UPDATE: No word yet on any lawsuits being filed against those Jacksonville billionaires who own GATE PETROLEUM. On November 7, 2023, St. Johns County Commission voted 4-1 to rubber-stamp the billionaire PEYTON family's 25 year plans for their snooty private club, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. "Let the public be damned," as Commodore Vanderbilt said. And on October 17, 2023, another date that will live in infamy, three (3) developer cat's paws voted against environmental protection against clearcutting. No tree ordinance. "Regulatory capture," thanks to these three Dull Republicans.
Ignoring the weight of evidence and overwhelming public opinion, three (3) political prostitutes -- Commission Chair CHRISTIAN (sic) WHITEHURST, his pal, Vice Chair SARAH ARNOLD (neither one of them a college graduate) and ROY ALYRE ALAIMO, JR., former DeSANTIS Congressional staffer and former menu salesman, voted against tree protection ordinance. Money talks. Sick twists.
Thanks again to Commissioners Krista Keating Joseph, and thanks to I. Henry Dean for supporting Commissioner Krista Joseph's proposal.
These latest outrages knock into a cocked hat those "non-denial denials" of the fact that St. Johns County is run by developers.
Run, owned, controlled and dictated to by devious developers, St. Johns County Commission "stinks on ice," as my mom would say.
From this blog, August 3, 2023 at 11:22 AM:
Legendary Big Oil company investigative historian Henry Demarest Lloyd said that monopolistic Standard Oil and co-founders Henry Flagler and John Davison Rockefeller had done everything to the Pennsylvania legislature "except refine it."
That's what predacious corporations and louche lobbyists do on this planet.
That's pretty much the history of development interests in, St. Johns County and Florida, home of the whopper.
In St. Johns County, we don't even require lobbyists to register. Why? Former RPM Internatonal EVP and Republican Ponte Vedra Beach Commissioner John H. "Jay" Morris said, a $25 annual registration fee would be burdensome.
"What a liar," in the words. of heroic Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawai'i) said, off-mike or sotto voce, after perjury at the Watergate hearings July 25, 1973 by Nixon aide and Watergate co-conspirator John Daniel Ehrlichman.
More lies have been told to drain swamps and kill critters than you could shake one hundred sticks at.
Like Burger King, is St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners the "Home of the Whopper?"
Case in point: at their July 18, 2023 meeting, our misguided all-Republican St. Johns County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a controversial waiver of a procedural barrier to BELLA TERRA, a PUD waiver, sought by a deceased former County Commissioner's family and developers, including KB HOMES, having to wait one year after the Commission rejected an earlier proposal for the property. St. Johns Law Group owner DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT represented the Republican favor-seekers. (Two Republican Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph and Chairman CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST both voted NO, while three Republican Commissioners, HENRY DEAN, SARAH ARNOLD AND ROY ALAIMO, JR. voted YES.).
The three needed spinal implants. Pray for them.
Several citizens questioned the County's alleged habit and routine practice of being a cat's paw for developers. This drew ire from Commission Chair CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST and Commissioner I. HENRY DEAN. Is it the case that Messrs. DEAN and WHITEHURST "doth protest too much?"
You tell me.
Nothing is less persuasive coming from an alleged developer cat's paw than a feeble denial. It rather reminds me of the time in Orlando when corrupt disgraced then-President Richard Milhous Nixon, at newspaper convention, said, "The people have a right to know whether their President's a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."
(Fun fact: my late East Tennessee journalistic competitor, Richard D. Smyser, longtime Editor of The Oak Ridger, was the journalist who asked an almost innocuous question at an AP Managing Editors conference that resulted in that stunning answer. His daughter, Katie, carries on the family journalism tradition. Here's the question, from NY Times transcript: Senator Mark Hatfield said recently that we don't demand so much of a President, we ask him to play so many roles that no man can hold that kind of responsibility without having to share that responsibility with all Americans. To what extent do you think that this explains possibly how something like Watergate can occur?)
Elected in a closed Republican Primary in 2018, supported by misguided influencers, smarmy St. Johns County COMMISSION CHAIRMAN CHRISTIAN WHITEHUST thinks he hung the moon. WHITEHURST is like a Manchurian candidate or an alien implant, a simple uneducated watch repair businessman who never matriculated and was practically invented or floor-planned by devious developer-Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON.
Yes, Mr. WHITEHURST, developers do run St. Johns County and your unfortunate 2018 election was the high water mark of a "Confederacy of Dunces," whose only loyalty is to multinational corporate developers and their Crimes Against Nature -- clearcutting, wetland filling, wildlife killing and overdevelopment.
My late mentor, retired USDOL Chief Judge Nahum Litt, who retired to New Smyrna Beach and blogged about local corruption, told me that Florida is like West Virginia. In West Virginia, coal companies run the legislature; in Florida, it is developers. These are ineluctable facts.
In the words of former Commission Chairman Ben Rich, Sr., these so-called "developers" are "worse than any carpetbagger."
At the July 20, 2023 BoCC meeting, Commissioner I. HENRY DEAN denied being "owned" by developers and he also actually denied ever receiving contributions from DOUG BURNETT' and his St. JOHNS LAW Group firm. False. False allegations of falsehood. Watch July 20, 2023, item 2, video at 2:27; https://stjohnscountyfl.new.swagit.com/videos/267199
County Commissioner I. HENRY DEAN erred when he angrily denied ever receiving any contributions from the past or current landowners or "this attorney."
In fact and in truth:
o On October 31, 2019 (Halloween), DEAN's campaign received from BURNETT"s St. Johns Law Group Dean a $1000 check.
o On May 20, 2016, DEAN's campaign received from BURNETT"s St. Johns Law Group Dean a $1000 check.
Thus, I texted my friend. Commissioner HENRY DEAN during the meettng, pointing out his error. In a text message, Mr. DEAN apologized and stated that he forgot the St. Johns Law Group contribution. Commissioner contributions deserve strict scrutiny.
Fun fact: Once upon a time, the Incredible Shrinking St. Augustine Record reported on money in politics. Under GANNETT, it now has zero local reporters. In the past, DEAN's attack on citizens might have been front page news. Now, we have no local newspapers. Commissioners can mislead people without being called out by the Fourth Estate.
Does my friend Henry owe an apology to Mr. Reynolds, et al.?
How quickly we forget.
California's late State Treasurer, Jesse Unruh, famouly said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics."
Jimmy Breslin wrote that there's a subtext in every local zoning law: "Bring extra money."
Query: Are there any local developer lawyers who don't make campaign contributions, which seems to be de rigeur?
One former Republican County Commission candidate once told me that the most demeaning thing that they ever had to do was ask people for money.
Having worked in Florida governments for some 42 years, HENRY DEAN has a lot to remember, and a lot to forget: I can understand why his St. Johns Law Group contributions escaped his memory while bawling out citizens who have in effect called Commissioners a bunch of political prostitutes, cat's paws for developers.
Folks, at least we have their attention.
Messrs. DEAN, WHITEHURST, and their Republican colleagues have increasingly voted against developer demands since the inauguration of Krista Keating-Joseph in 2022.
As Finley Peter Dunn's character, Mr. Dooley, famously said, even the Supreme Court "follows the election returns."
But our ill-advised Commissioners have failed to provide for balanced decisions about developer applications far often. Without any time limits or evidence rules, louche lawyers testify without objection, ex parte contacts are flagrant, frequent and not videotaped, lobbyists are not required to register, and County staff defer to plutocratic pachyderms and their misanthropic mendacious mouthpieces. The County attorney, somnambulistic DAVID MICHAEL MIGUT, says very little.
Again, every single St. Johns County Commissioner is a known Republican, adherents to a political party that supports developer toadies like DONALD JOHN TRUMP and RONALD DION DeSANTIS.
A leopard does not change its spots.
In several respects, our current County Commissioners are a bit better than their predecessors.
But that's not saying much: their predecessors are largely responsible for the veritable demolition derby in St. Johns County and lavish, promiscuous spending of our County tax dollars.
This is the direct result of one party rule for 25 years.
Footnote: Had enough? Vote Democratic. I've filed to run for County Commission. Give trees a chance.
Let's do it for the people and for the place we love.
St. Johns County deserves to be known as more than a fast-food fast-buck "Home of the Whopper," like a Burger King run to serve developers, as if Commissioners were short-order cooks for big-shot crooks.
As Jimmy Carter said, "I see no reason why big-shot crooks should go free, and the poor ones go to jail."