Friday, February 28, 2014

The shrinking St. Augustine Record

Local neighborhood columnists have been abolished.
Black History Month coverage of our local African-American Civil Rights heroes and sheroes -- almost nonexistent.
Today was the last day of Black History Month. No apology from the Record for what previous owners did in 1964.
If the Lexington, Ky. Herald-Leader could do it, covering past coverups of civil rights issues as news, why not the Record?
But the Record still runs rebarbative racist Ann Coulter, and other outside columnists.
And the Record is now printing syndicated cartoonists, instead of rehiring Hall and MacGregor, Florida cartoonists with flair and panache.
Morris Communications, please answer in this space.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Justice for Michelle O'Connell! -- Watch CNN March 3 & 4, 2014 at 8 & 10 PM

Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Yes we can!
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Justice for Michelle O'Connell: Watch CNN Tonight at 8 PM EST (And Again at 10 PM EST)

Anderson Cooper 360 on Cable News Network (CNN) will air tonight an investigation of Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR and his handling of the September 2, 2010 shooting death of Michelle O'Connell. She died of an alleged suicide at the hands of a semi-automatic pistol issued to St. Johns County Sheriff's Deputy JEREMY BANKS. There were four (4) maladroit "investigations" by St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR, States Attorneys RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA and BRADLEY KING and Medical Examiner PREDRAG BULIC).

Watch on CNN tonight at 8 PM EST, and again at 10 PM.

There needs to be an inquest, and accountability for a federal grand jury, federal court and jury. As United States Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (D-Tenn.) once said, on Election Night 1970, "The truth shall rise again."

Justice for Michelle O'Connell.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

House of UnAmerican Activities

A group of three hubristic hypocrites, calling themselves the "St. Johns County Republican Assembly," is distributing an E-mail survey of political candidates, asking illegal, immoral and nosy-parker questions.
The three hypocrites even dare to ask candidates for their religious beliefs, in violation of Article VI, Section 3 of our United States Consttution, which forbids any "religious test" for public office.
Candidates: don't answer these dumb 'ole questions.
Nothing good can come from it -- let's raise the quality of debate, not cheapen it.
Spare us the Idiotic Inquisition, evidently emitted by unAmerican ninnies and boobies, anti-freedom, anti-literate energumen "who know not that they know not that they know not."
What do you reckon?

St. Augustine Votes to Grant Equal Pension Rights to Gay and Lesbian Employee Retirees and Their Survivors

Monday night, the St. Augustine City Commission voted unanimously on first reading to grant equal pension rights to the survivors of Gay and Lesbian employee retirees.

Commissioner Donald Crichlow made the motion, affirming the recommendation by Assistant City Manager Timothy A. Burchfield and the City's General Pension Board to end discrimination.

Commissioner Crichlow told me after the vote, "It's the right thing to do." Viva! Three cheers!

Our City of St. Augustine is healing, ending discrimination, including pension discrimination against Gays and Lesbians. Our City is far more progressive than redneck Jacksonville, the rebarbative State of Florida, and other surrounding jurisdictions, to include St. Johns County.

Evidently, the St. Augustine Record does not think it is news that our City is ending pension discrimination against Gays and Lesbians.


Morris Communications: please answer.

Despite the Record owners' Philistinism, we've made great progress in St. Augustine.

o First Amendment victories for visual artists selling their art, and for GLBT people to put Rainbow flags on the Bridge of Lions, by federal court order.
o Ending Sunshine and Open Records violations that ong afflicted our City government, from the secretive 1995 visioning process, to the First America Foundation, to the planned "business trip" to Spain by five Commissioners.
o Ending Environmental Racism, exposing 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated solid waste illegally dumped in the Old City Reservoir, preventing its being dumped at the south end of Lincolnville (at what is now being mistakenly called "Riberia Pointe") -- it is now in a Class I landfill.
o Working to end the War on the Poor and racism, as evidenced by the City's splendid "Journey" exhibit on 450 years of African-American history, now at the Visitor Information Center.

St. Augustine Closer to Aquarium, Children's Museum and Cogeneration and Waste Heat Utilization at South End of Riberia (But Please Don't Call it "Riberia Pointe")

Please don't call it Riberia Pointe (or Point) -- the cape at the south end of Lincolnville. The historic name is Buena Esperanza (Good Hope). As a cape, its name requires local consensus, and recognition by the U.S. Board of Geographic Place Names. The developers, city staff and St. Augustine Record did not do their homework on this point, and evidently think they can name it, without benefit of clergy or consensus or legal basis. The name "Riberia Pointe" is not only an affectation, it is anti-historical and pompous.

At any rate, City Commissioners Monday night moved closer to allowing development of a city park, profit-making aquarium and non-profit children's museum there.

The project might also include a two megawatt natural gas powered cogeneration and waste heat utilization facility, producing clean energy, reducing our city's carbon footprint, a potential precursor to reducing electric power rates through a municipal electric utility. How cool is that?!

City of St. Augustine Commission unanimous on banning future gasoline stations on San Marco Avenue

Amending a draft ordinance proposed by the city staff and PZB, City Commissioners scheduled a future first and second reading in March of an ordinance regulating any future proposed gasoline stations on enry corridors, but totally banning them from San Marco Avenue. Three of us -- Melinda Rakoncacy, Matthew Shaferr and I -- had suggested it Monday night.
Thank you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Retirement of a Courageous Congressman: U.S. Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. of Michigan

It is with a deep and heavy heart that I read this morning that Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. (D-Michigan) is retiring from the House of Representatives. The Dean of the House, Rep. Dingell long chaired the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and chaired the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Rep. Dingell passionately championed the protection of whistleblowers and the investigations of the wrongdoers they exposed. Rep. Dingell and his huge staff worked with investigative reporters and progressive lawyers to expose wrongdoing.
In 1992, in response to a Department of Labor investigation's finding about Mr. C.D. Varnadore (my client) being subjected to torture by Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- ordered to sit three feet from radioactive waste barrels, and in mercury-contaminated room as his "home base" -- Rep. Dingell wrote a scathing letter to the Secretary of Energy, Admiral Steven Watkins. The letter resulted in DOE giving individual employees shutdown authority, to halt unsafe operations and refuse to participate in them, and resulted in DOE cutting off funds for Martin Marietta's legal defense. It was the first time in the history of the nuclear weapons complext the government did not pay a contractor's legal fees. Before that, the government even paid criminal fines and penalties assessed against its nuclear weapons plant contractors.
He was a tiger -- a tiger who would write and send letters known as Dingell-grams to federal agencies, demanding answers, demanding documents and exposing the truth in wonderfully conducted Congressional hearings that lasted for hours, with witnesses sworn in under oath. He exposed the $600 Pentagon toilet seat, waste, fraud and abuse, and scientific fraud, and forced resignations of corrupt EPA officials, and helped send a number of Food and Drug Administration officials to prison.
Nuclear bomb factories in particular were exposed by Rep. Dingell's awesome investigative staff.
Rep. Dingell and his staff helped CNN uncover the wrongdoing of Martin Marietta, directed toward my client, Dr. William K. Reid, M.D., in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Rep. Dingell's staff once referred me the whistleblower case of a Senior Special Agent of the EPA Office of Inspecor General, and together he and I made history, running off EPA's longtime crooked Inspector General, John C. Martin, who had harassed EPA whistleblowers for thirteen years (1983-1996).

Amid a current Congress filled with second-rate minds and mediocrities, Rep. Dingell is in sharp and marked contrast.

Rep. John J. Dingell, Jr. was first elected to Congress in 1955, filling the seat formerly held by his late father. He is the longest-serving member of Congress, and turns 88 on July 8, 2014.
Rep. Dingell defies liberal or conservative stereotypes. He is an NRA member who opposes gun control, an ardent supporter of free trade unions at home and abroad, a strong environmentalist who has sometimes defended Detroit auto companies, and a fighting liberal lion who supports single-payer national health care.
Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. is a giant, and a mensch. He will be missed.
We need more Lincolns, more Dingells and fewer Nixons.
What do you reckon?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

St. Augustine City Ordinance 2014-04 Needs to Be Amended to Ban Future Gas Stations From San Marco Avenue

Tomorrow night, St. Augustine City Commissioners will consider on first reading an ordinance limiting the number of gasoline pumps at gas stations on our entry corridors.
The Planning and Zoning Board recommended it, but it needs to be strengthened to ban any gasoline stations from San Marco Avenue, which is already a congested street.
Public comment is usually not allowed on first readings, so unless the agenda is amended, speakers will need to address the issue during general public comment.
The meeting is at 5 PM at the City Hall/Lightner Museum, 75 King Street.

City of St. Augustine, Florida to end discrimination against Gay and Lesbian Retirees

Surviving partners of Gay and Lesbian City of St. Augustine reirees will likely soon be eligible to receive their pension benefits if the city employee dies first.
Proposed City of St. Augustine City Ordinance No. 2014-13 is accompanied by a short but eloquent memorandum from Assstant City Manager Timothy A. Burchfield. It is online in the agenda packet for tomorrow night's City Commission meeting.
Consistent with its including "sexual orientation" in the Fair Housing ordinance by unanimous vote December 10, 2012, Commissioners are being asked to amend pension rules to allow pensions to be left to surviving domestic partners.
Mr. Burchfield's memo states that "Curreently the plan discriminates against those participants who are single and chose not to mary, as well as those who cannot legally marry in the state of Florida....The modification [proposed August 2013 by] the [General Employee] Retirement Board would eliminate this inequity and place all particpants on a level playing field."
The ordinance also provides for cost of living adjustments, which Mr. Burchfield's memo states have not been voted for some 20 years.
Under the proposal, in the future, City employees choosing to leave a survivor benefit -- including both domestic partners and legally married spouses -- would have for the first time a slight reduction in their benefits, but be empowered to leave pension benefits to their surviving spouse. Others would be "grandfathered."
This is not Jacksonville.
This is St. Augustine.
"Viva le differance!"
I am proud to live in the City of St. Augustine, where our leaders are listening to the people these days.
The work of extirpating discrimination continues anew, now with pension benefits.
As President Lyndon B. Johnson said after the police riots in Selma, Alabama in 1965, "We SHALL overcome!"

Promoting Healing Here in St. Augustine

It is everyone's job.
Whether welcoming the Pope in 2015; ending the War on the Poor, including reforming City water rates violating the 14th Amendment; halting harassment of visual artists and street entertainers and; halting 7-Eleven in its tracks in its desire to buld at May and San Marco; assuring openness and transparency; ending discrimination; winning Justice for Michelle O'Connell; or enacting a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore,
Yes, we can!

Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florda 32085-3084

Historic Architectural Review Board Votes 4-0 to Uphold Denial of Permit to 7-Eleven for Gasoline Station at May Street and San Marco Avenue, in Historic Area of our Nation's Oldest City: "OH, THANK HEAVEN!" (R)

On February 20 (Thursday evening), the St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) unanimously rejected the appeal of a putative 7-Eleven franchisee to put a twelve-pump gasoline station in our historic downtown.

The rejected applicant is FIRST CITY DEVELOPMENT LLC, whose registered agent is WALLACE R. DEVLIN, Sr. and sole director is SHIRLEY H. DEVLIN, of 7518 ALBERT TILLNIGHAST DRIVE, SARASOTA, FLORIDA 34240. FIRST CITY's lawyer did not identify its beneficial owners when I inquired at the hearing. The address of the LLC is a residence whose assessed value is $858,300, with some 3771 square feet, three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Several DEVLIN family members are dodgy Florida real estate speculators. Their Sebastian Inner Harbor Project collapsed in foreclosure. The property remains vacant. The DEVLIN GROUP filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011.

Those dodgy DEVLINs -- and their unnamed foreign investors --and 7-Eleven refused to listen to reason. 7-Eleven refused to respond to letters from our City Manaager.

Their devilishly located proposed 7-Eleven at May Street and San Marco Avenue would have been an unwelcome addition, one that would have destroyed our Ancient City on the eve of our 450th anniversary.

The location was patently offensive, like proposing to locate an abortion clinic next door to the St. Augustine Cathedral (or the Gerard Campus for pregnant girls). How gauche. One need only read 7-Eleven's boastful Fun Facts (below) for an insight into its insidious greedy corporate culture.

The proof of incompatibility was unrebutted by 7-Eleven's lawyer.

The propective 7-Eleven franchisee's appeal was not only meritless, it was sloppy and self-induglent and emotional.

Thus, the HARB vote and deliberations were not even close.

The vote was 4-0.

In the words of 7-Eleven's own registered trademark, "Oh, thank heaven!"(R)

The ugly, misbegotten proposed 7-Eleven gasoline station in the wrong location would occupy the former block of retail stores where Manatee Cafe was once located, for which a demolition permit was issued on the premise that it would be replaced by similar retail stores facing the street, not a gasoline station that would ruin the ambiance of our Nation's Oldest City.

The 7-Eleven franchisee was rejected for a permit application by St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Director Mark Knight.

Mr. Knight's rejection of 7-Eleven was solid: based upon the proposed gasoline station's turning radii and its demand to have wider than a 25 foot driveway. (Two other issues were resolved before the hearing).

Mr. Knight's determination was upheld by HARB 4-0, with 18 of 19 public witnesses supporting Mr. Knight's determination with strong factual and legal arguments

The lone dissenter emitted a few curt slogans “about property rights” of the unknown unnamed 7-Eleven franchisee, discourteously ignoring the property rights of the other witnesses and their right to the peaceful, quiet enjoyment of their homes in the historic Fullerwood and Nelmar Terrace neighborhoods).

Every other sworn public hearing witness testified against the appeal: each was both an expert and fact witness as to the condition of the intersection and the neighborhoods adjoining it, including the Nelmar, Fullerwood and Vilano beach neighborhoods.

The testimony was unrebutted and irrefragable: the May and San Marco intersection is already clogged, rated an “F” by Florida DOT for impassibility. It is located on the only evacuation route for Vilano Beach. It is adjacent to the Main Branch of the St. Johns County Library, the Carousel and Davenport Park and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, with deaf and blind pedestrians often walking on the sidewalks.

To loud responses from the audience, the lawyer for 7-Eleven, ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE lied: WHITEHOUSE falsely claimed there was “no sidewalk” and no pedestrian traffic.

After lying and being called out for it, brazen 7-Eleven corporate lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITHOUSE did not apologize (unlike the late developer lawyer GEORGE McCLURE, who apologized to St. Augustine City Commissioners for lying about the position of the Roman Catholic Church before he died last year, having been called out for his lying by Cathedral Parish Pastor Fr. Thomas Willis.).

But 7-Eleven lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE (Florida Bar Number 100250, ST. JOHNS LAW BROUP, 509 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine, Florida 32080-4510, tel: 904-495-0400, fax: 904-495-0506, did not just lie about sidewalks.

7-Eleven lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE led his engineer witness improperly, testifying for him, leading him.

7-Eleven lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE patronized HARB members.
7-Eleven lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE cajoled.
Lying lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE whined.
Close to crying at several points, lying 7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE made pointless points – silly debater's points, not legal arguments backed by any reliable, competent or material evidence..
7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE acted out, with histrionics, as if his pleading, whining and patronizing were somehow a performance art form -- as if his rising octave and pitiful, plaintive nasal tone of voice was convincing, as if his aggressiveness and pedantry constituted winning legal arguments.
7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE made unscientific and illogical arguments.
7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE testified without being sworn.

7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE elicited hearsay from a project consulting engineer who was not a traffic engineer, using leading questions to bring out irrelevant, inadmissible hearsay testimony about about what a civil engineer from the Florida Department of Transportation.
7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE clumsily cross-examined St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Director MARK KNIGHT, with a mocking hauteur, the stuff of lawyer jokes, as if in self-parody.

WHITEHOUSE called City Planning and Zoning Director Mark Knght for a whiny, angry cross-examination. It was unworthy of a first year law student. It was conducted as if cross-examination were an examination by an angry, cross attorney. Questioned by 7-Eleven's inept corporate mouthpiece, Mr. Knight remained unflappable, respectful, poised and responsive.

WHITEHOUSE scored no point with his attempt to argue with Mr. Knight that 7-ELEVEN was somehow discriminated against compared to other commercial properties along San Marco Avenue (none of which have twelve-gasoline pump.

Full disclosure: I was cross-examined in 2006 during a city hearing on a water bill matter by Mr. WHITEHOUSE, with some twelve city officials crowded into a small room in a vain attempt to intimidate us. At that hearing, Mr. WHITEHOUSE was no gentlemen and no scholar, either, with the same threatening tone as he brandished with Mr. Knight. He evidently hasn't learned a thing in eight years about how to cross-examine a wutness. His hostility comes across as bullying, and no one likes a bully.

WHITEHOUSE muttered under his breath while I testified, and I turned around and asked him not to speak while I was speaking. I pointed out that GEORGE McCLURE had apologized to lying to City Commissioners, and that WHITEHOUSE should apologize for lying about the sidewalks

This time, understandably, at this hearing WHITEHOUSE begged off asking me any questions, and asked none of the other eighteen hearing witnesses (all but one of whom testified that 7-Eleven would be a public nuisance).

WHITEHOUSE had no rebuttal for any of the testimony of eighteen witnesses, on issues such as the existence of a sidewalk he denied existed, or the deaf and blind pedestrians who walk on those sidewalks, or the future fatalities from blocked ambulances and fire trucks and police cars.

Finally, WHITEHOUSE was told to wrap it up. At least six times, a sad JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE said he was wrapping up, but WHITEHOUSE continued yammering. It was a pitiful performance.

The audience response to WHITEHOUSE's long speechifying vaguely reminded me of the too-long speech Bill Clinton gave to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, nominating Michael Dukakis for President, the biggest applause line of which was “In conclusion.”

But make no mistake: JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE is no Bill Clinton. (I've heard Bill Clinton speak before, in 1988 at our Georgetown University School of Foreign Service reunion, at the West Palm Beach Airport in 1996, at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America annual meeting in Chicago in 2000, and here in St. Augustine in 2012. I've seen heard Bill Clinton. And JAMES WHITEHOUSE is no Bill Clinton. He's just long-winded and morally obtuse about right and wrong.)

Humorless, stone-faced, snippy, sniping 7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE seemed to have a sense of 1% entitlement.

JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE had a chip on his shoulder, as if he was entitled to special treatment as a former Assistant City Attorney for the City of St. Augustine, former Assistant County Attorney, a lawyer in St. JOHNS LAE GROUP.
ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP, which advertises its bankruptcy practice on billboards, was founded by DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT, the favored son of the former commanding general of the St. Augustine-headquartered Florida National Guard, DOUGLAS BURNETT.
Absent was firm principal DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT, a longtime public supporter of embattled St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who championed SHOAR's election in 2004. DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT is a former Assistant State's Attorney and Assistant St. Johns County Attorney; he is now the deeply conflicted part-time attorney for the City of St. Augustine Beach and the St. Augustine Airport Authority while also representing developers before county boards and the City of St. Augustine).

Dissembling 7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE attempted to argue legislative history, pf the Entry Corridor Guidelines, which are unambiguous as if the plain meaning of the ordinance could somehow be impeached by talking about what led to its enactment.

WHITEHOUSE ignored the points I made in my testimony, including the fact that in statutory construction under Florida and federal law, the "specific controls over the general" and the "most recent enactment controls over the older enactment," which means that the city's 2003 Entry Corridor Guidelines trump the earlier 1975 zoning code

7-Eleven lawyer WHITEHOUSE seemed to imply that there was state preemption (there is not). WHITEHOUSE stammered and said “umm” and “uhh” at least 45 times that I counted. His opening argument and testimony consumed an entire hour, as indulgent and patient HARB members listened, then finally asked probing questions that skewered his arguments. WHITEHOUSE did not respond well at all.

7-Eleven lawyer WHITEHOUSE's corporate lackey advocacy was hardly spellbinding. However, it typifies the genre of flummery, dupery and nincompoopery (call it FDN) emitted by maladroit and deceptive developer lawyers in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

Such FDN arguments often won the day under the regime of corrupt St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, for whom the witless WHITEHOUSE was once a legal hey-boy, writing memoranda on such subjects as cable television regulation that resulted in our City being screwed, blued and tattooed by the likes of COMCAST and TIME-WARNER. (Read Whitehouse's city memos for yourself – he is no legal scholar and expressly gave no policy advice, knowing HARRISS was in bed with the cable companies anyway).

HARB member Antoinette Wallace pointedly asked WHITEHOUSE whether the opinion of the Florida DOT in an E-mail constituted evidence of any official action by FDOT. WHITEHOUSE bobbed and weaved – of course, t was not a final decision, and the HARB board members noted that DOT is supposed to defer to local preferences on safety issues involving cars and curb cuts anyway.

HARB Chairman Leonard Weeks, former Mayor of St. Augustine, noted that in his youth, a gasoline station was one or two pumps, not twelve.

In the end, it was not even close, factually or legally.
7-Eleven did not meet its burden of proof. Neighbors testified beyond cavil or peradventure that the 7-Eleven would be a disaster, violate the Entry Corridor Guidelines, and burden their rights as citizens, pedestrians, motorists and property owners.

Testifying without being sworn, eliciting hearsay testimony from an expert for whom a proper foundation was not laid, pettifogging 7-Eleven lawyer JAMES WHITEHOUSE repeatedly identified himself as a former St. Augustine Assistant City Attorney. It did not help.

None of it entitled 7-Eleven to any relief. The shocking thing is that such a large corporation, or its putative potential franchisee, would hire such a crabby lawyer, or any lawyer at all, to attempt to “fix” a zoning case that was correctly decided, in public, on television, in full view of everyone who loves our Nation's Oldest City.

The technical term for that its “chutzpa.”

Four members of the Historic Architecture Review Board deliberately wisely, and gave their verdict. No 7-Eleven at May and San Marco.

The packed Commission meeting room audience of some 75 citizens gave a respectful standing ovation.

Our City of St. Augustine is transforming itself before our eyes.
Activists deserve credit.

When corporate lapdog WILLIAM B. HARRISS was St. Augustine City Manager, they might have given 7-Eleven everything it asked for, with a few free tickets to the Noche de Gala (see below) thrown in as lagniappes.

Gracious as ever, HARB Chairman Leonard Weeks told WHITEHOUSE he had done a good job representing his client.

When it was over, I personally thanked Mr. Weeks and two other HARB board members, one of whom responded, “All we did was apply the law to the facts,” to which I responded, “That works for me.”

Such was not always the case in St. Augustine, which Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. once called the “most lawless” city in America, and which tyrannical city managers like WILLIAM POMAR and WILLIAM B. HARRISS once ran as their fiefs, as Republican lords of all they surveyed. (POMAR once even put a child's cardboard Burger King crown on his head at a City Commission meeting).

After the meeting, JAMES WHITEHOUSE spun the St. Augustine Record reporter with whistpered sweet nothings. WHITEHOUSE said nothing to me or any of the neighborhood residents and local activists. Then, in the courtyard outside the Commission meeting room at City Hall/Lightner Museum, the lying 7-Eleven lawyer, JAMES WHITEHOUSE, and his small, unhappy, glowering entourage of 7-Eleven hired guns and lobbyists planned their next move.

Justice was dpne, so they'll undoubtedly appeal immediately, first to the St. Augustine City Commission. There, the ambit of their arguments will be limited to the pitiful record of hearsay, incompetent, inadmissible “evidence” that they so ineptly put before the HARB.

Spinning on its Facebook page, constituting questionable attorney advertising, ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP stated, “James Whitehouse was in the news representing 7-Eleven, seeking approval for a new location in St. Augustine.” And on the next morning, Friday, February 21, 2014 at 4:16 AM, some unnamed narcissist at the ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP actually posted, "Praise from the Historic Architectural Review Boad for attorney James Whitehouse of St. Johns Law Group. More coverage of the St. Augustine 7-Eleven project in the Record." The Facebook entry stated that "James Whitehouse and 8 others like this," to which "Stacy Nowlin" responded, "Awesome!"

Meanwhile, the “objective” St. Augustine Record article spun the story as one might expect from a newspaper that caters to developers, even those caterwauling about their supposed right to ruin our historic city. The St. Augustine Record took the faux Fox News approach if Historic City News (published by Sheriff DAVIS SHOAR's 2004 fundraising bagman, MICHAEL GOLD), of ignoring the obvious – what 7-Eleven wanted was indecent, should never be allowed, and is beneath the grace and dignity of an historic city. If the St. Augustine Record had a spinal and testicular implant, it would have campaigned against the 7-Eleven. Obviously expecting advertising, the Record showed no conscience.

Credit is due to zealous neighborhood activists led by Ms. Melinda Rakoncay, Mr. Matthew Shaffer and former Mayor George Gardner, without whom we would not have Entry Corridor guidelines in our City Code.

Thanks to all who testified, including Ms. Rakoncay, Mr. Shaffer and also including Irene Arriola, Skip Hutton, Randy Moreman, James Carnes, Judith Seraphin, Bill Coleman, Celeste Carr, Debbie Sauls, Corinne White, Nancy Barnes Hubert, Dan Dinsmore and Jay Joubert, et al. Thanks to all who attended, watched, signed e-mails and sent petitions – thanks to our entire City and County for just saying “no” to 7-Eleven, a deeply insensitive Japanese multinational corporation that operates more than 50,000 convenience store gasoline stations world wide. See “Fun Facts” below.

Mr. Joubert said “St. Augustine is a national treasure” and proposed purchase of the land for a park. “I see a park there,” he said. I agree.

One “fun fact”: it may be an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act for 7-Eleven to argue that there is no sidewalk when everyone can see it today.

Another “fun fact”: 7-Eleven is owned by a Japanese multinational corporation (acquired n bankruptcy in 1991 by a group of Japanese 7-Eleven franchisees.

Our Ambassador to Japan is Caroline Kennedy, whose father was President John F. Kennedy.

If 7-Eleven pursues its frivolous appeal any further, it will be looking at an international incident – demanding to put the lives of deaf and blind people and adults and citizens in our Nation's Oldest City at risk with a gasoline station at the wrong place at the wrong time: on the eve of our City's 450th anniversary.

Does 7-Eleven want to invite a national consumer boycott by historic preservationsts? Does 7-Eleven reckon itself above the law?

Does 7-Eleven want the contribution of the Empire of Japan to the St. Augustine 450h celebration to be a traffic standstill, deaths, and destruction of our Nation's Oldest City? To sell gasoline? That is obscene.

You tell me, 7-Eleven: what's it going to be? You will lose in the City of St. Augusitne Ciy Commission, you will lose in Circuit Court, you will lose in the Florida Aourt of Appeals, you will lose in the Florida Supreme Court and the Supreme Court will not grant you certiorari. You might as well throw in the towel, NOW, like those unfortunate young businessmen who made the mistake of hiring fortunate son DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT and the St. JOHNS LAW GROUP to file another meritless appeal on their attempt to put a hot air balloon on permanent display in our Nation's Oldest City. BURNETT should have advised his clients to save their money, just as he should have advised 7-Eleven. Instead, he takes money for meritless appeals, wasting officials' and citizens' time with bad legal advice.

BURNETT should have advised 7-Eleven and its franchisee, in the immortal words of the late Republican corporate lawyer and Secretary of War and Secretary of State Elihu Root, whose wisest aedvice for his corporate clients was often: "You're damned fools, and you should stop!"

No one has any problem with gasoline stations. There is room for more on U.S. 1, SR 312, SR 207, and elsewhere Just not in our historic area, thank you!

At tomorrow night's City Commission meeting, there will be a first reading on a proposed ordinance on gasoline stations on entry corridors. It must be amended to ban gasoline stations on San Marco Avenue. Period.

Then we're done.

495th birthday of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the self-confessed murderer who founded the City of St. Augustine in 1565

No other city in America has anything quite like it. Last night was the Noche de Gala, a formal dinner-dance held at the City's Lightner Museum and City Hall.
At the Noche de Gala, in celebration of the birth of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the 1% celebrate the birth of the man who founded St. Augustine, Florida, our Nation's Oldest European-founded City.
Pedro Menendez, for whom a St. Johns County high school is named, ordered murders.
Florida's first Governor ordered murders, which included the 1566 murder of a Gay French translator of the Guale Indian language. As dutifully recordeed by the brother-in-law of Pedro Menendez de Aviles the order was to kill the man, without trial, by garroting, away from the town where he lived, because Menendez said he was a "Sodomite and a Lutheran."
No trial.
Florida's first Spanish Governor was a murderer.
That particular murder, and the rest of our St. Augustine GLBT history, helped inspire local Gay rights groups to win a federal court precedent providing for flying Rainbow flags on the Bridge of Lions from June 8-13, 2005.
Perhaps Pedro Menndez' bloodthirstiness and the annual fetish-celebration of his birthday, make some of the celebrants a bit insensitive to the blood on certain current public officials' hands.
In particular, I mean to single out St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, Medical Examiner PREDRAG BULIC and States' Attorneys RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA and BRADLEY KING).
Not one (1) current political, religious, business or journalistic leader in St. Augustine or St. Johns County has said one word about the need for a federal investigation into the shooting death of Michelle O'Connell and sequlae.
Not one (1) has questioned the insolent, inept, maladroit, illegal and insensitive response to the victim's family's demand for justice.

Only former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich was bold enough to send a letter to the St. Augustine Record.
Ben Rich is a mensch. He cares about people.
The current St. Johns County Commissioners -- including some in attendance last night at the Noche de Gala -- have relied on their right to remain silent, their First and Fifth Amendment rights to say and do nothing.
They should all hang their heads in shame.
That includes all five St. Johns County Commissioners.
They have control over the Sheriff's budget.
He owns them.
He is the political boss.
What's murder among friends, they must think.
Blood is on their hands.
Michelle O'Connell's blood, in particular.
Their corruption empowered the coverup.
Tour guides here have been saying for years that "if you want to get away with murder, do it in St. Augustine," harkening back to the events here in 1566 and 1777
Those who danced the night away in honor of a self-confessed murderer last night need to wake up to what their insouciant lifestyle here has brought.
Corruption in St. Johns County has brought us an unsolved shooting death of a deputy's girlfriend, a 3.5 year coverup, and a little seven year old girl who has spent the last four (4) Christmases without her mother, and without adequate answers.
We expect better from our leaders.
For a good time, go look at the photographs of the Noche de Gala people wearng formal attire, on the St. Augustine Record website -- city commissioners, managers, business leaders, investors, contractors and their entourage.
Do they look worried about the future?
They should be.
Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's day of reckoning is near.
He must answer to federal authorities.
I reckon that Anderson Cooper and the Cable News Network (CNN) will weigh in soon on the O'Connell case, as will others in the wake of The New York Times' investigation, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night" and the PBS/Frontline episode, "A Death in St. Augustine."
Of course, the death was actually in southern St. Johns County, but Sheriff SHOAR was once the Police Chief in St. Augusitne, and our former St. Augusitne City Manager, WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a "WILL HARASS" helped make him Sheriff, and now is on the Sheriff's payroll, with a gun, a badge a car, running the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Four Star Association, Inc. and doling out money with the Sheriff's 501(c)(3) foundation "funny money." I bet St. Augustine Beach City Commissioners are glad they didn't turn over their police department to the Sheriff last year, as planned retaliation for officers' First Amendment protected activity.
No one in St. Johns County thinks Michelle O'Connell committed suicide.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

National Response Center Report Number 1074683

There was a sewage spill earlier tonight.
I reported it to the National Response Center, U.S. Coast Guard, acting for fifteen federal agenciesk concluding at 9 PM. Mr. Taliaferro, a civilian working at the Coast Guard, took the report.
The reason I reported the sewage spill to the National Response Center is that there was a sign between the White Lion Restaurant and the No Name Bar, reporting a recent sewage spill, giving the telephone number of 825-1044.
There was lye on the ground, and it was about to rain.
The faceless bureaucrat who answered the telephone for the City of St. Augustine sewage treatment and water plant refused to provide any information, and hung up the telephone.
He nung up twice.
In light of our City's past history of environmental pollution and coverups, I reported the possible environmental crime.
We shall overcome.
Next time someone calls the plant, treat them with respect.
Thank you.

Historic Vote by St. Augustine Historic Architecture Review Board -- Unanimous 4-0 Verdict Against Building 7-Eleven in Our Historic Downtown -- "Oh Thank Heaven," No 7-Eleven To be Built At Failing Intersection of May and San Marco

We did it!
Yes we can!
Democracy works.
Our officials now work for the people and not the 1%
(More later.)


Donuts, Coffee, Slurpee® Drinks, Oh My!
With so many beverages and fresh food options at 7-Eleven stores, it's a wonder how 7-Eleven can keep up with it all. That is why we have gathered these fun facts because seeing is believing.

7-Eleven, Inc.

7-Eleven, Inc. is the world’s largest convenience store chain with more than 52,100 stores in 16 countries, of which more than 10,300 are in North America, and the company has more outlets than any other retailer or food service provider.
July 11 (7/11) is the official birthday of the 7-Eleven® convenience store chain. The company celebrates its 86th birthday this year.
In 1927, convenience retailing began simply enough when an employee of Southland Ice Company in Dallas started selling milk, eggs and bread from the ice dock. Soon, the convenience store was born and became known as 7-Eleven to reflect the 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. hours of operation.
For more than 15 years, 7-Eleven has been listed among Hispanic Magazine’s Corporate 100, the top companies providing the most opportunities to Hispanics.
7-Eleven adds another store to its worldwide operations every 2 hours.
Industry Firsts

7-Eleven was the first to … operate 24 hours a day … sell fresh-brewed coffee in to-go cups ... have a self-serve soda fountain … and offer super-size fountain drinks.
7-Eleven aired the first television advertising by any convenience store; the animated commercial featuring a singing owl and rooster ran in 1949.
7-Eleven was the first retailer to offer fresh-brewed coffee in to-go cups, introducing it in their Northeast stores in 1964. And now is the first retailer to add functional, herbal enhancements to its coffee to go.
7-Eleven was the first c-store retailer to give guests “freedom of choice” by offering all major soft drink brands at the fountain.
7-Eleven was the first convenience store to sell pre-paid phone cards.
Slurpee® Beverages

The most Slurpee® beverages are sold in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, followed by the greater Detroit, Mich. area. But the #1 store in the world for Slurpee drink sales is located in Kennewick, Wash.
7-Eleven guests sip almost 13 million Slurpee® beverages each month. Favorite flavors are Coca-Cola and Minute Maid Cherry. Since introduced in 1966, close to 6.5 billion Slurpee drinks have been sold, almost enough for every person on the planet.
Fresh Bakery

7-Eleven sells 169 million fresh-baked donuts and pastries per year – enough to feed every person in the state of Virginia two dozen donuts! On average, 7-Eleven sells 320 fresh bakery items every minute.
If you lined up all the bakery items made for 7-Eleven in a year, they would extend 6,000 miles – from Boston to San Diego … and back again.
How sweet it is! 7-Eleven uses 666,000 pounds of glaze each month on its donuts, fritters and other pastries.
Most guests want a beverage with their favorite donut – 35 percent choose a cup of 7-Eleven® coffee and 12 percent choose an energy drink.
Blueberry is at the top of the hill as the best-selling muffin in 7-Eleven® stores across the United States. And guests #1 pick for a donut is glazed with more than 70 million sold per year. In New York, buttered rolls and bagels are the most popular, where in Southern California, chocolate chip cookies sell the most.
Who? What? Where? Who’s buying the most 7-Eleven stuff?

Of all U.S. retailers, 7-Eleven sells the most … USA Today newspapers, cold beer, cold single-serve bottled water, cold Gatorade, fresh-grilled hot dogs, money orders and lottery tickets.
Who’s buying the most merchandise at U.S. 7-Eleven® stores? The answer is – the most Slurpee® beverages in Kennewick, Wash., and the greater Detroit, Mich. area; hot dogs in Washington, D.C., coffee on Long Island, nachos in Colorado and Big Gulp® drinks in sunny Southern California.
Nearly one-third of the 6 million people who stop by a U.S. 7-Eleven store each day purchase immediately consumable food.
7-Eleven is America’s favorite beverage destination. More than half of store guests purchase a non-alcohol beverage.
Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population lives within one mile of a 7-Eleven store.
A typical 7-Eleven store in the United States has between 2,400 and 3,000 square feet, and carries about 2,500 different items.
California has more 7-Eleven stores than any other state – about 1,200.
Of all its proprietary products, 7-Eleven sells more fresh-brewed coffee than anything else –1 million cups each day. That’s more than 10,000 pots of coffee an hour every hour of every day of the year. In fact, 7-Eleven could serve a cup of coffee to every person in its hometown of Dallas every single day – now that’s a Texas-sized coffee break!
7-Eleven sells approximately 100 million fresh-grilled hot dogs every year, more than any other retailer in America, and could feed every person in Frankfurter-loving Chicago a Big Bite® hot dog each day for a month.
When the 32-ounce Big Gulp® drink was introduced in 1976, it was the biggest fountain soft drink on the market. Twelve years later, 7-Eleven introduced the giant 64-ounce Double Gulp® beverage, at that time one of the biggest fountain soft drinks on the market. In 2012, the Double Gulp drink shrunk to 50 ounces because consumers wanted the large cup to better fit into a "vehicle-sized" cup holder.
7-Eleven stores sell almost 38 million gallons of fountain drinks a year – enough to fill approximately 51 Olympic-size swimming pools.
7-Eleven sells 41 million gallons of milk each year – enough for lots of milk mustaches! And enough to pour more than two glasses of milk for every man, woman and child in the United States.
7-Eleven sells more than 2,300 fresh sandwiches per hour.
If all the prepaid cards sold on an average day at 7-Eleven were placed end to end, they would span more than 30 football fields.
Enough fountain drinks are sold at 7-Eleven stores in a year to fill Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon twice.
7-Eleven has the largest ATM network of any retailer in United States.
Ho Ho Ho! The day most retailers are closed, 7-Eleven is hopping. Christmas is one of the biggest sales days of the year for the convenience chain.

CNN Reporting on Michelle O'Connell Shooting Case; Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR Gives Interview -- the Whole World is Watching -- Justice for Michelle O'Connell -- NOW.

It started with two gunshots and a dead woman on Sherlock Place in southern St. Johns County, on the night of September 2, 2010. Ear-witnesses heard an argument, a scream, a shot, more argument, another scream, another shot, and silence.
Michelle O'Connell, Deputy JEREMY BANKS' girlfriend, was dead, shot by his semi-automatic pistol, issued by the Sheriff's Department. BANKS said it was a suicide. The Sheriff's Department says it believed him, conducting an incompetent investigation, at best.
More than three years later, the truth was finally fully revealed by The New York Times' 14,000 word report, "Two Gunshots on A Summer Evening," by Walt Bogdanich & Glenn Silber (New York Times, November 24, 2013), and "A Death in St. Augustine" PBS Frontline, November 26, 2013.
The whole world watched St. Johns County and Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR. The world watched SHOAR say, "Give these two guys a hand," coercing some 500 deputies no to believe it was a homicide. The whole world watched SHOAR slink away from a New York Times photographer, his copy of the New York Times under his arm.
Yesterday, four score and seven days after the Times story, embattled Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR finally sat for a TV interview, with Cable News Network (CNN). Only yesterday.
See this morning's St. Augustine Record banner headline.
After 87 days of inculpatory silence and building community outrage here at coverups, it was time for SHOAR to talk.
Perhaps Sheriff SHOAR (and his brother-in-law Public Information Officer Commander CHARLES MILLIGAN) suddenly felt like talking on national TV.
Or, more likely, one of those dodgy, tree-killing, swamp-filling real estate developers -- for whom SHOAR and his political machine are shills -- said something.
One can just imagine one of them saying, "David, we've got a problem. This is what you're going to do."
Perhaps one of those dodgy developers commissioned secret public opinion polls, learning what we all know -- no one in St. Johns County believes Michelle O'Connell committed suicide.
It is beyond cavil: Sheriff DAVID SHOAR presided over a coverup. Rather than conclude that he should have recused himself, SHOAR told the St. Augustine Record he should have been at the putative suicide scene that night. He ignores his blatant conflict of interest. The Police Chiefs of both St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach would have recused heir entire departments under smilar facts. So would former Sheriff NEIL PERRY. Someone needs to ask SHOAR, "Why didn't you recuse yourself?"
As United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis said, "when government becomes a lawbreaker," it "promotes anarchy and disrespect for the law."
That is what St. Johns County faces: a Sheriff who reckons he is above the law.
Is he?
Is there justice for anyone victimized by the St. Johns County political machine?
How many victims are there here?
Who do we see about that?
There is so much for Sheriff SHOAR to answer for -- and CNN has the perspicacity and people to tell the many stories.
People should feel comfortable sharing their truths with CNN, knowing that CNN has the resources (like the Times and PBS) to do justice to the Michelle O'Connell story.
Two decades ago, I saw first-hand how CNN's high-quality work helped transform and transmogrify another corrupt Southern community (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) that had long been bossed by bullies (Lockheed Martin and the United States Department of Energy).
I fondly remember CNN's magnificient, detailed investigative coverage of those two powerful bullies and their attacks on an ethical physician, Dr. William K. Reid, M.D. in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for asking questions about environmental health problems caused by nuclear weapons plants' heavy metals and other toxicants.
CNN aired a two part, twenty minute investigative special by investigative reporter David Lewis and producer Steve Singer, "Poisoned Atmosphere," airing six times daily on February 21 & 22, 1993.
CNN interviewed sick Oak Ridge nuclear plant workers, including my clients, about illnesses apparently caused by nuclear weapons plant workplace and community exposures. CNN established beyond peradventure how the contractor, Martin Marietta, caused the retaliation against Dr. Reid.
The ensuing years of environmental justice activism helped:
(a) change federal laws on nuclear weapons plants,
(b) disburse billions of dollars in workers' compensation payments and health benefits to sick nuclear workers, and
(c) persuade the Department of Energy to oust the world's largest arms merchant, Lockheed Martin, from its 15-year monopoly codlock on contracts to run five nuclear weapons plants in three states with 20,000 employees.
CNN's "Poisoned Atmosphere" investigative story helped empower nuclear workers nationwide.
CNN's investigation helped give the Department of Energy both spinal and testicular implants.
It ultimately led to a public apology to sick workers (but not Dr. Reid or whistleblowers) by the Secretary of Energy, William Richardson (but not by President Clinton, who had apologized for Bosnia, Rwanda and slavery).
I first reported on Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear plant pollution for the Appalachian Observer in 1981 and won DOE delcassification of the world's largest mercury pollution event in 1983 (4.2 million pounds), and later represented whistleblowers after I graduated law school and finished my judicial clerkships at the Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington, D.C..
Then, CNN's "Poisoned Atmosphere" story in 1993 helped make all the difference.
Soon the Nashville Tennessean was on the case, reporting on the toxicants and the victims.
Thus, I look forward to CNN's continuing coverage of the Michelle O'Connell case, related corruption in St. Johns County, and the investigation of our Sheriff DAVID SHOAR.
In the words of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill in 1937,"We are entering an era of consequences."
The whole world is watching.
Justice for Michele O'Connell.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Justice for Michelle O'Connell

It was 87 days ago that the New York Times reported the Micelle O'Connell shooting case on page 1 and four full pages, with photographs, diagrams, video documentng the St. Johns County Sheriff's Department, two State's Attorney's offices, the Medical Examiner and the Florida Department of aw Enforcement's response to the death of a St. Johns County deputy with a shot from the deputy's own semi-automatic pistol. "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night," by Walt Bogdanich and Glenn Silbert, The New York Times, (November 24, 2013). PBS Frontline had a 51 minute story, "A Death in St. Augusine") (the death was actually in st. Johns County sprawl, rather than in the City).
In response, no current elected official or political, business, religous or journalistic leader has responded to public outrage.
Not one.
Courage, my friends.
Be not afraid.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
We shall overcome,
Please see below.

The New York Times article is here:
The PBS story is here:

We shall overcome,
Please see below.

Ben Rich, Former St. Johns County Commission Chairman, Writes in St. Augustine Record re: "A storm on the horizon" re: Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR and the Shooting of Michelle O'Connell

A storm on the horizon
Posted: December 1, 2013 - 12:11am By BEN RICH (Rich is a former St. Johns County Commissioner)
St. Augustine
Editor: It has been years since I have written to you about issues in St. Johns County. However with the recent exposure regarding the bungling of an investigation involving the death of a girlfriend of one of David Shoar’s deputies, I feel compelled to express my feelings on the matter of the exposure, not the death.

Readers should know that the global news community is publishing this negative and shocking story. Serious negative focus is being directed at our little county nationally and internationally. The New York Times story — a 14,000-word indictment — coupled with the Frontline television exposure will damage our struggling tourist industry.

The attempts of our Sheriff, through his website, to bail water from his sinking agency reflect desperation rather than confidence. In the field of law enforcement, the appearance of impropriety is as damning as impropriety itself.

I have been involved in government my entire life. I know the symptoms of its illnesses. In many cases I have learned the cures. Knowing how to get the right people to fix broken, ineffective, abusive, fraud-infected or corrupt government is one of my limited talents. Our Sheriff’s department is out of control and now the whole world knows it!

There is little doubt that the present exposure of our quiet little county is going to cause federal authorities to take notice. If they determine that further investigation is warranted, they will initiate grand jury proceedings. Those closed-door hearings will not be limited to the present situation that has caused us such negative exposure. What we should fear most is that other exposed skeletons will draw us into an even more dismal abyss.

Rarely can one claim, “I can feel your pain.” I can, and it hurts, badly.

CommentShare on emailShare on twitter3Follow This Article3.Rating: 3 (2 votes)Comments (6)Add comment ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.

1962 POINTS View Profile "Anonymity liberates hostility." -- Kathleen Parker, columnist, The Washington Post


PointsClara Waldhari 12/01/13 - 09:19 am 62Ben Rich

Thank you for writing this letter, no matter what your personal politics are.

We all know there is something rotten going on. Confirmation by a high-echelon County employee (you) is the [unfortunate] icing on the cake.

I want the federal authorities to take notice. To re-investigate, to convene a grand jury and be provided the unvarnished evidence -- ALL of it.

But frankly, I don't give one rat's azz if "the world" is watching us. It should be. The entire case was mishandled and smacks of cover-up. That deserves the eyes of the world upon us, especially if the man charged with the power to run LE in the county isn't doing his job for ALL.

Maybe you can be at the forefront of dismantling some of the power of that elected office, county sheriff. It is obvious one man wields too much power. The county should investigate at once.

Why you didn't choose to even address the death of Michelle O'Connell mystifies me.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell.

2531 POINTS View Profile

PointsRichard Tallman 12/01/13 - 09:22 am 62Ben, old friend.

Have you ever noticed how fresh everything smells after a storm? Perhaps a federal grand jury could lay these matters to rest once and for all. It is good to hear from you and to know that you are as feisty as ever. Friends need not agree on everything to be good friends.

234 POINTS View Profile

PointsAlma Wilber 12/01/13 - 10:43 am 72Politics Aside

Mr. Rich,

I don't know you personally or your politics, but I do appreciate you coming forward with this editorial. However, I agree with Clara in not caring if the world is watching us. I certainly hope they are!! Tourism means absolutely nothing to me. I live here, I work here, my kids have grown up here and I plan to retire here...and only in the past few years have I felt it a mistake to live here and it is due to the antics of our local Sheriff and his Deputies. I used to love this county and our town. The small town charm were what brought me back after many years away...but the big city feel is beginning to wear on me. And it absolutely sickens me to see how our Sheriff is smug enough to laugh in the face of all of this negative publicity. He honestly doesn't care that our town is being shown in a negative light. He began putting propaganda in the media for all to see at the beginning of this year. Instead of doing the responsible thing and letting an outside entity handle what is now considered the biggest blunder this side of Valdosta, he chose to go to battle with FDLE. Why? Because it seems he is egotistical enough to believe his own hype. What is worse is that there are Deputies, Attorneys, Judges, and laypeople that know exactly how David Shoar works...and refuse to say anything about it. They cite "conflict of interest" or "watching their own backs" or better yet, they claim just plain ignorance when questioned by outside sources. The rub in all of this is that it took a young woman losing her life for the New York Times and Frontline to take notice. I want the world to know what is going on here and I want the publicity to continue until there is a positive resolution to this case. Perhaps the attorneys out there that had questions about their clients cases in the past, need to revisit them. They may just find, if they dig deep enough, that the impropriety that is being implicated in Ms. O'Connell's case, also applies to their own cases. My, what a can of worms that would be for the Sheriff, his Deputies and Detectives!!

153 POINTS View Profile nancy

Pointsnancy shaver 12/01/13 - 03:39 pm 62Thank you for your clarity and candor

I look forward to a fact based investigation and its outcome. It is frightening to think that we have a Sheriff who feels he has been anointed to be above any laws, even those of the Bible in which he espouses his beliefs. And it is perhaps even more horrifying that we have so many people in our law enforcement agencies who had to be aware of this horrendous miscarriage of justice, and chose to look away.

2979 POINTS View Profile

Pointsmark toomey 12/03/13 - 11:36 am 10What is

What is the States Attorney doing about this?

1962 POINTS View Profile "Anonymity liberates hostility." -- Kathleen Parker, columnist, The Washington Post


PointsClara Waldhari 12/03/13 - 12:07 pm 10@Mark T.

Hi Mark,
This is a letter from the FDLE to State Attorney Brad King of Ocala. It was written by Dominick D. Pape, special agent in charge, FDLE.

I hope it answers your questions.

Rick Scott, Governor
Pam Bondi, Attorney General
Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer
Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture

Jacksonville Regional Operations Center
921 N. Davis Street, Building E
Jacksonville, Florida 32209-6838
WNW.fdle.stale.f1. us
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Gerald M. BaileyCommissioner

March 28, 2012

Honorable Brad King
State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit
110 NW 1 Ave, Suite 5000
Ocala, FL 34475

RE: The death of Michelle O'Connell

Dear Mr. King,
After meeting with your staff on March 15,2012 and reviewing your office's final memorandum, I understand your position that the facts as they currently exist do not support the prosecution of Jeremy Banks for any homicide offense.

It is my office's opinion based on the facts of this case and your memorandum that this case clearly warrants an Inquest into the death of Michelle O'Connell pursuant to Chapter 936.003,
Florida Statutes.

Compelling information that I believe supports this request is as follows:
1) Jerry F. Findley was selected based on a recommendation by State Attorney R. J. Larizza and staff based on past performance in a high profile homicide prosecution. On March 27,2012, FDLE ASAC Steve Donaway spoke to Mr. Findley concerning conclusions
contained on page three of your memorandum. Mr. Findley stated that he did consider the possibility that the gun was upside down when it was fired and eliminated that idea based on evidence from the crime scene. Specifically, Mr. Findley opined that the final position of the ejected shell casings and the lack of blood spatter on the left arm leads him to conclude that the "upside down gun" theory could not have occurred.

2) On page 3 of your memorandum it states Dr. Bulich attributed the l x l cm laceration on Michelle's fight eye to an impact injury from the tactical light on the firearm. On the same page Dr. Cogswell concurred. However, Jerry Findley conducted repeated tests
with the weapon and determined that the weapon moves backwards, away from the muzzle blast, once fired and would not move forward to cause the direct impact suggested by the medical examiners. We concur the shape of the laceration is consistent
with the shape of the tactical light. But before the victim was shot the same injury could have occurred by the protruding tactical light striking the victim's face from any position since the tactical light has the same curvature around its circumference. The medical
examiners offered no opinion whether the laceration occurred prior to or at the time of death.


3) On August 29, 2011, State Attorney R. J. Larizza called for a meeting between several members of his staff, FDLE and Doctor Bulich. The purpose was to interview Doctor Bulich concerning his opinion in the cause of death of Michelle O'Connell. The
questioning was led by State Attorney R. J. Larizza. During the interview Dr. Bulich was asked to demonstrate how the weapon would have been held by the victim. Dr. Bulich changed the way he held the weapon a few times once questions concerning the evidence collected at the crime scene were asked of him. Dr. Bulich has never authored a report to his fIndings. During this meeting Dr. Bulich stated he could rule the death undetermined if needed. After this meeting Dr. Bulich then reviewed crime scene photographs and
other materials. Doctor Bulich's willingness to make the cause of death undetennined is very persuasive for requesting an Inquest.

4) Doctor Hobin has authored three opinions of the cause of death in this case. Doctor Hobin commenced with suicide, then to "shot by another person", then to the final conclusion of suicide. Again Doctor Hobin's changing of cause of death is persuasive in
requesting an Inquest.

5) Doctor Steve Cogswell reviewed this matter as to cause of death. No written report will be authored in this case. The investigative team never had the opportunity to meet or talk with Dr. Cogswell concerning his opinion. I do not believe his opinion is persuasive at
this time without having the ability to review a report or speak with the Doctor concerning his findings.

6) Your memorandum mentions two independent witnesses that were located during FDLE's investigation. You mention the testimony of these witnesses appears to be credible but not sufficient to support any type of homicide conviction. I am in total
agreement with your assessment of the witnesses. FDLE, after identifying these witnesses, had an independent law enforcement agency complete polygraph exams to check their credibility and veracity, which they passed.

Based on the above information, I hope you will consider my request for an Inquest into the cause of death of Michelle O'Connell.
If you need further information or you would like to meet with the investigative team, please feel free to contact me at the Jacksonville FDLE office, phone number 904-360-7100.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Dominick D. Pape
Special Agent in Charge

Four Score and Seven Days Ago, The New York Times Report, "Two Gunshots on A Summer Night" Exposed The St. Johns County Sheriff's Department Coverup of a Fatal Shooting

That was 87 days ago.
Four score and seven days ago.
That's almost three whole months.
Former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich spoke out about it (see above).
Not one local religious, political, government, business or journalistic leader has taken a stand publicly calling for a federal grand jury investigation.
Not one. (See below).
What passes for local "news" media in St. Augustine and Jacksonville has lost interest. There has not been one news story about the Michelle O'Connell case in months.
Not one.
While the Jacksonville Times-Union had one good editorial, there has not been one followup editorial or article.
Not one.
While Folio Weekly first covered the Michelle O'Connell case, neither it, nor First Coast News' Anne Schindler (former Folio Weekly editor) have had any stores on the O'Connell case since 2013.
Not one.
Wonder why?
Peope are afraid, very afraid, of retaliation by Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR.
"Be not afraid."
It's in the Bible some 50 times, and those were the first three words spoken by Pope John Paul II upon becoming Pope.
Those of us who love St. Augustine and are working on reforming its government are not afraid.
Good and decent people everywhere will look with horror at St. Johns County, a one-party tyranny whose political boss is Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR.
We look forward to CNN and other national news media finally giving this national scandal the national attention it deserves, on a daily basis, until there is:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thank you, Congressman JOHN LUIGI MICA

As Joni Mitchell once sang, "You don't know what you got till it's gone."
I used to rip, routinely, Rep. JOHN LUIGI MICA.
But at least Rep. MICA worked for his district.
Walking along the new St. Augusitne Sewall las Monday night, I thought wistfully of Rep. MICA, who worked to "bring home the bacon" -- and the "pork" -- to our district.
One of the coolest things about St. Augustine is now he New Seawall, which city Manager John Patrict Regan, P.E. worked to get sinc 1999, when a hurrcane breached the Old Seawall. The new one preserves the old one, built by West Point graduates billeted in the 1840s -- it does so by creating a twelve foot wide promenade, which shows off our town. Already foreign and U.S. tourists are enjoying the views, which the rest of us too often take for granted.
Thank you, Rep. MICA.
Without the 75% match from FEMA, our City would have had to raise local taxes to pay for the $6.25 million New Seawall.
Rep. MICA's actions have helped preserve and protect our history and our residents.
Thank you, Rep. MICA.
Three cheers!
Perhaps we should look to Rep. MICA to sponsor a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore,, perhaps haming one of its features after him. Maybe a New St. Augustine Beach Pier -- a public-private partnership being taked about by Key International, St. Johns County, St. Augustine Beach, Akerman Senterfitt, et al., one that might embrace an Embassy Suites hotel, a covered, ocean-overlooking farmer's market and fishermen's wharf, restaurants, shops galleries, a history and civil rights museum, ocean-watching and lots of fishing (ending in a T, covered by a hotel), in what could be the biggest pier in Florida.
Rep. MICA believes in public-private partnerships. So do other thinking Repubicans, Democrats and Independents.
The TEA PARTY, on the other hand, and its minionns hate government and don't do anything for anyone but the rich.
Our KOCH-funded, KOCH-addled Republican Congressman, RONALD DION DeSANTIS, is AWOL (Absent Without Leave). This Harvard lawyer and Yale baseball team camptain is clueless. DeSANTIS does nothing for our District, our people, our jobs, our businesses and our beautiful environment.
RONALD DION DeSANTIS might as well represent corporate oligarchs on Wall Street, because indeed he does.
RONALD DION DeSANTIS is too busy voting with the KOCH BROTHERS' contingent in Congress, neglecting his duties.
The most important duty of our next Congressman from our new Sixth Congressional District must be to preserve, protect and defend our coastline, our environment and our way of life -- in the spirit of Rep. MICA, who at least helped bring millions in federal funds to portect our historic town from storms and global climate change.
Thank you, Rep. MICA!

The Sheriff DAVID SHOAR AWARD Goes to Flagler College Vice President MARC WILLIAR

The Sheriff DAVID SHOAR Award at Flagler College should probably be renamed.
Today is the 86th day since The New York Times exposed the coverup on the O'Connell shooting case.
Perhaps Flagler College's majority women graduating students picket SHOAR, and firmly resolve refuse to accept any award named after a cruel, sexist, misogynist Sheriff who covers up for Officer Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV).
Meanwhile, how about if Flagler College gives the last DAVID SHOAR Award to fired Flagler College MARC WILLIAR, fired for falsifying student records and data submitted to the United States Department of Education, et al.?
Two peas in a pod!
What do you reckon?
See below.

Flagler College Exposes Fraudfeasing Vice President -- Let the Investigations and the Healing Begin NOW

Kudos to Flagler College President William Abare and an unnamed faculty member and the Information Technology (IT) Department for catching MARC WILLIAR, a Flagler College Vice President, in the act of fraud.
For four (4) years, WILLIAR falsified freshman test scores, GPAs and class ranks.
This crime, this fraud, based on WILLIAR's professed "love" of his longtime employer, led Flagler College to get unjustified rankings and led students to apply there and spend money there.
A federal grand jury needs to investigate, starting with WILLIAR, who confessed to the St. Augustine Record.
False reports were admittedly made in Flagler College's name to U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, the U.S. Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, et al. -- sure sounds like mail fraud and wire fraud to me -- these are possible federal crimes. So is providing false information to the United States Department of Education.
Flagler College must be treated as a crime scene.
All evidence must be preserved.
The FBI must investigate.
An outside investigation will commence of Flagler College by the 900-lawyer, 19-office corporate law firm of McGuireWoods, with Special Counsel of former American Bar Association President (and former Florida State University President) Talbot "Sandy' D'Alemberte.
The D'Alamberte/McGuireWoods investigation must now uncover who knew, who should have known, and (in the words of Howard Henry Baker, Jr., "what did they know and when did they know it?"
Flagler College hires former St. Augustine Record reporters to do its Public Relations -- one has had a weekly Record humor column for years. Flagler College's Vice President WILLIAR got Flagler College undeserved publicity -- dozens of front page articles about it being one of the "best" colleges.
Now we know it was all a fraud.
What else was a fraud?
Flagler's treatment of residents and St. Augustine's government?
Let us hope this searing experience leads to thorough reforms -- an end to the era of academic bossism typified by "MASSA PROCTOR" -- Flagler College Chancellor WILLIAM L. PROCTOR, an authoritarian despot who ran the school with an iron fist for four decades, firing faculty members at the drop of a hat, even in the midst of a semester, showing contempt for academic freedom.
Flagler College faculty members and students' free speech rights must be protected and not neglected.
Only because one courageous faculty member spoke out, the IT Department did its job, and both were empowered by President Abare, did this scandal get exposed.
To those who love our Nation's Oldest City, and to those living in the neighborhoods surrounding Flagler College and the Florida Schol for the Deaf and Blind, WILLIAM PROCTOR's arrogance is anathema.
WILLIAM L. PROCTOR has no respect for historic buildings and neighborhoods, long using political pull to destroy entire cty blocks of historic buildings.
Due to the climate of fear and retaliation that he fostered, WILLIAM PROCTOR must resign as Chancellor if reform is to work at Flagler College.
Let him take a bow, and bow out gracefully.
Then Flagler College can realize its destiny.
It has fine faculty, good students and it can become something to be proud of here in St. Augustine.
Academic freedom requires that Flagler College adopt binding rules to protect the rights of faculty, students and staff to speak their minds, consisent with a "liberal arts" college (which Flagler College aspires to become).
Flagler College has been a bully in St. Augustine.
For decades, Flagler College has been devastating our historic buildings and historic area.
Rose Kennedy's favorite Bible verse was from Matthew: "To whom much is given, much is expected."
Flagler College had long promised to cap admissions.
Flagler College broke its word.
Flagler College does little for our community.
While Flagler College's online civil rights archive is a good start, Flagler must do more in terms of scholarships for local minority and low-income students; adult education; library access; and historic preservation.
Flagler College must mend its ways, halting its expansionism in our historic area. Let any future Flagler College expansions take place on West King Street, or at the St. Augustine Record's nearly-empty building at SR 207 and SR 312.
Flagler College, to whom much is given, must start paying Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), like Harvard, Yale and other schools do.
WILLIAM L. PROCTOR mocked and blocked Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) as our State Representative from the 20th District in the Florida House of Representatives (and as self-serving chair of the pertinent legislative Education Committee).
Radical rightist WILLIAM PROCTOR's unseemly efforts to destroy four (4) historic neighborhoods to benefit his Edifice Complex are a stench in the nostrils of our Nation's Oldest City.
Flagler College Chancellor WILLIAM PROCTOR has an authoritarian personality. Under his thumb and nearly totalitarian tutelage, the Flagler College Board of Directors is all-white and nearly all-male. The student body is nearly all-white, with the exception of a few scholarship atheletes. There was more diversity among the employees of Henry Flagler's hotels and railroad during the Gilded Age than there is among Flagler College's faculty and studentry now.
Cranky, crabby, creepy Flagler College Chancellor WILLIAM PROCTOR will not be missed.
PROCTOR must be hailed before a federal grand jury and asked about Flagler College's misleading the Department of Education.
Would a mere Vice President have done so sua sponte?
Or did PROCTOR egg him on, or at least show willful blindness?
Was fraud committed before 2010?
Was there misprision of felonies?
What did the presitious Board of Trustees know?
What were they told?
Are they a working board, or were they kept in the dark by the fraudfeasor(s)?
Here are their names:
Flagler College Board of Trustees
Mr. David C. Drysdale - Chairman
Mr. Frank D. Upchurch III - Vice Chairman
Mr. John D. Bailey, Jr.
Mr. Mark F. Bailey
Mr. Eddie Creamer
Mrs. Viki W. Freeman '74
Mr. Horace A. Gray IV '88
Mr. Richard W. Groux, Jr. '79
Colonel G.F. Robert Hanke, USMC (Ret.)
Mr. Walter G. Jewett, Jr.
Mrs. Delores T. Lastinger
Mr. Robert E. Martin
Mr. Duane L. Ottenstroer
Mr. Lewis B. Pollard
Mr. Chris L. Regas
Mr. Randal L. Ringhaver
The Honorable John D. Rood
Ms. Nancy E. Rutland '80
Mr. Bradford B. Sauer
Mr. Frank C. Steinemann, Jr.
Mr. Robert J. Strang '79
Mr. Mitchell B. Walk '79
Mrs. Kim R. Wheeler
Mr. Brian L. Wilson '82
Mr. Jack Wilson
Hopefully, the Board will learn about fiduciary duty. Perhaps the Board will soon vote to accept the resignation of Flagler College Chancellor WILLIAM L. PROCTOR.
Otherwise, how do faculty members teach impressionable minds about morality, law, business ethics and right and wrong when the overbearing WILLIAM L. PROCTOR still stalks the campus, like Banco's Ghost, as lugubrious a goober as ever made a chair squeak, chilling faculty and student free speech rights by his words and deeds?
It is time for WILLIAM PROCTOR to go.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sensible transportation planning

Reactions to Friday's transportation planning seminar at City Hall should be sufficient stimuli for reviving 1928-style trolleys here, providing sustainable battery powered transportation around St. Augustine and St. Augusitne Beach, and geting locals and tourists out of their cars, with more walking, bicycling and riding trolleys.
Former Mayoral candidate Peter Romano and former Mayor Len Weeks were both right: reviving trolleys will make this town more liveable.
We also need to ban eighteen-wheelers from our Bridge of Lions (the Florida DOT can do it, preserving the life of the narrow, recreated historic Bridge, rebuilt at a cost of some $78 million).
Deliveries by eighteen-wheelers in the historic downtown need to be more discrete: nothing ruins the vista for us all than to see a line of beer trucks. Let deliveries take place at night, when most of us are in our beds.
What do you reckon?
Ed Slavin
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Stop Harassing Artists and Musicians -- The Whole World is Watching

To rogue elements in the St. Augustine Police, including the offspring of a corrupt former Sheriff:
The whole world is watching law enforcement in St. Johns County, Florida.
Perhaps you had not heard, or read.
So before you hassle street artists and street musicians:
Ask yourself if that's why you put on a badge every day.
Ask yourself if you're ready to be on national television and national newspapers.
Ask yourself who you're gonna call if that street musician or street artist turns out to be an undercover FBI or FDLE informant and you're BUSTED for criminal civil rights violations.
Ask yourself who's going to pay your criminal defense lawyers.
Ask yourself how you would look on "60 Minutes" or PBS "Frontline."
Ask our City Manager, John Patrick Regan, P.E., if you're supposed to be hassling street artists and street musicians.
It's against the law, a violation of the First Amendment, repeatedly ruled to be such by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (and at least one federal civil jury).
Knock it off. NOW!


Four score and four days ago, The New York Times reported on the death of Michelle O'Connell, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night," by Walt Bogdanich and Glenn Silber.
After breaking up with her deputy boyfriend, Michelle O'Connell was killed with a bullet from the gun of a St. Johns County Sheriff's Deputy.
The investigation was biased because the intoxicated boyfriend, Deputy Jeremy Banks told his colleagues it was a suicide. Sheriff David B. Shoar did not recuse himself. Shoar's office failed to analyze evidence or interview ear-witnesses. State's Attorneys Ralph Joseph Larizza and Bradley Davis, and Medical Examiner Predrag Bulic showed a guillible proclivity to believe pretexts and not do their jobs. The Sheriff and his gang have retaliated, firing one deputy and bringing a SLAPP suit against the FDLE agent, Rusty Rodgers, who did his job without fear or favor.
Sheriff Shoar publicly mocked deputies who believe there was a homicide, asking 500 of them to "give these two guys a hand" in video footage that was part of the PBS Frontline story, "A Death in St. Augustine."
(The death was not in St. Augustine, but in the rural county south of town).
Our Sheriff's Department was long the locus of organized crime. L.O. Davis was removed from office by Governor Claude Kirk and the Florida State Senate for corruption in 1970 (although Sheriff David Shoar's website has for years falsely claimed Davis was "exonerated" by the Florida State Senate). I wrote August 28, 2013 and advised Shoar of three errors about Davis on his website; one was eventually corrected (the claim that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested here by "federal agents."
Two material falsehoods still remain in Shoar's paen to "20th Century Sheriffs": the claim that Davis was "exonerated" (he was removed by 44-2 Senate vote) and the claim that "with Sheriff Davis' leadership the community held together" in 1964 when Davis did no such thing: Davis knowingly hired KKK deputes, used cattle prods and police dogs to intimidate demonstrators and was allied with racist brick throwers, racist bomber J.B. Stoner and the Ku Klux Klan. Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young said St. Augusine was "worse than Bimingham" and the only place "where our hospital bills exceeded our bail bond bills."
Like an Energizer Bunny on steroids, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Department in the 21st century keeps going and going and going with nepotism, cronism, coverups, retaliation and ridicule.
That is the MO -- modus operandi -- of the corrupt political machine here in St. Johns County, Florida.
That machine was long headed by the Sheriff, and bossed and bullied by crooked developers. This has been the political machine's MO for decades, dating back to the times when LO --Lawrence O. Davis -- and the KKK and the Flagler East Coast Railway ran this town.
This corrupt MO is contrary to the genuis of a free people. It must be ended at once.
The truth about the death of Michelle O'Connell -- the other MO -- will haunt this county.
The truth will not go away simply because our political, religious and business leaders are cowards, afraid of Sheriff David B. Shoar.
The stain of corruption will not be extirpated until federal crimes are prosecuted by federal agents -- federal crimes like civil rights violations, obstruction of justice, mail and wire fraud, bribery, extortion, etc.
As LBJ said after Selma, "We SHALL overcome."

Time for the St. Augustine Record to Rehire Local Cartoonists

The St. Augustine Record is now running political cartoons again. They are mostly unfunny, unsubtle and obscure political cartoonists most noted for their anti-Obama tilt.
How cartoonish and thuggish.
The Record needs local political cartoons again.
Ten years ago, the Record on Sunday might run two to four local political cartoons, satirizing Florida nad local events.
Derek May, then-Publisher of the Record, in 2009 wrongfully fired one local political cartoonist, Ed Hall.
May knuckled under to Philistine pressure from St. Johns County School Superintendent Joseph Joyner and his minions, including Arts Council founder Phil McDaniel.
The Record and Morris Communications need to rehire Ed Hall.
Let the healing begin.
The firing was in response to McDaniel's overwrought Op-Ed piece, responding as if Hall had mocked the School Superintendent. Actually, the cartoon was of a generic Florida School Superintendent, fat and bloated, portrayed as cutting arts and music education while retaining his perks (and pork). So porcine is our local political machine, all Republican, all the time, that it flexed its muscles by reaching out to crush Ed Hall's excellent cartoons.
The Record has been poorer for the exclusion of local cartoons since 2009 -- first Ed Hall, then Doug MacGregor.
One of the joys of having a supposedly local newspaper is having local cartoons on local issues.
The Record needs to restore local cartoonists, in keeping with its renewed putative commitment to local news.
What do you reckon?

HAGIOGRAPHY For A Segregationist Mayor

The St. Augustine Record's website issued promotional hype yesterday, calling former St. Augustine Mayor Joseph Shelley "beloved."
Yes, as a baby doctor.
But not as a mayor.
He was a segregationist who went on national television spewing hatred and issued threats in writing to the parents of protestors, promising lifetime blacklisting. This is Black History Month.
Rather than atone for its one segregationist record, The Record has doubled down on it.
The Record ran PR advances for KKK rallies. The Record published the names and addresses of elementary school children desegregating local schoolss, resulting in firings, firebombings and blacklisting and beatings. The Record's then-owner, Mr. Hoppy Tibault, was only too happy to be a force for evil in our town.
Unlike Marilyn Thompson and the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader, the Record has never apologized or atoned for its 1960s coverups of civil rights atrocities.
The Record might have run a nice feature on Mayor Shelley's widow without putting a halo on Mayor Shelley himself. The promo for today's story by outgoing features editor Ann Heyman was unnecessary hagiography for a segregationist.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Speaking of Virginia (Old Town Alexandria)

I read online earlier a riposte to the City of St. Augustine's efforts to do something about traffic and parking. The riposte was annoying, in that it distorted facts.
The riposter pointed out that there are no subway stops in Alexandria, Virginia and for good reason -- the locals don't want visitors.
Purporting to speak from "a decade" living in Old Town Alexandria, the riposter was just plain wrong in stating "There is no Metro stop in Alexandria by design."
The riposter should post an erratum.
There are indeed several Metro subway stops in Alexandria, Virginia including one that has been serving Old Town for decades.
In fact, the name of the stop is "King Street -- Old Town." I've been there.
You can look it up.
As the late United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."
Advocating snobbery for St. Augustine is one thing, but basing it on inaccurate "facts" is another.
The riposter in quo was quite right about Sheriff Shoar and the Michelle O'Connell case, but quite wrong on transportation planning.
Yes, "King Street -- Old Town" is a subway stop.
Old Town welcomes tourists, and so does St. Augustine. Affectations of martyrdom to the contrary, most of us are glad other people like the town that we love, and don't hate tourists.
I will not emit the standard sophomoric Southern Sheriff's response to criticism -- "If you don't like it here, go on back North." However, the riposter well knew or should have known upon moving here that this was a tourist town. There are places that are warm without that curse.
Not for me, but perhaps better for thee?
What do you reckon?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Yes, Virginia! Happy Valentine's Day

Just before 11 pm last night came word of the latest victory for equality -- a federal judge struck down Virginia's anti-Gay marriage laws and constitutional amendment.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Both St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach have adopted GLBT rights ordinances, unanimously: we await St. Johns County government's very consertative Republican burghers ackonwledging our right to exist.
Fueled by campaigns of hate from the likes of RANDY COVINGTON (see below), that might prove to be a long wait.
But St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach are today islands of acceptance in Northeast Florida, where Jacksonville's Mayor would not lift a finger to support GLBT rights before its City Council in 2012, leading to rejection by bigots.
St. Augustine is different.
St. Augustine is becoming cooler and more hip, moving from cruel (in 1964) to cool (now).
In fact, there was spontaneous applause at the St. Augustine City Commission last year, from wedding businesspeople, when I spoke in favor of Gay marriage (as they sought and won the right for wedding couples and others to imbibe champagne on horse-drawn carriages).
I wrote the first article on Gay marriage for an American Bar Association publication (Human Rights) in 1991, after winning settement in the case of Rinde v. Woodward & Lothrop, which brought equal discount benefits to employees at 30 Woodies and John Wanamaker stores in six states and Washington, D.C. Woodies was persauded bigotry was bad for business, as boycotts were threatened by the National Organization for Women (NOW), and Gay and progressive groups. Woodies' discount incrased its profits, as all discounts do -- people spend more money.
I predict that, as a result of a pending Equality Florida federal court case in South Florida, there will soon be romantic Gay and Lesbian weddings right here in St. Augustine, the wedding capital of Florida.
The anti-Gay marriage amendment in Florida is bad for business. Gay and Lesbian people are going elsewhere for destination weddings -- as far away as Hawaii.
As the Woodward & Lothrop case proved, bigotry is bad for business. Corporate America knows that. They supported the Supreme Court's Windsor decision last year.
Yet Gay marriage in Florida is illegal now. Why?
Braying organized Gay-bashing bigots' fear and smear. Fulminating fascists, supported by opportunistic then-Governor Charles Crist, Florida's antedeluvian anti-Gay marriage constitutional amendment was adopted in 2006 (like Virginia's), to protect the "sanctity" of marriage. This gooberishness was accomplished amidst a hateful, falsehood-festooned anti-Gay campaign so choked with money that it even sent hate mail to at least one dead dog.
Now running for Governor as a Democrat, the corporativist Mr. Crist has since apologzed for his Gay-bashing Philistinism, but I still don't trust him.
Do you?
Nor do I trust our St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc., whose tired putative leaders refuse to advertise in Miami, to youth, or to GLBT markets, even though its MMGY consultant, Dr. Peter Yesawich, Ph.D.,, said GLBT people are 5% of the tourism market and more of "the spend."
SJC VCB's illegal, unethical no-bid contract expired last year. It still refuses to cooperate in response to Open Records requests. VCB still refuses to provide a list of Gay-friendly lodgings.
We are waiting for the County to re-bid the contract, and to take bed tax money squandered on advertising in Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens and spend it wisely -- on a new St. Augustine Beach Pier, a private partnership with city, state and federal governments, embracing a new Key International Embassy Suites Hotel and a local verson of Seattle's Pike Plae Market, complete with a farmer's market, fishing, crafts and a small business incubator.
The price for VCB's anti-Gay, anti-youth and racist bigotry must be sunsetting VCB.
VCB Founder Virginia Whetstone infamously said that VCB should not advertise for college student tourists, and that St. George Street stores should all close at 6 PM because of her odd fear of "crime."
The only crime wave I am aware of here in St. Augustine, Florida is white collar crme, including possible wage theft and possible VCB and member antitrust and civil rights violations, for which VCB must answer to the Justice Department.
Few African-Americans are employed on St. George Street, while artists and entertainnnr stll being threatened by police. Can't you just feel the love?
Meanwhile, Happy Valentine's Day.
Gay Marriage is becoming a reality, as I hesitated to predict in my 1991 ABA Human Rights article.
Yes, Virginia, this one's for you, too!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

St. Augustine Visioning Process Hiring Facilitator Dr. Herbert A. Marlowe, Jr., Ph.D.

The City of St. Augustine Visioning COmmitee is in the process of hiring a facilitator to help the fifteen member committee focus on our future. After requests for proposals and staff ratings by staffers, the city is negotiating with Dr. Herbert A. Marlowe, Jr., Ph.D., a University of Florida graduate, Alachua county resident and an expert in sustainable governance.

He has quite impressive credentials. He was the top pick of three raters: City Public Affair Director Paul Williamson, Purchasing Director Timothy Fleming, and Assistant Planning and Zoning Director David Birchim. Dr. Marlowe was the top choice, winning out over the University of Central Florida's Institute of Government Affairs; Marquis Halback; Northeast Florida Regional Council; Diane L. Matanza, Inc.; Institute for Alternative Futures; and Novak Consulting Group.

Before the public was notified, a local crackpot took potshots at Dr. Marlowe on the erstwhile, ancien regime local political machine's hick hack faux Fox News style website. The crackpot opined that Dr. Marlowe is a "raging Agenda 21 liberal." As Freud would say, "what does he mean by that?"

The crackpot continues: "AS far as Visioning, are they going to sit around and pass around the mushrooms?"


The crackpot potshots continues, noting that a book review states that Dr. Marlowe believes in sustainability, to wit, "meeting the environmental, social and economic needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." He also says that Dr. Marlowe believes in democracy.

Is there a problem?


Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The local crackpot is RANDY COVINGTON.


RANDY COVINGTON is a right-wing Republican Tea Partier who identifies with the pre-Cambrian and Cro Magnon factions.

What is "Agenda 21?"

"Agenda 21" is one of those John Birch Society and KKK shibboleths that was hurled by members of the Smirking Turkey Society (STS), led by RANDY COVINGTON.

STS members used "Agenda 21" as a dog whistle while blasting and attacking those of us who are innocenty seeking to protect public ands with a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore were tarbrushed with two years ago at the St. Johns County Commission.

It happened in America on November 1, 2011. The Lashon hara and public disturbance took place at the St. Johns County Commission meeting at the St. Johns Administration Buiding. We were item one on the agenda and I made a 15 minute presentation (you can view part of it on YouTube).

In response, RANDY COVINGTON lined up his followers, who proceeded to yell. We park supporters were called "Nazis and Communists" and as resembling "Hitler, Goebbels and Stalin," for supporting a St. Augustine National Park and National Seashore.

RANDY COVINGTON and his followers emitted hatred -- pure hatred, inckuding simulated machine gun noises and machine gun gestures. Not one County official or officer directed them to stop, with the Sheriff and County Commissioners nad staff refusing to enforce the Commission's civility rules.

RANDY COVINGTON is a leader of a wolf pack of haters. Their group hatred, obloquy and ridicule -- directed against environmentalists -- may have sent my late friend and mentor Robin Nadeau to an early grave (She died on January 6, 2012 at age 86).

Since my father's job during 1942-1945 was to machne-gun Nazis (for the 82nd Airbonre Division, F Company, 505th P.I.R.) jumping out of airplanes in North Africa, in Sicily and in Normandy to do so, I took offense to my being called a "Nazi" by the likes of RANDY COVINGTON & Co.

RANDY COVINGTON never apologized. Neither did his followers. They have bad manners and kooky ideas.

But our all-Republican St. Johns County Commissioners became accustomed to and re overly indulgent toward such such slanderous public comments emitted by the likes of RANDY COVINGTON.

RANDY COVINGTON is an anti-literate energumen who:
1. Ran and lost for Mosquito Control Commission on a Democrat-bashing platform denounced by the local grass roots Tea Party;
2. Allegedly peculated funds from the real Tea Party members;
3. Says parents (not experts) should write textbooks (a scary thought if you ride airplanes or on bridges rely on nuclear powerplants or other things requiring mathematical, scientific and engineering accuracy);
4. Attempted to inflict discriminatory districting on schoo board and county commission districts in 2012 after the decennial census (we defeated him after he called US racists for opposing his nefarious scheme);
5. Affects an anti-intellectual, moronic attitude, spewing forth anti-social ideations, frowning and glaring and subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge every time he speaks in public.
6. Has a unique business plan -- he is a cognitive miser, and unhappy, and he wants everyone else to be uninformed and unhappy, too.
7. Shows signs of being addicted to puerile ad hominem slogans and mendacious mediocrity, perhaps in puberty.

RANDY COVINGTON has apparently never spoken at any City of St. Augustine City Commission meetings. Once in a blue moon, we've had a few KKK supporters there, whom "We, the People" handily defeated when they opposed GLBT rights on December 10, 2012 (amendment to St. Augustine Fair Housing ordinance).
Reading rancid RANDY COVINGTON's latest rambling paranoid ideations, about Dr. Herbert Marlowe, Ph.D., makes me look forward to meeting Dr. Marlowe. He sounds like a cool guy. If RANDY COVINGTON spews hatred about him before his hiring is even publicly announced, it must be a good thing for our environment and human rights.
Plus, I just read where Dr. Marlowe's dad, like my dad, was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, and fought in Normandy against the Nazis (and was also a German POW).
Micro-brained bullies (like RANDY COVINGTON) are no match for the engaged offspring of World War II 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers).
What do y'all reckon?
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

P.S. My friend Clara, as usual, has a very good point (See below). I hereby apologize to Cro-Magnons, because they were all "more highly evolved" than RANDY COVINGTON, and with better manners, too!