Monday, April 10, 2023

WANTED: New City Manager for St. Augustine, Florida -- "Why not the best?!"

Good governments use executive search firms to help identify suitable City Managers, at a cost of a mere $25,000 to $50,000.  St. Johns County used one in 2007.  Recently, "Naples, Fort Walton Beach, Indianola, Miami Beach, Clearwater, Atlantic Beach, Gainesville, Juno Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Myers and St. Pete Beach are among the Florida cities that have recently hired executive search firms in their searches for a city manager," as the Fernandina Beach Observer commentary reported March 8, 2023, stating: "The reasons the majority of cities hire executive search firms to identify their best city manager candidates include:

* They offer a full array of service and relieve city staff, a committee and city commissioners from recruiting/screening chores. Their level of service (and cost) depends on the city’s specifications for the position.

* They actively solicit candidates and have candidates already identified.

* They can dedicate more time to the project than the city can.

* They know the current availability of managers, often throughout the United States, who are seeking a new community.

* They have extensive experience and can verify a track record of success. Many firms offer a one-year guarantee of a candidate once hired, refunding any fees."

Developer puppets control over local governments would likely continue with the scheme for hiring a new City Manager, first shared publicly at the March 27, 2023 City Commission meeting. 

Longtime City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. (2010-2023) announced his June 2 retirement last night. This predictable timing predictably gives the City little time to hire City Manager Ad Interim, which Commission declined to do.  

Naturally I anticipated machine politician JOHN PATRICK REGAN's pitiful and predictable anti-democratic Dull Republican tactics, which he learned as understudy to corrupt City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS, who hand-picked him as his successor. 

I did not attend Monday's meeting, anticipating the result! 

REGAN, holder of a non-partisan office, long touted himself as a dull Republican on our City of St. Augustine, Florida city website  

Our recruitment of our next City Manager must be nonpolitical. 

Instead, there will there be a mad, corrupt, predictable City of St. Augustine developer-directed rush to make a decision?

I first heard Jim Hightower speak in Nashville in 1978, when he warned Tennessee State University students, "They're stealing the alternatives, folks!"

Speaking in non-agenda public comment, third generation Florida construction contractor/developer JOHN OTHA VALDES, who once worked for the Royal Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, bragged on his owning several local businesses, recommended only two (2) candidates: Assistant City Manager DAVID DOUGLAS BIRCHIM or Public Works Director REUBEN FRANKLIN, P.E.  

Developer puppet DAVID DOUGLAS BIRCHIM told me in March 2005, "there's no corruption here."  BIRCHIM lied, as demonstrated by his own ethically-insensitive conduct in bullying and bludgeoning City PZB Chair Karen Zander, advancing the interests of his own construction contractor, New Castle Construction LLC, failing to recuse himself under state conflict of interest laws set forth at Florida Statute 112.313(7).

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Urban Planning in 1997, DAVID DOUGLAS BIRCHIM has had only one (1) employer: the City of St. Augustine, where he was understudy to fired Planning and Building Director MARK ALLAN KNIGHT.  BIRCHIM was promoted to KNIGHT's position after KNIGHT's firing. Then BIRCHIM was promoted to be Assistant City Manager in 2021. Like a turtle on a fencepost, somebody put him there -- City Manager JOHN REGAN.

VALDES did not mention Assistant City Manager Meredith Breidenstein, C.P.A.  Why?

In making himself the "great mentioner," in the late William Safifre's phrase, former City Commissioner JOHN OTHA VALDES showed zero interest in equal employment law compliance.  

Our discriminatory City of St. Augustine has never had a woman or African-American as City Manager in its 458-year history.  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this was "the most lawless place in America." Evidently, VALDES' "vision" is more of the same.

Flattering shamelessly VALDES praised JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E., and former City Managers WILLIAM BARRY HARRIS, et al., engaging in unseemly ass-kissing in public.  As the late New York Times columnist and associate editor Tom Wicker wrote in his novel, Facing the Lions, ass-kissers don't realize they demean not only themselves but the ass being kissed. 

Yes, our friendly ex-Commissioner JOHN OTHA VALDES supposes himself a "liberal," having planned an Election Night 2016 party honoring Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost.  

Yes, Mr. VALDES has helped reform and inform to a degree a bit, e.g., by pointing out the need to regulate impervious surfaces contributing to flooding. Yes, he did a public service by exposing the selfish people who have held up Maria Sanchez Lake improvements by withholding their permission, in a place that fears using eminent domain.

But in the long tortured tortious 458-year history of our Nation's Oldest and Oddest City of St. Augustine's chicanery, JOHN OTHA VALDES  is most noted for his hubris and shrieking shallowness and stunning ethical lapses, including:

misusing the City seal for his private construction business;

destroying an historic building at 125 Washington Street without a permit (fined only $224 after he was denied a retroactive demolition permit);

homestead property tax exemption fraud (involving a Lincolnville garage apartment advertised as "oceanfront"); and

proposed illegal voting by non-resident business and property owners and arrogantly proposed the abolition of the elected Mayor's job  because he and the Establishment thought it created "turbulence and confusion."

What a guy. 

What a self-serving vapid vulture capitalist. 

JOHN OTHA VALDES reminds me of the dodgy "Irwin Mainway" character on Saturday Night Live, a selfish bumptious businessman with his nose in the air, like the wealthy Establishment Republican supporters of the Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover Administrations, expecting government to be a "mere mere appendix to their own affairs," as FDR said in his October 31, 1936 Madison Square Garden speech.

At least the City of St. Augustine will consider candidates -- plural -- who are both qualified and experienced.

Our corporate-coddling cabal of St. Johns County Commissioners voted in 2019 to hire HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, a/k/a/ "Church Lady," as County Administrator without ever considering any other candidates, dumping plans for a national search, not placing his hiring on the agenda and without a background investigation of CONRAD's campaign finance activities, which led to him being named an unindicted coconspirator in a Chicago federal grand jury indictment for bribery. 

Meanwhile, national searches for city managers are also underway or recently held to select new City Managers elsewhere, even in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as well as in "Naples, Fort Walton Beach, Indianola, Miami Beach, Clearwater, Atlantic Beach, Gainesville, Juno Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Myers and St. Pete Beach."

As Admiral Hyman Rickover once said to Jimmy Carter during a job interview, "Why not the best?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We want Ed Slavin AkA Mercury Ed, with assistant manager Bill McClure AkA Billy the Bamboozler McSewer. This dynamic duo will ensure a bipartisan effort to make the city into something new and exciting, financially viable, fun for the whole family for generations to come. We will strap Ed to the back of McClure on some kind of saddle setup. He will ride Billy the Bamboozler like a horse around town.