Editorial: We have a debt to pay
Michael Gold, Editor in Chief
HISTORIC CITY NEWS
I’ve heard it said, “It’s a thrill to pay a bill”. The residents of the City of St Augustine have one that is coming due Tuesday, and I hope we are all prepared to pay it.
For the past two years, our publication has taken note of the behavior of four-out-of-five city commissioners; both publically and behind the scenes. Todd Neville, Nancy Sikes-Kline, Leanna Freeman, and Vice Mayor Roxanne Horvath have all behaved more like jilted prom dates who believe that they should have been made mayor, instead of the popularly elected leader of city government, Mayor Nancy Shaver.
The petty, juvenile behavior, storming out of meetings, marginalizing the Office of Mayor and Shaver by proxy, continually holding the mayor in check rather than supporting her pro-resident initiatives, or even giving them the respect to be properly aired and vetted, has been going on since the Boles ouster. Make no mistake, Boles feels that he is owed an ocean of political favors, and certainly he has suffered a blow to his enormous ego as the phone began to ring less and less seeking his approval; and, consequently, his relevance as a public figure slipped away at an alarming rate.
After eight depressing years of “status quo” leadership, driven by how well you were connected to a charismatic good ol’ boy, the citizens outgrew their infatuation with Joe Boles; the Pied Piper of Hamelin who led everyone down the 450th Commemoration path by means of false and extravagant promises, filling a multimillion dollar money pit, a million dollars at a time.
With amazing resolve and tacit approval, at best, from the other commissioners, Mayor Shaver pressed on for transparency and accountability in local government. She tried her best to improve the culture of governance at the city, even though she was hamstrung with a cast of department heads, hand-picked by the former city manager, Bill Harriss, and fiercely loyal to him and his accomplice, Joe Boles.
The mayor of St Augustine does not earn half the salary of a St Johns County Commissioner. Add to her actual responsibilities the burden of dealing with a city commission trying to personally undermine her at every turn, and you begin to understand the enormity of our debt to her for her service to our hometown.
Mayor Shaver is not serving as mayor to stroke her own ego or line her own pockets — we owe her two additional voices willing to listen to reason as well as the needs of citizens they all represent, and Tuesday, at the polls, we need to send her the help she needs to help us. Freeman has been one of the worst offenders and Horvath is incapable of independent, logical contributions to any discussion of city business or policy without consulting Neville or Freeman first and then reading her scripted response from a crib sheet.
When you vote to re-elect Mayor Nancy Shaver, please also vote for Ron Stafford to fill Seat 1, and Susan Rathbone to fill Seat 2. Our mayor has done her part. She needs help to deliver the reminder, not incessant badgering.