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Wallis credibility attacked during public comments

Editor | January 12, 2011

Historic City News reviewed the tape of Monday’s meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission when a local attorney with the firm of Upchurch, Bailey and Upchurch, had his financial credibility attacked by outspoken local gadfly, Maureen L. Ortagus.

Donald W. Wallis, who serves as Chairman of First America Foundation, Inc., and, was not at the meeting to offer any rebuttal, was accused by Ortagus of not paying his taxes. Ortagus distributed a printed copy of a document that she said confirms that Wallis was not paying his taxes; with copies given to each city commissioner and city staff.

Wallis was expected to be in attendance to present a report to the commission on the activities of the foundation that received $275,000 from the City for what has been identified as “seed money” for the non-profit organization that has contracted to provide leadership and coordination of the City’s 450th commemoration events.

Ortagus’ motivation for making such public accusations about Wallis’ financial credibility is unknown; however, her timing for such an attack seems apparent.

Ortagus, who does not live in or pay taxes to the City, sternly admonished the commission to do a “better job of choosing who is going to handle taxpayer’s money in the future”. Ortagus, seemed an odd messenger of such an admonition; since she was, herself, discharged as a bankrupt debtor on December 12, 2003, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville.

Prior to presentation of the foundation’s report by staff director Jamie Alvarez, City Manager John Regan and City Attorney Ronald W. Brown announced to the commission and audience that last year, Wallis took a dispute over the method the Internal Revenue Service used to calculate the amount of his tax liability to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Brown said that the dispute had to do with whether certain reported income should be taxed as “regular income” or “capital gain”. Brown said there was no indication that Wallis was attempting to evade payment of his taxes and that the action was not criminal in nature.

We found that in this matter, the court entered its judgment on August 11, 2010 as to the petition of Donald W. Wallis and Kathryn W. Wallis. On September 27, 2010, according to court records, the Wallis’ petitioned for a panel rehearing, however, on October 13, 2010, the court issued an order denying the request and the case was subsequently closed.

Wallis was the one to bring the dispute into court — not the other way around; as was inferred by Ortagus’ comments from the podium, and further, we found that the proper venue to appeal a ruling from the IRS is the US Court of Appeals.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

The Wallises did not report $112,721 of income in 2005 ($80,000 from earned fees, and $32,721 from capital disbursement) which was the payout from the law firm where he had worked from 1991 to 2003. He was a practicing tax attorney from 1968 to 2003.

The case is here: where the Wallises, as joint filers were found civilly guilty of not paying their just income taxes. They did stipulate that the $80,000 was regular income and should have been reported.

From the decision:
"Petitioner, as a tax attorney of long standing, should be familiar with this mechanism. To simply not report the income is not reasonable and does not show good faith."

They appealed - arguing that the non-reported $32,721 should be taxed as capital gains and not regular income and that they shouldn't have to pay a penalty for the $80,000 - a "de novo" investigation and new decision is here, affirming the first one:

From the decision:
"The Wallises do not challenge the finding that their underpayment was the result of negligence and disregard of the tax code or regulations and was a substantial underpayment."

Wallis tried to cheat the rest of the taxpayers and got caught - plain and simple.

However I don't see why that non-criminal offense is a bar to Wallis' work at First American Foundation, Inc. (although I have many criticisms of that group, and the commissioners who approved the taxpayers' dollars given to it).

In the 50 years (1955 to 2005) when I lived in/near St. Augustine on and off I've known many persons who got caught breaking civil and criminal laws, were convicted, paid their fines and did their times, and returned to be viable parts of the econoomic and political life of the county/city.

Bieramar wrote:
Wallis tried to cheat the rest of the taxpayers and got caught - plain and simple.

Just like Treasury Secretary Geithner, right?

auntmartymoo wrote:
Bieramar wrote:
Wallis tried to cheat the rest of the taxpayers and got caught - plain and simple.
Just like Treasury Secretary Geithner, right?

Exactly so, in fact they used the same defense and argument.  

Just like the hundreds of other private sector civilians, and elected and appointed government employees.

Civil crimes should not be a blanket bar to further private sector or government jobs in my opinion.

Putting a guy who cheats on his taxes in charge of the U.S. Treasury Dept. is insane.

Putting a tax cheat on a party planing committee...who cares?

Miss Piggy needs to find a new hobby.  Her failed attempts at engaging in the politics of personal destruction...are a tiresome bore.

Alvarez to head 450th fundraising foundation - Jamie Alvarez, 23, is now executive director

January 26, 2011

The First America Foundation, a nonprofit hired by city contract to head up four major upcoming celebrations, will have a news conference this morning to discuss leadership changes and its first major donor.

The organization will now be headed up by acting executive director Jamie Alvarez.

Alvarez, 23, had been the foundation's director of national and community relations until Jan. 18.

The city in August signed a contract with the foundation, giving the newly formed organization $275,000 to help it plan, organize and raise funds for the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution in 2012; the 500th anniversary of the founding of Florida in 2013; the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 2014 and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 2015.

So far, no other donations have been announced....

About Jamie Alvarez
* Worked for U.S. Senator Mel Martinez in his Jacksonville office on the 450th commemorative legislation.
* Worked for the City of St. Augustine's 450th Commemoration Office in the Department of Heritage Tourism.
* Graduated from Flagler College with in 2009 with a bachelor's in communications with an emphasis in public relations.
* On board of directors for Flagler College Alumni.
* Hispanic Heritage Council member, St. Johns County.

Source: Information provided by Alvarez.


Good new boys and gadflies.
puc reducks

My dear, I beg to differ.

Alvarez INTERNED with Mel.

She has limited experiential background.

She is (remember the old TOTT term?) a SOCK PUPPET.

Look for board members to resign.

This thing'll end up being run by Hizzoner and Ste. Claire, too, if he lasts long enough.

Sad, sad times.

Nothing to celebrate here.

I was trying - and abysmally failed - to make a satirical pun on "good ole boys."

This SNAFU reminds me of the hijinks of the various hysterical and historical shenanigans of the late '60s and early '70s with the non-profit and profit corporations, and state and local governments all grabbing for bigger pieces of whatever pies they could find.  

Today's meeting here:
puc reducks

Sorry, but that "punny" stuff on "good ole boys" lost its luster here decades ago.  That it (good ol' boyism) still exists is a tribute to rampant ignorance in this very special place.

You know the drill well, Bier, this just scratches the surface of more timely "hysterical and historical shenanigans" and "state and local governments all grabbing for bigger pieces of whatever pies they could find."  Nothing much has changed in that regard.

I gotta say, however:  Hats off to HCN for covering this event at length, with background, and publishing some of the best pix of gov't and citizens I've seen in 21+ years!  Good on ya, HCN!  *applause*

(Tomorrow's Record article otter be a hoot in comparison!)

For you consideration:  In a recent press release about MYSELF--written BY MYSELF on MY OWN BEHALF--please note that I was an

Avocational Cardiac-Thoracic Surgeon and I assisted Dr. Christian Barnard with the first human heart transplant.


In an eight-page letter from First America Foundation Chairman Donald W. Wallis that was obtained by Historic City News this week, the man, who one City Commissioner says has vanished into a "black hole", gave a somewhat rambling personal account of himself since taking a total of $300,000 from city taxpayers.

In a May 4th memorandum, distributed on the stationary of a prestigious, eighty-six year old legal dynasty, Upchurch, Bailey and Upchurch, P.A., Wallis informed the appointed members of the First America Foundation board that he finds it "hard to believe" that, for nearly nine months, the organization has been "clumsily struggling to gain its footing"; comparing the missteps and apparent inaction of the foundation to a "newborn foal"....

The letter labors over personal limitations and medical problems presumably suffered by Wallis over the past five months. In great and agonizing detail, Wallis provides an insight into possible reasons why, the better part of a year later, the City, as contractee, has nothing to show from First America Foundation, as the contractor....

In the memorandum Wallis says that expectations of the board for him and Executive Director Jamie Alvarez have been "realistic and appropriate". Wallis admits that the "work" done by him and Alvarez, so far, has been "insufficiently emphatic, assertive, strong and quick" with respect to three items that he says are in varying stages of completion.

"More importantly," Wallis wrote, "our effort has yet to produce any results, i.e. 'deliverables' to any of our audiences or constituencies."...

In what one commissioner characterized as "bizarre" in this week"s workshop on the subject, Wallis says, "Now, measuring our own leadership performance to date against your expectations [we] feel that the leadership that we provided no longer is sufficient to address either our immediate needs or our future needs. Consequently, we have concluded that First America Foundation, Inc. - and the Commemoration Effort that we were conscripted by our community to lead and coordinate - needs to change the way in which it is led, the way in which it is managed, the way in which it operates, and the way in which its human resources are identified, recruited, enlisted and empowered."...

Historic City News will continue to investigate and report on this story as we watch to see how successful the city will be in their re-invigorated commemoration efforts, the renegotiation of the contract, and, recovery of money paid in advance to First America Foundation.
Complete article:
© 2011 Historic City News staff

As the saying goes; "If the players are clowns, the playground is a circus."

The only thing worse than the "good ole boy" network that manipulated the citizens and taxpayers of St. Augustine in the '60s and '70s is the current several "good ole boy/girl" networks competing with each other for the center ring. Forum Index -> In the News Local (St Augustine)
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