Friday, January 14, 2011
Study: 20% of Americans have done heroic deeds -- helping during dangerous emergency, taking stand against injustice, or sacrificed for strangers
New research would seem to support President Obama's observation Wednesday night in Tucson that "heroism is here, all around us."
Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford University professor emeritus and colleagues used a nationally-representative sample of 4,000 adults and found that 20% qualified as heroes — they had helped during a dangerous emergency, taken a stand against injustice, or sacrificed for a stranger.
Obama cited Congressional intern Daniel Hernandez, who helped Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was critically wounded, along with doctors and bystanders after an assassination attempt that killed six others and left 13 wounded.
"Heroes are ordinary people," says Zimbardo, of San Francisco. "You become a hero by doing an extraordinary deed."
In the study, both blacks and Hispanics were twice as likely as whites to have performed heroic deeds. Zimbardo says they want to do follow-up research on the reasons for the racial/ethnic differences, which he speculates could be attributed to "greater opportunities to respond" or "being discriminated against makes them have more compassion to others in need."
The study, supported by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford, asked participants "Have you ever done something that other people — not necessarily you yourself — considered a heroic act or deed?" Those who answered "yes" selected from a list the actions most similar to their own: helping another person in a dangerous emergency; "blowing the whistle" on an injustice with awareness of the personal risk or threat to yourself; sacrifice on behalf of a non-relative or stranger, such as an organ donation; defying unjust authority; or other.
Among the 20% who met the survey definition, 55% had helped someone during an emergency, 8% confronted an injustice, 14% had defied unjust authority and 5% had sacrificed for a stranger.
"These are people who did very dramatic things," Zimbardo says. "They're everyday quiet heroes."
The survey also found someone is more likely to be a hero if the individual has experienced a personal trauma or disaster; or the individual has previously volunteered in non-threatening settings, such as at a soup kitchen.
Social psychologist Scott Allison of Richmond, Va., says Hernandez' reaction is common among those cited for heroic deeds.
"It is part modesty, but what they're also acknowledging is that it's the situation that gives rise to heroism more than anything else. We call it a 'heroic moment.' The terrible tragedy produced heroic opportunities for everyday people to do something extraordinary," he says.
For the book Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them, which Allison co-authored, face-to-face interviews with 450 adults asked them to name their heroes and explain why. The survey produced a pattern of traits common to heroes, including intelligence, courage, charisma and selflessness, he says.
"We have a need for heroes because we have a need to be challenged," Allison says. "We love heroes because of what they offer us — hope for better world.
The future is just why Zimbardo says he created the nonprofit Heroic Imagination Project, which has begun with pilot programs for adolescents in the Bay area.
"At a very deep psychological level, we all need and want heroes to be special people to inspire us," he says. "Heroes are really the soul of a nation. They represent what is best in human nature."
President Obama’s eulogy to the Tucson shootings victims (below and at right) was eloquent and appealed to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”
Obama's speech is one of the greatest eulogies since Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Pericles' funeral oration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericles%27_Funeral_Oration
And just when it appeared that stripminers would be able to destroy more miles of Appalachian streams with mountaintop removal mining, the EPA has revoked and rejected Arch Minerals’ permits. See below.
I was in the U.S. Senate staff gallery when the stripmining law was passed in 1977 – a big improvement, but which left lacunae, including the failure to control mountaintop removal mining.
Yesterday’s EPA action under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is a victory for the land and the people of Appalachia, whom I got to know well as Editor of the Appalachian Observer newspaper in Clinton, Tennessee.
So is the prosecution of hate crimes, which continue to flourish, spurred by the sere remnants of the Ku Klux Klan and other domestic terrorist groups.
I still believe in a place called Hope.
As Langston Hughes said, we shall “let America be America again.”
Senator Robert F. Kennedy said in South Africa June 6, 1966, in the face of the racist Apartheid government there: “"Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation ... It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Real Americans agree with the late Senator Robert Kennedy, who said in the Indianapolis ghetto 43 years ago this April 4th (the night Dr. King was murdered in Memphis): “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: January 13, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency revoked the permit for one of the nation’s largest mountaintop-removal coal mining projects on Thursday, saying the mine would have done unacceptable damage to rivers, wildlife and communities in West Virginia. It was the first time the agency had rescinded a valid clean water permit for a coal mine.
Arch Coal’s proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, which would have buried miles of Appalachian streams under millions of tons of residue, has been the subject of controversy and litigation since the first application was filed more than a decade ago. Opposition intensified after the Bush administration approved the mine’s construction in 2007, issuing a permit required under the Clean Water Act.
The boldness of the E.P.A.’s action was striking at a time when the agency faces an increasingly hostile Congress and well-financed business lobbies seeking to limit its regulatory reach. Agency officials said that the coal company was welcome to resubmit a less damaging mining plan, but that law and science demanded the veto of the existing plan.
Environmentalists welcomed Thursday’s decision. But the mining company and politicians in West Virginia expressed fury, saying the action was an unprecedented federal intrusion, an economic catastrophe for the state and a dangerous precedent for all regulated industries.
The project would have involved dynamiting the tops off mountains over an area of 2,278 acres to get at the rich coal deposits beneath. The resulting rubble, known as spoil, would be dumped into nearby valleys, as well as the Pigeonroost Branch, the Oldhouse Branch and their tributaries, killing fish, salamanders and other wildlife. The agency said that disposal of the mining material would also pollute the streams and endanger human health and the environment downstream.
The agency said it was using its authority under the Clean Water Act to revoke a legally issued permit, an action it had taken only twice in the past 40 years and never before for a coal mine. The agency said that it reviews thousands of permits every year and that it reserved the authority to rescind them only for “unacceptable cases.”
“The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend,” said Peter S. Silva, the agency’s assistant administrator for water. “Coal and coal mining are part of our nation’s energy future, and E.P.A. has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation’s waters. We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water.”
Mr. Silva said the agency had worked with the company to try to devise a mining plan that would meet federal law, but that a year of discussions had failed to reach an agreement.
An official of Arch Coal, based in St. Louis, said the company would continue to challenge the federal action in court.
“We remain shocked and dismayed at E.P.A.’s continued onslaught with respect to this validly issued permit,” said Kim Link, the company’s spokeswoman. “Absent court intervention, E.P.A.’s final determination to veto the Spruce permit blocks an additional $250 million investment and 250 well-paying American jobs.”
“Furthermore, we believe this decision will have a chilling effect on future U.S. investment,” she added, “because every business possessing or requiring a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act will fear similar overreaching by the E.P.A. It’s a risk many businesses cannot afford to take.”
She was referring to the provision of federal law under which the permit was originally issued and then revoked.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who until recently was the state’s governor and who had sued the E.P.A. over delays on the project, issued a blistering statement opposing the agency’s final ruling.
“Today’s E.P.A. decision is not just fundamentally wrong, it is an unprecedented act by the federal government that will cost our state and our nation even more jobs during the worst recession in this country’s history,” Mr. Manchin said. “It goes without saying, such an irresponsible regulatory step is not only a shocking display of overreach, it will have a chilling effect on investments and our economic recovery. I plan to do everything in my power to fight this decision.”
Anticipating the agency’s decision, a group of regulated industries wrote to the White House this week asking that the mine be allowed to proceed, and seeking clarification on when the administration intended to use its Clean Water Act authority to block projects.
Groups including the National Realtors Association, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association wrote to Nancy Sutley, the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, asking that the Spruce Mine permit be approved.
The groups said in their letter that if the agency revoked the coal mining permit, “every similarly valid permit held by any entity — businesses, public works agencies and individual citizens — will be in increased regulatory limbo and potentially subject to the same unilateral, after-the-fact revocation.”
“The implications could be staggering,” they added, “reaching all areas of the U.S. economy including but not limited to the agriculture, home building, mining, transportation and energy sectors.”
The mining industry made a similar point on Thursday. “E.P.A.’s veto of an existing, valid permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine threatens the certainty of all Section 404 permits — weakening the trust U.S. businesses and workers need to make investments and secure jobs,” said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association.
An agency official said that though the current design for the Spruce No. 1 project had been rejected, the company was free to submit a new proposal.
Janet Keating, president of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, said in a statement, “We breathe a huge sigh of relief today.” She added that the move “halts the destruction of Pigeon Roost Hollow,” where much of the debris was to be dumped.
Ms. Keating said the decision was a milestone in the debate over mountaintop-removal coal mining. “Spruce No. 1 is the only individual permit to have undergone a full environmental impact statement,” she said. “The science completely validates what we have been saying for more than a decade: These types of mining operations are destroying our streams and forests and nearby residents’ health, and even driving entire communities to extinction.”
Tom Zeller Jr. contributed reporting.
A version of this article appeared in print on January 14, 2011, on page A14 of the New York edition.
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 14, 2011
Two Men Plead Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Charge Related to Desecration of Synagogue and Churches in Modesto, California
WASHINGTON – Brian Lewis, 23, of Modesto, Calif., and Abel Mark Gonzalez, 23, of Morgan Hill, Calif., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to conspiring to violate the civil rights of congregants of Congregation Beth Shalom, a synagogue in Modesto, Calif.
According to court documents, on or about Feb. 2, 2006, Lewis, Gonzalez and a co-conspirator conspired to deface and damage the synagogue. Lewis and Gonzalez admitted that the men spray-painted anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti on the synagogue’s exterior walls. Lewis and Gonzalez further admitted that the men spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti on the exterior walls of, and caused other damage to, Our Lady of Fatima Church and School and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, both churches located in Modesto.
Lewis and Gonzalez each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing hearing has been set for April 8, 2011.
"Freedom of worship for all Americans is a constitutional right that the federal government will continue to protect through strong enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This prosecution sends a clear signal to all who may contemplate similar conduct that we will continue to seek justice for victims of hate crimes and will hold accountable those who threaten religious freedom."
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin B. Wagner said: "This country and this state are bastions of religious freedom, and our duty is to preserve and protect that liberty. No job is more important for this office than protecting the right to worship free from violence, fear, or intimidation. As this case indicates, together with the FBI and our state and local law enforcement allies, we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who attack that right."
This case, which is ongoing, is being investigated by the Modesto Resident Agency of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office with assistance from the Modesto Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Karen Ruckert Lopez.
Posted by Bryan Walsh Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm
Submit a Comment • Related Topics: Coal , Appalachians, Clean Water Act, coal, EPA, Joe Manchin, mining, mountaintop removal, war on the EPA, West Virginia
In a decision that could have a major impact on both the mining industry and the Obama Administration's relationship with conservatives, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it was vetoing the largest single mountaintop mining removal permit in West Virginia history. In using its authority under the Clean Water Act to block approval of the proposed 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia, the EPA will earn praise from greens—including some from the Appalachians—who have long fought mountaintop mining as a destructive practice that ruins the environment and the health of those who live near the mines. But the agency will undoubtedly face a backlash from the mining industry and the West Virginia politicians—both Republican and Democrat—who defend it, at a time when the EPA is already on a collision course with business and conservatives over proposed greenhouse gas regulations.
From the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva:
The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend. Coal and coal mining are part of our nation's energy future and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation's waters. We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water.
To understand why the EPA made this decision—only the 12th time the agency has ever used its Clean Water Act authority in this fashion—it's important to understand what happens in mountaintop removal mining (MTR). To get at seams of coal buried beneath the surface of hills, mining companies essentially cut off the top of mountains to get at the coal underneath. That leaves a lot of rock waste—known as "mining overburden"—to be filled into nearby valleys. Those "valley fills" are what particularly worry the EPA because of the way they can spread pollution to the surrounding mountain areas and waterways. According to the EPA the Spruce Mine would:
* Deposit 110 million cubic years of coal mine waste into streams
* Fully bury more than six miles of high-quality streams in Logan County in millions of tons of mining waste resulting from the dynamiting of more than 2,200 acres of mountains and forests
* Eliminate all fish, salamanders and other wildlife that live in those streams
* Pollute waters downstream from those buried streams, leading to unhealthy levels of salinity and toxic levels of selenium, turning fresh water into salt water.
* Cause downstream watershed degradation that will kill wildlife and increase susceptibility to toxic algal blooms.
You can read the EPA's full decision here. The veto, which came after a major public hearing in West Virginia and a review of nearly 50,000 public comments, caps a decade-plus battle over the Spruce Mine, which was first proposed in the 1990s and which has been tied up in courts ever since. The Army Corps of Engineers actually approved the design for the mine in 2007, under the Bush Administration, but the Obama EPA has put up a much stronger fight against MTR.
That hasn't been missed by the mining industry, which has clashed repeatedly with the EPA. Kim Link—a spokesman for Arch Coal, the company that owns the proposed mine—told the New York Times:
We remain shocked and dismayed at E.P.A.'s continued onslaught with respect to this validly issued permit. Absent court intervention, E.P.A.'s final determination to veto the Spruce permit blocks an additional $250 million investment and 250 well-paying American jobs. Furthermore, we believe this decision will have a chilling effect on future U.S. investment because every business possessing or requiring a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act will fear similar overreaching by the E.P.A. It's a risk many businesses cannot afford to take.
It didn't take long for West Virginia politicians to fire back. New Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin—the guy who shot a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill in an ad for his campaign—harshly criticized the EPA:
It goes without saying, such an irresponsible regulatory step is not only a shocking display of overreach, it will have a chilling effect on investments and our economic recovery. I plan to do everything in my power to fight this decision.
The ramifications could go beyond the mining and coal industry. Last week a diverse coalition of industry groups—ranging from the National Realtors Association to the United Egg Producers—wrote to Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, urging the White House to stop the EPA from blocking the permit for the Spruce Mine:
The implications could be staggering, reaching all areas of the U.S. economy including but not limited to the agriculture, home building, mining, transportation and energy sectors.
The business groups noted that clean water permits like the one at issue at the Spruce Mine support $220 billion worth of economic activity each year. The implications were clear: if the EPA was deciding to crack down on water pollution, business (and its political allies) would fight back.
It's a battle that is just beginning for the EPA and the White House, and it's one that will drag on for at least the next two years. For now, though, environmentalists can savor a major victory, after a year when they were dealt defeat after defeat. As Joe Lovett—a lawyer and the executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, who has been fighting the mine for 12 years—said in statement:
It is a relief after all of these years that at least one agency has shown the will to follow the law and the science by stopping the destruction of Pigeonroost Hollow and Oldhouse Branch. Today, the EPA has helped to save these beautiful hollows for future generations.
But as Lovett and his green allies know, the fight isn't over yet.
Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/01/13/mining-the-epa-vetoes-a-mountaintop-removal-mine%e2%80%94and-industry-opponents-fire-back/#ixzz1B30F1PUm
Thursday, January 13, 2011
UF Law School re: Access to Justice Being Denied, Violating Civil and Constitutional Rights of Americans to "Redress of Grievances"
BY KARA CARNLEY-MURRHEE (1L)
Nearly three years of economic recession have reduced state funding of the courts, resulting in layoffs and hiring freezes during a time when tens of thousands of foreclosure cases have flooded dockets. As courts struggle to manage the increased caseload with fewer resources, the gap in access to the courts has widened between the haves and the have-nots.
One might view these circumstances as a perfect storm threatening to swamp one of our country’s most basic civil rights, but many among Florida’s legal profession are making it their mission to steady the boat by increasing access to the courts for Florida’s most needy residents. Their efforts to implement better budgeting programs, increase availability of legal aid and assistance, and provide equal access to and protection under the law are proving to be safe harbor for many.
Spearheading the access to justice campaign on the national stage is Stephen Zack (JD 71), American Bar Association president and administrative partner of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, in Miami. Advocating for adequate and appropriate funding for the judiciary is a priority for Zack during his tenure at the ABA helm.
“I watched the rule of law destroyed as a young teenager in Cuba, and the first knowledge that we were going to have, potentially, the loss of our liberty was the attack on the judiciary,” Zack said. “And the failure to adequately fund the judiciary becomes a direct attack on the judiciary. That’s why we have been focusing on the preservation of the judicial system.”
Many courts around the country have been closing due to inadequate funding, Zack said. Though Florida has not been forced to close any of its courthouse doors, its court system is funded at a percentage considerably below the national average — 0.7 percent of the state budget, compared to 1.81 percent in other states, as indicated in the report on Florida’s Budget Fiscal Year 2010-2011. The result is a judiciary that operates below maximum cost-efficiency — one that prevents judges from focusing on expeditiously resolving the cases before them.
“We just can’t operate like that,” Zack said. “The judiciary is a co-equal branch of government, and our democracy is founded on co-equal branches of government. Co-equal means co-equal, and that begins with funding. You can’t starve the justice system out of existence and expect justice.”
As the gap in judicial funding widens, the state’s most vulnerable citizens — the poor and indigent — will potentially be budgeted right out of their fundamental right for legal redress.
“We’re talking about a justice system that serves all Americans — the rich, the middle class and the poor,” Zack said. “Particularly when we’re talking about the poor, we have a justice gap in this country. Eighty percent of poor people cannot afford a lawyer and therefore have no access. They have no ability to redress their grievances, which is guaranteed by our Constitution.”
One way Florida’s lawyers can help is by volunteering with a local legal aid organization or pro bono program, said Sheila Seig (JD 82), former pro bono coordinator of Bay Area Legal Services’ Volunteer Lawyers Program in Tampa. Seig now serves as an independent contractor for Bay Area, but worked with the organization for 15 years in its pro bono program. During her stint as pro bono coordinator, the program collaborated with local attorneys, judges, professional associations and local bar sections to create a variety of pro bono projects to provide free legal assistance to indigent clients in the community.
Under Seig’s watch, the program relocated its office to the courthouse in downtown Tampa to encourage a closer working relationship between program staff, judges and court officials and to make the program more accessible to attorneys working downtown who wanted to volunteer.
“The purpose of the pro bono program is to match indigent clients with private attorneys who are willing to donate their time and expertise. With the support from volunteers, we supplement and expand the legal services that Bay Area can provide.” Seig said.
As with most legal aid programs, individuals seeking legal assistance on civil matters can apply to Bay Area for help, Seig said, and if they meet certain eligibility requirements, they may be represented by a staff attorney or a volunteer attorney. But most legal aid organizations operate on limited resources and usually only very low-income families and individuals qualify to receive assistance.
“There is a significant number of people – a ‘gap group’ – who don’t qualify for legal aid, but also can’t afford to hire an attorney,” Seig said. “Legal aid programs have acknowledged this issue and are developing ways to provide more legal assistance to that gap group.”
One such program, staffed and operated by Bay Area, is the Legal Information Center (LIC), a self-help center located at the courthouse that assists individuals who are representing themselves in family, landlord/tenant, and small claims matters, Seig said.
“Pro se litigants can come in to the LIC and talk to our attorney about their civil legal issues,” Seig said. “The attorney can guide them and give them legal information — what forms they need, what type of action they could take, or how to file a petition or make a motion,” Seig said.
In recent years, Bay Area has expanded its services to pro se litigants by providing forms clinics. At the clinics, volunteer attorneys provide assistance in completing court-approved family law forms, Seig said.
“The LIC and the forms clinics have been an effective way for Bay Area to respond to the need for legal assistance for a large group of people who don’t qualify for legal aid,” she said.
Sylvia Walbolt (JD 63), shareholder in Carlton Fields in Tampa, has made pro bono service an integral part of her professional legal career by addressing unequal access to the law for vulnerable members of their communities.
“It is part of what we agree to do when we take our oath of admission,” Walbolt said. “Part of the exchange for the license to practice law is that we use our experience and expertise to help those who would not otherwise have access to the judicial system.”
Walbolt, recipient of the 2010 Pro Bono Publico Award of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, has established and served as the first chair of her firm’s pro bono committee and has represented a diverse group of pro bono clients, ranging from Holocaust survivors to prisoners on death row.
“There can be cases that, in very vital ways, affect the individual’s rights, such as when it involves life or liberty, as with the death penalty cases, or with child custody cases,” Walbolt said.
One of Walbolt’s pro bono clients was a widow of a migrant worker who died in a flash fire because the temporary trailer his employer provided as housing didn’t have a smoke detector. A wrongful-death law suit was brought on the widow’s behalf, but it was summarily denied. Walbolt was called to assist on the appeal, and she and her co-counsel successfully overturned the summary judgment.
“I think that was one of the most satisfying appellate wins of my career. It’s very satisfying to use your legal skills to help someone who otherwise would not have a lawyer, to be the voice of that person in court and to know you’ve made a real difference in their lives,” Walbolt said. “We live in a society in which the judicial system plays an increasing role, and if you don’t have access to the judicial system with the help of a lawyer, you’re just at an incredible disadvantage.”
But while the number of licensed attorneys in the state grows by about 2,500 attorneys annually, the number of pro bono hours has stagnated. Members of The Florida Bar are not required to perform pro bono service, but they are required to report their pro bono efforts. Only about half reported that they had volunteered any of their time to assist pro bono clients, according to a 2008 study by Kelly Carmody & Associates.
To increase pro bono services provided by its membership, The Florida Bar initiated the program One Promise Florida. The simple message of the program is “One Client. One Attorney.” Its goal is to encourage every attorney in Florida to take just one pro bono client. This could significantly “reduce the enormous backlog of cases and improve access to the legal system for all Florida residents,” according to the program’s website. It’s a mission Walbolt supports.
“I’m just besieged with requests from people to help them on a pro bono basis,” Walbolt said. “There is more need than can possibly be supplied. But, there is not one lawyer in the state of Florida who can’t afford to take one pro bono case a year. If we all did that, we still couldn’t quench the need, but we’d go a long way toward satisfying it.”
Inevitably, the tremendous demand for legal aid opens the door to the unauthorized practice of law (UPL), whether the unlicensed individual is attempting to help a friend or take advantage of the unsuspecting. When this happens, the nonlawyers may actually create more legal problems for their clients than they are helping them resolve, said William Schifino Jr. (JD 85), board liaison for the Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law for The Florida Bar, and shareholder of Williams Schifino Mangione & Steady P.A. in Tampa.
“These individuals may believe they are helping others pursue their legal rights,” Schifino said. “Other times, these motivations may not be so pure. It is often difficult to know where the line is drawn.”
One possible reason for this difficult distinction is that courts have historically been hesitant to define the boundaries of the practice of law, and the case law usually provides only general guidelines.
“So we have to analyze it on a case-by-case basis,” Schifino said. “There are committees set up throughout the state, comprised of lawyers and nonlawyers, which are responsible for vetting complaints that are filed alleging the unlicensed practice of law. And to the extent that they believe UPL has taken place, then those matters can be and are prosecuted.”
In 2009, The Florida Bar saw 658 complaints filed alleging the unlicensed practice of law, 39 of which resulted in litigation.
Once filed, these complaints are investigated by The Florida Bar Unlicensed Practice of Law. The unlicensed practice of law was prohibited in 1949.
“The Bar has a duty to protect the public from incompetent or unethical representation,” said Lori Holcomb, UPL counsel for The Florida Bar. “There is a body of case law that governs what we do. It’s very factually specific. Does it involve the person’s important legal rights? Does it require knowledge and skill of the law greater than that possessed of the average legal citizen? If so, The Bar would likely have a case against the individual for the unlicensed practice of law.”
But Holcomb said there are also areas, within specific guidelines, where the Florida Supreme Court has approved legal assistance. These include a nonlawyer assisting someone in the completion of legal forms approved by the Supreme Court of Florida or representing someone in Florida administrative proceedings, provided the individual stays within the bounds of Florida administrative proceedings rules.
“Oftentimes, what we see is that individuals are paying nonlawyers for assistance that would otherwise be free,” Holcomb said.
In fact, when you go to a nonlawyer, they are most likely using a Florida Supreme Court approved form, Holcomb said.
“Legal aid organizations and pro se assistance centers, for instance, go a long way toward providing that access and assistance. And one of the things The Florida Bar is doing is looking for ways to improve that access,” Holcomb said. “Assistance is out there. The issue, sometimes, is getting the word out.”
By Matt Porter
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 10:27 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
Posted: 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
Palm Beach Gardens received a letter from the University of Florida this summer, and its purpose wasn't to congratulate them for cutting the ribbon on a new football stadium.
The high school has for decades used the colors, nickname and insignia of the Florida Gators. But UF no longer feels imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Through a licensing company, the school asked for removal of all Gators logos from Palm Beach Gardens' campus, including the gym floor, team uniforms and other school property.
"It's kind of frustrating," Palm Beach Gardens Athletic Director Bill Weed said. "Why are they waiting until now to do it?"
He wasn't alone in his frustration. Last year, Glades Day received the same letter from UF. Principal Robert Egley said the news hit hard at the Belle Glade school.
"Initially, everyone was really upset by it," Egley said. "Why now? Surely there are other battles they can fight."
As college teams take back their trademarks, high schools are put in a battle they can't win. Youth teams have always drawn inspiration from college and pro teams, but some of those teams - particularly colleges - are sending them back to the drawing board, asking that they stop using the logos.
"Legally, I understand it," said Egley, a 1979 UF graduate. "But do battle with other people who are making money off it. We don't make a dime. We're just proud to be Gators."
Collegiate Licensing Company, an Atlanta-based group that offers licensing protection services to UF and more than 200 other schools, recently asked several high schools to cease and desist from using college trademarks on team uniforms and school property.
"I sent a letter to CLC saying we've been using [the Gator head] for years, and we're not making any money, but it didn't matter," Egley said. "We might as well comply. We can't weather this storm."
Both Palm Beach Gardens and Glades Day say CLC has given them a gradual timetable for removal.
UF has trademarked its Gator head logo and the "Gators" script displayed on helmets.
Palm Beach Gardens and Glades Day copy the Gator head in logos while Gardens uses the "Gators" exact word mark on their helmets. Glades Day had the same script on their helmets but phased them out this year and now have "Gators" in a different script. Colors are not an issue since Gardens' colors are the same as UF (blue and orange) while Glades Day's colors are green and yellow.
Similarly, the Santaluces High Chiefs and Jupiter High Warriors use the Florida State Seminoles' spear on their helmets, but that time may be coming to an end. "They haven't said anything about it. You're probably jinxing us," Jupiter AD Mike DeLeonardo said, laughing.
Florida State cracked down on a school in Bradenton that was using the Seminole spear and Seminole head design for its schools. The school, Southeast, used the Seminoles logos, only instead of garnet and gold colors like FSU, they use orange and blue. They are still fighting Florida State for use of the logo, and FSU is battling bad press.
"I don't know how it started, and I'm not sure why it's happening now. I don't know why they're going after high schools at all. We're probably increasing their sales," Weed said.
"I guarantee we have kids who run to their local Sports Authority and Walmart and go buy licensed merchandise with the Gator head on it so they can wear it to school. They make much more money on it than we've ever pretended to make. We're not selling the logo. We're using the logo to represent our high school."
But for the colleges, it's not about money. It's about the strength of their brand.
Janine Sikes, UF's director of public affairs, said CLC last year notified schools across the country about "the increased use of high schools using collegiate logos," and that high schools were making money by selling gear in team stores.
Both Palm Beach Gardens and Glades Day claim they make no money by selling Gator-branded merchandise, and that all UF-inspired apparel is solely for team use.
Despite that, federal law states that trademark holders have a responsibility to police their trademarks. If too many high schools are found using the Gator head, for example, UF might find it difficult to justify that the mark represents the university - and that could lead them to lose legal rights to the trademark.
"Bottom line, the University of Florida has worked extremely hard to create a distinctive and strong brand identity. And licensing other schools to use the Gator head brand certainly dilutes the strength of that," Sikes said.
Some other schools aren't worried, and think licensing their logos is good for public relations.
In the 1990s, the University of Miami reached an agreement with a school in Oklahoma for use of it's "U" logo, which it trademarked in 1992. Union High School (Tulsa, Okla.) athletic director and football coach Bill Blankenship thought by using the logo, he was paying tribute to then-UM coach Larry Coker, who had been his position coach in college. The schools eventually reached an agreement in which Union would pay $1,000 a year to use the "U."
According to other reports, Kansas State has worked out agreements with high schools for use of its "Powercat" logo ($500 every two years) and Arizona State's Sun Devil mark can be used for as little as $1 per year - as long as a school notifies the university of its intention.
However, UF maintains it is not interested in renting out the Gator head. "Licensing agreements with high schools are extremely difficult to maintain and manage," Sikes said, and the onus is on the university to maintain quality control.
It's unclear if colleges are going after youth leagues with the same gusto. An official from The Acreage Youth Tackle Football League said that they have not been contacted by any colleges. The Acreage league has several teams that use college logos.
The National Football League feels much differently.
The league welcomes youth leagues and high school teams to use their logos - for free, without notification.
"There is no process, there's no registration, there's no fee involved," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
"We think it's great if a local team wants to use a logo of an NFL team," he said. "We think it's a great opportunity to inspire kids to one day play in the NFL and wear the real helmet."
West Boca Raton used a Houston Texans steer logo on its helmet until this season, but ditched the mark for the word "Bulls." American Heritage, in Delray, uses the Denver Broncos logo. Palm Beach Central uses a combination of Broncos and Chicago Bears logos for its mark.
As long as area schools comply with phasing out the college logos, there are no penalties or fines incurred.
The schools will phase out the logos as they buy new uniforms. Glades Day has already begun complying by changing the Gators script on their helmets. The next time they refinish the gym floor, they must paint a new style of Gator on it. But the schools must remove signage on the school's property as soon as reasonably possible. Gardens has covered up a Gators logo on its gym wall.
"If we had to do it all at once, we'd be crippled," said Glades Day co-athletic director Joe Gaethle. "That would be crushing."
None of the people interviewed for this story disagreed with the fact the colleges are on solid legal ground. But for years, high schools and youth teams have used the logos without penalty.
"They didn't make us take our uniforms and burn them, or redo the gym floor now," Egley said. "We understand why they do it. But emotionally, it just upset a lot of people around here."
Echoing a common theme, Edgley said Glades Day students and alumni are happy to design a new logo.
"It'll be nice to have something unique, that's ours. We'll have something that when someone sees it, they say 'That's Glades Day.' We're excited about that. Getting to that point? We're not too excited about that," Gaethle said.
And of course, CLC, UF's licensing company, can't wait to see Glades Day's new look.
"They're excited to see the logo, too. One, to see if it matches theirs. But also because it's going to be cool.
"And we might use them to license the logo, who knows."
Find this article at:
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.
As Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders - representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation's capital. Gabby called it "Congress on Your Corner" - just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.
That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday - they too represented what is best in America.
Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona's chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.
George and Dorothy Morris - "Dot" to her friends - were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.
A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she'd often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.
Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together - about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy's daughters put it, "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." When they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.
Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion - but his true passion was people. As Gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved - talking with people and seeing how he could help. Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiance, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.
And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, "We are so blessed. We have the best life." And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.
Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken - and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.
Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday. I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I can tell you this - she knows we're here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.
And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby's office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive. We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer's ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt.
These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned - as it was on Saturday morning.
Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?
You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations - to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected. We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?
So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.
That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions - that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed - they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis - she's our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America's fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
And in Christina...in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.
So deserving of our love.
And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.
Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."
If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America."
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
USDOJ Press Release: Hater Arrested for Death Threats to Congressman James McDermott of Washington State
January 12, 2011 United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Washington
Contact: (206) 553-7970
Palm Springs Resident Arrested for Making Death Threats Against Washington Congressman Jim McDermott -- Defendant Left Expletive-Laden, Threatening Voice Mail Messages Following Tax Cut Debate
CHARLES TURNER HABERMANN, 32, of Palm Springs, California, was arrested by the FBI this morning after being charged by federal criminal complaint with threatening a federal official. HABERMANN is alleged to have made two expletive-laden, threatening phone calls to the Seattle office of Congressman Jim McDermott on December 9, 2010. In the first call recorded on the office answering system, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott, his friends and family. In the second call HABERMANN says he will hire someone to put Congressman McDermott “in the trash.” HABERMANN was interviewed by the FBI on December 10, 2010, regarding the calls to Congressman McDermott, and another threatening call made to a California congresswoman. HABERMANN is expected to make his initial appearance today on the 3:00 p.m. calendar in federal court in Riverside, California.
“We are blessed to live in a country that guarantees and protects the freedom to disagree with our government and speak our minds. That protection, however, does not extend to threats or acts of violence. Those actions are intended to silence debate, not further it. They instill fear not just in the immediate victims, but in many who might hold the same views or take the same course. Such threats are crimes, and the individuals who make them must be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
In the voice mail messages, HABERMANN stated he had seen Congressman McDermott on television. In the messages, he disparages and threatens Congressman McDermott and other Democrats for their views on tax cuts and unemployment insurance. On the voice mail messages, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott in an effort to impede, intimidate, and interfere with his vote on the tax cut proposal in December 2010.
HABERMANN was investigated in March 2010, for similar conduct involving threats to a California assembly person. In that instance, HABERMANN went to the assembly person’s office to discuss the health care bill and was escorted out. Following the office meeting, HABERMANN left two threatening voice mail messages. HABERMANN was interviewed by the California Highway Patrol, and was issued a warning about his threatening conduct.
Threatening a federal official is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.
Neither Beck, Hannity nor Savage nor the hate merchants at Fox News and talk radio can claim to have invented their genre. Toxic right-wing vitriol so dominated the public airwaves from the McCarthy era until 1963 that President Kennedy, that year, launched a citizen's campaign to enforce the Fairness Doctrine, which required accuracy and balance in the broadcast media. Students, civic and religious groups filed more than 500 complaints against right-wing extremists and hate-mongering commentators before the FCC.
The Dallas, Texas, airwaves were particularly radioactive; preachers and political leaders and local businessmen spewed extremist vitriol on the city's radio and TV stations, inflaming the passions of the city's legions of unhinged fanatics. There was something about the city -- a rage or craziness, that, whether sensible or not, seemed to have set the stage for Jack's murder. The Voice of America, half an hour after the assassination, described Dallas as "the center of extreme right wing." The Texas town was such a seething cauldron of right-wing depravity that historian William Manchester portrayed it as recalling the final days of the Weimar Republic. "Mad things happened," reported Manchester. "Huge billboards screamed 'Impeach Earl Warren.'" Jewish stores were smeared with crude swastikas. Fanatical young matrons swayed in public to the chant "Stevenson's going to die -- his heart will stop stop stop and he will burn burn burn!" The mercantile elite that ruled the city carefully cultivated the seeds of hate. Radical-right broadsides were distributed in public schools; the Kennedy name was booed in classrooms; junior executives who refused to attend radical seminars were blackballed and fired. Manchester continued:
Dallas had become the mecca for medicine show evangelists of the National Independence Convention, the Christian Crusades, the Minutemen, the John Birch Society and Patrick Henry Societies and the headquarters of right wing oil man H.L. Hunt and his dubious activities... The city's mayor, Earl Carroll, a right wing co-founder of the John Birch Society, was known as 'the socialist mayor of Dallas' because he maintained his affiliation with the Democratic Party.
Dallas's oil and gas barons who routinely denounced JFK as a "comsymp" had unbottled the genie of populist rage and harnessed it to the cause of radical ideology, anti-government fervor and corporate dominion.
Uncle Jack's speech in Dallas was to have been an explosive broadside against the right wing. He found Dallas' streets packed five deep with Kennedy Democrats, but among them were the familiar ornaments of presidential hatred; high-flying confederate flags and hundreds of posters adorning the walls and streets of Dallas showing Jack's picture inscribed with "Wanted for Treason." One man held a posterboard saying, "you a traitor [sic]." Other placards accused him of being a communist. When public school P.A. systems announced Jack's assassination, Dallas school children as young as the fourth grade applauded. A Birmingham radio caller declared that "any white man who did what he did for niggers should be shot." As my siblings and I visited the White House to console my cousins John and Caroline, a picket paraded out front with a sign, "God punished JFK."
Jack had received myriad warnings against visiting the right-wing Texas city. Indeed, there had been a sense of foreboding even within our family as he and Aunt Jackie prepared for the trip. Jack made an unscheduled trip to Cape Cod to say goodbye to my ailing grandfather. The night before the trip, Mummy found Jack distant and brooding at a dinner for the Supreme Court Justices. He was very fond of Mummy, but for the first time ever, he looked right through her.
Jack's death forced a national bout of self-examination. In 1964, Americans repudiated the forces of right-wing hatred and violence with an historic landslide in the presidential election between LBJ and Goldwater. For a while, the advocates of right-wing extremism receded from the public forum. Now they have returned with a vengeance -- to the broadcast media and to prominent positions in the political landscape.
Gabrielle Giffords lies in a hospital room fighting for her life, and a precious nine-year-old girl is dead along with five others. Let's pray for them and for our country and hope this tragedy prompts another round of examination of conscience.
FOLIO WEEKLY: "Words Fail" Editor's Note by Anne Schindler regarding Racist History of St. Augustine, Florida
Reporters are used to people not wanting to
talk to them. Slammed doors, hang-ups,
unanswered emails are as much a part of
the job as spiral notebooks and deadlines.
But such reactions are typically associated
with people wanting to dodge unfavorable
coverage, or those recently impacted by grief.
Audrey Nell Edwards doesn’t fall into
either of those categories. Her reason for
refusing to speak to Folio Weekly for this
week’s cover story are far more complex
— and troubling. After rebuffing multiple
attempts to make contact, Edwards finally
opened her door to a photographer making
one last eƒffort to connect — and blasted him.
She would not participate in an interview, she
told him angrily, because the media didn’t
want the truth. All reporters wanted was
quotes during Black History Month. † They
didn’t want to expose the ongoing inequities
in St. Augustine, or the larger community’s
conspiracy of silence, or the racism that
continues to poison the city more than 40
years after desegregation.
It was, in all, a discouraging assessment
from a woman whose courage inspired the
leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and
who personally helped bring about change in
St. Augustine and the nation. As this week’s
cover story details, Edwards was one of the St.
Augustine Four, a cadre of teenagers whose
incarceration helped galvanize support for
black protesters mistreated by the system. Just
16 years old at the time of her arrest, Edwards
was labeled a criminal, merely for trying
to integrate a lunch counter. She ordered a
hamburger and a Coke, and spent the next six
months behind bars and in reform school.
Nobody can undo the ignorance and
cruelty of racial segregation. It is the salient
shame of the South, and gets no less awful
with the passage of time. But Edwards’
current outrage isn’t about the injustice she
suƒffered as a teenager. Instead, it’s rooted in
the very real knowledge that, ‚ ve decades on,
not much has changed. Sure, segregation is
gone, at least in its legally sanctioned form.
But life in St. Augustine is still powerfully
strati‚ ed by race. White and black rarely
mix in local restaurants, African Americans
still hold almost no political power, the city
still has zero black police o€fficers, and the
economic in“fluence of the city is securely in
the white man’s pocket. What’s more, the very
same people who threatened and taunted and
hurled bricks at Edwards and her compatriots
still live in St. Augustine. † They’ve prospered
over the past 50 years, owning shops, running
government, selling insurance, prosecuting
criminals. † They’ve suffered no punishment for
their behavior; never been called to account;
they’ve never apologized.
In fact, like the city they inhabit, they’ve
largely covered over their place in that shameful
history, simply pretending it never happened.
† e re are cities that went through
desegregation battles as agonizing as
St. Augustine’s — Birmingham, Selma,
Montgomery — but nowhere that those
battles are so thoroughly forgotten. It’s
possible for visitors and residents alike to
remain entirely ignorant of the city’s bloody
Civil Rights history — to know nothing of
the cross-burnings, the racist sheriƒff, the
deputized Klansmen, the amplified taunts
of “nigger” emanating from the downtown
square. It’s equally possible to know nothing
of the courageous eƒfforts by local youth
to change history through nonviolent
demonstration, and that the fact that their
efforts brought both Dr. Martin Luther King
and Jackie Robinson to town in support.
Indeed, as ‚filmmaker Jeremy Dean noted
in his 2005 documentary “Dare Not Walk
Alone,” the city appears to have no interest
in recognizing what is arguably its most
signi‚fioant chapter. “†They’ve just swept it
under the rug,” he said.
It was Dean’s eƒffort to document that
period that unearthed amazing archival
footage — including the vicious beating
of King deputy (and later Atlanta mayor)
Andrew Young. Captured on tape, the footage
in turn inspired Young to make his own
documentary, “Crossing In St. Augustine.”
That film, which screens this Saturday (see
p. 17 for details), was the first time anyone
interviewed the surviving members of the St.
Augustine Four — JoeAnn Anderson-Ulmer
and Audrey Nell Edwards.
The fact that Edwards wouldn’t agree to
our request for an interview is regrettable. But
it isn’t hard to understand. Deciding whether
or not to tell her own story aƒffords a measure
of control over the narrative, and reasserts
the stern, uncompromising spirit that was the
core of the Civil Rights Movement. Audrey
Nell Edwards became part of history for
refusing to make nice. We’re glad to see she’s
still at it.
The same people who threatened and taunted and hurled
bricks at protesters still live in St. Augustine. They’ve
prospered over the past 50 years, owning shops, running
government, selling insurance, prosecuting criminals.
They’ve suffered no punishment for their behavior; never
been called to account; they’ve never apologized.
450th FLOUNDERING: City-Founded, City-Funded First America Foundation Makes Little Progress, Holds Secret Meetings, Ducks Questions by Commissioners
flounderingpresent participle of floun·der (Verb)
1. Jamie Alvarez, Director of the First America Foundation, appeared before the St. Augustine City Commission January 10, 2011, presenting a report on what FAF has done since August.
2. There were more questions than answers, as Commissioners William Leary, Leeana Freeman and Nancy Sikes-Kline asked questions that Alvarez could not or would not answer.
3. FAF Chair Donald Wallis was inexplicably absent -- his absence was notable and inculpatory as well as unexplained.
4. Alvarez said FAF will hold a press conference at 10 AM on January 26th at Llambas House, where plans will be revealed that were not shared with City Commissioners, including the hiring of a local public relations firm, the creation of a logo and the announcement of a second sponsor.
5. Alvarez said FAF does not have a completed business plan and is “still working on it.”
6. Alvarez said only that FAF has “the framework of a plan.”
7. Alvarez said FAF has not identified any specific projects for the four years of celebrations.
8. Alvarez said FAF will not have more than 40 committees comprised of local residents, as planned in the Strategic Plan developed over a three-year period, before the City spun off the 450th celebration into a new private foundation.
9. Instead of committees, FAF will have “partnerships” with local groups.
10. Alvarez claimed FAF would have a website that will be “very transparent,” but admitted its Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings are “private.”
11. Leeana Freeman asked to attend FAF meetings. Alvarez refused, saying the meetings are private.
12. Willilam Leary pointed out the need for better “oversight” of FAF, proposing an amendment to the FAF contract to provide for quarterly reports.
13. William Leary said he wanted FAF criteria for grants and contracts to be public.
14. Nancy Sikes-Kline said she wanted to review bylaws and other documents.
15. FAF Board member Joseph Boles, the Mayor, said “we owe it to FAF to at least get the logo” announced before asking serious questions.
16. Mayor Boles had asked Leary to ask questions of Donald Wallis privately, but Leary declined, with Boles staring at him as he asked questions on the BCS college football championship game night, when Boles and other Ccommissioners said they wanted to leave early.
17. William Leary said FAF “had the cart before the horse,” seeking funds without a business plan or strategic plan in place to show large funders like Coca-Cola where their money would go.
18. City Attorney Ronald Wayne Brown argued that FAF was just like any other vendor, and that Commissioners would not have the right to attend the Board meetings of a construction or hauling contractor.
19. Brown said “that’s not your job” to tell a contractor how to conduct its business: “we don’t go to meetings of vendor contractors.”
20. Freeman said she still wanted to request to attend FAF board meetings, simply to listen and observe.
21. “That’s their business if they want to let you in,” Brown said.
22. Alvarez said she would relay Freeman’s and Leary’s requests to the FAF Board.
23. Leary said that FAF would have a “significant impact” on the City and its 450th celebration and he wants oversight over FAF operations.
24. Leary said he wanted a workshop with the FAF Board and “I don’t see a downside to it.”
25. Alvarez said that while the City contracted with FAF to hold four celebrations (2012-2015), work is focused only on one of them (2012 – 200th anniversary of Spanish Constitution, with the monument in the Plaza de la Constitucion the only surviving one in the world because new monarchs had the monuments destroyed elsewhere).
26. City Manager John Regan said the FAF was “critical to the tourism industry.”
27. Alvarez said she did not know who posted the job posting for an Executive Director on the Nonprofit Jobs Cooperative, a fact that Alvarez and Errol Jones pretended was simply the belief of a local “newsletter” or “blog.” (Michael Gold’s Historic City Media, which has been rightly critical of FAF. See http://www.historiccity.com/2010/staugustine/news/florida/help-wanted-first-america-foundation-inc-5390, reporting in haec verba the text of the ad for the Executive Director’s job, which listed Wallis as the contact person. See also
28. Alvarez said the Executive Director of the FAF could not also serve as Executive Director of the federal commission on St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary.
29. Commissioners were flummoxed that Wallis did not appear.
30. Commissioners were disappointed that FAF was baby-talking them, spoon-feeding them, using the supposed report merely to announce an announcement, as Peter Guinta wrote in the St. Augustine Record article (below).
31. While Brown is claiming FAF is merely a vendor or contractor, the website for the First America Foundation lists City Hall as its address and telephone numbers:
Contact the 450th Commemoration Commission
Program Coordinator - St. Augustine 450th Commemoration
Data Ste. Claire
Director - Department of Heritage Tourism
Executive Director - St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission
Phone: 904.209.4226 • Fax: 904.825.1096
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 210 St. Augustine, FL 32085
Physical Address: 75 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32085.