Are other-directed officials and one party corporate misrule destroying St. Johns County's beauty and grandeur?
Every single overdevelopment project approved by St. Johns County Commission in this century was rubber-stamped by Republican votes on County Commission. Only Republican votes. No Democrats.
The blame for bad planning, flooding, corruption, clogged roads, overcrowded schools, clearcutting, wetland destruction and wildlife killing belongs to corporate-funded Republicans -- every single one.
Not one Democrat has served on St. Johns County Commission since 2000.
No Democrats means no diversity of opinion.
No Democrats means no respect for diversity.
No Democrats means no posting or advertising of top positions.
No Democrats means a monochromatic narrow-minded elite of impudent snobs in government.
No Democrats creates a lazy, louche, lockstep, lockjaw approach to "willful blindness" about government misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance under maladministration by unjust stewards like disgraced former Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994.
No Democrats means almost radio silence about $785,786 embezzlement by one of SHOAR's henchmen.
No Democrats means few questions and no effective government oversight.
No Democrats means no questions about the murder of Ms. Michelle O'Connell in the home of JEREMY BANKS. Two respected judges found probable cause that BANKS killed Ms. O'Connell -- County Court Judge Charles Tintin and United States District Court Judge Brian J. Davis, who dismissed BANKS' retaliatory lawsuit against FDLE Special Agent Rusty Ray Rodgers.
No Democrats means no questions about the maladroit response to the murder of Eli Washtock, who was investigating Ms. O'Connell's murder.
No Democrats means that the current Sheriff still employs JEREMY BANKS.
No Democrats means my 25 ideas for government reform have never been discussed since March 15, 2022.
No Democrats means Republicans think they can get away with publicly shaming and insulting citizen activists -- and no Commissioner stood up for our rights publicly.
No Democrats means four obtuse Commissioners supported an obscene proposed 15% sales tax increase, which 63% of County voters rejected in a landslide in 2022.
No Democrats means Republican office holders control ten (10) County-wide elected positions, doing their darnedest to help corporations, while some disdain working people. That explains their epic failure on affordable or workforce housing.
Chairman CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST unlimited time for developer mouthpieces to do sales jobs on zoning proposals. Everyday citizens and activists are limited to three minutes to rebut their sophistry.
Chairman CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST is everything that developer-Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON wants in a County Commissioner -- a doormat for his overdevelopment schemes, like SilverLeaf, where clearcutting and poor planning prevailed over common sense, as money-hungry Commissioners vote for their benefactor.
No Democrats means Republicans are making decisions restricting free speech rights about affordable or workforce housing, letting louche lobbyists give them "suggestions."
No Democrats means no lobbying registration (halted under withering fire by lobbyists, whose pompous pachyderm Ponte Vedra Commissioner, JAY MORRIS, former RPM International EVP, and former County Commission Chair, said a $25 annual registration fee would be "burdensome." MORRIS also mocked Sunshine laws and said he prefers government in secrecy.
Current Chairman CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST gave ten minute segments on affordable or workforce housing to their campaign supporters at the Northeast Florida Builders Council and the Chamber of Commerce (founded as an anti-labor organization by President William Howard Taft). They rubberstamp legislation drafted by the Builder's Council. They did not invite any labor unions -- no teachers, police, fire or other unions were asked their opinion about workforce housing. In the words of Army lawyer Joseph N. Welch to demagogic Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, "At long last, have you no sense of decency."
No Democrats means a corrupt culture of secrecy that retaliates and discriminates against ethical employees.
Mr. Trey Alexander Asner was given illegal orders to conceal information from the Cultural Resources Review Board, and was pressured to resign for doing his job too well in preserving our African-American and civil rights history. Mr. Asner's putative replacement is charming but utterly unqualified to preserve our local history. The Clerk of Courts fired the supposedly independent Inspector General six months after Mr. Asner complained to her. Still the County Administrator refuses to meet with Mr. Asner. (At least three Commissioners met with him, while doing essentially nothing to remedy the wrongful firing, fairly repeating the shibboleth Commissioners can't get involved in "personnel matters."
Democracy dies in darkness.
We have here a government "frozen in the ice of its own indifference,' in FDR's words, quoting Dante.
As long as we keep electing corporate Republicans on the dole from developer campaign ca$h, our quality of life, our nature and our history will be threatened by corporate greed.
Former Assistant St. Johns County Administrator Jerry Thomas Cameron would tell each new County Commissioner, "just because you got elected, you didn't gain twenty IQ points."
But is anyone giving that sage advice to the four (4) new Commissioners who have taken office since 2016?
o One new Commissioner, ROY ALAIMO, JR., appointed by Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS to please developer-Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON, has never faced election. But ROY ALAIMO, JR. was a reliable corporate shill on the Planning and Zoning Agency. Incurious ROY ALAIMO, JR. has proved to be perfectly ordinary, the sort of developer doormat and corporate Republican that voters keep electing in closed Republican primaries. Is this is the definition of insanity -- doing the same 'ole things and expecting different results?announced in Orlando, "I'm not a crook."
o Another new Commissioner, SARA ARNOLD, was appointed by Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS. SARA ARNOLD was then elected in a closed Republican primary in 2022. SJC BoCC Vice Chair SARA ARNOLD never matriculated. It shows. She's uneducated and unsophisticated. Her revealing campaign signs bragged that she was Appointed by Governor DeSANTIS. No significant work experience. Cat's paw for developer-Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON, whose first vote was for SilverLeaf, as she refused to meet with citizens opposed to it.
o Another new Commissioner, elected in a closed Republican primary in 2020, SARA ARNOLD's friend, is current County Commission Chair CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST, defeating the more qualified and reasonable James Johns, marked for retaliation for asking questions about the Sheriff's budget. New Commissioner WHITEHURST never matriculated either. It shows. He is uneducated and unsophisticated. No government experience. Changes watch batteries for a living and fancies himself a businessman. Reactionary bigot who blocked a county public housing authority, leaving millions of dollars of government grants on the table, based upon his naked prejudice, saying he did not want "the kind of people" who receive HUD Section 8 Housing Vouchers in his county. I filed a complaint with HUD. Some 65% of HUD Section 8 Housing voucher recipients are Black or Hispanic. What an astoundingly unqualified dupe. Before he was elected, he appeared before Commission to argue against a national search for a new County Administrator, in a poorly-argued fatwa supporting hiring his buddy, empty suit unqualified HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, whom we were never told was an unindicted conspirator ("Clerk E") in bribery indictment in United States of America v. PENN CREDIT CORP. and DONALD DONAGHER, JR., a government contractor for collections work.
o Another new Commissioner, KRISTA KEATING-JOSEPH, ran as a reformer in 2022, concerned about overdevelopment. She beat developer puppet Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER by 175 votes in the closed Republican Primary. Ab initio, she was a breath of fresh air.
But after some seven months on the job, she seems weasly and wimpy, notably joining with all of her colleagues in voting another three (3) years of Dull Republican developer puppet County Administrator HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, evidently selling her soul out of fear CONRAD might not work with her if she voted her conscience. Commissioner KEATING-JOSEPH needs to read JFK's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage.
Commissioner KEATING-JOSEPH recently asked illegal questions about the political party registration of Library Advisory Board applicants, violating First Amendment rights set forth in several Supreme Court cases. While we're grateful that County officials told her she could not ask such questions, she doubled down when she was allegedly rude and hung up the telephone on a lady who dissented from her political Inquisition, launching into a non sequitur about drag queens, and recently appeared at a Republican fundraiser with Moms for Liberty and Senator RICHARD LYNN SCOTT.
All of these four new Commissioners appear overly reliant upon and controlled and manipulated by our poltroonish, patronizing County Administrator and County Attorney.
All of them lack humility and a decent respect for civil rights.
Unlike Commissioner Henry Dean, they're not good listeners and they lack ability.
They don't have any legislative staff, and it shows.
The legislative branch of St. Johns County government is the "sapless branch," constantly holding ex parte meetings with corporate lawyers for overdevelopment. These meetings are not videotaped. They're part of the legislative history of every ordinance, but they're secret. (As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Secrecy is for losers -- for people who don't understand the value of the information.)
They seek and readily accept meaningless assurances, which professional engineers call "warm fuzzies" and scientists call "dry labbing."
As demonstrated by a fundraising hate letter ALAIMO sent, they seem harbor animus and animadversions toward LGBTQIA+ people, recently ignoring the House of Prism's request for a Pride proclamation, like those that our two itty-bitty cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach have proudly adopted for years.
Are they poltroons, prudes, or both?
They're substantially unencumbered by creativity, imagination and courage.
They don't respect democracy.
Are they empty suits? That's what my late mentor, USDOL Chief Judge Nahum Litt would call such people.
They're Dull Republicans, or ME-publicans. Some take their orders from clearcutting conflicted developer-Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON, owner of one of the fastest growing development companies in the United States.
Government run for and by kakistocrats and kleptocrats, constantly doling out favors to campaign contributors.
They remind me of the shady character, "Yul Nivver" whose rote incantations of defeatism have some people believing that no Democrat can be elected here. That's what GQP manipulators want you to believe.
Politics is the art of the possible.
Jacksonville and Duval County with one million people, is our dowdy, provincial neighbor to the north.
Jacksonville's beloved, elegant new Mayor is Donna Deegan, a Democrat.
Jacksonville long listened to the same old trite tropes and dopey shibboleths about how no Democrat can be elected. Malarkey there. Malarkey here. That's what Dull Republican developer puppet propagandists do.
On July 1, 2023, Mayor Donna Deegan will be sworn into office, once again proving "Yul Nivver" is wrong again.
We recently learned that one of Commissioner KRISTA KEATING-JOSEPH's putative "advisers" not only told people that they should register Republican, but falsely believed and repeated the lie that registered Republicans can't vote for a Democrat in our General Elections! (She actually told that to me in urging me to register Republican to run for Commission!).
Wrong. Misguided. Misleading. Dirty politics. Knock it off. Your sins have found you out,
As RFK once wrote in a 1967 book inscription to Senator James O. Eastland, a Mississippi segregationist Democrat, "Repent now, there's still time!"
If the people in Jacksonville can elect a Democratic Mayor, St. Johns County can elect Democrats to office, too.
We won't listen to Dull Republican lies about our polity or what is possible.
We won't be fooled again, will we?
If our elected Commissioners won't do their jobs, they should consider resigning.