Friday, October 30, 2015

Backsides Turned To Residents at City Meetings: Pattern of Disdain and Disrespect by City Manager, City Attorney?

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
Sent: Fri, Oct 30, 2015 11:41 am
Subject: Welcoming Spirit Needed At St. Augustine City Hall, Message #1: City Manager, Attorney, Clerk Must Face Audience, As At St. Augustine Beach

Dear Mayor Shaver, Mr. Regan and Mr. Piggott et al.:
1. Please ask City of St. Augustine staff to rearrange the front staff table so that our St. Augustine City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk face both the audience and Commissioners.
2. St. Augustine Beach City staff are located to the left and right of Commissioners, allowing the public to see the City Manager, City Attorney, Clerk, Finance Director and Police Chief at all times. Two more SAB officials (Public Works and Planning and Building Directors) are in the back, with mics, also facing the audience.  All are visible at all times.
3. Having every single one of the three City employees chosen by our Commissioners sit with their backsides to the residents sends the wrong message.
4. Eye contact is an important part of communication and shows respect for people.  Turned backs allow for nonverbal communication that the public cannot see. They are ask suggestive of closed minds and hostile hearts.   
5. In St. Augustine Beach, the City Manager sometimes looks bored and appears to fall asleep.  Body language by the City of St. Augustine City Manager and City Attorney are invisible to residents, and thus are out of the Sunshine.  This is wrong.
6.  Residents have been obliged to look at the City Manager's and City Attorney's backsides at every meeting for decades-- that's insensitive and senseless.  Bad symbolism.  Suggestive of disrespect and insouciance toward the public interest, as has so often been the case in our City's history?   
7. And don't tell me "we've always done it this way."  That is no excuse for thought.  We deserve greater sensitivity and compliance with the spirit and letter of the Sunshine law.  Enough "revolting" disrespect of the public, based on "blind imitation of the past."
8. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once wrote, " It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past."  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., "The Path of the Law," 1Harvard Law Review 457 (1897).
Thank you.
Ed Slavin

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