Tuesday, August 09, 2011

City may be close to halting First Amendment violations directed at St. Augustine's artists, entertainers!

Our City of St. Augustine may be close to allowing visual artists back into the Slave Market Square (Plaza de la Constitucion). At last night’s City Commission meeting, Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman raised the issue and won a consensus of her fellow Commission.
During the next month, Carlos Mendoza, the Assistant City Attorney, will be working with Vice Mayor Freeman, City Manager John Regan, attorney Tom Cushman and artist Greg Travous on an amendment to the City’s artist suppression ordinance to allow artists back in the Square/Plaza. Mendoza becomes a Circuit Court Judge in Putnam County on August 29th, giving him the next twenty days to devise a new ordinance. These are exciting times.
Vice Mayor Freeman said she would like to allow visual artists “anywhere in the park.” Vice Mayor Freeman evidently meant our “Plaza,” but was perhaps thinking about the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, which was discussed earlier in public comments and could include the Plaza.
Commissioners William Leary and Nancy Sikes-Kline, and Mayor Joseph Boles agreed with Vice Mayor Freeman. Commissioner Errol Jones was silent on the issue. In the past Jones has reportedly personally gone to the Plaza and interfered with artists’ First Amendment rights, as if he were former City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS’ personal emissary.
Thus, there was at least a 4-1 consensus for letting artists back in the Plaza.
When the brief discussion was over, Commissioner Sikes-Kline thanked Vice Mayor Freeman for bringing it up. In response, Vice Mayor Freeman said candidly, “I was very scared to” bring it up. Why? Because of the savagery and the anger with which our City’s misguided Establishment once attacked artists and entertainers, and anyone else who spoke out for their First Amendment rights. But City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS is gone. Those days are now over.
“Be not afraid,” as it says in the Bible some 50 times.
It’s about time that artists are treated with dignity, respect and consideration in St. Augustine – instead of contempt, ridicule and arrest.
The City’s Iron Heel of suppression of artists and entertainers violates the First Amendment and is contrary to our core values of encouraging tourism.
The WHETSTONE’s commercial landlord’s lobbying activities might even be violate the antitrust laws, without protection from the Noerr-Pennington doctrine (which protects the First Amendment, but not for bad faith lobbying or litigation).
The WHETSTONE commercial landlord’s lobbying to suppress artists and entertainers may also be construed as an unfair trade practice, which Florida Courts define as one that “offends public policy and is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or substantially injurious to consumers.” Urling v. Helms Exterminators, 468 So.2d 451 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).
People come to St. Augustine to see artists and hear musicians. Downtown commercial property owners used City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, City Public Relations Director PAUL WILLIAMSON and former Mayors and Commissioners as bullets in their gun. Those commercial property owners, led by the WHETSTONE family, disliked artists and entertainers, whipping up store owners.
They spent millions of dollars and two dozen years on their jihad against the First Amendment.
Unintended consequences? Our city tourism economy is in the dumpster, thanks in part to selfish, greedy mercantilist commercial landlords like the shallow, Vanderbilt-educated WHETSTONEs, cognitive misers who don’t understand the economics of their own city.
Most vacationing couples consist of:
(a) one person who likes to shop and
(b) one person who dislikes shopping.
The artists and entertainers on St. George Street kept the non-shoppers entertained (group b), allowing their shopper-spouse or significant other (group a) to spend more time in stores (and spend more money).
This business model worked for years. It was the foundation of St. George Street as a pedestrian mall. It is the foundation of every city where buskers are popular.
Apparently the WHETSTONEs got mad because there were artists and entertainers who were not paying them rent.
Like Medieval Robber Barons, the WHETSTSONEs reckon that everyone’s job is to pay them rent.
Their rent-seeking behavior results in their distorting the political system.
The Chamber of Commerce and the downtown merchants were manipulated by these miscreants, resulting in a conspiracy to violate Americans’ civil rights. There were hundreds of illegal arrests.
Dull Republican Lords of all they survey, the WHETSONES -- and their Alpha Archie Bunker-like toady, WILLIAM B. HARRISS -- plotted and planned for decades. HARRISS was hired as City Manager with the express understanding he would promote the “Final Solution” to exclude artists and entertainers – with Jim Crow laws adopted by successive City Commissions, these mendacious mediocrities attacked people who were younger, darker and more liberal than the WHETSTONES and HARRISS.
Being unyoung, uncool, unhip and unblack, the WHETSTONES and HARRISS declared war on First Amendment protected activity. These were truly shameful acts by shameful people, who know not that they know not that they know not.
It was HARRISS who repeatedly referred to art and music as “fru-fru stuff.” What a lugubrious goober.
There was a battle for the soul of our City, and the artists and entertainers won many battles, but the enemies of free speech kept spending public funds to write more ordinances.
Under withering police harassment, directed by City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a “WILL HARASS”), many artists and entertainers left town.
The result: many of the truly intriguing stores in St. Augustine have closed their doors, in favor of stores hawking obscene t-shirts.
Thank the WHETSTONES, the Chamber of Commerce, two successive City Attorneys, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, and City of St. Augustine Propaganda Meister PAUL WILLIAMSON for the proliferation of obscene t-shirt stores, the death of many small businesses and the increase of homeless people (taking the place of the artists and entertainers along St. George Street).
Bringing the visual artists back into the Slave Market Square is a step in the right direction.
Common sense has once again prevailed.
Let the healing begin.
Thank you, Vice Mayor Freeman, City Commissioners and City Manager Regan!
Forgive the WHETSTONES and HARRISS. But don’t ever forget what happens when money talks and public officials listen to moneybags (instead of to the public and the conscience of our community). Resolve, as our Founding Fathers did, to oppose oppression with "manly firmness" (as they put it in the Declaration of Independence). Honor the artists and entertainers who stood up to oppression.
"Be not afraid."
We shall overcome!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


There is not enough pig lipstick in the world to do what you are trying to do here.

You either clearly do not understand the depths of the corruption involved in this willful and knowing, CONTINUING TO THIS PRESENT MOMENT, gangster pattern and practice of denying civil rights for selfish personal gain, or, you are aiding and abetting it intentionally. Said another way; you are either drinking the kool aide or you are selling it.

Nor do you appear to recognize the severity of the true cause and effects involved in the on going dynamic here that has so negatively affected thousands of local residents and millions of the customers of the Tourist Factory that have come through this co-opted city.

The; constant abuse, illegal and immoral denial of opportunity, incessant harassment, intimidation, demonizing, etc., by the illegally and immorally hijacked City of Saint Augustine gangster government were all, UNDENIABLE causative effects of the hardships, trials, and the tribulations, that intentionally repressed and diminished the spirits of, and contributed to the early deaths of, John Victor Powers, Les Garcia, and David Thundershield Queen. May they rest in piece.

Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242

This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.

Acts under "color of any law" include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the bounds or limits of their lawful authority, but also acts done without and beyond the bounds of their lawful authority; provided that, in order for unlawful acts of any official to be done under "color of any law," the unlawful acts must be done while such official is purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties.

This definition includes, in addition to law enforcement officials, individuals such as Mayors, Council persons, Judges, Nursing Home Proprietors, Security Guards, etc., persons who are bound by laws, statutes ordinances, or customs.

Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Warren Celli

Editor and Publisher of the banned and confiscated many times, Saint Aug Dog pro FREE SPEECH and pro Street Arts newspaper.