Lame duck sheriff to issue letter grades to elected county commissioners

St Johns County Sheriff David B Shoar, who does not intend to seek reelection, promises to “tell folks what they need to hear, not what they want to hear; regardless of any political expediency considerations”.

Probably the most controversial sheriff since Lawrence O. Davis in the 1970’s announced this week to the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners that he will judge the qualifications of each elected commissioner based on their voting history, public comments and their relationship with law enforcement officials … like himself.

This ill-advised move is clearly perceived as retaliation for a recent questionnaire by the Board asking for records that could demonstrate to what degree, if any, Shoar was complying with county policy and state law in selecting and paying vendors at the multi-million dollar training center off Ag Center Drive and how he was disposing of county assets from the jobsite as portions of the project are being completed.

Shoar immediately rebuked the request made through the county attorney’s office at the behest of the Board.  He “lawyered up”, refusing to answer any questions or to participate in the process and demanded that, should the county attorney, Patrick McCormack, have any further questions on the matter, to address them to his legal team in Jacksonville.

Judge not lest ye be judged. Matthew 7:1

Jesus warned you about making judgements hypocritically, Sheriff Shoar.  When Jesus spoke these words on the slopes surrounding the Sea of Galilee, He was telling us how to make judgments the right way and warning us about doing it the wrong way.

Shoar made the announcement publicly on Thursday that he will issue letter grades to the commissioners, three of whom are eligible for re-election next year; however, he did not give a definite date on which he will start, or on what intervals they would be issued.  He also did not offer any means to dispute the accuracy of the grades.

In his own inimatable style, Shoar pictures himself a latter-day King Solomon worthy to decree political consequences upon other elected county officials.  Like a scarlet letter, they will suffer letter grade of Shoar’s “public safety report card” unless he is satisfied that their “level of engagement with the Office of Sheriff” assists him to garner approval of those projects he sees as necessary for “protecting our citizens and visitors”.

Unfortunately, commissioners have resisted some of the Sheriff’s spending requests in recent years and have rejected putting a sales tax increase before voters on three different occasions.  Woe be to those who don’t vote favorably on the fourth occasion. I foresee bad grades in your future.


Commissioner Henry Dean was unfazed by the memo. “The only grade I care about is from the voters,” he said. “I certainly support law enforcement and the military… but the only grade I care about is on Election Day.”

Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker had not yet had a chance to read the memo, but said as a former prosecutor, “I feel like I have a pretty good relationship with law enforcement.” He would not say whether he welcomed or objected to being graded by the sheriff.

Commissioner Jeb Smith said, “I don’t want a public fight with the sheriff, but the only report card that matters to me is Election Day.” He added, “I don’t know what his impetus is and I don’t know what his desire is. This is his thing.” He would not speculate about what grade he might receive from the sheriff.

  • Commissioner Jimmy Johns declined to comment via a spokesperson
  • Commissioner Paul Waldron was unavailable
  • County Spokesperson Michael Ryan declined to provide a comment on behalf of the county
  • The sheriff was not immediately available for comment

If Shoar goes ahead with this delusional plan, what should be the consequences to him for judging his peers considering his own failings?  The botched homicide investigation of Michelle O’Connell, refusal to question Jeremy Banks as a suspect, the murder of Eli Washstock, the embezzlement of more than $750,000 from right under your nose by Raye Brutnel, failure to prosecute cases of domestic violence against battered wives of your deputies.  The list goes on.