Questioned by commissioners, Sheriff Shoar “lawyers up”

When questioned by members of the St Johns County Commission about his premature use of property owned by the county, peevish Sheriff David B Shoar did not attempt to discuss why he seemingly overstepped his authority to begin construction of a multi-million-dollar training complex; instead, he notified the county attorney that all further communications with him on the matter are to be sent to “Mr. Rutledge Liles and Mr. Michael Lee, both of The Liles Firm in Jacksonville, Florida”.

During a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, held on March 19, 2019, individual Board members expressed concerns regarding the lack of readily available details about the work that had been completed at the training facility site. Noting the importance of government compliance with laws, policies, established procedures and accountability for the use of public funds, County Attorney Patrick F McCormack asked Clerk of Court Hunter S Conrad to coordinate with his office and to “gather additional information from the Sheriff’s Office” to address several specific concerns.

Conrad was requested to ask Shoar for the following:

  1. Specifically describe all work related to development, design, and construction of the proposed Sheriff’s Office training facility that has been completed at the project site. This information should also include any work related to the development, design, and construction of any access roads located on or at the site.
  2. Describe all procurement procedures followed in selecting each vendor/contractor that has completed work related to development, design, and construction of the proposed Sheriff’s Office training facility. Such information should include the name of the vendor/contractor; vendor/contractor proposal(s); the service provided; the date that the work was completed; any invoices; and payment records.
  3. Provide all information related to any land clearing and tree removal or harvesting completed at the site as well as any information related to the sale of timber removed from the site. Such information should include but is not limited to authorizations, approvals, receipts, purchase orders, required permits and proposals.
  4. Identity all permits, authorizations and/or approvals required by local, state and federal authorities required to complete the work at the site. Provide copies of all such permits, authorizations and/or approvals that were secured in completing the work.

Historic City News editor, Michael Gold, was quoted by Pulitzer Award winning journalist Walt Bogdanich in a front-page article describing Shoar, published on June 17, 2017 in the New York Times.  “He demands absolute authority and does not like to be questioned by anyone,” Mr. Gold said.  It appears that the sheriff is performing true to form at county taxpayer’s expense.

“In summary, I reject the substance of your letter and I will not participate. If the Board of County Commissioners, an individual Commissioner, or you, has an allegation or reasonable belief that waste, fraud, abuse, or misconduct has or is occurring regarding this project, I urge you and your clients to be very specific and to memorialize those concerns in writing. Then and only then, will the Office of Sheriff participate in any form of review by the Board of County Commissioners.”

David B Shoar, St Johns County Sheriff