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 <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
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.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With all due respect regarding the body cameras, I don't think it would make much of a difference in how they police or discourage bad behavior. If they do something that they aren't supposed to do then after all they can just delete the footage or claim "the camera wasn't working" if they absolutely need to. I feel that cameras ultimately benefit the state and make legal defense even harder. And of course we have the almost complete erosion of privacy rights and the 4th amendment nowadays. Are more cameras worth it? Already the state uses just simple mugshots to embarrass people forever when supposedly one is innocent until proven guilty. A simple arrest can be ones undoing in the court of public opinion. Just food for thought that there is a flip side to every coin.