- Cartoon reminds me of my time as a volunteer, intern and staff assistant in three United States Senators' offices, 1974-1977, commencing at the tender age of 17.5.
- Learning from wise mentors, it built my character. Service was free at first, then modestly paid.
- Honored and privileged to have worked for three ethical, honorable Democratic U.S. Senators, Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Gary Warren Hart (D-Colo.). and James R. Sasser (D-Tenn.).
- I started my first internship with EMK the day before my first class at Georgetown University.
- I was a volunteer, just as my dad was when he volunteered for the U.S. Army the day after Pearl Harbor.
- Got the gig thanks to my late Aunt Helen, through a fellow Georgetown undergraduate, a Navy SEAL veteran, Terry, who was the son of my Aunt Helen's Philadelphia Inquirer classified ad-taking colleague, Vera.
- Within days of the resignation of President Richard Milhous Nixon, I volunteered to work in the mailroom of Senator Ted Kennedy,
- It was the morning after I saw and heard my boyhood,hero, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, speak to our incoming freshmen class at Georgetown's Gaston Hall on the Feast of Saint Augustine (August 28, 1978).
- I am blessed and grateful for all of the wonderful people from whom I have learned!
Friday, April 29, 2022
JAY McGARVEY's Flood-prone 36 Granada PUD In Trouble, to be Delayed Due to "Administrative and Process Concerns"
Developer JAY McGARVEY's 36 Granada LLC -- eviscerating the former CORAZON THEATRE -- was approved by City Commission and PZB last year (PZB member John Carl Blow dissenting), despite antitrust and legal ethics concerns.
McGARVEY's mouthpiece is a full-time federal employee, is Florida National Guard Major GARY BRIAN DAVENPORT. His PUD is already in trouble and apparently requires amendment due to "flood control and flood resiliency."
The property floods.
Doing their due diligence after Commission and PZB approval, McGARVEY and DAVENPORT have encountered pushback from City staff. That's a good thing. I wonder what their investors are saying.
Here's my records request to the City today about the City staff's request for a continuance due to "administrative and process concerns."
We have a Right to Know.
From: Ed Slavin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Fri, Apr 29, 2022 5:01 am
Subject: Request No. 2022-110: 36 Granada Street proposed PUD amendment materials not on City's website
1, Would you please be so kind as to send me today the documents relating to this item from May 3, 2022 City Planning and Zoning Board meeting, which Ms. Skinner has proposed for a continuance?:
Gary B. Davenport – Applicant
c/o Gary B. Davenport PA
36 Granada LLC – Owner
c/o Alsop Properties
36 Granada Street
To amend an existing Planned Unit Development (PUD) adopted November 8, 2021 at 36 Granada Street to change the site plan, text and elevations related to flood protection and flood resiliency.
Good news for rooftop solar energy. Stunning rebuke of FPL's lobbyists and louche legislators. Bodes well for possible veto of SB 1078, St. Augustine's cynical State Senator TRAVIS J. HUTSON's bill that would limit who we can elect to Soil and Water Conservation Districts, limiting eligibility to "farmers," authoritarian revenge against our local SWCD members for doing their job "too well."
From Florida Politics:
Gov. DeSantis vetoes net metering bill
By Jason Delgado, Florida Politics, April 27, 2022
Thursday, April 28, 2022
UNETHICAL GOVT. LAWYER CLAY LINFORD MEEK LOSES VOTE TO PUNISH COMMISSIONER FLOWERS OVER FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
- An angry Volusia County lawyer spent thousands of dollars of our tax money resisting Open Records requests and taking potshots at an elected official who has been trying to clean up our corrupt St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Commission, an independent special taxing district long used to fund City of St. Augustine projects without accountability or grant applications.
- In 2018, reformer Sandra Flowers, a sailing enthusiast, was elected a St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Commissioner as a reformer, defeating Jerry Dixon. She is loved by the local boating community.
- Port Commissioner Sandy Flowers has worked to expose the flummery from the District, including its longtime Chairman of 20 years, yacht salesman BARRY MARK BENJAMIN, a non-resident of the District.
- Ms. Flowers caught BENJAMIN illegally voting when he was not a resident of the District, and not even a resident of St. Johns County.
- Then-Port board member Jay Bliss filed a complaint with the Election Commission, as did two others. The three (3) sworn, verified complaints against Respondent BENJAMIN were filed with the Florida Elections Commission, bearing complaint numbers FEC12-174 (Jay Bliss, filed August 3, 2012), FEC-12-259 (Charles Thomas Meide, filed September 17, 2012), and 12-260 (F. Brendan Burke, September 7, 2012).
- But BENJAMIN emitted ink, like an escaping octopus. BENJAMIN was illegally represented by the longtime Port attorney, JAMES BEDSOLE, a blatant conflict of interest. As so often happens in Florida, it appears that the case was "fixed." No investigation by Florida Elections Commission. No hearing was ever. Foonote: The incurious Election Commission General Counsel, ERIC MATTHEW LIPTON, was recently sentenced to prison after he pled guilty to child pornography charges.
- Bumptious bully BARRY BENJAMIN seemed immune to criticism. Tolerated by fellow Commissioners for years, dictatorial Chairman BARRY BENJAMIN purported to vote from a boat at a 65 Lewis Blvd. marina where he did not live.
- Chairman BENJAMIN committed voter fraud and got away with it. He was never prosecuted.
- BENJAMIN filed to run for re-elcection in 2020 but never qualified.
- In October 2019, I filed a 120 paragraph complaint with our Election Supervisor, Vichy Oakes, who finally acted when the marina owners told her that BENJAMIN did not live on a boat there. Read my complaint here.
- BENJAMIN, a Dull Republican, was first elected in 2000, rarely attended meeting of the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estueraine Research Reserve advisory board, contributing nothing of substance.
- Then the Establishment recruited an unqualified hack and hired him as District lawyer.
- That lawyer is CLAY LINFORD MEEK, a Federalist Society member and goofy graduate of the Mississippi College of Law and Bethel College in Tennessee.
- MEEK's retaliatory demand to place on the agenda his anti-Flowers fatwa was rejected 3-2 on April 19, 2022.
- MEEK read a PowerPoint at Commissioners, unable to figure out the AV machinery in the St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting room, where the Port meets on the third Wednesday each month.
- The Port District repeatedly refuses to schedule its meetings to another time or location, and St. Augustine Beach City Manager Bruce Max Royle obligingly refuses to tape or livestream Port meetings.
- Mendacious CLAY MEEK flopped in his unauthorized effort to euchre, con and persuade Commissioners to ask Governor DeSNATIS to remove Commissioner Sandy Flowers from office, or to sanction her for making records requests and criticizing inaction on Summer Haven dredging litigation, which MEEK has failed to file.
- MEEK's attempted First Amendment violation was foiled by vote of Vice Chair Chris Way, Commissioner Jane West and Commissioner Flowers on April 19, 2022.
- Voting with MEEK were gullible Chair MATTHEW BROWN and Commissioner THOMAS RIVERS, an extremist Republican apparatchik who has emitted animus toward Ms. Flowers and me.
- Chairman BROWN is most noted for his effrontery in violating F.S. 286.0114 and the First Amendment by denying public comment before votes are taken. He did so when the motion was made to place an item on the agenda to discuss censuring Commissioner Flowers or referring her to the Governor. He even threatened use of law enforcement to silence public comment. No class.
- BROWN is a 2000 graduate of St. Augustine High School.
- BROWN is a graduate of NYU and NYU's law school.
- In his day job, BROWN inveighs against consumer rights and remedies for medical malpractice and other torts in his $108,000/year plus $5317 in expenses, a work-at-home sinecure as Executive Director of something called "The Common Good Institute, Inc," EIN 13-3859811 non-profit group aligned with New York corporation attorneys, according to its 2020 IRS Form 990, on the Guidestar website.
- Seeking to cabin our sacredSeventh Amendment rights to civil jury trials in medical malpractice and other cases, BROWN's non-profit employer since 2011 brags that: "Common Good is a national, bipartisan coalition to overhaul America's lawsuit culture and restore the role of common sense in American institutions. Fear of litigation has undermined our freedom to make sensible decisions. Doctors, teachers, even little league coaches, find their daily decisions hampered by legal fear. Our system of justice, long America's greatest pride, is now considered a tool for extortion, not balance."
- Giving gullible Port Chairman MATTHEW BROWN crummy legal advice, and tolerated by the other Port Board member, CLAY MEEK is a disgrace to the Port district.
- CLAY LINTON MEEK falsely identified himself as "General Counsel" in maladroit December 18, 2021 legislative testimony (fast forward to 47:36), clumsily requesting expansion of the Port district to include the entire County without authorization or valid policy reason. MEEK also called himself "General Counsel" on his LinkedIn profile, where bis photo shows a maniacal jerk countenance while skydiving,
- Commissioner Flowers revealed on April 19, 2022 that CLAY MEEK has no legal malpractice insurance, refusing to answer her question while stating "that is neither here nor there."
- CLAY MEEK has failed to file litigation over botched dredging of the Summer Haven River. Wonder why?
- "The clock is ticking," Flowers said, and Taylor Engineering could escape liability
- MEEK has attempted to charge hundreds of dollars in retaliatory deposits in retaliation for First Amendment protected activity: (A) demanding $900 from me for records that did not exist on Port District members' longtime failure and refusal to obtain bonds; and (B) recently demanding a $500 deposit for two hours of clerical work to locale his e-mails.
- MEEK is a geeky, goofy, presumptuous worker's compensation defense attorney duked into the job shortly before Ms. West was sworn into office.
- The City Hall Establishment, led by JAMES PIGGOTT, St. Augustine General Services Director, wants to silence Commissioner Flowers.
- PIGGOTT was controversial City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS' last hire, and is the former Inspector General of the Maine National Guard.
- PIGGOTT has been helpful and courteous on Open Records requests I've made to the City,.
- But his lack of manners in Port meetings is extraordinary, repeatedly whispering and gossiping, never once gaveled by Chairman BROWN.
- City Hall seemed anxious to have another inept lawyer in the job.
- Contumacious, contemptuous CLAY LINFORD MEEK: has a big ego, delusions of adequacy, and a massive chip on his shoulder.
- MEEK harbors strange ideas about Sunshine and Open Records laws, and is saddled with a chauvinistic attitude toward assertive women, including his ex-wife.
- The Florida Bar once sanctioned MEEK for his effort to keep a deponent in civil litigation from leaving the room.
- MEEK's mode and manner are threatening -- he is not unlike a threatening "dockside bully,".in the words of Saint Thomas More in "A Man For All Seasons."
- MEEK was not asked by any Board member to do his "research" and volunteered he would not bill the District for it if it did not want to pay him for it.
- Commissioner Jane West said she did not want to pay for it. No one disagreed with her.
- Disgraced by the Board's lack of confidence, it is time for CLAY MEEK to go.
- Commissioner Flowers publicly vowed to sue MEEK and file a Bar complaint MEEK says that he is "a Special/General Magistrate for local governmental entities including Volusia County and the City of DeLand, hearing various matters involving Codes and Ordinances."
- This vicious, vacuous, vituperative, angry, insecure, obstreperous, ill-mannered, unsophisticated, unethical, smarmy, wormy attorney for the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District, made it his mission in life to attack reformer SAPWB Commissioner Flowers.
- MEEK's finger-pointing, disdainful, disorganized, domineering yammering at an elected official, Sandy Flowers, showed he was out of his league, attempting to dictate with false accusations and illogical legal conclusions.
- Never once did MEEK talk about the First Amendment. But he gave political advice, stating he wanted to put his proposal on the agenda after the filing deadline for Commissioner Flowers to run for re-election, seeking to chill, coerce and intimidate her First Amendment protected activity in criticizing SAPWB's maladministration,
- It's time for CLAY MEEK to go back to workers' compensation defense and leave decent Americans alone. We have work to do here to protect our environment and the public fisc. MEEK shirks work and overbills SAPWB.,
- CLAY MEEK has done nothing to protect taxpayers from fiascos at the Port District -- he has been a slow-witted, slow-moving disaster since his contrived hiring in 2020.
- Quo vobis videtor? (What do y'all reckon?)
CLAY MEEK, tedious termagant attorney
Co$A Financial Flummery? Independent Auditors Criticize City Warehouse Inventory and Utility Accounting Controls
- The City of St. Augustine's independent auditors caught the City's General Services Department warehouse red-handed, not doing a physical count as required by government auditing and accounting standards. Instead, it used old inventory numbers.
See management discussion in FY 2021 audit, Finding and Recommendation 2021-2.
At least one employee who failed to inventory warehouse contents is no longer employed with the City, officials announced at the April 25, 2022 City Commission meeting (item 10A). Who was that employee's supervisor, and their supervisor, and their upper management? Why wasn't proper software used for warehouse inventory? Were any items lost or stolen?
The City Warehouse is part of the sprawling Department of General Services, headed by JAMES PIGGOTT, the last City department director hired by former City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS.
Mr. PIGGOTT is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and was formerly Inspector General of the Maine National Guard.
Thus, Mr. PIGGOTT can be charged with the knowledge of government accounting rules on physical inventory.
As one of the top-paid city managers, has PIGGOTT taken an undue interest in seeking special favors from the St. Augustine Port Waterway and Beach District, treating it as if it were PIGGOTT's piggybank, avoiding grant proposals while blocking the kayak launch it funded years ago.? You tell me.
At the last SAPWB Board meeting, PIGGOTT was loudly laughing and talking with his confreres at the back of the room, while acting like a Shakespearean character, plotting to silence or remove Commissioner Sandy Flowers for questioning SAPWB and Co$A maladministration. Several times I shushed PIGGOTT, who continued acting boisterously, ignored by SAPWB Chair MATTHEW BROWN, who seems deferential to PIGGOTT and other putative authority figures with governmental or corporate titles.
Enough PIGGOTTRY, St. Augustine.
- The independent audit also assailed the City's utility accounts for lacking a proper reconciliation to the general ledger, with the City claiming that the reconciliation was "stopped due to an internal communication error." No detail. The Utility Department is headed by TODD GRANT, P.G., who was a City consultant in 2006, helping with City's attempted coverup of its illegal dumping of a landfill in a lake (Old City Reservoir). The City Finance Department, headed by C,P.A. Mark E. Simpson, is working to resolve the issues. In two years, Simpson has replaced all of the Finance Dept. employees, and is seemingly raising credibility and competence. Mr. Simpson takes personal responsibility for the reconciliation findings and is working to resolve them now.
See management discussion in FY 2021 audit, Finding and Recommendation 2021-1.
The independent audit, by Masters. Smith & Wisby, P.A.,, otherwise gives the City a clean result, while oddly stating that the audit was only for the use of the City.
That dawg won't hunt.
It's our money.
Pay attention, fellow citizens.
City of St. Augustine Audit Committee member and former Audit Committee Chair Todd David Neville, C.P.A. did not write a letter of resignation. But he has resigned his post, after years attempting to induce the City to improve its internal controls, like a voice in the wilderness. St. Augustine Mayor TRACY UPCHURCH now chairs the Audit Committee.*
Mr. Neville is an Indiana University accounting graduate and former accountant with a "Big Eight" accounting firm, working for hedge funds prior to returning to St. Augustine.
Mr. Neville was a Commissioner and Vice Mayor of the City of St. Augustine, 2014-2018. He is a partner in the Neville Wainio C.P.A. firm in St. Augustine. Auditor Neville is now the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Florida State Board of Administration, serving a four year term, appointed by the Governor of Florida.
Former City Mayor George R. Gardner wrote in 2019 in his St. Augustine Report, quoting then-Chair Neville:"Our goal as an Audit Committee is to have an audit with no adjustments and no findings."
City Finance Director Mark E. Simpson, C.P.A. wrote me in an e-mail on April 27 that:
- "The HR files are not something" that I "have access to, but I have inquired about the specific person who failed at taking accurate test counts. Inventory is the responsibility of the General Services Department."
- "Other than the inventory situation, which is in another department, I’d be happy to review this document with you at your leisure. Also, I can assure you that prior accounting deficiencies have been rectified in the last two years and am very proud of the team of new employees here who have done a fantastic job.
* Footnote: Unlike beloved former Mayor St. Augustine Nancy Shaver, UPCHURCH is low-key and acts like a genial dunce, a developer puppet, one seemingly insensitive and insouciant to government accountability issues.
- Mayor UPCHURCH was illegal picked to replace Mayor Shaver after Mayor Shaver's February 25, 2019 stroke, in the midst of a hostile working environment.
- Mayor UPCHURCH's. hiring was engineered by City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E, once dubbed "the Minister of Propaganda" by fellow City Directors.
- Mayor UPCHURCH's election was the "Triple Crown of Lawbreaking: (F.S. 119, F.S. 286.0114 and First Amendment), with citizens excluded from meaningful participation until after the list of candidates was disclosed. The four incurious other-directed remaining Commissioners told they could not serve, based on a misinterpretation of the City's resign-to-run law by an Assistant city Attorney.
- Mayor UPCHURCH is the scion of a 99-year old corporate law firm that bears his surname.
- Mayor UPCHURCH was the third generation of his famioy to be a Florida state legislator.
- Mayor UPCHURCH was the law school and undergraduate roommate of disgraced former Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR.
- Mayor UPCHURCH insolently responded in 2019 to my concern about a City "Keeping History Above Water" event excluding journalists who declined to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket, asking me, "What do you want me to do about it?"
- Is Mayor UPCHURCH's announced retirement "a good career move," in the words of Gore Vidal about Truman Capote?
From: Ed Slavin <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org<email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org<email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Sent: Wed, Apr 27, 2022 6:56 am
Subject: Request No. 2022-105: FY 2021 St. Augustine ACFR and findings re: nonfeasant, misfeasant or malfeasant employee failing to perform inventory or other basic accounting tasks
Thirteen workers die in the workplace every day.
APRIL 28 is Worker Memorial Day, which we learned in 2021 will NOT be celebrated by the St. Johns County Commission.
Because then-Chair JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER sua sponte BLOCKED IT along with an LGBTQ Pride Day Proclamation, and an observation of school choice day. County staff stated BLOCKER would oppose proclamations that were "too left or too right," with only those three examples mentioned in federal court filings.
Honoring dead workers killed in workplaces -- like honoring veterans -- is the right thing to do.
Many dead workers are killed in making nuclear weapons, a national scandal. I was honored to represent workers in whistleblower cases and to expose dangerous workplace conditions in what the poet William Blake meant by "dark Satanic mills" in Godforsaken plants in places like Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
At least one Dull Republican pol with a Master's Degree in Real Estate Development from the University of Miami seems to be owned by developers, and he evidently does not give a fig about worker rights. It shows. So is Worker Memorial Day "too left or too right?" Ask cynical JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER.
Is he a robot with Republican Delusions of Adequacy? Or is he a shallow, callow, corpulent corporation-coddling conformist with no empathy?
Thankfully, OSHA is recognizing Worker Memorial Day 2022 under Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, former Boston Mayor, a former union leader.
Poltroonish pompous popinjay pro-developer Ponte Vedra County Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER is married to LAUREN BLOCKER, a County Court Judge appointed in 2021 by Governor RON DeSANTIS. She's clearly the brains of the outfit.
JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER's anti-LGBT and anti-worker animus make him appear to be a blustery blockhead, an insensitive clod who can't stand criticism, an inarticulate fellow who once mispronounced animus as "aminus" (sic), a sign of his lack of sophistication.
Pray for JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER.
The cruel County Commissioner is a PROGRESS BLOCKER and A HUMAN RIGHTS BLOCKER, a developer lawyer and Florida National Guard J.A.G. Corps Major.
Is MAJOR BLOCKER a Major Pain and a a Major Embarrassment to Ponte Vedra, a charter member of the Smirking Turkey Society (STS) in the SJC Taj Mahal.
Cruel, corpulent, creepy corporate fanboy JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER now faces a three-way race running for re-election against two Republican candidates concerned about overdevelopment and skeptical of developers' money, power and influence -- a Gold Star Mother, Krista Keating-Joseph, and Merrill Paul Roland.
Neither Ms. Keating-Joseph and Mr. Roland would have blocked a simple proclamation on Worker Memorial Day, and not damned it as "too left or too right."
Is it the right time to do the right thing -- time to restore honor and dignity to the Ponte Vedra seat on our St. Johns County Commission?
You tell me.
OSHA press release:
Florida is the least affordable place to live in America. From CBS News: