Editorial: Judging city administration and demanding accountability

Editorial: Judging city administration and demanding accountability

Michael Gold, Editor in Chief

Today was the day. The first day when our Mobility Consultant held an open house and invited everyone to take a look from the inside at our controversial 15-member Mobility Task Force in action. What a disappointment.

We know that before City Manager John Regan fled the country, on a three-week family vacation to Spain, he dropped the bomb on eleven city neighborhoods that 40% of the task force members will not even live in the City of St Augustine. They could recommend whatever they like because they have to neither pay for its implementation costs, nor live with the consequences.

375-2-MOBILITY-TASK-FORCEThe junior city manager, Timothy Burchfield, is afraid to interfere with Regan’s appointments while he is away; despite seeing and feeling the tension caused by the immediate community blowback. Tell me again why we need an assistant city manager on the payroll for $134,050.48 when he is unable or unwilling to act in the city manager’s absence?

Then there are the conflicts; appointments of cronies, relatives, and perceived “yes men”. Even sitting City Commissioner Todd Neville gets the inside voice to advance his own mobility agenda through the appointment of his wife, Heather.

375-1-MOBILITY-TASK-FORCEAnd we see how important the roll-out and kick-off is when Heather Sutherland-Neville rolls in this afternoon. You don’t convey a very professional appearance when you are dressed in short-shorts and look like you are headed to a wiener roast and keg party at the beach later.

We’ve committed $108,000 so far and we are not out of Phase 1. I guess a diligent search provided no local consultant with experience in traffic project management? Maybe someone who is not an engineer? Maybe not a Tennessee company relying on three or four sub-contractors to fulfill their commitment to our residents? Sub-contractors whose rates are passed through to the City after they are marked up nearly three-times their hourly rate?

The outcome remains to be seen, but the livability in St Augustine is inextricably tied to mobility within the city. If the city administration is unable to return some tangible benefit after all of the roughshod handling of the taxpayers and residents in the process, I say it’s time to look for some new asses to sit in those overstuffed chairs.

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