Friday, July 07, 2023

St. Johns County Hubris, Hauteur, Arrogance on Display on Hastings Library Design? You Tell Me. (Updated)

I wrote to our St. Johns County Commissioners July 7 about the disdainful, discriminatory, embarrassing and inconsiderate behavior of our County and its architectural contractor, HBM Architects of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. See letter below. Watch video above.

UPDATE: I spoke with Commissioner I. Henry Dean at 8:45 pm: he watched the very embarrassing video and predicts that St. Johns County's management culture will change and that we will get this right, with a good design, with meaningful public participation, and meeting construction deadlines.  (And hopefully with actual chairs for citizens to sit on!) 

Three cheers!

Correction: Video is from 6/29.  Public notice was 6/19

On Friday, July 7, 2023, 05:04:30 PM EDT, Ed Slavin <> wrote:

Dear Commissioners Dean, Whitehurst, Arnold, Joseph and Alaimo:

1. I am appalled by both the County's contractor, HBM Architects of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and by our County's upper management. 

2. Please watch June 29, 2023 video:

3. Please place the HBM Hastings Library exterior design issue and possible County violations of the 1964 Civil RIghts Act on our July 18, 2023 St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners agenda.

4. Is our County's utter lack of community involvement  indicative of continuing environmental racism and invidious discrimination in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil RIghts Act?  

5. It is at best facetious to have held this meeting on June 29, 2023 (Juneteenth, a federal holiday), and to provide no chairs for the residents, who were standing.  This violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

6. The next time that St. Johns County holds a meeting on the nbew Library in Hastings, would you please be so kind as to attend and provide chairs so that people can sit down?  The lack of seating smacks of deep insensitivity and ADA violations, not unlike the City of St. Augustine's failure to provide enough chairs for the December 1, 2014 swearing-in of our beloved reform Mayor Nancy E. Shaver by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, an African-American. 

7. Commissioners: Please view Hastings Library meeting video -- St. Johns County had no Historic Preservation architect or public participation on this inappropriate and ugly design, with $5.1 million of HUD CDBG funds.  Is this waste, fraud and abuse?  Please investigate the award and administration of this contract,    

8. In 1964, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said St. Johns County was "the most lawless" place in America.    

9. Our respected former reform County Commission Chairman Ben Rich, Sr. said in 2008 that St. Johns County is one of the "last bastions of the KKK." 

10. St. Johns County, Florida has a long history of racism, and our County Commission's 3-2 vote refusing to approve a Public Housing Authority, based on expressions of prejudice against persons receiving HUD Section 8 Housing vouchers, is the subject of my January 23, 2023 HUD Title VI complaint.  (I have shared this video with the HUD investigator.)

11. At the behest of controversial disgraced former County Administrator Michael David Wanchick, St. Johns County demolished the historic facade of our beloved WPA building in Hastings, instead of building around it.  I objected to this decision. 

12.  At Wanchick's behest, St. Johns County euchred voters into abolishing the Town of Hastings, a majority minority community, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. 

13. Now St. Johns County abuses $5.1 million in HUD funds, making "nowhere plans for nobody" in the words of the Beatles' song.  Enough.,

14. I respectfully dissent.  As RFK said in 1967, "it is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is much to dissent from."  Please call me to discuss.

Thank you. 

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

On Monday, January 23, 2023, 09:28:46 AM EST, Ed Slavin <> wrote:

Honorable Marcia Fudge
Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

Honorable Rae Oliver Davis, 
HUD Inspector General

Honorable Demetria L. McCain, 
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary 
HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
451 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410

Request for HUD Civil Rights Investigation of St. Johns County, Florida 

Dear Ms. McCain, Secretary Fudge and Inspector General Davis:

  1. On January 17, 2023, our St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 against starting a Public Housing Authority (PHA) here in Florida's fastest-growing County, one of only three (3) Florida counties without a PHA.  The vote is contaminated by bigoted remarks by the Commission Chair.  Please investigate.    
  2. The Chairman of the St. Johns County Commission, Mr. CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST, stated he did not want to help "the kind of people" who had HUD Section 8 vouchers. See County Commission video at (Item 9); see also Travis Gibson, "St. Johns County commissioner votes down public housing authority proposal, says it could change character of county," Commissioners voted 3-2 against moving forward with the creating of a public housing authority, WJXT, News4Jax (January 19, 2023), , and
  3. Chairman WHITEHURST's revealing remark is a confession.  It evidences prohibited discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. Some 65% of voucher holders are Black or Hispanic, compared to 40% of all renters.
  4. Courts in discrimination cases look at effects and not intent because "clever men can hide their motivation."  United States v. City of Black Jack, Missouri, 508 F.2d 1179 (8th Cir. 1974).  
  5. Here, the Chairman of St. Johns County Commission was not "clever" at all -- he confessed to his motivation. 
  6. St. Johns County was described by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the "most lawless" place in America, a place where KKK openly and notoriously ran our governments and law enforcement, requiring remedies from federal courts.  
  7. In 2008, the then-Chairman of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners Ben Rich, Sr., candidly told Folio Weekly that St. Johns County was "one of the last bastions of the KKK."
  8. Chairman WHITEHURST's open, notorious, overtly racist remarks contaminated the vote on January 17, 2023. 
  9. Just like the perjury that "tainted" the evidence and "polluted" the reservoir of justice in Mesarosh v. United States, 352 U.S. 1 (1956), our St. Johns County Commission's deliberations on a Public Housing Authority were totally "tainted," "polluted," and "contaminated" by Chairman WHITEHURST's racist remarks. 
  10. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the unanimous Supreme Court in reversing a decision wrought by perjury, Mesarosh v. United States, 352 U.S. 1, 14 (1956),  perjury "poisoned the water in the reservoir." Americans expect "to see that the waters of justice are not polluted. Pollution having taken place here, the condition should be remedied at the earliest opportunity. " Id.
  11. Please investigate the outrageous, intentional and invidious refusal of St. Johns County Commissioners to proceed with work on a Public Housing Authority in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.  
  12. Please commence a civil, criminal and administrative investigation, and a compliance audit, pursuant to the 1871 Civil Rights Act (Ku Klux Klan Act), the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Inspector General Act. Please refer this complaint to the HUD Inspector General, Ms. Davis.  

Thank you for all that you do.

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084
(904) 377-4998 
c:  Honorable Kristen Clarke, 
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights,    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why no architectural wonders built anymore? Because these hogs do everything on the cheap and sit around forever waiting for private companies and uber rich hogs to do it all. And what do they throw up? Cheap shit with no architectural creativity whatsoever.. because everything is about making money. This county will look like a junkyard in 100 years. A few families will grow rich but leave everyone else broken and grifted to a husk and the landscape looking like a nuclear holocaust occured.