October 28 2020                                                                                                                               
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
History’s Highlight El Dia de los Difuntos The Day of the Deceased The "Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed" (Latin: Commemoratio omnium fidelium defunctorum) is the official name of this Catholic observance, commonly called "All Souls' Day." It commemorates All Souls, the souls of Christians who have died. On this day, observing Christians remember and honor their deceased loved ones. The annual celebration is held on November 2 and is the final day and culmination of the three days of Allhallowtide, which include All Saints' Day (November 1) and its vigil, All Hallows Eve (or "Halloween" - October 31). In Spain, this holiday is a three-day celebration known as El Dia de los Difuntos ("The Day of the Deceased) and is not only a time to honor the dead, but to celebrate the continuation of life. A unique feature of El Dia de Ios Difuntos in Spain is La Marcha de la Santa Compafia ("The March of the Holy Company"), a Spanish variation of Europe's age-old "Wild Hunt" legends. During this spectral season, the local spirits of the faithful dead rise from their resting places and march abroad in procession. The March of the Holy Company is led by a spellbound living person — male or female, depending on the parish's patron saint — carrying a cross and sometimes ringing a bell. Following this entranced innocent are the spirits of the dead, carrying lanterns, candles, or torches. Although these spirits may not always be seen, it is said that the approach of the Holy Company is heralded by howling dogs and fleeing cats. The smell of melted wax can be scented as the Holy Company passes by, accompanied by a sense of danger, to warn the living that the dead are present. To avoid becoming part of the Santa Compafia, a living person must lie flat on their face on the ground until the procession has passed, avoiding eye contact with the dead. They may also draw "Solomon's Circle" on the earth with salt and stand inside it. Another way for the living to evade the power of the Santa Compafia is to cross one's arms and cry "A cross I already have?' as the procession's living leader passes. This is especially true at crossroads, for the powers of the other-worldly are particularly potent in such locations.
Police body cams ‘in house’    Deployment in December after training Sixty Axon police body cameras “have been received and training has begun,” Police Chief Barry Fox told commissioners Monday. The annual cost is $152,387 for the ten-year contract, below the earlier estimate of $200,000. The contract includes automatic upgrades and replacements. Fox said the package includes new tasers and signal packs tying together cameras, tasers, sidearms and police vehicles. In addition, when a camera is activated, any other police unit within 50 feet will also activate. The system is linked to the 7th Judicial Circuit to help speed up the judicial system. The chief anticipates beginning use the first part of December. Among the features, after shift while the camera is recharging it is updating, and police can post an incident link that anyone with video or other information of an incident to upload to. Fox said a redaction assist revolutionizes preparation of public information while withholding privileged information, in one example showing a slide highlighting “outblocks” on a driver’s face and car tag and police computer. The system “automatically redacts everything not a part of public record,” Fox said. Order of the 60 cameras for 58 officers with two spares was fast-tracked after Chief Fox noted his department has handled 25 demonstrations in recent months. Of the use of police body cameras the chief said, “My position has always been that it’s not if but when the community wants us to go to body cams.”
Fall back Daylight saving time ends at 2 am Sunday, November 1, despite proposed legislation by Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to skip the upcoming time change, citing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The legislators said it would "provide one year of stability for families who are already dealing with enough change with virtual learning, work from home, and other disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has placed into our daily lives."
Campaign 2020 City Commission races The four candidates in the 2020 campaign for City Commission were asked to list their top three priorities. Leanna Freeman is completing her third term on the City Commission. She is a practicing attorney and is challenged by Flagler College Associate Professor of Natural Sciences Barbara Blonder. After serving as Commissioner during a recession, two destructive hurricanes, and now a pandemic I believe my experienced leadership continues to benefit our unique town. I see continuing to address flood issues, making innovative progress in mobility and prioritizing quality of life for our residents on a multitude of issues like conservation and advocating against institutional and commercial growth into our neighborhoods, as a few of our current top priorities. Quality of life - City residents deserve representatives who are experienced and willing to fight for their quality of life.  Whether it be limiting State Road cut throughs or challenging development by the College into residential neighborhoods, our town must remain a livable city.  For over 12 years I personally advocated against the development and for the successful $6.5 million purchase by the State of Fish Island.  Parks and conservation of land not only provide recreational space but act as natural flood buffers. Flooding - While we currently have over $28 million in flood mitigation projects, I will work to assure that we are granted additional funding to continue an aggressive approach to making our community more resilient against rising sea levels and natural disasters.  My home was flooded by both Matthew and Irma and this subject is very personal to me. Improving mobility remains a priority and current projects include bike lanes on San Marco Avenue, a bike trail to North City and additional shuttle service during peak periods.  Innovative projects include the 7-11 property purchase and our current pursuit of a train rail stop. Barbara Blonder is a Flagler College Associate Professor of Natural Sciences. She is challenging incumbent Commissioner Leanna Freeman for a commission seat. Fast track becoming proactive about seriously addressing our flooding problems. The recent Nor’easter underscores the fact that sea level rise and flooding aren’t quarantined. We spent ~$1 million of our taxpayer money on a park which failed its very first test on flood reduction.  We continue to take incremental steps rather than enact the bold initiatives that are necessary to meet this challenge. Our residents have already begun to move out of the City toward higher ground.  If we don’t meaningfully address this issue immediately, we cannot sustain our locally-based economy – systematically addressing flooding is absolutely critical to our future. Scrutinize accelerating development, judge the real impacts of re-zoning proposals and reinstate concurrency requirements. Recent unanimous Commission votes to increase zoning density cause increased burdens to our City’s residents who are facing a perfect storm of high taxes, traffic congestion, increased rates of flooding of homes and businesses and increasingly unaffordable housing. Our roads, freshwater resources, wastewater treatment and stormwater controls are overburdened, and our quality of life is decreasing as a result of the unbridled pace of development. Develop a more functional, collaborative relationship with the County. The City is the economic engine of this County and neither can thrive without working collaboratively. Our infrastructure is not meeting the challenges of our rates of growth. We must work together, leveraging our resources, to become a sustainable community. As a scientist and educator, I recognize the importance of working cooperatively and will prioritize solving our shared economic and infrastructure challenges together.  Roxanne Horvath is completing her second term on the City Commission. She is an architect and is challenged by Wade Ross. From my many years of public service to our community it is clear there are ever growing pressures on our city. In order to remain the “Longest Continually Occupied City” we need to pay close attention to the issue of Livability. Resiliency: Sunny day flooding, and events such as nor’easters and hurricanes drive it home how vulnerable we are to sea level rise. I have been involved with the major resiliency project the city is working on, the Lake Maria Sanchez. I have worked both to reduce the pump housing and in neighborhood outreach to help educate the importance of this work. This work will significantly improve a large section of our downtown area from flooding threats. We also need to address other low areas with natural systems and berms in the city. Mobility: With 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, our County growing, and being on the top lists of tourist destinations, we stand to have many more people visiting our City post pandemic. We need to mitigate visitor traffic by continuing shuttle service when needed, planning for satellite parking and future multi modal facilities to keep cars out of our neighborhoods and the Historic core. Workforce and Affordable Housing: My background serving on both the St. Johns County SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership program) and the North East Florida Regional Council’s Affordable Housing Board, along with my Architectural career, I am aware of the issues and challenges involved. I believe working with partners such as SJC (county) and private partners will be the best approach to achieving this recognized need. Also fighting for Legislative support. Wade Ross is a public school teacher. He is challenging incumbent Commissioner Roxanne Horvath for a commission seat. To ensure a safe and clean city for our residents and visitors to enjoy. There are a variety of concerns to address, including cleaning and sanitizing public spaces, funding and training a professional police force, and providing our officers with body cameras. First and foremost, though, we have a domestic terrorist who is threatening our community with violent threats of action and allowing armed members of Antifa into his ranks. This needs to be dealt with expeditiously using lawful means to ensure residents and visitors can enjoy our Historic St. Augustine. To address the flooding in Downtown, Davis Shores, and other areas of the City. The Commission should create immediate and realistic solutions to mitigate flooding, starting with routine maintenance and clearing of the drainage system and one-way valves. After evaluating failing or faulty drainage systems and correcting issues, we need to look at the best practices of mitigation in New Orleans and the Netherlands and apply the flood solution systems that will fit our needs. To commit to responsiveness, transparency, and accountability in the City government.   Meetings should be scheduled at times when the public are able to attend, all pertinent information should be provided to or be easily accessible by the public, and the City Commissioners should exercise a higher level of oversight of the City Government. 
Next for Fish Island: Temporary parking  With executed lease for Fish Island Preserve in hand, the City now will seek permission from the State to construct a 4-5 vehicle temporary parking area at the end of South Plantation Island Drive. Once that’s finalized the City will officially open the property to the public. “Fish Island Preserve is a rich natural and cultural resource for the City of St. Augustine,” says J.B. Miller, Land Management Coordinator. “We are very excited that we are now one step closer to being able to open this valuable resource to the public.”  Fish Island Preserve, located at the east end of the 312 Bridge, has trails, views and a rich cultural history. Public pressure saved the land from developers. Visit www.CityStAug.com/FishIslandPreserve
Help wanted - vacancies on citizen boards Plenty of opportunities to serve our community on various boards. Lincolnville Community Redevelopment Steering Committee has two vacancies as Sue Agresta declined to reapply due to her relocating and Nicolas Noloboff has served two full terms and is no longer eligible for reappointment. Police Officer’s Retirement System Board of Trustees needs a replacement for Dan Hilbert who is running for judge and so is ineligible for reappointment. Code Enforcement Adjustment and Appeals Board has four vacancies - William Masson has resigned after appointment to the Planning and Zoning Board and from this board; Charlu “Cece” Reigle, Tom Day and Larry Weeks all have term expirations and are able to reapply. Find city board applications here.