Saturday, August 20, 2022


PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM Heavy equipment clears a 70-acre parcel of land on Dobbs Road Cutoff in St. Augustine to build a new housing development on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Developers are clearing the property, which was once wooded, to build a 180 home project called Ashby Landing.

  1. Has the developer-funded St. Johns County political machine met its match: two Republican reformers running for County Commission and one for State Senate against three pro-developer corporate Republican incumbents, with incumbent campaigns bankrolled by developers, gambling and liquor interests?  
  2. The reformers mirror our community's consensus that overdevelopment has gone too far, and that our county government is too big for its britches.  The Establishment has responded harshly, using unethical tactics that violate the reasonable expectations of probity.  The St. Augustine Record won't report their campaigns or anything of substance about the issues.
  3. Meanwhile, the ancien rĂ©gime shows its ample ass by refusing to meet for open pubic discussion with the reformers, while kicking many of their party's longtime supporters out of local Republican groups, including the "Trump Club."
  4. Candidate Krista Keating-Joseph is a Gold Star mother, an opponent of overdevelopment, Ms. Keating-Joseph is running against developer doormat JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER, who has raised $279,218 and spent $147,938.18.  Prediction: BLOCKER is likely to lose the election since it has been revealed that Commissioner BLOCKER is now exempt from paying St. Johns County property taxes and under scrutiny by the VA Inspector General for claiming to be 100% totally and permanently disabled, while holding down four jobs ($82,000/year Commissioner, $110/,000/year Executive Director of a dodgy Virginia nonprofit, Douglas Law Firm partner, and Florida National Guard J.A.G. Corps Major).
  5. Candidate Chuck Labanowski is a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, retired sales manager, and eight-year member of the board for 989-home Turnbull Creek Community Development District.  Mr. Labanowski is running against superficial Sarah Arnold, who has raised $194,100 and spent $170,074.17, with no experience and little education, and whose shallow sibilant slogan signals her only seeming "qualification":  "Appointed by Governor DeSantis."  (ARNOLD's friend, Senator TRAVIS HUTSON, procured the sinecure for her).
  6. Candidate Gerry James is a former professional wrestler and a PGA golf professional. Mr. James is a self-described "constitutional conservative" who happens to be running against one of Florida's worst public serpents -- the Florida State Senate's most obnoxious, offensive, arrogant advocate for corporate greed -- TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON.  HUTSON is a  haughty halfwit half-a-billionaire. Like the Wall Street oligarchy of Titanic blunderers whom FDR defeated four times, TRAVIS HUTSON who views government as an annex to his own affairs particularly SillverLeaf.  SilverLeaf is the huge development that Commissioners  ARNOLD and BLOCKER supported on ARNOLD's first day on the job, on December 21, 2021.  BLOCKER supported it two months after Governor DeSANTIS appointed BLOCKER's wife, LAUREN, to a County Court judgeship, created by Senator HUTSON's legislation.  (While Judge LAUREN BLOCKER had good law school grades at now-defunct Florida Coastal School of Law, her application evidences very limited trial experience was one (1) jury trial (as "second chair"). 
  7. State Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON chairs the Florida State Senate Committee on Regulated Industries.  HUTSON's notion of regulating industries is to take their cash, hang out with them in the no-reporters-allowed GOVERNORS CLUB in Tallahassee, take their money and pass their self-serving bills.  
  8. Two of those crooked bills were so obvious that even Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS vetoed two of them. DeSANTIS's very first veto in 2019 was of HUTSON's ban on banning plastic straws.  
  9. DeSANTIS's latest veto of a Senator TRAVIS HUTSON bill was of one allowing business owners to go to court and sue local governments if their business claims it lost 15% of its profits because a local government enacted a regulatory ordinance. 
  10. Senator TRAVIS J. HUTSON's fetid, feculent, greedy family is one one of the devious developers clear-cutting our trees and destroying our wildlife in beautiful St. Johns County.  
  11. HUTSON & Co., like other developers, floor plan putative "conservatives" like blockhead BLOCKER and angry ARNOLD, who stiffs constitutes and sells out to developers.
  12. HUTSON and ARNOLD and BLOCKER are a stench in the nostrils of St. Johns County. 
  13. HUTSON's two fawning fellow developer hacks -- insensitive insolent  incumbents ARNOLD and BLOCKER -- shown up for ZERO events to date:  they missed two Chamber of Commerce Politics in St. Johns County events, and failed to attend a Republican debate.   
  14. These three public serpents give zero figs for what the people think, as expressed in 67 witnesses opposing unchecked growth at January's BoCC Growth Management workshop. 
  15. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking St. Augustine Record, slashing staff and news coverage, has failed to report on campaign contributions and the flow of money to the incumbents.  
  16. This GANNETT--owned paper no longer interviews candidates, or sponsors debates, or writes about dirty corporate money in politics, all of which the Record did when Morris Communications owned it.  
  17. The League of Women voters and the Record once sponsored many debates locally, including the 2012 debate where Ron DeSantis was first noticed as a Republican candidate for Congress.   LWV has no debates scheduled here,
  18. Only Republicans will vote in the closed Republican primary on August 23, 2022.  The primary is closed because shills filed to run as "write-ins."  
  19. The shameful sham write-in loophole was contrived by controversial former Florida Secretary of State Katharine Harris and Tallahassee election lawyer Mark Herron.  Their contrivance  had the intended effect of making "universal primaries" in our State Constitution almost a dead letter.  
  20. When the people voted for universal primaries in 1998 election, we were told that if all the candidates in a race were of one party, with no opposition in the general election, we'd all bet to vote.  Harris and Herron invented and perfect this lousy loophole to benefit one-party rule, whether by Democrats in South Florida or Republicans in North Florida.  
  21. Here's how it works: a single solitary shill pays no fee, signs paperwork and qualifyies as a bogus "write-in" candidate. That shill is now treated by the law as "opposition."  Hesto presto, mutatis mutandis, no universal primary whenever one spoiler shill files to run for office as a write-in.  (There is no shortage of shills in St. Johns County.)  Courts have bought this argument, treating the vote of the people of Florida as simply a suggestion.   So 115,451 registered Republicans will pick our next two County Commissioners, while two shills and legal legerdemain disenfranchise 105, 640 St. Johns County voters -- that's 50,486 registered Democrats and 53,254 registered No Party Affiliation voters.  That's the law.  As our City's founder, Saint Augustine, wrote: "An unjust law is no law at all."
  22. And British novelist Charles Dickens wrote of the absurdity of law and its frequently unjust results.  “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”  Oliver Twist, chapter 51, p. 489 (1970). First published serially 1837–1839.
  23. Charles Dickens would have skewered St. Johns County, a place where dirty dark money, some foreign, some from kleptocrats, kakistocrats, or autocrats:
  • buys land, rents lawyers and lobbyists and land planners, 
  • launders money in real estate projects with little chance of success, overbuilding speculative structures and destroying our nature, wildlife and natural beauty,
  • wins approvals for dodgy, sketchy projects, 
  • elects rubber-stamping snollygosters to office
  • causes massive  frequent flooding in over 32 neighborhoods.  
  • diminishes our quality of life, which is being destroyed faster than a speeding dump truck, 
  • maintains St. Johns County as a Florida version of the Wild West, 
  • keeps St. Johns County a corrupt place where government is beholden to corporate corruption,
  • makes St. Johns County a backwater, without an ethics ordinance, without a lobbying disclosure ordinance, where the wealthy buy politicians without remorse.                                                                   

24.  Five corpulent corporate Republican County Commissioners pretend to represent us.  Some of them occasionally deign to throw a crumb to the people, especially in election years.  Call it "Crumbunism," in the eloquent phrase of the late St. Augustine artist and underground newspaper satirist Warren Celli.  (Warren Celli successfully sued the City of St Augustine for First Amendment violations in a jury trial, winning a $23,500 jury verdict for SAPD halting distribution of his newspaper, the St. Aug Dog.  May he rest in peace).

25. Mostly our County Commissioners look bored.  They have no legislative staff.  None.  Every government employee they listen to is part of the Executive Branch of our County government.  Every single one. The Board of County Commissioners is the sapless branch.  BoCC members are all elected County-wide, required to live in districts, increasing the influence of special interest money since 1998.

26. The simple palpitating truth of the matter is that five overwhelmed and ineffectual County Commissioners, wrapped up in their own businesses and concerns, are unable or unwilling to stand up to the forces of greed and environmental destruction.  Help is on the way,

27. We need government reform and a County Charter, with single-member districts, an independent Inspector General, an Ombudsman and much greater public participation. 

28. Recent revelations about sinfully cynical self-dealing by one of our County Commissioners requires urgent attention by those 115,461 registered Republican voters who are eligible to vote in the August 23, 2022 Republican Primary. 

29. While Florida and federal laws support our Right to Know, developer puppet JEREMY RAY BLOCKER's military record has wrongfully been withheld by the National Guard Bureau for more than 13 months.  The truth about the true cost and benefits of development is being concealed.  St. Johns County has no staff economist and no staff scientist.  It has no ombudsman to help citizens voice their concerns.  It doesn't even have a receptionist at the Taj Mahal Administration Building, or a reading room of County documents on grants and aid to residents.  St. Johns County lacks a welcoming spirit because oligopolists run the show, and their cat's paws don't care about people like us. 
30. In the movie Amistad, the kidnapped enslaved African, Joseph Cinque, asks, in the Mende language,  "What kind of a place is this where you almost mean what you say? Where laws almost work? How can you live like that?"

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


Anonymous said...

Let's get a commentary about the upcoming mayoral race there Ed. Look at the young guy Noah's LinkedIn. He "liked" a picture of someone making fun of the unemployed and/or homeless. Take a screenshot because the little troll bastard might take it down later. Give Mini Robo Hitler a baptism by fire on Welcome to politics you little asshole.

Anonymous said...

The hogs spend so much money tearing each other’s eyeballs out just so they can then prop up the rich. Thanks to the GOP, we are in ancient Rome ladies and gentlemen. Corruption and madness now permanently baked into America. Also, the division is now permanent thanks to non repentance by supporters of the orange menace… orange crime boss. What will be baked into American life next? Christian fascist terrorism to repel those who would actually do something for ordinary people?