. Augustine, commencing in 1687.
Watch this space.
Prediction: We're going to achieve a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, and preserve our sense of place, our history and nature, forever. See

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Said It Best

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

St. Augustine Record to the Anonymice: "Dummy up!"

Today's printed version of the St. Augustine Record reprints an anonymous middle-of-the-night comment from its website that Commissioner Leanna Freeman and I should just "dummy up."

But effective November 3, 2013, such anonymous comments will be forever banned from the St. Augustine Record websites. Posters will have to register, subscribe and use their own names. Good action. Good decision. About time.

Good riddance to bad grammar, poor logic and bad taste. Good riddance to hick hacks, who "know not that they know not that they know not." Anonymous posting by the Anonymice -- haters, special interest groups and their apparatchicks will end on November 3, 2013.

No longer will the Anonymice spread fear and fear here.

Rainbow City USA Making Progress

Some 8.5 years ago, I walked into my first City of St. Augustine City Commission meeting and called for a halt to residential annexations that violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. I said the City's decades-long pattern of residential annexations violated the Fourteen and Fifteenth Amendment.

The annexation at issue was allowed to proceed.

Thankfully, that was the last residential annexation by the City of St. Augusine.

Under new management, our City is no longer plotting to dilute minority voting strength, as it did with dozens of annexations for some 50 years, blatant retaliation for local African-Americans working to end Jim Crow segregation here in 1963-64, helping LBJ break the Southern filibuster in the United States Senate.

Some 8.5 years ago, GLBT people won a federal court preceent requiring that Rainbow Flags fly on the Bridge of Lions. After the flgas flew, three unhappy then-Commissioners voted to ban all but government flags, (then-Commission Joseph L. Boles, Jr. dissenting on First Amendment grounds). Mr. Boles is now our Mayor.

Six days ago, Mayor Boles joined Commissioner Roxanne Horvath and Commissioners Leeanna Freeman and Nancy Sikes-Kline in supporting restoring flags to the Bridge of Lions, as well as the Ponce e Leon Bridge -- the American flag, and other flags as well, including the Rainbow flag for Gay Pride week.

We have ended the era of "fear and smear" in our City government, when citizens and employees alike were made to feel uncomfortable in attending meetings, or raising concerns. "Fear and smear" is over.

Sure, there are a few anonymous hecklers on the St. Augustine Record's website, postng illiterate comments in the middle of the night, like the person who called for murdering our City Commissioners and officials in the Slave Market Square over the Mumford & Sons concert.

But no one pays much attention to them, or to the pitiful comment attributed to the late City Manager WILLIAM POMAR, who allegedly said, "The Bohemians have taken over."

More good news: today the Record announced it is abolishing anonymous comments effective November 3, 2013. This will help make ours a more civilized and compassionate city.

The idea that we should "be afraid, very afraid," of Rainbow flags, or GLBT people, or African-Americans, or th homless had its roots in the Ku Klux Klan political culture here, which led the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to call St. Augustine "the most lawless city" in America.

Today, we are a "Compassionate City," twentieth in the world and first in the State of Florida.

Our City Commissioners unanimously endorsed GLBT rights on December 10, 2012, amending our Fair Housing ordinance to make sexual orientation a protected class. The City of St. Augustine Beach joined them earlier this year, adding gender identity and including both housing and employment. KKK members can only wail and gnash their teeth, no longer having any votes at either table. Fifty years ago, the KKK ran our city and county.

Some days, I feel like an opposum -- every day I wake up in a new world.

In the spirit of Dr. King, diverse good and decent people, the thinking people, the cool people, here in St. Augustine have transformed this wonderful place. Meeting after meeting, I have been proud to watch our political culture transformed.

Hick hacks once ran our City. No longer.

Monday night, there were a number of policy initiatives passed by Commissioners, some covered by the Record this week, including a public private partnership repaving three histric streets and making them dazze the eye, like Aviles Street, as well as equality for storm water fees (with lifeline water rates in the offing), and a gathering place at the Bayfront Marina, with National Register of Historic Places status for the miniature golf course.

The Record missed the discussion of the flags. It was in Commissioner's comments, af the very end of the meeting, when often intriguing ideas and issues surface. The flag discussion is worth watching during the replay (the Commission meeting is replayed on GTV on Wednesday morning, October 23, at 9 AM).

The St. Augustine Ciy Commission has turned into a functional government before our eyes, in 8.5 years.

I reckon that I was treated crudely by City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS at that first meeting, but I never feared his threats ("I could have you arrested for disorderly conduct.") Both my parents were union organizers, and my father was a World War II 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, "the old man" of his unit at age 31, jumping into Normandy, machine-gunning Nazis. They taught me to treasure the truth, and to work tirelessly to advance peoples' rights. As it says in the Bible, some 50 times, "Be not afraid."

Always remember, "Decisions are made by people who show up."

Our current City Commission's and City Manager's many good works show that, in St. Augustine, in James Madison's words, "here, sir, the people govern."

St. Augustine Record Abolishes Anonymous Comments Effective November 3, 2013 -- Three Cheers for the St. Augustine Record!

Yesterday, the St. Augustine Record printed an article about websites no longer permiting anonymous coments. Today, after an agonizing reappraisal, the Record announced that it is joining the trend.

Effective November 3, 2013, abusive "Anonymice" will be banned from the St. Augustine Record website. From that day forward, readers will have to subscribe and use their real names.

Great news. For too long, anonymous comments on local websites, including the Record, were used to make murder threats, threats of violence, threats of blacklisting, threats of unionbusting, threats of Gay-bashing, threats to run people out of town, threats of every kind. Personal privacy was invaded. Lies were told. Lashon hara was dished out. All of it was anonymous, by the Anonymice.

For too long, anonymous Anonymice comments were used to chill, coerce and restrain protected activity.

For too long, hick hacks used NICs to attack critics of misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance, waste, fraud, abuse, pollution, no-bid contracts, racism, sexism and homophobia.

The hick hacks and their NICs will evidently be doing it up until the deadline, because today's printed Record thoughtlessly reprints a couple of their most recent angry attacks, without their NICs without their misspellings and without their revealing middle-of-the-night time stamps.

Favored with Anonymice attacks in today's print version of the record: Commissioner Leanna Freeman and I (anonymously told to "dummy up") and B.J. Kalaidi.

I wear the Anonymice' scorn as a badge of honor.
I can't speak for Commissioner Freeman or Ms. Kalaidi.

These sorry Anonymice commenters were once treated as Vox Populi by politicians, but then they finally realized they were Vox Rex -- the voice of hick hacks and the KKK, e.g., angry at our revealing the former City Manager's illegal dumping and angry in opposition to our local Gay Pride group asking to place Rainbow Flags on our Bridge of Lions (32 pages of homophobic hatred on Talk of the Town 2005-2006).

As LBJ said, "We SHALL overcome." We have. On June 7, 2005, United Sates District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. ordered the Rainbow Flags to fly. The Rainbow flags are likely coming back, and we've passed a Fair Housing ordinance in the City of St. Augustine covering sexual orientation, and St. Augustine has become a compassionae City, the first in Florida and the twentieth on this planet.

Thanks to the Record for appreciating today that anonymous murder threats against government officials and citizens are no way to run a newspaper.

Thanks to the law firm of Holland & Knight for presumably giving good legal advice, leading the Record to abandon its defense of the indefensible -- death threats July 24, 2013 at 6 AM, directed against our City officals over not canceling Mumford & Sons. The poster should have been arrested for incitement of a crime -- stating that the City officials should be "lined up and shot" in the Slave Market Square.

Let the Anonymice rant and rave in their KKK Klaverns.

They no longer have a forum in the St. Augustine Record for anonymous threatening hate speech. This will help make St. Augustine a more democratic and civilized place.

Three cheers for the St. Augustine Record.

Monday, October 14, 2013

JFK said it best

President John F. Kennedy said it best: "One person can make a difference, and every person should try."

(found on, website for Marine and Navy service members and families exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejuene water contamination)

Opportunity for our City and County to Recover Triple Damages for Antitrust Violations

There is an opportunity for our City of St. Augustine and for St. Johns County to recover triple damages for antitrust violations by McWane Pipe, which the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Federal Trade Commission has held monopolized the market for Ductile Iron Pipe Fittings (DIPF).

DIPFs are used to join water pipes in water systems.

There is no substitute, even when PVC pipe is used.

There is a "putative class action" antitrust lawsuit pending in federal court in New Jersey.

Our City and County could recover triple damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief, whether in a class action, or separately.

To read the FTC Chief Judge's decision:

It's 476 pages.

Apparently not one newspaper or news outlet in the entire Nation has bothered reporting on this decision, which the FTC Chief Judge issued in May. Wonder why?

Parking Garage for Amphitheater Must Be Rejected

Controversial County Commissioner RONALD F. SANCHEZ eats a lot and talks about eating a lot, and talks a lot, often without thinking. Listen to him sometime. SANCHEZ would talk a starving dog off a meatwagon.

Thirteen days ago, Commissioner SANCHEZ proposed during Commissioners' comments erecting a parking garage for our St. Augustine Amphitheater.

SANCHEZ never checked with the City Manager, City Commissioners, City Planning and Zoning Department, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of State Lands, Division of State Parks or Anastasia State Park Superintendent.

No one likes the idea. Not one person at the St. Augustine Farmers' Market liked the idea, and I asked people two Saturdays in a row. Not one person at the St. Augustine City Commission visioning meeting liked the idea. Not one person at the St. Augustine Beach Ciy Commission meeting liked the idea.

No one wants or needs a Parking Garage at this beautiful site. It would ruin the ambience and destroy beautiful old oak trees, which have been around for hundreds of years.

As my mother would say, "all of SANCHEZ' taste is in his mouth." The only people who would want a Parking Garage are architects, engineers and construction contractors. SANCHEZ evidently favors them (he is a former home builder), perhaps expecting campaign contributions if he runs for re-election next year.

My former boss, U.S. Senator Gary Warren Hart, once distributed a memo to his staff, advising them how to evaluate each legislative proposal before Congress. One of the key points was to ask: "Is it based on need, or greed?"

Like Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, SANCHEZ must believe that "Greed is good."

SANCHEZ wants to add $1 to each ticket at each Amphitheater concert to subsidize his attempt to monopolize the market for Amphitheater parking, which could be held to violate the antitrust laws, subjecting the County to triple damages antitrust liability if it were sued by Anastasia Baptist Church, the Elks Lodge, and others who rent parking spaces for Amphitheater concerts.

SANCHEZ shows contempt for public opinion, our environmental values and our antitrust laws -- he thinks the St. Johns County government should be empowered to violate antitrust laws, monopolize event parking and destroy protected trees, in violation of its 30 year lease from the State of Florida for the Amphitheater, which forbids cutting a single tree or erecting any structure without state management plan approval.

Thanks to the Mumford & Sons concert, we're on the world stage now, with full credit to City and County staff for working together. It would be a shame if SANCHEZ persisted and if Pollstar magazine and other entertainment industry publications wrote about St. Augustine Amphitheater tree-killing and monopolization attempts instead of writing about the cool place, one of the top small venues in the country, which regularly hosts national acts (as well as former President Bill Clinton, sans saxaphone).

SANCHEZ is wrong. What do you reckon?

Prediction: SANCHEZ's hare-brained Amphiteater Parking Garage scheme will die (whether SANCHEZ seeks re-election or not). See E-mail from State of Florida, below.

IN HAEC VERBA: Florida Department of Environmental Protection re: Parking Garages in State Parks

Mr. Slavin, this is in response to your public records request of October 1, 2013 requesting 1) legal authority to deny or approve parking garage in state park, and 2) any communications from anyone ever asking to put one in any state parks, e.g. at St Augustine Amphitheater, a lessee of Anastasia State Park, e.g. from St Johns County Commissioner Ron Sanchez.
Authority to place a parking garage or any other new structure in a state park or on other state land would begin with the state land management plan that is generally a requirement of the lease from the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund (Trustees) to the manager of the land. The structure would have to be discussed in the management plan that is approved by the Trustees (or the Division of State Lands as agents for the Trustees).
Collier County requested consideration to construct a parking garage in Delnor-Wiggins State Park several years ago. In the process of completing our scheduled update of the park management plan, we considered that option and it was decided not to include a parking garage in the plan, which was subsequently approved (see attached correspondence).
Also attached are emails regarding a proposal from the Walton County Tourist Development Council a year or so ago to build a fishing pier and an associated parking garage at Grayton Beach. The proposal was considered but neither the pier or garage were pursued further.
The St. Augustine Amphitheater is not part of Anastasia State Park. It was at one time, but it was released by the DRP several years ago, and subsequently leased to St. Johns County by the Division of State Lands. The Division of State Lands has no records relevant to your public records request.
Bobbie Rednour
Operations Management Consultant
Bureau of Operational Services
Division of Recreation and Parks
3900 Commonwealth Blvd-MS 535
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000
Direct Line: 850-245-3088
Fax: 850-412-0542

Friday, October 11, 2013

No parking garage for St. Augustine Amphitheater

Ten days ago, County Commissioner RONALD F. SANCHEZ raised a "trial balloon" during Commissioners' comments, proposing a "parking garage, which would inevitably destroy the beautiful old oak trees at the St. Augustine Amphitheater.

In Joni Mitchell's words, RONALD SANCHEZ would "Take Paradise and Put Up a Parking [Garage].

No one I've talked to wants a parking garage there, where our Saturday Farmer's Market is located. Not one. Typical reactions: "No way!" and "Yuck!"

Our St. Johns County could not legally build it there without permission from the Governor and his Cabinet, elected officials who comprise the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida.

Under the lease agreement, not a single tree can be cut without the Board's approval. Not a single structure can be built without the Board's approva.


Our St. Johns County Tourist Development Council leases from the State of Florida the land where the St. Augusitne Amphieater is located. The State of Florida owns the land, bordering Anastasia State Park.

The terms of the thirty-year lease (through 2030) require a "management plan," and forbid building structures or killing trees on the State land without permission of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. The Governor and Cabinet would have to meet, with public comment, before any orgy of tree killing or promiscuous waste of money on a parking garage could ever happen.

TDC minutes show SANCHEZ' notion has apparently never discussed building a parking garage there.

There is no customer demand to kill trees and put up a parking garage. Overflow parking is available at several locations, including the Elks Lodge and a county elementary school. Commissioner RONALD SANCHEZ evidently wants the County to steal their business while destroying our beautiful old oak trees. There is no antitrust immunity for the County attempting to monopolize the parking business for the Amphiteater. The Elks Lodge could sue in federal court to halt such a move. So could anyone else who rent parking spaces during concerts, including churches and other businesses. All of these competitors could sue the county under section 1 and 2 of the sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. They might win triple damages and attorney fees from a jury in United States District Court.

Likewise, citizens could speak to the Governor and Cabinet and stop it. No parking garage has ever been approved for a state park or adjoining land, DEP reveals.

RONALD F. SANCHEZ never bothered asked the St. Augustine Ciy Manager or the Anastasia State Park Superintendent about building a parking garage there. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has no records of anyone from St. Johns County ever asking about building a parking garage there.

RONALD F. SANCHEZ has in the past vigorously defended construction of the $20 million St. Johns County Administation Building, saying "It only cost $125 a square foot."

Everyone else in the County calls the extrvagant building the "Taj Mahal" or the "St. Johns County Administration Palace," complete with rotunda suitable for a state capitol building.

RONALD SANCHEZ must have an "Edifice Complex."

I expect that our community will unite behind preservation of the trees at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, and against RONALD SANCHEZ' desire to wsate more County money on expensve building projects. Promiscuous spending on such projects under one-party misrule has already "maxed out" our County's bonded indebtedness to the tune of nearly $200,000,000.00.

It's our money. They're our trees. RONALD SANCHEZ must be stopped. In the immortal words of Barney Fife: "Let's nip it in the bud."

Reinventing how local governments handle planning, zoning development and annexation decisions

Local governments too often ride roughshod over neighbors' rights when they make development decisions.

It is time for change.

Local government lawyers typically have (or still do) represent developers. Thus, they lack perspective and common sense about democracy.

On Monday night, at St. Augustine Beach City Commission, SAB lawyer Douglas Burnett told Commissioners it was no Due Process violation when a citizen opposed to a zoning variance was only allowed to speak once before the Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Board, and never allowed rebuttal, or to question the family that wanted a zoning variance.

He's wrong, of course. But Commmissioners evidently believed him, voting 4-1 to reject a remand to the Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Board. The decision in question involved no legal representative on either side, and was a very small one -- approval to build an addition on a home for a lady who can no longer climb stairs, who is living with her children and grandchild.

But the PZB decision was ethically questionable because procedural rules were respected more than allowing the opponent to be heard before the Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Board.

I respect St. Augustine Beach Vice Mayor Richard O'Brien for being the only one to vote in favor of the appellant, who was denied any rebuttal by the SAB PZB.

A remaned might not have changed the outcome -- building an addition on a home. Byt it would have respected the opoonent's rights to be heard, which were sadly neglected by the PZB, which was advised by another lawyer in Burnett's developer-driven law firm.

No Due Process right to rebuttal? Douglas Burnett is wrong.

But in my experience, local jurisdictions still lack sensitivity to Due Process rights. They have adopted, de facto or de jure, the "George McClure Rule," named after the late lawyer for the likes of Robert Michael Graubard and other developers, who are allowed to call themselves "developers" without any state license as such.

The no-rebuttal gag rule unethically gags residents, limiting them to three minutes, while denying them rights to cross-examination and rights to rebut unsworn testimony.

On enacting legislation conferring rights to procedural Due Process, U.S. Rep. John Dingell (R-Michigan) has remarked once said, "if I get to write the procedures, I can win every time."

Developers have written the procedures. They laugh at the citizen opponents of their clients' projects. as George McClure often did, laughing all the way to the bank at their ability to manipulate boards and chill, coerce and restrain First Amendment rights to petition our governments for a redress of grievances. The reign of ruin of the Smirking Turkey Society must end. Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery

Testimony in a quasi-judicial hearing must be sworn, including lawyers' assertions.

Every citizen must be heard, and allowed to rebut applicants' asertions.

If there is no time limit for project applicants, there should be no limit on time for project opponents.

Citizens attending local zoning, planning and annexation hearings often leave disheartened, disrespected and offended by the narrow-minded rules adopted to favor applicants. For many, it was their first experience with a local government.

I rememember as a child growing up in New Jersey raising concerns about a neighbor dumping barrels of Lord knows, filling in a small wetland between our properties, while operating trucks from his residence. Our township officials were dismissive and condescending, saying he was "grandfathered," referring us to a thick-ankled zoning code that plainly indicated the contrary. We were denied the right to rebuttal and treated with disrespect. Our neighbor got to continue burying barrels and running his dump trucks.

Such oleaginous government actions appear corrupt and make good and decent people want to join the Tea Party and cheer when governments are shut down.

Denying citizen free speech rights may make for shorter meetings and fat campaign contributions, but they destroy trust in our local governments.

We can do better, we must do better and we will do better.

Locally, the "George McClure Rule" is a ticket to bad development decisions, as anyone observing the skewed process in which St. Johns County Commissioners rubber-stamped approvals of 70,000 homes, St. Augustine Commissioners approved desruction of a 3000-4000 year old Native American sacred site, or other bizarre decisions.

In the words of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, "Justice be be blind, but she is not gagged." To local elected officials: stop letting tree-killing developers lead you around like dogs on a leash, adopting their narrow rules.

Testimony must be sworn.

Rebuttal must be allowed.

Time limits must be equal.

Otherwise, you are not serving your customers -- "We the People."

What do you reckon?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Disgruntled haters, be gone!

There were disgruntled haters earlier this week writing pitifully, saying they would not read the St. Augustine Record if they have to pay for it.

We've been subscribing to the St. Augustine Record for very nearly fourteen years, and have lived here for fourteen years come November 5th. Wouldn't dream of not paying for our local newspaper. How can any newspaper survive if people don't pay for it and read it online?

What is so unpardonable about a paywall? The Record plans to allow people to read five free articles a month without paying. Some papers allow more, some less.

Why do these haters rage?

They include some misbegotten racist, sexist, homophobes who regularly post illiterate opinions on the Record's currently "free" website -- a "free-for-all" for haters -- and some who post elsewhere.

What they have in common is a sense of "entitlement" -- they think news is a free good. It costs money and time to gather.

Do they pay for water, sewer, garbage collection, electricity and telephone service?

How do they expect a profit-making corporation to pay their reporters and staff and give the news away for free? These are the same people constantly misusing the words "socialist" or "communist," who expect newspapers to serve them without compensation. Am I missing something here?

Several freeloadng "Anonymice" airily promised not to read or post on the Record's website after November 2, 2013. Great news!

Presumably, their number includes the anonymous hater who posted the death threats directed against our City officials on July 24, 2013 at 6 AM, demanding that the Mumford & Sons concert be canclelled and calling for City officials to be "lined up and shot" in the Slave Market square. Haters, be gone!

Welcoming Pope Francis, President Obama, Dalai Lama, Lubavitcher Rebbe, et al. to St. Augustine

The City of St. Augustine proved itself capable of handling large crowds efficiently and effecively with the Mumford & Sons conert. There were nearly 7000 bicycles, and some 11,000 people rode shuttle busses.

For our 450th, and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, expect great things.

Let us welcome Pope Francis, President Obama, the Dalai Lama and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, among others.

Let there be other festivals and events.

We're on the world stage now.

Yes we can! (see below).

IN HAEC VERBA: Diversity is the watchword of our City's visioning process

I got a nice, thoughtful response from Commissioner Horvath (see below), indicating that diversity is the key to our City's visioning process, evidently withdrawing the trial balloon idea that business owners should have half the seats on the Steering Committee. More good news.
From: Ed Slavin
To: Roxanne Horvath
Sent: Sat, Oct 5, 2013 12:44 pm
Subject: Re: Reserved seats on Visioning Steering Committee for "business owners" is unconstitutional
Dear Commissioner Horvath:
Thank you, and thank you for all you do for our City!

On Oct 5, 2013, at 12:02 PM, Roxanne Horvath wrote:
Dear Mr. Slavin,
Thank you for your review of my agenda and for being at the Visioning Workshop. Your argument for not setting aside a designation of 50% representation for business interests is well made. I value your input on this issue. I believe my fellow commissioners and I will be working towards a high level of diversity for the steering committee. I hope you will continue to be involved in this visioning effort, I look forward to your future reviews.

Roxanne Horvath

---------------------------------------------------------From: []
Sent: Thursday, October 03, 2013 9:41 AM
To: Roxanne Horvath
Subject: Reserved seats on Visioning Steering Committee for "business owners" is unconstitutional
Dear Commissioner Horvath:
1. Thank you for pointing out the lack of Sunshine compliance in the 1995 visioning process, and the need for full Sunshine compliance with the current visioning process. Thank you for initiating that visioning process.
2. However, I must object to one suggestion you made. You proposed that each Commissioner appoint two members of a ten-person steering committee, one a "business owner" and the other a "resident." Why?
3. Think about it -- is it desirable, legal or ethical to have "affirmative action" for businsess owners in picking members of the steering committee? They have enough influence without reserved seats.
4. Why do you suggest that "business owners" be given preference?
5. This violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
6. If you were to substitute any other characteristic or noun for "business owner," would you ever even consider it? Imagine, if you will, if one of your fellow Commissioners had proposed setting aside half the proposed ten seats on the steering committee for artists, or musicians, or librarians, or antique car buffs, or runners, or bicyclists, or philatelists or shoe salesmen, or union members, or Republicans or Democrats, or women or African-Americans, or Menorcans, or college graduates or federal employees or military retirees. Would anyone have supported such a move? Please reconsider your suggestion.
7. It is unconstitutional. There is no rational basis for government discrimination based upon ownership of a business.
8. Government volunteer appointments must be based on merit, not reserved for economic special interests.
9. By the same token, the City's board appointments form must be revised ASAP -- it asks prospective appointees to City Boards and Commissions to answer "Property owned" and "Business Owned."
10. Neither business nor property ownership is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for government service as a volunteer, or otherwise. Not in America.
What do you reckon?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Clean Up St. Augustine
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Mumford & Sons Investment Worked

This morning's St. Augustine Record reports that the City's investment in the Mumford & Sons concert worked.

Half a million dollars invested in transportation infrastructure, and the City essentially broke even, while generating $3.5 million in economic activity, and showing off St. Augustine on the world stage.

Our "branding" is now what it should be -- as a cool, hip, diverse place that respects human rights, history and our environment. Enactment of our City's anti-discrimination ordinance December 10, 2012 helped bring Mumford & Sons to St. Augustine.

Rejecting the Ku Klux Klan influence on City Hall has made this a great place, capable of achieving great things. The "bad old days" under oppressive prior City Managers are only memories now. Savor the victory -- as the late former City Manager William Pomar was recently quoted, "The Bohemians have taken over." Translation: our City of St. Augustine is now all about being "cool, not cruel."

It's about time.

It's our time, our place and our future. No longer will St. Augustine be known as "the most lawless" city in America, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his 1964 letter to Rabbi Samuel Dresner. St. Augustine is changing for the better. We have a vision, and we are all a part of it.

Forgive the "cognitive misers" who predicted doom and gloom. All of the energy, intellect and inventiveness of the people of our Nation's Oldest City have proven themselves invincible.

Remember, once again: "Decisions are made by those who show up." Keep on "showing up." Keep asking questions.

Other local governments deserve scrutiny, too.

Under new managemen since 2010, St. Augustine is worthy of our admiration and support. Thanks to City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E., Comptroller Mark Litziner, C.P.A., Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr., and Commissioners et al. for working together and helping heal our Ancient City's ancient wounds.

Viva St. Augustine!

Postscript: There is a comment posted today by a frequent hate poster on Historic City News, a man who loudly opposed the December 10, 2012 GLBT non-discrimination amendment to our City's Fair Housing ordinance. The frequent hate poster yelled threats after the ordinance was passed. He was thereupon graciously ordered ejected by Mayor Boles, who said "Would someone kindly escort that idiot out of the room?" That hate poster today predictably blasts the "gay loving city council (sic)." The hater has described himself as a "preacher." He preaches hatred. His views are no longer the views of our community.
We've come a long way since 1964.

A couple of the more rational posters on the St. Augustine Record website have excellent comments, noting that this is "the right demographic," with "young professionals" who attended likely to come back for tne next "40 years." My favorite comment today:
"To all the was a great party made better because you weren't there. Thanks for not coming." (astralweeks).

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Pravda, Izvestia and Local Reporting

Attend any government meeting and you will hear citizens speak, rarely quoted in the St. Augustine Record. Why? THe owners don't care what the people think. Even when we move mountains and motivate reforms, the Rcord won't quote local residents. How timidly tiresome and tawdry 00 showing the Record is a doormat for the controlling political machine in St. Johns County and its sequelae, whose members the Record regularly lionizes and kisses up to, whether former City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS or Sheriffs SHOAR, PERRY or DAVIS.

Yesterday, Historic City News covered a city visioning meeting, actually quoting a little bit of what five people said in public comment. Thank you!

How refreshing for public comment to be incuded in a news story. If only the Morris family and its putative "publishers" valued public opinion more.

City Violated Sunshine in 1995 Visioning Plan, Discusses Reserved Seats for Businesses

Yesterday, St. Augustine Mayor and City Commissioners promised to require Sunshine compliance by the new visioning process, after it was revealed by COmmissioner Roxanne Horvath that there was no Sunshine compiance in the City's 1995 visioning plan.

Sunshine violations were frequent before mid-2010. One lady told me they used to hold City Commission meetings in her living room, "and then go hold the real one, which would take only fifteen minutes because everything was already decided." City Commissioners would hold regular illegal meetings in restaurants, out of the Sunshine, witnessed by waitresses at the Village Inn (back room), PK's and other local restaurants at the time.

The visioning process and all of its committees must be in the Sunshine, Mayor boles and City Attorney Ron Brown emphasized.

Commissioner Horvath proposed each Commissioner appoint two members of a ten-person steering committee, one a business owner and the other a resident. Why?

Think about it -- is it legal to have affirmative action for businsess owners in picking members of the steering committee? This violates the Fourteenth Amendment, I reckon.

What do you reckon?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The St. Augustine Record "Fantasy Five" and Their Fuzzy Math

Federal law requires newspaper publishers to print an annual ad reporting on their ownership and circulation.

Yesterday's St. Augustine Record carried the obligatory ad, which was well-night illegible.

The St. Augustine Record apparently over-inked the ad, or made it fuzzy electronically.

The numbers and names are almost illegible.

The USPS-required ad appears below the day's Florida Lottery "Fantasy Five" numbers, which are perfectly readable, like the rest of page A3. Only the ad is illegible, as if someone didn't want you reading it.

The ad bears the names of five Morris family members and their corporations as owners.

Call the five Morris family members the "Fantasy Five" -- their fantasy is that they are in the journalism business.

There is little real journalism left in the WRecKord, which printed an online death threat July 24, 2013 at 6AM drected against our City officials over the Mumford & Sons concert, calling on them to be "lined up and shot" in the Slave Market Square, demanding he concert be cancelled. The WRecKord never revealed the name of the poster, and never took down the posting -- when I asked WRecKord poster Delinda Fogel, CPA to do so, she asked me, "Do you have a journalism degree?"

The fuzzy USPS-mandated ad shows fuzzy circulation numbers, which are moribund and not growing with the county's population.

In the highest per capita income county in the State of Florida, there is apparently only one (1) copy of the only daily newspaper sold for every sixteen (16) residents in St. Johns County. Pitiful.

News -- people hunger for it. As a young editor 32 years ago, I wrote most of the first issue of the Appalachian Observer in 1981, without ever having taken a single journalism course at Georgetown (where it was not offered at the time).

Since we covered the news, people loved it -- we covered what other newspapers dared not cover -- government and corporate misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery, waste fraud and abuse.

Our readers told us ineluctable truths. We investigated them. We covered the news. Our readers soon saw concrete results -- the people ran off a crooked School Superintendent. The FBI and U.S. Attorney carted off a corrupt Sheriff. The people elected a reform County Attorney, they re-elected five reform County Commissioners and they re-elected an embattled reform District Attorney.

We exposed the largest mercury pollution event in world history (4.2 million pounds dumped into workers' lungs and brains and into the creeks and groundwater at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant by Union Carbide and the Department of Energy); the St. Augustine Record ediorialized about it on November 13, 2006.

It takes a village.

Our beautiful City St. Augustine and St. Johns County are worth preserving. But the WRecKord is more interested in fluff than news, more interested in kissing up to the powerful than informing the people.

As reporter William Greider's book title asked, "Who will tell the people?"

Our St. Johns County residents are intelligent, but the WRecKord talks down to us.

The WRecKord dishes out real news as little as possible, while foisting upon readers the likes of Ann Coulter (and other right-wing nutjobs), giving Coulter extra space on a dull, uninteresting "editorial page" that no longer has any sign of locally written editorials.

The "Fanstasy Five" Morris Family members have delusions of adeequacy. They and their hired-hand "publisher" are insouciant to the public's desire for news. They take their readers for granted, and long ago decided to coverup the news instead of uncovering it.

How appropriate that the WRecKord's "fuzzy math" in its fuzzy, overinked USPS-mandated circulation and ownership ad appears directly below the "Fantasy Five" numbers.

What do y'all reckon?

UPDATE: The Record re-ran the ad on October 2, 2013, without all of the fuzziness. You can clearly see the pitiful circulation numbers, and the names fo the "Fantasy Five" -- the WRecKord owners from the Morris family, and their corporations -- who think they are in the journalism business. This dull Republican Wrecking Crew has no more idea about jouranlism than a hog, having decreased journalistic standards and ignoring major scandals and stories in our county.