200th anniversary celebration of Spain’s constitution

After the special meeting at City Hall Monday and with only six weeks to go until 2012, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind in St Augustine is, “Will the City be able to pull off a successful 200th Anniversary celebration of Spain’s constitution on time?”

For the second time — first in partnership with Donald W. Wallis and Colin A. Bingham at First America Foundation, Inc., and now under a contract with John C. Finotti at Access Public Relations, LLC in Jacksonville; the City of St Augustine has hired a private contractor to do what city staff has been unable to do — raise the money needed to produce the first-of-four planned events under the umbrella of the “450th Commemoration”.

“It is my understanding that the Group has made numerous valuable contacts and has been promoting our upcoming celebrations,” Commissioner Leanna Freeman told Historic City News today. “However, the Group was retained for the specific purpose of finding sponsorship for our upcoming celebrations and to that end, they have thus far not been at all successful.”

In what has been described as the worst economic times since the late 1920′s, the City of St. Augustine has persisted in its quest for Olympic sized sponsors to finance four years-worth of high caliber events. So far, four sponsors have been recognized by the City Commission — Casa Monica, Solar Stiks, Florida Living History and Maritime Heritage Foundation.

“Access Public Relations has raised no money, Regan says.” read an article in today’s issue of the St. Augustine Report. Former Mayor George Gardner gave an admonition to the City in the article, “Memo to City Commission: Don’t pay fund-raisers in advance for fund-raising.”

Commissioner Bill Leary looked directly at City Manager John Regan during the 450th Workshop and summed up his displeasure with the report on the City’s latest fund-raising efforts saying, “I am very, very disappointed.”

In an e-mail informing him that staff and at least one commissioner alluded to disappointment in how the agreement with Access Public Relations, LLC is working out, Finotti replied:

“What staff? Which commissioner? No one has expressed disappointment to me.”

In the meantime, the City has already committed to producing two full-sized replicas from castings of the Spanish Constitution Monument in the Plaza — one for Aviles and the other for Cadiz, Spain.

A suggestion was floated during the workshop Monday that might involve the creation of a third replica of the obelisk; the City would likely have to front the money, but Regan said, over a period of three or four years, sponsorships from the Cuban community in Miami might offset the cost of the entire replication.

A copy of the six-page contract signed by Mayor Joe Boles and John C. Finotti was obtained from the Legal Department at City Hall today.

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