Stuart Newspaper's LaLaLand Sarah Heard Endorsement

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: August 14, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

It gives me no joy to contradict or criticize The Stuart News, to which I happily gave 28 years of my life. But the newspaper's Sunday endorsement of Martin County Commission Chairwoman Sarah Heard begs a few choice words of dissent.

Somehow, the paper looks at this woman and sees something I contend isn't there. I truly believe if Sarah Heard were caught and cuffed for robbing a convenience store on Saturday night, the editors would still "strongly" recommend her Sunday morning.

They've bought into the whole no-growth, Maggy Hurchalla-Donna Melzer thing, of which Heard is the chief purveyor on the County Commission. Nothing wrong with that -- it's their prerogative -- as long as they're giving fair and honest coverage on the news pages to the cast of characters they promote on the editorial side.

The newspaper gives no credence at all to the ethics complaints filed against Heard but all the credit in the world for her "12-year track record in elected office of laboring for our waterways."

I beg to differ with both arguments.

The ethics complaint: Heard's, not John McAuliffe's

What immediately struck me in Sunday's editorial recommendation was not the newspaper's failure to list the half-a-dozen-or-so ethics complaints against Heard lumped into Palm City resident John McAuliffe's letters to Tallahassee. It was Heard's cavalier dismissal of them.

"It's politically motivated," she was quoted as saying. "I can't keep anyone from making meritless accusations about me."

Sarah Heard

Sarah Heard

Perhaps because Heard filed a "meritless accusation" against her opponent in 2006, she truly believes in her heart all ethics complaints at election time are as groundless and "politically motivated" as hers was.

Let's look at Heard's for a moment. The polls had closed, she had won, yet on the night of the 2006 election, Heard filed an entirely frivolous complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Republican Susan E. O'Rourke.

The complaint accused O'Rourke of deliberately trying to mislead Democrats and independents by failing to disclose on her campaign signs that she is a Republican.

"It wasn't true and Sarah knew it," said O'Rourke, a professional engineer who specializes in traffic engineering and transportation planning. "Every one of my signs was properly labeled."

Because the election was history by the time the ethics commission received the complaint, "they didn't want to be bothered with an investigation and instead sent a letter wanting my signature and a $250 fine, and advising me never to do it again.

"But I wouldn't sign and I wouldn't pay because I hadn't done anything wrong," she said. "My sister is a lawyer, she represented me and the case went to a hearing."

Heard's complaint was found to be "without merit." O'Rourke, who considered it a case of "malicious intent," then filed against Heard to recapture attorney fees. Heard's lawyer advised her to settle.

In the end, Heard paid O'Rourke's sister $2,300 in court costs.

Oh, yes, and neither the original complaint nor its conclusion ever found its way into the local newspaper.

Why did Heard file such a complaint? One of her friends at the time later told me, "That's her MO. Hassle the opposition. That's what her group does to discourage candidates from running next time."

The bottom line here is, Heard wasn't above playing a political dirty trick on a hapless opponent. I wonder now, if the editors at the News had known the trick she pulled in '06, mightn't they have been a little more skeptical and a lot less apt to blow off the commissioner's dismissal of McAuliffe's "politically motivated" complaints? 

Then there's "her commitment to the river, lagoon and quality of life." The News called it "unwavering."

I'd love to know what the News' observations are to bring them to that opinion.

Let me tell you mine.

Heard's River Protections Record

Heard has been a staunch supporter of the rivers ever since she realized she could mine citizen outrage over algae blooms to further her no-growth agenda.

Certainly she attends Everglades Foundation and Everglades Coalition events, because they're trendy and fun and usually happen at some great hotel location.

But, if we're talking Everglades, the real work of Everglades restoration comes from the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. They're the folks who coordinate the policies, strategies and projects under the Department of Interior for Everglades restoration. Those conferences are usually in Fort Lauderdale, and no one I know has ever seen her at even one of them.

Heard does on occasion attend a Water Resources Advisory Commission meeting, usually at the South Florida Water Management District in West Palm Beach. WRAC advises the Task Force. But please understand, Sarah Heard doesn't stay for an entire meeting. Generally, she's there for an hour or less, long enough to make an official, if inconsequential, comment from Martin County, then she leaves.

Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch of Sewall's Point, on the other hand, stays the entire day -- six to eight hours. These are long, tedious and sometimes incredibly difficult-to-follow sessions, especially when engineers are talking, but it's the only way to get a real grasp of what's going on, what works, what doesn't, what has been tried, and so forth.

And another thing. Wouldn't anyone who really cares about the health of the river be committed to resolving Martin's stormwater drainage and septic tank issues? She is not.

Sarah Heard has a history of stopping sewer line extensions, one in Jensen Beach and the other in Port Salerno, which had grant funding two years ago to run east from A1A along Salerno Road nearly all the way to U.S. 1. Heard felt it would spur business growth, and so nothing happened until recently, when the utilities and community development departments, using CRA TIF monies, said they would extend the sewer into residential areas, and only partially along Salerno Road.

Sarah Heard is a fake environmentalist who fosters the fear-mongering that stops all construction projects, and points to agriculture as the culprit for all the pollution.

In the meantime, she attempted to squash an innovative stormwater treatment system developed in-house by the county's community development, engineering and utilities departments to treat stormwater drainage without expensive pipes, big culverts, and large retention ponds. It's the first in the state, perhaps even in the nation -- a natural conduit for grants. Yet Sarah Heard voted against it, saying it was a scheme only to increase businesses' property values.

Fortunately, she was outvoted, and the project will proceed ... until she can think of some other reason to kill it.

There are many examples of votes in which Heard could have made something good happen for one river or the other, but didn't. The Stuart News covers all Martin County Commission meetings. Didn't they notice? Or is their definition of river protection different from mine and other readers'?

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments (32)

Peggy Hess
9:34PM AUG 15TH 2014
FINALLY: The bottom line is this:

Peggy Hess
10:33AM AUG 15TH 2014
Mr. D Bell,
I have just been made aware of your “Bite me” response to the posted e-mail below.
I am highly offended and extremely distressed that you would stoop to such a lowlife answer as “Bite me” in response to anyone!

If this Disgustingly, Ungentlemanly and Disrespectful answer is any indication of the way you and your mud-slinging comrades really are in spirit, then who would ever give any credence to anything any of you have to say.

The wise saying is , “a leopard’s stripes will always shine through”… now IMAGINE THIS all you readers in La la land……

Below is the e-mail sent to D Bell by a very elderly friend of mine and D Bell’s disgusting response to her.

-----Original Message-----
From: D Bell
To: realsquack
Sent: Thu, Aug 14, 2014 8:55 pm
Subject: Re: Stuart Newspaper's LaLaLand Sarah Heard Endorsement

Bite me

Subject: Re: Stuart Newspaper's LaLaLand Sarah Heard Endorsement
On Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 8:48 PM, realsquack wrote:

Sarah Heard is the only qualified candidate running for office in District 4. She deserves your vote.


I think you all should be “exposed” in public!
Palm City Grandma
3:53PM AUG 15TH 2014
Of all the people to call ANYBODY 'disgusting' and 'disrespectful' have some nerve, Peggy
Peggy Hess
9:50PM AUG 15TH 2014
Peggy Hess
9:53PM AUG 15TH 2014

Peggy Hess
8:59AM AUG 15TH 2014
Here is my response to the above article and to other GUILTY parties.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Douglas Hess
To: D Bell
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:52 AM
Subject: Re: An Email to Al Forman of the Martin County Defender


YOU MR. BELL and YOU MR. McCAULifFEEEEEE will soon see how wise Martin County voters are!

PLEASE, PLEASE keep up your RIDICULOUS mailings, you tubes clips, and slanderous one sided websites that you are promoting as it only MAKES SARAH LOOK EVEN BETTER! With YOUR HELP she should get 80% of the vote instesd of 78% like she got the last time around!..... now IMAGINE THAT!


We The People Are Way Too Smart For You All!

An after thought. Desperate people do desperate things when they are running scared don't you think?
Now a question. Where does the editor of this RAG live? Martin County?
ellen b
8:09AM AUG 15TH 2014
Nancy, you are certainly missed here in Martin County. Great article!!!!
6:57PM AUG 14TH 2014
Gee . . . . you guys are all certainly going bonkers about an actual newspaper endorsement for someone you don't like . . . . must be tough to not be in the majority and no longer able to dictate to everyone, right . . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
7:57PM AUG 14TH 2014
Just wondering. Do you live in Martin County, Frank? I'm going to guess no.
1:24PM AUG 15TH 2014
Oh, you mean like Nancy Smith and her Mississippi phone number contact above . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
11:58PM AUG 15TH 2014
Who cares what her cell phone number says. Nancy served our community and our newspaper for nearly three decades. When she writes about Martin County she does it from a deep knowledge of the people and history here. I just wanted to know if you would know that and if you live in Martin County because you certainly do like following her around. Ha!
10:45AM AUG 16TH 2014
Yes, I don't like the half-truths, misrepresentations, demonizations and vendettas of the right . . . . something Nancy (and SSN) increasingly demonstrate . . . . .

Then' there's your hypocrisy in not even attempting to question anyone else's domicile if they agree with your view (e.g. C Breeze below who has previously indicated they're from Santa Rosa County in the panhandle, and here slimes people they don't even know) . . . .

And, lastly, there's the fact that actual facts don't seem to matter to the right and are to be discounted if they don't agree with one's truthiness, as you just so clearly demonstrated above . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
7:20PM AUG 14TH 2014
I told you to get off the field. Now you're suspended until you learn what an ellipsis is (and how to use it)! Punctuation is not irrelevant.
7:30PM AUG 14TH 2014
Just like a right winger . . . always trying to dictate and order others about . . . . all the while screaming about personal freedom . . . . and their faux superiority . . . . . too bad your self-appointed one trick pony will get old quickly . . . . and, of course, you realize that falsely posing as the police is a felony, right . . . . . place yourself in a long time-out . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Ted Guy
3:26PM AUG 14TH 2014
Nancy, you are so right about Heard!
Martin Resident
1:46PM AUG 14TH 2014
An email to Al Forman in response to the last article about John McAuliffe and his Ethics Complaint against Commissioner Sarah Heard in the Martin County Defender....

--- On Wed, 8/13/14, John McAuliffe wrote:

> From: John McAuliffe
> Subject: Sarah Heard Complaints
> To:
> Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 5:43 PM
> Hi there, Al!
> Hope you're having an excellent day! I saw your email today
> and wanted to help you strengthen the integrity of The
> Defender. And since your tone seems so angry, I wanted to
> help settle you down a bit, too.
> First of all, the only candidate who EVER had to pay
> attorney's fees for lodging a false complaint in Martin
> County is Sarah Heard. I can provide a copy of the check for
> your readers if you like?
> Next, complaints to the Commission on Ethics are typically
> reviewed at their monthly meeting and either 1.) dismissed
> as a result of not having any merit, or 2.) sent to an
> investigator to be investigated. MY complaint and over 125
> pages of supporting documentation never made it to the
> monthly meeting, it went STRAIGHT to an investigator! I was
> told by "Kay" at the COE the next communication I would
> receive would be a date for a Probable Cause Hearing, which
> Heard could avoid by negotiating a settlement of fines, or
> she can attend a full hearing here in Martin County and try
> her luck. So it's a fact that Commissioner Heard is being
> investigated. Not sure if you're a fan of facts, but the
> facts are the facts. Here are a few more:
> The second complaint centers on behavior by Heard in
> submitting her travel expenses, in what the Florida Statutes
> define violations as constituting "second degree
> misdemeanors." I don't exactly know what they would call
> accepting gifts, then voting in favor of those who gave you
> the gifts, but it is in the hands of the State of Florida to
> evaluate criminal prosecution beyond the COE in that matter.
> The airplane is a tough one for the Commissioner, but she
> can try to explain it to the State. I have disclosed
> everything I submitted to the COE on a website (Heard did
> not make the complaint or her responses public, she hired an
> attorney instead), so see the documents for yourself at
> (google: truthaboutsarah

I give you my permission to send it
> to your readers.
> Lastly, you have slandered my good name twice now and I am
> offended. So I am going to formally ask you to abstain from
> such inappropriate conduct going forward, and when the
> Commissioner is fined and the proceedings made public, I
> will expect a full apology from you to all of your readers
> for you to avoid the legal ramifications of your reckless
> behavior.
> Have a good afternoon, Al!
> Regards,
> John McAuliffe
12:52PM AUG 14TH 2014
This article is direct and absolutely on point. For some reason, the Sherlock/Hurchalla/Melzer gang is immune from attack or criticism from the Stuart News. It did not used to be that way. Something obviously changed.

Perhaps the Stuart News staff feels a camaraderie with Sherlock from her days with the Associated Press. Interestingly enough, the change at the Stuart News coincided with the Digital Domain debacle. The Stuart News fell hook, line and sinker for the Textor propaganda, and published numerous articles and editorials in support of the Digital Domain project in St. Lucie County. We all know how that project faired. The fact that the Martin County economic development organization pulled the plug on that project was not a red flag for the Stuart News. Indeed, the fact that Enterprise Florida pulled the plug on the project and the project had to be transferred to another state agency for approval was not a red flag for the Stuart News. Indeed, Eve Samples published her column chiding the economic development agency for its inability to get its act together and lamented the fact that Martin County once again lost a valuable economic development engine. Perhaps all of the crow that was eaten by the Stuart News geniuses created an appetite for the Sherlock/Hurchalla/Melzer gang.

Another possibility is that the Stuart News is simply afraid of the Sherlock/Hurchalla/Melzer gang. As Nancy correctly discusses, the typical tactic for the gang is retribution. They have a history of filing meritless lawsuits for the sole purpose of seeking revenge and imposing costs. The District Court of Appeal, on its own motion, hit the gang with sanctions in recognition of their pattern of meritless litigation and appeals. They pointed out that Melzer had repeatedly lost on the same issue, and had absolutely no excuse for continuing her meritless arguments on the legal issue of "standing". As Nancy previously reported, the gang excused itself from paying the court imposed sanctions in a closed door meeting. That is, the gang gave away $32,000 in taxpayer money behind closed doors. Apparently, "transparency" is only something they demand of their opposition so that they can keep tabs and exact their retribution. The gang plans and strategizes for retribution through their secret, private email accounts rather than in the Sunshine.

There are many other instances other than the retribution against O'Rourke. For example, even after they defeated an opposing candidate in an election, the gang took retribution against a local Little League by trying to have its tax-exempt status revoked.

When anyone offers a legal challenge against the gang, they are quick to diss the challenge as a SLAPP suit, which is in an acronym for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation". They should know. Their tactics of meritless claims and litigation are really the same type of action. Perhaps their claims should be referred to as SLAP lawsuits. This new acronym is "Strategic Lawsuit Against Progress".

Advertising revenue for the Stuart News continues to decline, and the daily paper is a pint sized edition of its former self. Obviously a sinking ship. Could it be that the Sherlock/Hurchalla/Melzer gang does not generate advertising revenue?

And so the sad story of politics in Martin County continues...
11:28AM AUG 14TH 2014
Great Article!! - so much the public needs to know - and Frank, you are obviously a Heard nerd, gives us all a break - you certainly can voice your opinion, but please, we don't need it on every post that you don't like - Sarah needs to go but it seems she is the typical politician, she thinks the world will stop if she isn't elected again...and again...and again...
John Hennessee
10:46AM AUG 14TH 2014
As past chairman of the Martin County CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency)... I can attest to the truth of all that Nancy says. Sarah disbanded the Independent CRA board, the most progressive program the county has ever initiated. The CRA helped existing business prosper, and assisted new business to get established. She then disbanded the CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau)... and not a cent has been spent on tourism since.... All of Martin County should be ashamed of this commissioner...!!! And that is only the tip of the iceberg that I can expose.
Elmira Gainey
10:42AM AUG 14TH 2014
Great article!!! I wish tha there was some way to have it published in its entirety in the Stuart News and PBPost!!! Please advise as to how we can do this!!!
9:57AM AUG 14TH 2014
Gee . . . . now attacking her old paper, because they can't see what she sees . . . . . makes one wonder who possesses the vision problems . . . perhaps, just perhaps, it's the one who believes this a holy crusade and a vendetta . . . . . and is blind to everything else . . . . including her own LaLaLand . . .

Pathetic . . . .
C Breeze
11:12AM AUG 14TH 2014
Oh Frank,
You still are, and continue to be...

Pathetic . . . .
6:45PM AUG 14TH 2014
Yes, but see, you're irrelevant, as you've clearly now shown that "C" of yours stands for absolutely "Clueless" . . . . . . . . how else can you explain demonizing highly conservative, and Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy founding, Nicolas Gutierrez as an "Obama lapdog" . . . . . . the examples are many . . . . . another laugh --> how can you NOT know the actual name of a 1850's French economist you attempted to try to lecture me on . . . . . . because you're truly "Clueless" . . . . . which, like your feeble attempts at actual discourse, are just so . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
c breeze
7:05PM AUG 14TH 2014
What are you,...about 14 years old Frank ? Your composition is so disjointed, as to be written by an illiterate moron. People are talking about you Frank...and none of it is nice. You should attempt to read the works of that "French Economist",...even you might learn a couple of things. But I doubt it.
7:11PM AUG 14TH 2014
Feeble once again . . . . and gee, look at that . . . now you have two log-ins . . . one with caps and one without . . . . who does that, Clueless . . . . unless they work here . .

Pathetic . . . .
C Breeze
9:34AM AUG 14TH 2014
Twelve years in office is far too long a period, even for a self-anointed "Queen of the Waters" even though a familial "Princess" is her lawyer (EVERYBODY these days has a personal lawyer "on tap"; Lawyers are being "pumped" out of law schools at a phenomenal rate. mostly as the result of Affirmative-Action and since there are not nearly enough "round holes" for all these "square pegs", they show up in the darnedest places. We all know the results of that (the White House; most if not all Federal Agencies; TV 'talking heads'; and everyplace in between right down to your local businesses and fast-food restaurants...). The old adage, "Never encourage your child to pursue a career as a lawyer" holds true more than ever today. The "feminist movement" created more of these "monsters" than the 'real estate closing' businesses could ever handle in two lifetimes. I once ran to assist at an auto accident that happened in an intersection right in front of me,..a woman ran a red light and T-boned a right-of-way vehicle; I ran to her vehicle, opened the door and asked if she was hurt.. her first response?: "I am an attorney". My reply: "Great, let me see you're smart enough to get yourself out of this".
This whole "Sarah Heard thing" fiasco bumps up against the "ridiculous, all the way up to the sublime" for a "public servant" on "self-praise-steroids" (a malady all too common in public office today; along with the usual handful of South Florida nose-pickers existing on the "government dime"). What the heck is wrong with the VOTERS that they keep letting these morons "MILK THE SYSTEM" year after year after year ?!?!?
10:27AM AUG 14TH 2014
Gee, this truly speaks for itself . . . . spewing attacks . . . against people they don't even know . .

Pathetic . . . . .
c breeze
7:08PM AUG 14TH 2014
But I know YOU Frank.... You're the moron with all rant and no facts.

Pathetic . . . .
7:24PM AUG 14TH 2014
Facts aren't lies . . . . nor name calling . . . . nor demonization . . . . nor nonsense . . . nor truthiness posing as reality . . . . . . can you EVER learn the difference . . . . sadly . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
5:18PM AUG 14TH 2014
Tweeet!! Egregious overuse of ellipses!!! Ten yard penalty and loss of comment privileges for two days.
Andrew Treacy
10:28AM AUG 15TH 2014
"Ten yard" penalty? Where's the hyphen on "ten-yard"?

What's the difference between "egregious" overuse and "overuse"? Just trying to impress with a big word?

Well, at least you got the plural of ellipsis correct.
6:43PM AUG 14TH 2014
Irrelevant nonsense, just like your other sad attempts . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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