Saturday, November 05, 2022

WHERE WERE THE LAWYERS?": St. Johns County Commissioners Violated F.S. 286.0114 -- no public comment allowed 10/18/2022 on putative "educational campaign" on proposed 15% SALES TAX INCREASE

HUNTER CONRAD remained silent, as did four other lawyers (including two County Commissioners), as Commissioners violated F.S 286.0114 by denying public comment before deciding to sponsor what CONRAD called an "Educational Campaign.:

Unqualified. Other-directed. Controversial St. Johns County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD is a foolish developer tool who habitually violates citizen rights. It's time for him to go. 

 See e-mail, below: 

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; nicholas/ <nicholas/>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Fri, Oct 21, 2022 4:16 pm
Subject: "WHERE WERE THE LAWYERS?": St. Johns County Commissioners Violated F.S. 286.0114 -- no public comment allowed 10/18/2022 on putative "educational campaign" on proposed 15% SALES TAX INCREASE

Good afternoon:
1. The October 18, 2022 St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners vote to authorize the County Administrator to conduct an "educational campaign" in support of a 15% sales tax increase violated F.S. 286.0144 by not asking for public comment.  No state law allows "educational campaigns" (County Administrator's phrase) to be directed at voters on referenda.
2. Every single lawyer serving on the County Commission, and every single one of the lawyers our County staff remained silent. Did at least five (5) lawyers who remained silent about denying public comment rights on the "educational campaign" show "willful blindness?"  They include Messrs. JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER, I. HENRY DEAN, DAVID MICHAEL MIGUT, HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD and BRADLEY J. BRADLEY. They are two of four Commissioners, the County Attorney, the County Administrator and Deputy County Administrator of Operations and Chief of Staff, respectively.  Their stunning silence and refusal to allow public comment evidences animus toward our First Amendment rights.  Is it a breach of their legal, moral and ethical duty to speak out?  See, e.g., Donald C. Langevoort, "Where were the lawyers? A behavioral inquiry into lawyers' responsibility for clients' fraud," 46 Vanderbilt Law Review 75 (1993), citing U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin's decision in Lincoln Savings & Loan Assn. v. Wall, 743 F.Supp. 901 (D.D.C. 1991).
3. These four lawyers' collective guilt and collective unlawful denial of public comment rights could be deemed as a "badge of fraud." Is their desuetude on respecting public comment rights consistent with prior retaliatory limitations on non-agenda public comment rights, placing them at the end of meetings, rather than at the start of meetings.  HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD's immaturity and approach to developers' abuse of power is reflected in his statement to me at the May 2021 Budget Workshop, when he stated, "I don't have to answer your questions. I work for the Board of County Commissioners."
4. There is no lawful basis for St. Johns County spending any money on "educational campaign" activities to euchre voters.  Compare F.S. 100.113(2): 
(2) A local government or a person acting on behalf of local government may not expend or authorize the expenditure of, and a person or group may not accept, public funds for a political advertisement or any other communication sent to electors concerning an issue, referendum, or amendment, including any state question, that is subject to a vote of the electors. This subsection applies to a communication initiated by a local government or a person acting on behalf of a local government, irrespective of whether the communication is limited to factual information or advocates for the passage or defeat of an issue, referendum, or amendment. This subsection does not preclude a local government or a person acting on behalf of a local government from reporting on official actions of the local government’s governing body in an accurate, fair, and impartial manner; posting factual information on a government website or in printed materials; hosting and providing information at a public forum; providing factual information in response to an inquiry; or providing information as otherwise authorized or required by law.
5. The words "educational campaign" do not appear in that statute. By their angry pejorative comments about citizen facts and opinions on "social media," did at least three Commissioners (Blocker, Arnold and Whitehurst) also evidence an overt intent to commit "viewpoint discrimination" in possible violation of the First Amendment?
6.  Commissioner Blocker's, Arnolds' and Whitehurst's rote rodomontade in three-part harmony also suggests the possibility of an agreement or "conscious parallelism."  
7. Were there possible Sunshine violations with illegal "polling" by the County Administrator?
8. I await proper responses to my Open Records requests.
9. Limiting putative "Town Hall' meetings to 90 minutes crabs the ability of citizens to ask questions and get answers.
10. Treating the people of St. Johns County as malleable, as sheep to be conned and corralled with government funds, is deeply offensive, and contrary to the genius of a free people.
11. Devious developers and self-serving satraps are in no position to lecture us and pretend it is an "educational campaign."
12. Voters fired Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER in the August 23, 2022 closed Republican Primary.  They elected Krista Keating-Joseph. They voted against overdevelopment. They voted against flummery.
13. It is at best facetious and "sour grapes" for fired Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER to whine, emit crocodile tears and publicly insult "bad actors" opposing his 15% sales tax increase. 
14. BLOCKER & Co. have too often violated our First Amendment rights, as with non-agenda public comment and questions at budget meetings.
15. Three (3) current Commissioners voted November 19, 2019 and again in 2020 to hire HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD as County Administrator without posting or advertising the job.  
16. Their overt acts violated civil rights laws to hire an unqualified County Administrator, who did not meet the minimum experience requirements in the County ordinance, read aloud by the County Attorney.  
17. There was no posting or advertising of the job. Why?
18. No other candidates were considered. Why?
19. The job is a sinecure for the disgraced former Clerk of Courts and Comptroller HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, who would likely have lost for re-election in 2020 due to his being at the time as an unindicted co-conspirator ("Clerk E") in the federal corruption case of United States of America v. DONALD DONAGHER, JR. and PENN CREDIT CORP. 
20. Neither CONRAD nor his backers disclosed that he was "Clerk E" in that federal corruption case. Why?
21. St. Johns County voters are already voting against the proposed 15% sales tax increase. 
22. When voters vote against the proposed 15% sales tax increase, it is a vote against corruption, against CONRAD, against BLOCKER, against the political machine, against their continued usurpations, against their violations of our First Amendment rights, against their discriminatory hiring and firing practices, and against corrupt corporate control by corpulent developers of St. Johns County legislation and policy development.
23. At their reorganization meeting on November 15, 2022, I will ask St. Johns Commissioners to discuss the urgent need for a national search for the next County Administrator, allowing time before CONRAD's ill-advised sweetheart contract expires. 
24.  The only "bad actors" are those proposing this 15% tax increase, with a misleading or heavily biased ballot summary, taking orders from conflicted State Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON and HUTSON COMPANIES, violating Sunshine law, F.S. 286.0144, to plan three (3) last-minute "Town Halls" to propagandize voters.
25. Enough.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
(904) 377-4998

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Wed, Oct 19, 2022 12:44 pm
Subject: Request No. 2022-174: SUNSHINE VIOLATION: St. Johns County Commissioners Violated F.S. 286.0114 -- no public comment allowed 10/18/2022 on putative "educational campaign" on proposed 15% SALES TAX INCREASE

Dear Inspector General Arissaa, Messrs. Hutson, Metcalf, Robison, Migut, Dunn, Whitehurst, Blocker, Dean, Conrad, Delaney, Fiorentino, Weilhammer, Shorstein, Larizza, Ms. Gleason, Ms. Arnold, Ms. Avery-Smith Ms. Dixon, et al: 

1. Would you please be so kind as to send me every single one of the documents on Hutson Companies and other developers', contractors' and commercial allies' support, and elected official and County staff support, for the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners' putative "educational campaign" supporting a 15% sales tax increase on St. Johns County 2022 General Election ballot, a/k/a "penny plan?"
2.  Please send me all opinion polls, "push polls," memos, drafts, advertising copy, memos, etc. including records on consultation with developers, contractors, PR firms, lobbyists, advertising agencies, and funders on how to "message" the people of St. Johns County to support their "penny plan."
3. Please send me all time and expense records for County Commissioner and employee time spent on this "penny plan."
4. Please send me all documents on any legal research on Sunshine law, including the law of public comment, and St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners'  apparent October 18, 2022 violation of F.S. 286.0144, denying public comment on Commissioner Sarah Arnold's motion to use public funds and public employees for an "educational campaign" aimed at influencing the 2022 General Election vote.  Please see e-mail below. 
5. Please send me all documents on differing County Attorney and other staff views on this use of public funds for this purpose and any documents on commencement of any civil, criminal or administrative investigations of County officials for their possible fraud, waste or misuse of the time of our public employees and public funds.
6.  Please respond to my earlier e-mail (below).
7.  Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or comments about this request.
Thank you. 
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
(904) 377-4998

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Wed, Oct 19, 2022 5:05 am
Subject: SUNSHINE VIOLATION: St. Johns County Commissioners Violated F.S. 286.0114 -- no public comment allowed 10/18/2022 on putative "educational campaign" on proposed 15% SALES TAX INCREASE

Dear St. Johns County Commission Chairman Henry Dean, Commissioners Sarah Arnold, Jeremiah Blocker and Christian Whitehurst, and Messrs. David Migut and Hunter Conrad (County Attorney and County Administrator):

1. In the inculpatory St. Johns County Commission Government TV (GTV) video (at link below), one hears no request for public comment before four (4) St. Johns County Commissioners all agreed October 18, 2022 to a putative "educational campaign" with "Town Halls" in the "next ten days." (4:15:47 --- Four St. Johns County Commissioners discuss purported need for better communications about proposed sales tax increase, trashing unnamed "bad actors" distributing false or inaccurate information or "misinformation" or "falsehoods or deceit" on "social media."  Without public comment, Commissioners decided in light of change in election law in "last year" to direct staff to plan one or two "Town Halls" in next ten days as part of what County Administrator HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD revealingly called an "educational campaign.")
2. This denial of public comment violated F.S. 286.0114.  See also, Florida Attorney General's Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual (2022) at 55.$file/sunshinemanual.pdf
3. This videotaped F.S. 286.0114 Sunshine violation contaminates the "consensus" motion approved without allowing the public to be heard.  Commission voted to put the proposed 15% sales tax increase on the ballot seven (7) months and five (5) days ago -- some 219 days ago (or 31 weeks and two days ago).  There was no urgency requiring some inchoate "educational campaign" be authorized 218 days after the item was placed on the ballot.  The motion was adopted at the eleventh hour, with no public comment and no public participation.  There was a sign in my mother's office stating, "Poor planning on your part does not create an emergency on my part."  St. Johns County's execrable, pitifully poor planning is once again on display, in sharp repose.  Our County Attorney, David Migut, ordinarily speaks up and advises Commissioners on public comment rights if Commissioners are about to act without public. comment. But on this occasion, Mr. Migut was silent. Why?  Compare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "Silver Blaze" in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1892)(the dog who did not bark.)
4. Precisely what change in election law "in the past year" were Messrs. Migut and Conrad talking about?  Please provide citation today.  
5. In the future, please be more detailed and precise in discussing legal issues.  It's our money.
6. We have a Right to Know.
7. Kindly cease and desist from any spending or any staff action, including any use of contractors or subcontractors, in response to County Commissioner Sarah Arnold's motion adopted without public comment. Please place this violation of F.S. 286.0114 -- and violations of our Commission procedures and customs, of the reasonable expectation of probity from our government, and professional courtesy -- on the agenda of our next BoCC meeting.  Then public comment can be heard, on November 1, 2022.  
8. The late Commissioner Paul Waldron opposed the 15% sales tax increase and he opposed placing it on the ballot.  Me too.
9. Commissioner Waldron was right and y'all are wrong.
10. Commissioner Paul Waldron's tragic death on Monday night, October 17, 2022 leaves a large gap in our County Commission and apparently an ethics and compliance deficit as well.  It dishonors his memory to deny public comment and rush to mount an "educational campaign" on the tax increase that he opposed. 
11. Voters planning on voting against the sales tax increase are voting against it based upon facts and law -- your mocking them is a stench in the nostrils of our Nation, accompanied by an irrefragable violation of F.S. 286.0114 -- no public comment sought or allowed.
12. Enough flummery from developer-funded endorsers of a 15% sales tax increase, which would relieve developers like State Senator TRAVIS J. HUTSON (R-HUTSON COMPANIES) of some half billion dollars in impact fees and property taxes.  With a half million dollars in Dark Money, "A Peny Plan for St. Johns County is like a Trojan Horse.  HUTSON and his entourage must answer questions about their campaign.  Now.
13. As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it best, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." He also said "secrecy is for losers -- for people who don't appreciate the value of the information."  
14. Our St. Johns County Commission's F.S. 286.0114 Sunshine violation of October 18, 2022 -- denying public comment on their misguided tax increase "educational campaign" -- exemplifies why the good people of St. Johns County don't trust our County Commissionwhich has refused since March 15, 2022 (the date of the tax increase vote) to consider any of my 25 proposals for government reform. Meanwhile, some snooty cynical snollygosters defame or insult unnamed dissenters with crude pejoratives, while plotting to mount a last-ditch "educational campaign" to indoctrinate and euchre (or "educate") citizens to vote to raise our sales taxes by 15%.
Ed Slavin
15. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy said, "It is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is much to dissent from."  As RFK told his Justice Department staff, "Don't tell me what I should have done, tell me what I should do now."  Please cease and desist from all further lawbreaking. Now.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
(904) 377-4998

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