Wednesday, August 26, 2020

St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Disappoints

At the August 25, 2020 St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Commission meeting, we had the best of times, "the worst of times."

Arbitration clause deleted from contact with TAYLOR ENGINEERING, whose President, Kenneth Craig, angrily said he'd have to check with his lawyer and left without answering Commissioners' questions.  Thank you for listening, Commissioners:  below is the e-mail I sent them early this afternoon. 

No official mention, or plaque or sheet cake, for former St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Chair BARRY MARK BENJAMIN, a Jacksonville resident.  He quit after I filed a 120-paragraph complaint about his voting from a boat where he does not live.

No one thanked Board attorney JAMES EDWIN BEDSOLE (2009-2020) for his service.  Wonder why?

BEDSOLE resigned in disgrace on Monday, August 24, 2020.

BEDSOLE was the architect of BARRY BENJAMIN's extravagantly illogical legal defense, paid by taxpayers, 2011-2020, which was ultimately a failure when the facts forced BENJAMIN's resignation,.  BEDSOLE should be investigated.

In June, BENJAMIN gave a phony address under oath (again), a marina, but then failed to qualify for re-election. 

BENJAMIN then resigned in disgrace.

For months, Port  Commissioner Sandy Flowers and I raised concerns, originally raised by Commissioner Jay Bliss, et al., that BENJAMIN was not a legal voter.  Commissioner Flowers verified with marina owners that BENJAMIN was not a live-aboard.  In fact, BENJAMIN lives in Jacksonville, and on Election Day 2016.  So far, voters have rejected CARL BLOW and JERRY DIXON; BENJAMIN resigned.  Now there are two 

Vice Chair THOMAS RIVERS and Commissioner CHRISTOPHER WAY: Two mossbacks and their legal and engineering mouthpieces, clinging to bizarre ideas about government, still throw their weight around the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District.  At their August 25, 2020 meeting, SAPWB showed itself to be an agency in existential crisis, torn between reform and corruption,

THOMAS RIVERS, Vice Chair, arrogated to himself the role of Chairman, and no one called for a vote, despite the fact that Chair BARRY MARK BENJAMIN quit, creating a vacancy.  RIVERS illegally stated at the beginning of the meeting that no public comment would be allowed on individual agenda items requiring decisions, thereby violating F.S. 286.0114(2), with no articulation as to why public comment was now being denied.   RIVERS acted like an imperious tsar, skipping agenda items entirely and never addressing the question of his not having been voted in as Chair.  On arbitration, he airily lectured us about real estate contracts, which are a non sequitur for government contracts.  This 78 year old drama queen is the St. Johns County Republican State Committeeman, elected without opposition.

CHRISTOPHER WAY, longtime Board member, refused to recuse himself on any matter coming before the Board.  Commissioner Sandy Flowers intends to file ethics charges over WAY's conflict of interest, disbursing money to a company with which his business contracts to install patented boat lifts. WAY looked crazed as he responded to conflict of interest concerns, intoning that he had never met the business owner in quo.  Physical contact is not required for a conflict of interest to exist based on contracting.  F.S. 313.312.  On or before November 3, residents of the Port District can vote to replace CHRIS WAY.  

KENNETH CRAIG, Vice President of TAYLOR ENGINEERING, 31-year contractor, said he'd have to check with his lawyer about deleting an arbitration clause.  CRAIG questioned whether he should respond to information requests from Commissioner Sandy Flowers.  Commissioners agreed that the engineer had to answer the Commissioner's questions.  When Commissioners decided not to agree to forced arbitration, CRAIG said he'd have to talk to his lawyer.  CRAIG was questioned about his bills while working without a contract. Commissioner Sandy Flowers had a number of questions she wanted answered.  But then, with all the grace of a dancing Clydesdale, CRAIG abruptly left the meeting, running into my cellular telephone cord charger and knocking my telephone to the ground,  I asked CRAIG to stay and answer Commissioner Flower's questions.  He said something inaudible in respond, and could be heard muttering to himself outside St. Augustine Beach City Hall,.  

Earlier, I overheard the conservation when a disdainful KENNETH CRAIG went up to Commissioner Flowers before the meeting, hustling a work order, where Commissioner Flowers said federal officials said no engineer was required.  

Women's Equality Day in St. Johns County, Florida

Uncelebrated by the City of St. Augustine, lamely observed by St. Johns County, ignored by St. Augustine Beach, today is Women's Equality Day, honoring the 19th Amendment and the long torturous and tortious road to women voting.  Police tortured women protesters with forced feedings and wrongful incarcerations.  Finally, stiff-necked segregationist U.S. President Woodrow Wilson agreed, and Congress and States ratified women voting.

St. Johns County and Florida: we must heed JFK's call and "make the world safe for diversity,."

St. Johns County Commissioners are all-white, all-male and all Republican; they 

  • stayed silent on the coverup of the murder of a Sheriff's Deouty[s girlfriend, and a man who was investigating her murder.
  • refused to use bed tax funds for a modest program on women's issues., 
  • tolerated and long retained MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK County Administrator 2007-2019, a sexist thug who demeaned, insulted and fat-shamed women, refusing to attend EEO training,  
  • hired HUNTER CONRAD, an inexperienced young County Administrator without posting or advertising, or even considering a single women or minority candidate. 

The only local observation of Women's Equality Day yesterday appears to have been badly mishandled yesterday, belatedly put on the agenda of an emergency declaration meeting on COVID-19, not publicized.  

How gauche and louche of four St. Johns County Commissioners.   (Commissioner Paul Waldron is recovering from COVID-19; we pray for his recovery).

Know the truth and it will set you free.  Is our county is still bossed by racist sexist misogynist homophobes, who have committed crimes with seeming impunity?  You tell me.

Thanks to The New York Times, PBS Frontline, et al. we know the truth.  Please see

Please see:  
Nov 26, 2013
Season 31 Episode 15 | 53m 41s. On the night she broke up with her police officer boyfriend, Michelle O ..


September 2, 2010 is the tenth anniversary of the coverup of the murder of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Deputy JEREMY BANKS, a homicide that was covered up by rebarbative State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA and retaliatory Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994.  

Sorehead Sheriff SHOAR, f/k/a "HOAR" is retiring. 

You can vote to retire LARIZZA in the November 3, 2020 election.

Meanwhile, St. Johns County Sheriff-elect Robert Hardwick has a legal, moral and ethical duty to take action on the case of State of Florida v. JEREMY BANKS.  

The whole world is watching.  

From USA Today:

Don't take anything for granted. Voting now is as important as it was 100 years ago: Tory Burch

My mother could not get a credit card in her own name until the 1970s. The choices and aspirations of the women I love were daydreams back then.

Tory Burch
Opinion contributor

Listening to speeches at America’s presidential nominating conventions this month in the midst of a global pandemic responsible for the death of more than 177,000 Americans, I am reflecting on the David Foster Wallace quote from "Consider the Lobster": “In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some diehard’s vote."

This quote is a frightening reality check at this precise moment in history and adds meaning and context to our celebration of the centennial of women securing the right to vote. The 19th Amendment may have been ratified a century ago, but the movement was born years before, in 1848 at a Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

For years women organized, went on hunger strikes and protested. The Women’s Suffrage Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878 and re-introduced for years, until it was finallyapproved by the House and Senate in 1919. It won ratification from the required 36 states on Aug 24, 1920, and that ratification was certified on Aug. 26 — exactly 100 years ago — on what's now called Women's Equality Day.

Our protests and votes bring change

But it wasn’t until 1924 that Native Americans were considered citizens with voting rights, and it took decades more for them to win the vote in each state. And Black women, particularly in the South, faced additional tests, taxes, and outright violence, all designed to suppress their votes until Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.