Letter: Politics comes to the beach
Clay R. Seay
St Augustine, FL
Dear Historic City News editor:
Recently, the St. Augustine beach City Commissioners voted themselves into the City healthcare system, saying it was discrimination if they were not allowed participation as City employees.
This amounts to a 100% raise to them and a 70% bonus to their dependents, which are not elected officials. Their pay for the year amounts to about $ 6500 and this Health Care Program, paid 100% by the City, read you, the taxpayer, is over $7000 each and at 70% for their dependents that is an additional $4900. This is outrageous behavior by local, small-town politicians. Times the 5 commissioners & dependents, that could be almost $60,000 per year from the City Budget.
Yet, it happened, as Mayor Rich O’Brien, who along with his wife own multiple properties including the Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf Course, La Fiesta Falls Ocean Inn & Hotel, Beachfront B&B, the two homes on F Street that are currently facing review for violating the building line setbacks, plus many more rental properties in St Augustine Beach, voted for and has already indicated his desire to take advantage of the program for he & his wife. It is not like O’Brien and his wife, Laura Ringhaver (yes that Ringhaver) need the taxpayers help. O’Brien is also a licensed REALTOR and is required to take an Ethics Class for license renewal and this behavior indicates he needs a refresher course.
Then there is Undine George, married to Eddie George, a previous beach Commissioner. Undine, an Attorney who introduced the suggestions as a last-minute meeting agenda item for discussion and that took off into a motion and the passing of the inclusion of the Board Members onto the taxpayers back. A simple records search shows the George’s own several homes and an office at the Beach. Does it sound like they need our taxpayer money? Who has forgotten the voter fraud issue with her father years ago and the recent lawsuit against O’Brien for campaign violations, which he was found guilty and paid a fine?
Gary Snodgrass and his wife live in gated Sea Colony in a 2 million dollar home, have second home in Marsh Creek, a third home in Lions Gate plus a rental beach condo. Snodgrass came to town several years ago and has been a commissioner far too long. Anyone remember when he gave the Second Street parking lot to the Sea Colony Garden Club? It sounds like they need the money too for their health care. NOT!
Margret England, new to the Commission also lives in the gated Sea Colony neighborhood in a 3,ooo sq. ft. home. Any sympathy for her situation yet?
Margret Kostka is also new to the Commission and not much can be found in public records search, but association with an ice cream store was listed when she ran for office. Again, a working business owner with the same access to health care as many of us have. Is it right for her to accept taxpayer Health Care for a part time elected official job that she wanted? I think NOT.
When these Commissioners ran for office, several of them many times, they all knew healthcare was not a perk of the job. So, they voted it for themselves. Easy solution. Not so fast !
So, a few questions.
- What happens when they leave office?
- Does the healthcare continue and at what rate?
- What about past commissioners?
- Can they make a case that they should have been included and sue the City for inclusion as past city employees?
The beach residents, citizens and taxpayers should revolt against them in the upcoming June 5th commission meeting at 6:00 p.m. I’ll see you there !