Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hate radio irrationality

There's more than one hate radio station in our area, blabcasting faux Fox News. You can take your pick of multiple frequencies to find the same rants, on one of which our Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. has advertised his law practice extensively, and expensively.
Rush Limbaugh just accused the Palestinian terrorists of being "anti-Semites." Israel's UN Ambassador, Abba Eban, once made the same error.
Both Jews and Arabs are Semites.
Energumen Rush Limbaugh, whom I consider to be a racist, sexist, misogyist, homophobic Jew-hater, gets a three hour radio program and $50,000,000/year to blast his ignorance. Why do local businesses and politicians buy air time to sponsor hate?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historic home found to have historic cistern from Thomas Jefferson's great-granddaughter (developer was allowed to avoid and evade archaelogical fee after Sunshine violation by Mayor BOLES, et pals, and threat not to close on sale of real estate).

IN HAEC VERBA: St. Johns County Election Supervisor Apparatchik Arachnid Tries to Charge $12 for search time to find Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, Jr. disclosure forms

Dear Wayne:
Dr. King said this was the "most lawless" community in America. We have made great strides, but not in compliance by the SoE.
Don't be silly. Thirty minutes for copying a few two page records is by definition NOT "EXTENSIVE." F.S.. 119(4)(d)
Should be free. Please send PDFs. Now.
Stop trying to inflict fees on voters as a tax on knowledge, as on your no-bid contracts, which you have not even listed.
The School Board sent me all of its no-bid contracts, without charge.
By contrast, you look like an anti-literate energumen.
Thank you.
With kindest regards,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Fusco
To: Ed Slavin
Sent: Tue, Jul 22, 2014 4:47 pm
Subject: RE: Mayor Boles financial disclosure

Good Afternoon Ed,

I have determined that it will take 30 minutes or so to pull, print and then
re-file the paperwork you requested. The administrative cost associated with
your request will be
$ 12.00.

Let me know if you want to move forward..

Wayne E. Fusco
Assistant Supervisor of Elections
St Johns County Supervisor of Elections
4455 Avenue A - Suite 101
St. Augustine, FL. 32095
(m) 904.460.3435
(f) 904.823.2249
(d) 904.342.5866

IN HAEC VERBA: City of St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board members must file financial disclosures. Now.

Dear Chairman Weeks, Mayor Boles, Vice Mayor Sikes-Kline, City Commissioners and HARB members:
1. Upon consulting with our St. Johns County Election Supervisor, St. Augustine City Clerk and Florida Commission on Ethics, it appears that:
(a) Our City of St. Augustine, Florida Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) members are not filing financial disclosures;
(b) HARB members are required to file financial disclosures pursuant to F.S. 112.3145, as HARB is "A planning or zoning board, board of adjustment, board of appeals, community redevelopment agency board, or other board having the power to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning within the political subdivision, except for citizen advisory committees, technical coordinating committees, and such other groups who only have the power to make recommendations to planning or zoning boards." F.S. 112.3145(2)(d). Who among us would disagree?
2. Thus, I request that HARB members file financial disclosures instanter, nunc pro tunc, before close of business on July 23, 2014.
3. Disclosures were required to be filed on July 1, 2014.
4. Time is of the essence -- Chairman Weeks' no-bid lease for 81 St. George Street is set for five year renewal on July 25, 2014. See prior correspondence. Questions have been asked about his income stream from the City of St. Augustine, in partnership with Mayor Boles (some $2-3 million over 25 years on a property now being rented to the owners of Florida Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets) . Chairman' Weeks failure to file required disclosures as HARB Chair, and involvement in at least one proposed demolition (requiring his recusal), embarrass our City and its residents and contribute to a perception that corrupt exists.
5. Our City's longtime failure to include HARB and HARB members' addresses on the list of officials requiring disclosure requires an explanation before the next Commission meeting. Please do not make such omissions in the future.
6. The urgency of protecting the historic architecture of our Nation's Oldest City, including pending matters -- e.g., the proposed illegal demolition of Echo House by St. Paul. A.M.E. Church -- urgently require that HARB members be above reproach and make full disclosures. Now.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

Sweet Deal for Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. et pal.

On July 25, 2014, the 25-year old lease between the City of St. Augustine and Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. and ex-Mayor LEONARD CLAUDE WEEKS, JR. gets renewed for another five years. No disclosures of how much money they're making on the sublease to FLORIDA CRACKER CAFE and SAVANNAH SWEETS. No apology for conflict of interests. Only patronizing statements from BOLES, to the effect that this is the best "public-private partnership" ever. As former Mayor George Gardner wrote in St. Augustine Report: "Sweet deal."BOLES and WEEKS have made $2-3 million from this crony capitalist deal, forged under a former City Manager who was married to then Election Supervisor Penny Halyburton.
This stinks.
WEEKS and BOLES are business partners.
WEEKS is appointed by BOLES to serve as chair two (2) city boards -- Parking and Traffic Committee and Historic Architectural Review Board.
WEEKS long chaired the Historic Area component of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
WEEKS is a contractor and developer, involved in the proposed demolition of 80 Markland Place.
WEEKS is also one of BOLES' appointees to the Visioning Committee, who left yesterday's meeting early to attend to business.
In effect, WEEKS is a lobbyist.
WEEKS is business partner of the Mayor in a lucrative lease from the City of St. Augustine, one that they sublease to the actual owners of The Cracker Cafe and Savannah Sweets.
The lease is poorly drafted, with no remedies for the City. It is the worst commercial lease ever, favoring the favored tenants -- the Mayor and ex-Mayor, who have refused to answer questions or provide their sublease.
This subtle corruption of our government by self-seeking public officials and their "insider" deals is indefensible: it must be ended at once.
Ask Messrs. WEEKS and BOLES to disclose their sublease terms.
Ask them to end the lease.
Otherwise, their $1332.21/month lease will continue for another five (5) years.
To Messrs BOLES and WEEKS: you have made $2-3 million from this unseemly "public-private partnership" deal to provide bathrooms.
George Gardner calls it a "sweet deal."
May we have it back, please?

Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell: Special elections, punishment needed in redistricting scandal

Special elections, punishment needed in redistricting scandal
Scott Maxwell
Taking Names
1:57 p.m. EDT, July 19, 2014

If you caught your child throwing rocks at other kids, you'd reprimand him.

If he threw rocks again, you might ground him.

If he threw rocks yet again, would you hand him a fresh bag of rocks?

Only if you were an idiot.

Well, Florida legislators think you're an idiot.

Pictures: Orange County Jail mug shots

That is why — after being caught breaking the law and gerrymandering political districts — they are asking for permission to draw them again.

Don't be an idiot.

And I mean that with all due respect to hizzoner, Judge Terry Lewis — the guy who will decide what do to with Florida's blatantly gerrymandered districts.

Florida legislators already hoped Judge Lewis would be an idiot once.

They were sorely disappointed.

Lewis' ruling was the equivalent of bare-bottom spanking for the entire gang of Republican rock-throwers.

Lewis used phrases such as "cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men."

He said some of the operatives involved "made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed open and transparent process." And he said the entire case "goes to the very foundation of our representative democracy."

Basically, Lewis said what anyone with one good eye already knew: that the zigzagging, racially unbalanced congressional districts were a politically rigged farce.

The ruling was particularly amusing because GOP legislators had taken the stand with dramatically feigned indignation about how their honor and dignity were on the line.

They went so far as to say the only way the judge could rule against them was to accuse the entire legislative leadership team of being a bunch of liars — that "every single witness, including two speakers of the House ... lied under oath …."

Um, OK, the judge essentially said with his ruling that you're all a bunch of liars.

The judge ruled that legislators had politically manipulated the process.

For instance, they took Democrat Corrine Brown's district and crammed every black face they could find inside it.

Brown happily played the stooge because she got a district so Democratic and black that she was all but guaranteed re-election. But it pleased the Republicans even more, because it meant all of the surrounding districts were whiter and more conservative.

Brown got her one Democratic district.

Republicans, including Dan Webster and John Mica, got three.

And voters got hosed.

That last part is important — because a whopping 63 percent of Floridians voted for Fair Districts, mandating in the state constitution that legislators had to stop drawing districts for political reasons.

Yet that's just what Judge Lewis said they did.

It must be fixed. Here's a two-part plan:

1) Keep legislators far away from these maps. They have proved themselves unworthy of trust. The judge should either draw new districts himself — or perhaps impanel a bipartisan commission to do so. (That was actually the original Fair Districts proposal of the late GOP patriarch Thom Rumberger, who knew the legislative-controlled system was sick beyond repair.)

2) Call for special elections. I agree that it would be chaotic to redraw the districts for this fall's elections. After all, the primaries are next month. But these seats and districts should not be allowed to stand. The judge has ruled them unconstitutional. So it makes no sense to reward bad behavior. The upcoming elections should be temporary until special ones in properly drawn districts can be held next year.

This system is sick. And so am I — of politicians breaking the rules and getting away with it.

In this country, you can steal a loaf of bread and go to jail. But if you're a politician who violates the Constitution — something you swore to uphold — you get a leadership position.

Why? Because the ethics laws are weak.

And why is that? Because the rule-breaking legislators write them. (Also because, in this case, the judge didn't finger a specific legislator — rather saying their collective process was improper.)

This state needs stiffer ethics penalties.

But for now, we need to make sure the result of these improper actions don't stand — and that the voters' will is carried out.

Otherwise, you just reward the rock-throwers. or 407-420-6141

Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentinel

Saturday, July 19, 2014

$23.6 billion Northwest Florida jury verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for death of 36 year old Kool smoker

Three cheers for legendary Stuart, Florida trial lawyer Willie Gary! He just won a $23.6 billion tobacco products liability verdict against R.J. Reynolds. Mr. Gary spoke here in St. Augustine at an ACCORD luncheon in 2011.
His $23.6 jury verdict was more than twice the ad damnum clause in a bogus harassing SLAPP libel lawsuit that R.J. Reynolds filed two decades ago against investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich for libel ($10 billion lawsuit).
Mr. Bogdanich, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is the hero who nailed our corrupt Sheriff, State's Attorney and Medical Examiner on the Michelle O'Connell shooting case, earning an Emmy nomination for PBS on his work at The New York Times. See Mr. Bogdanich talk about Big Tobacco here:
Justice has been done. Of course, R.J. Reynolds will appeal immediately.

St. Augustine Record: "Obama opens Eastern seaboard to oil exploration, environmentalists concerned"

Front page banner headline that it deserves. As Sir Winston Spencer Churchill said, "we shall fight them on the beaches."

NEW YORK TIMES: White House Opens Door to Exploring Atlantic for Oil

White House Opens Door to Exploring Atlantic for Oil

The Obama administration approved guidelines on Friday for seismic searches for oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean, handing the petroleum industry a significant victory in a bitter dispute with environmental groups over the searches’ impact on marine life.

The decision opens the way for companies to seek permits to look for oil in a stretch of the Atlantic from Delaware to Florida, using compressed-air guns that blast the ocean bottom with thousands of sound pulses as loud as a howitzer. The pulses bounce off geologic formations deep in the earth, giving geologists hints of where oil and gas deposits may lie.

The new rules do not permit actual drilling for oil, and the only previous exploration in the area produced 51 dry holes before ending in the 1980s. But experts have said that a decision to allow exploration sends a clear signal that allowing offshore drilling rigs would be approved as well.

A congressional ban on offshore Atlantic production expires in 2017. The oil industry is pressing for exploration to begin as soon as next year.

The Interior Department, which issued the new guidelines, has said that as much as 4.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil could lie beneath the seabed, but the lack of actual exploration data puts that estimate in doubt.

Environmental groups say the seismic pulses will destroy some marine creatures and disrupt feeding, migration and other crucial habits of whales and dolphins, some of them already endangered species. The oil exploration industry argues that years of seismic exploration elsewhere have produced little if any evidence that the technique causes serious harm.

Given three proposed sets of guidelines, Interior Department analysts chose the one with the strictest environmental safeguards. That alternative would probably eliminate any deaths of sea life and sharply reduce the chance of injuries but would in some cases cause changes in behaviors like mating, migrating and searching for food.

How do we stop offshore oil drilling from destroying St. Augustine's tourist economy, beautiful beaches and natural environment?

Florida's beautiful coast is threatened by global ocean rise and by the announcement yesterday that offshore oil exploration --using what the New York Times calls "compressed-air guns that blast the ocean bottom with thousands of sound pulses as loud as a howitzer" -- will be renewed off our coasts.
This will likely kill ocean creatures and lead to renewed offshore oil drilling.
This would destroy our coast here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida.
No way!
Our St. Johns County Commission and City Commissions in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach all oppose this outrage.
St. Augustine and Northeast Florida is ground zero for Big Oil's attack on our environment -- the North Atlantic right whales have their babies -- there are only some 350 right whales left. Endangered sea turtles their eggs here and return here. They are among the oldest and grandest species on this planet, a joy to behold. Let's not let Big Oil kill them. Public protest is essential.
Two strategies -- litigation and legislation:
1. Federal court litigation must be commenced challenging offshore oil drilling here, grounded in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
2. We must rededicate ourselves to enacting the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act.
In any Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA, the Interior Department would have to say this is a "sensitive area" because of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore!
Thus, we preserve our coast, protect endangered wildlife, protect our economy, and attract historic and environmental tourists who spend more time and money here. As Wallace Stegner said, our national parks are "America's Best Idea."
Otherwise, we're looking at massive oil spills, preceded by compressed air guns blasting noise "as loud as a howitzer" and dead right whales, loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's Ridley, green and hawksbill sea turtles and other sea critters dying (along with our tourist economy). We don't want to destroy this paradise thattaway.
No "using compressed-air guns that blast the ocean bottom with thousands of sound pulses as loud as a howitzer," thank you.
No offshore oil drilling off Florida's coast, please.
As Sir Winston Spencer Churchill said, "We shall fight them on the beaches.


Work tirelessly for the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 18, 1978.

On this date in 1978, the U.S.House of Representatives defeated coal slurry pipeline eminent domain legislation.
Three cheers!
A coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers, libertarians, unions, railroads and good government advocates defeated Bechtel and other multinational construction companies, coal companies, electric power monopolies, the Who's Who of Houston, and deluded pseudo-liberals including Rep. Morris K. Udall and Rep. Bob Eckhart, beholden to corporate interests that employed Pat Jennings, former Clerk of the House, as their cartel's lobbyist.
Bechtel's Washington, D.C. pipeline lobbyist threatened me as I completed an 11,500 word article for Crossroads (formerly Coal Patrol): "If you write that article, you'll never work for the State Department, knowing I was a statement in the School of Foreign Service - Georgetown University. I responded, "ma'am, I don't want to work for the State Department." Within three years, both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State were former Bechtel executives.
It was my first-ever published article; it was (minus campaign finance facts) published in the Congressional Record.
My late college roommate, Ed McElwain, had turned me on to coal slurry pipelines after researching them for Senator Gary Warren Hart.
Lessons learned: defeating multinational corporations is fun, environmental protection is everyone's job, investigative reporters really do have more fun, and there is nothing that you can't do in this great country if you put your heart, mind and soul into it.
A "technological turkey" was denied government favoritism -- eminent domain -- by a diverse coalition. The environment, Wyoming water, farms, ranches, the Madison Formation, Wyoming, jobs and competition were protected from dangerous water-wasting pipelines using hexavalent chromium (the poison at issue in Erin Brockovich), which would have polluted Arkansas.
I am inspired by the ongoing battle against the Koch Brothers' XL pipeline tar sands lobby and the "soul fire" as Ambassador Andrew Young puts it, of its opponents. They will win!


Prediction: Echo House will be saved

Thanks to City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E.
Thanks to "instigators, troublemakers and whistleblowers (persons engaging in protected activity).
Echo House will be saved. Yes we can!

Chief Judge Luis M. Rivera, 16th Circuit Court, Monroe County (Key West) Rules Florida Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment Is Unconstitutional; Weddings Might Begin Next Week

Monroe County Chief Judge Luis M. Rivera became the latest judge to overturn anti-Gay marriage constitutional amendment today.
Judge Rivera, an appointee of Governor Jeb Bush elected and re-elected by Monroe County voters, Judge Rivera used the intervenor-bigots' (liberty Counsel) amicus curiae brief to find the requisite animus for heightened rational basis scrutiny.
He then found no rational basis whatever for Florida's Constitutional Amendment -- no legitimate governmental interest.
He ordered the plaintiffs be issued a marriage license.
Article I, Section 27 of the Florida Constitution, a constitutional amendment adopted in 2008 violates Equal Protection and is null and void. So is F.S. 741.04(1).
Due to the expected demand, he delayed Gay marriages in Monroe County until July 22, 2014. Three cheers!

Saving Echo House: My Letter to Rev. Ron Rawls of St. Paul A.M.E. Church Today -- IN HAEC VERBA

Dear Rev. Rawls:
I wrote you on June 24, 2014 requesting a timeline and copies of accounting records. See below, please. Do you intend to respond? Whether or not you do:
1. Please list all of the items that have ever been removed from Echo House, their current location, and kindly provide for each item the sale price and bill of sale or transfer order, to include the beautiful long antique wooden bookcases, inside and outside copper fixtures and terra cotta roof tiles.
2. Please provide any accounting records supporting your claim to "hardship" when you say your "business" has grown at "11-13% per year."
3. Please provide a copy of the invoice from Don Crichlow & Associates for the $900 architectural plans and a copy of your engagement letters with him and other professionals, to include legal counsel, if any.
4. Please provide evidence of any fundraising and "friendraising" on Echo House, if any, to include any contacts with the National Park Service, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UF, et al., or any other efforts documenting due diligence on fixing Echo House.
5. I have read the documents that you have belatedly provided to the City, only yesterday. It looks like you spent almost all of the $26,176.82 on demolition, with $2000 paid by our City, no money spent on a grant writer and only $900 on an architect (Commissioner Donald W. Crichlow). Is that correct? Were some of these services donated? Please provide cancelled checks for all items on this list that you contend were actually paid out by the church.
6. Was your "business" plan ab initio to do nothing for years and then ask to demolish this historic building? Is that why you have spent so little and breached your promise to our City of St. Augustine to preserve and protect Echo House?
7. Did anyone ever give you any legal advice in writing, or otherwise? Please identify every meeting and telephone conversation with the late GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE and provide copies of all E-mail and other correspondence and communications with him or his firm. Has any member of the University of FLorida Levin College of Law faculty, to include your wife, ever provided you with any suggestions or advice on Echo House? If so, please provide copies of all E-mail and other correspondence or communications. Please waive any evidentiary privileges or immunities.
8. Please be prepared to answer questions under oath today at HARB. I have sent these questions to HARB and hereby request that they be asked. I shall be filing an Open Records request with UF.
9. Echo House will not be destroyed. It is part of our community and has been since 1926, long before either of us was born or EVEN first visited here.
10. As LBJ said to Congress after Selma, "We SHALL overcome!"
Thank you.
Ed Slavin

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PBS Frontline story, "A Death in St. Augustine," nominated for Emmy award

Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA were AWOL. Neither one of them would sit down and talk on camera with three-time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Walt Bogdanich. Why?
Walt Bogdanich's 53 MINUTE story with producer Glenn Silber just got nominated for an Emmy (R) Award. I
Three cheers!
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
As the late Senator Howard Henry Baker, Jr. Said During Watergate, "Coverups Never Work." What do you reckon? Do St. Johns County elected officials coverup for each other? Do guns recoil forward? Will the FBI hale lawless lawmen to a federal grand jury and into federal court?
Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
Ms. O'Connell was shot to death with the service pistol of Deputy JEREMY BANKS in BANKS' home on September 2, 2010, shortly after she told BANKS she was breaking up with him.
The New York Times, "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night" by Walt Bogdanich & Glenn Silber (November 24, 2013):
PBS/Frontline, "A Death in St. Augustine (November 26, 2013): NBC News Dateline, "Two Shots Fired" (April 18, 2014):
Petition for Coroner's Inquest:

At Debate and at City Commission, Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, Jr. Emits "Non-Denial Denial" on Ethics Issues

At the St. Augustine City Commission meeting on July 14, 2014 and again at a Neighborhood Council forum on July 15, 2014, Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. defended his conduct in the $1332.21/month lease of City-owned property at 81 St. George Street, and proclaimed his "ethics" as an attorney and Chair of the Council on Aging.
At City Commission Monday, July 14, 2014, BOLES said the lease deal was the best public private partnership that ever was.
For him.
We deserve an audit after 25 years.
We need outside counsel, not the law partner of the former City Attorney who drafted the crafty and concessionary lease.
This is what international oil economic experts call "the obsolescing bargain."
For us.
BOLES is as happy as a pig in slop, and talks like the cat who ate the canary.
At the forum, Mayor BOLES was asked how he would be a model of ethics. He eschewed answers by Nancy Shaver (Transparency and Listening to People) and Ken Bryan (Integrity, Honesty).
BOLES' emetic answer: he is ethical in every way. His response was elliptical and defensive. It was very disappointing to those who like him. BOLES said, "You know me," noting that he was the guy who once as a sixteen year old rode a horse down St. George Street playing Ponce de Leon, wrote their wills, estates and trusts and see him in church and chaired the Council on Aging. "You can tell if I'm ethical or not." "I've never had anybody offer me any money for my vote," he said. "You'll be the judge. You see me at parties." "Not many of you have seen me dance."
Yes we can. We read the lease. We've watched you for ten years in public office.
BOLES' statements were lacking in substance, although it was revealing when he rambled on at City Commission about he was duked in to the deal by St. Augustine's then-City Manager in 1989 (husband of longtime St. Johns County Election Supervisor Penny Halyburton).
"The law is the law," BOLES said.
How trite.
BOLES made that statement in the context of his vote to allow Flagler College to destroy Cuna Street with a too-big classroom building that was built as a Planned Unit Development, a vote that former Commissioner William Leary regrets to this day.
Mayor BOLES did not address his $1332.21/month lease and the Restatement of Contracts, 2d, Section 178 (Contract Violation of Public Policy), under which We, The People persuaded our government officials to cancel, halt and reverse a no-bid helicopter purchase contract for a $1.8 million Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County luxury Textron/Bell Long Ranger Jet Helicopter incapable of killing a single skeeter.
By vote of City Commission, soon to be ex-Mayor BOLES' and ex-Mayor WEEKS' no-bid lease should be attached to a declaratory judgment action, filed in Circuit Court, and put before a judge.
A court must rule about whether there is an unconscionable lease that disfavors the City and its residents.
A court must decide, not Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, Sr.
Yes we can!
In being asked about ethics, BOLES talked baby talk, talking down to the assembled residents, disappointing those of us waiting for some moral reasoning from our Mayor of eight years.
Enough condescension.
All of that rhetoric and LBJ-style goofiness begs the questions:
Why in the name of all that's holy do you have to renew a five-year lease when you've already been repaid many times over for your initial investment (whether $177,000 or $350,000)?
Why are you latched onto the City of St. Augustine lick a tick on a coon dog, sucking out $100,000 to $200,000 annually in rent payments, when you don't own the restaurant and candy store any longer?
Why do you act like you hung the moon because a prior City Manager, Mayor and Commissioners gave you and renewed a no-bid lease to build a building on what should have been a city park?
Why not just give it up before it is renewed for another 25 years on July 25, 2014?
Why do you hang on to it for dear life while our City streets need paving, Echo House is falling apart, City pipes deliver red water to homes and businesses and all because of your rent-seeking behavior, and that of your pals?
Why won't you show us your sublease and tell us how much you are making on it?
Is this a case of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"
Do tell us, because we're going to keep asking.
Everyone in our Nation's Oldest City wants to know.
We have a right to know.
Ask questions.
Demand answers.
Expect democracy.
It's our town and our time.
If BOLES won't answer our questions, don't even think about voting for him.
So far, all we have from BOLES is a "non-denial denial," in the immortal words of Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, JFK protege and Managing Editor of the Washington Post during Watergate.
Make no mistake about it -- the lease for 81 St. George Street is a scandal,
We deserve answers.
Former Mayor George Gardner's newsletter estimates that Messrs BOLES and LEN WEEKS make $100,000 to $200,000 annually from subleasing the property, with no gainful economic activity on their part. "Sweet deal."
Where else in the world but in a foreign kleptocracy do government officials get to lease valuable property from their own government, make a profit on it, and not get questioned about it by law enforcement? It's our money. It's our property. Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Growling "Grow Up," MAYOR JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. Dismisses EEO and Sunshine Concerns in City Attorney Hire

Without anything on the agenda, without an ad in the Florida Bar Journal, the City of St. Augustine abruptly hired last night as City Attorney the current Assistant Attorney, Isabelle Lopez. The motion was approved unanimously.
Once again, the City of St. Augustine has hired someone for one of the top three posts -- the only people it hires -- without proper Sunshine notice or public discussion.
Once again, the City of St. Augustine has filled a top post without a proper EEO search.
The same thing happened when the current and prior City Managers were hired in 1998 and 2010.
The same thing happened when the current City Attorney was hired twice (temporarily and permanently) in 2008.
In contrast, there was a proper search when the current City Clerk was hired.
When I filled in a card to speak and handed it in, it was ignored and not handed to Mayor BOLES.
When I raised my hand to speak, it was ignored.
When I said, "no EEO search," eight-year incumbent MAYOR JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. growled, "Grow up!"
The last time an adult said that to me was in 1978, when billionaire Alabama coal operator GARY NEIL DRUMMOND sat at a table with legendary investigative reporter Charles C. Thompson, II and me at Duke Ziebert's restaurant in Washington, D.C. I told Mr. DRUMMOND that it would be a misprision of a felony if he knew about fraud by other coal operators and did not report them to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Department of Justice. In much the same contemptuous tone as Mayor BOLES, DRUMMOND said, "Grow up, Ed."
For the record, I like Isabelle Lopez -- a lot! In fact, in 2011 she was recommended to me as counsel in a potential civil lawsuit: her then-employer, a private law firm, did not allow her to take such actions. She is a competent attorney. That's not the point.
The point is the City does not comply with Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, whose passage we celebrated on July 2.
It is unfair to Ms. Lopez and to the reputation of the City of St. Augustine not to have done a proper EEO search and Florida Bar Journal ad.
The same hopelessly provincial considerations that led the City to refuse to do a proper EEO search in selecting a City Manager led to the refusal to do one for the City Attorney.
Any attorney who was interested in the job should have been able to apply, just as anyone interested in the City Clerk's job could apply.
Refusal to post and advertise top job openings is pregnant with the reality that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needs to investigate the City for pattern and practice race, sex, disability and age discrimination.
There are no African-Americans in management.
The City has some 350 employees and a $50 million budget for a city of 14,000.
There are only two of twelve top managers who are women (including Ms. Lopez).
Failure of a city government with a long history of intentional racial discrimination to advertise job openings is deeply offensive.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said St. Augustine was "the most lawless city in America." Sixteen rabbis were arrested here standing up for justice. Six of them returned for a visit last month.
One of them pointedly advised local residents to be "pests for justice." That's how God made me. We stand up for our own.
Just when we think we've made progress, the City Commission shows contempt for democracy and civil rights.
In the immortal words of Justice Robert Houghwot Jackson, our prosecutor at Nuremberg, "What does it all mean?"
This decision stinks.
In the words of President Harry S Truman, Mayor BOLES, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."