Monday, April 25, 2022

Port Chair MATTHEW BROWN: Has 1,112 Lawyer Covington & Burling Explained First Amendment to You Yet?

Contumacious St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Chair MATTHEW BROWN -- do you need to be sent back to NYU law school for 'retreading?'"  

  • You've violated the First Amendment rights of citizens, denying our right to speak before SAPWB votes on motions, violating F.S. 286.0114.
  • You voted to violate the First Amendment rights of SAPWB board member Sandy Flowers, a motion that failed on 3-2 vote.

Maladroit SAPBW Chair MATTHEW BROWN has allowed the SAPWB attorney, CLAY LINTON MEEK, to obstruct Open Records requests and he has blocked our rights to public comment. 

Here are my e-mails to bumptious BROWN and to his two COMMON GOOD INSTITUTE, INC.  (non-profit group) masters at the 1,112, 13-office, 103 year old corporate law firm of COVINGTON & BURLING:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; ssmith@cov.cokm <ssmith@cov.cokm>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Mon, Apr 25, 2022 7:31 am
Subject: Re: First Amendment Violations by "Common Good" Executive Director Matthew Brown, Chair, St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Board

Dear Messrs. Howard and Smith:
1. Would you please be so kind as to call me today?  
2. Mr. MATTHEW BROWN urgently needs his consciousness raised.  
3. He is a poor reflection on our St. Augustine Port District, on Covington & Burlng, and on the organization that you and C&B started, the Common Good Institute, Inc.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>
Cc: <>; ssmith@cov.cokm <ssmith@cov.cokm>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Thu, Apr 21, 2022 1:34 pm
Subject: First Amendment Violations by "Common Good" Executive Director Matthew Brown, Chair, St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Board

Dear Mr. Brown: 
1. Would St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Chair MATTHEW BROWN, Executive Director of the Common Good Institute, Inc.,  please be so kind as to cease and desist further violations of the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, Article I, Section 24 of our Florida Constitution, and F.S. 119 and 286?
2. Mr. BROWN, you were elected to the board of the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District for a reason -- people thought you were a reformer.
3. As a Board member, Mr. BROWN, you have  since 2019:
  • Repeatedly refused to speak out against the longtime SAPWB former Chair, BARRY MARK BENJAMIN, who was a nonresident of the District and St. Johns County, residing in Duval County with his wife and mother while claiming to vote from a boat at 65 Lewis Blvd.
  • Repeatedly refused to allow public comment before voting on agenda items, violating Florida's Sunshine laws.  F.S. 286.0114
  • Threatened me on April 19, 2022 with a retaliatory report to the Sheriff for requesting ing public comment before voting on agenda items, F.S. 286.0114, including a First Amendment violating. ultra vires demand by the Board attorney for retaliation against Commissioner Sandy Flowers.
  • Blocked a change in SAPWB meeting times that would avoid monthly schedule conflicts with St. Johns County Commission meetings.
  • Failed to arrange for videotaping and live-streaming of SAPWB meetings.
  • Failed and refused to support Florida citizens' constitutional rights to our government records, Florida Constitution, Article I, Section 24, which are still being obstructed by SAPWB's misguided, unqualified lawyer, CLAY LINFORD MEEK, who apparently has no legal malpractice insurance, and has demanded a "deposit" of $250/hour to provide copies of his SAPWB e-mails, and a $900 "deposit" for copies of documents that do not exist (20 year refusals of SAPWB members to obtain legally required bonds for themselves).
  • Failed to speak out about MEEK's failure to follow Board instructions regarding Summer Haven litigation against the Board's contractor.  The statute of limitations has nearly expired, correct?
  • Voted April 19, 2022 to place on the agenda a retaliatory item no one asked for -- proposed by Board attorney CLAY LINFORD MEEK -- seeking to censure or to ask Governor DeSANTIS to fire SAPWB Commissioner Sandy Flowers in retaliation for her doing her job "too well."  See, e.g., Mackowiak v. University Nuclear Systems, Inc., 735 F.2d. 1159 (9th Cir.. 1984).  
  • Thankfully, a 3-2 SAPWB Board majority voted April 19, 2022 against MEEK's indecent demand.  
  • You initially pretended not to hear Commissioner Christopher Way's "no" vote, incorrectly stating that the motion passed.  You were wrong.
  • Your evident hate-on for Commissioner Sandy Flowers, and for me, continues.  
  • You have not returned any of my telephone messages in over a year. 

4.  From now on, Mr. BROWN, you must stop acting like a satrap and honor your constitutional oath to preserve, protect and defend our Florida and U.S. Constitutions That includes our right to public comment before voting on agenda items, and citizens' and SAPWB board members' rights to First Amendment protected activity.  See., e.g., New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964), which noted America's "profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. See Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U. S. 1, 337 (1949); De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353 (1937)."
5. Our Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 586 U.S. 215 (2015) that content-based laws targeting free speech rights require "strict scrutiny."
6. You as SAPWB Chair, and SAPWB's lawyer and Secretary-Treasurer must not engage in any more illegal viewpoint discrimination in violation of our First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
7. CafĂ© Erotica v. St. Johns County, 360 F.3d 1274 (11th Cir. 2004) struck down our County's overbroad zoning regulation of a business owner's large billboard criticizing the County's code enforcement officer, Mr. James Acosta, as a "fat ass Barney Fife," one who allegedly cost our County thousands of dollars in "lost lawsuits" due to selective enforcement.
8. Our First Amendment deserves "breathing space."  NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 433 (1963) New York Times. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1974); Gasparinetti v. Kerr, 568 F.2d 311, 314-17 (3d Cir. 1977)(illegal restrictions on policemen’s First Amendment rights); Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. Hepps, 479 767, 772, 777 (1986)(O’Connor, J.)(newspaper entitled to breathing space in defamation case); Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 52, 56 (1988) (Rehnquist, J.) (magazine parody of TV preacher entitled to breathing space); Keefe v. Ganeakos, 418 F.2d 359, 362 (1st Cir. 1969)(Aldrich, C.J.)(chilling effect on First Amendment by illegal suspension of teacher over sharing Atlantic Monthly article on Vietnam War); Parducci v. Rutland, 316 F.Supp. 352, 355, 357 (M.D. Ala 1970)(Johnson, C.J.)(chilling effect in illegal firing of English teacher over Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House.
9. Despite constitutional law establishing that the First Amendment deserves "breathing space," you continue to show disrespect for dissent, chilling free speech rights. 
10. Supreme Court Justice Robert Houghwot Jackson, later our Nuremberg War Crimes prosecutor, wrote for the Supreme Court in the landmark flag salute case, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
11. Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis wrote that our "government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy." lmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)(Brandeis J., dissenting), dissent heeded and case overruled, Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). Your disrespect for the law must stop, now, or you are promoting "anarchy."
12. Thank you in advance for giving our First Amendment "breathing space."  I hope that some of your friends, mentors, founders and funders at the 103-year old corporate law firm of Covington & Burling might want to help explain it to you.  Somewhere among Covington's 1,112 lawyers and thirteen (13) offices, someone can help you understand it.  Or perhaps they can send you back to NYU for "retreading," in the immortal phrase of my late mentor, former USDOL and CAB Chief Judge Nahum Litt about a Harvard-educated Civil Aeronautics Board General Counsel who once persisted in violating airlines' constitutional rights to hearings.
13. Please call me to discuss protecting First Amendment values. 
14. I look forward to discussing with you and SAPWB the merits of the people's business in the future, without any further Ed-baiting, interruptions, insults, condescension, or violations of civil and constitutional rights.  

Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,

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