Monday, November 30, 2015

Making History: Mayor Requests Ethics Opinion -- First City or County Elected Official to Request One Since 1974

The Florida Ethics Commission has been issuing ethics opinion since 1974.  Mayor Nancy Shaver is the first elected city or county official in our county to ever request one. *  Please note the comments from the Anonymice, apparently a hairdresser married to ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS (who hates Mayor Shaver's haircut) and a man married to one of our current Commissioners, a former Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) member: neither ever filed financial disclosures as a Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) member, or was required to, despite my many inquiries.  Florida Ethics Commission Opinion SEO 15-10 now requires such disclosures.
Thanks to Mayor Nancy Shaver, we now have a precedent.
Again, Mayor Nancy Shaver is the first elected city or county official in St. Johns County* to request a state Ethics Commission opinion. That says a lot about her; it says a lot about St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County.
Our public officials have, up until recently, had low expectations of themselves, perhaps based on low self-esteem and demands of the 1%.
As my late whistleblower client, Bud Varnadore, once said, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we "have nowhere to go but up."
*Then-Port & Waterway Commissioner, Pierre Thompson in 1974 requested one on whether it was a conflict of interest to sell performance bonds to his colleagues on that independent special taxing district: indeed, it was. But no City of St. Augustine, City of St. Augustine Beach or St. Johns County elected official has ever requested an Ethics Commission).
The Record's article on Mayor Shaver's ethics opinion request follows (followed by comments, the first of which is apparently from a hairdresser married to ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS, who confesses she is petty (indeed she is, as evidenced by her attack on me last year after LEN WEEKS destroyed a 211-year old Spanish colonial building, acting without permits, and fined only $3600 for this tort, crime and sin).Florida ethics commission to give opinion on mayor's relationship with news site
Posted: November 28, 2015 - 11:57pm | Updated: November 29, 2015 - 8:34am

The Florida Commission on Ethics plans to discuss St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver’s ties with Historic City Companies.
The commission is expected to discuss the issue on Dec. 11, and they could decide to adopt a formal opinion.
The issue is whether Shaver is considered a business associate of Historic City Companies, based on the company managing the mayor’s personal website,, and whether that would have prevented her from voting on an issue that ultimately did not come before the City Commission, according to documents filed with the ethics commission. Historic City Companies operates Historic City News, according to backup materials.
“I am looking forward to the review planned in December, as I expect it to confirm that I receive no financial benefit from the hosting service provider for my website; in fact, I pay for the services I receive just as I do for copying services from Office Depot,” Shaver said in a prepared statement. “I requested the review myself. Transparency is what I stand for, and this seemed a good way to clear up any questions.”
At the hearing, the Florida Commission on Ethics will vote on whether to adopt a draft opinion as a formal opinion, or whether they want a revised or rewritten opinion, said Kerrie Stillman, spokeswoman for the Florida Commission on Ethics. If all facts are presented, an official can rely on a formal opinion when moving forward.
In September, City Attorney Isabelle Lopez emailed questions to the ethics commission on behalf of Shaver, seeking an informal opinion. The questions focused on whether Shaver would have been prohibited from voting on whether to pursue litigation against Historic City News and its editor, Michael Gold.
Commissioner Todd Neville sought to pursue a defamation lawsuit based on a Historic City News article. Neville dropped the issue at a later commission meeting, and the Commission did not take a vote on the matter.
Lopez also asked the ethics commission in the September email for an opinion on behalf of Shaver about whether posting of Historic City News articles on would constitute a business associate relationship — if traffic is generated that brings advertising revenue for the site — that would prohibit her from voting on the suit.
The proposed opinion that the commission will discuss says that, “For purposes of the voting conflicts law, a mayor/commissioner is not a ‘business associate’ of a person or entity performing the service of hosting and managing the mayor/commissioner’s personal website.”
Also, the proposed opinion says Florida law would not prohibit the mayor from voting, and that posting news articles on the mayor’s website would not constitute a business enterprise.
Historic City Companies provides space on a server and maintenance of Shaver’s personal website on a month-to-month basis, according to the proposed opinion. The business provides “web hosting, domain registration, website design and development, content management, and social media updates ... hard disk space, the use of hardware and software, and backup and security services.”
Shaver uses her own money to pay for the services, according to the documents.

astralweeks 11/29/15 - 07:34 am 93Groupies
I read Historic City News and it does seem like they're Shaver groupies. And, to be petty, every picture they post of her has me wondering why someone doesn't advise her to change her hair stylist.

Just Asking Y 11/30/15 - 04:15 pm 11What took so long
People I know stopped reading Historic News a while ago because of Michael Gold’s obvious bias; he has lost any credibility he may have had. At the very least, this should bring into question anything the site reports and certainly explains the extreme slant always in the mayor’s favor, even bordering on misreporting. It also explains how Historic New gets his ‘scoops’. For someone who is so big on transparency one must wonder why Shaver waited so long before mentioning this. Perhaps because the public has been talking about it for a while and she figured she better mention it. Now, she can say that she raised the question, rather than explaining why she didn’t say something a year ago!

Firstcoaster 11/30/15 - 05:58 pm 10The Mayor
has her own website/domain, with email. Are those emails made available on request, as required by law?

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