Friday, March 23, 2018

Let's Save Echo House From Demolition

St. Augustine City Commissioners will hear a presentation to save historic Echo House (what's left of it) from demolition at their Monday, March 26 meeting.

A new 501c3 dedicated to preserving African-American history in Lincolnville will make the ten minute presentation.

I support and commend their efforts.

The presentation is sponsored by Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline and the agenda describes the item as "
  1. Presentation by Madeline Wise of the Lincolnville Historical Preservation and Restoration Society Inc. (LHPRS) regarding Echo House asking that the property revert back to the City with the LHPRS committing to obtaining grants to ensure the property is made whole again to be used by the Community 

Why this matters: In 2015, five craven St. Augustine City Commissioners heard and rejected my appeal from the demolition permit granted the Rev. RONALD RAWLS, JR to demolish Echo House, a 1923 historic building that was once a retirement home for retired African-Americans and later a community center.    As a compromise, RAWLS agreed to preserve 1/3 of it.  Then last year he got a conditional demolition permit to destroy the remaining part of the structure.

The City of St. Augustine has a "right of reverter" and could sue to exercise it, because Rev. RAWLS is no longer using Echo House for a charitable purpose.

And no, my friends, parking for a church is not a charitable purpose.

And no, God did not tell Rev. RAWLS to tear down an historic building for parking, as some of St Paul A.M.E. pastor RAWLS' rowdy parishioners told HARB in 2014.

RAWLS is the Gainesville resident who demands to tear down a monuments to Confederate veterans in the Plaza de la Constitucion (rejected by City Commission, which appointed a seven-person contextualization committee) and a monument to General William Wing Loring in the West Plaza (being considered by the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine board, which is unlikely to go along with his demand).

Update: St. Augustine Report, by former Mayor George R. Gardner, March 24, 2017:

Echo House and Local Heroes
Only one building of Echo House remains
Group wants Echo House returned to city
  A nonprofit organization formed in 2017 will ask the City Commission Monday to take back the historic Echo House property, "so other community organizations may take over and work to fulfill the dreams of the founding family and community's wishes."
   The request, by the Historical Preservation and Restoration Society Inc. (LHPRS), comes three years after the City's Historic Architectural Review Board authorized demolition of two-thirds of the property and less than a year after it approved demolition of the remaining structure, asking that demolition be delayed to seek ways to save it.
   St. Paul AME Church Pastor Ron Rawls spearheaded the takeover and demolition of the property, first to provide space for a now defunct School of Excellence and later for church parking.
   LHPRS Co-Chair Madeline Wise wrote that, "Members of our organization are current or former residents of the Lincolnville Community. We started our organization in February 2017 because of our concerns for the African American community and Historic Lincolnville being gentrified, effectively destroying over 100 years of history in the nation's oldest city."
   A petition with 37 names accompanied the letter.
The historic property, originally a nursing home for African American seniors, was willed to the city, which turned it over to Rosalie Gordon-Mills in 1973, to be "used exclusively for nonprofit, charitable and philanthropic purposes; otherwise, title to said property shall revert to the City of St. Augustine."

21 Questions for St. Augustine Beach Mayor George on Her Meeting with Local Smartphone App Developer for Parking

Getting answers to questions about The People's Business is sometimes like talking to a post in corrupt St. Johns County, where dull Republicans dominate local governments, covering Dixie like the dew.

Still waiting on documents and answers from St. Augustine Beach Mayor Undine Celeste Pawlowski George about her meeting with a local business that wants St. Augustine Beach to use its smartphone app for parking, in a tiny town with some 6000 souls, covering only 1.87 square miles.

Waiting for answers.

And as UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson once said to the Soviet Ambassador, during the Cuban Missile Crisis "I'm prepared to wait until Hell freezes over for an answer."

Dear Mayor George and Ms. Raddatz:
Please respond fully to my Request No. 2018-70.
  1. With whom did Mayor Undine Celeste Pawlowski George meet about the prospective acquisition of a smart phone parking app for the City of St. Augustine Beach?
  2. Why?
  3. When?
  4. Where?  
  5. How long was the meeting?
  6. Did Mayor George or others take any notes?
  7. What is the name of the corporation whose representative(s) you met with?
  8. Who are the beneficial owners of that corporation?
  9. Please provide all of the calendar entries, time records, notes, emails and handouts.
  10. Did Mayor George ever communicate with the City Attorney about the meeting?  Please provide documents.
  11. Did Mayor George speak to the City staff about the meeting?  Please provide documents.
  12. What was the purpose of the meeting?
  13. What was the agenda for the meeting?  Please send.
  14. What disclosure or documentation was there of the meeting prior to its being mentioned at the March 19, 2018 workshop meeting?
  15. What legal authority or precedent is there for a Mayor meeting with a prospective vendor in a jurisdiction that has a City Manager form of government?
  16. Mayor George stated that CFO Melissa Burns said no competitive bidding would be required because the prospective vendor would charge 35 cents to each automobile drive for each transaction and that the City would not be purchasing anything.  Please provide the legal basis for this supposition or conclusion and kindly provide any opinion from the City Attorney or the Attorney General consistent with Ms. Burns' ex parte "legal advice" to Mayor George, who is herself a licensed attorney.
  17. What City of St. Augustine purchasing rules apply to meetings between Commissioners and prospective vendors?
  18. What City Charter provisions apply?
  19. What ethics opinions apply?
  20. How might City policies, practices and procedures be improved, clarified or amended in the future concerning meetings between Commissioners and prospective vendors?
  21. Does Mayor Undine George plan on having any more meetings with prospective vendors?   If so, will she seek advance legal opinions and direction from fellow Commissioners?
Please call me to discuss.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: comugeorge <>; braddatz <>
Sent: Fri, Mar 23, 2018 4:07 pm
Subject: Re: Request No. 2018-70: Parking app research, meetings and discussions

Dear Mayor George and Ms. Raddatz:
Please provide all documents on Mayor George's meeting with app developer, including calendar notations, notes, e-mails, etc. 
Thank you. 
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

SJC Commission and Planning and Zoning Agency Are All Republicans -- EVERY SINGLE ONE

St. Johns County CommissionVice Chair Paul Waldron seemed a little bit sensitive March 20th when I pointed out that Catherine Hawkinson Guevarra was running for the County Commission seat being vacated by JAY MORRIS, and that both Commission and the Planning and Zoning Agency are all-white, all-male and all-Republican.  Touchy.  They're all politicians -- if they can't stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen, as President Harry S Truman said it best.

Not one of these Republicans has the guts to stand up to Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and request audits or investigations of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Four Star Association, Inc.  SHOAR has made retaliation into performance art, destroying careers of every single County Commissioner who ever questioned his bloated budget.

Not one has spoken out about the Michelle O'Connell case.  Like five Pontius Pilates, they wash their hands of Open Records violations by corrupt County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK and PATRICK FRANCIS McCORMACK.

Not one has requested that the Sheriff, Clerk of Courts and Comptroller, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector and Property Appraiser -- our constitutional officers -- submit their budget by May 1 each year, so that we can scrutinize them at the County Administrator's Budget Hearing.

In a letter to the Record, former St. Johns County Commission Chair Mary Kohnke once pointed out that Commission is requiring all board appointments to be Republicans.  The Commission's corrupt 2016 mishandling of Karen Zander's application proves they would rather violate the Sunshine law to stick BRADLEY NELSON back on PZA after his unsuccessful race for Property Appraiser than appoint an independent-minded woman.

Not only are PZA members all known Republicans, but at least three of them are Republican politicians, having run for office as Republicans or worked as political staff for Republican officeholders (BRADLEY NELSON, JON WOODARD and ROY ALAIMO).

How did they do this?  Read civil rights complaint here, including how in 1998, St. Johns County abolished electing five of seven Commissioners from single-member districts, reduced number of Commissioners from seven to five, and requiring all five Commissioners to run county-wide.

This crime against democracy was without benefit of a decennial census, intended to eliminate the possibility of electing an African-American Commissioner and vastly increased the effect of money in politics, allowing beastly big-spending developers to choose Commissioners, which they proceeded to do under THE ISSUES GROUP, run by SYD PERRY, wife of longtime corrupt Sheriff NEIL PERRY (a former Democrat, who directed all county elected officials to switch their party registrations to Republican, anticipating a shift in voter registration as Ponte Vedra built out).

No diversity here, in  corrupt St. Johns County where the heroic late Florida folklorist and KKK infiltrator Stetson Kennedy told me that all KKK members became Republicans, a place that Ben Rich, Sr. told Folio Weekly in 2008 was "one of the last bastions of the Ku Klux Klan."

This is the year that We, the People propose to re-establish democracy in St. Johns County, by electing Democrats like Catherine Hawkinson Guevarra.

Planning & Zoning Agency 

The Board meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 1:30 p.m. in the County auditorium at 500 San Sebastian View, St. Augustine, Florida 32084. The Planning and Zoning Agency is comprised of seven members representing all districts, each serving a four-year term, with a limit of two consecutive four-year terms. PZA Rules and Procedures
Staff Contact:
Kyle Doty, Administrative Coordinator
P: (904) 209-0579

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Board Members
Roy Alaimo
District: 5
Position: Member
Term Expires: 06/06/21
Jeffrey R. Martin
District: 3 
Position: Member
Term Expires: 10/04/19
Jon Woodard
District: 3 
Position: Vice-Chair
Term Expires: 10/04/19
Mike Koppenhafer
District: 4 
Position: Chair
Term Expires: 02/21/21
Archie B. Wainright
District: 5 
Position: Member
Term Expires: 06/06/21
Brad Nelson
District: 1
Position: Member
Term Expires:  09/02/18
Dr. David Rice
District: 5 
Position: School Board Rep
Term Expires: 07/01/18