Editorial: Is there hope for elected public officials?

Michael Gold, Editor in Chief
HISTORIC CITY NEWS


This week the St Johns County Commission handled the people’s business with distinction.  In a couple of bold moves that restored my faith in the ability of our elected officials to do the right thing for the right reason, I applaud Chairman Jeb Smith and newcomer Jeremiah Blocker.

In a climate where well financed development interests, their lawyers, and their lobbyists have their way with local government, Historic City News readers may have a reason to celebrate.  Don’t abandon all hope just yet.

I am fortunate and thankful to have lived on Vilano Beach during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Those were simpler times.  People who lived here, raised their families here, and made their living here, never conceived of a time when an administrator would consider a plan to charge residents to use the beaches.  And, if that day ever did come, we had elected officials in our city and county who would act quickly and with resolve to correct the problem.

Two separate matters came to a head this week; the closing of Mickler’s Landing to accommodate construction workers and a plan to contract for paid parking at beach accesses and boat ramps.

For years I’ve watched as rival interests tried to rationalize that a paid parking system would provide the unbudgeted funding needed to support beach maintenance projects.  A combined on-beach and off-beach pass would have cost residents $100.00.  To park at boat ramps, there would have been an added annual pass costing $50.00.  It was refreshing to see commissioners vote 5-0 to reject the plan with Republic Parking System.

  • Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker said he had concerns about the burden being added to residents.  “I think we have other means and other avenues to approach this.”
  • Commissioner Jeb Smith questioned whether the county needed beach parking revenue, “especially when we have a $15 million surplus. I have a real issue moving forward with something that appears not to be necessary.”

St Augustine Beach has been considering a paid beach parking system as well, but it’s city commission decided to wait for the county to settle on its parking system.

In the Mickler’s Landing fiasco, neighbors became furious with the county when the ramp and parking was closed to residents and beachgoers for a private sand dune renourishment project.  That’s a problem said District 2 Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker, who represents the Mickler’s area.

The truth gives me comfort; because, not only did these elected officials back the individual residents Tuesday, halting the paid beach-parking plan, and reversing the closing of Mickler’s, but they also fired our over-bearing, over-paid, abusive county administrator.  Way to hold our leaders accountable.

“It was apparent that in the last year or so, Wanchick lost his ability to manage staff,” said Blocker.

6 Comments

  1. How about being part of the solution and running for office if it’s so easy. Or just keep bring an arm chair quarterback with no skin in the game, and just complain.

    There is a reason many people don’t run for office, it’s a hard job. You can’t make everyone happy, there are two sides to every decision, and the side that doesn’t win always whines and complains rather than than be civil.

    On this day after Thanksgiving, be thankful someone is willing to do the job you aren’t.

    Or the job other people don’t think you can do so they don’t elect you.

  2. How about looking into who is being held accountable for the Butler Boat Ramp nightmare, it was suppose to open Feb 2019 and here we are still waiting for it to open. Had this been a private company operation, someone would have been fired for the incompetence displayed in the managing of this effort. Delve into this and you will find incompetence throughout this effort as well as acceptance of mediocrity. Thanks in advance for your effort to expose Government’s lack of accountability.

  3. The recent immediate FIRING of County Administrator Michael Wanchick was WRONG and State Law was not followed. County Attorney Patrick Cormack cited to the Commissioners the Law. The State of Florida Law stated that a PROPER NOTICE must be given in firing a County Administrator in the State of Florida. NO NOTICE was given and therefore the County Administrator Wanchick was WRONGED!
    And the PUBLIC WAS also NOT PROPERLY NOTIFIED … all St Johns County Residents should have known with a LAWFUL PROPER Notice as to this VERY IMPORTANT DECISION. Maybe County Commissioners would of HEARD more than what ONE ROOKIE COUNTY COMMISSIONER from Ponte Vedra was Complaining about. After all … Young Blocker is a ROOKIE and the REASON seems very small.

    After viewing this UNLAWFUL FIRING on YouTube, I am even more DISTURBED that a ROOKIE County Commissioner, who is also an Attorney would VIOLATE the Florida Law and in the SAME PROCESS CHEAT the County Residents out of any INPUT! What if the Law was NOT BROKEN and the Firing was properly Noticed?
    What if a couple hundred of St Johns County Residents showed up and talked about HOW THE County ADMINISTRATOR MICHAEL WANCHICK Did and DOES an AWESOME JOB? Maybe the Residents could have convinced County Commissioner aka ROOKIE BOY BLOCKER to withdraw his Firing Motion? Maybe the four other County Commissioners would have HEARD enough to convince them NOT to go along with the Rookie Commissioner from Ponte Vedra.

    I GUESS WILL NEVER KNOW NOW … and whether a County Resident liked or disliked the County Administrator Michael Wanchick … they all should KNOW … Mr Wanchick had his Lawful Rights to a FAIR HEARING Violated!

    which in turn … CHEATED ALL us st johns county Residents!

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