For four years, Benjamin A. Rich, a former federal agent, served a term on the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners while Historic City News local reporters documented his somewhat bizarre behavior, heavy-handedness, flamboyant attire, and kooky, crackpot sense of logic.
On January 6, 2008, Thomas G. Manuel, who is currently serving time in a federal prison on public corruption charges, convicted for accepting cash bribes while in office, wrote about Rich, “We, the Board of County Commissions of St. Johns County, faced numerous opportunities in 2006-2007 and with the help of Commissioners Ben Rich and Ron Sanchez we implemented a very aggressive 100-day plan.”
Rich is publicly writing his opinions, again. This makes twice, in less than three weeks, that his political opinions have been published by a local newspaper — the same newspaper whose editor has tried to rehabilitate the reputation of the criminal, Tom Manuel.
Many have characterized Former Commission Chairman Manuel as the ringleader of the three-vote-cartel that included Ben Rich; before Rich lost his bid for re-election and Manuel went to federal prison.
Stevenson is wrong in criticism of Wanchick
By BEN RICH
Over the bedroom door of the 6 year old that his Nana and I are raising is a sign that reads, “Thou Shalt Not Whine.” It has been there since he was battling the “terrible 2s” and he is mostly cured of the ugly habit. We are still working on other positive adult attributes such as telling the truth, accepting responsibility, along with the value of trust, honor and integrity, the building blocks of solid character.
Which brings me to the point of this commentary; the latest ugly whining tirade in print made by Cyndi Stevenson.
Cyndi achieved office through the financial backing of The Issues Group, a band of mega-development special interest people who, prior to their exposure and subsequent immediate disbandment, cherry-picked political hacks selected by its executive director, Syd Perry, the wife of our former Sheriff (see article by Peter Guinta, S/A Record Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004). Criteria for selection were based on support of special interest development projects lacking infrastructure solvency at the expense of taxpayers. In other words, prior to getting in the door to controlling your county coffers, she had already sold you out!
Elected office should be entrusted to people as who have a basic understanding of government and appreciate the freedoms provided by its separation of powers.
Getting a clear separation of power from legislators like Stevenson (others backed by The Issues Group included Commissioners Stern, Bryant, Maguire and Jacalone) and what amounted to a puppet administrative branch of government required an informed voter base and firm voter resolve. The result is that today, WE have 4 fine commissioners and Cyndi.
For 3 ½ years we have had a consummate professional in charge of our Administrative Branch of government, Michael Wanchick, a man with over 30 years of experience selected from the cream of the available crop of applicants during a nationwide search for the most qualified. Unlike a previous administrator, he is not some flunky void of experience going into the job, willing to be a puppet of politicians and armed with a mail order degree. He has invested in himself academically with two Master Degrees (University of South Florida, Public Administration/Urban Planning & Business Administration) on his resume from a nationally accredited university. He was the pick of the litter challenged to run our county and was hired with the unanimous support of all 5 commissioners. People like Mike are rare. He was the best available, NATIONWIDE!
As our representative, Cyndi should do everything in her power to assure that Mike understands OUR loyalty to him and assure that he has the flexibility to do whatever is necessary to meet the direction of the commission without interference by politicians with hidden agendas. Four of MY commissioners understand this simple principle. Where is Cyndi regarding the separation of powers issue? Whining because she can’t control the flow of our cash like The Issues Group flunkies that paved her way into office!
Cyndi, I am your boss. You are supposed to speak for us, the citizens. Your behavior is not child like; it is childish. Please be silent and refrain from abusing your position of trust. Listening to your endless drivel every two weeks is painful but having to read your immature nonsense adds an intolerable layer of suffering. It is bad enough that you are soaking up over $60,000 plus benefits of my tax money in salary each year but to watch you try to undermine the other commissioners and our county administrator is shameful.
Try to act more responsibly in the future, like my 6 year old.