Saturday, September 12, 2015


Citizen-activist Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. mailed an ethics complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics earlier today, asking for an investigation of whether Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE is posting anonymous hate speech, thereby violating Ethics and Sunshine laws.

The pattern of activity involves anonymous attacks under the nom de guerre "lifeisgood."  REYNOLDS alleges as follows:

1. Respondent NANCY SIKES-KLINE is a St. Augustine City Commissioner who has served as Vice Mayor and aspires to be elected Mayor: she serves to benefit by a salary increase if elected Mayor, plus the possibility of higher salary increases if she is elected later to the legislature after that time.
2.  Upon information and belief, NANCY SIKES-KLINE uses an anonymous nom de guerre , "lifeisgood" to post on the website of a newspaper of general circulation, to wit, the  St. Augustine Record 's website, which is an appearance of impropriety and unethical misconduct requiring a civil, criminal and administrative investigation by multiple Florida law enforcement agencies, including the Ethics Commission. 
3.  Using her secret persona as "lifeisgood," NANCY SIKES-KLINE violates Sunshine and Open Records laws, generating opinions likely to be known to her colleagues as her own in violation of the Sunshine law while generating Records that are hidden because they are anonymous. 
4.  NANCY SIKES-KLINE's anonymous postings violate the reasonable expectations of probity of an elected official while violating Sunshine and Open  Records laws, violating Florida voters' intent in enacting Article I, Section 24 of our Florida Constitution, adopted by 83% of the voters in 1992 (3.8 million votes supporting it). 
5.  Using her "lifeisgood" persona, NANCY SIKES-KLINE  apparently frequently and pointedly comments on articles, editorials, letters and columns. 
6.  This anonymous posting by "lifeisgood" includes frequent labile attacks on Mayor Nancy Shaver, elected as a reform candidate, defeating Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR., who is a close personal associate of SIKES-KLINE, who was BOLES' former speech writer and apparatchik .  
7.  There was no legitimate governmental purpose in Respondent SIKES-KLINE/ lifeisgood's anonymous postings in response to a column and an editorial on City issues on May 17 2015, to wit: 

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lifeisgood 05/17/15 - 10:34 am
Great reading this morning, thanks!
Thank you for writing such an informative column. It became apparent to me during the elections last fall that the majority of Mayor Shaver’s constituency may not fully grasp the concept of the commission/manager form of government. Her supporters and campaign “team” (driven by an angry, well-known hate-monger and self-proclaimed “journalist”), cried for the need to expose the “corruption” at City Hall. She campaigned as THE savior, THE answer to the public fraud, waste and abuse of our current administration, THE one who was going to ask the “tough questions”. Headlines and comments from her team screamed that a vote for her would lead to exposure of huge crimes and that “heads were going to roll at city hall”, etc. All so negative, indeed, but also misinformed. As pointed out by Mr. Cottrell, smiling for pictures, reading proclamations and being the ribbon cutter at ceremonies does not give the mayor the ability and the power to re-write budgets, fire people, etc. (I actually enjoy the pageantry that goes along with public ceremonies, so am not minimizing the mayor's role in these situations). Thankfully our other commissioners can read through this nonsense and are strong, independent thinkers who have a very good understanding of our current form of government and the equal value they share. They refused to be bullied from the get-go, even after some of them were mocked, called awful names and were the topics of many negative discussions and articles posted on hate-filled “news” sites (accompanied by some very unflattering pictures to boot!). Very unfortunate that in such a beautiful little city, that there can be such a hateful group of people. Thankfully they are the minority and that negative energy and vibe is not apparent while walking the streets of downtown, or talking to the residents, business owners or visitors. Not everyone loves a conspiracy! (sorry Dan Brown....) As the young people say “haters gonna hate”…..
I completely agree with your suggestion that the commission prepare a ballot question to ask “us” (the collective boss!) if we would like the office of mayor to be appointive rather than elected. I believe that this would depoliticize the position of the mayor, a positive step in cultivating a more positive approach to problem solving and working as a cohesive team. Again, thank you for taking the time to write such an intelligent column!

The Bears
The Bears 05/17/15 - 02:12 pm
Excellent article and commentary
I completely agree with Steve Cottrell's fair and logical proposal for the position of Mayor, and also the excellent commentary by lifeisgood. Unfortunately, this new Mayor more closely resembles a demagogue than an elected representative of the people, and St Augustine deserves better than the divisiveness instigated by Her Royal Highness. 

lopuser 05/17/15 - 02:24 pm
The Mayor Has Plenty of Power
While it is true that St. Augustine has a "City Manager" form of government, the Mayor is not without significant power. While Mayor Shaver has a single vote as do all the other commissioners, she is the first among equals. The Mayor controls the gavel and, with the gavel, the order of recognition, and, to an extent, the tone of the meetings. The Mayor also works directly with the City Manager to set the agendas for the bi-weekly meetings. Probably her most important source of power comes from the fact that the Mayor is the public "Face of the City." She or he may use the "Bully Pulpit" that goes with the office to influence public opinion in a dozen different ways. By the way, Nancy Shaver's supporters in the recent campaign are certainly not "haters" and weren't driven by anything other than their belief in her innate ability to do a great job and the desire to see a change of direction that would put our City first when it came time to make critical decisions affecting our future! 

wombat 05/17/15 - 08:26 pm
Give her a break folks. Good things come in small packages. Also, could someone find a large dictionary to place in her chair to give a more imposing stature? LOL 

lifeisgood 05/18/15 - 06:29 am
I apologize if I am misinformed, but I have always been under the impression that there is an open line of communication between ALL of the commissioners and the city manager. No one commissioner (or mayor/commissioner) has a different or more "exclusive" relationship with the city manager than the other. I am not clear what you mean by "first among equals"? If a city commissioner wants something on the agenda, it does not have to be "approved" by the mayor/commissioner for her (or he) to discuss with the city manager in order for it to be put on the agenda. Again, the mayor/commissioner is simply the coordinator, not the "gate keeper" or the one in "charge". I am also under the impression that as a citizen, you can go to any one of the five city commissioners to discuss a concern, and should they see "fit" or if they choose to "sponsor" your issue, it will be placed on the agenda. Citizens don't have to go through just the mayor/commissioner or do they? (Maybe my memory is not serving me well? Heck, junior high governent was several decades ago!) I also am under the assumption the city manager meets with all of the commissioners on a regular basis, and not just the mayor/commissioner. Would love some clarification on this if I have been assuming incorrectly all of these years? (You know what they say about assuming....) maybe a Record article on this?
As far as the mayor having the ability to set the "tone" of the meeting? I guess you may be right, as demonstrated by some of the chaos created at some of the past meetings. (I am kidding! Sort of. ). I think when you have 5 strong independent thinkers that know they are all equal in their "pull"as members, it may not matter how hard one mayor/commissioner is hitting the gavel from the "bully pulpit", if the others aren't biting, it ain't happening. (Nobody was biting several months ago). Thankfully there has not been complete chaos (almost, but not quite!). I guess the bottom line is, is really in the number of votes at the end of the night. Agendas and items cannot move forward unless there is a majority vote, no matter who is holding the little hammer. With all of that said, a good strong leader sitting in that middle seat will hopefully be able to hold a meeting together while facilitating and cultivating a climate of mutual respect and consideration while brainstorming for solutions and consensus.
Also, I am sure that not everyone in the mayor's camp is a "hater", as demonstrated by some of the very nice and sweet people that come out to meetings to show their support. It is in my opinion, however, that some of the people she keeps company with do her a very big disservice as far as helping her create the "image" of being a forward and positive leader. I am grateful that things seem to be settling down and things are running a lot more smoothly. I agree, the mayor is the "face of the city", so let's hope she puts her best face forward.

8. A controversial St. Augustine Record editorial was orchestrated by SIKES-KLINE and her ex-boyfriend of some twenty years agoSt. Augustine Record Opinion Editor Jim Sutton, who wrote an April 26, 2015 editorial quoting SIKES-KLINE to attack Mayor Shaver.  (Upon request by a blogger, Sutton finally disclosed the prior personal relationship in a May 10, 2015 column).

9.  There was no legitimate governmental purpose in  "lifeisgood"/SIKES-KLINE   anonymously posting on April 26, 2015 in agreement with the  editorial  attacking Mayor Shaver , anonymously agreeing  with the editorial that she helped generate and was quoted in, to wit:

lifeisgood 04/26/15 - 11:41 am
Go Commissioner Sikes-Kline!
So refreshing to find this editorial in the paper this morning. I almost missed it, as I was so exhausted after wading my way through the 3 page Noche de Gala article...article? investigative report? what WAS that? (I am still quite puzzled as to what the point of that whole thing was...). At any rate, go Commissioner Sikes-Kline! To be honest, I didn't think that you had that in you. I LOVE that you are taking such a firm stand, and an intelligent one at that. Spot on that this Mayor needs to stop being divisive and start acting like a leader. Great advice to her to get some training and to recognize that she is no longer campaigning anymore. There are more people in St. Augustine than those in her neighborhood and on her election team. The majority of people are not "embarrassed" and are not cynical and negative about the city, and we are grateful that our other city commissioners see this. The writer (anonymously or not), brings up a very good point....the way our city government is set up is that ALL commissioners are equal, they all have an equal vote. To "lead" by being disrespectful, condescending and intimidating to your peers, is not congruent to team building and effective leadership. I am thankful that our other commissioners are too intelligent and strong to be bullied. 

10.  Again endeavoring to feather her own financial nest by advancing her campaign to be Mayor (a $4000 annual pay increase), Respondent NANCY SIKES-KLINE posted anonymously as lifeisgood again on September 10, 2015, twice, casting aspersions upon reform Mayor Nancy Shaver, anonymously.  Once again, SIKES-KLINE is guilty of improperly communicating with her fellow Commissioners, violating Sunshine laws, and of violating ethics laws by responding to a letter from Christopher Way.  Mr. Way is a restauranteur and past beneficiary of improper City favors in the form of being an initial co-lessee in a  no-bid, below market rate lease for City property at 81 St. George Street, in conjunction with two former Mayors (JOSEPH BOLES a/k/a "JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR." and LEN WEEKS a/k/a "CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR.').  The letter that SIKES-KLINE commented on disdained FBI investigation of no-bid 450th contracts, and SIKES-KLINE anonymously piled on with anonymous attacks on activists as "whining wingnuts" (libel by a sitting City Commissioner) and also upon our reform Mayor Nancy Shaver, once again abusing anonymous St. Augustine Recordpostings to advance SIKES-KLINE's own personal financial agenda (a $4000 annual pay increase would accrue to her benefit of SIKES-KLINE were elected Mayor in 2016).

Letter: Never been more proud of my city

Never more proud of my special city 

Posted: September 9, 2015 - 11:25pm

Never more proud of my special city 
Editor: I just wanted to give my congratulations for a job well done to the city staff and anyone else who helped put together the 450th celebration. 
The recognition of John and Peggy Bailey was especially satisfying because they have done so much for this city over the last 50 years. 
I’m proud to call them my friends and neighbor. 
I was lucky enough to live in this beautiful city when we celebrated the 400th, and I was amazed with the 450th. 
I won’t make it to the 500th, but my daughter will. I hope we have the city staff and the volunteers as dedicated then as we had this time. 
I couldn’t even guess how many times I’ve been over the bridge in my life, but I have never crossed her the way I did the last three days. 
It was awesome to stroll over the bridge and reminisce with lifelong friends about growing up in good old Snogustine! (spelling intentional). 
I hope this letter is published before the whining wingnuts who are sure to come, complain and demand an FBI investigation over the whole affair.
A tip of the hat to a job excellently done!
St. Augustine
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livelaughlove 09/10/15 - 06:50 am
My sentiments exactly Chris,
My sentiments exactly Chris, especially the part about John and Peggy Bailey. Well done. Great celebration!

Just Asking Y
Just Asking Y 09/10/15 - 08:25 am
Too bad our mayor doesn't feel the same way
Congratulations all around and thank you to all the hard work done by volunteers and city employees! Oddly, our mayor obviously doesn’t feel that way. Her interview Friday night on News 4 Jax was all I’m a world traveler, I’m a corporate nomad, I I I. And now it seems our mayor is throwing a big brunch bash at the Yacht Club this Sunday for all the 450 sponsers to thank them. These same sponsers got a VIP air-conditioned tent and free flowing food and drinks during the 450th weekend. Wonder how many guests the mayor got to invite all for free. So rather than spending her thousands of dollars on thanking the people who actually did the work like the volunteers or city employees who worked tirelessly all weekend making her and the city look good, or donating to a church, she is spending thousands of dollars on people with deep pockets. What do ya’ll think? Seems like she is already campaigning and looking for donation dollars to run again next year. Nothing like turning your back on the people who actually did work or got her into office, so she could take all the bows knowing she had NOTHING to do with the planning and success of the weekend.

lifeisgood 09/10/15 - 08:31 am
you beat me to it!
Couldn't agree more....can't imagine any complaints, seems as if the whole event was flawless. Will be very interesting to see what will be whined about? Unfortunately this group of "whining wingnuts" (your words), can be creative in their whining, especially when they completely make things up. Seems as if this existing city commission can see through that, however, and they haven't been getting much traction in their push to uncover all of this "corruption" that they keep saying is occurring. I have never understood that mentality, that divisive approach, however, thankfully the majority of St. Augustine residents are team players and don't buy into it either. We should all be proud of our city and thank all of those who worked so hard to put this together. The city listened to the residents and put on a class act event. Thank you. (and thank you Christopher Way for a positive letter!)

lifeisgood 09/10/15 - 08:58 am
Just asking y....
I have to admit, it was a little hard to watch the mayor participating in and hogging all of the "glory" for the success of the 450th, when you are right, she had absolutely nothing to do with any of the planning. If I remember correctly, she actually helped lead the divisive "whining wingnut" group and consistently put down the 450th celebration as a big part of her campaign. She STILL won't acknowledge the true people behind the success of the 450th....The world, however, did not see any of this. They saw a smiling mayor in a bull costume and then again the next day with a giant cake cutter....


Anonymous said...

What a hypocrite Chris Way is! He was sure enough whining for DAYS when he thought he didnt get enough business/revenue from the Gentleman of the Road tour!!

Never ever gonna buy his Datil Pepper Sauce again, or go to his restaurant - nor will I let my friends.

Phhhht - what an asskisser.

Ed Slavin said...

In Mr. Way's defense, his business did not function for days because a city street in front of it was closed to traffic. Bad planning on the City's part. Did he make an insurance claim against the City's Florida League of Cities insurance policy? If not, is there still time?

Anonymous said...

That's exactly my point - when it's going his 'way', it's all good. When he takes a hit either financially, or...well, financially - let loose the hounds of hell.

If things dont bode well for others - it's whining and wingnuts. He's stuck in that infamous St. Augustine 'bubble of me me me'. He can't see beyond his own needs to employ any vision for the benefit of others. Wants to call them names for doing exactly what he did, in his own situation where he was shorted by the city.

Ed Slavin said...

Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE has posted anonymously for years. She stirred up angst, anger and meanness on the old St. Augustine Record Talk of the Town website, then after it was abolished, she continued posting on local hate sites. BULLG8R lady was one of her NICS.

Check this out:

lifeisgood 04/19/15 - 11:13 am 31Mr. Cottrell, I wish you were on the ballot last election!
Very well stated Mr. Cottrell, and I believe a spot on observation about our Mayor appearing to be “begging for a brawl”. I couldn't help but think the same thing. I was hoping last Fall after the election, that the Mayor would use better judgment and place some distance between herself and some of the folks that helped get her elected, in particular a well known hate-monger, sour-grapes wanna-be journalist who has for years hid behind the safety of a computer, angrily tapping out sucker punches on those who have been unlucky enough to somehow rub them wrong. I don’t think the majority of people in town take them seriously (as demonstrated by a miserable attempt at a City Commission seat a few years back), but the few that do, are vocal and use the same old tired argument that we must demand transparency, accountability, and fight the good fight for democracy and truth….all of the things that you have pointed out in your editorial. (I mean, who doesn’t want all of those things, right?) The problem is, is that none of the complaints ever seem to pan out, as demonstrated once again by the recent scrutiny of the “3 hand-selected (by the Mayor, mind you) 450th contracts”…. I agree with you….all hogwash and baloney. I understand that it is very easy to incite those that tend to buy into conspiracies and are negative and cynical by nature, but do your homework. As pointed out, this stuff is public record. There have been no big brains or tireless efforts on anyone’s part to make this “good governance and transparency” happen. Truly no big “win” here…. it has been there the entire time. (Thank you Bigjosh92 for providing the statute).

Although at times it may be interesting and sometimes humorous to watch, I agree totally with johnfbrinson, that this is a year to impress. It seems to me that the seasoned commissioners, as well as the new commissioner, Mr. Neville, have a very good grasp of the magnitude of the upcoming events and are in sync with getting it done. These preparations have been going on for years and have all been voted on and approved by the City Commission. To continuously be tripped up and bogged down by this drama and silliness is disruptive and exhausting. St. Augustine is a beautiful city, filled with beautiful, positive-minded people. Go walk downtown, visit an art gallery or exhibit, grab some tasty food, talk to the person behind you while you are waiting for your ice cream, talk to the business owners, and the tourists from all over the world. Enjoy and embrace the diversity. It is great fun and always an extremely uplifting and positive experience. Interesting, the only time you ever feel this negativity and middle-school student government drama mentality is when you open a paper or attend a city commission meeting!

Ed Slavin said...

Commissioners have a legal duty to sign their statements, not hide behind anonymity. "Middle school student government mentality?" Sounds like more psycho babble and a textbook psychiatric example of "projection" to me.