Friday, May 13, 2011

Exposing Hate Websites in St. Augustine Florida -- Fronts for Enemies of Civil Rights and Environmental Justice

The “temple-destroyers” in St. Augustine, Florida are not slouches
For years, here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida, local community members were treated diffidently and with disrespect by our City and County officials.
People were often openly, notoriously and publicly insulted by Commissioners when they raised Civil Rights and Environmental Justice concerns. Some were threatened with arrest simply for speaking their truth about these matters.
In February 2006, I reported to federal officials the illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir by our City of St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRIS, resulting in Florida DEP orders to put the contaminated solid waste in a Class I landfill.
HARRIS spent $200,000 of our money on legal and engineering fees to avoid indictment on pollution charges.
HARRISS fought accountability from 2006-2008, when the City finally agreed to deposit the waste in a Class I landfill.
At the City Commission meeting on November 13, 2006, I proposed the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. Later that same meeting, I was blasted as a pesky disbarred lawyer by our then-Mayor, his valedictory speech, applauded by 75 Yacht Club members (and RANDY BRUNSON) who were there to receive a subsidized no-bid rental of the Lighthouse Park community center for their clubhouse). Six days later, the St. Augustine Record editorial defended my honor, called me brilliant, and told me not to be deterred by the Philistine attacks on free speech.
On December 23, 2006, former St. Johns County Deputy Sheriff (and former SAPD officer) MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” announced in a St. Augustine Record column that a “Local businessman” was starting for the express purpose of running the homeless out of town.
That was not the only mission – the hate website focused on hating environmentalists, community activists and reformers with a fervor and a vengeance.
From 2006-2010, plazabum was a noisome nuisance, anonymously and obscenely attacking free speech under the guise of free speech.
The plazabum’s negative agenda was to intimidate, coerce and chill free speech by activists, who were described in increasingly irrational, irascible terms as homosexuals, crazies and damn Yankees (among other epithets, others of which are obscene and will not be quoted here). That's not surprising, since GOLD's Historic City News website has posted a crackpot "League of the South" column on December 30, 2010 -- the group is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group" that favors the State of Florida seceding from the United States (and defends slavery).
Other unaccountable organizations have attacked reformers as crazies, including the Soviet Union (which put dissenters in insane asylums) and the United States Department of Energy and its contractors (which called sick workers “the crazies” and attacked everyone who ever said that nuclear weapons plants made people sick, including Dr. William K. Reid, M.D., dozens of sick workers, and me).
St. Augustine’s hate squad lacked the style and panache of the Soviets or U.S. nuclear bomb-builders. But they shared the same psychopathy – attacking critics of a sick system as if they were mentally ill.
Thus, it was especially revealing when the haters wrote about how people moved here from the North (they weren’t talking about Henry Flagler or other rich guys, but about average citizens with intelligence and ethics).
Plazabummers whined about how these “outsiders” went to public meetings and (horrors) expressed our opinions without being “invited.” How trite!
Were we supposed to receive engraved invitations from the WHETSTONE family before speaking out? And who invited them?
MICHAEL GOLD said he was running against people who wanted to make St. Augustine more like “Jamestown or Williamsburg” That’s a thinly-veiled attack on St. Augustine Mayor Joseph Boles (who admires Jamestown and hired ex-Mayor Jeanne Zeidler of Williamsburg to help us with our 450th Celebration). Mayor Zeidler told me she enthusiastically supports a St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore (so does Mayor Boles’ mother, Maurine Boles, who shook my hand in 2007 and thanked me for speaking out on behalf of preserving and protecting what she’s worked 35 years to preserve and protect).
It is especially revealing when civil rights activists – including Andrew Young – are described as “outside agitators” on MICHAEL GOLD’s faux “Historic City News” website.
The hatesiters’ vitriol did not deter First Amendment protected activity. I once called them “the Anonymice,” whereupon MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” humorously procured embroidered baseball caps bearing the words “Anonymice” with art showing a computer mouse. Ipse dixit – he said it.
The ancien régime used vicious vitriol to attempt to intimidate First Amendment protected activity.
The ancien régime used electronic Jim Crow tactics in defense of foreign-funded “developers” who propose dubious, low-quality projects that go belly-up (the worst of which destroyed the remains of 3000-4000 year old Indian village next to St. Augustine High School at the behest of disbarred New York lawyer ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD, a frequent recipient of dubious favors from St. Augustine and St. Johns County governments.
First the ancien régime abused the St. Augustine Record’s “Talk of the Town” website to post anonymous hate speech --- 32 looong pages of homophobia directed against the Rainbow Flags on our Bridge of Lions in 2005, with haters continuing to post on that topic until I quoted them, writing about how local public officials were posting homophobia and hiding behind anonymity. At that point, three pages of postings were removed by people who were caught red-handed; former Mayor George Gardner stated at a City Commission meeting during 2006 that he no longer “enjoyed” reading “Talk of the Town” after I started posting on the City’s Environmental Injustice there (e.g., his being misled by City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS into thinking there was 40,000 cubic yards of “clean fill,” not solid waste, dumped by HARRISS in our Old City Reservoir.) What a pity – as if the world existed for Hizzoner’s pleasure. That's narcissism. What do you reckon?
Someone was paying plazabummers' MICHAEL GOLD to spew hatred -- it was full-time.
Misguided plazabum posters had some 120 loooong pages of hate directed against President Barack Obama.
Misguided plazabum posters had nearly as many pages of hatred devoted to hating County Commission J. Kenneth Bryan (African-American retired Justice Department manager and former Deputy Director of the Executive Office of the President under Bill Clinton).
Misguided plazabum posters even had more than 106 looong pages of hate directed against little ‘ole me. “I welcome their hatred,” as President Franklin Roosevelt said of “malefactors of great wealth.” Their approval is neither desired nor required.
Misguided plazabum posters were not only limited individuals, those who were not just MICHAEL GOLD's NICs were severely limited in what they could say -- some topics were off-limits – e.g., any criticism of the ancien régime!
The reason hate website sociologists (and students of electronic psychopathy) know this is that someone once posted something mildly mocking about controversial City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a picture of him golfing with then-Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW, et al.) and joking that he was doing it when he should be working – the picture and comment was quickly removed.
The only people who were ever blasted on plazabum were reformers and activists --- these are mean and base KKK, Jim Crow tactics by people who lack the courage to speak at public meetings or sign their own names.
Oddly, one of the terms they use to describe activists is “coward,” as if saying it meant it were so.
These back-shooting cowards, including GOLD, called for the horrible painful death of a cancer patient on Christmas Eve 2007; called for the kidnapping of activists; called for death and serious bodily harm of activists; and used private information to attack people, always questioning other people’s motives – e.g., people they never met.
Some misguided public officials and candidates actually posted on plazabum, some even doing so under their own names – you know who you are. So do we. We forgive you. Don’t do it again.
Insulted by the inflamed rantings of the St. Johns County Monster Raving Looney Party, activists did not dry up and blow away, or turn into pillars of salt.
We continued our work, informing the people and speaking at meetings. Inflamed rantings did not stop us – the haters only empowered us to speak the truth to power.
During 2006-2010, in their righteous wrath against injustice, St. Johns County voters ousted KAREN STERN, BRUCE MAGUIRE and MARC JACALONE from County Commission; voters elected Nancy Sikes-Kline, Leeana Freeman and William Leary to City Commission; and elected Jeanne Moeller, John Sundeman, Janice Bequette and Cathy Brandhorst to the Mosquito Control Commission; and halted purchase of a $1.8 million no-bid helicopter and halted erection of a $6 million Taj Mahal building.
In 2010, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS “retired” in disgrace.
Now citizens’ concerns are heard and heeded.
Now Civil Rights and Environmental Justice are protected and not neglected.
Now citizens are treated with dignity, respect and consideration when we speak at public meetings (except by the St. Augustine Record, which routinely boycotts and refuses to cover “activists” unless it is to smear us).
Environmental injustice is being remedied, including the $800,000 capping of the illegal former City dump at the south end of Riberia Street, which will soon become a park, and $11 million to construct Riberia Street, the key arterial street into Lincolnville, which the ancien régime neglected, never providing proper drainage, never providing proper paving, never providing sidewalks, never providing bulkheads.
Those who heaped scorn on civil rights, environmental and community activists lost.
Civil Rights and Environmental Justice won.
Tomorrow our City dedicates a monument to the Civil Rights “footsoldiers” – the local residents and others who demonstrated peacefully against Jim Crow segregation here in 1963-64, resulting in enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On June 11th, our City will dedicate a memorial to Andrew Young, who was viciously attacked twice by racists here while teaching non-violence.
In 2010, plazabum lost the considerable subsidy provided by the “local businessman” who had provided tens of thousands of dollars in funding 2006-2010. For months, plazabum was merely a Facebook page.
A few days ago, I wrote on this blog about “temple-destroyers,” including BRUCE MAGUIRE, invoking the words of naturalist John Muir about people who destroy our environmental heritage in the name of the Almighty Dollar, focusing on BRUCE MAGUIRE’s efforts to ruin Old Florida with condos on A1A between Vilano Beach and Ponte Vedra, attempting to destroy the Guana-Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM-NERR), formerly Guana State Park, seeking to move A1A west of the parking lots, ruining protected wildlife and their habitat.
Now plazabum is back, bragging that you can read it to “see what the local temple-destroyers are up to.” Ipse dixit – he said it!
We wear the ancien régime’s scorn as a badge of honor.
Former St. Johns County Commission Chairman Ben Rich once publicly opined that the foreign-funded “developers” as being “worse than any carpetbagger,” condemning their overbearing overreaching, clear-cutting of trees, while winning approval of some 70,000 homes (most not yet built) in the northwest part of St. Johns County.
The “Anonymice” and plazabum’s self-confessed “temple-destroyers” remind me of a story: A kindly church-going lady had the reputation of being able to say something nice about everyone. Putting her to the test, a new pastor asked her to say something nice about the Devil. She thought for a moment and said, “Well, he’s no slouch.”
The “temple-destroyers” are not slouches either.
The shadowy “local businessman” has cut their funding and cut them loose.
Appparently they’ve found another guardian devil to fund their spiteful rodomontade and provide band-width for their inconsequential illiteracy and hopelessly provincial babblings.
The enemies of free speech on plazabum are now claiming to be the only place for free speech in St. Augustine.
How exquisitely self-deluding.
How indescribably Orwellian.
Plazabum exists because the ancien régime hates free speech.
Lord Byron said, “Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.” Or as Francois La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.” ("Hypocrisie est un hommage que la vice rend à la vertu.")

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