Monday offers glimpse of First America Foundation

Monday night, Historic City News local government reporters will watch as First America Foundation, Inc. Chairman Donald W. Wallis faces members of the St. Augustine City Commission – and the public – and may give some idea of how he is using the $275,000 in “seed money” he was given.

But, then again, he may not.

Although Wallis has been asked in the past to address the commission publically, so far, he has released sound bites to answer questions from the press and others who have spoken to Historic City News. There has yet to be a public accounting of the income and expenses of the private not-for-profit corporation that materialized out of thin air on July 13th.

If City Manager John Regan had not tapped Wallis to hold the six-figure celebration funds, we would still have accountability and oversight over those taxpayer funds; thanks to the requirements of Florida’s open public records laws.

Unfortunately, the public has no right to attend meetings of the artificial entity, First America Foundation, Inc., or to inspect their books, or to do any of the other things that could have been done so long as the City retained custody of its former quarter-million dollar operating money (and then some) for the 450th commemoration.

Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline got a wake-up call as to just how little the City has to say over this taxpayer-financed entity when she was denied a request to bless the bylaws of the Foundation in August. City Attorney Ron Brown told Sikes-Kline during the meeting that the city would not have that kind of control.

Nonetheless, Wallis is finally on the agenda for the regular meeting City of St. Augustine commission being held Monday, January 10, 2011, beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Alcazar Room, on the first floor of City Hall, located at 75 King Street.

The first quarterly report by First America Foundation, Inc., is scheduled to be aired during Staff Reports and Presentations.

For those who can’t attend, the meetings are aired live on Government Television (Comcast Channel 3) and are replayed at 9 a.m. the following Wednesday.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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