Thursday, May 28, 2015

Enough Privatizing of the Commons, Already

Epidemic of privatization and outsourcing in St. Augustine must stop. Now.

Ex-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. and our ill-advised City Commission followed City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN's advice in 2010, outsourcing the 450th celebration to a brand-new "First America Foundation," handing over $275,000 to lawyer DONALD WALLIS and other cronies, with no experience in organizing even a child's birthday party," as Folio Weekly reported. We stopped them. Most of the money was returned, thanks to pro bono legal representation by Holland & Knight of eighteen of us; we also stopped an illegal five-commissioner trip to Spain to "conduct business."

In 2014, following advice of the late lawyer GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE (Lighthouse lawyer and board member), St. Johns County transferred the St. Augustine Lighthouse to a 501c3: citizen Edward Ruben Anderson is challenging the zoning change. See below. Unfriendly signs now warn neighbors not to walk their dogs on former county park lands.
That's sick.

Flagler College and its alter ego St. Augustine Foundation have walled off the Spanish Garden on Hypolita & St. George Streets since 2001. You can't access and enjoy the park behind the fence, and its statue of Queen Isabella, except for one day per year.

St. Augustine Commissioners voted 4-1 (Mayor Shaver dissenting) to lease the former Salt Run Community Center to the all-white St. Augustine Yacht Club for twenty years, at below market-rates.

Local commercial landlords hounded street artists, musicians and friendly businesses out of our town, attacking the First Amendment, for decades, with our City spending our treasure and embarrassing us in the eyes of the world, repeatedly losing lawsuits.
A new lawsuit is likely because four out of five Commissioners (all but Mayor Shaver) don't appreciate worker rights and the need for "lively" streets. St. George Street has become "one big t-shirt shop," says PZB member Cathy Brown.

Developers empowered by City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, tried to take our City land at the south end of Riberia Street (Punta de Buena Esperanza, or Cape of Good Hope, since the early 1700s), call it "Riberia Pointe" and lease/sell it for a coral-growing scheme, an aquarium and children's museum.
We stopped them.
Lincolnville residents Nancy Shaver, Cash McVay, Blake Souder and Judith Seraphin stopped them -- it is now a passive park, and Nancy Shaver is now our Mayor. Nancy Shaver has empowered neighborhoods to resist schemers.

Before he lost re-election, then-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. slicked through a Planned Unit development for the massive Shipyard development along our San Sebastian River, without sufficient protection for public rights to walk along the boardwalk.

Before lost re-election, then-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. had secret meetings with DAVID BARTON CORNEAL about the Dow Museum of Historic Homes, which Kenneth Worcester Dow gave to the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences MOAS with the promise they would be protected forever. Our State of Florida gave some $2 million for home restoration and museum exhibits. Now the Daytona MOAS has unethically sold the homes to DAVID BARTON CORNEAL, who wants to turn the museum into a fancy-bears $500/night hotel.
We'll just see about that.

Just what we need for our 450th -- another hare-brained scheme.
Enough privatization.
Enough corruption of the public interest for private profit of greedy lugubrious goobers and gaseous windbags.
Support the establishment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. Preserve St. Augustine forever involute, and halt the depredations of the 0.01% and their tawdry tedious tacky tendentious tools.

On January 15, 2015, Commissioners upheld an appeal of a building permit for a 7-Eleven in our historic area on eleven legal grounds. Unanimous.
7-Eleven appealed and quickly settled, with our City Commissioners voting to spend a mere $1.4 million to buy the property at the corner of May & San Marco.

On January 27, 2015, Commissioners denied two (2) 70 foot tall buildings on U.S. 1.

Commissioners are now making decisions without fear or favor, based upon the facts and law of record, with competent legal advice.
Thank you to all.
"It takes a village" to save "our village," as lawyer Henry Dean, former executive director of two Florida water management districts referred to our smaller neighbor of St. Augustine Beach (where under his guidance, voters opted to put a ban on buildings taller than 35 feet in the Charter).

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