Friday, February 27, 2009


Published by the Department of Public Affairs, City of St. Augustine. Florida February 27 2009
High Court: cities can regulate monuments
The City of Pleasant Grove, Utah (31,000 pop.), 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, won a battle for St. Augustine and other cities across the nation Wednesday before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Government has free speech, too.
The high court unanimously decided in favor of Pleasant Grove in a lawsuit by a religious sect that argued a monument of its "Seven Aphorisms" should be allowed next to a Ten Commandments monument.
For St. Augustine, the decision verifies a new public art ordinance that gives our city full control over acceptance, placement, and use of any form of art contributed to the city.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court in its unanimous decision: "It is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression. The obvious truth of the matter is that if public parks were considered to be traditional public forums for the purpose of erecting privately donated monuments, most parks would have little choice but to refuse all such donations."
"Government decision makers select the monuments that portray what they view as appropriate for the place in question, taking into account such content-based factors as esthetics, history, and local culture," Justice Alito wrote. "The monuments that are accepted, therefore, are meant to convey ... a government message, and they thus constitute government speech."
City Atty. Ron Brown said of the decision, "We are very pleased with this well-stated belief that we can choose to accept monuments that state a purpose in the eyes of our citizens' elected representatives."
Our city has faced decisions in recent years on displays in public places, among them gay rights flags on the Bridge of Lions, a flag urging troop return from Iraq on the City Hall flagpole, and a monument to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in our Plaza de la ConstituciĆ³n. Our City Commission rejected the gay rights flags (later overturned by an appellate court), and the City Hall flag, but has approved a St. Augustine Foot Soldiers monument in the Plaza.

Gala banners fly
Banners adorn light poles at City Hall for Saturday night's Noche de Gala celebration of Founder Pedro Menendez' 490th birthday.

New parking committee begins work
A former mayor, Len Weeks, and former vice mayor, Susan Burk, have been elected again - this time as chair and vice chair of our city's reorganized Parking and Traffic Committee (PAT).
In its first meeting Thursday, the smaller 7-member committee mapped out the agenda for its first working meeting, March 26 (PAT meets the fourth Thursday monthly in the Alcazar conference room at City Hall). On the agenda: signage, the Bridge of Lions, and our ParkNow card program.
There were suggestions for future study as well, among them: greater regulation of delivery trucks in our historic district and greater awareness of the validation system which allows free parking in our Visitor Center parking facility for patrons of participating businesses.
The committee, reorganized by our City Commission earlier this year, now includes five commission appointees and one representative each from Flagler College and the Chamber of Commerce Historic Area Council.

UF heritage plan meets big numbers elsewhere
"I and my family will be among the 94% of visitors who return to St. Augustine!"
Gettysburg Foundation Chief Operations Officer Elliot Gruber acknowledged statistics from Visit Florida during his comments among speakers at Thursday's University of Florida (UF) presentation "Strategy to Reality: Implementing the St. Augustine Historic Area Strategic Plan."
More than 100 government officials, civic leaders and citizens heard some big numbers at the St. Augustine Art Association forum as UF unfolded its $37 million plan to build a central interpretive center, repair 34 state-owned historic properties, and prepare for St. Augustine's 450th Anniversary.
The university's ambitious plan depends on funding from our state legislature, which two years ago authorized UF to take over management of the properties. The university, already facing $72 to $75 million in budget cuts, has yet to agree to the takeover.
UF Vice President Ed Poppell said the first funding push will be for $5 million, anticipating matching funds from the National Park Service, for the $10 million interpretive center.
Matching the investment of other historic venues for stronger heritage tourism recognition won't be easy. The numbers came out at Thursday's forum: $400 million as Jamestown prepared for its 400th in 2007 and a more prominent place in visitors' guides; $100 million in a Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center as that historic site seeks to strengthen its heritage tourism experience.
The afternoon-long forum featured speakers including Jamestown 2007 Host Committee Chair Jeanne Zeidler, Gettysburg's Gruber, Kirk Cordell, director of the National Park Service's Center for Preservation Technology & Training, Kerri L. Post, vice president of Visit Florida's Industry Relations, St. Augustine Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Susan R. Parker, and UF's Distinguished Service Professor Dr. Michael Gannon.

St. Augustine a university classroom
As the University of Florida advances its St. Augustine Historic Area Strategic Plan, education waits for no one.
Catherine Culver, our Department of Heritage Tourism Marketing and Events Coordinator, says UF is conducting several courses here. Among them: Museum Studies: Managing Museum Collections, a graduate level summer studio course in Historic Preservation in St. Augustine, and graduate courses in landscape architecture and advertising.
Culver reported to our Historic Preservation Advisory Committee that these are not public classes, but many will include final presentations that may be public.
The St. Augustine Report is published by the Department of Public Affairs of the City of St. Augustine each Tuesday and on each Friday prior to regular City Commission meetings. The Report is written and distributed by George Gardner, former St. Augustine Mayor (2002-2006) and Commissioner (2006-2008) and a longtime newspaper reporter and editor. Contact The Report by email at, by phone at 904.825.3648, or by mail at 57 Fullerwood Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32084.

Forward email

This email was sent to by
Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy.
Email Marketing by

Former Mayor George Gardner | 57 Fullerwood Drive | st. augustine | FL | 32084

No comments: