According to published figures offered by the City of St Augustine, since October 1, 2009, those in charge of your tax-funded checkbook have admitted to spending $3,649,525 on anything-but the health, safety, and welfare of those who paid those taxes.
Only months before September 8th, when the consequences for six years of lies and broken promises can no longer be evaded, the public is told that the City is handing off responsibility to produce the three-day street and musical festival in the downtown area.
This latest example of dereliction of financial and managerial duty is proffered as a “collaboration” with St Johns County’s Cultural Events Division, and this is not the first time.
After former Mayor Joe Boles and City Manager John Regan romanced the promoter of the “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover” to select St Augustine for the September 2013 concert, the Cultural Events Division had to be called in when the amateurish staff at city hall realized they were “in over their heads”.
Because of the idealistic plans concocted during a clandestine, un-publicized, night-on-the-town between Boles, Regan, and the concert promoter, the City found themselves on the hook for a reported $50,000 to induce Amphitheatre General Manager Ryan Murphy to bail them out.
Ryan Murphy appears to understand most facets of entertainment management, and anyone who has been to a show recently at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is familiar with the level of professionalism Murphy’s team exhibits.
In the “over-promise, under-deliver” style that has become the signature of the City’s management of the 450th Commemoration, under the direction of Dana Ste. Claire, the City has to admit that they were unable to secure entertainment for the street and musical festival on their own.
Murphy and the Cultural Events Division’s assistance is centered on three days of music on multiple stages scattered through the city’s downtown historic district. We have not been told how much the “collaboration” will cost this time.
Further, last month, Regan announced that the Chief of Police, Loran Lueders, had been re-purposed to “Project Manager” for this “culminating event” of the 450th Commemoration. The police chief said in a city commission meeting Monday, March 23rd, that he is spending 60% of his time working on the planned three-day street and musical festival in the downtown area.
Multiple stages will be located in a “pedestrian-only” area bounded by Orange Street, Cordova Street, Cathedral Place, and Avenida Menendez. The pedestrian-only area will be in place on Friday September 4th, Saturday September 5th, and Sunday September 6th, from 6:00 p.m. until approximately 11:00 p.m. based on a safety assessment by the police department. A fireworks display over Matanzas Bay is scheduled Saturday night.
A large audience area will be located at Ponce Circle, just east of the Plaza de la Constitution, where alcohol purchases and outdoor alcohol consumption will be permitted.
For the realists who weren’t buying when former Mayor Joe Boles was selling the “450th fairytale” that we should expect an “Olympics” scale event, or that the Pope, or King and Queen of Spain are participating, there was enough of the nearly $4 million spent to pay for an anniversary birthday cake — even though we were forced to pay the price of Cristal champagne and Beluga caviar.