Friday, May 17, 2024

Ed Slavin response to Sierra Club on St. Johns County Commission Seat 5

Here's my response to the March 2024 Sierra Club questionnaire: 

Good evening:
Thank you for your patience!  Excellent questions. 

Questionnaire to Candidates for St. Johns County 
County Commission 2024

Please provide answers to the following questions below, or on a separate sheet:

1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least important and 10 being the most important), where do
environmental issues rate when compared to other critical issues facing St. Johns County and
Northeast Florida? Please include a brief explanation of your rating.

Most important: 10.  Our frail planet, our city, county, state and nation are all threatened by pollution and climate change. Overdevelopment is destroying our quality of life.

2. What are the most significant environmental issues and challenges in St. Johns County? 

* Proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore deserves our County's support.  First proposed by the Mayor of St. Augustine, Walter Fraser, both U.S. Senators and our Congressman in 1939, this is an idea whose time has come.
* Developers demanding to be free of fair impact fees.  

* Secretive PACs and campaign contributions, corruption and conflict of interest. Corruption, as Al Gore wrote in 1992, in Earth in the Balance, often leads to environmental devastation.  

* Proposed 25 ideas for local government reform in 2022, one (1) heeded (County Sheriff body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras, long opposed by Sheriff David Shoar). County Commission has STILL not responded to 25 suggestions on government reform. Why not?

+ Support meritocracy amidst one-party rule by mediocrities in St. Johns County Commission

3. What actions have you taken in the past to demonstrate your concern or interest regarding our environment?

  1. Helping end pelagic whaling of endangered sperm whales by promoting development of jojoba oil seed crops, an exact duplicate for the oil of the sperm whale. The market system worked. (Working as intern and staffer for Senator Ted Kennedy, 1974-76).  
  2. Helping defeat coal slurry pipeline eminent domain legislation in U.S House of Representatives, helping preserve and protect precious scarce water from Madison Formation aquifer.  (11,500 word Crossroads Magazine (formerly Coal Patrol) investigative article, inserted into Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. Joe Skubitz, Republican of Kansas, except for parts on campaign finance).  July 19, 1978: House Defeated Coal Slurry Pipeline Eminent Domain Legislation

  3. Exposing U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority purchasing and policies that encouraged steep slope strip-mining, corruption, coal quality fraud, antitrust violations and and conflicts of interest. With support from Fund for Investigative Journalism, helped secure GAO investigation verifying  concerns of Appalachian activists, led by Save Our Cumberland Mountains.  TVA's Coal Procurement Practices--More Effective Management Needed

  4. Winning declassification of world's largest mercury pollution event (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) and testifying about it in Congressional investigation.  July 11, 1983: Al Gore's Mercury Pollution Hearing in Oak Ridge, Tennessee -- Largest Mercury Pollution Event in World History (4.2 Million Pounds)

  5. Security clearance reforms protecting environmental, nuclear anjd other whistleblowers, and LGBTQ, people working for federal agencies and government contractors.  Helped win American Bar Association House of Delegates vote in February 1990, endorsing security clearance reforms that were implemented under President Clinton, halting a proposed Bush Executive Order that would have erased rights to fair hearings and due process.
  6. Environmental whistleblower law victories and precedents at U.S.Department of Labor, including landmark whistleblower case protecting federal environmental crimes investigators against retaliation for recusals or refusing to coverup wrongdoing.  FBI, HUD, EPA Senior Special Agent Robert E. Tyndall (Ret.), R.I.P.

  7. Exposed intimidation of nuclear weapons plant whistleblowers. February 5, 1992

  8. Questioned aerial pesticide spraying program and winning reversal of illegal, no-bid SJC Mosquito Control Board purchase of $1.8 million luxury Bell Jet helicopter unadorned by nozzles, tanks, pilots, hangar or any plans for aerial spraying, winning 100% refund of deposit.
  9. Defeat of multiple unwise development projects in St. Augustine and St. Johns County,
  10. Adoption of employee whistleblower policy and sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies for Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County. 
  11. Successfully reported City of St. Augustine illegally dumping a landfill in a lake to National Response Center, resulting in fines and consent decree, after City Manager William B. Harriss had said he would not agree to put the contaminated solid waste in a Class I landfill without a court order.  2008 Folio Weekly cover story by Anne Schindler called me an "environmental hero."
  12. Reported City of St. Augustine illegal sewage pollution to National Response Center, resulting in fines and consent decree.
  13. Helped elect Nancy Shaver as in St. Augustine Mayor and Krista Keating-Joseph as County Commissioner, defeating pro-developer incumbents. 
  14. Helping secure preservation of historic iconic Fish Island as city park with state funds, rejecting proposed ruinous development by D.R. Horton, with fifty (50) witnesses, including former St. Augustine Beach Mayor Sherman Gary Snodgrass.

4. What organizations do you belong to? 

1000 Friends of Florida
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Democratic Party
St. Augustine Historical Society
Fort Mose Historic Society
Florida Historical Society
Sierra Club
Investigative Reporters and Editors  
American Assn. For Advancement of Science  
Florida Adventures in Railroading

5. What is your position and suggested solution on these key issues affecting our county?   
- Climate change and sea level rise
+ Support federal, state and local legislation to preserve and protect us from carbon and methane pollution, protect our coasts and wetlands, promote biodiversity, restore balance,
+ Support County's acceptance of federal grants on climate change. 
+ Oppose Florida Governors' attacks on environmental protection, with frequent blog posts.
+ Support a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. Spoke to every St. Johns County Legislative Delegation meeting since 2006 on National Park and Seashore.

- Growth management and development
+ Strongly support reform of our Land Development Code as we know it.  
+ We must have fair hearings, with full disclosures, lobbyist registration, expert testimony, cross-examination of all witnesses and background investigations of developers.  
+ Are our current local and state procedures are a honky-tonk medley of "regulatory capture," farce and kabuki dance?
+ James Madison wrote, "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. "
+ Affordable housing: we must reject "snob zoning," and allow duplexes and other auziliary dwellling units, preserving land and advancing affordable housing. 
+ We must adopt a Public Housing Agency.
+ We must comply with Fair Housing Act.
+ Let's start by re-writing our LDC and quasi-judicial hearing procedures.
+ For transparency, Commissioners must never meet with zoning applicants ex parte.  
+ St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver refused such meetings during her 1550 days as Mayor (making an exception when an applicant was allegedly being treated unfairly).
+ What kind of administrative judicial system lets zoning applicants meet secretly with elected officials?
+  Reject this corrupt system and will not be embroiled by it. 
+ We must require fuller corporate disclosure and better data. 
+ Require background investigations on zoning applicants -- know your customer! 
+ Are any zoning applicants involved in money-laundering,  
+ Environmental violations by zoning applicants must be researched by County staff and discussed publly in hearings.
+ We need full information on ex parte contacts with Commissioners, disclosed before hearings.
+ All ex parte meetings with Commissioners and staff must be videotaped and made a public record.  
+ As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Secrey is for losers, for people who don't understand the value of the information.

- Trees and the proposed 14 point tree ordinance
+ Support proposed tree protection ordinance and spoke in favor of it, as did dozens of residents.  
+ I objected to four Commissioners' harsh response to First Amendment protected activity, evident retaliation against reform Commissioner Krista Joseph..

- Management of traffic and infrastructure
+ Support transit, impact fees and reform of zoning and planning as we know it.

- Septic tanks
+ Explore ban on new septic tanks in new construction
+ Monitor septic tank inspections and code enforcement.

6. What is your motivation for running to be a County Commissioner?
+ My first American ancestor escaped the British government-caused Irish potato famine in 1849, immigrating to Philadelphia with Irish neighbors at age six, the rest of her family died in famine.  My father taught me, as JFK's father taught him, that "if you don't stand up to people in power, they walk all over you."   JFK was killed 22 days after I proudly wore a JFK costume on Halloween, at age six. At age 17.5, I went to work for his brother, Sen. Ted Kennedy, the day before my first Georgetown class, inspired after hearing Ralph Nader speak on August 28, 1974 (Feast of St. Augustine).   
Love this magical place. We need to preserve what we know and love, with National Park Service help. 
Moved here November 5, 1999, after falling in love with St. Augustine when we visited in August 1992, right after first environmental whistleblower trial against Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  
Faster than a speeding dump truck, what we love about St. Johns County is being destroyed. 

7. If you are elected or re-elected, what initiatives would you introduce or promote to protect the environment of St. Johns County?
* St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore
* Environmental Regulatory Commission.
* Independent environmental impact statements for government project, as under NEPA.
* Lobbyist registration and background investigations.
* Video of every County Commissioner "ex parte' meeting with putative "developers."
* County whistleblower protection ordinance
* Reform zoning and planning as we know it. 

Thank you. 


Scott said...

You trolling them with cheesy images and demanding answers to a neverending laundry list of questions constantly probably isn't a good way to get an email back. All that so you can have more to complain at the commission meetings. Cheesy grift... everyone has one these days. Nation of snake oil salesmen and court jesters.

Ed Slavin said...

1. We have a Right to Know. 83% of Florida voters supported Article I, Section 24 of our Constitution. Sunshine is the controlling legal authority. But our local public officials have contempt for the basic principles of open government. Hiring Richard Komando as interim County Attorney without an application was wrong. Hiring Hunter Sinclair as County Administrator without any application was wrong. Our County did not do background investigations. Until it was too late, five incurious Commissioners did not learn that Conrad was an unindicted co-conspirator (Clerk E) in a federal bribery indictment, a fact that also eluded his friend, Christian Whitehurst when he plumped for avoiding a national search in January 2020, before his election.
2. In the inimitable phrase of former Sheriff David Shoar in an FBI surveillance tape, there's too much of this "Secret Squirrel shit."
3. Does anyone here think we should be satisfied an"e-mail back? Low expectations. Assuming facts not in evidence.
4. We, the People want our democratic republican form of government restored.
5. We expect civility and frugality from our public officials. It's our money.
6. Enough sixth-rate government flummery, dupery and nincompoopery. Enough waste, fraud. abuse. discrimination and retaliation
7. Enough corrupt one-party rule.

Scott said...

Yeah everyone has a right to everything until they vote..then they don't have control of anything. They get in there and make decisions and ignore everyone and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. That's not how things should be but that's the way they are. That's what they mean when they say this isn't a democracy but a Republic. Good news is, if you don't like the government in one county or state, you can move to somewhere else where they do business the way you think they should. Personally, if I could get a European passport, I'd leave tomorrow and just let the car be towed and let the house you aren't the only on up shit creek without a paddle. Take joy in that.

Ed Slavin said...

If St. Johns County adopted a County Charter, we'd have the right to vote to recall our elected officials under Florida law. In 2008, Commissioners twice put a defective starter charter on the ballot, twice. We, the People defeated it twice. I've repeatedly asked Commissioners to appoint a proper charter review committee and to try and do it right this time. No response. They're scared of giving us the right to recall them. They reject limited government. Some 20 other Florida counties have charters and recall rights.

Ed Slavin said...

"Never-ending laundry list?" How demeaning. How pejorative. I've lived in this county since November 5, 1999. I've studied government, helped whistleblowers around the Nation, and know what I'm talking about. The 25th anniversary of our moving to St. Johns County is November 5, 2024. Election Day.

Scott said...

Yeah they aren't gonna adopt a charter like that because between the Tea Party terrorists, fake left, and the far right scum, they'd never be able to keep anyone in any seat. Plus they can't find anyone better or someone who actually wants to mess with it. Look at Billy the Bamboozler! That's the alternative and they mobilize the bewildered herd against anyone who would bring change. All they have to do is claim that someone is a threat to their money if you think about it. They don't even have to go the religious route.

Scott said...

I fail to see what you being here for 25 years has to do with the dozen questions a week being sent to God knows how many people. I imagine over that time period you must have asked a quarter million questions. That adds weight to what I said.

Ed Slavin said...

Hyperbole. My mom had a rule when I was a little boy. "No questions after 8 PM." If you don't ask questions, spare me the animus. It's our government.

Ed Slavin said...

Love this town. My opinions are valid. We've achieved dozens of public interest victories here. What is past is prologue.

Anonymous said...

Yeah we see your opinions are valid until it comes to big money ventures like development. A facade of the people being in control when it's really money. They'll listen to you piss and moan about emails and other petty drama all day long though if that keeps you thinking that your vote or your voice matters if you aren't part of the GOP...G stands for grifting everyone to a husk in a myriad of ways.

Ed Slavin said...

I hear you. My record here and elsewhere speaks for itself. Ask yourself why Big Money spent money on ads calling me "the biggest liberal in St. Johns County" when I ran for Mosquito Control in 2020. You can scoff. But what watchdog would do the same work? Name one.

Anonymous said...

They mean reform liberalism when they say opposed to classic liberalism. All about economics and money. They like to give extra (negative) social connotations to the term, but if you look up the original meaning of the word, money is what it's all about. Money as in you aquire as much as you can within the confines of the law (which is written specifically for those with money) and f everyone else..keep it forever if you like and zero social responsibility. That's classic liberalism.

Anonymous said...

Something tells me your going to lose, just like how you've lost every other race you've ever ran in.

Ed Slavin said...

From TruthOut: In the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” at the end of a filibuster, idealistic freshman US Sen. Jeff Smith (played by Jimmy Stewart) reminds us that the struggle is what counts.

“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for,” he says. Just before collapsing on the Senate Floor, he croaks out, “you fight for the lost causes even harder than the others – you even die for them.”

“Love thy neighbor” is the reason that Senator Smith gives for fighting for “lost causes.” Whether one believes in this Christian command or not, this idea is the best reason to fight.

Anonymous said...

Buzz off, Slavin