Friday, August 07, 2009
MORE ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM BY "MOST LAWLESS CITY?" -- Tuesday, August 18, 1:30 PM Meeting at City Hall on Riberia Street Detours During Constructiion
Photo credits: Marie Hardage
Need to Meet In Lincolnville, at Night or on Weekend, To Assure Public Participation and Transparency
Letter to City of St. Augustine Chief Operations Officer JOHN REGAN
The City of St. Augustine has unilaterally set a meeting on Riberia Street at City Hall on a Tuesday morning (August 18) at 1:30 in the afternoon. This is an inconvenient time and place. May I please suggest that the City kindly reconsider this time and place?
Or in the alternative, will you be so kind as to hold a similar meeting on the deplorable condition of Riberia Street in Lincolnville (perhaps at a central location like the historic St. Paul’s AME Church, and that you do so at night or on a weekend so that working people can attend)?
This is necessary and proper because:
1. So often our City of St. Augustine demonstrates a lack of sensitivity and (many believe), Environmental Racism.
3. That’s exactly what the City of St. Augustine did when it dumped 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir (West Augustine) and then wanted to move it back to Lincolnville. Two public meetings were held on this subject at St. Paul’s AME Church in 2008 and 2009. Those meetings in Lincolnville helped stop our City from its plan of sending contaminated solid waste back to Lincolnville – a plan that you and the City’s $500/hour environmental lawyer tried to foist off on our community. We stopped the City in its tracks, based upon the outpouring of public opposition heard at St. Paul’s Church in Lincolnville.
4. Meeting on Riberia Street detours only at City Hall has the effect of excluding many people.
5. Many people in Lincolnville still feel uncomfortable there due to the City’s heinous past (and present) in dealing with Lincolnville, with African-Americans and other people of color, and with low-income residents.
6. Our City remains very prejudiced in its hiring, pay, promotion and spending practices, leading to the filing of an Environmental Justice complaint with the EPA Office of Civil Rights on January 15, 2009 (observation of Dr. King’s birthday. The complaint was filed by local residents who invoked Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which was enacted by Congress and LBJ thanks in large part to the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers’ courage here in St. Augustine).
7. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to reform rabbis on June 12, 1964 from the St. Augustine Jail, stating in his letter that the City of St. Augustine was the “most lawless” city in America. Dr. King used the leverage of federal funds for the City’s 400th birthday to obtain needed changes. As we look to the 450th birthday, we’re seeing many of the same old tactics (“the Control Game”) emanating from City Hall, including “scheduling meetings in inappropriate times and places.” See http://www.actionpa.org/activism/controlgame.html
8. Our City spends money unequally, spending less in low-income and minority neighborhoods, while locating unpleasant or offensive installations there.
9. Riberia Street’s rutted, bumpy, often-undrewater washboard road surface is far worse than those in many Third World Nations. Visitors are constantly appalled at this real and demonstrative evidence of St. Augustine’s Apartheid government in the year 2009.
10. Riberia Street risks the lives of pedestrians, drivers and passengers, and subjects automobiles to heavy damages from ruts and huge ponds that form with the slightest.
11. Riberia Street is “unsafe at any speed” and is a stench in the nostrils of the Nation as we get ready to celebrate St. Augustine’s 450th birthday.
12. I travel that dangerous street every workday – I work on Riberia Street.
13. Riberia Street’s deplorable condition is a product of Apartheid, the continuing sequelae of Jim Crow segregation, and an enduring symptom of racism, which is a disease of the spirit and the mind. Riberia Street represents our Nation’s Oldest City’s habitual violation of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
14. Riberia Street work must be accelerated.
15. The process must be open and candid. Meetings must be held at night and on weekends.
16. Our City is given $50,000,000.00 by taxpayers every year.
17. Our very small City of 13,000 has a City government with 350 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff.
18. Rose Kennedy’s favorite Bible verse was “To whom much is given, much is expected.” We expect our City to become more sensitive to the needs of the people and to start holding meetings on community issues in the affected community, and at night or on a weekend.
19. The proposed meeting is at 1:30 PM on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of August. Exactly whose idea was that? This is an inconvenient time.
20. City Hall is an inconvenient place for many Lincolnville residents.
21. City Hall still has an aura of faux elitism and smugness, a throwback to the days of Jim Crow segregation, when a few wealthy individuals and elected officials dictated public policy in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.
22. These may be extremely “Inconvenient Truths,” but the City staff must learn and grow from experience. We have an African-American President and we expect City Hall to grow past what happened in St. Augustine in 1964. As President Bill Clinton said in his Second Inaugural, “Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small.”
23. Meetings on important issues must no longer be held only in the daytime and only at City Hall. We are a “City of neighborhoods.”
24. Asking Neighborhoods to come to City Hall with their hat in their hands is condescending.
25. Ever since Mayor Gardner was elected, our City Commission meets at 5 PM.
26. Meeting any earlier (your 1:30 PM meeting on Riberia Street) has the effect of excluding people and contributing to lack of trust in our governmental institutions.
27. Would you please be so kind as to contact Pastor Ron Rawls to see if the St. Paul’s AME Church might be available for a night or weekend meeting on Riberia Street?
28. Would you please call me by close of business today to discuss Riberia Street and the need to end forever “The Control Game” as practiced by our government of the City of St. Augustine? See http://www.actionpa.org/activism/controlgame.html
Thanking you and the City Manager in advance for your kind assistance, I am,
With kindest regards,
Clean Up City of St. Augustine
P.O. Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3085