Monday, August 29, 2022

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,;
  • 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


Anonymous said...

There will never be democracy here because they eliminated single member county commission districts. The hogs will ravage the county for decades to come...and no progress will be made thanks to that and people opposed to puny tax increases that would help the county in numerous ways. Everyone hoarding here...

Anonymous said...

Wholesale firing of Trump Club members is good. Wakes people up to the degeneracy of such a bowel movement. Hopefully they will make even more mortal enemies to troll their funerals. Hey Dianne! You got two secret agents in your club just waiting to pounce when the time comes. These two are further left than Karl Marx himself! Yeah make Karl Marx look like Donald Trump!