Tuesday, July 07, 2015

IMPERVIOUS TO SUGGESTIONS



On February 12, 2015, County Commission PRISCILLA BENNETT (R-Hutson Companies) a/k/a "RACHEL BENNETT" (pseudonym record with Florida Secretary of State Elections Division) and JOHN H. "JAY" MORRIS (R-RPM International) demanded that anyone opposed to tax increases suggest cuts. I suggested sixteen (16) areas for cuts that very night. No response to date.

INAUDIBLE AND INACCESSIBLE

The City of St. Augustine Beach makes its meetings available to people on the Internet using streaming video, which is inaccessible to Apple computer users.

The City of St. Augustine makes its meetings available on the Internet using streaming video, which is frequently inaudible.

The ugly disutility of no-bid technology is that you can claim transparency with a no-bid contract whose operation to exclude public viewing.

Collier County School Board Repeatedly Interrupts Citizen Speakers

Check this out -- resembles some of our local government bodies where officials interrupt speakers.

Mad About Ethics Complaints, Mad About First Amendment Violations, Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS Has Mini-Meltdown Over No-Bid Lease Opposition

Citizen Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. has filed some ten ethics complaints with the Florida Ethics Commission, and at the July 7, 2015 St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting, St. Augustine Beach Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS showed her anger.

Citizen William Rosenstock has engaged in First Amendment protected activity by holding picket signs at Pier Park on parking issues. Threatened by lessee St. Augustine Beach Civic Association through its attorney Steven Alexander, Esquire with arrest for picketing outside the "First Amendment zone" by Mr. Rosenstock, who filed a complaint with St. Johns County Attorney concerning the violation of his rights. Andrea SAMUELS showed her anger.

Commissioner Undine Pawlowski-George, her father, Dr. Michel Pawlowski and Messrs. Reynolds, Rosenstock, Robert Kahler and Ed Slavin (that's me) expressed concerns about a no-bid five year $1/year renewal of the SABCA's lease of a police garage, raising concerns about lack of competitive bidding, lack of revenue, lack of transparency of SABCA and SABCA's invidiously discriminatory policy that allows rejection of any member (the only two members ever rejected were Commissioner Pawlowski-George and ex-Mayor Edward George, her husband, because they criticized Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS and her husband, ROBERT SAMUELS and SABCA).

Mayor SAMUELS accused the six critics of having "venom," leading Mr. Reynolds to state he would file another ethics complaint against Mayor SAMUELS for her pejoratives directed against citizens, intended to retaliate, intimidate, coerce, restrain and hold First Amendment protected activity up to obloquy and ridicule.

Commissioner Pawlowski-George noted SAMUELS' disrespectful attitude included "rolling her eyes and laughter" at the concerns, interruptions of Commissioner Pawlowski-George, including stating, "this is not a court of law."

The item was listed on the agenda for the "consent agenda," but several people signed up to speak, leading Mayor SAMUELS to say, "We have speakers? Oh no!" Dr. Pawlowski said Mayor SAMUELS' recusal was mandatory, but I disagreed, saying she had no "apparent pecuniary interest" in the private, secretive SABCA non-profit the SAMUELS started, but that recusal would a good idea.

The St. Augustine Record covered the story (sort of), omitting the anger of SAMUELS and the substance of the opponents (as well as all of our names). Citizens are barely recognized and only "members of the public" in a biased newspaper that eschews coverage of corruption and discourages public participation. Here's the Record's odd article, by its former sports reporter (could you imagine an article on a ballgame without the names of any of the players who scored points?):



After fierce debate, St. Augustine Beach Commission extends Civic Association lease
Posted: July 6, 2015 - 11:42pm

By STUART KORFHAGE
stuart.korfhage@staugustine.com
It might have been part of the consent agenda, but a vote on the extension of a $1-per-year lease for the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association did not come easily.
In an issue that had a shocking level of contention, St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels said, the St. Augustine Beach Commission eventually voted 4-0 to approve the compromise of a short extension at Monday’s meeting.
Following a slew of angry public comments and a speech of defense from Civic Association president Bill Jones, Samuels and Commissioner Undine George had their own argument over the issue for several minutes.
Samuels eventually recused herself from even voting at all because her husband is on the Civic Association board and she is the former secretary.
George said the records of the Civic Association should be closely inspected and that the space rented — a former police garage on the south side of Pier Park — should be opened to bids from all nonprofit groups.
George said she just wanted consistency and that the debate wasn’t personal. However, it was also revealed that she and her husband, former Beach mayor Ed George, had been denied renewal for membership in the Civic Association in 2012 due to disparaging remarks made about Samuels leading up to an election (according to an email produced by Undine George).
The other issue is that several members of the public complained about being restricted to “free speech zones” during events hosted by the Civic Association on public land.
They said they were harassed by lawyers retained by the Civic Association.
“It’s a private organization, and it restricts free speech,” Undine George said. “I don’t think we should support this organization monetarily.”
Jones said he would be glad to pay fair market rent for the space if the city required it. But he added doing so would just be taking money away from something the Civic Association would support for the good of the city, so there would be no net gain.
“Whatever we paid would just be trading it,” Jones said. “Everything we do is about promoting the City of St. Augustine Beach.”
The Civic Association signed a five-year lease for the space in 2010, and it expires in August. Commissioner S. Gary Snodgrass proposed a compromise in which the commission would have more time to examine terms of the lease — and perhaps alter them — without rushing to a decision.
He first proposed a three-month lease extension, but Commissioners Margaret England and Rich O’Brien suggested that six months was more appropriate.
So the commission voted to grant the short extension now with the possibility of approving a longer one soon. George also supported the compromise.
Before voting, Snodgrass and O’Brien praised the work of the Civic Association, which organizes various fundraisers and produces the Music by the Sea concert series.
“The Civic Association is in a class by itself,” Snodgrass said. “They have a very clear record of giving back year after year.”
Added O’Brien: “I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Snodgrass about the great work they do in the community.”
The commission also approved a neighborhood traffic management program and an amendment to the City Commission’s Policies and Procedures Manual regarding the distribution of keys to the city.

Monday, July 06, 2015

I hear St. Johns County singing

As Walt Whitman once wrote, "I hear America singing." We hear St. Johns County singing, as the FBI investigates corruption.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Charter School Funding Led to Demand for Sales Tax Increase in St. Johns County: School Board Vice Chair Patrick Canan Blows the Whistle

St. Johns County School Board Vice Chair Patrick Canan​ writes in today's St. Augustine Record that mandatory state funding for charter schools is one of the stressors leading to the demand for a sales tax increase. Supported by right-wingers and developers (and right-wing developers), out-of-control charter schools require stricter scrutiny -- corporations should not be able to give them money and avoid taxes, and they should not be permitted to use public funds for propagandistic indoctrination. See 2011 Miami Herald article, here. Sandra Parks estimates hundreds of millions are taken from public schools each year by private charter school funding using tax credits.

Excerpt from Mr. Canan's column today:
We anticipate a 47 percent increase of students in the next 10 years, requiring up to 20 new schools, but the funding to build a bigger ship has dried up. School board capital outlay millage levying authority was reduced by the Legislature in 2008 from 2.0 to 1.5. The reduction in millage, combined with the dramatic decline in property values due to the recession, caused our school district to suffer a cumulative capital revenue loss of $180 million. The school board cannot increase the millage without legislative authorization from Tallahassee. As the fastest-growing school district in the state, we have advocated in the Legislature to make an exception for high growth school districts to no avail. The millage cap remains the same. In addition, available Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds that once provided significant capital outlay dollars for schools have been dramatically reduced and are now being heavily allocated to charter schools. The message from Tallahassee is simple — this is a local issue and steps need to be taken locally to address the funding shortfall. Click here for full column by Mr. Canan.

NPR investigation of charter schools is here



Saturday, July 04, 2015

Gay rights: Quote from Palm Beach Post article on need for statewide comprehensive Gay rights protections for employment, housing, public accommodations and education

"Local ordinances banning such discrimination are rare north of Central Florida, but Leon County, Gainesville, St. Augustine and nearby Atlantic Beach have prohibitions similar to those in many South Florida communities." See full article here. By the way, St. Augustine adopted "sexual orientation" as a protected class in our Fair Housing ordinance (2010) AND provided for equal pension benefits for survivors of Gay and Lesbian employees (2014). We did so unaided by any assistance of either the Democratic Party or Gay rights groups. Here in St. Augustine, we take care of our own! Yes we can!

SAVING ST. AUGUSTINE: Come testify before Historic Architectural Review Board at or after 2 PM, July 16, 2015 re: DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES,

City Hall, 75 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida
The following 3 items will not be heard prior to the regular 2:00 pm start time of the HARB meeting:
e) Opinion of Appropriateness
F2015-0026 Wright Firm – Applicant
Old Island Hotels, Inc. – Owner
Continued from March 19th 149 Cordova Street/PID 199490
To review the development plan proposal associated with a
rezoning application.
f) Certificate of Appropriateness for Ad Valorem Tax Exemption
F2015-0029
Continued from March 19th
David Corneal – Applicant
Old Island Hotels, Inc. – Owner
Multiple Addresses/PID 199490
To review plans for building rehabilitations at 143, 145, and 149 Cordova Street; 42 and 46 Bridge Street; and 244, 246, and 250 St. George Street for an ad valorem tax exemption application.
g) Certificate of Appropriateness
F2015-0096
Marquis Halback and Don Crichlow – Applicant
Old Island Hotels, Inc. – Owner
Multiple Addresses/PID 199490
To alter the railing design and porches on 3 buildings, rehabilitate a perimeter wall on Cordova Street, alter the amphitheater area seating area, and apply a new roof material to the pavilion building.

WHO IS MICHAEL A. CONROY? NO HISTORIC PRESERVATION EXPERIENCE, DESTROYED CARPENTER'S HOUSE, TESTIFIED FALSELY BEFORE HARB?

Image result for michael conroy florida construction







1.  On April 20, 2015, Michael A. Conroy, Gainesville general contractor originally from California, demolished 105-year old Carpenter's House in St. Augustine, Florida, a unique Old Florida historic structure.
2.  Carpenter's House was part of the Dow Museum of Historic Homes.
3.  Carpenter's House was formerly owned by the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences, where it was the volunteer and visitor center for a museum of nine homes assembled by the late Frederick Worcester Dow, 1939-2002.
4.  Carpenter's House and the other Kenneth Dow buildings were given to the Daytona Museum for exclusive use as a museum and restored with some $2 million in State of Florida Secretary of State historic preservation funds, including $30,000 stabilizing the Carpenter's House.
5.  Michael A. Conroy applied for the building demolition permit and he helped OLD ISLAND HOTELS, INC. and DAVID BARTON CORNEAL by providing materially false and misleading testimony under oath February 19, 2015 to the St. Augustine Historic Architecture Review Board that resulted in a demolition order dated April 20, 2015.
6.   Michael A. Conroy testified that Carpenter's House was unsafe and in "imminent" danger of falling down.  City minutes record: "Michael Corny reviewed the condition of the property and stated that the structure was an imminent liability. He said no one was allowed inside the structure. He confirmed that they would be saving as much of the material as they could once the structure was secure."
7.  Michael A. Conroy's testimony was demonstrably untrue, as established by the City of St. Augustine's building inspector's letter, read into the record by City staff April 16, 2015.   http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/your_government/documents/Harbminutes-04.16.15.pdf
8.  Michael A. Conroy did not wait for the 30 day time for appeal of the demolition order to expire.
9.  Michael A. Conroy's employers, OLD ISLAND HOTELS, INC. and DAVID BARTON CORNEAL were advised through representative MARK ALAN KNIGHT of the time for appeal.  The building was destroyed on April 20, 2015, the same day the demolition  permit was issued.
10. Michael A. Conroy had no factual basis to push for the destruction of Carpenter's House and did so as a means of facilitating cramming a hotel in Historic Preservation District HP-1.
11.  Michael A. Conroy has repeatedly been issued stop-work orders by the City of St. Augustine for doing work without a permit on the Dow site.
12.  Michael A. Conroy has expressed the opinion that St. Augustine is a "strange town."
13. During a June 2, 2015 Planning and Zoning Board meeting on a rezoning sought by CORNEAL for 108 Bridge Street, Respondent CONROY yelled menacingly at two residents located fifteen (15) feet across an aisle: "Shut up!"
14.  Conroy has no significant experience in working with historic buildings but vast experience with large, ugly projects, including "University Corners,"
which he describes as the "largest private development in the history of Alachua County." 
http://meetingdocs.alachuacounty.us/documents/bocc/agendas/2009-03-24/6084d718-623c-4bc8-8d03-5c4ab8757473.pdf
15.  Michael A. Conroy may have evaded Secretary of the Interior guidelines and hacked up the interiors of eight historic buildings built from 1790-1910, already destroying one of them.
16.  Michael A. Conroy and DAVID BARTON CORNEAL are seeking a ten year tax holiday for putative "improvements" despite violating Secretary of the Interior guidelines and hacked up the interiors of eight historic buildings built from 1790-1910, already destroying one of them.
17.  Come speak out on July 16, 2015, at HARB on three (3) DOW MUSEUM ITEMS
DAVID BARTON CORNEAL has testified that the DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES is the "heart of St. Augustine." He's already destroyed one of our historic homes -- Carpenter's House.
Here's Michael A. Conroy's claim to fame in Gainesville, the kind of ugly Florida developer monstrosity -- subsidized with millions of dollars of Gainesville taxpayer money.  Wonder why a former Gainesville Regional Utilities Manager, St. Augustine's City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E., said he was "thrilled" with CORNEAL's purchase of the Dow property to First Coast News in November 2014?  You tell me.




An artist's renderings of The Standard at Gainesville looking northwest from the corner of West University and Northwest 13th Street .

DOW MUSEUM HOTEL PUD UNDER FIRE -- Front Page Article In Today's Record -- Libelous DAVID BARTON CORNEAL Accusations of Car Tire-Slashing?

Debate over Cordova Inn PUD becoming more heated
Posted: July 3, 2015 - 11:43pm
By STUART KORFHAGE
stuart.korfhage@staugustine.com
With each new zoning hearing and debate of the permit process, the tensions between neighbors and ownership of the former Dow Museum property seem to be rising.
In some instances, the disagreement has turned somewhat mean and even destructive (sic).
Property owner David Corneal, who is restoring the historic houses in the block at Cordova and Bridge streets, said he’s seen an increase in nuisance (sic) complaints to the city that claim work isn’t being done according to code — even though it would be difficult for anybody to spot subpar work unless they are on the property.
But things became particularly ugly several weeks ago when a worker at the property [allegedly] had his tires punctured. Corneal said that was the second time such an act had occurred.
“This vandalism is very wrong,” Corneal said. “My employees shouldn’t have to tolerate that.”
Corneal said he understands that many people oppose his plan to make the property an inn. But he also thinks people will like the project when it’s done and find that it isn’t particularly intrusive.
“When this is done, if it is done, the way I want to do it, it’s going to be a smash,” Corneal said. “It’s going to be a major attraction.”
Whether he gets to turn the block of historic houses into an inn has yet to be determined. He is applying for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) with the city of St. Augustine.
Corneal is in the process of completely renovating the property for what he hopes will be a boutique hotel, or inn as he refers to it. Because short-term rentals are not allowed in that block, he would need a PUD to use the property for that purpose.
However, he can offer long-term rentals of at least a month without city approval and without having to provide any additional parking.
Some nearby residents prefer having a high-end hotel to renters, while others think the addition of available rentals would be the better option.
The application for the PUD, which would allow an inn of up to 30 rooms called the Cordova Inn, was recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Board in May.
The next step is the City Commission, but the issue was delayed by an unsuccessful appeal of an earlier demolition permit for a small building on the property referred to as the carpenter’s house.
There was fierce debate at the PZB hearing, and the same can be expected when the issue is brought up at a future commission meeting.
Some neighbors, many living on St. George Street, have placed signs in their yards to express opposition to the PUD.
Among those with the signs are Fred and Norma Novak. They said they are against the PUD because they simply don’t want a new commercial enterprise in the their neighborhood, which has the highly restrictive Historic Preservation 1 zoning.
The couple bought their home in 1994, and they’ve been permanent residents since 1998. They oppose the PUD mostly because it goes against the area’s zoning.
“We don’t want the noise; we don’t want the congestion,” Fred Novak said. “It’s going to change the complexion of the neighborhood.”
Added Norma: “We don’t want to lose more residential.”
The Novaks spoke against any kind of harassing or bullying tactics. They certainly don’t want the project, but they also didn’t express any ill will toward Corneal.
“We definitely want to show this is not a personal issue with the applicant,” Fred Novak said.
Another neighbor, Judith Fox-Fliesser, said she’s lived on St. George Street for almost 15 years and doesn’t want the Cordova Inn project to go through. She said there’s no reason to allow a deviation from the zoning restrictions.
“We want the zoning to be protected,” Fox-Fliesser said. “[A PUD] is supposed to offer a benefit to the (neighbors). So far, the benefit is protecting the historic property, but that’s already written into the code.”
Blake Souder, a Lincolnville resident opposed to the PUD, said Lincolnville wouldn’t get anything out of the PUD. In fact, Souder says, it would get stuck with the valet parking lot.
He said many of the older residents he knows in the area haven’t been able to wait at any of the long public meetings to give their input. They have concerns about adding more non-local traffic on Bridge Street, he said, just like he does.
“There are a lot of things that I’m concerned about [with the PUD],” Souder said. “If the roads and streets become blocked because of valet parking ... how are emergency vehicles going to get through?
“Public safety is my primary concern. If the PUD is approved, there’s going to be a whole lot of intensification of the area.”
Fox-Fliesser is friends with the Novaks and agreed that while she does talk with neighbors about her opposition to the Cordova Inn PUD, she doesn’t want discussions to turn into anything nasty.
“We’re trying to temper it and not make it personal,” she said. “So far, it hasn’t gotten ugly. We really try to make a point of it to try to be civil.”
Corneal said everything directed at him has certainly not always been polite. He said there have been problems with trespassing from those opposed to his project. And the puncturing of the workers’ tires was the peak of ugliness to him.
“It doesn’t make one (feel) welcome,” Corneal said. “We’ve had people come in and rant and rave at us. A number of people don’t want us here.”
Souder said it’s been the locals who support the Cordova Inn project who have been rude to him.
After speaking out at a recent public meeting, Souder said a few of those who disagreed with his sentiments were angry and swore at him.
“Outside of City Hall, it has not been civil,” Souder said. “I don’t enjoy it when it gets nasty. It’s not nice to see people acting like that.
“I’m not going to launch a personal attack. I find the whole (democratic) process stimulating.”
COMMENTS (3)
sponger2 07/04/15 - 05:31 am 80Perfect example.
This is a perfect example of what I have been speaking about. You go buy a house in a area where this sort of thing isn't zoned for, expecting it to be honored. That's why you bought at the particular location. That's why you paid a premium price. Then someone comes in with a idea to increase noise and traffic (which is of no benefit to you) by adding up to thirty units on property next door, and the residents are supposed to be grateful for the intrusion. Carpetbagging at it's very best. Historic preservation should mean just that. Restore a property to it's former glory without the extra nuisance value thrown in. Is the boutique price going to be affordable for the locals who live here, or just the tourists who crowd the area, annoying the tax paying residents?
On an aside note, the very idea that he wants to make it "an attraction" runs counter to everything anybody bought there would desire. The Disneyfication continues.

martystaug 07/04/15 - 07:52 am 70Carpetbagging
You are absolutely right. This city continues to encourage this type of change for the benefit of a few "carpetbaggers" at the expense of the residents. Some of these carpetbaggers have been here for generations and are surprised when any opposition arises. As a resident and homeowner since 1989, I miss the "old St. Augustine". This holiday weekend we must plan any errands to be home again before the gridlock starts. Those of us who pay for this expansion of tourism with loss of quality of life need to tell the city and developers to stop. I hope this city council will keep us in mind, obey the zoning restrictions that the rest of us must obey, and enforce the laws we already have.

Jason Hamilton 07/04/15 - 02:06 pm 11Whats the root of the problem?
Admittedly I do not live in this area of town, but I am a native along with my parents. I grew up two streets over from Cordova next to the St. Francis Inn. The Inn purchased the house across the street on St. George and nicely fixed it up to add three more rooms to the Inn's capacity. In some ways it is similar to the Dow project. Further south on Cordova there are quite a few rentals along with apartments, and the old Record building went condo as well. I am trying to understand how the Dow is going to be much different than what is already on Cordova. I can understand fully that if the Dow project does not provide on site parking for its guests and employees how that could effect the neighborhood. Outside of that I am not sure why the push back for this project. I do not remember hearing any of these concerns when the court house moved and The Casamonica took over. I don't see how this is much different than that. I have to also add that I have not been following this story too closely outside of simply knowing that it is going on. Seems short sited and a bit foolish to purchase something with big plans having not checked with the city codes of what is permissible. If the intention is to remodel with historical preservation codes in mind and run an Inn/B&B I would not have an issue personally. Look at the Hilton on the bay front and what a nice job they did for the skyline. As long as it is not rent by the hour and a neon nightmare eyesore I don't see how this location is too different from what is already going on in the neighborhood.

LEN WEEKS BUILDING DESTRUCTION UNDER INVESTIGATION: Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Case No. 2014048144

Two local residents, including Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr., have filed complaints against the construction license of LEN WEEKS a/k/a "CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR., St. Augustine's ex-Mayor.

The complaints center on the September 25, 2014 destruction of DON PEDRO FORNELLS HOUSE, 62A Spanish Street, a 211-year old Spanish colonial building that has survived wars, hurricanes but not WEEKS' greed. "Everybody needs to obey the rules and laws in order to have a civil society," Mr. Reynolds said upon receiving DBPR's acknowledgement of the complaint on July 3, 2015.

Another unnamed citizen had already filed a complaint, and the two are combined under the same DPBR case number, No. 2014048144.

Other citizens can complain by filing with DBPR on its form, here.

As I wrote on this blog on November 12, 2014, before the Code Enforcement hearing:

"It is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error." Those are the words of Justice Robert Houghwot Jackson, America's prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.

Today the St. Augustine Code Enforcement Board will hear an appeal by CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, Jr. from more than $10,000 in fines for his illegally destroying a 210-year old Spanish colonial building at 62A Spanish Street, without permits…. The facts are as follows:

1. LEN WEEKS owns -- and as his own contractor destroyed -- a 210-year old historic building and putting workers' lives at risk by trenching all the way around the building, violating City of St. Augustine ordinances by working without any permits. 
2. A City report finds that LEN WEEKS admittedly disobeyed instructions and requirements of City employees, including City Planning and Building Director David Birchim, City Historic Preservation Planner Jennifer Wolfe, City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt, City Building Inspector Inspector William Franke. 
3. LEN WEEKS also failed to follow the advice of his own engineer, William Freeman and his own architect Jerry Dixon.
4. This is not the first time that LEN WEEKS has worked without a permit in the historic area of Our Nation's Oldest City.
5. LEN WEEKS chairs the City of St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB).
6. LEN WEEKS also chairs the City of St. Augustine Parking and Traffic Committee.
7. LEN WEEKS also serves on the all-white St. Augustine Visioning Committee.
8. LEN WEEKS is partner with Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. in a no-bid lease from the City of St. Augustine for 81 St. George Street, at 1/5 to 1/10 of market rates, sublet without City permission to the current owners of FLORIDA CRACKER CAFE and SAVANNAH SWEETS.
9. MAYOR JOE BOLES IS LEN WEEKS' ATTORNEY AND BUSINESS PARTNER.
10. LEN WEEKS has a Master's degree in Construction from the University of Florida, has been a licensed general contractor since 1977, chairs the Historic Area Council of tbe Chamber of Commerce and has long demanded arrests and criminal prosecution of artists and musicians and entertainers on St. George Street, while seeking special rights for property owners.

As Justice Robert Jackson began his prosecution at the Nuremberg Trial, "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated."

"Let justice be done though the heavens fall" is the ancient equitable maxim.











Happy Independence Day! Three Signers of the Declaration of Independence Were Incarcerated Here at Castillo de San Marcos








In 1776, the British colonists burned the Declaration of Independence and effigies of John Adams and John Hancock here in St. Augustine, Florida, where three of the signers were later imprisoned, while allowed to walk around town relatively unmolested in this, the 14th colony. During the British period, South Carolina patriots, including Declaration of Independence signers Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge were brought here and held in the Castillo San Marcos (then called Saint Marks).

In the movie and Broadway musical "1776," the character of Edward Rutledge has a key role, blocking Thomas Jefferson's draft language on slavery, singing about the involvement of New Englanders in the "Triangle Trade":

MOLASSES TO RUM TO SLAVES

Molasses to rum to slaves
Oh, what a beautiful waltz
You dance with us, we dance with you
In molasses and run and slaves
Who sail the ships out of Boston
Laden with bibles and rum
Who drinks a toast
To the Ivory Coast
"Hail Africa, the slavers have come"
New England with Bibles and rum
And it's off with the rum and the Bibles
Take on the slaves, clink clink
Then hail and farewell to the smell
Of the African coast
Molasses to rum to slaves
'Tisn't morals, 'tis money that saves
Shall we dance to the sound
Of the profitable pound
In molasses and rum and slaves
Who sail the ships out of Guinea
Laden with Bibles and slaves
'Tis Boston can boast
To the West Indies coast
"Jamaica, we brung what ye craves"
Antigua, Barbados
We brung Bibles and slaves
(Gentlemen, you mustn't think our Northern friends merely see our black slaves as figures on the ledger. Oh, no, sir. They see them as figures on the block. Watch the faces at the auctions, gentlemen. White faces on African wharves. "Put them in the ships. Cram them in the ships. Stuff them in the ships." Hurry, gentlemen! Let the auction begin!)
Ya-ha!
Ya-ha-ma-cundah!
(Gentlemen, do you hear? That's the cry of the auctioneer.)
Ya-ha
Ya-ha-ma-cundah!
(Slaves, gentlemen! Black gold. Living gold. Gold from:)
Angola
Guinea, Guinea, Guinea
Blackbirds for sale!
Ashanti
Ibo, Ibo, Ibo, Ibo
(Look at the faces in the crowd, gentlemen. White faces. New England faces. Seafaring faces. Faces from:)
Nantucket
Boston, Boston, Boston
Blackbirds for sale!
Handle them, fondle them
But don't finger them!
They're prime! They're prime!
Ya-ha
Ya-ha-ma-cundah!
Molasses to rum to slaves
Who sail the ships back to Boston
Laden with gold, see it gleam
Whose fortunes are made
In the triangle trade
Hail slavery, the New England dream
Mr. Adams, I give you a toast
Hail Boston
Hail Charleston
Who stinketh the most?

Friday, July 03, 2015

SJC DEC Pushing Hillary Rodham Clinton Literature, Buttons, Stickers, Rudely Eschews Bernie Sanders Buttons, Literature





St. Johns County Democratic Party​, 142B King Street, St. Augustine, Florida is distributing a selection of Hillary Rodham Clinton paraphernalia (or "chum" as the DEC calls it) at tonight's First Friday Arts Walk, and daily during office hours. Yet, after repeated inquiries, DEC won't distribute any U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders​ information or items. Wonder why? Our St. Johns County DEC is run by misguided, out-of-touch, older HRC supporters whose bad manners have sadly made the Democrats a third party in our county (after "others"). No mention of "literature." Apparently, SJC DEC is a money-making enterprise, not a true Democratic organization -- if no money could be made on selling Bernie Sanders stuff, SJC DEC is insouciant and insensitive. Enough.


UPDATE: INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2014

-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
Sent: Sat, Jul 4, 2015 5:13 pm
Subject: SJC DEC MUST DISTRIBUTE BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MATERIAL -- FDP BYLAWS FORBID ILLEGAL DE FACTO ENDORSEMENTS BY DEC

Dear St. Johns County Democratic Executive Committee:
1. The St. Johns County Democratic Executive Committee's refusal and failure to distribute Bernie Sanders' literature, campaign signs, buttons and stickers is an ultra vires Act, in violation of our Florida Democratic Party Bylaws, Article I, Section 3 (as amended in 2012), limiting DEC's ability to endorse candidates.  
2. SJC DEC discriminatorily advertises the availability of Hillary Rodham Clinton literature, signs, buttons and stickers but is insouciant to the request for  equal access to two-term United States Senator Bernie Sanders' campaign material (please see below).
3. Please cease and desist from all illegal discrimination against Senator Sanders in violation of FDP Bylaws and the reasonable expectations of probity.
4. Please distribute literature, buttons, stickers and signs from announced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders from this day forward.
5. I have shared copies of this e-mail with attorneys Patrick Canan, Mark Herron and Barry Richard and (through Mr. Richard), with his spouse, FDP Chair Alison Tant.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.
Happy Independence Day!
Cordially,
Ed Slavin
904-377-4998

---------------------- 
Sent: Fri, Jul 3, 2015 2:45 pm
Subject: Re: Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature at SJC DEC HQ
You have HRC stuff and y'all are all pushing her, correct?
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On Jul 3, 2015, at 12:45 PM, Nell Toensmann < ntoensmann@yahoo.com> wrote:
Ed,
If you are interested in a supply of Bernie Sanders items, then I suggest that you order them online from his campaign. At the moment, they are not available at the office and will not be available before this evening.
As the campaigns progress, we will identify the Democratic candidates that will have an impact at the local and national level in the Presidential campaign and eventually provide material for these candidates. There is a question of how much we have to pay for these items, if we order directly from the campaigns. If so, we would not be able to resell the products here because of the price we would have to ask. If we move forward with obtaining campaign material for the various candidates, it will have to be at a price that is reasonable for the public, as well as the Democratic Party.
Nell Toensmann
Chair, St. Johns Democratic Party
904-825-2336 (office)
904-484-4960 (cell)
ntoensmann@yahoo.com
---------
From: "easlavin@aol.com"

Sent: Friday, July 3, 2015 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature at SJC DEC HQ
Please respond. Tonight is First Friday arts walk -- please have an ample supply of Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature available. Thank you again.
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sat, Jun 27, 2015 5:57 pm
Subject: Re: Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature at SJC DEC HQ
Please respond. Thank you.
-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin < easlavin@aol.com>
Sent: Fri, Jun 26, 2015 2:17 pm
Subject: Re: Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature at SJC DEC HQ
Please respond. Thank you.
-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin < easlavin@aol.com>
Sent: Thu, Jun 25, 2015 11:31 pm
Subject: Bernie Sanders buttons, stickers and literature at SJC DEC HQ
What is available? Thank you!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Time for "Profiles in Courage"

Our Founders pledged in 1776 their "lives, [their] fortunes and [their] sacred honor" to the American cause. As we investigate, report, expose and end corruption as we know it in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida, join with us in that cause.




Nancy Shaver's Eloquent December 18, 2013 Letter to the Record on Justice for Michelle O'Connell

Nancy Shaver being sworn in as St. Augustine Mayor on December 1, 2014 by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince (left), while Mayor Shaver's daughter (right) holds the Shaver family's 1820 Bible.


Letter: Something for Alexis' stocking

Posted: December 18, 2013 - 3:15pmThe Empty Stocking fund appeal always brings me to thoughts of children, and this year to seven-year-old, Alexis O’Connell, whose mother, Michelle, died of a gunshot in 2010 under circumstances that are at best unclear. At the age of four Alexis was left to wonder why, if the Sheriff’s office investigation were to be believed, her mother who loved her so deeply, and called to say she was on her way to her, suddenly decided to kill herself and leave Alexis alone.
I’ll make a donation to the Empty Stocking fund as many of us will. But this year I’ll also take the time to contact ... the United States Attorney, and ask her to investigate the handling of Michelle’s death. Nothing will restore Michelle to this earth, but clear-eyed justice can give Alexis some measure of peace.
Please consider adding your voice to this request….. A comprehensive and professional inquiry would be a gift not only to Alexis and her family, but also to all of us who look to the law to protect and serve us equally.

Happy birthday to Alexis O'Connell, Michelle O'Connell's Daughter "Lexi"

Enjoy your special day, Alexis.
Know that, as our patron saint himself, Saint Augustine, said it best: "the truth is like a lion.  You don't have to defend it.  Let it loose and it will defend itself."
We, The People, will win justice for your mom.


"Peace" and "Happiness," Our New Liberal Lions, Join "Firm" and "Faithful," Symbols of Protection and Hope


Photo credit: City of St. Augustine
Named “Firm” and “Faithful,” our liberal lions, carved of Carrera marble, have been around since 1927, guarding our Bridge of Lions.
From 2005-2011, our liberal lions were out of sight, restored, preserved and protected, then awaiting completion of the new Bridge ($85 million paid to SKANSKA by Florida DOT and the Bridge still frequently fails).
Today, St. Augustine’s two liberal lions get new siblings, carved of granite, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Wolfgang and Miki Schau, who provided two new lions for the east end of the Bridge of Lions, suggesting they be named "Peace" (Pax) and "Happiness" (Peli).  
We love those names.
In heraldry, lions symbolize strength and protection.
The two new siblings are symbolic, as we work to promote healing and to preserve and protect the history of St. Augustine with a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway).
Wikipedia reports about lion imagery through the ages:
Long history of lion imagery

Cave lions, Chamber of Felines, Lascaux caves
Lions have been represented figuratively since the Stone Age. Ice age hunters depicted the lion this way in the cultural stage of the Aurignacian more than 30,000 years ago by showing the lionesses of a pride hunting in the same manner as contemporary lions. After that it frequently was the lioness who was represented as the protector and chief warrior of a culture. An early Naqada tomb painting that predates Egyptian culture in northern Africa shows two rampant lions flanking a figure that may be interpreted as a deity.

Sphinx of Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut - with unusual rounded ears and ruff that extend strong leonine features to the head of the statue, 1503-1482 BC
Lions also play a role in numerous later ancient cultures. In Ancient Egypt the pharaoh sometimes was represented as the sphinx, a lioness with a human head. The best known representation of this type is the Great Sphinx of Giza. From the earliest written human records, the lioness was recognized as the fierce hunter of the formidable species in Ancient Egyptian and African cultures and was dominant in the pantheons of these ancient cultures as representing warriors and protectors of the country. Egyptian mythology featured images of lionesses such as Bast and Sekhmet from their pantheon. Male rulers might be associated with the son of the goddess, such as Maahes. While the Egyptians ruled over Nubia they documented the worship of Dedun as a god of wealth and prosperity, who was said to be the son of the Nubian lioness deity, although they did not incorporate that deity into their own pantheon. The ancient Egyptians also created naturalistic portrayals of lions as symbols of protection and royal power in addition to the images of mythical sphinxes.
In the near east a long line of cultures used the motif of Lions as both a symbol of primal and royal power. The earliest examples come from Mesopotamia. This usage continued throughout the later cultures of the Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians and early Islamic cultures like the Umayyads and Abbassids.
In ancient Indian civilizations, lions were adopted as symbols of many dynasties, the famous one being the Lion Capital of Ashoka. This is a sculpture of four "Indian lions" standing back to back. This was used during the reign of Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled a large part of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. A varient of this was later adopted as the National Emblem of India.

Famous original sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka preserved in India, which was originally erected around 250 BCE atop an Ashoka Pillar. In the circular base, a Bull and horse is sculpted on the right and left of a wheel(Ashoka Chakra). On the far side there is an Elephant and a Lion instead.
In antiquity, lions were common along the southern coast of the Mediterranean, as well as in Greece and the Middle East. In Greek mythology a lion appears in a variety of functions. The Lion Gate of Mycenae features two rampant lionesses who flank a central column representing the major deity of this early Greek culture that dates to the second millennium BC. In later classical Greek mythology, the Nemean Lion was portrayed as a people-eating beast; killing it was one of the twelve tasks assigned to Heracles. In the story of Androcles, one of Aesop's fables, the hero, a runaway slave, pulls a thorn from a lion's paw; when he is later thrown to the lions as punishment for escaping, the lion recognizes him once again and refuses to kill the man. According to the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelite Tribe of Judah had the Lion of Judah as its symbol.
The characteristic of the lion as the "king of the jungle" goes back to the influence of The Physiologus, an early Christian book about animal symbolism which spread into many cultures and generally had great influence in Western culture. First written in Greek in the second century AD, the book was translated into Latin in about 400 AD, next into Ethiopic and Syriac, then into many European and Middle-Eastern languages. Many illuminated manuscript copies such as the Bern Physiologus survive. It retained its influence over ideas of the "meaning" of animals in Europe for over a thousand years. It was a predecessor of bestiaries (books of beasts). Medieval poetical literature is full of allusions that can be traced to the Physiologus tradition; the text also exerted great influence on the symbolism of medieval ecclesiastical art.

The winged lion of Mark the Evangelist is the national emblem and landmark of Venice (detail from a painting by Vittore Carpaccio, 1516)
The royal symbolism of the lion was taken up repeatedly in later history, in order to claim power, for example by Henry the Lion. The ongoing fascination is apparent today by the diversity of coats of arms on which lions are shown in various colours and forms.
Many images from ancient times depict lionesses as the fierce warrior protecting their culture. Since in certain views lionesses seem to have a ruff, often the only clue to this difference between the genders is the lack of a massive mane. When no mane is apparent, the image often is described as a panther or leopard among cultures without familiarity with the nature of lion social organization and hunting strategies for prides. In literary and historical references, note of a figure or an image as depicting a lion may relate to either gender without being specific, and be easily misunderstood, thereby then being drawn with a mane since it is so distinctive.
Images of lions appears on many flags, coats of arms, and emblems. For example, it symbolises the Sinhalese people (Sinhalese Singha = Lion). Local folklore tells of Prince Vijaya, the first of the Sinhalese kings, as being the son of Sinhabahu, who was fathered by a lion. See history of Sri Lanka. Lions are recurring symbols in the coat of arms of royalty and chivalry, particularly in the UK, where the lion is also a national symbol of the British people, and in Ethiopia, where it is a symbol of the Monarchy.