Thursday, May 18, 2023

County Commission Asks Illegal Political Questions About Library Advisory Board Applicants

Thomas Jefferson said, "I have sworn upon the altar of Almighty God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind" of humankind.  In his spirit, I am calling out St. Johns County Commission's illegal inquisition May 16 about the political party registration of Library Advisory Board members.  

Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery from one-party rule.

Update: No response yet. 

From: Ed Slavin <>
To: Commissioner Krista Joseph <>; Commissioner Henry Dean <>; Commissioner Christian Whitehurst <>; Commissioner Sarah Arnold <>; Commissioner Roy Alaimo <>; <>; <>; Joy Andrews <>; Bradley Bulthuis <>; Brad Bradley <>; Christine Valliere <>; Lex Taylor III <>; Betty Dixon <>; Joanne Spencer <>; Debra Rhodes Gibson <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; Nancy Sikes-Kline <>; <>; <>; Roxanne Horvath <>; R.J. Larizza <>; Bryan Shorstein <>; <>; Hutson Travis (Web) <>; <>; Cyndi Stevenson <>; <>; John Regan <>; Isabelle Lopez <>; Executive Investigations Complaints <>; Comm Samora <>; Comm Rumrell <>; Comm George <>; Beth Sweeny <>; <>; <>; Anne Schindler <>; Grant Robert (CMG-JacksonvilleTV) <>; John Dunbar <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; The Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law <>; Nicholas Weilhammer <>; <>; <>; <>; Matthew Cline <>; Eddie Creamer <>; Saint Johns County Development Review Division <>; <>; Wayne Fusco <>; executiveinvestigationscomplaints@fdle.state.fl <executiveinvestigationscomplaints@fdle.state.fl>; <>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2023, 08:48:49 AM EDT
Subject: Request No. 2023-31: St. Johns County Commission's interrogation of County staff re: Library Advisory Board applicant political party affiliations

Dear St. Johns County Commissioner Keating-Joseph, Messrs. Conrad and Migut, SJC BoCC Chairman Whitehurst, Vice Chair Arnold, and Commissioners Dean and Alaimo, et al.:

1. I hereby respectfully object to Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph's misguided illegal, improper, intrusive questions, political interrogation and Inquisition of our County staff about Library Advisory Board applicants' "Democratic" or "Republican" party registration and "conservative" affiliations at the May 15, 2023 St. Johns County Commission meeting.  (Item 7); 

2. Such improper, intrusive, illegal questions have a chilling effect on public participation in our County government.  Such overbearing questions are not only illegal, but they show contempt for democratic values in our republic. These questions are beneath the dignity of a free people -- utterly unAmerican.  Don't ever do it again, Commissioner Joseph.  See O'Hare Truck Service v. City of Northlake, 518 U.S. 712 (1996); Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 1050 (1990).  Thomas Jefferson helped [write] the Tennessee Constitution, which since 1796 has stated that "government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind."

3. My father was a member of the "Greatest Generation" and he helped defeat the Nazis in WWII, with combat jumps as a paratrooper and non-com with the 82nd ABN DIVN in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy.  My dad taught me, as JFK's dad taught him, that we must stand up to people with power or else they will walk all over you.  

4. Commissioner Joseph, I left you a telephone message yesterday.  You did not respond.  Hence, I have sent you this e-mail, and have shared it.
5. Please don't violate our First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, ever again.  

6. Please send me today PDFs of all related documents, including any and all political or legal advice about political patronage.  Please include any and all documents on the efficacy or legality of relying on political considerations in making appointments to County boards, including those reflecting lobbying, research or analysis, whether from individuals or groups, including but not limited to the Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, Northeast Florida Builders  Council, St. Johns County Republican Executive Committee, Moms for Liberty, Moms for America, Tea Party, Koch Industries, PACs, or political party apparatchiks, or learned law professors, or insurance defense counsel or our own County Attorney's office, e.g., on avoiding further possible First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. See O'Hare Truck Service v. City of Northlake, 518 U.S. 712 (1996); Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 1050 (1990).

7. Please place on a future Commission agenda the question of our County's First Amendment violations.  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called this the "most lawless" place in America. Former County Commission Chairman Ben Rich, Sr. told Folio Weekly in 2008 that St. Johns County is "one of the last bastions of the KKK."

8. Supreme Court Justice Robert  Houghwot Jackson, later our Nuremberg War Crimes prosecutor, wrote for the Supreme Court in the landmark flag salute case, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).    

9. Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis wrote that our "government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)(Brandeis, J., dissenting), dissent heeded and case overruled, Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). 
10. A former County Commission Chair once even wrote in a St. Augustine Record letter that Commission appointments were still being handed out in a discriminatory manner, favoring Republicans and disdaining appointment of Democrats.  This is Jim Crow law.  This is illegal abuse of County resources for political patronage purposes. Enough.

11.  Such misguided, imprudent, unwise, unconstitutional, political considerations are still apparently in vogue here, blatantly brandished for all to watch. (Item 7). I respectfully dissent.

12. Asking our County staff whether prospective Library Advisory Board members are "Democrats" or "Republican" is indefensible and beneath the dignity of a free people. 

13. Such improper inquiries must be ended at once for all County boards.  Please propose and adopt an appropriate County ordinance. 

14. Faced with St. Johns County's pervasive perennial lawbreaking and violations of free speech rights of employees, board members and citizens, we look to investigations of possible violations of federally protected civil and constitutional rights by our St. Johns County Commission.  See, e.g., Commissioner Keating-Joseph's unseemly public May 16, 2023 questions about the party registration and political beliefs of Library Advisory Board applicants. (Item 7).   

Thank you.   

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
(904) 377-4998


Anonymous said...

I am confused. It took thousands of non Republicans changing their political party just to get Mrs Keating-Joseph elected. Those party changers literally placed her into office. Does not seem right to ask such a question when the public official's oath states that you swear to represent the people of your county., not just the ones in your party. That is what you swear to ,with hand on bible. I am so disappointed in this behavior.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Slavin, thanke for being the Wedge that keeps the Door OPEN.

It would be nice to finally see the 'Good Old Boy system of Governance chucked out permanently.

Even if it comes at the Cost- of doing it One City at a Time.

Anonymous said...

People have to change their voter registration to Republican to vote for a county commissioner?

Anonymous said...

Every political party consists of some good old boy system. Even if there was anarchy people are still gonna group up and do things to benefit the group. Even ants, bees, dolphins, and dogs do this. Be glad humans aren't more individualistic than they already are here in the USA.

Anonymous59 said...

This intrusive questioning is wrong and illegal. We need to bring legal action.