Instant 450th Commemoration – just add money

During the Monday night meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, Historic City News reporters heard more of the same news from the commissioners — the 450th is long on ideas and short on cash to accomplish them.

The federal 450th Commemoration Commission was in town last week for a much ballyhooed photo opportunity in conjunction with one of their secret, closed-door meetings and an invitation to pray at the amphitheater before the glorious leader, Bill Clinton.

Politicians doing what politicians do best — have their pictures taken.

Here we are, another year since we started planning the four-years of ongoing celebration that were supposed to pack the City with wallet-bulging tourists. We are another year deeper in debt for the privilege of it, and at the end of the first quarter, of the first year, of the celebration of a 200 year-old Spanish Constitution — that Ferdinand VII abolished two years after it was signed.

When former Washington, D.C. staffer and City Commissioner Bill Leary made his report Monday night, revealing the bad news that there will be no funding for the federal commission again this year, it really called into question what has been peddled for truth to the taxpayers here; as far back as the earliest 450th cheerleading squad — and, that included Leary.

Just because a congressional committee is formed, even if the enabling legislation provided for the committee to be paid, if, and until, appropriations are made from the ivory towers and hallowed halls of our nation’s capital, we will never see $1 of funding.

In the meantime, John Fraser, John Stavley and the crew at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park have accomplished much more than the City of St Augustine, any of its boards, commissions, consultants, foundations, fundraisers, partners and allies combined, to prepare themselves to capitalize on next year’s celebration of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida.

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