Monday St Augustine hears from Fiorentino Group

In a December 16, 2011 article titled, “St Augustine fundraising choices questioned”, Historic City News reported on the pending expiration of an outside contract between the City of St Augustine and political campaign fundraiser and lobbying firm, The Fiorentino Group.

Readers have questioned the judgment of the contract, which Historic City News published, especially in light of the fact that, as of that date, no money had been raised by the Group.

The City appears, to some, as throwing away another $15,000 on the dream of raising money — this time with Fiorentino. “We are planning a celebration that may never happen,” one Historic City News reader wrote.

Thus far, the private First America Foundation contract, new hire, consultant hire and reassignment of a city department head, travel expenses, potential legal expenses and now The Fiorentino Group contract, collectively have little, if anything, to show the city in exchange for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been thrown their way.

The agenda for Monday night’s regular City Commission meeting includes a presentation by Allison Defoor representing “The Fiorentino Group”. In the previously published engagement letter from The Fiorentino Group, received by City Commissioner Bill Leary from John Finotti, the signer, T. Martin Fiorentino, says that he, his agency, Access Public Relations, and another entity, Tucker/Hall, which collectively he refers to as “the TFG Team”, will provide certain specific work.

Leary forwarded the contract to City Manager John Regan on July 20th. No competitive bids were considered prior to its execution or commencement on August 1, 2011. The contract expires on January 31, 2012. It is unknown if the commission or City Manager will extend the contract.

“Access Public Relations” contractually agreed to:

1. Seek to raise several hundred thousand dollars in public and private funding for the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Spain’s Constitution and St. Augustine’s unique association with the anniversary.

2. Explore federal and state grants and appropriations, especially from Florida agencies such as Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida, Florida Humanities Council and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

3. Explore and seek corporate sponsorships to further help underwrite the cost of the 200th Anniversary events and marketing. These entities include Florida Hispanic Bar Association, companies wishing to reach the growing Hispanic market and Hispanic owned companies looking to celebrate their heritage and contributions to this great country.

4. Assist the city of St. Augustine in creating and managing St. Augustine’s celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Spain’s Constitution with events such as an official rededication of the St. Augustine’s Constitution Monument, creation of a mold of the monument to present as a gift to the Spanish government and an academic symposium exploring the role of the Spanish constitution on the development of the Western Hemisphere’s legal system, featuring prominent legal scholars and justices, perhaps including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

If you are planning to attend — the regular St. Augustine City Commission meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. Monday and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3) and is streamed over the Internet.

Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News archive photograph

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