Speakers before the Carriage Workshop

Historic City News local reporters listened to 45 minutes of public comment in one and a half minute sound bites in a public workshop with members of the St. Augustine City Commission last night prior to their regular meeting.
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The attorney who represented Murphy McDaniel in his lawsuit against the city, Paul Meredith, says that he has not been paid his legal fees, even though he still supports the cause of McDaniel and Avalon Carriage Service Inc. Meredith claims that his lien against Avalon Carriage prevents the city or other creditors from doing anything with the permits until he is paid.
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Sean Sheppard is the attorney representing 75 year-old Frederick James Canevari who reportedly loaned Murphy McDaniel over a million dollars to buyout the competitor who McDaniel had complained held a city-sanctioned monopoly. Now McDaniel holds 43 of the 46 issued carriage permits in St. Augustine.
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Who didn’t speak at the workshop was Avalon Carriage Service Inc. owner Robert Murphy McDaniel — he attended the workshop but was silent during the meeting. His attorney, Rob Cook, spoke briefly saying that his client “was shocked” when he saw the proposed ordinance published in the newspaper. According to sources at the city, in the past, when they have reached out to McDaniel to discuss changes in the permitting process, they say McDaniel would not participate taking the position that, in so many words, if the city changes anything about the process, he intends to sue.
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An experienced horseman and friend to animals, Linda Papagna from Orange Park, said she was aware of the methods used with Avalon Carriage’s horses and that the city should inspect the stables and hack stands more closely for evidence of neglect. Papagna said that she disapproves of the horse-drawn carriage tours, drawing boos from the crowd. Mayor Boles jokingly told the Chief of Police to be sure Ms. Papagna got an escort to her car.
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Former St. Augustine carriage driver, 83 year-old C.B. Hinson also spoke against the way horses were treated by the drivers and carriage company — saying that the horses had only small amounts of water and were subject to overheating during the summer months. Hinson did not approve of the way single operators have been allowed to monopolize the carriage permits.
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Chris Fulmer objected to the idea of city employees running the hack stands for the carriage operators as proposed in the draft ordinance. Fulmer told commissioners that she objects to any regulations that would put the carriage operators out-of-business.
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Former Sheriff Francis M. O’Loughlin, Jr., has owned and operated a ranch in St. Johns County for many years and was, at one time, a St. Augustine City Police patrolman who was familiar with the operation of the horse-drawn carriages, the tour operators, and carriage drivers. He says that the city should “move on”, support the carriages, and continue to permit them in a simple, easy way.
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73 year-old, Philip B. Genovar related a story about a horse-drawn carriage that was once used to promote the city — agreeing with those who feel that the carriages are something tourists have come to expect when they visit St. Augustine.
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Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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