Friday, April 29, 2022

"I'm a volunteer. These are my resume-building years."

  • 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!

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. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
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

Dear Ms. Skinner, Ms. Galambos and Mr. Regan:

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?: 
6. Rezoning
  A. 2022-0026
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.  
2. The only thing on this request at the City meeting website tab for the May 3 meeting is Ms. Skinner's utterly uninformative and incorrectly dated "May 3, 2022" memo, asking for a continuance due to "administrative and process concerns."  Those "concerns" are not disclosed.  Why?

3. We have a Florida Constitutional Right to Know. Article I, Section 24 of our Florida Constitution was enacted in 1992 by 3.8 million voters (83%).

4. Our Right to Know is not negated by the moneychangers now infesting the temple of our democracy, or by the nattering nabobs of negativism who take dark money to represent dodgy "developers," or by the appallingly emotional, selfish edict and ukase of conflicted Florida National Guard Major Gary Brian Davenport.  Major Davenport told me by telephone on July 5, 2022 that his developer client's questionable PUD application -- and Major Davenport's being "a full-time federal employee" representing zoning applicants -- is "none of my business."  

5. Conflicted ethically-challenged FNG Major Gary Brian Davenport, "a full-time federal employee," should no longer represent zoning applicants before the City of St. Augustine and St. Johns County.  His half-baked legal work on this PUD is an embarrassment. His shoddy work on this 2021 PUD now apparently already requires proposed amendment, said to be due to "flood protection and flood resiliency," about which there are "administrative and process concerns?"  What are they? The paperwork must be disclosed today.  Witnesses warned of flooding, but the City Commission and PZB rubber-stamped the PUD application. 

6. Exposing corruption is everyone's "business."  Thus, "I wear [FNG Major Davenport's] scorn as a badge of honor," in the words of our former Vice President, J. Danforth Quayle.

7. I've been exposing corruption in our local governments since 2005.  No lectures from Mr. Davenport are desired or required. 

8. Please send documents today. 

9. The people's business must no longer be conducted in secret.  "Justice may not be done in a corner, nor in any covert manner."  1676 Fundamental Laws of West New Jersey, Chapter XXIII.

10. The Washington Post's slogan is, "Democracy dies in darkness."  As James Madison wrote in his August 4, 1822 letter to W.T. Barry, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both."  Conflicts of interest must be scrupulously guarded against. See, e.g., United States v. Mississippi Valley Generating Co., 364 U.S. 520, 548 (1961)("the 'Dixon-Yates' case"), involving U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority and its investor-owned utility rivals and conflicts of interest in a proposed Memphis coal-fired powerplant), citing Matthew 6:24 -- "no [person] can serve two masters," holding that laws and rules preventing conflicts of interest are aimed "not only at dishonor but at conduct that tempts dishonor."   All conflict of interest laws are based upon Matthew 6:24 ("A man cannot serve two masters"), which the unanimous 1961 Supreme Court decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren found to be both a "moral principle" and a "maxim which is especially pertinent if one of the masters happens to be economic self-interest."  Id. 

Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,

Gov. DeSantis vetoes net metering bill (By Jason Delgado, Florida Politics, April 27, 2022)

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

The Legislature established the current system in 2008 to subsidize the nascent solar industry.

Gov. Ron DeSantis killed a bill Wednesday that would’ve ended net metering in Florida.

The Republican leader’s reasoning: inflation. It marks the second veto of the 2022 Legislative Session.

“Given that the United States is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years and that consumers have seen steep increases in the price of gas and groceries, as well as escalating bills, the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing,” DeSantis wrote.

Under net metering, electrical companies must buy back “banked” energy stored by homes at the retail rate. That energy is added to the utility’s grid and redistributed to non-solar customers. The measure — dubbed by critics the “anti-rooftop solar bill” (HB 741) — aimed to end the buyback mandate.

Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani highlighted the advocacy of opponents to the measure after the announcement. Meanwhile, Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial contender Charlie Crist praised the “power of millions of Floridians making their voices heard and demanding lower costs from Tallahassee.”


“As Governor, I’ll always hold big utilities accountable and reject their unjustified rate increases,” Crist said. “We’ve got a plan to see one million solar roofsinstalled across the Sunshine State during my first term, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure and Sen. Jennifer Bradley are the bill sponsors. The Senate approved the legislation 24-15 last month after the House passed it 83-31.

“This bill is fair,” Bradley told Senators. “It’s a thoughtful glide path to get us to a no subsidy.”

The Legislature established the current system in 2008 to subsidize the nascent solar industry. But critics argued more information was needed on possible impacts before moving forward with Bradley’s proposal.

The bill would have kicked in at the start of 2023 when panel owners will collect a 75% credit. Subsequently, returns would’ve fallen to 60% in 2026, 50% in 2027, and drop to the market rate in 2029. The measure also would have grandfathered in solar panel owners and lessees, allowing them to maintain their entry credit rate for 20 years

Lantana Democratic Sen. Lori Berman said voters indicated their support for subsidizing the rooftop solar industry in 2016, when they shot down a proposed constitutional amendment allowing residents who don’t produce solar energy to abstain from subsidizing it. Like many critics throughout the Session, Berman pointed to Nevada, where the state immediately scrapped net metering in 2015.

“Two years later, their Legislature had to come back and change it because the whole solar industry left Nevada during that time,” Berman said. “I don’t want to see that happen here in our state.”

Despite voting “yes,” New Smyrna Beach Republican Sen. Tom Wright said he was having a hard time casting that vote. He wished the state’s utility commission had been involved in the research assessing whether there was even a need to change the solar industry’s structure.

recent study from the advocacy group Conservatives for Clean Energy shows the solar industry adds 40,000 jobs, $18.3 billion in economic impact, and $3.2 billion in household income for its workforce. That study also showed solar adds $10.6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

A survey released in February by Mason-Dixon showed that 84% of Florida voters support net metering.

In December, the measure came under additional scrutiny after the Miami Herald and Floodlight reported that FPL drafted and encouraged state lawmakers to file legislation constricting the state’s growing rooftop solar industry, one in a series of news stories tracking claims of FPL’s involvement in the political process.


Florida Politics reporter Renzo Downey contributed to this report.

Thursday, April 28, 2022


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.  
  4. Ms. Flowers caught BENJAMIN illegally voting when he was not a resident of the District, and not even a resident of St. Johns County.  
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.  
  8. Chairman BENJAMIN committed voter fraud and got away with it.  He was never prosecuted.
  9. BENJAMIN filed to run for re-elcection in 2020 but never qualified. 
  10. 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.
  11. 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.  
  12. Then the Establishment recruited an unqualified hack and hired him as District lawyer. 
  13. That lawyer is CLAY LINFORD MEEK, a Federalist Society member and goofy graduate of the Mississippi College of Law and Bethel College in Tennessee.  
  14. MEEK's retaliatory demand to place on the agenda his anti-Flowers fatwa  was rejected 3-2 on April 19, 2022.  
  15. 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.  
  16. 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. 
  17. 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. 
  18. 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.
  19. 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.  
  20. 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. 
  21. BROWN is a 2000 graduate of St. Augustine High School.
  22. BROWN is a graduate of NYU and NYU's law school.
  23. 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.
  24. 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."
  25. 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. 
  26. 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,
  27. 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."
  28. CLAY MEEK has failed to file litigation over botched dredging of the Summer Haven River.  Wonder why?
  29. "The clock is ticking," Flowers said, and Taylor Engineering could escape liability 
  30. 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.
  31. MEEK is a geeky, goofy, presumptuous  worker's compensation defense attorney duked into the job shortly before Ms. West was sworn into office. 
  32. The City Hall Establishment, led by JAMES PIGGOTT, St. Augustine General Services Director, wants to silence Commissioner Flowers.   
  33. PIGGOTT was controversial City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS' last hire, and is the former Inspector General of the Maine National Guard.  
  34. PIGGOTT has been helpful and courteous on Open Records requests I've made to the City,.
  35. But his lack of manners in Port meetings is extraordinary, repeatedly whispering and gossiping, never once gaveled by Chairman BROWN.
  36. City Hall seemed  anxious to have another inept lawyer in the job.
  37. Contumacious, contemptuous CLAY LINFORD MEEK: has a big ego, delusions of adequacy, and a massive chip on his shoulder.
  38. MEEK harbors strange ideas about Sunshine and Open Records laws, and is saddled with a chauvinistic attitude toward assertive women, including his ex-wife.
  39. The Florida Bar once sanctioned MEEK for his effort to keep a deponent in civil litigation from leaving the room.
  40. 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."
  41. 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.  
  42. Commissioner Jane West said she did not want to pay for it.  No one disagreed with her.
  43. Disgraced by the Board's lack of confidence, it is time for CLAY MEEK to go.
  44. 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."
  45. 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.  
  46. 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.  
  47. 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, 
  48. 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., 
  49. 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.
  50. Quo vobis videtor?  (What do y'all reckon?)

Clay Meek

CLAY MEEK, tedious termagant attorney

unethical longtime former Port Chairman, a non-resident of St. Johns County, awarded a plaque despite voter fraud, voting from a boat where did did not live when he was in fact a resident of Duval County

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?


Jim PiggottThe 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.
I am waiting on records relating to the independent audit's Findings and Recommendations. City General Services Director JAMES PIGGOTT, noted for arrogance, has not yet provided any documents on the maladministration of the City Warehouse. 

Enough piggottry, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.

We need a National Search for a new City Manager.  No excuses this time, as in 1998 and 2010

* 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?

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>;<>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>;<>; <>
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

Dear Chief Michaux, Ms. Galambos, Ms. Lopez, Ms. Fountain, Ms. Breidenstein, and Messrs. Regan, Simpson and Neville:
1. Would you please be so kind as to send me today the FY 2021 City of St. Augustine Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the specific work papers and other documents on the recent audit exceptions and findings re: unnamed nonfeasant, misfeasant or malfeasant employee who failed to perform an inventory or other basic accounting tasks?
2. Please send me the documents relating to that employee's hiring, promotions, recommendations, evaluations, termination, and root cause analysis on their failure to perform an inventory or other basic accounting tasks.
3. Please include any documents on any related civil, criminal or administrative investigations or proceedings, including SAPD and FDLE referrals or DBPR license complaints or proceedings
4. Why wasn't the full text of the St. Augustine FY 2021 ACFR in Commission's agenda book for April 25, 2022 City Commission meeting?  Why was a copy handed to the Mayor but not the other Commissioners during the meeting?
5. Was this the first time this key annual accounting document was not included in the agenda book?  
6. Do you plan to omit it from the agenda book again?  If so, on what theory? James Madison wrote, "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowlege will for ever govern ignorance: and a people who mean to be their own Governours, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."  
8. Why?
9. Please send me Mr. Neville's resignation letter as Audit Committee Chair, and related documents on his dissatisfaction with the City's accounting work.
10. Did Mr. Neville quit due to the City's continuing insouciance, lack of internal controls and deficient management abilities?  Please call to discuss.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,

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Not Observed by St. Johns County Commission, April 28 is Worker Memorial Day (OSHA Press Release)

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.

Wonder why?  

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. 


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:  

Department of Labor Logo 
OSHA National News Release

April 25, 2022

US Department of Labor to mark Workers Memorial Day, remembering lives
lost; stress the high cost of ignoring workplace safety, health standards

Online event to be broadcast live on April 28 from Washington

WASHINGTON – Each year, the families and friends of fallen workers, and organizations, including the U.S. Department of Labor and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration sadly observe April 28 as Workers Memorial Day.

On average, 13 workers die as a result of workplace injuries every day in the U.S. While far fewer than before the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 laid the foundation to better protect worker safety and health, the nation continues to confront the enormous challenge of making sure every worker ends their shift safely.

In communities across the nation, the people these workers left behind come together to remember them and raise their voices in the hope that – by helping others understand the nature and impact of their tragic losses – the hard work of preventing others from sharing their pain can be done. 

To mark the observance, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will join with OSHA and some of those scarred by workplace tragedies at the department’s headquarters in Washington on April 28 for an online national Workers Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m. EDT.

“Workers Memorial Day allows us to remember those whose lives were claimed by their jobs, in too many instances, because required safety precautions were not taken to prevent tragedy,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Every year, thousands of workers are unable to return home to their families and their communities because workplace safety and health were overlooked. We must never underestimate the importance of ensuring OSHA requirements are met and followed as the law requires. As we are sadly reminded again, peoples’ lives depend on it.”

The event will include remarks from the following guests:

  • Jesse Stolzenfels, a coal miner at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where an explosion and collapse claimed the lives of his 12 co-workers in 2006.
  • Rena Harrington, whose son was fatally injured in 2018 at a Massachusetts construction site.
  • Alejandro Zuniga, an advocate with the Houston-based Faith and Justice Worker Center, who will discuss workers’ rights and the impact of worker fatalities on their families and communities.

As part of its commemoration, OSHA representatives from across the country will participate in local Workers Memorial Day events in April and stand with families, workers, labor unions, advocates, and others as they honor fallen workers and raise awareness of workplace safety to help prevent future tragedies.

Find a local Workers Memorial Day event near you.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance to employers as well as to workers directly. 

# # #

Media Contacts:

Denisha Braxton, 202-693-5061,
Mandy McClure, 202-693-4675,

Release Number:  22-740-NAT

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

Ed's note:  to our union brothers and sisters:  this is the man who blocked WORKER MEMORIAL DAY as St. Johns County Commission Chair (along with LGBTQ Pride Day and a resolution on school choice, as "too left or too right."). Share his shame -- his name is JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER:

Florida is the least affordable place to live in the U.S. (CBS News)

Florida is the least affordable place to live in America. From CBS News: 

Florida is the least affordable place to live in the U.S.

Sally Starkey thought moving from Chicago to Florida would be easy. The 33-year-old publicist moved to Naples, Florida, when her husband got a nearby job. Familiar with the area from friends and family who vacationed there, the couple was excited to move, she said. 

"We thought we would have no problem finding a place to live," Starkey said.

She was wrong. The couple inquired into two dozen apartments before agreeing to lease a townhouse in north Naples — sight unseen. "It took us up until two weeks before we were out of our apartment in Chicago," Starkey said. 

At $3,500, meanwhile, the rent on their two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse is about 20% more than what they paid in Chicago, although she considers herself fortunate given the alternatives. "I'm telling you, we lucked out," she said. 

The couple's experience encapsulates several key housing trends that are combining to make it harder — and pricier — for Americans to put a roof over their heads. Most important, rents and home prices are soaring at their fastest rate in years, raising the financial burden on millions of working- and middle-class households already struggling to afford a place to live. A shocking bout of inflation, following the economic spasm caused by the pandemic, is adding to those pressures.

Rents, which are rising by double-digits nationwide, are positively ballooning across Florida, fueled by a surge of people who relocated to the state during the pandemic. Florida's population is growing faster than any state but Texas: Between 2020 and 2021, 300,000 people moved to the Sunshine State.In February, designated Miami as America's least affordable place to live. Average monthly rents in the metro area, at $2,930, are on par with San Francisco and Los Angeles — and double the level considered affordable for people in the region given the local median income. Miami, Orlando and Tampa have the fastest-growing rents in the country over the past year.

"These Sun Belt markets, and Florida in particular, have topped our lists for the last couple months," said Danielle Hale, chief economist at

Florida's housing woes have been festering for years, with the state enjoying robust population growth while also courting new residents and businesses attracted by the low taxes and an anti-regulation agenda.

Policymakers in Florida have tried to diversify the tourism-heavy economy with new jobs in banking, technology, life sciences and logistics, said John Boyd, principal of the Boyd Co., a site-selection firm in Boca Raton, Florida. For individuals, a lack of personal income tax and relatively low property taxes combine with sunny weather to make the state an attractive destination for high-paid professionals. 

"For migrating tech workers leaving San Francisco, New York, Chicago, being able to save thousands of dollars each year remains a compelling driver… to relocate," Boyd said. 

A slew of recent high-profile corporate moves to Florida, including Goldman SachsElliott Management and Virtu Financial, have boosted Florida's profile, while the pandemic's shift to remote work turbocharged relocations, Boyd said. The level of inquiries his company gets from firms interested in moving to the state has grown tenfold compared to before the pandemic. 

"Based on what our clients are telling us, that hybrid model is here to stay."

Good work if you can get it

Data from shows that a great deal of the demand for housing in Florida comes from out of state. One-fifth of searches for real estate in Miami originate from the New York City area; another 8% from Washington, D.C. Washington and New York make up 15% of the demand for Tampa housing. 

Indeed, prices that are historically high by Florida standards may not deter someone fleeing even pricier New York or the Bay Area, Boyd said.

"For deep-pocketed executives, they're sort of playing with house money because there are still bargains in Palm Beach county and Broward county and Miami-Dade, compared to the prices of the Bay Area," Boyd noted. "People are outbidding homes in Broward county and Palm Beach county by the millions of dollars. It's a routine occurrence."

Palm Beach County Mansions Scooped Up in Hot Pandemic Market
Single-family houses in Palm Beach, Florida. Prices for single-family homes in the Miami metro area have soared 40% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, while rents have risen 60%.MARCO BELLO/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Jacqueline Fisch, a 41-year-old author and writing coach, was able to parlay the pandemic's flight to the suburbs in her favor when she moved from central New Jersey to Tampa last year. 

Fisch had moved to New Jersey just before the pandemic to be near her husband's Manhattan job, but by the summer of 2020 both were working remotely and their two kids were attending school from home. On a Christmas vacation in Florida, the family had a revelation. 

"By day three, it was 75-degree weather and we said, Wait, we can live here," Fisch said. They started planning their move on the trip back. 

By January, the family's New Jersey home was under contract for $200,000 over what they'd paid for it. They put the profits into a property still under construction in north Tampa that cost about $450,000, moving to buy the house with only the foundation poured and beating out three other potential bidders. They moved in in September. 

"Our mortgage payment, it went from $4,000 to $1,500," Fisch told CBS MoneyWatch. "The only thing that's more expensive here is car insurance." 

She said she doesn't love the traffic, but appreciates everything else: "The beaches, the Gulf, kayaking — being able to be outside, comfortably be outside, almost all the time." 

Jacqueline Fisch kayaking with her son. COURTESY JACQUELINE FISCH

"I'm leaving as soon as I can"

Although Florida is increasingly attractive as a place to live for many Americans, the influx is squeezing many long-time residents, especially low-paid service industry workers and older residents on a fixed income. The state explicitly prohibits rent control, which could put a cap on skyrocketing rents. 

Michele DeMoske-Weiss, a retired nurse who lives on a fixed income, is ready to bail after 30 years living off and on in the state. 

Michele DeMoske-Weiss, 70, in her Lakeland, Florida, apartment. She is looking to move out of Florida to a less expensive state. COURTESY MICHELE DEMOSKE-WEISS

"For the first 15 years it's great, it feels like you're on vacation, and then for the second 15 years it's miserable," she said of living in Florida. 

DeMoske-Weiss, 70, recently downsized when her landlord wanted to hike the rent on her Lake Park two-bedroom to $2,400 a month. She moved to a one-bedroom on a lower floor to keep her rent at a more manageable $2,200. She's now thinking of moving to Washington state or Pennsylvania to be close to her children. 

"I'm leaving as soon as I can get out," she said. 

For others, including workers in the state's low-paid tourism sector, leaving is harder. Many working-class families in South Florida have protested rent hikes that they say could put them on the street. 

Carmen Cuzcano (L) and her husband Pedro Cancino (R) in their house in Hialeah, Florida on January 19, 2022. The family is facing a rent hike from $1,200 to $1,650 a month, which they say they can't afford.CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

"It feels like a greedy, greedy time," said Mike Wootan, whose rent on his Miami apartment is jumping nearly $500 a month to $3,000 in June. Wootan, 29, runs a cannabis company. In the year he's lived there with his girlfriend, Wootan hasn't been able to use his balcony or the pool at the complex because of renovations, and the increase feels like "adding insult to injury," he told CBS MoneyWatch. "I've thought about it almost daily."

Still, Wootan and his girlfriend decided to live with the increase rather than spend money on a move, which would also cost them work days. He's been thinking more about buying a home, but said it's financially out of reach. 

"I'm getting to the point where I'm really sick and tired of renting, and it doesn't feel like a good time [to buy]," he said. "It feels like we're on the cusp of another bubble that's going to burst."

Even as the housing sector rebounds, the nation faces a shortfall of 1.3 million homes given the plunge in construction activity during the pandemic. That deficit, combined with investment firms competing with families for starter homes, means it could take years before market forces allow incomes and rents to re-align. 

Meanwhile, with both rents and home values growing at dizzying rates, it makes it that much harder for renters to even consider buying a home. 

"It's a challenge in today's market because we have such limited housing supply, whether we're talking for-sale housing or for-rent housing, and the higher prices are making it difficult to transition into owning," said Hale of