Contract with First America Foundation

Historic City News continues to review the seven page contract between the City of St. Augustine, signed by Mayor Joe Boles, and First America Foundation, Inc., the private foundation on which Boles is a Board Member; that was created, some say, to avoid the requirements of public notice and public hearings.

At a fairly un-eventful event at the Lambias House this morning, now “acting” executive director, identified as “executive director” on the handouts, Jamie E. Alvarez, added only minimally to the information disseminated to the City Commission at their regular meeting on January 10th.

Historic City News readers, citizens, government employees, and, sitting Commissioners, have questioned the white-glove treatment that is being afforded the not-for-profit corporation who continues to operate on a hush-hush basis — even with some City officials. Commissioner Leanna Freeman has asked and been denied permission to attend a First America Foundation board meeting — as an observer, not a participant. Today, Edward A. Slavin, Jr., asked that if he would not be allowed to attend a board meeting, could he at least have access to written minutes after the meeting. He was likewise denied.

“Well, then, could we have the money back?”, Slavin asked; referring to the $275,000 that was paid by the City to Donald Wallis, an attorney with Upchurch, Bailey and Upchurch law firm and incorporator of First America Foundation, Inc.

Unfortunately, as we see in the contract, there is very little if anything the City can do about the money that was inexplicably paid in advance. A former City Attorney was asked if he had ever heard of such a practice, he replied, “Government doesn’t pay in advance. The services are provided first, a bill is presented, if the work was satisfactorily completed, the vendor is paid — but, never paid beforehand.”

The contract, in its entirety, unedited, is made a part of this report.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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