January 9, 2006 was the night I first met my future mentors, Diane and Jerry Mills, who died in 2020.
Mr. and Mrs. Mills hired a Ponte Vedra lawyer to oppose a misguided project of scheming cynical real estate speculator ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD.
Instead of preserving our 3000-4000 year old Native American history, just north of St. Augustine High School, then-disbarred lawyer GRAUBARD and his ROGERS TOWERS lawyer, the late GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE had their way with our history and nature, with connivance of corrupt City officials, including City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS and City Planning and Building Director MARK ALAN KNIGHT.
Ethically challenged KNIGHT hid and suppressed a contractor archaeological report and kept it from our esteemed City Archaeologist, Carl Halbirt.
(KNIGHT was later fired by HARRISS's successor as City Manager, John Patrick Regan, P.E. Neither would ever tell me why KNIGHT was fired).
January 9, 2006 was the night that archaeology lost to corruption.
Devious real estate speculator/developer ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD, then a disbarred New York lawyer, real estate speculator, alleged boyfriend of then-Commissioner SUSAN BURK, won 3-2 vote allowing him to destroy Red House Bluff property on Red House Branch for condos and a strip mall.
GRAUBARD was represented by notoriously corrupt ROGERS TOWERS partner GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE, since deceased, whose presence in the room led me to stick around after non-agenda public comment. Three of five corpulent, complacent, incurious compromised City Commissioners approved the project.
Commissioners rubber-stamped the proposal. They did so despite the presence of 3000-4000 year old Native American archaeology. They did so despite serpentine raised mounds surrounding Red House Branch waters -- believed by UF anthropologist who examined suppressed Environmental Sciences, Inc. They did so without requesting any more information, or asking that Phase I be completed and Phase II be done.
We never did get to view the 50 cm leg bone or learn whether it was human -- the UF anthropologist reading the ESI report at my request, thought a leg bone that big, found buried deep in sand, was likely human and wrapped and preserved to survive 3000-4000 years..
Despite the facts we later learned, the insensitive anti-factual ignoramuses then mismanaging our itty-bitty City refused to reconsider.
Corrupt City Planning and Zoning Director MARK ALAN KNIGHT suppressed ESI's half-baked Phase I report, which found a 50 cm legbone, likely human, amidst a likely burial place for a cacicque, shaman or chief. Although Native American activist David Thundershield Queen and I repeatedly asked reconsideration, corpulent Commissioners did not give a fig about their staff's misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.
Sadly, our local goverments are too often insensitive to citizen concerns, including concerns abougt protecting Native American archaeology. "Temple Destroyers" is what John Muir called them -- they are "frozen in the ice of their own indifference," as FDR said, quoting Dante.
Take former Mayor CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. who on September 25, 2014 destroyed a 211 year old Spanish colonial building, working without permits, ignoring advice from his own architect and engineer and our City officials. WEEKS was only fined $3700 by the callow, shallow Code Enforcement Board, whose snaky proceeding was neither videotaped nor archived.Former Mayors CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. and JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR., laughing all the way to the bank at their ability to win special favors from the City of St. Augustine, including their no-bid lease of City property at 81 St. George Street at 1/5 market rates, exposure of which helped beloved reformer Nancy E. Shaver to defeat BOLES in 2014 by 119 votes. See Folio Weekly article here.