Thursday, February 04, 2021

U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE MUST INVESTIGATE St. Johns County Discrimination and Corruption. Now.

One year ago today St. Johns County Commissioners rubber-stamped a contract with its County Administrator, HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD.  No posting or advertising, not even internal.  No women or blacks or Hispanics were considered.  No background investigation.  This kept anyone from discussing the fact that a March 14, 2019 federal grand jury indictment in Chicago, which says that CONRAD ("Clerk E") took $8000 from a debt collection contractor, intended as a bribe.

St. Johns County's legendary corruption, race, sex and anti-GLBTQ discrimination are a stench in the nostrils of our Nation.

President Joe Biden has called for equity, healing and enforcement of our civil rights and anti-corruption laws.  Here's my February 4, 2021 letter to U.S. Attorney General Designate, Judge Merrick Garland, et al.:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
Sent: Thu, Feb 4, 2021 9:00 pm
Subject: St. Johns County, Florida -- Civil Rights and Corruption Compliance Review and Investigation

Dear Attorney General Designate Garland, Deputy AG Monaco, and Associate AG Gupta:

Congratulations on your recent appointments by President Joe Biden.  

It is time for healing, and time for consequences for discrimination and corruption.

A. Would you please be so kind as to ask DoJ's best civil rights and corruption investigators to conduct a compliance review and investigation of St. Johns County, Florida?

B. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called St. Johns County the "most lawless place in America."  "Jim Crow Law" still exists here, in various permutations.  DOJ must investigate.  See EO 13985 (January 20, 2021),

C. SJC receives FEMA, CARES Act, USDOJ and USDOT funds.  

D. Please investigate St. Johns County re these seven (7) areas of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance:

1.   Race and sex discrimination. unfair hiring practices, hostile working environment, and coverups.  St. Johns County:

A. Hired white male County Administrator by February 4, 2020 final contract vote, without advertising or posting the position, without a background investigation, and without prior notice on the agenda, violating civil rights laws.  Respondent SJC BoCC violated EEO laws in selecting a person to run a $1 billion annual budget, Respondents hired HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, a fellow politician and protege, who did not meet the minimum years of experience qualifications set forth in County ordinances, but was recommended in 2015 for a pre-election appointment as Clerk of Courts and Comptroller, based upon religious beliefs, violating Article VI of our Constitution, which forbids "any religious test for public office."  See enclosed PDF file from the office of then-Governor of Florida Richard Lynn Scott, showing endorsements of CONRAD.  

In 2016, HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD took $8000 in campaign contributions from an accused bribe-payer, now under March 14, 2019 indictment in the Northern District of Illinois -- Commissioners' purported need for speed:
  • obviated the possibility of CONRAD being asked about it if he ran for re-election, while 
  • obviating time for a background investigation prevented Commissioners from knowing of the indictment, which was reported in some Florida newspapers, but not the St. Augustine Record.

In hiring HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, one County Commissioner openly and notoriously stated he did not want someone "from California" telling him how to run "my County."  SJC's governing body shows contempt for EEO/AA retirements and our Nation's civil rights laws, made possible by the courage of some 1000 demonstrators arrested here in St. Augustine 1963-1964.

B. Hired a white male Emergency Operations Director to replace a white female EOD, without prior public notice on the SJC BoCC agenda, with Commissioners ratifying a decision abruptly at the end of the January 19, 2021 BoCC meeting, showing insouciance and insolence toward public participation. 

C. Failed to remedy longtime sexist, misogynist, fat-shaming mistreatment of women employees by longtime County Administrator Michael David Wanchick.  An unpaid, incurious outside County insurance defense lawyer, Michael J. Roper of Orlando, wrote an obfuscatory letter claiming to find no Title VII violations (but ignoring ADA violations for fat-shaming women employees. The outcome-predetermined report was concealed while that Administrator's contract was being renewed. Mr. Roper destroyed all of his notes and taking no witness statements, declarations or affidavits, recommending training the County Administrator and PIO never attended.   (Wanchick later fired for other reasons after encumbering the position from 2007-2019).

D. Refused for years to take adequate action on Environmental Justice issues, including lack of sewers in low-income and minority communities, while declining any code enforcement action on environmental crimes, e.g., when the City of St. Augustine dumped a landfill in a lake in West Augustine.

E. Fails to investigate civil rights concerns, including ADA violations involving county property and programs.

F. Failed to remedy corruption and civil rights violations by St. Johns County Sheriff, including embezzlements, Fourth Amendment violations and notorious coverup of September 2, 2010 homicide of Ms. Michelle O'Connell by Deputy Jeremy Banks, for which two (2) judges found probable cause.  Corrupt former Sheriff DAVID SHOAR (2005-2021) requires investigation and prosecution of SHOAR and others acting in concert with him.  See

G. Tries to whitewash St. Johns County's racist history, Despite repeated complaints, St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick's website today still includes a paen to St. Johns County's Sheriff, 1949-1971, racist white supremacist KKK Sheriff Lawrence O. Davis, still on Sheriff's website today, falsely claiming Davis was "found innocent" and exonerated when Florida Senate removed him by 44-2 vote.

In the words of Kansas Republican David Perley Lowe, quoted by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1961 in Monroe v. Pape, discussing Congressional debate of the 1871 Civil Rights Act (Ku Klux Klan Act): "While murder is stalking abroad in disguise, while whippings and lynchings and banishments have been visited upon unoffending American citizens, the local administrations have been found inadequate or unwilling to apply the proper corrective. Combinations, darker than the night [which] hides them, conspiracies, wicked as the worst felons could devise, have gone unwhipped of justice. Immunity is given to crime, and the records of the public tribunals are searched in vain for any evidence of effective redress." Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 175 (1961), quoting Cong. Globe, 42nd Cong., 1st Sess., App. 166-167.

2. St. Johns County provides lavish, secretive corporate tax "incentives," while refusing to adopt a living wage law and providing workers with only a thin, third-rate transit system that is closed Sundays and provides only six busses per day for any  location.  Showing contempt for minority and low-income residents, St. Johns County doubled single-day Sunshine Bus transit fares in 2019, without urgent need or any public benefit, and without considering the disparate impact of fare increases on low-income and minority people. Only one (1) Commissioner, Henry Dean, voted against the fare increase.

3. St. Johns County must be scrutinized when it appoints non-diverse County boards, like the all-white Tourist Development Council, where oligopolistic hotel corporations purport to appoint "representatives," (hotelier endorsement of successful candidate Samuel Troy Blevins as his corporation's TDC "representative"), or the all-white Planning and Zoning Board, (headed by the local Republican Executive Committee Chair).  One former County Commissioner alleged only Republicans were considered for vacancies.

4. St. Johns County must be investigated for Voting Rights Act and 15th Amendment violations. Respondent SJC BoCC has a non-diverse membership -- all-white, all-male and all-Republican. This is the intended result of illegal gerrymandering violating VRA and the 15th Amendment -- reducing Commission to five (5) members elected county-wide, changing it from seven (7) members, five of whom represented districts and two at-large.  The 1998 redistricting kept a black man, Moses Floyd, from being re-elected. The decision was retaliatory, punitive and ad hoc -- there was no decennial census, no consultant, no study and no. need, other than to disempower African-Americans.  The Supervisor of Elections, pre-COVID, refused to provide any early voting location within the  city limits of the City of St. Augustine. SoE attempted to censor my biography when I ran for SoE, then ended publishing candidate biographies in retaliation for my raising civil rights concerns and standing my ground on my biography. 

5. DOJ must investigate Fair Housing Act Violations. SJC BoCC's policies perpetuate housing discrimination. For example, SJC BoCC voted unanimously, at the behest of campaign contributors represented by the County's own lobbying firm, to erase Nocatee developer's mandatory legal duty to provide forty (40) acres of affordable housing, accepting token compensatory $800,000 payment from developer PARC Group, which is represented by THOMAS MARTIN FIORENTINO, JR, the same political lawyer-fundraiser-lobbyist who represents Respondent St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners and Sheriff.

6. St. Johns County refuses to recognize GLBTQ equality and legal rights, ignoring my requests to implement Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020),, holding GLBTQ people protected by civil rights laws.   See EO 13988 (January 20, 2021) 

Bigoted St. Johns County lacks a welcoming spirit to GLBTQ people; it never apologized for twice leaving us out of the proposed nondiscrimination section (10.06) a proposed county charter that was twice on the ballot in 2008.  SJC BoCC never apologized or remedied its allowing free use of a public building for a virulent anti-Gay Marriage hate rally (March 15, 2005, former UNESCO Ambassador Allen Keyes event at our St. Johns County Convention Center Auditorium at World Golf Village).  Hate rally organizers breached their contract promising event be open to all (only churches got tickets).  Hate rally organizers breached their contract by: (a) selling merchandise and (b)  collecting cash donations in KFC buckets.  The Sheriff's Organized Crime Bureau called and threatened two women who publicized the event, falsely claiming it was "private property" and that they could be punished if anyone picketed.  A huge Sheriff's office contingent provided "security" for the angry anti-Gay assembly
Footnote: Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's similar 2017 First Amendment violations and willful false claims that the Respondent's WGV Convention Center is "private property" were reported in The New York Times, which shared this video:

7. St. Johns County retaliates and subjects journalists and activists (including me) to a hostile working environment.   Respondent conceals documents and information, while attempting to inflict illegal search fee charges on requests for potentially inculpatory documents -- a form of view point discrimination. Respondent's long train of abuses has culminated in ending non-agenda public comment at the beginning of meetings of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.  Respondent SJC BoCC refused to remedy, at its February 2, 2021 meeting, its having changed the time of day for a longtime twice-monthly public forum for First Amendment protected activity, one often used to convey citizens' discrimination and mismanagement concerns.  Public comment on non-agenda items was always heard at 9 AM during BoCC meetings, after brief preliminary matters. The time allowed people to come to meetings and express their concerns.  The County has wrongfully abolished this time-certain public forum, frustrating for redress of grievances, including those protected by Title VI, Title VII and other civil rights laws.  "Non-agenda public comment" is still afforded at the beginning of every other local government meeting, but could be deleted if SJC BOCC gets away with this outrage.  Without announcing or providing any public hearings, and without suggesting any principled policy reason satisfying "strict scrutiny," "non-agenda public comment is now at the tail end of meetings, in meetings that can last from two (2) to ten (10) hours. 

There is now no reliable way of knowing when non-agenda public comment might be held. Citizens and groups raising concerns are being punished for doing so. Once again, St. Johns County shows disrespect and disdain for its citizens. 

Meanwhile, there's no lobbyist disclosure regulation, no Ombudsman, and no independent Inspector General. 



"Jim Crow Law" is alive and living in St. Johns County,, Florida

One year ago today, five (5) white male St. Johns County Commissioners rubber-stamped a contract to hire an underqualified white male politician as County Administrator, without a search, advertisement or opportunity for women and minority applicants.  No background investigation. Wonder why?  

We now know that County Administrator HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD is "Clerk E" in the March 14, 2019 federal criminal indictment of DONALD DONAGHER, JR. and PENN CREDIT CORP.

As Robert Kennedy said, "It is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is much to dissent from."

We welcome DOJ back to do its job here in St. Johns County, which our reform former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich, Sr. once called "one of the last bastions of the Ku Klux Klan." 

Please assign your best investigators and hold hearings. 

Please help end St. Johns County's de facto "Jim Crow Law," racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, retaliation, discrimination and corruption.

Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

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