Gardner: Procedure preempts people

Former St Augustine Mayor and Fullerwood Park Historic District resident George Gardner is continuing to take his fight to the legislature; rallying friends, neighbors and objectors to Senate Bill 1348, while castigating House Economic Affairs Committee Chair Dorothy Hukill.

Hukill, who Gardner has nicknamed the “30-second chair”, stood on a procedure that specifies “committee meetings are scheduled for specific beginning and end times except as extended by the Speaker” when she limited several St Augustine residents who appeared, in person, to express fear and concern that their homes could be taken through “eminent domain” if House Bill 1037 made it out of committee.

In an e-mail exchange between Gardner and the committee chair, he accuses Hukill of conducting her meeting in a manner in which “procedure preempts people”.

The House Economic Affairs Committee disregarded impassioned pleas from the residents who spent over seven hours in a 15-passenger van that day and traveled about 204 miles, each way, so that their voices could be heard by the elected officials who could have helped them. Instead, the Hukill committee allowed HB-1037 to be cleared for the House floor by granting its third house committee approval.

“The Senate version has been scheduled for the first of three committee reviews,” Gardner said. “A cadre of St Augustinians plans, once again, to journey to Tallahassee for the Education Pre-K-12 Committee meeting Tuesday, February 14, from 1:30-3:30 pm.”

Nelmar Terrace and Fullerwood Park are both low-intensity, residential neighborhoods listed as National Register Historic Districts that border the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind to the south and north, respectively. The sprawling campus encompasses about eighty-acres and extends across roughly three or four blocks from San Marco Avenue east all the way through to Hospital Creek — a tributary to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

For information on joining the planned caravan, Gardner told reporters that interested citizens should contact Gina Burrell by calling 904-825-6746.

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