At the heart of continuing acrimony, City Commissioner Leanna Freeman is behaving like a juvenile; pouting when she doesn’t get her way. Apparently she doesn’t like that Joe Boles was defeated and that our new mayor, Nancy Shaver, is asking difficult questions, demanding transparency and accountability.
According to the title of a letter to the editor published today, Freeman is seemingly conceding that Mayor Shaver’s popularity can be trumped — ostensibly by her own problem-solving skills. You can argue that Leanna Freeman, a local lawyer, does have the personality of a glass of curdled milk; but, problem-solving skills? Really?
She has been sitting in an overstuffed leather chair, behind a bulletproof shield, with the blank, glazed-over stare of a disgruntled postal worker, for more than six years now. We have substantially MORE problems in St Augustine today than we had when she took office. Where is the problem-solving on real issues like encroaching venues for weddings and other events, the 7-Eleven debacle in North City, Riberia Point, or finding a compromise to clashes between residents, business owners, and developers who see the City as their next conquest?
The reality is that instead of showing us those problem-solving skills by fixing some of the zoning challenges in our residential neighborhoods, entry corridors, and congestion problems that negatively impact all of us, she’s busied herself more with taxpayer-paid junkets to Spain (she’s been on three already and planning to go again this year) and the elitist social class to which she aspires, complete with $400 a couple taxpayer-paid Noche de Gala tickets, and carrying water for her fair-haired boy and his runaway spending on the embarrassing excuse for a multi-million dollar taxpayer bailout for the 450th Commemoration.
Freeman also took a passing shot at how the mayor is elected in St Augustine, saying it could “probably use changing”. Mayor Shaver is not the person who came up with the idea of a candidate specifically running for mayor. It was fine for eight years while her mate held the seat, but now, she hails that “all commissioners are equal”.
Well, all commissioners do have one vote, but there is still only one “mayor”. The mayor is both ceremonial and she is the highest ranking elected public official in the City. It is the mayor who leads the city commission meetings, signs the official documents for the City, and makes official appearances on behalf of the City. And, of course, the mayor is paid more than other commissioners.
Again, Freeman’s been there more than six years. What is she waiting for?
When former mayor Joe Boles was a “regular commissioner” in 2004, it was he who lobbied for the referendum that appeared on the ballot in St Augustine during the 2006 Election; designating “Seat 3”, a two-year seat, as “mayor”. Referendum 2006-17 went to the voters when the commission included Joe Boles, Don Crichlow, Susan Burk, Errol Jones, and then mayor, George Gardner. The referendum passed and took effect in 2008. Boles would be the first mayor chosen directly by the voters; a seat he would hold until the 2014 General Election, when he was defeated by the first woman mayor chosen directly by the voters.
We will never see improvement if we cling to the status quo of past political cronyism. Freeman needs to either get over herself or improve her contrary attitude, or, if she is just that miserable with the people’s choice of mayors, she needs to resign the remainder of her term.