Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Union-busting Starbucks CEO made another $940,000,000 during pandemic (Common Dreams)

Let's get to work, as Florida's feculent sibilant U.S Senator RICHARD LYNN SCOTT would say.

From Common Dreams:


Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks during an event

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks during an event in Washington, D.C. on June 9, 2022. (Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Democrats see opening to take down Rubio (THE HILL, BY MAX GREENWOOD - 08/31/22 6:00 AM)



I love U.S. Rep. Val Deming, who will make an excellent United States Senator!

From THE HILL

Democrats see opening to take down Rubio

BY MAX GREENWOOD - 08/31/22 6:00 AM ET


Democrats are seeing new glimmers of hope for their chances of ousting Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in Florida after months of hand-wringing over just how aggressively they should pursue his seat.

Until recently, the Senate race drew little attention from national Democrats who have grown increasingly skeptical that their candidates can remain competitive in the Sunshine State after a spate of narrow, though still painful, losses. Top party officials instead looked to Senate contests in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — two states that President Biden carried in 2020 — as safer bets.


But Rep. Val Demings (Fla.), a rising Democratic star who clinched the party’s Senate nomination in Florida last week, has so far shown herself to be a formidable challenger to Rubio. 

She’s raised about $48 million to his $36 million and has already spent months blanketing airwaves with ads talking about her law enforcement credentials and hitting Rubio over everything from his attendance record in the Senate to his stance on abortion rights.

“The fundraising situation for Republicans seems pretty dire, and meanwhile Demings is continuing to raise millions of dollars and outraise Rubio. So I think the fundamentals are really encouraging,” said Joshua Karp, a top adviser to Demings’s campaign.

Demings’s allies also argue that many of the GOP’s standard attacks — most notably their claim that the Florida congresswoman favors defunding the police — have fallen flat, given her career in law enforcement and the years she spent as Orlando’s police chief.

“Republicans haven’t really been able to lay a glove on Demings,” Karp added. “She’s pretty Teflon when it comes to their usual basket of attacks. And this is not a candidate that they know how to define and target.”

But that’s not to say winning will be easy for Demings. Unlike Republican Senate nominees in several other battleground states — like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia — Rubio is a seasoned politician with a track record of winning statewide by wide margins, and the vast majority of public polling in the race between him and Demings shows Rubio in the lead.


Rubio’s message, meanwhile, has focused on casting Demings as a “rubber stamp” for Democrats’ agenda in Washington, linking the three-term congresswoman to President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while also homing in on inflation and crime, two issues that have repeatedly dogged Democrats this year.

“When Floridians go to the ballot box in November, they’re going to hold Demings and Democrat-controlled Washington accountable for driving skyrocketing inflation, out of control crime, and a crisis at the border letting drugs flow into our communities,” said Elizabeth Gregory, a spokesperson for Rubio’s campaign.

There’s also a long list of structural challenges for Florida Democrats. For one, there are now more registered Republican voters in the state than Democrats, and the GOP’s advantage in the state has only continued to grow. And while Florida has a penchant for hosting ultra-close statewide races, Republicans have a tendency to come out on top more often than not.


Rubio himself also has a proven ability to outperform other statewide Republican candidates in Miami-Dade County, a Democratic stronghold, albeit one where the GOP has made gains in recent years. Rubio lost Miami-Dade by only about 11 percentage points the last time he was on the ballot in 2016. That same year, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, won it by nearly 30 points.

“I think that Rubio’s strength in Miami-Dade is not to be underestimated. But it’s also never been stress-tested,” said one Democratic strategist who works in Florida politics.

In 2010, when Rubio first won his seat, his opposition was largely split in the general election between supporting Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who challenged Rubio as an independent, and former Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), giving Rubio an opening to win Miami-Dade County, the strategist argued.


Democrats also blame former Rep. Patrick Murphy, the party’s 2016 Senate nominee, for a lackluster effort to reach Florida’s vast and diverse Hispanic communities. Murphy’s campaign released its first Spanish-language ad little more than a month before Election Day.

But Democrats say there’s reason to believe that things will be different this year. 

Demings’s campaign announced earlier this year that it would spend $3 million on a coordinated bilingual effort to boost Democrats up and down the ballot, while the Democratic National Committee moved to install a Spanish-language voter outreach program and a new organizing staff in Miami-Dade County.

Demings also began running Spanish-language digital ads in June, two months after launching “Todos Con Demings,” her Hispanic outreach campaign.

Demings has also buoyed her position in the race by seizing on the same issues lifting Democrats across the country. 

The party’s candidates have seen a burst of momentum following the signing of a massive tax and climate law, arguing that it’s evidence that they can pass meaningful legislation. And then there’s the conservative-majority Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case — a ruling that has put reproductive rights back in the country’s political spotlight.

Meanwhile, inflation has shown signs of easing and gas prices have begun to tick downward, bolstering Democratic hopes of avoiding an electoral thrashing in November.

But Republicans argue that the problems for Democrats in Florida are apparent. While the national political environment has shifted, at least somewhat, in Democrats’ favor in recent weeks, there’s no guarantee that trend will hold over the next two months. Republicans also argue that the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Palm Beach club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, could energize their voters at a time when GOP enthusiasm is already running high.

Snapchat maker cutting 20 percent of global workforce

Biden speaks with Jackson mayor about water crisis

At the same time, many of the major donors and outside groups that have invested heavily in Florida in the past have stayed on the sidelines so far, fearing a repeat of recent election cycles that saw huge spending by Democrats followed by disappointing losses.

Priorities USA, the main Democratic super PAC, has yet to announce any spending plans in Florida this year. Neither has Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Democratic Senate leadership. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, recently donated $1 million to the state Democratic Party, but has held off from making the kind of massive investments he made in the state in 2020.

“I think there’s a lot of skepticism about whether Florida is winnable. And I think that’s partially because Republicans have spent the last four years screaming at the top of their lungs that Florida is a red state,” one national Democratic consultant familiar with fundraising said. “There’s a lot of ‘don’t throw good money after bad results.’”

Monday, August 29, 2022

Where are our Sheriff's body-worn and dashboard cameras? Where are our rights?




St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners



-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <easlavin@aol.com>
To: bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us <bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us>; bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us <bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us>; bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us <bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us>; bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us <bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us>; bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us <bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us>
Cc: dmigut@sjcfl.us <dmigut@sjcfl.us>; hconrad@sjcfl.us <hconrad@sjcfl.us>; sheriff@sjso.org <sheriff@sjso.org>; taxcollector@sjctax.us <taxcollector@sjctax.us>; voakes@votesjc.org <voakes@votesjc.org>; wfusco@votesjc.com <wfusco@votesjc.com>; bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com <bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com>; mminer@stjohnsclerk.com <mminer@stjohnsclerk.com>; eddie@sjcpa.us <eddie@sjcpa.us>; waltbog@nytimes.com <waltbog@nytimes.com>
Sent: Mon, Aug 29, 2022 6:22 pm
Subject: Re: 25 suggestions for St. Johns County government reform

Dear St. Johns County Commissioners:
1. Where are your manners?  I wrote each one of the five of you with 25 suggestions for local government reform on March 15, 2022.  Not one of you bothered to write me in response. 
2. Why?  (Sounds like an admission by silence and adoptive admission to me.)
3. Tens of thousands of St. Johns County voters on August 23, 2022 voted for government reform. They voted to tell our Board of County Commissioners, "Enough."
4. They voted out Commissioner Jeremiah Ray Blocker in the closed Republican Primary, electing Ms. Krista Keating-Joseph, who opposes overdevelopment  They voted to say to you, "Enough."
5. Where are our police body cameras and police dashboard cameras?
6. When will you restore non-agenda public comment at the beginning of each meeting?
7. Please respond to each of the 25 numbered points in my March 15, 2022 email, below, sent to you 167 days ago (five months and fourteen days).
8. "Is anybody there?  Does anybody care?" (In the words that General George Washington once wrote to the Continental Congress, shared in the musical, 1776).
9. Thank you, Commissioners, for all that you do.
10. Now, let's get to work on the people's business for a change.  Always remember, from this day forward, that We, the People, have hired you to work for us, not for dodgy developers.  Please call me to discuss our County's future.
https://cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com/2022/08/democracy-on-march-right-here-in-st.html
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
www.edslavin.com
www.cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com
904-377-4998

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <easlavin@aol.com>
To: bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us <bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us>; bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us <bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us>; bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us <bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us>; bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us <bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us>; bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us <bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us>
Cc: dmigut@sjcfl.us <dmigut@sjcfl.us>; hconrad@sjcfl.us <hconrad@sjcfl.us>; sheriff@sjso.org <sheriff@sjso.org>; taxcollector@sjctax.us <taxcollector@sjctax.us>; voakes@votesjc.org <voakes@votesjc.org>; wfusco@votesjc.com <wfusco@votesjc.com>; bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com <bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com>; mminer@stjohnsclerk.com <mminer@stjohnsclerk.com>; eddie@sjcpa.us <eddie@sjcpa.us>; waltbog@nytimes.com <waltbog@nytimes.com>
Sent: Tue, Mar 15, 2022 5:13 am
Subject: 25 suggestions for St. Johns County Commission to consider before asking voters to approve a 15%+ tax increase.


Dear Commissioners:
I have 25 suggestions for St. Johns County Commission to consider before asking voters to approve a 15%+ tax increase.

Please call me to discuss:

I will oppose the 15%+ sales tax increase, unless we have significant government reform, covering every government office, from City Halls to County Commission to School Board:
  1. Require body-worn cameras for all law enforcement, with dashboard cameras in all vehicles.  Reject former Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's 2016 ukase that there is "a false narrative" that law enforcement needs to be watched."  Accountability for everyone.  No excuses. No more delays.
  2. Create a County Charter Review Commission composed of everyday citizens to propose a new form of government, with checks and balances, human rights protections and a charter for limited government. Put their proposals on the ballot for us to vote on at the same time as any sales tax increase. 
  3. Welcome, cherish, heed, publish and act on non-agenda public comment.  (The City of St. Augustine now omits non-agenda public comment from its minutes, while St. Johns County now puts it dead last at meetings, showing contempt for our democracy.) Stop insulting, interrupting, ignoring or heckling public questions and concerns.  
  4. Answer public questions during "question time" like the British Parliament, by adopting the "Mayor Gary Snodgrass rule" from the City of St. Augustine Beach, requiring public commenters' questions to be answered, instead of ignored.  The City of Flagler Beach has a similar procedure. It also has non-agenda public comment at both the beginning and end of meetings, "so nothing gets missed," says their new Chairman, J. Kenneth Bryan, a Justice Department retiree and former St. Johns County Commission Chairman.  Unconstitutional County Commission rules prohibit citizens "demanding an immediate answer," but usually we get no answer at all. Ever.
  5. Televise all government meetings and allow remote public participation, like School Board.
  6. Put government documents online, including all contacts. Stop blocking and discouraging records requests with fee-grabbing.  Prohibit any government from using an auto-responder to answer records requests and requiring a named, living breathing person to sign correspondence (City of St. Augustine, Sheriff, FDLE, State Legislature and other government agencies have the annoying habit of having no named person sign records request correspondence, an Orwellian fetish.
  7. Reform government purchasing as we know it. Report all instances of possible bid-rigging. Guard against government employees self-dealing (as with former Utilities supervisor RICHARD NELSON, fired for selling SCADA products to the County for years without criminal prosecution).
  8. Stop giving tax holidays to dodgy corporations as "incentives," selling our soul to secretive unknown investors for unknown reasons.
  9. Require lobbying registration and disclosures. 
  10. Require transparency in development, starting with disclosing the names of every single beneficial owner and investor in every single development project.  Russian investors must be subject to sanctions and full disclosure. 
  11. Developer money-laundering must be exposed and reported. 
  12. Require disclosure of all sources of foreign and domestic money in politics. 
  13. Create a County Ethics Commission with tough local laws, public hearings and enforcement to extirpate corruption, discrimination and secrecy.
  14. Encourage and protect whistleblowers, to end corruption as we know it.  Always hold accountable anyone who would presume to retaliate against a whistleblower.  Inform employees and contractors of their rights.  Adopt a County whistleblower protection policy, ordinance and resolution.
  15. Treat employees fairly, paying living wages and an end to favoritism, sexual harassment, secrecy and retaliation against whistleblowers.
  16. Create a County Environmental Board with  regulatory powers to halt or limit devious developers' wetland-filling, wildlife-killing, deforestation, clear-cutting.
  17. Provide for five single-member County Commission districts, like the School Board has, in order to reduce the influence of developers' Big Money and empower of citizen legislators.  Add two at-large Commission seats, running county-wide. 
  18. Adopt a working committee system, with committees to vet budgets and development proposals before half-baked proposals go to the full County Commission or City Commissions.  
  19. Provide each Commissioner with a legislative assistant, as they had before 2010
  20. Support statewide legislation to revise impact fees as we know them.  
  21. Stop subsidizing metastatic growth -- unchecked growth for growth's sake is the ideology of a cancer cell.
  22. Create an Ombudsman to advocate for citizens and taxpayers, ending the disgusting legislative dance of County and City staff acting as de facto or de jure developer puppets.
  23. Focus on protecting public health from known environmental health hazards.  There is no legal protection for employee safety in Florida since Jeb Bush helped abolish Florida OSHA in 2000. Local governments are inconsistent in protecting public health, as proven by our County School Superintendent's insolent and insouciant refusal to replace moldy wrestling mats, stored in showers, causing illnesses among the members of the St. Augustine High School Wrestling Team 
  24. Enhance the powers of our Clerk of Courts Inspector General, with job protections and enhanced budget, with authority to investigate any local government agency, subject to a County Charter approved by the voters.
  25. Consider Zero Based Budgeting, as President Jimmy Carter supported. Don't assume every department or office gets an increase. Some need to be cut. My late mentor, United States Department of Labor Chief Administrative Law Judge Nahum Litt, said any government budget could be cut by 10%.  Every government needs to examine every expenditure with a gimlet eye, and stop extravagant spending on what President Abraham Lincoln would have called "flubdubs." For every spending request and every piece of legislation ask, "Is it based on need, or greed?" (As Senator Gary Hart asked his staff to evaluate every single legislative proposal as a freshman Senator). 
If Commissioners want a 15%+ sales tax increase, they must answer, "what have you done to deserve this?" 


Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,



-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <easlavin@aol.com>
To: bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us <bcc5hdean@sjcfl.us>; bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us <bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us>; bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us <bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us>; bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us <bcc3pwaldron@sjcfl.us>; bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us <bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us>
Cc: dmigut@sjcfl.us <dmigut@sjcfl.us>; hconrad@sjcfl.us <hconrad@sjcfl.us>; sheriff@sjso.org <sheriff@sjso.org>; taxcollector@sjctax.us <taxcollector@sjctax.us>; voakes@votesjc.org <voakes@votesjc.org>; wfusco@votesjc.com <wfusco@votesjc.com>; bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com <bpatty@stjohnsclerk.com>; mminer@stjohnsclerk.com <mminer@stjohnsclerk.com>; eddie@sjcpa.us <eddie@sjcpa.us>; waltbog@nytimes.com <waltbog@nytimes.com>
Sent: Sun, Mar 13, 2022 2:40 pm
Subject: Addition to Consent Agenda for 3/15 SJC BoCC meeting re: Preparing Draft Resolution Changing Constitutional Officers' Tentative Budget Submission Deadline

Dear Chairman Dean, et :
1. Would you please be so kind as to add to the March 15, 2022 St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners Consent Agenda a direction to staff to prepare a resolution requiring Constitutional officers to submit tentative proposed budgets by May 1 each year?  See F.S. 129.03(3), allowing Florida BoCCs "by resolution, [to] require the tentative budgets to be submitted by May 1 of each year. "
2.  Passage of the resolution would mean for the first time that we can discuss in detail and ask questions about tentative Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections, Clerk of Courts and Comptroller, Tax Collector and Property Appraisers budgets at our annual May budget hearings. 
3. In asking for a 15%+ sales tax increase, we must start with candor.  Let's have honest discussions of the constitutional officers' budgets. 
4. I have made this modest request for several years, since learning of the statute from Mr. Jesse Dunn's briefing to BoCC. 
5. Please require that staff answer all budget questions, with all budget meetings televised with remote and in-person public participation.
6. Curiously, our County Administrator told me at the May 2021 hearing, "I don't have to answer your questions."
7. Chairman Dean and Commissioners, will you kindly help protect our free speech and petition rights and our Right to Know?  Please help extirpate end end forever the continuing hostile working environment toward First Amendment activity, too often violating rights secured by Article I, Section 24 of our Floida Constitution, adopted by the will of 3.8 million voters in 1992 (83% of the vote).
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,


Humbert Wolfe poem on British journalist corruption

Does this poem remind you of anything locally?   

Check out this poem by Humbert Wolfe:

You cannot hope 
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the 
British journalist.
But, seeing what 
the man will do
unbribed, there's 
no occasion to.[4].   







Democracy on the March, Right Here in St. Johns County?




What do you reckon?




Democracy on the March, Right Here in St. Johns County?

Unregulated, metastatic growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.  It is an alien ideology, shared by rapacious unethical foreign-funded Florida developers, whom most of us believe are destroying our quality of life in this beautiful place on our frail planet, St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

Developers and their cat's paws constitute what our Founding Fathers would call a "faction."  See Federalist Papers No. 10.

Developers lost several key elections on August 23, 2022, 

  • Gold Star Mother Krista Keating-Joseph defeated incumbent County Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER, a developer puppet who fancied himself Governor someday.  (BLOCKER has an advanced law degree, a Master's in Law in Real Estate Development from the University of Miami.)  
  • Indiantown, Florida voters booted their mayor and vice mayor. 

Will August 23, 2022 go down in history as one of those history-changing days when truth triumphed? 

Will Krista's grandchildren ask her one day, "How The Good Guys Finally Won"!?   (I borrow the title of Jimmy Breslin's book about those scintillating Watergate years of 1973-74, when We, the People brought down President RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON, who was forced to resign August 8, 1974, having lost support of almost all Republicans after his own tapes revealed his participation in a cover-up.)

Since 1998, Rogers Towers and other corporate lawyers for organized real estate investors have "gulled, culled and diddled" our community, as John Adams said, quoted in the musical 1776.   

These corporate interests are like those that FDR warned about in 1936: "They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."

Faster than a speeding dump truck, with all the subtlety of a bevy of D-9 bulldozers clear-cutting our forests and killing our wildlife, they cut swathes in the forest of laws for their unethical corporate clients.  In FDR's words, in his 1941 Four Freedoms address, "we must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle to feather their own nests."


These greedy corporate oligarchs are busily ruining what we love about St. Johns County, oftentimes otherwise known as "God's country."  Since 1998, the Establishment, with nauseating one-party rule:

  • eliminated single member County Commission districts; institutionalized the private corporate vetting of political candidates to assure they are developer doormats;
  • campaign contributor groupthink under suzerainty oil successive sinister Sheriffs and their entourages; 
  • amends the Comprehensive Plan at nearly every Commission meeting, on the flimsiest of evidence; 
  • hired conflicted, immoral or unqualified County Administrators 
  • County Administrators, consultants and cynical satraps, without advance public notice of County Commission confirmation votes on Administrator recommendations, unadorned by c.vs;
  • rubber-stamps developer projects, 
  • refuses to engage in meaningful government oversight;
  • refusing to require police body cameras and dashboard cameras,  disdains discussing any of the 25 government reforms I suggested earlier this year, https://cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com/2022/03/county-commission-voted-4-1-today-to.html;
  • instead, arrogantly voted on March 15, 2022 (the Ides of March no less) to ask you to vote to to pick your pockets, rubber-stamping a 15% sales tax increase being placed on the November 8, 2022 general election ballot (Commissioner Paul Waldron, dissenting).
Congratulations to St. Johns County Commissioner-elect Ms. Krista Keating-Joseph and an army of volunteers who beat the ruthless, spoiled rotten, wealthy Establishment's machine this week.  

Like heroic Nancy Shaver, our beloved former St. Augustine Mayor, Ms. Keating-Joseph defeated the formidable forces of overdevelopment.  

Ms. Keating-Joseph shellacked the Establishment in every precinct and in every district.  

She did so despite all of the odds, the naysaying nattering nabobs of negativism, the piles of dirty dark money, and the mendacious mudslinging coming from the lying lips of the insolent, insecure, insensitive incumbent, JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER, and his developer-dollar-besotted spokespeople and supporters:  
  • Shame on them for blacklisting Ms. Keating-Joseph and other Republicans who are skeptical of developers. 
  • Shame on them for wholesale firings of Trump Club members for disloyalty, e.g., questioning developer projects.  
  • Shame on them for their Jim Crow version of "cancel culture," shutting down a Nocatee Republican Club in retaliation for their exercising critical thinking skills about overdevelopment.  
  • Shame on them for using the power of Sheriff ROBERT HARDWICK, including PR spokesman Peret Pass (for whom no documents have been supplied) and the Sheriff allegedly telling deputies to vote for his pal, BLOCKER.  
  • Shame on Diane Scherff & Co. for sordid sorehead desperate tactics that even allegedly included mean-spirited personal attacks on Krista Keating-Joseph.
For those who may have missed it, a few ineluctable political truths: 
A. St. Johns County is a flawed partial democracy. 
B. Dark money infests political campaigns. 
C.  At-large, County-wide elections rather than single member districts, which dilute citizen representation and distort dark money's influence.
D.  Only Republicans could vote for County Commission here, owing to the Florida Secretary of  State Katharine Harriss's legacy , corrupt of closed primaries, with both parties and obliging courts joimig her evident misinterpretation of a 1998 Florida Constitutional Amendment. A single shill -- one phantom write-in candidate -- can closer any of our countywide elections to more than half of our residents, those of us who are either registered as Democrats or No Party Affiliation.  (Hint: we need a County Charter with nonpartisan elections for local government positions.) 
E. Our local Republican Party held a Primary August 23,
F.  Our local Republican Party split right down the middle, with more than half evidently opposing overdevelopment and booting out a cocky, snotty, entitled brat who encumbered a seat to which he was elected four years ago.   Some 175 Republcans provided the margin of victory.
G.  Most local Republicans disapprove of overdevelopment. 
H.  By their votes for Ms. Keating-Joseph, Republicans impliedly rejected extremist hate directed by St. Johns County Trump Club President Diane Scherff.  Control freaks like Diane Scherff and Sheriff ROBERt HARDWICK saw their ugly, unctuous, unethical tactics backfire on Election Day.  
I. Ms. Keating-Joseph's victory is everyone's victory.  

For years, most of our elected officials ignored the facts of life here.  Their sloth and torpor reminds me of what Churchill said in the British Parliament about British politicians ignoring Nazi Germany:  "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences. We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now.”
-- Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, November 12, 1936

The August 23, 2022 election brings good news for all our residents, especially good Republicans, thinking critters who will no longer worship any golden calf developers. 

This happy development was YUGE.  Who would have imagined tens of thousands of registered Republicans -- voting in a closed primary -- roundly rejecting the power of fetid feculent developers?  Krista Keating-Joseph did, and we salute her.

Stinky St. Augustine Record AWOL on local news coverage

Anti-overdevelopment sentiment was largely unnoticed by our rinky-dink, pro-developer, third-rate local Chain Gang Journalism GANNETT newspaper, the St. Augustine Record, which was founded by Florida hotel and railroad developer Henry Flagler's frontman in 1895.

In its current mismanaged and layoff-induced state of suspended animation, the Record had no election tabloid supplement, no decent political coverage.  It even missed the story of BLOCKER waiving his right to an automatic recount, the news having broken on a weekend.  (The unchanged Record website was still reporting on Sunday, August 28, on a planned recount that didn't happen -- JEREMIAH RAY BLCKER graciously asked the Canvassing Board to cancel it, a fact finally reported on August 29, scissoring a Supervisor of Elections press release. )   

Fun fact: it actually took the Record some 6.5 weeks between its announcing a new Executive Editor, John Dunbar (July 14) until the day when it finally deigned to print his name and e-mail address on its masthead (August 28, 2022, the Feast of Saint Augustine, the North African bishop and theologian, for whom our Nation's Oldest City was named in 1565).  

How Will County Commission Behave Now?

BLOCKER euchred Commission into violating our First Amendment rights, moving non-agenda public comment to the end of meetings.  That helped kill his candidacy, along with his inexplicable 100% property tax exemption, insulting citizens, activists and journalists, and ducking questions.

As Finley Peter Dunne's fictional rish -American bartender Mr. Dooley said, "the Supreme Court follows the election returns."  So will our County Commission, I reckon.  

Restore non-agenda public comment to the beginning of meetings, County Commissioners.

"Just say "no," County  Commissioners, the next time some mouthpiece, bagman or conman demands that y'all vote against common sense and arrogantly approve dodgy devious Development Orders.

Rose Kennedy's favorite Bible verse was, "to whom much is given, much is expected."

Our Commissioners expect little from themselves, only "Business as Usual."  They expect little from their investors or campaign contributors -- the undisclosed owners of those secretive developers, which kill our wildlife, destroy our wetlands, deforest our trees and build more hideous ugly tract homes.  Commissioners are insouciant as these oligopolists keep building more developments, adding more people with all of the arrogant aplomb of a slave ship captain -- cramming in new residents to make more money -- creating a dystopia without enough classrooms, roads or recreation to accommodate the ever-increasing growth. 

Will our national political parties listen to the August 23 St. Johns County election returns?  

National legislation is required, including a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, which would help preserve 140,000 acres of current government-owned land in two counties.  Half of that land was acquired by our current County Commission Chairman, I. Henry Dean, and the late John Henry Hankinson, Jr., when Dean was Executive Director of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Here in God's country (St. Johns County), a perfervid pompous pack of self-promoting putatively "conservative" brats once called themselves the "rat pack." 

Those brats slithered, wormed and weaseled their way into local offices, like a happy herd of Burmese pythons looking for prey in the Everglades.  

Some survived the election. 

Some of these bumptious bully bratty "brat pack" pols:
1. Scorn "woke" corporations, spewing nonsense like Boy Governor Ron DeSantis, 
2. Violate Florida Constitutional rights to Open Records, 
3. Attempt to charge confiscatory fees for basic information that should be readily accessible, like sexual harassment policies, 
4. Refuse to budget money to buy body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras, the standard of care,
5. Chill, coerce and intimidate free speech, 
6. Interrupt public comment speakers with retaliatory nonsense, stealing time
7. Give the Sheriff and Clerk of Courts time to tout their achievements at the start of every Commission meeting, while 
8. Eliminating the non-agenda public comment that once began every meeting,
9. Discourage and limit non-agenda public comment to the unpredictable very end of County Commission meetings
10. Puff out their chests with support for the military (while one has four gigs but receives a dubious County tax exemption for being 100% permanently and totally disabled -- disability not specified in public records).

The first casualty in war is truth.  So said California Progressive Republican U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson.  He was right.

For those who have seen the tv commercials and "Postcards from The Edge" emitted by the corrupt political machine against Mayor Nancy Shaver and Commissioner-elect Krista Keating-Joseph: Were developers and other-directed Dull Republicans waging "war on truth" here in St. Johns County?

If so, they just lost a big battle. 

The good guys finally won another one here.  It's about time.  In 2004, we elected County Commissioner Ben Rich, Sr., a former federal lawmen. 

We've elected other reformers, too.  

We've just done it again.  

It feels good.

We've got nowhere to go but up.

As Alexander Hamilton said, in 1788 at New York's convention to ratify our Constitution, "here sir, the people govern."


With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
\


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Indiantown election: Why did voters oust mayor, vice mayor? What's the newcomers' agenda? (TC PALM)

Indiantown residents, like St. Johns County residents, rejected overdevelopment in August 23, 2022 elections.  While GANNETT'S TC PALM newspaper competently covered the story, our incredible shrinking GANNETT-owned St. Augustine Record, long noted for developer-coddling, docility and flummery (under several successive corporate owners) has not yet shared the news with its readers. Wonder why?

From TC PALM: 


Indiantown election: Why did voters oust mayor, vice mayor? What's the newcomers' agenda?


Gianna Montesano
Treasure Coast Newspapers

August 26, 2022

Some Indiantown residents said they are eager to see the new Village Council members get to work on the area's biggest issues after voters ousted the mayor and vice mayor.

"Congratulations to the new council members," Mayor Jackie Clarke said in a concession statement on Facebook after the Aug. 23 election. "Now your work begins. The foundation has been laid very well."

Carmine Dipaolo and Angelina Perez — who won Indiantown's second election since incorporating in 2018 — could help change the course of such issues as building a Village Hall and improving infrastructure, including roads, drinking water and stormwater drainage. 

Aug. 23: Who won elections in Martin County? 

Village Hall:Residents want better water first

Charter high school:IRSC plans 2nd one in Martin County, near Indiantown

Carmine Dipaolo and Angelina Perez

"The biggest thing we already addressed by winning last night is the nixing of the Village Hall, the police department and the fire department," Dipaolo said. "That right there is a huge thing alone because it would have bankrupted (Indiantown)."

Clarke and Vice Mayor Anthony Dowling weren't acting in residents' best interests, said Linda Schwiesow-Nycum, who moved to Indiantown in 2014.

"I think they were voted out because people started to believe that they were listening to the manager, Howard Brown, more than they were listening to the residents," Nycum said. "A lot of people, including me, believe that Brown has an agenda that is not conducive with the rural community we all want."  

Residents want Indiantown to grow gradually and not become a bustling suburb that would negatively affect residents who have lived there for generations, Nycum said.

Indiantown Village Hall

Some residents oppose building a new, possibly three-story Village Hall with a community center, estimated to cost between $15 million and nearly $22 million.

Dipaolo and Perez agreed Indiantown should continue leasing space at 15516 Southwest Osceola St., which costs about $3,225 a month. Susan Gibbs Thomas, the only incumbent reelected Tuesday, has said residents should vote on the issue.

Council members Janet Hern├índez and Guyton Stone have not responded to TCPalm's request for comment on the Village Hall. Clarke would not give her opinion during a TCPalm Editorial Board interview, and Dowling said he supported it 

However, construction plans have been halted due to a lack of funding, according to Patrick Nolan, Indiantown utilities manager.

A rainbow appears behind the Indiantown Civic Center building after a storm on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Indiantown.

Drinking water, wastewater, flooding

Safe drinking water is a more urgent need than a Village Hall, said Perez, a lifelong and second-generation Indiantown resident. She did not have any immediate solutions to the problem, saying she must research the issue first. 

"I have to learn from the ground up," she said. "I have to get to know what the process is."

Dipaolo, who moved to the village less than two years ago but worked there for about 28 years as a retired Martin County Sheriff's Office sergeant, agreed water is an issue.

"I want to see a fast track to water and sewer," he said. "The water in the town is not very good ... Even with a good water system, it's not up to standard. ... That's my No. 1 priority because that's a health issue."

Flooding in Indiantown May 27, 2018.

The village has been addressing wastewater issues. Booker Park is undergoing a $2.2 million drainage project to prevent flooding, which is estimated to be completed by the end of this year. Dipaolo said the council should fast track its completion. 

Police and fire services

Now is not the time for Indiantown to fund its own police and fire services, Diapolo said.

The village manager told TCPalm there has been no talk of creating a police department, but the Village Hall plan included a space for a fire and police chief, Dipaolo said. 

The Martin County Sheriff's Office provides Indiantown with law enforcement services, with a substation on Warfield Road.

A 57-acre brush fire was contained near Indiantown on Friday, August 19, 2022. No homes were affected.

In 2021, the Village Council voted to create its own fire rescue department after a study revealed Indiantown could save about $2 million a year instead of paying Martin County Fire Rescue $4.6 million a year to provide service. The council later dropped the idea.

The council agreed to accept $1.5 million — or $300,000 a year for the next five years — for Martin County Fire Rescue to continue serving the village. The $1.5 million payment, from the American Rescue Plan, will be used to improve water flow.


Rebuilding the community 

Perez is eager to unite the community, which she thinks has become more racially divided since incorporating in 2017. She said the disharmony has become evident on social media, specifically in comments on Facebook community groups.

"Everybody took care of each other before incorporation," she said. "It was not, 'Oh, because you're Hispanic, you're Black, you're white' — and right now, there's a division." 

Nycum agreed.

"Prior to incorporation, Indiantown was a single community, with no distinctions between ethnicities. Our population has a majority of Hispanic people, then Caucasian, then African American — but we were all one," she said. "Over the last four years, we have become three communities. This is a major concern."